Making an honest effort in achieving your health and fitness goals
In addition to my work as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, I coach basketball at the local high school. One of the themes this past season was a journey for the truth, the truth about us as individual players and as a team. In order to find this truth, we needed to leave fear of failure behind and to commit to every aspect of our goal, a state sectional title. Finding out the truth would require us to do the uncomfortable, and the inconvenient. It would mean leaving no stone unturned in our journey. I explained to the team that there is nothing worse than ending a competitive sports career with regrets. If they were willing to do what it takes to search for the truth, and be honest in their efforts, then no matter the end result they would walk away from the season with a clear conscience and at peace with their performance. We finished the season having won another league title, 25-4 (the best record in over a decade), and with an appearance in the state sectional final (the first in 2 decades). Although we fell just short of our ultimate goal of a state sectional title, I would say we had a very successful season, and came pretty close to finding the truth we were searching for.
Looking back at this theme of finding the truth about oneself as a competitive athlete, I realized that this principle holds true for just about every other facet of life. Anything that we want to be good at requires an honest assessment and effort. The lessons learned this season with our basketball team can be applied to one’s performance at work, in the classroom, in relationships, and yes, even in health and fitness. Let me rephrase that, these lessons can be especially helpful in achieving our health and fitness goals. Our realized potential (RP) is a product of our ability/talent (A) and our effort (E). RP = A x E. One’s ability/talent is predetermined by genetics; essentially it is what your parents gave you. How much of this ability is realized, is a function of one’s efforts. Very few people ever give 100%. For most of us, it really isn’t possible. Thus, our realized potential is never an exact reflection of out ability, but more of a percentage. The greater our efforts the more our realized potential will resemble our innate ability.
In regards to basketball, I broke down effort into three categories: 1) physical (strength, power, speed, quickness, agility, etc) 2) basketball skills (shooting, dribbling, passing, etc.) and 3) basketball IQ. The only way to find out the truth would be to make sure that we addressed all aspects of each of these categories. If we simply cherry picked the things that we liked to do and ignored that which we didn’t care for then we would never know how good we could be. There would always be doubt and questions unanswered. In other words, to find out the truth about one’s realized potential, you have to honestly assess your ability and then you have to make an all encompassing, comprehensive effort. Once you get into, “ I’ll work on my shooting, but I’m not lifting weights,” or “ I’ll do some running, but I don’t like watching game film,” then your efforts are compromised and your results are sure to follow suit.
The reason so many people fail at achieving their health and fitness goals is because they fail to make an honest assessment and then an honest effort. If you’re 5’1” and have a stocky build, you are not going to be 5’9” with a long slender build from doing Pilates three times per week. What you can do is maximize what your parents gave you; in other words, be the best you can be. As it relates to health and fitness I break down effort into the following three categories: 1) Nutrition 2) Training (strength, power, mobility, aerobic & anaerobic conditioning, etc.) and 3) Recovery (rest, flexibility, refueling, etc.). So whether you want to lose weight, improve your performance of daily activities, like playing with your children/grandchildren, or you want to compete in a triathlon you must fully address each of these categories. You can’t say you want to lose weight, but you are unwilling to change your nutrition, or that you want to be stronger, but you are only willing to jog but don’t want to strength train. And for those type A’s who think more training is the answer, they need to know that quality is preferred to quantity. We improve when we rest not during the work period, so recovery is a very important element of performance. In order to make an honest effort, working hard in only one particular area just doesn’t cut it; we must take a more comprehensive approach. Oftentimes, when we fall short of a goal it is because we were unwilling to do the uncomfortable and the inconvenient. It is unfair to say you want something and then be unwilling to do all that is required. To find out the truth about oneself one must exhaust all avenues, so that when you look back you can say you did all that you could. An honest effort will move you towards achieving your health and fitness goals; a journey filled with successes along the way with no regrets.