When I joined PYRAMID last year (when we were still “The Pyramid”), I was in the midst of a deep dive into improving my physical health.
It wasn’t my first time trying to hit the gym, but this time, it stuck.
This is not a self-congratulatory blog. There were 100 micro-failures that happened almost every time I stepped onto the gym floor. However, there were just as many dopamine rushes that kept me coming back for more. Some days I felt like I didn’t give my training 100% of my efforts; other days I felt too sore to move; I even partially tore my labrum on a bench PR and could only train legs for a solid two months.
If I’ve learned anything over that timeframe, it’s that for every time you see somebody’s “body transformation” post, there’s an equally powerful shift inside their brain that enabled it. And if that change in perspective doesn’t happen, you’ll probably see that body transform right back into its original shape a few months down the road.
You might be wondering, “So how on Earth do I change this thing that I don’t even see that supposedly has all of this control over how good I look in a bathing suit?” I’ll save the neurobiological explanation for my future, more professionally-competent self. For today, however, I present you with the 10 Commandments of Crushing Your Sustainable Fitness Resolutions:
1. Don’t sacrifice what you can become for what you are now.
One of my favorite quotes of all time applies perfectly to adopting a consistent habit of taking care of your body. So many aspects of behavior change involve letting go of arbitrary qualities that we consider to be part of ourselves.
For instance, you might really love /sitting on your couch and eating tiramisu/, and all of your friends *know* that you love /sitting on the couch eating tiramisu/, and you might even call yourself a /tiramisu aficionado/ in your Instagram bio.
But none of those things actually define who you are, no matter how hard you try. No one’s identity is defined exclusively by their current state or their past, and all of us have so much more time left on this planet.
2. Eat the same breakfast every single day.
Tim Ferriss is responsible for this piece of advice, but it’s exceptional in its simplicity. When your alarm goes off, it’s hard to ponder the unique cuisine you’ll put into your mouth amidst all the hustle that follows. Why clutter your morning with an opportunity to make a bad breakfast decision that has the potential to throw off your entire day?
For me, it’s a protein shake, Joe Rogan’s green smoothie, and Titanium Tea (I prefer to drink most of my breakfast). Your choices may vary, but keep it nutritious for the sake of the rest of your day.
3. Train your brain as frequently as you train your body.
Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness. I wrote a blog about it last year in an attempt to articulate how overcomplicated people make reconnecting with your consciousness. For a refresher, here’s ABC News anchor Dan Harris to explain why you need some of it. ⬇️
I prefer Sam Harris’ Waking Up Course, but there are so many awesome apps like Headspace and Dan Harris’ 10 Percent Happier that do the trick. Meditating is perhaps the best way to realize that most of the things keeping you from being better are just powerless thoughts.
4. Acknowledge what makes training uncomfortable.
Similar to Commandment #3, the easiest way to overcome the hurdles of getting started with training is to feel as much of the weight-induced tension as possible. It’s a reminder that you’re doing something worth your time, and that your body is in the process of changing.
As unbelievable as it sounds, that discomfort becomes enjoyable, even if you aren’t a glutton for punishment. A dopamine reward always follows.
5. Give your rotator cuffs the attention they deserve.
Pull more often than you push, and learn how to properly retract your shoulders. Our culture has created a society of rounded shoulders and arched backs, and making serious injuries in the gym even easier.
It’s not sexy, but it’s worth your time. You’ll notice the benefits of better posture almost immediately.
6. Save some energy for tomorrow's workout.
My favorite gym persona is the guy who goes insanely hard on the gym floor once per month, three times annually. While their hard work those three hours per year is as admirable as it is entertaining, we’re in the business of /sustainable lifestyle changes here/. Defining your lifestyle based on a few hours per year is a tough sell.
On a less extreme end, it’s really beneficial to not do /everything/ of which you’re capable in one day, especially in the early stages. Your body will require so much more, both physically and cognitively, to recover that you’re better served to leave some gas in the tank for mañana.
7. Choose measures of success with fewer variables.
Get off the scale during the early months. I understand that seeing that number drop is exciting, and progress tracking is important. But there are so many variables involved in the number on the scale that it wasn’t worth my time to care about, and I don’t think it’s worth yours either.
I’m a fan of performance-based metrics, whether it’s hitting a new PR on the squat rack or lunging a few minutes longer than I thought possible. Those are way more fun than an anxiety-filled weigh-in. If you want something numerical, track your nutrition moderately with Lifesum or Moderation and take a gander at yourself in the mirror every once in awhile.
8. Build your cheat days into your schedule.
Read this: Nobody has a perfectly “clean” diet.
I’ll repeat: Nobody has a perfectly “clean” diet.
That’s a good thing. If you know someone who does, cut them out of your life because they’ve probably committed some strange crimes that you don’t know about yet.
But seriously, we’re all prone to enjoying our favorite foods that lack nutrient density. So knowing that, build them into your schedule so that you can space them out adequately. It will give you something to look forward to and it will make your kale salad more bearable.
9. Stop telling everyone about your changes.
Learned this one the hard way. Remember when I mentioned earlier about our tiramisu-loving friend? The same is true for our friends who just dropped 8% body fat and haven’t left ketosis since last March.
Ultimately, you’re making these changes to feel and look better, not for talking points. To quote Lil Wayne, “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.”
10. It takes a village.
I’ve met some of my best friends from working out, and they’ve made a lasting impact on me even when our paths diverge. Despite stereotypically rough exteriors, gym regulars love what they do and even more than that, they love to help others find what they found back in the day. And there’s nothing like someone yelling at you to get some weight off of your chest when you don’t think it’s possible.
If you’re looking to get started, I can’t recommend our personal training services enough. I started with Thommie at the beginning of 2018 and I can’t speak highly enough on the skillsets of our training team. Shop training packages below!
*One more thing:* When I started the Monday Mindset last year, I had hoped to share what music has made for meaningful productivity and training. So without further ado, allow me to share the #MondayMix, a meticulously-curated, weekly-updated soundtrack to your most productive week yet.
Until next week,