Hello and welcome! Since this is the first blog, I’ll admit my head is spinning as there are so many things I’m excited about sharing with you in the areas of training, nutrition, and recovery that are the backbone of getting and staying in great shape for a lifetime. These are things I’ve successfully infused into my own life and have helped incorporate into my client’s day-to-day lives to achieve their fitness goals. But there is plenty of time for that. And, since many of those visiting this site may just be starting out, or getting back to a regular exercise program after a layoff, let's start with 6 misconceptions - of what I call "psychological demons" - that hold people back from realizing their fitness potential. These are the things that you think about, or even obsess over, and are very likely limiting your ability to reach your fitness goals. Let’s address them head-on right now:
Misconception #1: Going to the gym and training is for other people – it’s not who I am or what I do. I won’t spend a lot of time trying to convince you that it IS who you are. But take a minute and really think about it. There is not a single person in the world that was born with a natural ability to exercise any more than you. Everyone had to start somewhere. What is exercising anyway? All you’re doing is moving one or more body parts; sometimes weightbearing (e.g., holding a dumbbell), sometimes not. In other words, if you can move, you can train, it’s that simple! It’s not like you’re trying to hit a 90 MPH baseball that requires some innate talent to do with competency. Your body is an amazing instrument that is intrinsically designed to move. Those that train regularly simply made a conscience decision that they were going to start and they stick with it long enough to start seeing results and building confidence that they can do it. So can you!
Misconception #2: People at the gym will look at me and judge me. I’ve gone to any number of gyms over the years and can unequivocally tell you that unless you’re doing something WAYYY out of the norm, there is nobody in the gym that cares what you’re doing or what you look like. What do they care about? They care about themselves of course! They’re thinking about what exercise to do next, how much weight to put on the bar, whether they should do cardio today or tomorrow, how they’re tired today but glad they made it to the gym anyway, what they’re going to eat after they leave, and so on. If they are thinking about other gym-goers, they’re thinking about what they are thinking of them, not the other way around (see the irony).
Here’s another secret – regular gym-goers have a ton of respect for new people at the gym that “get after it”. I don’t mean setting new squat records. I mean just getting in there, staking their rightful claim to work out, and doing their best. If they do notice you (a big if), they’ll simply be thinking – ‘good for him or her, I hope they stick with it’. The water is warm – take a breath, get in there, do your thing, rinse and repeat.
Misconception #3: I don’t see results from working out like other people do – my body is different. Yes, it’s true that some people have genuine, physical limitations they’re dealing with. However, on the whole, the vast majority of people absolutely have the natural physical make up to make considerable strides towards whatever fitness goals they have, whether it be losing weight, gaining muscle, improving overall health, etc. I’ll use weight training, as one example, just to make the point. When you lift something that is heavier than you are normally used to (e.g., a dumbbell or kettlebell), your muscle fibers naturally contract so you can lift the weight. Afterwards the muscles break down and need to repair so your body delivers nutrients to the muscle fibers that allows them to grow stronger. This enables your body to deal with the weight better the next time and the process continues as you grow stronger and stronger. One of the things about training I’ve always loved is that there is no mystery in it. There is no “wishing upon a star”. Put the work in and your body will respond in kind. To think otherwise ignores basic human physiology.
It’s also true, to get the results you want, you need to be doing the “right” things with a great deal of consistency. We’ll get into all of that in future blogs. For now, feel confident that the body you have now is perfectly equipped to respond well to exercise and sensible nutrition.
Misconception #4: I don’t have time to work out. Without question, there are times in our lives where finding time to exercise is difficult. A demanding job, business travel, family / kids, taking care of aging parents, and on and on. Since I know these time pressures well, I won’t tell you that you have the time to train X days or Y hours per week. I don’t know your commitments, priorities, and daily schedule well enough to make a sweeping recommendation like that. However, I will tell you that with a little planning and a highly efficient training program tailored to your goals and schedule, ANYTHING is possible. There is a misconception that to get into great shape you need to toil away hour after hour in the gym. This is simply not true. In future blogs, we’ll discuss some tips for getting the most out of the time you have to exercise, but not working out at all, or giving up simply because you’ve decided it’s just not possible, is usually an overreaction to most people’s reality.
Misconception #5: Exercising is confusing, I don’t have the time to figure out what I should be doing to achieve the results I want. One of the reasons well-intentioned people fall short of their fitness goals is because they are burdened with the mass proliferation of exercise advice that is available with no way of truly knowing what they should listen to, what they should ignore and, most importantly, how they should incorporate it into THEIR OWN fitness program, if at all. The simple truth is this – you don’t need to master hundreds of exercises to get and stay in great shape. All you need is a few foundational exercises that can then be modified to make them easier or harder depending on your fitness level. Your job is simply to understand a few important movements, apply them, and then trust the process. In future blogs, I’ll share some of these common movements and exercises. Don’t be intimidated, there are far fewer than you might think.
Misconception #6: Even if I go to the gym regularly, I’ll never be able to eat “clean” in order to get and stay in great shape. The reason people have this belief is usually because - a) they’re not sure what to eat in order to support their fitness goals, or b) they think it will be way to restrictive and doomed to failure, so why bother even trying.
Let’s take a little pressure off right from the start. Is it likely you’ll have a great deal of success going from whatever your diet looks like now to a diet that consists of only the leanest protein, “good carbs”, “good fats”, and no sugar or anything else that generally makes food taste delicious? The answer is probably no for most people, but that’s OK. The truth is most people only need to make slight adjustments to what they’re eating, or how much they’re eating, to make significant improvements in their overall health and fitness level. Getting in shape, whether it be exercise and training or nutrition is all about incremental improvements. Make those small improvements, see results, on to the next (small) challenge. Momentum is a powerful force and you’ll be surprised that when you start to eat a little better you actually start to crave more nutritious food. I’m sure you can easily think of people in your own life that started to eat better, and once they saw improvements in their fitness and overall health, they became nutrition evangelists. You don’t have to jump all in, just start to make some small improvements in your daily eating habits and see where it takes you – I’m betting you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
In summary....If you’re the average person thinking about getting started on a fitness program, or getting back to one after a hiatus, I’m sure some of these common misconceptions will resonate with you. Have faith that each of them can be overcome much more easily than you think. Focus on small, incremental improvements and gradually build your own momentum, whatever that looks like for you. I can promise you that you’ll see results!