Sunday, September 19, 2010

Take responsibility - stop lying to yourself

People want to blame. They want to blame everyone except themselves for their failures. If they didn't reach their goal it was because the program wasn't good enough, no one told them what to eat, the gym wasn't open when they wanted it to be, they didn't have enough time, no one told them what to do, blah blah.

This is another way of saying they lied to themselves. And it's surprising how many people think I am lying to them on a daily basis, when I'm not. Maybe it's because they've been lied to their whole lives, the government lied to them, big corporations lied to them, the media lied to them, reality TV shows lied to them (chances are you're not going to be a famous singer), the medical profession lied to them, their teachers and lecturers lied to them, the guy on the end of the phone at the call centre lied to them. There's a good chance their parents lied to them, sometimes with the best of intentions.

Their teachers and parents may have told them do this and this, go to this university and you'll be successful. Then they leave university or school and life slaps them in the face. Then the media tells them to buy this house, buy this car, buy this product and you'll be happy, but they're not. And they get depressed, so the medical profession gives them some pills, which are mean to help, but they don't. Most people live lives of quiet desperation in a sea of mediocrity punctuated by fleeting moments of vitality.

And they go to gym, and after a few weeks of training twice a week they don't lose any weight, so they think the fitness industry lied to them. And in a way, it did.

And maybe it's me, or maybe it's the economy, but people seem to be getting angrier and more frustrated, I think it was Sandra Bullocks character in Crash that said "every day I wake up angry". And people realise there's nothing they can do about the big lies, they feel impotent in the face of government lies and wars and  collapsing economies; where those responsible accept no blame and everyone else has to accept the pain.

We've become a nation of complainers and whiners, quick to apportion blame, but rarely looking to ourselves. Refusing to accept that we are complicit in many of the big lies. So people start to focus on the things within their sphere of influence, people who are forced to listen them, the woman at the supermarket they can complain to, the person in traffic who pulls out in front of them and the person who was meant help them lose weight.

And the fitness professional who was meant to help them lose weight, it must be their fault why i didn't lose weight or get fitter or failed to attract more members of the opposite sex. Because no one wants to blame themselves. And the reason most people think everyone is lying to them is because they lie to themselves on a daily basis. You ask them what they eat, of course, they don't eat biscuits or cakes, they only ever eat lean protein and organic veg, yeah right. And yes, they exercise every day but somehow don't get any stronger or lose any weight. So it must be the program.

The people I've seen who were successful at weight loss or strength training or sport didn't do anything magical or secret, in fact some of them followed what I would consider sub optimal programs. But, they were consistent, they didn't miss training sessions, they put weight on the bar, they pushed themselves, they pushed away the dessert and the alcohol until they had reached their goals. They worked hard.

But people don't want to work hard, they want someone else to do it. As Morpheus from The Matrix said  "I can only show you the door, you must walk through it". So they go to self help gurus, who tell them to visualise themselves thin, and they 'deserve it' and they are 'special', because who wants to be normal. And it doesn't work, and they search for meaning and direction and latch on to the latest fads or trends.

And then you tell them doing steady state cardio twice a week isn't probably gonna do shit for weight loss, and they think you're lying, because no none ever told them that before.

How to tell I'm not lying to you

It is surprising how many people think I am lying to them or telling untruths. Here's how to tell if I am lying or not. If I have nothing to gain from what I've said, if there is no financial reason for me to say it, then I'm probably telling you what I believe. If it was actually easier for me to sell the status quo and tell you what everyone else has, then don't you think I would do it? If I'm telling you something that could actually make me look bad, why would I say it? And if I say something that goes against what most people are doing, then it's probably true. (caveat to this: this doesn't hold true for everything, lots of people believe in conspiracy theories and new age crap like waving crystals around, this doesn't make these things true, see the next point).

And what I say can be supported by research and evidence. People like to bash science these days, you often here that in relation to nutrition and exercise in the media, you here comments like "You don't know who to believe, one day somethings good for you and one day something is bad, so I carry on the same".

Some people like to blame the messenger. It's the messengers fault for telling them the truth and not sugar coating it. It's surprising how many people ask questions they already know the answer to, or think they know the answer to, they don't actually want you to answer the question, they want you to agree with them, to validate their belief in what they should be doing. And if you give the 'wrong answer' they go and find a trainer who gives them the right answer, which matches what they want to hear.

Too much information, not enough knowledge

There is more information than ever before, but true wisdom and knowledge has become lost in the deluge. Educate yourself, think for yourself, use critical thinking, seek out real experts, people with a proven track record who aren't just trying to sell you something

If you fail no one cares, if you succeed no one cares.

If you don't reach your goal, guess what happens? Nothing, the world carries on the same. If you do reach your goal, guess what happens? Nothing, the world carries on the same, except you changed. Make yourself accountable, no one is going to do this for you, you could have the best personal trainer in the world, a personal chef and a PhD in exercise science, but if you don't get off your arse nothing is going to change. You are the only person who really cares about your goal. Others can help you, but you have to live and breathe it.

If you failed, you failed yourself. And I'm not going to sell you some self help shit, chances are you aren't going to get half the things you want, however hard you try, some people make money, some don't, some business's fail and some don't, some marriages fail, some don't; and the reasons are complex. And some people have got the talent and piss it away, and some people have below average talent but never let go and 'get lucky'.It's a fine line between success and failure, and sometimes the reasons why some people succeed are purely random (see the book The Drunkard's Walk to find out why ). Life is not black & white.

There is no correlation between financial and career success and life success. Some people have jobs they love and make money from, they are in the minority. Some people have jobs they don't really like to make some money to live a life they don't really like, they are in the majority. And some people have jobs that are a means to an end, they live a life outside of their work, their live is given meaning by other things like family or meeting goals.

There are school caretakers in their seventies running ultra-marathons, there are postman working to save money to climb 8000m metre peaks, and there are millionaires sitting at home watching TV.

Living a life of quality, that is authentic is the only way forward.

Not everyone is going to be a millionaire, not everyone is going to have a job they love.

But exercising 3 or 4 hours a week is achievable right now, without question.

Eating less junk, is achievable right now, without question.

Doing 5-10 minutes mobility and stretching while watching TV is achievable right now.

Fates right hand

Now, of course, there are things out of your control, if a tsunami hits your house then the random chaos of the universe has slapped you in the face. And maybe you'll get struck by lightning or win the lottery, but don't waste your life waiting for destiny. There's nothing you can do about entropy and chaos, but you can control your reaction to it, assuming you survived.

All too often people want to blame fate or in the case of exercise and disease they blame genetics. Yes, the reason you had a heart attack was because of genetics, but in the majority of cases you could see it like a slow train a comin'.  Of course, it wasn't because you were sedentary, a smoker, had a poor diet, didn't eat omega 3's or vegetables, and your homocysteine levels were through the roof. And don't think your doctor is doing any better than you, they have access to years of medical training, the latest journals, constant visits from pharmaceutical reps, do you think their life expectancy is any higher than yours?

You must educate yourself, and arm yourself with knowledge and the right tools to succeed.

Upton Sinclair said
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
To paraphrase, it is also difficult to get a person to understand something when them staying in their comfort zone is dependant on them not understanding it. Doing nothing is easy, action requires risk and uncertainty.

I think it was Charles Staley who said something along these lines. Look at what most people do in the gym, most of them stay the same year after year. That don't change shape but continue to do the same workout. Therefore, do the opposite to what most people do.

Take responsibility for your actions, realise when you're lying to yourself. Don't blame others for your failures, and to quote Donny Shankle

"Go maximum, everyday!"

Go on, do 20 press ups right now. You know you want to, what's stopping you; and who are you going to blame when you don't? Live life like you mean it!

Gym with escalator - who are you going to blame when you fail?

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