10 Fitness Lessons I’ve Learned From 11 Years of Working Out
Last week I shared with you 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from 24 Years on Earth.
Today, I’m excited to share with you the fitness lessons I’ve learned over the years.
I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes when it comes to working out.
But if I could go back in time, would I erase those mistakes?
Of course not!
These slip-ups gave me experiences that I’ve learned from.
They made me who I am today.
The good news for you?
You can save a ton of time, energy, and headaches by learning from my mess-ups.
With that being said, let’s get started with the first story…
Story #1: Nearly Blacking Out From Pushing My Body Too Hard
Like I said, when I first started working out, I was insane. I had no idea of the concept of overtraining, so I went all out.
I was doing an intense circuit workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Then on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I did a vertical jump workout.
I didn’t have anything to do on Sunday so I went to YouTube and created a list of a bunch of random exercises I could do on that day.
Not only that, but I was eating 6 small meals a day each with less than 250 calories.
As you can guess, this regimen didn’t last long.
One day during a circuit workout, I nearly blacked out from the low calories and intensity of the workout.
I stopped the workout and went inside to eat something.
Lesson Learned: More Isn’t Always Better
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Less is more.”
This is true for fitness and life in general.
Once I learned about muscle recovery, I realized I couldn’t always go, go, go.
I had to take a step back at times and let my body rest.
It would allow my body time to repair itself so I could come back to the gym stronger.
Fast forward to present day; I now workout anywhere from 2-5 days per week for around 30-45 minutes.
I’ve cut out the fluff in my workouts, and I only choose exercises that are worth my time.
My results because of it are better than they ever have been even though I’m working out less.
Be efficient with your workouts instead of blindly doing more and more.
Story #2: Beating Myself Up for Eating “Junk Food”
I used to crave junk food (who doesn’t), and I would refrain myself from eating certain foods.
Then I would cave and binge eat on junk food I knew I shouldn’t eat.
The few minutes of glory were never worth it because of the guilt I would feel afterwards.
I later realized the more I told myself I couldn’t eat something, the more I wanted it.
Let myself eat my favorite foods from time to time and be ok with it.
Seriously, we’re all human and we all have cravings.
That’s perfectly ok.
What’s not ok is to go against your food cravings.
How many people do you know who have successfully lost weight by banning their favorite foods and kept it off?
Exactly my point.
Lesson Learned: You’re Not Perfect, So Stop Pretending
Up until recently, I always tried to appear perfect to others.
I would eat healthy.
I would exercise frequently.
I would even exaggerate on how much I was exercising or be dishonest when I would fall off track.
Part of the reason is because I’m a personal trainer and I know others look up to me.
I feared I would be seen as a failure if my faults were known.
I now know this isn’t true, and I’m happy to admit that I’m far from perfect when it comes to fitness or anything else.
Being open and honest has really liberated me.
I’m not as critical on others or myself and it helps me relate better to other people’s needs.
I advise you to do the same.
Story #3: I Would Judge Others Based on How Fit They Were
Again, I’m not perfect and this is another flaw of mine.
I would make snap judgments about others based on how they looked.
If I saw someone who was overweight, I would assume they were lazy or they didn’t care about their health.
If I saw someone who was super jacked, I would assume he was on drugs.
Sure I could be right, but I could also be dead wrong.
Judging people is bad for the following reasons:
- You don’t know their current situation
- You don’t know what they’ve gone through
- It’s none of your business anyway, so why bother?
Lesson Learned: We Are More Similar Than Different
Fast forward to current times; I’ve gotten a lot better about judging people.
I still do it (hey it’s biological after all), but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.
I now understand that we have more commonalities than differences.
We all have the same basic needs: food, water, shelter, and air.
We strive for social status once those basic needs are met.
We laugh, cry, love, procrastinate, work, and so much more.
Yet I would think negatively of someone based on appearance alone?
I should’ve at least gotten to know the person before I came to such a conclusion.
Only treat others the way you want to be treated.
Story #4: Not Eating Any Birthday Cake at My Party
I used to take fitness way too seriously.
Take my 17th birthday for example.
A little party took place at my grandma’s house and we had cake after we ate.
Well of course I didn’t want to put anything that was “unhealthy” into my body, so I passed.
My mom begged me to eat some of my own cake, but I didn’t budge.
I was going to let everyone know how serious I was about fitness.
Everyone else ate some of the cake and had a good time—I was stubborn and missed out.
Lesson Learned: Let Fitness Enhance Your Life, Not Control It
Looking back I should have eaten a piece of the cake.
It wouldn’t have completely ruined my diet or made me fat.
Instead, I choose to look like a total health nut in front of my family.
Life is too short to miss out on fun times like birthday parties and weddings.
They only happen every so often, so you might as well enjoy them.
What’s the point of fitness if it controls your life?
Are all of those sacrifices worth it?
I don’t think so and neither do you.
Instead, use fitness as a way to enhance your life.
This way you’ll get the best of both worlds—you’ll be fit and still get to enjoy life.
Story #5: Trying to Make Things Happen Overnight
When I was a teenager, I wanted overnight results.
Bigger arms, a six-pack, jump higher, etc.
I wanted it all, and I wanted it right then.
Sadly, that’s not the way fitness (or anything worthwhile) works.
If you want something valuable, you’re going to have to earn it.
Yet this is the exact opposite of the kind of world we live in today.
Get rich quick, take this pill and lose 10 pounds.
Whatever the path of least resistance is, we’ll take it.
But even if it was possible to take a pill and lose weight, should we?
Lesson Learned: Enjoy the Process, Not Just the Prize
I was anxious to get results because I couldn’t wait to see how much my life would change.
To see how it would feel to achieve my goals.
I only focused on the prize.
I thought my life wasn’t good as it was, and it would only get better if I accomplished x or y.
You need to focus on the process and not just the prize.
Accept your starting point and be ok with it.
Don’t beat yourself up for anything you’ve done in the past.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Do what you can today to start improving and enjoy the journey.
Does a lion have fun hunting a hurt animal?
Heck no, there’s no challenge in that!
The lion loves chasing down and catching an animal that can run away.
The journey is where you grow and learn, and the prize is your reward for that growth.
Story #6: Being Made Fun of for Being Skinny
When I was growing up, I got made fun of from time to time for being skinny.
People would make comments about how I might blow away with the wind.
I hated how lanky my arms were.
It definitely bothered me, and it motivated me to keep working after graduating high school.
Going through school can be pretty ruthless no matter who you are.
Lesson Learned: Don’t Take Things Personally
This is hard to do.
I still do take things personally sometimes, but I’m working on it.
You don’t know where someone is coming from when he/she says something hateful to you.
Maybe you misunderstood what was said.
Maybe they’re jealous of you.
Maybe they’re having a bad day.
But you feeling bad and moping around over a little comment isn’t worth the trouble.
If you do that then the other person wins because it definitely got to you.
Take my previous story as an example.
I should’ve realized that hardly anyone has a good body in high school.
You’re likely either over or underweight, but to have a ripped and muscular body as a teenager- come on!
I was getting made fun of by people like me who had their own insecurities.
The same is true for you, so don’t take things personally because everyone has their flaws.
Story #7: Working Out When I was Tired or Didn’t Feel Like It
We all have those days where we don’t feel like working out.
Sometimes we skip working out and other times we go to the gym.
These are the decisions that will separate the elite from the average.
For the most part, I’ve been pretty good about going to the gym when it’s raining or I’m not feeling it.
I don’t want to wonder what if later in life because I skipped too many workouts.
You don’t want to worry what if either.
Lesson Learned: The Little Things Make the Difference
Throughout life, there will be many times when you don’t feel like doing something.
You don’t feel like going to work.
You don’t want to do the laundry, take out the trash, or whatever else.
Yet you do those things anyway.
Because you want money to pay the bills, and you don’t want a bunch of smelly trash in your house.
Sadly there aren’t any noticeable short-term consequences from skipping a workout.
You can eat a cookie, skip exercise, lose sleep, and still be fine overall.
Over time though, all of these little decisions will add up.
You’ll step on the scale and notice you gained 20 pounds.
Every decision you make counts.
Story #8: Wanting to Weigh 200 Pounds
I’m not sure what it is about guys and wanting to weigh 200 pounds.
I guess there’s something about hitting “the big 200” that makes you feel more manly on the inside.
I got caught up in this game when I was younger.
I would set goals wanting to weigh 220 pounds and be 8% body fat.
I would see models and athletes who had those stats and I wanted to be like them.
It wasn’t until later I realized that goal would only be achievable with drugs.
Lesson Learned: Your Weight is a Number. Focus on How You Look.
Chasing a goal like weighing 200 pounds is silly.
Most guys will gain too much fat to reach 200 pounds and they’ll look much better at a lower bodyweight.
All you’re doing is chasing a completely arbitrary number!
The same goes for wanting to lose weight and reach 150 pounds for example.
You have no clue how you’ll look at 150 pounds.
Instead, focus on how you look in the mirror.
Are you satisfied with how you look?
What needs to change?
Do you need to add muscle or drop fat?
The mirror won’t lie.
Story #9: Getting Mad When Life Happens
Back when I was super serious about fitness, I would get angry when anything would pop up and keep me out of the gym.
Family vacations, emergencies, friends wanting to hang out, or whatever else, I would get upset.
I acted like working out was the most important thing (it isn’t).
I would blame other people for messing up my routine.
How could they not understand?
Lesson Learned: Life Will Always Happen (So Plan Ahead)
There’s no one to blame for me missing a workout other than myself.
Random things will always happen in life.
Should you accept that and take life as it comes to you?
Be smart and plan ahead.
Is your friend’s birthday coming up?
Be prepared by eating less and/or exercising more in the days leading up to it.
Don’t blame your friend for ruining your diet.
Do your friends always make last seconds plans at the end of the day?
Then you need to workout in the early morning when they’re still asleep.
Don’t let life stop you from getting what you truly want.
Story #10: I Thought I Knew It All
I thought I knew it all when it came to fitness.
I had read the articles, had my own experiences, gotten the degree, and I’m a certified personal trainer.
What else was there to learn?
If I can do this, then so can you.
I would discredit anyone who wasn’t as “qualified” as I was.
I knew better than they did.
How dare they go against my opinions?
Lesson Learned: Something Can Be Learned From Everyone
The more I go through life, the more I realize how little I know.
I learn something new everyday, but I know I still have much more to discover.
I’m a lot better about not shutting out people who differ from me.
Instead I ask myself, “What can I learn from this person?”
It can be big or small from anyone.
Don’t discredit someone because of the mistakes he/she has made.
Take Tiger Woods for example.
He cheated on his wife so should I be narrow-minded and only focus on that?
No I shouldn’t.
If I do then I’ll miss out on everything else I can learn from Tiger Woods.
If you stay open and look hard enough you can learn something from anyone.
Fitness is a small part of life.
Yes, it’s an important part of your overall health and well being, but it isn’t everything.
Don’t lose focus on what matters and the joys of life.
Use fitness as a way to make your life better, not worse.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts.
What’s something you learned from my lessons?
What have you learned about fitness in your own life?