Safe Spaces and Changing our Approach

Little Surprises

Over the past two days, I have found these little notes floating around the house.  My daughters have been leaving them for my wife and me.  We find them in the car, on the mirror, in our favorite chair, or in our garage gym.  They have been excited for us to find them and they are constantly telling us to cover our eyes so they can “hide” another one.
hearts of encouragementAnd there is a part of me that says this parenting thing is working out.  They are noticing all that their mother and I do to try and provide for them.  They see all that we are trying to do to set a good example.

But maybe we can learn something from them too.   Maybe we have a few lessons to learn from the girls that are six and three…

Lessons from Little Ones…

They are teaching us all that maybe we should not spend all of our time looking for reasons to hate.  Maybe, just maybe, in this day and age of we should start with finding what we like about each other.  These little girls are walking through the days looking for reasons to love us and each other.  Then they are sharing that.  The notes will eventually disappear, but the lesson does not have to.  None of these notes say thanks for taking me on this trip or thanks for buying me stuff.  They say thanks for the kisses, thanks for trying hard, thanks for taking me to your office…thanks for macaroni and cheese.

The world needs a few more thank you notes.  The times we are living in need a few more reminders that people are good.  And we, as human beings, need to take the time to see the good things before we decide that we are excellent judges of character.

Changing the World

If we are ever going to see a true and lasting change in our country and our world, we need more notes showing the world that we embrace the good.  We have to start changing things so safe spaces are not merely places where people who think, act, and look the same gather.  Safe spaces have to be spaces where our wounds can be exposed, our differences embraced and there is no rejection because we see the world through a different lens.

We need to take those lenses off, pass them to the left and right and see what solutions we come up with together.  I see the struggle and fight within you…and I embrace it.  Real lasting solutions when we start putting up a little note of encouragement for the very person we struggle to embrace the most.

Just like my girls do not sway my opinion of their bedtime because they throw a fit, yelling, screaming, stomping feet…we are not going to get anywhere setting that example as adults.  It is time to see the example that others are setting, see the obstacles they have overcome, acknowledge that through it all they are still standing, fighting, struggling to get through…and deep down, they probably want some encouragement just as much as we do.

Spartan Fit Book Order

Spartan Fit Update 2 – Blogging the Book

I have not abandoned my promise to blog the latest book from Joe De Sena and the Spartan crew.  It has been a long couple of weeks, a few tears have been shed as I looked over at my barbell in the corner.  But it is always easy to do the things you enjoy and hard to stick to a program that has the word (or a variation of it), “burpee”, at least every other day.

With that being said, I have worked up through Day 9 of the program which is the second rest day.  After this rest day comes one of the first workouts that they classify as an elite test.  Lots of hanging around and burpees when you fall.  It should be good for the grip.

The Broad Overview So Far…

So far, this book has dealt with overcoming the basic challenges that you will face in a Spartan race.  First and foremost, a lack of endurance.  There have been several days where you work for a set amount of time as opposed to running a distance or set amount of reps.  This is to build up the muscle endurance.  I really appreciate this approach because you just have to keep going.  It is the same for everyone.  40 minutes is 40 minutes.

The challenges also introduce you to the burpee on many, many, many occasions and being comfortable doing these is a given for any race.

But it not all about the cardio.  It is also about the hanging from a bar, performing reps under fatigue and carries.

The workouts that I have enjoyed the most have brought into play carrying an odd object.  It has either been my good friend the bucket or a log (I had to use a sandbag…but the challenge was still there).

Overall I think the workouts that I have done so far have been quality workouts for preparing for the race.  On the average a workout is taking me approximately 12 – 20 minutes to complete, unless it is one of the runs for a set period of time style.

I am excited to continue to work through the book and move forward with the challenges presented.

What I Would Do Differently…

As a coach and trainer, one of the things that I would do differently with a book like this is help with setting expectations for goals in this book.  One of the things that I wondered after some of the workouts is how long “should” this workout take?  What is a good goal for this workout?

If another book of this type were to be written I would encourage adding a simple goal time to the workouts.  It helps people to see where they are at and what their potential could be.  In this particular books case, they could use the same scale that they use for the Day 0 – Test or use a scale that breaks people down into categories for the races themselves (Elite, Competitive, Open).

I would also add potential changes to the workout for those people using this book to help them off the couch.  I recognize that there is a basic workout given that they suggest you do every day until you can complete it before moving into the 30 days, but there can still be some changes made to help people out.  Again, this is just my opinion, but giving people scaling options might be beneficial.  It lends the book to be reused and the cycle continued.  Options are given for making the workouts harder (i.e. completing the run with a mouthful of water or in extreme heat…I live in Texas, so I got that), but little is offered for how to scale down a workout.  It would be as simple as calling the workouts by the distances used in a Spartan Race.  I will give credit that in the workouts that are just about working for a set amount of time they do make a note that you do not have to run or row the full time, but you do need to keep moving.

For example:

Sprint – 3 Rounds

Super – 5 Rounds

Beast – AMRAP in 25 Minutes

Conclusion For Now:

I like the workouts and they do challenge you.  I know that my cardio is getting better and the muscles needed for support on the carries are getting stronger.  I am enjoying getting out of my comfort zone…performing an army crawl at the park will do that to you.

I will carry on and see what I end up.

SpartanFit Book and Journal

Spartan Fit #ChallengeAccepted…Blogging the Book

SpartanFit Book and Journal

I recently received my copy of Spartan Fit by Joe De Sena in the mail.  I read the first bit of the book and decided to accept the challenge to work through all 30 days of workouts and see where I stood and how I felt after putting down the programming pen for 30 days.

This is the first episode in the journey.  As I work through the 30 days of the book, I will do my best to blog about the experience and what I am taking away from the words of wisdom on the pages and the book itself.

First and foremost, I will not be posting the workouts performed here.  I will speak to them in terms of what they are and what I took from them.  If you want to know what they are, then please support the author and buy the book.

Why am I Doing This?

There are several reasons for accepting the challenge with this book.  The first and biggest is the reality that I am preparing to wrap up my trifecta for the year with one race left to complete.  If the founder of the company releases a book, I want to see how it correlates to completion in the course. In addition to that, I

In addition to tackling a race, I want to see how the programming affects my cardio.  I loathe cardio workouts and with something like this, I am committed to getting better (or at least completing the cardio workout and not subbing in…say some heavy deadlifts).

What I’ve Done So Far…

Over the past couple days, I have worked to take the Day 0 Fitness Test and then completed the Day 1 Workout.  I did take a day in between so that I could say that I was rested before starting the program.  It also helped me start on a Monday…just a mental bonus for me.

The Day 0 Test…

The Day 0 Test was not too bad.  It reminded me that I have plenty of grip strength, which is why I have never struggled with many of the obstacles themselves on the Spartan course.  I was also reminded that I hate burpees and hate longer distance time cardio.

The test revealed where I was as, which was not a surprise to me.  I have just recently completed a pretty solid cycle focused on my lifting numbers and strength, so to see that my cardio was less than stellar and closer to non-existent was not a surprise.

I recorded my results and look forward to the retest.

Day 1 Workout…

The first workout was a lot of crawling.  I did get a few scraped elbows but that was not bad.  It was also a good mix of taxing the shoulders and then asking you to work the legs a little.  I know that the legs feed the wolf, so I pushed through it.

It was a relatively short workout that reminded me that I need to breathe.

Overall Takeaways

If you have not read Spartan Up! then I recommend that you do that.  It is a great book on mindset and pushing through mental barriers.  Spartan Fit does a good job alluding to some of the basics in mindset and the first couple chapters were good at understanding how important the correct mindset is.

I always appreciate being reminded that getting to the finish line is not the hard part, getting to the starting line is.

I am curious to keep going through the book and completing the workouts.  It should be an interesting challenge.  It will be challenging in the tasks required as well as just being comfortable being outside of my comfort zone.  Performing a 25m army crawl through the park gets you some strange looks every now and then.

I will have a complete review of the book when I am done with the 30 days.

Stop Writing Letters to the Younger You

I am feeling a bit snarky today…so consider that your pre-warning…

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If you have ever been anywhere near a self-help book or had to do any exercise in learning about yourself, you have probably at least been asked to write a letter to your younger self.  What would you tell yourself?  What advice would you give?

Why write that letter at all?

It might be therapeutic in some sense.  I am not even going to say that I have not written one, but I sit here today asking why am I looking back and trying to deal with a ghost.

It doesn’t do anything to change who I am…in this moment.

I’m sending back lessons that I learned and mistakes I discovered in life.

But they made you who you are today.  They built you into the person that you are.  They made you stronger or maybe they crushed you.

About the only thing that letter to your younger you needs to say

“You will survive.”

That’s it.  If you want to change yourself, write a letter to the person you are becoming.  Write a letter to the person you want to be.

If you want to be a business owner, write a letter to the you that owns that business.  If you want to stop writing blogs and be an author, write to that person.

Write to the person that still has lessons to learn and goals to accomplish.  Write a letter that inspires you to take action on something…anything!

Stop wasting your time, telling your younger self about all the mistakes you made in life, take the time to write a letter to the person who has a ton of mistakes to make on their way to becoming a success.  Write a letter to the person that needs to kick an addiction, or take a leap of faith and try a new job.

Write a letter to the person that is not afraid of life anymore.

Write to yourself with passion.  Write to yourself as you see yourself as changing the world or being the world to just one person.

Take five or ten minutes, decide who you want to be and write to them…stop worrying about who you used to be…you are changing, growing, learning.  Write to the person you are becoming, not who you once were.

May the Fourth Be With You – Yoda and Becoming a Jedi

Yesterday I started a new training cycle.  I am going to be hitting some bodyweight basics over the next 8 weeks.  I will have a cycle built around getting better body control and better movement.  I need to move fluidly without load and start adding in some more speed work.

My squat cycle was a success.  I added 30 pounds to my 3 rep max and need to start taxing the CNS a little bit a focus on moving both well and fast.  I will be adopting a weekly schedule that looks something like the following:

  • Day 1: Bodyweight – Gymnastics
  • Day 2: Metcon – Kettlebell work, light barbell + Bodyweight
  • Day 3: Heavy Lift – Cannot abandon moving heavy things
  • Day 4: Rest and Recover
  • Day 5: Metcon – Kettlebell work, light barbell + Bodyweight
  • Day 6: Bodyweight – Gymnastics
  • Day 7: Rest

The other thing that I will do is listen to my body. So what does this have to do with Yoda?  I hear you…it is May Fourth and everyone wants some knowledge bombs.  So here we go:

We all know that Yoda has the famous line about trying.  There is no try.  That is true about our training and anything that we want to accomplish in life.  It is true about getting better.  There is no try.  We either do it or we don’t.

We either believe in our success or we don’t.  We either are going to work on our weaknesses or we are going to ignore them.  We are either going to be a quality, well-rounded, athlete or we are just going to do what we want to do.

We are going to receive coaching or we won’t.

But bigger than all of that is whether or not we are going to believe in what we are capable of.  When Yoda utters this line, Luke does not believe that he can accomplish something.  He does not believe that he has the tools, knowledge and capability to accomplish the task presented to him.  Stacking stones is one thing, but lifting his X-wing…that’s impossible.

One of the biggest diseases in the world today is that of self-doubt.  We stop ourselves because we are afraid of our own success.  As I have said before, it is not failure; we accept failure is a very real and viable option.  And it is the acceptance of failure that keeps us from seeing our potential for greatness.  We are not paralyzed by fear, but rather we don’t do because we are afraid of what success might look like.

Success is the unknown.  Success leads to more questions.  Failure leads to the same old thing we have always done.  Failure, in many respects, is safe.  Failure is moving stones with your mind, the same old party tricks.  Success is knowing that you can lift the X-wing and it is no different.  You must unlearn what you know and believe to be true.

Success for yourself in someone else’s business and success for yourself in your own business is as Yoda would say…no different…only different in your mind.

So what do you want to do or do not?


Finisher Walking Confidently


Once of the biggest challenges that I see people plagued with in any endeavour is a lack of confidence.

I can’t lift that

I will fail if I change jobs

My writing is not good enough

I have to be in shape before I do that

Anything you do that ends in the phrase…maybe next year or maybe in six months is just you failing to believe in yourself.

You don’t have to be in shape to start on that path.  You have to start working.  You have to get both feet into the gym and start.  That is it.  You do not have to be the best on day one.

You have to be a beginner, committed to learning, on day one.

Nothing more and nothing less.  Is it scary?  Yep!  Is it fun being the new person in the room or at the company?  Probably not.

Does it get easier?  Yes.  We grow and we become comfortable.  We get better at life, work and lifting.  We start to figure out what we love (barbells, burpees, kettlebells, sandbags…) and we learn what we dread (cardio…all the cardio).  But we do it anyway.

And our confidence grows.  We get stronger, we get better and we are less afraid of the new things that come at us in life.

We remember how we felt on day one, and how we now feel on day 1001.  We remember thinking, I am not prepared for this…but we survived.  We thrived and we are now ready for more and more new things.

We learn what we are capable of and it is usually more than we give ourselves credit for.  So take some leaps, get both feet in the door to the gym and start.  Find someone just as scared as you are and jump together.

It’s time!

Houston Spartan 2016 aka Mud Fest,Friends, and Fun

Hard to believe that this is the first post that I have made for the month of March.  The month is halfway over.  I apologize for having an off month.  Wish I could blame it on the weather or something, but I just have not put fingers to keys or pen to paper as much as I would have liked.  (Although, I did get a children’s book written and started work on a novel…)


This past weekend, my family and some friends loaded up and headed to Houston to tackle the Spartan Sprint, 2016 edition.  For me, this was my third Spartan race to take on.  It was the second Sprint that I have done and it was a unique experience for me.  The race was about an hour from my home, so we knew that the weather had already done it’s part to make sure this event was going to be special.  It had poured down rain during the week leading up to the event.

The night before we were set to run the email was received stating that parking was a “no-go” and we would all be bussed to the site of the race.  The inner sadist in me was actually excited about the challenges that were being presented.  The father in me was cursing about having to somehow maneuver a 2-year-old through what would be more than just a little bit of mud.  (Thank the Lord for amazing wives…desperate housewife she is NOT!).

We parked at the stadium, loaded the bus, stroller and all and were headed to the venue.  We were ready to rock and roll.  My friend and I would be tackling the Sprint (he was probably better prepared for it than I was, but I did make him run a couple times).  My daughter, 6, was going to take on the Spartan Kids race…she snuck in and took on the full mile (proud daddy moment)!


The race itself was full of 24 obstacles (25 if you count the mud itself), but it was a lot of fun.  It had all the old favorites there – bucket brigade (only you couldn’t put the bucket down many places or it would sink), over-under-thru, walls and pyramids a plenty, cargo net, atlas stone carry and the like.  Some of the obstacles had a new twist to them.  The sandbell carry with the crawl station was new to me.  I liked it, even if my wrists did not like me burying them in the crawl.

It was my understanding that they did have to take down the barbed wire crawl, but I am not going to complain about that.  I believe that was the only modification that was made.  We finished the race right at the 2-hour mark.  It was a little slower than I had hoped for, but I was content after seeing the course conditions.

With the conditions of the course and everything else, this course was an upper body thrashing.  This is true of most of them, though.  I am a fan of Spartan and have read and enjoyed Spartan Up.  This course lived up to the goals that Joe De Sena sets out and that was to still find a way to test you physically and mentally.  This course did that.  The biggest challenge for me came right at the end.  The back-to-back challenge of the rope climb and then the odd object monkey bars proved to be too much on the forearms and I did a set of 30 burpees.  I have now decided to create the baseball/ softball pullup implements so that this obstacle will not stop me again.

Overall, I thought that this was a well laid out course.  It was not one that took you so far away from Spartan Village that you felt all alone on the course.  With it weaving back and forth, you would be reminded that there is, in fact, a finish line and you just had to keep going.  I am looking forward to tackling the Spartan Super in April in Austin.  This year, I will complete the trifecta.