42 Lessons Learned

It’s been awhile since I did one of these posts. Hell, it’s been awhile since I did any type of blog post. But as I roll through my 42nd birthday, hopefully unnoticed, and since some of you may be enjoying a little summer getaway and might need some quick reading I thought I would throw out a lessons learned post. Hopefully I can come up with 42. Here we go….

  1. To all you young’uns out there, do not not wait too long before you start paying attention to your flexibility and mobility. I really didn’t start paying attention to it until my early 30’s and by then I was so far behind it has been almost impossible to catch up on. Address your mobility during your warm ups. Address it on recovery days. Do a few stretches while you are sitting in front of the tv. It doesn’t take much time. It just requires a lot of frequency.
  2. To those on the other side of 40 let’s face it. You can not pound yourself into the ground with each and every workout because you can not just recover like you used to. Be smarter with your exercise selection. Be smarter with your programming. Add in some recovery days or mobility circuits. Stop worrying about continuously adding weight to the bar.
  3. One of the best things I ever did for myself was get a dog. Not only has my black lab, Fenway, been my companion for these last eleven plus years, but she also forces me to get outside for a 20-30 minute walk at least 4-5 times a week. Want to improve your mental and physical health? Get a dog.
  4. My best measure of where I’m at from a fitness standpoint? Chin ups. If I have been slacking on my training or my diet it shows up immediately with chin ups. Find something other than the scale as an indicator of your current fitness level, use that as a baseline and test it every now and then.
  5. Making my bed every day is a must. It’s a quick sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning.
  6. I’ve learned it’s alright to tell my dad that I love him. I don’t think I ever told my dad I loved him until my mom passed away. It’s not because I didn’t love him. It’s just the way the Ruffing men showed or didn’t show their emotion. And now that I know it’s alright to tell him that I love him I have to do it more often. Love you Dad.
  7. Breakfast is not a must for me. Sometimes I eat it. Most of the time I do not. There was a time I, like everyone else, thought it was the most important meal of the day. That time changed about six years ago. And six years from now it may change back. You never have to be locked into one way of thinking forever. What works for you now may not work for you weeks or years from now.
  8. I need to drink more water. Yes, I start each day off with about 12-16 ounces right when I get out of bed, but I have to a better job of drinking more over the course of the day. It might be the easiest thing I or you can do from a health standpoint. No excuses.
  9. I love beer to much to ever give it up. I have tried to give it up for a a couple weeks in the past. That lasted about three days. It’s a hopeless battle.
  10. And pizza. I love that too much also to ever give it up. That’s an even more hopeless battle. Beer and pizza….you win.
  11. Personally I will never use cardio as a main weight loss option. I weighed about 165-168 lbs when I was running 30-40 miles a week when training for the marathon about four years ago. Today I weight about 170-172 pounds while running zero miles a week. 30-40 miles a week for a difference of 5-7lbs? No thanks.
  12. Getting a good night’s sleep is a process. I can not just put everything down, brush my teeth, set my alarm, hop into bed and expect to get a good night’s sleep. I need a ritual. I need to set a time I am going to be in bed by. I need to set a time I am going to turn my computer off by and put my phone down. I need to set a time I am going to stop drinking water by unless I want to be heading to the bathroom 2-3 times a night. I need to take 5-6 deep breaths once I lie down in bed. After all that, then it’s time for lights out.
  13. It’s been over five years since she passed, but the impact my mom will have on my life will last forever. I was more fortunate than others and had my mom around for 36 years of my life. Thirty six years of many great moments and lessons learned. Moments and lessons that will last forever.
  14. Probably the single best thing you can do every day is ask each person you come across how they are doing. And when someone asks you how you are doing do not just say “Good”. Instead say, “Good, how are you?” Show people that you care. It’s just a few extra words.
  15. Somewhere in your training train with speed or with power. It does not matter how young or old you are. Train with battling ropes. Do some box jumps. Do some kettlebell swings. Do some med ball throws. There is a bunch of options. Power is the first physical quality to go as you age and when it is gone it is hard to get back.
  16. I am never going to be great at golf. I do not work on it enough. I do not play enough. And that is something I will have to live with. I used to get pissed when I wasn’t playing well. But honestly? How well should I expect myself to play when I wasn’t working on the game enough. Your expectations have to meet your efforts.
  17. The single best thing you can do to get the most of your workouts: find a training partner or partners. This is a mistake I’ve made for years. I always trained on my own and there are times I know I could have pushed the intensity more, gotten more out of a set, did one extra rep, etc. if I had been working out with someone else.
  18. The next best thing you can do to get the most out of your workouts: leave your cell phone in the car. There’s no need to troll someone else’s Facebook page between sets of squats. You can troll when the workout is over. Focus on the task at hand.
  19. I will never shun LuLuLemon again. There was a time I would not even consider wearing a piece of their clothing because I thought it was too expensive or too foo foo for me. I’ll never do that again. Their shorts and workout pants are the most comfortable pieces of workout clothing I’ve ever owned and are worth every damn dollar.
  20. I wish I had taken college more seriously. Wish I had buried my head in the books a bit more. Wish I had done an internship or two. Wish I had taken more business classes. Instead being away from home and “free” for the first time I was more worried about if a keg would get a dorm room floor through a Friday night. And then on graduation day I was left sitting there asking myself “What the f am I going to do now?”. Things have worked out for the most part up to this point, but it has taken me a lot longer to get there.
  21. Getting some sun to get some fresh air and vitamin D is one thing. Baking out in the sun without any sunblock is another thing and can do some real damage in the long run. I was that guy. I was that guy for a long time. I learned the hard way this past spring when I had to have a basal cell carcinoma spot removed from my forehead. The removal wasn’t cheap, I looked like a goofball for a few weeks with a bandage across my head and the chances of me getting basal cell or some other form of skin cancer have now increased. Luckily it was only basal cell. Others are not so fortunate. It is not worth it.
  22. White rice is not bad. Potatoes are not bad. Carbs are not bad. White rice, potatoes and carbs in excess? That’s a different story.
  23. I’ve learned that a brother/brother and brother/ sister relationship are two totally different things. My brother is pretty much my best friend and we can pretty much say anything to one another. And if we say something that pisses the other off we get over it quickly. It took me awhile to realize I could not talk to my sister the same way. I have never meant to hurt her. I’ve just been hard on her at times when I shouldn’t have been. Plus being the oldest of the three of us siblings sometimes I think I can get away with saying somethings I probably should not. I love you, Lauren.
  24. Any successful nutrition plan or diet is going to come down to three main things: 1) drink more water and less calorie containing beverages 2) eat more vegetables and fruit, preferably more vegetables 3) get enough protein in. Do those three things and you will have an easier time keeping calories in check.
  25. What I eat or how I train has absolutely zero bearing on how someone I’m working with should eat or train. Yeah, there maybe some commonalities, but there are also going to be some differences. There are no absolutes.
  26. I wish I had my mom show me how to cook or had taken some cooking classes when I was younger. No one likes a shitty cook.
  27. You can not measure yourself up tho this person or that person or the next person. Everyone comes from different backgrounds. Some people are smarter than others or just plain brilliant. Some people work a lot harder and longer than you think they do. If you just keeping measuring yourself up against others to determine whether you’re successful or not you will never truly be happy.
  28. I am more of a morning person than a night person. I’d much rather get up at 6am, get a workout in and get shit out of the way early rather than sleep in and push stuff stuff until later in the day.
  29. Much like my clients I have to take a look at the schedule and set up my times to work out for that week and sometimes even the following week. Yeah, I own a gym and technically have more opportunity to get a workout in than others, but it’s also very easy for me to let other things get in the way.
  30. Never be afraid to ask for help. I know who to ask for help and who to ask for help for certain things. I also know who not to ask for any help with anything. If you try to do every single thing on your own all the time you are going to drive yourself mad.
  31. Family will be always be everything to me. Without family I really do not have anything. I do not have a college education. I do not have my brother as my best friend. I do not have Accelerated Fitness. I do not have adorable nieces and a nephew that I love spending time with. It saddens me when I hear about siblings or families who haven’t spoken to each other in years. I could never imagine that and will do everything to never let that happen.
  32. I need to eat more vegetables. I don’t mind vegetables really so I do not know why I do not eat enough of them. Again, maybe if I enjoyed cooking or had some better ideas on how to cook vegetables I would eat more of them.
  33. No matter how bad you think you have it someone else probably has it worse. It’s alright to feel sorry for others, but you can’t go around feeling sorry for yourself all the time.
  34. I’ve learned there is no timeline for life. Some people are going to get married early, some married later, others not married at all. Some are going to own a house early. Some like my parents will not own their first home until they are in their 50’s. Some may never own a house. This goes back to measuring yourself up against others. If you’re going to keep measuring yourself up against a timeline you probably are going to wind up pretty unhappy.
  35. There is more than one way to squat. You can squat below parallel. You can squat to a box. You can front squat. You can do single leg squats. There is not one squat variation that everyone has to fit into. Find one that works for you. Train it. See what happens. And then either keeping training it if it works or go try another variation if you want.
  36. Even if you do not own a dog get out for at least a 20-30 minute walk as many times as possible each week. It is probably the single best thing you can for your health mentally and physically.
  37. I have learned I have zero appetite control. Put a pizza in front of me and I am going to down the whole thing. Give me a batch of freshly baked cookies and they are going to be gone in no time. And that is the reason why I do not keep that stuff around my house on a regular basis. I can’t eat it if I don’t have it.
  38. Tequila has never been a good thing for me and will never be a good thing for me. The only thing tequila does for me is get me in trouble. That lesson has been learned a few times and hopefully never has to be learned again.
  39. It really is the little things that matter. It’s holding the door open for someone. It’s saying “Thank you” after someone just held the door open for you. It’s just sending a short text to see how someone is doing. Do not underestimate how doing those little things on a regular basis will make you feel or how others feel.
  40. We all need to learn how to breath…the right way. It took me years to take this seriously, but once I did I got more out of my core work, I sped up recovery a bit more and my sleep got better. Inhale through the nose, exhale twice as long through the mouth.
  41. The one thing that sabotages my nutrition on a regular basis and the one thing I need to do my best to stay away from? Peanut butter. Anything that has peanut butter as an ingredient or just has has a slight hint of peanut butter is mine. I’ll eat all things peanut butter. I’ll drink all things peanut butter. Ice cream with peanut butter. Cold oats with peanut butter. Beer with peanut butter flavor. I must to do better with peanut butter.
  42. You can not take your health for granted. Some of us are not so fortunate to be granted a good bill of health. And there are those who have no real underlying issues, have a clean bill of health and go and abuse it. They ignore the importances of nutrition, exercise, sleep, healthy relationships, etc.. Good health has to be worked at, not ignored and not taken for granted.

And now another year awaits. Another year of some lessons to be learned.

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