It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post for you guys, and I apologize.
I’ve been gone for a while, preparing for a new job and enjoying the last year of my sabbatical. The blog has been just a little neglected.
That ends tonight. As part of my own resolution, I’ll be posting at least once a month (maybe more) as I think of things and as time permits.
(Aaron’s Note in October 2019: this whole thing feels ironic, doesn’t it? Not a single new post for 3 years, and I took this down in embarrassment. Now it’s back and here to stay)
I thought it’d be thematic then, to talk about some of the exact challenges I’ve had in writing for the blog – the same challenges that someone new to fitness, or trying to get back into fitness, can easily identify with.
So here are some of the guiding principles to kickstarting your resolution, and actually doing a damn thing. My hope is that after this, you’ll be a liuttle more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Let’s start with the easiest one.
1) F*** Perfection
This is true for fitness, and true for writing. I have been negligent because I wanted to avoid putting out content that “could be found elsewhere” so it isn’t unique and a pretty special snowflake.
But all the email questions I’ve receiving tell me one thing: that what’s clear to me, is not clear to all of you. And I’m not helping anyone by assuming you know what to do – or that you’ll trust other crap on the web.
That’s a smart choice, by the way. A lot of stuff out there is absolute crap.
But I’ve neglected writing about so much – about diet, training, and the science of peak performance – because of perfectionism. Because I feel sometimes that I’m not the most qualified to research and share thoughts. Because I think the information exists already. Because, because, because.
To my friends on here, across the web, and in person, I always say to screw perfectionism when it comes to fitness. The important thing is to just get started. So it’s so damn ironic that I refuse to write because of the same problem.
The imperfect things you do will help you much more than the perfect things you’ll never do. I’ve tried to make it easy by creating the best beginner progressive calisthenics workout program out there, but remember that even if this is too much to digest right now, then doing anything (a pushup challenge, just a few pullups, walking, biking, swimming, curling…) is better than nothing.
If you find it hard to start working out, or getting diet in check, start small. Replace a candy bar witha glass of water or coffee. Do half of a “real” workout if you don’t feel like have much time.
Take things a bit at a time, if it’s too big to bite at first. And of course, if you still have questions, you can always ask ’em here.
2) F*** Motivation
Motivation is great, but it’s a shitty thing to base anything on.
For a while, I wrote only “when I felt like it”. Which means, maybe 10 minutes at a time, before I stopped to play Overwatch or watch a movie on Netflix.
So really, I got nothing done. This is a lot like fitness.
No amount of psyching you up alleviates the fear of being judged. No amount of motivation grinds you through those last hard-as-hell reps. If you wait for yourself to “feel like it” to do something… you’ll never do anything worthwhile.
The only thing that alleviates fear is progress, and progress is gained from practice.
It’s said that masters have failed more than beginners have tried. And damn is that true.
My friends that check-in to gyms on Facebook the most are often the ones that go the least and are the weakest. “Checking in” is not working out. Working out is working out.
Hyping yourself up hurts you in the long run. It means your workouts exist only on external validation and hype – existing only insofar as your emotions.
But emotions are unstable, fleeting, and a liability to base anything as important as your health and power. It is a flicker of flame that I could douse with a little spiteful spit.
Habit, conversely, is stable, permanent, and an asset to any goal you heart dreams. It is the stone monument that stands for centuries – and doesn’t really care what the hell you do to it.
So how do you create habit? Not by hyping yourself up. You create habit by putting in the work. So put in the damn work. The monument takes care of itself.
3) Do What Matters
A lot of times here, I durdle on what to write about, thinking of ways to make such explosively relevant guides that no one – ever again – would need to write one on the Internet.
Yeah. Seriously. I’d spend so much brainpower planning, strategizing, and not writing that nothing ever happened.
I was getting very efficient at brainstorming. But that was not effective for my endgoal: writing for a stronger world.
So “do what matters” has a dual meaning.
Being efficient and effective are not the same. Efficient means you do things right, while effective is that you do the right things.
When choosing what to do in training, make your training and diet choices relevant to your goal. Don’t train like an ultramarathoner if you don’t want to look like one, no matter how much Cosmo magazine suggests it.
It doesn’t matter how good the program is for ultramarathoners if your goal is to look and move like Spiderman, or to move heavier things with much less effort. And brainstorming without actually writing doesn’t really help me become a better writer.
Now this isn’t easy and requires practice. There is so much information on menial and unimportant things that knowing what to do for your goal gets hard. And this creates another problem…
4) Focus On The Process, Not Just An Endgoal
This one was difficult for me. I keep imagining what “perfect” would look like for this blog, so I can work towards it ultra-efficiently. I wanted to know the ideal blog type so it would be a bastion of practical science and motivation 30 years later.
And just like that, my writing stopped. Because I just couldn’t totally and utterly define what this blog should look like 30 years later.
We get trapped sometimes in defining and redefining that we forget to just put the work in. There’s so much information, and a lot of it could actually work well if we just tried it out, measured progress, and made a decision on efficacy that way.
Instead, we just read, re-read, decide it’s “too confusing” and then give up. And yeah, sometimes it can get confusing if you’re staring a thousand miles ahead when you should be staring a few feet in front of you.
Take things a step at a time so you don’t get paralyzed by possibility.
So, The Future of Roam Strong
Now a fun fact. I wrote this at 2:13 AM my time, almost disobeying rule #1 (scared people would unsubscribe from the email list, or find this unhelpful, or whatever) and rule #2 (I’m tired as hell, I should do this tomorrow…) But if I want people to not repeat the mistakes I’ve made, I can’t be scared of something so small, or shirk what matters because I’m overthinking this or don’t feel like it.
I hope seeing my writing challenges are encouragement for your fitness challenges. We’re all pushing through unfamiliar territory as we grow, so keep it up.
So just to re-affirm what I want Roam Strong to be about (at least for THIS YEAR): Roam Strong is an experiment in living stronger, smarter, and longer.
Got any questions you want answered here about living leaner, stronger, or longer? Throw them in the comments or email me back. It’s about time I make this blog what it could be.
And most importantly, good luck to you and your fitness goals, whatever they may be.
A note from Aaron in October 2019: It’s been 3 years since starting a new job and being on sabbatical. I find it ironic that I made this, believing I’d be more consistent on my posting. It violated Rule #2 – that I relied on motivation to progress.
I’ve got something brewing on the horizon. Be vigilant.