RK Tip of the Week|How “Iron Chef” will help you achieve your fitness goals

Posted on February 17, 2010


You know you’ve watched the show. The ever ticking time clock. The secret ingredient. The odd-ball panel of judges.

Just another day in the Iron Chef kitchen

 Iron Chef (either the original or the :America version) is possibly one of the most interesting, most educational, and best college-drinking game shows on television today. But I wouldn’t know much about that last one.

The rules of Iron Chef are simple. Two chefs face-off for 1 hour, using a “secret” ingredient to be revealed by the ‘master of ceremonies’ guy. The hour is then stuffed with sweating chefs, strange cooking techniques, and play-by-play commentary from 2 main “in-kitchen” reporters. At the end, the chefs must present their 4 or 5 course meal using the ingredient in each dish & then await their fate from the judges’ scorecards. Bonus points if they use sweetbreads, which are not breads that are sweet…in case you were wondering.

Iron Chef will teach you a lot about how to use an avocado to make a 5 course meal & how to use a pressure cooker to make a dessert out of lamb, and it will provide valuable lessons for how you should attack your daily life to ensure you are going to fit fitness, and working out specifically, into your day.

The Iron Chefs come to the kitchen with a take-no-prisoners attitude in the face of an impending unknown obstacle designed to possibly throw them off their game. They are not fazed by what the ingredient is, they are not stopped by a pan that burns their dish, and they don’t take personally the disapproving comments by the judges toward their dishes. Their focus for their end result is so great it stands up as another ingredient in the game.

Anyone trying to balance work that seems to spill over past a 8 or 9 hour day, family that needs dinner, clean clothes & a dust-free house, errands that don’t do themselves, with a fitness goal that requires 1 hour of exercise a day (plus shower time if you don’t want to gross out those around you by stinking up the area around you), knows that it’s sometimes like working in a pressure cooker from before the morning alarm goes off to after you’re supposed to be asleep in bed.

On Iron Chef though, those chefs are dialed in on their end-result like a laser beam, yet, they inevitably get thrown off by some kitchen disaster & they manage to “make lemonade out of lemons” by salvaging what they can, or saying “the heck with this” and starting totally fresh with a new & different idea. They may only have 8 minutes to be finished entirely, and they needed an ice cream, and it takes 8 minutes & 30 seconds to make ice cream, they will charge ahead & find a way to either put ice cream on the plate or do something that different that works just as well but may not be ice cream. They are adaptable, energetic, fully committed, focused, end-result oriented, & highly succesful delegators. Something anyone trying to balance the rigors of life & a fitness plan needs to be, sometimes all at once.

It’s as non-negotiable for those guys to put food on plates as it is for you to put workouts into your life. And with the sometimes crazy demands for our energy & time from non-fitness-focused needs (project that’s due tomorrow, kids who decide not to stay in their own beds, never ending cycle of laundry…) it is a requirement for success that we focus in like an Iron Chef on exactly what needs to get done, and then not be totally thrown off if the way we planned to do it is not going to work out.

To often people tell me, “I’m a morning workout person. If it doesn’t happen in the morning, forget it – it’s not going to happen.” Now, if it doesn’t happen in the evening because you’ve got an hour long bike ride you need to do that can only happen at the gym because you don’t have a bike at home, and you have to be at home for the kids, then no, the bike ride obviously is not going to happen if you don’t do it in the morning. However, if you’re anything like an Iron Chef, you’d do several things in this instance.

1. Plan accordingly so that there is another workout you can do if you’re truly limited by not having what you need wherever you find yourself stuck to still be able to do something for your fitness. Can’t ride the bike? How about doing an at-home strength training or yoga session? Be adaptable to the program as long as you don’t deviate from the end-result goal.

2. You don’t have to be thrilled about doing your workout at 7:30pm when you typically enjoy workouts at lunch or in the early AM…I know I’m not when I have to do this. But you do need to put aside the “poor me, this sucks” attitude & just shut up and get your job done. Your job is to accomplish workouts so that you achieve a fitness goals & a healthy life. Your job is also to make the most of what you’re doing so that the end result comes to you. Be always aware of your actions on the end result, and when you find the time to get the workout in, put your head down in focus & just get it done. It doesn’t have to be the worlds best run ever, it needs to simply move you closer to your goal.

3. Do not fear handing something off in order to get what you need done. The world will not end if you’re not the one who cooks dinner tonight. The business will not fail if you leave something in your perfectly capable assistant or team mates hands. If you’re doing your fair share of work, task delegation is an perfectly acceptable way to ensure the work gets done & you get what you need for your end-result-focused mission. Iron Chefs have other chefs making pasta for them, starting ice creams for them, and chopping & cooking parts to the meal. This frees up the Iron Chef to do other projects & still have everyone arrive at the end-result together. Or, if you don’t have a teammate to share small tasks with or a spouse or housemate to share cooking/cleaning duties with…then the laundry will survive if it’s not done tonight, and it will be ok if the dishes sit in the sink so you can get your workout done. Trust me.

When fitting workouts into daily life – sure, it would be great to be a professional athlete who’s job is to wake up, workout, eat well & focus on 1 thing all day long. But, last I checked, that was not most of the population, so the workout still has to get done amidst 30 other things today. Start dialing into life as an Iron Chef would & adapt to what is thrown at you, stay energized in the midst of all the action, commit to the end-result, knowing that it’s not always going to go the way you planned, and delegate anything that can be delegated fairly so you can free up time to work on the big project of being healthy, fit & well. And just like at the end of Iron Chef when everyone is amazed to arrive at judges’ table with really excellent dishes that meet the end-result goal & seemed to come out of nowhere, you’ll arrive at the end of your day/week/month happily surprised at what you’ve actually been able to “dish up” in the mission of meeting your fitness goals.