Monday, January 29, 2007

Working to Failure Has Its Costs, Benefits

One week ago I (Rich) started what I call my 40 Day “Fail Your Way to Fitness” Challenge (see last week’s blog for details). Well, working to failure has its benefits… and its cost. First, the benefits.

Apparently, I have lost weight. I say “apparently” because (per the rules) I did a blind weigh in and was not allowed to see the results. But Andrea says they were stellar (see scale photo that Andrea has inserted in the blog). As with most diets, I can feel the difference but can not yet see it in the mirror yet. And when trying on my suit I can see I still have a long way to go. But progress is being made!

To stay within the rules of not being “results” oriented (focusing only on behaviors and working to “failure”) here’s how I changed my workouts. Typically I would count the number of “reps” as I lifted weights. Instead, I simply started lifting and repeating the mantra, “Work to failure! Work to failure!” As such, I have NO IDEA how many reps I did on each machine. I only know the following…

1) I did more reps than I would have done otherwise, and with heavier weight.
2) I hurt like hell.

To be specific, I can barely lift my left arm (having irritated an old rotator-cuff injury) and every thing else, hurts, too! But I can honestly say that the five times I went to the gym last week were the five best workouts I’ve had in a year, including previous workouts with a personal trainer.

So… the approach is clearly working. I am working to failure. I am destroying muscle (perhaps too much!) And I am going to stick with it. March 4th (the date I need to be in my suit) is rapidly approaching, and I know I can’t think myself thin – and, as it is with every other worthwhile achievement in life – I will have to work.

More next week!

Monday, January 22, 2007

40 Day Fail My Way to Success Fitness Challenge

It’s Richard here, and okay… I admit it – I am an over-eater! Always have been (my nickname in the fifth grade was “Chub-Chub”) and if past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, I probably always will be.

This is not to say that I’ve given up on my life-long personal quest to get in shape. To the contrary – my thoughts (now that I’m in my 50’s) about the ability of my vessel (my body) to take on the rest of life’s journey have been increasingly health-oriented. But, for right now, my immediate quest is simply to get in my favorite black Hart Schaffner & Marx suit!

Like a bear who has stored up for winter hibernation, I’ve packed on a few pounds during the holidays. But looking at my speaking calendar I discover an important (and rapidly appraoching!) engagement on March 4th that will be video taped for an upcoming DVD product. And while I am aware of the need to reduce calorie intake, I also must acknowledge that my eating habits will probably not change (at least not significantly). So I’m turning to the gym and making exercise the key to my weight-loss quest.

The problem with this plan is that at the gym I see the same people there every time I go… sometimes for years… and they never seem to make any progress! They “workout” 3-5 times a week, and yet they never seem to change (maybe you’re one of them, I know I am!) The question is: Why? Why is it that we workout and yet the work doesn’t seem to pay off? The answer, I’ve come to understand, is that we’re not working to failure – we’re working to the edge of failure… sometime just short of it… but not to it.

And that’s where the magic happens! I’ve come to discover, through the guidance of Laurie, our gym’s personal trainer and resident fitness expert, that muscle is built through the process of tearing it down – destroying it, in a sense – and then allowing it to “repair” through the process of scarring over, which is how muscle is actually built. But most people simply work to the level where they’re just tired… to the edge of failure… but not to failure and exhaustion where muscle is actually destroyed and then repaired and grown.

So, combining my expertise in failing your way to success in sales with my video taping deadline, I intend to fail my way to muscle-building and weight-loss success by going on a personal 40 Day “Fail My Way to Fitness” Challenge. And, using the concepts we teach people in our breakthrough performance workshops, here are the rules I’ve set for myself:

For the next 40 days (January 22-March 2) I will…

1) Exercise to “failure”… to the point where I cannot run any more or do another weight-lifting rep (as opposed to simply treadmilling for 20 minutes or doing three sets of 12 reps in weight lifting)
2) Not weigh myself during the entire 40 day period, but will put my entire focus on simply engaging in the BEHAVIOR of exercising to FAILURE
3) Not count my calories! Yes, I will work hard at eating a reasonable diet, but calorie-counting is OUT!

But to make the process interesting for those who are following my progress, I will engage in what we’ll call BLIND WEIGH-INS where I’ll get on the scale blind-folded, with Andrea noting the weight and entering it into this blog (I promise not to look!)
To get into my suit I must get under 210 pounds. My starting weight (as you can see from my “weigh-in” scale photo) is 235½ pounds, so there’s a lot of failing to be done. (Also, a photo of me with the aforementioned suit appears below). Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Go Paula

Last night on American Idol (yes, of course we watched again) there was a wonderful interchange between a contestant and the judges.

Thomas, the contestant, had just shared two pieces of his story; one, he had slept behind a row of dumpsters the night before because he had nowhere to stay, and two, this was his third time auditioning for the show (he never got past the “screeners” on his prior attempts).

Randy then says, “So you know what this means, right?” Thomas said, “Yeah! Third time’s a charm!” Randy said, “Or it’s your third NO and you’re out!” Then, a great thing happened. Paula turned to Randy and said, “Randy, if we quit after our third NO, we wouldn’t be sitting here.” Oh, yeah… this time Thomas is going to Hollywood (dog!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Going for No on American Idol

Our "go for no" philosophy was none more evident than on American Idol last night. Okay yes we admit it, we do watch the show. The fifth? sixth? whatever season began yesterday and the truth is we don't watch a lot of TV but we will watch Idol.

It reminded us that auditions are the breeding grounds of "No." A lot of No's were handed out last night on American Idol. Rejections are commonplace in the world of show business. Your favorite working actors are getting rejected still, all the time. It's par for the course.

In fact, in the February issue of BestLife, actor Jeremy Piven is interviewed and says, "The average person would never be able to take this much rejection... you have to understand the journey can be so brutal at times and there's so much rejection that weeds out people." And we say the more rejection, the more you are willing to hear "no" and move on, the greater your changes for ultimate success.

The reality is that a lot of the people told "no" on American Idol deserved to hear it. Yet, even on last season, Simon Cowell told the winner of the entire competition (Taylor Hicks) that there was no way he would make it to the final round. So, the question is who should quit? The bottom line is that for each and every one of us there is a unique formula and it relies on (in varying amounts) things like: talent, some timing and luck, and always the willingness to keep going forward, to fail our way to success.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Behavior Is How You Get There

To reward ourselves for a successful year, Andrea and I attend the New Year’s Eve bash at the Lucia, a small boutique hotel in downtown Portland. While relaxing in the room prior to dinner, I watch Bobby Knight – the storied and often controversial coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders college basketball team – record his Division I record 800th win.

The fact that Bobby Knight got to 880 wins to surpass Dean Smith of North Carolina is not the point of this story – after all, Knight has coached for 41 years, and Smith got his 879 wins in only 36 years. What makes this event worthy of attention is the interview conducted immediately after the win. With cheering fans in the background, Knight stands with a female reporter at center court, and the interviewer asks the question you’d expect in a situation like this: “So, you just set the record for most wins. How do you feel, coach?” What’s unexpected is Knight’s response. Without hesitation, Bobby Knight replies: “I don’t like how we played in the second half.”

Pay close attention here, because in this answer is on of the great secrets of success, which is: To get results, you must focus on behaviors. The result of the game? A record 880th win. The concern? Behavior. Not the score (the result) but how they played (the behavior.) Because Knight knows that the wins only manifest themselves BECAUSE of the behavior. And Knight knows something else, even though this goes unsaid: Talking about the result of the game that has just concluded is to take his eye off the ball. Because the very act of focusing on how they played… his team’s behavior… is to focus on something that will affect the next game, and that’s where Bobby Knight’s thoughts have already turned. He’s analyzing what his players did… how they behaved… because in Knight’s mind he knows the score is ALWAYS a reflection of his players behaviors.

Yes, winning is important. But in the world of Bobby Knight and all other record-breaking performers, behavior is how you get there.

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