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priorities

What Are YOUR Priorities?

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What Are YOUR Priorities?

Everyone has a choice. In a given situation, your choices may be limited, or it may be unreasonable by most standards to choose certain options, but the choice is always there. If you are being robbed at gunpoint, you can choose to acquiesce and hand over your money, or you can resist. For most people, it is not worth the risk to fight for your money, but it is still a choice you have to make in that situation.

I have heard the words “I can't” more times than I can count in the context of discussing an exercise or diet regimen. Almost always, this is completely untrue, and not just from a semantics perspective. Typically, it's a matter of prioritizing other things instead: relaxing after work, doing work, family time, going out on the town, etc. It is not my job to judge people for the choices they make and how they prioritize their time. Rather, it is my job to help people understand which choices make achieving their goals more likely, and simply to help them realize that it is, in fact, a choice they make.

One of my first clients I worked with after I moved to the Bay Area is the CEO of a company that was acquired for about a billion dollars. He has a lot of employees depending on him to keep the company successful, and I doubt anyone would suggest that his job isn't demanding. However, he really enjoyed exercise, numerous times providing unsolicited feedback about how happy he was with the changes he saw both physically and mentally. In the 2.5 years I worked with him before I left that facility, I think he cancelled our session for work reasons only once or twice on short notice.

My former client flat out told me once that he prioritizes going to the gym more highly than his job, and that proved true the vast majority of the time. Again, it is a choice, even when it seems unreasonable to follow certain paths. In this case, a lot of people might deem his priorities as unreasonable, but ultimately that is completely a matter of opinion. In the end, it even proved beneficial for his work, as increased productivity is something he cited as a benefit of the regular exercise he was doing.

Next time you set a goal for yourself, be realistic about what you want, and what it's worth to you. For example, let's take the goal of having a visible six pack. Some people might think they really want this goal, but thinking about it this way has its issues. Most importantly, it ignores what you give up or change to get there. Make sure having a visible six pack is worth those changes to you.

If I told you that to get a six-pack you would have to eat out infrequently, prepare your meals in advance, stop drinking alcohol almost entirely, get 7+ hours of sleep every night, eat a specific number of calories each day, and work out most days of the week for months, would you still want to reach that goal?

For some, the answer is still yes, they want to reach this goal at all costs. For others, they realize that they don't want a six-pack as much as they think they do. More specifically, they prioritize certain behaviors more than having a visible six-pack. Either choice is fine by me, as long as you understand that you are making that choice.

Next time you make a choice, phrase it as such in your mind when you make that decision. For example, don't think to yourself “I want a six-pack.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want a six-pack more than I want that third piece of pizza.” Next time you want to skip a workout, don't think to yourself “I really want to go home and watch Netflix.” Instead, think to yourself, “I want to watch Netflix more than I want to get in shape.” Once you pose the question or idea to yourself like that, you can truly make your decision. Maybe you choose slice #3 over the six-pack. Fine by me, as long as you realize that's what you're doing! Just don’t keep saying you want something, but instead choosing a different path whenever an opportunity arises for your actions to reflect this desire.

To wrap it up, this isn't really an article about how to help you achieve your goals. Rather, it is an article about being honest with yourself and choosing goals that make sense for what you want. Special thanks to my former client referenced earlier; a conversation we had largely inspired this article. Until next time… choose wisely!


 

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Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin Z

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Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin Z

Sleep is positively correlated with everything  - mental clarity, hormonal balance, fat loss, muscle gain, and more.  It is free and, barring some unfortunate living and medical conditions, universally available to all.  Yet it is often a low priority for many athletes.  And they suffer for it.

City living can be a challenge to reasonable bed times.  Late night events such as concerts and dinners might keep us out late.  Living in an urban area often means traffic late into the evening. And in our homes, we have our TVs, tablets, and smartphones buzzing late into the evening with business and social notifications.

Optimally, we want our sleep pattern to mirror the sun.  As the sun goes down, we wind down. Sun comes up, we get up!  Not too difficult.  If you have to wake up exceptionally early, then guess what?  You get to go to bed early!

Optimum sleep times for most individuals is 9/10pm sleep time and 5:30/6:30 am wake time. This is going to vary from individual to individual.  Some people do great on 6 hours of sleep per night.  Others need 10-11.  Most people thrive on 8.5 hours.  You are going to have to find out what works for you.  But generally, if you (1) wake up and completely hate life and want NOTHING but to go back to bed or (2) feel tired ALL THE TIME you need to sleep more.  If you wake up every day, kill it all day and feeling great, you’re probably sleeping right for you.

So what can we do to help normalize our sleep patterns?

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

1. First thing is first – you need to prioritize your sleep!  

If you were working out to improve your physique, would you go down the street and eat a big fat ice cream sundae after each training session?  Probably not.  So WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU STAY UP UNTIL 1 AM BROWSING Facebook/Reddit/NYTimes/whatever.  Staying up late is going to increase your stress hormones, and make it literally harder to do EVERYTHING.  Do you want to negatively impact your sex drive? Your ability to lose fat and retain muscle?  Do you want less patience and reduced mental clarity?  Prioritize a better you.

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

2. Put down the smartphone!

Many of our athletes claim they cannot sleep, but they are on their electronic devices literally up until the minute they close their eyes.  This is not optimal.  You can put it on silent and set your alarm 15 minutes before you intend to sleep, and the world won’t explode.  The first thing tomorrow morning, you will be able to resume the rat race.  Give yourself 15 minutes.  After you graduate from the 15-minute program, try 30.  I promise you will thank yourself!

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

Photo Credit : www.unsplash.com

3. Minimize light exposure.

As the evening begins, try to reduce the lighting accordingly.  There are really awesome features built into Android and Apple iOS that allow you to reduce the brightness of the phones and tablets in the evening.  For the computer, you can download f.lux.  It will reduce the brightness of your laptop screen in the evening.  As for house lighting – less is more!  Try using a lower watt light bulbs in a lamp that gives more indirect light (versus using an overhead light).  Personally, I use a Himalayan salt lamp by my bed.  They are about $25 online and they give off a soothing warm light that is much less rich in the blue light that our body associates with day time.  You can read more on the dangers of blue light in this Harvard Health letter

Photo Cr

Photo Cr

4. It takes time, but it's worth it.

Don’t try to start going to bed tonight at 10 pm if you go to bed at 1 am.  I wouldn’t expect someone eating Twinkies for breakfast to immediately start cooking for themselves – I’d probably switch them from Twinkies to Pop Tarts, Pop Tarts to Lucky Charms, and maybe Lucky Charms to actual food.  Likewise, we do not do interval training on our first day out of knee surgery.  What time do you go to bed, on average?  Write that time down!  Good job!  Is that time 10 pm?  If not, then proceed to next step: take that time and subtract 30 minutes.  Congrats!  You have your new sleeping assignment!  Go get em!


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