Control Your Flame

Are you a long, slow burner or do you explode, crash, and fall apart?

What I mean by that is, do you go 100% all of the time until you have absolutely nothing left in the tank and you hate life, or are you good at maintaining 70% for the long haul. Are you sustainable as an athlete?

I see two types of athletes.

Type 1: Has specific skill, strength, and fitness goals. Uses a common sense approach to achieving those goals. Celebrates victories along their path with a cheeseburger and beer.

Type 2: THIS IS AWESOME! I’M GOING TO DO ALL THE THINGS! EAT CLEAN! WORKOUT 3 TIMES PER DAY! CRUSH IT! PR EVERY DAY! DID I MENTION EAT CLEAN?! AAAAAANNNNND CRASH… that person now hates life, has not been back to the gym in weeks, is not having a beer in celebration of a victory, but having 6 beers because everything sucks.

TRAINING

Type 1: Programming is important. Sticking to the program leads to long term gains in fitness. This athlete knows the difference between being sore and being injured. This athlete understands we train to break muscles and we recover to allow those muscles to heal stronger than they were prior to training them. This means training and recovery are equally important in this athlete’s playbook.

Type 2: TRAIN EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME! Oh my god! This is great! I feel so amazing! I did 3 workouts today! This is my 9th workout this week! AAAAAAAND CRASH. This athlete is typically on a rollercoaster of over the top training, lack of recovery, and injury. Some athletes that are new to fitness will see gains this way. Those of us who have been training for a while have a phrase for that: “Newbie Gains”. After those initial gains they plateau. The rollercoaster of weeks of over the top training followed by mental fatigue and injury never allows them to progress past their newbie gains. Every explosive step forward leads to two steps backward. If an athlete rides this rollercoaster long enough, they eventually just give up on training all together.

DIET

The Type 1 athlete eats to fuel training. That means lots of veggies…whatever they can get their hands on at the local market. They eat lean meats or other solid sources of protein. They take in more complex carbs as they see fit, without regret. If it helps their performance they eat it. They understand this method leads to a well-rounded diet and posting a pic of a kale smoothie on Instagram will in fact do nothing to help their performance or anyone else’s.

The Type 2 athlete falls into the “wellness” trap and vilifies anything that does not line with their definition of “health” (NOTE: Type 2’s athlete’s definition of health rarely aligns with the scientific definition). It is of course a very first world problem. They are always seeking the freshest vegetables, and eating very specific foods that have to be shipped to them from around the world. They are supplementing their diets with magic shakes and potions because marketing experts have convinced them their diet is seriously lacking. This trap leads to extensive weight loss of the wallet, but very little else.

SOCIAL MEDIA

The Type 1 athlete may or may not post on social media. When they do, it is typically in celebration of a large victory (facebrag) or putting out tips and pointers to help others…or pics that have nothing to do with fitness at all. Remember, the Type 1 athlete is in it for the long haul. They have other things going on in their life, and they celebrate all things equally.

The Type 2 athlete is a whole different mess. Positive quotes abound. Pictures of every run, lift, pull up, and squat will be posted. Hashtag fitness. Hashtag lifestyle. Hashtag Cleaneating. This is called fishing for “likes”. It generally comes from those who are extrinsically motivated as their internal motivation left them long ago when their subconscious realized that kale actually sucks (Editor’s note: I have never actually eaten Kale. I have however practiced sarcasm for a very long time).

The Overheard Press nails it every time

At the end of the day, there is a way for the Type 2 athlete to save themselves. They can do so by taking a cue from the Type 1 athlete…and that cue is knowing your “why”. Why do you train? Who do you train for? Do you just want to look good in a bathing suit? THAT IS OK! Program a common sense routine to get you there.  Are you training for an event? GREAT! Put together a program (or hire someone to) that will get you optimal results AND STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR SPECIFIC GOAL… when you complete the event you trained for, CELEBRATE! Live in the moment of your accomplishments. Put your phone away, get a beer with your friends that made it through with you, and cherish the NOW. Understand the likes on social media are not nearly as important as the likes you get in real time, with real friends by your side. Love yourself first, so you do not need random strangers on the internet to do it for you.

Flames come in various forms. On one end of the spectrum you’ve got the fiery explosion that only leaves damage in its wake. On the other end you’ve got a long burning torch that keeps burning and sustains for eternity. Choose your flame.

That is all I have for you this week, Team. Thank you as always for reading and have a fantastic week!

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