It is a fun question to ask.
If you could do something over, what and how would you go about it?
If I could have a do-over for my fitness journey, how would I go about it?
First, I am StrongFirst Elite.
And the founder of a popular fitness company that's grown organically for over a decade.
So, I obviously have my stuff together, right?
I am constantly at sub 10% body fat.
My cholesterol levels are perfect.
I have very little left to do.
The view from where I started in 2007 is definitely unbelievable.
Taking control of my health and fitness has been an incredible journey.
But I am not where I thought I'd be.
My blood work looks great but there are a couple of things that could be much better.
My body fat percentage varies from pretty good to average. And never near 10%.
The vague "I am going to be super fit" is a lot clearer now.
So, I thought I'd jot down my goals and gaps, imagining writing them down all those many years ago.
- I thought I'd be ache-free and pain-free.
- I thought I would move with a lot more fluidity and grace.
- I thought I'd be at 10% body fat and maintain it rather easily.
- I thought I'd be like a Duracell bunny in any and all workouts.
I agree with all these goals and I think they are perfect for today.
None of the above is a reality.
Being ache-free and pain-free
I can trace it back to wanting to make gains - lift more weight, lose more fat, run faster and longer - as fast as possible.
When I started lifting barbells, I wanted to squat twice my body weight.
When I joined CrossFit, I wanted to workout with all my might and finish every one of them victorious and wiped out.
And every time I got there, I'd set my sights on a new target.
I kept thinking that as I got stronger, my body would correct itself better.
While I focused on good technique and form, I definitely made compromises - there's a world between good and great.
And the 1000s of reps I did in my earlier days that were barely good are a significant part of my foundation.
Plus, I prioritised stuff I was good at and had fun with, more than the boring stuff. The stuff I needed to do.
I did not spend enough time stretching.
I did not spend enough time on my mental side of things.
Being ache-free and pain-free is goal #1.
Moving with fluidity and grace
This, I think, is an extension of the previous one.
How I move today is beautiful, compared to 16 years ago.
How I move, when I compare it to the impossible ideal, is ...
While that's an unfair comparison, that's what I want.
More importantly, that's what I need.
To knit my body together.
To allow it to express itself better.
Instead of questioning whether that's a rational goal, how about I make that the goal?
16 years ago, if you said I could press half my body weight, I would've questioned your sanity.
So, who am I to say that this is an irrational goal?!
Moving with the grace and fluidity of a cat is goal #2.
10% body fat
Fat loss was always the goal, starting off.
That involved a heck of a lot of discipline in the kitchen.
So, I started off with simpler targets - touch my toes, be able to run a bit, create a fitness habit, get strong and so on.
Eventually, I was ready to tackle the impossible dream of fat loss.
And the science worked.
The steps worked.
When I needed to get under 60 kilos (from an already lean and strong 64 kg), I did that.
While continuing to stay strong - I attended my first StrongFirst certification at a bodyweight of 59.1 kgs to be at a certain weight category.
But anytime I leaned out that much, I lost more strength than I would've liked.
And I could never maintain it.
I would chase two rabbits - strength and fat loss - and abandon one soon enough and not make much progress on the other.
This continued for years and years.
I never bothered to nail it down and maintain it.
It was too much work, honestly.
I could not balance my work, my social life, my love for chocolate ice cream and a low body fat percentage and high strength levels.
I shifted to an easier goal of having my waist-to-height ratio under 0.5.
My waist hovers between 80 cm (height is 164 cm) and 75 cm.
But far away from ~70 cm, which is where I'd need to get to and have my body fat percentage near the 10% mark.
Why is aesthetics a goal?
Well, two personal reasons.
One, I've not done it before.
I've leaned out.
Or I've been incredibly strong.
I've not done both at the same time.
Nor have I made it my new normal.
That makes it an uncomfortable goal to state.
Because I don't know if I will succeed.
And that's precisely why it makes a great goal.
Two, I need to improve some of my blood markers - my Apolipoprotein-B to be exact.
And the one thing I have not done towards it is losing most/all of my non-functional weight.
And then calibrating my nutrition further.
So, to be at a lean and strong body fat percentage is goal #3.
The StrongFirst Elite performance standards are perfect to aim for.
The 10-minute snatch test to replace the 5-minute one (200 snatches in 10 versus 100 snatches in 5) pushes the ante a bit.
Getting back to where I am today (plus a bit more).
That's goal #4.
This is the most fun goal, personally.
And that's why I am keeping this last.
I need to do what I need to do.
Then, I can come to what I want to do.
16 years ago, I would not have had the patience to start being ache-free and pain-free.
The ideal would've been to do that.
Then work on my aerobic base and build that up over a year.
And then start with getting coached on my strength for the next year or so.
And then getting coached to build an all-round program for the next decade.
Well, on paper, that sounds great.
I would've probably quit that program rather quickly.
I am happy with the path I took.
I don't want a do-over.
Every stupid thing I did taught me something.
Every wrong choice I made led to me being a better coach.
Every failure was incredibly useful.
Every goal I hit was sweeter.
The choice of a do-over is optional.
And I'd like to take that option.
I have the rest of my life to hit every fitness goal I can come up with and entertain myself with.
I have a great opportunity to begin again.
Yes, I have more aches and pains than I did 16 years ago.
But I have a ton more tools in my toolbox.
And more importantly, I know it is possible.
All that's required is patience.
Doing the work.
Keeping the goal the goal.
What's the goal?
16 years ago, I did not know getting incredibly strong was feasible for someone like me.
I did not know getting lean was possible for someone with my genetics and 25 years of poor nutrition.
Now, I know otherwise.
Of course, it is going to be hard work, considering I am 16 years older.
But what does my wish list look like?
What I spoke about.
To have my body and mind restored with the quickness agility grace and fluidity that all of us had as kids.
To be up for anything.
To be physically and mentally energetic and wired.
But also very very clear in my head.
I don't know how long these are going to take.
I don't truly know how to get there.
I have some ideas.
I have many learnings.
But it is not a given.
Now, I need to put them together and find a mentor to guide me through it.
And every time I get distracted by a shiny object, I need to remind myself to keep the goal the goal.
I don't know where I heard/read this.
Wisdom is learning to listen to your own advice.
And I've learned a lot and have some solid advice.
Now, to be calm and patient.