That was the fastest year I have experienced. Each month and every single day flew past. I did lots of new and challenging things, accomplished some goals, missed others. It was a great year. Originally I was going to call this blog post “What I Learned in 2015”. After laying out the list and thinking it over, I realized it should be called “Changes I Made in 2015”. A more appropriate title because while I did learn a lot this year, all of the changes that I made (through learning new things) is what makes up the majority of this list. I hope that you can pick up something useful out of it as we head into 2016.
Cook meals ahead of time.
I was hard against this when figuring out new routines when Hannah and I moved in together. I didn’t want to spend all day Sunday essentially as what I viewed as a factory employee, piecing meals together one thing at a time. Luckily that’s not what it felt like at all. We have it down to a science, what used to take most of the day now takes about 2 hours.
We cook 8 lunches, 4 for me 4 for her and dinners for the week. While it took a lot of practice and creates so many dishes all at once – the rewards are worth it. I always know what I’m eating (usually the same thing, obviously easier). This forces me to eat healthy and nutritious meals throughout the week. I know how they affect my body and how they make me feel. By being so rigid during the week, I relax more on the weekend. I can enjoy foods and not worry about it. It has also taught me to crave more nutritious, healthier meals. I know they make me feel better and I see the affects of a less nutritious meal. Still not giving up doughnuts anytime soon though.
If you’re interested in the more specifics of what and how we cook everything, let me know – it could make a good blog post.
Not having a strict workout routine.
I didn’t have a whole lot of time during the day to train this year. There were a few months that I locked in and trained really hard for the 4 weeks. There were also months that I probably only had single digit training sessions. About 6 months in to this inconsistency (which by the way can be a really smart was to train – hard for a few weeks, lighten up for a few weeks) I shot for just consistency. I let go of what I constituted as a “training session” and just did something. Everyday. A lot of the times I did 5 sets of one exercise. Simple, straight to the point.
When I was feeling good or excited to workout, I took advantage and those were my hard training days. Since my days were long, unpredictable and most of days I needed to decide between a quick nap and working out – breaking away from a strict training plan and adopting a style where I base what I do exclusively on how I feel and what I had previously done that week was incredibly rewarding.
Realizing that this was acceptable, because it was against the norm of how I had operated for 9 years was a huge. I had the best year of training that I had in a long time. I enjoyed training. I’m definitely not at my strongest right now. I’m close though and this past year I focused on movement quality, improving my technique and mobility. So while I’m not as strong (in meathead gym terms) I’m strong enough for right now. I also feel much more durable and healthy; my body has never felt better because I have never taken this good of care of it.
The negative impact sitting was having on me.
Transitioning to a standing desk was the best change I made in 2015. I’ve always had really tight hips, constantly sore adductors from years of ice hockey and a tweaky low back that constantly ached and gave me sciatic pain. My sole mission of 2014 was to resolve this pain and I accomplished it. I spent an absence amount of time stretching and mobilizing my hips, I was aware of my posture when sitting and I gave myself daily massages with a softball.
Then I opened Gain and was required to spend a lot of time sitting on the computer. When I was cramped to get in a 45-minute workout it was taking me 45-minutes to feel safe enough to train because I was getting so tight again. In April, when I went to a standing desk, the first thing I noticed was that it took me far less time to get warmed up enough for a heavy set of squats. I shifted my focus on getting sweaty and performing movements similar to the exercise I was going to do. I was now spending the day in good positions. Now, there is an emphasis on good, standing poorly all day isn’t going to help. So instead of making sure I opened my hips, and making sure I had all my ranges of motion in check – I was able to warm up more efficiently. This really was what gave me the ability to make the change above.
My body has never felt better, no more aches and pains at all. It was hard work and took a lot of awareness. The benefits are outstanding though.
Taking time to breathe in the morning.
Going into 2015, I wanted to be prepared for all of the new stresses that I was going to face this year starting and running a business. I heard successful people talking about meditation and mindfulness. I listened to Ted Talks, read books and countless articles and tried to adopt a new perspective on things.
I started out by just focusing on doing exactly what I was doing. Trying not to think about the 1000 other things I had on my mind and what I needed to do. The simplest way this was done was by putting my cell phone away when I was doing something else. If I’m going to watch TV, I won’t scroll through Instagram at the same time. Staying in the task that you are doing, whether it be watching The Walking Dead or completing a project or working out, being “in the moment,” if you will, is powerful. It is also productive which I like. I learned that the best way to be in the moment – do more stuff you like to do.
After saying I needed to start meditating and doing it a few times here or there, I read Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier. It was a game changer in getting me to take up a more serious meditation practice. I’m more alert, calmer, get more done and genuinely have better days when I do it. Consistency is still tricky but I am starting to take the same approach I did with training in 2015, it doesn’t need to be a grand slam session every time, just put in the work and every little bit will help. Currently, I have replaced traditional meditation with a breathing practice in the morning. It’s like a meditation short cut, it allows me to feel the same and is less difficult because there is a task involved. I feel amazing after doing this. You can learn more about it if you’re interested by googling, “Wim Hof”.
Changes for 2016
I want to decrease time spent on my cell phone. Listen, I’m not against technology or anything like that, I just think we get so caught up on all the things they connect us to and it’s easy to get overloaded on information. I want to be strategic with my usage.
Read more. I have a similar relationship with books as I do with training, all or nothing. I’m pleased with the amount of books I read in 2015, but I need to get more consistent and be okay with only reading for a short period of time more consistently.
Balance. 2015 taught me that there has to be balance in everything. Check out a little more often, relax and hit the refresh button. And be okay with it.
Gut heath. The microbiome that lives inside of us in fascinating and we are just discovering how much of an impact it can have on our daily lives. To start experimenting with this I am going to start eating more fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha.
Thank you all for reading this blog for the past year. I really appreciate it. I hope you all were able to take something away, learn something new and make a positive change to your lifestyle.
Oh, and Happy One Year Anniversary to GAIN! The official start date was 1/2/15, I trained 4 people that day, on 1/4/16 we had over 40 people in for their scheduled workouts.
So, THANK YOU!!