Comfortably Uncomfortable

Photo of a finish line

Let’s try a little experiment. If I asked you to go out and run, swim or cycle right now with no further instruction, what pace would you go at?

Chances are that you would go out and run, ride or swim at what we refer to as a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace. A pace that makes you feel like you are getting some benefit from it but also a pace that feels achievable and sustainable.

There is a good reason that we humans default to working just on the verge of discomfort. In fact, psychologists even have a name for it: Manageable Difficulty or (more whimsically) The Goldilocks Rule.

The Goldilocks Rule says: humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Or, comfortably uncomfortable.

Continue reading “Comfortably Uncomfortable”

It’s not the Race, It’s the Plan

I have heard the same thing so many times in the years that I have been a coach. An athlete finishes their A-Race, takes a bit of a recovery break, and then eventually emails me saying “Now that my race is over, I can’t seem to get motivated to workout anymore!” – or – “I seem to have lost the motivation to exercise, now that the race season is over.”

Then, after they flounder around for a while, unsuccessfully trying to get magically motivated, they sign up for another race with the sole purpose of rekindling their motivation to exercise. And sure, that works… but I think they are missing the point.

I am going to say it: Motivation is overrated and overvalued. For my money, motivation can suck it.

Races are fun and I love helping someone achieve their race goals – but races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!

Races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail
on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!

You see, when you have a race on the calendar, you usually also have a training plan for that race. That training plan involves a concrete workout for most days of the week. This forces you to make room in your schedule to get said workout done. And that right there is the magic. At that point, motivation can go hang – because you have a plan!

The workouts are on your schedule and therefore you get them done. And you know what, you can do this even when you don’t have a race to train for! WHAT?!?!? I know right?

So, I am not saying that you need to stop racing (if you enjoy it) but you do need to give credit where credit is due. The plan is the real hero here, not the race, not some magical motivation imp sprinkling “you love to exercise” dust on you as you sleep, not even your goal of achieving and new personal best finishing time.

It’s not the race – it’s the plan.

If you enjoy this type of out of the (crossfit) box thinking, you might want to check out the mindset, lifestyle, and habit forming program I run with Monica Reinagel over at Weighless.Life. Or join our free Facebook group.

Dec 22 – I am grateful for…

  1. The opportunity to watch a bald eagle relaxing on a tree near our house while making up stories about how excited the other birds in the neighbourhood to have her visit.
  2. Knowing that my sister trusts and respects me the way that I trust and respect her.
  3. Possessing a demeanour that allows me to be approachable but worth listening to (I helped a kid at the gym today and I don’t think he wrote me off as “some bossy old guy”).

Slow Weight Loss for Performance

If you are a serious (or even recreational) athlete, you want to get faster.  That is, after all, the name of the game. And for many of us, getting faster often means losing weight, which can be a tricky endeavour when you are also trying to nail your workouts and perform well at races and events.

While you definitely want to “weigh less,” you also don’t want to lose any precious muscle that also helps you go faster. There are many theories and different approaches to this dilemma but I think the best place to start is with how fast you lose the weight.

Research confirms that people who lose weight slowly lose less lean muscle than those who lose weight more quickly. Continue reading “Slow Weight Loss for Performance”

Why You Should Move More (but not to burn calories)

close up shot of a chocolate frappe

In my perfect world, calorie counters would be banned from all exercise machines.

Instead, I would add “number of limbs moved” or “variety of planes used” or, even better, I would add a “level of enjoyment” meter.

While we all know that staying physically active is essential to a long, healthy,  and productive life, many of us don’t make time for it in our busy lives. As easy as it would be for me to chalk this up to society being lazy or uninterested in their own wellbeing (beyond popping meds when your health gets out of control).

I think the real reason is that we, as a society, have mistakenly and inextricably linked exercise purely with weight loss.

Continue reading “Why You Should Move More (but not to burn calories)”

I’m a Scientific American

I got an awesome surprise from Joe, the editor at Quick and Dirty Tips, on Monday morning. This was his email to me:

The Body Fat: How to Use it and Lose it went live on SciAm and drove about ~40,000 pageviews over the weekend! You also saw over 8,000 downloads on Sunday. Which is more downloads than your average Tuesday releases and about 8x more downloads than Sundays typically get. Pretty huge!​​

Continue reading “I’m a Scientific American”

6 Tips for Racing a 5 or 10k

Tip #1
Lunch and Dinner.

The foods that you eat the day before the race are the foods that your gastrointestinal system will be using in the morning. So, you should avoid having an evening meal that is loaded with fiber and protein. Instead, consume an easily digested dinner that is comprised of a carbohydrate like sweet potato, yam or quinoa, an iron-rich dark leafy green or cruciferous vegetables like steamed spinach or broccoli, and if you’d like, a moderate amount of a basic protein, like a small piece of baked salmon. Continue reading “6 Tips for Racing a 5 or 10k”