Posts Tagged ‘intensity’

I don’t care about having a sixpack.

I can hear you already, “You, sir, are a damned liar.” Listen, I’ll admit that at one point having a sixpack topped my priority list and I wanted it bad. I examined every article, picture, and shred of information I could get my grubby hands on that might get me closer to the supposed Holiest of Fitness Grails. Lately, though, that goal has lost some of it’s luster.

My first clue that I wanted something different was during a pickup game of flag football with some friends. It was the first time I had stepped on a field to actually play a (somewhat) organized sport in years. We picked teams schoolyard style; two captains each picking players until everyone’s got a place to go. Even growing up the fat kid I was coordinated enough to not be picked last; the middle of the pack is generally where I fall and the same held true this time.

For someone who has never been the fastest at anything, nobody was more shocked than I when I happened to be just that. The looks of confusion and shock on my friends faces as I blew by them was more satisfying than it should have been. I know that it’s not really a big deal and that I’m being childish. Except it’s also awesome, so I’m not going to apologize.

My second clue came during a workout not that long ago where I did something I hadn’t really been devoting any real effort to achieving. Having said that, I know this will offend a few people. I pulled 405lbs on a deadlift. I’m not saying that it was easy or that it’s a super impressive number; powerlifters are giggling at me right now. What I am saying is that I didn’t realize how awesome it feels to be strong. Doing something that you know for a fact you were incapable of doing a few weeks ago is one of the purest forms of self satisfaction I’ve yet to come across.

Now, I lay all of that out there and I can still hear the skeptical response, “Yeah, yeah. But you’re gonna tell me you don’t want to look good?”

What, you think I want to look like a bag of ass? No. If anyone tells you that they don’t care at all, even a little bit, about how they look I want you to punch them right in the kisser and steal their peanut butter.

The good news is that I have refocused my training and eating for performance. I’ve touched on little ways I’ve done this nutritionally before, like when I figured out my body desperately needed carbs to recover from the workouts I was doing. Also, I never worked out just to make my mirror muscles bigger. Most everything I do and have done is about being able to perform my job better, which still holds true. The difference is that I measured my progress more by how I looked than by how I performed. That has changed.

I’m not going to throw around buzz phrases similar to, “train like an athlete.” That could mean so many things to so many different people. Maybe you want to be a sprinter, a powerlifter, or just a parent that is able to keep up with their kids on the playground. Work towards those goals because the “looking good” part comes with the territory.

Granted, that assertion comes soley from my experience. I’m not trying to fit some six-pack-mold anymore, but by focusing more on those other things that make me happy I’m starting to look better anyway. I’m starting to see that definition that I always wanted but it’s not my endgame anymore, which is fantastic news when I really stop to think about it.

I mean, seriously, once I achieved my goal of a six pack…what would I do? Lose it just to get it again? That makes zero sense. No, instead I have goals that will last me a lifetime. I can always get faster and stronger, I can’t very well get more six pack.

-Moody

I could write an entire post about running the Tough Mudder this weekend, but it wouldn’t mean much to anyone not running one. Instead, I’ll focus on what I felt upon completing the course and why it wasn’t what I thought I would feel.

That being said, a quick blurb never hurts. The race was challenging, as it’s meant to be. Men and women of a wide range of fitness levels were out on the course giving it they’re all. It was pretty inspiring and one of my teammates, who was self admittedly well out of shape prior to this, said, “It’s easy when you’re running on your own or doing burpees to stop. But when you’ve got all these people pushing, man, it motivates you to just keep going.”

I don’t have a whole lot to add to that; he nailed it.

Pushing on to completion though, I felt proud of all of everyone who made it through, especially the ones who were hesitant to sign up until I pestered them (I’d apologize, but you know who you are and you’re happy you did it).  As it relates to myself, though , I wasn’t really proud of those few hours I spent on the course.

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I was proud of everything I did to prepare for it. I spent hours sweating on gym floors, sidewalks, and fields so that I could control how my body works. I put so much effort into figuring out what fuel my body runs best on that I could write a ten page paper comparing how I react to certain foods. I’ve got notebooks full of chicken scratch about workouts, what worked versus what didn’t, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Completing the course and still feeling good, while also exhausted, was just proof that I had put in the effort. That effort was the most important thing to me.

That’s an interesting realization, right? Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast on the course and will definitely be doing it again. I’m also more sore today than I have ever been in my whole life; I can’t walk right. Where I really found out how strong I was, both physically and mentally, was the work behind the scenes. Kind of like any athlete I’ve ever admired; their success begins off-screen, not in the championship game.

The hardest thing to do, for me, was to adjust my mindset to that framework. Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend, that I haven’t talked to in years, and I described how I approach life these days. Because that’s what you do when you catch up with people, right? Get all deep and introspective? No? Maybe just certain people then.

“I figured out that I’m better when I’m challenging myself and struggling to achieve. So I put myself in those situations,now, where I’m supposed to lose just to prove that I can win.”

That really does sum up how I do things. I used to shy away from challenges and take the easy way out. All that got me was sleep apnea, self loathing, and perceived life sentence of mediocrity.

Not a good combination.

So here’s my challenge, and it doesn’t have to be fitness/health related. I challenge everyone I know (especially the spammers who follow this blog) to put themselves in a situation where 51% of the vote goes to the other team. Where you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail to come out on top. Take your comfort zone, everything you think you know about yourself, all of your insecurities; throw them away.

Even if you’ve got to sign up for it 6 months in advance like I did for the Tough Mudder, commit yourself to something you don’t think you’re ready for. I’d bet good money that you’ll come out mentally stronger than you went in.

What have you really got to lose?

-Moody

 

I’m a little rusty on my algebra, but what I’m trying to get across with my title is that working hard is hard work and vice versa.  If you want something you’ve got to work for it because relying on luck isn’t much of a bet.  Kind of a no brainer, right?

Short answer: nope.

I wish I could say that I always bought into the hard work mentality.  I was raised knowing what hard work was, but it took me a while to pull my head out of my ass (as so eloquently put by my Dad…again) and start applying it to my own life.  The truth is that, for the most part, I coasted through life.  Now, that’s not to say I was a societal burden; I worked jobs in high school, was a decent student, volunteered at a fire department, and hung out with friends.

All in all, I was average.  What I wasn’t, though, was ambitious.  Thankfully, who I am today is a far cry from that person.  I think that Jonathan Safran Foer sums up my thoughts best on how I feel about that period of time, “My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.”

My problem was that I just expected life to happen a certain way.  Graduate high school, go to college, graduate, get job, etc.  There was no thought on my part that things would happen any other way and, when they inevitably did, I floundered.  I thoroughly believed that the sun would rise again the next day and I would keep moving inexorably towards the next phase of my life.  What happens on the day the sun rises and suddenly you’re 80?  What do you say to yourself then, when you realize that your yesterdays outnumber your tomorrows?

Hindsight being 20/20, I can point to the one thing I dislike most about who I was before.  Frankly, I actually find it to be one of the least attractive qualities anyone can possess.

A lack of ambition.

Now, I’m not defining what any one person’s ambition should be.  If you want to go to Starbucks every day and become a connoisseur of all of their offerings with a specialization in their lemon pound cakes (because you guys, YOU GUYS, they are so damn good) be my guest.  But you better attack that goal daily.

Every single day I do something, anything, to get me closer to my goals.  Even if all I manage to accomplish is one thing, it’s a successful day.

Take fitness as an example; eat right, exercise, learn something new about fitness/nutrition, try something new, etc.  Today, I’m not getting to the gym because its rest day but I am eating right and I’m also going to do a little more research into stretching because I suck pretty hard at that.

All of that = today gets a gold star.

Do something every day that brings you closer to your goal and eventually you’ll get it.

When in doubt, though, here’s my old standby :

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-Moody

In the not so distant past, I wrote an article about listening to your body.  I, being completely biased, think it’s pretty good and has some decent info.

So I promptly ignored it.

I didn’t ignore what my body needed nutritionally; nay, t’was not nearly so subtle.  My body chose to alert me to my stupidity through pain, and lots of it.

Luckily it wasn’t an injury, it was due to me changing up my routine (again).  I started working out with another friend and our plan for that week essentially scorched all of the accessory muscles that I had been ignoring.  These muscles do not take scorn lightly, but I figured, “Meh, I’ll be fine.  Push forward”.

I was wrong (again), which is a trend of mine.

I woke up one day in a state of pure fire the likes of which can only be compared to that of ten thousand burning suns.  All.  Over.  My.  Body.

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I didn’t do a damn thing that day.  On one side, this was okay because it was my scheduled rest day.  On the other however, it could have been avoided.  I know myself well enough to know that it would have taken an injury for me to rest before my rest day, which is stupid.  I also know that, after my two rest days, I felt absolutely fine.  The problem is that I was pushing the outside edge of the envelope.

I like pushing myself, its part of why I’ve succeeded and, I think, a necessity for anyone to be successful at anything.  I also like knowing my limits; this gave me some new insight as to what those are and what things I need to work on.

The lesson I’m walking away with, though, is that I came really close to pushing it a bit too far and hurting myself, which would have been a huge setback for me.

Lots of people, including myself, will tell you that your mind will give out long before your body does.  Even believing that, there is a fine line between when you should push yourself because you are capable of more and when you should rest because your body needs time to recover.

For most people who are hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, this isn’t going to be an issue.  If you are just starting out and haven’t done much in the way of exercise, you’re going to feel those initial workouts a little bit more than someone who has been at it for a while.

I wish I had some definite piece of advice for when you should push yourself versus when you should rest, but I don’t.  All I can do is leave you with the ubiquitous, “Listen To Your Body” mantra.

And hope that you learn from my mistakes (again).

-Moody

In the interest of full disclosure; I’ve been desperately searching for something to write about, and this post has proven to be a most elusive beast.  I think, though, that it’s a nice change of pace.

First of all, I have nothing I am currently struggling with in my quest to be fit and healthy.  I’m not dealing with people who are being kind of douchey about me being healthy.   I’m not even dealing with some existential issue that defies all logic (like some people still think that Han didn’t shoot first).

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I came to a pretty awesome conclusion, though; that’s okay.

Not every day has to be a struggle.  We don’t have to be working through some minor crisis on the way to our goals every step of the way.  So this first little blurb is all about taking the good days with the bad.

If you had a kickass day at the gym, hold your head high and be proud of it.  If you ate all of the healthy stuff you needed to eat, be happy about it.  If you managed to say, “NO” to your boss’ wife’s delicious double chocolate brownies with nuts in them and those little cream cheese swirls; go ahead and cry a little bit, but do it with a smile.

Carry that confidence into the rest of your day.  Yes, this was my gratuitous segue into a post about confidence.

I didn’t used to be confident.  Hell, sometimes I’m the exact opposite.

“Heyyy hot girl with hot friends, wanna see my sweet room at my parents house?  Do you like Xbox?”

See? It comes naturally.

What I started doing, though without realizing it, was faking it until I made it.  There’s a sweet TED Talk I’ve posted below about this; so if you want to avoid my mindless rants then, please, skip ahead.

If you’re still here, however, I’ll attempt to boil down my main takeaway.

I had not seen this TED Talk until very recently and it made me realize what I had done to build my confidence.  No, I didn’t take 2 minutes a day to pose in some power stance (I’m totally not attempting to type this in a power stance at this very moment.)

Seriously, I’m not.

Mostly.

What I did was start acting like I belonged wherever I was.  It could’ve been school, work, the bar, the gym, the sidewalk, etc.  Regardless, wherever I was at I made an effort to simply belong there.  So I walked confidently, made eye contact, greeted people, and kept on moving.

Eventually I not only made it, but as Amy Cuddy mentions in the video, I became it.  That confidence somehow became a part of who I am.  Now, again, that is not to say that I’m a cocky bastard.  We all know there is a fine line between confidence and cocky, don’t mess with that line.  There are certainly days and situations where I’ve got to put back on the “fake it” mentality and hope for the best.

Ladies, I’m looking at you.

I am saying, though, that it doesn’t matter where you are in life or maybe even your fitness journey; confidence is half the battle.  Own wherever you are and whatever you’re doing; the results will follow.

Be sure to check out the video, it’s worth it.

-Moody

“Do everything with passion, pride, strength, perseverance, consistency, patience, and rage.  This is the only way to achieve.”

Now, the nerd in me desperately screams that this is not the way of the Jedi.  That may be true, but let’s be real; they were pretty arrogant and got their asses handed to them for a reason.

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Star Wars references aside, I have no idea who first made the statement above but I’ve stumbled across it a number of times while perusing the vast expanses of the interwebz.

Shocker, I completely agree with it.

Fitness is one of my passions.  It consumes my thoughts during my free time; I mean c’mon…I write a blog about it.  I take pride in how I’m taking control of my life.  I have been strong when in the past I would have been weak.  I have persevered though low points.  I have managed to stay consistent in my efforts.  I have learned to have patience with my progress because nothing happens over night.

When I first came across this statement I realized that I had done each of these things without knowing it.  I had utilized each behavior to accomplish my goals and create new ones and the only word that gave me pause was rage.

For those who know me, this should come as no surprise.  I’m generally an easy going person and it takes quite a bit to piss me off.  In the past I could get heated over little things but I’ve largely grown out of that, something I actually attribute to me getting healthy.

Rather than ponder what “rage” meant, I took the next logical step: I Googled it.

Fancy, I know.

A lot of the definitions do talk about anger, but those weren’t the ones that caught my eye.

                    A burning desire or passion.

                    To move with great violence or intensity.

                    To prevail forcefully.

These definitions made sense.

The second definition, though, is what really got me.  All because of one word my soccer coach growing up had stressed to my team.  I will never forget having him stand there and talk to us right before a game or at half time and ask, “What’s that word I’m always talking about?”

The entire team responded with, “Intensity”.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that one word would define my life for both better and worse.  I realize now that when I didn’t give my best in school, when I didn’t care about college like everyone else did, when I allowed myself to become unhealthy, and that when I ever quit anything;

It was because I lacked intensity.

I lacked rage.

Be passionate, take pride, be strong, persevere, stay consistent, have patience, and hold it all together with rage and intensity.  Success will follow.

-Moody