Posts Tagged ‘strength’

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

 

It’s a funky little word that always seems to get a negative connotation.

Smoking is a bad habit.  This sleep aid is non-habit forming.  Or the one I tend to hear, “You’ve got a real habit of pissing me off.”

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Seems to me like “habits” get a pretty bad rap, good thing it doesn’t have to be that way.

We all know I peruse the interwebz regularly, but it wasn’t until I got into this whole blogging game that I started actually looking specifically for blogs to read.  Fitness/health blogs that I actually care to read on a regular basis are pretty few and far between but I have found a few.

Thesecretlifecoachofdc.wordpress.com  ← gets to gettin people, it’s one of those few I follow regularly.  Also, for my discerning local readers, that does indeed appear to be another D.C. metro local.  I don’t know them, but it’s definitely nice to see another blogger in the area that likes to write about health related stuff in a positive way.

The article concluded with something that was told to them by a former coach, “First you make a habit, then a habit makes you.”  The best part is that they weren’t talking about something negative, in that particular post, they were talking about making running a habit.

Spoiler Alert: that’s a good habit.

Now, this didn’t click in my head until a few things happened.  First a coworker made a comment when I walked by a pound cake that my boss had brought in, “Man, you are way too disciplined with the food thing.”  I disagree… sort of.

I will concede that I used to be disciplined.  When I first started out I would have had to struggle to not grab a quick slice of the latest treat and it would have required some discipline to avoid it.  Now, though, it’s just normal (see also: habit) for me not to eat junk food.  Sure I indulge every once in a while, but I would be happier if somebody brought in some pineapple.

I love me some damn pineapple.

The second thing that made it click was the short walk from my house to my car at 3:45am on my way to the gym before work.  As I looked around my street I noticed the stillness of everything, the lack of lights in windows, and the distinct lack of noise.  I realized that this is normal for me but clearly not for anyone else in my neighborhood.  It’s my morning routine (see also: habit).

Neither of these things used to be a regular aspect of my life.  I used to eat whatever was offered and the gym was an occasional excursion.  Now it’s different; I don’t think about being healthy anymore than I would think about brushing my teeth twice a day.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to start doing healthy things on a regular basis.  There will be mistakes and setbacks but if you keep making the effort, eventually, it becomes no effort at all.

Keep going, it gets easier.

-Moody

It’s not as hard as it sounds, but it seems like lots of people I know are struggling with this right now.

Recently, I posted a progress pic to Facebook and I shall shamelessly put it here as well.  No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks…that is, indeed, a mirror selfie.

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DON’T JUDGE ME.  Mostly because I kind of loathe myself for stooping so low ( and I may have made fun of my own mother for posting a selfie…again, sorry Mom).  As usual, I digress.

After I posted it, my kickass family and friends gave me all the wonderful support that I have come to expect from them because they are awesome.  What I started running into, generally from people I saw in person, was, “Man, I wish I had half the strength you do.  I’d love to get in shape,” or some derivative thereof.  This was followed by a, “I don’t know how you do it,” type statement.

I wasn’t sure what to say to this, at least at first.  I mean, I knew they weren’t talking about what I literally did to get in shape.  Most of them had seen me eating piles of spinach and chicken at some point.  They were talking about how I maintained the self control necessary to see results.

The answer is twofold: Baby Steps and Focus.

The first part is the easiest to explain.  I took every day as it came.  I didn’t worry about the next day; I concentrated on each challenge as it came my way.  I mentioned in the first post that, once I started seeing results, it became easier to keep on going.  I became my own perpetual motivation machine by the mere realization of, “Holy hell, this is working.”

Stick it out for 2-3 weeks, give yourself an opportunity to see results, and you will succeed.

That’s the easy part… sort of.  To achieve that initial push, and continued success, you need to focus.  You need willpower.  I’m not trying to go Mr. Miyagi on you, but you need self discipline.

Luckily, I firmly believe that willpower is a muscle; all you have to do is exercise it.  Which, brings us back to the baby steps thing.

I know, my thought processes are whack.  Bear with me.

Start making small changes.  For your next meal, instead of fast food, go hit the grocery store and get a salad.  The next time you go shopping, knock one of the unhealthier items you always buy off of your list and replace it with a healthier alternative.  Do this every time you go to the store and, soon, you’ve revamped your entire shopping list.  Go for a 10 minute walk tonight, tomorrow do 15, and so on.  Make small changes that will build on themselves to improve your life.

This is gonna sound weird coming from me, and I tell a surprising number of people this; don’t do what I did.  Not unless it’s going to fit the way you live and want to live.  I, admittedly, went to the extreme in my lifestyle changes to achieve my goals.  Not everyone can do that, and that’s okay.  That doesn’t make me better than anyone else who’s trying to become healthier.  I made the changes I did because I knew that I was cutting my life in half, at the very least, by they choices that I had been making.  That being said, don’t sell yourself short, I wasn’t positive I could pull off what I did when I started either.  A huge lesson I’ve come to learn; you’re capable of more than you know.

I guess I’ll come back to what seems to be the running them of this blog; do what’s right for you.  Trust the process, make baby steps, and focus.

Results will follow.

-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