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The best success plan for getting in top shape

Sylvan Lake fitness trainer discuses 'forced application'

I have many tricks to get me to my goals and achievements, and as a trainer since the late 90s, I have seen a lot of things work, and a lot of things fail.

As a human being, I have learned through personal experience and research that in addition to being mightily flawed, we are by design, very, very lazy.

No, I am not calling you lazy – I am saying that you are designed that way.

The human body is designed to be super efficient at everything.

This is great, and terrible all at once. As an ultra endurance athlete my heart has grown to be very strong and very efficient. A normal resting heart rate (RHR) is 60 to 100 beats per minute.

My RHR is in the 50s, and when I am really fit before a race, it’s in the 40s.

You see, by training for long hours doing the same thing over and over again, like running for six hours, cycling for 10 or swimming for four hours, my body adapted and became very efficient at doing those things.

My heart grew a bit bigger, and stronger. Instead of lots of little pumps per minute, it has fewer, but more powerful pumps per minute. That makes me more efficient over long distances. It’s not good or bad, it’s just what I have taught my body to become over the past 11 years of training and racing.

So if you have fallen into a life of non-activity, like I was forced to do since my crash in 2015, the body, again, is very efficient. It reduced my muscle, because it was no longer needed.

It started storing food as fat instead of burning it off – that’s easier to do. My metabolism slowed down and things shifted. Even in my broken shoulder and arm, it was amazing to watch the whole system around the injuries atrophy within a few weeks. My body turned off muscles that would pull on the broken bones, in order to protect me. Super efficient! (and according to my impression of me in the mirror, tragic.)

Thankfully, the opposite is true, and now that I am getting over the injuries, and back into training, my body is realizing that in order to ride a stationary bike as hard as I am demanding, it needs to grow stronger, more efficient muscles. Running again means I need to be lighter and therefore more lean, as well as muscles getting stronger and my heart once again becoming more powerful.

So to get back in shape, and in fact, to achieve any of my great successes in life, I use my favourite success principle: Forced Application.

Forced Application really comes down to deadlines.

I signed up for a 150km run in honour of Canada’s 150th Birthday coming up this summer. Why? Well, I have no idea if I can run that far. I have never done it.

I am out of shape, overweight and weak. That won’t work to finish that challenge on May 29th, so I had better get ready! That is forced application. I have also signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene Idaho in August this summer.

Why? Because currently I cannot swim, and have not ridden a bike outside since the crash. So now I have a deadline. I had BETTER re-learn how to swim, follow all of my physio’s advice and do my stretches in order to get my arm strong enough and flexible enough to swim and steer a bike, and I had better do it fast!

Otherwise, as a human being I would coast along just getting by. Doing what was ‘good enough’ for daily life and soon my shoulder would be frozen, my body weak and my racing days dead. I am just not interested in that outcome.

Forced Application works at my job all the time as well. I came up with the idea of creating the Passport to Fitness – sort of a scavenger hunt of fun fitness things to do for 12 weeks in order to get fit, have fun and win a big prize.

Back in November, I set a launch date of Jan. 23rd. That started the clock ticking and over the past two months I have been forced to make meal plans, recipes, schedules, create a book, create a stamp and so much more. Forced Application. Make a promise, set a date and grow to become the person you need to become, in order to succeed.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.