First off let me remind you that I’m no expert in anything. Yes, I teach people how to move better, get stronger and fitter and how to make healthier nutritional choices. Whilst I’m not an expert, I am a practitioner of all the above.
Today I am going to let you in on my secret at getting better at the things I hope to make look proficient, natural and better than average – again, I am not at expert.
Every week in the gym I hear people say that they’re not as agile as me, not as strong as me, not as good at lifting heavy stuff as me and not as good at food prep / cooking / choosing healthier food as me. No comment yet as to my beard growing prowess sadly!
Here’s a list of ‘me’:
- I never visited a gym until I was 26 years of age
- I crave and salivate over the idea of sweet foods, pizza and burgers all the time
- I had a serious back problem for the years between 2004 to 2013 because of poor mobility
- I’m missing most of the cartilage in my knees
- I stress chronically over everything and I’m poor sleeper
- I’m naturally good at endurance activities and I’m really poor at strength activities
- I’m an introvert who loves to help people and loves time alone and yet have a great friendship and relationship with my wife
- I am a terrible procrastinator
- I love helping people including myself lead and progress a healthier, stronger life
I am far from an expert in anything but the last point is the driver to improving all the weaker points.
Now, you may consider these weaknesses as an apt description of normal for the vast majority of the population – so I am average, ‘yay’!
You could be thinking I may have some otherworldly control of my will. Ha! Nope. Trust me, when the overload light in my heads dashboard is flashing, I have negligible will power. Every morning starts, like most of us, with the will to win the day or at least to get through it. But you know, stuff happens throughout the day that chips away at the will power block until it’s gone at some point.
This past fortnight I’ve been working on our home improvement list that’s included quite a few trips to ikea. I remembering thinking to myself about assembling flat packs years ago and how fiddly it was (including some early ikea pieces), how some parts didn’t quite marry up, how a screw or 3 was missing and how the piece of furniture seemed to loosen up within a few months. I had this in my mind as I drove home with our chest of drawers, kind of dreading the assembly of our new furniture addition.
There is no long story to cut short – I had the chest of drawers up and assembled without a single blister in 45 minutes. The second piece I bought the week after, a larger chest of drawers I assembled whilst having a phone call with my wife overseas and now, another week later, I’m embarking upon assembling a 40 box storage system for around the TV (the Best system, look it up).
That initial fear driving home was quickly quashed as it became very apparent that ikea was on their A game after I completed the first piece.
The instructions first off, tell you everything you need to know. To scale illustrations of each screw, whatchamacallit, dooda and fiddlymadink. Each step is clearly illustrated without fuss or confusion and little tips are given along the way. Each piece of the chest of drawers was incredibly well designed and the assembly even seemed intuitive, like a smartphone as it where.
What the heck happened? How have ikea mastered the ability to make building their flat-packs so easy?
I imagine it’s been the cumulative affect of fine tuning over many years. Making mistakes, taking feedback, learning and moving forward with lots of little adjustments. This is probably a continuous process, not something that happens once a year, you know, like after Christmas or lent, or because a birthday party is coming up and you’ve to fit into that little black number!
Uur, you get what I mean! They practiced making thing better and they progressed.
So what has this got to do with me, my imperfections and how it seems like I’m better than average at a few things?
Because I fine tune all the time.
Practice Makes Progress
- I do my mobility activities that works best for me. (10 minutes minimum)
- I practice my strength work frequently, working at a comfortable effort that’s sustainable and progressive. (20-30 minutes of time a few days a week)
- I stretch daily. (5 minutes while watching TV or listening to a podcast or waiting for a client to arrive)
- I think about what I’m going to eat, make sure I’ve shopped accordingly and prepare meals in advance whenever it’s convenient. (cooking a meal for 3 that’ll last a couple of days takes 20 minutes of my time max – the cooker does the rest)
- I drink water first thing and keep a water bottle close-by throughout the day.
- I tell both my wife and daughter that I love them daily.
- I walk daily whilst focussing on breathing nasally.
- I chill out daily either with a good TV show or a great podcast.
- I make sure I get to eat the foods I enjoy but only every now and then.
- I sometimes set plans. For my training goals, nutrition for fat loss goals, house improvements, weekend trips, eating out and of course, daily meals. This takes just a few minutes, a brief discussion with the family and wambam, it’s in the diary.
I am certainly not ‘just’ better, stronger, fitter and more agile than everyone because it’s who I am, it’s because I care enough to make these things part of my daily life practice.
‘If it’s at all important, do it every day’
If you care to progress your life and think it’s too much, there’s too much to do, here’s how to start:
- Make a list of everything you would like to progress.
- From this list identify just ONE item that you consider the easiest to start working on. Not necessarily the most important, but the easiest for you to start.
- What do you need to do to start progressing this item? Make a list – take the easiest item from that list and write it on a note.
- Stick this note somewhere you list first thing every day. In the bathroom, in eyeshot of your toothbrush, or next to the kettle, a screen saver on your smartphone – who cares – just somewhere you’ll notice it every morning.
- Take action. If you need help to do it, get the help.
- Own that first item before moving onwards.
Before I sign off, my gym goal for the year is get my first unsupported handstand. Yeah I know, I’m 45 years of age and really don’t need to do a handstand, except I’d like to try to do it. It’s on my goal list.
My handstand lists simplest thing to work on first was wrist mobility to support me. My current item is a tuck balance, where Im supporting myself briefly upside down with my knees tucked into my stomach. From here I’ll gradually work on getting my legs up in the air.
No rush, just reasonable steps to practice towards progress.
Practice Makes Progress