Vail Daily column: Making it count goes beyond the gym |

Vail Daily column: Making it count goes beyond the gym

Ryan W. Richards
Make It Count

“Make it count” is a state of intention that requires doing whatever it takes to reach your fitness goals. It’s doing the right thing most of the time that brings about a fruitful life. Last week I discussed the heart behind this tagline with insight into the philosophical approach to moving forward with fitness progression. However, I didn’t discuss the details of what this looks like.

Making it count can look very different between a population of fitness enthusiasts based on their specific goals, desires, needs and approaches. In general, what it means to make it count within my circle of understanding and direction looks specifically like the following.


Before I rant on about eating right, filling in the gaps and taking care of the other things in your life, consider that my message rarely wavers from week to week. What is listed below will sound all too familiar if you’ve read my column before; if I repeat myself week to week, it’s because the specific message bears repeating. Highlight what I’m about to tell you.

To make it count, you first need to stop lying to yourself. The latest craze is the Whole 30 program. Great, a Paleo diet wrapped in a different package for 30 days. Eat real food, eliminate processed food, sugar, grains, legumes and alcohol. Nothing wrong with this at all. The problem is that we have yet another “program” that our itching ears are burning to hear; “finally a program that will work for me, and at last, I will lose weight!”

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Let’s get one thing very clear. Call a spade a spade, and realize that if you’re really trying to reset your body by investigating foods that may irritate your gut, wreak havoc on your energy, or help you eliminate joint pain exacerbated by specific foods — fine. Most often the spade is disguised as a reset diet because we are too embarrassed to admit we are vain and just want to lose weight and look good naked. We tell ourselves that if we eat clean foods, and workout, we will lose weight. This is so terribly not true at all. I don’t care what you eat. Eat carrot sticks and celery, and nothing else. You can gain weight doing this, just as you can lose weight eating Twinkies and Skittles. It’s all about how much you eat.

We fail to make it count because we can’t accept this reality. It’s too difficult to eat less than you expend. It’s easier to lie to ourselves. We follow the Whole 30 program because it’s easier to appease our hunger by eating real food and too much of it than it is to eat too little to cause dramatic weight loss.


The moral of the story is that programs including my own that I propagate are only as good as the intention and diligence you put behind them. Further, most people have a primary, secondary or tertiary goal of weight and fat loss, so whatever diet program you follow, you’d better make darn sure that you’re in a caloric deficit. This is much more uncomfortable than people realize. Men, hover around 1,200-1,400 calories per day and exercise. Women, 800-1,000 calories will do the trick. You will likely be hungry and uncomfortable. Get used to it. There’s no way around this fact.

Making it count also requires filling in the gaps. Ethan Reeves, director of strength and conditioning at Wake Forest, once said that “you’re only as strong as you’re weakest link.” Most women I know have wrist problems. They have wrist problems in part because women naturally have weaker upper bodies compared to their lower body, and because women often avoid lifting weights with their upper body out of fear of gaining weight. The wrists deteriorate. Men, just because you don’t care how your legs look or perform doesn’t mean you should neglect them. We all have weaknesses within our system, and we must seek out opportunities to strengthen these areas. How do you know what’s weak? What do you avoid doing? Perform a self-assessment. What you’re avoiding is likely what you need the most. People who make it count aren’t afraid to hammer weaknesses and suffer the discomfort associated with this approach.

Finally, owning superior physical ability is nothing without a life balanced by faith, family, community and ultimate wellness with the things that truly matter. It is a tragedy when people listen and follow after my message of fitness without consideration to the other things that really matter. I have trained numerous individuals who believe physical fitness is the end all to their existence. Gravity is going to win, and time waits for no one. Making life count is supplemented by taking care of your physical body, but when the rubber meets the road, fitness alone is as shaky as a house built on sand. Pay attention to what really matters, even if it costs you your physical life. Have a great week!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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