Monday, November 12, 2007

In The Moment

When I first started acting in the mid 1980s I worked with an acting coach by the name of Darryl Hickman. Darryl introduced me to an acting technique and life philosophy he called "Being In The Moment." He felt that to be a good actor, you needed to stop acting or pretending and start listening. The words you'd hear from another actor had to be felt on a deep emotional level. It's affect on the actor needed to be real, not pretended. He'd say that poorly trained actors rehearse scenes with preconceived attitudes and/or fake emotions. If the stage direction in a script says a wife and husband are yelling, it doesn't mean that the actors needed to think and act angrily. His method taught actors to learn their lines and let things happen organically. He felt that good acting happened when two or more people in a scene re-acted to the events around them, as opposed to acting with some kind of a preconceived interpretation of a script. This was a very scary undertaking because it forced actors to trust a process that constantly left them open and vulnerable.

I tell you this because far too often I see people in the "real world" try to present themselves in a light that they think others want to see them. We have found a way to protect ourselves by putting on an act. Many of us aren't real in the real world. We're acting for others. The second
we wake, we start writing the script, and act our way right up to the point before we fall asleep. It's because we're afraid to "live in the moment." Living in the moment sometimes means appearing imperfect and vulnerable. We think we're better off if we present ourselves as busy, smart, important, brash, tough or cool. Most often, this kind of show doesn't allow us to really be us. The crazy thing is that most people aren't even aware that they're doing it. Boasting, bragging, excuses and little white lies are all part of the act. We get so used to acting this way that it feels normal. It's a way of protecting our fragile egos because we're afraid to appear human. It's only in the quiet times alone that this acting routine we present to the world feels empty and wrong.

What does any of this have to do with Health and Fitness? Everything! Being, living and working out in the moment allows you to release the ego and the act, so you can re-act and enjoy the reality of the moment. My beach workout today is a perfect example of letting go of the act (loaded with expectations) and allowing my body to listen. It turned out that my main job today was to show up and pay attention moment to moment. Were my reps down today? Yes. Was my form less than par? Yes. Was my range of motion compromised do to the cold and damp weather? Yes. Was my strength and ability less than the week before. Indeed. Did the workout, the way it played out deter me? No! Did it mess with my ego at first? A little. Cest la vie. It is, so therefore I accept it. The acceptance of each moment as it's happening makes it easier to come back the next day, and coming back another day is the most important part of fitness.

How you act (or don't act) through the process of getting fit is equally important. There's a fine line between a humble person, who works hard and is proud of their results, and someone else who shouts from the roof tops pleading for others to notice them. This "look at me" routine is part of the ego-fest that can jeopardize your long term health and fitness, because it's based more on your need to be seen and less on your desire to be healthy. Turn off the act, be in the moment, listen to what's really happening, stop looking for approval, and believe that your own health, fitness and quality of life is far more important than the dog and pony show of scales, tape measures, after photos and how you want to be perceived by others who could care less.

8 comments:

nick said...

Tony,

Thanks for covering all the bases on this one! You really hit home by stressing so many different keypoints of life: living in the moment, listening, being real, open and vulnerable, putting on acts, ego-fests and seeking constant approval. Man, that sounds like a dangerous mix, doesn't it?

Lately I've really been having issues with applying energy, enthusiasm and willpower to everyday tasks and situations outside of fitness. Well, your acting coach over there really had it right. Living in the moment and reacting to situations around you, rather than trying too hard to interpret the script the way you think others would see it. Brilliant, simply brilliant! You know, I've always done better when I just let go and accepted my reality. No protection manuevers, no worldwide approval, who cares who's watching, right? People really catch on fast if we try too hard to be something we're not, believe me! And knowing that can be a very empty and lonely feeling.

Living in the moment is the virtual mantra of the winner. You don't have to work on Broadway to perform this act, anybody can do it! Forget your, his or her expectations--just go with the flow and you will know.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Thanks so much for revealing this to people. Having had the opportunity to meet you and discuss this subject with has made all the difference in my outlook towards fitness.

I was a numbers freak. I was continually caught up in the scale watching, calorie counting and tape measure side of this lifestyle. I sadly let the numbers become who I was. I suffered from the "If only.." syndrome. If only I could lose 2 more pounds, Of only I could add an inch to my biceps...etc. I thought that's how others viewed my success.

Now I use those numbers in a different way. I ALWAYS have a number in my head when I workout. But those numbers do not drive my workout. Some days I get there, some I don’t, others I exceed. I do not consider my workout a failure if I gave everything I had for 45-60 minutes and didn’t reach my intended targets. If you remember we had a great conversation about numbers at NY camp. Why 8-10 or 12-15 reps? Then you made the comment, why not 9. Where did the magic numbers come from…imaginary number land? The point is to find your intensity and bring it!

I could ramble on about how I lost 30 plus pounds and dropped my body fat percentage by 16%. Is that impressive? To ME it is because I did it. Is it the expected results of everyone…doubtful? Do those numbers make me who I am? Not now, I once thought they would but now I know what really makes me who I am. It’s my ultimate dedication to my family, this lifestyle and helping as many people I can by telling them about my journey.

Thanks again Tony for all that you do.

All my best,
Chuck (waterboy89)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Must've been God who led me to this blod and this exact post, because I was getting down on myself for not hitting my normal workout numbers last night. Just wasn't feel well. Very tired I guess from a hectic weekend.

Then I run across this post and WOW! Ready to move ahead. I am still learning to detox from the engrained mindset of those numbers. I am still learning to enjoy this journey in my new life of fitness. It is a life-long ride not a program.

Thanx Tony!

the nickster said...

Tony,

Dude, if I were a rich guy, I'd fly you in to New York and put you up at the Waldorf Astoria twice a month! Seriously, though, thanks so much for answering my breathing question with such in-depth analysis. I'm definitely going to try out that bodybuilder technique with pull-ups, pushups and dips. Seize the power of the breath. Maybe I'll be able to blow up a rubber water bottle in a couple months;)

Vaya con Dios, mi amigo!

9_Reps said...

Hey everybody!!!

Happy Thanksgiving from Johnny and Terry in Upstate NY!!!

hope everyone is well...

leannwoo said...

So nice to see that post Tony. So many people get caught up in the numbers, the pictures, the inches, the pounds. It's all a dog & pony show. It's when you let all that go and just start living the life day in and day out that you truly become happy.

You are right, we don't really care about the pictures and the numbers. We may say congratulations and way to go! If it is someone new to working out they may need to hear that. They are not where we are after years of listening to you and others at BB. But if it's someone who has been around we quickly start to wonder why they NEED to tell us that. Why they feel the need to make others feel small because they don't have the same intensity and numbers in their workouts. It's all ego. And act. I agree that they are afraid to take down those walls of protection.

Thanks again. Well said and appreciated.

Ed said...

Tony,

Amen to the "acting" for approval mind set. Kinda gives the ol' Venice beach guys something to think about. For those of us who enjoy a challenge and use numbers as metrics for development, and fun. Measuring and striving to improve those measurements is good thing and can be a strong motivational tool.

Like I said, Amen to the acting, and look at me attitudes and amen to enjoying the process of health and fitness.

Appreciate your hard work!

Ed
Texas

MarySusanna said...

This is why I love your workout videos. You aren't showing off, and you don't fake energy and excitement. Despite your popularity, you come off as a normal human being like the rest of us, and I respect that.
I think in the beginning I started off wanting to impress others (primarily, my significant other whom I have a hard time keeping up with). A month into it, I started feeling better, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, and I discovered that there are more important goals than impressing other people.
My boyfriend pointed out to me one day that I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could be, and rather than feeling inadequate and pushing myself harder to prove something to him (only to eventually lose all of my motivation), I realized that my goals aren't the same as his, and I'm not competing with anyone anymore. When I started working out, I was just trying to come up with a way to mask my insecurities, but since I've changed my lifestyle, most of those insecurities have disappeared. My body hasn't changed much visually, but I already feel better about myself because I am taking better care. Being super thin is no longer my concern. Having the energy of a kid again is sooo much more cool.