Enjoy this guest post by Big Sky Newington Trainer Alex Titarenko. Alex is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NESTA Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist, fitness, nutrition & self development enthusiast… and occasionally likes to enjoy a good slice of pizza.
Today let’s talk about getting electrocuted, screaming tyrannical babies, and Batman…. Confused? Let’s talk about your trainer first and then it will all make sense. Your mean, angry, sadistic trainer who likes to punish you.
“He’s so hard on me.”
“She doesn’t ever cut me any slack.”
“I bet I can do this on my own with a few good workouts.”
“I think he’s trying to kill me.”
“Why am I paying for this suffering?”
“I can just focus on eating healthier and do this on my own, I know it.”
These are a few of the thoughts that I’m sure cross people’s minds when working with their trainer. There’s already plenty of suffering in life, right? Then why do people sign up for more?
There are many benefits to having a trainer. Some are obvious right away and some are revealed over time. People hire trainers with certain expectations as to what Trainers can do for them. Sometimes, new benefits are discovered once they’re well into the training process, and some benefits are discovered much later, once they’ve left the trainer’s guidance. Let’s go over a few reasons why someone might want a trainer to help them.
1. Hire The Professional
A good trainer has knowledge of the science of exercise. What to eat, how much to eat, which exercises to perform, how many reps, etc. Knowing the right things to do will save you a lot of time and headache, and eliminate the frustration of putting in effort, and not seeing results.
I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to the electrical system in my house. If something complicated breaks, or I need to rewire something, the fear of getting electrocuted, combined with the ignorance of not knowing how to read wiring diagrams, keeps me from fixing anything on my own. Sure, I could learn how to fix the problem on my own, but if the problem is complicated, it would take a while to learn exactly what to do. When trying something new, I could also make a mistake, which might cause me to electrocute myself. That’s not something I would particularly enjoy. Due to my inexperience fixing electrical issues, it would also take me time to execute my plan once I have the knowledge. All of this takes up A LOT of time: time I could be spending with my family, on my business, or investing somewhere else. And if time is worth a lot to you, you hire the professional.
Sure, you can learn exercise and fitness related knowledge on your own. You can go to fitness seminars, read fitness books, get certified, invest time through on the job experience, maybe even get an exercise science degree and spend years mastering your knowledge and your craft. And as with any learning process you could also make mistakes and injure yourself from doing the wrong thing.
When my wife was going through nursing school, she would tell me that the questions on her tests would have four possible answers, and all of them were right. She had to choose the best answer out of the four to get that question right. Similarly, you might find a good solution to your fitness and weight loss problems such as a p90x workout program or some other general workout program that guides you along… but are you sure this is the absolute best program for you?
If you’re not into figuring all of that out, you hire the professional.
2. I Think My Trainer Hates Me
I have bad news. You have multiple personality disorder. It’s okay, everyone else does too. Before you start to worry, let me explain.
I’ll give you some examples.
You’re sitting at work thinking, “I’m going to head to the gym right after work and absolutely crush a workout”. Later, when the time comes, you decide you’re tired and justify not going to the gym because you think you feel a headache coming on.
You’re driving home one day and think, “I’m going to be so productive when I get home. I’m going to do at least 10 things on my to do list”. Later, you find yourself binging on the latest Netflix series.
You’re headed to bed and think to yourself, “I’m going to wake up nice and early and go to the gym before work”. When the alarm finally goes off, you hit the snooze button and decide you need to invest in some more sleep. Its okay, you deserve it, right?
It’s as if there are multiple personalities inside of you, constantly fighting each other for control. In most cases, you have what I call the instant gratification “Cry Baby” and the “Wise Adult” constantly fighting each other.
The Cry Baby sacrifices too much of the future for the present. It wants to feel good NOW! It will rationalize how hard your life is, and how much you deserve that pizza, ice cream, extra sleep, etc. It reminds me of what author Steven Pressfield calls “resistance” in his book “The War of Art”.
“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of sh*t.
Resistance is like the Alien or the Terminator or the shark in Jaws. It cannot be reasoned with. It understands nothing but power. It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work. Resistance is implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.
This is Resistance’s nature. It’s all it knows.”
On the other hand, you have the Wise Adult, who wants the best for your future self. It knows that you have to enjoy the present moment, but not let it take control of your life.
The way our brain wiring works, if you do something, you are now more likely to do that activity, or think that thought again. As many psychologists agree, neurons that fire together, wire together. The more often they fire together, the stronger the wiring becomes.
If the Cry Baby constantly has it’s way, it can quickly turn into a freakishly strong monster that can easily overpower the Wise Adult. This is when a bad habit gets out of control, and could even fall into the category of addiction.
Most of us want to fight the Cry Baby. It’s not easy, because you’re literally fighting yourself. With life’s responsibilities already being stressful, sometimes you just don’t have the time nor willpower to fight the little tyrant.
This is where your Trainer becomes your ally.
Your Trainer is the sworn enemy of the instant gratification Cry Baby. Your Trainer knows that to make your inner Wise Adult stronger, it’s going to take some pain and you’re going to have to develop some mental toughness. The instant gratification Cry Baby is going to kick and scream when you start exercising, eating healthy, and building good habits. It’s going to give you every rationalization out there, and throw everything it has at you to get you to stop. Lucky for you, your Trainer is there to push you, encourage you, and get you through that pain threshold, so your good habits can start to snowball, build momentum, and get stronger.
Ultimately, we want to starve the little demon Cry Baby until it’s so weak we can lock it into a cage and it has little to no power over us. You know you’ve successfully accomplished this when you get this feeling like everything is going your way, your hard work is paying off, and you’re consistent with the new healthy habits that you’ve built. “I’ve got this” you say!
You’ve won right?
Are you sure?
3. Is Winning The First Battle Enough?
In the third Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises”, there’s a big fight scene between Batman and Bane, the antagonist “bad guy”.
Batman has overcome so many previous challenges, he’s won so many fights. He’s got this.
He charges in confident as ever, throwing punch after punch. Bane and Batman keep going at it for what seems like an eternity. Then something happens. Batman gets tired, angry, and sloppy. He quickly gets shut down by the more patient and skilled Bane. Just before Bane lifts Batman up and breaks his spine, he tells Batman…
“Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you”.
What can we learn from this?
The moral of the story is: Don’t become arrogant after winning the first battle, because there’s more. Much more.
According to Charles Duhigg and his book “The Power of Habit”, when the brain wires together a habit, it’s there forever. There’s no way to get rid of that circuitry. The best we can do is to build a new habit and strengthen it while the old one weakens and crawls into a cage, where it can be locked up.
Two things can undo the good habit’s progress.
The first is arrogance. When you think “I’ve got this”, and you let your guard down, skip gym days, and eat some junk food here and there. Guess which habits you are rebuilding? The old ones. Sooner or later, they will be strong enough to break out of the cage you put them in, and take control once again. This is why the diet after the diet should be kept in mind. Luckily for you, your Trainer is keeping you accountable in maintaining your good habits. Your Trainer is on your side… even when you might not be on your side.
The second thing that can derail someone’s progress, or bring them back to square one, is stress. As one of my favorite quotes from Mike Tyson goes, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. A death in the family, a job loss, a divorce, anything can absolutely smash your good intentions and you’ll fall back into your instant gratification Cry Baby habits to feel better.
Your Trainer understands that things happen. It’s in those stressful situations where pulling yourself out of the proverbial hell, and keeping your head up, is one of the most important things you can do for your long term health. Your Trainer is there to keep pushing you forward, to the place that 10 years from now you’ll be happy you went. Your Trainer will make you do the things today that you’ll look back on and be proud of.
To wrap things up, let’s go back to the beginning of this post that’s getting a little too long. Some of the best movies that have ever been made depict the main character going through all types of misery and hell. At the end of the movie, they succeed massively and are now the new and improved versions of themselves. And all of that suffering now seems justifiable and life is good. In many movies, while the main character is developing, they’re under the supervision of a wise master, like Yoda from Star Wars. They might also have a loyal side-kick to encourage them when they don’t want to keep going. When it seems like life is suffering, and it feels like your trainer is just making things worse by keeping you accountable, remember that your Trainer is that sidekick that’s helping the hero in your life come out on the other side, reborn as a better person. That hero is you.
Guest post by Alex Titarenko. Alex is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NESTA Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist, and fitness, nutrition & self development enthusiast… who occasionally likes to enjoy a good slice of pizza.
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