Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - Goals met

From my Facebook 

So I had no intentions of posting this. I shared it with a few friends because honestly, for one of the few times in my life I'm proud of an accomplishment.

These pics are 53 weeks apart, and about 40 pounds apart.

I am not going to bore you with some nonsensical "I do this for me" bullshit.

I did it mainly for my kids.

I will be 41 next month. A year ago, I decided that I really wanted to get serious about my health, my eating, and really dedicate myself to training exceptionally hard again. That included doing conditioning again.

I know some guys could do this in 12 or 16 weeks or whatever, but I was not getting ready for some "show". I was getting ready for a better life. And that was more important to me.

I can tell you this. Being fat is kinda like being dead or stupid. Or it was for me.


When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid.

When you see yourself everyday, you don't realize overtime how fat you are getting until you wake up one day and go "holy shit, I'm really fat!"

By normal people's standards I guess I wasn't fat at 280+ pounds but I sure felt and looked fat to me.

I also didn't realize just how much god damn fat you carry in your forehead. I mean it's like your body goes "ok there's no place else for this shit to go, so we're putting it on top of your god damn head now, fat ass."

Anyway, I'm still not "done" from a goal standpoint, but it feels very rewarding to look back now and see what the last year as brought. I can fucking sprint all day long. My strength obviously isn't where it was, but that's also hard to say because my training is so different now. All of my big movements come in a state where I'm incredibly exhausted. So I really have to way to compare.

But the fact is, pounds on the bar aren't really that important at the moment. I had other goals I wanted to achieve and I'm right on top of them. If my pec continues to heal then it's possible I may compete in another meet in the next year, but right now I'm not worried about that.

I wanted to say thanks to Trevor Kashey who helped kick things off last year and basically told me over and over again "you're still're still fat..........nope, still fat" during the early period in this transition. Honestly, that kept me motivated as fuck.

I also got my entire old wardrobe back. Which is fucking cool.

As I said, one of the few times I have taken a real moment to reflect back on the entire year of 2015 and what I accomplished. And for the first time in a long time, I feel pretty satisfied with my efforts. I can say without pause, I worked my fat ass off for them.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Your health starts in your gut

This little blurb probably isn't going to super charge anyone's libido or get you jacked to get to the gym simply because of the content matter in itself isn't very "sexy".  However the more I've read on this topic, the more I've come to realize just how important it really is in regards to health, training, well being, and literally your quality of life.

Talking about vegetables and gut health is not sexy. I get it. No one salivates over some steamed broccoli like they do a big piece of steak. There are no broccoli equivalents to the "she squats" memes you see on social media. 

I've yet to come across a "she veggies" anywhere on social media with a large male following posting up pics of flowers and offering marriage proposals or invitations to sex.

Best I could do to make veggies sexy

At the same time, I've never met a single obese person that hired a trainer to lose fat that said their salad and broccoli portions had just gotten way out of control.

If you've been eating like shit, there's a good chance your digestion is probably pretty poor. And you need to be aware of a simple fact. The better your digestion is, the better you can absorb and shuttle nutrients into the body. Not to mention that about 70-80% of your immune system is contained within the digestive tract.

Does that sound important? I think it does.

Studies suggest that the foods you continually eat are the ones your gut bacteria will make you crave, which means consistently eating nutritious food isn't just good for your waistline, it's good for your gut. It's also insurance for keeping your appetite in check. People who crave shit food happen to eat it a lot.

This is often why you read that eating lots of vegetables "makes you healthy". At a very basic level, this is a truth, and apparently mom had it right.

If your immune system sucks, then your recovery rate is going to suck. Your body composition is going to suck, and then your nutrient partitioning is going to suck. You're probably going to be sick a lot, and will be well on your way to unlocking life threatening achievements like Type II diabeetus grandmaster and cancer grandmaster.

This isn't just about fiber, either. So for the guy that says "I take a fiber supplement, so I'm ok", well you're wrong.

Probiotics are important, water is important, and gut bacteria is important. It's not as simple as taking some Metamucil and calling it a fucking day.

If you read anything on the "red and processed meats cause cancer" news a while back, then ultimately you may have read that eating green vegetables along with said meats can potentially reduce the cancer causing factors involved in eating said meats.

Here, in case you needed a study....

Green veggies fight with cows and shit in your stomach

Yes the study was done on rats. But I still don't think it should be dismissed as being unimportant.

For people who complain that veggies bloat them, and give them more gas than Exxon, then slowing down and crewing your veggies for longer can help. As can not drinking water when you eat.

Yes, don't drink fluids when you eat.

A while back, John Meadows brought this up in a discussion and it was debated by people claiming it was baseless. However, he used some "trial and error" on himself, and I did as well. And I found that sure enough, drinking about half an hour before eating, and then not drinking again for an hour after made me less bloated and my digestion seemed to improve. Your digestive tract needs to be hydrated in order to function optimally. However drinking water or fluids during eating can impede proper digestion, especially if the fluids are too cold. Sipping (not guzzling) something warm is a better option if you are going to drink while eating.

I could probably write a multiple part series on this however I don't want to. So let's just high level overview this shit.

1. Use probiotics - Make sure you get the kind that has to be kept in the fridge. The kind sitting out on the counter are useless. Probiotics help move food food through your gut, and restore balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut. It's possible you may not need them, but it's a good start in regards to covering your bases.

2. Eat a variety of vegetables - There's a lot of debate in regards to things like grains, dairy, sugars, etc in regards to gut health. However there is zero debate on the fact that vegetables improve your gut health. Lots of greens will feed the good bacteria in your gut. If you haven't been eating veggies then add them in slowly unless you want to expel gas with such severe stank that it causes birds to fall dead from the sky or your significant other to leave you. If you are trying to achieve the latter, then you're welcome for the solution.

3. Hydrate the digestive tract - Drink your water half an hour before eating, then not until an hour after. If you are going to drink while eating, sip a warm beverage like tea or warm water. But sip it. Don't chug it.

Improved digestion will play a major role in how you look, feel, and function. Do not avoid taking care of proper digestive ability or everything else will suffer.

Thanks to Dani Shugart for contributing to this piece.  

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Killing your inner midget

When I was cutting my teeth coming up through the years there were two types of articles that irked me in regards to learning how to train, grow, and improve.

1.  Written by guys who were so genetically gifted they grew mass just by walking past a class doing power aerobics.

2.  Guys that who wrote about how to grow that I couldn't tell that they had ever picked up a weight.

I remember reading articles back 20 years ago from guys who said no matter what they did, they grew.

What piece of advice could this person possible give me, when they cannot identify with the struggles I had in regards to getting bigger and stronger?  If you have 19" arms before you did your first biceps curl, then more than likely you aren't going to have to figure out every way possible in order to get them to grow.  I'm talking about biceps here, not fatceps.  No one cares about what your arms measure covered in 3 inches of fat.

As for point number two, I also had trouble taking a guy serious who was writing on how to build a big chest, or legs, or arms, when he was rocking the muscular development of a prepubescent boy on estrogen treatments.

To me, it seemed like there was no in between.  Muscle rags almost always wanted to talk to the guys who had freakish bodyparts, and ask them how they trained them.  I get the idea behind it, but it is incredibly flawed.  Asking a guy with shredded 30" thighs who says they grew regardless of what he did is like asking Usain Bolt how to run faster.

Yes, I do think it's important to learn from the very large and strong people in order to find the commonalities they are shared.  But you also have to discern who arrived at those places because they worked very hard in order to get there, and the ones who simply needed to thank mom and pop.

I liken this to eating.  The guys that ended up growing an enormous amount of muscle mass all eventually went through that rite of passage where they learned how to eat until eating sucked.  To the point where eating was a chore, and they hated it.  I've never known a single massive individual that doesn't have a story that echoes this.

So I never understand articles by guys who had the muscular development of a rodent writing articles on how to get big, or grow a particular set of muscles.

How would you know?

At some point there has to be some money where your mouth is.  I'm not saying the information is always useless, but I just struggled with accepting the advice of someone telling me how to grow, that looked like they had spent the last three years of their life with Tom Hanks and Wilson on that deserted island.

I'm not going to play the "oh poor me genetics" card bullshit here.  I swear to God, everyone I know claims to have shitty genetics regardless of where they end up.  Often times, they point to pics from when they were 17 years old and skinny as a rail to establish the fact that they had "shitty genetics".  Shitty genetics is when you've busted hump as hard as possible for a decade, in an intelligent manner, and still don't have a lot to show for it.  Lots of guys start off at 98 pounds only to end up in virtual super hero land either from a strength or muscularity standpoint less than 10 years later.  Shit genetics is more about your response, or lack of it, to training and proper eating rather than where you start.  Your starting point is irrelevant in terms of poor genetics.  Great or poor genetics become defined by the response your body has once it is placed under the stress of training and its response to proper food intake.

I was 98 pounds when I started training at 14 years old.  4 years later, I was 220+ pounds.  Did I work exceptionally hard over those four years?  Yes.  Unequivocally yes.  I can say that without hesitation due to the fact that I'm also honest that there were many years later on where upon reflection, I realized I had not been training very hard.  And of course during those years, little progress was made.

Genetically speaking, I don't think I have "poor" genetics.  I also do not have what I would call elite or outlier genetics by any stretch of the imagination.  I've gotten to where I am due to a tremendous amount of hard work, researching, studying, and being consistent more times than not, in regards to my training.

People are very quick to accept their perceived short comings.  Once they get an idea etched in their mind, their habits actually begin to form to cement that idea, creating a cognitive bias that the notions they have about themselves has to be true.

If you don't believe you'll ever be capable of performing something, you won't be.

At the root of all of this is self doubt, and disbelief.

If you don't think you're smart enough to get through college then your efforts more than likely will end up reflecting that lack of belief in your abilities.

If you believe that you're smart enough to make the Dean's List, then it's a good chance you'll do very well.

Yes of course there are limitations to self belief.  Which is why there are only so many world record holders in any major sporting evening, why there are only so many guys that make it into the NFL or major league baseball, and even then, only so many guys that make the hall of fame.

However, I can just about bet you that every single one of those people had failures on their way to achieving such successes.  Yet somehow, they ended up better themselves through those failures in order to find out how great they could truly be on the other side of things.

Most of the things we, as normal people, want to accomplish can be done by simply applying ourselves with a tremendous amount of effort, and an unwavering amount of discipline and dedication.  The problem is, most people are inherently lazy and realize that great things generally take an incredible amount of hard work and discipline.  At least, comparatively to what had been been applied by them in their life.

I don't know of a single person that wouldn't want more money in their bank account.  But I know very few people who are willing to risk starting their own business due to the fear of failure.  And I get that.  If you have a family and bills to pay and have a good job, it would be hard to give all of that up in order to pursue your passion with the hopes that it would also keep a roof over your head, and food on the table.  But you're never going to get wealthy working for someone else, making a set salary for the year either.

But the gym 9-to-5er's approach their lifting goals the same way most of the time.  They dream about what they want to lift, or look like, but they aren't often willing to give up the things they need to in order to make that happen.  They aren't willing to put in the consistent hard work in order to see it all come to fruition.

So when people talk about "genetics" as being an excuse, for some people it is, but for most it is not.  At least to a certain degree.

And this people, despite what all I wrote above, is how we arrived at midgets.

I often like to point out that regardless of your dreams and aspirations, they are still limited.  You'll never see a midget in the NBA.  And you'll never see a midget win the 100 or 200 meter dash.  You'll never see a midget climb Mt. Everest.  You'll never see a midget holding a UFC championship belt.  You'll never see a midget become the starting linebacker for the Chicago Bears.  You'll never see a midget win at pole vaulting or Olympic hurdling.  A midget will never kick your door down while your house is on fire and save you from smoke inhalation.  A midget will never fight off a ninja clan with his bare hands.  A midget will never stop a tornado, a tsunami, or any other natural disaster.

But you can be a firefighter if you're a midget.  Or be on Game of Thrones.  So there are things even midgets can do.

Look, I don't want this to become about midgets.  They are still capable of doing incredible things. Like taking second place to an elephant in an air plane pulling contest.  That's pretty impressive.

So there will always be limitations placed on you by your genetics.  IF IF, you are comparing yourself to the genetic elite, i.e. professional athletes and world record holders.

Like for example, a little person (so I will try to be more PC now) can go into the gym and work his ass off, gain muscle, lose fat, and become the best little jacked person he or she can be.  Or they can say "I'm a midget" and create a mindset that being a midget is what keeps them from reaching very attainable PERSONAL goals.

It boggles my mind when people believe things that are easily achievable by the great majority of the population, are almost impossibly hard for them.

Losing 25 pounds of flab is not hard.  It just requires some fucking discipline and effort.  Gaining 25 pounds of lean mass is not hard IF, you're willing to hang in there for the long haul, train very consistently, and are patient enough to see the process out.

The problem is, most people do indeed have a 9-to-5 mindset.  Not only about work, but about virtually everything in their life.  Most especially when it comes to training, dieting, and building a better/stronger physique.  They become mental midgets.  They say "this shit is too hard" and either quit, or never apply enough effort to actually accomplish their goals.  Their goals, usually things many many other people have done, somehow become impossible tasks to them.

Look, dieting is not "hard".  It's only hard if you're fucking mentally weak.

Training hard is not even hard.  It's only hard if you're a pussy.

Take a trip down to a physical therapists office one day, and you can see people who have it much harder than you do, working harder than you do, just in order to do shit like walk again, or write their name again.

Take a visit to a cancer ward sometime if you want to see what real struggles look like, when you are complaining about your next meal of "chicken and broccoli" and are feeling so fucking sorry for yourself.

The next time you complain about how hard squats are, think about that kid who would do anything to stand up out of his wheelchair and take a few steps.

Physique improvement, fat loss, and all of this shit that gets propped up on social media as being difficult really isn't.  And accomplishing personal goals isn't anywhere near as hard you believe it to be.  It's not your genetics that's holding you back.

It's midgets.

It's your own personal midget that won't allow you to do any of the things you think you can't do due to shortcomings you tell yourself on a continual basis.  So the reason you can't get it done, is because you've already made all the reasons why it can't be done, instead of finding all the reasons it can be.

Sure, you're never going to be Mr. Olympia.  Especially if you're a midget.  But that doesn't mean you can't get jacked as fuck in regards to what your body will allow you to.  That's called fulfilling personal potential.  But until it is fulfilled, that's all it is.  Potential.  And until you stop being lazy and making excuses you'll continue to be a part of that gang of midgets taking second place to the lone elephant in that plane pulling race.

And don't get mad at me about this.  After all, no one likes an angry dwarf.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

New year, new me: What you don't fucking know

Ahhhh, here it is.

We're closing in on new years.  Twenty-six-fucking-teen.

Another year is almost gone, plenty of you made no progress in 2015.  Plenty of you won't make any in 2016.

Hey, I'm not saying that to be a dick.  I've written plenty in the past about how I've let years go by without making progress, then waking up one morning and going "holy fuck, I'm not better today physically than I was last...4 years!"

It happens.

Complacency sets in.  We go to the gym.  We eat "mostly healthy".

I love that term.  Every overweight/fat person tells me they eat "mostly healthy".  It's such an ambiguous term.  Because they can neither define "mostly" in a true quantifiable measurement, nor do they understand what "healthy" even means.

Some people think eating "mostly healthy" means skipping breakfast, eating a salad for lunch, then eating "just two doughnuts" from the breakroom, then coming home to a white trash dinner of Hamburger Helper in scoop sizes that would make an oil rig worker smile with pride.

That salad, I suppose, was the mostly healthy part.

But hey, you still go to the gym.  Nevermind that your physique hasn't changed in half a decade.  Or that your lifts are basically about the that same half a decade.

If only you did steroids you would be just as jacked as the other jacked guys at the gym.  Except that most of those guys train their ass off, eat spot on more than 90% of the time, and do all the other things you won't and don't do.  Like spending the weekend chugging beers and eating basket after basket of bowel exploding hot wings from that local grease pot you and your buddies go to in order to escape your hostage/marriage/relationship situation at home.

Hey I'm having fun, fucking relax.

But no seriously, that's you.

I'm just having a go at you, it's all in good fun.

But no really, that's probably you.

Ok seriously, no I mean it this time, we all fall into this trap.  Some of us get back on the real war horse because we decide once again "ok, I suck and have been training like a bitch and need to get my shit together."

Then we do.

Or we don't.  And don't care.  And that's perfectly ok.  It really is.  I don't care if you don't go to the gym, or eat "mostly healthy".

What I do care about, is my space.

Yes, my space.

You see, in a few weeks, I will have less of it at the gym.  After being in some sort of gym for over two decades, I have found ways to avoid losing my space during the new year.  I go to the gym well before 5 P.M. and rarely go on Mondays.  Never ever, ever, ever, never, ever, ever go the gym after 5 PM on a Monday during the first six weeks after new years, if you are claustrophobic.  It's the weight lifting equivalent of black Friday but with sweatier people who are far more confused about their surroundings.

I train at home mostly during the first six weeks after new years.  If I do go to the gym, I go on weekends more, or as I said, long before 5 P.M.

My gym time is serious.  I'm sorry if you deem me hollow for saying that.  I am there to train, train hard, not talk and bullshit, then leave.  Despite the fact that I am there for that, I am actually friendly when approached.  And if someone takes up my equipment for no reason at all, I will ask them if they would like to work in with me.  I will even give a great spot if asked, and throw out some pointers afterwards if I can help.  So while I am there to train, I am not a gym asshole.

The other day, a fellow ended up joining me for my training and he made the remark between sets, "there's a lot of hot women that come in here."

I shrugged and said "I wouldn't know.  I am here to train."

"Damn" he said. "See, that's what I mean.  I need to get my mind right.  That's why I'm not making the progress I should."

I wasn't joking.  I see stupidity going on in the gym quite often, but I don't really give a shit about hot women in the gym.  Mainly for two reasons...

1.  I'm there to train (as noted)
2.  Hot women are already bothered enough in the gym by so many dick blossoms
3.  I'm there to train

Ok so that's three fucking reasons.  And what?

But he really hit on a serious matter.  Your mental game.

And this is where most people are going to fail after their "new year, new me" wears off faster than a buzz from cheap weed.

You don't know.

And that's the bottom line.  You don't.....fucking.....know.

You don't fucking know that it's going to take longer than 6 weeks to get your bikini body.  Nevermind that you spent the last decade undoing your teenage figure by slamming half of the picture menu at Waffle House at 3 a.m. after 17 rounds of shots.  Sure, you can wake up in six weeks by doing some ab work and "butt kicks" and boom, bikini body emerges!  No, you really can't.

You don't fucking know that the stupid "6 moves for 6 pack abs in 6 weeks" article you read in Men's Health is just bullshit to get you to buy a magazine.  If you honestly believe that your beer belly and love handles and awful fucking "dad bod" will be gone in six weeks because you did six exercises then I have some ocean front property in Montana you're gonna love.  Lemme get these papers drawn up for you.

You don't fucking know that all those "fat burners" and bullshit you're going to waste your money on after the first of the year, could have gone to someone who would write you up a diet to follow, and teach you how to eat properly.  You know, knowledge and shit.  Things that are going to last you longer than the 30 capsules in that bottle.

You don't fucking know that the guy on the cover of that magazine, didn't get his body with the routine you're reading about in it.  And I'm not talking about "gross" IFBB pro bodybuilders.  I'm talking about that 190 pound shredded dude that 99% of guys really want to look like.  You don't fucking know that he probably had great genetics, or has been training for 10 years, or that he dieted his ass off for anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks just to look like that for one day....for that magazine cover.

You don't fucking know that it's going to be harder than it looks.  You don't fucking know that for most of you, your desire to "change your life" is going to wane tremendously after a little more than a month.  You don't fucking know that it takes between 21 and 66 days for a habit to form.  So if the gym isn't habit forming after 4-6 weeks, you just hung in there for another few weeks, your mindset and your body would change dramatically.  Unless you're still eating "mostly healthy".  Then, not so much.

There are so many things you don't fucking know, "new year, new me" guy/gal.

You don't fucking know, that lifting and learning how to eat properly is a life changing process that is filled with far more positives than negatives.  That it will suck when your motivation wanes, and then later - if you stuck it out - that you'd learn to love the gym, the discipline, the soreness (yes, I swear to god you'll eventually love being sore, I swear it!) and all the other shit that comes with it.  Like more attention from the opposite sex.  Unless you're a dude.  And then when you get jacked you don't fucking know that basically, just other dudes are going to ask you how to get jacked.

You also don't fucking know that I wish everyone would learn these things, and use it to change their life.  There's nothing better than hearing from a "former fat guy/gal" who got their shit together, lost weight, got in great shape, and what it did for them.

Same for skinny people who finally hang in there long enough to pack on some real muscle, and watch their body change and transform into something they are proud to look at everyday in the mirror.  And fuck you if you think there is anything wrong with that.  The people that are proud of the body they worked for, and have every right to take pride in their work.  And generally, that pride is what keeps them in this game mentally.

And now we're back to square one.  Your mental game.

It will be strong at first.  Stronger than the stench of a fart after five pounds of broccoli eating.  Then of course, like all strong farts, it passes and is barely even a distant memory.  Maybe someone makes a joke about it later if you were all in the car together and the driver wouldn't roll down the windows.

You don't fucking know if you don't buckle down mentally, you're going to fail.  You'll be a statistic.  You'll be another "new year, new me" dropout.  Go and ring that bell to signal to everyone you're quitting.

You're a quitter.  Just admit it and be at peace with it.

That's not me being a dick.  That's me calling a spade a spade.  If you announce to the world that you're going to get in the best shape of your life because the new year rolls around, and then are back to eating "mostly healthy" in 7 weeks and never return to the clanging and banging of the iron, then you fucking quit.


And the world needs quitters.  Because I need my space back.  I love my basement cave, but I do like the gym.  And I hate having to dictate my time in it so that I can train in a productive fashion.  You know, because all the soon to be quitters are taking up all the equipment.

So I will leave you with this, before you call me a dick for not writing this in a "rub your belly and pat your bottom" style you are so accustomed to at this time of year.  You know what I mean...

"It's a new year.  And if you love yourself you can turn things around.  You're beautiful inside, so let your work show the beauty on the outside too!"


So let's examine what I really did in between all of those "F" bombs I laid down.

I just gave you the road map for how to avoid being a quitter.  How to avoid the usual mistakes.  How not to get trapped into thinking that you can wake up after 6 weeks and have a newly transformed sexy AF body.

I just gave you the reality that it will be hard, but that it will be worth it if you find a way not to quit, and hang in there.

I just told you so many of the pitfalls to avoid in getting discouraged, and even better ways to spend your money.

So if you didn't fucking know, you shouldn't call me a dick for this.  You should just say "thank you - I won't fucking quit." and mean it.

I'd rather the gym be full of people busting ass because they are there to train, and for everyone to have a burning desire to really find a "new me" on the other side of the "new year".  But the statistics bear out that it won't happen.

So don't be a fucking statistic.

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