The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Goals and Reality

Changing any part of your life, not just the way your body looks, requires that you set goals. And I know I'm not the first to say this. Every person that is put into a position of being a motivational speaker or a teacher in any capacity likes to talk about this shit. It's really easy to rif on this theme.

"Set goals! That's the only way you'll succeed! derp derp flerp sherp!"

Yeah, duh, set goals. But this post isn't about goals, it's about being real and honest with yourself about goals and how to obtain them.

Goal Issue Number 1.) Don't aim for the fences if you can't even hit a grounder.

People always want to go full potato, well not everyone, but a lot of people. These people never want to start off easy and build a foundation. They want their results right this god damn minute! I know this because I am one of these people.

I like potatoes and I'm all about going full potato. But, I realize that doing too much too fast comes at a cost. (It ALWAYS does, don't think you're the exception.) You're gonna injure yourself (been there), you're gonna burn out (done that) and you're gonna reinforce terrible habits, techniques and social and economic problems (Bingo.) It's something I'm trying to fix in myself. Give me time to grow, dammit!!!

This idea of progressive overload doesn't just apply to gaining strength and muscle, it's also a matter of psychologically creating the kinds of patterns that are endurable, enjoyable and subsequently sustainable in your training AND diet.

*Story Time: I didn't eat ice cream or drink after Death by Aria. This is something that would have completely depressed me the year before, and I would have felt cheated and gone full bananas on some ice cream and beer on my next cheat day to compensate. NOW, I understand that I don't like full fat ice cream at 11pm (makes my stomach all gurgly) and tequila, my preferred drink of choice (and I'm not even talking about a lot of tequila) would have wrecked my voice for a helacious day of rehearsals I had the next day. No depression, just sleepies.*

I'll talk further about some ideas on how to set goals in a sec, but the point of this section is to say that you should never start a program or diet without knowing how much it's going to demand of you and how it will affect your life. If you're a cook, not being able to taste the food you serve is going to directly affect your livelihood. If you're a garbage man, it's going to be tough to rationalize waking up even earlier to do heavy barbell squats. Obviously these are two extremes, but I think I'm making my point.

Goal Issue Number 2.) Putting the Cart Before the Horse.

Eric Helms of 3DMJ, A professional natural bodybuilder, coach, and all around super intelligent bro (Doctorate work in Germany) likes to use this phrase a lot.

A shirtless bro on this website that ain't me? Shocker!

And now that I'm helping out others, I'm really starting to understand it now. People like to ask me "How do I get abs like you?"

Well, you can't. You can potentially have your version of a visible six pack, but if you're a high body fat percentage, you don't eat consist amounts of calories, you're not sure how to calculate macro nutrients, you're unaware of some of the protein content of some foods and assume that peanut butter is a high protein source, you're putting me into a position to have a very lengthy conversation with you where I have to explain a lot of details...Which is fine, just exhausting on my part, and usually leads people to lose interest when they realize how much detail work can be involved in such a process...and if you remember, I don't like shortcuts.

Frankly, most people get ahead of themselves way too early. They want to lose weight without really understanding what food and nutrition does for and to your body. Or they want to build muscle without actually knowing how to properly do a below parallel squat. And it isn't made easier with all of the dietary and training propaganda floating around.

I wish I could help more with this, but the majority of the people that ask me for help are not clients, and the best that I can do for them is give them A method. If I am in the proximity, I don't mind showing people how to do proper form, and I don't mind pointing people towards sources for them to look up the information themselves. But again, only one man.

Goal Issue No. 3) Not Knowing the Method.

You are always presented with a task when you receive new information. You can either 1.) take it as fact 2.) assume it's incorrect or 3.) listen to the whole of the information, check their sources, and research it as best as you can and discuss the information presented with others who's opinion you trust and value. Guess which one is correct? The real answers almost never exist in the extremes, but have a nice cottage in the grey area. 

People see results and assume the method is sound. That's putting all of your eggs in a basket made of anecdote. That shit will spoil! Most people who have achieved amazing results rarely arrive there from the application of just one method. It's usually a brilliant blend of several methods combined with exquisite genetics and dumb luck. Your assumption is what gives their method power and potentially lines their pockets. So does your skepticism...but that's another topic for another time.

I think the biggest culprit of this bandwagon like mentality is the paleo diet. A great deal of people hop aboard this diet without understanding why it works, quoting stuff like the glycemic index to rationalize creating a calorie deficit via removing calorically dense carb sources and increasing the thermic effect of their diet with increased veggies and proteins. It's a diet that does work and has worked for many, and it is a very powerful tool if used within certain parameters, but the diet in of itself is nothing special or magical. Merely genius branding of older ideas. Just one way to create a calorie deficit, which is the ONLY way to lose fat (notice how I didn't say weight?). You can't trick science.

The same thing can be said about Intermittent Fasting, something I've been using for a very long time now (over a year.) And although the fat loss potential is still being researched (I'm actually reading an article now about it's capabilities) it's nothing particularly new or magical (but we will see.)

*Side Note: This isn't referring to Martin Berkan's Lean Gains method, which is a blend of IF, carb and fat cycling, and most primarily a body recomposition based diet and life philosophy that is engineered to get you lean, keep you lean, strong and good looking.*

Eric Helms' other favorite phrase is: "I'm gonna be answering they question you should be asking, not the one you actually did."

So, what should you have asked? How do I go about accomplishing my overarching goals?

Micro Goals

The key to overarching success is micro goals, or mini goals or whatever you want to call them. Inching your way there and celebrating those minor milestones and then reassess your next steps based on previous experiences and results. This way you're re-evaluating the pros and cons of the method and decide whether or not it fit's well enough within your daily demands. If it doesn't, back to the fuckin drawing board.

This is also going to be a lot more psychologically satisfying than staring at the end goal that is the distance of the earth to the moon. You will give up, the frustration will be too great. If I started over a year ago with this weight-loss journey with the idea in my head "I want visible abs" I would have spent the next several months lifting my shirt up in the mirror being constantly disgusted at my lack of visible ab muscles. That's setting a goal that is too far away, The focal point is too small not even a sharpshooter could hit it from that distance. What did I do instead? My goal was to lose weight, between 2 to 5 pounds every week, and to do so for several months. You'll be surprised how much faster you will achieve success if you set smaller goals, especially if you plot out your small goals over the course of months to encompass your larger goal.

Like you thought it wasn't going to happen. Ol' Yeargain is proud of his results.

Example: I want to Deadlift 405lbs for reps

Micro Goal List -
  • Learn how to lean back on the heels and keep the bar close to my body when pulling the weight.
  • Do Deadlifts More Frequently.
  • Find the best foot and hand placement for best pull results.
  • Build up Glute and Ham Strength with Glute Thrusts.
  • Deadlift 315 for reps
  • Deadlift 320 for reps
  • Deadlift 325 for reps
  • Deadlift 330 for reps
  • etc.
You get the point.

Extra Tip - Never be Satisfied.

I know I'm gonna bust away a lot of the practicality talk I just bolstered with this segment, but sometimes even getting average results requires you to push YOURSELF past pre-conceived limitations. Most driven individuals I talk to don't need this. Regardless of what I tell them, they will never be pleased with their results, because perfection is a lie but greatness is achievable and there is no cap to it. Meaning, those who are already great at what they do, still want to be greater. When I first started losing weight, a good buddy of mine pointed me to this video.

Are you pissed off for greatness? How bad do you want it? I've been losing weight for over a year now and I'm still trying to find ways to get leaner, drier, tighter while maintaining muscle mass and building strength. I want it so bad that I can taste it. It wakes me up in the morning and I taste it in every bite of food I eat and every weighted chin up I dominate. If you want to do something remarkable, that's what it takes. Passion. What you get out of things is directly related to how much you pour into it. I can show you a lot of shortcuts and ways to dominate your goals, but even the smartest, easiest path requires dedication. Be hungry and thirsty for the method as much as the results. You'll blow away your expectations.

Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doin It.

The Opera Bro

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