Usually around this time of year I try to reflect on the last 12 months and see what I’ve accomplished, what I did, how I did it, what worked, what didn’t, and what changes I might need to make in the upcoming year. I’m certainly not unique in this regard as many, many people tend to take stock of their lives when the year comes to an end and a new one begins, but since resolutions have never really been my thing, I decided to sit down and compile a list of what I learned in 2014. A best of list, if you will. Many of these are exercise related while some are not, and some involve the people, ideas, concepts and simple everyday tips that I have stumbled upon that have most affected me this past year:
- When in doubt, test everything. One of the newest exercise concepts I am learning about is called Gym Movement Protocol, created by Dave Dellanave at his gym in Minneapolis. Amongst other things, Gym Movement Protocol means using Biofeedback to literally test every exercise you do before you do it, listening to what your body is telling you and working within your limits. It’s remarkable in it’s simplicity, but for you exercise crazies who are looking for the next big trend, this could very well be it.
- In praise of Twitter. I’ve written about the medium a few times before and those of you that follow me there, or know me personally, know that I am a huge fan. Each time I get on my page to scroll my feed I am never disappointed with the wealth of information and knowledge that is presented in a matter of seconds. Just last week I stumbled upon an article detailing the foods we need to be on the lookout for in 2015. Many of them I had never heard of before but when people come asking me about them (and they will) I’m ready to chat.
- If it takes two minutes or less, get it done. Now. Many of the blogs I’m reading on working more efficiently seem to come back to this theme, but I think I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember and it really does work. Have you ever made a list of things to do and it was two pages long and didn’t know where to start? I always start with the small items and work my way to the big ones, such as today when I knew I needed to work on this blog but also had two phone calls to make and two e-mails that needed a response. Check, check, check, check. Now here I am.
- Let your toddler pick out his clothes for the next day the night before. For real. My wife stumbled upon this concept months ago but I was late to the party. When she was out of town a few weeks ago while my son and I stayed home, I paid the price with a 6:30 a.m. temper tantrum that almost tore the roof off of our house. The words “those clothes are dirty”, “they need to be washed” and “we don’t wear the same thing two days in a row” have no meaning to a three-year-old who has an unhealthy obsession with Superman t-shirts and Lightening McQueen underwear. Needless to say, I won’t make this mistake ever again.
- In a “diet”, there is no such thing as one size fits all. More and more I am beginning to see and believe this in the exercise and nutrition world. For instance, I’ve always been a huge fan of eating breakfast, believing that it was the best way to boost your metabolism after sleep, start the day off with a positive source of energy and make it less likely that you will binge on junk food later in the day. But I have a bunch of clients who tell me that they are simply not hungry in the morning or if they eat before they exercise they get sick. My conclusion? Do what works for you, not what someone (even me!) tells you what they think is best.
- Same goes with exercise. I’m a huge believer in short, sweet, efficient, sweaty workouts using your body or using some really heavy weights with good form. Boot camps, marathon workouts and the “no pain no gain” motto gets lost on me because I don’t think it’s the best way to go, but again, I always tell my clients to experiment with different forms of exercise because they need to figure out what works for them. All of us have different schedules, stress levels, muscle imbalances and tolerances for certain work, so each of us is the best judge as to where we want to go. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to figure out the best way to get you there.
- Don’t go to the supermarket hungry. Ever. I break this rule virtually every week, but I’m lucky enough to have developed a fair amount of will power over the years to resist the temptation of the dozen different Oreo varieties that were presented to me last Monday morning in Aisle 12 at Giant. There they are, staring at you in the face, all those different colors and flavors and fatty goodness, every last one of them on sale for the holidays. Madness. If Oreo every comes out with a Triple Stuff my fingers might never be skinny enough to type one of these blogs out ever again.
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- Every once in a while, get up ridiculously early and see how much you get done in a day. I was forced to get up in the middle of the night a handful of times in August and September for work, and while I wouldn’t wish a 4:00 a.m. wakeup call on anyone, ever, on a regular basis, by 10:00 a.m. on those same days I couldn’t believe how much time I had left for myself and how much more time I had to accomplish anything I wanted to get done. Head to the gym, go to work, go for a jog, watch a movie, whatever, but having a few hours free during the day isn’t a bad way to go.
So that’s my list, but I’m curious to hear from you. What did you learn in 2014? Who inspired you and why? Feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.