I want to

A bright light in the darkness of defeat.

Workouts have been awesome lately. You’ve be killing it, walking away feeling really great, tired but you know you’ll be able to do more later. But lately you’ve been struggling from almost the beginning. 2 minutes in feels like 60 minutes. It sucks. Why do you feel this way? You didn’t feel this way last week.

What’s different

As best as you know, nothing is different. You’re doing the things you have always done. There could be a number of reasons why you feel like you are lacking energy, or you actually are lacking energy. Have you been doing the same things that you have been doing when you don’t feel this way? Things such as getting enough rest, eating enough carbs before your workout. Fueling before a workout is very important, so much I wrote a post about it.

But, there could be other things going on, things I would like to write about.

What else

There is a lot of chemistry happening for our body to perform and perform well under harsh conditions. Our body requires vitamins, minerals (micro nutrients), carbs, water to create energy. I have excluded fat purposely because if you are burning fat for your main source of energy, you are not working that intensely. Let’s take a look at things that if we are lacking proper amounts of our performance goes drastically down, so much that we take notice.

Magnesium: Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is needed for breaking down glucose into energy. Not having enough magnesium will result in a higher heart rate and the need for more oxygen to work out.

If you feel you aren’t getting enough magnesium, be sure to consume more almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews. Also, you can increase your intake of whole grains.

Iron: Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia which occurs when the body does not have enough iron. Your body needs iron to produce red blood cells which bring oxygen to the bodies tissues. Your muscles and tissues need oxygen to perform properly. If you aren’t getting enough iron it makes sense why you would be tired. You are also probably tired outside of any exercising that you do.

If you feel this is you, get your blood tested to see if you are deficient in iron.

Water: They say by the time we realize we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated. Water plays an important role in the chemical process of creating energy. If you feel you are not getting enough water, well, drink more water!

Vitamin B: B vitamins are responsible for the conversion of carbs into ATP, the currency of energy. They are needed. Plain and simple. Lacking in B vitamins will make it very difficult for your body to convert carbs into energy. So you might be getting the proper amount of carbs, rest and so on, but if you are lacking in B vitamins, more than likely you will end up lethargic.

Be sure to eat foods high in B vitamins to get what you need and supplement if necessary. Dark green vegetables, grains, lentils and nuts are all good sources.

Vitamin B12: Being deficient in B12 can also lead to a low red blood cell count, and we now know the detriments of that. No wonder you don’t have energy. In fact, for people who are constantly tired, doctors have prescribed B12 injections. If you feel you aren’t getting enough B12, or aren’t sure, have blood work done. An easy way to get more B12 is by supplementation. Stick with the pills that dissolve under the tongue for better results.

Lets look at other things that can impact our performance.

Thyroid: It could be possible that you have a low thyroid function issue. If you fatigue is an ongoing issue, have it checked out by your doctor.

Rest: Rest, sleep. Quality sleep. Hopefully you are getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and hopefully they are quality hours. If you find that you are having a really hard time getting out of bed when the alarms sounds, that you are constantly hitting the snooze to get more sleep, you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Quality sleep. I qualify this with the word quality because just sleep isn’t enough. Your brain has to go into the proper state for your sleep to be adequate. Alcohol can be a contributing factor to not getting quality sleep even though you tend to sleep.

It’s really straight forward. Your body, and your mind need sleep. That’s it. It’s basic.

Carbohydrates: Hate me if you want to, but I don’t agree with high protein/low carb diets. Our bodies need complex carbs for energy. Carbs are what gives us glucose and glycogen which is converted to ATP the currency of energy for everything we do. If you are lacking in carbs your body will convert protein (sometimes existing muscle)  into carbs through a chemical process, but it’s inefficient and why would you want your exiting muscle converted to carbs anyways? Doesn’t make sense, does it.

Sickness: It could be as simple as you are sick, fighting some bacteria or a virus. But, if a couple weeks pass and you are still lacking energy, see your doctor

Seek

If you are feeling this way, you feel your performance is not where it should be, and it’s been more than a couple of weeks, see your doctor. You will want to have blood work done to see if there are any vitamin or mineral deficiencies, if you have a thyroid issue or if your lack of energy needs medical attention.

Training and feeling like there is an additional 50 lbs on your shoulders, or an anchor tied to your body is not fun at all. We are supposed to be making gains, not feeling like we are moving backwards. It can be discouraging, even depressing. Take the steps necessary to see if any of the above is going on. Don’t delay it unnecessarily as you will only feel worse as time goes on.

Address this issue as soon as possible and get back out there, killing it like you do. You are a beast and need to get back on your feet as close to 100% as you can be.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

Outside, every time I look up I am reminded…

If we don’t do it, who will?

How can you get there if you don’t know where you are going?

Where is it you are going? Do you know? I don’t mean a place to travel too, but where is it that you want to be. If you don’t know where it is you are going, than what drives you? Most people need goals. They need goals that can be measured and quantified. Some of us don’t. Some people are quite happy doing the same thing every day without a specific goal. That’s ok. If you are able to push yourself with only knowing that you will continue to get stronger than I guess that can be looked at a goal in a sense. But for some of us a specific goal can do a lot to keep us motivated and keep us going to the gym, or fitness class, or whatever it is you do. Goals can be a great way of keeping yourself engaged.

Lofty

In a previous post I talked about a goal that I had and what I did to keep myself on track to achieve it. Would I have been able to achieve the same results if I didn’t clearly layout my goal? I don’t know. Maybe. I can’t really say for sure because I can’t go back and try to do the same thing minus the goal I had. But I do know that goals help us keep ourselves on track and help us achieve what it is we are trying to achieve. Goals are also a great way of keeping yourself motivated. You can also use goals as a way of rewarding yourself for all the hard work you have been doing.

Some of us are fortunate that we don’t necessarily need goals to keep motivated. I have seen it myself. Some people are so motivated that they can bring it every time they workout. They have such a drive to be stronger and better that they don’t need specific goals. They are motivated already by the desire to be better.

But, if we create goals that are unrealistic we run the risk of defeating ourselves and actually doing more harm than good. We need to keep our goals realistic and achievable.

Goals and sub goals

Goals can be many things. A long term goal can be to increase your body weight with muscle by 20 lbs. This can be achievable within one year more or less based on the number of years you have been training, diet, technique, etc.

But it can be tough to stay motivated for the year trying to achieve this goal. What can be done then to keep motivated and not lose focus of the goal? We can break this into smaller goals.

Breaking this down into smaller goals that we can achieve in less time will help keep the motivation going. Let’s break down this goal of achieving 20 lbs of muscle in one year to gaining 5lbs of muscle every 3 months. Definitely something that seems to be in reach. Or you can break it down further if needed. How about 3lbs in 6 weeks. Yeah, that’s definitely something that seems more in reach. It also allows you to make adjustments to keep on track if needed.

Having these smaller goals will help you achieve the large goal. It comes down to the fact that we need to keep ourselves engaged in what we are trying to achieve. If we don’t break down the goal into smaller goals it’s easy to lose focus on that target and it’s easy to lose motivation. A year is a long time. Six weeks on the other hand is something that we can reach out too, something we can grasp in our hands and hold on to. It’s quite tangible.

Think about it for a minute. Six weeks is easy to measure. Create a calendar for the six week period. Put on that calendar what you plan to do for that day. Live only in that six week period. Don’t look forward to your 1 year goal. There isn’t any need to. If you live in each 6 week period, every period you reach your goal you will have the satisfaction of knowing you succeeded. That is the reward. You should feel really good about that! Take that feeling of satisfaction to the next 6 week period and repeat.

Wow, it’s now one year later. That’s the idea. When you focus on these smaller time slices you no longer see your overall goal as this huge, maybe unachievable goal. An example I can give is my black belt test. I knew I was in for a 7 hour day of hard, physical work. If I looked at that test as a 7 hour test, it would have been very overwhelming. Instead I took each smaller part of the test and focused on completing that segment. 5 mile run, done. Physical requirement, done. Drills, done. And so on and so on. If I didn’t do this, I probably would have been over whelmed by the magnitude of the test.

Realism

Do you know your goal? Is it realistic? I hope so. If your goal is way out there, you’ll never achieve it. Our goals need to be something that we can actually achieve. No matter how we break it down, if it isn’t achievable we will only end up feeling defeated. That feeling of being defeated will do more harm than good. Keep your goal realistic. If you don’t, you can do more harm than good.

Why bother

If you are getting what you need out of your work outs without setting specific goals than good for you. But, I want you to try something. Set a goal. Make it a short term goal. Now do your best to achieve it. I think you will find that your work outs aren’t what they used to be. They are better and they are delivering more results. Funny how that works, isn’t it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

 

two thirty five

the thief of time.

Building the body is easy. Our body can take a lot. From squatting hundreds of pounds to competing in 100 mile races. The body gets beaten up, but recovers. The mind on the other hand, usually it’s the mind that fails us.

It’s the mind that tells us that we can’t go on any further. It’s the mind that tells us to surrender to the pain. It’s the mind that tells us to quit.

I’ve written a lot of posts over the last number of months covering a multitude of topics. Most covering the how, the what, and the why about exercise and health. But what good does this do you if you can’t even get yourself up to workout. You can have all the knowledge in the world on how to exercise but if you aren’t exercising it really doesn’t do you any good.

This leads me today’s post. I think it’s something worth covering, worth discussing. I always finish the end of my blog with ‘yours in health’ and if I don’t dedicate time to this issue than I am not doing you any good. In fact, I think I’m doing you a disservice. What good am I if I talk only about exercising, technique and don’t discuss why people have a hard time in the first place doing these things? In the end its all the same thing.

The first step

You want to get up and get out to the gym. You want to get up and do something active. You tell yourself you’ll do it after you are done reading, or after you are done some other activity. Or you’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and you are able to find a reason to push it out another day. In some cases those days become a week. You really want to get up but you just can’t. It’s tough. I’ve been there and still end up there. Sometimes it’s easier to just relax and not have to think about anything, especially after a busy day.

And that can be the irony of it all. We know that after we exercise we feel so much better. That stress we had during the day is mostly gone. But we can’t always get our mind to see that, even though we have been there. The mind is powerful. It can be like a tidal wave of force taking you underwater.

I am not going to pretend that I have the solution to this. I’m not going to pretend that I am the motivational guru and I’m not going to pretend that there is an easy answer. I guess what I’m hoping is by sharing my own experience of what worked for me, it might end up helping you with your goal either directly or indirectly.

235

I have always been into fitness in one form or another. Biking, swimming, running, resistance training. I was overall in good shape. I was fortunate enough that I was able to get my workout in at my place of work. I still feel lucky to have that opportunity. Work started to get busier. A major project came up and I wasn’t taking my lunch break like I usually would, by heading to the gym.

At first I wasn’t too concerned. I have months behind me of working out so I’ll rely on the fitness I already have and should be able to bounce back when I need to. Weeks went by. I started to find myself finding reasons not to go to the gym when I did get that odd break. I was tired from work and the hours I was putting in. I knew that if I worked out I would feel better but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t reason with myself. I kept thinking next week, next week I’ll start. Weeks, months went by of neglecting my fitness. I knew I was no longer in good shape. I started getting winded by going up 2 flights of stairs at a faster than normal pace. But I ignored it. I knew I was putting on weight. But I ignored it.

A stormy winter day. Snowing all night and I had to get myself to work. On my drive to work I spotted a car that was having trouble getting anywhere. I pulled over and offered my assistance. There was just me and the driver of the car to get the car moving. So you know who would be the one pushing the car. It probably took about 2 minutes of rocking the car back and forth, pushing the car trying to get it moving more than a foot or two. Finally, the car is moving.

But I’m not moving too well. Sucking air, sweating and generally not feeling too good. I had that taste of copper in my mouth that you get when you really exert yourself. But this was only 2 minutes of work. I have done much more than this.

I knew at that point things had to change.

180

I knew what I had to do, and I think I had the desire to do it. But I had to find a way to help me keep on track. A way to get my ass into the gym instead of my ass being in a chair.

I read an article on a way to help people reach their goal. It seemed like a simple idea. All I needed to do was print a calendar out for the period I designated to reach my goal. That’s when I realized I didn’t have a goal in the sense that it was a target, something I could shoot for.

That’s when I determined my goal is a number. The number I wanted to weigh. I now have my goal. I now needed to determine the time frame to reach this goal. I printed off my calendar for the duration needed.

The next day I did my workout. Put an X on the calendar for that day. It was only one X but it felt good to see it on the calendar. It told me I did something. And it was a big X taking up the whole square for that day. The next day I worked out again. Another X. On the designated days off from the gym I would still put an X for that day if I didn’t deviate from eating healthy.

I wanted to see an X every day. I didn’t want the chain to break. Of course it did once in a while but looking at a month mostly filled with X’s kept me motivated to continue. That and experiencing the results I was getting from sticking to my schedule. It felt good!

There is a saying, ‘do anything for 21 days and it will become a habit’. I’m not so sure about that. That in itself would assume we are all the same and of course we aren’t. But, do something long enough and I think it will become a habit. I know myself if I miss a few days of working out I feel out of sorts. I don’t know what the number is for you, but you’ll be able to find it.

There is one more thing I did. I wrote my goal on a piece of paper and kept it in my wallet. I kept the piece of paper simple; 180. I didn’t want something in my face every day. That would have been too much. But the odd time I would open my wallet and see that number I would be reminded of what I was trying to achieve.

Who knows

I have no idea if this would work for you. Did doing this help me achieve my goal, or would I have achieved it regardless? I’ll never know for sure. I think it did. Those times where I was getting sucked in by the couch and would tell myself that’s it’s ok to miss today,  I would look at the calendar and think about what it would look like missing the X for that day.

If there is one important point I can make from all of this, it’s that it really helps to have a goal. Something measurable and realistic. Write it down, picture it. Those days you feel tempted to push off that workout remind yourself you will get closer to that goal if you get up and do it.

Yours in health,

Darryl