Sometimes when we have our face so closely glued to the thing right in front of us, we cannot see the more important (often more beautiful) big picture. This takes shape in many aspects in our lives each day. It could be in our education; focusing too hard on one test, instead of how the application of that test might impact our future career. It could be our finances; a new pair of shoes you don’t need, the upgraded television you shouldn’t be over-indulging in or the associated cable, or the daily latte. Studies show (Spend on experiences, Money:happiness) that if we can spend our money on experiences rather than commercial products, bigger houses, or material items; we will be happier. Often times this can lead us to more financial freedom as well — If you participated in the analogy above (shoes, TV, cable, latte) you would spend over $2,500/year on those things. This could be well over $300,000 when you reach retirement age (depending on age, interest rates, etc.). In the short term nothing seems like a huge purchase in and of itself, but if you start adding up the costs between you and your wife, these small admissions take away from a beautiful and fulfilling big picture possibility.
How does this pertain to health? I would never tell you to stop the small indulgences like cookies or cake, or wine when you eat out. Those things are why we bust our asses to be healthy in the first place–to enjoy life. A major misconception of the public is that it’s those things that end up keeping you overweight or out of shape. Often times it isn’t those things, but instead it is the breakfast you don’t eat, the workout you over do that puts you out for a week that turns into a bad month or months, or the water you aren’t drinking. It’s the daily creamer and sugar in your coffee, the two or three beers per night and/or the sandwich you run to Starbucks or Chik-fil-a (It is really good Cash) to grab to make up for a missed breakfast. Just an innocent 60-120grams of bad carbs extra everyday, 240-480calories/day or 87,600-175,200/year. 44-88 days worth of extra calories taken in over a year that you don’t need and shouldn’t have. Much like the financial decisions we make, nothing is really that hard of a decision to avoid in the short term…it is just simple quick-fix gratification. When we add those simple quick-fixes to our birthdays, holidays, celebrations and over-indulgences, we end up over-eating by 100 days worth of junk calories in a given year – it is too far beyond what exercise can truly fix for us.
Let’s also look at the day-to-day in the gym. If you’re reading this, you are likely in the lucky boat of people who can afford to have a coach available to them everyday. That coach probably offers you tips and recommendations. Things like: “stay light here”; “take it deeper”; “use your warm-up effectively”; or “practice this skill” are the small tips analogous to: “you don’t need new shoes”; “you don’t need that latte”; or “instead of beer in the afternoon try tea.” These are the small, simple things that we offer up everyday that make the difference. Obviously, every-so-often you will get a ‘golden’ tip that will lead to a major break through, but those are few and far between. It is the build up of the simple small things that will lead you to strength, speed, lean muscles, tight stomachs, confidence and enjoyment/happiness–both in and out of the gym.
So, zoom out. Don’t get so hung up on staring straight into the bark that you cannot see the path. Next time you’re faced with a morning latte, turn it down and get some black coffee instead. Think about cancelling your cable this month and get an Amazon Firestick or similar. You can make it work…and if you can’t then cancel your cable and DON’T get a firestick. And next time coach gives you a recommendation that seems too small to be helpful, follow through on it diligently and see if it makes a major difference. Be self-aware enough to see the issue, and be self-disciplined enough to make a change. Start small, start simple and see where it takes you.