Acta Non Verba

“A good man doesn’t go around begging people to believe in his goodness. His actions and behavior speak for him.” ~C.H.

As the Scripture goes, “by their fruit you shall know them”. Actions and behavior, these things prove what you are about; these are the fruits of what you really believe or value. You can emote, prattle on and make convincing cases about all the things you believe or support and the positions you take. But without corresponding action, it doesn’t really matter.

Men. Fucking. Do.

Acta Non Verba. Actions not words. Like it or not, this is the plumb-line. You’ve heard it a million different ways: Talk is Cheap. Put up or Shut up. Put your money where your mouth is. Walk the walk. Prove it.

If you pause and listen to all the talk around you from your friends, your family, your coworkers, etc., and compare what they say versus what they do, you can very quickly make assessments as to who is full of shit. Their behaviors and actions prove what they are really about. This is very disruptive, I know, because talk is always the easier and more comfortable path. It’s disruptive because it is the wind that will cause our house of cards to tumble and be scattered. Politics, Religion, Work, Relationships, Passions, Hobbies, Businesses, etc… all of these and more are weighed by what you do over what you say. Well, except maybe politics and religion, people seem to eat up massive amounts of bullshit in this area before calling leaders out on what they actually do… but I digress.

Acta Non Verba not only sifts the wheat from the chaff, but it can actually help us find the harmony in our own beliefs as well. Notice, I said harmony and not balance. Balance is like a see-saw with no motion. Harmony is more like two people working in cooperation with each other on that see-saw. The tides ebb and flow, bands and orchestras work together, peoples and tribes find a way to create civilization. It is all more harmony than balance. Applying Acta Non Verba helps find the harmony by prioritizing and executing; sifting through and finding the most important things and then acting on them first.

I’ve been putting Acta Non Verba into action in my own life over the last few years; taking inventory of what I do versus say and focusing on the doing more than saying. And if I don’t do then I shut the fuck up. It is a great reminder to continually strive to become a better man. To show, through my consistent actions and behaviors, the kind of man I am and am becoming. Talk is cheap. Actions have value.

No more, “I’m gonna do…”. No more, “I’m planning on doing…”. No more, “I should do…”

No more. NO MORE.

“Talk – Action = ZERO”

There is much more that could be unpacked here, but I am trying to keep my posts shorter and to the point.

ACTA. NON. VERBA.

Pursue Mastery.

 

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Do whatcha can with watcha got!

So, life decided to throw you another curve and your exercise program is out?

Great!

Let’s take a few moments to talk about that.

Currently, my area, like many across the nation, is getting hit hard with winter storms. Really bad road conditions, record snow days for schools around the area, etc. Which means it makes it hard for many people, myself included to get to the gym. So what do we do?

Success Starts (and ends) in the Kitchen

If you literally can’t do anything at all for your PT goals, whether it be from a crisis of life or from weather or whatever, being mindful of what you fuel your body with is crucial. It’s a hard mentality to break from, but, you don’t “earn” junk food. That’s like saying, “Hey, I’ve earned putting this poison into my body!” WTF?

Depending on your goals, 80-95% or more of your success is going to start and end in the kitchen. Again, that 15%+ differential is due to your specific goals: lose weight, build muscle, cutting fat, etc. The fuel you put into your body is just as important during rest days or down time, as it is on the days you are working out.

Good fuel in. Continuously.

Think of it this way. The meals you have today are resulting in how your body looks, feels and responds tomorrow and the day after, and the day after that. It is a cyclical process. If you want your body to perform good at the gym on Wednesday, then what you have put in your body Monday and Tuesday can and will effect your performance. Again, I’m no licensed dietician or personal trainer. But the information I am giving you is from the trenches. Actually doing it myself and speaking to others who are in the trenches themselves and getting after it.

Take it as you will.

Move, now!

You can do something. If you can’t get to the gym, you can adapt, improvise and overcome. For those getting hit with severe winter weather, we are getting plenty of opportunities to shovel our walkways and driveways. Put the kids in the sled and pull them around the neighborhood. Go for a walk in six inches or more of snow. Do bodyweight squats and lunges inside. Do push-ups.

The point is there is always something you can do!

For example, I wasn’t able to get to the gym this morning for my upper body routine, so, do you know what I am doing?

Pushups. All day long.

Seriously.

Final Thoughts

So, no excuses. I know it is tempting to want to hibernate. It is tempting to start eating all the warm comfort food in sight. Move against that urge.

Find a way to move, every single day.

Be mindful of the fuel you put into your body.

The kind of ROI you get later will be up to your actions today.

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.

101 Days &16lbs later…

So about two months ago I gave you my back story and ended with these wonderful before and after pics of me in 2011 when I decided to get my act together and go for it. I had found some of that fire, that drive: I did not want to deal with Meniere’s Disease anymore, I had to be stronger than it was.

So, what did I do?

P90x? Nope.

Any of Shaun T’s programs? Nope.  (Say, whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? No seriously, I didn’t.)

TaeBo? Pilates? Shake-Weight? Nope. Nope. NO!

Wanna know? I assume you do because you’ve read this far! Ok…here goes, this is what I did:  I exercised and I made positive food choices. Seriously!

Yes, I will get to the “specifics” of what I did in a minute, but seriously, there isn’t a magic pill! It’s all about getting up off your ass, making the hard and more positive choices and sticking with it! It is a learned and ever-being-learned lesson in my life. You must make the choice to keep moving forward, to do something, to fight the urges to give up and quit. Sometimes you need to get fed up with where you have let yourself get to. More on that another time.

Find out what is “worth it” for you

What do you want to do or keep doing that will make paying the price of admission to the halls of self-discipline and transformation “worth it” to you?

It’s hard, Dads and Moms out there, it’s hard, but it is so worth it! Being able to run up and down the playground with your children is worth it. Being able to rough-house and keep up with the grandkids instead of looking on from your easy chair, sucking air from a canister and unable to do something about it is worth it. Being out and about, active and enjoying life with your family is worth it. Not being a slave to the sickness, medications and having your Doctor’s say you just have to “live with” is worth it!

IT.

IS.

WORTH.

IT.

 

Positive Food Choices

So, did you notice how I said that I stuck with positive food choices instead of saying that I went on a diet? I like the way this excellent article over at BodyBuilding.com puts it:

Somewhere in the last few decades, people everywhere began to confuse a healthy diet with “dieting.” A healthy diet is balanced and can be altered or customized to achieve specific goals without becoming unhealthy. Dieting, on the other hand, is simple deprivation in the name of fat loss, and with it often comes physical weakness, unhappiness, and a decline in athleticism.

Very, very often, the two are confused, which is why I usually use words like “food choice” or “plan”. Diets suggest “fad”, diet suggests “try it and quit in two weeks if I don’t drop 30lbs”, diet suggests “failure”. Diet is about as cliché’ as joining a fitness club on New Years Day. Whereas a food plan or choice is something you are consciously doing, you have a specific goal in mind, you have a purpose and a why. It is deliberate. Your food choices help support, strengthen and back up your reasons why is it worth it to you.

Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness has a great way of putting it when it comes to making positive food choices. Instead of saying no because you are on a diet, you just say “I don’t X”, whatever X is right now. You don’t drink soda. You don’t eat donuts. People will assume “Oh, you are on a diet?” when you don’t pitch in for the Monday morning office donuts or the mid-day treat run. And you simply say “No, I no longer eat donuts because I am tired of how it makes my body feel.”. People will bribe you, tease, criticize, and generally not understand. Crabs in a bucket, people, crabs in a bucket.

YOLO, they may say. Exactly. You only live once. We prefer to live this one time without prescription drugs, high obesity and an inability to do the things we would love to do because we aren’t healthy enough to do them.

You only live once.

It’ll take some “reprogramming” in your brain, hacking into the Matrix of life and learning a few “life hacks” at restaurants to solidify a lot of your food choices, but you can do it. Again, it is worth it.

Hopefully you get the point, food choice is important. Depending on your goals, the food choices you make will be 85-95% of your success in the gym or where ever you decide to work out. Positive fuel + positive work = positive results. I’m still on the path, I’m still learning and adjusting, but it is worth it.

O.K., enough with the food choices, thank you for staying with me. Let’s get to the physical side of things!

 “Circuit Training”

There is probably a more technical term for this. I’m sure I read it once or a million times, I don’t know. But this is what I did. I didn’t have a gym membership so I focused on body weight exercises. A “leg” move, a “pull” move, a “push” move and something “core” related. I would take these four exercises, do a certain amount of each in a circuit with only the briefest of rests in between – usually 30 seconds – and then when I was finished with the final move, I would rest for 90 to 120 seconds and repeat the circuit. This circuit of exercises and reps would be done five times and then I would call it a day. I focused on doing this twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Here are the exercises I did.

Circuit 1: Squats, Pull Ups, Push Ups, Reverse Crunches/Leg Lifts,

Circuit 2: Lunges, Chin Ups, Dips, Planks

I didn’t start off cranking out the Pull Ups, Chin Ups and Dips. I have a “power tower” at home that comes with bands for weight assistance, meaning, I can take up to a certain amount of pounds off my bodyweight to successfully complete the reps and help build up my strength.

So I started there.

No weight added, just bodyweight squats, lunges, and push ups with reduced weight Pulls, Chins and Dips. All of the “rep” exercises were done in increments of five or ten, depending on the exercise and level of ability. The planks were in time increments of 15 seconds and then I began to build on that, 20sec, 25sec, 30sec, etc as training went on. The weight assisted exercises decreased as my strength increased.

I should stress that I planned ahead, knowing not only what I would do, but, how many reps, how long I would hold a plank, how many total circuits, total duration of the workout, what my warm up would look like, what my cool down stretches would look like, etc. Based on the prior week’s workout, I would try to increase the challenge a bit to stimulate growth. I cannot emphasize enough how much planning and keeping track of your workout plan can help you stay focused. When you are frustrated, you can review and see what you’ve been doing and see where you’ve come from, you can assess what needs improving, and when you are looking at switching things up, you can more clearly assess what has been working or not working.

I should also stress that I didn’t go into this knowing ahead of time what I wanted to do. That is where Nerd Fitness came into play and me diving headlong into the articles to figure out what I wanted and how I wanted to do it. Reading those articles and many of the links Steve provided in his own articles, gave me the direction I needed to put together the circuits and the plan to execute.

I pushed, pulled, squatted, lunged, sweated and groaned my way through the next 101 days.

And it paid off, creating a new desire and giving me the momentum to keep moving forward and not give up.

Like I said in the previous article. Those before and after pictures might not be P90X transformation-worthy, but I earned that smile on my face. I had worked for it. Though I was only 101 days into a solid journey, it is a beginning, an origin story if you will, that I will always look back to and smile.

A calorie is just a calorie….?

Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness weighs-in on the whole calorie issue with a great article. A lot of the “Nerd Fitness” approach is how I approach (or try to) food and the food choices I make.

Check it out.

Do what’s best for you and that you can stick with.

Be strong for you. Be Strong 4 Family.

“Weekly” Weigh-In

WTF is going on here?!?! *

WTF is going on here?!?! *

 

So, it’s been 13 days since my last workout. I’m twitching just a bit… I’ve been active, but nothing worth recording here at S4F.

So, I weighed myself today: 193.8.

Not bad, almost half of a pound less than my weigh-in two weeks ago. I honestly thought it would be worse due to lack of working out.

The plan is to get back to the gym today and hit it. I’ve been talking with a good friend of mine about my workout plan and we are looking at revamping it a bit to fit with the current schedule I have. Long story short: smaller workouts spread throughout the week.

More details to come as I get going.

Keep moving forward, everyone.

Be strong for you, be Strong 4 Family.

“Weekly” Weigh In 10/03/14

 

 

WTF is going on here?!?! *

WTF is going on here?!?! *

On this day, the 3rd of October, In the Year of Our Lord, Two-Thousand-Fourteen, ye almight (yet, really not so almighty) scale weigheth the man in question, Tom Kenobi, at:

194.2

1.8lbs gained since my last weigh-in two weeks ago. Not very worried about this weight gain. It will either stay with me, or it will go back down in the next week or two. With the exception of this week, you can see from my training posts that I’ve been lifting heavy at least every 2-4 days for a while now.

Don’t let the scale rule your fitness progress people, it is just one of many tools to use for measuring fitness and progress, most importantly: it doesn’t tell you everything about what’s going on in your body!

Be strong for you.

Be Strong 4 Family.