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Waking up for me used to suck.
Every morning was like a symphony of pops and cracks accompanied by a chorus of aches and pains. Why did I feel so old? I was only in my mid-twenties.
Instead of sharing my story of how I’ve fixed my body from sitting, misuse and imbalances (you can read about that here), I want to dive deep and go hard into strategies you can use right now to start feeling better today.
What follows is a step-by-step, concrete path you can follow to get your body back to feeling unstoppable, no matter where you are.
We’ll address rebuilding your body from a holistic point of view, uncovering what’s holding you back, and how to fix it permanently.
Sound good? First, we need to start with your story.
Want my best tips packaged in a convenient PDF you can print and use as a reminder?
Step 1: Become the hero of your story (and ditch being a victim)
Your story about your body probably sucks. I know mine did.
For years I thought it was just a slow, inevitable downhill. I thought it was “too late” for me to do parkour, climbing, BJJ or be athletic at a high level. This was at 23 years old. I know, insane.
But that was the shitty story I unknowingly, subliminally picked up. Somehow along the way, I had been indoctrinated into this belief system that I never even agreed to.
Ask yourself, what do you believe about your body? Truthfully, what do you believe?
Now, what do you really want to believe?
Maybe right now your story is one of a victim, a sad tale where someone that once had a lot of potential now is too old, too weak, too whatever, to do something great.
That story sucks, so let’s fix it.
What would it be like if you wrote a new story today, one where you were a hero, rather than a victim?
- What’s the epic quest you’re on right now?
- What dragons do you need to slay?
- What special resources and aids do you have that will help you on your journey?
- How would your best self approach the transformation you most want to make?
Remember, the quality of your results are the direct result of the quality of your beliefs.
Step 2: Uncover the motivation that never disappears
Part of the reason we don’t make a transformation is that we haven’t tapped into a motivation deep enough that will continually propel us forward, even when things are hard.
Without a deep motivation, feeling better, moving better, all that stuff is a nice-to-have thing. We place it in a bucket in the garage that we’ll get to later. And we all know what happens to those buckets, they get shoved into the same dusty corner again when we move.
Instead, what if becoming unstoppable in your body was a necessity just as important as oxygen to you?
You sure as hell would be making different choices then you are now.
Here’s a bold question for you: why is it your moral obligation for you to be in your best shape possible?
- Who is counting on you to be at your best?
- If you needed to perform in an emergency, like carrying your partner out of a burning building, could you?
- If you had to jump over a fence to evade a zombie, would you succeed, or get eaten? 🙂
In all seriousness, the more necessity you associate with being at your best, the more likely you are to follow through.
The problem now is life doesn’t require us to be fit. We have to be the ones to motivate ourselves to make different choices.
We have to motivate ourselves to train, to recover, to do the work to restore our bodies and be at our best. If you rely on your own fleeting desires, you’re automatically setting yourself up for failure. If you tap into a source of motivation that embodies necessity I promise you will never struggle with motivation again.
Step 3: Stop lying to yourself
Here’s an obvious tip that most people don’t follow: stop making your training beyond your reach.
Stop kidding yourself that handstands are fine when you have shitty shoulder mobility.
Stop lying to yourself that you can run when your knee/ankle/hip is constantly yelling at you.
Stop trying to do that move you saw on Instagram, without doing the 5+ years of work it took to get there.
You know if I’m talking to you.
You have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.
I see too many of you out there fucking yourselves up because you want to be somewhere you’re not.
Now, I’m not telling to not dream big, to have big goals, to reach for your full potential. You should do all that. But you need to build a foundation first.
If you’re not sure where to start, a daily mobility practice is the beginning for 90% of you. Create a simple morning routine of squatting, hanging, quadruped reaches, downward dog, moving your hips, spine, and all your joints.
If you don’t know what to do, watch this video:
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Step 4: Build a simple routine of foundational movements
There are certain movements that are more impactful and that generate greater results than other. These are typically exercises that involve:
- Controlling your body through space
- Mastering tension and coordination
- Both the need to lengthen and compress
While you could easily argue that there are dozens of foundational movements, when I work with a new client there are always a few movements I prioritize, because they give the most “bang for your buck.”
Here are a handful of them:
Do these every day for a month and see what happens in your body.
I guarantee you will feel more strength, flexibility and coordination than you ever have before.
Step 5: Become the type of person that always shows up
I used to make the mistake of making my workouts ridiculously complicated. I would watch one Youtube video after another, getting excited about this movement, this training approach, and that program recommended by that fitness expert I had a man-crush on.
You know what that left me with? Being incredibly inconsistent.
It wasn’t until I made it my mission to master the basics that I started seeing real progress in my ability to show up on a regular basis.
Here’s how to make it easier to show up:
- Write down exactly when and where you’re going to train right now
- Decide what you’ll do in advance. Whether this is written by a coach or a program you got online somewhere, make sure you don’t show up to a training session without a plan.
- Set an alarm that reminds you of why it’s a necessity for you to show up at least 20 min before your time to train.
- Set out your clothes and shoes the night before, and rehearse in your brain the steps you’ll take getting yourself to the gym and performing your training session.
- When you’re having a bad day, just do the first set. Decide to do more if you’re feeling good, or call it a day.
- Believe that you’re the type of person that shows up. Ingrain this belief into your brain with action and affirmation.
- Get leverage on yourself. If no one knows about your commitment, you can easily back out. Make your commitment to showing up public and ask that you be called out if you don’t check in.
- Most importantly, create a weekly or monthly reminder to track your wins and progress. If you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere, you won’t be encouraged to keep moving forward.
If you do these things, you will become the type of person that shows up no matter what.
Step 5: Awareness > Progress
It’s a funny, counterintuitive thing —the more you focus on the goal, the longer it takes for you to get there.
The more you focus on the process, the easier (and more enjoyable) the journey is. And you reach your destination faster without as much struggle.
However, it’s not super useful for you to try to focus on the process because it doesn’t really give your mind something to do.
This is why I recommend that instead you focus on deepening your level of awareness.
Before every practice session, have a routine for checking in with your body that ensures that your practice will be deeper than just going through the motions.
Here’s what my five-minute warmup looks like:
- First two minutes: Standing, scanning down my body with my awareness, from head to toe. My goal is to objectively, without judgment feel my body with as much detail as possible.
- Second minute: Softening my breath, getting taller and feeling the weight of my body. My intention is to drop into the space and remember that I am where I am.
- Last two minutes: I take the next minute to remember why it’s a necessity for me to show up at my best and focus on my intention for how I want to show up. What do I want to embody today?
I’ll then spend a few minutes warming up the major joints I’ll be focusing on for my training session that day and get to work. I’m dropped in, fully in my body and in a place where I can really be with my movement. In this way, I’m ensuring that I’m getting the most out of my practice, and not just going through the motions.
Step 6: Introduce novelty and chaos to fight boredomThe gym and modern workout routines are a kind of fitness utopia. Everything is predictable, manicured, restrained.Click To Tweet
The floors have the right amount of padding and grip. The weights and machines have handles perfectly manufactured for your grip. The routines may be challenging, but they’re often mind-numbingly safe.
After a while in this environment, your brain can go on autopilot. No reason to stay engaged. The brain sees no use for staying alert, checks out and starts going through the motions.
This, of course, is a massive vulnerability that most people don’t talk about. Boredom is one of the biggest reasons my clients tell me that they fall off with their training. It’s not challenging them because there is no novelty and no unpredictability.
What’s the antidote?
- Every six weeks, change up your training routine. Focus on new progressions, new exercises, new ways to keep things novel and engaging.
- Bring more play and exploration into your sessions. A good way to do this is 15 minutes of play in your warmup or at the end of your session. If you struggle to give yourself permission to play because it’s not “useful” remember that play is evolution’s best solution to the most difficult educational problems. It’s serious business.
- Change your environment. Practice in a park you’ve never been to. Put obstacles in your way that make your training harder or more interesting.
Remember, your body evolved as a response to a constantly changing environment. Adaptation was a necessity for survival.The more you introduce novelty and chaos into your training, the more you align with your evolutionary DNA.Click To Tweet
The more you stay stuck in your comfortable patterns, the more go against your nature.
Step 7: Amp up the meaning and practicality
Not too long ago, fitness was just another word for living. There were no workouts unless you were a gladiator or soldier because life itself was a workout.
Modern fitness is a compensation for what we’re not doing as a result of our comfortable lifestyle.
I’m convinced that the reason most people struggle with fitness is not that they don’t want to move, but because they find traditional workouts meaningless.
Your brain evolved to solve movement challenges, not to go through the motions over and over in the name of some vague notion of “fitness.”
One answer to this is to be incredibly clear on why your training (whether it be for your health, your family, or to simply look good naked).
This is one step to making training more meaningful, but we can do better.
The next level is to make your training meaningful because it is inherently goal-oriented.
As ridiculous as it sounds, you’re attempting to recreate in your brain that you are doing something that involves an actual purpose. 🙂 You’re not climbing to simply climb, but to reach and get that thing at the top (like food).
Here are a few ways you can implement this strategy in your training:
- When stretching, reach for a target, instead of just stretching to stretch. Use an object as a visual cue to reach further.
- When lifting weights, don’t just pick things up and put them down. Pick them up and move them somewhere. Try to turn your training into a game.
- When doing pushups, pull-ups, or crawling, focus on actually traveling somewhere, or at the very least, imagine in your mind a scenario where you would need to do this in real life (crawling out of a burning building, pulling yourself over a ledge, etc.).
The more you make movement training like real life, the easier it is for your brain to understand why you are doing it.
So, make your training goal-oriented and your gains will follow. 🙂
Now, that was a lot… So, here’s a simple way to make sure you implement everything you just learned
That is, to develop a consistent, daily, quality routine focusing on the foundations of restorative, confidence building movement.
I know how easy it is to consume information without doing anything with it. (Ahem, I wouldn’t know anything about binging on Youtube videos or tutorials and not doing anything with them. Nope. Definitely not.)
So, I’ve made a cheat sheet you can print out and put somewhere in your physical environment.
If you read my post about the visual trigger technique, you know it’s important to make your environment work for you.
Click the button below and you’ll get access to it immediately, and you’ll get a sweet discount when my course on mastering the foundations of movement opens next week.
Once you print this out, post on Instagram and tag @jonathanmead. I’ll randomly select one person to get free access to the Primal Body course when it opens next week.