Self-Fulfilling Prophecies


You’re about to find out this is wrong.

After finishing what could have been my worst lower-body workouts in months, I left school for the house of my first drum student.  On the way, I received a text that read, “wow harold congrats on the shoutout”.  After some questioning, I found out that Tony Gentilcore, the author of one of my favorite blogs, recommended checking out my blog.  Due to pingbacks and linking to his own site, and probably due to my constant linking to Program Design For Dummies, he found out about me.  That’s pretty awesome for me, because it’s one of the blogs that first inspired me to start my own!  The recommendation has led to the highest traffic I’ve ever had, and that’s pretty exciting, too.  I’m about to create a continuous loop of linking and fulfill the prophecy.  Click HERE to read his post today, and I’ll be doing cartwheels down the block because I’m that excited.

I like reading Tony’s blog because there there is always great information on the right ways to train, and it’s steeped in humor.  It’s edutainment, if you will.  I try to maintain a similar atmosphere over here, allowing you to learn about efficient training while smiling and laughing.  Also, Tony seems like a pretty cool guy, and I’m sure that he’s just as excited about the Harry Potter premier on Thursday night.  No, seriously: IMAX and 3D, and I’m overnighting myself a shirt just to wear to the theater.  That into it.

I just completed the he-links-to-me-so-I-know-about-him, prophecy, right?  Now let’s discuss you fulfilling your own prophecies.  What do I mean by that?  This might start to explain it:


The most ineffective gym on earth.

That picture irritates me just as much as it does you; why is that man wearing khaki pants in this fitness center?!  To me, this picture embodies the disconnect that people have between their goals and their practices.  People constantly set goals covering a wide variety of fitness and wellness goals, but they constantly fail.  Why?  They have goals, but they don’t take the necessary steps to reach their goals.  They make changes that are too small or ineffective, then they begin to think “Oh, I’ll always be skinny, fat, slow, weak, etc.”  They aren’t making the sufficient changes, so they remain in the state that they are in.  Eventually, they stop trying all together.  What they were doing, or think they were doing, didn’t work, and nobody wants to fail over and over again.  It almost makes sense that people just quit.

Unfortunately, not many people want to hear that the ‘change’ that they thought they were making is cutting it.  There have to be a few people in the photo above who justify their consumption of a Krispy Kreme donut by saying ‘Well, I just worked out.’  Yea, I’m sure you burned off the 660 kcalories you just consumed in that diabetes inducing heart-stopper.  As far as nutrition goes, I find that justification for poor diet is far too common.  You may have heard this one:  A friend comes in with these amazingly healthy organic brownies.  The flour is wholegrain buckwheat, the eggs were from free-range hens and have high levels of Omega-3’s, the sugar is organic cane sugar, the chocolate is fine dark chocolate.  They sound delicious, and many people would gladly take one of these ‘healthy’ brownies over a regular brownie.  What are they forgetting?  That it is still a brownie! The second that you forget about this you’re setting yourself up for failure.  This explains why most people who ‘diet’ fail; they don’t make any real dietary changes; they just eat less of the same crap.  Eventually they lose their control over the smaller portion sizes, and 1 100-calorie pack post workout turns into 3; they end up rebounding to the point that they were at.  If they were looking at the big picture, they’d realize that they need to make larger scaled dietary changes.  Yes, this should be a slow process; nobody wants to change everything that they’re accustomed too, but it’s a process that must be undertaken.  Making massive changes sets you up for failure, because the drastic changes are too hard to maintain.  However, I think that making changes that are too small also sets you up for failure as well.  The change is so insignificant that you don’t register it, and you fall back on your old habits.  Many people fall into this cycle for years at a time; it’s the reason that one of the biggest indicators of being overweight/obese in the future is being on a diet at the present day.  Diet’s don’t work!  Making dietary and nutrition changes do; however, they take psychological maturity.  You can’t think, “I want to make a change.”  This won’t work, it needs to be “I’m going to make a change.”  The changing of this one word makes all the difference; you are taking control of the situation.

Unfortunately, I’ve come across the same problem with my lifting, specifically with my beloved deadlift.  Since the midsummer, I’ve been stuck trying to pull 365.  I’ve tried it both Sumo and traditional stances, to no avail.  Recently, I’ve completely stopped pulling in the traditional manner..  I’ve been incorporating pulls from deficits, to help increase bar speed off the floor.  If the bar is moving faster when it gets to the sticking point a few inches below my knees, I’ll be more likely to break through the sticking point.  Capiche?

In the past 3-4 weeks of pulling from a deficit with a snatch grip, I’ve seen tremendous gains in strength off the floor.  The bar just moves when I’m not on the box, it’s so much easier.  I’m counting on this to increase my bar speed on traditional pulls, and now I must work to increase the movement from the sticking point on.  How am I going to do this?  Rack pulls galore!  I had performed rack pulls last spring with amazing results in regards to strength, but I abandoned them for movements with a longer range of  motion.  Now, I’ve worked with an extra 4″-6″ inches extra range of motion, and I’m happy to pull 315lb from this position, but I’m not happy getting stuck at 365lb; I’m making changes, doing things differently, and I plan on destroying some PR’s in the next few months.  If I followed the typical protocol of making small changes, I’d never get anywhere.  However, I’m trying to improve on things, and to do this I’ve been looking at things I’ve sucked at.  Slow off the floor?  Work from a deficit.  Getting stuck mid-range?  Rack pull.  These are the changes that I need to make to get better, and I’m making them.  How can you do the same thing?

It may take some mental toughness, but I think this requires a two fold answer.  The first part is to get better at the things that you’re not good at.  The second part is to do the things that you haven’t been doing.  They’re quite similar, because you’ve most likely been avoiding the things that you aren’t good at.  It’s funny how that works.

If you’re bad at something, get better at it; it’s the only way this will happen.  If you have the right information and go about things in the right way, the only thing left is your mental endurance.  You’ll know what changes need to be made, and you’ll know how to make them.  Now you just need to do it.

What can help?  Finding somebody to be accountable to.  Whether you find yourself a dietitian, a personal trainer, a workout partner, a friend, or your turtle named Max, if you hold yourself accountable to somebody who will be disappointed by your failure, then you’ll be more likely to succeed.  I’d recommend checking out Episode 163 of the Fitcast from June 7, 2009, which is titled “Do Your Behaviors Match Your Goals?”  In it some light is shed on the goal setting/goal achieving continuum, and give you some tips on how to reach your goals.  Hopefully, if you’ve been struggling with a diet or fitness issue for a while, you are inspired to attack the weak links in your plan and make stronger, long lasting changes.

Now I’m going to go comb my beard in an attempt to edge out my fellow No-Shave November competitors, and figure out who will be buying me a trap bar for Christmas.


One Reply to “Self-Fulfilling Prophecies”

  1. Harold-

    Hey man. I’d just like to say that I’ve read your most recent posts and I really enjoy them. I’m an avid reader of Gentilcore’s blog as well and although we have spoken through email on occassion, he is quite the character but a very intelligent man. As obvious as it seems now, I’ve read his recent post and your name came up. As I’ve stated earlier I really like your material, and you guys have very similar styles. I too like to like “edutaining” my clients; it keeps them involved, informed and makes the sessions less awkward. My thing is, if you want to be the best, you have to train with the best, believe you can be the best and read the best material non-stop.

    Anyways, kudos on a great job so far with your blog. I am encouraged by what I’ve read so far and looking forward to new material as I know reading your blog as well will help me become a successful training in the long run.

    P.S.- I’m looking forward to your dead gains as I have recently reached a milestone myself pulling 600lbs doing the same exact things you’re doing; I’m 23 yo. 5’11, 180lbs…you’re never to small, young or old to reach BIG numbers. Believe in your training, take care of your body and you will get there. Keep up the great work.


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