My 3 Biggest Fitness Mistakes
…and how you can avoid them
When you’re feeling kind of chubby and you hear or see anyone else who seems to have achieved fitness success, it’s easy to be swept up.
You don’t vet anything.
It’s a mix of not knowing how but also just not knowing what you don’t know–and therefore, not realizing that “they” don’t know either. You blindly follow 87,506 pieces of advice that you’ve mentally comprised from fitness magazine headlines, posts on your Facebook feed, the guy or gal sitting next to you on the airplane, and general observation.
If you’re lucky, included in that onslaught will be a tiny bit of input from an actual professional. (The problem there, you see, is that it’s contaminated by all the other horse manure in your brain. It’s diluted, twisted, stretched, and polluted as you knead actual science with “tips and tricks” that don’t even qualify as bro science.
I say this in love, my friends, and with the empathy that can only be achieved through shared misery. I, too, did all of the above. I, too, spent years flailing. I made progress, but I took the most convoluted route available and sacrificed far more than was necessary to get where I ended up.
Because the Strong ON community has recently more-than-doubled in size and there seems to be an influx of “fresh meat” perusing the blog, I feel this may be a good time to lay out my 3 biggest fitness mistakes and illuminate the 20/20 hindsight I now have.
I’m putting my failures on display in hopes that you can avoid them–or at least identify them early and address them before further damage ensues. (It’s akin to getting a mole checked out and dealt with while it’s still relatively harmless.)
Following every piece of fitness and/or nutrition advice I came across. It was too much. I had to do high-intensity interval training, but I also had to do “these 5 best moves for a killer butt”; I had to build muscle by performing a few reps with a heavy load, but I couldn’t let my heart rate drop between sets. I had to eliminate dairy but also eat Greek yogurt; I needed to drink apple cider vinegar with cayenne pepper 8x per day, between meals, but never on an empty stomach, unless it was an odd calendar day….yadda, yadda.
I just kept layering rules on rules on rules. I had no understanding of the larger picture, and so I didn’t understand that there were a variety of strategies to use to get any number of healthy results that I wanted. I couldn’t see that I was taking a thousand steps in a thousand different directions every single day. Fortunately, I was young and resilient; however, even then, injury and burnout were lurking around every corner. I got “fit” but I didn’t actually attain any of the specific results I was looking for.
Hmm, nice segue…
Aiming to be a “jack of all trades [and master of none]” in order to achieve fitness goals. I had the perception that training as a triathlete and a powerlifter would result in my having incredible endurance, a slender build, and decent speed–as well as having impressive strength, muscle size, and explosiveness.
My workouts were disorganized. I wasn’t actually training, but I was always working out. I was constantly on a mission to “burn calories.” Because of that, I didn’t track anything but exhaustion. If I reached maximum exhaustion, then I met my daily quota. (It’s embarrassing to type this.)
Not asking for help. You know the neighbor you never formally made the acquaintance of, and now you see him 4 days a week and you don’t know his name but it’s been 9 years and you couldn’t possibly ask at this point?
That was me at the gym.
I was there all the freakin’ time. Certainly, I gave off all sorts of vibes that I knew what I was doing. Certainly, it was too late to call my own bluff!
I mistook my own passion and enthusiasm for competence.
In a odd mix of pride and fear, I avoided asking questions to people who knew what they were talking about. Instead, I looked to my own experiences and to research I conducted online. I spent hours and hours reading article and article instead of spending 5 minutes talking to someone else who already read all of that.
How to Avoid All of the Above:
Understand Fitness Minimalism in the Context of Expert Generalism
Pat covers this thoroughly (and yet succinctly) in his podcast, here.
1.) Find a few trusted sources–grounded in solid, identifiable principles–and stick with them. For instance, follow Pat Flynn & Dan John, and you’ll be all set.
2.) Ignore the 20-year-old who jogs on the treadmill while reading Cosmo. Whatever it is that is “working for her,” is likely completely unrelated to that moment in time.
3.) As Dan John puts it, don’t chase too many rabbits. You can chase one, maybe two, at a time (as long as they’re complementary). In other words, don’t try to be a triathlete and a powerlifter at the same time.
4.) Be a triathlete first. Then, be a powerlifter next. (In Strong ON terms, be conditioned first. Then be strong. Complete Kettlebell Super. Then dive in to Kettlebell Ultimate.)
5.) Train. Don’t just “workout.” Attack the goal.
6.) Once the goal is achieved, switch from “beast mode” on that goal to “maintenance mode.”
7.) Ask for help. Dare to identify what you don’t know that you don’t know. Everyone knows more about something than you do.
8.) Seriously, ask for help. I’m repeating this one because it’s really important. We waste so.much.time. trying to go it alone. Get a coach!
Join our online community for feedback and inspiration. We’ve got loads of coaches (who are all on the same page), tons of success stories, and lots of opportunities to get any kind of help you need.
9.) Determine a few things that you’re good at and enjoy. Develop those things into one gigantic asset.
I am stopping at 9 just because I know it will make at least a few of you uncomfortable. Consider that part of your lesson today. 😉
Push-ups x 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Squats x 2-4-6-8-10-12-14-16-18-20
Get through as quickly as possible, and set this as a benchmark to beat next time it comes up!
Remember, PRs often come in the form of speed and form.
P.S. Let us help you avoid the pitfalls of fitness overwhelm. Join Strong ON over in Facebook land and get the guidance to get you from Point A to Point B swiftly.