This blog entry is very personal and dear to my heart. I have been thinking about this post often for the last 3 months but could not write it until now.
Sometimes a coach needs to be reminded of what it is like to play on the field. As a fitness coach, it is easy to forget how hard it is to count calories and take time out of my schedule to train and do cardio. Sometimes I forget that I’m the freak. I’m the crazy person that likes to workout. And the truth is, it is easy for me to do it often because I work at a gym. Every day I’m reminded of it. I don’t have to leave work and go to the gym before arriving home. I don’t have to wake up at 4:30am just to get a workout in before going to work. Until recently, I have never even counted calories consistently for more than a few weeks at a time.
In January, I decided to go on a bodybuilding prep diet. I was inspired by a book by Drew Manning called Fit2Fat2Fit. He gained 70lbs in six months and then lost 70lbs in the next six months. I read his book and I highly recommend it, but I was left wanting. I wanted to know more about this psychological process. I wanted to really feel what my clients had to go through. I wanted to know what it was like to feel like something would be immovable, or never be over. The only way for me to do this was to find out for myself and put myself through weight loss for an extended period of time. So I gained about 5 pounds (putting me at 165lbs) during the holidays eating whatever I wanted and then hired Ethan Smoorenburg, a talented up and coming preparation coach, to write a meal plan for me.
This meal plan placed me through tedious dieting. In this diet, every single calorie and gram counted and there were no rest days. There were no “cheat days” in which I could eat whatever I wanted and not log the calories. Every single calorie had to be accounted for. I wanted to go through this because I wanted to understand YOU. And now, after having lost 21lbs and 10% body fat in 3 months, I feel like I understand you a little better.
From Jan. 4th to Mar. 23rd, through Ethan’s tedious meal plan, I lost 21lbs and went from 19% Body fat to 9%. I went from 165lbs to 144lbs.
I’ve learned that through the hardest times and the times when I meet immovable objects, the greatest therapy is simply to allow others to listen to me. I obviously can’t hear you through this blog, but there may be a way for me to acknowledge how you feel. My hope is that through doing this you can find some sort of comfort, some sort of way to get you through this day, and some new way to view what seems to be a mountain.
I am learning how you feel. You feel like you’ve been running a race for years. You want to power through and run full-speed but you can’t do it without remembering that you’ve gone full-speed too many times, only to find more miles to go. You are out-winded. You feel like every time you breathe in as much as you can, it’s not enough. You are still tired. You are still found wanting. You are still gasping for air.
You are tired of being a guest in someone’s home and not being able to eat the meal that they’ve provided. You are tired of being embarrassed because while everyone’s talking and congregating, you’re calculating calories on your phone. You are tired of people judging you and treating you like a snob just because you are trying to improve yourself.
You look around and you see people living their life indulging on the things they want. They look the same as you, only you’ve been slaving for months just so that you can reach par. The body fat percentage that so many people have is what you will have to slave over for years to achieve. You sit at work or at home, bored and hungry, and you feel like your body is eating itself yet the scale does not move. Despite your good behavior, you feel like you’ve gotten nowhere. You are tired of finishing a meal and feeling hungrier than you were when you started eating.
You have had thoughts like this: “Is this what a life of fitness is supposed to be like? A constant gasping for air? A place with no pit stops and no rest? When will I look at myself and not be disappointed in what I see? Will I ever be satisfied? Why is it that every small victory that I achieve is submerged by a longing for something else? When will satisfaction set in? Will satisfaction set in?”
An interesting thing happened to me when I finally reached the single digits in body fat; I didn’t care. I looked at the mirror and thought: “This is it? This is what people dedicate so much time and effort for? A six-pack? It looks weird on me.” I know that sounds crazy, but I am not lying. It really did go through my mind. Doing this helped me realize the point of all of this. The point is that we do not wait until we reach our fitness goals to be happy. Yes, we do need to stay focused, but do so while learning when to breathe.
“If you want only one thing too much, you’ll be disappointed. The best thing you can do is appreciate the little everyday things.” -Augustus McCrae, Lonesome Dove
Take your breath.
If you are wondering when you should breathe, take this advice:
When you lift your child up without shoulder pain… BREATHE
When you get an extra notch in your belt… BREATHE
When you dance with your wife or husband and can think about how pleasant they are without trying to just catch your breath… BREATHE
When you work in the yard without taking a two hour nap after exhaustion… BREATHE
When instead of watching TV, you feel the urge to talk a walk alone or with your loved one… BREATHE
When you realize that you’ve been consistent with your calories and macros for a week… BREATHE
And when you sleep at night knowing that today, you did your best… BREATHE
Today, if you will, think about the moments in your life when you’ve learned to breathe and post them to the comments of this blog to help others like you. Thanks for reading.