When I consult with an athlete or anyone for that matter, the most important thing I do is find out what their dream is. This is actually a four-step process.
Step one is finding out what their one love is. In other words, what is their primary goal? Why are you lifting weights? Are you trying to go to the Olympics? As a coach and therapist, I need to know this. How do I know what is optimal for you if you don't even know yet where you want to end up?
Without a clearly defined dream and a clear compass bearing, you'll just keep following whatever bullshit is written in magazines and probably get injured. A clear dream is like a GPS or compass bearing, and as the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.
The second step is to explain that there are only two forces in this world, yin (female) and yang (male). The male is more expressive of the fire principle, about "doing", building, making things happen. The fire principle is catabolic in nature and shows up in many as a love of working out and training, both of which are catabolic in nature.
The female, or water principle is more anabolic, oriented toward growing, nurturing, holding a family together, and recuperating. Once I know your dream, we then have to balance these two essential but opposing forces.
So if your goal is to compete in the Olympics and your regular training is fully established, as a therapist or coach, I have to look at your recovery side or your use of yin energies. Is that game of pick-up basketball or bashing tennis balls with your buddy every Saturday helping you reach your dream, or is it adding too much catabolic energy, limiting recovery, and therefore, holding you back?
Step three is to look at choices; choices relative to the core values I help my athletes and patients develop as a means of achieving their dream the most efficient way.
Only by having clearly defined core values or modes of behavior as a guiding philosophy can you effectively know when or how to make important decisions that either support, or detract from your overall objective. If your dream is to win a MMA fight and you're sleeping five hours a night, that's a bad choice. Sleep is the chief engine of our anabolism; why spend hundreds of dollars on supplements if you're sleep deprived?
I work with clients to have clear core values relative to the objectives at hand. I teach them to see that with every objective there are three possible choices: Number one is the optimal choice, which is best for everyone involved with achieving your dream. It's the choice that is in harmony not with just you but with all others involved.
Choice option number two is sub-optimal. It offers instant gratification, but creates stress with others because the decision is typically made with only you in mind.
No matter who you are, or what the dream is, there is someone out there who's feeding you, taking your garbage to the dump, cooking for you in restaurants, driving ambulances, and others helping keep the roads safe...there are many in service to each and every one of us, and vice versa.
The sub-optimal choice is to do something that benefits you at the risk of ignoring the needs of others who support your dream directly or indirectly.
Choice number three is simply to do nothing at all. This is the worst choice you can make, as it benefits no one.
The fourth and final step of 1-2-3-4 for achieving your dream is where I introduce my Four Doctors living philosophy, and these should be the only doctors you'll ever need:
Dr. Quiet, who deals with rest management and your inner life.
Dr. Movement, who governs how you spend energy and teaches you how to use movement such that you don't disrupt the dynamic balance of your yin/anabolic and yang/catabolic energies. This includes how you move, train, exercise, play, and your work: rest ratio, etc.
Dr. Happiness, who deals with getting clear on your dream and establishing your core-values.
Dr. Diet, who deals with how you feed your body.