Just Hold On – Gaining Strength When It Hurts

I love to work with kettlebells.  I love the simplicity of the swing and how this simple tool can break you down when you press them overhead.  They show you weakness at times, others they exploit that weakness. At times, the biggest challenge is just to hold on.

You swing, and your arms are not dead, your hips are not sore, your legs can still drive, but your grip begs for you to stop.  You pick them up for a farmer’s carry and your shoulders start to talk to you, but your fingers demand release.

You shout internally to yourself, just a few more steps…just a few more swings.  And so you hold on.

You hold on, and you get stronger.  You hold on and you realize that the pain subsides, and you can pick it up again.  You swing again, you walk again, you hurt again.

Your grow.  You learn.

You let go when you have to.

In everything we do and face, there are moments where we have to choose to hold on just a little bit longer…or let go.

That one-star review or critical response helps you know who your target audience really is.  You hold on to the dream of creating something new for the world.  Keep writing, keep developing, keep building your gym or your business. (Hat tip to Seth Godin for this method of thinking.)

The judge who says the words no-rep when you think you are going to cross the finish line is helping you see that standards matter more than being first.  Hold on, redo the rep and keep your head held high.

That job offer that was too low and you turned down helps you see your true value and worth.  Hold on just a little longer, the right offer will come and you are worth it.

Every failed adventure and dark place that you have had to shine a light in makes you stronger; makes you unstoppable.

Every time you let someone else get in your head and try to convince you to let go; says more about them than you.  Don’t carry their baggage, their failure or their burdens.

When you feel yourself doing that…that is the time to put the weight down.  Stop swinging, stop carrying the things that were never meant for you.

Hold on to you…let go of anything that isn’t.

 


This one is for me and anyone else that lets others get in their head and shake them.  I have lived a lot of my life trying to please others and be what others wanted me to be.  And at what expense?  I let go and put down the weight that I needed to be carrying and swinging and picked up theirs.  I did it backward.  I stopped writing when I loved it.  I quit caring because I cared about the wrong people.  Don’t make those mistakes.

You might have to walk away from something you love, but you make that choice.  Don’t stop swinging because of someone else.  Hold on…until you need the rest.

When You Have Nothing Left…

I committed to writing something every day until the end of the month.

But I have nothing…

I have no great wisdom or no great story to share.  But I love writing and the feel of pen on paper.  I love the sound of the keys as emotion and life, leaves the head and heart and hits the page.

So tonight, I am simply going to say the things that I needed to hear when no one else knew what to say:

  • Don’t stop, you are better than you think!
  • I believe in you!
  • Get up, you still have work to accomplish!
  • Pick up the bar!
  • Put down the bar!
  • Get up on that bar!
  • Breathe!
  • Rest!
  • You have no idea the impact of the ripples you send out!
  • F them!
  • You’re being an idiot!  Stop feeling sorry for yourself!
  • I’m sorry.
  • I’ll see you tomorrow.

That’s it.  That’s a lot of exclamation mark.

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?

 

Body, Mind and Soul

How’s your training going this week?  How is your effort going?  Are you still able to give 100% each and every workout, or is it faltering?

Did you take a rest day to truly recover?  Did you do anything out of the ordinary for a fun recovery day?  I went longboarding with my wife on a date night…yes, she’s a keeper!

I hope you are taking your recovery seriously and taking your work seriously.

My week has not played out how I dreamed it would, so I was forced to adapt.  I still put in the work, though.  I still am putting in the work.  I am taking what the world gives me, listening to my body and adapting.  I can only hope you are doing the same.

I have tried to take care of all areas in my training this week:

  1. Body
  2. Mind
  3. Soul

For the body this week, my training looked like the following:

Monday – Anything Goes Workout.  Spent a lot of time with the kettlebells (thrusters, KB Cleans, KB Press Complex) and some sprints.  Then hit some gymnastics skill work.

Tuesday – Upper Body Press Day.  More odd object work (Sandbags are fun!).  Lots of single-arm focus (Alternating Arm Bench Press).  Jump Rope Skill Work and Carries).  Finding weak spots.

Wednesday – Rough day at the office, so it turned into a rest/ recovery day.

Thursday – Deadlift centric day.  Will hit the deads and then probably be on a nice slow cardio session to balance out the sprints earlier in the week.

Friday – Heavy Squat Centric Day.

 

Since I am training for my next Spartan Race, I am working a lot towards work capacity and gymnastic skills.

 

In order to better the mind, I just turned off the radio and turned on the podcasts.  Spent the week listening to two people I respect in the area of training, Travis Mash and Zach Even-Esh.  But that is not all.  I also have been listening to the book Originals by Adam Grant to keep creativity high.  And finally, every day my brother in law sends out a text message to encourage me.  So I read that and pray on it.

But that only touches the surface of taking care of my heart and soul.  I try my best to take 10 minutes of my lunch break and just sit and let the thoughts come and go.  I sometimes do a writing dump to clear out the garbage.  I pray often and I got back into writing the faith workout.  I let that stuff simmer in my heart for a while and then send it out.

So I ask you, what are you doing to take care of your body, mind and soul?

Finisher Walking Confidently

Confidence

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!

Train Like (or For) A Spartan…Mix it Up!

One of the things that I deal with from time to time and the debate between whether or not I should train on any given day.  I do not train myself for competitions, so the pressure to stick to a highly regimented program is not there.  I train to push my personal limits and grow my abilities.  I take this approach with many of the people that train with me in the garage.

One of the things that I do train for are the Spartan Races that I do.  I train for them because they push me mentally and physically.  But this post is not about the races, it is about how some days, you have to mix up the script and throw away the barbell for a little while and train differently.

In any given week, I will follow a training that allows for the following types of workouts:

General Warm-up:  This is generally some time on the bike or rower.  Then some dynamic stretching and dynamic drills to get the blood flowing.  Once those are done, I will do some workout specific mobility and body priming movements.  This can include any warm-up weights and reps that are needed before moving heavier objects begin.

The Workout Types

Specialized Emphasis Training – This is generally a program that is designed to get stronger in any of the various lifts or movements.  Currently, I am following a program to help with my squat and press numbers.  For the most part, this is what I am building my workout around.  This is the central part that I have to get done in the day…anything else that I do is icing on the cake.  On a 7 day calendar, I will make sure that I work through some specialized lifting at least 4 days.

Cardiovascular Training –  This is exactly what it sounds like.  This can be a straight up endurance session on the bike, rower, a nice long run, or sprints.  Other times, it is a longer workout performed with bodyweight movements.  The challenge here is to just keep moving.  Just keep going and focus on doing this correctly.  I try to have these sessions on at least 3 of the 7 days I might train.  They can overlap and be done before or after my strength work.  And yes, I do mix them up.

Odd Object Work – Now we are getting into the fun stuff. This is what I consider play when it comes to my garage gym time.  During this time, I will take advantage of my sandbags, kettlebells, atlas stones, sleds, paralletes, rings…rocks, logs, and ropes.  Some days I will use these instruments instead of my barbell just to shock the system so to speak.  They help with recruiting and engaging different muscles, making the whole system stronger and taxing the Central Nervous System.  I attempt to make sure that I have at least 1 day of this in my cycle.  But I also will utilize the odd objects more in de-load sessions or days when the mind just needs to be re-ignited to the joy that training can be.

The Anything Goes/ This Just Sucks/ I Welcome Death Workout – These do not come up all that often.  Once or twice a month I will do this.  These are the workouts that have no real solid purpose except to test your willpower to finish them.  These are the mental workouts that just flat out suck.  They are the workouts that take everything above and twist them into an hour or more and wondering why you are doing this to yourself.  That have very little benefit in the scheme of your physical abilities, but they pay huge dividends when it comes to your mental strength and toughness (something that is disappearing rapidly in today’s western culture).  For me, these are the workouts that prepare me for the test that is a multi-mile obstacle course race.  This is a workout that is there to make sure that I am not going to quit when things get difficult.  These are the tests of my previous training.  I take them on when I just need to be reminded that I am stronger than my mind says I am.

Rest Days – These are as important as your training days.  If you want to get stronger and better, you have to give our body the time to repair and recover.  In any given week, I try to have two days where rest is my emphasis.  I might focus on stretching and mobility or work on some gymnastic-centric skills.  I might do absolutely nothing except chase my wife and kids around the yard or house.  Rest and nutrition are the two “others” in achieving successful results.

And this is how I train myself and my clients.  When they come in, I get a feel for how they are feeling and what they are needing that day.  I look at what is a part of their program and we go.  We get the work done and we get the results that we need.

How do you train!  Let me know on my Facebook Page!

 

 

 

I’m Not the Expert…I Just Care! Keys to Success

One of the things that you see all over the place as you explore how to be a success in any field is the idea that you have to insert yourself as being the expert in the field.  I work with IT for a large university, mentor small businesses, and in the fitness field as a personal trainer.  I am constantly growing and learning in all areas of relevance so that I can be the best that I can be.

If you are looking to grow your name at a break-neck pace, then inserting yourself as “the expert” might be the way to go.  But you might also be proven to be just another person claiming to know more than they actually do.

One of the things that I emphasize is to provide the most value and knowledge to the people that trust you.  I encourage people to approach their business how they would want to be treated by the companies they choose to work for.  Don’t be like the cable companies and telephone companies setting up deals to get people to switch to you.  Take care of the people that have been with you and reward longevity.

The same holds true with being an expert.  Focus on becoming an expert in your one-on-one relationships.  Focus on providing the value to the people who already have chosen you.  Constantly grow in the areas that they need to develop.  Most of the people that you work with are going to have very specific needs to reach their goals.  Increase your value to them, by focusing your talents and efforts on making sure they know that their areas of concern are the very issues that you are devoting yourself to growing.

Let them know that your goal is to stay on top of the latest trends that will help them with their specific needs.  For example, if someone is looking for a coach or trainer.  I like to sit down with them and ask about what their goals are.  From there, I will talk to them about setting up a basic program for their general health and well-being.  From there, I take pre-existing knowledge and incorporate it into their training to meet their specific goals and explain exactly why I am introducing and training them the way that I do.  The next step is to grow my knowledge base in the areas of helping them and sharing that knowledge with them.

I am not the expert in my space, but I am the expert of my people.  If you want to be successful, you have to give people a reason to stay with you.  That generally comes not from how much you know, but in how you develop your knowledge and make it personal to them.

I see too many people that want to be the expert and expect to have huge client basis just because they have inserted themselves as an expert.  For me, that is not the best path.  If you only have one client, be an expert on their business and their needs.  Give them a reason to talk about you and refer you to others.  Your business will grow if you devote your time to the needs of your clients first and foremost.  They are telling you what is and is not important to know about.  Focus on them, they are the one’s that need your services…and they need it now!

 

What’s Next with Spartan Races?

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SpartanFit Banner

If you have followed me you know that the majority of my training centers around getting ready for Spartan races.  In addition to wanting to live a healthy lifestyle and set an example for my wife and daughters, after reading Spartan Up!, I appreciated Joe De Sena’s approach to mental toughness.

I have given out copies of Spartan Up! to many people who train with me in order to help them get their mind right.  If you are not training with me or with a coach, then you might be interested in the next book coming out from Joe and his team.  SpartanFit! will be hitting stores and online retailers this summer.

For more information on Spartan Fit! Click here! 

Based on Joe De Sena’s first book, I primarily run Spartan Races over any other obstacle course race.  It is a blessing to live in Texas, as there are several OC Races within a three-hour drive of my home and garage gym.  This year, I completed the Sprint earlier and am currently in training for the Austin Super and will conquer the Dallas Beast for my trifecta this year.  This is the traditional Trifecta, all three race distances in one calendar year.

That was goal number 1 for me and my adventures with Spartan.  So what is next?  What is on the horizon for Spartan Races and what new challenges will I be trying to tackle.  I am actually looking seriously at the Summer Spartan Agoge.  I think I can handle heat a little bit better than cold, so watching the promo below for the winter Agoge, definitely made me look forward to the summer challenges.

To learn more about the Agoge, click here!

If I complete the Agoge this year, or next, it will be the ultimate accomplishment.  It will be a great achievement that will only be behind, completing my first Beast with my wife and knowing that one daughter completed her first race this year and the other one wants to compete and the only thing holding her back is her age…not her heart.

 

 

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…)


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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)!

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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.

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