I just watched the new Training For Warriors video for probably the 20th time. I get filled with the same inspiration that I felt when I first met Martin Rooney 3 years ago. I wanted to extend a personal commentary about the TFW lifestyle to you so you can see it through my eyes. Martin asked me 3 years ago what I wanted. Simple… you’d think! I spent the next year figuring out what I wanted. It took me at least that long to figure out my core values (which I am now in the process of evolving). Although I am still evolving as a coach (and I always will be), and a mentor; it wasn’t until recently that I figured it out completely: I WANT TO INSPIRE PEOPLE. That is my mountain. You have all heard me say: ” climb the mountain” when you are pushing the sled or driving your knees up during a hurricane and you all have filled out a goals sheet entitled “Your Mountain.” I like to use this mantra because I believe that climbing a mountain is one of the purest and challenging things you can do. It is also one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do.
Too often we get caught in a rut. Too often we let our minds meander the path of the uninspired. When I travel to the Adirondacks to go for a hike it takes hours. My legs and low back cramp in the car, I almost fall asleep on the highway. It is a miserable trip mainly because I hate the car. BUT, in the wake of all that grind and misery of the car ride there is a silver lining: the moment I reach the base… The roads narrow, the trees turn to pine, and the forest gets thick. The land is tattooed with lakes and rivers and giant rock faces. When I see that, I am rejuvenated. The day’s mission is crystalized, the goal hits me like a wave of inspiration. Climb the mountain! The funny thing is, it isn’t just a climb. After each trip I leave with a sense of clarity and vitality.
I know that some of you don’t want to workout every day, hell; I don’t either. Some days we are tired. I know that when you are pushing a heavy sled or sprinting in the 8th round of a tough hurricane you want to quit sometimes, just like halfway to the mountains I want to turn back but if I did I wouldn’t see the majestic change from highway to paradise. I would miss the esoteric serenity of the peak, I would miss the rewarding work I put in to get to the top! Pushing ourselves in our workouts is the same principle. That is why I always say: “CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN.” These workouts also have a silver lining. It is something different for all of you. It may be fat loss, improved energy levels, or improved sports performance. Whatever you are seeking, the only way to get there is to become more.
Training for Warriors is more than just a workout, it is about evolving your mind. Transcend the masses and find tranquility in our everyday lives by aspiring to be better. Strive to inspire others. One of the members told me today that she is getting her co-workers to eat better. That is AWESOME! If we all inspire the people around us then we can turn the tides and win the war! Don’t just join the resistance… SPREAD IT. Henry David Thoreau said : “If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than myself.” Can we all say the same? I know I can for my students and the TFW network. We all love sports and part of the reason is because there is a camaraderie. Team work is how you win a championship. Fighters always thank their team after a big fight. I believe that life is no different. We are a team. That is the beauty of Facebook, it gives us a quick outlet to share things with our team. I hope this is a reminder to evaluate your “WHY.” Why do you do what you do? What is your path?
Go back and reevaluate your core values. My challenge to you is to inspire someone in your life who needs it.
Laurel has mastered one of the essential training principles; continuity. We often have to cut her back from doing two-a-days! She won this months shout out not only because of her discipline but also because of her sense of community and family atmosphere that we set here. This picture is a testament to her diligence because it took us a little while to learn the hinge that allows us to deadlift so watch out!!! Here we come…Make sure you give Laurel a high five, it has become tradition! Don’t forget to check out the quote she picked for this month. It’s on the board.
If I were to tell you to close your eyes and clear your thoughts, most of you would have e a difficult time doing so. Our heads are constantly filled with mostly jargon, but also other daily “worries.” Whether it’s taking the kids to school, laundry, work projects, marriage issues, appointments, the list is ENDLESS. I want you to re-evaluate what you worry about. For example, I have an acquaintance who is always flying around with all these “important” appointments. The funny thing is, when you ask her what she has going on she gets all huffy and states that she has to take her dog to the groomer, then go and see her EX boyfriends mother, then she has to go to the store, then go see her cousins friends….ETC!!!!! Can you see my point here? Nothing on that list makes her better and NOTHING on that list is anything to get riled up about. In fact, most of them are ridiculous. She is an extreme example but I also tested this theory on others and got the same results. We are spending way too much time worrying about things that don’t matter.
So lets get back to clearing our heads. Clearing your thoughts is more about changing what you value than just sitting there and trying to forget. Going to the spa for a day and forgetting for a few hours isn’t changing anything, it is just a distraction. Reducing stress permanently requires a change in lifestyle. The good news is, most of the “important” things you worry about aren’t important. I know some of you just got offended. I’m sorry, but seriously… Sit down and pick one of the chores you had lined up for today and think about if it doesn’t get done. What happens? What are the consequences? If you evaluate the real important things in your life like your family’s mental and physical well being, your finances, and your happiness, do those chores really help you improve those?
Now think about the things you aren’t worrying about and that you aren’t doing: reading everyday to improve yourself, taking care of your body everyday for great health and longevity, spending time with your family and being in the moment (not worrying about dishes, what your friend said to you, etc.). What are the consequences if these things don’t get done??? Pretty severe, if you ask me.
So why do most of the people worry about the former instead of the latter? Why are our heads filled with jargon? Could be a number of things but mostly because this is what we have been conditioned to worry about. Think about TV, how many commercials are about laundry soap or furniture? If you see something enough times it starts to become imbedded into your culture. We worry about if our couch is in the right place, instead of making sure our health is in order. Most people watch reality TV instead of actually going and LIVING a life other people want to watch. It’s there for the taking, all you have to do is reach for it. It starts with clearing your thoughts. Start with an empty cup, get rid of preconceived notions, and bad habits. Fill your cup up with knowledge, take that knowledge and use it to build new habits that will actually move you towards your goals. We only live once, you can spend it trying to live vicariously through TV stars, or you can take steps towards building your own adventurous life.
Aaron “the Fit Barber” LassiterAaron Lassister is this months winner of the member’s award. After a successful 8 week transformation, he now has his sights set on larger goals. Aaron is willing to challenge himself to consistently get better, even if he has to inch his way there! It is never easy to evaluate yourself, especially if you have a background in fitness already. Aaron is a boxing coach and is going to school online and nights to learn about health and fitness. He ALWAYS takes time after his workouts to ask questions to see what he can do to get better.
Aaron also is a great motivator and goes out of his way to inspire those around him. This is a trait that cannot be understated, nor under appreciated. It is an achievement to be able to understand yourself enough to get better every day but it is a great thing to be able to impart that to others.
If you get a chance head over to A&T Barber Shop to give Aaron a high five!
Stand for something or fall for anything” is a lesson all TFW familia becomes accustomed with. When you become a student of the TFW system you learn that fitness isn’t just about beating you up in the gym. Anyone can do that. A warrior is defined as anyone that is prepared to work hard and develop oneself in an effort to battle against his/her particular challenges in life. The TFW system was designed to develop the muscular strength and mental fortitude to take on those challenges.
Martin reached out to the TFW familia and through his travels has developed a code that we all live by. I wanted to share it with you so you know just what it is we stand for.
1. Gameness. This is when you decide to be ordinary vs extraordinary. There isn’t much that separates those two words except the word: “extra.” refusing to let fatigue or pain (emotional or physical) cause you to lose focus towards your goals. Gameness is when everyone you know is trying to feed you cookies and brownies and trying to get you to skip your workout and go out and party but you refuse and stick to your goals. Gameness is when you are tired and wanting to quit but you find a way to give a little EXTRA.
2. Rei. This is about respect and integrity. There is no need to taunt or embarrass people. There is no need to be dishonest because the people in this world we are in competition with is ourselves. In a world where so much is misguided and lost; we want our compass to always point north to integrity and respect.
3. Enthusiasm. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”-Emerson. If you believe in something and are apart of it then be fired up about it! Why do I make you earn your TFW band? Because you have to work hard but you also have to be engaged. Have fun, be apart of the resistance.
4. Familia. TFW is a family. You don’t just come here to workout and then go home. That’s what Gold’s gym is for or Planet Fitness. I want to know what is going on in your life. How can we challenge each other without being a family? You wouldn’t go up to a stranger and say “hey! stop eating that. You aren’t living up to the code!” You better be certain that that is what I want you to do to our family though.
5. Verdade or “the truth.” This encompasses not only our training principles that we coach with and the 20 years of development of the TFW system by Martin but also the way we deliver it. TFW isn’t some make believe system founded in the back yard. Martin and all the other TFW practitioners since have gone through all the mistakes, worked out the kinks, and now deliver to you the truest and most organic form of coaching out there and when you see it first hand, verdade is what comes to mind.
6. Kaizen. This is one of the aspects to TFW that really resonates with me the most. It means continuous improvement. We are in competition with ourselves. Don’t worry about what the next person is doing, just do better than what you did last time.
This is our way of life. As Martin Rooney says: “every time there is a breakdown, it is an opportunity for a breakthrough.”
How many times have we heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” yet lots of us still eat poorly. How many times have you done something stupid and know it was stupid while you were doing it? The fact is; we all need to be honest with ourselves. I don’t remember the exact day but I absolutely remember the time period when I became aware of my choices and started to be honest with myself. I can tell you that my life became more enriching and I was able to enrich the lives of those around me. I believe that if we are all honest with ourselves then we will accomplish so much. Dreams will cease to be distant musings; they will become attainable goals.
I have long been amazed at how we have become blind to our basest needs. Heck, it dates back into antiquity. Somewhere along the way the good of the nation became more important than your own health. The Romans invented plumbing to stop the spread of disease but they stuffed their belly with wine, and consistently displayed less than chivalrous and promiscuous behavior. We have hand sanitizer in every bathroom to stop the spread of germs and public smoking laws to better the health of the nation, but there is a fast food “restaurant” on EVERY street and obesity rates are cataclysmic . Why? Because they make money. Why? Because people aren’t honest with themselves.
Let me break it down this way. We have jobs because the reality of the world is; we need money. So a truth was born: we HAVE to choose a profession and perform well in that chosen profession in order to earn a place in this world. We internalize that truth and therefore have to be honest with ourselves about what we have to do. Fast food and TV have created a loophole for us to dishonest about our health. In Paleolithic and Neolithic times, being healthy was the innate truth. They had to hunt, gather, move, defend, and etc. If Paleolithic or Neolithic man were sedentary then we may not be here today. Be that as it may, in our culture, technology has advanced past the point where we need to worry about survival and thus, our sense of health has been almost eradicated. If we were to sit down and write down our interests, hobbies, and what is important to us; I am willing to guarantee that almost everyone will list some sort of sport and some version of family time and longevity Therein lies the unspoken lie; YOU NEED GOOD HEALTH TO MAINTAIN THOSE VALUES. Can we survive on fast food? Absolutely. Can we survive without exercise, of course. Can we achieve true happiness with a steady diet of McDonalds and Family Guy? NO!
Here comes the honesty part. When are you happiest: after you get done watching a movie, or after you get done playing an activity you enjoy like basketball, hiking, etc.? What are your best family memories: TV time or vacation on the beach or camping? Do you feel better the next day or even the next hour after eating a spinach salad with grilled chicken and strawberries, or after a Whopper with cheese and fries? Having tasted a whopper and fries and having watched movies before, I can answer those questions. Being active and eating clean leaves me feeling awesome! There isn’t a comparison.”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” (Einstein). Don’t be flabbergasted that you are gaining so much fat when you eat pastas and chips, cookies. Don’t be shocked that you have joint issues, and back pain when you spend all of your time on the couch. I can’t guarantee much in life, but I can tell you that you won’t get in shape and feel great by eating poorly and being sedentary.
Now for the challenge part. I want you all to go one week without eating junk food and do one outside activity per day during that week for at least an hour. After the week is up, go back and answer my questions I asked earlier. If you are honest with yourself then I would be surprised to hear any other answers than my own. I say it over and over because it never ceases to get me fired up: WE ONLY LIVE ONCE! We are here, we are doing it, lets do it AWESOME.
So that just leaves me with one question… if eating clean and being active feel so good; how are video games and fast food joints kicking our asses??? My one week challenge is your opportunity to be honest with yourself and join the TFW resistance. Help us change the world.
Mitch won this month’s award because he is relentless in his quest to become injury free and attain longevity as an athlete. His commitment is shown through his attendance record which is at least 2 times per week but often more and also his ability to absorb our teachings and continue them at home. I look forward to this up coming baseball season where Mitch is going to bring the heat. I hope everyone in the TFW familia gives Mitch a high five when they see him in the gym.
Early this year a member of the gym gave me a book to read: Start With Why, by Simon Sinek. I won’t give it away in case you want to read it (which I highly recommend) but basically, the author writes about some of the most successful companies and why they are successful. He concludes that they aren’t successful because of what they do; they are successful because each of them has a unique reason why they do what they do. It is an interesting concept. It’s a given that professionally you should know why you do what you do (although you would be surprised how many people don’t take pride in what they do and thus deliver poor service) but I will take it a step further and say that people should know why they do anything.
Why did you eat what you ate for lunch?
Why did you buy designer jeans over a cheaper brand?
Why did you buy a mac over a Dell?
It seems simple, and you’re probably thinking: ‘What is he talking about? how could he not know why he does things?’ The answer is perception. I study strength and conditioning, business, and motivation but I recently realized my nutritional education hasn’t evolved as fast as the rest. I perceived that I was ahead of the curve. I perceived that I was doing all I could to be the best coach possible, but it wasn’t until I stepped back and re-evaluated that I realized I needed improvement myself. I basically called myself out like I do to most of you on a daily basis. Someone will be doing a hurricane and I can see that they are not moving at their potential but they perceive they are. With a little motivational nudge they instantly step it up a notch. A smile usually spreads across their face because they realize their why — they are here to get better! This is our “dojo”, as Martin Rooney calls it, and we are here to learn about our bodies and strive to be the best us we can be. BECAUSE we have kids and grand kids, we have wives and husbands we want to do things with, we have hobbies and skills that we want to perfect. Knowing that “why” will help you to reach your potential.
After our workouts, go home and consider: “did I give everything I had today?” Don’t fall victim to complacency in any endeavor, especially your health. If you aren’t giving an effort you can be proud of at work then figure out why. Are you giving everything you can to your family emotionally? If not, ask why? These are questions that need to be answered. We only live once and I want to make sure you rock it! Coming to the gym and doing a workout shouldn’t be viewed as just another workout; you are participating in an activity to better your entire life. Making the effort to be present with your family and give them your full attention should be easy and fun! Giving full effort at work shouldn’t be a chore. You strive to be a master at your craft and it should be a pleasure for you to enlighten people about what you do. Remember that “all life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better” (Emerson). So take on that hard project at work. Take your kids on an adventure. Take yourself on an adventure. Push harder in the gym. Learn to shed the perception you have of yourself and give your true effort.
Throughout history we have revered and idolized the person who can step up and do amazing things. From Joan of Ark to Rudy; the 5 foot tall football player who just wouldn’t quit against all odds. This trend of idolizing people with amazing willpower has got to stop. The reason we put people on a pedestal is because we are too scared to push ourselves that far, and if people who do push themselves that far are considered elite or idolized then we don’t have to feel bad about not going the extra distance in our own lives.
The older I get, the more I learn that this concept of giving the extra effort not only pertains to the gym and my health but my career, my family, interpersonal relationships, and almost everything in my day to day life. Being present in a conversation with a waiter to a waiter might get you better service. If you make an effort to keep cool at the auto shop then you might get your car back sooner. If you resist getting into an argument with your spouse or child then I can guarantee you that your life will be much easier (I know how hard that can be at times and trust me I am still trying to master that one myself). Finally, making that extra effort in the grocery store and in the gym will speed your quest to better health no matter what fitness level you are at. When you feel healthy and confident the rest of your life seems to fall into place and it makes it easy to go the extra mile in the rest of your activities.
Now we discuss how to accomplish the SEEMINGLY impossible. How can I get 2 more reps when I feel dead tired? How do I perform 1 more round of a circuit when I can’t breathe? Is there no end to push-ups? I have been there myself, along with all of you when you get to that point where you just feel like quitting and that it isn’t worth it. I have been weightlifting and had a goal rep count of 6 and wanted to quit at 4. All kinds of justifications run through your head. ‘Well, I increased the weight from last month so I guess I can skip the these 2 reps,’ ‘I was feeling a little off today so it is understandable that I should skip the last round of my circuit.’ The reality is that these justifications are UNACCEPTABLE!
To overcome these nagging mental setbacks you need to trick your brain. The brain is a complex muscle and the term “mind over matter” is no joke. There are 3 techniques I have found to be very effective:
Don’t forget that these tactics can be used in the grocery store as well. Pick a motivator to use in the parking lot, or before you leave home so when you are in the store and wanting cake you can pull out your weapon and defeat the urge. These methods can also be used in emotional situations. If I am in a situation where I am severely angry, I try to pick a loving thought or motivator like my wife to help me keep my cool. The mind is a powerful tool, now that you know how to harness it don’t ever let it defeat you in a workout, in the grocery store, or in your everyday life!
There are lots of misconceptions in life. We all have them. When I was a child three of mine were: 1. To be beautiful you must look like Pamela Anderson. 2. You’re not truly in shape unless you look like Arnold Shwarzenegger. 3. If you get pregnant, you get fat. (I don’t know where I came up with any of these, I was a crazy 8 year old). Obviously I was just a kid then and maturity and education have taught me that none of these misconceptions are true; they were likely picked up from watching TV and listening to other media that we’re all subjected to. But with the pregnancy misconception in mind, I have outlined three essential tips to staying fit while pregnant.
Core strength is paramount for a pregnant woman. Pregnant woman are prone to lower back pain due to the simple fact that they are carrying anywhere from 20-30 extra pounds focused directly in their midsection. To build core strength in the first trimester you can do everything from sit-ups and planking to fire hydrants and lower back raises. Planking is the first thing I would recommend because it is a support-based exercise that can strengthen not just the abs but the core as a whole. When implementing stabilizing exercises into your workout, focus on diaphragmatic breathing. This will help in strengthening both the accessory muscles.
Don’t shy away from the things you like. There are many fallacies about fitness training during pregnancy. Most people think they need to drastically alter their program, or even completely cut it out when honestly, unless you have complications, there is not one good reason to stop. There are, however, two guidelines to follow when pregnant and working out: 1. Listen to your body. How does my body feel? If lying on your back makes you dizzy, don’t do it. I have worked with women who have been able to lie on their backs and who have been able to do bridges through their entire term. Others found they couldn’t do it past the first trimester. So again I’ll stress that you need to listen to your body. 2. Stick to what you know. If you were dead lifting and using a TRX before you were pregnant and are proficient at it feel free to keep doing it. There are many women who continue to do compound exercises into their third trimester. But I will also emphasize that pregnancy is NOT the time to try new things. If you’re questioning whether a move is good for you or not, just ask yourself; how does my body feel?
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Diet plans aren’t necessary if you just make good choices. Keep in mind the old adage: “you are what you eat.” It only became an old adage because it is 100% correct. What you put into your body gets broken down and is used to sustain your life and the life of your baby. Nutrition is crucial to giving your baby a head start in the world and to keeping you alert and healthy. And let’s face it, nutrition isn’t rocket science! Stick to basic foods: green leafy veggies, lean meats, healthy fats like nuts and avocados, and certain fruits like tomatoes and berries. Stay as organic as you can to get away from neuro-toxins and added hormones.
I know I promised 3 tips but here’s a bonus for you: Sleep! There is no excuse for a lack of sleep, especially during pregnancy. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Sacrifice your TV shows if you have to but please be sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night. Also, really focus on your self-discipline. It’s bothersome to me when I hear about how pregnant women are eating whatever they want due to “cravings”. I certainly understand that hormones and changes in your body give you a different perception of food, but stick to your guns and stay healthy. Being pregnant should not be an excuse to fill up on junk food and things that are not only not good for you, but also not good for your unborn child. Stay focused on the long term goals and don’t give in to instant gratification.
I know the steps above will provide a strong foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It will also provide a great jumping off point to getting your body back after the baby is born. So live healthy, eat healthy, and sleep healthy. Your body will thank you and so will your baby!