Follow The Leader…

Information overload…

When I design a workout or an eating plan for a student, I don’t make it complicated.  I draw from just a few scientifically proven principles, and on experiences that I have had with previous clients.   I may also draw from experiences other trainers in the fitness community have shared with me.  However, I won’t go too far with any of it because I believe basics work, and for most that’s all they require.

That said, getting people to follow even basic directions can be the most challenging part of leadership.  Too often people want advanced information from their primary instruction.

It's eating vegetables, and exercising.  It's not rocket science...

It’s eating vegetables, and exercising. It’s not rocket science…

A majority of people won’t require all the available information in the realm of physiology, any more than they will require all the available data from the university level.  Nor will they require a complicated framework or routine. However, week in and week out this seems to be what they want – the latest and greatest.

I think that’s where leadership in fitness gets it wrong more often than not.  Leaders attempt to give the student the latest and greatest, before the student masters the basics.  This in part, because it’s what the student asks for, but also because the trainer wishes to demonstrate intelligence and superiority, if not validity.

The information we gather as leaders in fitness does not all need to be pumped into the veins of our students.

One step at a time…

I was Skyping with an online client over the weekend.  During the conversation I recalled a home I lived in for many years.   It was large condominium, just under 2,000 square feet.  I occupied just one room of that home.  In that room there was an air mattress I slept on, and a desk for my computer.  Aside from that, I owned no furniture, and only passed through the empty living room and dining room on my way to the kitchen.

At the time I lived there my daughter was a teenager.  It occurred to me one day that my daughter and I didn’t spend a great deal of time at my house.  I mean, what could we ever do there except watch videos on my computer while sitting on an air mattress…?  Needless to say, we hung out elsewhere.

One week when she was 14 I decided to buy some furniture in hopes that I could foster more time together with her at my home.  Since I was on a budget most of the furniture I bought required assembly which means each piece came with directions.

I’m a guy, I don’t do directions.  Of course never following directions has led me to more failures than successes when assembling things, and more cursing than smiling.  This was my home I was talking about, and a part-time bedroom for my daughter.  I wanted to do this right.

Step.  Step.  Step.  Step.  Pretty simple formula.  I wonder why so many fail to follow...

Step. Step. Step. Step. Pretty simple formula. I wonder why so many fail to follow…

As I embarked on assembling a house full of furniture; tables, beds, curtain rods, chairs, shelves, etc., I decided that following the directions would be primary in the process.  With each table, each shelf, and each curtain rod, I followed the directions precisely.  And son of a bitch, after a weekend of reading information, and assembling it as instructed – one step at a time, I had a house full of furniture.

Directions in fitness…

It’s pretty simple.  Whether they come from me, a trainer in your gym, or from a well authored book, most directions are usually clear.  Follow them.  Understand each step before you take it.  Complete each step the very best of your ability.  Proceed to the next step.  Each time one instruction is completed; a meal is prepared, a repetition is completed, an exercise is finished, it is a mile marker on the road to the completed project.

Sometimes it's really a good idea to follow directions...

Sometimes it’s really a good idea to follow directions…

Despite how many times I have handed simple, easy to follow directions to students, I know more often than not they will accept them and never look at them again – especially in the area of eating.  Accept the plan.  Commit to the plan.  Follow the plan.  If you get confused, call the 800 number at the bottom of the plan.  Whether you’re putting together a new coffee table, or a new you, following the directions will lead you to a much better outcome than doing it on your own.  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from  Sonnybones.  Enjoy…

Stroodle Gets A Steward…

Who’s on first…

These are the first words I speak each day,

“Thank you for being my light, my beacon, and my truth.  Thank you for guiding me, teaching me, reminding me, and forgiving me.” It may sound as though I’m praying to a god with those words, but I’m not.  I continue, “Thank you for being my best friend.  Thank you for letting me be your human, and your steward.  May the lord bless you and keep you this day my Baby Boy.” These words are spoken to my dog, Stroodle.

I have been Stroodle’s human, and his steward for nearly 7 years. In truth, I didn’t want Stroodle at the time he arrived in my life.  I was caught up in a very selfish lifestyle.  I lived in condo with no yard.  I worked long days.  When I wasn’t working I was working out.  I didn’t want to be bothered.  Besides, I already had Pumpkin, a low maintenance Shi Tzu/Pug mix.  Blind in her only eye, and nearly deaf, Pumpkin was the Helen Keller of dogs.  However, my daughter and her mother thought I could provide a good home to Stroodle, and his presence might do both Pumpkin and I some good.

Pumpkin and Stroodle; the salad days...

Pumpkin and Stroodle; the salad days…

Stroodle had likely been abused as a puppy.  He was just under a year old when he arrived.  His left rear hip was damaged, and despite two surgeries after I got him, he still uses that leg for balance only.  After I took him in I immediately hired a couple of neighborhood girls to walk Pumpkin and Stroodle each afternoon while I was working.  At night the three of us would sit on the living room sofa, and watch ESPN until bedtime.

Mr. Misty…

I have belonged to a household with at least one dog since the day of my birth.  I am a dog person.  I come from a long line of dog persons.  In truth, I was always a minor contributor with the upkeep of the dogs I had growing up.  Most of their care came from my older brother, and my parents.  I loved, and appreciated dogs, but I could rarely be found with a brush in my hand.  I had better things to do. Misty, a male collie who was named by my brother after Dairy Queen’s Mr. Misty drink, accompanied my family throughout most of my childhood.  He probably deserved a better home, but he was loved and appreciated, if not well groomed.

One day when I was 16, I walked into the house and gave Misty a hug.  I was surprised when underneath his un-brushed fur, his stomach was the size of a basketball.  I had discovered a tumor that he had likely been carrying for a while.  I was the only one home. It was snowing, and my car wouldn’t start.  I began walking Misty through the snow about a mile to the local veterinary clinic.  When Misty could no longer walk, I picked him up and carried him in spurts.

Eventually we arrived, I checked him in, and I guess without giving it too much thought, I left him there in trusted hands and contacted my mother and father to let them know what happened. The following day Misty passed.  I believe he was 13.  Though I was sad when told of his passing, in hindsight I can say I was more neglectful of Misty, than I was an advocate for him through the course of his life.  What did I know…?  I was just a kid.

 On stewardship…

As I have gotten older, perhaps due to the influence imbalanced human relationships have had on my life, I have come to realize that despite my life long appreciation of animals, I’m only now learning to appreciate the value of animals in the human experience. Some values which are often associated with our pets:

– Unconditional love

– Living in the moment

– Truth

– Devotion

Some values which may go less noticed:

– Dignity

– Elegance

– Humor

– Playfulness

 Back to Stroodle…

I had always depended on Pumpkin and Stroodle to be there for each other.  I was simply providing them a safe home, some love, some kibble, and lap time at the end of my workday.   Some time back Pumpkin passed away, and Stroodle was alone.  This, this is when I discovered what it truly means to be a dog person.  After Pumpkin’s passing I made a promise to Stroodle that I would be the best human he could hope to have.  I made it a priority to be his steward, and his advocate, not his owner.

My brother from another mother...

My brother from another mother…

Each morning I hold him because I believe no dog should go a day without a human touch.  They deserve to feel love through hands of another being.  Many times throughout the day though, it’s more selfish than that.  I hold him because I’m the one who needs to feel love through the touch of another being.  As the chaotic world around me unfolds through my 17” computer screen; babies dying, shootings in schools, wars and politics rage on, my dog never questions my need to touch him.  He simply provides me with comfort – willingly.

A house is not a home…

I believe children should be exposed to pets at an early age.  My daughter was born into a house with two dogs, and we added as she got older.  By the time she was 13, the dogs she knew as a child had passed. Though there is certainly sadness, and heartache that comes from the loss of a pet, there is also a perspective, and context which can be applied to life.

If we are fortunate enough to love an animal, and be a steward for him, we are blessed in many ways. Not the least of which is learning a superior context we can apply to apply to the duration of a life. When we are born our parents are already older. We never really know them in their youth. If we are fortunate enough to have children, we know them in their youth, and perhaps even into middle age. However, most never see their children live deep into old age. Having a pet gives us a different perspective on this. Horse, dog, hedgehog, or cat, we often get our pets at an early age, and are often able to see them live a complete life.

When I stop to consider this, it reminds me that we have so much to learn about the seasons of life from our pets. The fragility of spring. The restlessness of summer. The calm of autumn. The perspective of winter. Watching these seasons unfold through the animals I have loved, helps me better understand my life, and the lives of others.  Be well…  rc

Stroodle, and his cousins-in-law; Luna, Peaches, and Posey...

Stroodle, and his cousins-in-law; Luna, Peaches, and Posey…

The only truth I will ever know, is looking into the eyes of a dog.

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Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Wooden Shjips.  Enjoy…