I look back now and think of all the times I made myself sick with worry over trying to keep other people happy. One of the healthiest things I have done over the last decade is tame the need to…
6 years ago today we took a risk and followed a prompting in your hearts and moved across Canada to live life on the West Coast. Listening to God’s whispers has not disappointed us. The move has been hard but the lessons have been so fruitful. I recall contemplating the move in a raining car outside the grocery store and hearing a song by third day called Revelation.
Has led me down the road that’s so uncertain
And now I am left alone and I am broken,
Trying to find my way,
Trying to find the faith that’s gone
I know that you are holding all the answers
I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances,
On roads that never seem,
To be the ones that bring me home
Give me a revelation,
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way,
I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here,
Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You”
I held on to those words for weeks “should I stay here, or do I need to move.” I listen to the song over and over and played out all the scary things that would have to happen if we decided to move.
I would reason myself out of this crazy prompting to move, only to wake up to it again the next morning. I spoke a word to nobody while my heart wrestled with the idea.
I was so focused on the how this is going to happen and what are people going to think.
Then one morning after playing the song for the 100th time I listen to the next song on the CD.
“Ever since the world around you shattered
You’ve been looking everywhere for something more
Sometimes you feel like your life doesn’t matter
But it does
I tell you it does
Come on let me love you now
Come on let me love you and hold you through the storms
I will keep you safe and warm
Come on let me love you now
Come on let me love you and kiss away your tears
I will always be here
Come on let me love you
Yesterday you found your heart was broken
Tomorrow doesn’t leave much room for hope
Today you’ll find that my arms are wide open
And my heart
My heart is full of love
Give up on all the other things
‘Cause my love can bring you more
And if you take a chance on me
I’ll give you what you’re looking for”
The voice was clear that morning. You have been pushing, pulling, taking on the demands of everything yourself. I felt God whisper, you done wrestling yet? You ready to step in and take a chance? Are you ready to let me love on you?
I went home and told Jen what I had been contemplating for a month and told her to think about it. Truth be told we both knew it was not something we need to “think” about anymore.
I was terrified and excited the morning I woke up to this truck sitting at the curb, ready to go, with all that was left of our possessions.
It has been the hardest thing we have ever done and the hardest thing we have ever “stuck” with and through the trails and adversities I am so overjoyed with grateful tears this morning that I took a chance, listen to the prompting and let God love me. Our hearts are full of so much wisdom and our spirits are forever changed. God taught me my life matters. The story does not end there it’s just a reminder. Heading into our 7th year God is asking me the same questions whether I am willing to take chances on things that seem impossible. I am scared and excited to see what is in the gap between where I am and where we feel God is calling us.
Progress is not made thinking about IT, preparing for IT, planning for IT, talking about IT, learning about IT, questioning IT, or worrying about IT. Progress is made doing IT. Everyday we wake up to the same battle, the battle…
What came to mind was the BELIEF that they cannot change. The belief that their fate is sealed. That at a certain age your personality, your mode of operation, your way of doing things, the category in life that you are slotted into is STATIC.
I was trying to figure out the WHY behind doing what I do. What is it that drives me? Why am I so passionate about what I do?
It came down to this. I believe in PEOPLE. I believe that each one of us has the capacity to CHANGE, to really truly and honestly change.
1st because I have witnessed it in me. Through my time in prayer and my growth in my faith I have witness CHANGE in me, in my attitude, in my confidence, in my mode of operation and consequently the environment and relationships surrounding me.
2nd I have witnessed it in the person closest to me. My wife Jen. How she has battled to arrive in a new place and stand on new victorious ground in her life.
Thirdly – In my travels all over the place I have met amazing people with amazing stories of victory. Of lives changed and new mindsets gained.
I have spent many hours heck DAYS, MONTHS, YEARS, SEASONS letting my grasp loosen on the hope that things can be different.
Strengthening my grip on hope has been a result of allowing the battle to be my training ground. The failures, the missteps, the backwards slides – I can either be honest about them (not in a self shaming way) or let them serve as proof that change is not possible.
I have been working on choosing a higher level of self awareness. I often ask myself this question
“How is that working for you Ira?“
In the face of frustration I ask myself “Are you going to keep being frustrated banging your head against the wall trying to do the same thing yet somehow believe you can achieve a different result?“
OR “Are you going to exercise your capacity to do things differently?“
I have resolved to stop waiting around STUCK. Stop waiting around for other people to CHANGE or my environment or circumstances to change. I remind myself daily of my verse from 2 corinthians a reminder that “At all times I have all that I need to abound in every good work.“ I have the verse hung right above my desk so I can re-read it everyday.
There are still days I give into complacency. You know, a bowl of crap food (that I really don`t want) scrolling through endless and mindless social media feeds (that I really don’t care for) BUT there is a difference. I have shaped a NEW belief. That we as people have been gifted the capacity to choose, to change, to chart a new course, to arrive in a different place.
The choice is ours.
Do I sit in shame around my perceived failures?
Do I take a seat in a chair with an elevated perspective over them? Constantly learning and claiming ownership over my failures because I have a firm grasp on the HOPE that I can actually change?
It is only your BELIEF that holds you back. You want and desire change? START there, with whether you BELIEVE it is possible or not.
As we put a cap on 2015 I have asked some people in the Cornerstone Fitness Community that have seen successful healthy change happen in their lives over the last year to SHARE their journey. My hope is that we…
If I put you on a workout and eating plan for 30 days and told you that you could not weigh yourself, would you be able to do it?
A lot of people in our 30 day flip program struggle with not being allowed to weigh themselves for 30 days.
Has this little devices that sit on your bathroom floor taken on a massive role in your day to day life? At some point in time our scales have become a digital morality compass on which we stand every morning to receive our verdict.
There you are a NEW day ahead of you holding your breath until that number reveals what type of mood you are going to be in today!
The worse is you could have been a “saint” narrowly avoiding the birthday cake in the lunch room yesterday but if that scale does not budge you are immediately stripped of your sainthood. You have done something “WRONG” and with a frustrated shrug of the shoulders and a few choice words you step off the scale carrying an even greater sense of weight, torment.
It is time to start asking some questions about your relationship with that pesky friend the scale. The one you are so oddly attracted to and despite your years of wrestling and quarrels you have never let go of this dysfunctional relationship.
When did we start using the scale as a compass for what to eat or NOT to eat?
Well remember when you were a kid do you ever remember overhearing the adults say “oh my kids can eat whatever they want and not gain a thing” OR “I do not know where they put all that food they must have a wooden leg”. Our society is hyper sensitive to the relationship between food and weight. It often seems like the only conversation we have when it comes to food and our health.
Our society believes a lie.
If you are not overweight your food choices are healthy or good.
If you are overweight your food choices are unhealthy or bad.
Why did my hotel room at a recent fitness conference I attended have a SCALE in it? I cannot even take a vacation from my scale anymore.
Whether my kid is struggling with their weight or not, FOOD has way greater consequences than weight. Why has weight become our measuring stick for a healthy life?
Food can have a far greater impact on the things that really matter in this life.
Like energy levels, mental capacity, attention span, and emotional health. All of which cannot be measured on a scale. Have we perhaps become hyper focused on the longer term consequences of poor food choices? That we are missing the impact my food choices today can have on me today!
How much longer are we going to allow the scale to act as our moral compass?
How much longer are we going to teach our kids that food choices should be solely based on whether a particular food makes you “fat” or “skinny”?
Being hyper focused on weight does not seem to be helping the obesity epidemic. It is time to celebrate non scale victories and talk about all the HEALTH issues good quality food can HEAL. Yes food heals. Food restores. Food nourishes. Lets talk about what we are FOR not what we are against.
When our 5 year old ask “hey Dad is this good for me?” I will tell him how the food will make him feel today. Then let him decided if he wants to feel that way.
“Dad is this apple good for me?”
“Well that apple is going to make your tummy feel good, it is going to give you energy to jump on the bouncy castle and it is going to help you learn at school.
“What about this chocolate bar Dad?”
“Well that chocolate bar is going to taste really good but also soon after it will make you pretty tired it won’t really fill you up either you will probably need something to eat again soon.”
At our dinner table there is a lot of muscle flexing that goes on. As we feel how strong we are getting as we eat certain foods. Weight is never a topic. Neither is food morality. Food does not make you good or bad. We really do not make a big deal out of it. As a result our kids do not either.
How many times has the scale thwarted your plans to get healthy? How many times has it made you give up? I am not saying to never measure this component of fitness I AM SAYING stop using it as the ONLY thing you feel like you can never measure up to. The more you feel like you NEED the scale the LESS you should be using it. It is simple the more REAL food you eat the more UNREAL you are going to feel. Whether you are standing on a scale or not your body has a way of balancing these things out so get out off the scale and get into the kitchen for some food that is going to make you feel GREAT today!
I have been asking my clients to do three things when they start a program with me.
and go about it quietly.
I do not care how excited you are, do not let your excitement spill over into a facebook update. There is no need to make an announcement about your newest venture. Nor is everybody entitled to an explanation surrounding your new behaviours.
Rather I would ask you to guard your heart and this decision closely.
Real change is a very private affair. When you truly decide to go about making a change it needs to be set apart, it needs to hold a position of honor. It is an agreement that you have made for yourself, to better yourself and only certain people are deserving of an invitation to walk along side you. I will give you a hint, it’s the supportive ones that get to come.
For me real change has always be prompted in my conversation with God. I have asked for freedom from something that is holding me back and God has opened my eye’s to see it; Given me the confidence to face it and the discipline to stick with it; As well as the reminders to come back to it when I have walked away from it.
I must honor and prioritizes the source of my revelation.
That means I do not need to explain myself, my agreement has been made with my maker and that is good enough for me.
What does this look like in real life? It means when I am out to lunch with friends and I pass on the bread bowl I do not need to explain why or announce I am doing so. When I decided attending my regular scheduled class at the gym is more important than an impromptu invite to a social engagement a simple “I can’t make it” will do.
People are going to notice your efforts. They Will ask questions. When they ask talk about what you ARE doing, what you ARE eating. You do not need to mention what you are NOT doing, what you are AVOIDING.
For example, tell them how you are keeping hydrated and drinking lots of water. Do not tell them about how you have given up your wine for the month.
Sometimes your new venture can be something that convicts the people around you. It is something they want to do to but they are still in the “looking for a way out” phase. If they can poke holes in your plans it means they can remain safe in their current comfort zones. Sadly some people will hope that you fail. WHY? It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If you fail it means staying where they are comfortable was a good decision on their part. However, if you succeed they are left out, left behind, as you move forward. Studies show time and time again we are most like those we surround ourselves with and if you are looking to harness some change in your life it means some people will get left behind in that “area” of your life. They no longer have access to the areas you have set apart.
As you step out to make CHANGE in your life you will quickly be able to decipher who has come with a FRESH AIR supply to help fill you with excitement and who is holding a pin ready to pop your balloon. As soon as you discern those “against” your plan consider the conversation over. I do not mean be rude, stop talking, and give them the silent treatment. It is simple, change the conversation. “Enough about that, did you see the weather we are in store for this weekend?” Make a mental note. I will work patiently, I will work persistently, and as I go about it quietly my RESULTS and the CHANGE in me will SPEAK VOLUMES for me. Those that keep pressing you to announce and explain yourself will slowly lose access to you, they will eventually learn the conversation is OFF topic if they do not have anything positive to say.
The funniest things often happens when you dedicate yourself to this process.
You get results.
When someone asks you what you have been doing, although you are so acutely aware of how hard you have worked, you quietly respond, “Oh I have change the way I do some things.” Sometimes even the most unsupportive people will approach you sincerely and ask you how you did it. Right there in that moment you will receive your greatest reward, you get to INSPIRE someone else to do what you did. Work patiently, work persistently, and go about it quietly and let your transformation do the talking.
Keep at it friends, your victory is waiting.
I sometimes feel alone in my failure.
I look at all the success around me and I assume I am the only one slipping up in the same pitfalls.
Plagued by the lack of organization; the piles of well-intended but unfinished projects; the harsh words exchanged; the missed opportunities; I can fill the page with my daily failures. Do not make me do it to prove a point. I am a failure.
You have heard of the saying “Failure Is Not An Option” Well actually it is an option. An option I choose daily. Why? Because I am human, I am flawed, and despite the incredible amount of time I apply to bettering myself I still do not believe there will come a day on earth where I will arrive. I won’t ever be PERFECT.
The minute I set my foot to the ground “selfish intent” will be waiting.
Sigh…Some mornings before my feet even touch the ground I make the mistake of firing up my phone and scrolling through my social media news feed. Right there before my eyes have even fully opened and adjusted to the glaring light I am reminded of my failure.
Well intentioned #fitpirations (fitness inspirations) highlight my #fails
“You will get a lot more compliments for working out, then you will for sleeping in.”
“Obsessed is the word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.”
“Excuses are for people who do not want it bad enough”
“Unless you puke, faint, or die. Keep going.”
OUCH! The words that are in my head, right there in print, they must be true. I did sleep in again, I am not working hard enough, I am lazy, so I might as well label myself “failure” and just throw in the towel and let all the “better” people claim their success.
Instead of these #fitspiration which I know are posted by trainers with the best intentions I am hoping we as fitness professionals will re-think them and the message they are sending.
This is #mytrainerpledge and I am hoping to inspire other fitness professionals to take it with me.
I will honour and respect the fact that I do not know your story or your current circumstances.
I will earn the right to have impact and influence in your life by showing that I care.
Just because I have navigated some fitness and health in my life it does not give me the right to barge into your life to tell you how it’s done and highlight all you have done wrong.
I will do my best to NOT point out your failures, because I believe you have gotten pretty good at that yourself.
I will help you see your untapped potential.
I will encourage you.
I will applaud your small steps.
Most of all I will sympathise with you, because I am a failure too. I do not have it all figured out but what I am learning is to not let my failure shame me. To not let it hold me down. That my failure makes me no different than everyone around me, I am not alone.
We all fail daily.
We say inappropriate things.
We let our frustration out on the wrong people.
We make unwise choices.
We give into temptation.
We take the short cut.
We pretend we don’t see the person coming behind us because we don’t have time to hold the door.
We give in.
We put down.
We raise our voice.
Whatever failure you and I choose today it does not have to define us. We just have to choose daily to stand up to our failures and strive for more. To not allow the defeat that comes with failure to settle upon us. Together we can stand up, dust eachother off, receive forgiveness, and learn to be better failures. The truth is success does not mean we are free of failure. Success comes when we do not allowing our failure to dictate what we believe about ourselves.
We are forgiven.
We are free.
We are full of potential and possibility.
We thrive when surrounded by people who believe in us and are for us.
I pledge to do my best to call out what WE are for in your life, NOT point out what WE are against.
We can all learn to be better at failing. This is #mytrainerpledge.
I have been a group exercise coordinator for a very long time. Which means I manage the group exercise programs at the gym.
Here is something I come across A LOT, A LOT, did I say A LOT?
What is that? Well my best answer is I do not know? My assumption would be it is a cluster of spin bikes that have been moved to the back of the spin room because they are not working correctly. My job? Solve the mystery.
Step One: Look in the bike maintenance binder to see what bikes need fixing.
I open the binder. Well that is funny because there is nothing written in the binder which means everything is functioning perfectly.
Step Two: Look at each bike to see if there is anything obvious broken.
Nope, after a little bit of searching and effort on my part nothing stands out.
Step Three: If time permits prior to my class climb on each of the bikes and ride them as you increase tension. Listen for any noises, feel for any issues.
Step Four: Shrug shoulders in frustration wheel bike back to its position and hope it was just moved to wash the floor or something.
I find I can relate to this back row of bikes facing the wrong direction and begging for attention. Do you?
Often times when something is not working I find myself doing one of two things.
(1) Isolating myself because I feel I am not of any use to anyone.
(2) Making an emotional display of my displeasure in order to draw some attention.
Whether I choose the 1st or the 2nd behavior both of them get me back to the same place. Those around me will attempt to get me back in the game and when nothing is solved and I no longer appear or feel broken I will just be thrown back into the pack until the next time I try to be useful and my problems once again surface.
Two lessons my crazy mind sees in this back row of misfit bikes.
Lesson #1 The SPIN class called life can be grueling and if you are playing hard all the time things eventually will break, need replacing or repair, nourishment, some loving that’s just NORMAL.
Lesson #2 It’s my job when things are not working to COMMUNICATE what the problem is. Even if I a not exactly sure, sometimes there is so much squeaking, squealing, and misalignment you do not know where it is coming from BUT the more information I can share with the ones I love the better opportunity I am giving them to HELP me meet my needs.
What are your struggles when it comes to getting healthy?
Have you talked to the people around you about them?
Have you given them specific things they can do to help you?
Personally I isolate. My wife Jen is learning this about me and I am learning that if I cannot clearly communicate to her what I am dealing with that I need to tell her that. Sometimes that looks like “I am frustrated with __________ right now and I am praying for clarity. I am not sure what the root of it is. But when I know what it is I will tell you what you maybe able to do to help”
I find that talking it out with her will sometimes bring the clarity I need, which beats the isolation that solves nothing.
We are both getting better at asking “what can I do for you?” and then being specific about what that is.
SO what has you sidelined? Work on clarifying what the problem is. Pray about it. Then ask for specific HELP.
Clearly writing your problem in the bike maintenance binder means there is a much higher chance your issue will be addressed and you will be back in the pack moving forward longer before the next problem arises.
I love this point from Danny Silks “Keep Your Love On.”
“It’s my job to tell you what is going on inside of me, and your job to tell me what’s going on inside of you. We do not have powers of telepathy or the right to assume we know one another’s motives, thoughts, feelings, or needs.”
Picture your dream home.
Now picture your outdoor space.
Imagine I have contracted a landscaper that is going to build you a fire pit. Complete with retaining walls, gardens, end tables for your glass of wine, and those long backed adirondack chairs.
Don’t get me wrong, you are going to flip the bill, I am not paying for the landscaper.
But the finished product will be all yours to enjoy.
I just need you to pick out a spot in your yard and we can get started.
So have you picked a spot?
If you are anything like me I can see the spot you picked. In the backyard, maybe close to and nestled in with some trees. A private space where you can invite “the good friends over” to laugh the night away, enjoy a glass of wine or cuddle with your partner, where you can spend a summer night roasting marshmallows with the kids.
That space you are imagining my friend James built it and all those moments you imagined in that space he did those too; With one simple difference.
He built it in his front yard. No he does not live without neighbors in the country either. He lives in a thriving busy subdivision.
This is James sitting in that space a couple years ago.
Today he would have been 46 years old. We lost him 2 years ago after he spent 4 years battling cancer. That space is still there in his front yard and highlights one of the most admirable qualities you and I can learn from James.
James was a busy successful family man but he always made time to focus on what was most important, RELATIONSHIP.
One morning a couple years ago James who was running his business and suffering through the cancer treatments sent me a text. “HEY BRO!!!! Tea?” I accept the invite and as I pulled into his driveway there he was sitting in the front yard. We joked, we laughed, we had some serious conversations too. Every once and awhile a neighbour would pass by and James would call out to them by name. “YO! YO! How’s it going?”
As we wrapped up our conversation, James asked where I was heading. Then he proceeded to tell me he was heading down to a BIG meeting in an hour. He would be presenting a proposal to a large company. I thought oh wow and hastily stood up with a sense of urgency, I talked too long, he has this big meeting, he needs to prepare, he needs time, I better get out of here.
James stood up casually and said “hey thanks for the visit, what’s the rush?” I asked him “well aren’t you nervous you have to present in an hour, I can’t believe you invited me over for tea.”
He casually shrugged and reached over to pat me on the back and give me a hug.
That moment has sat with me.
That day, if I were James, I would not have texted a friend for coffee. Not before a big meeting like that and a fight like cancer on my plate.
Instead I would be sitting in that chair in that comfortable isolated space I built in the backyard. Doing what you ask? Worrying, planning, and worrying. With whom you ask? By myself.
In your life today “Where are you sitting?”
Your dream house the one I asked you to picture, there is no sense in it. Not if you are going to sit in your backyard alone, worrying.
We have all become too busy for what really matters.
While you are sitting in your backyard trying to control and manage every detail of your life, you are missing out on the relationships and experiences sitting around the fire pit in your front yard.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Mathew 16:25
Whether you are able to admit it or not your heart’s greatest desire is relationship. Our worry has no value it just robs us of what matters most, the present.
When I worry, I spent less time with God, I shift my wife, my kids, my friends to another “less busy” day.
I actually accomplish nothing.
There I sit in the backyard of my life. While James with much more to worry about built a space in his life for the things that mattered he built it right there smack dab in the middle of his front yard. I am not saying he did not worry he worried. But time and time again he chose to not let worry steal lives best moments from him.
James lived 44 FULL years. His cancer was not the catalyst that brought about his priority for relationship. His value for meaningful relationship was always there. When I met him at 16 years old, I was a shy awkward teen lacking a lot of confidence. James, treated me like he treated everyone else.
James invited people in, whatever went on in his life you could always find him right there with his legs up in the front yard and he would always offer you a seat.
Stop using your “too busy” as an excuse. James was busy and James never did. He always made time and he always had fun.
I once left a clipboard in a bag that belong to James. He kept texting me to come pick it up. I kept saying ok, I will come and get it, I don’t need it right away.
He kept texting.
So I picked it up with a bunch of other stuff that I needed from him. It was not until later that night that I unpacked the bag to find my clipboard. My clipboard that James’ had enhanced.
James was killing himself laughing when I called him. He said you know I may have cancer but I have been working out, just show people pictures of how buff I have been getting and I can be your poster boy. They will be lining up to personal train with you so they can “Be Like James”
This clip board that James gave me as a joke, now sits above my desk on the wall as a reminder to “be like James” and pursue meaningful relationship today!