Posts in psychology
Nutrition: A Refined Cultural Experience

 

Why is it that even today with what seems to be a vested interest in selling nutrition, both as a way to combat disease and also marketed somewhat ironically as achieving god-like leaness do we still buy in to the guru mentality when it comes to what we put inside our body? It seems like there is no end in sight when companies and Internet personalities can rely on unadulterated elitism to back their claim when the abstract of a PubMed study can’t.

 

Normally if I see an article embellishing all the rejuvenating aspects of coconut oil or a video touting the life-saving benefits of mainlining goji berries, I laugh and move on, figuring that the expense of the consumer and the large margin of profit made by Whole Foods will self-correct the information…eventually. Recently though it seems that companies known for their scientific doctrine of training methodology as well as their “proven” nutritional claims have drawn a clear line in the arbitrary sand when it comes to not only processed food but just how “artisanal” something can be made.

 

This subject first broached accidentally in a conversation with a friend explaining the “organic arms race” of the white upper class America, something that I had apparently never considered in my white privilege. I’ll sum it up as easily as I can: As the worlds markets grow closer, foods that were only afforded to the rich become cheap enough for even peasants, this of course drives the need for newer, better, more rare food items so that the rich may always buy “above” the poor, in some extreme examples even covering their food literally in gold- because fuck you that’s why. Take for instance bread, once a food of the common person, it was found that refining the grain espoused a rich, white, softly-textured delicacy, this extra time afforded in processing drove the price above all but the elite, leaving the rest with “only” brown bread, hence the term “refined” being used in not just grain but also in describing the bourgeoisie and gentlemen class. Later in the industrial age of processing, the “white stuff” became available to all, and then if perhaps by miracle our advanced knowledge of health uncovered how terrible refined bread was for the human animal (this didn’t actually happen with evidence just a fleet of natural path doctors and chiropractors giving “professional opinions”). Price on “whole grain” jumped as it was now thought of and marketed as a health food. Even today we are sold breads with “ancient grains” and superb artisanal fermentation at higher prices, little added benefit, and a perpetuated delusion that “whole-grain” and handmade are synonymous with health.

 

We can chase these same narratives with terms like “organic”, “grass-fed”, and “gluten-free” all the way down to the fucking “localvore” movement, but they will all follow the same path, once available at Wal-Mart you can assure yourself that the next greatest version will be publicly mystified and available only to those willing to pay a premium, if you were under the impression that alkaline water was worth it or that cocktails tasted better with artisanal ice, then you- like many, have fallen into this scheme.

 

As I mentioned earlier, it’s rare I get hung up on a simple “internet article” but when the source has a broad audience and claims rooting in science, then the “thought leaders” of such a group have a responsibility to spread accurate information, especially if they have been “fitnessing since 99’”.

 

An article titled “Why ‘if it fits your macros’ doesn’t matter” popped up on my feed and I gave it a read, immediately irritated by the irrational fear mongering thrown out in the opening sentence, in which we are shown the ingredients to a POP-tart and propositioned to quit pretending that they are healthy. There are multiple problems with this, the first being: who the fuck said they were healthy? The second is built off the assumptions that we will read the ingredients list and pull a “food babe” ultimately showing disgust because we don’t understand chemistry, which is what I would claim to be the authors disposition. Ultimately I don’t really care what one article says, but as it is a representative of what I would say is a deeper seeded issue, I’m going to keep going.

 

Elitism in food is silly, it is a rat race of marketing hype and egotism. I would go as far as defending “personal” dietary elitism though, as it fits perfectly with the Biopsychosocial model for health and wellness, but when taught and spread without any data whatsoever we are on dangerous ground of gentrifying athletics or even worse health. This isn’t to say data related to fine tuning nutrition for health and longevity isn’t wanted, just proper interpretation of that data.

 

A good example of this data happened just the other day. As it seems that the kale shakes were a stones throw away from being the actual discovery of immortality, some asshole had to come along and actually do the math, turns out that the whole green drink craze isn’t as good as you might have thought, not just in terms of micro-nutrient density (which it isn’t as favorable in), but also in raising risk factors for diabetes considerably. So while this is extremely entertaining for me to watch people in horror discover that nutritionally a meal made up of lamb is convincingly better for overall health than some vegan-hemp slop blended into a stool like color, it also pains me because I have to listen to the dumbest of my industry shuffle about as their investment in their acres dedicated to cruciferous greens becomes null and void to the pursuit of atonement.

 

The point might be that artificially identifying “health” in foods only available to the rich could be easily avoided if we just refuse to watch Dr. Oz, or even better laugh in the face of words like “super-food”, but demonizing a food because of its processing or lack of micronutrients further perpetrates the same exact problem that we see on late afternoon talk shows.

 

It is not in and of itself difficult to eat well and fuel both performance, longevity, and a robust social life, that is until “experts” start condemning and preaching from the rafters because they don’t like the idea of a certain food, or they want to sell “their” way of eating in order to justify their own neurosis. In any other field this is called bullshit, but in nutrition we call them experts,

 

Most misconceptions about “flexible dieting” come from seeing high-level athletes use certain foods because of their simplicity or efficacy at certain periods of training or even to just make life a little more enjoyable. This does not affect health negatively because usually high performing athletes also consume far more food in volume, which increase exponentially their exposure to micronutrient density. Therefore the supposed “empty calories” are far from empty because their purpose is for macro-nutrition, not micro-nutrition. Most foods the general public holds in high esteem are low in macro and caloric nutrition, but somewhat dense in micro nutrients and minerals, this tells us nothing of what is “healthy” as it lacks context, only how ridiculously polarized our general knowledge of nutrition can be. It's worth noting at this point that there is a huge difference between foods that do "very little" for you and foods that are actually harmful, if a food is actually found to be harmful or dose dependent-acutely toxic it will most likely be considered for a ban by the FDA, this does not mean that foods approved are regarded as healthy but they certainly shouldn't be feared.

 

The presumed formula of nutritious foods being equal to performance is actually unproven, in fact large doses of vitamins and minerals intra-effort is flat out wrong, assimilation of nutrition during efforts and for recovery (ie; performance) purposes tends to be increased with specific macronutrient dense foods that are low in fiber and low in fat (of which fat tends to be the most nutrient dense food), a position that is antithetical to the “high quality food is the most important factor for performance” crowd that seems to be getting louder.

 

Promote the (insert diet here) wherever you see fit, just recognize that in doing so you are a professional ‘crying wolf’, and we all know how that ends.

 

 

 

Mass-Hysteria

A paused-tempo front squat for 2 reps at 245#, easily makes most men feel sheepish.

This article is hard for me to write, I think in most part because I am a male, in a male-dominant industry. To consider my opinion in and of itself should be taken with a grain of salt, as I will never fully comprehend the situation. But this may be why I also think it’s important for an outsider to address the issue - if not just for the exercise in empathy and perspective. The subject of women being muscular might be a recent one, but the issue of women being strong is a deep rooted historical battle. I'm not convinced that my speaking out will change anything, especially in the outlet of a small time blog, and a few social media accounts, but doing so, along with others might help influence a shift in how we perceive females.

 

Women training, women in sport, women with muscle, specifically women who choose to stand and be strong, both emotionally and physically by determining their own physical outcome and their own identity are constantly berated - even in some instances by other females. I don't expect the world to be a homogenized space for us to live out our time untouched by conflict, in fact, the fight might just be what gives a specific subject meaning, as metal untouched by fire will remain either too brittle or too soft, so do we humans. The internet can be a place for great ideas, but with it also comes the subconscious truth of personal opinion that gets spewed out in the haphazard comments of a social media post. The trickle down whispering and backhanded aggressions made in comments of photos and videos of some of the most muscularly impressive women on the planet, quickly habituates a perception, the idea that females can become “accidentally too bulky”, as if it is an easy look to attain or comes about by happenstance. It seems harmless enough, people should be able to choose what they want aesthetically but this nuance is pervasive, it polarizes what we have been forced to believe throughout history; that women must submit to the ideals of a more powerful dominant male, that they should be frail and controllable. It is a knee-jerk reaction to a constraint we may not acknowledge exists. With CrossFit emerging as a sport and drawing more and more female competitors, as well as increased participation in weightlifting, this notion gets challenged daily, as the requirement for success is inevitably more lean mass. With the "look" comes the accusation of exogenous performance enhancement, as if the visibility of abs is only available through injection. This perception is founded on limited education, and ignorance of the most basic dietary and physiological truths.

I find the first reaction from most people when shown an impressive feat from a female athlete that may be developed perfectly for their sport, is to comment on her appearance, to note the attractiveness first, and the ability second. It happened when my my step-daughter - at the time a 5-year old emphatic dancer - messed up during a recital, but was commended for her performance because she was still "cute". It was an ignoring the opportunity to give feedback that could lead to improvement and instead pigeoned the idea of success on pleasing others visually first. It shouldn't be beyond anyone why this practice should be looked down on, we are a society now heavily influenced on a meritocracy, yet there is nothing of merit to appreciate about looking like what society deems as "attractive", there is no growth found in the idea that we can overwrite results with nicely inherited facial features. A few years ago I was watching a video of Olympic Weightlifter and gold medalist Lidia Valentin setting an event best Snatch, Clean & Jerk, as well as total. She moved beautifully, she was frighteningly strong; it was a heart-warming victory for one of the sport's most adored athletes. I probably watched it a dozen times, struck in awe. I made the mistake of showing a friend; his response was a cringe, as I had forgotten his stance on women that are “bigger” (165lbs), as he referred to them as “monkeys in dresses”. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the term, and before the end of our friendship he would address my wife as a “borderline monkey in a dress”, after his opinion was unconstrained by the vigor of vodka. This was somewhat heart breaking for me, as my wife at the time was 132lbs. At 5’8” she had worked for years to put lean mass on, as a previously competitive runner she weighed a slight 122lbs in-season - “skinny” doesn’t begin to define what she looked like - but it was supportive of the effort, so the look or “attractiveness” of it came second. The difficulty wasn’t just the eating, and training, it was overcoming the perception that muscle on females is undesirable to males and other females. Although it takes years to add 8-10 pounds of muscle, it takes longer to view your reflection in the mirror without the weight of public opinion defining how you should see yourself. To her credit she brushed it off and continued to reach for her goals that to most ride against the societal designation of being "dainty", the very next day out squatting the person in question by over 50lbs, my smile couldn’t possibly represent just how proud of her I was, and it had nothing to do with how "pretty" she looks doing it.

There are countless examples of women rising above the preconceived ideas of fitness, but there is most likely 10 times that amount of detractors, commenting, insulting, and badgering those that wish to rise above, those that want to be better than they are today. Those are the people I want to reach, the women that deserve encouragement for aspiration, I could care less about convincing the indoctrinated about the merits of physicality. This should serve as beacon not a complaint, or an entitlement for freedom from critical comments. The majority's constriction on women makes it even greater of a process to endure, as attrition builds the most sought after diamonds, so should be the task of attaining mass. My previous career did not help women, as a freelance photographer, make-up artist, and hairstylist, most of my work was through agencies, some were great jobs with great people, I created things that at the time I truly loved; fashion and beauty. Unfortunately my drive and desire was already molded, my notion of what looked good on film was decided for me, as anything outside this perception will not be bought, or sold. One of the worst parts about my job was to explain to impressionable girls that their body type would not be successful in the industry they wanted so badly to be a part of. To be fair, rarely is it about being skinny enough (as is often addressed by accusations of ‘fat-shaming’), and more or less a genetic predisposition for ratios in limb length and facial features, knowledge of this didn’t make the task any easier. The further I get from that industry the more clear the destruction becomes to the women it is meant to empower. Between magazine covers pressuring the conformity of being visually pleasing first, to the very real back and forth in comment threads arguing whether an actress that was cast is either too skinny or too fat, we have a system that is totally influenced on aesthetics.

 

This idea of appearance being more important than ability, has not surprisingly wormed its way into how we raise our children, and is a debt that we haven't quite realized the total cost of. Imagine raising a young girl, she most likely looks to you for how she feels about herself, some of this happens by what you tell her you think, but most of her idea is in observing the moments where you project what you think, like your backhanded remarks at the sight of a muscular female. We are not so clever that we can hide our real opinions from those we spend enough time with, eventually your reactions speak for you. Without directly saying so you are telling her just what you think about muscular women, about strong women, about how disgusted you are with women that decide to not fit into what you deem as “appropriate”. How we unknowingly address attractiveness first and foremost will undoubtedly poison future generations, and limit our female population from not just athletic prowess, but emotional empowerment as well. Maybe this sounds like a call to arms, like a clumsy revolution built on my boredom of reading: “you look like a man” on the timeline of some of the female athletes I look up to. It’s not, it’s more like a duty as a participant in an industry to address issues that I see those close to me deal with, it’s my promise to rectify myself first and influence those I care enough about to do the same. If I can’t help guide athletes physically, mentally, and emotionally then I can’t call my self a coach. If I can’t stand up for women and encourage them to be strong, then I can’t call myself a man, and if I can’t tell my daughter that her ability far outweighs the ideals of the dark ages then I shouldn’t be called human.

'Poison' Is In The Dose.

 

Only in the aftermath do we provide ourselves the opportunity to change.

We all seek to be somewhere else, whether mentally or physically. It is in part due to our nature, our love affair with trajectory, and our inadvertent co-habitation with survivorship bias. But we despise the process, at least intermittently or when we are in the thick of it. Upon reaching a destination we will explain the profound blandness of the arrival, and try to convince anyone willing to listen that the true virtue is in the journey. There is something to this missed aspect of change, and the underlining process of metamorphosis in the moment that is over-written with trepidation and fear. We as people hate change, we loath that which makes us uncomfortable. This is in opposition of what we also realize leads to success. If what you were doing now on a daily basis and have been for the last decade, were able to get you the money, the body or the life you desire, it would have happened already. Recently in a pub joking with friends over picking the tab up, one friend volunteered, remarking how it’s no problem and that eventually he will make a million bucks. We were more than happy to let him do the favor, halfway agreeing for the sake of a free meal but knowing the truth and the odds. The expression and the sentiment is normal, but is that really how we think success happens? Success in anything happens outside of talking about it, we can hype up the process as much as we want by posting  montages, black and white screen shots of our favorite success stories, followed by our best expletives-“work hard” in bold face type, and other over emphasized obscure idioms that promote that which we want, yet cannot get. In one hand we “know” what any goal takes, generally speaking a fuck-ton of work, a rare amount of risk, and an equal proportion of luck. Our left hand deceives us letting us think that what we do is enough work, that we risk everyday just living life and that surely luck will eventually find us because we have the other 2 sewn up. Perhaps Tyler Durdan’s monolog did more than sell a fictional story, it described an entire generation of entitlement.

 

Who in this world works at their highest level at every possible moment? I certainly don’t, and can’t fathom how it's possible, although many boast this exact generalization, not realizing its contradicting nature. It leaves no room for error or margin for compensation. So before you copy and paste that “Give a 110%!” poster to your dashboard, recognize the fault this will cause later, beyond the obvious one of basic arithmetic. It lacks room for modification, which is essential, it leaves no space for added discomfort, it posits a position beyond threshold. All of this certainly doesn’t mean we haven’t and that we don’t work hard, what it does is imply the inability to do more work at a greater rate, which is the path of any success outside of luck. We are all not that busy, despite what we claim as we have more convenience today than literally any other day in our species’ existence. Saying we are busy makes us feel good, feel wanted, exclusive, eluding to others that we 'just don't have time' also reiterates that we are doing everything in our power, its an excuse, one that is made in favor of just being comfortable. Tim Kreider has a beautiful take on this as our current human condition and it's worth a listen.

 

I say this often but it is worth repeating: Nature loves variation, which is a funny quip about us humans, because we don’t. And if nature selects against our preference, then we are in for a rough ride, which is what we should be seeking in the first place; a rough ride.

 

 

Comfort is somewhat disconcerting, as I could most likely pin that to most individuals undoing. We don’t want to save money by cutting expenses we just want more money. We don’t want to give progressively higher levels of effort to get the performance/body we want, we want to buy a product that tricks our body into the process. We rarely want to dedicate our lives to a process where just recognition for our efforts is our payment, and almost never would we do it just for the experience, instead we can criticize other successful people from the comfort of our keyboard chariot in an anonymous chatroom. Conservation in respect to our actions is our dying grip on comfort. (politically and otherwise) In order to make it to the place you desire to go and revel in the journey as it happens, comfort must be abolished and the desire for it stricken. It isn’t out of some sort of stoic philosophy or even masochism, but as a mechanism for adaptation. There is a moment when you make an investment in anything, a business, a marriage, even a fitness regimen; your heart should drop as a consequence to the possible failure, according to the numbers the majority of these things do in fact fail. If the possibility of failing your endeavor keeps you up at night, it just might dictate your ethic during the day. Hard work is not just impervious, especially when performed in the service of risk. It won’t always work, we have to repeat the process and change it, and change it enough to satisfy nature. Failure is not the end but the beginning to a new process, one that accounts for previous mistakes and shortcomings, most of us skip this important step and lament in the sorrow of a sunk cost fallacy. Like it or not we are at the mercy of our own ability to deal with discomfort. My father once explained to me that he could live off of $500 a month, at the time I mocked him, he lived off of tuna from a can and wore a Patagonia outfit that was nearly 20 years old. For long periods of time he has been known to live out of his 1995 Dodge caravan. The best part of this is that it was unnecessary; he is an investor and a master electrician by trade, he could essentially buy whatever he wanted. He doesn’t, he chooses experiences. The last I heard of him he was rock climbing for a summer in Yosemite, spent the fall sailing from Vancouver to Mexico. These experiences are not bank rolled, he has mastered being uncomfortable, the payoff is a life free from material constraints, the cost is some of life's simple comforts. I hated it growing up, but the seed he planted is just now showing through (although I still despise tuna, and thankfully don’t own a van). He once took me to Lake Powell when I was a teenager, essentially tricking me, for what he called a “survival experience”. That amounts to a few cans of sardines a sack of homemade granola and some Ritz crackers in support of a week sailing around Lake Powell in a 19' catamaran. At the time I was desperate for a new family, watching the speed boats pass us by, drained by the sun and tired of the desperation to eat in abundance like other families do on vacation. We ran out of food on the 5th day, even with our sparing hand sized meals. I swore my resentment for him that should have lasted a lifetime. What I now remember was just how good that burrito was when we got into town, and that I was angry enough during the experience to prove in a wager that I could swim 2 miles in open water after he claimed that I could not. Because of my extreme discomfort I had to find ways to ignore my hunger and my anger, so I remembered constellations and learned how to use a sextant for celestial navigation. I learned how to read weather and skipper a sailboat before I learned to drive a car. I learned by learning to be uncomfortable, a trait that solely defines my profession today.

 

Comfort leads to no adaptation of any kind other than complacency. If you can read while “training” on the treadmill, I’m going to guess that there is no stress there to adapt to, quit wasting your time and go home. I'm not a believer in dishing out all of this “harden the fuck up” garbage, just be realistic about what you are doing and what you want out of it. How much discomfort are you willing to deal with in order to get what you want? Decide ahead of time so when it hits, you have the ability to deal with it. In a conversation with one of the S&C coaches of a UK Rugby team, he shared a story of how absurdly harsh the initiation for the team has to be, hours of not only physical exertion, forced alcohol consumption (after all it is rugby) but devastating psychological stress. He admitted that those that made it through the hazing would never find the training schedule all that difficult, This approach becomes familiar as you explore the elite side of anything physical. The Australian Institute of Sport selection for the female High5 cycling team explores this perfectly. Success as it relates to physical performance is the bounties from tolerating poison, the effect of hormesis. Eventually a thousand small doses allow immunity to large ones and the effect makes you, in exaggerated terms 'harder to kill'. If we aren't setting up a scenario that mimics this process we have to question just how effective can it be.

The Patron Saint of Allegory

What we do with all this fitness stuff, in most cases is irrelevant. We pour over minutia in what most times end up being a lost cause. It reminds me of why some people quit, I guess “some” isn’t broad enough, it should be more encompassing, everyone quits. If we are able to put ourselves in the room, let’s then see what it takes to stay. It is a highly refined trick to pretend that moving our bodies in order to get better is pleasurable, it’s not that we are deceiving or convoluting the truth, it’s that on the other side of pain is clarity, few people are able to find this space, or for that matter realize its existence. I was reminded on a run the other day of why I put my shoes on in the first place, it was not in fact to improve my VO2 max or change my ability to buffer lactate. In fact it wasn't conscious at all, it took running past a palace in Hyde Park for realization on the day to take place, and tomorrow it will change. Interestingly enough this is a daily occurrence, superficially the idea is to get fit, move faster, and move more, more times. The expression though that keeps this consistent is fostered in the aftermath or the unplanned. Suffering through purposeful effort builds resolution, relationships, a kindling of sorts for definition of our actions. Done properly we not only guide ourselves out of darkness, but we can help inspire those close to us to do the same, to take a better path, one of understanding, one that may help mold character. Oddly enough there isn’t really a map to this outcome, like finding a new friend, it’s circumstantial and random, usually contrasted with what we need and what we want. I’ve never heard of someone purposefully looking to fill a relationship void and/or be successful at the same time. Much like mental evolution through physical practice, it comes as a side effect from putting yourself in the right spot with enough reoccurrence and determination, being particular to the basics, environment, intensity, frequency, volume. Particularity beyond this unravels the chaotic benefit of randomness, being too controlled lends no room for deviation of the path, which contradicts the notion of natural selection, nature loves variety, we must yield to it in order to take advantage of its helpfulness.

Perhaps Bruce Lee said it simply, said it best ‘Be like water.’


Let those you teach also teach you.

Let those you teach also teach you.

Giving up control, lending ourselves to a moment, may not always lead to an experience that we can ponder on in order to develop, but neither does forcing our rigidity. We do not always know what is best for ourselves, as our perception is an interpretation of reality. Perhaps Bruce Lee said it simply, said it best ”be like water.” If we are to teach others we must lend ourselves to the same process, if we want those under our guidance to give up control, we also have to know how to relinquish the reigns, as sometimes leading from the front involves moving to the back. Practical application might always be the downfall of philosophy, but in this case, where aspiring for a little humility in front of those that garner our respect is a viable practice. Fail often, fail loudly, and fail in front of those that expect you to succeed, which should be yourself as well. Honesty again may be our biggest tool, honesty in the moment, honesty when sharing the experience with our students, and honesty when we are looking to not put our shoes on in the morning.

The humility of effort lends to note worthy relationships, a beacon to those wanting to share the path.

The humility of effort lends to note worthy relationships, a beacon to those wanting to share the path.

Leadership
The hard and fast rule of the land only effects those who accept it. Those that find the mindset to lead unencumbered by ego will lead more and lead better.

The hard and fast rule of the land only effects those who accept it. Those that find the mindset to lead unencumbered by ego will lead more and lead better.

We are in a bubble, mostly constrained by our chosen field of study. I mention the containment because like any bubbled habitat, few realize the waste disposed of ends up staying in what we deem a "controlled environment", essentially meaning that the landfill is in our home. We assess who enters, and we kindly show the exit to the unwanted. In any industry this practice is usually entertained by those at the top of it, as those desperate enough will take anything, and cannot afford the choice. The waste then is not those we remove, but the byproduct of those we include. Intuitively we tell ourselves we are removing the "bad seeds" in order to set standards, or just reinforce our "truths”. The pollution becomes apparent because new ideas are notwithstanding, the fallacy from antiquity. Without fresh air, new forces, or novel stimulus the recycled pollution breeds nothing of innovation. A trainer friend of mine recently remarked over social media in a cleverly rerouted adage speaking of this purge, or the practice of "firing of clients"- if you will. For whatever reasons, the practice with which I have clearly taken part in left me uneasy. There is a certain tough guy attitude in gyms, especially those being sold as "hardcore" or"extreme", this is usually having to do with the machismo regurgitated from trainer to trainee, the no pain no gain, no thought, all with an excess of hormonal secretion. We believe that our clients should do what we say, when we say it, and if they don't, show them the door. It can be touted as environmental control, playing "bad cop", setting an example, whatever the means it's practice is over-endulged. There are some whom are a waste of energy, I would never argue their existence, but from how many disparaging things are said regarding training clients, is it possible that the problem is with the one designated to help?

This question bounces around my head, I have failed in the past with clients whom I've described as impossibly difficult. I still take responsibility; even if I mumbled under my breath afterwards the excuses to exalt my performance. It could be that a enlightening of my understanding happened through a fairly new interest in training animals. The realization to the patience required in order to condition a response in a dog is surreal. And the aphorism between trainers is that there is no such thing as a "bad dog" only bad trainers. Although there are exceptions to this rule it profoundly changed my view on training people, even the thought of introducing a shock collar. How then do we, who train people lose this important step? If we cannot become what is required in order to deliver a result, then we are "warm weather practitioners". Being unable to deal with the inclement, or unknown is just as worthless as the clients unwilling to undergo discomfort in order to achieve what they initially asked for. It's hypocrisy at its best, watching a student quit, or give up, blaming their constitution, then giving up on them. We speak so frequently about the resolve necessary in order for the typical couch laden person, yet we seem to miss our own lack of resolve in the flutter of setting up our environment, or bragging about our strict “standards”. I can think of no other field that you can consult with an expert in order to improve your circumstances, and be utterly humiliated for your lack of ability, like you can in fitness. Perhaps it has to do with the education required to "coach" which is none, maybe it has to do with proving your worth, which in most financial situations of the profession is also close to none. In comparison; you would never seek out help from a CPA only to be mocked about your debt to income ratio, yet one of the most popular varieties of YouTube fitness-videos are the epic failures from those who show up to the gym, but don't quite know how to do it. This typically gets blasted on a page remarking how "stupid" people are for squatting incorrectly or using a cable machine for something other than a "chest fly". Does openly mocking someones mistakes set them up for the best odds of change?


Psychological enhancement is and will always be one of the most important steps in developing an individual; my question is then why as "leaders" of change are we generally so bad at it? Maybe it's the constant signal from our brains to find ease, and comfort throughout life. Physically, when things get difficult our first impulse is to retire. This reaction with difficult clients would make sense, and the fix is fairly easy (don't quit) and then later: don't quit. At some point you must prove (and keep proving) why those you lead should not give up, show them why you are qualified to take someone from A to B, don’t fucking quit. Or do quit, kick all those out who show any resistance to your style, but cherry picking physically capable, and mentally strong characters as clients shows little about your own character, or maybe a lot depending on your view.

Pushing, constantly, before I realized there are multiple ways. A reminder to myself that our origin does not dictate our destination.

Pushing, constantly, before I realized there are multiple ways. A reminder to myself that our origin does not dictate our destination.

Another tactic is to taunt those into submission, to use brutality and psychological warfare in order to “skim the fat”. This behavior is expressed deeply in reality shows featuring extreme weight loss. This is all fine and great; but there is a time and place, I use both tactics when, where, and if appropriate. Science disagrees with negative reinforcement as the main form of stimulus to Pavlovian discipline. So much so that the adherence for lifestyle changes in obese populations is less than 4%, the most successful being Weight Watchers. Remember that next time you want to brag about how strict you are or how tight knit your group is, it might mean you are being outperformed by a company that sells people fucking TV dinners, and lets them sit around to bitch about cupcakes being hard to avoid.  

The fitness worlds likes to post memes on Instagram, and claim that “fatties” should suck it up and learn to work hard, I agree, that indeed needs to happen but the approach is different than a drill sergeant demanding change. It is now well established that under constant punishment the body does not over-come physically, or psychologically, it gets used to, and without the release, or recovery of negative stimulus the adaptation is incomplete. It is a trick, a balance, a building of relationships, an expression of trust, and of course a give and take. The days of change, and radical improvement based off of “beating” our clients into submission are over. The trainer must now be the one that adapts and uses the right means in the right form at the right time. Change happens because of hard work, consistency, an unwavering commitment, and of course the right guidance, it’s just that up till now you believed as a trainer you were excluded from these qualities.

Real leaders are right there with you, on the day every day. Knowing what you need, how much and when. It is not tyranny, it is the ultimate cooperation,

Real leaders are right there with you, on the day every day. Knowing what you need, how much and when. It is not tyranny, it is the ultimate cooperation,