One Decision You Must Make Today

20170108_125137Not every day is a great day.  Things happen. Unexpected events and circumstances catch us off guard and can throw us for a loop.  Regardless of how well prepared we are for the day and various situations, sometimes getting knocked down is inevitable.  And guess what – it is perfectly ok and even a good thing.  We are meant to be challenged, defeated, confused, frustrated, disappointed, etc.  These are all part of a process of growth and will come to us often on the path to finding our greatness.

I had one of those days recently.  The day started out on track as I was planned and prepared for the day.  At some point, out of nowhere, things slowly slipped down hill.  I maybe was tired, drained a bit from the week and let my emotions and mental sharpness start to slide.  I started eating things I had not planned and didn’t seem to want to stop. I was a bit sluggish in continuing to execute my plans for the day and get things checked off my list.  By the end of the day I was dragging, down on myself, mad and frustrated at some of the decisions I made during the day, and just felt overwhelmed with so many things.

The next morning, I had that same feeling.  That is when I had a decision to make.  I could wallow   in my new found funk and write this day off before it even gets started or gain control of my thoughts and emotions and start to take control of what is or was getting me down.  It took me a little bit, but I chose to make this day different.  I vowed to move forward and climb out from my own little reclusive mess.  I had to shift my mindset and gain a new perspective in order to be able to conquer the day.

It is often said that every day is a new day.  I will go even further and challenge you with every moment is a new moment. It comes down to one decision.  It is the power to shift our mindset, our focus, our energy that empowers us to forge a new path at any given moment.  It is in those moments of doubt, negativity, hopelessness, that we must make that one decision which will change our moment.  We must choose to do different.  We must vow to no longer stay on the path we are on and do that one thing, no matter how seemingly small it may be, that is going to drive us into a different outcome for the day.

This is not to say that every problem, struggle, or conflict is going to be resolved and made better in one moment.  It is not about solving every problem in an instant.  It IS about coming to a point to accept that the molehills are not necessarily mountains and the mountains are not necessarily insurmountable.  It IS about accepting that we do not have to have all the answers and allow ourselves the time to come to some clarity at a future time.  It IS about allowing ourselves to be human, to mess up, slip, stumble, and to know that we can leave it in the past.  The past begins now. It ends and the present begins with a decision.

The power to choose is an extraordinary gift.  It is the power to choose different – particularly in our thought process and in our perceptions that is extraordinary.  You must make a decision today, at this moment and every day.  Will you let the day run you, or do you choose to take control and run the day?  Dictate how you want the day to go and how you will react to events that arise along the way. Forgive yourself of the past – whether it is the past year, day, or something you did or didn’t do 5 minutes ago.  Let it go.  Choose to move forward from this point, with a clear mind, and the willingness to try one more time.

Post Worlds…the reverse diet

pro-men-middleweight-posedown-winner-90-of-141It has been just over 2 weeks since I placed 5th in the Pro Men’s Bodybuilding Lightweight Division at the  DFAC World Finals down in Miami, Florida.  The contest prep was the best yet and different than any other – as each prep seems to be its own unique experience.  The transformation this time was slow and steady and a very natural part of my lifestyle.  Taking as much time as I did in preparing for this contest, I also took the time long before Miami to plan and set a course for what happens after this contest in terms of my nutrition, training, and conditioning.

Over the years, I have read, learned, seen, and experienced all sort of post-competition strategies from the all out free-for-all food fest, to a very calculated reverse dieting program. For me, I have come to value the reverse diet  for many reasons.

Even when I am not preparing for a contest, my eating is consistent and decent.  I am not one to binge eat or pack in a ton of treats or meals on an average day and so that just doesn’t fit my lifestyle.  The idea of eating at every restaurant in town, choosing the best desserts, and having tubs of ice cream, chocolate anything, and pizza, sounds appealing, but if given the opportunity, it wouldn’t ever really happen.  I eat for goals, but don’t really deprive myself of food or use food as a reward/punishment along the way.  I have been learning to include a variety of meals throughout this contest prep and over the past few years.

Which brings me to this time frame post contest.  I knew I wanted to stay on track with my nutrition and carefully start to bring up calories and macros after this competition.  I want to do this for several reasons.  First, my metabolism is already slowed from being in a somewhat restricted state while I prepared for Worlds.  Overloading it with a ton of food, especially high processed foods and sugars would only serve to slow it down even more and wreak havoc on my system.  My goals after this contest are yet unclear as I process how I did in Miami, listen to and evaluate the feedback from the judges, and then use it to plot a course to improve, be better than I was, and decide where I want to go from here.

Another thing I want to do is take advantage of the post contest period of growth and strength as the muscles are primed for this according to what I have read and studied.  So my goal would be to use this time frame for the weeks and few months after this contest to increase size and strength while keeping bodyfat increasing at a slower rate.  There is no need to stay in contest level conditioning year round and I don’t think that is the healthiest or best way to meet my goals anyway.  But I do want to keep careful track of my bodyfat levels, strength levels, etc year round.  It may just be me, but I am extremely meticulous like that.

The day after Miami I had packed a few meals that were measured and weighed, but also left room in my day to enjoy some meals with my daughters while in Miami.  Monday we were traveling back home and so I had somewhat the same plan for the day – to eat mostly my usual planned meals, but also take into account that the girls had an Ultimate Cannoli Cheesecake waiting for me for dessert that night along with dinner.  So those two days were looser as compared to my usual nutrition where I have every meal written out, macros calculated and aim to hit a certain total each day.

I used the rest of the week as a reset week, meaning I kept my macros at a certain level, reverting back to about a week or so out from Miami.  One difference this time around was that I was back in the gym in that first week.  Typically, the competition signals the end of the workout cycle and I use the week after or longer as a rest and recharge period.  That didn’t happen this time.  I felt great heading in to the competition and just as good after, so I decided to keep going and continue this workout cycle.

After the first two weeks, I can say that my weight has not increased and in fact has returned to its lowest state before peak week.  As I enter the 3rd week post competition, I have increased my carb levels a bit and will continue to train in the gym this week.  My conditioning, at least when posing in front of a mirror is still there, and looks the best it ever has this far after a competition.  I will weigh in again on Sunday and evaluate how the increase in carbs this week has affected my conditioning, my strength levels, energy levels, and weight.  From there I will set the goals for next week, which will include Thanksgiving.

Holy HIIT!!!

Cardio is always a part of my overall training plan, but it is something that has been strategic and used with a purpose. I have never been part of the “more is better” thinking, doing hours upon hours of cardio each week just to “lose weight”.  Rather, I want to use cardio to burn fat, but how much and what kind is determined by the larger picture of nutrition, training, and also my goals at the time.

Often, hiit (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio is included in my cardio plans.  These are short, but intense sessions that are very taxing with great after benefits in terms of fat burn.  However, I use these wisely as I do not want them to interfere with my gym workouts.  There is a place for both HIIT and for more lower intensity cardio routines in an overall cardio training plan.  I have used various methods for my hiit training – treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, tracks, stairs, and some bodyweight tabata-style stuff as well.

Since the fall, I began using a jump rope routine I had searched online to start some hiit training.  I had used it twice a week, about 17-23 minutes each time. As I became more adept at using the jump rope and doing various moves, I would change up the routine to make it more challenging and still continue to push myself.

Over the past month, I have taken on two new challenges hill sprints and prowler sled pushes.  Both of these have been demanding and as much as I hate thinking about doing them, I absolutely love it when they are done.  I love the challenge and pushing myself each and every time.  The battle is as much mental as it is physical and the workout is unreal.  There is a great hill in a park near my house, which serves as a popular sledding hill in winter.  For these I charge up the hill as fast as I can, and then walk/jog/bounce my way back down, careful not to fall on my face.  Moving down the hill is my resting period and as soon as I hit the bottom, I race back up for the next round.  I have only used the prowler sled once so far, but for this one, it was a similar routine.  Push the sled down a length of pavement and back, and that was one round.  Rest while a partner pushed the sled and once the sled came back, it was go time again for the next round.

In both workouts, I was not sure what to expect before I started, but I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in the end. I wanted to be pushed physically in terms of conditioning, heart rate, and to be breathing hard/gasping by the end.  I knew the session would be over when I could not do another round with any such intensity to the point where my running was now walking and even that was slow.  In the end, I hit those goals and with each following workout the goal is to push out more rounds that last time.

If you want something you have never had, you must do something you have never done.  I am continuing to find new ways to push myself and improve in order to become better than ever before.  ~ Rise and Conquer! wp-1467208087761.jpg wp-1467208108811.jpg

Why do we do this?

I am sometimes asked this question – usually by people close to me who just don’t understand why I want to train or eat like I do, or take it to the extreme of getting stage and competing. I never feel the need to try to answer this question, because there is never an answer to convincingly explain why I do what I do.

It seems we, and I mean those of us that are pursuing general health and fitness goals and lead a healthy and fit lifestyle are viewed as different, or out of the norm. Can you think of anyone asking a person who watches tv for hours each night, why they are doing that to themselves?

We got in an unbelievable leg workout today that really pushed through the limits of anything we thought possible. I loved every minute of it including the feeling of being completely drained the rest of the day. I am sure you know that feeling too. But let’s face it – why do we do it? No one is forcing us to push ourselves the way we do, or to eat the way we do, or to even go to the gym. No one cares if we do or don’t.

But we care. We have made a commitment to ourselves and hold ourselves accountable when we miss a workout or skip out on a healthy meal. We want more for ourselves.

I find it interesting that as “health conscious” as society has supposedly become, no one thinks twice about spending hours on Facebook or in front of the tv, but we get questioned or looked at differently for living a better life and holding ourselves to a higher, healthier standard.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe the blood is still stuck in my legs and my brain is slightly off-balance,but as I go through workouts, cardio sessions, meal preps, contest prep, and I have my days where I question why I do this- I just absolutely love the amount of self – discipline, determination, and drive it takes to do what we do. Regardless of how different our goals may be there is just something great about striving for fitness and health goals that are simply for ourselves. We do it for ourselves, because we want to, because we can, and because we have made a pact within ourselves to hold ourselves to a set of standards and we won’t let ourselves off the hook until we reach our goals.

Train hard. Make yourself accountable to yourself and keep reaching higher!