Top 3 Nutritional Mistakes – Why You Need A Food Journal

Top 3 Nutritional Mistakes (and how to fix them) by Michael Roussell of T-nation outlines 3 mistakes bodybuilders make when trying to build mass while keeping body fat levels down. I mention it because body builders are just extreme versions of the rest of us who are interested in getting or staying lean – their goals are the same, their practices are just a little more intense.

1) Focusing too much on Macronutrient Breakdowns

I’m a big believer that the type of calories (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) you eat does matter, but people can overlook the importance of total calories. Yes, it’s possible to manipulate macronutrients percentages so that you can eat more or less food with favorable advances toward your body composition goals, BUT total calories matter. I liken the total vs. type of calorie debate to the diet vs. exercise debate. They’re not exclusive and both matter!

2) Skipping Meals & Eating Unplanned Meals

Not getting the results you want is one thing, but to not know how well you’re following your plan means you’re blindly stumbling around the land of mediocrity with no chance of success.

Lack of proper compliance … is the number 1 reason people don’t reach their physique goals. If you aren’t reaching your goals, yet haven’t filled out a compliance sheet like the one below, I don’t want to hear about how the diet you’re on doesn’t work or that you need a personalized nutrition plan.

3) Not Giving Your Plan a Change – “The best diet is the one you’re not on.”

… today and there’s an overabundance of training programs accessible at your finger tips. In fact, there are so many programs there is a growing population of people who have become training whores, switching to whatever new program has been published that week.

Unfortunately, the same trend has been emerging with diets and nutrition. Internet forums are overwhelmed with people who are “cutting” one week, “bulking” the next, and “cutting” again the following week. If you’ve done the Velocity Diet, Massive Eating, Get Shredded Diet, and the Anabolic Diet in the span of 8 weeks then I’m talking to YOU.

I have gotten my best result when I write everything out to get a calorie estimate and stick to it for a couple of months. I think this is because it’s very easy to forget eating, not eating and what you eat. I’ll admit, it was a pain in the arm the first couple of days but then it got easier because you get better at it. A food journal is a skill, as is a different eating plan and remaining compliant to it, that gets easier the longer you do it.

Trying Something New

Doing something new is one of the more challenging things that we do as we get older. It seems that our natural tendency to try and make things as unchanging as possible really hurts our motivation to try new things.

But isn’t this tendency just like most of our tendencies in that it exist only because we allow it to exist? There are people who have learned to do new things all the time so our initial fear is not something that cannot be overcome by direct effort to change.

Looking back, if you do find yourself rather unmotivated to try new things, isn’t it also a fact that you were apprehensive to try the thing you most like doing now? For me it is mountain bike riding and I thought about if for a while before I actually started to ride; my friend Chris hounded me for more than a year to buy a bike from him before I relented. Now I can’t imagine my life without it.

The strangest thing about trying mountain biking is where I am now. My life is completely different as a result of my decision to improve my health and fitness, a decision that was the outcome of me loving bike riding. I haven’t taken to anything else in my life like I have taken to cycling. While it is possible that the athlete in me would have come out some other way, I have not yet found or tried whatever activity that is. Regardless of its eventuality, most of my friends are different, most of my activities are different and most of my time is spend doing stuff that I didn’t do before.

It isn’t worth considering where my life would be now if I had not tried, but it’s safe to assume that it would be different.

At least once every couple of days you should try something new. The LuLuLemon people recommend once a day but I’m going to suggest every couple of days. These things really don’t have to matter all that much but they can be big things if you like. Try tanning, a different type of coffee, make a new meal, talk to someone you want to talk to, eat at a new restaurant, try a different type of squat, etc…. The goal of these small things is to keep your brain used to trying new things. You are facing your fear head on and very frequently.

At least once a week you should do something that you don’t really want to do. For many people this should be to complain about poor service or you not getting what you were entitled to. Don’t be a jerk about it, but stand up for yourself. It’s another conflict situation that many tend to avoid because they don’t like the idea of arguing with someone. It’s about tackling something that you know will make your life better once you complete it.

At least once a month you should try something very new. These things should be a little more significant than anything up until now and they should involve some sort of risk, preferably the risk of embarrassment or making a fool of yourself. Karaoke is a good example here, as would be entering an art show. You could take a pottery class, go to bingo or volunteer at the food bank. The thing is to get well outside your normal way of acting and your comfort zone. The goal here is to increase the range of things you feel okay doing. Again, you’re working to face the fear as you increase your exposure to different things.

At least twice a year you should try something that you’ve always been afraid of doing.

At least once a year you should make a list of things that you want to do before you die and make sure the list is disappearing and growing at the same time.

No matter what, your life should be in constant flux trying new things and exposing yourself to as much as you can. I believe this is the only way you are going to be able to determine whenever you have found true happiness and moved towards completion.

Getting Better Result By Giving Better Feedback

I am a compliance practitioner so it is important for me to be able to get people to do the things I ask them to do. This is not evil because I’m trying to get them to do the things they want to do but may lack the belief that they can do. The key things in achieving these results is to provide good feedback. Here are the 5 key elements to offering effective feedback. For clarity’s sake the two players in the feedback session are the giver and the target.

1) Know your goal and clearly define your expectations. Make sure you know how to clearly explain what you are looking for and be prepared to explain how the new behaviour differs from the old behavior, why it is more appropriate and and how it fits into the process.

When I’m instructing a cycling class, my primary goal is to get the target to work slightly harder or modify their position on the bike. If we use hip position on the saddle as an example, I’ll say “move your butt to the back of the seat to make it easier for the big leg muscles to work”. It isn’t much but I know that the legs are able to drive more power to the peddles when the hips are in the right position so I throw it out there. Anyone who grabs onto the advice will improve more quickly.

2) When it is possible, tell the target how their actions made you feel. We are an emotional species so most of us tend to feel stuff; always assume the target deals with emotions until you learn otherwise. If we realize that the tone of our voice make someone feel like we are angry, we’re able to draw the connection between the stimulus and the response.

Compare the following two statements, “why are you angry?” and “when you use that tone, it makes me feel like you are angry.” Which do you think will facilitate the quickest change?

Letting the target know how you feel also transfers a lot of the responsibility of the outcome over to you. This will help to keep them open to the suggested changes while giving them valuable information to help modify their behaviour.

3) Get them to project themselves into the future to try and feel what it will be like when they are more successful at the task. This will help to motivate the target to adopt the suggested chances because they will pair the changes to the desired outcome.

To go back to the hips on the saddle example, I’ll say something like “strong leg muscles make those hills easier this season” or “work hard like the quality of your life depends on it”. The goal is to try and help them see the value tomorrow of working hard today. When it’s done effectively, facilitating change is a piece of cake.

4) Let go of judgement. Always assume that the target is acting in their best interest and, when their behaviour goes against their best interests, assume it is because the target doesn’t have enough information to make the right decision. The role of the giver is to provide the target with the information they are lacking.

You can say things like:
Did you know that…, here is something that may help…, here is another option for that…, I have found that doing…, that’s the way I used to do it until…,

5) Be honest but caring. People know a line of BS when they hear it and will resent you for it. You need to be truthful with them but you need to be caring about it because the target may take the feedback as a statement that their actions were wrong. If this happens, it can start an unconscious defense reaction that will cause the target to close up. You will minimize the risk of this by telling them how their actions made you feel.

33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity X 2

This week Steve Pavlina posted 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity and 33 Rules to Boost Your Productivity – Volume 2 and both are exceptional. 66 tips to help you get more out of your life.

My three favorites are:

Nuke it! The most efficient way to get through a task is to delete it. If it doesn’t need to be done, get it off your to do list.

Minuteman. Once you have the information you need to make a decision, start a timer and give yourself just 60 seconds to make the actual decision. Take a whole minute to vacillate and second-guess yourself all you want, but come out the other end with a clear choice. Once your decision is made, take some kind of action to set it in motion.

Troll hunt. Banish the negative trolls from your life, and associate only with positive, happy, and successful people. Mindsets are contagious. Show loyalty to your potential, not to your pity posse.

Imagine what 63 more of these could do?

NOTE: there are a lot of trackbacks to Steve’s site so be sure to follow a few of them to see how others are using his information.

Consequences Of The Brain Treating Reality And Thought As The Same

Brain scans can show us exactly which part of our brain is active. One thing that these test have uncovered is that the brain will be almost as active when someone thinks about doing a task as it is when they are doing the task. The motor cortex that controls movement is not active but the rest of the brain appears to be as engaged in the activity as it would be if you WERE engaged in the activity.

Now take a second to think about that. The brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is thought. What is the difference between doing something and thinking about doing it? I think only the movement portion, and the motor cortex is the only portion of the brain that shows a decrease in activity when we only think about something.

Have you ever had a dream that impacted the rest of your day? No matter what you do you’re left with a lagging feeling that started with the dream. Would having that same experience in real life have create a similar impact, maybe not the same but one as equally profound? I’ve had dreams that stayed with me because they felt so real – it was as though I had actually had to run for my life or jump from a building. That’s because my brain DID response as though I was running for my life or jumping from a building. Technology shows us that this is how the brain works.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of thinking about something that makes you angry and gets your blood boiling. The response is exactly the same as the real thing, you get an adrenalin spike as you charge up for action. You’re having a real physiological response to a mental stimulus. You can create whatever emotional response that you like by thinking about things that evoke that response.

It really is a stimulus response world. No matter what it is, it you are old enough to read and comprehend what I’m saying here, you probably have had enough experience to create 10000’s of response / stimulus pairings. Very rarely will you be faced with a situation for which you do not have a response.

If this is how the brain works, how do we put it to work for us?

Start changing your thought patterns. Stop thinking thoughts that create negative emotional reactions. Think of kittens, or stake, or something that causes you to respond in a positive way. Start thinking thoughts that foster the emotional state that you need to perform at your best at every moment. I do my best blog writing when I think of things that give me hope and optimism. My best song writing comes out when I’m feeling down or heart broken. When I’m at the gym trying to lift heavy I need to manufacture feelings of personal injustice to give me something to rise against. When I’m engaging someone in a discussion, I’ll picture myself being open and receiving their knowledge. Whatever it is, if I can perform better in a different state of mind I’ll work to find that state.

It only makes sense to do this. Find what makes your performance better and hack your brain to manufacture the emotional state that will allow you to tap into it.

Stop Thinking About Cuteness

I was having Pho with Des today and he told me about an article he read. The article was about a movie the blogger had watched was particularly disturbing. When he went to bed that night, he was having trouble falling asleep because he couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. He asked his girlfriend if she ever had trouble falling asleep because she couldn’t let go of a thought. She said not any more because she plays the cuteness game.

The cuteness game starts by thinking of something cute and then trying to think of something that is even cuter. Then try to think of something that is cuter still, and so on. The game ends when you fall asleep.

It is immaterial that cuteness is subjective, all that matters is that you try to think of something that is cuter and cuter and cuter. The point is, when you’re thinking of cute things you’re not able to think about the creepy movie you saw.

I laughed when he told me, then he told me what Sarah said, she plays the size game. Same sort of thing, pick something and then think of something that is smaller or bigger than it, then continue in that direction. Not that you need an example, but a bread box is bigger than a loaf of bread which is bigger than a jar of peanut butter which is larger than a salted cracker, etc…. Again the game ends when you fall asleep.

I laughed even louder at that game because the whole idea of it is so profoundly simple that I feel like a moron for not thinking of it myself. Up until today I worked to silence my mind when I found myself thinking things I didn’t like. It had never occurred to me to just think of something else. I liken this to a bad smell. When faced with a bad smell you have two choices, you can try to get rid of the smell or you can try to cover over the smell with a better smell. Which one do you think is easier? It works the same way with thinking. You’ll have an easier time thinking about a litter of puppies playing than you will of turning your thinking off. Thinking is natural, not thinking isn’t.

We can control our thoughts and so we should take an active role in what we allow ourselves to think. There will be times when you will need to worry about something, to make sure you have addressed all of the known knowns, but at some point you will start to over think it, triggering a feedback loop that keeps you worrying about it. Even if you did leave the stove on, so what? You cook with it, it’s designed to be on. Make the decision about what you are going to do about it and start trying to think of three things that are cuter than a kitten. Smile and go back to living outside your head.

Writing And Making Use Of A Personal Development Journal

I started journaling after Natalie died. My next girl friend bought me a Sherra Club notebook and I started writing in it on Feb 18th, 1996. When I reread my first entry, which explained what I was going to do with the journal, I laugh because it sounds more like the purpose of this blog – I had wanted to write down things that others would find useful. It was my intention to help them. It’s funny now because the journal quickly changed from being something that would be useful to others to something that would be useful to me.

Before I put pen to journal paper, I had been writing on individual sheets of paper or in a blue note book. I was grieving and had found writing letters to Natalie explaining how I was feeling about her death to be helpful for me as it seemed to make my thoughts more real. The stuff was sad or self indulgent, I had noticed that I felt better after I wrote out just how unhappy I was because I never felt as bad as my words made it seem. The writing was an exercise that was moving me past the grief and mourning. Since I was feeling better 6 months on, I decided that it was time to make a more permanent contribution to the grief process by doing something that would be useful to others.

The problem was that I wasn’t anywhere close to knowing how I was feeling about death and grief and I was a far cry from being self-aware. My life and mind were littered with impulsive thoughts, anger and immaturity. As such, the entries in the journal moved from being concise and evolved lessons that could be useful for others to ideas and thoughts about whatever seemed to be gripping my mind at the time. From a quantity point of view, it was a fairly productive period because there were lots of things swirling around my consciousness and my unconscious mind seemed to be working in overdrive too because stuff seemed to flow out of me once I started writing. Some of it was really good for an incomplete man in his mid-twenties, most of it was what you would expect, not garbage, but not the stuff with universal appeal that I had hoped would be coming out of me. The journal moved from being a book of lessons to a book about my personal development.

Below are the 5 steps I took to write and make use of my journal:

The First Step in writing a useful personal development journal is populating it with honest information. You need to feel free enough to write whatever is on your mind without fear of being judged harshly by others. You need to write from the heart whenever you can because this is where the truth lies. It’s a journal and it contains your thoughts but these are NOT necessarily facts. We all think a bunch of stuff that ISN’T facts or even what we want. If we think others will be reading them, the depth and clarity of the idea will suffer. In fact, we tend to leave stuff out that may be useful; take blogging for example, I take great care to make sure every word I use is the right word and that I am sure that I think and feel how I am claiming to think or feel. The ideas are not set in stone but I’ve thought about them long enough to say that what I have written is how I think about the particular item. New information can change the idea but it will need to be pretty compelling.

The Second Step in writing a useful personal development journal is writing in it frequently. This one is a little tricky because writing is a skill that you need to practice and what you write as practice may have nothing to do with personal development. Try your best to keep the non-personal stuff out of the journal, but keep the journal close at hand when you are practicing because some of your clearest ideas will pop into your head when you’re writing something completely unrelated.

The Third Step is writing a useful personal development journal is writing about things that are personal to you – this doesn’t necessarily mean personal items, it can, but it also includes stuff that addresses or concerns how you look at the world, realization that you have just had, or things that you have learned that seem significant even if you do not know why they feel important. Information about new jobs, new classes, new friends and new romantic partners should be included. Very often these things will move your awareness very quickly and, at the very least, they open up a world of new experiences that will shape who you are.

The Forth Step in writing a useful personal development journal is filling it with information over a long period of time. While you should only write to the journal whenever you have something personal to say, you should make an effort to write at least once a week. It may not happen, but you need to try. Most often you will go in phases of intense writing, when it seems like you have a lot to say because you have reached a new place in your understanding of the world, followed by no writing, when you’ve captured everything you had on your mind. Keep your journal handy when you enter one of these no writing phases because you have no idea when the dam will break and ideas will stream out. Just make sure to date each entry with at least the month and year, but it’s a good idea to include the day of the month as well.

The Final Step is rereading it from cover to cover a couple of times a years looking for patterns, common themes, changes in your understanding and evolving ideas. This is what will make it useful to you from a development perspective. If you have followed the first 4 steps, this should be fairly easy and sometimes painful to do. Ideas evolve over a period of time and they tend to lag just slightly behind steps of increased maturity, which themselves tend to follow new experiences. Given the lag, it can be useful to read it backwards as well; this will often present you with the enhanced idea, then the moment of increased maturity and then the experience that was the trigger of all of the progress.

Regardless of the direction you read, you NEED to do this because otherwise what you have written will never come alive or resonate within you. Keep in mind that human beings are incredible pattern matching machines so keep giving it information to work with so it can start to uncover the patterns. Your brain has a lot of power that isn’t called upon very often so give it something to work with so you can tap into this ability. Remember, when you read something that you have written and it creates a sense of dissonance (a feeling of wrongness because what is written and how you view the world are not in line) you have hit upon something that is likely personal development.

Some of the patterns themes that I have found and what I did about them:

A need and a desire to be by myself (not in a relationship) for a while to figure out what made me tick. Between the ages of 18 and 31 I had been single (not in a long term relationship) for less than 6 months and the longest period of time followed Natalie’s death (about 3 months). It was everything I knew about adult life and, in hindsight, I was unhappy for most of it. There was one entry in particular that just sickened me to read because I mentioned that I was jealous of an X girlfriend who had taken the time after we broke-up to be single while I just found another relationship without thinking about what I had learned from the last one. When the next relationship ended, I took the time and have been, for the most part single and happy since. I finally got to know who I am and what I like doing, which marked the beginning of the most productive period of my life so far.

Finding completion in another person vs. in myself. Along the same lines as the need to be alone, reviewing the journal revealed that my sense of self depended upon being in a relationship. I had worth if I was in a partnership with someone else. I’m not hacking on partnerships, just those that contain one partner who isn’t already a complete individual. They say you cannot be useful to another if you cannot be useful to yourself and I tend to agree, as would my X girlfriends during this time. If the relationship went bad, I suffered and took it out on them because I felt my identify was being jeopardized. I haven’t been in a relationship for almost 2 years now and, while there are things I miss (like making dinners together, holding hands, hugging, feeling unconditional love from someone who isn’t family and having someone to be alone with) I do not miss the doubt and the toxic approach I took to get what I needed to feel complete.

The need to take an active role in my life and define my life by my actions, instead of letting stuff happen. I had the classic victim complex and I was very good at seeing reasons why I couldn’t do want I wanted. I would manufacture road blocks, transfer my feelings onto other people and basically sit on my ass while life was done to me. Oh so much wasted time. Ironically, seeing this pattern years ago, I did nothing about it until I made the conscious choice to remain single. Then, when I started doing things, I really surprised myself by what I was able to do.

A lot of self hatred. I didn’t like myself very much and I think I was trying to kill myself slowly. I was a smoker, I had a poor relationship with food, I stressed about things that didn’t matter and I would destroy anything that was good in my life because I didn’t think I had value or worth. I felt a lot of shame and anger and I blamed myself for everything that didn’t go the way I like. My friends didn’t really notice this, but my parents did and, when I started to realize it, my dad spoke very frankly about how my actions actually made me feel and what they did to him and my mom. (Part of me is very grateful that I had drifted away from my brother during this time because we never had to rebuild our relationship after I destroyed it with my self loathing). My parents stuck by me because that’s what parents do for their children.

Peace. Very, very odd. I noticed that after my trip out east last summer I effectively stopped writing in the journal. There were 3 entries after the trip and the last one was on October 1, 2006 and it concerned the success of a race my bike team entered. In fact, the last 5 or 6 entries are more just reports of events and things that I did. There was no confusion, turmoil or pain. One of them mentions the fact that what I was hoping to find out east was actually within me all along and that I was ready to deal with it. The thing was, once I realized the journey was an internal one, it was over because I knew that whatever I needed to get out of life I could manufacture within myself. All I wanted was to be happy and I can be happy whenever I want and without reason. I did not need another person, another location or another experience to bring it to me, all I needed was the will and it would follow.

My advice to you is that you start a personal development journal and follow the 5 rules. If you are already journaling, take a few hours today to reread what you have written. At worst, you get to see how your writing has improved over the last few years, at best, you’ll see yourself for who you are and finally have the strength to do something about it. Knowledge is power so make the effort to find the knowledge, the quality of your life may depend upon it.

Keeping Your Brain Functioning All Life Long

Imagine reseachers finding out that you can teach an old dog new tricks, uncovering the aging brains ongoing ability to sense, encode and assimilate new information and redevelop previous connection between brain cells to maintain and consolidate knowledge. Well you don’t have imagine because that is what they have found. The Secret To Not Losing Your Marbles by Lianne George of tells you how.

It used to be held as religion among neurology experts that the brain was plastic, or malleable, in our infancy; after that, its infrastructure was set. “Within the last five to 10 years, I used to teach — we all used to teach — that when you’re older, your brain is finished, kaputsky,” says Stuss. “[This idea] was actually the basis of a Nobel Prize that was awarded to two scientists from Harvard — David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel — and it was largely horses–t,” says Merzenich. “Their notion was that the brain developed into mature functionality by the end of this critical period and beyond that period, it was like a computer — every neuron knew what to do.” A person had a finite number of brain cells and once they were gone, they were gone. But if this were true, says Merzenich, how do you account for learning? “You can learn to play the piano if you’re 70 if you really want to, through driving your brain to master that ability. The brain is plastic through a lifetime.You never lose your ability to acquire ability.”

This lifelong ability to adapt, called brain plasticity, and the ability to generate new brain cells, called neurogenesis, are now heralded as the twin pillars of aging smart. Research conducted by Merzinich and others in the ’80s and ’90s was among the first to prove they work. In early studies, they observed the deterioration of aging rats. “They gradually lost their ability to control their paws,” says Merzenich. “They struggled to feed themselves by manipulating food and ultimately, they lost control of hind limbs, dragging them around.” Using brain imaging technologies, scientists found that part of the problem was the poor quality of sensory information the rats were receiving at this stage of life. When the rats were directed to perform certain activities in a particular manner and order, Merzenich and his colleagues found they could help them recuperate their motor skills and prolong their lives by 15 to 20 per cent. “The rats didn’t lose their mobility for an extra three months,” says Merzenich. “And when you looked inside the brain of the rat, you had actually restored substantially the quality of information that was coming from the paw. The point is, these kind of experiments demonstrated that you could take these very old brains — rats, not humans of course — and you could drive them to learn things and acquire new skills.”

As a 34 year old, I’m grateful that this research has come out now while I’m still young enough to do something about it, but the finds are very encouraging for the older generation too, in fact, even more encouraging. I’m active, healthy and still learning, this is one of the most enlighening periods of my life so I’m feeling pretty confident about the present state of my cognitive functioning. The future is bright with technological discoveries so there’s a good chance they’ll come up with something that will help my ailing brain when the time comes. But for older people who have been burned with the “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” stigma, the findings are great news, provided they are willing to invest in getting their brain functioning back. Like most changes, it is going to require effort but while your brain isn’t the sponge it used to be but it will still absorb whatever you immerse it in.

Too Many Lifting And Fitness Tips To Count

4 Days in 15 Minutes A Summary of the 2007 Health & Fitness Summit by Chris Shugart of T-Nation has so many tips in it that you really don’t have a choice but to read it; well, maybe you can attend next years summit.

  • Textbooks are often wrong by the time they’re published. Textbooks are not “evidence.”
  • The body is built to walk 3.5 miles per hour, or about a 17 minute mile.
  • Just 17 minutes of physical activity a day can lead to a pound of fat loss a month.
  • The first step in playing fast is to eliminate excess body fat.
  • Too busy to eat breakfast? Then you’re too busy to be good!
  • Grape juice is just as good as wine when it comes to antioxidants.

This is one of those threads were it pays to read the comments as well. There’s a lot of wisdom there for the taking!

Become An RPM Fitness Instructor – Personal Account

I decided to become a group cycling instructor. I selected Les Mills International’s RPM program. The training consists of 2 8 hour days of practice and lessons. There were about 17 people in the group and we had 2 trainers. There were about 10 people who were already teaching another LMI discipline and there were a couple of cyclists in the class. It was an eclectic bunch of people, not quit random, but very nearly. The only thing we all shared in common was an enjoyment of cycling (indoor or outdoor). The weekend was amazing and I’ll write more about the specifics in another post.

After the training weekend, the real work began. I wasn’t a fitness instructor and before I would be able to teach I needed to find out why I was doing it, how I would know when I was successful, what I expect to get out of it, what I expected out of the participants, what I was trying to bring to the experience that was uniquely me and what was the biggest thing that I needed to work on.

Initially – before I taught a class

  • Why I was doing it? Since I think my purpose is to try and help others actualize some of their potential I thought that was a good reason because many of the participants aren’t as hooked on exercise as I am. When I’m in front of the group, I’m trying to lead them to a place were they find the strength within to work harder than they believed possible, were they move more efficiently than they did before and when they find enjoyment in the physical sensations of working hard were none existed before.
  • What I expected out of it? A free membership and permission to ride the bikes to practice.
  • What I expect out of the participants? To listen to what I say and try to work hard.
  • How do I know when I’ve been successful? I am successful if I deliver the participants to a place where they make the decision to work instead of stopping. I am successful EVEN if they decide to stop because they make the decision. My success is determined by my ability to get them to see that there is a decision.
  • What I bring to instructing that is uniquely me? By teaching with passion I will be giving permission for participants to be better. I have a belief that if people copy what I do in the gym, on the bike and if they eat like I do, they will enjoy the same level of energy and passion that I have. I try to model passion to let them know that there is nothing wrong being good at giving something your all.
  • What do I need to work on? The choreography and knowing the music.

But something happens when you actually do something, you realize what the experience is really like and your reasons for doing it will change. You may still hold on to some of the initially reasons and add to the list, but one thing is certain it will be different once you have lead a class.

Evolving reasons – 1-3 classes

  • Why I was doing it? Once I started doing it, I realized that it’s fun and it feels good because it’s exercise. There is a part of the experience that is immediately gratifying and that is something that I’m going after now. I maintain my initial reason to help people find success, it’s just fun as well.
  • What I expected out of it? To get a bit of a rush from performing and leading the class.
  • What I expect out of the participants? To give me feedback of things I was doing wrong and to fix their form when I coached them.
  • How do I know when I’ve been successful? If any of the participants took my coaching advice or if they were able to follow the flow of the class.
  • What I bring to instructing that is uniquely me? Hopefully someone will see me NOT feeling shame for trying to be better and will join in.
  • What do I need to work on? Voice qualities should match expected perceived exertion. I need to lower my effort because I am working way too hard.

As you gain more experience, you get better at it and can start to focus on improving certain parts of the process. As certain parts of it become automatic (the choreography or form on the bike) the liberated energy is directed to other areas.

Evolving reasons – 4-10 classes

  • Why I was doing it? I do it because it is fun and because it helps people, but now I want to get better at it for the sake of improving. I’m starting to get a feeling that if I pour myself into it with all of my passion I could become very good at it which will increase my chances to do it. The more I can do it, the more fun I’ll have and the greater the impact on other people. I want to be the best at it not to say that I am the best at it but to enjoy the rewards of being the best.
  • What I expected out of it? I’m focusing on delivery now – precuing and cuing and the performance aspects of instructing. I expect these things to improve with each class.
  • What I expect out of the participants? To learn what they view as success and work to achieve it. I’m delivering an experience template, they are filling in the work and determining their effort. I expect them to actually consider the workout in terms of what they can get out of it, how they need to behave to attain it and finding what they need to follow through on these predictions.
  • How do I know when I’ve been successful? I’m feeling comfortable with the template that I’m delivering to the participants so I feel successful when I see the results of their hard work (sweat, breathless states, eye contact and facial expressions that indicate a high level of engagement and effort) and when they give me feedback that indicates that they got something out of it. I will know that my performance is improving when the participants are doing the choreography the same way I am – the precuing and cuing are sufficient to help the participants find the flow of the class.
  • What I bring to instructing that is uniquely me? The understanding that I need to be seen as vulnerable by some of the participant. I had the realization that I am a lot fitter and better at RPM than 95% of the people who take the class, so a little dorkiness in the presentation is going to endure me as an instructor.
  • What do I need to work on? Lowering my effort level. I’m still working too hard. I’m very nervous before each class and have learned to direct that energy into working hard. It’s hurting my ability to connect and communicate with the participants.

What now? Well, I record and submit my video to get my certification. I start teaching my own class on Saturday mornings starting in April. I’ll try to create interest in group cycling at club so they offer more classes and I get to teach more. I’ll start to bring more of myself into the classes and try to create a community of cyclist at the club so I’ll have people to ride and train with this summer.

One thing that is certain, RPM is becoming part of my goals and it’s going to be interesting to see how they evolve as I actualize some my potential.