So much of my life over the past two years has been a blur.
Yes, I know much of that is wrapped up in the coronavirus and how it’s affected every person in every area of the globe no matter who they are.
But for me, personally, it’s been nowhere more apparent than in watching my son, Jackson, in his teens.
He was 12 when the world took a sharp turn in March of 2020 and as I write these words, he celebrates his 14th birthday. Just wrapping my head around the fact that I have a teenager is strange enough, but due to the virus itself, we haven’t seen Jax as much as we did prior to 2020.
Much of this was a result of his mother and I doing our damnedest to keep him from testing positive for the virus. While no efforts are considered foolproof, it was less because of fear of Jax getting COVID and more because there is so little that our mostly low verbal son would be able to express to us if he was sick.
If you’ve followed my writing for awhile, you’ll know that Jackson’s autism is in many ways his superpower. He is almost always a bright light whether he’s singing, dancing, putting together Legos or watching a movie. We’ve always been able to ebb and flow with the fact that what Jackson couldn’t express in words, he could achieve in action or other means of expression.
And autism aside, he is coming more into his own as a teenager. Slowly, he is starting to speak more and not just by scripting answers. The teenager in him is expressing his opinion, cracking jokes and, if the questions are simple, he can give you a genuine response.
Of course, there are the very teen aspects of body odor, body hair, and just enough rebellion to keep the rest of us wondering what’s going on in that mind of his.
For myself, my life completely changed 14 years ago when Jackson came into this world. I know how being a part of his world has made me better and watching the young man he’s turning into is fascinating.
His little brother, Sebastian, remains completely over the moon with his big brother. It’s arguably his favorite time when Jackson is with us (despite the fact that most 14 year old kids don’t want to hang out with a 4 year old).
And to the boy who continue to transform in front of our eyes, we wish you the happiest of birthdays. You continue to make us proud.
It shocks me to say it but Dr. Spencer Nadolsky hasn’t been on the show since Episode #13 in May of 2016! He returns this week to join me for my next 4-part series. In this episode, we talk about his brand new program, LiftRx, and what he’s looking to accomplish with this exercise and nutrition platform. Tune in to find out the details.
To learn more about Dr. Spencer’s work and to sign up for LiftRx:
In the mid-90s, I was at a listening station at a bookstore, tuning in to an artist I had heard good things about. His name was Nick Drake and the song I listened to that day was called “Way to Blue”. Before the chorus finished, I was crying in the middle of that store. Music has always had a grip on me that movies and books could never quite hold a candle to.
Many years later, I took the cue from a book called “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” by Robert Dimery, and listened to every album in the list that I wasn’t already familiar with. Not surprisingly, Nick Drake’s album made the list.
While lists like these are subjective, I knew it would be an aggressive undertaking. When I removed all of the albums from the list I already was acclimated to (let’s say a mere 25%), I still had several hundred albums left to cover.
I loaded them up on my iPod, decade by decade, and started to dive in.
The original book starts in the 50s and works its way into the 2000s. While I didn’t listen to every album in the order it was listed, I did cover each decade at a time. So, I didn’t touch the 60s until the 50s was complete, etc.
It took me about a month of daily listening to cover the list in entirety.
As someone who is fiercely passionate and opinionated about music, I had always kept something of a distance from certain artists who are considered iconic in music history. Artists like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, and even bands like Joy Division stayed further than arms length from me. I knew their importance as artists but I had no perspective to approach them from. As a result, much of my life I steered clear, for the most part, and let my tastes guide me other places.
There is an opinion, I don’t know who to credit it to, that “nothing new” in music was created beyond the 70s. After delving through the list, I am inclined to agree.
While certain styles of music may have evolved into the following decades and improved with advances in studio engineering, there is actually little (if anything) that became a pioneering achievement beyond the 70s.
One of the things that I found fascinating by approaching the list in the way I did, was that those same artists I kept my distance from now “sounded” different when you heard them amongst the landscape of other artists at that time. Some bands/musicians were a true product of what was happening socially, geographically and politically at the time. If those same artists would have been placed anywhere else in history, they may not have had the same impact.
So, when I got to Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the other aforementioned artists, the lightbulb kicked on: Now, I understand. Now, I “get it”.
And that understanding led to me completely embracing those artists, all of whom, save for maybe Cohen, I am still listening to routinely today. I respect Cohen but I really have to be in the mood to listen to him.
As much as I love music, and I love music down to my bones, I couldn’t really appreciate the icons and the legends of rock history without understanding the framework from where they came.
Once I did, it was a revelation.
It got me thinking about how the average person approaches nutrition and exercise.
What many people know about food and training is what the population at large has shown them. They are victim to the trends of the moment. Much like music, if you don’t take the time to delve past what the radio (the public) plays you, you’re going to miss some very important areas. You might only be exposed to fad diets, misinformation and you never really understand why so many of the available options don’t quite work for you.
As a result, you might hear about things like intermittent fasting and all of the supposed (and actual) benefits of it but it doesn’t mean that it applies or would work for you. It only has those benefits for certain people. Keto is interchangeable in this conversation, as is veganism or any other diet that is defined by a name.
We (collectively) hear what people tell us about health but we don’t look beyond the surface of it. With music, if all you know is Bob Dylan, maybe you get no further than Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Donovan or Woody Guthrie. That’s not a bad thing but your palette sure is limited.
When people hear about the value of temporarily tracking their food, assuming there is not a psychological barrier to doing so, maybe they dabble in it but they don’t practice the skill enough to see how effective it is. They kind of “get it” but not really. That’s not saying you need to track but if you’re going to do so, commit to it for awhile. Educate yourself.
Or maybe people hear about the importance of a macronutrient like protein. With the inclusion of resistance training, they might not take the time to develop the skill in adding that nutrient, (animal or plant-based), consistently into the diet to see how transformative it can be.
We could argue over the merits of intuitive eating, flexible dieting, very low calorie diets, etc. and there will never be a shortage of dietary methods to experiment with and learn from (just like there will never be a shortage of bands to fall in love with or detest).
What I’d like you to do is to dig deeper and learn more about food and how you nourish yourself. Just a friendly reminder that food documentaries and fad diet books are not a good place to actually learn about food.
With training, maybe you’ve heard about the advantages of sprint intervals, high intensity training or “metabolic workouts”. They sound good on paper, maybe even with magical results, but you don’t take the time to understand the efficacy is in the dose (more is not always better) and even if certain types of training might be contraindicated for your body.
And, if you’re inclined to agree with the notion that nothing new has been accomplished with music in the last few decades, I would argue that the very same could be said about food and exercise, too. Most of what we know about has been the relative truth for decades now.
My challenge to you is to learn more.
Learn what make your body feel good.
Learn what portions of food make you feel satisfied but not stuffed.
Learn the amount of food and the style of training your body performs its best at.
Learn what foods make you feel bloated or tired.
Learn what style of exercise leaves you empowered to “fight another day”.
Learn what foods can stay at close proximity in your home without being triggering.
Know that the foods that make me feel great may not be the same foods that make you feel great. We are allowed that individual response.
Much like taste in music is subjective, so is taste in food and training and how our body responds to both.
Truth be told, you don’t have to take my word from it. The “lightbulb moment” has happened for many of my clients at RevFit, too:
From Pam H: “Things clicked for me when I learned to hit the calories my body needed for fat loss and to dial in my protein. I lost 40 pounds this way. I know exactly what I need to do I just need to commit to doing it.”
From Mary W: “My lightbulb moment came when I realized that everything I wanted to accomplish for myself and my body was at least 75% mental.”
From David L: “I can’t run from the fork. Meaning, one can train vigorously for five days a week, but not maintaining a reasonable diet will sabotage that effort.”
From Rachel H: “I know that personal bests come slow for me. I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t miss a training session for 12 weeks and I train 3x/week. During that time, I only missed two sessions, making it in for 34 of 36 sessions. By the end, I had hit a new personal record in my trapbar deadlift.”
You don’t learn these things by playing a cameo role in your health. You learn them when you commit to programs that resonate with you.
When you experiment and “listen” to the cues, you’ll learn things about yourself that may not have been apparent before.
So, take that journey. Look beyond food for sadness, food for solace and food for fear that you may not see the next meal (assuming you are of the privileged who are not without).
Look beyond training for fat loss or training as punishment for something you ate. Learn to appreciate what your body is capable of and the circumstances under which you’re at your best.
Pay attention to the framework you approach your health from and once you find that context, you’ll “get it”.
Just like our clients did.
(Pictured below, Nick Drake’s “Five Leaves Left” which originally featured “Way To Blue”)
Kate Galliett and I conclude our 4-part series this week by putting the bow on our conversation and formally introducing her new book “Becoming Unbreakable”. In this episode, we get to chat more about her “6 Pillars” that she breaks down formally in the book as well as the origin story for how the book came to fruition.
Kate Galliett is back for the third episode in our 4-part series as we continue to build the framework in her upcoming book “Becoming Unbreakable”. In this episode, we talk about the importance of trusting our bodies to give us the information we need to recover from workouts and from injuries and developing this “explorer’s mindset” to see what our capabilities are whether we do the work on our own or enlist the help of other health practitioners along the way.
A few months ago, psychologist Dr. Lisa Lewis and I were speaking on my podcast. She was referencing Tara Brach’s popular book “Radical Acceptance” when it comes to how we view the food we eat as it relates to our goals.
While simplified, Dr. Lisa remarked that radical acceptance is the ability to say “It isn’t fair” as well as “It is what it is”.
I have thought a lot about those words since that conversation and I wanted to draw out a list of some of the most common things I hear with regard to the unfairness of the foods we eat and the circumstances under which they affect us.
It’s my hope for you that you’ll take a cue from this lesson of radical acceptance to change how you view food and exercise.
-It isn’t fair that I only have 1300 calories to eat just to be able to lose weight.
-It isn’t fair that my husband can cut out beer for a week and can lose 6 pounds when I have to cut out wine for a month to see the same results.
-It isn’t fair that the diet that worked for me in my 20s no longer works for me in my 50s.
-It isn’t fair that I have to work out 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to see changes in my body.
-It isn’t fair that my diabetes forces me to eat differently.
-It isn’t fair that my injuries take longer to recover from.
-It isn’t fair that my hormones affect my cravings.
-It isn’t fair that menopause affects my sleep, my mood and my ability to stick with a diet.
-It isn’t fair that my neighbor lost 30 pounds on the keto diet and I only lost 8.
-It isn’t fair that I have to take medication for my cholesterol/high blood pressure.
-It isn’t fair that my thyroid isn’t normal.
-It isn’t fair that I have so much loose skin under my arm.
-It isn’t fair that I have love handles.
-It isn’t fair that my spouse brings home cookies and chips and I can’t have them because I’m trying to watch my weight.
-It isn’t fair that my genetics make it harder for me to lose weight.
-It isn’t fair that I have PCOS/IBS/Hashimoto’s/Crohn’s Disease
-It isn’t fair that foods which used to agree with my body now make me sick.
I could make the list longer, but chances are, you’ve said some of these things to yourself and to others before.
When you take Brach’s perspective (as translated through Dr. Lisa), you can look at any of these concerns and add…but it is what it is…
There are many avenues with which to take your training and your diet that can benefit your life and often, the biggest obstacle is simply accepting your realities and understanding what you can change versus what you can’t.
Accept the areas that are less than ideal for you as it relates to your goals. Take any of these statements in this list to reframe with the words “it is what it is” and see how your behavior changes as a result.
Your life is not static, it is dynamic and your individual circumstances change on a daily, and weekly, and monthly, and yearly basis.
Focus carefully and attentively to what you can change and start shifting your energy there.
Kate Galliett is back with me for Part 2 in our 4-Part series together. In this episode, we talk about how to be more aware and respectful of the pain that we’re feeling. Kate walks through a process (also detailed in her upcoming book, “Becoming Unbreakable”, where you can take a step-by-step approach to understanding what pain you’re experiencing, how to work around it and the variety of treatment options depending on the severity of the pain.
Make a commitment to be kinder to yourself and others in 2022.
If you get sideways on your diet, forgive yourself and move on. There’s another meal coming shortly thereafter where you can right the course again. The words you use to berate yourself for a less than ideal choice of food or portion of food can send you down a path that could take days to recover from. This is a simple kindness to make.
If you don’t make it to the gym all three days that you told yourself you would, remind yourself that it’s fine. Two days is better than zero and you can try again next week or you can try different days than what you previously had planned. Do the best you can with what you have time for and practice that kindness frequently.
Don’t argue with strangers on the internet. You’ll never get that time back. If that person you’re going back and forth with doesn’t pay your bills or help you raise your family, you’re letting them take up too much space in your mind. Chances are that stranger needs a dose of kindness, too.
Be punctual. If you don’t respect your time, you’re probably not respecting the time of others either. That kindness goes both ways.
The Coronavirus isn’t the only thing to be concerned over. I just lost two people I’ve known for most of my life just before Christmas. One to a drug overdose and one to suicide. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. Be kind to others. The unkind word you say to someone (on the internet or otherwise) could be the last words they hear.
Remember that perfection only sounds good on paper. In real life, progress (even miniscule progress) is everything. Progress is a kindness.
You are allowed, (let me write that again), you are allowed to make mistakes. Be kind to yourself.
Find joy in simple pleasures. Find joy in others. Create kindness where you don’t see it.
Social media is not your therapist. Your therapist is your therapist. Erase that post you were about to blow out into the world and save it for your therapist (which is why you hired them). That’s kindness to yourself and others.
Make commitments to yourself that you have a greater likelihood of keeping. Look at your current life commitments: obligations to work and family as well as your current goals. Look at where you have gaps to create successful moves. When are you less busy? Are those days/times fixed each week or do they change from week to week? Find the gaps, plug in your steps towards goals there (the days or times you’ll prep a meal, the days or times when you’ll train, how you’ll streamline your sleep schedule). Be kind to yourself when it doesn’t go as planned. Pivot and modify on the fly.
Get better at saying “No”. Your first commitment is to yourself, a healthier version of yourself. If you can’t take care of you, you can’t take care of others. This is a kindness.
Keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. If you want to improve dietary adherence, reduce cravings, and recover better from your workouts, your sleep is one of the biggest factors to get in control of. If need be, get ear plugs and black out curtains. I can’t possibly overstate the importance of your sleep. A well-rested you is a kinder you. You deserve that…
Watch.The.Way.You.Talk.About.Your.Body. How you feel about yourself informs how you eat and how you train. Pick your verbiage wisely. This is a kindness.
If you want 2022 to be different from any year prior to it, you need to be different.
Choose your kindness, then act on it, enforce it and set boundaries around it.
I’m very excited to welcome back Kate Galliett to the show for our next 4-part series. Kate was previously on Episodes #123 and #272. This time, we’re reconnecting initially in promotion of her new book “Becoming Unbreakable” which we’ll be chatting about throughout the series but our first episode actually takes a few steps back. Kate and I talk a little bit about our origin stories into this industry and how the way we treated our bodies and evolved with them has shaped the way we coach.