The company for which I work frames several of its most important core values in its Code of Ethics. It’s something I genuinely appreciate about where I work because it’s something that’s taken seriously and in my current job, it’s my role to support those values and ensure they are not compromised.
As part of some training today related to all of that, I began to think a little bit about things you might consider to be the “fundamentals”. I think to some this may conjure up thoughts of some old-school football coach yelling about the need to block and tackle or your high school history teacher discussing some dusty concept from ancient Greece. Or possibly it makes you think about eating your broccoli because your mom tells you to. Truthfully, there is really nothing about fundamentals that seems all that sexy. They often are cast in terms of things you have to do because, gosh darn it… they’re good for you! Not exactly the greatest sales proposition of all time if you ask me.
But as I got to thinking about it a little more, I started to think about the lifting session that was to come this evening and everything about it just screams fundamentals. I would be doing military presses (standing barbell presses), dips and then pull-ups. There’s nary a “core exercise”, stability ball or fancy piece of gym equipment in sight there… but it’s actually what I love about it. After finishing all of that up tonight, it just felt really damn good to focus on the fundamentals?
Because there is something pure about the fundamentals. It’s stripping away all of the extraneous extra “stuff” that is often added onto things in life. We as humans have an amazing ability to take simple concepts and make them unduly complicated because we figure we are pretty advanced creatures, so we must prove this by making things really, really confusing. That’s how you show you’re smart!
I find myself liking the fundamentals (or values) so much because I am the kind of person who finds comfort and strength in having a firm foundation which I can always rely on, but which also allows me to get a little creative beyond it. So here is my list of life fundamentals which you may find handy too:
- Focus on the big, basic lifts. Bench press, squats, deadlifts, military press, pull-ups, dips, lunges and such. There is a place for more specialized stuff too, but never lose sight of these bang-for-your buck exercises.
- Intervals for conditioning are much more effective (and fun) than being stuck like a rodent on a treadmill.
- Play sports or do something active (like maybe go dancing if you are into that). They’re just fun and they are an easy way to disguise exercise.
- In the words of Connecticut native and 800 lb. bench presser Vincent Dizenzo, people need to worry less about debating minutiae of programs and just “smash f**king weights.” This applies to more in life than it may first appear. Don’t get caught up in paralysis by analysis. Sometimes the enthusiasm of execution means 100X more than the planning. Maybe if you are a runner, it’s “run f**king miles” or a swimmer as “swim f**king laps”. You get the idea.
- “Eye of the Tiger” is guaranteed to add 10 lbs and 2 reps to any lift. It’s just science.
- Eat protein at every meal. This just seems to work for me and honestly, I just like protein.
- Fish oil kicks ass. Every single study you hear about seems to find a new benefit to taking it, from brain health, heart health, lower cholesterol, improved body composition, decreased inflammation of all kinds, etc.
- Fruits and vegetables. They are good. Eat them. Nobody gets fat from eating too many fresh fruits and veggies. My Mom would be happy to read this.
- Green tea is good for you. Like fish oil, they keep finding out good stuff about it. Drink some.
- I enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, so as long as I am sticking to the above 4 points 90% or more of the time, it’s perfectly fine. This is the part where keeping the strong fundamentals in place allows me freedom in some other areas.
- The Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not some hokey notion. It’s probably the single most important lesson I have ever learned in my life.
- Related to #1, kindness counts.
- When my life eventually comes to a close, I want to be remembered as a great friend, brother, boyfriend/significant other/husband, uncle and son. If no one really remembers what I did at my job, but remembers that first part, I will consider my life a smashing success. I wish more people felt this way.
- The more I read, the more I feel both more relaxed and sharper, all at the same time.
- Reality TV might be the worst thing I have ever seen in entertainment. I don’t mean reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” or even the ones that are on History Channel and such, but basically any of the genre which seems to thrive on the enjoyment of other’s peoples most base elements… i.e. any dumb MTV reality show, ever.
- Every year I am amazed at how much more I realize my parents were right about a lot of things. At some point, I should probably admit this to them.
- Every year I am also amazed at how much more ridiculously good-looking I get. I feel a little bit bad for the rest of you slobs.
My advice to everyone is to figure out what your own core values or fundamentals are because when life gets hard (which it will) and you are not sure what is the right decision to make, at least you will be true to yourself if you rely on these values.