At Some Point, We All Need a Little Help

How often do you hear someone say “I know what I should be doing, I’m just not doing it”. The simplicity of their statement implies that the behavior they’re seeking is like turning a light on and off.  The reality may not be that simple.  Stronger forces are likely at work all tied to the incredible power of habits.

I first heard the following short story from my mentor Darren Hardy on habits and their power to rule our lives.

There was a wise old man walking in the woods with his young apprentice.  He asked the young man to pull up a small seedling only a few inches tall.  The boy easily followed his instructions and they continued their walk.

 

Next the old man asked his young apprentice to pull up a small sapling about four feet tall and with some considerable effort, he was able to do so.

 

Finally, they approached a full-grown oak where the young apprentice could barely see the top and the wise old man asked him to pull it up.  He looked back at his master in disbelief and said there’s no possible way without some help.

And “help” is the operative word.  Habits can become so deeply ingrained that they become like steel cables where there’s very little chance of breaking them…without some help.  According to the Harvard Business Review, 40% to 45% of our daily actions are automatically governed by habit…for better or worse.

So for example, when someone who struggles with their weight says they know what they should be eating but they’re simply not doing it.  It’s true that they may know what to eat.
The challenge is that they don’t understand the “why” behind their eating habits.  That’s where help is needed to bridge the gap of understanding leading to better compliance and ultimately a more healthy diet.

For someone who struggles with food, a personal trainer or dietitian or even psychologist may be helpful.  For a struggling business executive, a personal coach could be a huge benefit.  Whatever your challenge, there is a source of help that could make all the difference in you overcoming your struggle.  From professional counsel to something as simple as an accountability partner or even a book, help can come in a variety of forms.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”

Albert Einstein

Here’s what I know.  When you’re seeking to get rid of a bad habit, it will take work.  The best way to overcome a bad habit is to replace it with something new and positive.  You can’t just stop a given activity and not fill the void.  Nature abhors a vacuum and so the best strategy is to plug-in the new to replace the old.

Let me repeat, this will take work.  To borrow from our story above, depending on the size of your personal “tree”, it could take a considerable effort to overcome the chains of your negative habit.  There’s a widely held belief that 21 days is the magical time frame to turn a new positive activity into a habit.  In some cases, this can be true.  However when dealing with habits entrenched over a period of years, it could literally take hundreds of repetitions of the new to replace the old.

There’s another common belief that says for someone to truly change, they must hit rock bottom.  From a very recent personal experience, I can tell you this is simply not true. According to my life long mentor, Andy Andrews, there are only two elements needed for true and lasting change and hitting rock bottom is not one of them.

The first element is “Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”.  I recently had some major dental work done that was also extremely expensive.  I didn’t ask my dentist prior to the procedure about whether chewing gum would be an option afterwards.  Two trips and 11 hours of dental work later, the question came up regarding my fetish for gum chewing.

He said, “Well, you can, but you run the risk of messing up what we just did”.  Did I mention that the procedure was 11 hours of rather painful work spread over two days and that it was very expensive?  Based on his comment, it wasn’t even a question.  If there was even a 1% chance of me messing up my dental work, that was all the proof I needed to hear.  So…no more gum chewing for me.  Can you say “Hello Sugar free Life Savers”?

The second element is “What’s in it For Me”.  Well this was pretty simple and hitting rock bottom had nothing to do with it.  I want to do everything possible to protect the investment I just made and giving up gum was a super simple decision under the circumstances.

If you’re not into chewing gum, this may not seem like a big deal.  I on the other hand have not gone a day without chewing gum since college…and that was a long time ago.  Never in a million years prior to my dental work would I have considered giving it up, but in a moment, when the circumstances changed, it was nothing to start a new direction…gum free.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

So what negative habit would you like to replace?  Once identified, what positive habit do you need to put into place to overcome the negative?  Now based on the examples above, you must start small and work towards your goal of implementing the new habit on a regular basis.  The frequency will depend on the habit.

Changing your eating would be a daily goal.  Going to the gym 4 days a week is different and yet the commitment to go is every bit as important based on the frequency you’ve established.

Please don’t get tripped up with being overwhelmed at the potential enormity of what you’re seeking to accomplish.  Just take the first step.  Have an apple instead of the bag of chips.  Drink a bottle of sugar-free flavored water instead of the sugar loaded soft drink.
Commit to going to the gym tomorrow and forget about the rest of the week.  Just get the first workout under your belt and then commit to the next.

Imagine standing at the bottom of a 30 story set of spiral stairs with the goal of reaching the top.  If from the beginning, you focus your attention at the top, it could seem very overwhelming.  If however you focus on reaching the first step, success will come easily. Having reached the first step, the second will come easy as well.  It may take some time, but by focusing on one step at a time, success is virtually guaranteed.  It’s amazing how small “baby” steps can add up.

And for a final mental anchor, once you determine your proof beyond a reasonable doubt, focus all your efforts on your “why” (what’s in it for you) and let that be your beacon and guiding light as you journey towards your personal growth and improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Andy Andrews, Darren Hardy, goal setting, living your dream, personal development, self talk, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Honor of My Friend Stephanie

Stephanie Andrus-Jackson and I first met back in the Summer of 2015.  She’s the Assistant Director of Design Services at Texas Women’s University in Denton, TX.  In my role as the manufacturer rep for Workrite Ergonomics in the DFW market, we immediately hit it off and did several small projects together in the following months.  I really felt like the relationship with Stephanie and TWU could be fruitful.

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Stephanie Andrus-Jackson

My boss scheduled a trip to travel with me for a few days in mid October and we were supposed to take Stephanie to lunch.  As we were leaving Exxon’s corporate headquarters in Irving, I received a phone call from Stephanie.  I immediately knew something was wrong but nothing could have prepared me for what she was about to share.

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She explained that she had been battling Carcinoid Cancer since 2010 and she had just completed another round of treatment.  She further shared that it typically leaves her nauseated and exhausted and that she really didn’t feel up to guest.  Obviously I understood and promised to add her to my prayer list.  That’s when she openly expressed her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ which actually took our relationship to a whole different level.

As we said our goodbyes I turned to my boss to explain the situation.  Talk about a shot of perspective.  Regardless of our struggles in life, it generally doesn’t take much to find someone else going through a far greater challenge.  Stephanie’s journey has put her and her family & friends through pure hell, and I marvel at the grace and poise that she always displays.  Her faith in the Lord is strong and she is faithful to live by her faith as the foundation of each and every day.

Fast forward to the present and Stephanie’s journey since that fateful conversation back in October of 2015 has been quite the roller coaster ride.  In honor of her battle and in an effort to help gain support for her continued fight, I invite you to read the rest of her story by clicking the link below:

Please note that if you wish to offer support to Stephanie’s efforts, you can do so by clicking the “Donate” button beneath her photo.  100% of the donations are going towards her Wellness Campaign.

Stephanie – The Journey

Closing thoughts for my readers:

My mentor the late great Zig Ziglar used to teach on how people often times don’t place enough value on a given day.  His challenge was always that if you don’t think there’s any value in a day…try missing one.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

Knowing Stephanie and witnessing her fight has been one of the greatest influences in my life these past 17 months.  If you have your health, then you are truly blessed.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

 

 

Posted in Carcinoid Cancer, Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, Uncategorized, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Facing Down Fear

In the past year I’ve written two different blog posts on the idea that we’re always “on stage”.  While not the main focus of this blog, the idea of influencing people when we have no idea the impression is being made strangely weaves its way into the following story.

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Last weekend I attended a leadership event for Pruvit called EPIK in Dallas, TX.
Patrick Sweeney, one of the guest speakers on Saturday, talked about the crippling power of fear to control our lives.  Fear is a terrifying enemy commonly known and yet little understood.  In our society today we are technically safer than ever before and yet the vast majority of people live in fear to the point of it driving and controlling their lives.

Everyone has a fear frontier that creates a barrier few are able to pass through.  Only a small number are able to harness their fears and turn them into the energy needed to break down the barrier of the fear frontier.  The secret to killing fear is to act in spite of it and the two key ingredients are desire and belief.  With desire and belief properly channeled, you can overcome any obstacle.

ps

Patrick Sweeney, Adventurist

It really is unacceptable to live in fear because fear is a lie.  Many have coined the phrase but I will give credit to the late great Zig Ziglar for the following acronym:

F – False
E – Evidence
A – Appearing
R – Real

You must face your fears head on and ultimately you will discover they really have no power over you.  Emerson said it best with:

“Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain”

With that intro, let’s transition back to last Saturday.  Patrick Sweeney is an adventurist who has accomplished some amazing feats including scaling most of the world’s tallest mountains, overcoming Leukemia, and his deathly fear of flying by learning to be a competitive stunt pilot.  His story was inspiring and motivating and I took pages of notes. Little did I know of another member in the audience who was equally moved and also took an interest in me.

Sunday morning there was a lengthy line already formed to get in before the doors to the main ballroom were opened at 10AM.  With so many people it was a challenge to find a seat and I ended up sitting next to a very nice lady named Mary from the Houston area. There were literally people from all over the country and world with the farthest being from Australia so meeting a local Texan was pretty cool.

Mary and I immediately hit it off and had a great conversation running between speakers. After the lunch break, she shared something that started the day before that really took me off guard.  Going back to the talk on fear, Patrick asked the audience about our biggest regrets.  Mary shared that one of her biggest fears has been the lack of self confidence in meeting total strangers.  She said she’s really missed out in life because of her lack of personal belief.

Oddly enough, on Saturday she had noticed me across the isle and said it struck her in the heart to go and introduce herself to “me” because she thought I looked important. Ultimately fear got the best of her and she never made any move towards me.  Wow!  I was humbled at the compliment and blown away that it happened again where someone was watching me when I had no clue.

The good Lord definitely has a sense of humor and apparently thought Mary needed a crash course in overcoming her fear of meeting strangers.  What is the likelihood of me sitting next to her on Sunday?  With several thousand in the room, the odds were minuscule and yet we ended up together for the entire day.  I asked why in the world she was intimidated by me and her reply was just my look (professional dress) and air of success.

Fortunately I was able to show how her fears were totally unfounded and it was a great learning experience for us both.  I feel like she took a chink out of fear’s control of her and I was reminded yet again how we are always on stage influencing people even when we have no clue.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

When it comes to facing and overcoming your fears, there’s something to be said for taking bold action.  All the planning and thinking and figuring in the world will do you little good until you take action.  Do your homework and formulate your plan and you will be amazed with the abundance of resources and support that come to you by simply taking action.

You will never perform beyond the level of your belief…so fortify it and move!

Posted in attitude, Entrepreneur, Health & Fitness, ketogenic diet, leadership, living your dream, Nutrition, personal development, Pruvit, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Amazing First Two Weeks With KETO//OS

Every blog I’ve ever shared has had at its source a desire to add value to my readers. In today’s world, there is so much conflicting information on nutrition that the average person can end up confused and overwhelmed.  If you’re not happy with where you are physically and doubt your current nutrition plan, then I encourage you to enjoy the following with an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised.

I’ve always believed that thin threads bring people into our lives and my connection with Paul Carter fits that belief perfectly.  Paul is a bodybuilder, power lifter, professional coach, and prolific writer for T-Nation, and other industry fitness publications.  T-Nation is my top go to source for training and nutrition info and I’ve been following Paul since his first post in February of 2014.

paul-carter

My Coach – Paul Carter

This past Christmas break while visiting my family in East TX, I took a step beyond Paul’s articles going to his website to look for a way to connect.  He offers long-term coaching services which really didn’t fit my objectives however the hour-long “Skype” video conference was right down my alley.  I immediately reached out via email asking for a time to scheduled a call.

Paul was quick to reply back and the date was set for Thursday December 29th at 2PM.  To say I was excited would be the ultimate understatement.  I was totally jacked up about being able to pick his brain and was well prepared with questions.  One and a half hours later, I had pages of notes and was thrilled with what I had learned.  In wrapping up, Paul asked if I had ever heard of Exogenous Ketones.

Think “cow looking at a new gate” and you will be close to the expression on my face.  My only thoughts about ketones would have something to do with a state of being associated with an ultra-low carb diet.  Otherwise I had no idea what he was talking about.  He explained that after studying the products and technology at length, he started using them personally and with his clients including IFBB professional bodybuilders as well as a host of other clients.

I asked where I could learn more and he promised to send several articles that he personally wrote explaining his introduction to the products as well as their amazing benefits.  Given the quiet nature of the week between Christmas and New Years, I jumped right in and plowed through the material he sent me.  It left my mind spinning with questions and possibilities and so I reached out the next day to schedule further time to discuss.

Saturday morning, New Years Eve, we talked for about an hour about the science of the products, his personal experience, and that of his clients.  I was sold and pulled the trigger on my first order immediately after our call.

keto-box

KETO//OS; BIO MAX, 3.0, and 2.1

As excited as I was, I would now have to wait several days for my products to arrive.  It was like Christmas all over again and my package couldn’t arrive soon enough.  When John, my UPS man showed up the following Thursday afternoon, I knew Christmas had come. After signing for my delivery, I busted open the box with the realization that I would still have to wait until the next morning to try my first dose.

Paul had already coached me on how to use the products and the BIO MAX would be my new pre-workout drink.  I normally get up at 4AM and have a quick meal replacement drink with my bible study.  My Fusion 7 from Dymatize taste pretty amazing when mixed with my morning coffee and counts as my first small meal of the day.  After two “big” cups I’m off for the gym where I typically arrive by 5:15 or so.  Now before walking into the gym, I will slam down a MAX and wait for the “magic” to happen.

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KETO//OS BIO MAX

Please note that BIO MAX is not specifically a pre-workout drink by any means.  Fast & sustained energy is just one of the many benefits the product offers so it can be effectively used before a workout.  For the non-athlete, MAX can be taken pretty much any time of the day when you need to perform mentally and physically at your best.  I would caution on using the caffeinated version in the evenings as it could disrupt your sleep.

BIO MAX offers pure therapeutic ketones which allows your body to shift to a state of Ketosis with in an hour versus a period of days by the traditional method of following an ultra-low carbohydrate diet.

So why would you want to get your body into a state of ketosis?  For an excellent explanation, please enjoy the following video by clicking here:

campfire-video

Keytones Explained

 

My intrigue with the products was driven by a desire to become more metabolically efficient for performance and health reasons.  From years of following a low-fat diet with good amounts of protein and carbohydrates, I had trained my body to rely mostly on carbs for fuel.  While carbs have their place, fats are more far more efficient and especially desirable in a state of rest or while you sleep.  I had trained my body to be a “sugar burner” and was eager to see if MAX and the other products offered by Pruvit could help shift my metabolism to a more healthy state.

So back to my first experience with MAX.  Friday morning was legs and my favorite workout of all.  There couldn’t have been a better way to get started on the product.  As planned I took my Max with 8 oz of water before walking into the gym.  Within a couple of minutes I felt very clear in my head.  There wasn’t any sort of jittery jacked up feeling that you might get from too much caffeine…just cool energy and very clear thinking.

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After my normal warm up I started into the primary workout.  My overall sense through the warm up was very positive and I just felt good.  After the first work set, I knew it was going to be a good day.  Weight training is supposed to be a progressive pursuit and yet after 30+ years of training, the increases in strength from one workout to the next come slow. At the end of the day I was able to progress in reps or weight across the board with every set of every exercise.  My mind was blown with the addition of the MAX being the only thing that changed.

My training program consist of 2 days of weights followed by a day of moderate cardio and then repeat.  My next day following legs was cardio.  I had already determined to use my KETO//OS Chocolate Swirl mixed with my regular morning coffee and Fusion 7 combo. Can you say super turbo charged KETO cafe mocha?  While I wanted to get my ketones in early, there was no reason to use the MAX on my off days from weights.

If you look up “morning person” in the dictionary, you will see my picture.  I literally have to force myself to stay in the bed at times and just like the start of a new day.  Now give me something to look forward to…like trying my new Chocolate Swirl KETO//OS and I really have to force myself to stay in the bed.  My coffee maker is actually my alarm and when the little subtle “click” goes off and the light changes from green to blue, its go time!

When my “alarm” sounded Saturday morning, I was up in a flash impatiently waiting for the coffee maker to do its thing.  How many times in life do you get to try something new to eat or drink?  Unless you’re particularly adventurous, it’s not very often.  That’s how I felt and my eager anticipation was not disappointed.  The combo of my protein powder and Chocolate Swirl was most amazing.

While I slammed the MAX the morning before my weight training, I took about 30 minutes to go through the two cups of coffee.  While the effects were somewhat delayed, within minutes of finishing the second cup, the same clear thinking and cool energy started kicking in.  I had a great cardio session at the gym and generally felt amazing the rest of the day.

The next day at church I experienced an unexpected surprise.  I had trained chest and back earlier that morning with the same performance jumps as on legs two days prior. The early morning service starts at 9:15 and the sermon typically by 9:45 or so.  This is where I run into trouble.  Whether in church, or in a business meeting, or driving in my car, I have a morning lull that hits just before 10 and last for about 30 to 45 minutes.  It doesn’t matter if I trained or not or what I had for breakfast, if you get me still, then I’m fighting the “nods”.

Oddly enough I checked my watch at roughly 10AM and realized I wasn’t sleepy or yawning or ultimately fighting nodding off like usual.  Wow!  Could it be the MAX from almost 5 hours before?  My alert state sustained for the rest of the service which put me out of my danger zone.  Mental note…I was eager for church the next week to see if this was just a fluke.

Fast forward through the end of two weeks and the results have been exciting.  The progress with all my workouts has been like nothing I’ve ever seen in such a short period and it was the same routine as before starting on the products.  A change in routine can often times cause a growth spurt but this was not the case.  Also, after the first seven days I could clearly see how my body fat had dropped with my abs becoming noticeably sharper. And…I passed the second day at church test with another “nod free” service.

To get a more accurate account on my bio markers, I had some blood work done on day 8 and will check back in a few months for a comparison.  I am very much a creature of habit with my training and nutrition so it will be interesting to see how things change over time…especially with my metabolic efficiency.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

For more information on how KETO//OS might add value to our life, go here and please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

 

 

 

 

Posted in appetite suprression, better digestion, better mood, better sleep, cardio training, clear skin, Diet, fast & sustained energy, fat loss, Health & Fitness, increased focus, ketogenic diet, ketones, muscle preservation, Nutrition, strength gain, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Your Excuse?

The following is the story of how two unlikely individuals provided for a massive shift in perspective on my part and for that I will always be grateful…

On March 4th of this year I had surgery on my right shoulder and biceps.  My rotator cuff had multiple tears and my biceps tendon was on the verge of rupturing.  This has turned out to be the most challenging physical experience I’ve ever gone through in my life.  If I was not an athlete who regularly trains in the gym 5-6 days a week, it wouldn’t have been nearly as big a deal beyond the inconvenience of not having the use of my right arm for the first six weeks post surgery as I was restricted to wearing a sling.

The truth is that I’m a very driven athlete and was back in the gym one week after surgery (don’t tell my doctor).  Oh, I wasn’t lifting with my right arm, but I faithfully did my rehab movements without exception.  Further, the rest of my body worked just fine and I gave my 100% best effort never missing a workout right to the point of writing this post.  Most would say I went far beyond the norm in my efforts to rehab my shoulder and arm all while striving to get back to full strength and for the most part that would be true.

Training only 75% of my body was initially very difficult for two reasons.  The instant atrophy in my right shoulder and arm was rather demoralizing.  And then to think I would have to wait another 12 weeks minimum before starting strength training left me feeling pretty low.  Fortunately I learned to focus on progression with the rest of my training and it helped to block out the fact that my right arm was basically shrinking day by day.

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3 Days After Surgery

The second challenge was the fear of the stress of training around my shoulder and arm actually messing up my surgery.  There were several occasions where I was completely convinced that I had torn apart what my doctor had repaired and would be facing a “re-do”. Google it and you will see that the facts are not encouraging regarding rotator cuff surgery done a second time.  Needless to say, I lived on an emotional roller coaster for pretty much the first 7-8 months post surgery.

With that background I will now share my experience with two individuals that humbled me so greatly that I’m almost ashamed to tell you the following stories.  Ashamed because my surgery and the period that followed was nothing more than an inconvenience and blip on the time line of my life…God willing.  These two however are living with conditions that will never change and I honestly don’t know if I would have the guts to conduct myself as they do in the same circumstances.

The first occurred at the gym which made it all the more impactful for me.  I was working chest and back when this young guy came into the area close to me.  He was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, athletic shoes, and carried along a water bottle…with his good hand. You see, his left arm was normal, while his right arm and especially his forearm and hand were deformed.  The same was true for his left and right legs…left normal…right deformed.

It really took my breath away when I first took in the enormity of his appearance. When he walked, his right foot would not plant fully on the ground.  He basically walked normal on his left and up on his right toes.  My mind was racing with questions about what he could possibly do in his condition and he promptly showed me by doing a combination  of several different exercises.

While he worked one arm at a time, he did a pretty complete upper body workout of back rows, chest presses, shoulder presses, biceps curls, and triceps extensions.  I’m guessing it helps with his coordination to do one arm at time.  Now granted, he couldn’t hold more than a 5 lb dumbbell in his right hand…but that didn’t stop him from doing the work.

This really struck a nerve with me because after my doctor released me to lift, I started with a 3 lb dumbbell working my way back week after week until now I’m close to full strength 9 months post surgery.  This guy will be stuck with the 5 lb dumbbell for the rest of his life because his gnarled little hand can’t hold any more weight.  I thought I was mentally tough to do what I did knowing that it was only temporary and that my full strength would return.  I can’t imagine how he must feel to know he can never do any more than he was doing.

Like violence displayed on the news, its easy to become desensitized to people with handicaps unless you have someone directly impacting your life.  Watching this little guy struggle through his workout left me feeling deeply convicted for any and every complaint I’ve ever voiced about anything in my life.  The experience gave me a massive shot of perspective when I compared his condition with my own.  It’s so easy to take for granted the ways we are blessed until you have some outside force wake you up with a jolt of an alternate reality.

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Compliments of canstockphoto.com

I’ve been lifting for more than 30 years and while my Faith comes first as THE FOUNDATION of my life, my love for the gym and working out is of huge importance.  It is a passion I can’t imagine doing without and yet as I shared here, there is more to life than having big muscles.  The point to me is that we all have things we’re passionate for in life that we may take for granted when others maybe less fortunate would give anything to possess our skills and abilities.

While I haven’t seen him since that one morning, his image and example will be with me forever.  Never again will I complain about something as insignificant as a bad workout or bad day at work or any other negative circumstance which in the big scheme of things is nothing compared to going through life handicapped.  I have been blessed with abundant good health and athletic ability and it’s my goal to never take these gifts for granted because I know they can be taken away in a heartbeat.

The second experience occurred when I was introduced to a new sales rep at one of the dealers I support in my role as a manufacturer rep.  From his outer appearance, he looked completely normal until I extended my right hand to introduce myself.  He shook my hand with his right and with his left brought a small Electrolarynx to his throat so that he could speak.

electrolarynx

The largely electric voice that was produced really shocked me.  I’ve never known anyone with his condition and still have no idea what actually happened.  I do know from one of his coworkers that the condition is permanent.  He was a super nice guy and we chatted for several minutes before parting ways.  I couldn’t help but feel similar to my experience with the little guy in gym.  It was a humbling and sober reminder of how blessed I’ve been to have good health.

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My job requires me to speak to people daily one on one, in small groups, and sometimes in large gatherings when I do CEU presentations.  This guy is in sales as well so he’s out in the public just like me interacting with other people.  I just don’t know if I could do my job with his condition.  His strength of character must simply be off the charts to have the intestinal fortitude to suck it up each day and do what he must to make a living.  I applaud his efforts as truly remarkable.

It’s so easy to be self focused with all the responsibilities and challenges we have in today’s world. And it’s so critically important to maintain a spirit of gratitude for the good things we have rather than whining about the things we don’t.  One of my favorite quotes from my mentor, Andy Andrews, says:

“It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a grateful heart.”

I work hard to maintain a positive attitude because I know happiness comes from within. It should not be based on outside circumstances.  You should live your life like a thermostat and not a thermometer.  A thermometer reacts to the environment while a thermostat dictates the environment.  And yet this is sometimes easier said than done. None of us are bullet proof to the “sucker punches” that life often throws and sometimes it can be hard to get back up.

The examples I described above were and are great reminders for me for how much I have been blessed.  Further, they motivate me all the more to live with a servant’s heart towards others…and especially those less fortunate.  And finally, they remove any and all excuses that I might have in dealing with the daily responsibilities in all areas of my life.

Closing thoughts for me readers:

One of my life verses that has helped me through many difficult trials is:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

If you ever find yourself feeling down for whatever reason, I have a great suggestion for how to raise your spirits.  First take out a piece of paper and physically write out at least 100 things you have to be grateful for.  This will lift your spirits…guaranteed.  Second, go find someone who’s struggling in life more than you and serve them in some way.  You can’t possibly go through these two exercises without feeling immeasurably better about yourself.

 

Posted in Andy Andrews, attitude, Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, Health & Fitness, life path, personal development, recovery from injury, rotator cuff injury, shoulder injury, success, torn bicep tendon, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make No Mistake, You’re Always On Stage

Recently I went through two very unique experiences both born out of a simple habit I developed back during my days in college.  I’ve always been a sponge for information and love to read…when it’s on a subject I’m interested in.  Unfortunately a text-book on political science or history or any other one of the basics I was required to take seemed to have a profound “tranquilizing” effect.

Despite my best intentions to study, these subjects pretty much knocked me out which is a problem.  I tried coffee however the extra caffeine didn’t seem to help.  Finally in desperation, I came up with the bright idea of taking a walk…along with my textbook. Problem solved.  My neighborhood in college was quiet so traffic wasn’t really an issue.  I would walk for hours at a time reading or studying note cards especially where memorization was a key in prepping for an upcoming test.

text-books

Great for “Insomnia”

I learned to enjoy these walks so much that even after college, I continued to walk in the late afternoons after work or in the early mornings on my off days from the gym always with book in hand.  Daylight used to be a challenge depending on the time of year…especially in the mornings.  However, with the purchase of my tablet a few years ago, that problem has been solved.

Needless to say I’ve received some strange comments over the years from people who are amazed that I can walk and read at the same time.  The most recent really came out of the blue and reminded me that you’re always on stage and you’re always influencing people for better or worse with the simple actions you take.  Remember, one of the most powerful ways we influence people is through modeling.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago I was walking in my neighborhood when a car pulled up alongside me slowing to a stop which got my attention.  As I turned to look, I was greeted by a young woman who said hello and went on to explain that because of me, she was now “walking and reading”.  She said she used to take walks on a regular basis but never thought about bringing a book, until she saw me.  It really blew me away because I had never seen her in my life.

She asked where I had learned my unusual skill and I shared about my plight back in college with struggling to stay awake while studying.  Once I started, I just never stopped and now it’s totally second nature.  We chatted for a few more minutes and then said our goodbyes.  I smiled as she drove off thinking yet again how powerful our actions are for influencing people.

Paul’s message in 1 Corinthian’s 8:13 has become a life verse for me because it speaks directly to the responsibility we have to our fellow-man.

“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

The second experience occurred on another recent walk with a much different outcome.   Sunday mornings are my off days from the gym and I typically take a nice long walk around my neighborhood at essentially the same time I would normally be going into the gym at 5:30AM.  In warmer weather, it would be an automatic to bring along my tablet and read.  This morning however, it was a little cold and I opted to just take along my trusty 1-iron leaving my tablet at home.  While not a replacement for reading, the 1-iron provides a strong “dog” deterrent as needed.

I was dressed in sweats top and bottom and also wore my black wool overcoat which felt nice and toasty.  About 15 minutes into my walk I see a car turning around the corner and proceeding down the apartment complex driveway.  It was obviously a police car given the full array of lights in high “search mode”.  I wondered what or who in the world he was looking for…never thinking for a moment that it was me.

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Thank you to our First Responders around our nation who protect us.

The car pulled to a stop about 50 feet in front of me and while I couldn’t see the officer for the lights, I heard a friendly yet semi-cautious “good morning, can I help you”?  I replied “good morning” and asked if there was something wrong.  I continued to slowly approach the car to get out of the blinding lights.  He asked for my ID and I explained that I literally lived in the building about 100 feet to our immediate left and that I would be happy to go and get my wallet.

He said that wouldn’t be necessary and further explained why he was there.  Apparently one of my neighbors called 911 because of a strange-looking guy in a “trench coat” carrying a “crow bar” was lurking around the apartment complex.  I was pretty much shocked at the accusation and asked him “how do you get a crow bar from a 1-iron”?  I had lived in the complex for the past 1.5 years and walked almost daily so most of my neighbors were used to me.

He was very friendly once he saw that the report was completely off base although he did ask for my name and social security number for sake of “closing the case”.  We chatted for a moment and then he drove away.  What a bizarre experience!  I was again reminded of the power of our actions to influence…even to a inaccurate and false conclusion.

The following week I ran into my apartment complex manager and asked if she would like to hear a funny story.  After explaining my little run in with the police officer, she said, “So you’re the one.” My “busy body” neighbor had sent her an email explaining how she had called the cops on me.  She obviously didn’t know me specifically so Courtney, our complex manager, had no idea who the guilty part was.  She thought it was hysterical since I’m about the least dangerous person you could ever meet.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

This post is obviously light-hearted and yet the take home points on modeling and jumping to conclusions are worth remembering.  We influence people every day with our actions and in many cases we will never know the impact of our influence.  While my exchange with the young girl regarding my walking and reading was not a big deal, it still hit home big time for me because I had never seen her in my life and yet I had influenced her for the positive.

Who are you influencing with your daily actions?  People are watching…I promise.

Then with regard to jumping to conclusions, the following two quotes from King Solomon and Einstein help me to stay on track:

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Proverbs 18:13

“Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance”
Albert Einstein

 

 

 

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My Secret Weapon

One of my first mentors in the “iron game” taught me to keep track of my workouts.  I was eager to progress and took his suggestion to heart and now have journals dating back to my earliest days in the gym.

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Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

There is power in keeping a journal.  Training is hard work and should be progressive in nature.  How can you push yourself to do more if you don’t know what you did in your last workout?  How do you learn how your body responds to certain foods, caloric counts, or ratios of macronutrients if you don’t keep track.

Some people spend a tremendous amount of energy each week showing tons of dedication in their workouts and yet they keep no training records.  Taking the extra step to track their workouts could make a huge difference.  A training journal over time can become a valuable resource which will allow you to chart a course and make so much more progress as you learn your body.

From a safety standpoint, it’s important to change your program to prevent pattern overload.  How can you track your programs if you don’t keep a journal?  Furthermore, how can you know if your loads are balanced unless you invest time charting the volume of your workouts?  Unbalanced loads can lead to strength imbalances and joint problems.

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Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

Having a specific number of reps to shoot for can make all the difference in the world.  Leg work in particular can be especially grueling and without a specific target for a given set, all your mind has left to focus on is the pain.  I like to work my reps up and down.  For a target set of 10, I will count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and then go in reverse 4, 3, 2, and 1.  This simple little trick just seems easier in my mind than going from 1 to 10.

Regardless of how you work your numbers, having a single specific target to focus on can allow you to block out the otherwise potentially extreme pain to a large degree.  It really is amazing how hard you can push yourself when you have crystal clear focus on hitting a specific number of reps.  Every workout should be about progression…a little more weight…a few more reps….or decreased rest intervals. The longer you train, the harder the progression comes…but you can still move forward…and the “baby steps” will add up.

Having a journal can make the difference in transforming a mediocre workout into a great one.  With all the pressures and stresses of daily adult life, people often find themselves just going through the motions in their workouts.  They physically make it to the gym but emotionally there’s not much left in their tanks.  These feelings are only magnified with no plan to follow.

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Image compliments of canstockphoto.com

This scenario is where a training journal can propel you to a great workout.  I’ve experienced this so many times where my head was just not into lifting and yet on the first set of the workout, I’ve been able to surpass my previous efforts.  This small victory of just 1 more rep or a few more pounds can literally propel you through the rest of your routine with a surge of confidence.

A common excuse of not keeping a journal is the time commitment.  My take is that if you’re willing to invest the time and energy to drive to the gym to train, you can spend a few extra minutes tracking your programs.  With the advances in technology, you can easily track your workouts on your phone…which the majority seem to be using these days to listen to music or browse the web between sets.  Regardless of whether you go “old school” and actually write out your workouts or take the “high tech” route, the time investment is minimal and well worth it.

While the theme of this blog is clearly centered around performance in the gym, the principles can be applied to achieving in all areas of life.  My mentor Darren Hardy teaches a powerful concept in his book, The Compound Effect, called “Cashing Out”.  Whatever your goal, you have to determine the action steps needed and go about tracking those steps daily, weekly, or whatever time frame may be appropriate.  You either do the work or you don’t and the responsibility all falls on you.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The power of a training journal comes from combining two simple concepts…goal setting and focus.  After all, according to management genius, Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

There’s another more subtle power that’s tied to consistency.  High achievers in life will often point to consistent effort over a long period of time as one of the major keys to their success.  I promise that when you can flip back through the pages of a journal and see the “blood, sweat, and tears” that you’ve shed, it can provide a far more tangible motivation than what would otherwise come from your memory.  Memories fade…ink does’t lie.  If you did the work, you can always go back and use your past efforts as a springboard on to greater success.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

Resources:

Darren Hardy – Success Mentor to CEOs and High-Performance Achievers

The Compound Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, goal setting, Health & Fitness, personal development, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment