Michael Jordon. Oprah Winfrey. Jerry Seinfeld. Abraham Lincoln. Lucille Ball. Babe Ruth. Sir James Dyson.
Every one of the individuals in the above list are or were wildly successful. Each of them reached the pinnacle of achievement in their respective careers. And each of them have something in common with all of us.
I can feel it. Your brow is raised and your curiosity is piqued. “What could I have in common with those who are arguably the most successful people in their respective industries?” you are thinking. For every one of us, at one time or another, what we have in common with them is their numerous, abject failures.
We speak of the 3 Pillars of Fitness, often: Consistency, Intensity, and Nutrition. Consistency – the ability to get yourself into the gym on a regular schedule so that you can subject your body to the kind of stress needed to produce change. While we all face challenges in this department, most people do well. Those that don’t quickly find themselves on the receiving end of some love from the coaches. Between that, peer pressure, and large doses of the camaraderie among gym members that only shared suffering can create, potential absconders find themselves quickly back in the black. Intensity – putting forth an effort great enough to yield results. Learning to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Choosing to spend time, against your most primal of instincts, in a physical and mental state that can only be described as agonizingly void of pleasure. Most athletes, eventually, find that doable. Hell, it even becomes palatable, for there is an addiction to the pleasure that is found only on the far side of pain. Nutrition, however, is truly the pillar that is tantamount to success. It is the one that causes, by far, the most trouble for athletes.
Athletes spend 1-2 hours in their gym of choice. There they are surrounded by fellow bar-bangers, physical culturalists, movement enthusiasts, and sundry veterans of the iron game. In the Gym Full of Iron there is no shortage of motivation to do what needs to be done to stay in the fight. It is the other 22-23 hours of the day that proves to be a handful. There is no yield in the fight yet we must pass those harrowing hours alone. Temptation abounds and there is no shortage of reason to stray from the straight and narrow. It was tough day at work. The kids have 13 different events spread out across 3 counties. The damn dog vomited all over the carpet. Your car broke down. Hubby/wife is sick. The science project one of your kids had 3 weeks to complete but just decided to tell you about today it due tomorrow. The list goes on and on and the only thing that suffers is your nutrition. Faster than Paul Simon could leave his lover your six pack finds itself hidden in the back of a freezer that is carrying a bit too much insulation.
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. It is life. Failure, at times, occurs. The most common point of failure for an athlete is their nutrition. Below are a few do’s and don’ts when you find yourself on the losing end of that battle.
DO look internally. Reconcile with the fact that YOU are the reason your nutrition plan isn’t working. YOU are the only one that can get it back on track.
DO get back into food prepping. Chances are meal prep went out the window.
DO go back to measuring, precisely, your portions. Most likely you are eyeballing it a bit too much.
DO reign in those cheat meals. Cheat meals are a once per week type of deal. Not a once or three times per day thing.
DO stick to your plan. Realize that any change in your life worth making is going to take time and effort.
DO read the September 2015 blog post “Be a Block Head When it Comes to Nutrition”. It will take the mystery out of meal prep and using the block system to get your nutrition plan squared away. (The link above is live.)
DON’T look for a quick fix. You are carrying a few extra pounds for a reason and YOU are the reason. Quick fixes don’t do anything except make snake oil salesmen rich.
DON’T let yourself start saying, “But it is harder for me. You aren’t fat. You don’t like food as much as I do”. That is nothing more than lousy excuse making. It is not any easier for the folks that aren’t carrying around a few extra pounds. You better believe those that have their nutrition on lock down struggle with temptation. “There is no worth in that which is not a difficult achievement”. Ovid knew that back in 42 BC. Suck it up buttercup. Success isn’t coming easy for anyone.
DON’T buy into the “extremes”. We need protein, we need carbohydrates, and we need fat. Cutting out one of the 3 macro nutrients disrupts the metabolism. Specifically, DON’T get talked into giving up carbohydrates. They are a necessary nutrient, particularly if you are participating in strenuous physical activity, regularly. We could spend weeks upon weeks discussing the evolutionary changes that humans have undergone as environments changed and certain types of food became available. In short, we got pretty used to sustaining ourselves with a combination of quality protein, fats, and carbs. Deny yourself protein and you will start to break down the protein-dense tissue in your body to source the amino acids that your body needs to function. Deny yourself fats and you will enjoy increased inflammation, more sugar cravings, vitamin deficiency, and an ever-lingering lack of satiety. Remove the carbohydrates from your diet and not only will you find yourself lethargic and always tired, but you have the potential to crash your metabolism. Your body is pretty smart, it knows when it is hurting. No carbs tells your body that you are starving. Going into starvation mode is bad. The body doesn’t function well in starvation mode. Eat your carbs.
Michael Jordan admitted that on 26 occasions he was entrusted to make the game winning shot but failed, and that he lost over 300 games. Oprah Winfrey was demoted and then fired from her first network. Jerry Seinfeld froze and was booed off stage the night of his first performance. Abraham Lincoln was demoted from Captain down to Private, had multiple failed businesses, and lost several contests for public office. Lucille Ball was such a poor actress when she started that throughout the 30’s and 40’s she was known as the Queen of the B movies. Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times. Sir James Dyson built 5,126 prototypes that failed. Number 5,127 worked.
When you are struggling with your nutrition, please remember that failure is simply a stepping stone to success. It isn’t a road block; it isn’t even a damn pot hole. It is a lesson. Hunker down. Make the necessary adjustments. Stay the course. Refocus. Set your sights on number 5,127.
Semper Fi, Coach Robby
LIVE – GET STRONG – WIN