Written by Stacey Schaedler
I’ve participated in a number of photo shoots across my career. I’ve been lucky to have been photographed by the same photographer friend over the years; her talent behind the lens has provided a mirror for me, as she has captured me at both my best and worst, mentally and physically.
In the past, and for shoots in which I had to show some skin, I would make sure it was planned around when I would “look” my best. This last one, I said f**k it. This time I would embrace my body as is.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results.
For the past six months, with the help of my longtime friend Jordan Syatt, I have focused on becoming more athletic and nothing else. That means:
1) Strength training three times a week.
2) Taking a yoga class once a week or potentially getting in a little home practice.
3) Lots of walking.
4) Some foam rolling.
5) Most importantly, eating to fuel my body!
As I look back on the output of that photo shoot, I realized I was finally having fun AND able to achieve TREMENDOUS aesthetic results without ANY additional mental effort or anguish. I focused on one thing, supported that goal with thoughtfulness and premeditated intent and the results were AWESOME!
Ask yourself: What is your goal?
Is it to be pain-free?
Whatever sit is, pick ONE thing and get after it.
At some point in my life, I have had all of these goals.
When I was 18, I was told I needed a double knee replacement. I eventually studied enough on my own and figured out that my quad dominant ass-less body was a direct result of the way I exercised. I exclusively ran, didn’t stretch, and certainly didn’t strength-train my lower body.
Slowly but surely, I cleaned up my movements, attended a yoga class regularly, got friendly with a foam roller, and learned how to use the kettlebell to earn a posterior chain for the first time in my life.
Then, my goal was “toning up” via fat loss. I accomplished this with periodized nutrition and strength training. I did this to compete effectively in Bikini, Figure, and Fit Body. For a long time, I focused on the aesthetic portion of training. This got real old, real fast. I got pretty fucking sick of looking at myself in the mirror. I got caught up in the fat loss and aesthetics, and I eventually burnt out. I didn’t want to track and incessantly prep all my food. My training wasn’t fun anymore. I needed something sustainable. Something livable and enjoyable.
If fat loss is your goal, please understand that bringing awareness to food is the key to your success. You can exercise all you want, but if your food isn’t optimal, you will continue to be disappointed by your lack of results.
Strength and the Big Three
Next came the Big Three lifts; The deadlift, bench and squat were all new skills and a nice focus for me. Eventually, focusing exclusively on strength became a grind. I found myself spending two hours at the gym, and I wasn’t recovering as fast as I would have liked.
My progression to now
Each one of these goals builds upon the last. Each created a solid foundation for the next. It wasn’t always smooth sailing. In fact, it was the negatives that ended up teaching me so much.
The bottom line is this: You have to first make two choices – small yet significant ones: the choices to strength-train progressively and bring awareness to what you eat. Over time, this daily choice becomes a habit, and years later, these habits become a lifestyle. It is just something you do. Fit and healthy is something you become and something you are.
Is it easy? No! We all have to start somewhere. But ask yourself, what does it mean for you? Can you find the tiny increments of time critical to success and then build on those?
Work on your habits, for they become who you are.
I had to work to get rid of my knee pain. I had to learn how to eat for my body. I had to learn how to move properly. I had to work to get stronger. I had to try new things and figure out what made me happy.
Take the first step.
YOU DO HAVE THE TIME.
MAKE THE TIME.
Making your nutrition and exercise goals a priority means YOU also become the priority.
A common misconception is that trainers and athletes are full of endless motivation. NOT TRUE. We are just like you. We have time constraints, just like you. We want training to enhance our lives, not take it over, just like you. We need goals, just like you.
So pick a goal. Get out of your own way. Realize that your choices fuel whether or not you will hit your goals. Your body is symbiotic – if you use a less-is-more approach, with sensitivity to what your body needs, you WILL be successful!
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