If you've been reading these articles long enough, you know by now that I'm not one to give you a canned copy. With summer right around the corner, I thought about writing something regarding eating a variety of vegetables that will be in season ... borrrrr-ring. Or, maybe, how about ideas on summer fitness? Hmm, walking, biking, hiking, the usual suspects. No. I want something different. A-ha! I'll share the secret to solving any problem!
This is material that I originally encountered in my Precision Nutrition level 2 course. It has helped me deal with many problems, both personally and professionally. But Bruce Lee (for those unfamiliar, Google "one short, famous, bad, butt-kicking dude") once said, "Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is specifically your own." So buckle up, and let's learn how to tackle any problem.
The first and most important step is to stay in the moment. Being able to remain calm and look at the problem objectively sounds easy. That is, until you're staring an alligator in the face ... or an irate teenage family member ... we won't say which one can be more ferocious. But staying in the present moment and understanding what is truly going on is much more difficult than what most of us do, which is to simply react emotionally and either run away screaming or figure out what to do with the alligator.
Once you've remained present, gather some information about the situation. Are you in immediate danger? Is it worth being upset? Can things be rectified right now, or will you have to wait? If you're not in immediate danger, then gather the appropriate information. This process can be a bit sloppy if need be. It's more beneficial to gather loads of information, time permitting, then cleave away the unnecessary rather than to be in a rush and miss a pertinent detail. Remember: no alligators or teenagers, gather information. Sharp teeth or hormones = fight or flight, baby.
Now that you have some information, sit down and make an action plan. Set a long-term solution, then go backward to where you currently are. Use this plan to decide upon the most important immediate step. What must you do today to take the next step? Then tomorrow? Determine what's necessary and what is just an accessory. This can often be the most difficult step but also the most crucial. As a side note, be willing to let things change. Speaking from experience, when you try to repeatedly hit a brick wall, it's you that breaks first, not the wall. Be smart and be fluid in your decisions.
Once you make a plan, take action. This is often another sticking point for many people. They develop a plan only to tiptoe the starting line repeatedly until the time passes, and with it, the opportunity. I've tried to live my life as a person who jumps off the cliff and builds the parachute on the way down. Sure, I've smacked the ground a few times, but the times that you take flight make it all worth it.
Most importantly, the final step - determine a way to measure your decisions and actions. This will obviously be unique in each situation, but it is crucial to know that you're making progress toward your goal. Things that don't get measured, don't get managed. Also, stay vigilant with your measurements. Just because something starts out all gold stars and cookies, that doesn't mean it'll stay that way. Even the best initial endeavors can sour quickly. If you're consistent with your check-ins, you're more likely to notice it quickly, which allows you to re-route your plan.
To sum it all up: stay present, don't panic unless it's fight or flight. Gather any and all information you can. Sort through the info and find what is useful to create an action plan. Break the action plan down into immediate-step after immediate-next-step. Understand how to measure your action and do it often. It all sounds simple in theory, but sticking to the script can prove difficult at first. But it's all just like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the better you'll perform it.
For example, let's say your doctor tells you that you need to lose weight or you could die. First, stay in the moment. Ask your doctor a few questions. "What do I need to improve upon the most?" "Would more exercise benefit me, or should I eat healthier?" Gather the information you need. What forms of activity could you take part in? What healthier foods are appealing to your palate? Who could help you? Using that information, come up with an action plan. You could measure by checking the scale once or twice a week or by checking in with your doctor. Good health is a relative term, depending on your current state, but improving our health is something we can all do.
You really can apply these techniques to anything in life with proper practice. I've used these steps to make dramatic changes in my own life and in the lives of my clients. If you're currently struggling with a situation, give them a try. You never know, you might just surprise yourself by solving something that's been troubling you for years. Or, heck, you may even survive an encounter with a teenager ... alligator! I meant alligator!
Until next month, stay present, observe, plan and act accordingly. It's the best way to figure out how to live fresh and live free of constant worries.
Andy Frisch, NASM CPT, CES, PES, WFS, IFT, NESTA FNC, is a successful personal trainer and nutrition coach who enjoys working with clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. He currently trains clients at Sports Village Fitness in Lebanon, works with clients online at www.FreshEvolutionFitness.com and has a budding YouTube channel.