One second between Fear and Greatness

They say everything you want is on the other side of fear.  This picture was that precise moment for me this morning. With yesterday being Father’s Day, I chose to not go to the gym to train legs, and instead decided to go to the gym before work Monday morning, around 6 am.  It was leg day and we have just started a new training program that includes heavy leg presses.  These are something I have loved and have always been able to really load up the weight on.  However a few years back I had a slight pain, maybe more than slight pain, which I eventually learned was due to a very tight TFL and IT band and launched me into the world of self myo-fascial release techniques and self care.  I healed but that experience definitely left it’s mark with me mentally.   Around the same time as the injury, we had switched gyms, which opened up a great deal of exercise variety and options.  Pete and I have used the leg press for several programs after that and I have had no further issues.  However, getting back to heavy leg presses, does stick in the back of my mind.

Getting back to this morning….Pete wasn’t there and I was training alone.  I had the thoughts and questions of how to handle the leg press today – do I go all out and load up the weight I wanted, or do I back off and switch it up since Pete wasn’t there and I wouldn’t have peace of mind having him there.  It took some rational and honest evaluation of the situation.   I did this weight last week.  When the sled is loaded up, the safeties on the machine are in place for a reason, if something goes wrong. Plus, there really isn’t much Pete or I could do for the other as far as pushing the sled with that much weight on it.  So it came down to me.  I knew I had eaten well all week, slept well, warmed up and stretched properly. There was no reason not to go for it all.  I wanted to do more than last week.  I wanted to move forward and be better than before.

And with that it was time to work or move on.  Thus the picture.  In that moment, the sled is loaded up, but not yet in motion. It sits securely on the pins.  It only takes one decision and action to conquer the fears, the unknowns, and to crossover into the world of action, reality, and success.  Everything is in place and ready.  All I need to do is push the sled and move the sled to start the set. One action. With a confident and focused mind, I put my goals into action and powered through every set of leg presses.  I got more reps than I had last week in each set and every rep was full and deep.  Each set drove me on to the next set.  By the last set, I was focused on “daring to fail.”  I wanted to see how far I could go until either the weight no longer would move and I would fail on a rep, or until the form broke.  It is a very powerful feeling to conquer a challenge.

The rest of the workout had that same intensity and determination.  Overall it was a great workout, and my legs will pay the price for success for the next few days.

I share this story as an example.  We all have that moment between fear and action.  Do or do not.  There is something that we must answer for ourselves each day – whether to take the risk and move closer to accomplishing goals and dreams, or delay them for another day.  The challenge is not relegated to the gym.  It could be a phone call we need to make, a conversation that must be had, questions to be asked when we fear the answers but need to know.  It may be fitness, sport, or nutrition related.

The fear is only in our mind.  It is often the fear of the unknown that keeps us frozen and from taking action.  But here is the challenge I have for you, and one that I use over and over -just as I did this morning in the gym.  If it is our thoughts that create the fearful scenario, why can’t we change the thoughts and create a more positive outcome and scenario?  For me, it was switching my mindset from a fear of the unknown to telling and visualizing myself doing exactly what I wanted to accomplish in that workout.

So I challenge you.  Instead of creating fear in your mind, change your mindset and create, visualize, and act on creating success and action that brings those thoughts into the realm of reality.

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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.

3 weeks Post Competition

69-frank-17-of-30This past week I increased my macros and continued training with the superset program.  I had one day that was a higher and somewhat looser re-feed.  It was still not an all out free for all with eating everything under the sun.  Instead it was just being a bit more free with my choices and mostly increasing serving sizes of foods I was already going to eat.   Then on my 3 lifting days I had increased my macros, while on the 3 remaining days, I kept those macros where they were from the previous week.

My goals is to increase size and strength in the gym, consume more calories, keep my metabolism burning the extra intake efficiently while keeping the increase in bodyfat down.  I have been using the scale and mirror once a week to judge my progress as well as taking notes of my clothes and how my strength and energy levels are in the gym and throughout the day.

As of this week, again my weight has remained unchanged from the previous weeks, even though I am increasing calories.  In the gym, the weights and or reps are increasing on every exercise and I feel good in there.  The weights themselves are lighter but the intensity is there with the supersets and we are making the most of every rep and set.

Again this week I kept my cardio session down to one 20 minute jump rope session.  The routine I have been doing is a bit more intense than just jumping straight for 20 minutes and involves a variety of jumps including double unders.

In this week’s evaluation, my conditioning is still there; the striations, definition and vascularity.  My strength levels have gone up, as evidenced in the workouts.  A few weeks before Worlds I had to add a notch to my belts to better keep my pants up as I was leaning out.  At the moment, I am still using those same notches.

All in all I am happy with the progress of this reverse.  I have been changing up meals, using a variety of foods to meet my nutrition goals each day.  My energy levels are good and consistent and the training is right on track.

This coming week is Thanksgiving and my birthday in the same day.  I will use that as my high refeed day so I can enjoy all of the foods I want.  I will keep my lifting macros the same and perhaps a bit higher, while keeping the 3 off days at the lower levels this week. Cardio will remain the same this week too, with just one cardio session.

After this week, it will be time to increase macros again depending on how this week goes and also I will end the superset program and write up the next workout program to start building muscle and making improvements.

 

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.