My name is Sam Smith (no, not the famous singer). I just turned 29 – let’s hear it for all my Aries people! I was raised in Northern California in a city called Turlock. I lived there until I was 18, then after mulling over my three in state options (I was definitely a mama’s boy and didn’t want to be too far), I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California (USC).
I had, in my self-reflective eyes, a perfect childhood. I had parents who loved me; parents who put me and my brother before them in every aspect of their life. As I’ve grown up and been exposed to more people from various backgrounds, I’ve realized how fortunate I was for this upbringing. My brother (and only sibling) is two years younger than me and we continue to have a close relationship. Our closeness early on was partly due to our mutual love for golf; we spent the majority of our formative years “attached at the hip.” And despite the fact that we live in different states (for now), we remain very connected.
Being active and eating well has always been important to my family. My parents played various sports growing up and were raised in families where health (with regard to physical health and nourishment health) were prioritized. As a result, my brother and I were very committed to our fitness routines, not only competing in golf, but in basketball, soccer, flag football, and track. I actually had aspirations to take golf to the pinnacle – to become a professional… it’s what I went to USC to pursue, but as you could guess, my interests were broadened.
As for my traditional education, I very much enjoyed learning, but I certainly didn’t give my all, which likely could be attributed to my golf aspirations. As I grew up, though, I will say my efforts were maximized as I understood how lucky I was to be in college, receiving an education so many others could only dream of. Nearly all of my classes were interesting and informative and because I was majoring in Communications, I was largely exposed to mass media, interpersonal (my favorite), and sociological communication
Once I turned 17, my back issues really started becoming prevalent. I was also skinnier than “normal” and realized it would be nice to have some attention from girls, so there began my deep dive into health and fitness. By nature, I’m a very inquisitive person, so when I get into something, I’m FULLY in. I started learning everything I could about exercise, nourishment, different diet protocols, anatomy, training design, etc.
I was fascinated by the changes I started to see in my body which became gasoline for the fire. I’ve learned the ability to see change is one of the strongest drivers for human behavior modification and my results really pushed me.
As I said, I chose USC because of their golf program, which is where I saw my life going. I thought I needed to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, which naturally would be what I’d been doing with it from a young age. That said, age always brings perspective and the thought of an 18 year old knowing what they want to do for the rest of their life is absurd; we all had such a limited view of the world, with our perception primarily molded by our parents. Once any 18 year old goes to college or “leaves the nest” their viewpoint expands about 10-fold, showing them how much more there is to discover in the world, including different passions.
With my passion widening into the health and fitness world, I really wanted to change my major to Kinesiology but that wasn’t feasible given my practice schedule obligations for golf. This mild set back didn’t deter my love and passion for the body, though, so I kept learning and exploring that arena, and when I finally decided that professional golf wasn’t for me, I knew my calling was within the world of health and fitness.
Due to my interest and self education throughout school, the transition was seamless and felt natural. So, you could say my time at school guided me toward a path I hadn’t expected before I arrived.
Despite my seamless transition, however, I was a nervous wreck once I had my first real job in the world of training. “Why should people listen to what I have to say?” I still remember the first athlete I worked with and how I kept telling myself I had no idea what I was doing… a real fraud complex. In the fitness world, there’s a sharp learning curve, and the jump from theory / academia into real application is quite extreme, but like with anything, you just have to start and earn your reputation. In a world where the barrier to entry is a pulse and clothes, or at least enough to cover your sex organs, it can be tough to muddle through who you can trust. And while I appreciate so many people on Instagram getting into physical fitness, I worry when I see regimes recommended broadly as everyone’s body and tolerance is so different.
That leads me to one of the biggest misnomers in the physical fitness world, which is how easily people are misguided. For brevity’s sake, I will keep it as simple as possible; I think the biggest thing people believe that simply isn’t true is the SPEED at which they can “get healthy” or “get ripped.” You wouldn’t believe how many people think a pill will be the cure all. The process of transforming your body on any level takes A LOT OF TIME. A simple way to look at it is this – if it took you 8 years to get out of shape, it will take you at least 8 years to get back into shape. And that’s not to frustrate or discourage anyone, it’s to highlight the fact that becoming healthy is a “lifestyle” that takes time to integrate into your life, so much so that it becomes a part of who you are. When people start to associate you with “health” or “fitness” then you know you are embodying the attributes someone needs to “get healthy.” But again, it takes time, so stay patient and take it one day at a time.
Because this is a blog about fitness, I will conclude with some basics, which are so often undervalued or completely forgotten, but they are the bedrock for a healthy life.
-Sleep 7.5 to 9 hours per night in a dark and cold room (the less light in your room the better)
-Drink 60+% of your body weight in ounces of water per day (yes, that’s a lot but your body is 60+% water so it’s a vital piece to the puzzle)
-Chew your food; slow down and actually taste and digest it. 30 times per bite is a perfect starting point to help create greater awareness. The more we breakdown our food, the easier it is to digest and utilize those nutrients. If you feel as though that is an impossible task for you, use this little trick: put your fork down between each bite to start. That will help you slow down instantly and move you closer to this goal.
-You hear it all the time, but moveevery day. Even if it’s a 30 min walk, try to do something with your body every day. Some suggestions – resistance training, hiking, walking, yoga, cycling, recreational sports, etc. As we get older, the less we move, the quicker we deteriorate.
If you’re interested in a virtual consultation, want to listen to a podcast about remote coaching during quarantine, or simply want to check out some of the athletes I work with, you can find me on Instagram at @CoachSamSmith or on our formal website – https://opexfit.com/blog/author/samsmith/
-Sam (not the singer) Smith