A lot of this one was dictated into my phone while hiking and edited and pieced together the best I could after the fact…
The world needs wild humans. Those who don’t get their direction from the common source. No, I don’t know this song on the radio, I haven't seen that show. I have seen the world from the highest points. The places you can only walk to. I need to get out there. Climb like beasts through forest and rock. I do know what Seneca said, where Thoreau spent his winters, who McCarthy’s judge really is. We have to stay capable, stay harder to kill, harder to manipulate. Independent in thought and action. I feel the pull. To move, to be free to create, free from judgement. Everyone wants to take that from you. They want you to fall in line. Sometimes you have to get away. Even if it’s only temporary, the wilderness helps. The trail puts things into perspective.
I've found that the only people that I like or strangers that I don’t mind seeing are on the trail when I’m on the way down. Maybe it’s the endorphin high from just completing a hike, from just being on a mountain seeing the world from the top. Maybe it’s empathy. You know the struggle that they are going through that you already went through to get to the peak. Maybe it’s kinship seeing someone that made the same choice as you. They chose to do something difficult. They chose to try something hard instead of laying around and taking a day off. Telling themselves they earned it because they were at work all week. I don’t know. Just being out here makes everything a little bit better. I don’t hate the world so much. You have to try to remember these moments. They fade like all the others.
It’s killing me right now. That my family can’t be vagabonds. Laundry and dishes and yard work. The price we have to pay to get the short time away. I guess that’s unrealistic. Would we regret it? Giving up the security and safety for a more adventurous life. I have to go alone sometimes. Sometimes by choice but also because of mundane life responsibilities. I want them with me. My son especially. The lesson it could teach him. Earning that reward. How much better the view is when you’ve earned it. Pictures do it no justice. It's not even close. In due time I guess but that time is not guaranteed. Nothing is guaranteed. If you can do it now, do it now. Time to go. In the woods solo.
I can’t really overstate the importance of consistency. In anything and everything. I’m not the first to say that a mediocre training program done consistently beats a great training program done occasionally every time. Extrapolate that to progression in said program. The person who consistently tries to add weight or reps (volume), over time, is going to have better results than the person who sticks with the same weights and set progressions all the time. Within reason. Changing things too often is obviously inconsistent. If you want to be more precise with your progress, keeping a train log is important. I’m sure there’s apps now but I've always used a regular notebook. I just found two old training notebooks from 2008 and 2009. I’ve literally been writing my workouts down since like 1998. Something is better than nothing. Exercising two days a week for life is a fuckload better than 5 days for one week every 4 months when you feel guilty. Yes, I’m talking to you! The reason I say 2 days a lot is because it’s a really simple way to get a beginner in the gym without much direction. Alternating one upper body day one lower body is kind of fool proof...kind of. It’s also a lot easier to stick to than some all out 6 day a week program for someone trying a new thing.
Nutrition is a huge one. You don’t need to be 100% perfect. Hitting your goal calories or macros 80-90% of the time is what leads to results. Letting the frustration of one shitty meal derail your whole diet is irrational at best. Start trying to put together a few good meals, THEN a few good days. Cut yourself some slack if you’re new to it. Is there some imaginary deadline you set for yourself? Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder or a fitness model with a photo shoot coming up, it’s just that, imaginary. You literally have the rest of your life to figure out the right style of eating for you. If you start, stop, and restart a diet every 6 months, you’ll never make any progress. You gotta give it a shot for at least 2 months. Screw ups be damned. Stick with the plan.
Mobility won’t improve without consistency. If you have a job where you sit all day, 5 days a week. A 5 min stretch once in a while isn’t going to cut it. Spend 10-15 minimum a day, every day. Especially if you have a specific issue or pain that needs fixing. How hard is it to get into a couch stretch while you’re watching Netflix? Not very hard. 10 minutes before bed is great. Relax, do some breathing exercises and stretch your tight shit. It’ll improve your sleep as well. Not sure what to do? There’s a million YouTube videos. Or sign up for something like Kelly Starrett’s Ready State. I’m sure there’s others out there(is ROM WOD still a thing?) On the breathing front the Wim Hof stuff is great. Read James Nestor’s book “Breath” if you want to go deeper on breath work.
Want to start something new? 15 minutes of practice a day is a good place to start. It doesn’t have to be all at once. If you “don’t have time” for 15 minutes a day to learn something new, you’re lying to yourself. I started reading more with 10 pages a day. 10 pages a day is 10, 350+ page books a year. Imagine the things you can learn from 10 books a year. Want to make that suuuuuuuper easy? No phone in the bathroom. Read a couple of pages of your book instead. Add a few pages before bed and you’ll be tearing through books.
You can break anything down into small parts like that. 5 minutes here, 5 pages there. Doing that every day can lead to bigger things….but you have to be consistent.
Action is the remedy. Inaction solves nothing. After an appropriate amount of reflection, AKA” sleep on it”, you have to take action. If your response to stress, or pain is to shut down, lay down and do nothing, that situation will persist. Action is the cure. That bill isn’t going to pay itself. Time to work. Pick up some overtime. Go get another job. Find some of the useless shit in your house and sell it. They're just things. You don’t need them. In pain? Read. Go find an expert. Move. Stretch, get stronger. Thinking about working out or thinking about losing weight isn’t going to do shit. You have to move. Go for a walk. Go to the grocery store and buy some meat. Load up on veggies. Cook yourself something great. Make a fucking move. Don’t know how? Buy the book. Watch the YouTube tutorial. Still not sure? Hire a coach. Get some lessons. Go back to school.
It can be the small things. I’ve always cooked a little but I want to get better so I bought a couple of cook books. Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and Sean Brock’s Heritage. Both famous Chefs. I’m going to try to make healthy(er) versions of their recipes. I wanted to take a class but, you know, the plague. You gotta eat. Why not make that food healthy AND delicious. I’ve also always wanted to play an instrument. My friends were all in punk and hardcore bands growing up but I never got into it for whatever reason. I’m looking at used drum sets right now. For myself but also for my son. I never had exposure to these different things in my house as a kid so we’re making sure he gets his hands on as many different things as possible. Maybe some of this sticks. Maybe it doesn’t. But I have to try.
Where you start out is not where you have to end up. You can literally do or don’t do anything you want. Saying no to things is huge. Working yourself to death, at a job you hate, to buy some bullshit that’s nothing but a status symbol. Fuuuuuck that noise. I’m not insinuating that people aren’t happy with where they are but I’d bet we all have at least one thing we’ve always wanted to do. It’s not going to happen sitting on your ass. It’s probably not going to happen if you spend all your time and money on nonsense.
Prioritize. Be efficient. Make a plan. Then get your ass to work.
For the record I think New Year's resolutions are an excuse to put off what you could have started already. Instead you picked a date, that in reality, is completely arbitrary. Since time travel doesn’t exist(maybe?), here we are. New year, new you. Please please please, I implore you! start with little changes. I’ve seen it so many times. You’re all gung ho for 3 weeks. 5 days a week in the gym. Eating nothing but salads. By week 4 it’s one workout a week and pizza starts making its big comeback. What if you start at 2 days a week doing whatever exercise you enjoy? It doesn’t have to be traditional gym going. Really, you should try a bunch of different things and see what you actually like to do. The only activity you’ll do consistently, is one you actually look forward to! Lift weights, go for a hike, take a yoga class, take dance lessons, but don’t do it 7 days a week. You’re trying to make little changes. Forming habits that are sustainable. It’s the same with food. Instead of jumping right in to fasting or keto, just start cooking most of your meals at home from real ingredients. Control your portions a little. Then start reading and finding healthy recipes. You can absolutely try other fancy diets but in my opinion, they are not sustainable long term for most people. Are you really not going to eat carbs for the rest of your life? We’re trying to make changes that can stay part of your life basically forever. If you can’t picture yourself doing whatever diet or exercise routine you pick months or years from now, it’s probably not the best choice for you. If it doesn’t fit into your current schedule, it probably won’t work either. While this might be a beginning for you, there shouldn’t be an end date. If you want your changes to stay forever, you have to start habits you actually like!
This isn’t just for food and exercise. if you think of something you’ve always wanted to do, don’t fucking wait til next January! Start researching it today. Make plans this week. Jump into the void. Peel away the shit that doesn’t make you better. Add in new challenges that can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well being. Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. That time will pass anyway.(Earl Nightingale) It’s not necessarily dissatisfaction. You can love where you're at and still recognize that there’s more to do. I’m very happy but want to do more. I want to be a little polymath. The clock is ticking. Pandemic be damned.
In the immortal words of Gorilla Biscuits -
“Next time I'll try
For the first time in my life
It won't pass me by
Procrastinate it can wait, I put it off
Let's start today, let's start today”
Yes, your fitness and nutrition can’t fix everything. You can do everything right, and still get cancer or Alzheimer’s or crabs but why not give yourself a fighting fucking chance. Sure, you could have a fatalistic view on it and say fuck it, we‘ll all be underground someday. I'm choosing the opposite. Use it as fuel. I think the old CrossFit sickness, wellness, fitness continuum holds true. The idea is that if you get ridiculously fit and healthy, if you get sick, you’ll have to travel down through regular health before you get to sickness. I’m not the biggest fan of Crossfit as a training modality anymore but that part holds up. Think about the majority of older people. If your grandmother needs help to get off the couch, that means her max squat is less than body weight. Not weight on a barbell, she’s too weak just to squat her own body. Her independence will be taken away so much earlier than it has to for fear of falls and accidents. Falls are the leading cause of injury related death in people over 65. You obviously can’t guarantee that accidents won’t happen just because you lift weights but it’s so easy to reduce the risk, it hurts. Every single study ever done on the subject, literally every one, shows that exercise decreases all cause mortality. The same studies show that you can improve strength and fitness at any age. You can literally start right now, wherever you are in life, and improve your health through exercise and more specifically, strength training. You’re no good to anyone dead. Your friends and family want you around for the long haul. I don’t want to go all Dylan Thomas Rage cliche on you (Google it) but if that’s what it takes...Whatever gets you off the couch, use it. If you’re on the site you can see my “comfort is a slow death” banner hanging in the gym. I like it as a mantra but it’s not hyperbole. If you don’t want to be in shambles when you're older, you have to find something that moves you physically and mentally. Start where you are, do what you can, and fuck Father Time. I know I’ll stop lifting when they pry the barbell from my cold, jacked, callused hands.