It's that time of year again: family comes into town or you have to visit family, you need to buy gifts, maybe you are finishing up a semester at school and it's finals week, workload is piling up before the year end, you are stressing about having enough money to buy gifts, more food and still pay the bills, it's colder outside, so your couch, bed and/or significant other feel way more comfortable, and because we are showing less skin, we don't mind getting a bit "fluffier". You miss a few training days and soon the days you are able to make it in don't seem as important. Although you may have time, your will to make it to the gym is not there, and then you tell yourself you will "pick it up again after the new year".
We are all creatures of habit and if you have established the habit of making it to the gym on a regular basis, that is great! It probably took you 2-3 weeks of planning and discipline to get into that habit. Between the week leading up to Christmas and through the new year is the same amount of time to establish another habit, that of not being able to make the time to train and once the new year is upon you, you have to spend another 2-3 weeks of planning and discipline to break that habit again.
If you miss a few training days throughout the holiday season, it's no big deal. It will happen. But don't get sucked into a repertoire of inactivity just because you missed a few days. The days you can make it in are still very important. Your progress may be slowed a bit, but by still getting to the gym on days you can make it, you are reinforcing your habit and not letting yourself slip. Keep your health a top priority during the holidays and make it in when you can!
By Steve Kpa
A huge part of success is accountability. Holding yourself responsible for your actions and choices speaks volumes to the type of education and upbringing you had, and is a determinant for how you set and achieve goals. This is true in any aspect of life, but it’s arguably easiest to observe in training and nutrition.
So you’ve made that first step by joining a gym. That’s great! You show up to class sort of consistently, albeit it always late, and you make an effort to ask the coach the finer details of building muscle, eating right, and training properly for your goals. But things just aren’t going your way because “life happens” and other things are to blame rather than yourself. Eventually, you fall off and blame the gym for your failure. We all know this person. Here’s the hard truth: everyone has things that are out of their control, everyone has the capacity to learn for themselves, and everyone has 24 hours in a day. It’s up to you to manage accordingly.
Unfortunately, the contemporary mindset is that it’s okay to just accept that there are greater forces at work causing problems, which creates the false sense of entitlement for a lot of people who feel their opinions and excuses really matter. There’s always some kind of scapegoat. Sugar made you overweight? No. Eating too much made you overweight. You’re always late because (insert excuse here)? No. You failed to plan accordingly to make it on time and respect the time of others. You’re not seeing body fat loss or strength gain because the coach or gym? No. You failed to commit to the hard work and discipline of a consistent, tough, and intelligent training plan. This list can go on.
A big problem with lack of accountability is that it blinds you to the larger perspective (context) of the path you’re taking with your fitness. All too often people ask “how?” without following up with “why?”. It’s a defense mechanism to blame everything but you, and the convoluted cultures of gyms can enable this even more. Introspection is the first place to start if you want to resolve the issues you struggle with in health, but it’s tough on the ego and even tougher when you’re in an industry that thrives off alarmism and quick answers/solutions. Truthfully, there’s really only one person who’s going to be able to get you to your goals. Hold yourself accountable for your knowledge, choices, and actions. Sure unexpected situations arise. Guess what? This is true for everyone in the world. So for those still approaching their life without accountability (and I know all us coaches and teachers know these people), please grow up.
By Atsushi Yoshinaga
When I was a competitive judo player, one of my coaches told me that there are two types of fighters: those that train/fight to win and those that train/fight to not lose. Although the goal is the same, the mindset between these two fighters is completely different.
The fighter that trains and fights to win is not afraid of failure. They are not afraid to try new techniques and are always looking to refine their own style in training. Many times you will see them fail by missing techniques, getting countered and/or by completely gassing themselves out from repeated attempts. During their training and fights, they almost never think about what will happen if their techniques are countered. Consequently, they are always the more aggressive athlete and constantly on the offensive.
The fighter that trains and fights to not lose is always thinking about what their opponent is going to do and finding ways to not get scored on and beaten. In training, you will almost never see them get thrown because they have refined their defensive game against people they train with all the time. In competition, these athletes are concentrating on how not to get scored on and consequently, are almost always on the defensive.
At the dojo (home gym) and local level, the athletes that trained to not lose generally did very well; better than their counterparts. But as time went on, and stakes grew higher at national and international competitions, the athletes that initially met failure, the ones that were not afraid to fail, learn, refine and try again became more successful than their counterparts that did so well in practice and at local competitions.
The athletes that train to win and are not afraid to fail along the way will always do better in the long run than those that "play it safe" and never push themselves to the point of failure. The athlete that is unafraid to fail will do so in their efforts, but will learn from that failure and ultimately refine themselves, and their mentality is always healthier and more positive than those that are afraid of failure.
*Chyna Cho and Lindsey Valenzuela - top 10 Fittest females in the 2016 CrossFit Games - Chyna is one of my training partners and good friends - she qualified for the 2010 CrossFit Games but did not re-qualify for another 3 years until 2014. In 2014 she took 15th in the world and in 2015 she took 6th.
Although my experience with this mentality is from combat sports, I believe and have seen first-hand that this also applies to other sports and even in recreational environments like your average gym where folks are just trying to get in better shape.
Do not be easily impressed by people that are always "crushing it", especially with things they are good at, and take a closer look at those that are consistently struggling yet always show up. Figure out how you want to train. Do you want to play it safe and look good all the time for your peers? Or will you attack your weaknesses, embrace discomfort and failure and ultimately end up achieving things you never imagined you could?
Train to win, do not train to not lose.