Training is Like Farming

(Originally posted by strength coach Mike Boyle

I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People making reference to what I believe he called “the law of the farm.” The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a strength and conditioning coach, business owner and personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together. Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.

Plant the seeds.

Feed and water properly.

Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.


Is Your Thyroid Weighing You Down?

Do you have difficulty gaining weight; or, are you like the majority of the population who has a hard time losing it?  Have you consistently been eating healthy? Religiously doing cardio? Faithfully strength training? Yet, nothing seems to be happening?  There could be an internal force working against you and your fitness success.  This butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck (called the thyroid) could be the limiting factor.  This gland manufactures two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).  Thyroid hormones impact every cell and organ of the body.  They help control metabolism, heart rate, body temperature as well as the regulation of other organs. Read the rest of this entry

Lifting Light Weights?

(Originally posted by strength coach Mike Boyle

No one has ever gotten better lifting light weights. Light weight is an oxymoron. A weight should be appropriate to the goal but, rarely, if ever, intentionally light. The load should be based on the strength level of the person. The reality is if you are lifting a weight ten times, numbers nine and ten should be difficult. If you can lift a weight 20 times but choose to do only ten, you are wasting your time. Period. Read the rest of this entry

Decisions, Decisions: Strength Training vs. Cardio?

During workouts, do you put too much emphasis on cardio? Strength training? Both!?! NEITHER!?!  For optimal health, it is essential to incorporate both into a workout regimen.  Research conflicts as to which is better; regardless, cardiovascular exercise offers benefits that strength training cannot AND vice versa.  It’s comparable to choosing to wear a shirt or pants; BOTH are ideal.   Read the rest of this entry

The Hype over Superfoods

Are there actually foods that could reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and other life threatening illnesses? According to some researchers, these types of miracle foods we eat (or at least should eat) do exist. These superfoods are called as such, because their benefits reach beyond basic nutrition. They tend to be nutrient-rich and low in calories, while promoting optimal health and minimizing the risk of disease. These foods are the next best alternative to that “magic pill” scientist have yet to create. Read the rest of this entry

Powder…The Next Generation of Peanut Butter

Quite often clients and fellow gym members seek nutritional advice; recently, the topic of powdered peanut butter was brought up. I read an article about the subject matter in the latest issue of Nutrition Action (not yet available online). Powdered peanut butter is not new to the nutrition scene, but its popularity seems to be on the rise and with that comes many questions. Read the rest of this entry

Are You Functionally Fit?

You have been working out religiously, pushing more weight than ever before, looking better and feeling great, only to be set back days, weeks or even months with an injury.  Whether caused by playing with a child, carrying a bulky suitcase, shoveling heavy snow or swinging a tennis racket (or golf club), all the heavy lifting in the world will not help, if you have neglected to condition your body for these movement patterns. Read the rest of this entry

Only One Body

(Originally posted by strength coach Mike Boyle

Imagine you are sixteen years old and your parents give you your first car. They also give you simple instructions. There is one small hitch, you only get one car, you can never get another. Never. No trade-ins, no trade-ups. Nothing

Ask your self how would you maintain that car? My guess is you would be meticulous. Frequent oil changes, proper fuel, etc. Now imagine if your parents also told you that none of the replacement parts for this car would ever work as well as the original parts. Not only that, the replacement parts would be expensive to install and cause you to have decreased use of your car for the rest of the cars useful life? In other words, the car would continue to run but, not at the same speed and with the efficiency you were used to. Read the rest of this entry

Snack Packs: A Waste of 100 Calories

With a society of over eaters, constant snackers and excessive calorie consumers, the food industry has figured out a way to cash in on the population’s overindulgence. They created the 100 calorie snack pack, which range from chips, nuts, crackers and cookies just to name a few. These munchies tend to be unhealthy and highly processed, as they contain increased levels of sugar, sodium and/or fat. Calorically, these snacks might be low; however, they add minimal nutritional benefit from vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are necessary for optimal health.

Wild About Fish

Why is certain tilapia more expensive than another? Why does some salmon appear gray while others are pink and/or red?  The answer most likely depends on whether the fish is wild or farm raised.  Wild fish are found in oceans, lakes, rivers and streams; farm raised fish tend to live in a more controlled environment on fish farms that are specifically designed for mass production. As a result of the growing human population and overfishing, fish farms have become increasingly more popular to maximize revenue and to keep up with the high demand.

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