Be An Athlete: 16 Reasons Why

Being a performance coach, I look at everybody as an athlete. Whether you’re a 15 year old football player, a 31 year old powerlifter, or a 65 year old recently retired shop-lady who has joined the gym to fill the gap in her days, you are an athlete, and you should think of yourself as such.

An athlete is either performing well, or they’re not. Either way it’s my job to improve their performance.

Regardless of what you do for a living, or how athletic you think you are or are not, here are 16 reasons why you should consider yourself an athlete and strive to be one daily:

 

Conditioned

An athlete has a good level of fitness. They train to be ready for every eventuality in their chosen field and have enough stamina to last the distance. Likewise, you should be able to sprint, jump, roll, climb hills, get up from the ground, for these eventualities will appear at some stage in life.

 

Strong

Athletes can hold off opponents, lift heavy loads, and master their own bodyweight. Strength is necessary in life. Daily you will be required to lift things and move things that will require strength. Make sure you have it. It also bulletproofs you from injury. If your strength training is causing your injuries, you’re doing it wrong.

 

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.”

– Mark Rippletoe

 

Agile

Athletes move freely and easily. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Prioritise movement quality in your training and feel the difference. Also, being able to change direction swiftly, move out of the way of flying objects or flying fists can save you some bruises; just me… Ok.

 

Confident

Athletes walk tall. They have complete confidence in their abilities. Having trained for every eventuality they know they are ready, regardless of what comes. So walk tall. Swagger if you want. Fuck it, I do and I’m 5’6″ on a good day. The reason you can be confident is because you know you are prepared.

 

Competitive

Competition is in the very nature of an athlete. They do not rest. They do not settle. And they…

 

Never accept defeat

They refuse to be beaten. Someone or something in life seems to be getting the better of you, how do you react? Do you roll over and give up, or do you fight with everything you’ve got until the end?

 

Focused

Keep your eyes on the prize. What is it you want more than anything? Got it? Ok, then why are you messing about with 100 other things that have nothing to do with your main goal. You want it? Don’t take your eyes of it.

 

“The goal is to keep the goal the goal.”

“If something is important, do it every day; if it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”

“Look at your goals. Look at your behaviour. Does your behaviour match your goals?”

– Dan John

 

Driven

Your sights are set on the target. Go for it. If necessary plot out the steps needed to get you there, but make sure you make the move. Don’t wait, do!

 

Hard working

You have to work harder than your competition if you want to better them. This is not work for the sake of work, but work that will make you better at what you want to be better at. The most successful are often the hardest working.

 

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

– Tim Notke


Persistent

Keep going. No matter what, keep going. Life will get hard. There will be stress. There will be trial. There will be defeats and ridicule and really fucking hard times. That does not mean you are beaten. That does not mean you are a loser. Keep going.

 

Decisive

Make the choice. If you dally too long the choice will be taken away from you. If it turns out to be the wrong one, then you know better for next time. If it’s the right one, you look like a genius.

 

Goal oriented

Know what you want, and go after it. Break down what you ultimately want to achieve into smaller tasks and work to complete each one in a given timeframe.

 

Results oriented

It’s not enough to have your goals, it’s not even enough to go after them. Like it or not, ultimately you will be judged on your results. Did you achieve anything with all that hard work? If you complete each step of your task breakdown, you will have reached your goal.

 

Calm under pressure

When the heat is on, can you keep your cool? Can you still perform when the odds are stacked against you? Can you dig deep? Things won’t always go in your favour. You will have to conquer adversity.

 

Strive for excellence

Aim to be the best you can​ be. You may not be the best in the world but you can do your best.

 

Be humble

Know who you are. Know your flaws. Know your weaknesses. Work hard to improve them. Help others along the way. No one is perfect, but be a decent human being.

These are some of the components of what makes an athlete. Looking back at the list, you’ll see that only the first 3 are physical traits, the following 13 are mental. None of them have to do with appearance.

All of these things are achievable to some extent for everybody. Will you be stronger in some than you are in others? Yes. Will you need to work really hard to see even slight improvement in some? Probably. 

There is much more to being an athlete than physicality. Train your brain bruh.

#braingains

 

 

Andrew

 

Body Composition and Life Performance

Following on from my previous post on fat loss I’m going to tell you a bit about body composition and its importance in life performance.

Body composition, quite obviously, is what your body is composed of: muscle, fat, skin, internal organs, hair, moles, toenails, and pretty much everything inside the various crevices on your body. (Mmm, sexy.)

But, for our purposes, when we talk about body composition, we’re talking about what you want to change when you say you want to lose weight; we’re talking about muscle mass and fat mass and the ratio of one to the other.

What is weightloss?

When you say “I want to lose weight” what you really mean is you want to alter your body composition favourably. You want to adjust the fat to muscle ratio so that fat is lower and muscle is higher than it previously was.

Scale weight then is rendered virtually irrelevant. Yes, that little number on the scale has lost it’s power!

The number that you should be more concerned with is body fat percentage (BF%).

You see it’s possible to lose weight without really changing your body composition, leaving you remaining unhappy with the way you look.

Conversely, it’s possible to maintain or even gain weight while altering your body composition in a manner that has you happier with how you look by increasing muscle mass (which is weight) while decreasing fat mass (which is also weight).

If you increase more by weight in muscle than you decrease in fat, you will weigh more on the scale but look better in the nudie.

Like I said previously, scale weight is virtually irrelevant to most people. Unless you find yourself competing in a sport with specific weight classes.

That being said, it can offer some insight into favourable improvements in body composition if you are very over, or very under weight.

In any aspect of life you will have the capability to perform better the healthier you are.

I am by no means a physique coach. I am a performance-orientated coach. That is the whole point of this blog, to talk about improving your performance in life.

So should body composition be your primary focus in training? Possibly. If your performance ultimately hinges on it.

It all comes down to your life. Does your livelihood somehow depend on it? Are you a fitness model or a pro athlete? Then your livelihood likely depends somewhat on your body composition. Want to perform well in the matter of attracting the opposite sex, or the same sex, or whoever you’re trying to attract? An improvement in your body composition certainly won’t do your chances any harm. It all comes down to what field you want to perform in.

Are you an office worker? A labourer? A taxi driver? A make-up artist? A door-to-door salesman? Then body composition shouldn’t be your ultimate priority. Health should be. In actual fact that should go for everyone.

We will see now how that will have an impact on your life performance:

Health

You need to be healthy in order to perform. Need I say any more than that?

Of course I will anyway because I can’t shut up:

In any aspect of life you will have the capability to perform better the healthier you are.

That includes physical, and mental health.

Your mental health can have an impact on your physical health and vice versa.

If you look good, you feel good.

When you are happy with how you look, you are more confident. That’s why we feel good when we dress up, get a fresh haircut (a distant memory for me), or see your bicep raise it’s beautiful round head for the first time after 3 weeks of curling in front of the mirror.

When you don’t feel confident, you often feel anxious.

As vain as it sounds, for many of us our confidence is irrevocably attached to how we look. Or at least, how we think we look.

Can someone be unhappy with how they look and still be confident? Yes.

But if you then improve their perception of how they look on top of that, that will make them even more so.

This can come both from actual, physical change in your body, and also a change in mindset and belief about yourself.

There is nothing wrong with liking how you look, particularly if you worked damn hard at it.

And the great thing is, often if you work hard with your body, you will feel better in your body. Regardless of whether there is noticeable physical change or not.

We are made to perform, and if you are not performing you will feel a sense of inadequacy.

If you push yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally (within reason), you will find that both your health, and your confidence will increase, and as a result of that, your life performance will increase too.

Me and my man Socrates were chatting about this very subject a few years back and I came out with this gem:

But somehow it got attributed to him.

And by “man” I meant “mankind”, before any crazies come at me.

 
Andrew


Fat Loss Simplified

*This is not a comprehensive article on fat loss. The purpose of this blog post is to simplify what for many has become an overly complicated issue. I will be doing future posts on this topic that will dive further into the issue.


There is lots of information out there on the topic of fat loss.

What is the best diet? Which style of training is best? Is it strength training? HIIT? Steady state cardio? Should I do that cardio fed or fasted?

Sometimes these questions get in the way of the very thing that will get results: action.

Start. Begin. Decide. Do.

Don’t try to have it all figured out beforehand. Honestly, in how many situations does that actually work? You can figure out the best method for you along the way. That’s generally how things work out. If you wait until everything is perfectly aligned, then you’ll be waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

And do you know what waiting doesn’t do?

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Burn fat!
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Sometimes these questions get in the way of the very thing that will get results: action.

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In order to burn fat from the body you have to be in a calorie deficit. That means you have to be expending more energy than you’re taking in. In one respect it really is that simple: Eat less, move more.

If you strength train and are consistently in a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. If you do your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and you’re consistently in a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. If you do your cardio 2 hours after a huge feed of pasta and you’re consistently in a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. And, if you do your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and you’re not consistently in a calorie deficit, you’ll not lose fat. And so on, and so on. (*Key word: consistently).

Of course there are ways that are more efficient than others, but there will always be benefits to all kinds of training, benefits to every diet, and fierce proponents of each.

Science may tell us that one option is better than another, and in a controlled environment it is. But science rarely accounts for the human factor, the fact that different people will respond to different stimuli and ultimately it is the training and nutrition plan that someone feels motivated to stick with that will succeed.

This is something that I’ve encountered as a trainer working with people from various demographics, at all ends of the spectrum.

Theory is great, and it is important to have evidence and reason behind what you do, but there is no one thing that works for everyone; physiologically maybe, psychologically no.

Every individual provides different challenges and will respond to different things. It’s important to find a way of eating that satisfies you, and a form of training that you are motivated by.

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Ultimately it is the training and nutrition plan that someone feels motivated to stick with that will succeed.

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“Eat less, move more” – I want to expand on this. When I say “eat less” I mean less calories. Be aware that it is possible to eat less food by portion size but consume more calories due to the fact that some foods are more calorie dense than others.

This is why calorie tracking can be useful. It gives you an awareness of the calorie content of what you are eating. But, for the most part, this should be a short term fix. You should, over time, learn how your body responds to food and how to control your calorie intake without having to record or scan everything you put in your mouth.

As far as training goes, from a purely fat loss perspective, anything that is going to build some muscle and raises your heart rate, serving to raise your rate of energy expenditure, is going to work. Simply: do some form of resistance training and some form of conditioning training.

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I realise this is a very “do what works for you” post so I will be following this up with practical advice in the coming weeks.

Peace, love, and booty to you all,

Andrew

Custard Wisdom, Frightening Furniture, and Enjoying The Process

In my first post I penned the spectacularly enlightened phrase:

I have lofty ambitions, but my focus is always on the next step; lest I fall.

 

Now I know you’re still in awe, but try and gather yourself because we’re just getting started. So, brace yourself to be slapped in the face by another dishful of delicious custardy wisdom.

What was the meaning behind that phrase (apart from making me sound like an ancient monk, or incredibly pretentious, or both)? Essentially what I was saying was “focus on the process”, have an eye on the goal certainly, but don’t focus solely on the stars while you’re walking up the mountain. You’ll trip. Or you’ll feel like you’re never getting any closer.

Have you ever been running on the treadmill and you’ve set yourself a target time or distance to run for, and every time you focus on the clock or the distance it doesn’t seem to go anywhere very fast? You get discouraged, maybe you even give up. But, if you focus on your steps, your technique, your breathing, and appreciating the song you’re listening to, the process doesn’t become so bad. It even becomes bearable; dare I say enjoyable? Still tough, but enjoyable.

 

Or let me give another example: You’re building furniture. You’re in a rush to just get it over with and have the damn thing built already. Every single step frustrates you. You make mistakes, you get pissed off, and you hate walking past that fucking flat pack hallway unit everyday ’cause it reminds you of the worst 7 hours of your life. One time as you’re walking past, you kick it to vent your anger and let it know how you feel, but you forgot you were barefoot and broke your wee phalange. Now you’re angry and a little afraid. You didn’t know furniture could hurt you this way…

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Stop letting the furniture destroy your life!

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Stop trying to just be finished already. Stop trying to jump from A to Z without going through all those other letters first. They’re beautiful. There’s many on the screen in front of you now, forming this work of genius. They’re fun to say too… “G”… “G”… C’mon say it out loud with me: “G”

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If you did that you’re an idiot.

 

Also, do you see my point now?

 

If you have the correct tools, take your time, and follow the instructions carefully, building furniture can actually be quite enjoyable. Then you can walk past that hallway unit each time and smile with pride, pat it on the top and get nostalgic, realising how, by slowing down, taking the appropriate steps, focusing on what you’re doing, and enjoying the process, you are much happier. You’ll probably find you reach your goal much quicker too.

 

When you try to rush ahead, skip steps, and cheat the process, you’ll make mistakes and often have to go back, undoing some of the work you’ve done, to rectify and begin moving forward again.

 

The same applies to improving your fitness, in whatever aspect. Why the rush? You’ve been overweight for 12 years, why all of a sudden do you have to have abs in 6 weeks?

 

Don’t cheat the process, you’re only cheating yourself. Don’t try and starve yourself into submission with 600 calories a day then throw 14 HIIT sessions a week on top of it. It won’t work. You’ll lose weight, yes. But you’ll also lose happiness, fun, and probably all your family and friends ’cause who’s gonna want to be around hangry Hank/Henrietta all the time. Not me, that’s who.

Learn to enjoy the process. Learn how to squat. Learn how to do a proper push-up. Learn how to sprint, jump, stretch, whatever it is you want to do. Learn how to eat, what to eat, and how to not eat 20 biscuits before bed. Get a coach to guide you. Don’t get a coach that tells you pomegranates get rid of belly fat and smooth the wrinkles on your forehead. Get one who will teach you the basics of strength training, effective conditioning, and healthy eating habits. Get one who will encourage you and walk with you and won’t bullshit you.

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The process of a fit and healthy body is a lifelong pursuit. It can be broken down into many smaller steps and each of them should be approached with focus and intensity if you want to see results. You can’t do that if you’re continually looking past them. Focus on what you’re doing now.

 

Focus on the next step.

 

Focus on the next rep.

 

Focus on the next meal. Then the next, then the next.

 

This step by step approach leads to great progress over time.

 

Enjoy the process. Embrace the suck. Love the grind. Or any number of ridiculous motivational fitness quotes. Just do it. There’s another one.

 

There you go: custard wisdom pie in your face. Bam.

 

Blessings from your pretentious ancient monk,

Andrew

(FYI: for those who don’t know HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. And “hangry” is not a typo, it’s a merging of “hungry” and “angry”)

Performance Living

 

Think about it: What do you need to perform optimally in your life?

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Would you benefit from being stronger? Almost certainly. What if you were better conditioned, faster? You’d never miss the bus again. What if you could move better and didn’t have to limber up before picking those dirty socks off the floor? What if you could eat in a way that kept you in shape year round and could go out for a meal without having to worry about whether what you eat was going to add digits to the number on the scale? If you were confident in yourself and didn’t beat yourself up over every minor transgression, that would be awesome, right?

But is this even possible?

Fuck yeah.

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This is the meaning behind Life Performance Training. By balancing your fitness, nutrition, and mindset you can perform to the best of your ability at LIFE. Your life. Whatever that looks like. You are prepared physically and mentally for whatever life throws at you. You are strong enough to walk up the hill with your child on your back and ready-to-bust shopping bags in each hand (drawing on experience here), to cope with unexpected stresses (ranging from car breakdowns to relationship breakdowns), and to lift a fully loaded barbell off the floor. You are conditioned to run for the train, chase after your goals, or sprint high intensity intervals. You can move freely, move on, and perform all manner of gymnastic-karate-hop movements across the gym floor.

Like this cat.

 

This blog will teach you how to do all this. It’ll also tell you about my daily (ok, hourly) struggles and fuck-ups, and my occasional successes and celebrations. You will be advised on how to get stronger, fitter, more mobile, eat well in a way that works for you, and improve your mindset. I say advised, because that’s what this is. The application of this advice is down to YOU. Only you can make this happen, I can’t do it for you. But I can point you in the right direction and walk alongside you for a lot of the way.

I have come a long way from who I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and even 1 year ago, or to put it another way: my life performance has improved immensely. I still have a long road ahead to get to where I want to be.

I have lofty ambitions, but my focus is always on the next step; lest I fall.

(I’m so profound.)



Join me on this journey, won’t you?

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Andrew

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Yes, this is me with my bongos. Yes, I did flash my nipple at you in my opening post – you’re welcome. And yes, my tattoo does say “bad to the bone”. More on that in a future post.