Determination Defined!

            I would love to say that anyone can be determined when it comes to fitness.  Or that determination can be learned like learning how to do a proper squat.  I’d love to say that there’s a formula to being determined and you, like anyone else can achieve it.  But there isn’t.  You either ARE determined, or you’re not, PERIOD!  Complain all you want about being up-lifting and motivating, but let me tell you this, I did not learn determination so attempting to teach it to you would be a waste of OUR time and OUR energy.  What I will do is tell you how I define determination and how I came to be determined in my fitness goals.

            First, we need to make sure you are seeing determination as I am so let’s take a look at how it is defined.  Now, the great dictionary gods have told me that the simplest and most applicable definition, parallel to the point I am trying to make with you is this:

“A firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.”

Well I’ll be damned I couldn’t have put it better myself.  Let that sink in and resonate while we break it down.

            So, the first part of that says firm.  Perfect!  We all know what firm is, right!  Something that is secure, solid, fixed in place, not easily moved or disturbed, not subject to change or revision, not weak………and the list goes on and on but you get the point.  Now let’s apply that to our fitness goals.  Are you firm when it comes to your workout routine?  Does it have a secure spot on your calendar like that meeting with your boss or that anniversary reminder you have for the pretty little lady/or dashingly cute guy you love and adore so much?  No?  Well, in that case we are off to a bad start already.  If you can’t commit to it fully and give it a place in your life, no amount of training on the planet will help you.  Stop making excuses and give it a designated spot a few times a week and on those days tell every other minor activity to “fuck off, I’m busy!”.  With that being said, do go and try to start hardcore an hour and half, five days a week if you are just starting out.  Be reasonable!  Try 30 min three times a week consistently for a month or two then step it up if you want.  Once you are able to establish a ROUTINE, making alterations to increase timing or making minor substitutions becomes easier.

            Now part two fixed intention.  FIXED…………..INTENTION.  Sounds like it goes pretty well with firm wouldn’t you say.  Intent would be the state of mind to act on something but intent alone does absolutely diddlysquat!!!  You intend to clean your room, you intend to get gas for your car, you intend to do the dishes, you intend to eat “better”, now how many times have you NOT completed one of these minor tasks when you intended to do them!  Fixed intent on the other had implies that not only do you have the state of mind to act but nothing will deter you from it now.  How often was your workout subject to change or revision because of the next Happy Hour Party that you just can’t miss?  You may have intended to get your workout done today but it wasn’t FIXED.  It was more of a jello-like guided intent, and that kind of intention is just as useful as jello, jiggly and incapable of supporting anything.  In cases like this I have but one piece of advice cut that shit out!  In fitness, excuses build up like mudslides and avalanches.  One little rumble happens at the top and instead of addressing the issue and evaluating the situation right there on the spot you just ski your little happy ass down the slope of partying, fun and games and when you turn around you are buried up to your neck in something that seems fluffy and lightweight but weighs so much that you need help to get it off.  No help over here because you did it to yourself.  Now that you have to put in some effort to get yourself out of there you won’t be going back anytime soon, will you?  Good!  I’ll stand over here and instruct you how to get out of that crap.

            No worries, it’s almost over.  Part three, to achieve a desired end.  Well now, who can argue with that!  Most of us intend to workout with a desired end to be achieved right?  Faster, “I want to be able to run along the beach with my wife”.  Stronger, “it hurts to move the couch; I have to make some changes”.  Smaller, “I want to lose 20 pounds to fit in the bridesmaid’s dress for my best friend’s wedding………….next month” (WTH).  More defined, “All I want for summer is six pack abs” of course you do.  Whatever it is, it is your goal, the driving force behind you considering leaving the couch for a split second.  Well at least you’ve got that going for you.  But I’ll take a baby step in the right direction as opposed to no step at all.  I’d be concerned if you had no goal at all as that tends to make following the plan harder.  So set an achievable desired goal, hell set several in succession so you can maintain your progress for years to come.  I with you!

            Hopefully you have a better understanding of what determination is and how I view it.  “A firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end” or “A solid and fixed state of mind to achieve a goal”.  Wow, that sounds a lot more profound than I intended.  If you waivered before, STOP!  If it wasn’t fixed before, then FIX IT!  If you didn’t have an achievable goal before, GET UP AND GO GET ONE (I could give you one but you may not like it).

            “Ok Jamel, you defined it, but what about how you got it?”  Well, in my experience individual determination is a lot like the creation of a diamond from coal.  There is constant pressure applied on a lump of coal for extended periods of time causing a chemical reaction from the inside out.  I’ve almost always had a goal in mind from one year to the next (desired end).  Each goal a little more challenging than the last (constant pressure).  I refused to be deterred from the path that would take me to the end (solid fixed state of mind). 

            A brief history of my fitness strides:

  1. Age 15-16:  2 years of high school wrestling (completely reliant on coach’s advice)
  2. Age 18-19:  college gym rat (lifting heavy, no idea what the hell I’m doing)
  3. Age 19-22:  training for amateur bodybuilding competitions (reading lots of muscle magazines, books on bodybuilding, nutrition and correct form) 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place rankings in 3 different competitions
  4. Age 23-24:  in the process of packing on mass in preparation for next bodybuilding season, but got orders to go to Iraq (FML)
  5. Age 24-26:  still training while in Iraq.  Interest peaked in more functional techniques that include heavy loads combined with intense interval training to induce cardio fatigue without the space to go running (hmmmmm I think some of this crazy shit is call Crossfit now)
  6. Age 26-29:  training with no specific goal and finishing accounting degree (and it shows, “this body kind of sucks by my standard of fitness)
  7. Age 30-32:  “intended” to start training for bodybuilding again (see that word there all alone with no support, jello)
  8. Age 32-34:  I hate running but these mud runs (adventure racing) are fun as shit…………..”why is everyone taking so long to get over these 12’ walls” (reevaluation of training methods and increased interest in explosive, functional movements with heavy weights)
  9. Age 34:  quit working as an accountant, started JTC Fitness to train others looking for fitter lifestyles, internal struggle deciding on future training for bodybuilding or more adventure races………………………..


“That’s not brief Jamel.”  Deal with it I left out a lot of details!

             Now that you know where I’m coming from in my own goals and struggles, if you have a goal or a desired end, I have no problem applying the constant pressure and assisting you to establish a solid and fixed state of mind.  But remember, your goal won’t be achieved overnight.  It WILL be tough, it WILL take time, you WILL have to make some sacrifices, you WILL need to be consistent, you WILL need to see it through to the end to see the end result, and lastly it CAN BE DONE!  The next time you start to waiver, have second thoughts about your goal, or get sidetracked by one of life’s little nuances you bring your butt back here and read this again!  If it doesn’t put you back on the road of determination and success, you let me know I’ll talk you through it!

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