Micro decisions

I was browsing Instagram today and came across a great topic and piece of advice from the highly respected fitness marketing and business guru, BEDROS KEUILIAN.  I’ve gained so much value from Bedros, so if your interested about business/entrepreneurship, or just success in general, you should check this guy out immediately (He’s brilliant).

Bedros talked today about the importance of “MICRO DECISIONS” and their effect on progress and success in reaching a goal.  When you think of success, you typically would believe that it is a result of BIG decisions, or larger turning points in the path of progress.  However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s truly the smaller day-to-day decisions that we make, that make the most impact on our journey.

Think about it.

The decision to hit the snooze button, instead of getting up and starting your day at the time that you had originally planned.

Making the choice to watch television in the evening, instead of reading a book or article.

Snacking on potato chips instead of choosing a healthier alternative.

Going straight home after work rather than going to the gym and getting a good workout in.

Ok, you get the point.

But seriously, when you think about it, Bedros is right: Success comes from making a series of small decisions that add up to pay big dividends.  Sure, you will have to make some big decisions along the way, but the largest deciding factor in any measure of success (wealth, relationships, career, etc.) is a person’s ability to consistently make the right decisions on a micro level.

When we start to think about success with this mindset, you will begin to see the importance of commitment to good habits.  You will also see small accomplishments as important, instead of constantly focusing on the end goal, which is especially important in the realm of health and fitness.

Say your goal is to do 20 pull-ups, but you can only do 1 right now.

You are not going to work on pull-ups for an hour, go home, go to bed, wake up and bust out a set of 20 the next day.  It’s going to take days, weeks, or even months.  But I can GUARANTEE that after a few months of consistently making those small decisions to put in the honest work, you will achieve your original goal.

I could sit here for another hour and make up endless examples of how this simple ideology of “micro decisions” will work for you, but in the end, it must be YOU that makes the small decision to apply this lesson to your own scenario.  If you have already made the choice to get this far into this article (instead of browsing mindlessly through your Facebook news-feed) you’re already better off. Now go use this information, build better habits, make better small decisions, and keep making progress, one small step at a time.

It starts with movement

When someone walks into my gym, and we begin to discuss goals, the topic usually tends to head in the direction of weight loss or muscle gain.  This conversation usually ends up with animated descriptions of specific target areas:

  • “I want to get rid of my belly.”
  • “I need to tone and tighten my upper arms.”

Even with higher level high school and collegiate athletes, their goals tend to be specific to abilities that are expected in their respective sport:

  • “I need to work on my first step speed and explosiveness.”
  • “My son needs to work on his footwork and agility.”

While these are all VERY respectable ambitions, and are definitely key components to our BIG PICTURE goals, we need to start with the fundamentals of basic human movement.  Once we develop the ability to access full ranges of motion and stability in dynamic movements, then we can start working on those target goals.

Skipping the initial step of assessing and achieving proper movement patterns is like building a house on sand, eventually the whole thing will crumble.  Without mastering the foundational movements, imbalances and weaknesses will lead to pain and/or serious injury.  If you work with a coach and he/she didn’t start with some sort of functional movement assessment, you should start looking for a different coach.

Yes, it is that important.

Take the deadlift for example.  Most healthy people can get into some form of starting position and pull a light barbell to complete a fully locked out deadlift with very little risk of injury. They are able to do this even though they are unable to hold a bodyweight deep squat position for more than 10 seconds (if at all). However, when we start to add weight or increase the amount of reps performed without first developing the mastery of a weightless deep squat hold, the lack of mobility is going to lead to poor form and eventually pain and/ or injury.

Pain and injury are both obstructions that will keep us from achieving our original underlying goals, whether it be weight loss, muscular development, or performance enhancement.  So essentially, by trying to skip steps to make faster progress, you are actually creating a situation that will put you even further from your goals.

A solid foundation of proper movement is a tool that can be used to achieve a toned, muscular body.  Mastering a full range of movement will also lead to performance goals in your athletic arena of choice.  No matter which way you look at it, it starts with movement.

Don’t just accept pain as normal

Mobility plays a large part in our lives.  Even though most of us spend our days seated, in a desk, we still need to move around in the world to some degree.  If you’re limited in terms of mobility, your quality of life will diminish, no matter how you look at it.

I am a student of movement, so when I am in public spaces, I tend to watch the way people move. I watch posture and ambulation. I watch for limitations and weaknesses.  I admire the fit people among us who move around effortlessly.  I also feel the need to help those people I see wincing in pain, or those who are out of breath after a flight of stairs, but walking up to them with a business card seems a little forthcoming.

This fuels my obsession with movement.

I will never understand why someone simply accepts pain as a natural part of life.  Like that nagging knee pain was just supposed to occur once you hit a certain age.  I am really tired of hearing people use the age excuse:

“I’d like to see you try this when you’re 53.

I get it, and I openly acknowledge that things are WAY different now than they were in your 20’s.  But that does not mean you need to accept pain as it is.  Sure, you will have some aches and some joints won’t work as well as they used to, but this doesn’t mean that improvements can’t be made.

In most cases, pain can be greatly reduced (or eliminated altogether) through well-designed corrective exercise programming.  However, not just any exercise program will do. In fact, some movements can do more damage than they help.

That is why you need a trustworthy coach. One that is well versed in exercise science and corrective exercise.  Not just any Joe-Trainer at your local big box fitness franchise will do. In order to correct imbalances and eliminate pain-causing weaknesses, you’ll need to employ someone who is well-educated and knowledgeable.  This is another topic, in itself, that we will save for another day.

The point is: you DO NOT have to go through life accepting pain.  Pain is simply a warning sign from your body saying: “you better do something to fix this, or something real bad is about to happen.”  A good coach will take this warning sign, assess the movement, and prescribe exercises that will correct the imbalance to eliminate the pain.

Before you go to the doctor for your next cortisol shot, start working with someone who specializes in rehabilitation or corrective exercise programs. It may take a little work, and you will probably have to break a sweat.  However, starting a movement-based strength and conditioning program may be exactly what you need to avoid costly medical procedures and get back to living life with less pain.