Getting it wrong
I remember stepping on the scales this time last year. I looked down nervously as the digital numbers blinked on the display before giving me their final reading.
I had just changed my workout regime for the umpteenth time after yo-yoing in weight for several years. Maybe THIS would be the training protocol and diet that finally helped me put on muscle. and keep it on.
I weighed just over 150 pounds. No change in weight.
I’m not going to lie; I was bitterly disappointed.
The scale must be broken, I thought. It was old and besides, I hardly used it, so surely the numbers must be off? Or maybe it was my workout regimen? Or my diet?
Hell if I knew! I wasn’t tracking my food, my workout session weights, or my bodyweight before this instance. I didn’t have any point of reference for exactly why I wasn’t seeing results. I took the easy way out and blamed my training and my genetics.
Isn’t it funny how we fool ourselves so easily sometimes?
We let the same cycle repeat itself for years:
- Get “motivated”
- Work out
- Become “too busy” for the gym. Stop working out
- See a new workout routine. Suddenly become motivated again
- Work out harder. Try to make up for lost time
- Find reasons to get caught up in busy work again
- Blame the universe. Wonder why gains have not been acquired
We can say we really want to gain muscle or lose fat, then turn around and behave as if some distraction is more important. Whether it was the latest & greatest workout regimen, paleo / lean gains / keto diet, or just the Facebook feed; I would get distracted by pretty much anything that looked shiny and new.
What’s worse, all this left me to feel like I was spinning my wheels, creating an illusion that I was putting a ton of time and energy into something just to feel like I was getting nowhere.
Looking back, my intentions were in the right place, but my efforts were pretty misguided. If I could meet myself a year ago, I would:
- Slap the paleo cookbook out of my hands
- Give myself the following advice on how I was able to gain 30 lbs of muscle in the past year
So what did I do to fix things?
1 – I called for backup
One of the most ridiculous things about Rocky III was when Mr T said “I live alone, I train alone, I win the title alone” and showing him train in a dark cellar by himself. Mr. T’s training montages showed him solo. No coach by his side.
Although I love the Rocky movies enough to have seen them countless times, my experience has taught me that relying on myself to be objective and smart when it comes to training and diet is pretty dumb.
When I decided I was tired of getting nowhere, I finally gave in and approached Propane Fitness for coaching. Without the decision to hire a legitimate coach to help me navigate the jungle of training and diet protocols out there, I seriously doubt I would be where I am today.
2 – I managed my time (properly)
When I found myself in a new marriage with a new job in a new industry with a 90-minute commute each way, hitting snooze when my alarm when off was sometimes a death sentence for that day’s training block. On days I missed training, I would feel guilty and angry for missing it.
I’ll just try harder tomorrow I thought. Sure you will, shithead. How’s that worked out for you in the past?
When I started using my calendar and honouring my time commitments, I was finally able to get enough work done to go to sleep early enough to make the next day’s training session possible. If it’s gym time and someone wants to get hold of me, they’ll have to wait an hour. Sorry not sorry. My calendar said so.
Whenever I miss a session now, I simply take a look at my calendar and see what time blocks need to be moved to make all my training sessions fit into the remainder of the week. Sure beats trying to get “motivated” or saying “I’ll do it next week when I have time”
3 – I tracked everything
Before working with Propane, I would freak out when I wasn’t seeing results. If the numbers on the scale weren’t moving in the right direction, I would look up information on crazy strict diet plans, find a 100,000 push ups-per-day workout, and buy all the supplements I could get my hands on.
When I started out with Propane as my coach, however, I had to track things that I wasn’t used to recording. Calories, macros, fibre, reps, weight, and the like.
It took a bit of getting used to, but it’s been a huge leverage point for making progress, especially with a busy lifestyle.
Looking back, I can’t believe I hadn’t taken the time to track the metrics that drive muscle gain. How the hell was I supposed to turn the dials when they weren’t even in front of me? Taking the time to track calories and workouts per week has cost me a lot less time (and sanity) than doing the crash-and-burn workouts or fancy inflammation-reducing diets that call for expensive, hard-to-find ingredients. It has given attention to the few things that matter so that I can relax about the things that don’t drive me toward what I really want.
Gaining muscle or losing fat is something that people screw around with for years. Eat a salad, then binge on cookies when willpower is low and nobody’s around. Make a new year’s resolution and then quit going to the gym by March. Find a program on bodybuildling.com, do a couple workouts, and then stop.
I was “that guy” for years. But by spending a few hours to find a coach, manage my time, and track some numbers, I finally have the tools that can help me look good naked (and still have a life) for decades to come.
Brian is a fitness coach and former skinny guy. He gained 25 lbs of muscle while working in the fast-paced tech industry and teaches other busy professionals to get sexy despite their demanding schedules through his website gainstraining.com