The Growing Trend – As We Age

Finisher Walking Confidently

We all get older.  We all have to come face to face with the reality of aging.  My wife recently was blessed with being firmly planted into her 30’s, and I am rapidly approaching 40.  Our health must remain a priority as we age.

There is a trend among those that I follow for inspiration…they are getting older too.  Every day, I still receive their emails newsletters talking about training like a savage or training like a Spartan.  BUT there usually is a little more that is revealed in the text of their message.  For most of them, and as I continue to learn, the definition of what it means to train like a savage has changed.

As we age, we learn that there are two keys to training successfully –

  1. A Strong Mental Game
  2. Smarter Programming
    1. Training for a Goal

And that is the reality that we deal with.  As we age, it is our mental strength that is more important than ever.  We have kids, real jobs with real demands and any number of other things that will push us away from training.  It will push us towards complacency.  We have a culture that rewards and celebrates ease.  Jobs keep us indoors more and more often.

It is easy to stop challenging activities and harder and harder to start them.  We only see the mountain and believe the little voice that says…you don’t even know where to start when it comes to climbing.  So we stop or don’t even start.

We accept the lie that is our own inadequacy.

The little voice wins!

And so I challenge you to silence the little voice.  Just start and commit to starting every day.  Commit to pushing through the mental challenge that says it is easier to stay the same than it is to change. Commit daily and just commit for that one day.  Don’t promise to give up sugar for a month when one day is a big enough challenge.  Give it up – one day at a time.

You build muscle one rep at a time and will power one decision at a time.

And that points to the second challenge of getting older.  We cannot train like we used to.  We used to see something and say…that looks fun…let’s destroy ourselves.  300 burpees for time, followed by 20 rep max back squat – Let’s go.

And now we look at that and realize, there is no logic to that.  There is no benefit to our health and growth.  We accept and know that we must train smart so that we can continue to function for those that need us.  We have to train smarter and understand what the goals of our programming are.

It is why the role of your coach is critical.  They are not there to destroy you, they are there to build you into what you want to be.  Coaches are not demolition crews, we are construction workers and project managers.  We have to understand what our client’s goals and desires are and then, starting with the foundation, build it.

If we fail to do this, we can and will destroy all that they are doing to be mentally tough.  It is on both of us to create and build success.  I am willing to do my part, are you?

Mastering the Basics

All I Ready Needed to Know…

I am sure that more than a few of us remember the poem, All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  That was it.  These were the foundational lessons for being a decent human being.  There was nothing in there about being able to rattle off Pi to 100 places or using proper grammar.  All we need to know did not mean the intricacies of a 500-pound deadlift or a bodyweight snatch.

As I have stated numerous times in this little blog space of mine, life and lifting, lifting and life.  It is about the basics.  But the basics are boring.  The basics are taken for granted.

We outgrow the basics…

…but we should not.  We need to rest in the basics of life and lifting.  Move well, then move heavy.  Treat people well, then work on the heavy issues surrounding the world.  Treat yourself like you matter, then treat others like you treat yourself.  It is part of the growth process and when we get off track, overwhelmed, beaten up…return to all we really need to know.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

I have two amazing daughters and at some point every day, I have to re-explain one of these basics of life.

Why do I have to take a nap?
Why do I have to hold your hand to cross the street?
I don’t want to say I’m sorry…

The list could go on and on.

And then you enter the gym and the basics draw the moans and groans.  Why are you breaking down the squat again

Why are you breaking down the squat again?
I know where my elbows go for a press.
Can’t I go heavier?
Run…speak English

And yet our growth only comes through mastery of the basics.  We only get better performing the “pretty” lifts when our basics are solid.

Life always returns us to the basics…because life is not meant to be hard.  It is not meant to be something we are constantly fighting against, but something we should all be able to embrace as individuals and as a society.  Let’s all hold hands crossing the street today.  Let’s take a nap…let’s open our eyes and see the simple things that aren’t sexy but are beautiful.

Play, look around, be amazed…squat perfect, move perfect…breathe…exhale…basics!

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.

Finisher Walking Confidently

I Choose

I choose the load…

 

…on the bar

My coach suggests, but I choose.  I decide what is heavy today and what is fast.  I choose what my 100% effort looks like and I give it, accepting or rejecting the challenge of the bar today.  It might be the challenge of the pull-up bar and lifting myself up.

It might be the struggle of the barbell and choosing to lift my challenges and carry them.   The bar might be loaded heavier than I have ever lifted before and it might not budge against my best efforts, but I still get to choose to try.

And I might have to take some weight off because I know if I am going to succeed today, I’m not lifting as much as I can on my best day.

I choose what I can give, and I choose what I can take.

direction-you-choose

…on my shoulders

I am surrounded by noise.  Some of the noise is good, strong, and powerful.  Some of the noise is loud, obnoxious, and debilitating.  I read the stories about people doing amazing things, legends passing away and people proving hate is alive and well.

I read the stories about people getting stronger, kicking life and mediocrity in the face.  And I read about those that accept their fate as victims.

Their stories remind me I am the author of my own story.  I choose strength or I choose weakness.  I choose guarded and reserved or I choose to let people in.  If you do not like my story…I have the right to tell it just the same.

And so I choose how much of life is going to weigh me down.  My reactions, I choose those too.  It is my load and I get to decide if I am going to add to it or drop some of it for a little bit.

I make the decision to wallow in the hatred of another, get caught up in the hurting, or make a difference.  I choose when I am in a position to accept defeat or if nothing is going to beat me today.

It might be possible for me to carry some of your burden, your pain, your struggle, and I might not.  But I choose the weight that goes on my shoulders because I am strong enough to know when I can take on more and wise enough to know when I cannot.

Life and lifting, lifting and life…I choose the load…

The Struggle Is Real…And I Own It!

Getting out of bed.

Going to the gym.

Lifting heavier.

Moving Faster.

Running.

Parenting.

Being a good spouse.

Being a good person.

The Struggle is Real…

It is hard to be the person that we want to be day-in and day-out.  It is hard to get better and want to help impact change happen in the world.  The struggle is real to both change ourselves and act as an agent of change.  It is easier to remain the same, stagnant.  It is easier to sit on the couch, quarterbacking the actions of everyone else around us and believe that we are better.

It is easier to make excuses about why our reasons for remaining the same are valid and other’s reasons are not.

But the struggle is real and the struggle is constant.

If we want to be healthier, we have to make those tough choices and eat the green vegetables.  If we want to get stronger we have to pick up the heavier barbell and push what our mind and body tells us we can do.  And if we want to be better people, we have to go against the current of talking about what needs to change, and get out there and set the example.

Einstein

…And I Own It!

That’s the hard part.  I own my struggle.  It is not easy, or fun.  It is not easy to admit that I am struggling daily to be a better husband or father.  I get upset with my kids when they push my buttons.  I own that struggle to correct and teach them in a beneficial manner, not just as a dictator or rules and regulations.  I have the hard conversations.

I struggle to be a supportive, loving husband every day.  I fail.  I shut myself down and off.  I own that.  I embrace the struggle to be open, honest, and I accept that I might not always like what I have to do in order to be better.

I struggle to train my weaknesses.  I struggle to make training a priority daily or do what has to be done so that I can train as often as I want and need to.  I own that the thought of running any farther than the end of my driveway to get the mail…terrifies me.  Give me a barbell and some heavy deads any day.  But man cannot live on deadlifts alone.

I own that in my job, I have the ability to impact how others see the world and how others are treated.  I own that.  I own that life is easier when you surround yourself with people who think, feel, and behave the same what you do.  And I know that you find better solutions when you are willing to engage with those that do not think, feel, and behave like you do.  So I own that struggle to embrace the hard conversations and throw my voice into the discussions.

But I want better for myself, my family, and our future.  The status quo is easy because it is what has already been done.  It requires nothing to remain the same, just doing the same things we have always done.  But that is not good enough.

So I learn and I share.  I volunteer.  I acknowledge my faults, fears, and shortcomings and work to change them.  Then slowly change happens.  I move heavier barbells, run farther distances and see more smiles of understanding on the faces of those around me.

The struggle is real…And I own it!

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.

Two Rules…In The Gym…In Life

Seems like it has been a while since I have shared anything with you, wonderful people.  It seems like the world keeps on spinning and spinning into more and more fights.  We go from one crisis to another.  One shouting match to another, and if we are lucky we find ourselves throwing some weight around just to escape the madness.

We squat, deadlift, burpee…well maybe we just squat and deadlift.  We push some sleds and we find our time in solitude.  The times to just be.  It is just you and the task at hand.  You have a challenge in front of you and you can conquer it.  It does not matter what you think about the election this year or all the other tragedies that seem to be playing out around us.  It’s you and a challenge.

But the gym is life and life is the gym…

A couple years ago, I attended a certification class and on day one the instructor stood at the front of the class and told us he only has two rules:

  1. Don’t be an A-hole
  2. Mind Your Surroundings

Somewhere in there was a secret third unspoken rule about giving 100%.  But for the most part, it was those two rules.  We would get ready to push a sled…he would give us a warning about where the ground might be slippery and if we fell…we were reminded of rule number 2.

If we got out of control and disrespected someone or got in someone’s space…we were reminded of rule number 1.

We trained hard, we asked the questions that needed to be asked, and we grew as people and coaches.  It was two basic rules and having a big heart.  That was what training was about for those couple of days.  Sure we talked about programming, warm-ups and mobility.  But most of the time was spent dealing with those two simple rules.  When someone was struggling, we paid attention (rule #2) and we helped them out as best as we could (rule #1).

And after I finished the class, the rules came with me.  The rules leave the gym and help me in my daily life.  Before I open my mouth, engage in a discussion or react to a situation, I think about the rules. In my office when it comes to dealing with people and challenges, I am reminded of the rules.

And they really are simple rules.  Look around you, mind your surroundings.  Be aware!  And then quite simply…don’t be an a-hole.  It’s really not hard.

And yet…here we are today and our leaders and the people that we are supposed to look up to the most cannot play by these simple rules.  We wonder why things appear to be getting worse.  We wonder why it seems that generations are lost and confused.

It appears that we cannot follow a simple set of two rules.  We don’t care about our surroundings and believe that we have a right to be an ass.  We start to think that the other person doesn’t matter because they are different or think differently than we do.  So instead of having a civil conversation where learning and growth can take place…we yell and scream and call on our “followers” to join in on our charge.

It’s time we return to the gym and do the hard work.  It’s time that we stop being lazy and try our best to follow some simple rules on how to treat people.  It’s time.

Be The One

Lately, a lot of my posts have taken a little bit of a turn away from the training floor.  I hope you don’t mind, but in this very season of life, training is of secondary importance.  While I still lift heavy things, sprint, carry, perform bodyweight movement frequently, I have spent the better part of the last two weeks soaking in some changes that must be there to be mentally strong – an example – the one.

With those thoughts in mind, I encourage you to be the one…

Be the one who chooses not to stand on the sidelines

Be the one who chooses not to let others negativity affect you

Be the one who chooses that right is right

Be the one who chooses to take action instead of believing someone else will

Be the one willing to ask “Are you ok?”

Be the one willing to answer that question honestly.

Be the one who will stand up for anyone who needs help.

Be the one who is proactive, not reactive.

Be the one who believes in change…and works towards it.

Be the one willing to stand alone, with everyone watching.

Be the one willing to be wrong in the name of making the world a better, safer place.

Be the one willing to look past the things you disagree with, to stand for what is right.

Be the one willing to love

Be the one willing to carry a heavy burden for someone else

Be the one willing to walk alongside someone struggling

Be the one that cares enough to know actions speak louder than words

Be the one willing to let your life speak for itself

Be the one willing to ask for help

Be the one that starts real change

Be the one who is working while everyone else is complaining and pointing fingers

Be the one!

Green Dots, Orlando, and Stanford

A little disclosure before I get too far:

  • I am a husband
  • I am a father
  • I believe something has to change
  • This post has nothing to do with barbells or training but is more important than anything else I have written to date

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