Why You Don’t Have What You Want of This Life

*disclaimer: yes, unfortunately I have to start this blog this way. This blog isn’t going to be my normal. This isn’t going to be about fat loss, or maybe it is. It isn’t going to be about why you should exercise, or maybe it will be. But I need you to hear me on one thing: I am no guru, I am no saint, I can be hypocritical, and there are times you should just take my verbal advice at face value, not on my own actions… This is simply a, hmmmmm, story I’d like to share with some friends. The concept here has begun to and will drastically shape my life; it may yours as well, or it might not.

In about a month I’ll be turning 35. I don’t hang around any teenagers so I don’t hear them claiming that as old. It’s quite the opposite; I’m around a bunch of 50+ year olds so often it makes me realize how young 35 can actually be.

I’ve been a people watcher my whole life. I’ve always sought to study why we tick. As an introvert and loner per se I’ve never had anyone around me ask the hard questions like “what are you doing with your life?” “What do you think your purpose is?” “Are you truly joyful about the life you lead?” So I had to ask myself instead. And I ask a zillion questions ALL-THE-TIME!

Imaginary Foundation Unfolding

I also happen to run a business and career completely centered on one idea: “I WANT…” People come to me with I want _____, I want _____ or share their life stories about how they are working towards their I want….

So I have a question for you, WHY? Why do you not lead the life you dream of? Why are you not in the shape mentally or physically or financially or socially or whatever that you desire and long for deep down?

I mean seriously, consider that question. You’ll face an onslaught of information slapping you upside your dome. And likely, as usual, you’ll quiet it all back down and leave it for a “better time” to get to heart of the matter.

Step 1: Why We Can’t Sort Out All the Data

If you were going to live the life of your dreams and I’m not talking about the bullshit about how you want to win the lottery and never have to work for you a**hole of a boss again, I’m talking about the life you control (if you are actually in control?), it would have to start somewhere. And somewhere comes down to collecting some bits of data.

  • Who am I? Am I happy with this version of myself? I was recently in a heated discussion with someone about this and I stated that for myself it comes down to one thing: when I lay my head down on my pillow and say goodnight to this reality, if I didn’t wake in the morning, would I be pleased with how I’ve done it this far. Since I was 25ish, the answer has always been yes. And I asked her that question and she went blank, empty. You’re going to have to get to know who you are if you’re ever to figure out how to get the life that person wants to live.
  • What are my faults, what are faults others would say I have standing in my way from the ultimate life? What habits have I formed, good or bad? What outside factors weight in on and shape how I act?
  • What resources do I require to build the life I dream of? Maybe that’s education to work the career you want. Maybe that’s finances in place so you can invest in something. Maybe it’s a social network and family system that supports you where needed. Resources can be information, money, people or enlightenment.

Now a smart person would start making a giant list of all of that. Sort stuff into neat columns, prioritize and group common pieces together.

Nope, they actually wouldn’t. That’s a complete recipe for disaster. Mind as well go bury yourself in an avalanche.

This reminds me of a favored part of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography (shortly into part 2) where he speaks of virtues and trying to work on the one you feel needed the most attention in correction/maintaining for a short period of time and them moving to the next biggest challenge. He would make a chart and keep it visual daily to assess his self-work on virtues he felt would make his life’s quality more profound. When I read this book in my teens I always felt this would be a grand checks and balances sort of life to live.

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography Temperance Daily Check

No one’s got time for that nonsense these days! (Though I really wish I would make time for it)

Trust me, somewhere deep inside your noggin and/or your heart you already know all the answers to those questions above. So let’s move on.

 

Step 2) The Devil’s In the Detail

You know how psychologists, counselors and the sort really don’t dispense advice. It’s actually not their job at all. Their main job is to help you discover the advice from within. You ever notice how when you get someone to talk about their troubles long enough they eventually get sick of running in the same mental circle and come to their own solutions. It’s a beautiful thing. More often than not you are already saying aloud, “Ugh, I wish I would just/just stop doing _________”

Right?

So again, you already have the answers. Maybe you’re just not listening to yourself and those around you that love you for real where they want you to realize all the joy life has to offer.

Step 3) The Needle in the Haystack

Our lives are so detail orientated. We are so proud to put “Great multi-tasker!” on our resumes. We can watch TV, play Angry Birds on our cell phone and carry on a conversation with the person on the couch beside ALL at the same time. Just endlessly absorbing and consuming information and signals…

So when something is awry, we go hunting down that smallest of reasons as to the root cause of it all. And when I find it, then I’ll change it, get rid of it, reverse it, flush it down the toilet. All will then be right in the world! Right?

How old are you? Do you have the life you dream of? If not, I’m here to tell you the needle in the haystack isn’t the problem.

The giant fcukin haystack sitting in the middle of your living room is the problem! And you aren’t solving that equation. I will be as bold as to state: this is the reason you do not have what you want of your life.

5 Things, But Only 1 Matters

Anyone I’ve had this conversation with over the last couple years I’ve been able to get them to tell me 5 big things they feel they would need to do or would need to have happen so they could achieve the life they desire.

Each time, of those 5, there are 4 they will get energetic, emotionally charged (positive or negative) and start rambling on about why those things are the big ones.

But there is one, or perhaps the root cause of that one, that is where I’m trying to direct your attention to.

What if I told you that 80% of the reason you don’t have the life of your dreams was due to one basic, simple thing? 80% is a pretty big number, I know. Everyone’s THING is different.

 

What if you didn’t procrastinate all the time? What if you had the fitness level you desire and along with that came a positive body image? What if you could just stop slandering yourself all the time, putting yourself down endlessly? What if you could drop the fear in saying what you really thought in your mind to those that supposedly love you and support you? What if you got rid of all the toxic people in your life? What if you spent your money better? What would happen if I wasn’t capable of complaining ever again? What if you stopped sleeping in all the time or going to bed so darn late? What if you never drank or did drugs again; you can party and enjoy yourself without that stuff, can’t you? At least sometimes? What if you could treat her the way she deserves? And not forget about our partner as we venture along our own journey? What if you could risk, without worrying and doubting yourself, spinning your wheels over every, “but what if…”? What if I stopped relying on people and instead became self-sufficient? What if instead of worrying about your heart being slaughtered to bits like the last time(s) you gave loving another human another go around? What would happen if you put your television in a closet for a year and forced yourself to unplug from every other electronic for at least 2 hours every day (no, it doesn’t count when you’re sleeping)? What if you always ate food that was good for you and made you feel good?

 Food vs Fat

Those are the big ones I see most of the time. It is by all means not a complete list. If you’re completely lost as to what your THING is, ask 10 people around you for the brutal truth in regarding your “faults that hold me back from achieving what I say I want of my life.” Just don’t be offended by what they say. Brutal truth only.

 

Here’s What I’m Trying To Tell You

There’s one thing standing in your way from the life you dream of. Only one thing. I promise you, once you begin that battle with yourself over it, start making improvements and realizing what I’m saying (again, this is simply a personal belief system) you find so much incredible energy and joy and the frustrations, angst and stresses of your life will turn down in volume to a nice little hum in the background. Of course, there’s going to then become a completely different challenge in front of you. But worry about that later. Or better yet, forget I just told you that.

75-90% of the people I’ve met in my life are unhappy with how their life is currently or the fullness, richness and joy it contains. The 10% I’ve met, known or read of, they faced that one thing and generally speaking they did it alone. They conquered that demon for themselves. We all have small joys, successes, things that make our lives happy. But I mean those people who absolutely, completely and wholly ADORE their lives. How many of those people have you known throughout your life?

 

Work Ethic

What About 35 Year Old Me?

Man, if I went and listed all of my problems, stresses, challenges, desires, wants…

That’s exhausting just to think about get started on that. Why don’t I have a Lamborghini? (I don’t actually care about that) Why do I have financial stress? Why do I have discord with anyone around me? Why, despite, truly loving the character I’ve built myself to be in my life, am I still writing this for you and me?

What’s my THING you might ask?

Sleep.

The mismanagement, lack of, disorganization, poor quality at times, inconsistency and any other eight syllable word you can think of pertaining to: SLEEP.

Night Owl

Every reason I can think of as to why I don’t have ___ that I want in or of my life is because of this or that, but I can pretty much trace it all back to sleep.

So why can’t I simply go to bed on time, wake at the same time, improve the quality of my sleep, be more consistent? Any time I have worked to do so the quality and joy in my life profoundly improved in a blink of an eye.

IF Stardust

I couldn’t wake today, I was exhausted, had a really crappy sleep. It led to me cancelling a session on a new client which is a shitty way to start a professional relationship. It also runs down my system. I had a brutal workout that I simply couldn’t seem to wake up (despite 300mg+ of stimulants). I’m very fortunate though, I have some amazing clients that bring me joy in the interactions we have the fun I get to make of them as they whine about how gorgeous we’re making their body. I was done work 10 hours later, as a business owner I had about 3 hours of work to complete after that (cleaning, texting, scheduling, writing programs). I have to be back at work in less than 7 hours from right now (it’s midnight and I’m nowhere near tired) and here I am blathering on about some esoteric nonsense.

But am I happy with the bulk of my life? Will I rest my head on my pillow tonight and should I never wake again, will I regret anything?

I like where I am right now. I am fond of writing “I am blessed in this life, no question.” It’s always true.

But the life I dream of would mean conquering (not destroying) this insane night owl, working with my >8pm bipolar introvert frequent coup-de-tat to not steal or trade this moment for the future promise of better tomorrows.

When I am ready, when you are ready to conquer and work for that life you dream of, you will. But when you are ready, just know, there’s only ONE THING standing in your way, and focusing on any other detail will lead to utter failure. It always has.

IF Dream Large

{Adrian now steps off his soapbox and hopefully heads to bed shortly}

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

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Your Delusions of Grandeur – 5 Reasons You Don’t Look & Feel The Way You Want!

Delusions of Grandeur

This time of year, perhaps moreseo than all others, marks a time of change. After the holidays, copious intake of sweets and cookies and all the celebrations and time spent with people it’s pretty natural to want to take a moment for yourself. And in doing so that probably includes a long stare in the mirror both for the reflection as much as to hear what is being said behind those eyes of yours. I have a sneaking suspicion the voice starts talking about change, both of your body and of your life going forward. I’m going to see if I can help you with both.

First, let’s get to your delusions of grandeur regarding fitness, aesthetic goals, reduction of physical pain as well as weight optimization.

I Beat Anorexia

Well, yes sir, you did. But perhaps you “succeeded” all too well!

Delusion #1

If there’s any one thing people just NEVER seem to understand well enough it’s this: 90% of the fat loss equation happens in the kitchen. And over the next few weeks the proof of this will come as I’m about to receive dozens of emails, phone calls, Facebook messages and text messages all asking for one thing: “Adrian, help me dude, I packed on the holiday pounds and I need to get back in the gym to lose it.” Listen, closely:

I’m not the answer. I’m not the solution.

This is:

Prepped Meals

Well, minus the plastic containers as only a fool would ask for good meals like this alongside a fair dose of xenoestrogens. If you don’t know what a xenoestrogen is you should: READ, READ, READ, READ and go learn about these suckers that are in everything from your shampoo to your antiperspirants (oh and xenoestrogens absorb 10fold through the skin!)

Back on track. If your major goal is fat loss: DO NOT call me for assistance in fat loss before you first contact this guy (my first choice) or this guy (my secondary choice). I’ve already told you why when I wrote THIS.

Delusion #2

For years upon years I’ve been doing my best to dispel the myth that spot reduction is possible. There may be an ever so slight chance of it, but likely it’s all hogwash. And whatever amount it may possibly happen is quite simply not worth focusing on. You have to understand one simple FACT: YOU CANNOT FLEX FAT. Despite the minute scale in which spot reduction is possible you can’t turn fat into muscle. You can’t flex your bingo wing. You can’t flex your love handle. You can’t flex your saddlebags. And despite Dean Somerset‘s epic picture, you cannot adduct your inner thighs into the greatness you so desire.

Dean Somerset

Body fat is nothing more than excess fuel storage. While hormonal patterns may partly determine where you may store this excess fat don’t take that to the extreme and go buy the latest fad supplement that supposedly targets cortisol sites therefore it will magically erase your kangaroo pouch. There’s far more evidence suggesting biotyping is a myth as well. IT JUST AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

Look, does your car burn fuel right at the site of the gas tank??? NO!

It burns it in the engine’s process. So what is the engine of the body?? The answer is your muscles.

Light Bulb

DING!

Again, you can’t flex fat. You have to burn it off. Your muscles burn this fuel. So work them, hard and often! And know that targeting fat is a bloody waste of time. Make the whole machine work harder and you’ll be on the right track. Which leads me to the next…

Delusion #3

What’s the biggest muscle in your body? Hint: it’s not your chest, nor your biceps. It’s your glutes!

Glute Anatomy

What’s the next largest muscle group? Hint: it’s still not your chest, nor your biceps. It’s your back!

Rhomboids

Oh, those painful knots in your back are the highlighted muscle (the rhomboids) and the main reason they hurt so much is your shitty posture is overstretching them as you slouch all the time. So say it with me now: “I _____ (insert your name) shall always prioritize back training over chest training!”

What’s the next largest muscle group? Hint: Nope, still not your chest, nor your biceps. It’s your legs!!

Leg Anatomy

Should I even continue? The next would arguably be your core/midsection musculature followed by your upper arms/shoulder combination. AND THEN finally, last and least: your chest and biceps (and well, calves but let’s not go there).

What’s my point?? Look, I’m all about looking pretty in the mirror, I like pumping my chestceps and biceptorals into oblivion like the next guy BUT if your main goal is fat loss, which means you’re gonna attempt to burn off the excess fuel hanging around the various sites of your body (pinchable body fat) that means a smart person would have already deduced the best chance of that happening in the gym (refer back to Delusion #1) is to work those muscles in that order. Glutes, Back, Legs, Core/Midsection, Shoulders/Arms, Chest and if you insist, biceps. Doing this backwards is the complete idiots guide to failure! But, Adrian, you ask: “What about cardio? Should I perform fasted cardio 3hours every morning 8 days a week?” Look, do proper cardio if you want but muscle training always matter more! The bigger the engine (meaning the more muscle you build) the more fuel that sucker is gonna burn off. A 550 horsepower V10 engine is going to burn WAY more fuel than a 250 horsepower 4 banger, even when sitting idle in the driveway (your periods of inactivity).

So ladies, when you ask me why I keep making you do so many squats, drag and push the sled up and down the gym and why I’m training your glutes so aggressively understand the above and know it’s not because I have a gluteal fetish. Oh, wait, I do but that’s besides the point. I don’t care about your tricep area fat. We’re gonna burn that better by moving your biggest body parts – all the time!

And gents, if I see you walk into the gym again wondering what you’re going to train (you’re supposed to be following a training program anyway) and you decide on chest and biceps instead of legs, glutes and/or your back I will kick your ass with a barbell and then make you squat with it! If you still insist at least do something like a push up plank as a work-rest between sets. That would at least make some minutia of sense. Or just throw a push up streak into your weekly/monthly/yearly training programs.

And if you still don’t understand how strength training can equate to fantastical fat loss well, Nick Tumminello’s book is set to arrive soon enough!

Brain Power Increase

Delusion #4

You can work smart, not hard. Nope! Lies. I cannot even begin to go off about the hundreds of stories about folks in the gym busting their ass ALL WRONG. I mean, there’s even an epic Facebook page dedicated to this. But oftentimes, moreso than I’d care to admit to my clients: those working the hardest in the gym are the ones usually seeing the best results.

Exercise technique is of paramount importance, do not get me wrong there. And I am in no way advocating horrid exercise as being okay because you’re “working hard.” Trust me, an injury will slow your roll in the near future! But if you haven’t grunted, if the color of your shirt has not visibly darkened in the time you have been in the gym (for the love of the petri dish that gyms already are bring a damn towel with you!), if you haven’t gone through 1L of fluid during your workout or haven’t sworn to either me or yourself a good half-dozen times: YOU ARE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH.

Work hard first. Then seek the expertise to help you learn how to work smart and hard! There is always a better way but it never means you’ll be working any less hard. In fact there is a nice little slogan I see floating the interwebs often:

It Never Gets Easier, You Just Get Better

Delusion #5

It IS your fault. Period. You look and feel the way you do because of no one but you!

You Are Not Fat, You Have Fat

There is a reason why I wrote this on my gym walls forcing you to read and reread it every time you walk in!

Not a single soul is going to get you where you want to go except for you! Sure, there is assistance out there but you have to move, you have to workout, you have to prep your meals, you have to eat them, you have to go to bed on time, you have to de-stress.

I will endeavor to get to the details of the formula as I have written on the walls (the above pic) to help you understand where you need some changes. But basically the formula is: NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) levels. You’re probably not moving about enough in your day. And I hope for your sake you’re not sitting too long. Nutrition: are you eating enough (so many overweight people simply starve themselves yet oddly enough get confused as to how they aren’t eating enough)? Are you eating the food types and in the amounts that match your goals? Again I’ll refer you here for more info on that and eventually tell you to contact this guy (again, refer to Delusion #1). Does your exercise frequency and type fit your goals. It’s quite likely despite me telling you prior that you need to work harder that right now you might be working out too often! Are you getting enough rest (sleep included), downtime and finding ways to lessen the stress you face in your life? I definitely do not. And a friend recommended I order this book which I did today so I may work on this aspect. Are you doing the small things daily that recharge you so you may be the better version of yourself? I also neglect this so I went out and finally bought a sweet set of headphones to drown myself in the music that rejuvenates me.

Again, I’ll get into that formula in a near-future blog but know that if you feel lost there are always professionals out there that can help. You don’t cut your own hair (well some of you do but usually that means you don’t have any). You shouldn’t do your own taxes. You don’t fix your own furnace when it blows up. And I doubt you change your own car transmission. There are experts in every field and you may need their assistance. And while this journey and its successes are 100% dependant on whether you get it done, part of that means being smart enough to recruit, hire and ask those around you to assist.

Conclusion: No More Delusions

I will leave you with this final question and the wonderful source I found it (trust me, spend the 35 minutes of your life to watch this video uninterrupted and in one go!!!):

What seperates the successful from the unsuccessful?

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWFXQAWkqX4]

For 2014, I will implore you this: work more on debunking your delusions than you do talking about all the things you’re going to achieve this year. Via that you shall certainly see your goals come to life! As my buddy Rob King always says: “Go F*^king Get It!”

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

My Epiphany

Have I ever told you about my very first paid personal training client? I swear somewhere in the past 80 blogs I must have but it’s worth telling again.

It was my first day at the corporate big box gym, I figured I’d be learning the ins and outs, the paperwork, where all the knickknacks go, who all the staff were and other basic stuff that happens the first day of any job. My boss (coolest guy ever!!), Dennis, who was always quick on his feet with decisions had a client thrown at him that needed a personal trainer ASAP as the one scheduled had to bail. He asked if I would fill in.

Cool! My first client! My first $40 (well, $18 ‘cuz you know the big box gyms rip the trainers off by stealing half or more). “One thing though, he doesn’t speak English. He’s a young dude on vacation from Mexico and just wants a good workout.”

Um, what?!?! No English?

“Yea, he seems pretty smart, he’ll pick it up if you show stuff to him.”

It’s my first day on the job, I can’t say no. But damn, at least take me on a date first before you try to get all the goodies.

That first session was fantastic, was a lot of fun and well, when you don’t have your smarty pants words to back you up, you quickly realize that most of what we’re doing is monkey see, monkey do; a trainer’s job is simply to learn/choose the best monkey exercises for the client’s goals.

6 years later, my girlfriend’s family, all of whom I enjoy training, has an exchange student in from Beijing, China. Pops thought it would be a great experience (and relationship builder) for the student, an avid high school basketball player, to jump in and workout with him. Now, the student speaks okay English, enough to understand what we’re saying and articulate what he feels and clearly animates when something is the right intensity.

We went through the workout I had planned for Pops but along the way I had to stop myself and ask, in the eyes of this boy’s parents (if not himself)…why are we using this exercise? Why are we doing it this way, in this rep scheme and why would I choose this one over say, the bodyweight version or the cable version? Why are we working the chest press pattern when the client’s goals are mainly fat loss and overall fitness?

For a long time I’ve really been questioning the value of the bench press. Unless you’re a dude who’s 5’3″ with T-Rex arms who may actually get his swole-on from such an exercise it’s dawned on me that the bench press blows goats. And not just because I’m not great at it with my orangutan arms (I’ve actually just started getting my groove with it after 10 years of trying various techniques), but anatomy wise it makes no sense to work the chest with fixed shoulder blades glued to a bench. They’re designed to move/glide freely over the rib cage as you flex and extend the arms out in a horizontal pushing pattern. Dual Cable Chest Press is hands down twice the chest builder that bench press ever hoped to be, and at FAR less shoulder injury risk.

So why?  Why are we holding onto exercises that are cool, fun, really frickin hard to do, make our clients curse us, whatever…

I’m not one to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to learning new training styles or exercises or systems, instead I prefer to experiment on myself with the intention of amalgamating the positives into what currently works for me and my clients. Over time I dump what doesn’t work, or is better accomplished with X exercise or rep scheme instead.

But there’s something in my gut that says we’re wrong with how we’re training our clients. I feel it every time I hear Nick Tumminello go off on a rant about the ugly of the industry, or Scott Abel when he tells us about the charlatans of the internet age of coaching or Dave Parise when he pretty much says anything.

There’s only one way to solve this: meet with my mentors, these coaches, ask them what are the most important lessons they’ve learned in their careers (just like a newer person to the industry just asked me), and delve more into the science and anatomy as to why I choose the exercises I do. Mentorship will be the only way for this to work, so when you coaches get an email from me asking for it, I hope you’ll understand the background of the request.

I have this “talent” for watching my clients and seeing that something just doesn’t look natural to them. I formulate the right question to figure out what they’re thinking, feeling, or focusing on that leads me to the clue as to why it doesn’t look right. Every notice how the Clean exercise when performed perfectly looks so damn, well…clean. If you don’t get what I mean watch the first 90 seconds of this video where Reza Zadeh makes 500lbs+ look like a joke in the Olympic Clean & Jerk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7nL8Bg5LDQ

Most often it’s a cue, a visual or a description of intention that really allows the client to turn the movement into something that matters and more importantly, works. And if it still doesn’t, then either it’s not the right time for this exercise progression or quite simply the exercise isn’t great for this specific client.

Every exercise worth a damn seems to follow the same pattern. It works with the body, not the body forcing itself to perform some inventive, cool, hardcore fitness toy based movement for the sake of.

So am I going to swear off the bench press? Well, not just yet, but something in me says in the future I probably will.

When mentoring other trainers coming up and discussing exercise program templates I always say to write them out and then spend double the time it took to write it in trying to tear it apart, poking holes in your theory as to why you chose that exercise over another, why that combo, did you think of this or that, or how the client is going to walk out the door (posturally or energetically speaking).

My epiphany is quite simply that I need to do this on a grander scale. Perhaps you do as well?

Sore Elbows, Kinky Necks and A Great SMR Tool!

For a few months now I’ve been aggravated by some recurring elbow pain. At its worst mid-exercise it will shoot a pretty nasty nerve pain up or down my arm. I am just currently digging through Eric Cressey’s fantastic blog series on elbow pain but I thought I’d offer my own “quick-fix” solution and include a unique self myofascial release (SMR) product review while I’m at it.

While I’ve already pretty much reviewed The Trigger Wheel  in my huge SMR product market review blog, I have yet to put to video a demonstration of how I truly use this item.

So let me ask you…do you have elbow & wrist flexors so tight they’re claiming you look like T-Rex?

Or worse, that your ILS (Imaginary Lat Syndrome) is close to incurable?

Do you ever wake up with a stiff neck for no real reason?

I have a solution for you: The Trigger Wheel.

This product is extremely well made, it’s going to last forever and let me tell you when you have one of these minor but painful problems, this product can be a miracle worker. Seriously, if you have a desk job, you need this. If you lift heavy sh*t often, you need this. If you have “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow” or…

“Palmela Handerson elbow”

…you need this. If your spouse sucks at giving massages or perhaps they fall into 5 minute-massage-man category (usually being stopped because he has no interest in doing it so he just digs so hard you want him to stop)… you need this.

Give it to your spouse, put them on a 5 minute timer; GIVE THEM LOTS OF FEEDBACK DURING as not to hurt you. “C’mon honey, I promise, just a five-minute massage; that’s all my back, traps, and neck need.” If they can’t give you 5 minutes you have bigger problems.

The other beauty of this product is that the person administering the massage (be it you or your spouse), they won’t get overly tired doing the job either. That’s why they advertise The Trigger Wheel as “the tireless thumb!”

Best $25 I’ve ever spent!! No SMR junkie is complete without one!

Wanna see it in action?

Watch this informative 10 minute video on how I use The Trigger Wheel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q203drHeqE

Pre – Intra – Post Workout Nutrition

I see it every day…the drop…the crash…the deafening of the body and that look: the scared, where-should-I-throw-up-if-I-have-to look.

I feel for you. I’ve been there. I came to realize it had a lot more to do with maintaining blood sugar levels than anything related to intensity. If your blood sugar crashes during an intense workout, it’s very shortly followed with the dizzy→pale face→nauseated→gonna upchuck performance deterioration process.

Some History

I’ve tried every supplement type of supplement out there. Whey isolate, check. Creatine, check. Beta-alanine, check. Arginine, check. Tribulus, check. Alpha Lipoic Acid, check. Phosphatidylserine, check. Saw palmetto, check. Pre-workout caffeine overdosed stimulant, check. Every vitamin. Every performance mineral (zinc, magnesium, selenium, vanadium). Just everything over the years. Here’s the other thing, I’m pretty reactive to stuff. Most stuff I feel working and notice a difference in a short period of time. The question then becomes: what’s worth my hard earned money?

Now, I’m not delusional, I’m fully aware of the power of the placebo effect. At the same time though I experiment with my supplements often to figure out how best to use them.  I will say this: if paying $50 for a powder supplement of some sort gives me the benefit of lifting more, recovering faster and not being as sore, all with zero noticeable side effects: I’m going to use and buy this powder.

I have to admit there was a time I was a little more like Mr. Olympia here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gZJ-T7ajrw

I love how he doesn’t show his growth hormone, steroid and insulin “supplements.” Good thing those minerals are making up for all his “non-vegetable taking.” “That’s pretty much it for me, pretty plain and simple.”

Back to the topic at hand: as per a question asked of me this week (and many times in the past) I’m going to cover this topic only once.

What is the best thing to eat or take before a workout?

I am going to break this into two methods: the pills and powder method and the whole food method.

The Whole Food Method

Why: One could very easily argue that we, as humans, were never meant to be chugging SuperDump or NOExplodin’ blue raspberry pre-workout crack enduced stimulant supplements before performing a tough workout or activity. We were fine with food for a good half million years on this planet. Also, who’s to say the ingredient label isn’t a lie? Or that the ingredients in a supplement are in efficacious amounts? And what about artificial sweeteners, colorings and this 16 consinent anti-aromatase stuff that is supposed to help me build more muscle??!?! I will admit 99.9% of all supplements, especially in the bodybuilding realm are complete bullshit! And if you’re not willing to research, spend the money and honestly, put faith and trust in some product manufacturer’s supplement, then go the whole food method. Don’t drink some “awesome shit!” just because your buddy who looks no better or is no stronger than you tells you too. And ladies…put the fat burners down!!!

How: There’s one problem with food for workouts…digestion. Digestion of food can take a lot of effort, a lot of blood in the stomach tissues, etc to process and break those calories into something usable: glucose, amino acids and fats. No one eats a steak while running a marathon. 2 rules to follow with the whole food method: 1) Keep dense protein (think chicken), fiber and fats far away from a pre workout meal (more than 2 hours). That stuff takes a while to digest and your muscles could use the blood instead. 2) Don’t eat a lot before a workout; just enough that you think you’ll be able to fuel and get through the workout.

What: Everyone is different. Some people swear by bananas. They don’t work for me. Fruit is always a good way to go but the two problems are 1) finding what doesn’t upset your stomach while training and 2) having a fruit not too acidic (skip the orange), not too high in fiber (skip the apple and blueberries) and not too dense (skip the mango and banana).  The best fruit options are melons by far! Low fiber, high water content (especially watermelon, obviously). I’ve never had cantelope or honeydew bother a person’s stomach. In fact if someone is really skinny I suggest they pack that to their workout with them and mid-workout when the dreaded blood sugar drop happens, I tell them to slam a couple of chunks of melon while resting. Still, however, fruit can bother some people’s stomachs. So the trick is finding what bland starch works. Yams? White potato? White rice? The answer lies somewhere between a slice of white bread (not the ideal but can help those with acid issues while training) and a half cup of the starches just listed. You don’t need a lot; just enough to get you through the workout.

When best: Here is where whole food can do some magic. Consume some easily digestible carbs (low fiber, not too acidic, not overly dense and best if bland about 60-90 mins pre-workout to boost blood sugar levels. Don’t worry, if your workout is hard enough you’ll burn those calories and more. During a workout, I find the whole food route is better served with water only coming in. That said, if the drop feels like it may happen then pack a ziplock of melons already cut up (cantelope, honeydew, watermelon). Post workout is by far the most important time to get nutrients into you. Here, in regards to whole food, it’s best to go starch & low fat protein: think chicken and rice. Again, go low fat and low fiber as both slow digestion which is the enemy post workout. You need nutrients in those broken down muscles NOW! If you don’t “have time” to eat at the gym right after your workout and you’re heading to work, then I suggest you pack a protein bar like this one which is essentially whey protein (as supplement free as I’m going to recommend), fruit, nuts; zero preservatives; no food additives (like palm kernel oil; WTF is that anyway?).  Lastly, I will say that for those who generally workout in the evening, after dinner, it’s best to train on the whole food method. You’ll feel more satisfied before bed and not go calorie overboard right before sleep which can disrupt and destroy sleep quality.

The Pills & Powder Method (aka: dietary supplements)

Why: I, personally, can’t do whole food and then workout. It’s never worked well for me, even with my own above recommendations. My body (being of the ectomorph, low fuel storage variety) doesn’t like doing two jobs at once. It wants to either workout hard or digest and chill. Not both. Early on I quickly realized that a simple whey isolate shake with some extra carb powder was the ticket for me. Later I discovered that mixing all my supplements into a big 2L jug and sipping between sets until done (pre-intra-post) was the method that worked best for me. I will say that if you are the type that wakes up, trains in less than 60 mins of waking the whole food method is really hard to make work. You need your blood sugar up right away. Even fruit can be too slow (but again, melons are best).

How: Pre-workout: slam a mix of whatever 30-60mins before the start of your warm up. There is a whole genre of supplements for this category, usually falling into the nitric oxide category (bunk) or the stimulant category (whohooo!). These generally work best as suggested to be used: 30-60mins pre-workout. Intra-workout: sip nutrients during workout, with the main goal of maintaining blood sugar. Post-workout: get those important nutrients in you ASAP (protein/amino acids, carbs, fancy stuff like creatine, etc you may be taking).

What: The big ones are a whey isolate/hydrosylate, carbs (a slow, medium and fast delivery/glycemic index mix is best), glutamine, creatine, beta-alanine and anything else you may be taking.

When best: Follow the directions of the supplement. They put them there for a reason.

What do I do?

It would be irresponsible for me to tell you what to take or eat. I can only give you my experience. Take it as you wish. But hear me on this: GO RESEARCH THINGS FOR YOURSELF!!  Sometimes a simple Google search of your product name with “review” can tell you a lot. Other people out there that like or hate a supplement will post their reviews for you to read. I think bodybuilding.com has done a good job there allowing users to rate the product.

Whole food Route:

Again, I think melons are best. Strawberries seem to be okay with me too. I don’t admit it often but my own workouts make me nervous as hell. My Monday workout right now takes me two days of psyching myself up to just not back out. It sucks. But so worth it when it’s done. When I’m anxious or nervous I really love eating a few of my lady’s special protein pancakes about an hour beforehand. Settles the tummy good.  But that’s me, this recipe goes against everything I said about dense protein and fiber intake.

Protein Pancakes Recipe:

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup Nutracleanse

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (mine is 35g of protein per scoop; Kaizen brand I get from Costco)

1 whole egg

1/3 cup low fat cottage cheese

Directions: blend dry ingredients until fine(r), mix in wet ingredients, stir well. Place in fridge for 3-5mins while frying pan heats up on medium. Pour to whatever size you want, flip every once in a while until they look browned and cooked. You really don’t need syrup or honey or any other sweeteners as the vanilla protein powder takes care of this.

Don’t you just love my guy-dumb recipe directions?

The above yields (as a whole batch so divide by as many pankcakes as you make/eat): 523 cals, 15g fat, 42g carbs (27g net carbs once minus out fiber count), 15g fiber, 58g protein.

Supplement Route:

Pre-workout: I like MuscleTech’s Neurocore. Does what it claims for me. I’ve tried every pre-workout out there and this one is my favorite thus far (yes, even over VPX’s now discontinued Anarchy).

Intra-workout: Nothing beat’s Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel. I throw in 10g of glutamine as well. I also mix in 1 scoop of AST’s VP2 (100% whey hydrosylate).

Immediately Post-workout: 1 scoop AST VP2, 1 scoop Biotest Surge Workout Fuel, 10 more grams of glutamine and extra creatine monohydrate if it’s a creatine day (I cycle it 3 days on/3 off per the old AST/Paul Cribb suggestion).

Post-workout meal: Starch (like rice) and meat or Elevate Me protein bar if I am in a rush to my next client.

Again, that’s me, that’s what works for me. Everyone is different.

Stop twisting my arm

Okay, I yield. If I HAD to make a supplement suggestion I would say 1st and foremost: Biotest’s Surge Workout Fuel @1-2scoops sipped during workout but finish within 15 mins of finishing workout. The cheesy quote on the front of the jug about “makes the hardest workouts feel easy” is damn near true. Post-workout: AST’s VP2 or some other whey isolate powder. I’ve been using AST’s VP2 for about 10 years when it used to taste like Maalox, no kidding, it was so chalky. Best protein on the market in my opinion (Biotest’s Mag 10 would be a close second but I don’t feel it’s worth its price tag).

You’re Going To Fall Down

It’s definitely January. The gym is twice as busy, my schedule was literally 6am to 9pm today with 2 x 45 minute breaks for food. Tomorrow and Friday aren’t much different. But holy wow, do I have ideas or what!!

My problem is time. And energy. But let’s talk about your problem soon to be facing you: the trip, the slip, the plummet and your reaction.

Short (horrifying) story: When I was a teen my aunt brought my 3-year-old cousin over to visit at my grandma’s house. She needed to take a nap so she crashed in the spare room’s bed. My aunt asked me to go wake her and bring her downstairs. Now this is a 20+ stair carpeted staircase. My cousin was obviously very sleepy after her nap and I was walking behind her, she did grab the railing but missed a step and proceeded to tumble-down the entire staircase: head first. It all happened so fast all I really remember was her flying down the stairs like a Raggedy Ann Doll. It was so scary.

When she finished her tumble, being that she was so sleepy, she really didn’t know how to respond; nor did I. I simply flew down the stairs. Now her mom, my grandma and me all ran towards her with this deathly look of fear….that’s when the crying happened. But right before she started crying (and luckily she wasn’t seriously hurt) there was this look of confusion as to how to respond to such an event. It reminds me that maybe we have a choice in how we respond to bad situations.

And with this crazy time of year and everyone so motivated to change I want to talk about 2 things:

  1. Clearly I shouldn’t babysit your kids, so don’t ask
  2. You’re going to fall down, slip up, screw up, mess up, let yourself down, etc, etc…but how you react will govern the level of your success

So while you’re in this highly motivated state I need y’all to start thinking ahead of time on how you’re going to react when you do take the one step backward.

Do you:

A) Analyze how it happened in-depth to ensure it doesn’t happen again

B) Swear, curse, blame others, get down on yourself, call yourself a complete failure and give up

C) Bounce off the ground as graceful as possible, pretend it never happened and just keep trucking along

Now, answer B sounds stupid, obviously; how funny we see it happen so often though. But I think a lot of the time if we just spent more time reacting like answer C we’d be A LOT better off and a lot further ahead of our LONG TERM goals if we didn’t stop to overanalyze everything.

Learn, grow, become better. I’m not saying that isn’t vital.

Just do it without losing too much momentum. Half of all success is momentum!

 

You’re going to fall down, my friends. Get back up. We got work to do!

 

The Fuel of Dreams

“They say sleep is the cousin of death /

Sew my eyes wide open cuz a dream is kin to ya last breath.”

I keep hearing these lyrics in my head from the song “Dreams” by The Game. It got me thinking about emotions and the numerous driving factors that cause us to move, change and grow and more importantly how they are intertwined.

As this time of year is ripe for change we start thinking about such factors as motivation, discipline, goal setting and finally, action.

But change is personal. It can be absolute, or at times, dynamic enough to simply toss out a decision and start over. I want to go deeper: what actually causes us to change because it’s not motivation, it’s not discipline, it’s not because you set goals…

In my youth my grandfather would endlessly go off about “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” I hated when he’d say that. Partly because I found it hypocritical, but mostly because it’s just not that simple. This isn’t some The Secret b.s.! Wanting and working for something are very different things.

There are a few base factors that cause movement and change in my life:

Love/Joy: I am drawn to helping others. I’m drawn to the idea of seeing others happy. People ask me to be a part of their journey and to be fair, I’m a sap and I adore the people that surround my life. So when I can or someone asks, I just do.

Tangent: Speaking of discipline, I just read this blog post from another great coach who speaks on the topic FAR better than I ever could hope and ties into the idea of love and joy being a true factor in change.

Anger: This emotion can be the most destructive of all of them. Anger is rarely accompanied with ration, nor does it lead to much constructive action. But when infused with action there is bound to be massive change. A word of caution, I’ve used anger as a platform for change but I’ve learned the hard way it’s just better to direct it outward at no real target; never direct it at someone if you hope anything positive to come of it.

You take this guy:

 

And this guy:

 

And have them debate…guaranteed the more logical of the two wins every time!

Desperation/Stress: I personally feel these two emotions are closely related even though they can feel different, they both sort of lead to the negative: stress, from which change can occur. Sometimes desperation is preceded by loss. If you end up being laid off, it forces you to change. That can turn out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened to you.

Angst: When my grandfather said “If you wanted it bad enough you would…” the better teaching would have been to say that wanting it bad enough builds the angst from which you can achieve great things. Angst, while it could be called the step-brother to anger, as the first can so quickly turn to the latter, has the potential to be the greatest useable, renewable, endless source of energy for creating positive change in life. In fact, I go so far as to call angst the fuel of dreams.

Angst is a great many emotions all wrapped into one neat little package. It’s our wants, desires, aches, longings, and that deep seeded need for something to become, be possessed (in every meaning of the word be it an item or a skill or…), to quite simply change!

Angst is a radio station with really shitty radio towers; the reception is usually terrible and fleeting. In any one given moment it can be intense or completely non-existent.

The trick is tuning it just right, for just long enough to create a single, solitary action that moves the situation one step closer to your dream.

Reread that.

You need to create ONE single action right when the moment arises as it’s not sticking around long. Now, it’ll probably come back tomorrow and the next day and 5 years from now if you don’t act on it (that’s really where the so-called “mid-life crisis” stems from, is years of ignoring the angst for change in your life); but still, you only have a few precious seconds.

What actions?

1)      Write something down NOW! Add it to a to-do list. Send a text message. Write an email, even just to yourself to read later. Write out a goal. Something, anything. It has to be written or 9/10 times it’s never going to happen.

2)      Tell someone else. Tell them what you want. Ask them to keep you accountable “will you please help me with…” works extremely well.

3)      Buy your intentions

The above three small actions set in motion more powerful emotion and change factors like motivation, realization, revelation, epiphany, and hope. Plus, you’d be very surprised the answer you get when  you ask someone for help.

How long do you have to act? Seven breaths. There are times it is 5 minutes, there are times when it’s only 5 seconds. The average is seven breaths according to my absolute favored quote from the Hagakure:

“In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.”

 I read those words 10 years ago, it stuck at the time and this simple blog post has finally wrapped up for me why it’s meant so much.

Angst was always the fuel of my dreams.

So tune in, act quickly, and become epic!