Getting Better Without Getting Better?

by Brian Patrick Murphy, Hotness Expert, Life Coach, Manimal

One of our biggest principles at MFF is simply, “Get Better”.  We believe in this whole-heartedly, teach it to the Ninjas and personally try to live by it every day!  #practicewhatwepreach

This ideal includes many aspects of what we encourage at MFF—lifting heavier weights, achieving more reps, improving form, diet/nutrition, getting to class, getting more sleep, drinking more water.  These are important aspects of the principle of getting better.  However, oftentimes we sometimes find ourselves so wrapped up in this measurable checklist of items that we can overlook things that may be even more important.  LIFE. 

On a beautiful, warm June day, I boarded a plane to lovely Durango, Colorado.  Durango is a seemingly-always-sunny small town, with a personality that matches the picturesque landscape and weather.  It is made more lovely by the fact that my mother, sister, and two nephews live there.  On the plane I read a trashy magazine and daydreamed about playing ball with my two nephews.  At ages three and seven they are the perfect examples of fun, play, and youthful wonderment. 

Arriving in the desert town, my beautiful mother picked me up.  We rolled the windows down and drove as we often have while listening to Wilson Phillips or some other singer we had harmonized to so many times before.  The first stop was a small and unmemorable Mexican restaurant.  The next stop was one my mom had no doubt been excited about for months—taking me to her office to show me off!  This happens every single visit, no matter what job my mother is working.  After a visit with her staff we drove through town having a lovely conversation about family, and how happy we were to see each other.  We spoke of my 88-year-old grandmother, or MAMA as we affectionately call her.  Then onto my sister, brother, and my beautiful nephews.  She asked me how work was and I told her about how much I loved my job. 

As the sun started to set below the mountains, my grumbling stomach was telling me it was time for a bad cheeseburger and french fries with my sister. I had decided that in the presence of my sister and the mountains, my gluten-free diet wouldn’t matter.  My sister is an angel on earth who never spares a thought for herself.  Talking to her is always a blast.  I hugged her and didn’t want to let go.  We discussed our love lives over fried pickles (yes, before the cheeseburger and fries) and had a great laugh.   Suffice to say, we share many of the same stories and personality traits….ALL of them!

I stayed at my mother’s house while I was there.   In the evenings I smoked cigars outside while she drank wine.  I showed her some simple stretches to help her ailing hips. I was in bed by 8pm. The thought of calories and macronutrients never entered my mind.  I ate ice cream everyday.

The next morning we got in the car to visit my nephews.  I was so anxious to see them, I could barely sleep past 5am.  I think they felt the same way.  When I arrived, I hugged and cuddled those 2 maniacs as much as I could for the next week after.  The eldest, Kylin, asked me more questions and told me more stories than I could possibly keep track of.  Quentin (Q), the youngest, ran around like a wild man.  He is definitely a mini-me version of my younger self (my poor sister).  Hiking through the Colorado Mountains, carrying my nephew on my shoulders and smiling ear to ear, I was in heaven. 

Kylin, age 7, is learning about saving money.  Under the auspices of only going to the bank, we undertook a stealthy mission, and went to Dairy Queen without his permission. Sidetracked by an uncle’s desire to spend every moment with his nephew, we walked hand in hand into the bank I helped him fill out a deposit slip giving him more money for his account, and helped him talk to the teller.  She was noticeably impressed with his manners.  We ate more ice cream afterwards!

Quinten likes to say that I am his brother, NOT Uncle Beeps.  At all times he jumps around and pretends to be Spider-Man, ALWAYS!  He smiles constantly, except when he cries….he’s three.

We played ball—in the kitchen, in the living room, in the basement, outside!  My sister has just resigned to not having nice things in the house while the boys are young.  Kylin hit a home run over the fence outside and it was more exciting than any Mets game I have ever gone to.  Swinging on swing sets, playing on monkey bars, climbing mountains and eating ice cream. My nephews never asked me about my job.

My sister and I floated down the river in inner tubes for an entire day.  She is perfect.  The kind of beautiful that doesn’t have to wear makeup, wear fancy clothes or dye her hair.  And the kind that has no idea just how beautiful she is.  We got sunburned and made friends on the river.  At the end of our raft trip, we met my mother for a picnic of sandwiches, chips and soda. I didn’t read any fitness blogs or self-improvement books this trip.  I only responded to a bare minimum of emails, texts, and phone calls.

I cried every single day. The morning finally came when I had to leave and I was terribly sad.

Bringing it Back Home

Here in NYC, I absolutely love my job, my friends, and my life.  And I strive to get better every day. But visiting family in Durango, I re-explored the other aspects of my life…of me.  I got better in a different way.  I didn’t let the petty frustrations I used to find with my mother and sister get to me.  I saw them for who they are – perfect!  I was relaxed.  I chilled out, rested, had fun, laughed, cried, and enjoyed being annoyed by my nephews.  I loved with all of my heart and I truly lived my life. 

This helped me realize that for me, getting better isn’t always about the need to find more drive to work harder or to eat better or push my body to further limits of my own athletic ability. 

It’s also about the human side of getting better. The human connection with my family whom I miss dearly. The relaxation and rejuvenation of a beautiful sun, vast mountains and cool air provided for me.  It’s about the getting better that goes along with the desire for a full and well-balanced life.  (TWEET THAT SHIT!)

What do you do to get better outside of fitness and nutrition? Comment below and let’s talk about it!

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