By Annette Zapp
One turns into two and two turns into six and before you know it, you’re three hours deep into the day, buzzed and unmotivated to do much else.
Firefighters do a lot of talking about what they used to do, what they could do if they tried and what they want to do. But, many of them don’t back up the talk with much action. It usually goes something like this:
FF looking at protruding gut in mirror: “I need to get back in shape”
Co-worker: “Round’s a shape, ha ha.”
FF: “Oh well. Are we going for beers after shift tomorrow?”
Co-worker: “As always!”
Don’t get it twisted. Going for a couple drinks with your shift-mates can be an excellent bonding experience and doesn’t deserve judgement from the fitness and wellness police. But, let’s put this in perspective. If you care about your health and your physique, routinely going for beers in the morning after shift is a recipe for disaster. One turns into two and two turns into six and before you know it, you’re three hours deep into the day, buzzed and unmotivated to do much else. You’ve taken in several hundred empty calories (and that’s minus the mega stack of pancakes and side of bacon you probably ordered because #YOLO), you’re unlikely to train later in the day and you’re probably going to be stressed because your at home to-do list quickly turned into a to-don’t feel like it today list.
My friend Jim at the Good Athlete Project has a brilliant saying: “Do your actions match your goals?” Gut check.
Two choices, friend. Shut up about the “I should” and “I want” and accept your limitations as well as the likelihood you’ll continue the trajectory opposite of your desires. OR, make your actions match your goals. It really is that simple. Consistency over the long-haul trumps extreme short-term measures every time.
It’s easy to fall into habits that take us away from our goals, like hitting the bar with your buddies from shift. Habits that take us toward our goals are way less fun and require a lot more discipline. But, you are the sum of all the choices you’ve made up until this very moment. If you’re not fond of where those choices have got you, choose better, do better, be better.
”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Further, we tend to be an amalgamation of the posse that we hang out with. Jim Rohn postulates that “you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” For fun, next time you’re out and about, look around. You might see an overweight couple sitting on a park bench eating pizza while their overweight dog lounges under the bench. You’ll possibly observe a group of three retired individuals walking the golf course carrying their bags and all three are relatively fit. You’ll spy the overweight mom and dad with their three overweight kids pushing their shopping cart full of prepared and packaged Frankenfood at the grocery store. At the bar, you might see a group of clearly unfit individuals crushing pitchers of beer and chicken wings together. And, maybe you’ll see the very fit two best friends meeting up for a session of running stairs prior to grabbing breakfast consisting of eggs and lean protein.
Take stock. Look around. Does your gang spend time playing flag football and hitting the weights? Or, do they spend way more time sitting around playing video games and hitting the booze? No one is suggesting that you ditch your best friends. But, it might be worth looking into how you spend your time and what you deem as acceptable in your life. If you’re indeed the average of the five people you spend the most time with, why not stack your odds?
Fitness is a lifestyle and so is fatness. And, fortunately, you’re in the driver’s seat. Better choices made consistently until they become your new normal will launch you into the success stratosphere.
Maybe choose the dumbbells over the dumb beers?
Annette Zap is a 16-year veteran of the fire service, Zapp holds the rank of Lieutenant and owns FireSQFitness, a coaching business dedicated to the physical and mental health and wellness of fire fighters worldwide. She earned a master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and is also credentialed as a NSCA CSCS and TSAC-F, Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach, a CSNS through the Society of Neurosports and a CISSN through the International Society of Sports Nutrition. She was recently named to an Illinois Senate task force focused on mitigating first responder suicide.
Zapp is an adjunct faculty at the University of Denver in the graduate program for Sport Coaching and is a proud member of the panel of experts that recently reviewed and revised the TSAC Practitioner Course for the NSCA. She is also a highly sought-after public speaker and has appeared on a dozen podcasts in the last year.
Photo By Radovan