I’ve got some good news, some bad news, and a piece of advice that will help you reframe how you think about getting in shape. I want to make this process easier for you, so you can make better long-term progress.
Let’s start with the bad news: Going to the gym and eating healthier never gets easier.
The good news is…you just get better at managing it within the confines of your life. The guy who hasn’t thought much about this will hear that fact and feel demoralized.
“Oh god, this is ALWAYS going to be a grind…”
Think about it like a kickflip. Anyone off the street will struggle with it, but the folks who’ve practiced it over and over can pull it off with no problem. The ambitious man sees an opportunity here, and I hope that this is you!
We know that:
The tasks of nutrition and training never get any easier, AND
Some people seem to effortlessly manage it for years
Now sure, there are certain lifestyle factors that can make it easier for some people more than others to get, and stay, in shape. But what if it were possible to actually learn the SKILLS required to get in shape?
Bonus good news – you can. If you can view this whole fitness game as a set of skills, you’re at a distinct advantage.
Let’s take a look at the real-life advantages this paradigm shift will give you.
YOU KNOW THAT YOU WON’T BE PERFECT ON DAY 1.
You gave yourself permission to begin putting effort into it, without the expectation of hitting the nail on the head right away. That means more focus on ‘the practice’ and faster mastery.
Less likelihood of giving up after the first few fumbled attempts.
Less of a pass-or-fail mindset and more of a growth mindset.
“Test scores and measures of achievement tell you where a student is, but they don’t tell you where a student could end up.” – Carol Dweck
If you can leave the pass-fail mindset behind when it comes to fitness, you might just be surprised at how much power this actually gives you.
When you embrace the beginner’s mindset, you open yourself up to explore the different avenues within the realm of fitness – be it diet or training – that interest you.
YOU CAN COMPARTMENTALIZE YOUR PRACTICE
“Getting in shape” is no longer just this mysterious, ethereal idea.
It’s actually a set of very specific activities and actions that can be done either very well or not so well.
When you narrow down exactly what those skills are and work on them independently, you start to make serious progress. You can chip away individual little pieces and blocks, step back and say, “Oh, I’m actually really good in this department, and I’m not so great in this department.”
It really comes down to three main skills, each with its own set of subskills.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it looks something like this:
Injuries (hopefully not)
Managing Social Events
High Protein Eating
Dieting for Fat Loss
Dieting for Muscle Gain
Now you know that there are a few basic umbrella skill pillars, each with its own individual sub-skills to master, and each with its own time and place to pursue mastery.
The better you are at these skills and applying them consistently, the better your results are going to be.
YOU‘LL FIND YOUR BOTTLENECKS
People love to play to their strengths.
You’ll see meatheads in the gym who train like absolute animals, but go home and smash 11 beers and some KFC.
You’ll see yogis who meditate daily and only put the holiest of foods in their temple, but are scared to touch a weight and look like a limp noodle.
The more you understand which skills are required for the goals you want to achieve, the easier it will be to see what you’re missing.
That means every minute you spend is worth more.
Gaining a +1 skill point in training might take you a month if you’ve been lifting weights for a year.
But that skill point would come in 4 minutes if you were reading about nutrition and learned something that you hadn’t ever cared to read more about in the past.
When in doubt – ask yourself: “What am I missing here?”
YOU’RE PLAYING THE LONG GAME
Getting in shape is like learning to play an instrument.
You can memorize a song straight away and sound like you know how to play. Or you can learn music theory, and be able to sight-read any sheet music you come across.
“Knowledge is a skyscraper. You can take a shortcut with a fragile foundation of memorization, or build slowly upon a steel frame of understanding” – Naval Ravikant
Getting in shape is no different. You can buy a juice cleanse and shit your brains out for a week, or you can learn how to deadlift.
The former makes you less bloated for a weekend vacation.
The latter will help you put slabs of muscle on your frame over the next decade.
YOU PICK UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF
I once heard about a guy who was a close friend of David Blaine, the magician.
He could roll dice to any number he wanted, and it looked the exact same as when you and I would roll.
When he was a kid, he bought dice and a craps table and practiced 12 hours a day over the course of a few years. That seems like a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not impossible.
When he turned 21 he started playing at casinos. He would win exactly the right amount at different casinos so he wouldn’t get caught.
The coolest part of all? He wasn’t doing magic – he just practiced.
Truly mastering a skill requires you to continually push yourself near the edge of your capacities. It’s what forces you to grow. Adaptation to ever-higher demands. That’s how you progress.
Once you view training as a skill, you’ll never be bored in the gym another day in your life. Because mastering that skill demands that you perform well in the gym.
It demands your focus and effort.
It demands a long streak of sessions like that, back-to-back, every single week.
But when you tie all of those efforts together with some great lifestyle factors and solid nutrition, it becomes this never-ending situation where the more you put into it, the more comes out.
It is unbelievably ridiculous how strong you can get, how jacked you can get, and how good you can feel – if you just continually practice these basic skills over and over.
Didn’t Bruce Lee say something about a guy who practised one kick a thousand times? That’s the idea we’re going for here. It’s the idea that you can become ridiculously good at something by exposing yourself to it for countless hours.
Each time aiming to drive your performance higher and higher.
I’ll be writing more about each of these individual topics, so be sure to follow along if you really want to get the most out of this.