All Change Must Start From Within

What is your “why?”

What do you want from life? How will losing weight, finishing the triathlon, going on that hike, or simply having more energy make your life better? Establishing your why is essential to forming new, healthy habits. All change must start from within. The mind is extremely powerful and will win most internal arguments (see what I did there).

Where does your motivation come from? Really own this answer. It will help keep you on the path.

Think small. Look at your priorities and define short-term realistic goals. The change will be incremental, so start with one habit, work on it day by day until you own it. Move on only when ready.

Aim high. Dig Deep. Fall where you may.

 

Set lofty goals. Goals are there to guide is. They start us on a desired path. The journey begins. Destinations and arrivals signify the beginning and the end of something. Achieving a lofty goal is pleasant, not necessary. All or nothing ensures failure. Aim high to bring your best day in and day out.

Out of goals come habits. Good and bad. Work on the good. Benefits, reaped for a lifetime, will surely come.

“You will never get anymore out of life than you expect.” -Bruce Lee

 

A Cloud of Fatigue

Wednesday, mid-week, hump day, recovery day, etc. When analyzed from a work, business, or training perspective it’s easy to see why this day can be a tough one to make productive. As a runner, it’s like that 4th of 8 hill sprints. Already feeling the effects of the previous 3, and knowing you’ve got just as many left as you’ve completed, it’s the duty of the mind to force completion and execution.

On this day I back off and recover. All things flow as usual, but I remind myself that this fatigued state is where I want to be. It’s a part of the process. I’ll hydrate, eat well, read, make progress where I can, while working out moderately with a relaxed, complacent mind.

Why not push through and pound away you might ask? It’s detrimental. In order to go hard, with high quality, on Thursday, I must back off on Wednesday.

Accept fatigue as part of the process, but don’t be lost in the foggy cloud that comes with it. Plan ahead and stick to the process. Everything has a proper time and place. When it’s time for quality work to be done, make sure to be ready to execute!

Evolving Endurance

ENDURANCE:

We must continue to increase our endurance demands. To achieve this aim, we have two ways; one is running, but you have to increase the distance of your course every day until you are satisfied with it. The second thing to observe is progression; start out slow and then gradually build speed as your conditioning improves. All of this training will lead to a result of increased frequency of breath and heartbeat, and (during intense training) you will feel an unbearable feeling, but you do not have to fear. That point will be the maximum limit of a man’s physical energy… after taking a rest you will soon recover. It is only through this compulsory hard training that one’s physical energy can expand continuously.

BRUCE LEE

ENTERING THE ZEN ZONE:

  • Let go of forcing things;
  • Let go of outcomes;
  • Let go of your thoughts about outcomes;
  • Connect only to the doing;
  • Focus on doing the doing, being the being, being all here, being completely present, and being fully connected;
  • Become your performance by being inseparable from what you are doing.

 TERRY ORLICK

Endurance is not work; fitness is not work; exercise is not work. The path we take is our own. Movement connects and fosters personal experiences. Following prescribed workouts is a great place to start, but we must be careful not to compare our outcomes to the creator of the program, nor others that have completed the program. We must associate with only our former self. Our previous physical self-representation is the only place to compare.

It is of utmost importance to have this understanding of the patience and persistence that will be required to persevere week after week. The practice of removing the obstacles in your mind is like moving the clouds from the sky to let the sun shine through. “By removing the obstacles in your mind, you allow the pure connection to shine through,” Terry Orlick, In Pursuit of Excellence.

What we are doing is not extreme. We are not competitive bodybuilders, professional exercisers, extreme athletes, or paid performers. Therefore, our priority must be to establish a pure connection to our daily movement. Does it connect you with your environment? Nature? Community? Yourself? Does it clear your mind? Does it enhance the experience of living? … Asking these questions is vital in understanding your connection to your activity or sport.

Above, I listed a quote from Bruce Lee on endurance. He is talking about the process of increasing your capacity to endure. Distance and speed are quantifiable, thus tracking improvement is rather easy. Yet, being conscious enough, connected enough, to increase your capacity is not automatic. This is where you must use your willpower to continue to expand your ability.

There is no maintaining when it comes to living. You are either improving, or falling. A focused intention in your daily practice will allow progression. An acceptance of decreased capacity and ability places lowered expectations on the body and causes a profound loss of power of mind. Weakened mind equals diminished willpower.

Set goals and foster experiences. By endurance we conquer!

The Ebb and Flow of Training

Dealing with the Ebb and Flow of Training

Day to day, sometimes even hour-to-hour, life can feel like a rollercoaster. One moment you are excited, focused, and maybe even proud. The next you are lacking confidence, purpose, and direction. Seeking balance, in each moment, is not necessarily a possibility. Life is hard, but this too shall pass, as each day the sunsets and each morning we are given another chance.

In training we experience these emotions as well. Sometimes, you can’t predict when you’ll have a bad day of training. It just happens. As somebody that has been training, daily, for most of my life, these unpredictable bad training days are still hard to handle, but I have learned from them. The feeling of failure, or inadequacy is part of the process of improving. We must recognize that fact even before we begin our training. Sometimes doing our best means managing poor performance, or low points, when they occur.

Training for a purpose is very effective because it culminates. There is a competition, or end-point. Each day has significance as we only have so many days to make improvements. This pressure is healthy in that it helps us focus. Willpower becomes the most frequently used arrow in our quiver. By dealing with low points, struggling through tough training sessions, and working on our weaknesses we get stronger. This strength is not felt, but is part of the process of training.

When I signed up to run my first half-marathon my only goal was to be competitive and not finish last. I was naïve, but that naivety allowed me to have no ego. When my ego was essentially taken out of the equation, I had a very clear mind during the competition. I listened to how I felt, without worry about what place I was in.

This same thing happened with my first marathon, my first 50-mile, and my first 100 mile race. Sure I had goals, but I did not have lofty expectations. The races had equal amounts of low and high emotions, but what I remember more about each are the high points. You see experience, is what we seek. We are after the process of the event, not the product of finishing.

What I realized is that you never arrive anywhere. Things begin and they end. You have good days, and bad days. You have good races, and bad races. Motivation can be high or low. What ties these feelings together is the flow of training. We learn how to deal with the realness of the situation, in the moment. Removing the ego, and expectation of a result, transformation, or lofty “product” at the end of the cycle is mandatory to staying in the game.

I’ll keep running ultramarathons until I no longer have the desire. What I’ve learned thus far is that you can’t be tied to the past… your past successes or failures, in whatever form or arena they occurred in, cannot direct your future.

Work on developing your willpower. Strengthen your mind. Focus in the moment. Self-assess when things are not going “well” or “smoothly,” and recognize that you are in it for the experience and not simply the result. For most of us, walking 45 minutes a day is a lot healthier than doing a high intensity interval workout for 15 minutes three times a week.

Create flow and you give yourself a chance to be happy. Create chaos and you’ll end up cleaning up the mess both emotionally and physically.

A strong mind does not only come from getting up after you’ve been knocked down. A strong mind comes from confronting the emotional rollercoaster that is life, and learning to master how you respond to stressful, uncomfortable, situations on a daily basis.

Never give up!

 

 

 

The Hobby of Health

Fitness is not unlike other personal hobbies in life. To keep it up you have to enjoy both the process and the product. An artist or musician must enjoy the process to reap the satisfaction and accolades of the product. When a hobby or activity is approached without enjoyment, excitement, and enthusiasm you can be rest assured it won’t remain a hobby for very long.

Movement is about positivity. Doing what you can, when you can, for as long as you’d like. I enjoy reading, drawing, fishing, and archery because they are relaxing hobbies. This is pretty universally agreeable. I enjoy fitness for the same reasons. It is a relaxing, therapeutic, and beneficial part of my life.

Hiring somebody to keep you accountable and force you to exercise is a serious waste of money and time. No one can be the sole possessor of the success or failure of your health and fitness. You’ve got to own the responsibility. A good coach will motivate and inspire you. He will nudge you and challenge you when it’s needed, as well as back off and give you space when it’s needed. If you find no enjoyment in the prescription, you will find no attachment to the process. We may hang on to see it through, as so many people training for a vacation, wedding or pageant/show often do, but when the cameras turn their focus off of you so will your attention to the details of that which brought the success and subsequent attention and admiration from your peers.

Today’s fitness or workout is portrayed and defined by numbers, calendars, reps, sets, and intensity… how to do more, in less time, with less equipment, and for less money. This is a product, and sad reality of a society that sees only what they don’t have, and clings tightly to their excuses, which have gotten them to the unhappy and unfulfilled place they are currently in.

Remember, the marketing plays on the mindset of the consumer. The message takes the path of least resistance, reaching “you” through your perceived limitations on your life.

My takeaway:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Always have a direction.
  • Find true enjoyment in everything you choose to do in your life.
  • Seek coaching to help enhance the experience and promote positive growth and change.

One final thought. If you find yourself agreeing to someone’s message, whether they are a politician, teacher, family member, or who ever. Stop and think about if the message is positive or negative. Is it self-limiting, or is it self-expanding? Are you a victim, or a victor? Is it building you up as an individual, or is it unifying you with a group of victims?

Amateur Wrestling

I love watching wrestling at all levels: high school, collegiate, and olympic. Yesterday, I watched an early season college wrestling dual between Iowa and Iowa State and couldn’t help but reflect on the many years I’ve had a strong passion for the sport.

This sport has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember being alive. I watched my dad coach jr high wrestling when I was young, going to practice a few days a week and getting comfortable being around the sport and on the mats. During this time the kids on the high school team were my heros. Wrestling under the spotlight in the gym. Crowd packed, the band playing loud energizing music as they ran in and warmed up for the competition. I couldn’t wait to be there some day.

I went on to compete for 5 years at the high school level (8th to 12th grade). I took my lumps, won a few big matches, and learned many lessons along the way. Looking back I can honestly say that the individual aspect of wrestling and competition formed who I am as an adult today. My experience competing, and getting to know myself as a competitor has helped me in my career as a fitness trainer and coach. I like to think that what I do best is understand what my clients need, how to make their goals achievable, and in the end, how to get them to love health and fitness. You see, it takes passion and enjoyment, in any endeavor, to foster results and personal growth. Wrestling helped me develop that in myself. Wrestling made me a better person. Wrestling has given me the capacity to take someone with a genuine desire to change, through the transformational process, and come out the other end a new person.

The sport cultivates individuals. I think a lot like distance running, wrestling ignites a desire to explore ones potential to its fullest. Are you strong enough to step on the mat and give 100%? Can you be relaxed and in the moment enough to compete at the best of your ability? This is wrestling and this is also life.

As I watched the wrestling match unfold over two hours I realized I was fully in the moment. Each of the 10 matches had their own unique elements. Some left the mat satisfied, others disappointed, but none left the mat without having learned a little more about themselves.

As a spectator, I will continue to set aside 2 hours a week to watch wrestling. During that short time I will witness competition, sport, and athleticism at its finest. I’m glad wrestling is a winter sport as it gives new life to the cold and dreary months ahead. It renews hope and enthusiasm in myself and brings me back to my youth… the hours, days, and weeks spent in a hot wrestling room, preparing to compete, preparing for life…ramospin