“Givens” are things you might not even notice, but they have a huge impact on you. When you were told line A to B was parallel to line C to D, it was parallel, even if it didn’t look right to you. If you are a monotheist, somehow and sometime you are going to have to face the question of why do bad things happen to good people. If your given is “I drive on the right side of the road,” your first taxi ride in London is going to be a thrill ride.
Most people have givens when it comes to fitness and health. The problem is this: Are your “givens” true? I spend my days working with people striving to attain serious fitness goals, but almost daily we run into their “givens.”
When he weighed 150 or so, he had teammates wandering over to the wrestling room with him. Waiting for him was a coach in sweats with a towel around his neck worried that the 100-degree room was too cool. For three hours, he thrashed around pushing, pulling, and gasping for the thrill of the wind sprints at the end. Since it was winter, he also picked up a solid case of the flu that really got that bodyweight down.
Most people’s “givens” simply don’t reflect the reality of their life today. I knew a woman who had a “go-to” diet whenever her weight popped up: Day One, seven eggs; Day Two, seven oranges; and Day Three, seven bananas. That’s all. Each day, just seven items and it worked; she always lost weight. Two days later, she would put it all back on plus a few extra pounds for the trouble.
It worked once and she was convinced that this was always the case. It became her “given.”
Think about it a little bit: What are your “givens”? When you decide to “get in shape,” do you go out the door for a jog even though you are trying to get in shape for an explosive sport like basketball? When you decide to drop a few pounds, what is your “given”?
My point is simple: Most people’s “givens” don’t stand up to reality. As we age, our pectorals, biceps, hip flexors, and hamstrings all begin to tighten. Sadly, most guys bench and curl and literally age themselves (think of the caricature of an old man stumbling along with stooped shoulders and bent arms) during most workouts.
The glutes are literally the seat of power and few gym people train with deep squats, swings, or the Olympic lifts. Hill sprints work well here, too, and give you that “burn” that Ron Burgundy preached to us. When I was young, the ads in the magazines told us that “shoulders make the man,” but rarely do we see overhead presses for “barn-door-wide shoulders” anymore.
For fat loss, let’s get back to basics. Eat your colorful vegetables just like mom told you to do. How bagels became a breakfast “given” is a mystery to me. Drink sugar-free and calorie-free water when you are thirsty. If a carbohydrate comes in a bag or a box, push it aside for a while.
If you really want to get your bodyweight down, join the military. I understand the French Foreign Legion is looking for volunteers. Oddly, this is the “given” most people have for fitness . . . they need to literally have a gun pointed to their head.
Rethink your “givens” through the lens of where you are and what you have around you. In a typical gym, you have dozens of pieces of equipment that weren’t around in your youth and can get you to your goals quickly. Suspension equipment, kettlebells, Atlas stones, farmer bars, and a wild world of training equipment might trump your experiences of two or three decades ago.
Explore the new world of fitness. Get yourself fit by doing new and challenging sports and games. Rock climbing, for example, is as exhausting as any wrestling class and the rush of excitement will do more for your hormone profile than anything over the counter at the nutrition store. It will also clearly show you why a few pounds around the middle is a bad idea.
Challenge your “givens.” Explore movement and activity. Try something new in fitness and watch your body composition change.