Recently I’ve given much thought to Reebok’s campaign to #LIVEWITHFIRE. From time to time I get philosophical and sort of lost in abstract thought of the weirdest things. So this blog is me inviting you for a road trip with me and my brain. Turn the music up and take a look around my cerebral cortex as I ponder what it is to “Live With Fire“.
Living With Fire is NOT Complacent
First, I think about what it isn’t. Living with fire is not complacency. I think its important to be fulfilled, and even satisfied, about where you are going – but maybe not be overly satisfied with where you are. Content with your present, but pressing on to be all who you were called to be.
Living with fire is not living with rage, or resentment. That state of mind can drive us to overcome and accomplish a lot of things, but to what cost? In that frame of mind, we are rarely satisfied in accomplishing anything except vengeance, and still are never satisfied. No, friends, that is NOT living with fire.
Tenacity, perseverance, consistency, courage, willpower – THESE are a few defining characteristics of what it means to me to #LIVEWITHFIRE.
1. Living With Fire is: Tenacity
Tenacity is defined as the quality of being determined to do or achieve something. And I love the following definition: firmness of purpose.
2. Living With Fire is: Perseverance
Perseverance is next on my list of defining this Reebok Mantra. Perseverance is definitely a synonym for tenaciousness, but lets further define living with fire by defining perseverance with a definition from Webster: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. To me, living with fire comes alive in the second part of this definition; to continue DESPITE difficulty! I think I should end the blog now – but I wont.
3. Living With Fire is: Consistency
Consistency brings the “ing” to the phrase. See, to live with fire could be mistaken as a moment in time, but livING with fire gives the idea of continuing to strive for that “pressing forward” . To be consistent in our quest to live with joy and zeal for more in life. Consistency could have a couple of different meanings. Both of which I believe are applicable.
The first, is degree of firmness, density, viscosity, or resistance to movement or separation. Our ideals and level of effort should have a routine firmness. Not hot and cold, not soft and hard, but consistent effort in every attempt. Then, the more traditional thought for the way we describe consistency is the ability to be asserted together without contradiction. This would also be the idea to live beyond contradiction, above reproach. (We all fall short here, but when we get it right what victory we have.)
This brings us to courage on my synonym list of living with fire. Webster says courage is: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Interesting that courage is not the absence of fear, but for someone to withstand fear or difficulty.
In other words, to persevere even in the face of fear. OK, I hear! WHOA!
Lets finish our thoughts of Living With Fire by defining “WILL POWER”: The strength or will to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans. This definition left no discussion for feeling or emotion. The idea is to DECIDE on what you want and SEE IT THROUGH – not allowing circumstance or excuses to compromise your decision!
What if we all “lived with fire”, in learning more, loving more, living more? I believe the key is in the desire. Decide what it is you really want. Dig deep to find a burning desire to accomplish or acquire it with a relentless, stubbornness that knows no quit. Never never never give up!
I believe this so much, I tattooed it on my body:
SEMPER PERSEVERA – Meaning, Never Give Up.
Here are some pictures of some amazing athletes who clearly Live With Fire and never gave up – even when they had some pretty awesome excuses. If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Have you ever been interested in body building or physique contests? Have you ever wondered what its like on stage, back stage, or even in the crowd on the night of the event?
Preparing the Body
I know how I felt when I first thought of getting on stage and seeing what this whole competition things was all about. I was terrified. I didnt know anything about diet, tanning, posing, how to pump up, what suit to buy, what to eat the night before, and on and on and on. I realized I probably wasn’t alone, and that this “abyss”of the unknown may be keeping many from trying one of the toughest sports in the world when it comes to training and nutrition.
Competitors don’t risk falling off of a balance beam after years of preparation, or getting knocked out by one rogue lucky punch but, instead, the competition is soley in the preparation. The day of the show is merely an unvailing of a sculpture (or science project) that took months, and even years, to perfect – or at least improve.
Preparing the body for a show takes a lot of planning (and, as you can see in these pictures below shot at the hotel competition day, a lot of packing, cooking, supplementing and planning ahead).
Preparing the Mind
This type of discipline is grueling – and takes a lot of mental fortitude and drive to keep going till the day of competition. This is when, as a coach, a little encouragement can go a long way. I have close to 20 people that are going to compete with me in an upcomming physique event, and the following is a letter I wrote them to encourage them to persever till the end. I wrote this letter to encourage them to say the course no matter what their brain or body is telling them. I wrote this letter to push them to keep faith that in 5 weeks their bodies will be the most amazing aesthtically that they have been in years, if not ever.
Letter to my clients and future competitors out there where ever you are:
Secretly I am hoping you find it very fulfilling, beyond the seemingly narcissistic focus it may have at first glance. I promise you, this level of commitment, self denial and discipline has perfect carry over into our daily lives. It teaches us to be better parents, boss’s, moms, dads, husbands and on and on…
Here we are guys… 5 weeks to go. Some of you are still on the fence, and that is ok. But next week we are either crossing the line of committing to April 6th, or we are going to gracefully bow out for another show. I am asking you to humbly allow me to help you with that decision. Lets decide together if your physique will be show ready or not.
Please don’t let fear into your heart, or head, when it comes to this decision of competing. It is only a question of being ready or not physically. Emotionally and mentally you will be wondering “what if” all the way up to and even the day of the show. So get that out of your head.
You guys have already overcome so much. We have only been training as a team for 5 weeks so far, and every single one of you has amazed me with your level of commitment. We still have 5 weeks to go. I’ve never had a team with so many firsts, so personally I am overwhelmed with excitement.
Guys (and girls), I know the inbody is messing with your head, I know the scale is your best friend in the morning and then your nemesis by noon. You feel so weak trying to finish the most menial tasks around the house, never mind making it into Max to train. When you finally do have time to train you may feel like you’re letting something else go, or putting other priorities on the back burner. You are paying the price, you are paying your dues. You will all have different levels of sacrifice depending on your support structure at home. Some friends and family are supporting your every move, keeping you accountable, reminding you of how amazing your commitment is – and others… not so much.
Your spouse may feel left out. You may have guilt about picking your kids up at school only to drop them off again so you can train. Your best friend may miss her drinking buddy, or even be jealous that she doesn’t have the guts to commit to this epic training. Get all of this out of your head, because when your friends and family see you on the stage, all will be forgiven.
I have seen my clients go to a show with a skeptic husband, and I watch his face as his bride walks out on stage and his jaw drops. He stands to his feet and screams, number 17, number 17… Or the look on the faces of your kids shouting from the crowd, mom… mom… As a coach, this all plays a part of why I drive you guys, and beg for more when you have nothing left to give. If you are struggling with this, stay true to training, stay true to yourself. The one thing they can’t argue the day of the show is that you deserve the applause they are hearing for you right now.
I would like to encourage you, however, to arrange your schedule to train early or later or in the middle of the day as to not affect your friends and family as much. The less impact our training and diet has on disrupting our social lives, the more supportive our loved ones will be. It is a sacrifice to get up early, to get that extra cardio before your spouse or kids wake. It is a sacrifice to make PB&J sandwiches for the rest of the family when you’re dying to lick the spoon. It is a sacrifice to go out for drinks with friends and sip on un-sweet ice tea in a martini glass – but you didn’t think that all this sacrifice was just in the gym, did ya?
So here we are… 5 weeks out. We feel too fat, too flabby, too skinny, too hungry. By now, I think I have had a chance to talk to each of you about dialing it in for the show. If not, lets talk Saturday so we can straighten out these questions. But in the mean time, stick to the program. Regardless if the scale doesn’t move, stick to the program. If you feel skinny, it doesn’t necessarily mean eat more, and if you’re having a fat day it doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself.
You must “stay the course”. I know you are hungry, tired, emotional, scared, insecure… because I feel these things too – but guys, I can tell you what its like the day after… the accomplishment, the pride, the feeling as though you worked so hard and you deserve the compliments that people give you. It is worth it in the end.
Lets all commit to taking our training and diet up another notch. Don’t put your family and friends second, don’t let fatigue and hunger slow you down, don’t let your eyes tell you your not going to be ready, and never, never, never give up.
Think It’s Too Late?
Dr. Josefina Monasterio STARTED competing for the first time when she was 60. She is one of our Team Max members who will compete in the upcoming Southeast Classic in Hollywood April 6th, even after hip surgery. So, NO it’s not too late. Read Dr. Josefina’s story…
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #respectyourself
If you have been following this mess I call a blog at all for the last 5 months you may have heard me whine and whine about my knee. If not, you’re in luck because here I go again. 5 months ago I was getting ready for my first ever MMA tournament. I know,… shut it! But anywho, I was gonna try. Here’s a shocker: my 42-year-old butt got tore up by a 19-year-old monster. I tore my medial meniscus and sustained a 90% tear to my MCL. I was devastated, but now I’m back and I want to not only return to competing, I want my quads bigger and stronger than ever. The area I want to focus on for this workout is the Vastus Lateralis, the largest and most outer portion of the thigh.
How to Improve Your Sweep
How do we isolate out the vastus lateralis muscle, or as we call it in the physique world, “the sweep”? Vastus externus or vastus lateralis, depending on your A&P professor, is the largest of all the quadricep muscles. The action of this muscle is to extend the tibia or shin bone at the knee, but I’m here to help you learn how to perform knee extension to isolate out the other muscles that synergistically aid in this action. In sculpting, it is very important that we learn isolation. Whether we are a bodybuilder, a bikini competitor or a stay-at-home mom that wants to scult their body, we can all use these principles to learn to sculpt nicer legs.
Fat burn or spot reducing fat can not be limited to specific areas of the body, no matter what “bogus science” and pills tell you. However, sculpting most assuredly can be reduced to a single area, action, and in some cases, specific fibers of a specific muscle – all based on how we execute the exercise. You don’t need a degree in kinesiology to learn these principals, just a little common sense is all.
So, how do we excite and fatigue the fibers of our outer quad to hypertrophy our SWEEP?
Ok, so here is one exercise you should be narrow-minded about. Narrow is better when we talk about our stance to accentuate or facilitate the contractile tissue of the outer quad. So lets think narrow when doing squats and leg extensions. Whatever exercises you do, stand with a more narrow stance (feet together). You may stop and ask, does that mean if I stand wide, I will work my inner thigh and medial quads? Yeppers! Now you are getting it. (another blog perhaps) Moving on…
With leg extensions, it’s all about being self-centered – literally. If you point your toes outward, you are working the vastus medialis, the tear drop shaped muscle on the medial side (inside) of the legs close to the knee. Since we want to work the opposite side of the legs, then (yes, you guessed it) we want to point our toes in the opposite direction, pointing toes together. Note: this doesn’t work by just pointing the feet from the ankle down, the whole leg must internally rotate to the center to excite the appropriate muscles.
Here is an example of my own leg workout where I use these same principles to improve my sweep.
Yesterday’s Leg Workout
Warm up: 4 sets / 20 reps
Deep weighted walking lunges (35-50 pound dumbbells) 45 seconds rest btw sets
Couplet: Leg Press & Leg Extension Super Set
(zero rest between super set, 1 minute between sets)
#1 Heavy leg press
5-8 plates each side, narrow stance (4″ apart) and push only on your heels
10 sets / 15 reps
#2 Moderately heavy leg extension
Moderately heavy leg extension (130lbs-160lbs) internally rotate your femur’s in (toes are pigeon-toed), and squeeze your outer quad in terminal extension.
10 sets / 12-15 reps
Repeat Super Set 10 Times
Puke and repeat for 10 rounds(sets) with 1 minute rest between (rounds) sets
Here are some pics from my last show, the Daytona Classic, just 10 days after getting hurt.
I created this mantra, featured on DetourBar.com today, to remind people that all your workouts have a lot of benefits, outside of just appearance. Even though getting “picked first” is not the reason I train hard, training has affected my overall athletic performance – and it affects so many other areas of my life too.
When you are in the gym, training your guts out, don’t just focus on how your muscle looks or even how you feel in that moment. Think of all the opportunities your new fit body gives you – to be a better athlete, employee, spouse, parent and friend.
CLICK HERE to get the full-size mantra.
What if you were on the brink of something great? Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Henry Ford all shaped our world, yet failed over and over and over before they became the amazing men as we know them. But they were all just as amazing even before they overcame. The fact that they had every reason to quit, yet did not, is why we know how amazing they are even to this day.
What if the next number called was your million dollar bingo but you walked out just one number to soon? You must keep the faith and hope that your hard work is on the brink of a huge pay off. Keep your eyes on the prize, don’t let doubt, or the temptation to quit, lie to you. Maybe the struggle you are enduring is preparing you for the success you are on the brink of achieving!
Mental fortitude is as important for me as physical fortitude. My parents were Old School German Disciplinarians. My fathers’ favorite quote was “brains, not brawn”. I like to think I married them both. Physical aptitude is secondary to cerebral prowess.
Things I think about:
Your body won’t do what your brain won’t allow.
Fear of failing fuels me both mentally and physically.
My weakness is allowing my doubt, or my fears, to get a head start and lobby my brain for even a second of attention.
When I push out doubt… and I will, there is nothing I can’t finish!