In Pursuit of Mastery

I’ve been tweaking a few things with the look and feel of the brand.

I like the colors, it reminds me of a private library or study; old paper, journals, leather-bound books, the smell of coffee, whisky and even some sweet tobacco. The kind of place I imagine having where I spend time each day studying, expanding my mind, enjoying a good read, or maybe even a peaceful nap while classical music plays in the background

I’m also reminded of training, hard training. Indoors and outdoors. Dirt, sweat, blood, canvas, chalk, leather, wood and iron, brass and lead. The kind of place I imagine having where I can spend time each day training and pushing myself; understanding and pushing past my self-imposed limitations with loud music in the background.

You’ll notice the picture of Leonidas, from the movie, “300”, accompanied a quote from the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus which reads, “First, decide who you would be, then do what you must do.” I’ve had this picture on my desk for about a year; a few months ago I made it the cover of my binder where I keep my goals. It is a constant reminder to act and pursue.

Underneath the new title, you see the tag line: Freedom | Strength | Courage | Honor | Mastery | Family.

First, let’s take a look at the beginning and ending “tenets” of the tagline.

Freedom: In life. Financial freedom. To do what I want, when I want; not tied to a 9-5 sedentary desk job. To be the craftsman of my own income and potential. In life, freedom from false allegiances, ties and obligations.

Family: You could also call this “Tribe”; the blood of covenants can be much stronger than the water of birth (which is where the saying blood is thicker than water comes from); some friends are closer, more fiercely loyal than family. I am pursuing Mastery in my life for my own sake, to become better, to grow and learn and improve, however, my family and tribe benefit from this and I take pleasure in that fact. I want them to benefit. I want to enrich the relationships I have and make them stronger.

The middle four tenets are taken from Jack Donovan’s Tactical Virtues in his book “The Way of Men”. I highly recommend reading this book. No, I am not compensated for suggesting it. The book is definitely something I will return to annually, his tactical virtues clarify thoughts and ideas I’ve been driving at.

These four vitures are the qualities you would want in a person if “shit got real”; these are people you want to depend on in a number of scenarios.

Strength: To be physically strong. Strength is a value all its own and you want those you depend on to be strong as well. Mental/emotional/spiritual strength is necessary too, because a weak person will crack regardless of their physical strength when the pressure is on.

Courage: In part, linked with mental/emotional/spiritual strength. It’s also the ability to act, to stand up and fight despite fear.

Honor: Having standards internally and externally to strive towards and to hold yourself accountable to. Having a sense of pride in the things you do that add value to the tribe or shame when you do something to their detriment.

Mastery: To be competent in the task you are given and to continually pursue improvement in areas of your life. Making strengths better and to make your weaknesses areas of competence. To be stronger, smarter, better. To add value to yourself and to the group.

For a better, more in-dept explanation, read “The Way of Men”.

In Pursuit of Mastery is about relentlessly pursuing the best life possible by improving yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

It all boils down to Mastery, or Mastery covers all of them in some way, shape or form. Like a Master Craftsman of Life.

Masterful in my relationships with tribe and family, in relationships with women and men.

Masterful in my ability to achieve a level of financial freedom; to grow in that area for my benefit and purpose as well as my family and tribe. To carry a level of Mastery and competence in my work.

In pursuit of Strength; competent in the lifts and the PT sessions but continually learning and growing, pushing and striving to be better, stronger, tougher.

To be a man of Honor. Having your “word as your bond” is a rare thing anymore. Its rarity speaks of the lack of understanding of personal and tribal Honor. To continually challenge the weak areas in my life to grow to their fullest potential.

To risk sounding cliché, Mastery is a journey, not necessarily a destination. But it is a journey of ever-increasing skill, knowledge, quality and value. There is always another mountain to climb, another level to rise to, another horizon, another price to pay and another sacrifice to make to get to where you want to be.

 

Pursue Mastery.

09/13/15 – 09/13/2016: A Year in Review

I turned 37 yesterday.

 

It has been an interesting 365 days.

 

tompic2

 

Am I totally ripped, shredded, yoked and stacked? Absolutely not.

 

As I mentioned in the recent post, “Fight through the pain”, I had entered into a pretty challenging part of my life last year, with those four weeks leading up to my birthday arguably being the worst I had experienced in quite a long time. My birthday itself was, at best, bittersweet. I had a lot of time that day to reflect, to think about what I wanted with the situation at hand and with my life in general. It came as a small spark of determination which built into a well stoked fire. A promise to myself; a solemn oath for what I wanted to have happen in the next 365 days.

 

A single, simple thought.

 

By my 37th birthday, I will be the best possible version of myself that I can be – physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually, vocationally.

 

The next three and a half months would help me form my goals and mission for 2017, goals that fell in line with that original thought. Come January, we’ll take a look at how I did executing on thought out, measurable and written goals.

 

As far as the fitness side goes. I began to workout even more than I had been. Those training sessions now became a source of comfort and solace; an amazing channel to vent all my anger, pain, depression and frustration. At this point I was training six days a week. I wanted to be stronger and get shredded.

What I have learned is:

  • Most people (with only a few small caveats like genetics, length of training, etc.) cannot lose fat and build muscle at the same time. It’s just a marketing ploy.
  • You can focus on leaning out or you can focus on getting stronger.
  • When cutting you can retain most of your strength gains, but you will lose some as you drop weight that is coming from fat and some muscle.

So, coming to that understanding, I was OK with the fact that I am going to gain fat and muscle when trying to get stronger and put on some mass, that’s just how it is. Am I totally ripped, shredded, yoked and stacked? Absolutely not. In all honesty, I should probably weigh more and I haven’t focused on any sort of leaning out or cutting yet. I am still learning, so I am focusing on gaining strength.

 

I’ve hit multiple PRs (personal records) in the gym this year, including Squatting 225lbs multiple times and Deadlifting 235lbs multiple times. Not bad considering I had injured myself earlier in 2015 on a deadlift and rendered my weight training null and void for the first half of 2015 while I recovered. I’m up to 175lbs on the Bench Press and chin up numbers aren’t too bad either. So, I’m making progress.

 

“I’m nowhere near close to my goals, as they are continually evolving and getting better. But I am a hell of a lot closer than I was a year ago.”

 

Has my body composition changed? Definitely, nothing drastic and I don’t look like Gerard Butler from 300…yet. Noticeably different are my legs, glutes and back. My dress slacks don’t have as much room as they used to and I fill out my shirts a little better. And it helps that people are noticing a difference when I visit with them. Catching Mrs. Kenobi notice “the gains” when wearing one of my t-shirts is always a bonus.

 

I weighed in a 179.2lbs last year. I am at 192lbs now; 12.8lbs heavier.

 

Up until now, I have only been taking upper body pics. Which, now that I think about it, is funny since I was focusing on large compound movements, two of which heavily involved my legs and back… so why was I taking pics of just my upper body? Going forward, I will be tracking the lower body too. I haven’t been taking measurements of different areas of my body, so that is also something I am going to be doing from now on. This will give me a few solid metrics to track: pics, performance, measurements and weight. This should also give me a more informed decision on how to best accomplish and tweak my goals for 2017.

 

So…what’s the point of this post, did I accomplish what I set out to do?

 

Yes. I am a better version of myself, for sure. I’ve learned and I’ve grown. I’ve become stronger mentally, emotionally, physically and even a little spiritually. Trolls and couch commandos might talk shit about my “progress pics”. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean a damn thing to me if they do. They aren’t in the ring with me, and until you are in the ring, it’s all theory. I’ve also realized that there is always room to improve, grow and become better. It’s just about how bad you want it and how much you are willing to sacrifice.

 

Do I want to look like Mr. Butler or Jason Statham? Yeah, I do. But, I’m proud of what I’ve done and how I look. I understand the goals and I understand the lengthy process it will take to get there. There is no magic pill, there is no magic formula.

 

I’m nowhere near close to my goals, as they are continually evolving and getting better. But I am a hell of a lot closer than I was a year ago.

 

Remember why you are doing this. Commit to the process and time it will take.

 

Be strong for you.

 

Be Strong 4 Family.

Good Fuel = Good results. Shit fuel = Shit results

Steve Kamb, the founder of the awesome site NerdFitness.com likes to say, “You can’t outrun your fork.” And my, oh my, how true that is!

Here is the TLDR (too long didn’t read) version in bullet point format in hodge-podge order, because I can:

  • Emotional eating is a trap, don’t do it!
  • Don’t try and justify your choices to consume junk food with “I deserve it”.
  • Know your weakness. Have a plan.
  • Plan your “cheat” meals.
  • If you consistently fuel your personal machine (your body) with shit fuel, your results will be shit. At best, they will be sub-par.
  • If you consistently fuel your personal machine with good fuel, your results will be good.
  • Own your shit.

For the TLDRs out there, thanks for stopping by, I hope that helped! And now, the rest of the post…

“Don’t eat your feelings!”

The Achilles Heel that I have isn’t my struggle with Menieres Disease, or the sciatica that is currently plaguing my training sessions and allowing me the opportunity to really exercise mental toughness as I train through the pain. No. My Achilles Heel is sweets.

Cookies, donuts, milkshakes.

In that order. Especially cookies. Offer me some cookies made from the Costco bakery and I turn into Cookie Monster.

 

cookie-monster-bedtime

 

Emotional eating, using broad strokes from what I understand of the subject, basically boils down to getting the chemical fix of an endorphin shot from the high of eating tasty foods when we are sad, angry, stressed, etc. Basically, we want to feel good and for a few moments, while we are eating those things, it gives us that feeling. One reason that sweets, fried food, etc., is called “comfort foods”. Obviously, like other substances that cause an addiction, it becomes cyclical and you begin to chase that feeling. Sometimes it is a BIG problem, sometimes it is not. Either way, though, we are “rewarding” our body and mind in a negative way – temporary pleasure, long term harm.

From careful thought and observation/self examination, I can see where I have used the “I deserve it” / “I’ve earned it” excuse to justify me eating absolute garbage. I’ve given in many times to emotional eating on different levels. I’ve had rough days at the office, complete hell in my personal life, I’ve worked my ass off at the gym, the kids are acting like banshees hopped up on Jolt Cola (yeah I just went there), etc. and you know… that cookie is exactly what I need!  Well, no it’s not but who cares, it’s all about my feelings anyways!

Don’t eat your feelings!

 

gif-eat-forever-alone-hungry-jenna-marbles-sad-valentines-day-gif_1

 

“…it’s a work in progress.”

Beware the trap of “I deserve it!”. Yes, you may have worked your ass off this week. Yes, you may have given your all in your training sessions. Yes, your boss or your spouse or your children are acting like Gollum tweaked out on 5 hour energy drinks… but that doesn’t mean you can come home every night and have a cookie or three, or a donut, or a cinnamon roll.

Ask me how I know.

To tell on myself, I stumbled into my own little experiment on this subject recently. I’ve been walking that fine line and not using as much discipline as I know I could to keep myself from eating too many sweets. It’s those damn cookies!

Okay, maybe it’s me.

Cookies are inanimate little pieces of heaven that await the glorious day when a human consumes them. As much as we could imagine them having minds of their own, they don’t have minds of their own and they cannot will us in any way to eat them. Marketing makes them alluring, yes. But we are the ones who make the decision to pop open the package.

This is why recognizing your particular weakness, using some discipline and planning the deviations from your meal plans are so crucial. Don’t “cheat” on your meal plans, make a plan and have that plan includes a treat or a meal outside of your plan on a specific day so you can work towards it and not just give in here and there… and everywhere.

In order to keep my family from mutiny against me, I normally plan a meal that deviates from my normal dinners of grilled protein, rice or light pasta and a good salad. This seems to work out more than it doesn’t and I am still fine tuning the process – its a work in progress to say the least. Instead of going out, I make the meals more controllable, meaning we make it at home. Burgers or Nachos or something like that, this way we can control the kinds of burgers and nachos we make. Not 100% “good for us”, but usually way better health-wise than anything you can get at a restaurant or fast food chain.

I have found more success in doing it that way, by planning and controlling the kind of deviation we partake of, than just going to a restaurant. It’s usually much, much cheaper. Yes, we still go out to eat on occasion. Haven’t totally curbed that. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.

Which brings me to the final piece where I hopefully tie this all up for you.

It is amazing how the body reacts to the fuel that is put in it. Feeling groggy, bloated, tired, etc.? It might just be the fuel your body is receiving. Purely anecdotal, I know, but over the last few weeks of having an increased “uptick” in sweets, I noticed how shitty I felt. I was tired… a lot. I mean, really, really tired. I struggled at the gym and at work. Even my mind and thought processes were cloudy.

Fast forward to where I am now, back on track, and I’m getting a little less sleep than I was then but my energy levels are higher. I don’t feel sluggish. I just hit another PR for reps last night at the gym and I’m alert more at work and my mind is sharp again. Take it for what it’s worth, but how many times do you see someone slurping down a quad shot mocha-choca-sugar-latte and still complaining about how tired they are after an hour or two?

80 – 90% of your success in achieving and maintaining bodily health and fitness comes from what you eat. Good fuel = good results. Shit fuel = shit results.

And at the end of the day, it all boils down to that person in the mirror that I look at each and every day. It’s up to me to take ownership of myself. It’s up to me to understand my weaknesses. It’s up to me to make the choice to improve. It’s up to me to take action and do the work.

Get after it.

Be strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.

PT By-products: Mental Toughness

“If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it… or something like that.”

Physical training – working your body out and training hard – produces many tangible and intangible benefits or by-products. Tangible things like a change in you body composition and muscle definition; strength, endurance, speed. Intangible things like mental toughness, discipline, courage, patience, humility, honesty, indomitable spirit.

So, PT is an excellent way to develop, maintain and grow your level of mental toughness. I’ve found through personal experience that the best way to cultivate mental toughness is to do those things that are uncomfortable. Just make the choice and do it. I find it can be a springboard of sorts where the next decision is easier, and the next. Momentum is built. Conversely, when I choose to be lazy and not go down the path I know I need to go or should go, then its a slippery slope to letting the next thing go, and the next thing and the next until I’m doing absolutely jack shit and wondering why I am no closer to my goals than I was six months ago. Mental toughness isn’t something you can store up and have in massive reserves; the law of diminishing returns applies here as well as incremental gains. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it… or something like that.

You get the idea.

Mental toughness is the sister of discipline. Discipline is refined in the grind, the day to day, the choosing to go and train even when you are plateaued and bored as fuck. Mental toughness carries you through that training session when you are spent, when you are sucking wind, when you want to give up, when you are feeling pain and discomfort, when you are afraid. If you don’t give up, if you suffer through, if you put everything you have into that session and don’t stop until you have completed your training, you can come back next time stronger mentally as well as physically.

Growth in mental toughness comes from struggle, conflict, pain and discomfort.

Embrace it.

Be strong for you.

Be strong for family.

Fight through the pain

52 weeks.
365 days. Or, if you prefer the musical, “Rent”: 525,600 minutes.
Many of you reading this particular post won’t have clear context on the background for post and that’s perfectly fine – one shouldn’t reveal ALL the cards they’ve been dealt.
So, in classic Inigo Montoya fashion, “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

On this Sunday, 52 weeks ago, I entered into what has been the hardest suck fest of my adult life.
Seriously.
It was painful and raw. There were many depressing moments, to say the least.

Compared to the trials others have faced and are facing, maybe it wasn’t so bad. But this is my trial, it is the path I must walk. They don’t walk mine and I do not walk theirs.
On the outside, from the perspective of the average spectator: not very much has changed at all.
Behind the curtain, however, it’s a different world entirely. Entire mindsets and ways of thinking have been changed, corrected or thrown out. Truths I have held onto – proven false or worthless – have had the same treatment. Foundational things have had major renovations. These foundational changes have then trickled into the rest of my life.

There is no going back.
Red pills were swallowed.

Matrixes were unplugged.

Eyes were opened. 

Fears were confronted.

Challenges were engaged.

Obstacles were overcome. 

Lessons were learned.

Growth happened.
When posed with the Cypher-esque question of whether I should’ve taken the “blue pill” in all of this. I do no regret doing what was needed and swallowing the “red pills” to get me where I am now.
Though it has been hard, I must say that through this whole thing, I am grateful for it. It sounds so cliché, I know, but I am grateful for the journey. 

Don’t get me wrong, the pain fucking sucked, but I believe it will be worth it in the end.
Though this journey is not over, I am stronger now because of it. I didn’t roll over and give up. I got up and kept moving forward. Even when I didn’t want to. I pushed, I learned, I grew.
I wasn’t alone. 

I had a small core who were there with me. Coaching me, encouraging me, helping me work things outage sift through the mess.
To those 52 weeks of life, I say, from the bottom of my heart, “Thank you, I am a better person because of this.”
I would also like to lovingly add, with a twinkle in my eye, the same way some of my training partners say to me as I have pushed them at the gym, “Fuck you.”
Life can be brutal and unforgiving, but, there are lessons to learn from it and levels of strength (mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually) to gain from it.

Use the pain, the hurt, the anger as fuel to push you towards your goals and objectives. Don’t waste the pain, use it. Conquer your battles in spite of the pain.
No matter what, keep moving forward.

You are the constant.

Why do you do what you do? Why do you strive for improving your health and body?

Why would you even consider unplugging from the internet, cable or tv show and put your body into an uncomfortable state for 30 – 90 minutes?

Why would you even consider doing this again, and again, and again, and again?

Even if you have good genetics, you still have to put in a degree of work and grind. It is inescapable.

Think about it. No seriously, stop right here, take a minute and think about it. Why would you do this?

You must have at least one reason, at least one “why” regarding your choice to improve.

“They need to be FUCKING GREAT reasons …”

You can have some seemingly superficial reasons, sure. There is nothing wrong with having a superficial goal or two. Who doesn’t want to look good naked?

One of my “superficial” goals is to look like Gerard Butler’s Leonidas from the movie “300”. I’m not entirely sure my body-type is the same as Mr. Butler’s, but, I want to look like a damn Spartan. I’ll never wear a shirt mowing the lawn again, hell, I’ll even get some of those military PT shorts to wear while I mow the lawn too!

However, humor aside, you need to have some good reasons behind your goals. They must compel you to keep moving forward, good enough to drag you from the couch if they have to. They need to be reasons with weight and punch behind them. They need to be reasons that make you seriously disappointed in yourself if you begin to stray from the path. For all intents and purposes, they need to be strong enough to carry you when a sledgehammer full of suck gets slammed into your chest. Trust me.

So, yeah, they need to be good reasons.

No, scratch that.

They need to be damn good reasons.

No, scratch that.

They need to be FUCKING GREAT reasons.

“You, yes YOU, need to make sure your reasons are strong enough to keep you anchored…”

 

When you boil everything down, the common denominator will always be one thing, the person that must put their hand to the plow and actually do the work necessary to reach those goals.

You.

You are the constant.

You are the one that has to make the choice to change.

You are the one that has to get yourself to the gym.

You are the one that has to lift the weights or run the mile.

If you live to one-hundred, you are the one who must live with the regret or not chasing your goals or with the satisfaction of doing everything you could in life.

If you die today, you either die chasing your goals or you die with wasted potential and dreams.

You, need to make sure your reasons are strong enough to keep you anchored no matter what happens.

Be the best person you can be, for you.

Be fucking great.

Period.

Excuses heard from the Bench

Before I wade into the waters of The Sea of Butt-hurt, I’d like to mention a few things.

Item the First: As I get the rust off of me and begin to write again, I am committing to you, my readers, no less than two article posts per month.

Item the Second: I am also looking at taking this blog in a slightly different direction. The “spirit” of the Brand will always be “Strong for Family”, but the look of the blog is going to be changing over the next year. Maybe even multiple times.

Item the Third: In this “re-branding” I am also including an Instagram and Facebook account and will be sharing short videos (minute of less), pictures, motivation, etc., on those channels. I plan on doing slightly longer (2-5min) YouTube videos as well. Stay tuned.

Okay… all done with the “household” items. Let us get into the meat of this article.

 

“There’s more to life than…”, fill in the blank.

 

If you haven’t already come across these kinds of excuses in your journey of improvement and self-betterment, you will eventually. When you are beyond the average two week attempt at a lifestyle change, when you are beyond the two month hit-and-miss plans that other people have attempted, when you are making progress and others aren’t, you will hear that, “There’s more to life than….”, fill in the blank.

This comes from people who feel uncomfortable about your success as they reflect upon their own lack of discipline and passion to improve their own lives. These “well meaning” friends, family members and even random fucking strangers will go out of their way and make it a point to try and “bring you back down to earth”. Their voice of “reason” comes with a “friendly” reminder that there is more to life.

“There is more to life than making money.”

Yes, buttercup, and there is also more to life than struggling to pay your bills. There is more to life than worrying night and day about how you are going to provide for your family. There is more to life than spending sleepless nights trying to figure out how to get under the huge debt load you created.

“There is more to life than working out.”

Yes, cupcake, and there is to life than being miserable from constant sickness and poor health. There is more to life than letting your ailments run your life. There is more to life than sitting helpless and short of breath on the couch as your children or grandchildren beg you to play with them, but you can’t. 

“There is more to life than learning how to defend yourself.”

Yes, your worshipfulness (tribute to Han Solo – he shot first!), and there is more to life than playing the victim. There is more to life than walking around uncertain. There is more to life than hoping that you won’t get mugged on your date downtown. There is more to life than hoping someone else will protect you.

You get the picture.

Resist and reject their poison. It’s the “crabs in a bucket” mentality.

 

As always, the choice is yours…

 

THERE IS MORE TO LIFE!

Oh snap! I just went all caps.

There is more to life, there is so much more to life when you take the path of owning your shit. When you take control of your life and accept responsibility that you and only you are going to take you where you want to go. There is more to life when you commit to self improvement; when you commit to making yourself better than you were yesterday.

There is more to life.

Only for those that choose the narrow path. Only for the Strong.

The highway of ease is smooth sailing at first, but the rest stops become fewer and fewer, leading you to a hopeless desert with bitter waters. The path of improvement leads you through the wilderness at first, with many rocky and treacherous obstacles to overcome along the journey. But it brings you from one oasis after another as you continue your journey upward and onward, reaping the sweet water rewards of hard work and struggle.

As always, the choice is yours…

Be Strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.

Cultivating Strength – Abandoning Weakness

It has been almost a year since my last post and boy… has it been an interesting year.

I want to write out a few things about Strength and Weakness; ironing it out from the jumbled mess in my mind. Hopefully you can relate to this, or maybe it will resonate with you in someway; maybe even serve as a swift kick in the ass to go do something about your own life. Maybe you are going down a similar path as I and you’ve found the same thing to be true, there really isn’t anything new under the sun.

I want to speak about the “holistic” view, for lack of a better term, of strength and weakness. At any given moment, you are making a choice to cultivate strength and abandon weakness, or cultivate weakness and abandon strength.

You cannot be neutral. Your mind, your body, your spirit and your emotions are either worked and strengthened or they begin to atrophy and rot. There is no middle ground where you can build up to a certain spot and then just coast the rest of your life. Your mind dulls without challenge, as does your spirit. You body wastes away without certain stimuli. Your emotions take on a life of their own if they are not exercised and harnessed appropriately, you become subject to them instead of the other way around.

I must confront my weaknesses. If they cannot be made into strengths, I must abandon them. I must kill them, starve them out and replace them with strengths.

So must you.

…I fucking hate weakness in my life. I abhor it.

Over this last year, I have been bitch-slapped hard by certain circumstances and events that have come up in my life. Things I do not wish to talk about here and now, on this particular forum. Through this epic bitch-slap, I have had the opportunity to confront a metric shit-ton of my weaknesses. Many of which, I believe, caused or aided in the majority of the events.

A month into the “events”, my birthday came and went. I realized that I couldn’t fight, barter, beg, advocate, discuss, dialogue or construct a logical argument strong enough to change the situation. It is what it is. The only thing I could do was to work on myself, improve myself, make an impact on those things I have direct control over: my life. On that day, I made a personal goal of becoming the best possible version of myself by my next birthday. I have made much progress. I have learned a lot about myself, my body, my thoughts, my weaknesses, my strengths, my capabilities and shortcomings. I have learned a lot about relationships. I am definitely a “better” version. And I continue to evolve into something better.

One of the things that I learned, the thing that has been bubbling up in me lately is that I fucking hate weakness in my life. I abhor it.

Subsequently, I hate weakness in other people.

Weakness is what hinders us from becoming the best versions of ourselves possible.

Beneath the finger pointing at our spouse, what is it that keeps you from truly connecting and coming to a synergistic understanding and appreciation of the other person? Weakness.

Beneath the excuses of why we don’t have time, beneath hiding behind an ailment or two, what keeps us from committing to working out? Weakness.

What keeps us living in the glory days of high school or college or our first career when in the here and now, in the context of the majority of your and everyone else’s lives it doesn’t fucking matter anymore? Weakness.

Behind the hesitancy to sit down and read a real book that will challenge you and help you grow, what is it that causes you to stop after three pages and never come back to it? Weakness.

What keeps you from sitting down in some quiet spot and reflecting on the day and what you are trying to accomplish, or meditating, or communing with your Higher Power/God? Weakness.

You get the idea.

Putting my fingers to the keyboard and writing this is helping me cultivate strength and abandon weakness. How so? Well, because I realized that there are many times that I care entirely too much about what people could potentially say. I have been methodically confronting this. Cultivating the thicker skin to not give as much of a fuck anymore. If you make a comment you make a comment. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it.

When you push yourself physically and you accomplish something you have never done before it will spill over into the arenas of the mental, emotional and even the spiritual… And nobody can take that from you.

I had the opportunity to travel recently and learn from a really good teacher about how to effectively use my pistol from concealment. A weak area in my life. It was a good thing. I now have tools to help me eradicate this weakness. What I didn’t expect was how this event brought up feelings, thoughts and other darkness I had been dealing with over this last year. I think, by way of an event six hours from my “natural habitat” which challenged mentally and physically for two days in the blazing sun and exposed my weakness in one area,  it helped open the door for even further self examination and reflection about other areas. Something that I welcomed with open arms.

We need these kinds of door-opening experiences in our lives. I need them.

Last year, I was working out about four times a week before the shit started to unfold. After, I was at the gym every day. I needed the physical challenge to help me. By pushing my body mentally and physically in one area, it helped me deal with the stresses and damages of another area.

I have had a handful of what I would call “spiritual” moments while lifting and training; rewarding for my spirit, mind, emotions and my body. Those who have pushed themselves hard understand what I am trying to convey here. You are lifting the heaviest you ever lifted or pushing yourself farther than you have ever gone and every fiber of your being is screaming out as you do it. Once done, you feel taller. You are euphoric. You think, did I really just do that?

Fuck yes, you did!

The discipline you applied to your body, to make it do what you wanted to do. The discipline you applied to your mind, to shut out the outside world and your fears down to focus on they task at hand. The emotional energy you poured into that lift or that run, to block out the doubts or fears. When you push yourself physically and you accomplish something you have never done before, it will spill over into the arenas of the mental, emotional and even the spiritual. They all came together in a kind of synergy and impact your very soul. You learn more about yourself and what you are capable of.

And nobody, nobody, can take that from you.

Being open, being gentle and being tender are not weaknesses.

Just want to clear something up for the readers automatically thinking this is some “macho alpha-male” circle jerk..

My father, a warrior in his own right, used to tell me as a kid, “There is Strength in being gentle.” Sometimes he would use the world tender. Sometimes the way the sentence was put together was different. You get the idea.

In order to improve your life, in any area, requires an openness, a degree of vulnerability. Some of the most badass, alpha-male people I know humble themselves and seek out and/or hire coaches to equip them with what they need to hit the next level in all areas of their lives.

Being open in a relationship, or confiding in a friend takes a deal of risk, and it takes strength to let your guard down, not give in to fear and cowardice – which are fruits of weakness – and to tell them what is going on in the depths of your being.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture there.

Being open, being gentle and being tender are not weaknesses

It’s about viewing those things as they truly are: weaknesses in the structure of your life that need to be dealt with.

Buttercup, you only get one life to live, so let me ask you:

Is the life you are currently living – your mental state, your relationships, your physical state, your emotional life, your spiritual life – are you going to be pleased on the other side of eternity when you look back at this life? (if you are any sort of religious person)

Do you believe that with absolute certainty that if you could do your life over again, you would do everything exactly the same?  (applicable to anyone)

Anyone I have ever talked to wants to change at least one thing in their lives, even the devout among my friends and acquaintances. This should help people realize that there is more potential to your life than where you are currently and what you are doing. You can’t go back, but you can still improve your life.

Some of you might be put off by my use of the word “weakness” in the context of this article. Let me make something clear, this is about improving your life. Constantly improving yourself.

You can call them flaws, chinks in your armor, structural issues or “areas for improvement”, or whatever makes you feel better. But if those terms aren’t really working for you, evidenced by the fact that you are still “dealing” with those “areas”, then why not call them what they are?

A lot of the things that have happened in the last year culminated into that “event” due to my own weaknesses. Many would say and have said to me that, it’s not my “fault”, which I know what they mean and I can agree. Rather, I have used this as an opportunity to further examine and confront my own life. I have found, and have had things revealed to me things that were lacking which definitely helped contribute to bringing things to a head. So, I owned it. I took the responsibility. Might not have been my fault, but guess what, cupcake? It was my fault.

It’s about taking some responsibility and owning your shit. Always being reactive in life, playing the victim, blaming, finger pointing, and navel gazing – these are weak practices for weak individuals. Being proactive, focusing on improving yourself, learning what you can do better, not allowing situations to govern your life on any plane – these are strong practices.

You can point the finger all you want but at the end of the day, you will still have your weaknesses: unchecked, ignored, growing and festering. OR, you can work on them one piece at a time, consistently and constantly, improving yourself daily and at the end of the day, those weaknesses are fewer and fewer. It’s about viewing those things as they truly are:  weaknesses in the structure of your life that need to be dealt with.

You should value yourself highly enough to want to improve.

If you read anything at all about positive and constructive mindsets, you find that people usually possess a combination of two mindsets. Growth & Abundance Mindsets or Fixed & Scarcity Mindsets. Long story short: Growth mindsets view themselves as people who can change, they can learn, adapt, improve, in short they can grow. The Fixed mindset is the opposite, they are set in their ways, can’t learn anything new, adverse to change, unable to adapt or improve. The one with an Abundance Mindset, sees unlimited potential and resources, tools and avenues to help them achieve their goals and dreams. The one with a Scarcity Mindset basically sees limits on everything: resources, tools for growth, etc.

One pair of Mindsets are Strong and on pair of Mindsets are Weak. Which do you have?

Looking for and dealing with these weaknesses shouldn’t come from a place of self-hate and self-loathing. That helps zero out of zero people. Value your relationships highly enough to want to have a better impact! No person is an island unto themselves. Yes, there are many things we can and should be able to do on our own. We should be taking initiative to change and improve our lives instead of waiting for someone with a plan to come and save us from whatever issue we are dealing with. From that state of self-improvement and independence we can be interdependent with others. Bringing and adding value, working together, having synergy where your strengths compliment someone’s weaknesses and vice versa. And ideally, where your weaknesses are improved by the example and strength of someone else. You don’t stay weak, you grow.

You should value yourself highly enough to want to improve. But only you can do that.

What are your weak areas? … Limit the external forces that weaken you.

I have found weaknesses in my role at work. Weaknesses in my approach to living my dreams and goals. Weaknesses in my role as a parent.Weaknesses in my will-power. The list goes on. But I don’t hate myself. I see the weakness, and I acknowledge it. Then I put a target on it, because I’m going to shoot that thing down. As the saying goes, “Win or Learn, I never lose. I may not make it immediately, but I will make it absolutely and definitely.”

Do I see weaknesses in others? Absolutely I do. It’s one of those “plank-eye” things that Jesus talked about. As I see my flaws, weaknesses and the planks in my eye clearer, I being to see the specks and “areas for improvement” in others. The only thing is, I am not out there every day confronting my friends and family about their supposed weaknesses. That’s their deal. I can’t do the work for them, they have to do the work. And if they can’t see it or refuse to do the work, I won’t be able to help them anyway. Their personal stagnation, the atrophy of their mind, body, spirit and emotions is on the, not me. I have my own plank to deal with.

I am all about helping people, that’s the whole interdependent thing. Alone I am strong, but interdependently with other people, we are practically unstoppable. But you have to do the work, too. I can’t do it for you. If you, dear reader, were to come to me and ask for my help, I would love to assist. But, I warn you, you might see a few weaknesses now, but you will definitely not like what you see or have revealed to you down the road and have to confront. No one does. But it is a challenge we should own and be willing to take.

Through my example, and possibly through my repeated Instagram & Facebook posts showing what I am doing, I have had a few people approach me asking what they can do to improve. Some have taken the advice and tough love and are little by little improving their lives. Some have filed their butt-hurt forms and rejected the advice and tough love. Could’ve been a weakness on my part for not using tact in the way I was communicating, or it could’ve been that person being too weak to swallow their pride, look hard into the mirror and face the truth. Maybe a bit of both.

So, more than likely you’ve been identifying weaknesses in your life that you want to improve. What are your weak ares? Write out some goals. You don’t need to go on Facebook and broadcast your goals. I didn’t. Write them down, keep them to yourself and fucking kill those goals!

Limit the external forces that weaken you. Television, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever. That’s one thing I have done. I have been culling my Facebook feeds and Instagram. I want to see things that are motivating, and challenging. I want to see people improving their lives. If not, I might stay friends with you, but you are on the ignore list. Don’t get offended, cupcake, I just don’t want to see your verbal vomit and your infantile bitch sessions.

Now, at 2734 words and counting. Hopefully some of this resonated with you. Take what is useful to you and confront the weaknesses in your life.

Be Strong.

For you.

For your family.

For Life.

Sprints, Ropes and DOMS

Since Sunday’s post, here is a breakdown of what has been going on in my world of PT and getting stronger for my family…

Monday: Sprints

20×25  w/45sec rests in between each sprint.

Tuesday: Ropes/Push-ups/Heavybag

Endless Rope x4 @ 1:30, alternating directions

Endless Rope x2 @ 2min, alternating directions

3×10 Push-Ups, 1×5 Pushups – Failed on 6th attempt

Heavybag work: 20 strikes of each: Jab(L), Cross(R), Hook(L), Uppercut(R), Horizontal Elbows (L&R), Centerline punch (L&R)

Wednesday: Eliptical Work

17min on a “Cross Training” program that increased and decreased the intensity of the run

It is Thursday and I am still suffering from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness otherwise known as P A I N!) due to Monday’s sprint work. It has been quite awhile since I have done sprint work like that. At the end of each Saturday run, I do sprint the last 100+ yards, however I haven’t done a workout dedicated to all-out sprinting for about two years. I need to do this more often!

Mrs. Kenobi and I have just over three weeks to go before our next 5k run. She has been accompanying me when we go to the gym to work the machines like the Endless Rope and Elliptical. She has also been doing some road work of her own. I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform for the 5k.

It should be a good one.

***EDIT*** 

Add Thursday’s Upperbody work:

Superset x 5: Aussie Pull-ups x8 & Push-ups x10

Sunday Training

6 rounds on the endless rope, alternating directions each round. 1min 30sec for the first four rounds and then 2min for the fifth and sixth round. All on the same level of resistance.

3×10 strict form push-ups 

1×5 strict form push-ups (muscle failure on #6, tried it a couple times too!)

More of the same heavy bag work as before, 20/arm/technique: jabs, cross, hook, uppercut, horizontal elbows, centerline punch and straight blast.

Good times.