Great question from Ryan

Hey Chief,
Good site..

I have been off an on with the crossfit and the MDA/Primal Blueprint lifestyle for the last 2 years or so. Whats your best tip for staying consistent? This has been my biggest problem the whole time. I get really into it and then fall off for a bit..over and over..I seem to be so hard on myself if I miss a few days that it hurts me more than just getting right back to it. It is especially hard when I have to workout alone. Being at a one engine house with older captains that don’t want to do these workouts makes it a bit harder as well. What tools are helpful to keeping the motivation and allowing yourself to make a mistake here and there?

Ryan Grebe

First off, sorry it took so long to get back to you I seem to be having a problem with comments pushing to my email (any thoughts Kinyon?). This is a great question because it is a problem in every department, every station, and a huge issue for individuals in general. Unfortunately it is tough to lay out one plan that will motivate everyone so what I am going to do is give you ideas based on what has worked for me and those I train with.

Nutrition and how to stick with it.

1. It has to be worth it to you. Does it make you feel better when you eat clean? Does your skin look better? Is your mental and physical performance better? Are your health markers i.e. LDL,VLDL, HDL, TG in need of improvement? Are these things more important to you than the convenience of the typical western diet? If you answered yes to most or all of these then there is your motivation. Do the reasearch, read the books; Paleo Solution, Primal Blueprint, Protein Power life Plan, Paleo Diet, Lights Out, Vegetarian Myth, do a PubMed search related to your woes etc. It is also ok to fall off here and there. You will see 90% of the benefit from a 80% compliant diet, unless you are suffering from autoimmune or metabolic issues. The catch is that unless you eat really clean (no grain, dairy, legumes) for a while (30-60 days) odds are you wont find out about those autoimmune and metabolic issue until they have turned into a disease that your doctor can treat the symptoms of. 

2.  Plan and cook your meals before work. If you are working a 48 or 72 you might not want to pre cook that much food but you can certainly plan the meal and bring the requisite ingredients so that you are not caught between health and bad food choice.  I am not suggesting that you get too anal with planning, if you like to weigh and measure your food ( Barry Sears’s Zone) go for it but I find that to be a little neurotic and really only recommend it to people who have no concept of portion size. If you are cooking for your entire station convince your crew to let you make them a meal the way you eat, don’t say anything like “Paleo”, “Low-carb”, or “Atkins” that might skew their judgement. Just cook them a solid nutritious meal of meat and veggies like this: New York Steak, Brussel Sprouts cooked in a bit of bacon grease, coleslaw, and baked sweet potatoes with a little real butter and cinnamon. If they complain about a lack of “carbs” ask them to wait 20 minutes and then they can eat whatever else they want if they aren’t satisfied.

3. It takes a village. This lifestyle is inconvenient at best in our current culture and most people give in to the pressures of their peers, who invariably take offense to your diet, and wind up falling off the wagon. As Ryan mentions in his comment it can be very difficult to get back on the wagon with nutrition and PT. The thing to remember is that what is done is done, you can’t go back and redo your meal or hit that workout you missed so get over it and move forward. Part of my success with this lifestyle is a result of surrounding myself with people who are on the same path, this is easier said than done at work but it stretches to the family and friends realm as well.

Exercising consistently:

1. First and foremost, much like nutrition, you must have a personal reason to PT. In the fire service we have a professional obligation to be more fit than the average person and are truly doing a disservice to the tax payers if we are not developing and maintaining our strength and conditioning.

2. I like to use group training as a way to motivate, break up into engine companies and go for it. This become difficult when you have a situation like Ryan who is the only one training, this is where CrossFit has seen such huge success is in creating a forum for people to compete remotely. Get a few guys and gals from other shifts or stations together on your days off and workout. Create your own blog that you can all log onto and post times and strength numbers for whatever programming you choose; be it main site, crossfit football, anaerobicinc, or your own.

3. One thing that has been a huge motivation for me has been the organized competitions. Everything from a Tough Mudder to the CrossFit Games, anytime I compete I come away determined to shore up newly discovered or ignored weaknesses. There are so many of these types of events popping up you can compete once a month if you want.   

4. A lofty goal of mine is to forge a culture of fitness in the fire service, to that end I spend a lot of time championing the cause and trying to find ways to pull the “older Captains” off of the bench and into the game. By the way if you are one of those guys get your shit together. You are kidding yourself if you think you can get by on being salty, you are older, fatter, weaker, and less flexible than ever. Odds are you couldn’t actually rescue yourself let alone someone else if the S hits the F. Lead by example even if you are not the “leader” by rank, if you take the time to help out the people with broken motivators and show them how to get back on track in a fun progressive way that is easy on their ego you just might change some lives.

4 Responses to Great question from Ryan

  1. Kinyon says:

    Great email! You’re not alone. I have the same issues with nutrition. The summer is a killer. Schedule B is a nutritional nightmare!

    The hardest part with fitness in the fire service is motivation and persistence.

    Adam hit me up, we can solve the comment to email issue.

  2. Ryan Grebe says:

    Wow.. thanks for the reply.. It makes total sense to find the motivation from within..when we do these things to impress others or because we feel guilty if we dont then we are missing the point.. You have to WANT to feel the way you feel after a good WOD on a consistent basis… you have to WANT to feel more energetic after eating right for more than a meal or two… once you block out all the external influences its easy to see what you should do..

    I can remember countless times that ive gone running or on a long bike ride and got that euphoric endorphin rush.. i always say to myself… THIS is why I need to be doing this more consistently!!! Remembering how it feels to be in shape is a motivator in itself..

    The best way I can trick myself into getting out there when I plain dont feel like it is to do something fun.. i signed up for a hockey league, ride my bike, surf, skateboard or go for a hike somewhere totally random. This helps me stay active without getting bored with a repetitive routine.

    I agree with all your suggestions.. thanks for the input! I will be applying them ASAP! By the way how is your progress going with the PT program for the department? Hell I was in the Army 8 years and even the sedentary desk jockeys are required to take a PT test every 2 months like everyone else!! I would be nice to see the department set a standard and stand by it… i dont know about you but I have seen too many hot shots in their 20’s crap out 500 feet into a hoselay and still think they are good to go… kinda scary stuff..

    • Adam says:

      Yeah I’ve been pushing pretty hard to set some kind of standard and issue paper after issue paper has been written on this topic. The bummer is that it looses steam every time it crosses the desk of someone with a waist/hip ratio over 0.85… I’m also still working the academy angle but what it is going to come down to is the individual taking responsibility for their fitness and lifestyle. This grassroots type change is how it gained traction in the military and over time it has evolved into the Tactical Athlete Program at Naval Special Warfare, which is awesome. In our department we will always be hamstrung by anti-discrimination law and at best we might see CPAT (total joke) become a annual event for perm employees. Locally I’m working on adding a voluntary fitness evaluation to the annual CPT training and offering as much programming and nutritional advice as I can.

  3. Tony Simms says:

    You should check out the Spartan Race http://www.spartanrace.com great bolg

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