by Nate Linskoog
Coach Nate of the Pocket Running Coach
I love food! Almost more than eating food, I love preparing it. Naturally I loved watching cooking shows as an aspiring home chef, soaking up the skills and recipes I could learn from people who have dedicated their lives to making delicious food. The hit Food Network show “Chopped”, is the ultimate test in my opinion of the techniques that a great chef must have to be successful. I have found that these skills are equally helpful in reaching fitness goals and achieving some sort of balance in life in general. I am going to give you three take away ideas from the Chopped that will help you reach your fitness and other life goals.
First let me summarize the show, just in case you are not familiar with the idea. Guest chef contestants come on the show each week and compete against each other to find out who is the best at combining mystery ingredients, which are found in a basket at the beginning of each round. The challenge is to create something tasty from the basket’s contents. There are no recipes, only skills and techniques that these chefs use to bring these seemingly impossible-to-work- with, random ingredients together into a restaurant quality dish. After each round, someone is voted out of the competition. After three rounds, one chef remains triumphant as the “Chopped Champion.” They have successfully stayed in the game. Still not seeing the fitness tie in? Ok, let’s open our first basket of mystery ingredients!
Lesson 1: You have to use what is in the basket.
Every day when you get up with a workout or fitness goal in mind, you have to open up your basket to see what you have to work with. Inside your personal basket you have your motivation, your muscles, the quantity and quality of your previous night’s sleep, your kids and family, your work, etc. Instead of being afraid to open the basket, remember that this day is an opportunity to experience life! Sometimes you will get ingredients you don’t like. You can’t ignore them. They are in the basket! You have to use what you have, even if you have never “cooked” with these ingredients before. The sooner you accept and commit to working with what you've been given, the sooner we can move to lesson 2. Closing your eyes, and pretending that no one can see you, doesn't work for my 3 year old children, and it has yet to be proven an effective method for dealing with unpleasant or unexpected circumstances. Be confident! Whip the top of that basket open, and let’s start cooking!
Lesson 2: Make a plan but be flexible
Now that you know what you have to work with, you have to make a plan. I have seen a chopped contestant open a basket and get ingredients they have never worked with before…ever! They don’t even know what it tastes like. Step 1: taste it. “Ew! Weird! I don’t like that!” Well tough! That is what is in your basket today, so let’s get to work.
I’ll give you a practical example. The other day I went for a run. About 10 minutes into the run, my legs felt really heavy, my stomach wasn’t feeling great, and I just felt off. “I don’t want these ingredients!” I thought to myself. Then I thought, “Nate, what if you were in a race and you felt like this? Would you quit or keep going? Would you rather FINISH slower than you wanted or not finish at all?” For me, that was an easy answer. So, I made an adjustment. “Slow down, relax, just get in the miles, and take this as an opportunity to develop the skills you need to overcome any one of these feelings in the future.” But then, something great happened. Almost instantly (within 5 minutes) my legs felt better, my stomach settled a bit, and my “off” feeling was turning into “You’re an animal for running even if it sucks! Go self!” (fist bump, blow it up, rain it down). I ended up running for just over an hour and feeling fantastic by the end. See? Easy. I adjusted my plan. It’s ok to change the game plan; you’re still in the game! I could have just run home and stayed frustrated. Instead, I accepted my ingredients, made up a new recipe for “success of this workout” and I moved on.
Lesson 3: Develop new techniques
The contestants who win on chopped are usually not the ones who have the most recipes memorized. They are the ones who can utilize the most techniques. They are confident in their ability to handle any ingredient because they have experience. Treat every new (lame) excuse as an opportunity to apply a learned technique that will eliminate that excuse. If it’s colder out than you are used to, great! Next time it is cold, but not this cold you can say, “I have worked out in worse weather than this before!” If you are really craving that one evil sweet treat that knocks you off the wagon every time, whip out your bazooka, show that craving who’s boss, and make a healthier choice. Congratulations! You just worked on the technique of self-control! And as the ashes of your temptation rain down, you can smile while you eat your convenient “under 100 calorie” snack instead of that row of Oreos (that’s my weakness).
You can do this! Accept that every day there will be new ingredients in the basket. Have a plan but be flexible. Be open to learning new techniques and apply them each and every day so that you can stay in the game and become a “Chopped Champion”!
Check out Coach Nate's Pocket Running Coach Podcasts! http://pocketrunningcoach.podbean.com/