I was reading Edgar Allen Poe’s short story: “The Black Cat” the other day. It is a dark and disturbing story to say the least but it is also beautifully melancholy. As with all great writers, Poe creates a story with many levels and many lessons. His subject in this story was a man who began his life on a benevolent path and ended up with clouded vision and distorted perception that led him to terrible acts. This is a situation to lament but not overlook. There is a great opportunity to learn. What is the lesson you ask?
To be Happy, Create Space
Simple, yes. It is also dauntingly difficult. I won’t ruin the story because I know all of you are going to go out and read this story of emotional torture, all 6 pages of it! I will, however elaborate on the theory of space and how easy it is to lose it and how difficult it is to find once lost.
The thing is, the human brain has infinite potential but we are stifled by a limited perception of our world. We are easily influenced. We are seductively guided by irrelevance into the quandary of ” I have no time.” A loose translation of having no time can also read: “I have no space.” These thoughts can then most commonly be liberated through:
– drugs and alcohol
Let us take a look at an example of a boy. This boy grew up as a precocious kid, always doing “weird” things. It did not take long for the other kids to label him as “weird.” It took even less time for his hypersensitive mother to start yelling at him for doing these “weird” things. The boy did what any adolescent would do and he embraced his title. He actually took solace in the fact that he stood out and was notorious. His “weirdness” became an important ally. It drove him to study and discover things all the other kids didn’t bother with. In fact, it got him into a great college and later a great job.
Although he built on paper a great life for himself, he never actually developed the skills to interact. He was an introvert by association, not by birthright. What I mean is he associated himself with the idea that he was different, or “weird” and this caused him great stress growing up. Yes, it drove him to accomplish great things but it subtlety began to kill his spirit. He began to drink as a way to comfort himself. He began to fail to meet deadlines at work because he lacked the time to complete them. His production steadily declined as his mind steadily increased with stress. He began to worry about work. He even stopped drinking but he still couldn’t find the time to get his production back up.
Worry. Worry. Worry.
Thought after thought about how he wasn’t getting it done!
AKA: clouded head and distorted perception.
The unfortunate truth is that his problem wasn’t his drinking, it wasn’t his work ethic. It was his label that was imposed upon him as a child. It slowly embedded itself in his brain. It became him and he embraced it. BUT because never actually wanted this label, it became an assassin. This killer had one intention; destroy the only thing we have that is irreplaceable… TIME.
As he got older there was no more space for relationships. There was no more space for what he actually wanted to do, what he liked to do. This label, his assassin became not only his intellectual demise but it killed his soul. The label made him perceive he wasn’t good enough. “You don’t belong in the gym playing basketball.” “You don’t belong at social clubs interacting.” It made him perceive that he wasn’t fit for a relationship. It made him perceive, despite being an erudite, diligent worker, that he was bad at his job.
It made him think he had no time and no space. No purpose.
I have gone through this problem myself. I lived it. Not in the way this boy did, I suffered my own traumas. My own indignities. I was able to learn to create space and dissolve my problems instead of letting them carry me down the road our boy went.
Don’t forget that the boy may have become a man but he was too scared to address the one thing that paralyzed his growth… his boyhood trauma. I learned that in order to grow as a person and discover what it truly means to be happy one must deal with the very things that scare us the most. We all have them.
They might be childhood traumas. They might be grave misbehaviors that we are ashamed of. It might be as simple as being called weird or as complex as being abused. The point is that if you take a minute, recognize that you do have haunting issues. Say hi to them and let those issues know that you are watching them.
THEY CEASE TO HAVE POWER
Step 1. Become aware
Step 2. Take away power by dealing with the problem, realize that you are responsible for your happiness.
Step 3. Take control.
I don’t know much about the human brain. I don’t even know much about therapy. I teach what I go through in life. I do know this… we are scared of what we give power to. If you bury your problems and refuse to recognize them then they will creep up and destroy us eventually. It might be so subtle that you don’t even know why or what is destroying you because you are clouded with depression or anger.
There is one last example I Want to give you. If this hits you in the gut then you might take heed to my warnings. Are you irritated when you wake up? Do you argue with your spouse weekly? Do you loathe the job you once took pride in? Do you drink for fun or stress relief? Warriors, if you answered yes to these or if these questions inspired another problem you might have then I urge you to become aware of them! Take control and you will have power!
To create space and discover that time is infinite, you must first learn to be present. Learn to let emotions and fears flow through you. See them, don’t hide from them. That takes away their power and empowers you! How?
BE REAL- RAW- RELEVANT with yourself. Then with your family.
I challenge you guys to look at your lives. How irritated are you? How many fights per week do you have with family and friends? What is your level of happiness because if it isn’t a 10 then I have news for you… IT CAN BE.
Before you can achieve all the things you want in life you have to kill the assassin!
There is a saying from Fight Club that I love. Before you read it I will ask you how you are spending your minutes?
” this is your life… and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
I am fired up today. I was at Jumping Jakes recently with my son. He loves it there. He likes to interact with all the kids. Probably because he is an only child. The funny thing is he only likes the older kids.
It warms my heart to see him get so excited and try to play with them. Most of them ignore him but he doesn’t care. He runs into the mix without a fear or care in the world.
WARNING: About to get deep
I had never seen him in a situation where people were to mean to him until this experience.
Like I said, he was trying to play with the older kids so he would grab the ball they were playing with and run with it laughing. They would get mad and jump on him and yank the ball away and push him.
After a while anytime he stood up they would throw him down. He would just laugh and…
There was one girl, about 5 years old. She was evil! She was pulling his hair, hitting him, and throwing him around.
I almost went in there but then I saw it…
I saw my son, Hollin. He knew something that I didn’t.
Every time she pushed him or pulled his hair he would just look at her in her eye and smile. It wasn’t even a “haha” smile, it was an empathetic gesture. He kept going back.
Lacking the communication skills to express his feelings he talked with his body language. He liked her!
Her mom finally caught wind and came rushing over apologetic but I just said ” no worries, I learned a lot just now.” She looked at me like I was a crazy man.
This was a week ago but I wanted to let it simmer. I had to discover that esoteric knowledge Hollin had so I could share it with you guys.
Then it came to me while working with my Get Serious students.
****He knew what he wanted****
Hollin was confident and he knew exactly what he wanted and there was nothing anyone could do to upset him. He took some hard shots to the face and he just kept coming.
He was rejected all day and still he smiled. Still he pushed forward.
This is the secret sauce guys:
Know who you are, what you want, and do whatever it takes to get there…
All the bumps along the way is just the universe challenging you to see if you are serious.
There were kids there that cried and ran out of the play houses. There were kids there scared to grab the ball, scared to use the slide and they suffered the slings of sorrow.
I watched them in awe of how their day was spoiled over and over because they let someone else affect their desires.
I am proud of my son for how he didn’t let anything stop him.
He taught me something at age 2. Now I am teaching you….
First off… IT’S OK!!!!!
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 that one considering the fact that my mom didn’t gain any excess weight with my baby sister!) 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 outlets 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 20-80 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 designing your workouts, be sure you’re focusing on stabilizing. This will help in strengthening both the accessory muscles and posterior core. Don’t forget that the push-up is the best “plank!”
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. Stay as organic as you can to get away from neuro-toxins and added hormones (aka stuff you don’t recognize in the ingredients list).
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. 168 hours in the week. 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 back in shape after the baby is born. So live healthy, eat healthy and sleep healthy. Your body will thank you and so will your baby!
When I was younger I would often stare into space. I had no goals, no drive, just empty thoughts. Looking at people I know who have jobs they aren’t too crazy about I see them doing the same thing. They work hard, sure but there is emptiness, boredom. We will trounce the day’s humdrumedness by opening the doors of perception. Today’s tale is of the path one takes on the road to triumph. The more I read and the more I attend seminars and listen to experts talk, the more I see that you don’t need me to get on here and tell you the 3 best ways to workout. You don’t need me to talk about how much protein per pound of body weight you need, Nutrition isn’t that complicated. It’s called the warrior 20! Read Warrior Cardio and you are all set. What is complicated is getting yourself into the right mental state to commit to change. What is interesting is that when you read or listen to any of the top experts in any field their first step to becoming successful is the same as everyone else’s: You have to get your head right. Our mantras at TFW don’t revolve around the 4 best ways to speed up your metabolism, we try to inspire your mind first and then we do the fitness part. In every person’s life there comes a time when you fall into a “rut.” I have come to call these eras: NO MAN’S LAND. This term is traditionally used to describe the land between two armies that has not yet been claimed. When one falls into a rut, you have basically dug two trenches. In one trench there is your home life (kids, spouse, chores, work) In the other trench there is hope/desires, education, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, these armies come to a standstill. Your brain stops creating new goals, it stops receiving new inspiration. You are left with a vast surplus of unused ambition and potential. Unused potential becomes an oddity filled with TV, partying, chores, etc. That oddity is what will lose you no man’s land. It is mental real-estate that is not yet claimed! Television, going out too much, and chores are a subpar opponent that win battles by default. They aren’t sustainable armies. The allied armies of education, desires, and diligence need to step in and claim back no man’s land!
I am going to lead with education and I know the first thing some of you are thinking: “I went to college” who is this guy to question my intelligence? I assure you, that is not my intent. I am however, questioning your continuing education. Not on what you majored in 20 years ago, on what you are passionate about now? What have you read or listened to that is making you better now? I can tell you that deconstructing Macbeth isn’t making me better anymore. Our formal education is a critical base to stand on but it isn’t the most important layer of who we are. The most important layer of education is who we continue to strive to be. Step 1: GO BACK TO SCHOOL. It is as expensive as buying an audio book or subscribing to a journal. It is as time consuming as reading 30 minutes a day. Leonidas defeated thousands of Persians with only 300 men because the Spartans were more advanced. They thought about how to be the best fighters, they were constantly moving towards that goal. They were constantly educating themselves in warfare. The Persians adapted the fighting style that had been used for hundreds of years. Which army are you? The educated one or the one that continues to educate?
Desires. You cannot have goals with desires. You cannot have promises without goals. One of the stories that scares the living daylights out of me is called Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I talk about it a lot. In the story, there is a man with a boring, dead end job. He wakes up one day as an insect. Instead of attending to his problem he goes back to sleep. In a nutshell, he continues to hide from life and his problems and isolates his family. He actually grew to be comfortable with his new insect body. At the end of the story the man (or insect) finally grew to be inspired by music but it was too late. He was forced back into his room by his family who hated him by this point. The room, which became his prison is where he died. I don’t want you all to become slaves to the “rut.” The man in Kafka’s story let his life become his prison. Instead of setting new goals and getting excited he let his current state take over and become his downfall. Always set new goals. If you have never set goals before it can be intimidating that is why I called this section desires. Let us start with writing down very simply, what you want. That’s it! After you figure out what you want then you can create a road map to get there.
The last piece to our army is diligence. I don’t mean at work. You have to work hard on you. We get caught up on working hard at work and on our families and we forget to work on ourselves. If you have written down your desires and started educating yourself on what you want then you are knocking on the door to victory. The last thing is the attack. Remember, knowledge without action gets you nothing. However, we don’t want to attack and fail… Oh no! Uhhhhhhh, yes! We do. You are going to fail. War is not won by one battle. You will fight many battles. Some will be victories and some will be losses. Great leaders learn from their losses and attack again and again until the war is won. Loss is only another opportunity at a greater victory.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said “I hope that you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Look fondly on the past but don’t let it consume you. Look adamantly towards the future but don’t let it scare you. Work hard for what you want and don’t let ANYTHING stop you.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who only dream by night.”
– Edgar Allen Poe
As children we are taught to have an imagination but only to a certain point. There is a cap to it. When you push past that cap we are reeled in with a swift command to “stop daydreaming.” Edgar Allen Poe would have you continue to dream. Albert Einstein would have you only dream. For it is in our dreams that we really live. If we keep dreaming we inevitably turn our life into our dreams and attain what is considered by most unattainable. For the vast majority, the unattainable is as such because they remain in a sedated state. They are, as Poe puts it, only dreaming at night.
What is the unattainable? It is a state of higher awareness. A place where elation and pain are motivators towards the same end game. A place where you aren’t inhibited by the strains of others’ projections. Let me impart to you what I was taught when I was a kid. Marcel Proust put it simple: “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
There are too many instances where I hear people tell me what they want and then in the same sentence take t back like it is an ancient gem that doesn’t really exist. I want all of you to take out a pen or tablet, anything to write on. I want you to let yourself dream. Write down 1-3 things you want that you never thought you could have. Whatever it is. More money? A great love affair? A dangerous adventure into the depths of the Congo? WHATEVER. Write it down. It can even be closer to your heart. I know a lot of you struggle with your self-image. Are you middle-aged and want to be 17% body fat but your over 30%???? I have heard people say “it’s impossible.” I want to answer that by saying to you:
Dream more, dream again. Only then will you push yourself to the edge. In this state of flaunting desire we will unleash your true potential.
There is no mysticism to dreaming. I am not talking about the hoaky “build it they will come” stuff. All dreaming really is is allowing yourself to fill up with visions of what you want. Once you come to terms with what you want you have to figure out how to make it happen.
Einstein’s theories were a little harder to make happen. In fact, everyone thought he was crazy and a overzealous hack. Turns out he was a genius. If he listened to everyone and stopped dreaming we wouldn’t be where we are as a society. If Poe stopped dreaming we would be without his genius which inspires young dreamers across the world. It is because Poe reached the unattainable that I am even writing this to you. No body wants to just get a 9-5 job, put on some weight, and repeat the grind day in and day out. I challenge all of you to seek out what you really want?
Then GO GET IT.
How does one deal with the pale truth that we are all insignificant? The arduous task of fighting an uphill battle can be overwhelming and most give up. Only the defiant ones rise above, captivating our imaginations and igniting a fire inside. These heroes present to us in the form of movie stars, musicians, athletes, writers, artists, and great innovators. What is the real difference between them and us? What is the causality of their success and our mediocrity? Can we chalk it up to talent? Luck? Sure… a little. BUT talent can take a back seat to diligence and luck only happens when opportunity meets preparation. Our heroes shine bright in dark days because they are wiling to meet the storm head on. They refuse to take no for an answer.
I recently went back and looked at all the students I have had that left. The data was very interesting, especially when I compared it to the data from students I have had for 2 years. Most of the people that left had good results in short spans and had no results over long spans of absence. Their attendance fluctuated and thus, so did their results. My highly successful students had smaller results that compounded over a long period of continuity and thus led them to see truly amazing things happen and their lives changed. Continuity is such a simple concept but seems to be the thing that separates us from greatness. Think about all the new year’s resolutions that were attempted. All the hobbies you started but never finished. All the dreams that flutter by like a child chasing a butterfly, we just can’t seem to grasp them! The funny thing is, I can catch butterflies as an adult. I bet we all can. If you really want something you have to put in work to get it. Not 6 months, not even a year, YEARS!
In order to accomplish these things you have to surrender to the sublime. Conjure a dream, a goal that means the world to you and persist! Let your goal seep into your heart. Let it be the most annoying pest to ever enter your thoughts and then work for it! Just like when you were a kid chasing that butterfly. The more you chased those things, the harder you reached, it still took years to achieve that victory.
I have a tale for you today. Not a tale of conspiracy, merriment, or woe; but a tale of slumber. A common symptom of depression is feeling fatigued or tired all the time. Most people who are depressed do not experience anything worth remembering during their time of disconnect. As I pondered this scenario I started to think about the uninspired. There was a movie called OFFICE SPACE a while back and it chronicled a man who worked at a 9-5 job he hated, people with this condition are referred to as the uninspired. During the movie he was suddenly inspired and his life became very exciting. Fictional and over the top was the movie but the message was 100% true. The fact is… a lot of us are slumbering.
Washington Irving’s short story: Rip Van Winkle illustrates how one can fall asleep for your entire adult life and awaken well into your elderly years to realize the world has changed and you can barely recognize yourself. Irving wrote his story in the early 1800’s. The movie Office Space was made in the 90’s. That tells me that this phenomena isn’t based on technology or your job per se; it is a human, or at least a Western civilization, characteristic.
How can we recognize that we are slumbering? I would start with asking myself 3 questions.
1. Am I happy? This is the most obvious but the HARDEST to answer honestly. We spend lifetimes, waste entire eras convincing ourselves that we are happy. If you can muster up the courage to answer this question and the answer is “no” then you have to figure out why? You see, a person may be content in life but not happy.
2. Do I LOVE my job? We spend 40 hours a week at our jobs (Average). That is a lot of time to spend doing something you hate. It isn’t hard to understand why we overeat, or get depressed as a nation when 70% of us hate our jobs.
3. Do I feel inspired? This is another one that takes courage to answer. Anything that requires us to reflect inward is challenging. As I write this post I feel a fire inside of me that you can only relate to if you have been inspired. I want all of you to experience this feeling daily.
Now we have our questions answered. What do we do?
1. I am not trying to tell you all to up and redirect your entire life in order to be happy. In fact, it may a very slight change that makes the biggest difference. When I first got into the fitness industry I did not have the fire I have now. I liked my job and I was good but I coasted through life. When I found TFW I was challenged. I felt like Martin issued a direct challenge to me to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in life. I could have just slid in obscurity and continued to slumber but I told the truth and it fired me up! Maybe you don’t hate your job, maybe you do but being honest with yourself about your life is the first step to figuring it out.
2. Answer the scratch, as we say at TFW. Now that you have the knowledge about why you are unhappy or why you aren’t happy at work you have to do something about it. I want you think back to yesterday in detail. What did you do? What experiences did you have? Now… imagine you could time travel back to yesterday morning. What would you do differently? If you would change anything then do it! Live every day that way. Knowledge minus action gets you NOTHING. You may know you are unhappy but if you don’t act to change it then you will always be unhappy.
3. Keep pushing forward. People who get excited about obstacles always find more obstacles because they are always trying to improve. People who are slumbering are scared of obstacles and will always struggle to overcome just the one. If you find yourself coasting through life never getting better then set some new goals and get moving!
Ella Fitzgerald said: “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” I want to leave you guys with this… don’t live life to get through it. Live life to get from it. Always strive to get better and you will always be filled with inspiration.
Everyone is looking for the secret. The fast and easy way to attain what you desire. Unfortunately, choosing to try the easy way out often leads to dismay. The path to a darkened state of mind is not all that dark. Illuminated by compensating notions of relative drama, your life ceases to be productive. I believe that drama weakens our ability to evolve as individuals. “Most of America confuses activity for productivity.” Warriors, I challenge you to take an evaluation of yourself. The next time your day is filled with “busy” tasks compare those activities to your goals and truly see how you are either getting closer to those goals or farther away. This post is not going to be about how to be more productive, we covered that last month. This post is going to require you to silence your inner voices and truly learn what it is to bring out the warrior within. There are 3 important life lessons that can be taken from Rudyard Kippling’s poem, “IF” and I have outlined them below.
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
Dream big but not fantastical. For practical purposes we can replace the word “dream” with the word “goal.” Kippling alludes to the idea that you cannot let your dreams/goals take over your life. I believe this is true only if you spend your life thinking about your goals and not actually taking steps to achieve them. Goals are very fragile. You have to treat them like children. Always check in on them to make sure they are working for you and not against you. Nurture them so they grow healthy. Most important, DON’T allow negativity in or they will turn sour.
The ability to remain composed in the face of success and turmoil is a skill and it CAN be learned. Setting aside the deeper life issues this poem addresses, lets just focus on how we can apply this lesson to our training. Let me tell you about a tale of two individuals. Kinley and Caulder both had fitness goals of losing weight. Kinley was in pretty good shape before he joined the gym but still had some fat to lose to get to where he wanted. Caulder on the other hand, was about 100lbs overweight. 3 months into their training program Kinley had tightened up his food intake and started to see the fat go. Caulder had a bit of trouble and only lost 10 lbs. Kinley met his success vibrantly to say the least. He celebrated with lavish “cheat days” and adding too much weight to his lifts too fast. As a result, Kinley wound up with an injury. He then got depressed and gained all his fat back. Caulder stayed composed in the face of his failures. He implemented some new practices and refocused his efforts. As a result, 6 months later he lost 60lbs. What can we learn from these 2 individuals? There will be times in your life where you succeed and more times than not you will fail. How you react to these situations will dictate how far in life you will go.
Are your actions killing your dreams? As I was writing this, I thought about the last 5 things I got upset about and to be honest, they really don’t mean a darn thing in the grand scheme of my life. That means I spent hours of my precious time either worried, scared, or irate about an event that means nothing in my master plan. More than that, I wasted those hours that I could have been helping myself towards achieving that master plan. I NEED you to be able to recognize these situations. Understand that your anger or feelings of anguish are just a fleeting moment of human instinct and will be beyond your recollection and never to appear again in a matter of days. Seriously, can you remember the cause of all those fights and bouts of depression? I can’t. Don’t waste the time sabotaging yourself. That time could be spent working on yourself.
It takes discipline to achieve anything in life. It also takes a lot of work. Nothing comes easy. If you are hitting a plateau in your training or in your life, I suggest you sit down and evaluate the lessons in this post. How do you react to triumph and disaster? Do you think about your dreams or do you go after them? Do your actions help you or hurt you? Better yet, do your actions align with your desires?
There was once a person who loitered the streets of uneventfulness, who floated on the undulating tide of the nonspecific. This person often wondered about going out on a ledge and thought about taking risks but never did. Another thing this person never did was accomplish anything they valued. This person is us, Americans. I call it the grey-person syndrome. The American culture has become a series of stereotypes that we have been enslaved by. We work, we drive our kids around, we take care of our pets, we do housework, we go to bed, we get up and do it again. The one thing we neglect to act on is the one thing that makes us burn… our dreams! I am not talking about the cliche hopes and dreams speeches from movies. I am talking about having the body you want. I am talking about being as active as you want, or as healthy as you want, or have as much energy as you want. Sadly, these are dreams and not realities for most people. The worst part is that there are more ways to overcome the grey person syndrome than ever and we just don’t do them. I am going to discuss 3 “secret” ways to break free of the grey-person syndrome.
1. At TFW we believe in optimizing our time. This brings us to our first lesson: your kids are not jailers. I know that having kids is a huge commitment. They need to be driven to sports, after school events, friends houses, and etc. I also know that most you don’t use that time wisely. Don’t be imprisoned by your kids activities, these activities might be the freedom you need. It gives you a fixed time every week to accomplish something. Instead of sitting and waiting for their event to finish, use that time to immerse yourself in something you long to do. Go for a quick workout if you want your dream body. Write in that journal you always wanted to keep. Whatever hobby or goal you have, this is 1-2 hour window that was given to you by your kids! There is only one pitfall. Don’t put put priorities on things that don’t matter. The parents who don’t sit at the practice still aren’t accomplishing their goals because they are rushing home for laundry and dishes. Are you kidding me? I know these things have to get done but those are things that can be done anytime. You can also outsource those chores. Delegate it to your kids! They have more spare time than you. If you can afford to pay someone then do it. Your time is worth more than anything.
2. Read. It is as simple as that. There are more benefits to reading than I care to get into with this post but I will say that reading enlightens you. It doesn’t even have to be that great of a book. I don’t consider books written by Stephen King or John Grisham great books but they are vastly entertaining and can provide a provocative escape from the norm. Like I said, good but not great. If you really want to utilize reading then you will challenge yourself and choose a book that will help you become a better you. There are an endless supply and a wide array of topics that you might not even know you were into before you started broadening your horizons. I would suggest going into Barnes and Noble, find the self-help section, or the leadership section and pick a book that speaks to you. One usually leads to 3 and 3 to 10, and etc. I am reading a psychology book right now, who knew?
3. Perform one thing outside your comfort zone each day. One of my first mentors use to make me talk to random people in the gym to get me over my fear of social interactions. My friend once made me ask for something everyday from complete strangers because he said “you never know.” This was a very enlightening experience because it is amazing what people will do for each other if you just ask. When I was younger I needed a weight tree to hold my plates so I asked the YMCA for one. The head trainer walked into the back and gave me their old one for free. That means a lot to a broke trainer who needed equipment. There are a thousand things you can do to go outside your comfort zone: pick up a hitchhiker, pay for a strangers meal, karaoke, talk to strangers on the subway. The point is that going outside your comfort zone makes you feel more alive, it adds color to your life and it teaches you that if you don’t go outside your comfort zone consistently then you will never grow as a person and at TFW we believe it is imperative to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
There is a growing need to not only have fit bodies but also stress free minds. It is the job of a TFW coach to try to motivate you to become more in the dojo and outside the dojo. It is my hope that you enjoy your days and get the most out of them. If you spend half of your time in the grey-person syndrome and the other half stressed out then you are getting worse, not better. In combat sports there is a tactic called “fighting not to lose.” That means the competitor is playing defense and guarding so he/she doesn’t get knocked out but they never play enough offense to win big. I would rather go for the win,. If I get knocked out I will get back up and try again because that is where the glory lies. Eventually you will learn to win and win big. Ask yourself which fighter you are… now ask yourself which fighter you want to be?
As coaches, it is paramount to unravel the complicated web of ones ability to eat, move, and sleep efficiently. In order to do this, we cannot see in black and white. As students, we all have our unique master design and we spend our life working on making it better. We might even learn about selves and become wiser along the way. There is a quote by LL Cool J that describes his journey that we at TFW can relate to: “I’m not trying to keep up or adapt. I’m allowing myself to grow, evolve and create new music.” Below, I am going to outline 4 ways to adapt in your dojo if your quest for fat loss has stalled.
1. Self-awareness and a positive mental approach to training is just as important as what exercises you are performing. This is first because it is the hardest to achieve. I call it the silent killer. If you do not look for it, you might not even know it’s there. The silver lining is that it’s easy to find once you know what you’re looking for. All you have to do is be honest when I ask you this question: Do you get excited before you go to the gym, or do you dread it? Is it a chore or is it your sanctuary? If you are viewing your training in a negative light then a change might be necessary for you to succeed. Excitement, fun, challenges are words that come to mind when I train. What are the top three words you think of? At TFW we often ask ourselves “what’s your why?” A good mental approach to training is fortified in two concepts. why are you training? and what is your training atmosphere like. In other words, do you have a deep connection to why you are training? And, does the place you train at bring you joy?
2. Don’t eat carbs at night. This is a touchy subject and I am not a nutrition expert. I bring it up only because we have seen such great results with this tip. Having said that, I do not mean ALL carbs. I try to get people who have fat-loss goals to stick with a protein source and veggies for dinner. My reasoning is that most people use night time as their down time. To be honest, we are either reading, watching tv, or something else sedentary and we don’t need the extra carbs. Stick to healthy fats and proteins and lots of veggies. Stay away from rice, pastas, grains, breads, and starches at night. This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to eat carbs. I just want you to time it better. Breakfast, lunch, and after workouts are all great times to consume carbs.
3. Going through the motions. You will eventually plateau in training. You can’t go into the dojo and dead lift 225lbs forever. Don’t fall victim to complacency. This is a sneaky one. It is easier for the coach to spot it for you but you can’t rely on that. This is where the training the log becomes handy! Coach Rooney always says “you manage what you don’t measure.” If you are part of TFW then you have probably done warrior challenges. Keep track! Keep a record of your dead lifts and bench, etc. This will allow you to look back and point out a plateau that you may not have noticed. Basically, if you are comfortable in the dojo then you are probably at a plateau and need to change something.
4. Stop counting calories, count weight. Any by weight, I mean IRON. I read something amazing by Gray Cook. He said counting calories hasn’t made us a leaner society. In fact, body fat percentages have for the most part gotten worse.” We don’t count calories in my dojo, we count iron on the bar! I know woman are scared to get bulky so you might avoid the big lifts. I know some men who are scared to get hurt, so they avoid the big lifts. The big lifts will take your fat-loss to the next level. Big lifts will also make you the strongest, build the most muscle, and empower you like nothing else. Self -esteem is guaranteed to go up and with a higher confidence level comes higher energy and more progress!
It is time to take charge of your training and evolve into a better you. If you are going to do something every week anyway, then do it AWESOME. Know why you are training, train at a great dojo, keep a log, and stop counting calories… count iron!