Are You Making the Ultimate Sacrifice?

I would like to dedicate this post to my late mother, who passed away four years ago on the 10th. She was a person who gave of herself to everyone, but made little time for herself. Unfortunately now, she is not here for us. So as I write this post, I find this topic very near and dear to my heart:

For over thirty years, I’ve been an excited member of the fitness industry in some form or fashion. Working out has changed my life, so every day I try to help people understand how they can change theirs. But even If I do that every day, I will never be able to give it what it has given me. Fitness has been such a valuable part of my life that I don’t understand why people make the ultimate sacrifice: to not work out or to fail to take care of themselves. I hear the excuses all the time: "I’m too busy," "I have kids," "I have too much work," or "I’m too far gone." Some of these things I’ve even said myself. At the end of the day, we all seem to miss the fact that we end up sacrificing the thing that ultimately makes all the other things in life work because we "don’t have time for it." We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day to work with; it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. Other people with the same set of obstacles as you somehow find the time to spend time each week focusing on them and making themselves better. They tend to look like super people because of what they get done in a day.

I don’t just write this stuff, I have lived it. When I got my first management job, my body fat was at 10%. Within two years, it had doubled.

This happened because I had stopped doing a lot of the things that were part of my lifestyle before I got this new job. I was only working out sporadically and I was no longer eating every three hours.  When I did eat, I was eating mostly fast food because it was convenient. I had given up control of my life, but I blamed it on my job. In reality, I had made a choice. I chose to give up the body that I had worked so hard for. Giving up the time I spent on maintenance and upkeep seemed like the obvious thing to do. It gave me more time to focus on the endless list of things that I had to do at work. By choosing to cut out fitness, not only did I give up my body, I also gave up the mental focus that I usually gained from working out. Working out was the juice that I ran on.  It was kind of the juice that made me believe, it made me rise up when things got tough, because I know I could. So it turns out, cutting out fitness meant cutting out the focus, energy, and drive that I needed in other aspects of my personal and work life to do what I needed to do and to go forward. This was my ultimate sacrifice. Trust me it was not worth it.

I tell you this story because it may not seem like we are making this ultimate sacrifice initially, but when we don’t take care of ourselves in order to take care of everybody and everything else, everyone loses. Most of the time, this sacrifice is unneeded. For example, kids are often a big reason people quit working out, missing the point that most kids like having the cool in-shape parents. It's even better when they get to go to the gym with you. And who doesn’t want the grandparent that has the energy, stamina, and the strength to keep up with the grandkids? Or the highly productive employee that has the energy and the focus to get the job done, no matter what? Outside of all of that, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to look in the mirror and like what you see, or to put on clothes and be happy with the way they fit. No matter how we rationalize it, most of us would like to look young and fit and feel good doing all of these things for as long as we can. Instead, we often sacrifice ourselves.

Isn't it time to start allotting time to take care of you?

My hope is that you will see how making an investment in yourself will pay off, and that there is no more need to sacrifice you. You can have it all. Make sure that you are working at optimum so that you can live life and perform at optimum. Stop just trying to check off the boxes of life, moving from one thing to the next. I want to see you living your life at its fullest—whatever that means for you. If you don’t take care of you first, the rest may happen, but it won’t happen at optimum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being selfish—I just want to make sure that you never forget to include yourself as part of the equation. 

Sometimes we need help coming up with a plan that will help us fit everything into the day and still have time for ourselves. It may just take another set of eyes to find the wasted time in your day. Often, when someone else looks at your day, they can help you to fit more in and have more free time too. Keep an open mind—it may not feel OK at first, but just stay with it. The people around you will support you, and should respect what you’re trying to do. Who knows? You may influence them to take the leap and make a change also. 

Bill

There Is No Shortcut

One of my biggest complaints with my industry is that it’s afraid to tell people the truth, as if not telling the truth is helping them. What I’m referring to is the truth about shortcuts—that magic workout, or pill, or special diet that will magically give you the body of your dreams. I’m here to tell you that there are no real shortcuts. 

If you ask someone who has had a nice body for a while, for the most part, you will find that they have rituals—things that they do all the time that have allowed them to look and function the way they do.

I believe that over the years, the industry has compromised itself by buying into everyone’s need for instant gratification, letting the “quick-fix” have a voice—the pills and the diets that make outrageous claims but don’t give lasting results—and by minimizing the amount of effort it takes to have real change. With all of the conflicting information that is readily available for the average consumer, most people are so confused that they end up just giving up. I believe that if you give people accurate information, then they can make an intelligent decision about what will work for them. That way, they know what they are getting into and they won’t have a “wait what?” moment when they find out what they really need to do. 

I love my industry and I would do anything to protect it, but we need to stop the madness. If you can’t sustain what you’re doing for the rest of your life, don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. I had a client tell me that he had a friend that lost 30-lbs in thirty days. For someone who desperately wants to lose weight, this sounds like a dream come true, but what we know is that rapid weight-loss will result in a major rebound when you go back to your old habits. You’ll end up putting on way more than you lost.

There just aren’t any real shortcuts; if you’re choosing to do something that you can’t do for life, you will fail. 

If you don’t change your habits, you will fail. Remember: the habit that got you where you are will not take you where you are trying to go. But who wants to hear that? What we want to hear is 10-lbs in ten days. Good luck with that.

If you think about it, we don’t become overweight, get out of shape, or become weak or stiff overnight. It happens to us over time. Just think: if you only gained two pounds a year over five years, you would be ten pounds heavier without really noticing. My point is that your body has checks and balances for out-of-the-ordinary events. If you have a bad weekend and you eat and drink too much, when you get back to your normal routine, your body will kick off the new weight that you gained. It’s only when we string bad weekends and bad weeks together that we end up with a problem.

Consistency always wins—for better or worse. 

Now comes the hard part—making the necessary change to get the weight off, or to get your strength up, or to improve your flexibility, or to strengthen your core. The amount of information and theories available is overwhelming, and much of it is contradictory. This leaves all of us confused and unsure of what to do, so we resort to the latest pills or diet plan that are marketed to give you results overnight and give you the body of your dreams in just two weeks. I will openly admit that I used to fall for this every time. Something new will come out with these great claims of overnight success, and after I spend my money, the only thing that has changed is my wallet. They prey on our need for success without the pain of the process. 

The process is where real growth comes from. When I was competing, I was sure that the supplements I was taking were giving me the edge. But in retrospect, it was my diet, the massive amount of load I put on my body, and my hour and a half to two-hour workouts. All of this combined with the vision of what kind of body I wanted, made the real difference—not the supplements I was taking. My point to this is that I’m just like everybody else. The habits that got me where I am will not get me where I want to go. I understand how difficult it is to change what you do every day or even how you think about things. So you can make better decisions. It’s a process, and real change takes time. Don’t be fooled by the dream-come-true. If it seems too good to be true, then it is. I encourage you to enjoy the process; it’s the stuff along the way that will give you lasting results.

If you need help with your lifestyle change just let me know. It always helps to have a guide. Or if you think this may help someone you know, please share it with them.

Bill

Commitment

Commitment: the word that strikes fear in the hearts of both men and women. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about how to make progress and what’s keeping us from making it. In the final installment of this series, I am going to focus on commitment. At the end of the day, your ability to reach any goal in life is going to be determined by your level of commitment.

In life, we often view someone who overcomes great obstacles to achieve extraordinary results as special—as if they have something that the rest of us don’t have. I’m here to tell you it’s not true. That’s not to take anything away from what they have achieved, but I think it’s important to say we all have this in us. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day; it’s what we do with those hours that make the difference. Extraordinary achievements come for unyielding commitment. Simply said, they don’t give up when things get uncomfortable, inconvenient, or tough, they dig in.

What I watch in today’s fitness is a lack of commitment to a different lifestyle. There is a lot of talk about getting in shape or losing weight, but when it comes to making the necessary lifestyle changes, there is no real commitment to making change. At the end of the day, it’s your lifestyle that has you where you are, and is ultimately what needs to change for you to get where you’re trying to go.  When I started this workout thing, I was taught it was a way of life—not something you did for a minute. So all the things you had to do didn’t seem like such a big deal because you were already committed to a lifestyle. By the same token, it was understandable that if you weren’t all in, how hard it would be to do all the things it would take to be successful. I often hear people say, “I just need a kick start,” as if that’s going to fix years of a bad lifestyle. Then you say something to them about making a commitment to reaching their goals, and they are unwilling to commit. Makes me wonder how many other things in life they were unwilling to commit to, because I think your health is pretty important.

I think that so often we don’t see ourselves succeeding, we have no vision of what our outcome is going to be. Like anything in life, you need a goal that is written down so there can be some accountability for your outcome. If you know you need to lose 40 or 50 pounds, then that needs to be your written down goal. Then you can create a map to get to that goal, with the understanding that it won’t happen overnight and that there will be plateaus along the way. I heard a speaker once talking about teaching a child to walk. The question was: if after a week, if the child couldn’t walk, would you just give up on it, or would you understand that it would take time and eventually the child would get to walking and then move on to running? The main point is that you wouldn’t just give up because the child fell a lot in the beginning. Fitness is the same way—you just have to keep trying and not give up. Weeks may go by where you don’t see any progress at all, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting better. The day will come when you look down at the scale and it says what you want it to say, you just have to stay committed.

Over that time period you will have change your habits. Those new habits will become your new lifestyle. These new habits will continue to keep you going in the right direction, so even if you have a bad weekend or go on vacation it will be easy for you to get back on track.

Just remember: set your goal, write it down so you can be accountable for it, see yourself being successful and then commit. You will find that extraordinary results can be achieved, you just have to commit.

Please understand that I believe in you and your ability to succeed. I also understand how difficult it is to sift through all the noise that is out there. I get up every morning excited to be the guide through the noise for my clients. If you need a guide to help you attain your goal, please let me help you.

Bill

There Is No Exchange

One of the biggest questions that fitness professionals get is, “why am I still fat?” This question is often followed by, “I’ve done this, this, and this, but I’m still fat.”  The thing about fat is that it’s not easily fooled.  It knows you and has been with you your entire life. You’re not going to be able to trick it into going away.  Fat loss takes time and consistency—weeks and months strung together in order to get results.  What I want to talk to you about today specifically in regards to fat loss is “the exchange.”  This is the “if I do this during my workout, then I can treat myself to this after my workout.”

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there is no exchange.

Let’s say that you do cardio for forty-five minutes and burn 400 calories, but afterwards, you go and have your favorite number-two at a fast food restaurant.  That’s 680 calories that you’re putting in, for a net gain of 280 calories.  This is why the exchange doesn’t work.

So often I hear people say “that’s why I do this—so that I can have this.”  Unfortunately, what you do in the gym will have little to no effect on your ability to cheat with your food.  However, a good diet will have a profound effect on your training, your recover from workouts, and the amount of energy that you have. You can’t out-train a bad diet.

Let’s just look at a couple of things:  Many people amp up their cardio workouts when they are trying to lose weight. Cardio workouts were never intended to make you lose weight. The goal of these workouts is to make your heart and lungs stronger.  Because of what these workouts do to your metabolism, there is a calorie burning effect. However, this doesn’t mean that you can go out and eat and drink whatever you want. The calorie burning effect that you get from a cardio workout is not enough for significant fat loss or body composition change.  And for this reason, you can’t use a cardio workout to make up for bad food choices. You just have to work on having better habits.  The habits that got you where you are will not get you where you want to go. Just doing cardio or running won’t fix it, especially as we get older.  

We need to replace the bad habits with good habits that will allow us to reach our goals.


The next thing I want to look at is weight workouts. It doesn’t matter if they are done slow and methodically, or as a metabolic workout with little to no rest. At the end of the day, the goal of weight workouts is to build muscle and gain strength. A byproduct of these workouts is that it takes more calories to maintain and move muscle around. By the same token, muscle is dense, so it takes up less space on your body. You will look smaller compared to someone who weighs the same but has less muscle than you and more fat. So while weight workouts will change the way you look, you can’t expect these workouts to counteract bad food choices. 

The big point to all of this is that change is difficult and it takes work. Fitness is no different. I’m not saying that you can’t drink, but a glass or two of wine every night probably won’t help you out if you really want to get lean. Going out to restaurants is nice, but going multiple times a day and letting someone else have control of your calories is probably not a recipe for success. In order to achieve the goal of losing weight or getting leaner, and staying that way, you need to have that moment where you say “I’m not going to live like this anymore.” That’s when you will start to make lasting change. Commit to making a change and making new habits, instead of sticking with “the exchange,” which leads nowhere. 

Are You Training Enough?

Most people join the gym to change the way they look and feel.  It’s exciting for the first couple of workouts, but then it becomes work. Making time, changing habits, and not being able to eat whatever you want take all the fun out of the thought that you were going to lose 20-lbs in just a couple of workouts.  You start to realize that this is what your life looks like going forward, if you continue to go down this path. 

This is the moment when you have to start making decisions with your end-result in mind. 

I begin to think of what the average person goes through at the gym. They have goals, but no real idea of what it’s going to take to fulfill them. Most people work really hard the first couple of weeks—maybe even a month—thinking that they can get in shape without help. After this point, they have either gotten discouraged because of the lack of progress, or they have gotten hurt, or both. There are some basic rules you can follow that will allow you to make progress. The most important thing to do is to get an exercise plan so you can achieve maximum benefit.

So often, I see people that only workout once a week and wonder why they haven’t made the progress that they have envisioned. The average person needs to do something at least 5 out of 7 days. The older we get, the more we need to do. Now that doesn’t mean you have to lift weights every day, or do cardio every day, but you have to do something. Most people benefit from having weight workouts one day and cardio the next. 

There are many ways to get to your end result without getting bored.

One example of a good workout week would be: Day one: total body weights, Day two: interval weights (which would be considered a metabolic workout), Day three: core strength, stretching, and balance work, Day four: cardio intervals, and Day five: back to a metabolic workout. Now you have a week with all the components you need for multiple areas in your life. This is just an example of a week that you could make real progress with body composition change.  You would lose weight, improve flexibility, get stronger, and have better endurance. These are all things that most people want to do, but they rarely have any guidance or ever achieve real results. Most clubs give you lots of options, but no real plan. 

I’ve been working out for 34 years, so I’ve pretty much seen it all. There was a time when we thought that if you did hours of slow cardio, you could achieve significant weight-loss. This proved to be false. Research now tells us that even if you were only going to work out three days a week, you would do a total body weight, a metabolic (interval with weights), and a cardio interval workout (about a 20 to 40 min workout). We now know that load and intensity are the most important things—they allow us to get the most bang for our buck.

The bottom line is that if you want to reach your fitness goals you have to do something multiple time a week.

Don’t be fooled by schedules with lots of options that you’re not quite sure what they are for. Instead, map out your week using a simple plan that will help you reach your goal. All you need is an investment of five hours a week, or less. We watch more than five hours of TV most nights. Most of us have the time; we just need help understanding what we need to do to get maximum results.

If you would like help achieving your goals, click the "Learn More" button below, and let us help you map out your plan to reach your goals.
 

It's All About Staying Strong

Over the last couple of days, I have had several conversations about why it’s important to keep your butt strong. These talks have taken me back to why I opened this place—one of my big goals is to keep people independent and active as long as possible. I have several friends that work in old folks homes as therapists. I visit these places often, and what I’ve seen is frightening. I’m not saying that all these places are the same, but to see so many people in various states of disrepair is very disturbing. The people I saw in those homes didn’t just wake up one morning unable to get off the commode without help. It took time to get to that point. And more than likely, during that time, they made excuses for what was happening like, “I’m just getting old,” or “I have a bad knee, hip, or back.” Ultimately, they just didn’t do anything to fix it, and eventually, they could no longer function on their own. 

It’s important to remember that the stronger that you are now, the stronger you will be later in life.

Starting to build strength now means a better quality of life now and down the road; it’s not necessarily for today or tomorrow, but for five, ten, or fifteen years from now. People are living longer and are planning financially to live longer, but most are not preparing physically to live longer with a quality of life that they may want. We spend way too much time chalking things up to old age and very little to poor maintenance. Investing some time to make sure that your body continues to work the way it was meant to will yield big dividends later in life.

So often, people will say that training is “too expensive,” and when we end up at the doctor with lifestyle-related illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, we also complain about the cost of medication or the visits the doctor themselves. What many don’t understand is that most, if not all of these illnesses can be avoided with a good exercise routine and with good eating habits. Though in the beginning, training may seem costly, but our poor lifestyle choices will end up costing us way more than training ever will. And it’s the quality of life that we sacrifice that’s even more important (and costly).  

As you go through your day to day activities, I want you to think: “What things do I enjoy doing? Do I want to be able to do this forever? And if so, what do I have to do now to make it happen?” Giving up the things that you enjoy should not be an option; it’s not a normal part of growing older. I believe that we should be able to live life at its fullest until the day we die.  

We shouldn’t put ourselves in a position of merely existing, or in a position where we can no longer contribute, we can only take.

I hope that going forward, you start to look at working out with the bigger picture in mind—it’s a vehicle to a better life. It’s a vehicle that you can ride till the end.

- Bill Burnett

If you have questions about your current workout or certain exercises, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at bill@successstudiopt.com.