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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Guest Blog: Leigh Peele

Today we have a guest blogger on the board. As I was reading Leigh Peele's Fat Loss Troubleshoot last week (a great read, BTW), near the end she has this amazing story about one of her clients. Far too often we use excuses to explain why we can't achieve our goals. This guy had about a million and one excuses, but he still got the job done.


Stay strong


I am a big believer in things not being very black and white. I am one who believes in the ability of people to change, perhaps because I myself have changed so much. I seem to find often those who don’t believe in others ability to change are those who are afraid or do not attempt to do so themselves. I change, I change everyday. I constantly try to face things I fear, to stand up to the person I know I can be, and to self educate to become a more informed person in the future. I am human, I am flawed, but I try because I care.

That is the difference. That is where it becomes black and white. You either care or you don’t about something. There is no half way when it comes to caring about something. You don’t kind of care. By the very definition of the word it is a pretty extreme emotion, much like love. You love or you don’t.

You have heard of the saying I am sure, “I fell off the wagon”. Usually associated with drinking, it is basically rooted in trying to achieve a goal of abstaining something that isn’t good for us and failing to do so. The origin of the saying varies but it is largely believed to have come from the days of prohibition where those who denied alcohol were said to be “on the water wagon”. A water wagon carried water that sprayed the roads to calm the dust of travel. As if to say “I would rather drink the muck of the passing wagon than liquor”. To fall of the water wagon was not ideal. To say the alcohol is all good or bad is a bit extreme for my liking but I like the phrase.

The reason I like the phrase is because to fall off the wagon is to imply that you have a) been on the wagon at some point and b) can get back on it. In one classic saying you can combine a world of hope for yourself. You can take stock of the negative effects of failure and the positive of getting back on to ride a less mucky journey. I will try to resist being too poetic and spare you my drivel. I want to move to the rude awakening which is…

You either care or you don’t.

You either do what you have to do to achieve something or you don’t.

Does this mean that if you aren’t perfect that you don’t care? No, not at all. I can assure you that you can mess up left and right and still care. This whole thing is about trying to help you understand if you do care and the accountability that comes with doing so.

Excuses, Excuses.

I had a case client that was by all accounts a tragedy but he made Rocky’s ambition look wimpy. He had no money, no real family, worked two jobs, in massive debt from bad past financial decisions, divorced, recovering from a bad knee injury, no workout equipment, extremely out of shape, and about 75 pounds overweight. His one job was in a factory plant where he got a 30 min break in 10 hours. His other job was a graveyard shift job he worked 3 days a week. Some days he got 4 hours of sleep. A challenge for me to say the least as I had to work around time, money, no training equipment, injuries, and more. He could only contact me twice a week because his internet access was at the library only as he lived 6 states away from me.

Doesn’t matter though because you do what you have to do, so we got at it.

Training? Bodyweight, poles at work, on the way to work, park near his apartment.

Diet? Condiments and Splenda taken from his cafeteria at work. Bulk chicken breast and tuna buys at market. Dented cans of food, discounted meats, and veggies. I had 40 bucks a week to work with, that is it. Cheats were sample days at supermarkets, and bang for your buck calories came from smarter fast food decisions.

Supplements? Weren’t any, he couldn’t afford them.

Rest? He didn’t get a lot, but we did what we could.

Eating times? He packed lunches, he mashed foods together to make bars, he ate stuff cold, but he ate as often as he could.

Aerobic training? He acquired a used bike and started riding it to work. He started doing some drills outside, and when his knee got better he found one hill and went up and down it.

End result? I would like to tell you he lost all that 75 pounds, but he didn’t. Instead he lost 54 pounds, gained a some muscle and is about 11% body fat. In the best shape of his life and just got hired to be a personal training after saving 400 bucks to get the certification. He just wants to train people, just wants to make a few bucks doing something he now loves.

Now to be truthful this didn’t have a thing to do with me. I barely talked to him or inspired him. I didn’t get to see his form, all I could really do was point him in the right direction, provide a program and cross my fingers. I tried to help him get creative to make his life easier, but that is about it. It was how much he cared about achieving that did it. I was just an education source.

Have you picked up anything yet? I have a few questions for you now.

What are your excuses?

What are you whining about?

What is so bad that is keeping you from achieving your goal?

More so, what are you telling yourself to make yourself feel better about not sticking to your program?

Hold on, don’t get upset. This isn’t about beating you down so let me explain further.

Do you think I am that perfect? That I never screw up or have my weak moments? Of course I do. I will admit it isn’t often and when I have a goal I really try to do my best at it because I am a perfectionist, but still I am a emotional creature. I have my physical limits and certainly my mental ones. The difference is, if I don’t do what I need to do, I know it is because I choose to.

That is it. That is the lesson to be learned here.

If I am running late for a meeting it is because I chose to sit 5 mins longer than I should have. I chose the night before to lay down early instead of laying out my meals for the next day and that put me behind. My weakness isn’t so much in training and food by the way, but man can I make organizing mistakes. I am working on it. I DO CARE. I progress because I am real with myself about what I don’t do, about what I haven’t done.

You can honestly tell me that you had to eat at a restaurant and at that restaurant you had to eat an oil smothered roll? Crap. You didn’t have to do anything, you choose to do it. You could have…

-Eaten before you got there
-Asked for a healthier selection
-Taken a meal replacement bar with you in your pocket
-Not eaten there at all

Tons of choices. You chose to take the direction you went. There are no excuses, only choices.
People hire me and dislike me because I take away their excuses. Whatever you can come up with, I have it in spades for what you could have done better. Am I faulting you for lack of imagination? Yes I am. There are billions of dollars in books, software, magazines, information, whatever that can provide you methods of making better choices. Even if you make the wrong choice, at least you thought you were making the right choice.

No Food? Pack it.

No Time? Find it.

Too Tired? Sleep more.

No Equipment? Find Some.

No Support? Support yourself.

Here are some of my favorite excuses.

#1-”It was in the house so I had to eat it.”

No you didn’t have to eat it. Also the number one rule to trying to cut the fat is to make your home a safe ground. If it isn’t in the house you can’t eat it. However, to that you will turn and say…

#2-”Why should I punish my family? I can’t control what they bring in.”

Not having unhealthy food in the house is hardly punishment and you need to rethink how you look at food. Give your kid an apple not a ding dong. You making a statement like that is like saying “I care about my body and how I look, let them worry about theirs”. What happens when your spouse starts to feel the effects (mentally or physically) of that lifestyle? Worse, what about your kids becoming obese and setting a tough course for their life to follow? Newer surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight.

Lastly, does your family really have that little respect for you that they can’t make some sacrifices for you? If you really can’t get the husband or wife to stop bringing home bad foods then you need to look at what that really means and how much you are being supported and respected.

#3-”I need some time for me and I just can’t spend my whole day packing, shopping, and cooking.”

Well you don’t have to. A tiny bit of planning and organizing and it can be done easily.

You can eat out as well if you take the time to do it the right way. Do you have a favorite tv show of late? If you can talk to your friends about the new Lost episode or who is winning on American Idol, then you have time to pack your meals for the next day. You find the time to do the things you want to do.

Let me repeat.

If you care, you make the time.

If you care, you will deal with a fight.

If you care, you will demand respect.

If THEY care, they will help you.

If you care you will commit right now to do the most important thing you can do for yourself in this life. STOP MAKING EXCUSES.

If you ate the cookie it happens yes, it doesn’t mean you don’t care. It does mean you CHOOSE to do it. It was your choice. It was your failure or success. When you do well it just doesn’t happen, you earned it, and you chose your path. Well as with success the same comes with failure. If you fail to comply it was your choice to do so. It isn’t because life is unfair, your didn’t want to look like a stick in the mud, your husband brought home a pizza, your kid wanted the ice cream, you didn’t have time to pack for work, etc.

All excuses. All failures that you are trying to soften and make something they are not. Don’t. You can’t now anyway because I have called you out on it. You can try to convince yourself all you want but now I have nagged you and my words will haunt you in that weak moment. Remember still that it is okay and normal to have weak moments, just accept them for what they are. That is all I am trying to teach you.

In the end it boils down to this. You are either a Wagon Rider or Pedestrian.

A Wagon Rider can fall off, they may let it pass by them on the street, they may get scared of the ride and the journey over and over again, but they care. They spend more time on the wagon than walking. They will get to their destination faster.

The Pedestrian just keeps walking and aren’t ready to make any changes. They don’t care and it doesn’t matter to them right now. This may have been you, it may be your now. It can be a lonely and a selfish life being the pedestrian but the choice, as always…

is yours.

Leigh Peele

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