Wednesday, July 20, 2016

And not a single mountain was ever climbed......

There is an idiom most often used to describe people as pessimists or optimists.  

And it's commonly "glass is half full" or "glass is half empty".

I try not to use absolutes in my life now.  By that I mean, the words and phrases "never" "always" "all the time", etc.  Because for the most part, they are rarely true (see, I had to be careful right there not to say they are "never" true).  

The reason why is because using absolutes distorts our perception about how true a situation really is, or isn't.  

And most people are not always half-full or half-empty types "all the time".  We tend to see the liquid in the glass quite differently based on different situations in our life.  

When we are in a glass-is-half-empty state, we tend to over analyze every word, action, and reaction involved in whatever situation is plaguing us.  We do this, I believe, because we often find ourselves at a crossroad in our life that requires us to make a decision that we feel like will be life impacting.  That once we take that step off the proverbial cliff, we accept that we are in a free fall and have no idea what our landing is going to be like.  It would be nice to know well ahead of time that a mountain of cotton is at the bottom, just waiting to cushion our fall.  But we can't know that.  And depending on where our mindset is at in the time of that free fall, we either envision said mountain of cotton (glass is half full), or envision razor sharp rocks (half empty) that are going to slice us into bits and disembowel us.  Even worse is that we don't die from it.  We just get split wide open and lie there bleeding eternally in a lake of our own blood and pain, metaphorically speaking, and think "this is going to be my life."  Pain, misery, anguish, and suffering.....eternally.  

Now that's a rosy ass picture I just painted, let me tell you.

But that is rarely the case.  If ever.  Yeah, I used an absolute there (sort of, I did add the "if") because I think I'm ok in saying that at some point, the misery does end.  At least for a while before life presents us with a new set of circumstances that will require us to make a choice to have faith in yet another free fall.

Most of the time, life gives us a bit of both, however.  The razors and the cotton.  

Generally speaking, taking big risks and big decisions usually means getting split wide open for a while until we find ourselves in emotional comfort.  Or we get comfortable being uncomfortable.  And there's good and bad in that as well.  Sometimes we aren't aware of how unbearable the discomfort is until something awakens us to it.  

I heard a story about a woman a few years ago who, by all accounts had a fairly good life.  That is, until her husband died.  Now I know what you're thinking at this point.  It all went into the shitter for her at that point.  But actually, it was the opposite.  Once she was unshackled from the chains of the discomfort she had grown so used to in that marriage, her life blossomed and she began doing all the things she had ever wanted to do in her life, but was never free to explore.  The person who was closest to her said of it all "it was a bizarre duality of joy and complete sadness.  Joy, to see her with the ability to feel free to explore who she wanted to be, and what she wanted out of life without limits, without reservations, without oppression.  And sad at the same time, that she let so many years get washed away by not finding the strength to actually make the choice to free herself from that emotional slavery."  

People can and do willingly chain themselves to life draining situations for sometimes illogical and inexplicable reasons.  Or let me rephrase, illogical to everyone else from the outside looking in.

I can't read minds, and I do my best not to speak for others, but in the time I've spent on this Earth, and in my own experience in life, most of us end up in those prisons because we are paralyzed by the fear of change.  

Exceptionally cliche thing to write, I'm aware.  But cliches exist for a reason.  They exist because most of us live some sort of the same situations throughout life, just painted with slightly different colors and patterns.  One person's mauve is another person's thistle. 

The paralyzing effect in people's life isn't just fear, but habit.  

The FBI's database shows that about 8% of people who are taken hostage end up developing Stockholm syndrome.

If you don't know what that is, I can enlighten you.......

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

Essentially, there is a sort of illogical bonding that happens in spite of the fact that the person being held hostage is in fact being abused by their captors.  Symptoms include but are not limited to.....

  • Positive feelings by the prisoner toward the captor.
  • Negative feelings by the prisoner toward his or her family, friends or authorities attempting any rescue.
  • Support for the captor's reasons and behaviors.
The most common thought behind the development of these irrational and illogical thoughts come back to one of the two things that we as humans, are designed for, physiologically.

1.  To procreate.
2.  To survive. 

It's #2 that psychologists agree on (for the most part) that causes this phenomenon.  In essence, self preservation.  

Once the hostage is in the clutches of the abductor, they are isolated from the outside world.  Everything now, in regards to survival, is dependent on that relationship.  The longer the abduction goes on, the more reliant the hostage becomes.  Their life depends on it.  So there is a shift in their mental and emotional state that creates a coping mechanism.  Most of us do in fact develop coping mechanisms for physical, emotional, and mental stress in our life.

Hell, let's go ahead and break the rules here and use an absolute (shit I'm breaking that rule all over the place in this article).  We ALL develop coping mechanisms for the hostage situations we have in our life.  Whatever they may be, we will find a way to cope.  It may be healthy, or unhealthy, but it will happen.  

Unfortunately, as I've seen all too often, people that become aware of such issues and find themselves lying on a therapist's couch, end up trying to fix all the coping mechanisms, rather than addressing what's actually causing them.  This should make sense, if you understand how the world of therapy and therapists can and is often filled with people who don't desire you to get off that couch.

I read an article a while back, which I cannot seem to find now so I will have to paraphrase, where the author (who is a therapist) was railing on the entire field of therapy because people should not find themselves in therapy for weeks, months, or years.  I'm not talking about things like drug addiction or such, I'm talking about getting through normal, yet difficult life situations.

Her stance?  Make a fucking choice.  

That's it.  That's all.  

And her problem with most of the people working in the field of therapy was that it wasn't their desire to help these people make a choice.  Her pet peeve was the common question asked by therapists to their patients.

"Well how does that make you feel?"

Her retort was basically, "this is fucking stupid.  I already know how it makes them feel because they told me.  So my question back to them was "and what are you going to do about it?""

Her success rate was pretty high.  Her style of counseling was to essentially force people to recognize the root of the problem, rather than worrying about the coping mechanisms, then make a choice to change the actual problem.  To get them to actually say what they needed to change, then actually act on it.  To understand what their control in life was, and to seize it, and make it work for them.  To stop waiting for things to "magically change".  To stop trying to put band-aids on the problem by addressing the coping mechanisms and to actually kill those off, by making a choice to change what was causing them.

Her average number of therapy sessions per client? 


In other words, "shit or get off the fucking pot."  Amazing that she was smart enough to go to school all those years and arrive at a saying most of us already knew, but have trouble applying.

The problem is, most people really do already know the answer, but don't have the courage to break away from their metaphorical or real life in-person captors.

People stay shackled to jobs, marriages, friendships, and all sorts of shit in life because of fear, habit, and the development of an ideology that their self preservation is dependent upon these things existing.  In other words, they can't imagine their life without those things in place.  No matter how bad or horrible or shitty they may be.  No different than the hostage.

How many people have you ever known that were in a life sucking relationship but would not get out of it?  

The most common answer as to why, that I've ever heard is "well I love them."  To those people, I don't think they understand the concept of what that word means.  And it can mean a lot of things.  But I don't often associate love with destruction or the tearing down of someone in a way that lessens them.  I mean wiki told me this.......

Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection ("I love my mother") to pleasure ("I loved that meal"). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment.  It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—"the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another". It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals.

I mean just borrow from that..........

"I loved that meal".

Pretty sure no one has ever said that while gagging on a food their taste buds rejected like your intestines rejects Chipotle (and while you may love Chipotle, your intestines usually do not).

This isn't to say that you don't love that person.  But it shouldn't be reason, the sole reason, you keep arriving at to stay in that state of Stockholm syndrome with them.  There's been enough articles written about toxic relationships on the net that you could have found a few and come to the conclusion if you happened to be in one or not, and found the courage to get out of it.  Why on Earth would you waste another minute of your life in something that consistently takes more than it gives back?  

Wait.  That's how Casinos stay in business.  But I digress.  Even then, people end up in therapy for gambling because they watch their life crumble due to their "love" of gambling.  Everyday that you stay in a relationship with someone you "love" that causes you to empty out your emotional bank account, the closer you get to being broke(en).  And once that happens, just like in gambling, you will have to take a long hard look at your own self worth.  

Ugh.  This article is really uplifting isn't it?

I've worked with people who bitched daily about the jobs we were in.

"I hate this fucking job so much."

"Well go get another one."

"Well rabble rabble mumble mumble....stuff, things, you know."

I get it.  Change is fucking hard.  We like routine.  We like habits.  We wouldn't have habits if they weren't habits!   Get your mind around that for a while.  But routine and habits that cause us to be hostages is no way to go through life.  I mean that's really deep (sarcasm) and should be on a Pinterest meme somewhere with a chick walking on the beach in the background, but at the core of it, the message still rings true.

And it's not until that moment, that epiphany, that paradigm shift that happens that causes our eyes to be wide open to it all, and creates pause long enough to let fear sink in that maybe, possibly, probably....we need to make a change.  We need to step a step off that ledge, and embrace that free fall.  That whatever comes with that decision, fuck it, we will deal with it.  Cotton or razors, cut open or cushy, I'm making a choice to change things.  

No one ever climbed a single mountain by just looking at it.  Not one person.  Ever.  Yes, I used a few absolutes there because that is an undeniable truth.  

You will never ever climb a single mountain just by standing at the foot of it.   And life can't improved by living in self imposed victimhood.  Choosing to change things to accept happiness is not selfish.  And a lot of people in your life that you may have to remove to find happiness, may tell you that you're being selfish.  Most of the time, those are your captors.  The ones you've been so reliant on.  The ones who have shackled you and imprisoned you and made you believe that your self preservation depends on them.  

It doesn't.  

Empowerment is something people can find if they are willing to embrace change.  If they are willing to embrace that fall.  If they are willing to go through the myriad of pains life will bring with change.

But the journey up that mountain has to start with the first step.  The free fall has to start with that first step.  

Every major change starts with that one first step.  That one usually proves to be the hardest.  And if you're ever to find  yourself in a place where you carved out the life you really wanted, you'll look back and realize that step was indeed the hardest, but absolutely the most important one.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

The competitor and keto/os

The last year I've been involved with a company that distributes exogenous ketones called keto/os designed by Pruvit.

Like most supplements, and rightly so, they have undergone a lot of scrutiny and lashing across the net for being the product of an MLM based company.

I myself was very reluctant to get involved for those exact reasons and it took me a long time to get on board with it all because I am a skeptic by heart.  Especially when it comes to supplements.

I wrote an article before outlining how I ended up buying in and I will link it here.

One of the common misconceptions about using exogenous ketones is that you need to be on a ketogenic diet in order to use them.  The only reason I feel like people can arrive at such a conclusion is just because of the fact that the supplement is in fact a ketone itself.  Beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

The entire point of using an exogenous ketone (exogenous meaning it comes from outside the body, where endogenous means from inside the body) is to get the benefits that ketones provide without actually having to get into a state of ketosis.  In other words, you can have your carbs and derive the benefits you get from that ketone BHB itself.

To be completely up front, I am not a fan of ketogenic diets.  Or let me state, not from an athletic or muscle building standpoint.  And I will tell you why.

Carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect in regards to the fact that the keep the body from using amino acids through the process known as gluconeogenesisto create glucose.

In the absence of glucose, gluconeogenesis essentially robs Peter to pay Paul.  If someone is interested in growing as much lean tissue as possible, then robbing muscle of the very building blocks needed to grow is not a great idea.  Let us also not forget that carbohydrates serve as a catalyst for the pancreas to secrete insulin, which is responsible for reducing muscle protein breakdown.

Yet at the same time, there's actually no such thing as an "essential carbohydrate".

We have essential amino acids, the ones that cannot be created by the body and must be found through food or supplementation. Those being histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

And we have essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6.  Just like the 9 essential amino acids, these cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet.

In fact, as we break down what the essentials are by the body, you actually won't find carbohydrates in the list anywhere.

- Water.  Without water well, you die.
- Essential amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
- Vitamins and minerals
- Trace minerals

The only knock here is that reducing your diet to protein and fats is said by some to cause deficiencies in some of the areas listed above.  Potentially potassium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin D.  However let's be clear about something here - if  your diet doesn't contain a variety of foods in it then regardless of the "style" of dieting you choose,  you'll end up deficient in something somewhere. So even if you decide that a keto diet is right for you, make sure to do your homework in regards to food selection so that you have your bases covered as thoroughly as possible from this standpoint.

With all of that said, from both an athletic performance standpoint and muscle building standpoint, carbs really are king, but only when working in conjunction in a synergistic way with proteins and fats.  You need an optimum supply of all three macros in order to either grow muscle, or perform athletically at a high level.  Carbs supply an immediate and "cheap" source of energy that is easily converted into ATP which is the driver for fast and explosive muscular contractions.

So while carbs may not be "essential" their role in regards to sports performance and building muscle cannot be overstated.

So where in the hell does that bring us back to in regards to exogenous ketones?

Those on keto diets and those not - 

Well this one shouldn't be too hard to figure out.  Anyone that decides to implement a keto diet, which has been proven to be an excellent choice for rapid fat loss, can use the exogenous ketones to achieve a high rate of ketosis in that state.

But what about those who either subscribe to a higher carbohydrate diet, or someone just going low carb for the sake of fat loss, either for physique competition or just using a low carb/high fat paradigm to shed more fat?

I'm glad you asked.  Or maybe you didn't.  But here you are, reading this tripe anyway.

The brain uses about 120 grams of glucose a day (give or take).  When the body is low on glucose, such as in a state of low carb dieting, the brain competes with the glucose supply for normal functioning.

Anyone who has ever done a contest diet should understand the manifestations of this quite well.  When someone is only ingesting 50-150 grams of carbs a day, then training, then doing cardio, there's not a lot of that "cheap energy" to tap into.  When I was in contest prep and carbs were at an all time low, I had times where I had no idea where I was driving to or what my cats name was anymore.

If you doubt the impact on glucose availability for proper brain function, have a lookie at this guy here......

Previous research has found that the ingestion of glucose boosts task performance in the memory domain (including tasks tapping episodic, semantic, and working memory). The present pilot study tested the hypothesis that glucose ingestion would enhance performance on a test of prospective memory. In a between-subjects design, 56 adults ranging from 17 to 80 years of age performed a computerized prospective memory task and an attention (filler) task after 25 g of glucose or a sweetness-matched placebo. Blood glucose measurements were also taken to assess the impact of individual differences on glucose regulation. After the drink containing glucose, cognitive facilitation was observed on the prospective memory task after excluding subjects with impaired fasting glucose level. Specifically, subjects receiving glucose were 19% more accurate than subjects receiving a placebo, a trend that was marginally nonsignificant, F₁,₄₁ = 3.4, P = .07, but that had a medium effect size, d = 0.58. Subjects receiving glucose were also significantly faster on the prospective memory task, F₁,₃₅ = 4.8, P < .05, d = 0.6. In addition, elevated baseline blood glucose (indicative of poor glucose regulation) was associated with slower prospective memory responding, F₁,₃₅ = 4.4, P < .05, d = 0.57. These data add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that both memory and executive functioning can benefit from the increased provision of glucose to the brain.

To clear this up, once you remove carbs, brain function drops if there is not an alternative source for improving cognition.

Now when I write "remove carbs" I'm talking about low carbohydrate diets, and not ketogenic diets.  The brain cannot use fatty acids for fuel.  [1]Fatty acids do not serve as fuel for the brain, because they are bound to albumin in plasma and so do not traverse the blood-brain barrier. In starvation, ketone bodies generated by the liver partly replace glucose as fuel for the brain.  So if someone is going low carb, but not in a ketogenic state, then essentially brain cognition is going to be in the shitter.

Ketosis can only happen once your body no longer as the ability to draw upon glucose for a fuel source, and then a switch in the metabolic pathways happens so that ketones can be used instead of glucose.  The process here is that fat gets broken down in the liver, and glycerol and fatty acid molecules are released.  Ketogensis happens, then and a ketone body called acetoacetate which is then converted into BHB and acetone.  Acetone is the one that makes your breath smell like you've been feasting on the flesh of rotting corpses in a truck stop bathroom.

BHB however, is quite amazing.

The therapeutic uses for ketogenic diets have been documented quite thoroughly, like right here....

Surprisingly, D-beta-hydroxybutyrate (abbreviated "betaOHB") may also provide a more efficient source of energy for brain per unit oxygen, supported by the same phenomenon noted in the isolated working perfused rat heart and in sperm. It has also been shown to decrease cell death in two human neuronal cultures, one a model of Alzheimer's and the other of Parkinson's disease. These observations raise the possibility that a number of neurologic disorders, genetic and acquired, might benefit by ketosis.

But to expound on BHB, is in fact the preferred fuel source by the brain.  But even more than that, BHB appears to suppress brain glucose function.  Yah, this was done on rats, but I will follow up with some people stuff after this as well........

It is hypothesized that ketone bodies play a neuroprotective role through an improvement in metabolic efficiency, by sparing glucose, and the degradation of muscle-derived amino acids for substrates15. During hypoxia, ketone bodies have been shown to be neuroprotective16,17 by depressing glucose uptake and CMRglu possibly due to metabolic bocks as a result of oxidative damage. Ketone bodies are thought to stabilize the lactate/pyruvate ratio and bypass the metabolic blocks associated with oxidative stress induced impairment of glucose metabolism.

So over the last many months, what I've seen with competitors who are in a very depleted carbohydrate state is this very thing when they added in the ketones during those times.

And while it's true that the brain draws upon different fuels for function, a brain trying to run on trace amounts of glucose that is being constantly depleted through cardio and training will be a brain that isn't working all that well.

So as I dispersed this product out to competitors in a state of severe carbohydrate depletion, they all kept coming back amazed at what happened.  Brain fog gone, the ability to generate hard mind to muscle contractions during training had returned, and the feeling of death washing over them every hour of the day was gone.  Or at least, for the hours that the exogenous ketones were running through their system.  

This didn't happen once, or twice, or even three times.  It happened with every competitor that ended up using the product.  

When the brain cannot draw upon enough glucose for efficient functioning and the ketones are implemented, it now has a fuel source that it actually prefers.  Especially in the times when the body is depleted of glucose.  

In summary, this is the first study directly showing acute utilization of BHB in human brain. The concentration of tissue BHB is in agreement with earlier acute hyperketonemic (nonfasted) data, with concentrations of brain BHB quite low. At the plasma levels of 2.25 ± 0.24 mmol/L BHB, the appearance of the 13C label into the brain and into the amino acid pools is rapid, reaching a steady state for Glu4 and Gln4 at fractional enrichments of 6.78 ± 1.71% and 5.64 ± 1.84%, respectively. The distribution of label resembles that of glucose, consistent with the view that BHB is metabolized primarily within the large neuronal compartment. Modeling the glutamate and glutamine steady-state fractional enrichments based on a single compartment gives oxidative rates of BHB of 0.032 ± 0.009 mmol kg−1 min−1 that are consistent with whole brain human brain measurements made earlier using AV difference methods. Analysis of aspartate labeling is consistent with the view that in these compartments of BHB consumption, aspartate and glutamate are not equally distributed. We anticipate that information gained from these BHB studies will contribute towards defining the extent of BHB accumulation and the metabolic contributions that are not glucose dependent, which may be helpful towards understanding and managing clinical situations where glucose is not readily available, for example, the ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia.

^ and the above is exactly what competitors are often dealing with, and why it is they see such dramatic results when implementing keto/os as part of their competition cycle.  And it's exactly what happened to me when I hit the "wall" in prep for my show as well.  

But even if you're not a competitor, or do enjoy a diet rich in the delights from places like the Cheesecake factory or Olive garden, the benefits of BHB go far beyond that of just supplying the brain with an amazing fuel source.  From appetite suppression to its very well documented anti-inflammatory properties, it's not just a supplement to be thrown in by guys and gals trotting around on stage 95% naked.  You can still keep your clothes on and derive tremendous benefits from an overall health perspective with the inclusion of said product, and drastically improve your quality of life.

Or don't.  I don't care.  

But if you want to, try a pack out here.........

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tomato plants, weeds, and life....

This past weekend I sat in a hotel room with my brother from another mother, Fred Smalls.

Fred was getting ready for the IFBB Wings of Strength show, and I had flown in to see my friend and help him out with some final preparations.

We had a day before his wife arrived, and if you read my past article about contest prep, you know that basically you're pretty much exhausted at that point so we just sat around and talked about life, our kids, and all sorts of deep shit that I don't think women think men sit around and talk about.

I told Fred about a metaphor that had hit me a few days earlier in regards to people and life, and how some people are tomato plants, some people are weeds, and some people are the support for the tomato plants.

"Tell me what all this means." he said.

I went on to expound on my metaphor by explaining it to him like this.

If life were a garden, or specifically a field of tomato plants, then most people you know fill some sort of metaphorical role within that garden.

Tomato plants, properly watered and fertilized can grow delicious fruit, obviously.  And I'm not talking the store bought kind.  Anyone who has had farm grown tomatoes knows they don't taste like store bought tomatoes.

But a tomato plant can't grow their fruit to its fullest potential without a stake, or wire cage you can tie the plant up to as it grows.  If you don't do this, the tomato gets very heavy, and can pull limbs or the entire plant to the ground.  Potentially snapping the branches in the process.

If any of those things happens, the fruit it bore sits on the ground, and is vulnerable to various diseases that will rot away at it.  That or some animal comes along and eats it.  Point being, without the support system, the tomato plant can't grow to its fullest potential without the support system in place.

At various times in our life, we are the plant.  And in order to grow and fulfill our greatest potential, we will need a support system to do so.  One we can tie ourselves to, and keep us protected, and help keep our branches strong, and free of as many problems as possible.  A support system that will keep us off the ground, away from diseases and predators that certainly don't have our bests interests in mind, and want nothing more than for us to fall to the ground, so they can devour us or take part in helping to rotten our lives.

We aren't weak for needing that support system.  After all, with it, we have the potential to grow into something grand and magnificent.  There's nothing detracted from our ability to reach our potential because we had support to help us climb up while we did so.  Not every battle has to be fought alone.  Not every growth spurt in life has to be done in solitude.

Most of the time, it's going to take a support system for us to find our greatest potential.  The kind that will be steadfast in the rains and wind, and tie us off so that we can focus on becoming the very best version of that damned tomato plant that we can be.

With such a support system, we can not just survive, but thrive.  And bear fruit that we couldn't have done so without it.

Of course, even with that support system, we will have weeds in our life too.  And their purpose is to do nothing but try and suck as much of the nutrients out of the soil away from us as possible. Without a good gardener, another part of the support system - who cares for and loves the plants, the weeds can take over really fast.  And eventually the tomato plants can succumb to the weeds.

At various times in our life, we need a gardener.  Someone who will alleviate the weeds that rob us of our nutrients, that keep us from growing.  Someone that will tend to the soil, and prepare it for us ahead of time to make sure we are given the best chance to succeed.  Someone who will get their hands dirty for us, and get on bended knee and do laborious work with their hands so that our foundation is strong.

As kids, it will be incredibly difficult to reach our potential as adults without a strong support system in place to help us grow.  This is why, our jobs as parents is so fundamentally important for them.  We are the stake in the ground.  We are the gardener.  We are the one that is supposed to tie them to us so they feel protected and loved and taken care of.   We are the one that is supposed to work tirelessly to pull the weeds from around them so that they have their best chance to grow without succumbing to what is trying to rob them of their potential.

It doesn't mean all out protection.  The rains and wind and storms will all test both the plant, and the support system.  They need each other to thrive even without the weeds trying to overcome them.

But even as adults, we need  to find our place with the people we love and care about in regards to these things.  Sometimes we need the support, and sometimes we need to be the support.  We need to understand when we need to tie ourselves off to that support system because our problems have made our branches heavy and wary.  And we need to know when to tie our loved one off to us, so that we can be the broad shoulders they need, and the strong arms that can carry them for a while.

Most importantly, we should never find ourselves becoming weeds.  We shouldn't find ourselves sucking the life out of the people we claim to love and care about, due to feeding our selfishness.  Yes, there are times where we need to be selfish enough so that we pull away from the weeds, but that's not really being selfish as it's more about personal survival.  People can and will suck the happiness and life right out of you if you do not pluck them from the ground they are trying to overcome from you.

It's not selfish to want to grow into something that is the best version of  who you can become.  It's not selfish to want to disconnect from people who wants to tear you off that stake or your wires because they want nothing more than to see your fruit lay rotting on the ground.

It's selfish to be the weed.

After explaining all this to Fred, he simply said "I see."

Nothing more.

But we sat in silence for a few and I could see him ruminating on the whole thing.

Fred is part of my support system, and I am part of his.  We've both been there for each other throughout various struggles and sufferings and have learned how to lean on each other for issues related to both training, and life.

Family, friends, romantic partners....the relationship should represent the stake, the gardener, and the ever growing plant.  The roles should all be intertwined and interchangeable at times.

Without surrounding ourselves with people who want to be those things for us, out of nothing more than their love and desire to see us grow, then we will struggle to grow the best to our ability.  And so will they.

Be a good stake.  Be a good gardener.  Be a bad ass tomato plant too.

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