a better life, accountability, asking questions, attitude, belief systems, better choices, change, change management, desire, dreams, Energy, Fitness, game of life, Goals, habits, hope, Imagination, responsibility, self improvement, you, your life

Everything starts with a thought.

Everything starts with a thought … I thought/dreamed/imagined being on the World Stage in natural bodybuilding 10 years before it became reality.
Belief in God and belief in myself helped me twice rank in the Top 5 in the world in my chosen sport.
No belief, nothing!
With your thoughts and energy channelled in the direction of your goal, don’t underestimate what you can achieve in ten years.
Vv.

We are told that mankind is living longer than ever before in our modern history. The question I like to ask is how much of this ‘extended life expectancy’ gives more joy, better quality of life? Or is it fuelled by the ever-increasing reliance on the many drug stores opening up around the place selling and hooking people on to the scores of products that are supposed to help people. Supposed to help people eliminate ailments such as stomach aches, relieve heart burn, stop diarrhoea, cure headaches, lose weight, overcome skin problems, bad breath, hypertension and fatigue. You name it – there is a drug that will ‘fix’ the problem.

Is this what the human race has evolved to? Is this how far we have come as a race, even after all the scientific and medical progress that has been made in the last fifty years? I wonder, sometimes, how we came to be the way we are now? When I take a long hard look around, I am not impressed. I heard on the news or radio recently, that for the first time in mankind’s history, the current younger generations are more likely to die before their parents do. This is very sad if you asked me.

Statistically, children – yours maybe, will not live to the age of their parents (you) will likely live, simply because of their inactive lifestyles and poor eating habits.

Here’s what I have learned after close to twenty five years of training and living a lifestyle of a natural bodybuilder: Good health and good intellect are the two greatest blessing in life. If you are born with health, as most of us have, you have one of the most important life-enhancing traits within you – HOPE! If you have hope, you have everything and you can quote me on this.

When people lose hope, they lose the will to live.

The essence of life is: vitality, the life-force of life!

Without health, where is the joy in life, I ask you? I have found that maybe due to the pressures of ‘the way things have always been done in the past’, everyone is forced in to doing things that they have been brainwashed to thinking they should do. People work very hard in whatever profession they find themselves in and try to know everything there is to know about the subject. They become ‘experts’ in their area of expertise. All for the purpose of making money, commonly making the mistake of thinking money is everything – the be-all and end-all!

Many strive to be experts at everything else external, and yet are not experts at the most important thing: themselves.

This is where I beg to differ on all levels – from the philosophical all the way to the practical. Money and the hunger for more and more of it at the expense of everything else is very unhealthy and leads to unwanted disaster, sooner or later. Unfortunately, many do just this to satisfy the insatiable desire to acquire valuables they have been brainwashed into thinking by marketers, they should get because it adds to them as a status symbol.

Remember this: there is no wealth like health. Your health and fitness are way more important. Wealth cannot buy health. Wealth without health is a mockery. The healthy labourer in my opinion is better than a sick millionaire.

But you can, you have a choice to do something about it. Not tomorrow, today – now!

Why? Because your life is the most valuable thing given to you. When you make the decision to prioritise YOU and your life, you have a change of thought. Everything begins with a thought. When you make that decision to help YOU and don’t take life for granted, you choose your health. And when you have health, you have that most elusive thing of life, that intangible thing that some people have, that thing that is the essence of life: vitality.

I think it was Samuel Johnson, the English literary genius that said –

“To preserve health, is a moral and religious duty, for health is the basis of all social virtues. We can longer be useful when not well.”

Great words. So true. Have you questioned how moral you have been to YOU?

I don’t care how old you are, it does not matter. Whether you are man or woman, tall or short, fat or thin, young or not so young, my advice from my heart, is I hope you generate the DESIRE TO CHANGE YOUR MIND – TODAY! Change your mind to help that person you see in the mirror, help him or her move towards the healthier, fitter person you imagine yourself to be.

Implant that desire with a thought, a thought to help the most important person in the world to you: YOU!

Here, Ex-Australian Rugby legend Phil Waugh using a ‘thumbless grip’ in a Smith Machine to do Bench Presses.
Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Look around us, it is estimated that all the knowledge accumulated in the 20,000 years to 2003 is doubled every two days since then. Information, technology and knowledge has increased exponentially and the combination of exercise/weight training and good nutrition is better understood than ever before. But why is the world suffering from an obesity epidemic? Well, I feel that, sadly, millions and millions of people are still not following a sensible path to ensure lifelong health and fitness.

People are creatures of habit and unfortunately it is more difficult to lose a ‘less-than-ideal (bad)’ habit then it is to adopt a good one. So much energy and effort is put in to hanging on to and justifying the need to retain a bad habit(s). If all that energy was transmuted in to focusing on and taking up good habit(s), we would have less preventable problems in the world.

Unfortunately, human beings are more reactive then proactive.

Why are millions not making the right choices given the knowledge and information available to them? A strong contributor is the increasing need for newer and modern technology and its use. These newer platforms of social media – facebook, twitter, text messaging, video games, increasing use of apps, all have one thing in common: they all encourage physical inactivity.

When I was growing up, I remember spending most of my waking hours after school with friends in the neighbourhood. We were always expanding physical energy with different games out on the streets.

Here’s another truth: what you eat today will be walking and talking on you tomorrow!

We’re all getting older by the second, yes, but some depreciate faster than others, mainly because of lifestyle choices. Today you may be relatively young but youth is always fading.

There are no guarantees in life, but if we choose well (health and fitness), we can live our days with healthy activities to get us near to perfect health, fitness and physique as possible.

If you have read this far, then it tells me that you are serious about making a change in your lifestyle. What I have always cared about with everyone that I have ever helped over the last two decades is their current physical condition and state of mind. This is exactly what I am concerned about with you, today.

To begin your change, your journey, you need to desire to change your mind as everything begins with a thought. But effort alone is not enough, you also need to dream, you need to liven up your imagination and set yourself some goals. What is a goal anyway? It is a dream with a deadline.

You need to sit back and take a few minutes out of your busy day and ask yourself if you’re worth it? Do you believe that your life is valuable enough so that the rest of your life (from this point on) could indeed be the best years. Can you picture, imagine your remaining days? Maybe you’re so busy in your daily life, you haven’t given it much thought.

One thing I have always been fascinated about is life but in particular – people. I am a watcher of people, always have been and always will observe others with burning curiosity.

Now, you may be asking yourself, okay Paul, where do I begin?

Well, you need to take stock of the most important thing you will rely on: your state of mind, in particular – your motivation. Being motivated is a wonderful gift and a lack of motivation is a hard nut to crack, so to speak!

Here’s what I tell most, if not all that have ever come to me for help: Find a quiet moment in a private room in your home that has a full length mirror. Lock the door and take all your clothes off. That’s right, everything. Now, just look at the image of you reflecting out of that full length mirror. Just stand there and don’t do anything but look. Absorb your full glory for 30 seconds. Don’t flex your arms or smile. Don’t even think about sucking in that gut. Relax that tummy and now….turn to the side. No sucking in, let it all hang out! Now, what do you see?

This is the REAL YOU! Happy?!

Need more motivation? Angry? Now, you have all the motivation you need. How could you let this happen to your body? You were born with the greatest gift of all: physical health.

Now, ask yourself this question: do you value YOU, do you value your life? Are you going to continue as you have to this point? Clogging your arteries, adding layers of fat to every part of your body, risking ill-health, aches and pains and an early grave – increasing your overall life risk?

Or … are you going to choose great health and fitness for the rest of your life?

Everything begins with a thought and where you end up in life, begins and ends in your thought.

Watch your thoughts. Choose well, my friend.

It’s your life, after all and the rest of your best years of your life depends on this choice.

All the very best in your choice.

 

Until next time,

Chris enjoying a well-deserved rest between sets.
A ‘set’ as I define it is: a continuous progression of 15 to 45 sec ‘focused moments’.
Effort + Focus + heart + visualization + simulation [Quality Plan + Quality Implementation] ===> Quality results.
Vv.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior, Tom Hanks interior.

With my trophy – doing the “Abdominal/Thigh” pose.
Top 5 Natural BodyBuilder in the world.

I love observing life and society and everything around me. I am a student of life. In recent years (last ten to fifteen years or so), I have noticed that men are forgetting or maybe do not know or are unsure of what it means to be a Man anymore.

A Real Man.

I have a few theories about how this has reached a growing and worrying societal problem now and for the future, but I won’t go in to that in this blog. No, I’m going to dance with the idea of what a Real Man is or should be.

What should the mark of a Real Man be?

Status in society? Richness in money? Accumulated financial wealth? Power? A tattoo, maybe? I’m sure you’ll have your opinion and definitions.

One word: GRIT.

I believe this is one characteristic of a Real Man. And a sub-set of this word Grit (along with resilience, unrelenting, solution-oriented etc), is simply “toughness”.

But it does not end there.

What is more important than toughness? It is exercising the RIGHT KIND of toughness. Anyone can be tough and we all are at various points in our lives but not many people can call on the right kind of toughness at the right time.

Now this takes skill, this takes effort and work and deliberate thinking and practise to get it right. Now, this characteristic is the foundation of a Real Man . It is the building blocks of what it means to be a Real Man.

It feeds in to his strength of character.

But that is only half of what a real man is.

The other fifty percent should be intimacy, gentleness. Don’t you think so?

Put together, you have what I refer to as a possible definition of a real man. He has an Arnold Schwarzenegger exterior (toughness) and a Tom Hanks (gentleness) interior.

How should we go about attaining these two qualities of a Real Man?

Well, I believe each man should strive for ‘balance’. Everything comes down to balance – internally and externally. So, every man should consciously strive for balance with both qualities.

Knowing when to be tough is as important as knowing when to be tender.

The wise man has the power of discernment and knows when to exercise either. The art in the dance through life is in developing this power of discernment towards balance.

Balance is achieved when a man stops trying to be someone else but the man that is truly reflected through the eyes he sees look back at him in the mirror. A man needs to just be himself and believe in the Holy Spirit or his inner-self, his Real Self and not be afraid to let him out. To let him be vulnerable.

The more vulnerable you become as a man through increased positive self-awareness, the more ‘Real’ you become. The closer you get to becoming more authentic, more of a Real Man.

A man cannot just choose Toughness and no tenderness or only choose to be gentle (and a gentleman) all the time and not be tough. No, this leads to confusion with his self and also with his woman and every person around him. Simply, because he is not clear on his role as a man and what it means to be a Real Man.

A Real Man is partly defined by having both these traits continuously intertwined in his daily life. At home and at work and play. It is a never-ending, dynamic complex fusion of chaos and order to produce something unique: the Real Man.

Being just tough results in a man being cold, distant, intolerant, unbearable and impatient. What we’ve all been brought up hearing society (mainly angry women) refer to “All Men are As#holes! “. Very unfair because not all men are like that.

But, being tough and tender brings about something different, something elusive. It makes a man appear closer to what I refer to as beauty.

And why do I say that?

Well, being tough AND tender … results in gentleness, thoughtfulness and being considerate. The man is more attuned to the principles of nature which is harmony.

Being tough and tender brings you closer to the elusive balance and symmetry of life. Brings you closer to what I refer to as ‘beauty’. I love formulas and mathematics so here is a little formula for you, based on my hypothesis of what a Real Man is:

Tough + Tender => Balance + Symmetry ==> Beauty!

So, all you men reading this, ask yourself if you can be beautiful. If you strive towards balance and symmetry in these two strengths of character – toughness and tenderness, you run the risk of being referred to as a ‘beautiful man’.

And why not, the word beautiful should not only be reserved for women, cars, sculptures and paintings and flowers. No, men too can be beautiful.

Being referred to as beautiful is worth the risk because I believe a beautiful man is a Real Man.

Work on your beauty and not be just a “Gentle-man” or “Tough-man”, no, work towards being a Beautiful-Man.

A Beautiful Man is A Real Man!

Until next time,

Explaining the principles of training within my programs.

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Giving Up.

Our Everests - giving up.

Our Everests – giving up.

Life is beautiful.

Life is fun. Life is still not totally comprehensible to any human being since the beginning of time.I have learned a lot from life in my first forty years so far. Some through other peoples’ experiences, most through my own.

We could exalt the many achievements of man-kind over the centuries – the many scientific discoveries, the search for other life in outer space, the journeys to un-chartered territories. And history shows that we have. It is normal for societies and civilizations document the achievements of man-kind and have done so since the beginning of time.

These all take time and planning and lots of effort and pain. Real pain.

I think it is beautiful but I also think that all these external representations of achievement pales in comparison to the achievement of continuous internal growth as a complete human being – emotionally, physically, intellectually and most importantly spiritually.

In my life so far, I have experienced a lot of pain. We all have. Pain in all forms – pain in the heart, pain in the body, pain in the soul. We have all experienced real pain in various degrees. Reminds us that life is beautiful but is also difficult. I believe that this is one of life’s greatest truths, that life is difficult.

The thing is that once we accept that this is truly a great truth, only then can we all transcend it, to rise above it, to another consciousness level. Once we truly understand and accept this truth, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

How beautiful is that? It doesn’t matter! But to get to that point, one needs to feel real pain to fully accept.

I have learned that most people, however, do not see this truth. Most people do not understand and accept that life is difficult. A lot of people moan more or less, to varying degrees of the enormity of their problems, their burdens as if life should be easy. They complain that their difficulties are unique to them, their families, their tribe, their nation.

They are disillusioned.

Like I said earlier, life is beautiful, yes. But, life is also difficult. Matter, of fact, I would go as far as giving one definition of life as – a continuous progression of problems and conflicts. Just like I define what a weights workout as – “a continuous progression of fifteen to forty five seconds focused moments.”

So, in essence, to get better at life, to become a better student of life, to get the most out of your one life – you need to become a better manager of problems, become better at conflict resolution.

But the most difficult part of our journey through life is simply – Giving up!

The arrival of my two children have increased my awareness of this most difficult task we all have, of giving up. Let me elaborate. ….

You see, just like most of you, I like winning. All my life, my desire to win had served me in good stead, for I have won many things. In my chosen sport for example, my desire to win has taken me all the way to being top five in the world natural bodybuilding for two consecutive years.

I play a lot of games with my two children. My children made me aware of the most difficult thing, the most difficult, the most painful thing I have ever and will ever experience. They taught me that the most painful experience we will have in our lives is in giving up, in letting go! Nothing else compares to this pain.

You see I have learned that my desire to win, my desire to win at all costs needs to be second to my desire to win at parenting, my desire to be a better parent. I have learned to ‘let go’ of my desire to win at the games I play with my children. I have taught myself to give up my desire to win at games. It has served me very well in my youth, but it does not serve me now. It is not relevant anymore.

However, my desire to become a better parent allows me to experience the pain of giving up.

I think this is an important part of being the best parent you can be. To allow yourself to learn to ‘give up’. I have accepted that this part of me is gone now. It died. It had to die. I killed it! I killed it with my greater desire to win at parenting, to become the best parent I can be as I journey through life.

My desire to win, to not give up had worked in my earlier phases of life but was not relevant now. As a parent, I recognized that it got in my way, it got in the way of my relationship with my children. So, it was a no-brainer, it had to go.

The times have changed. To move with them I had to give it up. I do not miss it. I thought I would but I don’t.

20141229_160325

I think this is one of the most difficult, the most painful tasks every one of us have to teach ourselves to do – to let go, to ‘kill’, to give up certain behaviours, certain beliefs, certain habits, certain desires. My children reminded and taught me that my greatest challenge in life is to give up part of myself, part of me.

But this reminder to give up applies to all areas of life as we negotiate the challenges and curve-balls life throws at us. I have seen it every day as part of what I do – seeing people give up habits that are not aligned with where they want to be. It takes a lot of courage to give up just one habit, let alone a belief or value that was appropriate as a child but no longer serves you.

It is not easy, matter of fact I would go as far as saying that giving up something that has been a part of you and that has contributed to the person that you are and have become is one of the most challenging and most difficult hurdles every human being faces.

Ask yourself, what are some things in your life right now in all areas that do not serve you as it once did (say, when you were under ten or in your teens or in your twenties etcetera) then give up one. Only one.

Give up the one thing that you consider the most difficult to give up.

Now, understand that you have taken one giant step towards continuous internal growth as a complete human being. An exercise that does not get external recognition, does not get any awards, a decision that does not get recorded in world history.

It is just one step but it is a step that has immense significance to the quality of your one life.

You will move forward. You will grow emotionally and spiritually. You will unburden yourself. You will achieve better balance in yourself, in your life. Balance after all is something which you, me and every human being alive is searching for.

This one step will help you in your search. All the very best in your decisions in your search for your truth.

 

Until next time,

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

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Your daily elevator ride.

Bodybuilding is not about how much weight you can lift. It is about creation and constant re-creation of a better YOU. It is about change and constantly embracing change.

Bodybuilding is not about how much weight you can lift.
It is about creation and constant re-creation of a better YOU.
It is about change and constantly embracing change.

Changeless change.

I like that phrase, something I have coined which means: to change within change – to have an effect of not changing. To remain constant for certain things in life. Certain things like – your values, your principles, your integrity, your dignity, your belief in the goodness of humanity for example.

We have been told that nothing stays the same, everything changes – we change and age, people around us change and age, nature changes, life changes. It seems that way for almost everything.

Change is good – for the most part.

I believe it is in every one of us – like a ‘worked’ muscle, we all have the desire to grow and develop into stronger, more powerful versions of ourselves, in essence – to change. It is in every one of us, the desire to prosper, to become better and strive to find the elusive happiness while we are here on this beautiful earth.

However, making the decision to change for the better can be very hard. Matter of fact, it could be just like having your daily elevator ride – mentally. It seems that we can consciously work towards moving ourselves upwards to a better place with our thoughts and actions and then, bam!

Some thoughtless person in your life keeps pushing the ‘down button’ and then your mental elevator ride lets gravity take you down. Sometimes, at speed. It can be a constant daily battle in your head. Even when you’re physically still, you’re having your daily elevator ride.

Don’t give up, don’t despair. Keep pressing the ‘up button’ and aim for the top – your version of the top. There will always be negative people everywhere, there will always be nay-sayers, and is just a part of life.

Part of what I do is help people become better versions of themselves – physically, emotionally and spiritually and am very successful at it for over two decades now.

"Back Double Biceps" in the heat of competition! Change from the gym to the stage is quite significant with management of key variables being extremely important. Placing: 2nd in Australia

“Back Double Biceps” in the heat of competition! Change from the gym to the stage is quite significant with management of key variables being extremely important.
Placing: 2nd in Australia

I’ve always believed that it takes a lot of courage and discipline and strength to say ‘no’ to foods and drinks at your mouth, foods that are less than ideal. Saying no is one of, if not the highest form of self-respect. Yes, that is real courage but I believe that it takes a lot more courage and discipline and strength to stand guard and protect the doorway of your mind.

This is the most important protective measure you can adopt – to stand guard to your mind, to stand guard to the doorway of possibilities. To protect the doorway to your potential.

Most of us have a protective side, I know I do. I’ve been told that I am very protective over my wife and my two children. I’m sure you’re very protective of your loved ones too. I don’t blame you.

However, I believe, before you can truly protect others, you need to protect yourself, in particular, you’ve got to stand guard and protect your mind – from negative people who press the ‘down button’ in your daily elevator ride.

So, keep moving – up, whatever gradient you’re travelling at! Keep changing for the better to be the best you can be – for you, first, then for everyone else like I tell my children almost daily. Remember, we never completely stand still, we’re either moving and progressing towards how we imagine ourselves to be or we regress to our former self.

Whichever direction you take, remember that you only have one life and ultimately, you’re responsible for everything – the questions that you ask and all the answers that you get, the incomplete information of which you will base your life decisions on.

To achieve goals in any endeavour, most people would say you need two key ingredients:

  1. Plan
  2. Implementation

I disagree. You need to precede those two ingredients above with the word – “Quality”. Yes, my formula is:

“Quality Plan + Quality Implementation => Quality Result (Goals Achievement)”

Quality Plan + Quality Implementation allowed Team Valentine (my wife & I) to beat the best in the sport here in Australia and stand on the stage against the best in the World.

Quality Plan + Quality Implementation allowed Team Valentine (my wife & I) to beat the best in the sport of Natural Bodybuilding, here in Australia and stand on the stage against the best in the World, placing in the Top 5 two years in a row.

To get these two key ingredients, every person should go through three stages of development:

  1. Increased Awareness
  2. Developing Actions (sufficient and appropriate)
  3. Continuously Adapt (using a self-adaptive/self-tuning habit)

It is quite a complex process but as you can see above, I have attempted to simplify the complex. Ultimately I simplify to Amplify. Every journey of change, begins with a single step towards your destination.

Try adopting my “Triple A Framework”  (above) to self-development/change.

While you’re on your journey towards your best self or any worthwhile project, continuously stand guard to the doorway of your mind. Always. Be the best bouncer/doorman to the club that is your mind you can be and don’t let ‘potential threats’ in to the club in the first place.

Get better at managing your funnel better. As someone once said – “the business of life is not business, it is about learning how to live”. Become the best student of life you can be and learn how to live better. Learn how to better filter out people and activities that do not add value to your life but instead continue to press the ‘down button’ as you travel in your daily elevator ride.

That way you can enjoy your daily elevator ride and have more movements upwards than downwards and live a life filled with celebrations (of success through failures and experiences), not collections (of material possessions).

 

Until next time,

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships - New York, USA. Standing with middle-weight (my category) and overall World Champion. Me - 4th placed in the world Competitor beside me - 1st place and World champion Right: My Team Partner and wife - Cathy.

World Natural Bodybuilding Championships – New York, USA.
Standing backstage with middle-weight (my category) and overall World Champion.
Left: Me – ranked 4th in the world
Right: My Team Partner and wife – Cathy.

Abdominal/thigh pose with the top 2 Natural Bodybuilders in the world in 2007.

Abdominal/thigh pose with the top 2 Natural Bodybuilders in the world in 2007.

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Learn to be more coachable.

Learn the basics of exercise in the gym. Learn to be more coachable - learn the rules so you know how to use them better in the future. This applies to most rules in life. Vv.

Learn the basics of exercise in the gym. Learn to be more coachable – learn the rules so you know how to use them better in the future. This applies to most rules in life.
Vv.

My gym experience has taught me a lot about people, about human nature. I love observing human behaviour in action, it fascinates me.

As most of you would agree, there is no doubt that people are different. We are all different and unique but we also are more alike than we like to think. We are all wired differently and that wiring lends itself to certain skills, environments and roles rather than other skills, environments and roles.

Some people find it very difficult to change. Some people need to learn to be more coachable, if they are to achieve their full potential and avoid some of the mistakes other people and previous generations have made.

There was this member of the gym I used to own for a number of years that was very stuck in his ways of training. I always tried questioning him on why he did things the way he did and he was very inflexible to learning something different. An alternative.

His reason: he had been training with weights for longer than me and he didn’t have anything to learn. Fair enough. I did not want to force him to stop doing harm to himself but I felt it was my role and duty of care to point out the potential risks he was putting himself and others in the gym, now and in to the future.

This a story about how too much of a good thing can be bad for you and relates to one particular exercise: the wide chin-up exercise.

Let’s call this individual “Dave”.

You see, he loved doing chin-ups. Some of you may know it as ‘pull-ups’. He loved it so much he did it every time he came to the gym for his ‘session’. He came to the gym about four times per week. He really loved doing very wide chin-ups and prided himself on lifting an additional 40kg dumbbell hanging from his waist for reps. He was certainly strong. He was very dedicated.

The one major drawback with his weight-training sessions was the fact that he loved doing chin-ups so much. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a favourite exercise and this exercise is a great one.

Learn the rules of life. Learn the rules of training in the gym. Learn to be more coachable to manage your 'risk:benefit ratio' in life. Vv.

Learn the rules of life. Learn the rules of training in the gym. Learn to be more coachable to manage your ‘risk:benefit ratio’ in life.
Vv.

However, one should always be aware of doing that particular activity too often as it increases one’s risk of injury. And this is exactly what happened to our poor friend Dave. As we have all been told over the years – “too much of a good thing can be bad for you”.

I had a great chin-up bar. Matter-of-fact, I had another installed beside the original just because men had different size hands and preferred varying grips. It was a winner – for Dave and for every other enthusiast.

At the very start of his relationship with me, I gave him a piece of advice regarding his training regime that was rejected stubbornly every year for five years, before his accident.

Yes, he did have an accident.

My piece of advice was: don’t overdo an exercise.

I told him that he should probably cut back on the frequency of his chin-ups (doing it every day, every week for the whole year) to consider doing it in one workout every fortnight, that he should consider doing the many other exercise options available that would target the same muscles that chin-ups did but with minimal risk to his joints.

Minimising potential risks to his tendons and ligaments around the elbow joints. I basically tried to tell him to give his joints more rest and recovery, which in turn would probably see him spur on more muscle growth than what he was used to.

I suggested the traditional “Lat Pull-down” machine. A perfect alternative and there were a few ways of doing this exercise too.

That was unacceptable to him. Period!

He said that only ‘sissies’ did the exercise. I couldn’t believe he said that, calling everyone who ever did machine lat pull-downs a ‘sissy’, including me! I reminded him of some of the best backs built over time due partly to machine lat pull-downs. They used the machine lat pull-downs religiously!

He didn’t want to hear it. He was happy doing what he was doing and had been doing all his life. We went through this same conversation at least once every year. Me warning him about the excessive nature of his exercise choice of chin-ups and the damage he was potentially doing to his elbows further down the track.

Dave wasn’t open to other ideas, he did not want to be coached.

Anyway, in his fifth year of training in my gym, Dave went missing from the gym for about a month. I called up to see if he was ok like I did for anyone of the hundreds of members that I didn’t see for more than four weeks.

He returned to see me in the gym the next day.

Just like any activity, understand and always assess the risk of any exercise you do in the gym. Vv.

Just like any activity, understand and always assess the risk of any exercise you do in the gym.
Vv.

He wasn’t able to train in the gym, in particular he couldn’t use his arms without experiencing excruciating pain through the elbows. All pushing and pulling movements were no longer possible. He basically couldn’t train and he wasn’t coping with this lack of activity very well and didn’t know what to do.

Dave felt a little embarrassed and admitted it was one of the biggest training mistakes he had ever made – not listening to my little piece of advice over the previous five years. The high risk of injury I had made him aware of every year for five years had manifested and now he couldn’t do the exercise he loved to do but even worse, he also couldn’t train. Period!

He was a mess. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. He needed help.

I sat him down and let him rest his head on my shoulder. I said it was alright to cry. All grown men have a license to cry. He did just that.

I told him to forget about the past but to learn from it. I gave him two options to help him make his way back to where he was but I needed him to listen and let go of prior beliefs regarding training.

He needed to set new beliefs. He needed to understand and introduce a new paradigm. He needed to learn to be more coachable and unlearn some irrelevant old habits. He was going to have to accept the guy that looked back at him in the mirror now – not twenty years ago in his youth.

He needed to be agreeable. Kinder to himself. He needed to love himself more.

He did.

He learned to do this after almost twenty five years of training in the gym. Yes, he was training and gaining a lot of ‘experience’ but it was not getting him anywhere. He was just getting more and more experience of getting it wrong.

Not good. He trained mainly with his ego and did not leave it at the door each time he walked in to the gym. Does not get you anywhere and generally leads to disaster as his case showed.

I devised a plan of recovery for him and he got back the use of his arms, particularly his elbows. As the pain sub-sided and he started exercising after a little while, his whole demeanour and life improved.

As you know, ‘knowing is one thing, doing is another.’ A wise man once told me that ‘elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do!”. It really does apply in this case and in many things in life, where too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

Dave did not take care of the mozzies (like the frequency of performing the exercise) and as a result, the compound effect of incorrect technique combined with unnecessary frequency leads to unwanted joint injury.

The message in this story could apply to all areas of life where too much of a good thing (chin-ups for Dave) can be bad for you. Dave learned the hard way and didn’t want to learn from other people’s experience. He didn’t allow himself to be coached. It takes courage to understand your faults but it takes even more courage to make changes to help prevent a huge mis-hap later.

Life is short. There are rules in the gym and gym training, just like there are rules of life. Learn the rules, so that in time you can have the wisdom to discern what is relevant and not.

Live life with quality and integrity and live it to the fullest. Know yourself and be true to yourself.

Have fun with your workouts and have fun with life.

 

Until next time,

In body re-engineering, fast improvements are the result of excellent feedback from excellent coaches. Here, constant examination of my physique by my coach (and 2 x World Natural Body Building Champion) allowed me to reach my peak performance and placing 2nd in Australian Titles. Learn to be more coachable to achieve your best in whatever area of life. Vv.

In body re-engineering, fast improvements are the result of excellent feedback from excellent coaches.
Here, constant examination of my physique by my coach (and 2 x World Natural Body Building Champion) allowed me to reach my peak performance and placing 2nd in Australian Titles.
Learn to be more coachable to achieve your best in whatever area of life.
Vv.

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a better life, adaptation, attitude, authenticness, awareness, Beliefs, better choices, change, choices, courage, decisions, Energy, examined life, God, habits, life, love, no, respect, self-respect, taking action, you

The greatest expression of self-respect.

Say no. Vv.

Say no.
Vv.

The first twenty years of my life was a little more difficult than the second twenty years of my life and it was partly because of one little thing, one little ‘mosquito’.

That little mosquito I am referring to is the inability to say ‘no’. Sometimes, when left to grow, that little “mozzie” (Australian lingo for mosquito) can become huge problems like dengue fever or even the deadly malaria which has been responsible for more deaths than all the deaths caused by wars since the beginning of the world.

The ability to know when to and actually say ‘no’ is, I believe, the greatest expression of self-respect.

It reminds me of what a great wise eighty five year old friend of mine said to me before he died about four years ago, that –

“elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do.”  Or in other words – Little things matter. So true, indeed.

What about you? Think about your life to this point. Did you suffer from this too? If you still do, you’re not alone because I believe that a large proportion of humans in the world still cannot get this “mosquito problem” under control.

For me, in those first twenty years of my life, not being able to say no sometimes felt akin to a dog chasing its tail, never getting anywhere and not knowing where the start and end of everything was. I strived to please everybody and their requests and was constantly disappointed.

It was hard – very hard. Until one day, I came to the realisation that you cannot please everyone and not everyone will agree with you and that is ok. Increased awareness is one very important step and then taking appropriate and sufficient action, finally leading you to adapting you or your environment or a combination of both.

I had a simple but significant change in philosophy. or the way I saw life and how life operates.

I realised that you don’t owe anything to anyone in life except one thing: love. And, contrary to what some believe, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to say no to someone else’s request or simply saying no to an internal request – a want you need to immediately gratify. Self-control from or delayed satisfaction for oneself with regards to wants, is the greatest expression of self-respect you can give yourself.

An indication that you genuinely love the person who see looking back at you when you look at yourself in the mirror – you!

It is quite interesting but that is one of the most underrated traits in this world – simply, the power and strength to say ‘no’.

Saying 'no' to the maxim "No pain, no gain" could be one of the best things you can do for your joints and longevity in the gym. Choose your exercise and exercise execution wisely. More is not necessarily better. Vv.

Saying ‘no’ to the maxim “No pain, no gain” could be one of the best things you can do for your joints and longevity in the gym.
Choose your exercise and exercise execution wisely.
More is not necessarily better.
Vv.

The power to say no is empowering. The power to say no is so great, I have literally seen it make the impossible – possible in the lives of many people I have helped. The power to say no allows individuals to create their own miracles, to release the champion that rests dormant within them.

I have witnessed it, it is amazing – the power to say no is a miracle waiting to happen! You don’t have to climb Mount Everest to feel on top of the world. No, the feeling you get when you say no is even better, more profound, because each and every uttering of no, builds your ability climb all the internal mountain climbs you face in your life.

Mountains you will get to the top of. If I remember correctly I think it was Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest that put it:

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

This is something that I request from and re-enforce with everyone that I have helped over the years. The ability to summon courage to start saying ‘no’ again within their re-engineering programs. I encourage each of them to say no to some of the excesses of life that they may have been used to experiencing to that point in their lives. I encourage them to say no to excuses.

I know it seems counter-intuitive to deprive yourself of what you desire to get what you ultimately desire but it is vitally important to achieving goals you place a high priority on. Even a little no with conviction is far better than a lame, weak ‘yes’. It takes a lot of courage to say no.

“Saying no to help you, help yourself, get what you care about, to get what you want!” is what I say to my students.

Saying no to self-limiting beliefs, thought patterns, words, actions, habits and character traits that are not aligned with their ultimate goal of how they ‘imagine themselves to be’ in the mirror. This is where the real struggles of real people in everyday living rests. This is where true grit is required. This is where you climb the many mountains towards success.

Why? Because it is often a whole lot easier not to do the simple things, the simple things – the little mozzies – like saying no! Just like many other mozzies in life, the little things that are important to do are also easy not to do, so a lot of people don’t do them for whatever reasons or fears.

Saying no empowers you to successfully climb the internal obstacles, the internal self-created mountains and get to the ‘other side’. This is not a genetic trait, nor one of talent. This is just sheer grit!

To overcome temptation, to say no to habits that you have indulged in for a big chunk of your life is a true sign of self-respect. Saying no allows you to use your 86,400 seconds in a day more productively and manage your energy better.

Like I said, I believe, the ‘no’ answer is perhaps the greatest expression of self-respect and ultimate representation of human dignity there is.  Your attitude is key to your destiny in life as it determines the actions you take (good or bad) . Ultimately, this all flows from you philosophy once again. What is the opposite of self-respect? Well, choosing to live a life of insignificance.

So, be brave and summon the courage that rests within you and proudly announce to the world ‘no!’ No to things, people and activities that do not help align you towards you being your best. No to things, people and activities that bring you down rather than elevate you. No to the naysayers.

If there is one very important habit that you can do for yourself is this little habit of saying no again. Don’t be afraid. Just do it! Remember, knowing what to do isn’t the same as doing it.

Say NO. Release the champion within you!

Start loving yourself a little more each time you say no. Don’t just live your life, consider living your life with the greatest expression of self-respect and say no.

To be alive and live is a gift so, consider living your life with the highest expression of human dignity there is and say no, when appropriate and relevant. Being able to say no without regret also allows you to say yes with confidence. Yes, what you do matters, but I think what you think and say to yourself matters too – I believe, even more so.

Think about it: what I have been speaking about comes full circle – what you think determines the source of attitudes, which is your philosophy.

As the great thinker Aristotle said –

 “Where we are free to act,

We are also free to refrain from acting,

And where we are able to say No,

We are also able to say yes.”

All the very best to you in your life choices. Remember, if you want to change what’s happening in your life, change your philosophy or how you see things. It is not some huge task but simply comes down to – you guessed it – small (mozzie) steps.

Little steps, compounded over time, do make a difference. this is real magic. That the little things you do every single day – the little things that don’t look dramatic, that don’t even look like they matter – DO MATTER!

Little things (like saying no) matters.

Dream. Decide. Do.

 

Until next time,

Side triceps pose. Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles. Placing: 2nd. Saying "no" has allowed me to choose exercises wisely and understand that quality training is more important than quantity when it comes to getting quality results.

Side triceps pose.
Contest: Australian Natural Bodybuilding Titles.
Placing: 2nd.
Saying “no” has allowed me to choose actions which in turn became habits that allowed me to build one of the best natural physiques in the world.

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Adam needed Eve.

My son and I. Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life. Choose to make it.

My son and I.
Time with your children will be one of the most important investments you will ever make in your life.
Choose to make it.

Not sure what you remember about the start of the greatest stories that were ever told but I do remember the story of the creation. Matter of fact my kids pick a story each night before bed from the bible and inevitably, they choose the story of the garden of eden at least once a month.

Adam and Eve was part of this creation story.

Most of you will know that.

One version of the beginning of life as we know it involved a man and a woman, created by God. Adam, on his own, I believe would not have worked. It may have lasted short-term at best. You and I may not have come in to existence.

It is evident Adam needed Eve!

Operating alone in life is a little unnatural. What do you think? Wasn’t there a philosopher that stated once that –

“no man is an island”. There is some truth in this.

Okay, your definition of what is natural and unnatural may be different to mine and that is fine.

I think that is how most of life should be operated – a collaboration between a man and woman, between men and women, whether it be in the corporate world on in every-day life. However, it appears that most of life has been structured in such a way that it is biased to the comfort and convenience of men.

Made for men. By men.

But I believe that the system that has worked for centuries – a system that was and has been dictated by men, for the convenience of men, may become extinct in the near future. The industrial age, the one that established our schooling, our work day, our economy and our expectations and dreams is dying.

I believe it is dying but it dying faster than you and I think but there is evidence all around us of this funeral. Look around at the various industries – the music industry, the media outlets, newspapers and journalism to name a few.

And I think that is a good thing for man-kind.

The system and protocols set up for society, for the convenience and comfort of men, whilst excellent for the Industrial Era is not appropriate for now and the future.

My son made me aware of this not too long ago.

You see, we tried to get him to go to early music lessons taught by one of the Sydney (and Australia’s) best early child-hood music teachers when he was about 3. Turned out, he was a very different child in those classes. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t reason with him.

From the moment he entered that room, he took on a different personality – a very difficult personality. I felt that the room somehow triggered this abnormal behaviour. You see, Zachary is a little bit of a ‘stirrer’ by nature but this half hour of music was very difficult for either Cathy, my wife or me. We tried many things to manage his behaviour but nothing seemed to work.

I thought deeply about why this was happening because it only seemed to happen in that class.

Then it dawned on me that he felt reminded too much that he was a ‘kid’ when he was in those classes. The games and some of the activities were too ‘kid-like’ if you know what I mean and Zachary didn’t like to be treated like a ‘kid’. Even I felt like a kid when I was in those classes!

Because we refer to and treat Zachary like an individual and not like a ‘kid’, he expected to be treated like an individual. You see, from what he has observed in his short life so far, he loves everything about being an adult – doing work with me around the house like an adult, wearing my adult shoes, going shopping like an adult and being spoken to like an adult or at least an older child.

The Result: he behaves like an adult! Zachary likes being treated like a man or a grown-up boy. And I have to say that Olivia, my daughter loves to be treated like an older girl too. And those music classes did exactly the opposite.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other. Choose to spend time with your kids, not 'quality time'.

My kids and I with Ruby the Dog. They just adore each other.
Choose to spend time with your kids, not ‘quality time’.

So, it got me thinking about life and society in general.

Everything seems to be geared to the adults, isn’t it? Actually – most of life, matter of fact almost everything you can think of, for a very long time now has been organized for the convenience of adults, in particular – the comfort and suitability to men!

Give it some thought and let it sink in …

Work hours is structured that way and has been like that for centuries. The hours set is very suitable for men, isn’t it? The system of the industrial era allows one to have a ‘work-home-from-home’ that conveniently makes men unavailable at home for forty to eighty hours.

And when are these hours structured? During those moments at home where help is needed most. Those waking hours, where men are needed for cleaning, cooking and caring for children. Your children! So, the system still predominantly excludes one person from the ‘work-home’ and who do you think that is?

There are no prizes for guessing who that person is!

Yes, it is the woman. The mum. The female that is representing “EVE”. This is still the majority of cases in today’s world.

The question I ask is ‘why?!’ It is a choice after all, a choice every man, every woman, every family has to make. No one is going to ask you to make that choice for you. Be brave and make it yourself! Its not about whether you have what it takes; it’s about whether you choose to pursue it. Of course it is difficult to overcome a lifetime of education (and brainwashing). New habits will have to be created, and new dreams/expectations to go with them.

I believe with the exponential growth of technology and the embracing of more balanced philosophies, it is not necessary that individuals (particularly men) should be locked away in office places at the same time for hours a day.

What do you think?

I don’t think it is healthy for one thing. It is not necessary to be in the same vicinity as all your office colleagues every day of the week. You can be just as productive if not more, if you focused on what you were paid to do in the convenience of your own home. When will society realize that a lot of that ‘office time’, whilst relevant for the previous industrial era, is not necessary now and was put in place mainly for the convenience and needs of men.

It would be highly likely that ‘hours at work’ would have been very different today if it was us, men, who had to also run a home, clean, cook and take and pick up kids from school. It is not easy, believe me, it isn’t. But I believe it is a necessary and arguably the most important investment a man can make in his life: Time (not ‘quality time’) with his kids and home-life.

My children - Olivia and Zachary striking a 'front double-biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

My children – Olivia and Zachary striking a ‘front double-biceps’ pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

More of society, more of life should be geared toward the ‘Eve’ of the relationship.

More should be given to the woman. More should be given for the woman’s comfort, for her convenience.

More of society should be organized from a woman’s point-of-view, with more love, more care, more compassion, more flexibility. More importantly, more control over where and when one does one’s work.

There should be more personal responsibility and less ‘looking-over-your-shoulder’ work environments that still exists in many industries and in particular, the corporate world, where grown-ups are still made to feel like children in an ‘adult-like’ environment. How suffocating is that?!

How can grown adults be expected to work productively and do what is expected of an responsible adult if they are meant to feel like a ‘kid’ when at work because of the old-fashioned culture still in existence?

Over a hundred years of indoctrination of industrialism has changed the way we dream. The industrialist needs you to dream of security and the benefits of compliance. The industrialist works to sell you on a cycle of consumption (which requires more compliance) and the industrialist benefits of moving up the corporate ladder – his ladder!

But the society now is very different to what it was a millennia ago. Times have changed dramatically.

I believe that this is what society wants more of – a more balanced, more equal approach to life in all areas for both real men and women. And I also believe that this is what most men reading this and out there wants too. The winds of change has already been happening. Men and women are moving towards more of a “Adam and Eve” relationship and I believe it is very healthy and is necessary for this period in history.

If you are already in such a relationship, you are blessed.

Organizations need women more and more and should start changing archaic systems that are no longer relevant in today’s world. Women provide the balance to men, the balance that men need. This should be reflected in all areas of life – a genuine Adam and Eve approach. An approach that respects the importance and power of connection – between human beings, in particular the equal time-sharing both parents have in raising their children.

It began that way many, many years ago in beautiful story-telling about a garden of Eden – with Adam and Eve. We, society, need to return to this but this time with the understanding that Adam needed Eve. 

I am blessed I have my Eve – my wife, with equal Captaincy on our ship in the journey through our sea of life. I know I need my wife like Adam needed Eve.

Here’s hope to a better future … by turning back to the future.

All the best for 2016!

 

Until next time,

Me and my children - carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Me and my children – carriers of my genes. A taste of immortality for me.

Find what you love to do. Then, go do it!

Find what you love to do.
Then, go do it!

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