Occasionally, I go to the gym with the bf. He's a former power builder, and he has great muscles, though he's also got a decent-sized belly on him. We went today, and he told me that I wasn't going low enough on my squats. I asked him to demonstrate. He did. I tried again. I thought I was doing it correctly. I wasn't. I did three sets of my subpar squats, and we moved on. Got to the lunge, and I wasn't doing that right. But, by this time, he refused to talk to me. I asked him why he was mad. He said, "If you're not going to do it right, why bother?"
First, WTH? How can he be mad
because my squat technique is less than adequate? But whatever. I just sent him an email, and I decided to copy and paste it here 1 - because I will get support from this group, and I would really like that; and 2 - because I really find these words inspirational (not my words, BTW), and I hope that others will as well.
Here's the email:
The bottom line is that I go to the gym for three reasons: 1 - I feel good about it when I do; 2 - My functional fitness increases dramatically over when I don't go; and 3 - My kids benefit in myriad ways by my commitment to go. All of these remain true even though I am not sound on fundamentals all the time and even though my "running" is pathetically slow and even though I have "bad days" at the gym, sometimes much worse than today.
Just Do Something
One of the primary end results of the unnecessary focus on details is that people often spend weeks (or months) looking for the perfect program, the perfect diet. And invariably they are focusing on the minor, minor, minor details that separate different successful programs. So one program has such and such a set and rep scheme, another slightly different. One training program might be more frequency based, another more intensity based (as discussed in A Quick Look at Some Popular Hypertrophy Programs).
I see people do it all the time: asking for a compare and contrast of one training program vs. another. Is one ‘better’ than the other? What about this third one? What about this one? What about that one?
The same holds for diet. One uses carb-cycling of some form or fashion on a daily basis, another uses big-carb refeeds less frequently (most of my plans), a third does something else entirely. And every approach seems to work stunningly (at least for some people) or not at all (in others). But that gets into the issue of context more than anything else; what is right (or potentially ideal) for one person or one situation is not right for another. Context matters.
Of more relevance, what often happens is that people get so overwhelmed at focusing on the details that they never act. They spend weeks looking for the perfect diet or training program (which doesn’t really exist in the first place, at best all programs have pros and cons and are, at most, best under a given set of circumstances) and lose time when they should simply be doing something.
Because, at the end of the day, assuming the training or diet isn’t completely and utterly moronic (and make no mistake, there are plenty of those out there) actually doing something is always better than talking about it for weeks on end.
Yet it’s that latter pattern I see altogether too many falling into: people spend days and weeks and longer asking about this plan versus the other plan, this program versus the other. Time that would be more productively spent actually starting any one of the myriad programs that they’ve asked about.
And this is especially true at the beginner stage (less so at the intermediate stage although the same principles still hold). When you’re starting out in training or diet, the ‘nice’ thing is that everything works. One set, three sets, it all works; for the most part any non-idiotic diet will be effective to some degree for generating weight or fat loss.
****, some of the idiotic stuff usually works at this level simply because it’s better than what the person was doing beforehand. It’s not that the new approach is better so much as what was left behind was awful. But at this point, the details just don’t matter. What matters is actually doing something. You usually won’t find out if something is right for you ahead of time unless you just hunker down and try it. So stop worrying and start hunkering.
Once again, as folks get more advanced, the details can start to matter. Basically, you often have to worry more and more about less and less as you try to get to higher levels of performance or leanness or muscularity. But by the time someone truly reaches that stage, they usually know enough about how their body responds, on top of having years of fundamentals under their belt, that they either know what to do next or how to proceed. As mentioned above, while everyone wants to think that they are advanced, the reality is that they are not.
After I lift weights, I feel good. It triggers endorphins, which make me feel good. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, which makes me feel good. It helps keep me mindful of eating well, which makes me feel good. And on those (admittedly rare) occasions when I get compliments (The superbuff guy at the gym who saw me doing 1-point dumbbell rows with 25-pound weights and said, "Wow, That's amazing. You get it, girl" or the time when I asked the gym owner in what the conversion was on the lat pull-down so I knew how much I was pulling in pounds, and he asked me if I really could do that much, and then I demonstrated, and he said, "I've never seen a woman pull that much") - that makes me feel good.
When I run at my 4.8 mph pace for a mile, sometimes next to the guy who runs five miles at 8.0 mph, I feel good. I feel accomplished.
And you know what? I can keep up with my son when we play basketball, so I was a useful partner for him to practice with so he could try out for the team. I go hiking and biking with my kids. I play basketball with my family over Christmas break. When I chaperoned a school trip, my group went fast -- intentionally so. They had a great time, and I had no problem keeping up with them.
So, yeah. I could do better. But it's a good use of time even if I don't ever do better than I am right now.
And, really. You should read this: http://flintland.blogspot.com/2012/05/hey-fat-girl.html
Because it's freaking amazing.