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…
Stop letting the furniture destroy your life!
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”
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.
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,
(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”)