#348-Sarah Campbell: Matters Of Perspective (4 of 4)
In the final episode of our 4-part series together, Sarah Campbell and I talk about life perspectives. We touch on a lot of areas from how we perceive ourselves, the circumstances around us, our interpretations of what we see in the media and more. As always, we cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. I hope you enjoy!
A few months ago, there was a phrase that I was hearing from my clients more often than normal.
“I really need to get my shit together.”
And when I took stock of the clients who were saying that to me, it was evenly split male/female and always by individuals who I considered to constantly have a lot on their plate.
We live in a ‘hustle harder” society where there is something of a perceived reward for putting in long hours, existing on little (or poor quality) sleep, and (I’m no exception here) there’s an adage that goes something like: the harder I work, the luckier I get.
Depending on where you root around on the internet, Thomas Jefferson was attributed with the phrase: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
And whether the attribution is right or not, the sentiment is basically the same: The more we take on, the better our life goes.
Except at the expense of our health.
I recall, many years ago, when I was working at a gym in South Carolina selling gym memberships (before I got certified as a trainer), there was a woman sitting on a recumbent bike reading a book called “How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty”. I chuckled to myself, because at this time in my life, I had no children, I wasn’t married and it seemed like the simplest thing: One word, one syllable, two letters.
Just say “No”.
How hard could it be?
Turns out, it’s harder than we give it credit for.
As a business owner, I remember having to say yes to every opportunity I could get to train clients, participate in networking functions, meet new people, and do everything I could to build my business.
“No” was not in my vocabulary. I was in a constant state of “Yes”.
Yes, I can train you.
Yes, we can train at that time.
Yes, I’ll be happy to meet you for lunch.
Yes, I’ll attend that event.
Yes, I’ll sign up for your group.
This was a scenario I wrote about recently when it came to taking some of that time back because I reached a point where I was spreading myself too thin.
Now, I’m at a point where I find more freedom, more control over my schedule, and more sanity (if you will), in saying “No”.
It’s not out of disrespect. On the contrary, it’s an exercise in self-respect.
And I believe that the more we exercise our ability to say it, and enforce it, the easier it is to (collectively) get our shit together.
I made a short list of ways that you can use the word “No” more effectively in your life with the hope and assumption that it gives you back what it’s given me.
Apply as you see fit.
I should also remind that “No” does not mean the same as “Never”. It just means, not now. It’s a shift in priorities.
“No, I’m sorry, I’ve got something scheduled at that time.”
“No, that day is booked solid for me.”
“No, I haven’t been feeling great and need to rest.”
“No, one drink is enough.”
“No, I’m trying to get to sleep earlier.”
“No, my workout is at that time.”
“No, I have a doctor’s appointment that’s been scheduled for a while.”
“No, one serving is enough. I’m full.”
“No, that’s when we have our family time.”
“No, I don’t feel well when I eat (insert food here). I’ll pass but thank you.”
“No, I appreciate you thinking of me and I hope to make it next time.”
“No, I need a bit more advance notice with everything we have going on.”
“No, if I do that, I’ll be late for my next appointment.”
“No, I’d rather not.”
“No, I have a weight loss goal that’s important to me right now.”
“No, thank you.”
It’s important to remember as well that “No” is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. It’s a sign that what matters most to you and what you value in life is taking precedence over things that are less important.
In the words of someone probably smarter than me: If it’s not a “Hell Yes!”, then it should be “No”.
In Part 3 of our 4-part series together, Sarah Campbell is back and we’re talking about a process oriented perspective versus a personal one. As coaches, we frequently encourage our clients to “trust the process” while the world around us pushes back our reactions can be quite personal by comparison and it’s difficult to detach emotions from real life. Sarah and I take some time to unravel those messages in this episode.
The story, as it goes, is that my decade of drug addiction started when I was twenty years old. I got clean at the age of thirty. My appetite and tolerance for drugs grew so quickly that my job no longer afforded me the luxury of buying what I wanted to consume. As a result, I transitioned into dealing drugs to keep working a regular job and be able to afford an increasingly growing habit.
I saw a lot and I learned a lot in those ten years. Most of it not of a pleasant variety despite the fact that it felt like one long, blurry party.
With an eye on the past, there were lessons that I learned not only of my own behavior but the behavior of those who partied with me and the people who only knew me because I had the supply they wanted.
Not every lesson is a comfortable lesson but one thing I’ve always appreciated is that there are parallels between our behavior with drugs and our behavior with food. I’m not going to talk to you about the addictive tendencies between cocaine and cookies because there is a monstrous divide even if the brain acts in similar ways.
What I will be writing about is three things I took note of then and I still consider now when it comes to helping people change their lives.
People Will Do Almost Anything If They Want Something Bad Enough I saw people steal, lie, cheat and manipulate their way through the most bizarre scenarios just to get their drug of choice. I’m no exception in that. Most notably was a shift in priorities. Buying drugs would trump paying routine bills like car payments, mortgages, etc. I remember one customer of mine who intentionally never bought a car. It wasn’t that he couldn’t afford it. He knew that a car payment and the insurance for the car would affect how much he could spend on drugs. Instead, he worked jobs where he could ride his bike or take a bus and still have more than enough money for his habit. That was a calculated shift in what was important to him. He even knew where certain times of the year would bring in less income for him so he would stockpile drugs so that there was plenty around when money was tight. What’s the takeaway? When we, as coaches, talk to clients about values, priorities, desires, etc. what we’re trying to determine is what you (as the client) are willing to do to reach your goals. In it’s simplest form, we ask the question “What is your why?” WHY do you want to lose weight? WHAT are you willing to do/not do/temporarily sacrifice/temporarily compromise to get to your goal? HOW are you going to stay the course to reach your goal?
You Can Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover What does a drug addict look like? Can you picture that? What details did your mind conjure up? Is it someone with gaunt facial features, or someone who twitches uncontrollably or someone with unusually cracked lips or vacant eyes? Maybe you drew this picture from something you experienced in real life or something you saw from a dramatization on television. I can tell you, firsthand, drug addicts don’t look the same. Sure, you might find someone who fits the description mentioned above but addicts are the soccer mom next door, the business executive in a three piece suit driving a luxury car and the person who’s down on their luck scraping pennies for meth. I served all of them (and every type of person in between). What they all had in common was that they used drugs to relieve stress, to cope with the demands on their lives or just to feel something that only drugs could give them. What’s the takeaway? Not every person who looks like they need to lose weight actually wants to lose weight. Not every person who looks like they’re not very strong are in reality weak people. Not every person who swears to you that they want to change their lives are actually ready to do so (more on this later). I have had to remind myself as a coach that it’s my job to understand where people are at this moment in time to help them bridge the gap between who they are now versus who they want to be. Taking a person at face value with the information they give regarding their lives, their challenges, and their personal history helps me understand what tools to give them. The more I know, the more I can help.
No One (I Mean No One) Will Change Before They’re Ready This is probably the most difficult lesson to share. In my case, ten years is a very long time to spend with addiction and it’s a shockingly long time to spend dealing drugs in all sorts of scenarios and still manage to dodge incarceration, not to mention death at the hands of an overdose. Despite the concerns of my loved ones and at many points, the direct request of my family and loved ones to stop using and stop dealing, I wasn’t going to stop until I was ready. Watching friends suffer with their addictions and seeing friends go to jail wasn’t enough to deter my behavior. I simply assumed that what happened to them would never happen to me. Chasing the next high was all that mattered. What’s the takeaway? I would love to tell you that every person who steps through my doors at RevFit is ready to change. They might say the words and they may even have themselves convinced that they’re ready but it’s just not always the case. Change is hard. We live in a world of such high pressure to perform and high stress equally matched with poor coping mechanisms, poor sleep habits and a food environment custom built to give us instant pleasure (not better health). Despite the fact that many people know they need to reduce calories to a given extent, or to move more than they currently move and trying to keep it as consistent as possible all while dealing with setback after setback, wanting to change and ACTUALLY changing are two very different realities. The fact is, many people want improved health and are not prepared to do what it takes to move the needle forward. It doesn’t mean it will never happen. It may mean that change as people want won’t happen right now. They’re being pulled in too many directions and their priorities (see #1) are not aligned with their values.
I’m always somewhat hesitant to write about my past with drugs. I know that, for some, it’s a triggering conversation. I never mean to trigger anyone. When I was in the thick of it, I don’t know what voice would have been the most effective at getting through to me. What I do know, is that quitting may have been a one-man job but staying clean took having a solid support system and steering clear of undue influence.
If you want change, expect resistance, expect discomfort, expect things to work against you, expect to be frequently disappointed with yourself (in spite of your progress) but most importantly, value yourself enough to expect better out of you.
Pictured below, me, midway through those ten years.
In the 2nd part of our 4-part series together, Sarah Campbell and I take a basic look at how our brains work for us and against us. We talk about the “myth” of balance and understanding the messages our brains give us that can either help us improve or stand in our way. We also discuss the importance of technology detoxes and the need for human connection.
I was speaking with one of my clients recently (Hi, Michelle!) and I’ve been so appreciative of her support of my work. She was asking what my next article would be about and, at the time, I wasn’t sure.
At any given time, I am sitting on a handful of drafts: ideas that popped into my head that I started working on and gave pause to because a better or more pressing idea came up instead. Sometimes I revamp the drafts and give them life and some times I shift my way of thinking and trash the draft to leave room for something else.
And Michelle made a comment that inspired this week’s post: “I wish I could write like that. I keep telling myself I should write but I never do.”
To which I replied: “You should. Just start writing.”
Michelle responded: “No, I would misspell things and my grammar wouldn’t be right.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “It matters that you put your thoughts to paper instead of just letting them sit on your mind.”
However, Michelle’s concerns are indicative of why a lot of people never really accomplish what they want to; not in their jobs, not in their relationships, and not with their health and their bodies. They’re too focused on it all being just right.
I probably should give credit to all the years I spent writing songs and poems that the good stuff came with consistency. It took writing when I was in the mood and when I wasn’t. It took writing when I felt inspired and writing when I was down on myself. Improvements came with consistency and there was never a perfect time to write nor was there a perfect way to write. I just had to do the task.
I think about how many years I’ve dedicated to this website, with a weekly blog (without fail) for over 6 years. What many people may not know is that despite the fact that I read and re-read each article several times before I hit “publish” to catch any typos, I frequently publish articles and catch a typo after the article is released. Only after eyes have been on it by others, do I go back and make the edits. I don’t wait for perfect. I write, I release, and edit later if need be. I embrace and expect the imperfections.
I think also about how many years I’ve dedicated to my podcast (also roughly 6 years) and the issues I’ve dealt with regarding sound quality, vocal nuances, inconsistent internet speeds, etc. which can all play into the final product of what a listener will hear. Unlike my blogs, once I publish a podcast episode, that’s the way the world hears it unless I want to go through the effort of completely deleting an episode just to touch it up and try to re-release it (I don’t). My podcast remains full of imperfections.
My diet is never perfect.
My training is never perfect.
My sleep and recovery patterns are never perfect.
My coaching skills are never perfect.
My marriage is not perfect.
My ability to parent is not perfect.
My life, as great as it, and it is great, is rarely ever perfect.
Waiting for the perfect time to diet or the perfect time to start training will net you a lot of wasted time.
Train with purpose, nourish your body with purpose, sort the details out later.
And to Michelle: write. Write until your fingers ache and cramp, write until your tears hit the page (or the keyboard), write as if you’re writing for the world to read (even if you have an audience of one). Write to tell a story, write to be a better storyteller, write because words breathe better in black and white.
Color comes from the details…those messy, imperfect details.
In our next 4-part series, I welcome back to the show, Sarah Campbell. Her first two appearances were Episodes #39 and #121 which makes it nearly four years since she’s been on. In this episode, we talk about the “continuum of life experience” and how we’re susceptible to all of the input we receive on a daily basis. We cover self-talk, how social media affects our mentality and how to handle the fact that our lives and how we react to what life throws at us can change over time.
There’s a topic that has come up somewhat routinely on my podcast and I wanted to take a few minutes this week to write about it.
When many of us make an effort to improve some aspect of our lives, whether it be physical, emotional, etc. we do so with something of a plan. Maybe it’s by trying a diet out that we heard was effective or a training plan that promises to get us stronger and/or leaner or maybe we’re trying to clear our headspace by doing something more therapeutic.
What we often forget to do is to take notes and leave a trail of how these changes are affecting us in real time so that we have a track record of what’s working, what isn’t and most importantly, what (if anything) needs to change.
Let me give an example.
Several years ago, I read some literature about intermittent fasting. The sources were credible, the information seemed sound and I advocated for it by writing about in a blog on a website I no longer keep active.
I tried a variation out which would be the one that was popularized recently by utilizing a 16 hour fasting window with an 8 hour eating window. I didn’t track calories, I just ate within my window and tried it for about month.
My results, as memory serves, were not remarkable. However, two points stick out: 1) I didn’t track calories so whether I was unconsciously eating in a deficit, a surplus or at maintenance, I can only assume based on what the scale told me. 2) Any positive or negative benefit otherwise is left to my memory which is not getting better with time. So, when I look back on my first experiment in fasting, the results didn’t stand out in any way.
After my first experiment, I tried fasting in a different way, by doing one 24-hour fast each week. Here again, I tracked no calories, followed the parameter of the fasting protocol for about a month and saw no noticeable results. Just like my first go-round, I had no clear recollection of the good or the bad of the different approach.
Fast forward a few years and I tried fasting again with a slight difference. I tracked my calories meticulously, went back to a 16-8 fasting window and lost 9 pounds in about 2 months. Now, I had data to look back on to say that “something” was happening aside from the otherwise uncomfortable window of not consuming food for X amount of time.
In retrospect, a bit more information would have been helpful too:
How was my mood?
2. How was my energy?
3. How was my libido?
4. How was my sleep?
5. How were my workouts?
These are the areas I would have to rely on my inconsistent memory to provide me.
Why does this matter?
It’s somewhat human nature to, for lack of a better phrase, blindly follow a plan and just hope for the best. If things are positive, we try to stay on the course. If things are negative, we either abandon prematurely or we stubbornly stay on the course hoping things will be favorable soon. In the case of the latter, we might be right, we could also be wrong.
The thing is, we have to remember our individual response to what we embark on. Just because your spouse saw good results doing CrossFit doesn’t meant that you will, just because your grandfather lived to 94 eating bacon every day and smoking cigars doesn’t mean you will reach the same age with the same practices.
However, having data helps.
If the way you’re eating matters, you can track calories, or track eating behaviors, or track diet-related habits and see what changes. Use the 5 questions I listed above as a reference. If you decide you want to try intermittent fasting, a low carb diet, a low fat diet or something along those lines, have a record of what you were feeling, when you were feeling it and data points that can help you understand what’s happening.
As I’ve said many times in the past and will share again: if you’re not keeping track, you’re guessing. And if you’re guessing, there’s a good chance you’re wrong.
We’re all (myself included) trying to get better at something. You can read all the books, all the articles and watch all the videos you like, but if you’re going to make the financial investment, perform the task and not have some quantitative record of what’s happening, what are you learning?
I am back with the final episode in our 4-part series together and Dr. Spencer Nadolsky wraps things up with a conversation on lipids and dietary interventions. Dr. Spencer discusses the basics of what you need to know regarding cholesterol levels, what dietary changes have the most positive benefit and where medication would be recommended.
To learn more about Dr. Spencer and join the LiftRx community:
Note: The following article contains references to suicide. The reader is encouraged to skip this article if the subject is triggering.
Beneath my watchstrap is a reminder.
A reminder of a person I was, a reminder of a life that I lived and a life that I tried in multiple ways to end whether through threat or physical attempt.
Many of these circumstances came when I was merely 20 years of age.
Over the years, that scar has faded as have the feelings and emotions of someone desperate to feel something more meaningful than what I had at the time.
As 2021 ended and 2022 began, I heard about friends of our family who took their lives and even in the news, I’ve seen more reports of people who just couldn’t hang on in this world any longer.
It can be a merciless world…
My wife and I were talking sometime back, and in Marissa’s mind, it’s always been difficult for her to understand how someone can get so low that they feel inclined to remove themselves.
Even though it’s been a very long time since I’ve had those thoughts, I understand it. I understand how someone can feel so desperate to feel valued or loved or appreciated that they convince themselves the world would be better off without them.
It pains me to say that, as an only child, that I would have felt that way and considered leaving my parents with that void in their lives. My parents who only ever showed me love and support and understanding.
I just didn’t know how to accept it back then.
And this reminder on my wrist, over the years it has faded so much that, in the right light, I can barely see the evidence of that former life of mine.
There is never a convenient time to talk about suicide. Even when there are awareness months and weeks and days where people collectively take to social media for the cause. Phone numbers are offered as are email addresses and points of contact. People, myself included, offer themselves, their listening ears and their homes to anyone who feels so much despair that they consider letting go completely.
And since there is never a convenient time to talk about it, I’m talking about it now. To anyone who will listen or read, people are suffering everywhere, just like I did over 20 years ago. People are making threats and taking action because the world they live in is suffocating them. I remember those days, and even when I try not to, the reminder on my wrist tells me otherwise: Don’t forget what you’ve been through.
And here is my very simple plea: Stay alive. At all costs, stay alive.
Had I fulfilled the hopes I had for myself once upon a time, I would have missed out on so many incredible parts of my life: on my wife, Marissa, on my son, Jackson, and our son, Sebastian. There would be no RevFit, I would not have been there for my mother when cancer took my father from this world, I would not have been able to tell my father over and over again how much I loved him before cancer took over, I would not have been here to write these words to someone who may need to see them, that yes…sometimes, the grass is actually greener on the other side.
And if you’re reading this, and you need an ear, from someone who’s been there, this is where you’ll find me: