Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!
Spark: Did I Just Become a Will Smith Fan?
This past summer, I went skydiving. My boyfriend had been dropping not-so-subtle hints for years that it's something he desperately wanted to try, but we never got around to actually doing it for real. When his 30th birthday came about, I decided to surprise him with the experience along with a few friends who let me talk them into jumping out of a plane with us. It took months of planning, so I should have known that I would start to chicken out a few days before we actually pulled the trigger (or life-saving ripcord, as it was).
After one particular nightmare-fueled evening of sleep, during which my brain conjured up approximately 72 things that could go wrong and leave us plummeting to the ground below, I woke up to a text from a friend who was also planning on taking the plunge. "Assuming you're as freaked out as I am," she wrote. "This Will Smith speech will probably pump you up."
Will Smith—yes, that Will Smith—is dead. On. From the night-before jitters to sitting in the back so I didn't have to go first and interrogating my tandem instructor to be sure he had lots of great things to live for, my experience was basically Will's experience (aside from the tiny fact that he was careening over beaches in Dubai and I was plummeting toward a field in Ohio). The video made me question my fears and reminded me that, as Smith says, "God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror; on the other side of your maximum fear are all the best things in life." Whether it's fear of free-falling toward the Earth or a fear of losing weight and changing your life, the video forces you to come face-to-face with what you're willing to do to make life worth living.
Now, the Fresh Prince has done it again. I stumbled upon this video on Facebook on a particularly frustrating day where I was convinced that everything and anything I did was not ever going to help me toward my fitness goals. In his Instagram story, Smith praises the idea of failure. Yes, praises.
I couldn't have said it better myself. "Fail early, fail often, fail forward," Smith pronounces. According to Smith, you have to seek out failure—and the lessons failure brings—in order to find success. Consider how much you can learn from a failed goal: what you like, what you hate, how you can grow, resources you didn't consider needing. The list can go on and on. When I first started exercising, I jumped on the treadmill right off the bat. "Everyone runs," I thought. "Certainly I can run, too." For the next two months, I dreaded every workout. I'd count down from 60 for intervals, attempt to watch "Archer" to take my mind off the pain in my lungs, silently curse my ankles for being weak and make promise after promise to myself (when I hit the next .25 mile mark, when this song ends) about when I could call it quits. As it turns out, I'm just not a runner.
I could have thrown my hands up defeated and quit just then. Instead, I unknowingly took Smith's advice and looked to extract the lessons from my "failure." In between the groans and curses, what did I enjoy and dislike about my time running? After some thought, I recognized that I enjoyed maxing out my heart rate and I hated running with no end in sight. So I adjusted. I started looking into intervals and plyometric workouts and HIIT workouts and Tabata workouts until I found a combination that fit just right. As Smith says in the video, "Practice is controlled failure—you can't lift that, you can't do that—until your body makes the adjustment and then, you can do it." Now, when I do run, I'll occasionally do longer steady-state distances, but, often, I'll sprinkle in sprinting intervals that make me feel tough and emphasize my strengths. Goldilocks didn't give up when she came upon that bowl of porridge that was too hot, and there's no need for you to give up because your first attempt didn't work for your body and your personality.
Embarking upon anything new can be scary at first, and much of that fear comes from the idea that failure is a source of shame. If you couldn't complete something that time, certainly there's something wrong with you. We rarely focus on the reasons why we came up short, such as our approach, mindset or outside circumstances. We put so much emphasis on the end of the journey from the start that we lose sight of the journey itself. Every day, every step you decide to take leads to some outcome, whether it's a success or a lesson that will lead you to that final finish line. Slowing down and resetting our minds to embrace new challenges that will more than likely lead to failure could be the difference that actually leads you to success.
We regularly hear stories about successful people who faced down and overcame likely failure—Oprah was fired from her first broadcasting gig, J.K. Rowling was on welfare before publishing "Harry Potter," someone had the nerve to tell Harrison Ford he would never be a star—before they stepped back, reset and tried again. You can be one of those success stories. Your weight-loss journey should be a series of setbacks and successes because those setbacks add up and ultimately teach you how to find success.
After enduring "Wild Wild West," I never would have thought, "Hey, you know who could inspire me in life? Will Smith." I've got to say, though, he's kind of my spirit animal.
Sweat: "Need It" Jay Hardway
Without the advice of friends, my brothers, Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist and workout classes, I would probably listen to the same 50 songs for the rest of my life. Discovering under-the-radar classics or up-and-coming music is something that I leave to the pros and people I know who pride themselves on being the Pitchfork reporter of our group. Seriously, I hate when people throw their phone to me in cars or during parties and ask me to "just pick something," as if it's so easy. Does everyone want to listen to Tom Petty for the thousandth time or the one Chance the Rapper song from two years ago that I obsessively love or the Haim song that's been playing in my car for the last two months? Probably not.
That said, since I've gotten more serious about exercise, I use music to fuel my workouts. While it's perfect for tree pose, it's hard to PR on your back squat listening to "Wildflowers," much as I hate to admit it. In an effort to round out my sparse playlist, I cling to new songs lately, immediately adding anything I hear that makes my ears perk up and my neck bob to my list. My Shazam has been working overtime, but I'm slowly creating a playlist that is designed to power me through any plateau.
Lately, this song from Jay Hardway has been pushing me to hit that last rep with gusto. Love or hate the house music vibe, you can't deny that the beats are great for exercise. This one holds steady at a solid 126 beats per minute, which falls within what Men's Fitness calls the "rhythmic 'sweet spot'" for strength training, also known as perfect for me.
Savor: Beet Salads All Day, Every DayI might not be a great chef, but a woman at the farmers market did teach me how to make roasted beets one time and, gosh darn it, it is one thing I do very well. I was backpacking in South America the first time I ever tried a beet. We were staying in a cabin for three nights with four other travelers we had met along the way and decided to task each couple with making dinner one night. Our friend from London whipped out this beetroot risotto recipe that she somehow knew by heart (a goddess among men) and when I commented that I'd never had beets before two things happened: She was first shocked that I had gone nearly 24 years and never had the pleasure of being introduced to the gloriously healthy root, then she explained that I was not to be alarmed if my urine looked…off the next day. I was grateful for both pieces of information.
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