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Fit for Life: No Medals for Almost Winning

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Stop with the excuses and get fit today.

“Getting to the gym is half the battle.” “Lacing up your sneakers is the toughest part.” “At least I am trying.” “I eat well most of the time.” “I joined, a gym so I took the first step.” “I work out when I have time.” Are these catchy sayings, or are these just copouts for people justifying their inability to succeed at achieving their fitness goals? If you are reading this, or have been following my column, it means that you care enough about yourself, and have good intentions, but good intentions without discipline and follow through, will achieve nothing. If you have the desire to strive and be fit, but aren't seeing results, keep reading and you might find out why.

Setting goals

I have a few sayings myself that may leave a few of you thinking I am a little harsh, such as: “you won't get a medal for finishing fourth”. Referring to Olympians that train hard for four years, and finish a fraction of a second from the podium. They worked hard and competed, but the reality of it is that effort isn't enough, and you will only get rewarded if you complete your mission. I use this saying for people that tell me they eat well most of the time, but still can't lose the last few pounds, because they like to party on the weekends. They tend to get frustrated when I criticize the things they do wrong, instead of giving them credit because they ate a salad on Wednesday! Sorry, I don't make the rules, I just know how to follow them, and the rule is - if you cheat too much with your eating, and drink lots of alcohol, your results will stall, if not regress. When people over 40 say things like, “hey, I look pretty good for my age”, or, “I look better than most people my age”, they are just comparing themselves to the masses of people that do less than they do, or look worse than they do, and that is not setting the bar high enough.

Let's face it - statistically only 15% of the population care about themselves enough to work out. And the obesity rate is climbing to 30% of the population. So what does this tell you about most of the population? If you want to set goals, set them using people that look like they are 20 years younger than they are, and look at their practices, instead of watching the co-worker that eats donuts, and thinking you are better for eating a muffin. Look at the co-worker that packs her own healthy lunch, or the guy that takes the stairs. Talk to the fittest people around you and ask them what they do for workouts, and how they stay in shape. Just don’t stay one step ahead of an average sedentary adult. Aim higher.

“We strive for perfection, but we will never reach it, because nobody’s perfect, but for trying, we will achieve greatness” ~ Vince Lombardi.

Take action

I know being perfect is impossible, but I am not a believer in rewarding mediocrity, and words mean nothing unless followed by a course of action. I got frustrated with someone when they told me they were trying to eat better, and when I called them out on the bottle of soda in their kitchen, I was informed that it was diet soda, so I read the long list of chemicals on the label, but before I finished an argument erupted, as if I was the one who made the soda. This is a person close to me, who knows and listens to me preach about food all the time, yet still justifies eating food that causes harm to the body. So if you know something is not good for you, or has excessive calories, yet you still find ways to justify eating it (it was my friend’s birthday) then you are fooling yourself and hindering your progress. I realize that it is a fine line between telling the reality of things, and sounding too critical, but sugar coating (pun intended) things and giving high fives for attempting, talking about, or thinking about doing something, isn’t going to help someone succeed. In todays world, “almost” isn’t going to cut it, when you stay up all night attempting to reach a deadline and fail, you will probably lose your job, rather than getting a pat on the back for trying, especially if money is lost. Joining the gym isn’t going to get you in shape. Yes it is the first step, but there are many steps you need to take to get and remain healthy. You must decide to, and then proceed to make it a lifestyle. You cannot and will not reach a certain level of health and fitness, doing it part time. Taking care of yourself requires work, knowledge and effort, and you need to pay attention to details, such as eating quality foods, and meal frequency. In other words, eating at an unhealthy food truck once a day isn’t going to do it, even if you workout after. When you see someone that looks great and has lots of positive energy, it isn’t because they do things 1/2 way, it took desire, drive and discipline. When you want to make a lot of money, and be successful, you would surround yourself with like people, and not compare your current level, or surround yourself with unsuccessful people, and the same goes for your fitness. Try to surround yourself with fit likeminded people.

It's up to you

We are all different in many different ways - personality, income, power, intelligence, etc. But a couple of things that make us the same is that we are all given the exact same 24 hours at the beginning of the day, and how you spend it is entirely up to you. Some will waste most of to in front of a TV. Some will let it slide by while sitting in a cubicle. Some will spend it sick in bed, some will make lots of money, some will smoke cigarettes, drink and gamble, and some will wake and be productive from the minute their feet hit the floor, by doing things that improve their quality of life, benefit their health, and do the things that will enable them to feel good and be happy. I am a believer that if anyone else can do something, others can also. Nothing is impossible if you invest a little hard work and discipline, and you set goals for yourself. So if you hit a plateau with your fitness, sit back and make an honest assessment of yourself, and try to improve any way you can.

The other common denominator all humans have is an expiration date. Although all are different, very few know when it is, and I am an advocate of quality over quantity. My definition of a quality life is feeling good, infrequently getting sick, moving without pain, and enjoying the things you love to do. These things alone make me want to be fit and healthy and encourage others to do so by spreading the word and educating my audience. It is my nature to have a no-nonsense approach, so if you find me harsh, consider it tough love.


Matt Espeut has worked as a personal trainer for almost 20 years with clients ranging in age from 14 to 86. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning. Holistic health and nutrition is the cornerstone of all his programs. Matt works in private and small group training available at your home or office location or at gym facilities. Matt offers his services to everyone wanting to be more fit and healthy, overweight young people, youth/collegiate athletes, and seniors. Matt has worked and continues to train at several facilities in the Providence area including Gold's Gym and CORE Studio, and he believes continued education is a must in his field. Email Matt: [email protected], check out his website at http://www.fitnessprofiles.net or on Facebook at Matt Espeut or on Twitter @MattEspeut.


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