Listen to Your Body Podcast 333 Overcoming Fitness Comparison-itis w_ Craig Zielinski

Overcoming Fitness Comparison-itis w/ Craig Zielinski

Have you found yourself falling into fitness comparisons not only with the people around you or that you know but in comparison with yourself and what you used to be able to do? If you are struggling with this concept or keep challenging the idea of coming back to exercise because you worry you won’t be at the place you left off, this episode is for you. 

Listen to Your Body Podcast 333 Overcoming Fitness Comparison-itis w_ Craig Zielinski

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Key Takeaways

If You Want To Stop Falling Into Fitness Comparisons:

  1. Let go of your ‘all or nothing’ mentality
  2. Choose movement practices that bring you joy
  3. Work towards developing a set of skills rather than a specific outcome
  4. Redefine your fitness goals and focus on mental and physical flexibility

Letting Go Of Comparison-itis with Craig Zielinski

Craig Zielinski is a USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, a repeated LTYB guest, and my loving husband. Throughout the course of the pandemic, Craig came face to face with his ‘all or nothing’ mentality and found a way to get over his ‘Comparison-itis’. Today he is here to share his story about how to get over your fear of judgment from others or yourself and start enjoying moving your body again.

Get Out Of The ‘All Or Nothing’ Mentality

For many people, their fitness identity in the past was tied to the exercise routines we used to do that are more often than not based on equipment that we simply don’t have access to during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although Craig originally got caught up in the ‘all or nothing’ funk, he realized that a lot of his reasoning was unreasonable and started to choose exercises that were based more on having a good time and making the best of what we had, rather than training super hard. Instead of engaging in movements that were comparison-based, Craig learned to focus on building his ‘skill tree’. 

You Don’t Have to Specialize to Succeed

The way that diet and fitness culture convince us that we have to specialize in one certain thing, even if it makes us miserable, is simply not true. When you are able to get back to the basics as Craig did, you can develop multiple skills and focus on the process than the all-illusive outcome.

You never know where any exercise will lead or take you, so the point is to be open to trying new things during this time of uncertainty and continually check on what feels right for you. Looking for fun, developing new skills, and being flexible about what fitness is can help you enjoy different areas of your life and get back into the movement mentality without all that added pressure.

What activity are you excited to get back into the routine of? How are you going to find healthy ways to limit your comparison-itis mentality? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • How the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way in which Craig trains (5:56)
  • Tips for navigating the ‘all or nothing’ funk by choosing exercises that you feel are fun (12:20)
  • Why you should stick to the basics when it comes to reintroducing yourself to movement practices (30:11)
  • The issue with training for a competition and why Craig chooses to direct his fitness goals elsewhere (33:30)
  • How to redefine your process to get closer to your fitness goals given the current circumstances (35:32)

Quotes

“I, for the longest time, could not get my head around what on Earth to do with myself [with Covid restrictions], so the answer was, in classic ‘all or nothing style’, was to do nothing.” (9:53)

“The problem created by returning to training and doing the same thing and being all dejected about how I have lost strength or capacity is by doing training that is adjacent to the training that I did, and as also something that is fun and I enjoyed while I would do it. And the cool part is that because it is adjacent to the training that I used to do, I have got developed skills so I won’t feel like a complete novice and just give up.” (21:25)

“It is really basic, and it is a lot of fun. And it also, when you think about it really, it is more a skill tree.” (30:28)

“We are told that we have to specialize in everything, and we end up plowing the same furrow, and that is just not very interesting. And there is also no point in doing that, it’s not very fulfilling, at least for me. Being a specialist in one thing is my worst nightmare, but that was kind of what I did in the gym if you think about it.” (31:52)

“The importance of developing what you can do as a project, is much greater than whatever the conclusion of the project is, right? (36:56)

Featured on the Show

Strength Workout Mini-Course

Rogue Fitness Website

Magic Carpet Sled

The EmPack Website

The McGill Big 3 for Core Stability

Breathe: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

The 5 Main Movement Patterns of Functional Movement Reel

Related Episodes

LTYB 165: How To Adapt Strength Training To Your Menstrual Cycle with Craig Zielinski

LTYB 327: Getting Back to Exercise Without Feeling Wrecked

LTYB 331: Strength Training & Your Relationship with Exercise 

Overcoming Fitness Comparison-itis w/ Craig Zielinski FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau
On today’s podcast, we are going to be exploring three things you need to know if you keep falling into fitness comparisonitis. And that’s not just comparison with other people around you or other people that you know, it’s a comparison with yourself, and what you used to be able to do. If you are struggling with this concept, you’re coming back to exercise or you keep thinking about how you used to be able to do things and now maybe you can’t or things have changed. It’s not going to feel the same and you keep talking yourself out of coming back. Or it’s just so demotivating this podcast today is for you. I’m joined by a very special guest who I know you’re going to love to Listen To Your Body podcast has one bold mission helped change-making women like you give themselves radical permission to listen to their bodies get free with food and fitness, and channel their energy and to be a force for good in the world. I’m a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach Steph Gaudreau. This weekly show brings you discussions around dropping diet and exercise extremes, letting your inner wisdom lead and taking up space from an inclusive body neutrality health at every size, nondiet nutrition perspective, we’ll examine how diet culture and the patriarchy keep women busy and distracted by the quest for body perfection, and how we can break free to live life on our own terms. It’s bound to be fiery and ultimately, to make you think, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s dive in.

Steph Gaudreau
Hello, and welcome back to the podcast this week, we have a super-duper special guest with us. Someone who has been on the podcast before, in fact, the most appeared. Is that a phrase? You’ve made the most appearances on this podcast and right now, we are recording this on our dining room table/desk/pile of paper files. And we’re doing this podcast because you have been shifting the way you’ve been training.

Craig Zielinski
Well, I thought you were talking to the audience. I have shifted the way I’ve been training. Okay.

Steph Gaudreau
Okay. Well, the surprise is that…the jig is up as they say, so the special guest this week on this episode of the podcast is…

Craig Zielinski
Me!

Steph Gaudreau
Craig Zielinski. Craig, better known as Z, also known as

Craig Zielinski
John?

Steph Gaudreau
Also known as my husband. So you’ve been on this podcast, the most out of any other guests.

Craig Zielinski
Is that right?

Steph Gaudreau
That is correct.

Craig Zielinski
Is that because it’s the easiest?

Steph Gaudreau
Ummm, not necessarily, it takes some effort to rein in your banter. But when it comes to strength training, you’ve been a very popular guest in the past and every time we’ve recorded this podcast, we have done it with you in the bedroom…

Craig Zielinski
Sweating with a laptop on my lap, a tray, and then like a microphone,

Steph Gaudreau
One of those beanbag trays that are bean baggy on the bottom but flat on the top, you know, like a desktop.

Craig Zielinski
So we’re in the same room.

Steph Gaudreau
But we’ve upgraded. So before, well in kind of, like fall of 2019 I bought a handheld recorder, which is super convenient for taking places and talking to people and I use this with Allegra. I almost said, Anastasia. Allegra and we recorded a podcast in her kitchen and it was so great because we got to be together in-person face-to-face and record and then COVID happened so we haven’t really gone anywhere nor used it since then. But I wanted to have you on the podcast this week because the last few weeks we’ve been talking about strength training and by we I mean, I’ve been talking about strength training, getting back into exercise if you’ve had a break. You know the world is still topsy turvy but in some places in this country things are starting to open back up and people are starting to feel like they can maybe go back to a gym or they can just get out the weather’s better so a lot of people are moving again or they haven’t moved before and they’re ready, or whatever the case might be. And so I wanted to bring kind of a short series of podcasts about exercise and movement and really the different facets of this as people are navigating life in 2021.

Steph Gaudreau
And so we had the podcast, like I said, about getting back into exercise without completely wrecking your body. So that was one episode that I did. And then the most recent one was strength training in your relationship with exercise, which is a little bit of my personal story but also is kind of redefining if you’ve had this relationship with movement, that’s then pretty unhealthy, is how to start redefining that relationship for you. So that leads me to why Z is on the podcast today. And that’s because you yourself have gone through a bit of a shift with your own training. And as you know, folks are listening to this podcast, some want to focus on new goals. You know, a lot of people here, including myself, always had a weight-loss-focused goal for movement and exercise, and it became only about the number, only about the scale. And so I know a lot of people are thinking, well, how can I focus on other things? Or I’m coming back to movement? And yes, Okay, I understand how not to wreck my body now but how do I deal with sort of that mental side of things where I might not have the same capacity that I did before I stopped movement. So would you tell the good listeners here, kind of what led up to this shift in your training and like how things changed for you?

Craig Zielinski
Alright, well, a quick preamble, I suppose, would be to do with the fact that I, for about 10 years, trained and “in a gym setting”. Training for nothing in particular so strength training, not competitive. I won’t go into my views on competitive training.

Steph Gaudreau
The sport of fitness?

Craig Zielinski
I did just competition in general. Don’t let me talk about that anymore. So I coached powerlifting and I coached weightlifting, but I didn’t do either of those competitively. What I did do was strength training, which is different but has a crossover. And so I did that for a long time. And then got a new job, stopped coaching at the gym. The gym became an inconvenience so then it was the work gym. So that meant there was a compressed time window in which I would train, which meant my training, which I was trying to simulate what I did, and I don’t know how many hours I spent in the gym. A lot a lot. Yeah. Like I was trying to sort of simulate that in some way. So you know, a bit on the back for reeling about trying to come up with a sort of methodology, a comparison, a lunch hour, and then having my lunch on my desk?

Steph Gaudreau
Okay, so. So that’s sort of where it started. Where you had, you know, we both sort of, we’re in a gym setting, most days a week, right? We were training and coaching and then that all changed and then you were working out at the work gym and then March of 2020 happened and you were home.

Craig Zielinski
I saw our business was ahead of the game and they were like everyone go home and stay home and that was before it was mandated in our state. Everyone should go home and stay home. And so at that point, I think…well, everyone was kind of reeling, trying to go how does any of this work? And, so something that had been very common and normal for me to do and in terms of strength training, all of a sudden was literally impossible. And I for the longest time could not get my head around what on earth to do myself. So the answer was in classic, all or nothing style, was to do nothing, whatsoever. So I just did nothing. I just sat.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, well and that’s one of the reasons why you know, we’ve talked about this several times over the last year and a few months now of just that, that sort of when things shut down and the world kind of went… like reeling was a great word, it was actually the word I was thinking, in my mind, sort of that period of reeling. And then it was like, okay, we’re kind of settling into this just difference of, you know, things have shifted. And now, we’re past the initial kind of surprise and shock and not knowing what to do. But I think that’s a really common thing that people have experienced over the last year is that sense of, well, I’m just, I’m kind of just shaken out of my normal routine, or I don’t know how to adapt movement or fitness to my current life situation. I mean, basically, I’m sitting here looking right now we’ve got, we’ve got a laptop and a full-size monitor on our coffee table. And you know, so basically moved your stuff inside, do you that’s my place of work, we moved your work into the living room, and we don’t have a lot of extra space in our house, to begin with. I think our house is technically 600 square feet of living space. So it’s a pretty tiny house, we happen to be lucky in that we live in a place that has a pretty good climate so we can exercise outside. And that’s actually how made strong came to be when I first created it was I would just work out on the front porch, with a kettlebell. So, you know, we were really lucky in that we can have a little bit of outdoor space, but I think that is something that has been really difficult for a lot of folks now is sort of, how do I get back to doing something again, without the sense of Oh, fuck, I took a lot of time off. And every time I think about going back to doing something, I either got overwhelmed that I’m gonna be and I’m using air quotes here out of shape. It’s gonna be fucking uncomfortable. Or maybe I don’t have a physical gym location I can go to again so how did you then break out of your all-or-nothing funk?

Craig Zielinski
Well, That’s a good question. And I thought, for a long time, and what I came up with was, okay, a new phase of existence. Right. So, and in my brain, I’m like, okay, no more gyms. No, I don’t want anything to do with gyms anymore.

Steph Gaudreau
And there’s like, no fitness equipment available on the entire internet.

Craig Zielinski
Well, yeah, that’s true. There was next to nothing, right? And, there were no dumbbells or anything like that or kettlebells. Kettlebells and dumbbells were completely sold out. Interesting side note, I’ve always hated kettlebells.

Steph Gaudreau
Why?

Craig Zielinski
No reasonable reason, like, most of my reasoning is unreasonable. But yeah, I hated carrying kettlebells because they were just like, some daft thing that you’d swing about and get sweaty, which I hated. Right, that reminded me of, the disgusting CrossFit workouts where you would thrash yourself doing some bollocks and then run around the building, and then back and then thrash yourself some more. Fuck that. So, yeah, hated kettlebells. And I really didn’t use dumbbells at all, because that was for gym bros, in my opinion, you know, had this kind of hangover from the embarrassment of bodybuilding. And what I mean by the embarrassment of bodybuilding is when you’re dragged into the functional fitness world and are impressionable, it’s the cool thing, and then anything else is not the cool thing. And so that was my mindset for a long time when I was a child and so I was basically like, right, dumbbells are killed and kettlebells are kind of out of the picture for various reasons, right? Availability is the primary one, and then all these secondary reasons that exist inside my own head. And so, I was like, Well, what am I gonna do? And the answer was, I decided to do things that were afterthoughts to my primary training before but I enjoyed them. Right. And so what do I mean by that? Typically, we would have… and this has been like through the last 10 years of training in our gym, when there was a mob of us together, we do something cool or fun, right? So jumpees is basically when you kneel on the ground, and then you jump to your feet. And then what we would do is we would stack plates and we would jump from a kneeling position on top of the plates. That was always fun, but not something that we did as training because there were only so many hours in the day, and especially when you get to a certain level of strength. Training takes a long time just to get up to your working sets.

Steph Gaudreau
I’ve never thought about it like that.

Craig Zielinski
Well, yeah, like unless you didn’t warm-up, but it’s only children that can really get away with not warming up.

Steph Gaudreau
So if you’re like under 25.

Craig Zielinski
Well, that was the thing, right? When I trained with Josh, he would take these monster jumps. He was 10 years younger than me and was a foot taller and, yeah, 100 pounds heavier.

Steph Gaudreau
Just a big unit.

Craig Zielinski
Giant guy. Right. And, that was massively challenging for me. But that meant that we could get up to the highways fairly fast but I like to do a lot of warm-up sets, you know. So anyway, I was like, what stuff did I do that was fun? And the answer was kind of strong manish stuff. Farmers’ carries were always fun and we would always overload them and end up incapable for a week after it. I was always really interested in some of the strongman type events and then, you know, you’ve got this sort of classic American backyard training type thing, which I mean, really, when you think about it, that was what CrossFit was before CrossFit became the sport of fitness. That’s all it was.

Steph Gaudreau
People in their garages.

Craig Zielinski
People getting really strong in their garage. We don’t have one. Did I say garage?

Steph Gaudreau
Did you see me?

Craig Zielinski
Yeah. It’s a garriage everyone, it’s not a garage, right? It’s a garriage!

Steph Gaudreau
Z has modified some of his Scottish words. This is a total side tangent but when he said garage, that caught my attention, because he doesn’t say it that way.

Craig Zielinski
I have to do that for my audience a lot of the time because I speak on the phone with people who don’t think…

Steph Gaudreau
For work. I thought you meant actually said when you said for my audience, I was like, do you have a secret podcast? But I really think he should have his own podcast. So if you agree, send me a DM on Instagram. Just a side note.

Craig Zielinski
I have good ideas, but I can never implement them and…

Steph Gaudreau
That’s why we’re a good team. Okay. So backyard training garage.

Craig Zielinski
Yeah, that kind of idea. And the weather here is basically the same year-round so that was something I could get away with. I could go outside, and I could flop about on the grass or whatever. And, I was like, okay, so what am I going to need to be able to do this. Now, lucky me. I brought plates that I had bought…I bought a whole ton of plates for the gym, and work and then when all of that closed, I brought them home, you brought a barbell home. Okay, so that was a start. Right? Deadlifts, Power Cleans that kind of thing, right? No squat rack. And so I couldn’t default back to the only thing that I really ever did was squatting. But then I was like, well, let’s see if there’s any sort of ways in which we can solve this, and I thought about various things and had a look and Farmer’s Handles, you know, seemed like a bit of an adventurous purchase for something that’s effectively a UniTasker. And I found those Spud Straps, which are effectively Farmers Handles, and…

Steph Gaudreau
They’re like an oversized webbing strap that you can loop through. So if anybody’s not familiar with it, you know, you have your barbell bumper plates, they have a hole in the middle for the collar of the barbell to go through and so you kind of loop the webbing through the holes, and then tie it at the top and it’s got two handles, so it simulates a farmer’s carry.

Craig Zielinski
Yeah, so effectively, you’ve got a handle strap, and, please, which was genius, right? It was an excellent solution to the problem. And, and there were kettlebells here and you’ve also got two Empacs, and which are things that you fill with water. So you can make those heavier or lite, depending on what you’re doing with them. And so I was kinda like, okay, there’s enough. Like, if I grab a few bits and pieces, there’s enough to like, start messing around with this stuff and like structure my train in a different way. And that was after I’d read Nesters book about breathing as well so it was unnecessary to all sort of came together. As like, I start to realize, I can avoid the problem created by returning to training and doing the same thing, and be an old dejected about how I have lost strength or capacity by doing training that’s adjacent to the training that I did, and is also something that was fun that I enjoyed when I would do it. And the cool part is that because it’s adjacent to the training that I used to do, it means that I’ve got developed skills in that area. So I won’t feel like a complete novice. And again, just give up because it’s really difficult to kind of start something, you know if you don’t have any form of guidance whatsoever, right? Yeah. So that was the way that I got rid of my own all are often thinking like, you know, that I would have preferred if I like, packed up like so when I started date left and outside. I would put all the plates on the bar that we have, right? It was hard. And I was like, looking at the plate somewhere else isn’t supposed to be hard. I can I used to be left way more than us. And then so I wouldn’t deadlift for like two weeks because it made me sad. Right. Yeah. Which is pointless, like does not train and then as it like, there’s no consistency there. Whereas when I started doing all of this, this kind of stuff that I put together about doing farmer’s carries, and I’m concentrating on breathing through my nose and not through my mouth. I historically have been like a chest breather who would like panic breathe, which is basically no surprise that I hated any high-intensity exercise because I’d just be in a flat panic the whole time. So very controlled, breathing. And, you know, basically accepting where I was because I was like, well, this is a project now. And the project is concentrating on my breathing, breathing through my nose, like regulating all of that stuff, and doing all of these interesting types of exercises, henshin balancing, and patterning, you know, different modes of squat, etc, etc. And at the same time, I’ve got an excuse to buy.

Steph Gaudreau
This is the real reason.

Craig Zielinski
I’ve got an excuse to buy Kosha. And the cool shit, the coolest shit that I got was those handles.

Steph Gaudreau
We’ll try to link to those in the show notes.

Craig Zielinski
The magic carpet. right?

Steph Gaudreau
Explain what that is.

Craig Zielinski
The magic carpet is effectively a sled that is for the grass or inside the gym. So it’s this like a big piece of material and you stack plates on top of it and drag it around. So I just drag it around on the grass, the Husafell bag, which is super cool, because it’s like a traditional Icelandic strong man left the Husafell stone as a strong man lift. Like, the maximum is half the way I think it goes up to about 200 pounds, but as basically the same kind of ship. So it’s just a big old object, right? And I’m a sucker for things, cool things like that. So I was like, well, I’ll get one of those in. And then you know, lusted after a sandbag for the longest time. And then relatively recently got my hands on a sandbag maybe a few months ago. And so that combination of things has basically made training incredibly interesting.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’re listening to this podcast and thinking, yep, you convinced me Steph I want to get stronger. I am ready to take that next step. Or it’s just been a while since I’ve worked out and I’m ready to get back into it. Then I want to invite you to sign up for my free strength workout mini-course. Not only do I walk you through all of the incredible benefits of strength training, but I’m also giving you three workouts completely done from start to finish. With all of the tips and pointers, you need to make sure that you are executing them as well as you And getting all of the benefits out of them. So if you want to get this free strength training mini-course, it is super simple. Just hop over to StephGaudreau.com/workout, that StephGaudreau.com/workout, and get enrolled in my free strength workout mini-course.

Steph Gaudreau
So I heard a couple of things in there. I heard, number one, it was important for you to think about the things that you actually enjoy doing and they were fun to you. So I’m going to pull out sort of the salient points here in all of it.

Craig Zielinski
I do tend to ramble.

Steph Gaudreau
Just a recap for people. So one, you know, pick things that are fun too, was to set some goals for yourself or focus on certain things that would take you out of the comparison trap. That, ‘oh, I used to’ and this is what really why I wanted to have Z on this podcast today is because this happens so much. We’ve got to get out of the comparison trap to other people. And then there’s that comparison trap with yourself of I used to be able to squat, almost 300 pounds. True story. I don’t anymore, right? Or I used to be able to run a seven-minute mile or I used to be able to blah, blah, blah, right. And whether that’s for injury’s sake or circumstance, or whatever it is, we can still get back into that mode of comparison with self, which then keeps us from engaging in the things that we want to do. So we’re always comparing to how good it used to be. And when we’ve taken time off, or we’ve circumstances have changed, it can be hard to find that consistency. So I heard you saying there was, you know, find some other things that you enjoy, but be that are sort of, you know, they’re not things that you’re learning from scratch, but they also give you a chance to focus on something different.

Steph Gaudreau
So you’re not just always comparing to well, I used to be able to pull, you know, 300-pound deadlift, or who knows whatever it is, right, I used to be able to squat my body weight, or I used to be able to do pull-ups or push-ups from a plank position. And I haven’t done them in a while so I’m going to modify them and do them with my hands on a bench. So I heard you say that, and then I heard you say that it’s it was sort of like slowly over time you found things, pieces of equipment or things like that, that allowed you to actually do that stuff, and bring in these different areas of focus. And you did you know, you did start with just like the pack. Yeah. So you started with what you had. Yes. And I think that’s really, really important because I know not everybody has the same access or means to buy things or things like that, you know, we had, we did have a few kettlebells actually, one got taken off the porch at the beginning of the pandemic, which was really odd. So somebody took our lightest kettlebell. And so we had maybe two left or something. And so gradually, we accumulated a couple of other things, but I just really appreciate you were saying, you know, we kind of started with what we had. And yeah, you gradually looked for things that you could acquire after that.

Craig Zielinski
I mean, like, that’s just kept my kind of nerdiness was a bit of a problem as to why we ended up accumulating something like that. So I fell back, do you know what I mean? I’m not gonna say well, it’s a little niche. If you want to start training, you need the Husafell bag.

Steph Gaudreau
A sandbag or a backpack with like, the Empac that has fillable bladders and you can put water in them and, and things like that could be a great even just a regular backpack that you could stick something somewhat heavy in, to kind of give that that’s that idea of a weighted backpack. I love how you were saying you’re sticking to a lot of you know, functional movement patterns and these are things that you know, carrying, we just talked about this on my Instagram not too long ago, I did a video when I brought made strong back about movement patterns in daily life. And how, you know, we have, we have the squat and that was, you know, my sort of sitting down to a low cushion. You know, we had the hinge or just picking something up off the floor carrying all your groceries as a carry. And so I like that, you know, you’re also doing a lot of that. You found ways to do those things here, you know, around the house. So it’s not this big, complicated, you know, system of training, you’re still sticking to those basics, which I think is really important.

Craig Zielinski
It’s very basic, and there’s a lot of fun and also when you think about it, really it’s more of a skill tree. Okay, it’s more of a skill tree.

Steph Gaudreau
Explain?

Craig Zielinski
Like RPGs or video games,

Steph Gaudreau
What’s an RPG?

Craig Zielinski
A role-playing game. And you can tend to have things like skill trees, where you basically get to decide I want to be rogue that can go invisible and sneak really well and use a bow and arrow or like backstab with knives and all this stuff, right? Like, sort of very specific skills. But then when you look at real life, we basically get told in real life that we have to specialize the whole time, right? So really, all I did in real life was just squat. And then whatever was added on at the end of that.

Craig Zielinski
So we’re told that we have to specialize in everything, and we end up plowing the same forough and that’s just not very interesting. And there’s also no point in doing that. It’s not very fulfilling, at least for me. Being a specialist in one thing is my worst nightmare. But that was kind of what I did. And the gym, when you think about it, oh, a squat rack is here. I shall squat. I should press show bench press. I will walk over there. And I will do deadlifts. That’s not very interesting, right? Especially if you know, I’m not even competing in those things. I’m just doing those things, right. So the way that I look at this is it’s the development of a skill tree that’s adjacent to the things that I in, or the skills that I developed. And that means to know that you know, maybe I’ve got way more midline stability than I did previously.

Steph Gaudreau
Shout out to Dr. Stuart McGill. But Dr. Stuart McGill and the big three, yeah, link that in the show notes as well. It’s just midline core stability stuff.

Craig Zielinski
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, well, the list could go on forever. You get Dan John. You’ve got all these strong man people. But yeah, that’s effectively given me the opportunity to fuck around and find out.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I love how you’ve sort of reinvented that for yourself, and you’ve pushed into the edges of things that you normally wouldn’t have done. And for you, that’s kind of a big thing. Because I know how averse you are to trying things that you are not going to be successful at the first time.

Craig Zielinski
Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, and that sort of circles back to why I dislike competition. Well, definitely competition for a myriad of reasons. But one of the primary ones for myself is the I’m can’t guarantee that I’m going to win. I strongly dislike not winning. I used to think that wasn’t competitive. And then I realized that actually, I’m so competitive that I wouldn’t compete unless I can guarantee that I’m going to win something. I don’t know why that what that’s all about.

Steph Gaudreau
So let me ask you a thought experiment and we’ll kind of wrap this up. You know, one of the things that I often talk about is…So if you’re going to be moving your focus of exercise away from shrinking your body, which is what most people have learned is the relationship that you have with exercise, it’s a means to an end, a means of weight loss. It’s a means of making yourself smaller or modifying your body in a very specific way. #bodygoals, which makes me want to barf every time I hear it. But one of the things that I oftentimes recommend to people is to pick a skill that they want to develop. That becomes the thing that they want to do and then that’s the outcome, right? So maybe the skill is I want to get pull-ups and then the process goal that they take themselves through is like how am I going to work on a consistent basis, right week over week to get closer to building the strength or the muscle recruitment or the stability in the shoulder or like the activation of my scaps or whatever it is, how am I going to actually get closer to that goal? What would you say if somebody said, I want my goal used to be to do pull-ups? And now I don’t have I’m not anywhere close to that because of XYZ reason? How might you redefine that in terms of this new system that you have for? For your fitness? Like the things that you’ve done? You said you’ve done things that are tangential or like, related to that thing. So being that we don’t have a pull-up bar here, how would you work that? How would you work that same pattern without actually having a pull-up bar?

Craig Zielinski
Are you asking me specifically about pull-ups? Or?

Steph Gaudreau
Well, that’s just the example that came to my mind. But

Craig Zielinski
So somebody wants to simulate doing pull-ups but doesn’t have a pull-up bar?

Steph Gaudreau
Or, or the fact that you know, you used to do pull-ups at the gym but now, they can’t. But now you don’t have access to that, right. So if you just went and hopped on a pull-up bar right now, things might not be how you expect them to be. But you might not even have access to that. So how would you still, like how would you shift that goal? Given the current circumstance?

Craig Zielinski
Well, I mean, you know, me and nothing’s ever straightforward especially when somebody states a question like that. But I would basically sort of revert to discussing skill trees. Like, the importance of developing what you can do, as a project is much greater than whatever the conclusion of the project is.

Steph Gaudreau
Process versus outcome.

Craig Zielinski
Well, yeah, by males. Yeah. Right. Because you don’t know whether it’s going to lead you don’t know what’s going to happen when you start to, like, mess around with doing, for example, the strongman stuff that I’ve been messing around with you don’t know where that’s gonna go. Right. But, I mean, hell, no, I walk way more than I ever have, since I’ve been in the US. Right. And I originally didn’t, but I was like, what you may do some like days where it’s just like a really long load carry and so you know, backpack about 10 kilos, and then off, I go, do like, you know, five to 10k.

Steph Gaudreau
We’ve done that. I’ve done that. I should say, rephrase. I’ve done that walk with you, without a backpack. And now since then, I’ve been walking every day, one to three miles a day, but usually one to two on average. And I remember that first. went out with you on that 90-minute walk. And that pace was so high, I just thought I’m gonna…this is really hard.

Craig Zielinski
But that’s the beauty of it. Right?

Steph Gaudreau
It’s really tough.

Craig Zielinski
Yeah, but the beauty of it is like, if you just said, Oh, Z, I see you’ve bought a Husafill bag, you’re definitely going to start doing like five to 10k walks. Like, that’s not how it is. But that’s, you know, that’s no part of the thing. So the thing is, you don’t know whether it’s going to lead on the projects, the interest, the importance, and the interesting part of what you’re doing. It’s never the endpoint.

Steph Gaudreau
So be open to different offshoots that might develop?

Craig Zielinski
Absolutely, and check them out and know, they’re rubbish, or boring, or you’re not entered, don’t do it and just, I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to see all of that stuff and mess around with all of that stuff. It’s just super interesting.

Steph Gaudreau
Explore.

Craig Zielinski
Like Jay Morton.

Steph Gaudreau
I guess I would say too that, it’s okay to not feel like every day is the best fucking workout you’ve ever gotten in your life. You know, like, that’s another hurdle and that we’ve talked about a little bit on the show before, but there’s times where, you know, people say, Oh, well, XYZ doesn’t count because I it didn’t break me as a human and leave me rolling around on the floor.

Craig Zielinski
That’s a societal problem, right? That’s not our brains don’t think like that. Right? Humans don’t think like that. Systems make us think like that, or expectations make us think like that. Pre societal humans did not, like, go or I’m gonna thrash myself today. Right?

Steph Gaudreau
I better get this really great workout or it doesn’t count.

Craig Zielinski
Of course, they didn’t, right. They just did their thing. And that’s again, that’s the beauty. Well, I mean, the way that I can meet or that in terms of what the potential intensity of the workout should be, as, of course, the lunar cycle because I mean, that’s the best kind of programming you can use.

Steph Gaudreau
We have done a podcast roughly on that.

Craig Zielinski
I think we have, yeah.

Craig Zielinski
So it’s all programmed around the lunar cycle as a guide, but I don’t necessarily have to hear a lot from not feeling it, then, you know, I’m not feeling it. And if I’m psyched, then I’ll go pretty hard. And you know, there’s nobody with a stopwatch or a whistle telling me I’m getting it or I’m rubbish, right. I’m just kind of experimenting and having fun developing this new skill tree and number for it.

Steph Gaudreau
I love it. All right. Anything else you’d like to add?

Craig Zielinski
No.

Steph Gaudreau
Okay. Well, that was really insightful. Thank you for sharing what you’ve been doing, and how you’re approaching fitness now that things have changed for you, you’re looking for fun, you’re developing new skills. And really, what I hear is being a lot more flexible than than you used to be in terms of your definition of what that was, you know, what, what is lifting? Or what is fitness? Or what is strength training. So I hear a lot of flexibility. And that’s such a key that mental flexibility and cognitive flexibility is so key. And this is what I you know, work with, with people, no matter if they’re interested in the nutrition aspect, or the lifting aspect, that all or nothing thinking is, yes, it’s the result of programming is how we’ve learned how to interact with things and certainly individual circumstances. But that by building that mental flexibility, and experimenting it with experimenting with it in different ways in your life, you’re, you’re building that resilience, you’re flexing your creative thinking, you’re looking for things that are fun, and you fucking enjoy, which is such a huge part of, you know, a really great relationship with movement. So I appreciate you sharing.

Craig Zielinski
My pleasure.

Steph Gaudreau
We’re going to wrap this show up right here, instead of taking it out to a formal outro. We’re just going to do it differently today. So a couple of things, first of all, share this podcast out, especially on Instagram and your stories would be amazing. We’d love to hear what you thought of this episode with me and John Craig Zielinski, otherwise known as Z affectionately. If you would like the show notes for this episode, including the links to, gosh, as many things as we can pull the links in for whether it was fitness equipment, or you mentioned a couple of books in there or other podcast episodes that we’ve done, go ahead and visit StephGaudreau.com for the show notes. And I’ve got a couple of really awesome guests lined up for you as well in the weeks to come other than Z. So look forward to having those people on. Thanks so much for listening to this week, as always, and we’ll catch you soon. Bye.

 

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Lord of the Rings nerd, cold brew drinker, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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