“I’ve got one idea that I’m especially psyched out of my mind about… ya’ know, it’s just one of those ideas where you’re like… YES!” ~Miles Finch, “Elf”

Have you ever had that reaction? Have you ever been reading something and in just a few words, your thoughts, ideas and viewpoint on something were boiled down to a few good sentences and you were just like… YES!

I had that reaction as I was reading this article over at Bodybuilding.com. It’s a “Q&A” session with Mark Divine, Retired Navy SEAL and the owner of SEALFIT. Go read that article, it’s worth it. That article isn’t what “got the ball rolling” here on Strong 4 Family, however it did help sum up and clarify my reasons, goals and drive for being fit and also for passing my experiences on to you, dear reader, hopefully helping you along the way.

The answer to the first question in that article got that reaction from me and I was hooked the rest of the way through. The first question reads: Summarize the SEAL approach to fitness and what it means. Below is the answer:

The SEAL approach to fitness is to be functionally fit and mentally tough so that you can stay in the fight for a long period of time and get the mission accomplished. It’s not nearly as specific as a lot of sport athletics are—bodybuilding, for example. So we really are classic hybrid athletes who use an integrated approach to training. The six domains that SEALs focus on are:

  • Strength, because strength makes us harder to kill, essentially, and more useful to our team.
  • Stamina, because we end up having to do a lot of work and we can’t be shut down by fatigue.
  • Endurance, because we have to swim and hike long distances to get to a target.
  • Work capacity, because we need to do a lot of work in a short period of time.
  • Durability, because we don’t peak for an event and then take a break; we need to stay in it for up to 20 years.
  • Mental toughness, and we can’t just hope to have it. We have specific tools and methods to develop mental toughness and emotional resiliency.

Mental toughness may be the most important quality of all, because as SEALs we are often pushed past our physical breaking point, where only the power of the mind can carry us across the finish line.

YES!

Now, I’m NOT a Navy SEAL or any other kind of special operator. I’ve never served in the Military, Reserves or Coast Guard. I was in High School ROTC (Go Air Force!) and also in the Boy Scouts, but I don’t think those count, not by a long shot. So…why does this resonate so much with me? Why do I have the “Strong 4 Family” approach to my level of fitness and now this blog? Let’s break each of those bullet points down and translate them “S4F” style. Granted, as time goes on I’m sure I’ll be thinking, “Oh! I should’ve added that!”, but you’ll get the basic gist of it. Here we go!

  • Strength, because strength makes us harder to kill, essentially, and more useful to our team.

Ever heard the saying, “You can’t keep a good man down.”? It’s applicable anyone mind you. Like I wrote on the home page of this blog:

Strong – mentally, physically, emotionally – for my family. For my wife, for my children, for those close to me who need my strength. I’m doing this for me and for them!

You cannot keep someone who is mentally, physically and emotionally strong down, period. They do not stay down, they keep getting back up and moving forward. Just ask Rocky, it’s about how much you can get hit and keep moving forward. When you can get hit (mentally, physically, emotionally) and keep moving forward you are harder to kill and you are more useful to your team, to your core, your brotherhood or your family. I want to be strong and lift my kids high above my head, I will not be a father or grandfather who cannot do that. I want to be the kind of father that can play hard with his kids and keep up with them as they grow. When they are teens, I want to be able to throw any of my kids over my shoulder like they were a teddy bear and jump into a lake. Hell, in truth, I want to be like 52 year old Jon Stewart who took on the final qualifier on American Ninja Warrior on Monday night like a damn boss! To get there, I’m also going to need…

  • Stamina, because we end up having to do a lot of work and we can’t be shut down by fatigue.
  • Endurance, because we have to swim and hike long distances to get to a target.

These two go hand in hand for me. It’s part of the whole “keep moving forward” thing. Sometimes you just gotta take the hits and push forward. Sometimes you don’t get a break, you don’t get respite. Life just… Keeps. Coming. At. You.  You have to stand, you have to endure. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally.

As I will discuss later in my “back story”, I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of an ass-kicking sickness. I had to endure and fight through the bouts of extreme vertigo. When the room was spinning uncontrollably and I was violently dry heaving, because there was nothing left inside, and I was fighting to breath… I had to endure. And when it happened again, and again, and again I had to take it. Even though I was scared, even though I knew that there was nothing I could do to stop the episode, I had to take it and I chose to fight and make changes in my life to help keep it at bay. And it changed me, for the better.

I love this quote from Calvin Coolidge, it encourages me to keep moving forward:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ (Keep Moving Forward!) has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”

  • Work capacity, because we need to do a lot of work in a short period of time.
  • Durability, because we don’t peak for an event and then take a break; we need to stay in it for up to 20 years.

I think these all build off one another, and that’s why I like them so much! Your Strength, your ability to Endure and Stamina help increase your work capacity and also, your work capacity can help you increase your Stamina, Endurance and Strength. A lot of this goes back to what I want to be as a Father and Husband in life. I will not settle for a weak, passive life. Yes, like many parents out there, I want to have more income to provide for my children and spouse. However, I don’t want to be absent, either. So I choose quality over quantity. It’s hard sometimes. As a husband, a father of four and a holder of a full-time job, the work capacity seems HUGE. But that is the price I pay for what I want. I’ve got my whole life to “stay in it”, and I want to be durable the whole damn time! I want to last.

Finally…

  • Mental toughness, and we can’t just hope to have it. We have specific tools and methods to develop mental toughness and emotional resiliency.

By doing things like The Dirty Dash, or Ruck-Walks, Weight Lifting or even Combatives training. By trying to push my body to be stronger, faster, to last longer, to endure it helps reinforce my “Keep Moving Forward” attitude. It helps in continually developing and honing that mental toughness for the rest of the areas in my life. There are times when you are focused and you hit a personal record and it totally takes you by surprise and you own and dominate that personal record. It was hard, but you did it. Later in that day a situation arises at work, maybe a few years ago you would’ve sweated it, but not now. Why? You’re harder now. It’s not as challenging or hard as that PR that you’ve worked so hard to make, is it? See how that can help? Like Mr. Divine said in his Q&A, mental toughness is the most important quality because “we are often pushed past our physical breaking point, where only the power of the mind can carry us across the finish line.”. Sometimes the battle in your mind is the hardest. The choice you make then, in that very second can help you increase your mental toughness when you choose to keep moving forward.

That quote by Calvin Coolidge I shared earlier is the first of three that I have taped at my desk at work. These three quotes I go back to time and time again as a reminder and as an encouragement. They tell me to keep going, keep moving forward. Like Mr. Divine said: to stay in the fight”. I’ll quote the other two out of order, the third quote is this:

“It is not the critic who counts: nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt

The middle one is this:

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists… it is real… it is possible… it is yours.” ~Ayn Rand, ‘Atlas Shrugged’

Find your reasons to get and stay fit and do not let them go out “spark by irreplaceable spark”.

Be strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.

I ask you: What is your drive? What is your “fire”?

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