When to Hold Em, and When to Fold Em: Knowing When to Walk Away

Letting go is arguably the most difficult thing to do. Whether it’s in a game of cards and you have a hand you love, or in the game of life where you have a person you love, learning when to let go and following through is extremely difficult. I know, because I’ve had to let go of some amazing people and although it is never easy, it’s one of the healthiest things I’ve done to further my happiness and life.

Over the past week I’ve had multiple conversations with friends, family, and clients about letting go of people and situations that were no longer serving them. That statement may seem a bit selfish, and with good reason, because protecting your mental health and well-being is a me first process. This doesn’t mean you are a selfish person, but rather that you understand to be the best you, you must be protective over yourself, your mental health, and your overall well-being.

What I’ve realized through these conversations, and through my own life’s journey, is that we never really know when to let go and that there’s no “right time” to let go because each person and situation is different. Topple that with the fact that most of us feel, or are taught, that letting go is a form of giving up and to “never give up” and you’ve got a recipe for settling and putting up with people that is unhealthy at best. The story that follows is one that taught me a lesson on how to let go, and allowed me to see that it’s ok to let go.

This is the story of the ultimate bromance. A friendship that changed lives, shook the world, and taught me how to respect my mental health and well-being enough to walk away from someone and something I loved. It’s part story, part lesson and partially me working through my emotions toward a situation from my past. I thank you in advance for reading, and I think you’ll find benefit from doing so.

College is one of the most fun and challenging times in an adult’s life. You’re (usually) still living on mom and dad’s dime, trying to figure out who you are, and find some semblance of purpose as you go along. It’s a period of rapid, and sometimes uncomfortable, growth. For me, college was all of that and more. It was a wild roller coaster ride that I was scared would only end when it came to a crashing halt. That crashing halt was a self-fulfilling prophecy that eventually came, but that’s a story for another time. Today, we are talking about a friendship that taught me self-respect, love, and knowing when to talk away.

Everyone has that one friend. The one who has made such a profound impact on their life, it’s hard to sum up exactly what they mean to you. Some of us find that person young and others find them later in life. Some will hold onto that friendship forever, and others, like myself, will have that friendship long enough to teach us what we were meant to learn before walking away.

For this story’s sake, I’m going to give my friend a name to protect his privacy. That name will be David. David and I met early on in college, the first week of our first semester to be exact, and like they say with all good things that are meant to be, “the rest was history”. However, the history is where the good stuff lies and where lessons can be learned, so it’s there that we turn our attention.

I remember the day we met like it was yesterday. It’s weird to remember something so vividly like that, where it’s not just the saying “I remember it like it was yesterday”, but rather, you actually remember it in such detail that it felt like it just happened.

We were both sitting alone in the cafeteria, enjoying our less than stellar college dorm room cafeteria dinner, when we made eye contact. David was far more outgoing between the two of us at the time (funny enough, this changed drastically throughout our friendship) and so he waved and invited me over to sit with him. As faith would have it, my introverted and shy self decided, against all warning signs to the contrary, to take him up on the offer and headed over to sit with him.

In a matter of minutes and a short conversation later, we quickly became friends. There was no awkwardness, no ego driven defensive walls that would’ve slowed the building of our relationship, just open conversation and connection that’s rare to find as adults. It’s funny how some people just click like that, like the universe itself would struggle to keep them apart, but that was us, just two guys who were meant to be friends and travel the road of life together.

During our years in college, our friendship only grew stronger. In a place and time in life where most people pick up and drop friends like newspapers, we were different. We had something special that we both knew would outlast college and stick with us for life. It gave us peace of mind knowing where the other person stood, and trusting in our friendship to always be there. It also gave us confidence, because we felt like we didn’t need anyone or anything if we had each other.

I know, I know it all sounds like a bit more than a friendship. Many people started to get that idea, especially when we would turn down offers of dates with beautiful girls, because we preferred to spend time with each other. Think what you want, but our relationship was entirely platonic, we just enjoyed each other’s company more than we could imagine enjoying anyone else’s.

Imagine never knowing you had a sibling, then one day finding out, seeking them out, and realizing that they were exactly who and what you needed your entire life. That was what David and I were to each other, long lost brothers who filled in all the little spaces and voids that life had created along the way.

After college ended, or at least our time on campus, we went our separate ways. I moved back to my hometown and picked life back up there, while he moved back to his and started a job there. We were over 2 hours away from each other and most friendships or relationships wouldn’t be able to handle the distance. Like I said though, our friendship was different.

Our friendship didn’t skip a beat, even with the distance between us. We would talk or text nearly every day and see each other at least once a month. We were determined not to lose each other like most people do, simply because life (careers, relationships, etc) and distance got in the way. It took a hell of a lot more effort, but you don’t mind putting forth that effort when you know you’re investing in something that is beneficial and yields quality returns. Things between us were really good for quite some time, but like the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end”.

Our friendship ended nearly as abruptly as it started, in the same sort of “the universe is pulling the strings” as when we first met. While the end was quick and clean, the decline that led to the eventual end was anything but that.

Overtime we grew apart. I was fighting to get my life back on track, regain my mental health, and battle demons that I had been hiding from for a long time. I needed time and space to be a little bit selfish and take care of myself, and so my role in the demise of our friendship is strong.

David didn’t understand why I needed time and space. He didn’t understand working on yourself, because he never really had to. You see, we came from totally different lives. He came from money, power and family recognition, while I came from a lot of turmoil and struggle. He was raised by two parents, and money was never a worry, while I was raised by a single mother who fought every single day to provide for us. In many ways, he didn’t know much about hardship, but for me, hardship was like a worn-out pair of shoes, it was the norm.

These differences initially allowed us to mesh and connect, like two jagged puzzle pieces that fit just right, but over time those puzzle pieces started to change and deform. As he became more rigid in who he was, unyielding to growth and change, I became more fluid and adaptable, understanding that to live the life I wanted to live and be the person I wanted to be, change was my only option. He continued down a path that we had started to blaze in college, laced with drugs, alcohol and a focus on a social life, while I was met with a fork in the road and difficult decisions. Where he went right, I went left and that was the beginning of the end.

As months went by, our relationship grew more and more distant. It wasn’t just the physical distance between us, but rather the emotional and mental distance that’s put between two people when one chooses to change and grow, and the other refuses to admit the need to grow, that really strained our relationship. Much like when friends and family give my clients a hard time about making positive changes to their health, he wasn’t happy that I was trying to make positive changes to my life. It’s hard to stick around someone, when they’re a constant reminder of what you’re not doing, and I think that’s what I was for him, a reminder of the changes he needed to make, but refused to.

My mom raised me as a never give up, don’t quit, fighter. So, while in my mind I knew where our relationship was headed, I also knew I was going to fight like hell not only for our friendship, but also for David who needed someone to fight for him. I have a hard time giving up on people, and I always try to see the best in them and give them second, third, and fourth chances, even to my own demise. David was no different, and I probably fought too hard and too long.

There were tons of warning signs, plenty of situations, and loads of reasons why I should’ve walked away from our friendship far sooner than I did, but I just kept reminding myself of the good that was inside him and how much I missed seeing that. Unfortunately, drugs and addiction had a strong hold on him and his life and had other plans. He went from a happy. and outgoing guy that everyone wanted to be around, to someone who isolated himself, shut the world out, and became extremely selfish. It was hard to talk to him or be around him, because I remembered him for who and what he was, and it angered me to see who he had become.

Over time, things progressively got worse. I saw him less and less, and the drugs grabbed hold of him more and more. What was once a recreational habit to spice up the boring nights at a private university, became an obsession for him. I began worrying not only for his health, but more so for his safety as I knew he was interacting with dangerous people to get his fix, and putting others at risk when driving under the influence.

Despite all of this, I still tried. I tried to maintain our friendship. I tried to be there for him and support him. And I tried to help him. If you know anything about addiction, you know that it doesn’t matter how hard you try, how much you care, or how much time you spend. Until the person decides to make a change for themselves, change won’t happen.

They say an addict needs to hit rock bottom before they realize that change needs to happen, but I think the same can be true of most every situation, relationships included. Change only happens when things get bad enough that you are hit with the realization that they need to change, and that there is no other option, and my realization about our friendship was about to happen.

I got a call from David, frantic and emotional. It wasn’t unusual, most of the calls I received at this point were when he was emotional and/or needed something. I picked up, promising myself that I wouldn’t go out of my way to help him, unless he was ready to help himself. He wasn’t, but I did.

David had just quit his job. Rather, he had been forced out. He was working for a company and driving a company car that he ended up wrecking. The company gave him the choice of walking away, and keeping his record clean, or sticking around where they were required to drug test him. Knowing that drugs would show up on his test, David decided to walk away from the job.

The choice to walk away from the job was easy for David, but dealing with all of the stress and emotions that came with that decision were not, so he called me. And being supportive, and slightly naive, I of course answered and agreed to let him visit for the weekend to “clear his head and figure out a plan”. I was worried that if I didn’t answer, or didn’t support him, things would just turn even worse.

About 2 hours later here David was. Emotional, stressed, and I was hoping, at “rock bottom”. He seemed to be clear headed and clean, although it was difficult to tell at the time. We hugged, chatted a bit and things felt like they were going to get back to “normal”. I had no idea how wrong I was.

At the time I was living at home with my mom, along with my older sister and her then 3-year-old son. My family all loved David and would do anything for him, so we always had a place for him to stay if he needed it. This was no different and so my family and I welcomed him with open arms.

The day went as usual. He was open and updated us on what was going on with his life. He seemed to be in a good place mentally, and wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable with his current struggles. He was cracking jokes, laughing, and acting like the old David would. Unfortunately, it was all a facade.

David was in no way clean. He was nowhere near clear headed. And he wasn’t back to his old self. The person we saw and were around in the daytime, was a character he had built to navigate daily life and make people think that he had his shit together. What happened later that night would show me how wrong I was, and how bad of a place he was in.

That night, after having a seemingly normal day David and I went our separate ways. I went to my bedroom, and he went to the spare bedroom across the hall. I went to bed feeling good about letting him visit and what the future held in store for him, and our friendship. That good feeling only lasted a few hours.

I woke up in the middle of the night to loud noises, random banging, and someone talking in a loud and slightly aggressive manner. I quietly exited my room, crept down the stairs, and unsure of what I would encounter, prepared for the worst. Instead of a robber or murderer being in my house, it was David. He was alone, talking to himself angrily and there was a mess everywhere. I approached him cautiously, realizing he was likely under the influence, and asked if he was alright.

It was funny how quickly he shifted his personality, going from angry and intoxicated, to kind and gentle in a matter of moments. It showed me how long he had been putting on the facade of “being alright” and how easy it was for him to switch that flip when he felt it was necessary.

I explained to him how late it was, how loud he was being, and that both my family and I would really appreciate it if he could keep it down and head back to bed. He agreed, and followed me up the stairs. Once again, we parted ways, but this time those good feelings I felt before were gone.

Luckily, things stayed calm the rest of the night, but everything was not calm behind closed doors. It turns out that David had overdosed, to the point of throwing up all over himself and the guest room he was sleeping in, and that was why he was up in the middle of the night. He was angry because he knew he was going to get caught, and was banging around downstairs trying to figure out how to clean himself and the bedroom he had puked in without anyone knowing.

The next morning, I had one of the most difficult conversations of my life. I knew what I had to do, and I knew it couldn’t wait, but naturally I wanted to stall for as long as possible. I waited until the house cleared out, and David and I could talk alone. Then, I had the conversation that would change our friendship, and my life, forever.

I eased into the conversation, knowing what I wanted to say, but not knowing how to say it. I wanted to avoid conflict and I didn’t want to push him further away, but I knew I couldn’t let the previous night go. If there’s one thing that’s always been true about me it’s this: you can walk all over me, and I may or may not speak up, but if you walk over my family, put them in harm, or disrespect them, I can never let that go. And that’s what David had done. He had used my family, disrespected them, and more than anything, put my nephew at risk, and for that I could never forget or let it go. As badly as I wanted to avoid the conversation, he had crossed a line that I felt never should’ve been crossed, and so I had no choice.

The conversation went much as I expected. I brought up the events from the previous night, explained how they made me feel, and why I felt it was necessary to have the conversation we were having. I explained that I was worried for him and loved him, otherwise the conversation would not have happened and I would’ve simply kicked him out and been done with it. I expressed that I felt his drug use had become a problem, one that was affecting more than just his life, and that he needed to make a change and/or seek help. I said everything I felt I needed to say and wanted to say, giving myself the comfort of knowing that I didn’t hold anything back. One last time, I put my all into that failing relationship and again, the same wasn’t reciprocated.

David played the entire night off like it was no big deal. Sure, he had taken a few too many pills and gotten too intoxicated, but it was an accident, wasn’t the norm, and in no way showed that he had a drug problem. He was just struggling with the stress of losing his job and figuring out what’s next, and as a result, got a bit careless with his usage.

From there, the conversation only escalated from bad to worse. I refused to be swayed by his story, refused to let him play upon my emotions and love for him, and resolved to be heard and understood, or simply move on from it. During the short 30-minute conversation, the facade of friendly, got it all together, David had unraveled and his true personality, that which was driven by drugs, came forth. He got angry, not physically mind you, and defensive. He refused to accept that he had a problem, and refused to accept that the events from the night prior were offensive at all. All of the respect that I thought he had for me and my family disappeared during that conversation.

I realized that the conversation was only going to get worse if I continued down this path, so I realized it was time for me to let go and part ways with David. I told him that I loved him, and would always be there for him when he was ready to make a change, but that I couldn’t keep putting my own personal needs aside to try to help him, when he refused to help himself or admit the need for change. Surprisingly, he took it rather well, packed up and left shortly thereafter. That is the last time that I saw David, the last time I spoke to him verbally, and the very obvious end of our friendship.

After the fact, I struggled mightily with letting him and our friendship go. I missed him and I felt like I had let him down, by seemingly giving up on him. A part of me wanted to reach out to him, put his issues aside, and rekindle our friendship despite all that had been done. The better part of me, the rational side, realized how futile that would’ve been and vowed to keep a distance from him until he got help and grew from his situation.

As difficult as this realization was, as hard as it was to stay distant, I knew it was the best for both of us. I was just a crutch for his habits and issues, and he was a tie to a past I was trying to move away from. The only way we could ever hope to rekindle our friendship, and get back to the way things used to be, was time apart for reflection, growth and change.

As of today, it’s been over 4 years since we have spoken. I think about him often, still love him dearly, and I hope that his life is going well and he is happy. I hold out hope that one day we can rekindle things, but I also understand that there’s a lot of baggage, guilt and shame between that is difficult to bear. I love him despite his flaws, and hope he feels the same about me. Neither of us were perfect, and our friendship fell apart because of both of us, as all relationships do.

As with all things is life, there is always a lesson to be learned if you seek it out. This story is no different. Although I may have gained and lost the greatest friendship I could’ve asked for, I also gained far more than just that. The friendship taught me more about love and relationships than any other. It taught me what a quality relationship should look and feel like. It taught me how great friendships can be when the only boundaries are the healthy ones. More than anything though, it taught how to respect myself and my boundaries, and showed me it’s ok to walk away from something or someone that no longer serves you.

Here’s what I’ve realized through my journey when it comes to letting go and moving on:

  1. You must respect yourself, your boundaries and your health. If you don’t have self-respect and value yourself, you’re never going to realize the relationships and situations that are harming rather than helping you. A lot of pain and damage can be avoided, simply by respecting yourself enough to realize that some people and situations aren’t deserving of your time and energy.
  2. It’s ok to give up on things. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or a bad person, just because you give up on someone or something. It doesn’t mean that you have caused whatever happens after the fact, as every person is responsible for their own life. Giving up on a person or situation that is no longer serving you in a positive way, is a healthy and necessary part of life.
  3. Listen to your gut. Your gut will often lead you in the right direction, if you listen to it honestly and clearly. My gut told me to walk away from that situation far sooner than I did, but my emotional self had to give it one more shot (multiple times). If I would’ve listened to my gut feeling, I may have been able to help us both avoid further pain and damage to our relationship.
  4. Say what you mean and feel. When you decide to let go of a person, or move on from a situation, you’re always going to have a feeling of “what if” after the fact. What if that was the last thing I say to them? Don’t hold anything back, speak from the heart and share your feelings. You will never regret sharing the way you feel, but you will likely regret it if you don’t. Get it all out, make sure that if it’s the last conversation you have, you say everything that you need and want to.

I hope that you never have to let go of someone that you love, but I’m almost certain that you will. Walking away from once good people or situations, is one of the most difficult things you will have to do, so I hope my story will give you the strength and determination you need to do so. If you are ever questioning a relationship or friendship that you have, ask yourself if you’re receiving as much as you’re giving and if the situation is ultimately serving your better purpose. If the answer is yes and yes, it’s worth fighting for, and if not, you may have to take a long, hard look at moving on.

A Different Approach to Achieving Health and Fitness Goals

The New Year is just around the corner, and regardless of who you are, you probably know that means people are going to start getting their fitness on. By the masses people will be flocking to gyms, health clubs, and other venues in hopes of starting their body transformation journey (for many, again) and prioritizing their health and fitness. You likely also know that most of these people will eventually fail at their health and fitness goals, many of them giving up for good, or waiting to try again next week/month/year. That’s not to be harsh, it’s just the facts. 

The New Year is just around the corner, and regardless of who you are, you probably know that means people are going to start getting their fitness on. By the masses people will be flocking to gyms, health clubs, and other venues in hopes of starting their body transformation journey (for many, again) and prioritizing their health and fitness. You likely also know that most of these people will eventually fail at their health and fitness goals, many of them giving up for good, or waiting to try again next week/month/year. That’s not to be harsh, it’s just the facts. 

In fact, statistics from the Statistic Brain Research Institute (via an article on CNN.com) showed that almost half the population (42%) made New Year’s resolutions in 2016, for the following year, 2017. Of these, roughly 25%were fitness and/or health related. After tracking these same people and their progress toward their goals, they found that less than 50% of those people were successful. Over half of them at the 6-month mark had not achieved their goals,with many of them giving up. This doesn’t bode well for you if you’re looking to shed a few pounds this New Year, and improve your health, but thankfully,you’re not a statistic.

You can be different, because you are different. You’re not just someone who’s going to start a diet and get into working out for a few months, you’re in this for the long-haul and understand that great progress takes time. You are going to be prepared and ready to rock out every workout, nail your nutrition plan (80% of the time, because life should enjoyable), and give your body and mind the respect and attention they deserve. 

If that super motivational speech didn’t get you fired up and feeling like you can take on the world, have no fear I have some legitimate and actionable information I am going to be passing your way. If you want to make a change in this coming year and start showing yourself the love you deserve by taking care of your health and fitness, you will want to continue reading and implement the strategies below. 

Getting Started

When it comes to achieving success at anything, having a plan is the first and most important step, but you must know what you want to achieve to be able to plan for it. It’s hard to understand how to get where you want to go, without building a plan and the steps to get there. Before you do anything, there’s some due diligence that needs to be done by you in order to give you the best opportunity to succeed. Below are some questions you should ask yourself, as they will guide to in your planning stage.

What are your goals? 

Goal setting can be such a valuable component to succeeding on any venture, and fitness is no different. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound)and should always be written down to improve your chances of achieving your goals. If you want to make the goal-setting process even more valuable, share those goals with someone else, and put those goals in plain sight. I even have clients who post their goals on their bathroom mirrors, or above their beds, so that they are constantly reminded of what they want to achieve.

It’s important to remember that goals should be process oriented, focusing on habits and behaviors, in addition to outcome-based where the focus is on more tangible aspects like weight loss and waist line reductions. Process-oriented goals are important because they focus on things that you can control: habits, behaviors, and the daily inputs that you truly have control over and ultimately, will lead to your outcome-based goals. Outcome-based goals are great but can also set you up for disaster as many of those goals are outside of your control. While you can certainly control the foods that you put in your mouth, and the exercise that you perform, you can’t control whether you lose or gain weight. That number on the scale will only change if your daily habits, behaviors and inputs change.Focus on what you can control, and the process of reaching your goals will be far more successful and enjoyable. 

By writing your goals down, making them SMART and focusing on both process and outcome-based goals, you can set yourself up to achieve nearly any goal you set your mind to. If you’re looking for help in assistance in setting both process and outcome-based goals, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via social media (Adam Son on Facebook and adamchosenson on Instagram) or send me an email at achievefitllc@gmail.com. 

How will you achieve your goals? What will you need to be successful?

After you have figured out your goals, it’s necessary to reverse engineer those goals to understand how you will achieve them. Ask yourself, “what do I need to achieve my goals(skills, behaviors, environment, etc.). This is an important aspect of the planning stages, as it aligns what you want to achieve with how and what you need to attain it.

If you want to become a world class power-lifter, or just build insane strength, it’s likely that you’ll need a barbell and adequate weights for progressive overload, adequate calories to ensure that you’re able to recover and gain strength, and a training program that will take you from where you are, to where you want to be. The same can be said with any goal, whether you want to lose weight, improve your health, or build muscle and get “strong like bull”, it’s important that you understand what it will take for you to achieve those goals. 

During this part of the planning process, it helps to reach out to others who have achieved what you are aiming for and can walk you through the process, or at least give you information and insight on what it takes to achieve your goals. If you know someone personally who has gone through the same process as you intend to, reach out to them and ask them what it takes to achieve their level of success. If you don’t know anyone who has traveled the path you intend to, then reach out to a professional who can assist you. Experience is something that is hard to replicate, so picking the brains of those who have it can be a huge boost to your chances of success.

The internet is another valuable resource but can also be a double-edged sword. While it’s true that there’s all the information you could ever need to find the answers, you seek for any goal you may have, there’s also far too much information out there and it can make finding what you need very difficult. The great thing about the internet is that anyone can post, but that’s also the bad thing about the internet, because anyone can post like that crazy old guy down the street who swears that aliens are among us, or like this article from PETA, an animal rights organization, posting about dietary needs based off your astrology sign (hint: there’s no merit to this,and the fact that an animal rights organization is writing about health and nutrition, using astrology as its basis, is absolutely absurd) . Unfortunately,people tend to believe that everything they read on the internet is true (which it most certainly is not), which becomes an issue when reading about fitness and nutrition where there’s so many conflicting ideas and information.

When it comes to figuring out the”how” of achieving your goals, it’s important that you do your research and gather information. Ask people you know questions, reach out to a professional, or perform your own research (just make sure you can sift through the B.S.). Use this part of the process to build an understanding of exactly what it will take to succeed in your endeavors. Doing so will make it much easier to outline your plan of action and achieve success. 

Build a Plan of Action

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making when embarking on their fitness and health journey is that they try to do it without a plan for what they’ll actually do. Goal setting is just the start, from there it’s important to build a plan for what you’re going to do in the gym, as well as one for what you’ll be doing outside the gym to improve your nutrition and daily habits.

This is where you would either find,create, or have a training and nutrition program created for you. It doesn’t have to be anything advanced or crazy, especially at the start, and should fit into your current lifestyle as seamlessly as possible. This means a busy person, say a parent with multiple children active in sports and other extracurricular activities, working out 5 or 6 days a week may not be feasible. Instead of trying to find the most advanced, difficult, or “hard-core” plans,find or create something that you can succeed at, especially in the beginning when consistency and habit are at their lowest.

The same can be said for the nutrition portion of your program. You may have heard about the Keto diet and are interested in some of the proclaimed benefits, however, if you’re someone who enjoys carbs or would struggle to eat large amounts of healthy fats (not just sauces and junk food, like I was known to do when eating Keto), Keto may not be right for you. Remember, there is no “best” nutrition plan or diet when it comes to losing weight, building muscle, or increasing strength,the best plan is the one that you can stick to and this usually means it fits into your life and is at least somewhat enjoyable.

Ditch the training and nutrition programs out of magazines or from your favorite “fitspo” model and focus on the basics and building a strong foundation to work from. This will set you up for success in the long term, rather than starting off at 100% intensity and eventually burning out, as well as make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Be Aggressive in Your Actions and Patient with Your Results

This is a quote I heard once and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s also something that I used to struggle with on a consistent basis. I would have grand plans and goals that I wanted to pursue and achieve but would lack the aggressive action needed to achieve them and/or the patience to see it through. This led to me starting and stopping a million different projects or goals, without every achieving them (something I still struggle with to an extent). What changed everything for me was learning and cultivating patience by understanding that it takes time to achieve great things. Like they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither will your dream body.

If you’re looking to embark upon a transformation journey of health and fitness, it’s important that you have the understanding that it will take time and the patience to see it through, as well as consistent and thorough action on your part. For most people, this is where they fail. They want the easy route, the pill or wrap or magic diet that will allow them to achieve their goals in a matter of days, or weeks,rather than months or years. I’m sorry, but for most people those results simply won’t come that fast (either that or your goals aren’t large or challenging enough).

That’s why it’s so important to focus on the process of achieving your goals, rather than the goals themselves.It gives you the ability focus on the things you can control, while making small, daily progress that eventually leads to long-term success and goal achievement. Keep your goals in sight but understand that focusing on the daily habits and behaviors is what will ultimately lead to you achieving those goals. 

Win Early and Often

Have you ever noticed that it’s not always the best team or athlete who wins in a contest?

Oftentimes the winner of an athletic is decided by momentum. Which team has the crowd on their side, who’s players are on hot streaks, and teams that seem to “click” at the right moment, are all examples of momentum in athletics. The same principle can be translated to success in health and fitness, as well as every other aspect of life.

If you want to succeed, you must build, maintain and use the momentum of your successes to propel you forward.This means you must be able to win early and win often to improve your personal momentum and increase your chances of success. Therefore, when working with clients, especially at the start, we begin with simple, almost impossible to not achieve, goals. This allows them to “win” early in the process and often, letting those clients feel the positive effects of momentum and use it to propel them forward. 

If you want to make a change to your body, health, or life, it’s imperative that you focus on achieving success,even in small ways, early in the process. This will build buy-in, increasing your level of motivation, enthusiasm for the process, and engagement, making it easier to sustain your habits and continue progressing. For you to get those wins early in the process, make sure you are setting achievable goals for yourself. If you haven’t worked out in 10 years, and eat fast food every day of the week, telling yourself you’re going to work out 6 days per week and eat a whole-food based and healthy diet is a recipe for failure. Make small,sustainable changes in your daily life to achieve those early and often wins,which will build momentum and make achieving your larger, grand scheme goals far easier to achieve. 

If you’re someone who has health and fitness goals, regardless of if they’re tied in to your New Year Resolutions,it’s necessary to have the right approach and mindset if you want to give yourself the best chances for success. This means setting goals and building a plan of action to achieve those goals, which allows you to visualize what success will feel like and understand how you will get there. When it comes to taking action toward those goals, remember to be patient with the results, as they do not and will not happen overnight. Finally, regarding that action don’t forget to build positive momentum by setting yourself up for wins that happen early on and often in the process. By following this approach to your health and fitness goals, success will be far easier and more enjoyable to achieve.Just remember, it took time to get where you currently are, and it will take time to get to where you want to go.

P.S. If you’re looking to start a fitness and nutrition program in the New Year, stay tuned for article(s) to come on choosing a quality gym/training facility and how to feel comfortable and achieve success within that facility. These are two items that will be a huge component to success in your journey and can be the difference between sticking it out through the struggles in a gym you love and feel comfortable ino r giving up when things get difficult in a gym that is unwelcoming, not supportive, and doesn’t align with your goals and personality. 

Vitamin C for Colds, More like Vitamin B.S.

The cold has come, snow is falling, and as they say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming” (more like it’s already here). With winter comes a whole host of changes: cold weather, hot drinks, and the dreaded common cold.

The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease that affects humans. Symptoms like coughing, sniffling, and runny noses, among other things, are common occurrences when dealing with a cold. It leads to an average of 12 sick days for adults, and over double that for children. That’s hundreds of missed days of work and school over a lifetime, and an increase in health care costs, so it’s no wonder that so many people want a solution to fight off the common cold. 

One of the most popular solutions, and where many people turn when they start to get the sniffles, is a Vitamin C supplement, like Emergen-C. The praise for supplements like Emergen-C is enough to make you believe that it can cure everything from the common cold to more serious issues like the flu.

But how truthful is that? What does the science say? 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Vitamin C, whether it has benefits for the common cold, and how you can do your best to avoid getting sick this winter, continue reading!

What is Vitamin C? Why is it so popular?

Vitamin C became popular nearly 50 years ago, when Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling made public his theory of high doses of vitamin C being able to prevent and/or speed up the duration of the common cold. Since that time, vitamin and supplement companies have done their best to capitalize on a growing industry, backed by the words and ideals of a Nobel Prize winner.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that your body does not produce and thus must be ingested through diet or supplementation. It’s involved in various functions throughout the body, including the production of collagen and assistance with immune cells in fighting off disease. When someone is sick, Vitamin C is depleted from immune cells, making it Dr. Pauling’s theory about Vitamin C helping fight off and speed up the duration of common colds and other infectious diseases. Unfortunately, like many things, what seems logical in theory doesn’t pan out in practice.

Emergen-C, the most popular brand of “cold fighters”, was introduced in 1978, just a few short years after Dr. Pauling made his theories about Vitamin C known

The research behind Vitamin C is rather thorough, and pretty straight forward. When it comes to Vitamin C there are only a few scenarios where supplementation is beneficial. The only benefits for the average person come from either taking it daily (at least 200mg) or getting it naturally through your diet, or taking an absurd amount (8g or more). Getting your daily dose of Vitamin C, while important, will only reduce the average number of “sick days” every year by about one. While it’s nice to get that day back, it’s important to realize that if you eat a well balanced diet you are probably already getting plenty of Vitamin C and reaping the benefits.

As far as the higher dosage, which in some studies has been shown to reduce severity and duration of illness, it can come with nasty side effects like nausea, diarrhea and possibly kidney stones. Luckily, Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, meaning that anything “extra” will be excreted through the urine and doesn’t pose toxicity issues like fat soluble vitamins and minerals. This doesn’t mean that you can ingest as much Vitamin C as you’d like without consequence, but that the consequences won’t be as severe as fat soluble vitamins. 

There is one very specific population that has shown marked improvement in severity and symptoms of common colds, but the average population doesn’t fall into this category. For those who exercise strenuously outdoors (marathon runners, cross country skiers, Armed Forces individuals), you may find that supplementing with Vitamin C (at least 200mg) will help you deal with less instances of colds, and for shorter duration, but again, if you’re eating a well balanced dieting you may already be hitting these numbers.

If Vitamin C doesn’t work, what does?

This is where things get a bit more boring, and a whole lot more practical. There are few things that will truly affect whether you get a cold or not, and how long that cold will last. None of them are as easy to take and easy to sell as Vitamin C though, which is why they get pushed to the side in search of other “cures”.

Sleep

Sleep is vitally important to your health and wellness, and it becomes even more important during the winter months when immune systems are constantly attacked by different viruses. I cannot stress to you enough how important getting both enough sleep, and quality sleep is. It will improve your immune system, and help protect you from colds and shorten the duration.

Sleep is your key to health and vitality, so prioritizing it is key. Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night, but 7-9 is more optimal. This means you have to plan ahead, and get in bed at a certain time to ensure you are getting enough sleep. You should also avoid electronics at least an hour before bed, keep your room somewhat cool, and avoid activities that are overly stimulating. Try to find an activity that calms both your mind and body to perform before bed like reading, writing, meditation, or stretching/yoga. These activities will help you unwind from a long day and signal to your body that it’s time for sleep.

Hydration

During the winter months, people tend to drink less water. It’s a result of the temperature dropping and not feeling the need to drink water the way we do during the summer months. I myself struggle with hydration during the winter months, and have to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated.

Lack of proper hydration, or worse, dehydration, has been shown to negatively affect numerous functions of the body. When it comes to warding of viruses and shortening the duration of those viruses, water plays an important role. It helps to boost immune function by delivering oxygen to immune cells and helping clean out waste and toxins. Hydration also aids in a quality night of sleep, as it helps to keep your nasal passages and throat moist so that breathing is easy and clear. 

To ensure that you are getting proper hydration, try to shoot for around 2/3 of your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 200lbs, like me (at times), your goal should be to drink around 135oz of water. To make it a bit easier to reach your target goal, make sure to start your day with a large glass of water (20oz or more) and always have a water bottle with you. I like to use transition times, like driving to and from work or waiting in line, to catch up and get ahead on water by drinking as much as I can during those moments. 

Wash Your Hands

There is a reason that your mother always told you to wash your hands before dinner and after using the restroom, because washing your hands can be a huge deterrent for viruses. Washing your hands helps to remove germs that can cause sickness, and stats show that consistent washing of hands reduces the likelihood of the common cold by 15-20%. 

If you want to stay healthy this winter, do yourself a favor and get in the habit of washing your hands, especially while in public. Anytime you go to the bathroom, wash your hands afterward and always make sure to wash your hands before you eat. The pores in and around your face are extremely absorbent, so avoiding touching your face (noses, ears, eyes, mouth, etc) and keeping your hands clean is a great way to help keep the colds at bay. 

Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Getting a variety of whole foods that are rich in nutrients is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. Foods like fruits and vegetables can play a key role in providing your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to assist and optimize the functions of the body, including the immune system. To do your best in fighting off colds and viruses, make sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow. The more variety, the better (in most cases). 

Even though we know that fruits and vegetables are extremely important for health, it’s very easy to not eat them. To make it easier to consume enough fruits and vegetables, make sure that you always have some prepped and on hand. That’s the great thing about fruits and vegetables, they don’t need to be cooked, which makes them easier to include in your diet than foods that must be prepared. You can also bake several different kinds of vegetables at once on cookie sheets and prepare all your weeks vegetables in a matter of 20-30 minutes. The important thing is to then make sure that you have them with you and eat them. Keep snack bags of fruit and vegetables that you can grab and go, or leave at work to make life just a bit easier. 

Stick to the Basics, Live Long and Healthy

As you can see, staying healthy and fighting off colds and sickness isn’t as glamorous or complicated as people would like to make it, but simple doesn’t sell well. Instead of spending money on “cold fighters” that don’t make any difference, try focusing on the basics of health that are time tested for success. Make sure you are getting plenty of quality rest, be sure to hydrate sufficiently, wash your hands, especially in public places and when eating, and focus on a balanced and wholesome diet that will provide all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. 

Do you have any favorite cold remedies or family traditions for when you’re sick? Comment below and let’s share our favorite ways to get over being sick (or at least make it feel more enjoyable)