Archive for the ‘Gary Ditsch’ Category

Trainer Tip, by Gary Ditsch

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

When Perfect doesn’t Produce.

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections”

Saint Augustine

I am sometimes asked, “What is the most difficult thing about training other people?”  I am not sure what they anticipate my response to be, but the answer I give sometimes surprises them.  The hardest thing about training is not teaching new exercises and skills, or dealing with injuries and physical limitations, nor finding ways to fit activity into a overly scheduled day.  The hardest thing about training other people is creating an awareness about fitness and health that their dedication doesn’t have to be “all” or “nothing”.

The mindset of many people when they seek a trainer is that they are going to “buckle down and get this right”.  They know that there are behavioral changes to make, they have motivation to make it happen and they are going to use the help of a trainer to facilitate those changes.  The work begins with scheduled strength workouts, mobility and flexibility sessions and cardiovascular exercise.  The nutritional discussions begin, with commitments to improve the quality of foods they eat and manage the quantity of food consumed.  The plan to an improved lifestyle is underway … then life happens.  A missed workout, an unforeseen piece of birthday cake at the office, the decisions come so fast and hard that it becomes a little overwhelming.

That is when the tough decisions are made.  Do you decide that if you can not remain perfect in your newly created lifestyle that you are just going to return to the way things were before, or are you willing to accept that perfection is not a human condition and living healthily is a lifelong journey?

I don’t have statistics to highlight how people commonly respond to that decision, but everyday I see some people make the decision to continue the journey while others decide that if they can’t do everything, they just won’t do anything.

I admit that I can fall into this trap of seeking perfection.  I can commit 100% to something and when things are going well, they go really well, but when things start to go badly I begin to lose self confidence and wonder if I have the personal will power to “succeed”.  Let me share a personal example from my own life and then give you a few strategies to help alleviate your own all-or-nothing compulsions.

Racing has been a big part of my life over the last 13 years, I have lived to run marathons and compete in triathlons.  As it was time for a break, my last race was the Rev3 Cedar Point back in September of 2010.  The great thing about races is that they require commitment, so how have I filled in for that gap now that I’m not racing?  Here are a few ideas:
1. Be process oriented not outcome focused: When you think about your desires to improve are you only focused on the outcome, if you are try setting some process oriented goals too.  For example, “eat 6 servings of vegetables 5 days this week”, instead of “lose 20 pounds by the family reunion”.

2. Find something you can track daily that helps keep you focused: Some of you may have seen me in the training studio talking about my FitBit tracker. I use it to track my steps and sleep each day. I have a general goal I like to achieve, but I have found that the act of wearing it is enough to get me moving more.  I also started tracking water consumption, I simply keep a 2 gallon jug at home and monitor how many days it takes to empty it.

3. Keep your goals “top of mind”: One trick that I’ve used with clients for years is putting little colored dots in places they often see.  Put a little red dot on your computer monitor and your rear view mirror, then let that dot remind you of your commitment to drink more water.  Put a little blue dot on your television to remind you to stretch and foam roll, use them as regular reminders.  Of course, you could also go the tech route and set up regular reminders on your phone with text messages or alarms.

4. Own your identity and healthy journey: How you view yourself will go a long way in your ability to find happiness in your new lifestyle.  If you have have confidence that you are fulfilling your our journey, opposed to living up to someone else’s expectations, your happiness will keep you grounded.  If you have never been an athlete, yet you want to run a 5k this year, don’t let others tell you all the reasons you can’t do it, start viewing yourself as a runner and make it happen.  At times when I have had self efficacy issues around goals, I have found that regular journaling on the topic and private meditation gives me a stronger belief in myself.  If you journal publicly on a blog, you may be surprised how many people will be there to support your efforts.

The bottom line to all of these suggestions is that they are: very short term focused, which gives you many opportunities to succeed or try again tomorrow and they create an environment that support daily habits opposed to only long term outcomes.

When making decisions to change a lifestyle or habit, it is often better to find out where our shortcomings are and learn from them quickly.  The faster we can learn from our failures, the easier it is to create a new strategy moving forward.  If you require perfection to have happiness with your exercise and nutrition programs, my observation is that you will not be all that successful.  The highest achieving people I know in business, sports and relationships are not afraid of failure and learn quickly when they do fail.


Trainer Tip (by Gary Ditsch): Using a run / walk strategy to train and race your Bluegrass 10k.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011



The Bluegrass 10k is coming up in less than a month, which means there are hundreds of local runners thinking about how to get in shape to finish this great 4th of July event.  It also means that I am getting emails and phone calls from desperate individuals worried that they will not be ready to finish the 6.2 mile distance.  I have a couple reactions to these inquiries of desperation:

1. Change your expectations.  If you are just starting to train today, then maybe you can understand that setting personal bests or beating your habitually running co-worker just might not happen.

2. Remember what thoughts you are having today and next year, plan ahead to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to work up to a personal best.

With those parental commentaries aside, I do think that I can help most people prep for a race in the final weeks.  I have a key to success that many “runners” are afraid to try or admit they might benefit from – using a run / walk strategy.

You want to know a little secret?  Every runner I’ve ever worked with has benefited in one way or another from developing a run / walk strategy that is tailored to their ability and goals.  I also know that there are literally thousands of runners out there searching for answers on running “injury free” or “stronger” and find that run / walking an event works for them.

How do I know this, you ask?  Well the most successful article I’ve ever posted to my website (so since 2003) was my post titled “The Run / Walk to Better Training and Racing Discussion” and even more convincing is my podcast titled “010 – Run Walk Strategy for training and racing”.  That podcast has been listened to by thousands of listeners over on itunes and has received a high “popularity” rating ever since I published it.

Just this week I received a thank you through facebook from a lady that I’ve never met.  She’s a runner that I don’t coach either, but she was thankful for that very podcast, as she said it helped her get through a race that she didn’t think she’d be able to do.

This isn’t magic and it is not a secret, but it is a technique that many runners and 10k participants are unwilling to use.  I think participants don’t because “walking” seems so taboo for some of us ultra competitive souls.  But, I argue that crossing the finish line faster than you would have otherwise or even just crossing the finish line is worth giving this idea at least some consideration as you hurry your training for this coming 4th of July Bluegrass 10k.

So, go read the article or download the podcast to your ipod (and listen to it while working out!) and let me know what you think.

Gary Ditsch, Fitness Plus Lexington, KY

Here are the links to the podcast and article:

Trainer Tip: Creating Healthy Habits by Gary Ditsch

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

GaryOne thing Steven Covey  talks about that separates humans from other animals is the space between stimulus and response. When we are operating at full capacity that space is wide, but that gap can narrow, leaving an individual’s behavior simply a response to their environmental stimuli. This results in people behaving with no more intention then Pavlov’s dogs foaming at the mouth when they hear the dinner bell.

Don’t believe me? What do you do when the cell phone beeps? When facebook emails you saying you’ve been tagged in a photo, what do you do? When someone pours you a glass of wine for dinner, do you drink it? Think back over the last week, how many times did you eat food that was unplanned?

We have become a culture that lives unconsciously. We work, eat and get entertained without much cognitive activity. Stimulus leads to response. We have become conditioned to behave in certain ways and for the most part we just live with it.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, always says to people who call in about being broke, “You don’t have a numbers problem, you have a behavior problem! Take control of your money and you tell it where to go.”

If we know our health behaviors are not leading to our optimal well-being and we are aware enough to realize that we are making decisions unconsciously, how do you use Ramsey’s advice and “take control”? How can you create a better space between stimulus and response?

Here are some ideas:

A – Slow Down! Spend 5 minutes two times a day eliciting the relaxation response. You can find more about how to elicit the relaxation response by going to:

As you create the ability, grow the 5 minutes to 10 and eventually to 20 minutes, twice daily.

B – Change your Environment. We are influenced by our environment therefore to change patterns and habits, often we need a change of environment. A great example of this related to nutrition can be found in the book “Mindless Eating”. If you want to eat less, use smaller plates, get smaller glasses and commit to never eat out of the containers or bags the food comes in. Simple change that will influence your behavior.

C – Use a Dot. The little colored dots that you can pick up at any office supply store are a great tool. Have a habit you want to break? Use a red dot to remind you. For example, if you want to stop eating and drinking while driving (a place of many unnecessary calories consumed) put a red dot on your steering wheel. The next time you stop to get gas, you’ll remember the commitment you made to yourself. It will give you enough pause to think about purchasing that item as you pay for the gas.

Do you have a habit you want to start? Use the green dot as a reminder.

Be Aware and Take Control of the little things!

We are a product of our daily habit and choices, whether we want to believe it or not. While many people get the “big decisions” made, they let the daily choices just happen on auto pilot. Trust me when I tell you that if you wake up one day and realize you lack fitness and need to lose twenty pounds, that didn’t happen because of one or two major decisions you made. It’s the result of thousands if not tens of thousands of actions you are taking without thinking them through.

If you are losing your personal battle because of these habits: slow down, change your environment and give yourself regular mental reminders. Create habits that lead to success.

Gary Ditsch is a personal trainer with Fitness Plus in Lexington, KY.