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The Way Forward (Part 3)

For those that haven’t had a chance…here are the first, and second installment of this series…

Part #3

…it’s been awhile…sorry about that, but to be quite honest, this part of the story is currently “in progress”, thus, I’ve had to actually live it a little bit before I could opine.

So, to catch up…Last we spoke, it was October 2015, and I was just back to the gym.   As referenced, the first two weeks of getting back was the toughest.  But the key to success in those early days was a familiar and supportive Coach and community of friends in the gym each day, as well as the support of a great family at home. Pretty soon, however, going in and doing the work, wasn’t “work” any longer.  The way I looked at it, I got to see my friends, laugh, and get a good sweat going. 100% of the days I went to the gym, I felt better leaving than I had when I arrived.  

In retrospect, that had little to do with where the gym was located, what amenities it provided, or how fancy this or that piece of equipment was, or how clever the coaching was.  That early success really boiled down to two things.  Progress, and support. 

I was seeing progress, each and every day.  I had to train my eye to see it a first, but it was there.  One extra rep here, or a little more range of motion there. The support came in the form of my new "colleagues".  Friendly faces, each and every day, supporting me throughout the process was critical to that early success. 

Most surprisingly, however, was that I found that sharing my story and showing up every day to work on my own goals, was a source of motivation and inspiration to others.  This is where the seeds of the transition from student to coach began to take root. In no time at all, I was into a rhythm, with no job holding me back, or impeding my progress, I was free to sleep, eat, walk, workout, and rest as needed.  I also took time to delve into other areas of my life that I didn't get a chance to explore much.  I picked up my guitar again, created art, read, listened to podcasts that I needed to catch up on, and most importantly, spent some time in thought.  Not necessarily contemplating the origins of the universe, or anything like that, but simply digging in to what it is I wanted in my professional and personal life, and charting my course.

Most of us drift along from place to place, each day, without some sort of driving motivation behind us.  This is fine, but like the Cheshire Cat says to Alice when she asks which path she should take.  He replies something to the effect of "If you don't know where you're going, then it doesn't much matter which path you choose."  For most of us, this is true, and as long as we just keep walking, we will get somewhere eventually.  If, however, you are really looking to make a change in your life, having a point on the horizon to navigate toward is critical.  Here are some interesting thoughts on how to figure out what that goal is, or where that point on the horizon might be.

So...brass tacks...where am I at with all of this?  Have I gone from doughy wad of goo, to super athlete that looks like he’s been carved out of granite? No. Have there been significant changes? Here are my current “stats,” as it were.

Measure July 2013 October 2015 August 2016
Bodyweight 248lbs 362lbs 305lbs
Pant size 38in 48in 42in
Max Pullups (w/kip) 11 You jokin’ 2
Max Pullups (strict) 2 You TRIPPIN’ 0 - but its coming
Max Pushups 27 1 16
1RM Deadlift 405 295 390
1RM Shoulder Press 215 155 205
1RM Back Squat 305 225 285

So, I was never a "world-beater" but I'd say I'm about ½ way “back” as it were.  Not too shabby. For the visual among us, here are the photos, so far:  


So…no statue of David type results, right?  But that’s hardly the point.  Progress.  Slow, incremental, SUSTAINABLE, progress.  

I’m stoked on how this has gone so far.  Honestly, I can’t wait to see where I am in a year. It is important to keep all of this in perspective.  The most important measure is how I feel everyday.  For an idea of what it feels like to lose 57 pounds, go pick up a small child (5 or 6 years old) and carry them around for the entire day.  You can't set them down, and you have to take them EVERYWHERE with you.  You'll very soon realize how exhausting life can be.

I also realize, not everyone can quit their job to focus solely on their fitness.  For 99.99% of the population, you have to live your life, and work the daily maintenance of your body (working out, nutrition, mobility, etc.) into the onslaught of intrusions that are explicitly trying to undo all of your hard work. I say all of this, to reiterate the point, that this is a PROCESS.

It’s awesome to see the dramatic success stories that are shown on TV, or online.  They can be very inspiring, but truth be told, the lack of context can be a problem.  Side by side, full transformation photos don’t illuminate the daily work that is done along that journey.  This is why I have chosen to post pictures as I walk the path.  To show that this doesn't happen overnight. Many of the transformations we read and hear about, if done via traditional means, take many months to accomplish.  But the photos give us, the reader, the sense that *poof* overnight there was change.  The level of consistency and dedication that person put in, gets lost in a quick side by side photo comparison.  Thus, people get frustrated when their own progress doesn’t seem to happen overnight. Big results are actually just a string of successful small steps.  

Consistency is probably the most underrated aspect of anyone’s fitness journey.  Most people get drunk on the early gains they make, they get frustrated that their success levels off, and often times throw in the towel.  What people fail to realize is that as your body changes, it adapts to the inputs you are giving it.  You must continually tweak, and refine these inputs in order to continue to achieve the success you are looking for.

So what are these measures of success? For most people, it’s the number on the scale.  It is extremely important to be careful here.  Using this as your sole measure of progress is akin to looking outside and seeing a rainy day and saying “well…looks like the weather is ALWAYS crappy here”, then saying the opposite thing the next day when the sun is shining.  This is not to say it shouldn’t be considered, but it’s an incomplete measure, at best. As I have done above, you need to combine outputs to truly measure success.  

The things you track should directly relate to the goals you are trying to accomplish.  For example, you can tell I'm trying to get back to doing strict pull-ups, I'd like to squat over 300lbs and Deadlift over 400lbs again.  The goal isn't just in achieving that number, I know that for me, I feel great physically when my body is in a place to accomplish these tasks. So, do the work in the gym, all of the appropriate accessory work outside of it, and take measurements and photos every 30 days, track your progress in your workouts, PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU FEEL, how your clothes fit, and yes, weigh yourself ON OCCASION.  This is the safest, and most sane way to track your progress. When you start looking at the aggregate output of your work, you see your true progress.  One measure, simply isn’t enough.

So, quite a few people have asked, "why did you write this?" or  "Why put yourself out there and expose all of your warts?" Simply put...this is for you as much as it is for me. Anyone reading this far and having followed along to this point, likely has an area of their life they aren’t 100% pleased with.  Whether it is your fitness, a personal relationship, or any other area of your life, only you can choose to change or improve it.  It’s not going to be easy, it might be painful, it might require that you swallow your ego, but no doubt, it’s going to require work, and consistent effort.  Depending on the situation, it could be ALL of these things, but in the end, there is no better decision you will make for your overall well-being.

So what are you going to do?

If you’re looking to make a change to your health and fitness, you have a ton of options.  Honestly, no matter which route you choose, remember there is no quick fix. My recommendation, of course, would be to go look for a gym like ours that is a part of the MadLab group and find your “Coach for Life”...TODAY.  Of course, if you live near me, you know a guy...drop me a line and we can chat.

Regardless of what your needs might be, get up...I mean it... stand up, right now, and walk away from the device you are reading this on, and write down the 1 thing you want most in life...then chart a course to getting it.

In closing, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to Cameron for being my coach, and for encouraging me to get back in the saddle.  Furthermore, thank you for giving me this opportunity to transition from student to coach* and trusting me with the responsibility that comes along with it.  Thank you to our members and my clients for trusting me with their health and fitness, you inspire and motivate me to be better each day.  Thank you to my family and friends for their support as I do this work, both for myself and for my clients, your support is critical.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to everyone that has reached out to me individually regarding my story.  I’m so thrilled to hear that people from halfway across the globe have read my meandering thoughts, and have found some sort of inspiration to begin their own journeys toward personal fitness, or have redoubled their efforts.  It is humbling to think that I have helped in that regard. I’ll be sure to check in here from time to time...keeping you abreast of the current state of things!


Coach Shane  

*I know that I had referenced telling the story about my transition from student to coach.  As I wrote this portion of the story, it grew into it’s own blog post.  I’ll be sure to revisit this here soon.