“Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure. But it’s the same with that type of artistic activity as with all others: We are merely born with the capability to do it. The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When it comes to living healthy, bringing clarity to our goals can come in the most unconventional ways. Normally, we envision our goal and then go about trying to achieve it by overhauling all areas of our lives. We lay a new routine over top of the one we have followed for months or years. This works extremely well, for about 10% of people. Most will fall off the plan and regress right back into their previous state.
In this post, I jump around between multiple topics and opened myself up for much discussion and debate. I simply had to get this idea out there, and see where it leads. As with most of my posts, I have an extremely hard time putting them into words. I try to write from my experience and what my thoughts are as I carry out my actions. This is the negative aspect of preverbal concepts – not being able to share it in a comprehensible way. All the more fun for me to try and share things with a unique outlook. It is easy to say, “This muscle does A, B and C because of X, Y and Z.” It is much harder to explain why a fleeting thought of mine came back on numerous occasions as I performed something and then it transformed the way I perceived myself taking that action. It also does not sound as sexy.
When asked how he created the masterpiece David so flawlessly and beautifully from a huge slab of marble, Michelangelo answered he simply removed everything that was not David.
The story of Michelangelo creating David, and the story of David overcoming Goliath offer us valuable insights.
David triumphs through sheer creativity, and destruction of the status quo. What it meant to fight – the rules, the style, the weapons – were mostly common knowledge among those during their time. You see this huge beast of a man summoning David to come and fight, who was much, much smaller and not wearing any armor. And who prevails? What was it that David possessed that so few others could not grasp themselves?
A great book to check out on this topic as it relates to the modern human condition is David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell.
Note: There is a story in here from a family in my city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This was completely eye-opening to me and was proud Gladwell could craft a deeply touching message out of such a sad topic.
We have this notion that to get into shape everything must be direction, strategy, follow the orders, listen to the experts. These methods can work but they are also very intimidating. If we don’t achieve our definition of success we feel this huge burden of blame come over ourselves. I am going to tell you right now that if you were to come to me for health advice on nutrition or strength training, I would not assume the role of the traditional expert. This is not because I lack knowledge or confidence. There are simply too many things that we do not know (about the human body), and underlying changes due to unpredictable events. So with this I cannot say with absolute authority I know everything.
Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition has brought the spotlight onto this area, and one that he traced back to a book titled, Motivational Interviewing. The roles we assume not only as coaches, but of ourselves in our everyday life should be guiders. Not directors. The majority of the population needs help relative to their situation factors. However, the few of us in the elite and highly motivated category such as Olympic athletes, professional sports, will need direction and guidance. They need truly specific information and steps to move their bodies forward physiologically and psychologically. They don’t need one small habit at a time. They need nutrient timing, amounts, breakdowns, etc to make the smallest incremental differences in performance that lead to the highest reward. A split-second quicker. Half of a pound more.
For the rest of us, we can follow a few basic rules to get us on the right track. What I offer may work extremely well for some and not well for others. But the main thing is that we give it an honest shot and see how it impacts our lives – and I hope for the best.
The Elimination of Limiting Factors
What is the one thing that can be tweaked or eliminated from your daily routine that is causing your body to not function optimally or in the way you wish it to? Here is where a great coach can come in. If they are open enough, they can listen and get a clear picture of you entire life. Not just particular situational factors but a holistic outlook on why you aren’t achieving your goals.
It only makes sense that before you start, you best know what your goal is.
Are you trying to get more muscular, increase your strength, be able to do one chin up, burn fat, join a fitness competition, look great for a wedding? Whatever it is, your goal should be big, audacious and emotional. Emotions drive us to take action. Few of us will achieve anything worthwhile if we haven’t even decided for ourselves that it is. Anything other than that is just stale.
From here, we need to address everything in your life that doesn’t help you attain your goal. These lists can be extremely long, ranging from not having the right foods in your fridge to your close group of friends not being healthy themselves. That is why we will only focus on 1 or 2 crucial limiting factors. The ones that are pulling you down the hardest.
One key reason for following so few habits at once is that to change one large habit, requires many smaller habits to change. We need to understand that beneath these fundamental principles and habits we follow, there are fundamental emotions and behaviors that shape and form our actions. We cannot assume as coaches, health nuts, or fitness enthusiasts that giving a person a hand out will lead to them achieving the results they desire. Superficially these offer value. Adhere to them and you will see results. But in truth, we are asking these people to change their lives. Their definitions of it and the habits, events and thoughts it was comprised of.
Instead, let us just try to look at things a little different.
Before every action – every chip of the chisel – we must ask ourselves, “Does this serve my higher purpose?”
Remind yourself, “This action will make me a little better, or a little worse.” Doing this makes that chocolate bar not look as seductive.
But as any coach has learned either quickly or by years of experience, there are much deeper rooted reasons and causes to the actions of ourselves and the people we train. It is up to us to look at the subjects objectively but at the same time consider subjective measures.
No, I don’t think we are supposed to be psychologists and try to figure out our clients desires by questioning them about all areas of their lives. Being mindful of where they are coming from is something we should at least be aware of though. So in honor of this, I want to help you get on track. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Limiting Factors and I will help you find yours. Also, don’t be afraid to share what your limiting factors are in the comment section below. If other readers see what others are sharing, they might be able to relate easier and find their factors much more quickly. I want to leave this post extremely open-ended and depending on feedback, see if I should elaborate more on this way of viewing our tasks.
You are David overcoming Goliath, and as you do this you are slowly chipping away until you reveal the reward itself.
What excess will you remove?