TJ's Gym Weekly News 05/24/2019
Message from TJ:
"Can I Have a Cheat Meal?"
I sat with Todd at his apartment in 2001 looking over his shoulder as he hammered numbers into a spreadsheet. My landlord wanted to see a 10-year projection document for how the business was going to grow. Todd had an MBA, and in exchange for a six-pack, he was willing to help me build the sheet, because 1. I didn't know how to turn on a computer at that time, and 2. I didn't know what the hell these people were talking about.
Todd set up parameters for the spreadsheet with the years on top. Down the left side was a column of expenditures, including rent and utilities, and under that were categories of profits, like memberships and retail.
"What's that?" I said.
"It's a basic profit-and-loss statement," he answered trying not to make me feel dumber than I already felt.
"Oh" I replied. The closest thing to a business class I ever took was a bartending course in Ridgefield Park back in New Jersey.
He continued to ask me questions like "How many members do you plan to have in three years" and "What is the rate for your equipment loan, and is it fixed or variable?"
I answered his questions quickly and definitively and didn't know what the f*%$ I was talking about. He told me to review everything with my accountant and lawyer, neither of which I had.
After a couple of hours, we were done, and he emailed me the file. I then forwarded that to my future landlord, without ever opening it or looking at it again.
I got the lease, and the rest is history. I fooled them!
Many times over the next few years, I wished I had never opened a gym.
Deciding to open a gym was easy. I can't totally remember the process or when it happened. I have no idea why I even wanted to. It just seemed like the next progression. It felt like everyone was asking me what the plan was, almost like it was ridiculous for me to continue to be a trainer because, well, I was an adult now. Time to put away childish things and all that.
Deciding that it was time to close the gym a few years later was brutal. Allison and I made the decision while we were back East visiting her folks. We went for a drive--two completely sleep-deprived parents at that point, both working full-time jobs. The numbers just weren't adding up.
I knew it, but it hurt so badly. The failure. The fear of what I was going to do now. Allison said that I should start talking to some friends of ours about maybe getting into sales or tech. I literally wanted to jump out of the moving car. But she was right, as usual.
I knew I couldn't just walk away from the lease, and we had about a year left, so I made one last-ditch effort to go all-in on the this thing called CrossFit. The rest is history. Well? Not so fast.
How do we make decisions? I give credit to Thomas Ellingson for sending me on a journey of articles, podcasts, and Ted Talks to find out what some modern day philosophers and professors think about the process of decision making.
The first theory is that we actually don't consciously make decisions at all. Associate professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University, Ezequiel Morsella, posits just that in what he calls the “Passive Frame Theory.” Morsella suggests that our conscious minds do not do nearly as much as we think. In fact, conscious thought is just a small fraction of what is happening in the brain. Instead, it is the unconscious that is doing everything for us, and we are completely unaware of it.
The conscious brain is just the middle man delivering the decision to our communicative processes.
How nice would that be. I make I no longer have to stress about any decision I make. I just have to wait for it to show up.
Another theory is that some of us are Reasoners and some of us are Drifters. Philosopher Ruth Chang theorizes that it's our personality type and the circumstance of whether or not we need to agonize over the menu in the restaurant or, like me, just ask the waiter, "What's your favorite dish? I'll have that." That shit drives some people crazy.
Neither type is right or wrong. Sometimes we switch roles, depending on millions of inputs our brain is currently processing.
I could go on and on and recite thousand of theories and thoughts by really smart people, but instead I will try to address the question posed at the beginning of this post.
"Can I have a cheat meal?"
"I don't know, can you?"
Now that can be construed as a wise-ass answer or bad dad joke. That's not how it's intended, though. It's a leading question to eventually get to the point of why you're asking.
If you are trying to succeed at something, you have to work, sometimes really hard, to reach the elusive "Flow State." The place where decisions become easy. You want to become a light switch, not a dimmer. You are solely focused, and like Agent Smith in the Matrix, you will not be swayed, delayed, or betrayed during the journey. You are built to not only succeed but to enjoy the journey.
Change would say that the cheat meal is not better, worse, or equal. The process of making the decision is what makes you special or accomplished or different. The journey is the point.
People in a nutrition program want rules. Hard yes and hard no answers. I liken this to holding your breath. If you practice it daily, you will increase the amount of time you can hold your breath, but the end is inevitable. Eventually, you will need to take a single breath and then immediately can hold your breath again. The result will be shorter each time. This process is the opposite of achieving a flow state. Giving you a rule that you can abide by for a succinct amount of time is a fool's game. The point is to explore the decisions you are making to see if they feed into a growth mindset. To be able to one day be a building block to make success achievable AND sustainable.
You want to embrace all kinds of decisions. You want to accept that you will always be processing choices. There is a theory that whatever choice you make, it is not better or worse. The entire decision you made is now up to you, and if you choose to decide it was the wrong decision, then it was. If you choose to decide it was the right one, well, you know the rest.
Deciding to close the gym was up there with one of the most painful decisions I have ever made It caused a series of other decisions that felt easy in comparison, like embracing CrossFit because "What the hell do I have to lose at this point anyway?" Adding classes to the schedule because it seemed fun. I watched hours of weightlifting, gymnastic, and nutrition videos every day, instead of attending to the menial tasks of wiping down the ellipticals and Stairmasters. That was my "cheat meal." The easy decision of avoiding menial tasks to soak in dopamine-inducing escapism, because the end was near anyway so...Fuck it.
Little did I know I was being educated and inspired. I was unconsciously growing. Consciously, it felt like my dreams were dying. Every day, I was consuming information that paired well with my laissez-faire attitude. In a year, this will all be over anyway.
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NEW PROGRAMMING MESSAGE
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