Week 108: Fitness is a Symphony Not a Solo

Over the past couple of months I have been seeing big weight fluctuations and my weight has increased a little bit. I think most of the increase is muscle but it is still tough to see the numbers go up on the scale after working so hard to make them come down.

It is the day-to-day fluctuations that are maddening. My weight can increase 5 pounds in a day and decrease 2-3 pounds in a day. These fluctuations are my “real” weight, they are just daily changes in how much water my cells are retaining. These changes in how much water is being retained are caused by many things and most often are related to my sodium intake.

I have talked about these things before in my blog but there is one difference today. As I have been struggling with some big fluctuations I have been trying to figure out what caused each one. How much sodium did I eat? How much alcohol did I drink? How much water did I drink? How was the quality of my sleep? What did my resting heart rate do?

All of these varying factors have reminded me that fitness is a symphony and not a solo.

By this I mean that living a fit life means constantly balancing dozens of factors. There is not a single “secret” to staying fit. This means you have to be aware and can’t just mindlessly leave your fitness to autopilot or you won’t ever be fit.

When I say dozens of factors I really mean it too. Start with diet: how much did you eat, how much protein did you get, how much fiber, how much sodium and how much carbohydrates? Then move to exercise: how much exercise did you get, how many calories did you burn versus what you consumed, did you get a balance of cardio and strength training, did you rest and stretch properly to care for you joints and muscles? Then comes hydration: did you drink enough water, did you drink too much of anything else like soda or alcohol or caffeine? Plus there is sleep, heart rate and, of course, weight. Lots of things to balance to make sure that you are living your fittest possible life. And all of that is just your physical health before thinking about mental, emotional, social, spiritual and other types of health.

With all of these factors at play you can see how fitness is a symphony. In a symphony a disproportionate focus on any of the players results in not getting the sound that you desired. In fitness a disproportionate focus on these factors means that you don’t get the results that you are hoping to achieve and can get wild daily weight fluctuations too.

I know that tracking all of this sounds super-complicated and it can be. But I will also say that I didn’t start by tracking all of these factors. I simply started by tracking what I put in my body to increase my mindfulness versus my autopilot and I started by moving more. Everything else built from there as I learned more. So don’t let the complexity prevent you from taking a first step.

This fitness symphony is why I often get taken aback or even a little frustrated when somebody asks me “what was your secret?” By expecting to hear that there is some secret people are trying to ask which soloist made the symphony sound good. It just doesn’t work that way. It was much harder work than that.

Thanks for reading!

Want to learn more? Buy your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year today.

Fit to Lead: Haters Gonna Hate

Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Haters Gonna Hate

“Tony, I liked you better when you were bigger. Just sayin’…”

This is what an acquaintance of mine told me recently when she saw me for the first time in many months. It was kind of like a punch in the stomach at first given all of my hard work and dedication to getting fit over the past two years. That’s when it dawned on me: I don’t care, she is entitled to her opinion by she doesn’t get a vote in my decisions.

There is an important leadership lesson in this story.

When you are trying to build something and you are pursuing goals there is always going to be somebody who doesn’t agree with you. There are going to be people who want to tell you how to lead your team or live your journey. There will also be naysayers who just try to impede your success for many reasons including to prevent them from looking bad in comparison.

In other words: haters are going to hate!

Your job as a leader is to know when to listen and when to dismiss the haters.

Start by asking yourself what the intent of the feedback was: constructive or destructive. Was the goal of the feedback to help build you up or to tear you down? This isn’t always easy to determine but you have to do it.

If you don’t evaluate the intent of the feedback you will either take it all to heart and give up on your goals or you will dismiss it all and risk missing out on important constructive feedback. If you dismiss all feedback and constructive criticism you also risk becoming arrogant and self-centered and no leader wants that.

If you determine that the feedback is constructive listen to it. Understand what the feedback is and why the person believes what they believe. Ask questions and dig deeper. Then consider whether or not there is something valuable in the feedback. But don’t just take the feedback and go with it. Consider it as input and then make your own decision. Be confident in your goals!

If you determine that the feedback is destructive (like “I liked you better when you were bigger”) dismiss it as quickly as possible. It does not serve you well to internalize anybody’s destructive or critical feedback. It does little more than shake your confidence and your commitment to your goals.

In the words of my buddy Patti, who I respect immensely: you just gotta give that shit to the lord!

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Week 107: Permission to Have Fun

I have learned throughout my fitness journey that people often consider fitness to be a chore or work that they have to do. They teach themselves to dread eating healthy and try to give up things that they really enjoy. They begrudgingly exercise because they have to. Then all of this leads to unsustainable progress and unhappiness.

Part of how my journey was (and continues to be) a success is in one key decision. I have given myself permission to have fun!

As you know if you have been reading my blog for a while (or you REALLY know if you follow me on social media) I have fun with my fitness. I continue to eat the foods I like and drink the drinks that I like. I gave up nothing but I do know and track what I am consuming because it all has to fit.

I also have learned to enjoy the exercise. I like getting out in the warm summer sun and getting active. I even like going into the gym and pushing myself to do better than I did before. Plus the gym is great people watching so that absolutely contributes to the fun. Regardless of your chosen form of exercise if it is fun for you the odds of sticking with it are way higher.

The permission to have fun really surfaced for me on Saturday of this week when I ran my latest 5k (which makes 6 of 7 months this year with a race for me). As you may also know from my blog I am pretty competitive with myself. I am always focused on doing better and seeing my numbers go the right way. This means I am always trying to get a personal record in my races.

Making every race a personal record isn’t always practical. You can’t always go faster. The conditions are different, your nutrition may be different, your body may not be as well rested… the list goes on. Sometimes I try to push myself so hard to get a personal record that I end the race with a little pain in my hips and other muscles. That certainly makes the exercise less fun!

This weekend I gave myself permission to slow down in my 5k. I ran side-by-side with my sister-in-law who I really enjoy talking to. Her pace was a little slower that my traditional 5k pace but was in a range that I new was healthy and competitive for me. So we stuck together for the entire race and had fun.

The result was that I ended with a pace of 10:15 – still placed 4th in my age group. In this same race last year my pace was 9:59 so I obviously went slower this time. But I also ended with zero pain! I enjoyed myself and was able to enjoy myself for the rest of the day. I still had tons of energy to do other things too. So I went for a 4-mile bike ride, a 3-mile walk and played with my niece and nephew for hours.

This turned out to be one of my fittest days on record but it could have been different if I was manically focused on competing. Then I would have been wiped out after the race and wouldn’t have had nearly as healthy a day.

The lesson in all of this: make sure to give yourself permission to have fun with your fitness. It could make the difference between being successfully able to lead a fit life and slipping backwards to living the other way!

Thanks for reading!

Fit to Lead: You Don’t Have to be a Boss to be a Leader

Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

You don’t have to be a boss to be a leader!

“I’m not a leader, I am nobody’s boss…”

This is an actual quote that somebody said to me recently. That’s when I was reminded of a moment in my fitness journey that sticks with me to this day.

Far into my journey to lose weight and get fit I visited my doctor for a routine checkup on my progress. We talked about a number of things and then I asked him a question that was on my mind. I was interested in figuring out how much protein I should be consuming each day. I kept finding conflicting information and had significantly ramped up my running and weight lifting and wanted to make sure I was being as healthy as possible.

My doctor was right on top of things and consulted his reference materials to find the right answer to my question. That is when he said the sentence that stuck with me.

“For you we need to look up the protein intake target for athletes…”

What?! I am not an athlete! I don’t compete or train for competitions.

My doctor reminded me that being considered an “athlete” has nothing to do with being competitive. It is about behavior and performance and I was doing both at an athlete level and needed to think of my nutrition accordingly. It was only in my head that I wasn’t an athlete.

Leadership is very similar. It is about action, behavior and performance and is not about a specific status or position. If you are actively helping to influence people to be the best versions of themselves you are a leader. If you are helping your team achieve their best possible results together you are a leader. I you are helping people continually grow you are a leader.

Just like you don’t have to be an elite competitor to be an athlete, you don’t have to be a boss to be a leader. Step up, take action, behave as a leader

Not sure where to start? Start by thinking like a leader. Always focus on how you can accomplish the best result by influencing everybody to use their talents for the benefit of the team. At the same time focus on how to help each member of the team

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

PM Tips: Cheerleaders

Did you know that good protect management can make dreams come true?

I have proven that you can use project management to literally change your life. Now I am sharing some of the tips, tricks and best practices I have learned in my project manager life in hopes to help us all manage projects better.

My goal: to create a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness!

Cheerleaders

Projects are hard and stressful places sometimes. When you are deep into execution, many months into the project and are facing issues it is easy to feel like success is out of reach. This is when team morale starts to suffer and unpleasant environments can develop.

This is when one of your more unexpected roles as a project manager needs to come out: cheerleader.

In a sporting event a cheerleader’s job is to keep the energy and positivity of the fans up even during the down times in the game. When the home team is down by a bunch of points and success seems out of reach the cheerleader steps in. She (or he) will bring energy, fun and lead the fans in energy building activities.

Your role as a project manager is very similar.

When the energy is down and the team starts getting negative you need to step in and keep the energy flowing. This is accomplished through your own behavior and by identifying additional cheerleaders in the team to help too.

How do you do this? There are lots of tactics you can try but it really depends on your team.

Be positive. First and foremost make sure you are being positive. If the project manager doesn’t believe success is possible why would anybody else? Never voice negativity about the project, the team or your status. Any challenges you are facing can be addressed by your team!

Be fun. In your meetings and daily life in your project it is your job to bring the fun. This can be through corny ideas like Hawaiian shirt Fridays, innocent office pranks, starting meetings with ice breakers or anything else that lightens the mood. One thing I like to do is to insert fun memes and cartoons in slides when I am presenting. Whatever your approach just bring the fun. Take the work and not yourself seriously.

Remember your why. Finally help your team keep their eyes on the prize. Always stay focused on what the goal of the project is and why you started it in the first place. Projects with a big goal help keep the team focused and the goal serves as a proverbial north star to guide the team through rough patches.

Want to learn more? Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year in eBook or paperback. Visit OperationMelt.com/book/ for details.