My Communication SUCKS!!

Do you ever think about whether or not you are a good communicator? I’d be willing to be this is something most people tend to overlook. A lot of research and writing has been done about things like voice inflection, body language, how fast or slow one speaks and all sorts of other factors and how they affect how one’s message is received by the listening party or if the message is conveyed at all.

In order to assess if you are or are not a good communicator you must first assess your idea of what communication is and what factors affect it.

What is communication? Or rather what is “effective” communication?

To most, communication is simply making a point. There is little regard for how the message you’re sending is being interpreted. Even if you’ve checked your posture, leveled out your tone, and reduced your rate of speech to an intelligible speed, you’re message still may not be getting through, because you’ve left out one key element of communication…

You’ve forgotten to analyze the party which you’re speaking to. You don’t know what their beliefs are, what motivates them, what makes them tick. Much to the same point you don’t know what shuts them down or closes them off to what you’re saying and if you’re not careful one wrong statement or expression could put you in a position of “non-communication.” Now the person is busy counting the minutes, or seconds, or even syllables until you’re done yapping.

Effective communication takes place when one party conveys an idea and the other party understands, processes, and responds, hopefully favorably. A great example of bad communicators…Congress. A lot of these guys have the same, centrist, ideals but they jargon they use to present their plans shuts the other side down, there is a massive schism in their communication and messages conveyed more often than not land on deaf ears because people are more concerned with making a point rather than making progress.

There is a great song lyric from a band I love, Tool, which speaks to our issues as a culture when it comes to communication and how we need to have the ability to listen and entertain different opinions and ideals without becoming angry or cynical. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I believe life’s lessons can be learned from art and not from “self-helpers” but that’s a topic for another day J

heres the lyric: Tool- Schism

…Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any

Sense of compassion

Between supposed lovers

Between supposed brothers.

The Usual Suspects

After over 10 years working in the Health and Fitness industry working in all facets from front desk to personal training I have had plenty of time to observe different personalities in the gym.

A while back my good friend and author of the Stupid Gym Shit blog posted a list of different types of people you see at the gym…members and such the post was called Gym Lingo You Must Know… and it was hilarious…

Much in the same vein I was inspired to make a list of my own … only this list is about the different types of TRAINERS you find in the gym arena … Enjoy

The Old School Players

1.)    The Meathead- The classic trainer. Fake tan, extra medium shirt with NO PAIN NO GAIN logo, or something to the like, cutting off the blood supply right at mid bicep, Reebok’s from the 1980s that only he seems to know where to buy, and yes, the fanny pack. What’s in it? Steroids? Bubble-yum? It remains a mystery…

2.)    The Repeater- This is the trainer that you see repeating the same workout every hour on the hour regardless of the client. A 17 year old kid training for football and a 50 year old man on beta blockers should be on the same program right???? Wait.

3.)    The Functional Trainer- No traditional bodybuilding workouts here…ever…at all. This is the guy that you’ll see twirling himself and his clients around the gym like freakin’ Peter Pan. Are they working out or playing twister?

The New School Fools

1.)    The Crossfitter- This is the guy that swears by Crossfit as the one and only method of training. No matter the client, no matter the goal, Crossfit is the answer… See you in the ER.

2.)    The Vegan Crusader- If you eat meat you hate living things and are going to die of cancer. Milk gives you cancer, beef gives you cancer, chicken gives you cancer…what doesn’t give you cancer???? Tree bark and grass clippings.

3.)    The Paleo Guy- This is my favorite. Because like MOST vegans, MOST of these guys got it all wrong. Dude…Newsflash… Paleolithic cavemen were NOT eating Butterball bacon and McCarthur Farms butter…

4.)    The Reverend- This is the preacher/trainer. Most of them egotistical freaks in the midst of a personality crisis between who they are and who they want to be. Now you’ve got this dude reciting lines to you during your workout telling you how you need to change your focus or your life. Dude, shut up.

That’s all I got for now, but I’d love to hear about any of these maniacs you can spot!!

Dont Drink the Kool-Aid Seriously, it’s poisoned.

I try to read a lot.

Blogs, research papers, books, magazines, etc. You name it, I read it. And if I’ve never heard of it I’m on Amazon.com, Google.com, or Pubmed.com the second I get home trying to find any research I can on whatever the subject might be. I try to learn as much as I can for two reasons:

1.)    It makes me feel good to know stuff.

2.)    If I arm myself with knowledge it makes it more difficult to take me for a fool.

I know my words may come off harshly, but I read statuses and blog posts all the time with people stating what they think are “facts.” It infuriates me because most of these claims remain unsupported by research.

Just because someone is on TV does not make them an authority. Dr. Oz is NOT the foremost authority on fat burning and supplementation. He just isn’t. I’ve seen many products endorsed by this clown as belly fat busters, or belly fat burners, or whatever the other marketing terms he uses are.  I wont go into all the excrement that’s come out of this dude’s mouth.

But I will let my friends and colleagues in the fitness industry sound off!

Here’s an article I came across with the help of the International Society of Sports Nutritionists:

Article…

All I’m saying is find out whats in the kool-aid before you drink it and offer it to your friends and loved ones.

The Biggest Loser

For the past few years I have heard people rant and rave about The Biggest Loser like it was some sort of transformative phenomenon. People in my industry, Fitness and Nutrition Coaches, have looked at me with eyes of sheer disbelief when I say I have never seen an episode, not even a 30 second clip. For the longest time it held true, until recently. I caved in the other night and watched about 15 minutes of the last episode aired.  More than anything, I think I was left with a sense of confusion.

I understand I’ve only seen a microcosm of the whole picture when it comes to this show so I’m hesitant to rush to judgment, but at the same time it’s a reality show, so it’s safe to say what you see is pretty much what you get.

As a trainer I look at some things on this show as a glaring contradiction to the whole fitness profession. For example I noticed that like many reality shows this show has a “cut” process whereby at the end of the episode one member of the cast(which is comprised solely of obese people in need of nutritional and exercise guidance) will be sent home. Usually it’s the member that has made the least progress, which to me seems like the person that also needs the most guidance.  But what do I know? I’m not on TV or anything.

Next I saw a preview clip or a past episode clip of the trainers putting the contestants in a room filled with all these unhealthy things that they love and crave…why?

Some of you may answer, “To make it more challenging.”

To which, as a trainer, I ask again, “Why?”

Losing weight and breaking habits are some of the most difficult challenges that can be put in front of people who have reached a state of obesity. In most cases you are trying to correct years of poor nutrition and many destructive psychological patterns. So if you are this person’s trainer/coach/mentor why the hell would you want to make this process MORE difficult?

I can think of two reasons:

  1. It wouldn’t be good TV without it.
  2. You’re a dick.

Neither one of these merits any praise or recognition in my book. If you’re going to help, help. The process of transformation is inspiring enough and complex enough that you don’t need these gimmicky additions to make TV. Film the real drama, I see it every day and I know REAL trainers do too.

The Mighty Fall

We’ve all read about it, heard about it, seen it on TV… Lance Armstrong, the last bastion for PED-free athletic awesomeness has surprisingly, to some, fallen from grace.

I had a conversation in the workplace a few months back where I stated my belief that Lance Armstrong was using PED’s during his impressive Tour de France dominance and I thought I was going to be dragged into the street and beaten to death like a heretic.

Now that my beliefs have been confirmed I don’t feel vindicated, I’m not happy that my intuition was on the money, or that my unwavering skepticism of the people (not just athletes) we elevate to hero status was again proven right. I’m saddened because these are our children’s role models. Athletes and actors that we glorify, for what? For winning?

Winning is awesome. But so is fortitude of character. And many of these guys get up on a podium and swear on everything holy that they are clean, only to admit months or years later that they were lying all along.

If Lance could have taken his PED’s and not had to hide it in order to compete I wouldn’t see any issue. The fact that he deceived the testing staff, his teammates, and the public for monetary gain is what makes it wrong. If the sport allowed it and all the athletes were on the same page, or at the very least afforded the same access to the enhancements that would be a whole different story.

Bottom line is the guy was a talented athlete, who, through the help of PED’s became a superstar, made millions of dollars, and lied about it the whole way through…again.

We have to quit worshipping these dudes just because they are great athletes.

Winning alone is not worthy of worship. How you live is infinitely more important.

Lazy, but Talented

That’s the slogan I saw on a kid’s shirt at the gym the other day while he was in session with his personal trainer. I got a little upset when I saw it because it endorses an attitude of apathy and complacency which we (especially adolescent kids) have an over-abundance of already. I don’t care how talented someone is, if they are lazy they should be fired, or cut, or benched, or whatever your term for out of action is.

Hard work and dedication are the only things that get results. Sure, everyone knows the one in a million story of the guy who won the lotto, or inherited a fortune, or the guy/girl with six-pack and great legs that eats pizza and donuts all day… they have been dealt an awesome hand and should enjoy it to the fullest, but I don’t envy those people that seem to just effortlessly “make-it.”

The overwhelming majority of us have to flat-out work our asses off and stay diligent to get where we want to go. The only way to achieve true success is by working hard and conquering those things that keep us from our goals. I don’t envy them because the glory is in the process. Yeah, it sucks while you’re doing it, all the tedious things that you have to do in preparation for a greater moment. But once you’ve reached your mark you can look back on all the work and sacrifice you’ve endured and feel a feeling of actualization, or accomplishment. You’ve taken an idea from your mind and through discipline and hard work made it a reality.

A person can win a fortune and lose it in a second or be blessed with great physical features and suffer health complications from poor eating habits.

No one can “win” the experience that comes with going through the process that makes a millionaire or be “blessed” with the knowledge of a person that has gone through the process of physical transformation.

The work makes it worth it.

Music…The Great Connector

I was driving to the gym other day around 7:15 in the morning and to catch an early workout. I remember it being a perfect morning, the air was crisp and clean, the sun had been creeping its way up for a little while but it hadn’t yet begun its full bore heat-rape of the day, opting instead to grace us with comfortable, warm light. I remember being happy because the night before I downloaded, on my Spotify account that I pay for🙂, Jeff Buckley’s Grace Album. This album is my all time favorite wake-up/morning time album. The second track, Grace, is the best song to cruise down the highway to, just turn the windows down and the volume all the way up and ride.

On this particular day I wasn’t on the highway, though that served as no deterrent to my turning the volume all the way up. Stopped at a red light, I noticed in front of me a truck with a man sitting in the bed next to some landscaping tools. He looked like a man that had been worked to the bone his whole life. I could clearly make out his rough hands and nails discolored from a combination of digging through dirt and smoking cigarettes, his face is worn and leathery, probably a mixture of a lot of sun and also cigarettes.

Upon first look I wouldn’t think he and I had a single thing in common other than the road we are traveling on. The second that thought escaped my little brain the man looked up right into my eyes (very weird) and began jamming to my tunes. As the song reached its crescendo the dude leaned back and takes a long, slow, emotional drag of his cigarette and what does he do? Breaks out the mother-effin air guitar… all I could do was stick my hand out the window and throw dude the bull horns.

In that moment this perfect stranger and I were sharing a moment of peace and happiness and it was awesome because I knew that the 30 second clip of THAT song, on THAT morning, made THAT dude’s day better.

Music did that.

Music does that.

Music is the great connector.

Why Do People Fail?

First of all, failure is a matter of perception and is completely determined by the individual, so that’s kind of a stupid question.

A better question would be why do so many people fall short of the physical goals they set for themselves? (if I titled this entry like that there’s no way you’d be reading it :))

I think one reason is they try to do too much all at once and in the process they lose sight of the target. Small, deliberate steps with frequency do much more to get you to the Promised Land than bounding aimless strides.

To help ensure success and to establish healthy habits one cannot focus on the totality of the work that lies ahead. Focus has to shift to a day by day mentality with an eye on the future, not the other way around. Make each day perfect. “Perfect” simply means adherence to whatever plan you’ve established for yourself.

The operative word is PLAN.

IF you don’t have a plan, you will more than likely crap the bed on this one.

I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but don’t freak out just because I didn’t tell you to rub the magic lamp and the genie would pop out and make you hot, settle down. Keep reading.

The truth is if a bunch of people that are in shape are telling you a key component of getting in shape is planning it might just be.  But it doesn’t have to be crazy, the beauty of planning is that its custom to you and your preference.

All you have to do is get in the habit of doing it.

If you’re a frilly, prissy type of person who likes particular things planning may take you a little longer, but you’re probably ok with that given your detail oriented personality. If you’re the kind of person who’ll eat a shoe as long as it doesn’t take more than fifteen minutes to be done then planning a whole week may take you thirty minutes.

It doesn’t need to take long, it just needs to work.

Getting Started… How do I Measure Progress?

Ok, so you’ve been Dudeluvin’ for a few weeks now and you’re ready to get the ball rolling. You’ve been doing your research and you’ve found a bajillion different plans and programs guaranteed to get you built like a brick shithouse…Great, but between Flubber and Adonis there has to be a way to gauge progress and its not what most people think. 

Most of you believe you need to lose weight to look good.

Believe what you want to believe. I am going to encourage you to stop focusing on the number that you see on the scale. I pose this question to my clients: If you woke up tomorrow with the body you’ve always dreamed and you stepped on the scale and it said 500lbs would you care? Conversely, if you woke up tomorrow and you looked like a Shar Pei but you stepped on the scale and it was at your goal weight would you be happy? I have yet to have someone tell me they would be happier as the Shar Pei.

The scale is a tool that should only be used in conjunction with other tools as a gauge to track progress. It should not be the sole measure of your success. I’m sure you’ve heard “muscle weighs more than fat,” well; not really, a pound of fat and a pound of muscle are both a pound of matter. Muscle, however, is much denser than fat and takes up far less space.  Not to mention, fat has the nasty habit of being loose and jelly like (some fat is hard, again, whole other topic) whereas muscle is hard, smooth, and pretty, thus the term “good shape.” So, regardless of what you think, if you want to look like society’s definition of “good” then what you want is to burn fat, not lose weight. For this reason it is much more beneficial to you to have a body composition analysis done (body fat %, fat pounds, lean mass, etc) this gives a much clearer picture of whether or not you are progressing. 

What’s the difference?

Based on the way the human body is built you can structure your nutrition and exercise protocols in such a way that the bulk of the weight you lose can come from either fat or muscle. Crash dieting, fad dieting, VLCD’s (very low calorie diets), for the most part, result in muscle loss more so than fat loss and are not effective ways of getting the body you’re looking for.

 Now that I have said that I will say this, sometimes VLCD’s and LCD’s are administered and supervised by clinicians for medical purposes. For those purposes and under those circumstances your goal isn’t a six pack, it’s staying out of a coffin, and that’s a whole different ball of wax. 

Lies (What’s real and what’s fake?)

Let’s get one thing straight.

There’s a lot of information in circulation today about losing weight and getting in shape. The mainstream media is full of magazines and TV shows advertising Dr. S-O-B’s new superfruit that will take inches of your waist and give you the youthful look you’re after or Mickey the Meathead’s 20min Prison Rape Death Workout that will get you shredded in 90 days guaranteed.

Anyone who tells you that there is an easy way to do this is a bald-faced liar. There is no easy way, there is no shortcut. There is work, there is dedication, and if you stay the course, there is success. Any other way will yield only half-assed temporary results. If you’re a younger guy or girl or if you’re older and your friends are morons they may tell you “fat-burners” and steroids are an easy way to get the look you’re after. These jokers are dangerous to all people who are looking for information, because not only is the information inaccurate, it is potentially catastrophic. But that’s a whole other topic.

The fact is, if you’re looking for results, meaning you are overweight and just want to get “sexified” you don’t need any of that junk, you just need to change your habits and move your ass.

My favorite brainless move is making drastic diet changes. You don’t have to drink anyone’s Kool-Aid here. You don’t have to stop eating carbohydrates, you don’t have to only drink water with lemon and cayenne for 10 days, and you don’t have to stop eating meat. I swear to god if one more person tells me I’m going to die because I’m eating red meat I might just kill and eat them.  Or if another person asks me if I know an animal had to die in order for me to eat that meal, I think a funny thing to do next time would be to look down at my dish in horror and scream at the top of my lungs.

That being said, if you want to do any of those things for your own personal reasons, more power to you, though I think from here on out any point I make is going to be moot to you. At some point you’ll want to start thinking rationally and you may need a how-to guide on that.

I would also like to expose another group of liars and crooks. (since these guys actually take your money!) I want to make this especially clear, any program or diet that claims that you can “eat whatever you want and get the body you’ve always wanted!” is categorically full of shit. If people could eat whatever they wanted and be in great shape I would be writing about bass fishing or something. Those diets are usually just churched up calorie restrictions. And those planned meal frozen food programs (I won’t name any names) serve you low-quality food that tastes like death. A good percentage of the people that get on these programs experience little success and realize after wasting a ton of time and money that they are not getting the result they desired.

Bottom line, the only thing that really works and lasts is lifestyle change.

Yes, it’s difficult.

Yes, it’s painful. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.

But when it’s over, if you see it through, it’s f***ing sweet.

Ps- Happy Halloween🙂