Monday, March 13, 2017

Entering the Fitness World

I'm not yet anywhere near approaching personal trainer status so I'm writing this from the perspective of someone who has a little knowledge about specific topics within the world of fitness, but not nearly enough to be called expert by any stretch of the imagination.  I guess I'm like any other hobbyist in that I don't know much but it's probably more than the general public.  I tell you this so you understand the perspective from which I'm gathering my ideas regarding today's topic; entering the fitness world (as a practitioner, not a trainer, just to be clear).  What do I mean by the, "fitness world"?  It can be anything from wanting to simply begin walking regularly, entering (or reentering) a gym, hiring a personal trainer/coach or anything outside or in between those examples.  The amount of questions most people have when beginning their journey is considerable and the answers can be confusing.  Hell, when you see some of the discussion/arguments between acknowledged experts (the real ones, not the self proclaimed InstaSnapFace bro-science "experts") you realize that science still doesn't have all the answers.  Perhaps you're now asking yourself, what chance do I have of achieving success if even experts don't have all the answers?  A great one.  Why? Because A.) Many of those questions are so deep within topics that anyone who's not literally an expert in that field is unlikely to ever concern themselves to that level, and B.)  Because those experts ARE out there working, discovering, creating, and finding new information all the time and sharing it with the world because many, if not most, have a strong desire to help others.        

Here are a few of the questions I asked myself when I started the first time and some which I asked in subsequent restarts thereafter.
1.) How and where do I even begin?  2.)  What are my actual goals 3.) How do I tell fact from fiction?

1.)  How and Where Do I Even Begin


Answer:  You've read this far, feel free to use it as your jumping off point. Now you have to think, potentially discuss, and make some decisions. What are your reasons for beginning? What health issues do you have?  How much time and money do you want to invest in your pursuit?  What do you like and not like? What kind of training are you interested in?  Do you need or want a trainer?  What obstacles can you see needing to overcome?  Are you going this alone or will you have a partner?  Do you have, want, or need a support system? (You may think, No, but I'll say having support is immensely positive. )  As you can see, there are a lot of questions to be asked when beginning, especially since this isn't even all of them.  Often, I think people just get a hair across their ass when they read, hear, or see something motivational and they begin like their hair's on fire and no plan.  In the beginning it's easy to rely on that fresh motivation to get you going but as times get tough and life happens, they fall off the rails never to return.  Much of that could have been avoided if they'd discussed, ironed out, and answered questions like the ones listed so they'd be prepared when the beginning momentum wears off and the real work and mental fortitude begins.  (And for those that don't know, if you think you feel good completing a workout that you were motivated to begin, wait until you complete a workout you didn't want to even start.  The mental and emotional lift from overcoming your own mind is AH-MAZING!)  

2.)  What Are My Actual Goals

Answer:  Clearly this one is personal and different for everyone.  Even partners and couples who begin their journey's together may have different ideas about what they want, and that's perfectly reasonable.  Team fitness journeys aren't necessarily about achieving the same goals as others, though they can be, but are instead about working with people who have the same drive to achieve their personal goals you do.  My wife and I have vastly different professional goals but we still lean on, support, and try to help one another when possible because we're on this journey together.  Write your goals down.  Track them.  Review them.  Discuss them.  Change them if need be but identify them clearly at all times.  Once they're created and you feel confident they're what you want, begin pursuing them with smaller goals.  Why do it that way?  Because psychologically you're more likely to continue when you have some success.  For example.  You begin weight training with a little cardio and decide all you need to track progress is your scale.  After a month, not only have you not lost any weight, you've gained four pounds.  Distress enters and you'll likely quit.  Now, same scenario but together with a scale you also have body fat and measurement goals.  The scale add's those four pounds but..BUT, your body fat % drops 1 percentage point, and you've lost 1" off your chest, and 3 inches off your waist.  Now you know your pants didn't just feel like they fit differently, they actually do.  These small victories give you the confidence and drive to keep on your journey.  The importance of that cannot be understated  .  Most people, myself included, don't quit things because they're actually too hard.  We do so because we perceive them to be.  By increasing the ability to achieve goals, we can change perceptions from negative to positive and that could potentially be the difference between stopping or continuing.  Between failure and achievement.  

3.)  How Do I Tell Fact From Fiction

Answer:  This is a hard one, one I've struggled with for years, and one that will continue to catch people within its net because a lot of people are assholes and have made marketing and sales pitches sound like reasonable science.  Not only that, they market by deception so you buy their products.  Plus, some of them have credentials that make it seem like they're someone to be listened to when in reality they're nothing more than snake oil salesmen.  Honestly, I still struggle mightily here, no bullshit, because I A.) have trust issues in life to begin with and, B.) because I've researched the topic enough to know how bad the industry really is. And I'm not even talking about the fitness industry specifically here because I don't have enough education to formulate a concise opinion there.  I'm talking the food and drug industries as a whole.  The people that you hear, read, and see information from daily.  Supplements are certainly a large industry and perhaps something I'll discuss at a later date when and if I feel educated enough to do so, but what I'm referring to here is trying to learn the basics of what to eat and drink.  Seems like it should be easy but when we're bombarded by no fat, low fat, medium fat, high fat, super high fat, eat this but not this, this is OK even though it has this but this isn't because it has this is a different form, ect, you're God damn right it gets confusing.  I'm lucky in that I have people to bounce questions and ideas off who have some understanding.  Most people don't and end up relying on information they get from the, "news" or "Dr's" they see on TV or some reality show.  A search on the internet may not lead you to the proper advice but instead to someone who was willing to pay a little more to Google ad space to have their site appear at the top of a search.


As you can tell I get it.  I know that struggle and I empathize.  So what can you do?  Honestly, set aside some time to do real research.  My above example only touched on the consumption side because as a beginner, you likely understand more about that than the techniques and training programs available but you'll need to look into that too.  My best advice here would be to look up reviews pertaining to trainers and nutrition experts and find one you think will fit (like any service, be sure you're comfortable with the person you hire) that can help you navigate many of these questions.  But if you can't for whatever reason, utilize your access to technology and educate yourself to get started.  Spend some time asking and answering questions.  Use your own common sense and if something doesn't sound right, review it because it may not be.  I have a post in progress where I'll share some pages and sites that I follow that I find value in but for now, if you're ready to start, fire up that technology and get to work.

These were my questions.  Yours could and likely will formulate others but whatever they are, try like hell to answer them before you begin if possible.  I say if possible, because maybe you really are stumped on something non-vital.  My advice would be to not delay your start if a question remains unanswered because that could grow into a huge stress that begins as no big deal and ends up holding you back from progressing. Similar to the grain of sand shutting down the large mechanical device example.  Understand that like lifts, you're unlikely to always be perfect but by laying out details out ahead of time you'll make it easier to navigate when times get tough or unexpected life events occur.  Entering the fitness world for me has absolutely been an enriching experience but I also understand that it isn't and hasn't been that way for everyone for a variety of reasons.  Here's hoping that your next experience is fantastic and you're presented the opportunity and benefits I have.    

                

2 comments:

  1. This point of reference is great. I am an avid cyclist who rides every day and on some days I am lucky enough to get paid to do it as a guide. I struggle with my diet and have ironically just began the Keto diet after doing a lot of research. I hope it work for a cyclist. I really think fitness is a lifestyle and you are right about it is not an exact science. Good luck with the blog I'll be following

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    1. Thanks so much for checking out the blog and commenting. The Keto diet is certainly a topic of great discussion lately and something I've recently begun looking into as well. Best of luck as you begin and don't hesitate to comment with updates!

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