Yesterday I got the phone call that every government contract worker dreads. Poof! In two months your job will be gone. So I'm joining the circus! Well not really. I did spend a little time looking into what it takes to be a part of the Cirque du Soleil though. I've always loved those stupid human tricks. By "stupid human tricks" I mean crazy, fantastic, unbelievable feats of strength and beauty. There is a school, but it is in Montreal. I will fly further south in a heartbeat, but north is pretty much the opposite direction. There are other reasons why this isn't my best choice right now to be sure. I'm not totally ruling it out for sometime in the unknown future though.
Just today I've come to realize that the hardest thing in life to do is to live up to your own beliefs. Any fool can talk, but can you walk what you talk? This is what made Muhammad Ali the greatest. Forget about boxing. Forget about the titles and the politics. Forget about whether you like or dislike him. Boil it all down, and the fact is he talked BIG, and then when out and did it!
So here I sit in the eye of the storm once again. I will tell you what is driving me forward. I have reached a point where to not go forward, would be to go backward. I may not know exactly what the future holds, but I do know what's behind. I don't live there anymore, neither do I wish to return. So enough talk, let's walk it out.
John 20:24-29 New King James Version (NKJV)
24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
I've got this love-hate thing going with Wal-Mart. On the love side there is the convenience of being able to get everything under one roof. If Wal-Mart doesn't carry it, you probably don't need it. Wal-Mart is always open and has hard to beat prices on everything. On the hate side there is the Wal-Mart pressure on suppliers to lower prices, which leads to cutting corners and the lowering of product quality. Wal-Mart is like the Internet. Yards and yards of junk sprinkled with gems here and there.
I went to Wal-Mart early this morning just to pick up a few things. Right in that high traffic channel they create at the entrance of the store was a huge box of bargain books. I can walk by the miles of sugar filled goodies they strategically place on all the major walk ways, without even blinking an eye. I have to confess though, a big stack of bargain books is nearly impossible for me to resist.
I am a seeker, and every book holds a promise. The only way to know if it makes good on the promised on the cover is to read it. That in itself presents another huge problem. There are just too many books, and so little time. I put three books into my cart. Fortunately there was a long line at the cash register. I reconsidered the first one I picked out and put it back into the bargain bind. The other two hold great promise of food for thought, but I seriously don't need to add to the stack of books on my desk waiting for me to read. So after adding these two new ones today, I'm going to fight the urge to look at another book until I'm done with what I have.
I can promise the world one thing. I won't write many books. There are more books now than can ever be read. I don't want to add to the clutter. I promise not to use two words if only one will do. I will not write two books if one will do, and I will not write 100 pages if a few paragraphs will do. I may be an author, but it is not about selling books to me. I will write only what I would consider worth taking the time to read. This is my promise as a seeker, to other seekers.
I remember when I started to dislike garlic. I went to this Asian restaurant and ordered the garlic chicken. It must of had all 11 herbs and spices and then some. It was really good. Then I got this strange after taste in my mouth that wouldn't go away. Then the garlic seemed to be seeping through my pores for the next few hours. I was a non-garlic eater after this experience.
I've always known that garlic was good for you. It wasn't until I started to seriously add more superfoods in my diet that all the benefits of garlic became irresistible to me. I didn't like garlic, but I wanted to find a way to get its goodness. I tried OTC supplements, but the effectiveness of those supps is sketchy at best. Then I tried to just shallow whole cloves. I thought that was a good solution until I noticed I left a big chuck of white stuff in the toilet.
After more research I found that it was the mixture of two compounds found in garlic that gives it that pungent smell and its superfood benefits. The garlic has to be crushed or smashed to get these two ingredents working. So I finally discovered how I could take raw garlic without having to suffer the taste.
So how much to take? The World Health Organization recommends as much as possible, but at least 1 clove a day. I wanted to see how much I could take before I started to seep and reap like garlic. I started with one clove, then two, then three with no problem. I keep increasing until I was up to seven cloves at one time. My wife and I went to the grocery store after I had taken the seven cloves. She turned away every time I talked to her. She has always liked garlic, but in the middle of our shopping trip she couldn't take my garlic breath any more. She went to the candy isle and made me chew half a pack of gum right there in the store. Funny thing is the smell of garlic no longer bothers me much. Even after the seven cloves I couldn't smell it on my own breath, and I didn't really notice it seeping from my pores. One thing for sure though, seven is probably to many to take at one time if you want any kind of social life. Since I cut it back to 2 to 3 cloves (depending on how big they are), I haven't had a problem. Using the technique in this video I've been getting all the benefits of garlic with none of the problems.
These days it's all about instant booty pop panties, six-pack short cuts, 21 days to massive muscles, and big money 90 day super transformations. With a title like "7 Years to Fitness" you would sell about...zero. None the less, that is the title of the book I've been writing since 2007. It is more of an autobiography than it is a "how to" book though. I'm not really writing a book with that title. I only want to state for the record that I have been working out consistently for 7 years now. How much longer it takes to reach that ultimate me isn't really a big concern for me anymore.
I have set my mind for the long haul. It could take 5 years, 10 years, or a lifetime. It matters not. As long as I can work toward it each day, my comfort is in knowing that the longer and harder the fight, the sweeter the victory will be. What think you? You are free to think as you choose, but know this: Faith is always the better choice!
I want it all. Not just to look good or to just be athletic. I want to look good and be athletic at the same time. I want the balance found only at the intersection of form and function. I readily admit that I have extremist tendencies. Having bounced back in forth between many extremes, I'm coming to appreciate the simplicity and ease found in points of balance.
Take carbs and cardio for example. When I was younger I was sometimes forced to live on the high extreme of both of these do to military operations. I quickly swung to the opposite extreme and zeroed out both my carbs and cardio for a while after I retired from the military. What I've come to realize is just because carbs and cardio aren't essential, doesn't mean they aren't necessary.
I am convinced that carbs should be unprocessed, cardio sessions short, and first place given to protein and resistance training. Protein and resistance training are the keys to form. Essential fats and mobility training are the keys to function. I believe that it is the right combination of carbs, cardio, protein, weights, fats, and flexibility which will unlock the form and function I seek.
Just because weight training is more important than cardio, it doesn't mean that I think cardio in unnecessary. In the same way neither should the fact that the Bible states that physical training is of some value, should it be taken to mean that physical training is unnecessary. Cleary the spirit is most important, but I think it is a huge error to use the Scripture below to justify neglecting the physical training the body requires.
Fact is the body must be trained with weights, or gravity and time will leave you weak and frail. Even more necessary is spiritual training. Train the body with weights, and train the thoughts with faith. The thoughts must be trained with faith, or feelings will control you like an undisciplined 2 year-old who throws a temper tantrum every time you go to the grocery store.
Going to go practice what I preach now. Going to get in a HIIT session to balance out the heavy lifting I did in the gym yesterday. May God bless you with balance and peace.
1 Timothy 4:8
International Version (NIV)
8 For physical training is of some value,
but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present
life and the life to come.
I forgot the creatine powder in my post workout shake today. The tip is that creatine powder dissolves much better in hot water. I put my 5 gram dose in a cup of hot green tea. Creatine powder is unflavored, and the green tea doesn't need a sweetener. Just an enjoyable cup of nothing but good stuff.
Edit: Now that I think about it, I should have added a little honey to cause an insulin spike. The creatine is absorbed much better with an insulin spike.
I was packing up in the gym locker room when this guy walks in talking on his cell phone. I heard him say "yeah, I just got to the gym. I'm trying to stay young." This had me thinking about why I train. I compete, but that's not why I train. I trained before I ever competed, and I plan to continue to train just as long as the Lord allows me too after I stop completing. To stay young seems like such a vain pursuit that it can only end in a plastic surgeon's office for those who can't let it go. I'm not training to stay young, I'm training to get older without getting old.
Is that even possible? It really depends on how you define old. In my mind, old has little to do with your chronological age. I completed in a contest a couple of weeks ago that had some competitors in their 60s and 70s that weren't old. It is the accumulation of years of bad lifestyle choices that lead to poor health that makes us old. Old goes to the nursing home, not to the gym. Old goes to the hospital to have a procedure, not to a bodybuilding contest to compete. It is so easy to get all wrapped up chasing trophies and bodyfat percentages that we forget about the ultimate prize: staying healthy, functional, and fit as we get older.
I've been called a lot of things in my life. Crazy, weird, and strange are the ones I remember being called most frequently. Even my wife, who probably knows me better than any other person alive, calls me "special" with this strange little smile on her face. A couple of days ago, I received an email from a dear friend that I haven't heard from in at least 30 years. She said her sister asked her if I was still crazy. I must admit, at the time I knew them I was just a nappy headed little boy lost in the woods. My friends dubbed me with the nickname "Zap," which was short for "zapped out." I'm still not too sure what that was suppose to mean. Anyway, my friend told her sister that she would probably still consider me crazy, but she went on to tell me that she has always considered me to be passionately focused. Wow, that has got to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me!
It got me thinking about what's the difference between crazy and passionately focused? Or the difference between being obsessed and being goal oriented? I have concluded that the difference is in the worth of the object of focus, or the value of the desired goal. If the object is unhealthy for body, mind, or spirit...that's crazy! If the goal is vanity, that's obsessive.
Keep it simple. Begin with the end in mind. Each day make any necessary course corrections, then focus on taking little steps in the direction of the desired end. Press on toward the goal for as long as necessary, and your desired destination will become your destiny. This is what I call being passionately focused.
I'm going back to the NPC, back to men's physique, and back to the Masters National Championship in the steel city. It's on baby. Put me in the game coach. Pass me the rock yo. I'm more determined than ever to slam this one home.
I completed in the 2014 INBF/WNBF Pro-Am Iron Eagle Natural Bodybuilding and Figure Classic this past weekend in Savannah, Georgia. It was a lot like a new pair of shoes for me. I thought I might like them when I saw them in the store. They seemed to fit okay after trying them on, but it wasn't until I really started walking around in them that I found out they didn't fit me at all. That pretty much sums up how I feel about competitive bodybuilding for me personally. I have removed all doubt with this contest. Under the category of competitive bodybuilding, there is now a big check mark next to "not for me."
I must admit that initially I was surprised and disappointed with the results. Now that I've had a little space since it took place, I'm now okay with it. If Job can trust the Lord even if the Lord crushes him (see Job 13:15), surely I can praise the Lord from where He placed me in this contest. The one thing I'm most amazed about, and give God all the glory for, is the fact that I was 20 pounds heavier than I was for this same contest last year. I was only 173 pounds last year. The morning of this show I was 193. I would probably have looked better at 190, but still that is a lot of beef to put on in only one year without drugs.
Are you waiting for God to speak to you from a burning bush? How reliable are English translations of the Holy Bible? What's wrong with spiritual procrastination?
My daughter had one of her friends over yesterday. Her friend came packing a bag of chips and soda with her. I explained to her that the 20oz. soda alone had 64 grams of sugar, and how she was literally drinking a bottle of sugar. She brushed it off with the comment "I love my Sprite." I've gotten similar comments from people of all ages. The more I think about it, the madder I get. Not at the little girl of course, but at those responsible for turning us into a generation of sugar junkies.
Who "they" are is not easy to identify, but I do know where to get the sugar fix they peddle. You can find it in the fast food joint on every street corner. You can find it by the cash register at every convenience store. You can find the mother load in that king of discount retail stores in every neighborhood. And you can find it in the cafeteria at our children's school. Sugar and sugar like chemical alternatives are everywhere. Hidden in just about everything, and most of us are strung out on it like any other drug addict who can't go a whole day without a fix.
It took about 150 years for Europe to recover from the black plague of the 14th century. Sadly, there is no end in sight for this white plague currently infecting us in the 21st century.
King James Version (KJV)
22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
Only 11 days out from the contest and I've been asking myself that question a lot this week. This will be my 10th trip to the stage. One thing that has been a consistent experience for me is the closer to the show date the more my mind wants to play tricks on me. The fact that pre-contest dieting and training are physically draining probably has a lot to do with it. Slinging weights with a belly full of carbs is one thing. Slinging the weights when glycogen levels are zeroed out before you even complete the warm up, is something totally different. The mind plays tricks on you. You start craving crazy food you won't normally even consider. Your emotions want to jump around like a boat load of monkeys fighting for a couple of bananas. It gets harder to get out of the bed in the morning.
This is only the beginning. As the show gets closer, everything from what you will wear, your music, your tan, your competition, everything at once will attempt to upset your calm. At least I don't have to worry about my hair and makeup.
Struggling to complete my workout today, I realized why I compete. I compete because I can. It is a God given opportunity to do something that a lot of people can't. An amazing thing happened after I this realization. I stopped feeling sorry about how lousy I was feeling, and started feeling grateful for just being able to get it done. I still felt lousy physically, but mentally it was no longer so difficult to deal with it.
It seems like ancient history when a parent's only concern was when to have "the talk" with their kids. The reality is that these days our kids are exposed to more information about sex long before we are ready to talk to them about it. It is no longer a matter of when to talk to them about "the birds and the bees," it is now necessary to tell them about the deceiving snakes and ravenous wolves set all about them.
The Internet is like a concentrated version of real life. A vast unfiltered world of some good, and enormous amounts of bad. The one thing that makes it so conducive for bad is the perceived ability to remain anonymous, and the very real ability to cloak oneself in whatever disguise desired. It is quite possible that the vilest of degenerates is sneaking into your daughter's bedroom every night right under your nose. I don't say this to scare you. Only that due diligence in monitoring your kid's Internet activities and interactions has become necessary as soon as they learn to open that portal to the whole wide world.
My wife found some very disturbing messages on my 13 year-old daughter's phone yesterday. Evidently the bait and hook these days is to call it "role playing" which sooner or later turns sexual. This has been going on for about a week. Unchecked and unseen by my wife and me. Nothing makes you regret every bad thing you have ever done to a women like the thought of having something similar or worst happen to your own daughter. To you fathers, I say protect your babies. They may not like you for it now, but they will love you for it later. To you young guys, I say be careful what you do to someone else's daughter. Don't be surprised when the pain you cause some father comes back on you when you are standing in his shoes.
After making her delete her social media accounts, taking away all her access devices for an as of yet undetermined amount of time, I once again talked to her about the dangerous realities of this world we live in. Then I sat her down and made her watch the below Youtude video with me.