“So What” – A Mantra for Strength

You’ve come to me, your Fitness Coach, with some big goals in mind. I’m happy to help you accomplish those goals. But, it’s important that you don’t stand in your own way. You have the potential to be your own worst enemy. Your harshest criticism will come from the mirror, not your friends. We emotionally abuse ourselves. If you don’t believe me, how often have you said something to/about yourself that you’d never want to hear from a lover or friend? When I broke my foot on a run, I replayed alternate outcomes of the scenario on a non-stop loop in my head. “If I only I had…” “But, what if I turned right…” In times like that, I’m forced to remember that I don’t use the words “should have”. When spoken in that order, those words are dangerous. How many times have you become upset with yourself and used those words? “I should have worked out today!” “I should have performed better in that race.” Using those words leads down a rabbit hole of regret. Those regrets lead to bad decisions. “I should have worked out today. That’s ok, I’ll just workout twice as hard and twice as long tomorrow!” Please don’t do that. Choosing to double-up your workouts to compensate for unplanned off days will only lead to fatigue and a potential injury. The other danger of ‘should have’ comes when life places an obstacle in the way of your training. If you are ever forced to take a break from the sport that you love the most, you will survive. When you get back into that sport, avoid the ‘should have’ state of mind. “I should have kept at it.”

Be, especially, careful to avoid the ‘used tos’. “I used to be able to do this faster, better, stronger.” Sometimes, you will feel like your training hits a plateau. Sometimes, you’ll feel like your training has taken several steps back or that you’ve lost momentum. If any of the aforementioned challenges swing your way, I’d like to introduce the two most important words in the mental game of your training. So what. Clients often tell me what they were able to lift in high school. So what. Friends often talk about how active they were a few years ago. So what. Regulars often tell me that they’ve lost a step. So what. “Jet! You’re being insensitive. I just want to tell you about how awesome the past was. I just want to share some ‘remember when’ monologue, baby!” So what. Be here. Be aware. Do the work. Embrace the moment. You’ll miss what’s happening now if you continue to remember when. So, the next time that your training partner wants to tell you about how awesome their climbing skills were last year or how much they will be able to lift next year, remind them that work must be done today, before anything else matters. Are you going to let any PR from your past degrade your present efforts? Are you going to be your own source of emotional abuse by lamenting about getting slower or weaker? I hope not. I hope that when you think about your high school long jump record that you follow the thought with the phrase, so what.

When we use our past experiences for reference notes on what not to do, that’s wise. When we use our past experiences as an excuse to doubt our abilities today, that’s detrimental to our success. “Jet! I used to be the man on the court!” So what. We are here now in the present. Pleasant memories of your past physical strengths won’t serve you. Here’s what will serve you. During that next mirror conversation, as you appreciate your body beautiful make a statement. “I am here. This is now. I know that work needs to be done in order to reach my fitness goals. Part of that work is letting go of the past and choosing not to live in the future.” We are here. This is now. Work must be done, in this moment. The results will come.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying that setting goals and visualizing that future accomplishment is a bad thing. What I am saying is that getting lost in those days of future past can be another form of criticism that will not serve you or your efforts to grow stronger. Focus on the present. File the rest under SO WHAT and Giddyup!

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Uplift Your Fellow Human (Instead of Judging)

Good morning, Friends! Call it a comeback. I haven’t been here for months. Consider this a gritty reboot (sarcasm intended) of Jet Noir Weekly. Thank you for your patience. Going forward, blogs will be posted on the 7s of the month. They will be no longer than 750 words. (I stopped writing for a while because I was convinced that no one reads anymore. People only forward/share blogs to prove/argue a point.) Many of the posts will be old blogs re-imagined until I can get back into the habit of writing fresh material. I once wrote a blog about how “everyone has their January” as in everyone starts somewhere. January in the fitness industry is overflowing with newbies. I chose to write a piece reminding the experienced people to be kind to the inexperienced and to help them out. You know, because they were once newbies and needed help. As I reimagine that message, I want to write this reminder to everyone that judgment of another person is toxic behavior. It’s human nature to be critical of the traits we see in others that we dislike about ourselves. So, while we are our own toughest critics, we tend to criticize others based on our own self-doubt. This is why body shaming has little to do with the recipient. The person that talks the shit sees the shit when they look in the mirror. The same can be said for abilities. Laughing at someone for their inability to do a push-up? There’s a good chance that your push-up form is shit. (There’s also a chance that you’re just an asshole.)

Here’s what I propose, the next time you catch yourself critiquing someone’s ability, question your right to criticize. Are you flawless in that maneuver? If not, shut it down! If yes, then perhaps you could offer some help. Unsolicited advice is a dangerous thing to offer because you may receive an adverse response. However, if you approach with kindness, humility, and await excited consent to deliver the advice, you may just help someone out and create the foundation of a friendship.

There’s a trend I’ve noticed among women who have suffered through partners/lovers that were inept kissers. I hear the complaints about the bad kisser and I ask, “Did you tell them?” Often, the response is something of the “it’s not my job to teach them how to kiss” variety. Well, whose job is it? What if it wasn’t a job/chore/task of yours? Instead, what if it was as simple as you being empowered to ask for what you wanted? Society (I’m including myself in that group) has done a stellar job of socializing women to not ask for what they want. It may be due to the fear of male fragility and a violent response. It may be because of years of being talked over by people in positions of privilege. It can be a number of things. But, what would kisses feel like if you (anyone, not just women) asked for what you wanted? Let’s help each other out.

I love baseball. When I was in high school, there were Baseball tryouts. I went to the coach, before the tryouts, and asked him, “what if I’m not sure if I can play, I’ve never played.” He just laughed at me and walked away. I never went to those tryouts. Not because I was afraid, because I didn’t want him as my coach. In a lot of environments (not just fitness), there will be a lot of people trying out for the team. Many of them are not sure what to do or how to play. Imagine a world wherein we all made an effort to express compassion and patience with those who needed help. Who knows, we might find an all-star in the crowd. As a fitness coach, I’ll never laugh at someone that wants to try out. I’m happy to support the person working hardest to bring up the rear. Let’s all agree to help each other out.