Thursday, November 17, 2016

I am a monster.

Let's take a look at Training versus Exercising.  

At a quick glance, we'd probably say they are the same, or similar.

But there is a difference, and as we understand how they differ, the shift may be instrumental for you. 

For example, did you know that hatha yoga was traditionally a method used to prepare the body for long periods of stillness during meditation?

But because of its physical benefits, it's become more commonly known in the West as a form of physical exercise.

If two people were taking the same yoga class, one in preparation for meditation, and one to improve overall health, do you think their efforts, experiences, and outcomes would differ?

Let's look at 3 similar scenarios:

1. If a student were taking a class that specifically pertains to her future career, and another student were taking the same class because she simply needed the credits, would they study the material differently?

2. If an expecting mother read a birthing article to prepare for her delivery, and a non-expecting female read the same article because the magazine was sitting next to her at the salon, would they process the information the same?

3. If a runner were preparing for a marathon, would her friend running with her for daily exercise have the same mindset and determination?  One would likely stop at mile five, while the other would go as far as needed to prepare for the marathon.

In each scenario, the two people would have very different experiences even though they're participating in the same action.  This is because each person has different intentions.


Because we can't see intention, we mimic others' actions hoping to achieve the feelings they appear to possess (i.e. happiness, joy, confidence, love).

  • We work tirelessly because that's what financially responsible people seem to do.
  • We workout, eat healthy, travel, get married, have kids because these are activities in which the type of person we want to be participates.
  • We shop at the stores, drive the cars, and live in the places that seem to bring happiness to people like us.

But actions without intention lack meaning and purpose.  This is why people achieve the exact life they go after, and feel very empty once they get there.  Got married.  Had two kids.  Made VP.  Bought the dream house.  Still unfulfilled.

Why, if someone in her 30's is unmarried and without kids, do her relatives (sometimes her BFF's) ask her when she's going to "settle down".  Who said we have to get married in our 20's, and start a family?  We all know someone that would have had a more fulfilling life without kids.

If we don't connect what we want, what we're doing, to something deeply meaningful, we're going through the motions of life, without purpose.


Think about it for a moment.  When you train, you prepare more than just your body.  You anticipate the obstacles you'll face, the mindset you'll need, and the feeling of accomplishment you'll achieve if you perform well.  And therefore you prepare with intensity and focus, connecting your mind, body, and spirit to the activity.

Look at all of your daily activities and ask yourself "for what am I training, and why?".

Break down your daily activities, and give them purpose.

Here are some examples:

Work: What am I training for?  A work promotion.  Why? Because I want to prove to myself that I can be disciplined and that I can do anything I set my mind to.  Or, because I want to demonstrate my leadership skills, and make a difference in my organization. (The answer will be different for everyone.)

Clean/Healthy Eating: What am I training for?  Test results that indicate no medication is needed.  Why? Because I want to be an energetic, strong and healthy parent/grandparent.

Working Out: What am I training for?  The whitewater rafting trip I will reward myself with when I can do 100 push-ups/bike 20 miles/walk up the steps without feeling winded.  Why? Because it's an experience I want to have, it's the next level for me, it's something I haven't been able to do yet.  Or, because I don't want to be limited in any activity I desire or choose to do.

When you view your actions as training for a specific reason, you give your actions a purpose and your entire life becomes more meaningful.

If you're training to look radiant and happy on Christmas Eve, and to feel wonderful - free from the anxiety and stress that comes with the holiday hustle, getting your workouts in is simply what you do.

If on the other hand, you join The Little Black Dress Project because "everyone else is doing it" or you're hoping that some sort of magic kicks in, there is a missing connection to something of value for you.

Remind yourself why you are training.  Continue asking yourself "why?" until the answer is something you can connect with.

>Because I want be healthy.


>Because I want to live a long life and be my best self. 


>Because I want to grow old with someone I love and create a family and a legacy.

Once your answer is something that resonates with you, dedicate your actions to that future.  Whether it's your children, the partner you have or have yet to meet, or the Ted Talk you will give one day, think of that future as you "train," and your sense of connection will deepen even further.

I used to be amazed when people would tell me how disciplined I am with training and nutrition.  I'm not.  At all.

I could eat more food, and the really, really bad stuff, than anyone you know (except maybe Andrew Whitworth).  And I could easily sit around and get zero activity for months.  I love being lazy. That actually was me at one time.

When I go through the why exercise, I come up with a lot of meaningful reasons to eat clean and train consistently.  But the one thing that gets me out of bed or off the couch is simple.

If I don't do it, I'm a monster. 

I'm not the same person.

Seriously.  I'm no fun to be around.

And because of that, it's the reason I workout regardless of circumstances.

When I go on vacation, I workout.   When we stay with relatives at the holidays, I workout.  You'll see me training outside, in the rain and in the snow when it's 5 degrees, and in some town I've never been before.  All with intention.

I'm not disciplined and I'm not special.  I'm reminded every day of what I could be when I don't train.  I am a monster.

Of course, when I do workout I feel fantastic.  I'm a better parent.  I look better, I feel stronger, I defy aging (at least to a degree).  I'm balanced, fun to be around, more engaging. Etc., etc.  There is an upside, too.  :)

Keeping asking yourself, 'why am I doing this?'  And, why is that important to me?  Challenge yourself to dig deeper until you hit your driving force, your reason(s), your inspiration.  Life will happen either way.  The work will happen either way, but only with intention will it be meaningful and inspiring. 

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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