Archive for July, 2013

So far with Relentless, I’ve focused on fairly non- tangible ideas.  While those have their place, I figured it would be worth it to put some practical stuff in here as well.  This post specifically is about my current workout routine.   I do plan on adding another page to the blog about the different workouts I do and, eventually, I also plan to put one up that has some healthy recipes on it that I use.

First off, I’m no cross fitter.  I’ve encountered some elitist attitudes among cross fitters (which, to be fair, also exist in standard gyms) and I feel no need to pay the price of a year’s membership at my gym for one month at a cross fit gym to do workouts that are easily looked up on the internet.  That being said, I know some awesome people who love cross fit, so do you’re thing if that’s what you enjoy.

Sorry, can't resist poking a little fun.  I'll make fun of my fellow gym rats soon enough, don't you worry.

Sorry, can’t resist poking a little fun. I’ll make fun of my fellow gym rats soon enough, don’t you worry.

I tend to do more traditional lifting in the gym; it’s what I was taught, it’s what I enjoy. Since I’m still currently in a cutting phase I’ve been incorporating some circuit training to keep my heart rate elevated, fear not fellow gym goers, my circuits don’t take up more than one piece of equipment at a time.

I like to split my muscle groups up, currently those splits are:

-Legs and shoulders.

-Back and biceps.

-Chest and triceps.

On any given day I start with cardio on the treadmill.  I’m not going for insane here, nor is it even about distance.  I jog for 20 minutes.  Whatever the fastest pace is that I can do and reach 20 minutes, I do.  I’ve noticed that this has drawn my focus away from distance and turned it towards endurance.  Consequently, this has allowed me to increase my speed and endurance at the same time without sweating the details that the digital treadmills like to inundate you with.

Tip: Cover up the readout of the treadmill with your towel once you get it all set up, that way you aren’t stressing over the numbers. 

After that, I pick two workouts per muscle group.  I pretty much go with whatever me and my partner are feeling for that day.  I know, “How do you get into a proper routine by not doing the same workouts for weeks at a time?”  I hear what your saying and when it comes to the goal of putting on muscle mass I completely agree with being more regimented in which lifts I perform.  The purpose of this particular style of workout, for me, is to burn fat and not lose a lot of muscle mass while doing it.

For this example we’ll go with Chest and Triceps.

workout

Sorry it’s small (zing!), sometimes WordPress defeats me, click on it to enlarge it

What this shows is that between each set of every exercise I do 30 seconds of jump rope and 30 seconds of some abs exercise.  When it comes to abs I tend to mix it up and do something different between each different exercise i.e. decline sit ups, flutter kicks, leg raises, etc.

You don’t have to jump rope.  If a treadmill is convenient you can run for 30 seconds, if a bench is nearby you can do step ups.  The goal is to keep the heart-rate elevated throughout the entire workout rather than rest between each set.  Now, it may seem counter-intuitive, but I think you’ll find that you recover from the actual weight lifting portion faster with these intervals.  I would say that it has something to do with increased blood-flow but then I’d be talking way above my pay-grade, for all I know it’s all in my head.

Also, while the goal is to keep the pulse elevated that does NOT mean it’s time to compromise form on the lift for speed.  That’s what the intervals of cardio and ab work are for.  When I get to the lift portion of the circuit, I slow down and control my movements.

While not the main goal, I’ve seen decent gains in strength by doing workouts like these, but my overall cardio level and my core strength have gone up by leaps and bounds while also causing my fat levels to drop.  My gym partner and I are only continuing this for about another week, which will bring us up to 4 weeks total on this plan before we switch to a program designed to build more lean muscle mass.

Sadly, it isn’t over yet.  To finish up this workout, me and my partner head to the weight machine area of our gym to squeeze out any last bits of effort we’ve got.   We finish up with three rounds of the following exercises done in another circuit fashion, one exercise after the other:

-Standing Calves Raise

-Machine Biceps Preacher Curl

-Triceps Dips

-Another core ab exercise, preferably one we haven’t hit yet

I’m sure that there are other better workouts to accomplish what I’ve written here, but my workout buddy showed me this routine and it kicked my ass.  Naturally, I enjoyed that and decided to keep it up.  By all means, search the internet and talk to your friends to find a workout that accomplishes the goals you have in mind.

-Moody

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Well, here’s a shocker, you can’t shame someone into being healthy. In fact, you might just have the opposite effect.

One more (actual) shocker,  I sometimes have credible sources to back up my opinions.

This peer reviewed journal, from PLOS ONE, has the results of a study that looked at the BMI’s of over 6,000 Americans with varying body types.  If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, which I highly recommend doing, there are two main takeaways:

1)    People who were already obese at the first check-in (2006) were three time’s more likely to remain obese at the next check-in (2010) if they had experienced weight discrimination.

2)    Overweight people who experienced this discrimination at the first check-in were more than two times as likely to become obese by second check in.

What does this mean to you and me?  Simple.

Negativity doesn’t do jack when it comes to motivating people to be healthy.

You can’t shame somebody into being healthy.  While this study looked at people who were overweight and obese, it applies to any aspect of being healthy.  Just as you can’t force someone to alter their lifestyle to drop those extra pounds, you can’t force a skinny person to make changes so they aren’t just skin and bone.

The only way you can get those around you to take control of their health is to make changes yourself and lead by example.  That’s how I got started and that’s how some of the people around me got started.

I saw a friend get healthy and thought, “Man, I want to do that.  I can do that.”  

I know that some of the actions my family have taken towards being healthy were somewhat influenced by me.  The same goes for a few of my friends, some of which I had no idea even struggled with body issues until I began writing this blog.

What not to do

Don’t go force feeding your healthy lifestyle down the throats of people you care about by criticizing their choices.  So they got a Big Mac for lunch, not your issue.  It’s their life and their body.  All you can do is stay on your path, if they want to hop on the wagon, then it’s your job to support that decision.

You can’t force people to go work out or be active.  Now, I will shame the hell out of my workout partner if he bails on a gym day, that’s the relationship we have and it’s how we hold each other accountable.  What I won’t do is look at that same person who got the Big Mac and say, “Wow, you’re gonna eat that and not workout?  Good one.” 

Why?  Because that’s how you get labeled as a douche-rocket.

What to do

You’re own damn thing.  It’s that simple.

Eat right.  Exercise regularly.  Be the example.  Whether your trying to lose or gain, people will notice and inevitably somebody will decide they want what you’re working for.

Speaking from experience, finding out that other people are motivated by your actions will in turn motivate you even more.  On those tough days when I’m tired, sore, or just plain out of it: I keep going because somebody else is counting on me to do so.

Moral of the story:  Don’t be this guy.

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– Moody

 

 

It’s dumb.

I talk to plenty of people who don’t want to go to the gym because they “aren’t in shape.”  Pardon me, but don’t gyms exist to get us and keep us in shape?  Unfortunately, I was the exact same way.

Because, on the inside, we’re all just a bunch of high school kids who don’t want to be made fun of.

I worked out for almost a year at a tiny gym at my firehouse before I joined an actual gym.  While this served my needs, I could have made at least the same progress at a regular gym, but probably more.  I didn’t because I was embarrassed to be seen in a gym out of shape and weak.

If I could go back and change anything about what I’ve done, I would join a gym the second I started getting healthy and I would OWN THAT SHIT.

People want to waste their time at the gym judging you? Let them, because you aren’t stopping.  In a couple of months they’ll be the ones crying in a corner with no changes to their body while a beastly and in shape you is warming up with their max.

I know for many, it’s not about the other people; it’s the infinite amount of machines, weights, and weird dangly thingies from the ceiling that intimidate people.

“I don’t know what that is, but I am NOT doing it in public.”

I was lucky that I had my Dad, a retired Marine, around to show me the ropes of lifting weights.  I may have been fat and out of shape, but I was comfortable in a gym.  Someone who doesn’t have that kind of exposure is going to have to find another route, but all is not lost.

For a cheap option, find a friend.  You’ve got to know someone who works out somewhat regularly, see if they can’t help you out.  I’d be willing to bet they wouldn’t mind if they’re any type of friend at all.

Most gyms these days actually offer an introductory session that will get you familiar with the gym; they may even offer a few training sessions to help get you on the right path.  It’s not like your signing up for boot camp, usually it’s 3-5 sessions to help get you on track.

Also, people love to scoff at those organized classes gym’s offer.

Don’t.  Some of them have teeth and they bite.

Take a class or two, try a few things out.  The people who teach these classes are generally trainers themselves and the good ones will help you out if they see you struggling.

Gym’s are there for people to get healthy, not just for the already healthy people to stay that way.  Don’t let your high school ingrained insecurities keep you from finding a gym that’s right for you and getting to work.

Most of all, and easier said than done, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing in the gym.  I don’t care that the monster next to me is putting up the weight of an elephant while I’ve got my comparatively measly weights in my hands.  Everyone had to start somewhere.

Go in, focus on you, do work, and get out.  Results will come.

-Moody

I must admit, I’m shocked at the feedback I’ve received.

Mostly because I’m shocked that I’ve received feedback at all and that it wasn’t even hate mail!  The common thread was, “What did you actually do to drop all the weight?”

That’s a fair question, especially because one might think that I would have shared those minor details earlier in my short-lived WordPress career.  Before I get to the sordid details though, I’m going to tell you why I hesitated initially.

The fitness community, while incredibly motivating and at times inspiring, is a fickle beast.  I’ve touched on this before, everyone has an opinion and that includes me.  So, guaranteed, somebody will read this and decide that they shall bring forth the fiery flames of internet hate upon me until I apologize for my actions.

Spare me.  Unless it’s funny, then fire away Almighty Internet Fitness Police.

Also, if my lack of eloquence and disregard for common journalism practices didn’t clue you in; I’m not a doctor, dietician, personal trainer, or 6 minute abs specialist.  So that means I probably got a few things wrong, but I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in and am continuing to improve so nothing you can say is really going to sway me.

One last thing, if you have any health issues I really do urge you to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about drastically changing your diet in any way, especially for folks with diabetes.  Your needs are much different from mine or the average person’s, so don’t go jumping in blind.

On to the good stuff.

What I did was a ketogenic diet.  I limited carbohydrates (carbs) so that my body switched to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.  I know, everyone hates to hear about counting carbs, but it does work.  Staying on this diet does take discipline but, done correctly, it can yield fantastic results.

For many, diets are something used to accomplish a mission, a temporary arrangement before they go back to living their old lives.

This is a mistake.

Living healthy is a lifestyle, not something to be done just when you feel like it.  What helped me most was the way that I looked at food.  To be frank, I don’t really know what I saw food as before, a crutch maybe or an escape.  What I view food as now, though, is fuel.  What I put into my body I get out.  If I put good in I get good out.  If I put shit in…well, you get the idea.

foodFuel

(photo @team_get_fit on Instagram)

 

My diet was a high protein/high fiber diet:

60% Lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey)

30% Green “Ruffage”  (spinach, kale, the thicker the green the better for you it is)

10% Good Fats (nuts especially almonds, avocado, the occasional piece of cheese)

I would eat 6-8 smaller meals a day, roughly every two hours.  This helps to avoid spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, which is a part of why a lot of people get sluggish in the mid-afternoon.  I won’t say that this does anything for your metabolism, that’s way above my head, I will say that eating smaller meals more frequently kept me from overeating.

Now, for the first two weeks of this I limited my net carb intake to 20g a day.  If you don’t know how to figure this out: you calculate your net carbs by taking the total carbohydrate number on the nutrition label and subtracting the fiber.  Also, sugar is a carbohydrate and on this plan, no more sweet stuff.  No simple sugars (think candy), frosting, soda, etc.

Example of calculating net carbs:

                nutrition

Total Carbohydrate 5g

 Fiber 3g

So:   5g-3g= 2g net carbohydrates.

Honesty is my thing, so I’m going to tell you right now that the first 3-5 days suck.

I mean really suck.

You are lethargic, you might have a slight headache, and you’re going to want to quit.

Do not quit.

This is your body freaking out because you aren’t giving it a steady stream of carbs to burn for fuel.  It’ll pass.

For me, around day 4, I became a furnace.  My body switched over to burning fat and I had energy for days.  I didn’t know what to do with all of that energy, I felt like a machine.

It. Was. Awesome.

If you can reach that point, you have crossed one of the toughest hurdles.  The next challenge is not stopping when your buddies want to grab a beer, your significant other wants to cook you a pasta dinner, or your budget has decided a five dollar foot long is the way to go.  Stay strong and stick to your principles.  The people who support you in this are probably the ones you want to keep around anyways, send the others packing.

After those initial two weeks, I increased my net carb allowance to 40 grams.  Another two-three weeks, I bumped it to 60g.  Once I worked myself up to about 80 grams I figured out that I could stay within the 80-100 gram range and maintain my fat burning capabilities.  This range is different for everyone but once you get to know  your body you’ll figure it out.

Keep in mind, these carbohydrates should be spread throughout your day and not just loaded into one meal.

I’m not telling you to stop living.  I pretty much allowed myself one day a month, after the first month, to eat what I wanted.  I’d go out and have those beers and relax and enjoy myself.  From what I’ve learned and experienced, it’s not such a bad thing to throw a curve-ball like that at your body once in a while.

The keys to a successful “cheat day” are:

1) Plan it, don’t just start binge eating

 2) Jump right back onto the bandwagon the next day.

If you are, in fact, going to come off the diet you need to use some self-control.  DO NOT simply revert to the carb loading days of your past or any weight you lost you will put back on.  You’ll need to slowly reintegrate carbs back into your diet, much like I stated above, so that your body can adjust to using them as fuel rather than storing them as fat.

This diet isn’t for everyone, neither is the lifestyle.  I go to the gym six times a week.  I prep my meals for work ahead of time.  These are choices I have made for myself to reach goals that I have set.  Nobody else can make a change for you; you’ve got to decide for yourself.

As for where I’m at now, I still limit my carb intake compared to that of most people, but it’s more about when and what kind of carbs I put into my body.  What I really subscribe to now is eating clean.  If you want a quick rundown on this way of life, check out this article at Bodybuilding.com.  One could skip the entire plan that I followed and jump straight into this and also see great results.

That’s it in a nutshell.  There are lots of resources out there to learn about how to get healthy, so please don’t just jump into what I did without checking things out for yourself.  I’ve got a couple sites over on my External Links page to help you get started.

-Moody

Fail to Fear

Posted: July 21, 2013 in fitness, motivation
Tags: , , , , , ,

“I must not Fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.”

For those not familiar with it, that quote is from the science fiction book Dune by Frank Herbert and is the first part of a larger whole known as the Litany Against Fear.  I first read those words as a pre-teen and, while I did not truly comprehend the entire Dune series until I was older, those words stuck with me.  So much so, that I actually have those two lines tattooed on my arms.

I know, bask in my Nerdom.

imustnotfear

While those words represent many parts of my life, I was surprised to find that they also apply to living a healthy lifestyle.  I’m not talking about a fear of being healthy, that would be an awful phobia if not for the fact that Twinkies and Krispy Kremes might be considered medicinal.

“I’m here to fill my prescription.”

“This is the bakery.”

“I’m aware, 2 dozen glazed please.”

What I’m really getting at, is a fear of failure.

Fear can paralyze us and that paralysis can be characterized in a variety of ways.  It can be a failure to act, a failure to follow through, or simply a failure to even try.

For me, my failure was in making excuses.  We’ve all heard them and we’ve all made them for many different parts of our lives.  My favorite was, “I don’t have enough time.”

Bullshit.

Author’s Note:  I believe this article, by Nerdfitness.com, sums up why that excuse is BS far better than I can.  Do yourself a favor and check the whole site out, it’s a great source of motivation and advice.

I had the time.  What I didn’t have was the motivation.  I had let my fear of failing prevent me from even starting.  Nobody wants to be that person who starts and then doesn’t finish.  Becoming healthy is so visible to our peers that it’s incredibly easy for them to see failure and for us to focus on that.

On the other side of that coin, it’s just as easy for them to see success.  I took those small bits of success, myself and others seeing my body change, and used them as fuel to defeat my fear of failing.

Along the way, though, I’ve had my fair share of hiccups and lapses in judgment that have set me back.  I’ve gotten better at avoiding those things but only because I had failed at some point and had learned from experience.

Failure is not an option, it is a step.

-Moody

Surprisingly, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had in my journey hasn’t actually been me.  It’s been everyone else.

Because opinions.

Everyone’s got one.  I’m guilty; I’m writing a blog that’s all about my opinion, which almost makes this post awkward.  Almost.  The difference being, I’m not making you read this.  I am not standing next to you while you’re in the gym pleading with you to stop your weightlifting and try cross-fit, telling you that jogging is just a fad, or attempting to change your whole routine because of some article I skimmed through.

To those of you who do this, STAHP.

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It’s both a blessing and a curse that the fitness community has so many people willing to offer advice.  On the one hand it’s so easy to get information on nutrition, workouts, and motivation.  On the other, and much like the internet, it’s easy to get a bunch of BS information.

“You mean horse tranquilizers won’t stimulate muscle growth?”

“No.   Also, you taking Viagra before the gym is making everyone uncomfortable.”

My earlier post kind of touched on the subject that you shouldn’t worry about what everyone else thinks of you or how you compare to them.  I, for example, am one goofy looking dude running on the treadmill with my size 15 feet pounding away, but I still hop on it every morning because I know it’s good for me, despite the terrified looks from other gym goers.  On the other side of that coin, I shouldn’t stare at the lady on the stair master as she rides each step all the way to the ground like a cheap carnival attraction.  I really can’t look away though, mostly out of jealousy.

Rule of thumb: Unless they are going to hurt themselves or somebody else, let it go.  Don’t go poking your nose into somebody else’s routine/choices because you think it’s your duty.  It’s not.

Even better, if it’s not in the gym, it’s in the grocery store.  Based on my shopping, cart I once had a cashier grill me on my diet.  I didn’t even know that was allowed, clearly I’m going back to the self-checkout lines.

Finally, if it’s not either of these places, it’s the people from the rest of your life.  Most of these people probably mean well, they aren’t out to get you.  But if they aren’t on the same journey you’re on and they are parroting advice from Dr. Oz, you should probably ignore them.

Above all, never second guess yourself because of others.  Find good information and figure out what’s right for you.  Don’t let some “bro” at the gym tell you how to work out and don’t let the lady at the cash register freak out because your cart doesn’t have a frozen and pizza and 3 liters of soda in it.

Do what you do.

-Moody

“Weight is irrelevant, insignificant, and relative. The point is having someone there to motivate and push us past our respective limits. That’s where the magic happens and growth takes place.”

That’s what my good friend, and kick-starter into being fit and healthy, told me when I mentioned that I would feel ridiculous lifting with him because he was so much stronger than me.  On a real note, the dude is jacked, but he didn’t even bat an eye when he came at me with that bumper sticker worthy statement.

It’s easy to hide behind our weaknesses.  It’s easy to compare ourselves to other people and think that you will never stand where they do.  It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to be the reason you don’t make a change.  It’s easy to do nothing for fear of failure.  Luckily, there is a solution.

Quit that shit.

I know, not nearly as eloquent as you had hoped and much easier said than done.  You don’t just wake up one day and decide that you’re going to abandon your comfort zone.  If you’re anything like I was, and still can be, you say you’ll do it tomorrow because your comfort zone feels a lot like your bed on Saturday morning.  I’m telling you right now, though, that if you take baby steps you will make progress.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Get a salad instead of a burger and fries.  Go for a walk tonight.  Drink water instead of soda.  Go to the gym for 30 minutes.  You’ll be surprised at how fast you build on these little things and all of the sudden you aren’t the same person you were a month ago.  Slow progress is still progress.

Those jacked guys and those toned women that we all want to be like had to start somewhere.  So, instead of snuggling back up in your comfort zone; pick one thing to change today, then another the next, and so on.  Pretty soon you won’t even recognize your old habits or even your old self.

-Moody

Seriously.  Do it.  At the very least, hide it.  Go into your bathroom, pick it up, make a note to clean up the outline it left behind, and hide the damn thing.  But if you are going to go full “Office Space” on it, send me a video.

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If you’re just getting started on a fitness journey, and if you must, go ahead and weigh yourself one more time.  Remember that number, because you’ll never see it again.  When I started I weighed myself once and didn’t touch it again until 8 months later.

I can’t take credit for this stroke of genius, however.  My fitness mentor told me to do it and I hated it.  For about two weeks I kept wondering if I was making progress, I developed the nervous twitches of a drug addict.  But then one day I walked into the firehouse and one of the guys said, “Hey man, you losin’ weight?”

Screw that scale.

Then, a week or two later, my clothes started fitting differently.  Not much, but the shirts felt a little looser and the pants just weren’t quite right.  Yet another person, “Man, you’ve got mad jawline showing right now.”

Scales are for suckers.

My point is that weight is just a number.  It does not define success, it does not deign you healthy, and it sure as hell does not define you.  How you feel is what matters.  I’m sure I had dropped a couple of pounds in those first few weeks and maybe seeing that reflected on a scale would have made me feel good, I don’t know.  What I do know, is that I felt AWESOME when people noticed.  That took my journey out of the hypothetical ether and straight into the non-fiction section.

When I finally weighed myself 8 months later, while ecstatic at the actual progress I had made, the number didn’t mean all that much.  Frankly, everyone else cared about the number more than I did and I weighed myself simply to avoid anymore weird looks

“You don’t weigh yourself?  That’s against the rules.”

Another reason for hiding the scale is so that you don’t obsess over little things.  I’ve watched people freak out because of a stubborn one or two pound fluctuation that could have simply come from them weighing themselves at a different time of day, having their shoes on, or having just punished a trough of salad.

So, get rid of the scale.  Rely on what you see and how you feel to judge your progress.  As long as you keep making good choices and striving to be healthy, results will come.

-Moody

Relentless

Posted: July 9, 2013 in fitness, motivation
Tags: , , ,

Relentless.

When I look up the definition of that word it sounds harsh, even aggressive. The definition, according to Merriam-Webster, reads, “showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace.” Comparing that to the direction my life has taken, I don’t feel a need to edit that definition to suit my needs.

My whole life growing up I was the fat kid. Certainly, I didn’t have it as bad as some due to my personality. I’m generally considered funny, outgoing, and occasionally obnoxious; which allowed me to fit in with all of the other boys my age. I played soccer, ran around outside with friends, rode my bike to get places just like everyone else. But I was always the fat kid.

Despite that, I never let it hold me back mentally. Putting up with the jokes and insults helped me develop a tough skin, a thick skin. It also taught me what it’s like to be bullied and, when I grew taller than my peers, I didn’t stand for the bullying of those around me.

I was always fairly popular, everyone knew me by my last name, Moody. Even in my sprawling suburb of D.C. it was hard not to at least be recognized with that name and my 6’2 frame. Again, my personality helped me here. I grew up, went to college, hated it for a year, came home, and moved into a volunteer firehouse. Where my parents gave me my values and the ability to ask questions; the firehouse, and the people in it, gave me the skills to be a leader. Those positives aside, I always failed at one thing: my health.

My weight and fitness level were something I truly should have cared about much earlier in my life. To an extent, I always knew I needed to change. Knowledge, however, is nothing without action. My friends in the firehouse told me I would stop breathing in my sleep, a clear sign of Sleep Apnea. I ignored them. It became part of who I was. “Don’t sleep in a cube with Moody. He snores like a freight train and then stops breathing for a minute.” Later, after growing weary of always being tired, I researched it and found out how serious it was. It could kill me. My weight was killing me. That was my wake-up call. My dreams of being a career fireman would never come true if I wasn’t healthy enough to do the job.

I was the fat kid.

Luckily, a career firefighter at my station that I had become good friends with had just changed his life. He had dropped weight, put on muscle, and become a fitness machine. I wanted to be that machine. I needed to be that machine. He told me exactly what plan he followed and gave me all of the knowledge I needed to become who I had always wanted to be. My life hasn’t been the same since.

—–

That was a year ago. Since then I’ve lost 100lbs of fat, packed on lean muscle, and increased my level of cardio. No fancy tricks. No secret “silver bullet” pills. No “12 Minute Abs” DVD’s. Hard work in the gym and discipline in the kitchen. That is where my results have come from.

This site is where I’ll document my growth, share my struggles, and hopefully motivate others to be Relentless.

Moody