How many times per day are you successful at everyday tasks? If you made a checklist of all things done, from brushing your teeth to working on a major project at work, you’d be surprised at the success rate of most of them. However, the menial tasks like your drive to work are usually ignored in favor of more meaningful tasks like performing well at your job. A great day overall, (90% success rate) can be overshadowed by a misstep at your job or in your personal life, and that 10% stands out like a black eye.

 

 

It is prudent to pursue perfection, even though it's rarely attainable. We all make mistakes. There is nothing wrong with that, because many great things have come about in that pursuit. The road of forward progress is littered with minor hiccups, significant mistakes, and complete failures. Not one single person is immune to that. It's reality.

 

Let’s turn this discussion to your physical training, diet, and recovery.

 

Is Falling Short a Total Failure?

Do you beat yourself up for not completing your ultimate goals? You train hard, eat well, rest adequately, and sacrifice valuable time that could be spent on other things, but somehow fail to reach your ultimate goal. The fact you failed on that goal ruins all the sweat you shed, the fatigue you experienced, and sacrifices you made for it. But should it?

 

Couple that with the often-cruel world we live in, full of critics and naysayers, and not achieving your ultimate goal can become a beat down. You went 100 miles and fell short by 100 yards. Is that truly overall failure? It shouldn’t be.

 

I don’t believe in participation trophies, but I do think we need to give pause and acknowledge the goodness we either consciously or unconsciously did. Again, not to yearn for a pat on the back, but to credit ourselves with staying the course and knowing even the routine and trivial tasks performed are part of the path forward to success.

 

What’s Your Batting Average?

If you're average, that's neither bad nor good. It’s 50-50; middle of the pack. But you know you are not average, and want to aim higher.

 

If you attempted something 10 times and were successful on seven of those attempts, that 70% success rate is pretty good. Regarding your training and physical goals, if 70% of all your workouts were dead-on, you'd achieve good results. If 70% of the meals you consumed over one week were high quality, that's good as well, in light of all the temptations that can derail your overall diet plan.

 

One of the most difficult athletic tasks is hitting a baseball. Batting .400 is the gold standard for it, but it rarely occurs. Let that sink in: four out of 10 times is considered superior. If you lived everyday life succeeding only 40% of the time, you’d have a fairly hard time every day. But we are talking physical training and competing, not swinging at a 97mph fast ball.

 

In your training and physical pursuits, rather than beat yourself up in the pursuit of perfection, find the goodness within you and give yourself some credit. Remember, 50% is neither good nor bad. 70% would be good, 80% really good, 90% exceptional, and 100% complete dedication.

 

A Graded Quiz for Your Pursuit of Fitness

Give yourself credit for sucking it up by doing the little things, sacrificing here and there, avoiding the temptations that poke holes in your diet plan, or whatever you are doing to pursue your goals.

 

You may be a younger, competitive trainee looking to improve your physique, win a competition, or just up your strength levels. You may be an older trainee who seeks to improve or maintain your general health and ability to live an active lifestyle. Either way, here’s a way to determine if you’re on the right path to success, regardless if you attain your ultimate goal. 

 

16 Questions for Young Athletes

For the younger, competitive trainee, provide answers to these 16 questions in each of two areas: training and recovery, and dietary intake. Confine your answers to the seven-day week, traditionally Monday through Sunday. 

 

Training & Recovery
  1. Did you engage in quality physical training on at least three days?
  2. On non-training days, were you active and moving for at least four hours on two of those days?
  3. Were you able to get at least eight hours of sleep on five nights?
  4. Did you perform some type of resistance training at least two days during the week? 
  5. If you sat for six hours or more each day, did you get up and move for at least five minutes each hour?
  6. Did you spend time tending to a current or past injury to resolve or minimize it?
  7. Did you perform a proper pre-session warm up routine for at least five minutes (dynamic movement drills, light range-of-motion movements)?
  8. Did you perform a cool down routine after each training session (i.e., static stretching, foam rolling, light jogging, or walking)?
  9. If you became tired at some point over the day, were you able to engage in a 15-minute power nap?
  10. Was your heart rate elevated to at least 70% of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 consecutive minutes on at least three days?
  11. Did you have at least one very demanding competition or training session during the week?
  12. If training very hard or competing, did you allow for at least one complete rest day (no actual training)? 
  13. Did you follow a progressive plan of training
  14. Did you document your workouts?
  15. Did you perform “pre-hab” exercises or drills to prevent a future injury in a vulnerable body part or joint (i.e., eccentric hamstring work, rotator cuff exercises)?
  16. If you engaged in resistance training, did you perform a demanding, multi-joint lower body exercise (i.e., squat, dead lift, leg press, lunge)?

 

Dietary Intake
  1. Did you consume at least 70% your total calories from non-processed foods?
  2. Besides hydration at training sessions—pre, during, and post—did you consume at least 32oz of plain water each day?
  3. Did you at least consume 0.8g of protein per pound of body weight each day?
  4. Did you abstain from over-consumption of alcoholic beverages at least five days?
  5. Did you eat at least four times per day every day?
  6. Did you make at least three conscious decisions to substitute a healthy alternative over another option (i.e., nuts over chips, water over soda, banana over candy bar)?
  7. Did you eat a healthy breakfast each day?
  8. Did you consume an effective post-workout meal within one hour of completing all training sessions?
  9. Did you consume a protein source at each meal or snack?
  10. If attempting to lose body fat, did you create a calorie deficit on at least six days, or if your goal was to gain muscle, did you create a calorie surplus on at least six days? 
  11. Did you consume fresh or frozen fruit as opposed to canned fruit containing syrup?
  12. Did you emphasize multi-grain carbohydrates over simple sugar carbs?
  13. Did you eat vegetables and fruit covering a variety of colors (i.e., green, yellow, red, purple, and white)?
  14. Did you consume at least 50% of your daily protein requirement via normal foods, rather than mixes, shakes, or bar supplements?
  15. Did you emphasize healthy fat intake from plants and fish oils and minimize trans and saturated fats?
  16. Did you avoid drinking large amounts of sugary sports drinks? 

 

20 Questions for Older Athletes

For the older trainee seeking general health benefits, answer these 20 all-encompassing questions. Again, confine your answers to the seven-day week, traditionally Monday through Sunday. 

 

  1. Did you engage in quality physical training on at least two days?
  2. On non-training days, were you active and moving for at least four hours on four of those days?
  3. Did you eat at least three times per day every day? 
  4. If you sat for six hours or more each day, did you get up and move for at least ten minutes each hour?
  5. Besides hydration at training sessions—pre, during, and post—did you consume at least 32oz of plain water each day?
  6. On your work breaks, did you move/walk at least once per day?
  7. Did you spend at least five minutes of static muscle stretching three times during the week?
  8. Did you consume at least 70% of your total calories from non-processed foods?
  9. Did you abstain from the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages at least six days?
  10. Was your heart rate elevated to at least 60 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 consecutive minutes on at least two days?
  11. If you work or reside in a multiple-story building, did you use the stairs over the elevator each day?
  12. Did you stand/move around for at least one-half of your typical work day?
  13. Did you consume a protein source at each meal or snack? 
  14. Did you emphasize multi-grain carbohydrates over simple sugar carbs?
  15. Did you perform some type of resistance training at least two days during the week? 
  16. Did you emphasize healthy fat intake from plants and fish oils, and minimize trans and saturated fats?
  17. Were you able to sleep uninterrupted for at least five hours each night?
  18. Did you intentionally park your vehicle further from the entrance of the facility you were visiting (i.e., work, store, other)?
  19. Did you supplement your diet with vitamins D, E and multiple Bs, along with the minerals calcium, zinc, and magnesium?
  20. Did you consume an effective post-workout meal within one hour of completing all training sessions?

 

The Results Are In

What did you score? Was it at least 60%? Anything over 60% is a credit to your sacrifices. Of course, the higher the better:

 

  • 60% (10/16 or 12/20) = baseline
  • 70% (11/16 or 14/20) = good
  • 80% (13/16 or 16/20) = really good
  • 90% (15/16 or 18/20) = excellent
  • 100% = are you even human? 

 

Knowing that you cannot be perfect all the time, seek excellence in what you can do. Give yourself some credit for taking the time to do the little things that eventually lead to the possibility of achieving your ultimate goal. Remember, you're not perfect. Some days are good, some bad, and some so-so. Have a bad day on Tuesday? Get after it on Wednesday, because it’s the averages that matter more than the days.

 

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