No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Tomorrow is too late

Posted by Ben on Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Man, I’m such a weather junkie. Some people can sit through multiple SportsCenter repeats, the OJ Simpson trial, or Project Runway marathons. I can veg out for hours watching weather stuff. Mind you, it’s the major things from local severe thunderstorms to all the recent tropical Atlantic stuff, in this case (Hanna may head this way), but still, plant me on the couch with food and drink, and I’m good. Just turn me toward the light on occasion. An empty milk jug would be nice, too. Anyway, I should probably take my own title’s advice and get this done since I started writing it, oh, this past weekend. Between three dogs, reading (totally unrelated to my CSCS studies, I’m slightly ashamed to mention), cooking (a newfound hobby), and rekindling a love for The Legend of Zelda, I’ve just been swamped.

How many times have we heard that it’s never too late to get in shape? Yeah, the proverbial “if I had a nickel.” You know what? That statement is wrong, so wrong that it just downright sucks. Why? A simple exercise in logic tells us that if it’s never too late to get in shape, you can always start tomorrow because, well, it’s never too late. No, the sentiment should be: “tomorrow is too late to get in shape.” That way, you don’t put it off and instead start today. So, if you haven’t started already, today’s the day. It all just depends on your mindset. Examples: For various reasons, I decided in early June that I wanted to be able to do single-leg squats. Aside from the various benefits of unilateral strength, balance, and coordination, they’re also a pretty cool party trick, so I made them a researched and planned priority in my training. Three months later, I’m doing alternating singles with relative ease. I’m still a little wobbly under some conditions (no warm-up, excessive fatigue following a workout, wearing shoes, etc), but they’re well within my abilities now because I decided I wanted to do them. The same can be said for my pull-up (in)abilities a couple years ago. I’d never been able to do pull-ups, first because I’d grown up overweight and so never really attempted them, and then second because I’d never really attempted them to any extent. Like push-ups (next on the short-term list), pull-ups are just one of those things you have to do over and over and over again to improve, something called “greasing the groove.” So, I “installed” a pull-up bar in the doorway I most often walked through where I was living, and every time I went through, I’d do a chin-up or two (different from a pull-up). Over a couple months, I went from a two-rep max to ten reps or more, so I turned my hands over and started pull-ups, which are biomechanically more difficult than chin-ups. My pull-ups aren’t where I want them to be—I’m not doing twenty reps at a time, and my grip is a bit of limiting factor right now (I don’t use straps or hooks myself)—but they’re serviceable for now until they again become a priority, and if my life depended on it, I could pull myself up to a ledge. Next on the long-term list: muscle-ups.

The above isn’t a gratuitous exercise in horn-blowing; rather, it’s just an anecdotal example of the importance of mindset. The hangover from the Olympics is almost gone, but invariably, the world’s best athletes got their two weeks of global media coverage, and a lot of the general public suddenly thinks it’s New Year’s Eve as evident in my gym the last couple weeks. Combined with the back-to-schoolers, there’s been an extra-palpable pall of “special” in the atmosphere there during that time (at least it seems to be wearing off a tad). There’s a difference between making something a priority and making something a potentially debilitating shock to your system. Priority means goal-setting, planning, assessment, and accountability. Shock means trying to go from couch potato to powerlifter or marathoner in a week or a month or three (the ill effects are even more pronounced in children). Ain’t gonna happen, sorry. You can choose to become merely an exerciser, though, or you can choose to become an athlete, something that doesn’t necessarily require (typical) competition to achieve. Up to you. Make something a priority, and chances are that you’ll achieve what you’re setting out to do with one caveat: make it a priority today, not tomorrow, even if it is just steadfast resolve (and a little wagering on the side). Get an INFORMED plan of action, both in the gym and in the kitchen. Make yourself accountable somehow—tell whoever you’re comfortable telling (as long as he or she will hold you to your words). Set some deadlines. Take some pictures. Shirk the shortcuts. Ignore the fads. Chuckle at the quackery. Do what’s been shown to work over the long haul. Trust yourself.

Before getting to the link hodgepodge, I wanted to expand a little bit on food *riotous applause*. Yes, yes, I know, the crowning element of my personal lifestyle priority list. Last night, I cooked with peanut oil for the first time after primarily using various olive oils for as long as I can remember. In a word: nom nom nom nom nom nom (hey, that’s one word). My first conscious experience with peanut oil was with Five Guys fries, and it was the first time I’d actually tasted fresh potato in a fry rather than salt. I ordered my oil from Bell Plantation along with a couple jars of PB2 (also highly recommended both for taste and nutritional value, measuring spoon not included). My stuff arrived in (I think) three days. Getcha some. Also, on a recommendation from Cassandra, I found a local retailer that carries Ezekiel 4:9 bread. I like it, especially the earthy scent and taste, but while I recommend it for the nutritional value, don’t expect anything resembling the fluffy dough-ball crap you usually find at the grocery store. Further, some of you have asked about calorie-tracking sites. While I don’t support OCD-esque bean counting, I do support getting an idea of what you’re eating and adjusting to fit your goals, so here are a couple: FitDay, CalorieKing, CalorieLab.

Now, for some other links to eat: open a wine bottle without a corkscrew, pro-HCFS commercials (you should be impressed at my restraint… for now…), juice fast(ing)s, petroleum-based omega-3 fatty acids (a byproduct of the insane amount of petroleum-based corn products in our diets that also seems to slow wound healing), 250 people in the USA supposedly have an excuse (you’re probably not one of them unless you’re getting on up there in years… maybe…), protein needs for exercise, find out what the kids’ schools are serving (be careful around these parts), eggs may keep you from looking like one, the right foods trump the “best” HBA products (try a green roof), just kidding (again), line of the post: “We pay upfront to eat food that’s good for us, or we pay out back in our health costs.”

—Body bits: Eric elaborates (sort of), bike-to-work subsidies (get the kids started early), walking is a START (hmmm… gym-class/kid-friendly additions, interval training… nice to see some catch-up being played), are you ready for some football injuries?
—Mind matters: Lyle furthers and wraps his discussion on leptin, trigger for brain plasticity identified, IBS is mostly in your head.
—Politics: Sarah Palin on her fitness regimen (too bad she ignores science), Barack Obama answers your science questions (backed by Mark Warner), (politics aside) public figures should be role models (see: Mike Huckabee), no platform for transportation.
—Geek-out: Google Chrome officially seeks to destroy IE (here, here, here, here, translation 1, translation 2, and pictures—I’ll be testing it out later today), Fantastic Contraption (your day at work is officially over), happy anniversaries to a titanic discovery and an atomic visualization (the latter fitting for an inevitable uptick in water cooler talk about quantum physics), happy trails to the heart and soul of Bell Labs (pictures), latest mass extinction projections, hard-time gadgets, Steve Jobs is not dead.
—Git ‘r dun: fear is an illusion, seize the day, random inspiration, how to help others get started, you know where to stick a “poor me” attitude, things can always—ALWAYS—be worse.

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