Proper Perspective at Work

* Here’s another great post by Jason Seib!

Sorry for the silence on my part lately.  EPLifeFit is booming and keeping me quite busy.   Excuses, excuses…

I often preach the merits of proper perspective (here, for example) and today I just want to give you a quick example of what can happen if your head is in the right place.  I would like you to meet Laura.  When Laura first came to me she was an avid runner, tried to “eat right”, and hadn’t ever really spent any time lifting weights.  All in all, she was very much the average person to walk through our door – her head was full of common exercise and nutrition myths and she was unhappy.

Yes, Laura seemed to be the typical client in the typical state of health and fitness, but she is the exception to the rule in one important way: she is not driven by aesthetic goals.  I first realized her true potential when she came to me and requested personal training.  She had been attending our group classes for a while, made some good progress, and now wanted to get on a faster track to her goals.  I asked her what she expected to get out of personal training and started to half way check out of the conversation because this is the part where most people start pointing at various parts of their bodies and pinching their chubby spots to emphasize their disgust with themselves.  (Frankly, it always makes me want to scream, “You can’t fix a body you hate!” but I usually refrain in the hopes that they will see the light over time.)  Laura’s reply: “I want to deadlift 300 lbs.”

What did she just say??  I went over the sentence in my head trying to figure out where she had hidden the words “fat”, “butt”, and “thighs”.  Did she really just tell me that she wanted to accomplish a massive feat of physical capacity, even though she was not yet built like a super model??  This woman gets it!  Count me in!

Where did her pursuits take her?  Heavy lifting and proper paleo nutrition got her a body that looks like this…

And it happened by accident.  The fact that she looks great was a nice little added bonus.  Laura constantly improves her physical appearance by focusing on her health and physical capacity, and she effortlessly maintains her gains in a world where yo-yo dieting is a household phrase that is actually defined on Wikipedia (but you don’t have to look it up because everyone already knows what it means).

Here is the moral of Laura’s story.  If you came to me with Laura’s perspective and asked me if I thought you were capable of dramatic change for the better, my answer would be a definitive Yes!  In fact, I would be anxious and excited to watch those magical changes happen right before our eyes, and absolutely confident that we would both end up better people for the experience.  But if you came to me in the typical self-loathing fashion of many people, I could only tell you that I am confident in the accuracy of my map to where you want to go.  I could by no means guarantee that you wouldn’t erect insurmountable obstacles in your own path.

It really is all up to you.

More on this subject coming soon.

Go forth and be awesome.


  1. says

    Wow, love this post! What an awesome transformation (from runner to super woman! ;-)!

    I’m driven by both strength goals (deadlift twice my body weight, for example) AND aesthetic goals (ditch this muffin top and keep it off!). Sometimes my dismay (at times, even disgust) at this roll of fat keeps me from TRULY appreciating not only what this body is able to accomplish RIGHT NOW but the very sincere, kind things people say to me. I’m working so hard on trying to BELIEVE many of the things Jason & you write about but it isn’t easy… alas, there’s no Self-Love switch. But baby steps I guess…

    One thing I cannot emphasize enough is the value in eating well every day, in getting strong, and thanking your self and your body for all you are. In my opinion when you dare to become someone who does what others cannot do, you become so much stronger in every aspect of your life.

    Thanks Sarah (and Jason, wherever you are!) for a blog and posts that are so inspiring. Now go get Chrissy and Dain and make us a podcast!!! 😉 Have an amazing 2012!

  2. Renee Asher says

    I love this post. What do you recommend to people who are a bit broken – 2 bulging disks. Not sure I could ever again have weight lifting as a goal. I tore the area round the bulging disk picking up groceries the wrong way the other day and it’s like walking on a raw nerve right now. Had an epidural. Are my days of doing weights gone? Past 2 years eating right lost 48 lb and i have muscle definition again.

  3. JasonS says

    We fix bulging discs on my gym like it’s our hobby. Find a good trainer who truly understands your situation and you can absolutely get your back back. :)

    • CheleB says

      Wow Jason! That sounds great! How about two times surgically repaired herniations? I am a former triathlete (yeah I know). I slipped on ice in 2007 and herniated L4-5 and L5-S1. I had surgery 6 months later after losing feeling in both feet. Surgery seemed to be successful, I was able to get back to running, cycling, swimming and weight training and even completed an Ironman but I was never healthy. I took a well needed break after my Ironman. When I return to triathlon training, I re-herniated L4-5. I had a second surgery in December 2010. I have never recovered. Lack of activity and poor nutrition led to a 40+ lb weight gain. I now have a foot drop that leaves me pretty housebound unless I have a friend or family with me. I found paleo through a friend. I’ve lost 18 lbs eating paleo but I don’t think there is an option for me on the training front. Do you really think there is a trainer out there who wants to deal with this broken body? My old Tri coach sent me packing as an embarrassment to her business!

      • JasonS says

        I absolutely love clients like you and I’m sure there are other trainers out there who feel the same. Fixing bodies with extenuating circumstances keeps my job interesting. Weight loss stuff is easy, rebuilding bad backs forces me to think.

        • Natalie says

          I usually don’t read comments, but very glad I saw this. I am a former gymnast and martial artist, who slipped into an ‘activity coma’ (became sedentary), stacked 40 lbs. Long story short, my form of “broken” looks like: an early onset of arthritus in the back, a herniated L5 disc (executed while under the eyes of my first and only trainer), and acute tendonitis in the hips. These struggles have mentally beaten me, as much as I hate to admit it. But admission might be the first part of overcoming the caution, fears, and doubts – and then I can get on with chiseling my way to a healthier, stronger self.

          Dear Jason, when looking for a trainer to help resolve blown discs in one’s back, could you please offer some insight on what a trainee should ask for? I’ve spoken with several, and all seem to shrug off the part where I say ‘I’m rehabilitating a herniated disc. Do you or anyone you work with specialize in people like me?’ Or they say ‘we can look at some diagrams and figure it out.’ ….. It doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence! Thanks for your time and consideration.

          • says

            I wish I had a better answer for you, but if I new how to find a good trainer, Sarah and I would not have created EPLifeFit.

            The best I can suggest is to look for someone with a detailed assessment in which they have you do some basic movements, like squats for example. Ask them what they are looking for in each movement and make sure they sound like they have a plan.

  4. Penny says

    Like Danielle, I’m working on the self-love. I’m at the point I don’t self-loathe, so I’m getting there….I’m starting to love my arms. :) That’s something, right?

    I am not a patient person, but you are showing me that the proof is in the pudding if I just stick with it and focus on getting strong while eating the REAL right way.

    For Laura…wow!!!! And I love that you came to Jason wanting to deadlift a specific amount of weight. STRONG is definitely the new skinny. :)

  5. Penny says

    Hmm…..thought I replied before but it didn’t post.

    WOW, Laura!!! I think that is awesome that you came in to Jason wanting to lift a certain amount of weight…vs losing a certain amount of weight.

    In my other post I said that I’m like Danielle in that I’m still learning to love my physical self and that (most days) I’ve progressed from the self-loathing. My focus is changing and I consider that a big step from where I have come.

    I’ve been at a weight/size I wanted. I had the aesthetic goals and was mostly happy with myself. But I wasn’t 100% happy with how I looked because I kept wanting a little more; not so much a certain weight any more but more that I thought only surgery would fix (loose skin my dr said). As I look back on how I was then vs. what I want for the future, I can see how my goals are changing in that I would rather be strong and let how I looked then happen by accident. I’ve been there aesthetically for the most part and I can see that I will end up back there or better as long as I keep my focus in the right direction on the right things.

  6. Theresa says

    to Renee Asher
    I had back surgery in May 2011, fusion and decompression of L4&5. Started Crossfit in October, completely out of shape and overweight. We (the trainers at Maltese Crossfit & I) have done lots of work on technique and started with light weights and many, many baby steps. But, I’m lifting more weight and am thankful for the body I have and what it can do. I’m working through fear of hurting myself. I’m completely amazed at what I’ve accomplished in the last 3 months. Good luck to you!

  7. Laura says

    I just posted this on EPLifeFit, but I thought it might be nice to post here as well.

    When I started working out at CPC, I knew that I wasn’t happy with my body, health, or energy levels. Instead of nit-picking my body apart I thought, what is the most important item that I am listing that I would like to change? At that time it was my health (i.e. getting rid of my migraines, acid reflux, and high blood pressure). This was easily accomplished within six months of changing my diet. So, what new goals were next? This is when I decided to start personal training with Jason. What I wanted was to be strong, and what better way to accomplish this than to have a goal for my favorite lift. Without even worrying about different parts of my body or weight I decreased the size of my waist and have killer muscles!! I believe that if I had made aesthetic goals I would have been disheartened and probably fallen off the wagon at many points in my journey. Anyone out there worrying about their body, please stop! Start replacing those thoughts with how you want to improve your life. Not only will these goals have meaningful results, they will happen quickly and before you know it, you’ll have to buy new pants!

  8. Emma McCreary says

    Wanting to look good and lose fat doesn’t necessarily involve hating yourself. It can come from an authentic and healthy place of appreciating aesthetic beauty and wanting to be your best self.

    Some of us want to lift a lot. Some of us want to have a hot bod. One goal is not better than the other.

    • JasonS says

      After an entire career of never once encountering anyone driven by aesthetic goals that came from a healthy place, we will have to agree to disagree.

  9. K says

    I don’t know how people do it. I’ve been lifting weights–heavy weights for 35 years and I never get anywhere. I get to my sticking point and can never go any higher. Deadlifts, for example, my max is 135. And that’s it. Even that is extremely difficult, it never gets easier, it’s very very very hard. My bench press has been 35 pounds for as long as I can remember. I just don’t gain muscle, not ever.
    It’s not the eating, I used to chug protein shakes for years and it never helped. I even trained with a Ms. Olympia runner up and I have nothing to show for it.
    I am a genetic body building failure.

      • K says

        Yup. I avoid the, “white death,” per Schwarzenegger. Dave Draper used to write about drinking a gallon of milk a day, but I don’t touch liquid dairy, I just count that as part of the white death, LOL. I’ve got IBS so I’m a dedicated follower of the SCD diet. No grains, no sugar, no processed food of any kind. I eat plenty, enough to be full–mostly meat. I train hard, but I don’t over-train. I get plenty of sleep. What’s left?

        • JasonS says

          I’m stumped. I’m sure I could figure it out if I had regular face-to-face access to you, but we would need to do some experimenting and the internet is a bad laboratory.

          • K says

            Yeah, I’m stumped too. I guess not everyone is cut out to be muscular. It’s those Slavic genes of mine, LOL

  10. Soporificat says

    I’ve been Paleo for over three months, and the true fact is that I could never have stuck with it (or still be as committed to sticking with it as I still am) if I weren’t doing it for health reasons. I’m not sure why that is, though. I mean, society makes it pretty clear how important it is for a women to be beautiful, so I’m not sure why I couldn’t have done it for that reason alone. Maybe it’s because that kind of judgment puts you in a self-hating place, and then you need the starchy/sugary foods to help you feel better again? LOL

    • JasonS says

      I think it’s because focusing on making your body look better instead actually be better often makes you skip the step of improving health by causing you to forget that having a healthy body is what it is all about. Attractiveness, in a base biological context, is a display of good genetics through a display of health/fitness.

  11. Rebecca says

    I have the pleasure of working out with Laura and she is an encouragmen in her self. But I have never heard her story, so Thank You for sharing. It is so hard to change a 40 year mind set, but thanks to Jason, and this new(to me) world of Paleo it is finally sinking in. It has litteraly almost taken me a year, but I am finally getting there were its about what I eat and what I do in the gym. It has been amazing to see that the more I focus on those the more I am pleased with my body, my self, and just feel better all around. Thanks for the encouragment and reminder of were my head needs to be to go forth.

    • Laura says

      Thank you Rebecca! I am so happy that I have been able to get to know you in the past months! You are definitely on the right track with your focus and nutrition. See you soon!

  12. says

    This is incredibly inspiring and encouraging! I actually understand my OWN self a bit better! We started the Paleo journey because I wanted to be a faster triathlete. The baby weight I lost was just a nice side affect!

  13. Katie says

    Any suggestions to help me not hate my body? I have always had body image issues. I’m 5’8″ 130 lbs and a size 4….small by most people’s standards but all I see are big thighs and a pudgy belly. I’m about to start up a new Paleo workout program and do Robb Wolf’s 30 day Paleo challenge so I know that will help but “you can’t change a body you hate” so how can I not hate my body?

    • JasonS says

      Start by changing your goals. Don’t go to the gym to change the way your body looks, go to the gym to amass a huge list of accomplishments that you can brag about on Facebook. Be the envy of everyone in your world who lacks the drive to do good things for themselves. As long as you also nail your nutrition (and don’t over train), I promise you will get the body you want without the emotional obstacles that would otherwise cause you to fail.

      • Katie says

        Thanks, wonderful advice. Like doing an unassisted pull up or doing 30 push ups in row? What are some other good goals?

        • JasonS says

          200 lb Deadlift
          150 lb Back Squat
          85 lb Shoulder Press
          100 lb Bench Press
          400 meter Run in 1:45
          Sub 8 minute mile
          30 inch Box Jump
          Unbroken set of 30 Kettlebell Swings with 1 pood KB (53 lbs)
          There are options galore!

      • Laura says

        I completely agree with was Jason said. There are so many others goals out there…so just pick one that isn’t about your body image. You do have control!

  14. Samantha says

    So I started Paleo as a contest my gym was having. So I said sure. I can do anything for a short period of time to win a prize. What I was not expecting was the amazing and fast results that adding Paleo nutirtion to my CF workouts would give me!!! The enrgy through out the day, no more headaches, sleeping better, trimmer body, all over feeling better and for the most part my IBS symptoms were gone! I am still dealing with some symptoms and I’m not quite sure what to do or where to go. The Registered Dietician I’ve seen does not agree with Paleo way of eating. So I’m throwing this out there to see if anyof you posters are Paleo Nutrtionist or RD’s that I could maybe bounce some questions off of. I would like to keep up this way of life!

  15. Keturah says

    Started Paleo 3 months ago with 2 days at the gym, with mainly body image goal (ie want to be skinny), now up to 3 days at the gym with a trainer and from 5 pounds to 25 pound weights.

    Now I can do pull ups! And real push ups! and have signed up for a race.

    Yes I am getting thinner with paleo but my goals have changed. Its not just a diet anymore. I am 5’9 and started at 255 pds. now at 232 pds, in 3 months. Gained an inch in my arms and have lost 3 inches everywhrere else.

    But the best part..I forgot to make coffee yesterday.

  16. Marni says

    This post is great and covers so many aspects. In the past year, my mom had a heart attack, and my sister suffered a stroke. Can fear be any kind of motivation, or should it just be an entry point? When I was ten my father died of a heart attack in our home. The look on my doctor’s face when I shared all this said it all. We ordered tests, the numbers and genetics put me at risk. He wanted to put me on cholesterol meds, but I really don’t want to do that. Yes, fear is my motivation. I think, though, that living longer, feeling better, and knowing I’ve done the right things (I.e. Paleo and exercise) are going to overrule fear, and the aesthetics are a great perk!

    • Laura says

      I think being afraid of an early death is definitely a great motivator! Paleo will help you succeed in this goal by making you a much healthier person.

  17. says

    This is a inspirational story. Wow.
    We must begin listening our bodies, and looking at evolution to guide how we eat and work out, rather than listening to the dumbeat (drumbeat) of popular culture that tell us to carb load and run marathons to be fit.

    And as you said, looking great too doesn’t hurt :)

  18. dressage rider says

    Any hope for a 51 year old woman? I do enjoy the Paleolithic lifestyle. I want to be able to ride my horses when I am 70! I have always been athletic. 5’6 166 lb so I have 28 pounds to go. Wish me tons of luck, I need it!!!

  19. Tiffany says

    Well, I came to the website looking for yummy, nutritious recipes to help me lose the ‘holiday 8.’ Why does it all go to my thighs and knees? Anyway, I was looking at myself in the mirror this morning trying to figure out if the jeans that were loose on my a month ago are just tight from being ‘fresh out of the dryer.’ Nope…they fit, but barely. Still my skinny jeans, but ever-so-slightly snug. I looked at the lack of definition in my legs, and the saddlebags on my thighs and sighed. Not again. Will I ever have truly lean legs? What gives? Why do I have definition on every inch of my body but my legs? And then I read this blog. About 20 minutes ago, my goal was weight loss and well-defined legs. Now it is not feeling tired/having energy to burn, deadlifting 250#, bench-pressing 110#, front-squatting 150# and back-squatting 200#. Not sure when it will all happen, but at least my goals are good. Not just ‘fit effortlessly into skinny jeans.’ Because frankly, I’m tired of that yo-yo: I look pretty good! and then, If I could only shave another inch off of my thighs! And back again.
    Thanks, Sarah, for posting this.

  20. says

    I loved reading this! This is how I feel, every workout I want to feel stronger. That is all that runs through my head, not the number on the scale or the size of my pants. This is great motivation for me to keep working! Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *