Do you need to do cardio for fat loss?

When it comes to losing weight, most people imagine that they need to get on a cardio machine for hours at a time. If you walk into a gym at any time during the Spring season, especially before spring break at colleges, you’ll see tons of people running their butts off on treadmills.

Now that science and training have progressed, the common question is if people still need to do cardio to get that shredded body.

The short answer is no, you don’t get cardio to get a lean physique.

However, there are some things you should think about before you add it into your routine or cut it out completely.

How do you prefer to workout?

Knowing how you like to lift and exercise is essential to staying consistent in the gym. For myself, I’m not the biggest fan of cardio, but I do like to add it in for the mental clarity it gives me. Weights are my bread and butter at the gym, but there’s something so calming about doing cardio every now and then.

Most people, however, are not as obsessed with cardio as they are when they’re trying to lose weight.

If you dread cardio, you can keep in mind that it’s not essential. If you like cardio, you can keep it in your routine.

If you don’t like a type of exercise, you’re far more likely to quit. When I was training clients at my gym in college, the biggest thing was finding exercises they enjoyed instead of exercises I tried to force them to enjoy. I mean, some things were necessary (PLEASE STRETCH YOUR HIP FLEXORS, EVERYONE.), but for the most part, they were more likely to keep going if they enjoyed it.

Know that most people who look shredded lift weights

Cardio, while it has tremendous benefits for your heart, will rarely get you that ripped physique you’re imagining in your mind.

Fun activity: go to Google and search for “marathon runners vs sprinters”.

I’d bet a lot of money that the body you most likely have in mind as “goals” looks closer to the sprinter than the marathon runner. Most marathon runners are thin and don’t have a lot of muscles, because having a huge frame over long distances is not beneficial. (Also that much cardio will deplete a lot of your muscles.)

NOTE: I’m not saying all cardio will make you some small, tiny human that as lost all their muscles. A lot of bodybuilder bros are scared of cardio for that reason. It takes INCREDIBLE amounts of cardio over extended periods of time to hurt your muscles that much. Doing a handful of cardio to lose some weight is not going to take your six-pack and turn it into sludge overnight.

With that being said, cardio is not the most efficient way to lose weight.

Anyone who has done cardio and weight training knows that weight training can be far more strenuous. Yes, when you’re starting to get back into the gym, you’ll burn a ton of calories because your body is not an efficient machine yet.

Our bodies were designed to adapt quickly, so over time you need to make your cardio longer and more strenuous in order to receive the same benefits.

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After exercise benefits of cardio vs weight training

Current studies show that weight training helps your body burn more calories for the rest of the day (up to 38 hours!) after one good session. Sprinting is much closer to weight lifting, but rarely are people doing sprints in the gym.

When it comes to weight training, the more muscle you have, the higher your basic calorie maintenance needed to maintain that weight increases.

While building muscle takes time, if you stay consistent with it you’re going to see more benefits over the long term than you would with cardio.

Put simply, when you do cardio, your body becomes more efficient and you have to work harder. With weight lifting, your body becomes stronger and you burn more calories each day.

That’s not to say weight lifting is some easy thing you can breeze through and that it’s not hard, but the long-term benefits when it comes to weight loss are better.

When to use cardio

One reason I like to add in cardio when I’m losing weight is that I’m personally not a fan of sacrificing food to dropdown.

Every human has a certain amount of calories they need to maintain their weight every single day. This is called their basal metabolic rate.

To lose weight, you need to drop your total daily calories burned below that number. You can do this by either cutting your food below that line or increasing your exercise every single day.

I’m not saying that simply adding in cardio will remove the need for restricting food completely, but I am saying that between the two choices, I’m going to work out harder.

However, if you’re a person who is not as emotionally attached to food and cutting out your extra calories in the day through your diet doesn’t sound so bad, then you can go that route.

When you see the scale starting to get stubborn, adding in a dose of cardio here and there can help you move the needle again. A future article will be coming out on what to do when the scale gets stubborn, but for now all you need to know is that cardio can be a good tool on top of a solid program, but it shouldn’t be the entire basis of your program.

Types of cardio to consider

With all that being said, cardio is undoubtedly great for your heart. Just avoiding it completely to curl weights is not a good long-term strategy, either.

While just hopping on the treadmill or elliptical is the most common forms of cardio, there are some other types to consider:
Swimming – Swimming is considerably easier on the joints than running, especially on your knees.
HIIT – This is called high-intensity interval training and is essentially where you train at a high intensity (usually with weights) for short sprints at a time. For example, medicine ball throws against a wall for multiple rounds of 30-second spurts.
Team sports – when we’re younger, most of our parents sign us up for team sports. Whether you enjoyed it or not is one thing, but as an adult, they’re 10x more fun. Keep in mind, a lot of adult team sports include drinking, so that could easily damage your fitness goals, but there’s no doubt that keeping that competitive spirit alive can be a lot of fun.

That’s pretty much all you need to know. Cardio, just like other forms of exercise, can be a tool to help you hit your goals. It’s not an end-all-be-all to weight loss, so if you think you need to slave over your treadmill while watching GOT reruns, you can breathe easy knowing there are other ways.

Home Gym vs Gym Membership

When it comes to getting in shape, there are a million ways to approach it. Two of the most popular choices are to either get a gym membership or to invest in a home gym. Both of these are strong options and for a lot of us, the ideal place is to have a blend of both, but that’s not always an option.

If you’ve been weighing the options between getting a home gym or spending the money to join a local gym, there are few things you should know about the pros and cons of each so you can make the best decision.

Home Gym Pros

The biggest difference between a home gym and a gym membership is that you’ll have to pay your expenses up front to get all the equipment. A gym membership often costs less up front, but you’re simply renting the space and the equipment and never get to take it with you. However, if you decide to do bodyweight exercises or use light weights, it shouldn’t cost much at all.

Weather doesn’t matter as much

If you live in a place that gets snow, you know how hard it can be to make it to the gym on those freezing, snowy days. Sometimes even the roads are closed making getting to the gym even harder. The benefit of having your own gym at home is that you don’t need to worry about the weather since you’re already there. The only time you’d have to worry about it is if you have your home gym in an area that doesn’t have climate control (like a lot of garages, for example).

Listen to your own music

Listening to your own music is one of the best features of a home gym. No shade to commercial gyms, but a lot of them have questionable music or just not my preferred genre. Of course, at commercial gyms you can just bring your own headphones, but it’s nice to have the option.

Don’t need to worry about gym hours

Some gyms have weird hours. If you’re a person who likes to fit in a good workout before you head off to your job, it’s nice to be able to wake up and just workout at any time you want.

Home Gym Cons

Home is for relaxing

Sometimes the nice part about a gym membership is that you have to leave the comfort of your home to go workout. That can be a good motivator, especially since most of our homes tend to be a relaxing environment.

Equipment can be wildly expensive

Everything you buy you’ll have to move around. The benefit of a gym membership is that it’s up to to the gym to maintain, store, and move the equipment.

Not enough weight variety

Typically, a gym membership will give you more equipment variety and options when it comes to machines, weights, and options to use. If you’re just looking to stay active, that’s not really a big deal. However, if you’re into things like bodybuilding, that can be a huge hindrance to your progress.

Gym Membership Pros

Keep in mind, not all gyms are the same. There are CrossFit gyms, huge commercial chain gyms, local gyms, yoga studios, and so on. The average gym membership is $30-$50, but some smaller ones can run much higher.

Better options

Most gyms have more equipment than you could buy to fit in your home. They’ll have different machines, bands, chains, weights, and so on that would take up a ton of space in your home.

Maintenance and cleaning

It’s nice to not have to worry about cleaning any equipment or keeping it maintained. The staff at the gym have to do that and you just come in to use it. Things like squat racks have to be

Gym Membership Cons

Expensive

Some smaller gyms can be expensive, depending on how big the city you live in is. It’s a recurring charge every month and depending on how tight your budget is, sometimes it simply doesn’t make sense. Some people are better off financially to just buy a cheap set of weights from a garage sale and start that way. I’d never sit here and say someone HAS to have a gym membership, especially if it’s going to put you in a tougher place with your money.

Crowds

If you have anxiety or don’t like to be around a lot of people, the crowds at a gym, especially during the busy hours, can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting to work out, being around a ton of people and feeling like you’re taking up space or getting in their way can be enough to keep people out of the gym forever.

How to decide

If you’re still on the fence, one good way is to try and do bodyweight exercises at home. If you find it hard to get motivated when you’re at home, get a guest pass/trial membership at a gym. Most gyms will give community members a free day (or even up to a week) to test out the space and see if it’s a good fit. You’ll want to do this before joining any gym since it can be hard to tell if you’ll like it or not before trying it.

Pre JYM Review

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Pre-workout is one of the best things to help people get through a workout. However, a lot of the ones on the market simply give you a caffeine or sugar buzz but don’t actually do anything to enhance your workouts. Pre JYM is different. It not only gives you the energy you need to sustain your grueling workout, but it also is full of benefits to help you get the most out of your workouts.

The benefit of Pre JYM

Pre JYM is formulated by Dr. Jim Stoppani. He worked as the science editor at Muscle and Fitness for a decade and also, you know, casually holds a PhD in exercise physiology with a minor in biochemistry. He also served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Yale University School of Medicine. So, just easy degrees. HA.

Right away, you need to know that one of the biggest benefits of this pre workout is the lack of a crash after taking it. With most pre workouts, you drink them and then an hour or two later you’re face-down on your couch because the buzz wore off. You won’t feel shaky and tingly from this workout. That’s not the point of a pre workout anyway. A quality pre workout is designed to give you all the nutrients your muscles need to get the most out of your workout, not make you feel like a tweaker.

Unlike other supplement companies out there, JYM doesn’t use proprietary blends. That means you know exactly what’s in every product you buy instead of some secret amount.

This can hurt you because there are certain ingredients that need to be in a pre workout, but you’ll never know if you’re getting the right dose. That’s just a waste of money.

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Ingredients and benefits

Although there are more ingredients than these ones, they are the most important:

  • 6 G of citrulline malate: helps with muscle endurance and muscle pump
  • 6 G of BCAA’s: helps reduce muscle fatigue and helps increase muscle growth
  • 2 G of creatine HCl and 2 G of beta-alanine: helps with strength, endurance, and muscle growth
  • 300 mg of caffeine
  • 1 G of taurine: helps improve focus and reduce jittery feelings

Read the full list: here.

Jim has mentioned multiple times how it’s scientifically impossible for these other brands to have such small scoops in their pre workouts if they wanted to fit in all the ingredients that are in Pre JYM.

Most pre workouts do not also include BCAA’s, so if you’re a person who has been buying both, you’re going to get a deal by using Pre JYM instead.

Taste of Pre JYM

I haven’t personally tried all the flavors of Pre JYM, but here’s a run-down on the ones I have tried and my thoughts:

Raspberry Lemonade – This was the first Pre JYM flavor I ever tried and I thought it was delicious.

Rainbow Sherbert – hands-down my favorite flavor of all the options. It surprisingly tastes like sherbert ice cream and is so good. It’s also really smooth and doesn’t have any aftertaste unlike some others (especially other brands of pre-workouts).

Refreshing Melon – This flavor is good, but it has a really strong sugar flavor. It doesn’t have the same smoothness and feels pretty thick. If you do get it, be sure to put it in a bigger container so there’s extra water.

Considerations when using Pre JYM

When you first put it in your shaker bottle, you need to let it sit for 15 minutes. This gives everything a chance to break down for easy digestion.

You’ll also want to shake up the bottle before you scoop it out.

A lot of people have stomach issues with Pre JYM and this is the solution to that. Unless you simply cannot take the caffeine in it, in which case you should use his Post JYM matrix since it has what you need without the energy boost.

There’s no doubt that it’s more expensive than some of the other options on the market, but in my opinion, it’s well worth the price tag.

How I use Pre JYM

Personally, I only use a half scoop for my pre workout. Sometimes I add another scoop of the Post JYM to make sure I’m getting everything I need. I have a pretty high caffeine tolerance but this tests it. (Also, when I’m on a budget, this helps me spread it out.)

The focus with this pre workout is unlike anything else I’ve ever had. Even on a bad day, it’s easy for me to stay in the gym longer instead of getting tired and cutting it short. I always have such clarity when I’m in there that I bring my notebook and jot down work and side-hustle to do’s and ideas.

I recommend Pre JYM to everyone I talk to so they can enjoy the benefits and get the most out of each and every workout. You could even sip it on a hot day for added energy or bring it with you to drink during a hike or sports game.

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon

Buy it on Bodybuilding.com

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Disclaimer: Jackie Pearce is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Before You Quit Your Fitness Plan, Read This

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The hardest part of any fitness plan isn’t the lifting and the diets.

The hardest part is staying consistent. Actually following through with your plan until the end.

We all start out with high hopes. We go grocery shopping to prep, we get out our favorite fitness outfits, maybe even splurge on new shoes…. but two weeks in we’re stuck.

This is where the excitement falls off, the pounds aren’t falling off as fast as they were, you’re sore often, and you’d rather go back to your old habits.

This is when you need to call in the reinforcements.

This process will help you analyze what you’re doing and get extra help where you need it.

Do you even like it?

I have always been a strong believer in doing workouts that bring people joy. I love lifting weights. It’s where I excel, it makes my body feel good, and it’s something I can stick with.

If I had to run, however, I would quit all the time. Running doesn’t bring me any joy and I would avoid it at all costs.

Look at your current plan. Is there something about it that you hate doing? Something that you find boring? Something that you dread doing? Then simply stop doing it.

Now, this doesn’t mean you get to just stop working out. For everything you take off, you have to find a replacement. If you don’t run, then do you like hiking? Or swimming?

What is your end goal?

Just working out for the sake of working out is not something most people can do. Yes, once you’ve gotten in the habit, it’s so much easier to keep it going, but building the habit requires more than that to keep you going.

You need to spend the time to find your greater WHY.

I’m not saying you need to find your life’s purpose (although it’s never a bad idea to spend time reflecting on that), but you need to find a reason to stay active.

Maybe you have an upcoming vacation that requires you to be active.
Maybe you’re trying to get off some medication.
Maybe you have an age milestone coming up.

There are a lot of reasons, but just going to the gym to “feel good” is rarely a good enough reason for most people. I trained a lot of people when I worked at a gym, and although it sounds nice to have that as a reason, it’s rarely enough.

Going to the gym and your diet is no easy feat. You need a stronger purpose to pull you through those hard times when you want to throw in the towel.

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Put a carrot at the end of the stick

The problem most people fall into is that they reward themselves before they finish a program. They buy new shoes, new workout gear, a fancy watch that calculates their calories.

Instead, you need to start putting these things after you finish.

Humans are simple creatures. We love rewards after hard work.

If your boss is going to give you a raise after a project, you’ll work hard on that project. If he gives it to you beforehand, you’re not going to work as hard on the project as you would if you got it at the end.

This is why trophies are given at the end of games. You need to prove yourself first, then get your reward.

Pick something you want really bad (whether it’s fitness related or not). Make that your reward by following through with your current goals.

If you don’t hit your goals, you don’t get the prize, it’s that simple.

I have found through the years that combining a deeper why with a fun gift is a great combination to keep people focused, motivated, and excited to workout. With some of my clients, if they were low on motivation or feeling extra tired one day, I’d make them visualize the thing they wanted. What it would be like to own it, use it, look at it. Really picture it.

It sounds materialistic, yes, but sometimes, when motivation is low, it’s hard to feel connected to that deeper “why”. Visualizing yourself playing a video game you want is much easier for our brains to imagine than something like climbing a mountain when you’re still 100 lbs. overweight.

Fighting the external forces

This part is hard to write, but it needs to be addressed.

Sometimes the hardest part of sticking with a fitness routine is the forces around you pushing you to quit.

Sometimes this looks like an unsupportive friend, family member, partner, spouse, co-workers, or someone else you’re close to.

And frankly? I don’t have any answers for this. All I can do is share my experience.

In my early 20’s, when I first fell in love with the gym during college, I used to work out at midnight. I’d go to 24-Hour Fitness, lift for an hour, and then soak in the hot tub/sauna for about 30 minutes. That means I’d be done and sleeping by about 2:30 am. My mother hated this. It’s not even like I kept coming home at that time and would wake her up (a valid reason to be annoyed), she just thought it was unhealthy.

She’d repeatedly tell me for months about how bad it was to work out at night. It took years and research for her to finally stop bringing it up.

The only thing I could do was power through and keep going. I had a gym buddy at the time who was always waiting for me, which was a huge reason I was able to make it. I had someone to be accountable to.

This is me extending my sympathy to people who have someone like a spouse who doesn’t support their new healthy lifestyle.

Just keep in mind, that a lot of these fears stem from the fact that they’re worried you’re going to get more attractive and leave them or find someone else.

If you’ve been in one habit or routine for years, switching it up out of nowhere is making them nervous.

I do have one huge tip though: NEVER TELL YOUR PARTNER THEY SHOULD JOIN YOU.

Nothing sets off arguments like a spouse telling the other one they could lose some weight or that they “should” go to the gym. DO NOT BE THIS DUMB.

If they want to join on their own, great! But never ever suggest it. Instead, encourage them to start putting time into a hobby they want to do and commit to helping them make time for it.

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Track your progress in multiple ways

Just tracking your progress by the number on the scale is a horrible way to get a bigger picture.

There are a million reasons that your body could have a different scale number than what you think it should.

Instead, keep track in a variety of ways. Maybe you get a calendar and put a big X through the days you drink enough water or stretch. That way you create a nice long chain throughout the month you don’t want to break.

Take pictures of your body. Pictures are SO helpful. Even if the scale doesn’t seem to be moving, you can visually see how your body is changing.

Measure parts of your body. This way you know what’s growing and what’s shrinking. Even if you can’t see the gains, measurements don’t lie. For me, it helps a lot to see that I’m gaining size on my little chicken legs, and that’s something the scale can’t tell me.

Try all these things before you throw in the towel on your new fitness plan. Never forget that the mental strength is the most important strength of all.

What helps YOU stay on track? I’d love to know in the comments!

Lessons from Black Widow on Creating A Better Life

Throughout all of the Avenger movies, we learn that Black Widow is forever haunted by what she calls the “red” in her ledger

Her “red” represents her life as a Russian spy before the Avengers and all the awful things she did to accrue the moral debt she carries in her mind.

Whether or not we realize it, many of us carry around a ledger of our own to keep a mental checklist of our good and bad choices.

No matter how many good Black Widow does, no matter how many lives she saves, she still had difficulty acknowledging that she’s worthy of being an Avenger.

Like Black Widow, you might wince when you think about your ledger, thinking only about your mistakes instead of your progress. Only about how far in the hole you are. How you can never get out.

Today we’re going to dive into the red in our own ledgers, come to terms with where we are in our journey, and prepare to balance it once and for all.

Acknowledging The Red in Your Ledger

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Photo from: https://pixabay.com/en/notepad-pen-paper-writing-business-926046/

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!” – Odin

During Avengers: Age of Ultron, there is a moment between all of the Avengers where they each try to lift Thor’s hammer (the Mjolnir) after a party.

The rule is, whoever can lift the hammer is worthy of ruling Thor’s realm of Asgard.

Hawkeye can’t move it at all.

Iron Man and War Machine make an attempt to no avail.

The hammer shifts ever so slightly when Captain America tries (giving Thor an incredibly worried look).

But when it’s Black Widow’s turn, she passes on any attempts to lift the hammer.

Something about that short hammer scene always stuck with me. Like there was so much more going on than just a few friends having fun.

Then, one day, I was at the gym surrounded by these beasts who were performing moves I’m still far off from achieving when that scene came to my mind.

I realized it’s easy feel like Black Widow when you’re around these demi-gods and think you’re so far behind on your journey.

The problem with Black Widow is that she doesn’t think she’s worthy of the hammer. She thinks of her own ledger and deems herself unworthy without even giving herself a chance.

This is Black Widow’s constant problem: she’s haunted by her past and won’t allow herself to fully embrace the new person she’s become. And here she is, just like Hawkeye (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsdk-AnkVks), a mortal amongst these super-humans.

We all have symbolic red in our ledger. The things we think are holding us back from achieving our goals.

Some possible red includes past injuries, unhealthy habits, lack of confidence, comparisons to other people, food addictions, self-sabotage, or trying to break up with your previously-held beliefs.

Think about the past year of your life.
Which way did your ledger move?

Did you add more red, or did you start to balance it out? Did you already give up on trying to make progress this year?

The red in your ledger probably isn’t as big as being an assassin for Russia (I hope), but it stands for who you used to be; the things you work hard to change.

Moving Past Your Red

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Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/126293860@N05/15225676088

The red in our ledger is real – we have to correct our past mistakes and move forward with our lives. But so many of us, like Black Widow, can’t get out of our own heads and actually do it.

So what can you actually do now that you’ve acknowledged the red in your ledger and you want to continue to move forward?

1. Focus on your progress and your goals.

Black Widow brings a unique and badass skillset to the Avengers team. If she compared herself to others, that would defeat the point of what she brings to the table.

In our lives, we may not be on a superhero squad, but with social media, it’s easier than ever to compare yourself to the people around you.

Take the time to think about what you want from your health and fitness journey. You bring your own unique perspective, advantages, and disadvantages to the table. You’re your own character. You can’t choose where you are right now – you’re already here. But you can choose how you move forward.

Write out each goal you’ve had in the back of your mind. Yes, write all of them. Then actually go through all of them and ask yourself if it’s something that would enhance your life or something that you think you “should” want.

You don’t have to run a marathon, deadlift 600 pounds, or climb a mountain to be the best version of yourself. Instead, just focus on being a little bit better tomorrow than you were today.

Make progress toward the goals that actually matter in your life.

It boils down to you being better than you were, not better than anyone else.

2. Be Prepared Like an Assasin

It’s when setbacks happen that most people want to (and actually do) quit.

But guess what: everyone slips, even superheroes.

The difference is, the superheroes correct their mistakes. They get back up and move on.

Just like courage cannot exist but in the face of fear, heroism cannot exist but in the face of difficulty and missteps.

All is not lost for the day because you had a bad meal.
All is not lost for the week because you missed a workout or two.
All is not lost for the month because you were sick for a week.

When a mistake happens, it’s easy to think of the red in our ledger and give up. But Black Widow doesn’t. She knows life is full of ups and downs with new surprises every single day.

Just like Black Widow, you need to be prepared for what life throws at you.

Now that you have your goals from the first action step, it’s time to make sure we’re prepared. Create your plan of attack for all the things that come your way.

Here’s mine:

  • When your coworker brings in donuts, you will say no.
  • When your workout partner skips a workout, you will show up to the gym anyway.
  • When you sleep in, you will fit in your workout at lunch or dinner.
  • When you miss a meal, you’ll be sure to meal prep tonight so you are prepared tomorrow.
  • When your coworkers ask you out for happy hour, you’ll either be prepared for this in your diet or you simply won’t go.
  • When your significant other buys snacks to fill the cupboards, you’ll maintain your discipline.
  • When it’s time to workout, you’ll be there.

If any of the items in your list fail, simply acknowledge you added more red to your ledger and immediately get to work to balance it out.

At no point does Black Widow say, “This isn’t going as planned, I quit.”

She stays adaptable, and so should you. At no point should you quit, no matter what life decides to surprise you with.

3. Be a part of something larger

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Photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tales2astonish/6976086600

There’s a great scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Captain America is doing what he does best: Preparing to save everyone knowing he might die in the process

And Black Widow doesn’t hesitate to join him on the floating rock and sacrifice her life to save others. She knows she’s part of something larger than herself.

She’s an Avenger. She can’t put herself first, and her teammates aren’t just there for her sake. The Avengers have saved the world many times, and Black Widow is a central part of this heroism.

Coming together to help others is the ultimate push to confront the red in your ledger.

We’re all part of our own Avengers team, whether we know it or not.

Your family, friends, community, city, country, team, or any other group you feel a part of needs you to step up.

But we don’t always act like it.

Black Widow was the same way. Sure, she has always been prepared for her demise, but she never was prepared to sacrifice herself for the good of the world. By joining the Avengers she can help herself and move past the red on her ledger by helping others. She has an extra piece of motivation to be better each day – one that isn’t selfish and that helps her to overcome the guilt she had.

Your journey isn’t just about you. There are people around you that need you to start putting your best foot forward. We really are the average of the five people we associate most with.

So be a positive influence on the people who associate with you. Bring out the best in yourself for others. Be better to yourself, and help people directly:

  • Checking in with them to see how their progress is going
  • Cooking paleo meals together
  • Going on group hikes
  • Signing up for a new fitness class
  • Or just supporting their journey in general

You might not be able to fly, but you can change our life and others around you.

There are multiple Avengers for a reason. You may not have Thor’s strength, like Black Widow, you have your own set of skills.

Celebrating Your Progress

Most of the Avengers went from good people to great people.

Thor was a cocky, successful warrior and had to be humbled.
Captain America needed the strong body to match the mental determination.
Tony is still Tony, just with better technology at his disposal.

But Black Widow’s past is, well, darker than the other Avengers. None of the other Avengers were “bad” before they were “good.”

Black Widow transformed everything, especially how she was living her life.

She doesn’t acknowledge this, though. Just like how many of us do not take the time to look at our lives and say, “Wow, I’m making completely different choices than I did in the past.”

In the real world, most of us have transformations that look and feel a lot more like Black Widow than Tony Stark.

Your journey to a better life is sometimes a tweak here and there, and sometimes it adds up to an entire lifestyle transformation. It’s important we stop to take a moment to acknowledge our progress. Because if we don’t, we might believe that we simply can’t balance our ledger, when we may already have!

Have you…

  • Losing a few pounds
  • Put on some muscle
  • Tried a few new exercises
  • Avoided eating that extra cupcake even though it looked delicious
  • Started sleeping or resting properly.
  • Packing your lunch for work
  • Tried a new vegetable
  • Committed to a new adventure
  • Started walking or a new active hobby

Let’s learn from Black Widow’s struggle and acknowledge what we’ve done, no matter how big or small.

If you’re having trouble acknowledging your daily victories, you may need to do a better job tracking your progress! Whether you need to take progress photos, keep a workout log, start timing your runs, use Jerry Seinfeld’s chain technique, join an accountability group, or simply journal, you need to be sure you’re keeping track of how you are moving forward.

Don’t just assume you’ll know when you’ve made progress. Without documenting your progress, it’s hard to see how far you’ve come.

Balance Your Ledger

You can never go back in time to take things off your ledger. Those mistakes are done.

However, every day is a new day to begin the process of balancing your ledger. It is no small task, but if you feel up to it you can even list out your ledger.

Take a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On the left-hand side list out the red in your ledger.

However, instead of just listing all the red in your ledger and beating yourself up over it, for each item in your red directly across on the right-hand side, list something you could do to actively balance the red.

  • Not enough walking? Plan in a walk around your local park.
  • Forgetting to bring your lunch? Put in your calendar to meal prep.
  • Sore and stiff all the time? Sign up for a trial yoga class this weekend.
  • Want to try a paleo meal? Print out a recipe right now and buy the ingredients on your way home from work.
  • Lack of support? Find a group either online or in real life that can support you on your journey.
  • Keep cheating on your diet? Resolve to stop buying any temptations from the grocery store so they’re not in your house.

For every mistake you’ve made, there’s something you can do to make it right.

You don’t need to balance your ledger all at once. It took you years to get here. So take it slow and be proud of each step.

Every day we can work to erase the red in our ledgers. To acknowledge how far we’ve come. To deem ourselves worthy of our own personal hammer.

What mistakes did you make in the past?

How can you reach your own Level 50 and be worthy of the hammer?