About a year ago, I took in my golden retriever Coda. Up until then, I had lived alone since I left the Army in 2001. Living with Coda has been an adjustment, but having to care for another being has forced me to learn some lessons that apply to both life and training.
Coda is always happy. Even if I yell at him for chewing up the furniture, he doesn’t care. He’s happy as can be the next moment. I have allowed negative emotions to fuel my training on more than one occasion. Fairly recently I would kill the lights in my gym, crank some loud industrial music, and hit the weights with a vengeance. Yes the aesthetic results were good – I looked better than I ever had. But the toll on my soul was great. Ruminating over old wounds might provide some temporary fuel to toss the weights around, but the long term effects are not worth it.
Lately I’ve been leaving the lights on, playing music that is more uplifting, and my training sessions have a new-found spark. And not too long after I started “leaving the lights on” I mended the relationship where the wounds originated.
2. Learn From Your Mistakes
Coda has chewed up so much of my stuff. The couch, the walls, all of my plastic containers. . . paper towels are his personal favorites. But I will give that puppy credit in than he rarely chews the same thing up twice. How many times do we do the same workout over and over and see NO results? How many times do we fall to the temptation of the same crutch food over and over again?
How many times do we make the same mistakes at our jobs, with our loved ones, or in violation of our personal values? Mistakes are necessary for the learning process in any endeavor – whether that be training or life. Be like Coda and learn from your mistakes.
3. Work Hard
Ok, I’ll admit Coda doesn’t do a damn bit of work. But the pic of him with the dust pan is one of my favorites. Now if he would just help sweep up some of the dog hair. . . The point is that we must work to achieve what we desire. In the gym, and in life, that means pushing outside of our comfort zones into unfamiliar territory. You will never deadlift more if you don’t put more weight on the damned bar!
Every once in a while you have to put enough weight on the bar so that you FAIL. Now you know your current limit and have a goal to work towards. Hard work is not busy work. Working hard entails maximum effort with laser beam focus towards a desired outcome.
4. Play Hard
Now this one Coda has down pat. My puppy loves to play, play, play! Too often we fail to make our training enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I love the drab cinderblock walls and concrete floors of my gym, but sometimes you have to get outside and just PLAY. Climb a tree. Sprint in a grassy field. Swim in a lake, pond, or even outdoor pool. Yes, there is a time and place for regimented time with the iron. But counterbalancing it with some unstructured physical movement in the great outdoors can be invigorating for the mind, soul, and body.
When I leave my house at 5:30am to teach my morning circuit class, Coda is still fast asleep. And he’ll often nap for a bit in the afternoon. Sleep deprivation and an overall lack of time spent in recovery is often the biggest culprit when it comes to poor training results. Training and nutrition are very important in reaching your fitness goals, but they are only two of the three ingredients. Rest is the third and most often overlooked component when establishing a solid program for health and fitness.
There ya have it! Since I don’t have kids, I used my dog – but what are some life lessons or important things you’ve learned from your pets or your kids? Leave me a comment below and let me know! – Vic
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