Growing up

WOW. I just read my last post and sort of chuckled to myself the entire time. I have come a long way in these last 9 or 10 months now. First off, I am well over the ex. She was good for me at the time but I see now.. she dragged me down from my true potential. She didn't have the strength inside her to be incredible because she was too content living in her bubble - protected from the harsh realities of the outside world. I, however, have come a long way I think. Not just as a fitness freak but as a man. I am nearly 21, still young, but I feel like a grown man. I have a lot of responsibility now. Not just to myself, but to my family, my friends, society, my country, everyone. I even think about the lives of my future family. Perhaps this is a little pre-mature, but I see every choice I make as a stepping stone, developing myself into the person I would want to be for a future wife/children.  I am expected to be a model citizen, to work hard, to better the world in whatever way I see fit.

That being said, I am 20 years old. I am entering my junior year of college at Clemson University, home of the TRUE Tigers and Death Valley. I am studying civil engineering, and I am pretty good at it. Not on the Dean's list, but doing well. I have great friends, people I have fun with and trust. These guys have my back. That is pretty powerful. Some people will be your friend but will be the last to have your back. These people, my friends, my family at school, have my back. And I have theirs. I just recently started seeing a girl, and she is a breath of fresh air to the empty space i've felt since my last relationship ended. Her name is Caity. I don't know her well to be honest, but I am excited to change that. She is a beautiful, fun, outgoing person who laughs even when she should probably be crying. I love her optimism and strength. I think we will have a fun time together. Did I mention she's flat out gorgeous?

 Now the bad news. Well, not bad, but here is my problem with the direction my life is headed. As wonderful as all that sounds, and it is, I can't help but feel like my life is on a set, predestined track down to my last dying breath. I can finish my degree, making mistakes and having fun along the way, being a young fit 20 year old taking risks and learning to mature. I can keep in touch with my friends as we part ways after graduation, slowly losing the bonds we built during our 4 years together as I grow older and more consumed with my civil engineering job, sitting at my desk, working project after project, drinking coffee, having small talk with the employees and the boss about my wife and kids. Doesn't that sounds fantastic? Not to me. Maybe down the road, sure, but I feel there is more in me. I have accomplished a lot in my life. I'm not Mr. Incredible yet, but I am proud of what I have done.

I moved around a lot as a kid, living in Maryland, New York, Kentucky, South Carolina, and now living on my own at school. Learning to adapt to different environments like that was challenging, and confusing as such a young boy, but I dealt with it. I didn't have a lot of confidence in middle or high school. I was always the weaker player on my hockey time, and not one of the more popular guys. (Mostly because I wasn't an immature idiot going out and breaking the law, getting drunk at 16, doing drugs, being a complete jackass to make friends, etc etc, so I don't regret it). I didn't have great grades either. I was always very smart, but didn't know it, didn't try, didn't care. I was a typical teenager in that regard I suppose.

One day, I don't remember when, but one day, something changed inside me. First, I was cut from my hockey team of 5 years. It was a blow, an insult, a punch to the face. Guys and coaches i'd played with for years chose a shorter roster over me and a friend of mine. We were pissed. That motivation gave us the courage (with the help of our parents obviously) to drive over 3 hours to the upstate to play for their team, every weekend, for two years. This was a huge commitment, and we didn't half ass it. After two seasons of progressing skills wise, socially, making friends I connected with (these were great guys, not the *******s on my old team) my former hockey coach actually invited me back to play with them after seeing how much i'd improved. Ha, dream on pal, I play for the Greenville Growl now! Dick. I then made another step towards maturity and success when I chose to quit travel hockey in order to work harder on my grades in high school. This was tough. I had played travel hockey since I was 5 years old. I didn't even know how to tell my parents. Of course, they were very supportive, as they always have been. I still played high school hockey. This was less competitive and I was actually one of the better defensive players we had, not to sound too cocky. I had a lot of help from some really great players. I also became team captain my senior year. I don't know if I was any good at being a leader, but I did my best, and was damn proud of it. Anyhow, my grades did improve. A lot. I went to my guidance counselor and told her to sign me up for all the hardest classes possible. The biggest one being the AP Calculus BC, which is the first two college semester college calc courses in one, in high school. I was coming into it with a D in pre-cal, so she was hesitant. I actually got my mom to write her a note demanding that I be put in the class with all the egg heads who are now at Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, perhaps one or two at MIT I think. Many of them ended up at Clemson too, we weren't curing cancer or anything. But I was proud of my new-found ambition. Well, I got an A. Not a B+, not my usual C's, but an A. Hell. Flippin. Yes. I also got straight A's in my other classes until I graduated. My GPA (weighted for college prep and Honors classes) was a 5.02. With this track record and some other achievements I was accepted to 6 colleges. Which made me happy because... I applied to 6! They were Clemson University, GA Tech, VA Tech, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of South Carolina, and College of Charleston. I ended up at Clemson obviously, and have never looked back or regretted the decision. It is an amazing town.

So now you know my story. How I came to be, where I am, and what i'm doing here. So what's next? I have been pushing myself and pushing myself to get to where I am. I have pursued fitness very successfully. I used to be very self conscience about my body. What teenager isn't? But I felt rounder and less good looking than the other guys. So, I changed that. Now, i'm the one girls check out at the pool. Thank goodness for tinted sunglasses, eh? (Disclaimer - don't take me to be a cocky guy, I am proud of my accomplishments and my biggest pet peeve is people putting me down because they are too lazy to accomplish it themselves. I am the first one to motivate people to do what I do and better. I'm not Jesus freaking Christ, I just work my ass off. Thanks.) But what's next? 40 years of scraping my ass on a desk chair being an engineer, trying to get rich, hello honey i'm home? I'm sure it's a great life, but my youthful bravado wants something more. I want to keep pushing. I don't want to settle. I don't want to be another face in the crowd.

I think my new idea started when I was watching tv one day and I saw a special on US Army Combat Engineers. These guys are experts at blowing **** up, clearing obstacles, and building infrastructure. Hey, I like all those things! I'm a civil engineer right? So i did some research and nursed the thoughts and visions for a couple months. As I swam deeper and deeper into my research of the military, I was exposed to a few guys along the way and their stories of being soldiers. I read the book the Lone Survivor, written my former US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, where he describes in detail the infamous Operation Redwing in  the mountains of Afghanistan. If you haven't read it, do it. That's all I have to say. My sister also is seeing this guy, Scott. He is a super guy, really just a good person for her and in general. Anyways, he's a US Marine 2nd Lt, currently in training at Quantico VA learning the ins and outs of being a Marine Officer. After a lot, and I mean, A LOT, of research and thinking over the last... i'd say 8 months, i've decided that the military offers the thrill, the honor, the commitment, the pursuance of excellence that i've been starving for. It will allow me to serve my country, which I love. I have grown up in a very patriotic family. I won't elaborate, but, it's a big deal. At least to us. The military would allow me to work with some of the most professional, stand up characters in the world. Guys who value integrity, honesty, honor, hard work, etc etc. I feel that the respect of these traits in the civilian world is diminishing, and I don't want to be a part of it. So the millions of questions came.. what branch? What path? Where will I fit in? With Scott as my sort of mentor, I landed on the United States Marine Corps. I am planning to apply to OCS as soon as I can and hopefully attend either next summer or the summer after I graduate. I will put in for either Marine Combat Engineer, or Infantry Officer. However, I am not completely beside the thoughts of pursuing something even greater. I am not above pursuing the elite Navy SEALS, or the Army Special Forces, or the Rangers. I can think of no greater accomplishment. It is just a nagging voice in the back of my head saying "Why can't you do that? Can you rise to the call?" Of course I can, I can do anything dammit. So, while I consider these paths, my next step is to get in as good a shape as probably the top 1% of people in the world.

I am already quite fit, but i've been pursuing body building. I wanted to build muscle, have a six pack, and look good. I've done just that. But that doesn't get you anywhere in the armed services. They want endurance athletes. Guys that can do hundreds of pushups, situps, pull ups, calisthenic after calisthenic all freaking day in heat and humidity or blistering cold weather, while you're covered in blood, sweat, tears, dirt, and whatever else **** they throw at you. Running long distances many times a day, sometimes with a heavy load of gear on. Cross country runners do better in these training camps. All while you're being screamed at by a ruthless DI and being broken down piece by piece. All with a lack of sleep and food. And that's just to get in. Sounds like fun, right? This is opposite the body building lifestyle. So, in the next 11 months minimum, I need to completely transform my exercise regime. I am, reluctantly, dropping the heavy weights, and moving on to high rep endurance calisthenics. I need to improve my running drastically. Being a hockey player with beefy strong legs, this is already proving extremely difficult. I also need to learn to swim. Sure, I can hold my own at the rec pool, but i'm talking perfecting technique and learning to swim 1000's of meters, up to 1 and 2 mile swims with fins (i hope). As a small guy with nothing on my but muscle, not tons of muscle, mind you, but no fat, swimming is difficult. I sink. So while i'm afraid of losing my six pack and some of my gained muscle, which I probably will, it's a small price i'm willing to pay. I can always get it back after I serve and have the wife/kids life. Give me something to do, right?

So, I have a new challenge. I couldn't be more excited, nervous.. screw that, petrified. But, I will overcome it, as I always have, and maybe after a tour of duty, I will be ready to settle down. For now, I am trying to be Mr. Incredible, and nothing can stop me. Now I just have to tell my parents my new plan... oh boy. Now that's scaring me.

Stay strong in body, mind, and spirit.

Kyle McDonough

Thoughts and feelings

My girlfriend of over two years broke up with me almost two months ago now. I don't feel like its getting any easier. I think I loved her more than maybe she loved me after all. I don't believe you can "fall out of love" with someone who didn't change, as she put it. I'm the same person. She's convinced herself she's changed. I know her better than anyone and enough to know that that isn't true. She's mesmerized by the excitement of being on her own for the first time. (I was her first bf). Well good luck finding someone who cares about you and takes care of you the way I did babe. I have news for you too, I am going to be better than ever and you can eat your heart out. But for now, I am still climbing. The only thing that is keeping me from feeling like a worthless sack of **** is bodybuilding. Every good choice I make, no matter how simple, whether its choosing the grilled chicken salad over the burger, cardio over t.v., anything, everything I do is a step in the right direction that puts me in the right frame of mind. I heard an expression that for some reason really hit me hard: "Stay strong in body, mind, and spirit". This is really powerful, at least for someone who's brain is a constant emotional roller coaster lately. I have to stay strong in body, and continue to pursue my fitness goals. It makes me feel like I can do anything, and builds my confidence back to where it was when I had the one girl who made me feel like i was king of the world. I have to stay strong in mind, and not slack on my studies in school. I HAVE to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have done it before but with every succession comes a new goal with a higher bar. I will be the best. I have to stay strong in spirit. I keep going through lapses of feeling great and motivated to feeling depressed and lonely. I have my friends, which helps, but not the one person I want. Its indescribable how I feel. Listening to motivational or angry music helps by converting sadness to anger which I can channel to motivation and hard work. I have to stay strong in body, mind, and spirit. Its all that keeps me going. Some people think that 19 is too young to be in love with a girl like I saw I am, and too know that she's the one i'm supposed to be with. I say thats bull****. I walk around every day, meet new people, try and be more outgoing now that I am single. Fact is, most people my age don't have a clue. They are stuck in "high school" frames of mind, eager to impress and "be cool". I wish there was a better way of putting it but stupidity is fairly easy to explain. Jordan was the one person I fit with. She was the only one who understood and accepted me for me. We only split because she thinks we need to be on our own right now. Nothing serious even happened between us. Mid-college crisis I guess. Well guess what. While she's out partying on the weekends getting drunk thursday through sunday hooking up with dumb-ass frat guys packing on beer bellies "because she can now", i'll be studying nutrition articles like its my job, and pursuing fitness like its my life. It is a lifestyle, and I am in love with it. Everyone listens to me talk about my habits and say I am obsessed with it, like thats a bad thing. I take it as a compliment. I found a kick ass gym, major kudos to the clemson guys who put that club together, its truly a great gym. Called "The Dungeon". How awesome is that? I really needed it too, the free "school gym", called Fike, is too small, overcrowded, and just not adequate. The Dungeon is loaded with everything a seriously bodybuilder could need. And it isn'y flashy, its a basement, rusty, dirty, blood sweat tears battlezone for monsters like us to get at it. So, thats all that was on my mind. I'm not going to proof it, anyone who reads it, enjoy. LIVE STRONG IN BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT -Kyle

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You know, its interesting. I have lost 25 lbs since, i don't know, December or so. I am not that slim. I am in certain parts of my body. My calves, face, neck, basically outer extremities are all down to the skin. But at the same time, I still have the belly fat, the chest fat, and most of all, the lower back fat that runs into my glutes. So while I am definitely not a little chubby like I was feeling, I still do not feel like I look proportionate. I want bigger shoulders and a smaller waste - two gifts that were not bestowed upon my genetics. Anyhow, for some reason, those areas lost fat at a less speedy rate than the other parts of my body. Normal? I dunno, maybe. Probably, actually. I just hoped I would get a leaner torso and hips. I guess if bodybuilding were easy then everyone would do it though! I can take it up a notch. Anyways, I wanted to adopt a clean eating diet, keep it consistent and disciplined, and drop the body fat before I go to school and guess what, I did. That is really exciting for me! ha ha. Now its time for phase 2. When I get settled at school in a week or so, I am going to really calculate how many calories I should be eating, how much of it protein, carbs, and fats, and get serious about putting on some muscle. I'd like to drop more body fat first but I don't know if I can do it, I feel like I have plateaued (spelling? plateau? I dunno). So, first semester, I'll build some muscle and by Christmas I can decide where to go from there! I have been waiting for myself to get this serious about my own health and fitness for years and it took forever out of insecurity and a severe lack of discipline. That is over now. I will be the best I can be. (Not to mention I just got out of a relationship so if I'm going to be seeing new girls I want them to see two things in me - a nice guy, and nice abs. Ha!) Wish me luck

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Day 9

Well its been awhile since my last post. Time flies in college. I've done pretty well about the diet. I've figured out the shortcuts and combinations in the dining halls to get a decent protein diet. Unfortunately I feel like I'm eating the same thing every day which is not ideal and a bit boring. A bit of a success story - before I started this post I tried on my shorts from the summer and it was harder to put them on then i remember. Well after just 9 days of clean eating I tried them on again and didn't have to suck my stomach in this time ha ha. Its valentines day weekend so I'm sure Jordan (my girlfriend) will bake me something like she did last year. Not exactly progress but shes such a good baker! [Total brownie points if she reads this ;)] Anyways, I hope everyone has a great weekend, don't be a cheapskate, get her something nice! Oh, and girls, remember that valentines goes both ways :)

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Day 1

Well I have never done anything like a blog or a journal before. I figured it would be helpful to me if I had a way of documenting my progress and efforts instead of telling myself "ok, this is the day I am going to stick to my system" every day. I think we have all done that. I guess since this is my first posting, I'll put in some details about myself. I will also attempt to keep this short and sweet. I am currently a second semester freshmen at Clemson University. I am studying civil engineering and as exciting as that sounds, I am just in the general engineering that all freshmen take. Don't get me wrong, its tough. Very tough. But it's not that exciting. Actually its flat out boring. Anyhow thats my current academic situation. My classes are engineering, of course, geology, physics w/ calculus, and calculus. My fitness situation is a little less impressive. I played ice hockey for about 12 or 13 years, since I was 5 anyways. I started lifting and training when I was 13 which was great but I quit probably right when it was all going to come together, when I was 18. I stopped because I was a senior in high school and wasn't playing hockey competitively anymore. Frankly I just lost interest. I wouldn't say that I got out of shape at that point at all. I have always felt out of shape, growing up to now. I have been fed a clean diet by my parents, no processed foods, no preservatives - more so now than when I was younger but in general a very healthy diet. I did eat bacon and grilled cheeses and deserts and all more than I ate my veggies, just like any other kid. But I have always felt like maybe my metabolism isn't nearly as efficient as my friends. They eat WAY worse than me and can be WAY bigger couch potatoes than me and they remain fit and healthy. I, on the other hand, have always felt soft. Never fat. Soft is a good word. So my goal with this is to beat whatever defects or mental blocks I have towards getting in good shape and also, of course, to beat the freshmen 15. Basically, in a less serious perspective, I just want my pants to fit better and feel better about myself when I walk around and look in the mirror. So, if your still reading this, which I would imagine no one is, here are my goals. - To develop a structured general fitness system tuned to my own needs and what is available at Clemson University - To drop down to a 32 waste size (back into an old wardrobe) and be able to see my abs without flexing, bending, twisting, or changing light conditions in any way shape or form. - To feel energized and alert throughout my day and ready to sleep like a baby at night. - To develop more self discipline and confidence in my abilities. - TO KICK ASS Progress Not much to say here, this is my day one posting. I have done decent in my diet today but haven't eaten enough. I have been busy and only made it to breakfast at 8:30 which was a single portion of scrambled eggs w/ a glass of water. I also ate lunch (which was terrible) in the dining hall around.... 12:20? around there. I ate a piece of grilled ham (the only non-fried protein in the whole hall) with the complimentary side of white rice and gravy. Don't worry, I only ate a couple bites of rice around the side with minimal gravy dumped on. This wasn't terrible nutritionally (I don't think anyways) but it hasn't been enough. My stomach is growling and I am in the library working. Like I should be, but food is over there and I have to be in here. Ill hopefully get done soon so I can go eat. It'd be much easier to work in my dorm because food is close by but there are too many distractions in a dorm room compared to the library that I wouldn't get anything done. So anyways, Day 1, not so bad. Need to get a diet plan down so I can start thinking about exercise. FUN STUFF

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