Here the thing about life, about the life we live. There are some lessons you will have to learn sooner or later. Its part of the journey. Here are some that you should have learnt by now. If you havent... get cracking...
Pain hurts, but it is necessary for growth.
If you do this right, you will be lonely.
If you do this right, you will find a discipline you never thought you had.
You will fear failure, be it a failed meal, a failed lift, not winning a show, missing a goal, it will haunt you.
You will understand the value of holding on to that Delong of disappointment and failure.... You will realize that it is you're greatest motivater.
People tell you to let go of the past, set free you're pain, you will learn that this is bull****, hold on to pain, pain will teach you.
Trust is a funny word, out there people throw it around like a ****ing frisbee to a dog. You learn that you can only trust what has been tried.
You are stronger mentally and physically then you can possibly imagine.
You will undergo a change in you're entire being, you will shed the skin of mortals and don the armor of gods.
You will run through a brick wall if it would bring you an inch closer to the truth. Truth about what you have become. A warrior, a gladiator an animal.
Things that was once important to you will cease to exsist. Toilet paper will become a luxury if it stands in the way of keeping you're supplement counter full.
Walking past any reflective surface without catching a glimpse of yourself will become impossible, this is NOT vanity, this is being critical over what you have gained and what you still lack.
You will be called obsessed, vain, stupid, inconsiderate, dysmorphic, freak.... Grow some ****ing balls and get use to it. If this hurts feelings, great, see point point 1 through 6. If you still feel hurt, then this life is not for you and we don't want you here.
You will smell, sweat, have gas and grunt. Its not nice, but it is what it is. Hardcore training means hardcore emissions. Deal with it.
You will realize that each session is life or death. Each missed meal and missed workout is worse than death. In death at least you have an excuse to miss you're goals, while you are breathing, you have not.
Excuses are for the weak. We are not weak. We are lions... And let not no man forget how menacing we are.
You will have bad eating days and bad workouts.
You will miss meals and you will miss workouts. As the Phoenix, we can rise from the ashes of that death and be stronger.
As a warrior you will understand that death smiles at all of us, all a warrior can do is smile back.
You will win, even if you lose.
Vires et Honestas
For Mindy - thank you for believing in me
There is one single lesson you need to learn before you can call yourself an animal. A bodybuilder. A warrior. This is the toughest lesson for people to learn because if you get it right, it sends you on a path to success and loneliness.... Wanna learn that lesson, keep reading, but if you aren't up for it its ok, not many are.
Xmas is the season of giving. Its a season for caring about others. Its the time of year you put others ahead of yourself. Thats great if you are joe soap - its ****ing bull**** if you are an animal. If you are a bodybuilder this is the worst attitude to have. Listen, I don't preach sunshine and rainbows. I preach the cold hard truth, cause thats the only thing you can truly rely on when you're back's up against the wall.
Here comes the lesson boys and girls, understand that either before work or after a hard day of listening to your boss chew you a new *******, is that you are now the leader and not the follower. You must become your own disciple. **** other people who tell you things that are irrelevant to your goals--don't listen to the bull****. You are there for one thing: To better yourself each and every day. You don't go there to motivate anybody else. I have become successful because I don't take anyone else's **** when training. Don't worry about the dude standing next to you who criticizes your formâ€¦ If it works for you, then it is perfect form. You don't have to listen to nagging and complaining from the girlfriend about why you don't spend more time with her. And you definitely don't want to wait a half hour for your partner to show up late.
This is your time, embrace it and make the most of it; you are the only person in charge right now. Focus and pride yourself on getting the best workout possible, with minimal distractions. Don't bring your cell phone in the gym, waiting for one of your boys to call you to see where you're going that Friday night. Chances are you're not getting laid because you have no game. Don't bull**** for 20 minutes in between sets with the girl next to you because you think she is cute. Chances are she just wants to be friends anyway. Monitor your progress and know that when you step in that 15,000 foot facility called the gym, that you are here to lift weights and not socialize.
Focus on your goal, and proceed to take every step to actualize it. When you see 405 on the bench, you visualize the rep, how easy it feels, and the high that you get from pushing that kind of weight without a problem. You stare at the weights and then stare through them until something finally clicks and all you want to do is lift more than what is already there. This is when you finally realize that you need more of this, the motivation to keep going on and to leave everyone else behind. That is focusâ€¦ That is the attitude without the words.
Vires et Honestas
Peace (noun): "Describes a society or a relationship that is operating harmoniously and without violent conflict. Peace is commonly understood as the absence of hostility..."
Bodybuilding is a sport of paradox. Of opposites. We break down muscle in order for it to grow. We bulk up so that we can afford to lean down. Its the magic of risking everything for something no one can see. We risk relationships, by not being there. Even when we are. We are absent. Our thoughts preoccupied by the battle at hand. Our diet, our program, our supps. Are we growing enough, are we tight enough... You know what i mean, if you don't, then get the **** off my page, you don't belong here.
Probably the biggest paradox I have come across in the sport is peace. Go back and read the definition again.... absence of hostility. I find an eerie peace amongst the hostility of iron. I find solace in the mundane clang of steel. I find release in the rage before my set. Yeah you read it right, rage. The kind of blood boiling rage that only the true warrior knows. The type of rage that will make you run through a brick ****ing wall if it brought you just an ounce closer to the truth. Yes brothers, I find peace in that rage.
Not just fleeting peace either... Real peace... The peace you can only find moments after waking from a vivid dream. The peace that is found in nostalgia. That is the peace I find there. There is no pretense here. No keeping up with the Jones. It is the unfathomable truth. Black and white. No bull****. No girl trouble, no money problems. No bull****. Pure.... The purest thing on this earth. Incorruptible... Either you can lift it or you can't. PERIOD.
The weight always stays the same. Always loyal. The steel doesn't care what you look like. How your hair is done. It only cares that you use it to unleash the animal. When the gym door opens... so does my cage. Amongst all of that, I find peace.
This is were I exhale. This is were I grow. This is my house.... and nobody ****s with me in my house.
Vires et Honestas
When you look at a castle, any castle, 3 things are always the same. Walls, Towers and a flag. This is what makes a castle. Not the draw bridge, the king, the stone or anything else. In life, you are your own castle. You fight to keep it save, to stay proud.
In the weight room the reps and iron help me sculpt my walls. Its important for the walls to be thick, to not carry excess fat or mortar, and for all the walls to be the same. Symmetry... My walls are my muscles, the keep me strong, protect me and keep my humble. They remind me how much i've put in to get where I am.
In my mind, the walls are my motivation, my drive and passion keeps me strong, keeps me safe from the ones that tell me it cant be done. The more I work on my walls, the thicker and stronger they get. The safer my castle.
The towers of my castle is the iron. Without the weights I cannot sculpt my future. The iron allows me to see into the future. They allow me to imagine what I will look like. They arm me with the tools I need to create a warrior fit to protect any castle.
In my soul the towers are hate, pain, love and honor. The four things that keep me focussed on my future. Hate drives me, it fuels my fire. It makes me push through when my body has given up. Pain is the great teacher. It reminds me of mistakes in my past. Love is what gets me up in the morning, the love for my God, my fellows, myself, my obsession. You cannot excel in this sport, check that, in ANYTHING if your love for it does not border obsession. Don't agree with me? Ok, lets see who steps into the light first. Honor heeps me humble, keeps me hungry, keeps the edge of the razor sharp.
My flag is my stretch marks, my scars. My badges of honor. It is the thing that grows in respect with every rep. I will do anything to protect my flag. My flag defines me. The more detail in my flag, on my body, in the scares, the harder I know i fought.
The flag inside me.... My word. It is the most important thing to me. I will die before I lose it. Give your word animal.... but keep it.
Without your flag, you might as well resign your castle. Without your flag, nothing is worth fighting for.
Strength and Honor
Fairytales.... Happily ever afters.... talking pigs.... magic beanstalks.... load of **** if you ask me. At least thats what I use to think. This was until I realized that I am the Cinderella Man.
We all remember the story of Cinderella. Young girl with dreams and hopes. Young girl that got the **** kicked outta her daily by those closest to her. Young girl that got sick and tired of taking it lying down. Young girl that decided to take destiny into her own hands. Young girl that risked it all. That risked her very freedom only to have one night of exactly that. Freedom.... Freedom from the hand she was dealt. Freedom from the ones that told her she couldn't, she wasn't good enough. For one night she danced amongst princess, she elevated herself beyond the pity **** of everyday life. She knew it would not last, but she did it anyway. In that act of fearlessness she left behind a shoe that secured her immortality. Young girl dirty from cleaning floors.
You see, we are each in our own way, Cinderella. We dream of one day stepping on stage. We dream of one day being the best version of ourself we could possibly be. We dream... Some of us leave it at that.... The weak.... The ones that will keep reading the fairytales instead of living them.
Some of us got sick of taking it lying down. We rose up. We rose up in the face of those that told us we are not enough. Not good enough, not strong enough, not worthy enough. Our dreams of greatness, immortality, is stronger than the laughs of any naysayer.
Each day brothers when we enter the gym, we enter our ballroom. We dance with legends. We realize that we are... We are everything we dream't of being. At the end of each workout, when we return to our "normal" lives, those lives were we are not understood, we leave behind our glass slipper. With the dawn of each new day, the brotherhood of iron finds us, glass slipper in hand.
I beg of you, heed the call brothers. The call for you to join me. Join me at the table of legends. That place were every drop of sweat, every perfect meal, is respected and acknowledged.
I am the Cinderella Man...
Strength and Honor
Look at history, the holocaust, both world wars, every mass genocide, every single suicide and every single murder. Atrocities beyond reprimand. Then you look at the same history, the fall of the Berlin wall, the support for Katrina, aids awareness, the birth of a baby and even popular religion.
You look at all things good and bad, evil and sinister, joyful and exciting, success and failure. What would you say if I told you that the origin and catalyst of each of these things comes from the exact same place? Donâ€™t believe me, well brace yourselfâ€¦ They all spring from thought.
Thought is the most powerful tool we as humans posses. Itâ€™s the single thing, beyond even genetics that can guarantee success and failure. Guarantee greatness from mediocrity.
Our success springs form our enthusiasm to achieve. Our enthusiasm to achieve springs from our attitude towards an opportunity. Our attitude towards an opportunity springs from our perception of life. This perception springs from your general thought process. If your thought process is positive, one of never say die, your attitude will be invigorated and you will have an endless supply of zest of fortitude.
This not only applies to your personal or work live brothers, this applies to your every being, none more so than to your training program and diet. You only need to think about feeling tired or weak to become that. Your mind only needs to wander to that place of â€œI can afford some extra carbsâ€� before you have already justified a cheat meal to yourself. That is what makes the difference between â€œalmost made it to stageâ€� to â€œMr Oâ€�.
What you think about, you bring about. PERDIOD. Keep your thoughts honest and humble, hungry and strong and you will know what it is like to have the heart and soul of a warrior, a lion, an animal. Primal and simple. Always ready to fight, never ready to fail.
Strength and Honor
Bodybuilding, life, everything we do, we do with an eye on the future. I need to follow a 12 week program before a show. I need to train every body part this week to hit the mark. Our entire life is lived for tomorrow. Problem is... tomorrow never comes.
It is with this attitude of tomorrow were most dreams and goals lie shattered. In this moonlit graveyard called "future" were the rotting corpses of hope and aspiration fill the air. The stench is so thick you will choke on it if you stay there too long. Today brothers, as always my words will rape societies values. They will break through the safe place we have become entrenched in. If you can't handle this type of honesty... Well get the **** of my page. This is hardcore. This is not sugar coated.
**** tomorrow. **** the future. **** planning ahead. **** a contingency plan.
Today..... brothers..... Today..... This is were our true strength lies. The now. The present. Let the skeletons of yesterday and the uncertainty of tomorrow disappear with the morning dew. We cannot control yesterday - its done. Bury the dead, they only stink. We cannot imagine what tomorrow holds, but by trying to we enter a realm were we have no power over.
Focus ONLY on today.
Repeat after me... Just for today my diet will be perfect. I will not cheat on a single meal. Just for today. When tomorrow comes, I'll eat what I want to.
Repeat after me... Just for today, my workout will be flawless. I will push my body harder than I have ever pushed it. Just for today. When tomorrow comes, I'll rest.
Repeat after me... Just for today, I will live with strength and Honor. I will keep my word and live with a warrior's spirit. Just for today. When tomorrow comes, I'll be flaky again.
Living Just for today is easy. No pressure, but here's the kicker, if you live everyday - Just for today - tomorrow will never come....
Strength and Honor
There was once a noble warrior who spent much of his life abroad, defending his homeland and the way of life of his people. Finally, after years in battle, the war-worn hero would begin his pilgrimage home, returning to his place of birth, back to the people and culture he loved, to a place of peace and happiness where the food was delicious and abundant and where the wine flowed like water. He knew his trek would be long and arduous, but in the end would be well worth the effort.
For many years, he trudged along this rugged, untraveled path-one with pitfalls and rocky terrain, with wild beasts and rogue adversaries lying in wait around every corner, all seeking to test the strength and fitness of the warrior. He would best every challenge along the way, always with the vision of his promised land in his heart, pushing him onward.
Finally, he reached his destination, coming over a hill just beyond the city limits. What he saw caused his heart to sink. His beloved town, over the years he had been away, had seen much turmoil and strife. In order to ensure their safety, the townspeople erected a wall fifty feet high and ten feet thick made of mortar and brick. No one could come out and no one could go in. Though now in times of peace and prosperity, the town remained walled-in and isolated.
Knowing he could never scale such an edifice, the warrior came to a realization. His only hope, futile though it may be, would be to go through it. Resolved in his mission, the warrior was determined. For the next several years, he toiled, expending all of his life force, smashing away at the wall. Kicking and punching and chipping with his crude axe, he struggledâ€¦ Many times gathering speed, sprinting toward the barricade and hitting it with all of the strength he could muster, literally willing it to fall. So many times he would jar the wall, and still it stood defiant, strong and immovable.
Over the years, the strength of the once mighty warrior waned. He grew tired of this thankless effort, his hands and feet hurt, his bone and muscle ached. He was hungry and thirsty and exhausted. Finally, the day came that he could no longer manage to strike the wall. This day was a beautiful one, with the sun beaming down and the birds chirping in the trees. Beaten and broken, the noble warrior slumped to the ground, leaning on the wall. Here he would lie in the cool spring breeze and breathe his last breath. After all, this was not such a bad place to die. Alas, the great warrior was no more and his spirit moved on to the next realm.
As the sun shone down on this gallant man and the tiny creatures rustled in the surrounding woods, a butterfly fluttered above. Floating about the remains of the warrior it flapped its wings toward the wall, landing so delicately upon the massive barrier. With its tiny forelegs so lightly making contact, a great fissure was sent down the wall, cracking the mighty partition from top to bottom, setting off a cataclysmic collapse, rendering the wall a mere pile of rubble. The great impediment was now gone, the gates to the town now open, the warrior forever entombed in the crumbled rock and cinder.
Never give up brothers... You are closer than you think.
Strength and Honor
I got on the scale yesterday, disappointing myself and my brothers in iron. I am down 2 pounds instead of hitting the 250 mark. Everything inside me was shattered. I didn't even care to see my parents for dinner. Obsessed... Yeah. Motivated.... **** yeah.
You see bodybuilding isn't a part time thing. Its an all the time thing. Work is my hobby, iron is my profession. Its an all consuming black hole. Nothing escapes from it. If focussed it absolves you of all your fears and loads you with motivation, if treated without respect, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there. It will suck you of your will to live.
Last night, my failure became my shield. It became the one thing I will cling to, to keep me fighting fit. To keep me from the injury of complacency and the comfortable life. To keep me from the death of mediocrity.
My shield of failure grows heavier with each goal missed. With each missed set or each missed meal. The burden I carry becomes heavier... But it is the heavy shield that warns of the fiercest attacks. My failures teach me. From carrying my shield I remember how it feels to disappoint my brothers, myself. In that memory I can ward of even the strongest of foes.
As said by his wife to King Leonides :''Come back with your shield... or on it"
Strength and Honor
You live by the sword, you die by the sword. I guess the same can be said for living by the steel. It completely engulfs your being. It is your chosen addiction. It is the blood in your veins. It is the breath that fills your lungs. With each repetition of breathe and heart beat, you live and you die.
On a daily basis I am told how unhealthy it is to be so one track minded. To live from meal to meal. My friends, well, the ones I have left cannot fathom the desire I have burning inside me. Neither can my family. Chances are, yours do not either. "Cant you just be normal" echoes there dumb founded empty yet betrayed words. "Normal?" But we are, it is normal for us to have 8 meals a day. To train 12 hours a week. To constantly think about how to better you body and yeah, at night to dream about it.
This morning I was asked if my life revolves around bodybuilding. My reply was simple. My life revolves around the single rep. When the rep starts, so does my life. I am borne. When the rep ends, so does my existence. I am reborn with each single test of strength.
I am the Phoenix.
Strength and Honor
Forgetting the good life. It's not as hard as it sounds, especially when you only get a taste every now and then. Now if it was a ****ing filet mignon every week, then ****, it'd be tough to give up. Days of wine and roses? **** that, for me, it's more like **** and piss. So ****ing what? I'm used to it.
Last night as I left the gym I walked past a restaurant loaded with couples, staring into each others eyes. Whispering sweet nothings into each others ears. All I stared at that night was the reflection of the animal in the mirror. The only whispers I hear are the ones of peers from my past telling me I wouldn't amount to anything in this sport. Forget the good times - they weaken knees. To me, forgetting is easier than remembering.
Remembering, now that's a whole different story. For the bodybuilder, no **** that, anyone who lives on this planet, remembering makes us who we are. As a bodybuilder, I gotta rememberâ€¦ Remember where I came from, who I am, what really matters. I can never forget what's behind me eitherâ€¦ From the high school taunts to all those who came before me and made a name for themselvesâ€¦
All the days of blood and guts I ****ing spilled for this sport. All the things that have defined meâ€¦ See, I believe without memory, there is no desire. Knowing what I had, knowing it's not enough, that I want more--that's at the heart of my endeavor. Without memory, there can also be no history. I know my roots, where I come from. I know where I'm headed on this journey. History... Yeah, I plan on making some of that too.
Strength and Honor
Everything ends. Seasons, careers, love, life... Everything.
In South Africa we are facing the post coital depression of having the soccer world cup ending. 10 years of preparing, 1 month of hosting. Hardly seems fair does it. It is what it is I guess. Most things in life are. The problem is that most people are scared ****less of facing up to that cold hard truth. Nothing lasts forever. Hell, most of the time things end before we even acknowledge it.
We go through life searching for the one thing that doesn't end. Religion offers us the cushion of an afterlife. Great, but that doesn't help when we are here. I've done some thinking, the only thing that does not end is our hunger for perfection. Our innate want to better ourselves beyond anything we could possibly imagine. To sculpt our bodies into a work of art.
Now most weekend warriors are happy with the abs and the biceps. Good for them. Its the same as people being content with discovering what is only on this planet. We need more. We need to push our bodies beyond what is humanly possibly. Be harder, bigger, leaner than the rest. Like those obsessed with pushing the edge of the envelope and finding the new frontiers in space, we walk around greeting the stares from the world as if we have just hopped of a UFO. "The stares that ask us, why? Surely thats not normal. Aren't you happy with yourself? Why waste your money like that?" You know the stares. If you don't, than stop kidding yourself, you are not one of us, not yet anyway. You earn those stares. You work years to get them. When you do, you fall into into an elite group of people, called animals. You don't have to be the biggest guy, you need to be the most intense and disciplined. Thats how you get those stares.
Once you get them, a hunger is let loose inside you that knows no end. Ever. You are not done. Never. You will never stop. You couldn't if you wanted to....
Strength and Honor
Spent the morning in traffic. ****ing road works. Theyâ€™ve been working on these roads for 3 years. Apparently when its done in 2013 it will be the best in Africa.
Ive been driving the same road daily and I can tell you that I canâ€™t see a major difference. It looks the same as it did 3 years ago. This was until a mate came to visit on the weekend that hasnâ€™t been in JHB since the road works started. He was amazed at how clean, big and just incredible the roads look. I guess Iâ€™ve been to close to the work to see the results.
Same goes for training brothers, I look at myself now and I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m training for. I look the same as I did 3 years ago. **** I might have gotten a little fatter if anything. It takes a long lost friend to put things into perspective.... To help you take a step back and realize how awesome you look. Step back... Its the reps that make up the sets. The sets that make up the workout. Step back, keep your eye on the workout.
As with road works, remember that NO work you do on your road to perfection is ever in vain, every single brick makes you look better. Every rep, now matter how small or heavy it is. Every good meal you eat. Every hour you sleep. Every sip of water. Everything makes your road... work. A little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.
So until your road is ready... keep your hard hat on. Men at work.
Strength and Honor
About a year ago I wrote a blog about Wolves and Sheep. It caused more than a little stir amongst people on this site. Today I was approached by a weekend bodybuilder, (you know, the ones that only buy the muscle mags to motivate them for their weekly trip to the gym for a chest and bi's session,) and he looked for sympathy from me because "our" lives as bodybuilders are so tough and lonely. I just laughed at him and walked away. I take my training seriously, its not just a 9-5 thing. Its a from-when-I-open-my-eyes-to-when-I-close-them-thing. Its more than a habit, its an addiction. An obsession. This made me decide to repost the words I wrote on wolves and sheep.
They say there are 2 types of people in life. The have and the have notâ€™s. The ones in the parade and the ones cheering from the side. I say there are the sheep and the wolves. Which one are you? Dunno, let me break it down for you:
These are the posers, the ones that think there body only consists of chest and biâ€™s. You know the ones. They train for hours, but spend most of that time staring at some chicks ass, yapping on their mobiles or talking about how pissed they got at that club. They fuel my fire, every time I see them working out an angle for chatting up that girl, I consume the energy they lose. They follow the 10 min beach abs program and eat nachoâ€™s by the pound and wonder why they arenâ€™t seeing results. You know the type donâ€™t youâ€¦ Listen, if you are reading this and you are one of them, I donâ€™t mean to offendâ€¦ No waitâ€¦ **** that, I do mean to offend. So step back and sit down son, the wolf is out.
Now, put the kids to bed, lock the doors, its big boy timeâ€¦
You see them doing their thing in the shadows. Unassuming, and totally focussed. They are the ones that come in, tear the your little cushy ****ing my little pony world apart. Without you even knowing. And as soon as they start, they conquer, and head home to choke down the victory meal that is tuna, chicken or those little 130 pound sheep that donâ€™t know any better.
The wolf is the one that no one wants to train with, but everyone wants to look like. They are the ones that never rest, never lose their killer instinct. They are the ones that are flat broke, missing payments, but whoâ€™s supplement cupboard and fridge are always filled to the brim. They are the ones that donâ€™t miss a workout because itâ€™s raining or they donâ€™t have a clean shirt. They never miss a meal, and more often than not, the ones that walk alone.
They are the ones called freak. Have you noticed that I didnâ€™t ask if you know who they are? Thatâ€™s because I donâ€™t need to. You just know.
So, next time you feel lazy or tired or to full to eat another morselâ€¦. Ask yourselfâ€¦ Am I a sheep, or am I a wolf?
Strength and Honor brothers
The first step is the hardest. It takes a conscious decision. 1 foot in front of the other. You realize no one is gonna take that step for you. You understand that deep inside your being you are destined to do so. Destined.... thats a strong word. Thats what you need though, strong words, they build strong characters which in turn builds strong wills. For the next 18 weeks I am gonna need a will stronger than iron.
Pain, torture, emptiness, hunger, muscle pump, sweat, choking, vomit, agony, joy, tears, blood, protein... These are just some of my companions that I share my journey with. I am getting ready to step on stage for the first time, my last attempt was foiled by injury 3 weeks out. Few things are as disheartening, but you pick yourself off and start again. Like you would with any failed set. Pick up the weight and take that ****er for a ride.
Thing is about this journey brothers, it never ends. It never stops. I have end point. Only goals that form pit stops. Its a perpetual chase for a mark I will never find. Your physique can always be better. A little bigger, a little leaner. ****, this is the most unfulfilling sport in the world. Funny thing is, I find solace in that. That mindset makes champions... Legends... I could not settle for anything less.
124 days, 3024 hours. I'm already counting down the seconds. I will spend this entire time in the dark, silently honing my skill. Carving a masterpiece with blood and sweat. The sounds of pain to keep me company. I will do this until I am done. Until I can step out of this dark pasture into the light. I will shine.
This place of darkness and insanity... **** there is no better place in the world. I choose to be here. I choose to do what so few can. This is the place where the real work gets done. Where you put up or shut up. Hell, thats why this place is so quiet. So if your up for it, grab your punch card and bring the pain.
Strength and Honor