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Social Media has ruined the idea of what a ‘Friend” is, it seems – forever.

Me (extreme left) with some of my gym friends/pals. The good old days where a gym was also a place for social interaction (as almost no one wore earphones) and loads and loads of fun.
I owned and managed a Family Gym for about seven years in the recent past. I saw every member of my gym as an extended family relation with me. I ran my gym business like a family and treated everyone like so. They always knew that I was happy that they came and I knew everyone’s name. Made wonderful, genuine friends. What an amazing phase of life that was for me … in leading the ship that was my gym.

How would you define a friend? How do you define friendship?

I’m sure each and every one of us can define friendship or a friend in many ways and they would most often be described in relation to the actions he or she takes with the person or persons.

How would you define what a ‘true friend’ is for you? Do you have friends? What kind of friends? Is Jesus your friend (if you’re a Christian)? Does God call you his friend? What kind of friends do you have? Are you cautious? Are you careful? Are you committed and candid? These are qualities we need to have in true friendship, true friends. Are your real friends luxuries or necessities? How many do you have? What do you think?

What Social Media really ruined is the word “Friend” and all the meanings behind it. We’re now calling anyone a “Friend” without even seeing them or knowing them. Just because they request ‘friend’ from you. I mean would you really talk to everyone in your street and call them your ‘friend?’

No, I didn’t think so.

Happy times in my gym with friends. We had loads of fun … & had time to build muscle too. Some challenging but good times they were.

So, why do you think social media is any different?

Virtual, imaginary (does not apply to Jesus or God) & fake friends …  they’ll never back you up or support you or be real to you.

They’ll give you fancy names & say nice things “online” but still they’re not real. Even when you meet some of them in real life, they turn out to be a huge disappointment & yes I can’t say all of them… but most of them!

To me there is now a ‘grey’ area with how people define friend and acquaintance. What would be considered an acquaintance prior to social media is now grouped under the name ‘friends.’

Not good. Not realistic.

It’s like defining what is ‘good’ and saying that everything that is good is actually good, when it may not be. May be not as good and so could be classed as ‘bad.’ Anyways, you know what I mean, I don’t want to give an example that is not very applicable.

I know a lot of people have many friends, some hundreds, some hundreds of thousands and even millions for some World Famous Stars. But for what purpose? It is great for marketing and selling products to certain tribes and their targeted tribe/audience. Business, I understand.

I don’t have many ‘friends’ on social media.

I choose to do so.

This may be because my definition of a friend differs to many others. I’m sort of ‘old-school’ in that way. I’ve got a few friends for 40 years (started friendship in kindergarten) and a few more from 30 years ago (Primary School friends) and quite a few in the last 20 years. Then, a few in the last ten years.

Friends, they are truly amazing.

I’ve got some friends that have many friends. Some have thousands of friends actually, according to social media, and wonderful for them. But… is it possible that every day brings forth a new proof that most of them are not real.

Zero conversation, zero support, zero common interest & zero giving a fuck.

We need to get back to the real meaning of the word “Friends” and wake up to smell the coffee and separate the real from the fake.

Friends from my gym grabbing a bite for dinner. We all need to make sure that we feed those hard-working muscles now. Apply stimulus (weight training), eat adequate nutrition, get quality rest. Repeat. Grow.

We need to adopt some ‘old school’ definitions to some important aspects of human relationships. Definitions that still apply today. Definitions that confirm that what is at stake here and what we are talking about here is not a relationship between computers or other forms of technology.

No!

What we are trying to save or bring back again is the old-fashioned values and principles that are the foundations of human relationships and true friendship or friends is one of them.

So, ask yourself, how many friends do you have? How many real friends, that is. It is important to have friends, yes. Friends listen to what you say and allow you to be yourself. Really good friends also listen to what you ‘don’t say’.

Wisdom can be said to be the power or ability of discernment.

Please apply.

Maybe social media has ruined the idea of a friend forever, maybe it hasn’t. Time will tell I guess but the other question to ask is what else is social media changing at such never before seen pace? What is social media damaging in human relationships that has taken centuries to develop? Are the short-term benefit of accepting this change (simply because it is ‘new technology”) better than the the long-term costs to human relationships? Who has done the ‘risk:benefit ratio’ test on these changes to relationships and societies in general?

I wonder?

We are going through a very interesting phase/era of life of unprecedented change. More has changed in the last 50 years than there has in the last 200 years. But should the pace of change of technology be mimicked in other areas of our existence? I’m not sure that is good or ideal. It will bring more harm than good.

It is highly likely the changes we have seen and the pace of change will continue to happen. But at what cost, I wonder? It has already sneaked in under our noses and changed the way we view a very big and important aspect of our individual lives: a friend.

What else is changing ‘under our noses’ that we are not aware of because we are ‘too busy’ trying to exist and coming to grips with the pace of change as it is? I wonder? Who know where we are headed? Can any person ‘see’ the future impact of all these accepted unprecedented rapid changes? People make predictions on the stock market and shares and property values but is anyone forecasting the costs to individuals and societies and countries of all the magnitude and speed of change? I guess we are already seeing it: the huge growth of mental illness in the last 20 years… the fastest growing illness known to man-kind today. Maybe this is just a symptom of something greater to come …

I don’t like saying that ‘time will tell’ because being “pro-active” is far better than the very common “reactive’ nature humans and societies in general have become today. Isn’t prevention better than cure? Oh well, like most things in life, saying and doing can be worlds apart… and it is probably easier (not cheaper) to cross the bridge when we get there aye?

But, I still wonder?

All the best to you and your friendships.

 

Until next time,

Best of Vitality to you.

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate Fiji Island Muscle Monk

My Family of friends in my gym I owned and managed for 7 years.

Friends that workout together … stay together?

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What Men (really) Need.

A variation of the ‘back single biceps” pose … on the beach. I love the interface between land+sea+sky. Brings me closer to my ‘home’ in my childhood … in the Beautiful Paradise Islands of Fiji.
The managed combination of chaos + order => Better Life.

We have all heard about ‘that relationship’ that broke down because there was a ‘break-down in communication.” Usually, when you dig a little deeper, you find that there was communication but it wasn’t ‘effective’ communication.

And how does communication become effective?

Well, it simply comes down to the ‘feedback loop.’ Yep, the feedback loop. I like to refer to it as ‘being on the same page’ as the person(s) you’re communicating with. Effectively, having clarity on what the other person(s) are saying and ‘seeing’ things from their viewpoint.

Not an easy thing to do.

So, what is the secret? Well, as I see it when it comes to relationships and what a man needs, what it really comes down to is – a man really needs someone who simply cares. Yep, it is as simple and as complex as that. The care factor.

Not an easy thing to find, yes because it requires that person to love him and this involves a lot of work, a lot of effort, from the care-giver. Men search far and wide for this care, in all kinds of places and all kinds of things and never stop searching because it is wired in to the very life-blood of all true-blooded males.

Men will never stop searching and will do all sorts of crazy shit to experience and do almost anything … for this love … this care, because that is what they really need and they will keep searching from the beginning til the end of time.

Let me explain …

Even though it sounds simple, it masks a lot of complexity. You see, most reasonably educated persons know how to communicate. You know how to talk, send e-mails and texts but very few people know how to communicate well. What I mean is communicate effectively.

Most children learn from their parents (who learned from their parents who learned from their parents  … ) but the thing is that a lot of parents don’t communicate well or effectively, to begin with. So, you end up with people who learn from people in the foundation years of their lives who are not the best communicators and so this ineffective communication skill is perpetuated through generations.

Until someone decides to question such practices and put forward a brave new way of communicating, a way that encourages communication to be made in an effective manner, with that feedback loop.

Like most good things, it takes work and being good at it takes practice. Not just practise but lots and lots of deliberate practise (because people could become good at communicating ineffectively. What one needs to do is learn the right way and then deliberately practice the right practise.

That is how you become better at your communication skills. Perfect practise.

It is hard work, hard YAKA! (Australian term that means ‘hard work!”). There is no easy way of going about this because you need to stubbornly change or un-learn years of imprinting of bad communication learned in your early years and then …

Now this is the hard part – learning and adopting the new communication method & skills in all your daily communication. All the time, not some of the time – all the time!

Attitude is key at winning in the Game of Life.

You see, from what I have observed so far in my life, communication between a woman and a man is very different from what happens when two women talk.

It seems that when two women get together, they do a lot of explaining and restating until the other person understands what is being said. They understand one another from each other’s point-of-view.

They seem to communicate more effectively than men.

A man may say something vague, like “I don’t know, I guess, I’m just having a tough day.” After making that short statement, it is very likely, he would not add any more words. He may just drop it, so to speak. His wife or partner assumes it must not be a big problem since he didn’t say more than two sentences. However, this is where the mistake arises.

You see, she needs to pick up on the little phrase that he did say and if she really, really knows him, pick up on what he did not say as well.

It is very likely he is feeling a great loss, but he is not expressing it. Women, I feel, need to listen to the small phrases that their husbands or partners are saying and then find the right response. She needs to generate a response that is sufficient and appropriate. ]

A response that is sufficient and not appropriate is not complete. And a response that is appropriate and not sufficient is less than adequate. Her response needs to have both present – appropriateness and sufficiency.

This is a huge challenge for any person, let alone a woman.

The challenge here is developing the life skill of the power of discernment and applying the right amount of appropriateness and sufficiency in one’s response. What a challenge.

A wise man once told me that “elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do.’ This applies to many things in life and would apply in this instance when a woman tries to understand how a man communicates.

A man needs a wife or partner who cares enough to listen to the brief, sometimes weak, signals that he gives off. And then, she needs to respond, I believe, with gentle questions to draw him out, not by taking the opportunity to describe her own struggles.

But to listen, really listen.

Education through a perception of the truth.
Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement.
Funny thing is that the process also applies to relationships and response.
Vv

In my experience with dealing with and helping people in the gyms and my line of work over the last two decades, when one spouse is drawn away by someone outside the marriage, it’s usually not that he’s being drawn away by love.

More often than not, I believe, he is drawn away because someone else show they cared.

Ask yourself how you show your man you care? Is it sufficient and appropriate for the phase of life you’re in? My grandfather used to always say “actions speaks louder than words.’ What do you think? I think it holds more than an element of truth to it.

Someone could think and say that they love someone else but not actually show or demonstrate/do the act of love. Is this love? I don’t think so.

Thinking and doing can be two different things.

What is your definition of love anyway? We tend to see acts of love all around us but what is love?

Who is the best listener you know? What is that person doing that works?

My tip: After nineteen years of being with the woman of my childhood dreams and marriage as well as helping people (couples) help themselves, help themselves over the years of owning my own gym and my keen observation in general life, I would remind you to – show you care in everything you say and most importantly, do.

Men are simple creatures, keep things simple – simply show your man you care for and about him. Don’t complicate things, keeping it simple aids greatly in contributing to more effective communication. And is ultimately the saviour of all relationships.

We have heard that love is effortless, I disagree … to love some one other yourself requires effort, a lot of effort.

Love is EFFORT-FULL!

Keep loving … it is worth it in the whole scheme of life.

 

Until next time,

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all.
The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home.
Relationships based on fairness, trust, care and compassion.
A place where men could share stories, their aspirations, their fears and hopes …and be listened to … without fear of retribution or ridicule.
It was these group of Mens ‘last refuge’.
I hope to bring it back one day … to the world.

Explaining the fine points of re-engineering the physique and increased self-awareness through enhanced ‘mind-muscle’ connection..

Side Triceps in the gym. … in between sets.
Building a physique that is balanced and symmetrical takes years of toil in the gym and outside the gym. There is countless assessment of all the variables that go into it … a constant assessment of appropriateness and sufficiency in relation to the key inputs that go in to mastering the iron … the art … of knowing oneself .. of knowing life.
Better. Builds. Beauty. A
Always.

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Fairness in Love?

Fairness begins with Self. Side chest pose in my gym of seven years.

Do you believe in love?

Do you believe in lasting love?

You’d have to agree with me when I say that we don’t get lasting love by chance. Before I go any further, I want to let you know that I don’t believe in chance or coincidences.

Everything – good or bad, is meant to be, when you make decisions for the best and ultimately to not bring harm to anyone else in the long run. You may hurt someone in the short-term but foresight is a gift, and you may see the benefit for the person in the long-term.

Sometimes, as my grandfather used to remind me – you have to be ‘cruel to be ’kind’ or in his other words of wisdom, give ‘tough love’. People suffer a little bit in the short-term for lasting long-term benefit.

So, lasting love does not come by easily, it takes work – simple, pure hard work. In Australian lingo we say – “Hard YAKA!’, if you believe it is worth it.

Hard work strongly involves working at fairness.

How do I know?

Well, I believe in genuine, authentic relationships. I mean I have many, many acquaintances but only a few very good friends. People I can call friends for twenty, thirty or even forty years. And there are a few new ones too.

Friendship, real, genuine, long-term friendship of any kind takes time and work, hard work.

And really good friends, friends that ‘hear what you say but also hear what you don’t say’, now these are hard to come by. But, they do.

I spent a lot of time with one of my many male mentors for the first 18 years of my life – my grandfather: Mr Garrett Bola William Valentine.

I used to sit there, when he was alive and listen to him (who was like a dad to me) and his one very good friend tell stories and reminiscing of their youthful days. I loved listening to those stories. I thought of my grandfather when writing this because it seems his loving friendship and bond he had with his friend to his last days were based on an enduring friendship.

A friendship that lasted over fifty years.

A relationship, a love-affair between two men, two humans, that, I can only assume, took a lot of work and Hard Yaka. It did not just happen by chance. Certainly not.

Side triceps in my gym of seven years.

A loving, lasting relationship of any kind, needs fairness.

In a romantic one, however, unlike my grandfather’s Bromance, the ‘romance’ can keep love alive for a shining season but unfair love will freeze by late autumn as the relationship goes through the seasons of life, so-to-speak.

Do you argue fairly?

One needs to remember to stick to the facts and don’t make personal attacks on your partner, especially ones that are generalised over a number of years? I believe fairness is at stake in every conversation, in every sharing of duties, in every argument.

In this day and age where there is an ‘opinion epidemic’ whereby people think offering their opinions willy-nilly, left, right and centre is acceptable. These opinions are heavily biased and are not thought out from ‘both sides of the argument. So, arguments are not done in a fair fashion.

We need fairness in our trust. Trust of one another.

In romantic love, we need fairness in our talk. Our communication. Experts say that our nonverbal communication accounts for almost 60 percent of the total message. Tone of voice, for example – the way we say things – makes up 35 percent of the message. The actual words we say account for only seven percent of the total message.

I know I can get very passionate and animated when I speak and so there is always fluctuations in my tone of voice and sometimes this can come across as aggressive. I do struggle with hiding my emotions sometimes and am still trying to manage and control them even now.

If I am angry, you will know it, just as sure as you will know when I am happy. My eyes and face are the windows to my heart, my soul.

So, as food-for-thought, think about the ways you and your spouse/partner communicate without using words. These are all important factors of communication but the most important question is how effective is your communication with your loved one/partner?

In my experience, it isn’t fair to use words that violate a person’s feelings or betray a person’s confidence. Refrain from saying things to personally attack the other. Stick to the facts and in saying that, the immediate or facts of a recent example.

We need fairness when we divide the chores in family life.

We need fairness when we decide who goes out to work for a living and who stays home to mind the children, in the different phases of family life. What phase of life are you or you and your partner/husband/wife in?

“So, when is love fair?” I hear you say.

Well, from my experience, I believe that –

  • Love is fair when it builds up both the lover and the beloved;
  • Love is fair when it increases both and diminishes neither;
  • Love is fair when it brings lovers close but still lets them separate when appropriate;
  • Love is fair when it nourishes both and leaves neither hungry for more;
  • Love is fair when it respects the boundaries of the other person’s selfhood;
  • Love is fair when it delays our most legitimate desires to meet our loved one’s needs;
  • Love is fair when it does not use ancient and forgiven wrongs against us;
  • Love is fair when we don’t selfishly accept current, immediate self-gratification at the price or expense of the other’s pain.

What do you think, is the above statements fair statements on what fair love is?

What do you think is a “fair” balance of closeness and separateness in your marriage?

What do you think is ‘fair’ behaviour when you are disagreeing?

Oh love … oh fairness fairy.

We seek your guidance.

Amen.

 

Until next time,

 

The Old Captain Viking Pirate Muscle Monk.

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all. The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home.
Relationships based on fairness, trust, care and compassion.

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot

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The Gym, Reps, Sets, Synergy and Workouts.

You perform your reps, sets and workout with one of the tools – dumbells, when you search for that ‘elusive pump’ feeling in the gym.

In my almost three decades in the ‘iron game’, I have learned many things.

About gyms, about people, about different training methods and styles, about perceptions, about limitations, about the mind, and about muscles, fat loss and body sculpturing.

I have learned a lot, filling my domain knowledge of subject areas that have always been fascinated about. And still am.

The Gym

I’ve always believed the gym was a micro-cosim of society. It is a metaphor for Life.

It does not represent reality – it tells (beautiful lies) about people. What it basically says, in my opinion, is I’m bigger or better than I really am. It is a kind of fantasy world.

But the gym is also not pure fantasy – it voices and indirectly describes and reflects, the real world (outside) by people the same people that make up the gym, by inventing little worlds that resemble it, loosely or closely.

I find it fascinating because, like Forest Gump said of life – “life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get.” That is exactly how I feel before each visit to the gym. You never know what you’re gonna get, like who will be there, what equipment will be available when you need it, whether the gym will be “packed to the rafters” or quiet and empty.

No, you never know what you’re gonna get.

The gym alters reality to allow us to ‘see’ reality better.

What I find most interesting is that the gym lies (if it is a good gym), to reveal the truth to you (about the world outside the gym).

Each person in the gym has their own history, their own story, if you pause and ‘listen to what they’re not saying.’ Each person’s story is a metaphor for an aspect of the Real World.

The gym, in a sense, and among other things, is allegory. What it gives you (if you’re willing to listen and look and feel) is the real world – indirectly.

Maybe, that is why the gym is appealing to many of gym-goers world over. Maybe, it just allows us ‘let be.’

It allows the world each person is creating within their minds to come into being for themselves and everyone else in the gym … by leaving the real world (outside) well enough alone.

Just for those minutes or hours they are in the gym.

The gym allows each user the ability to create their own worlds in their minds. That is one of the reasons why, I think the gym has been so appealing to me all these years because it is fundamentally, how real life goes.

You see, most people proceed each visit to the gym with ignorance and uncertainty; then they get glimpses of the ‘truth’ – their truth, or moments of understanding. And, if you’re like most people, you rarely (and usually too late) get to ‘see’ the whole version of reality.

The gym is, maybe, the TRUEST REALISM.

Members of my ‘extended family’ when I used to own and manage my gym for seven years. Some of the best and hardest years of my life so far. I loved leading the members (predominantly males – 70%) and they allowed me to take them to unchartered territories for us all. The gym was (unlike today’s) a social place. An ‘inbetween home’ between your place of work and your home. That’s me on the extreme left.

 The workout.

Every workout is got to be about some part of the body or … I guess, these days, the ‘whole body.’ Every workout has got to be about something at the very least.

It doesn’t take much to do a workout – less still to do a set or just a handful of sets. In terms of action, I mean.

A workout to me is more than just a number of sets or selected exercises performed for a pre-selected number of repetitions. To some, a workout in the gym with traditional weight-training equipment is akin to a meditation hour or so. No, a workout is the pattern of a thing, a living thing – its rhyme and reason. It is what a moment or a memory or silence is about, if that makes any sense.

A workout does not need to be scientific. There are many types of workouts and I have tried and experimented with many over the last three decades.

To me, a workout is the genius of a thing. A workout could comprise just about anything, it may even be nothing. A workout is what you experience to write the story you are writing in the gym.

The Sets

A Set is simply, one tool a gym enthusiast might use to fulfil his goal to achieve a workout, the workout he or she imagines he is going to do. The set is, to some extent, a form of a workout in itself which uses action as its mode, usually in the form of a slight discomfort or pain.

The set intricately and closely connects one exercise to another, usually through a causal chain, ending in a moment of pain and pleasure or what I refer to as ending in a climax.

I have done thousands of sets since I began lifting weights in my late teens almost thirty years ago. To me, a set is a miracle and a mystery. A set is the track from somewhere to somewhere else – the start and the beginning of a mii-project, a small journey.

It carries the performer from silence to understanding, from nothing to something.

A set to a workout is like a river is to a whole catchment. Namely, everything. The part serves the whole; it is what the whole comes down to.

It is the point, the ‘dot.’

Sets alone or sets performed in no particular order mean something to the enthusiast but not much. I find that when I am doing a set, I am telling a part of my story, my life because what I am striving for ultimately is, meaning. And how does meaning arise when you’re doing a set?

It arises when I put the repetitions required to perform each and every set into an order in which I have learned to recognise a pattern of relationship (through the many thousands of sets and workouts I have performed over the last 3 decades).

I then derive meaning.

Over the years, I have learned to recognise relationships between sets and causality. We all have that gift for seeing and attributing meaning patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and workouts when recalling. We do this for almost everything in our lives, it is just easier on our brain as the brain relies heavily on autopilot, ultimately to conserve energy.

We humans, make sense of life that way, by learning how things interact, what causes what. The only thing is, like anything else, learning so, takes time.

Climaxing at the end of a set is one kind of pleasure, a lot of time, with pain thrown in to the mix. The completion of the pre-determined number of sets is not the point of the workout.

So, the point of a workout as I see it and story-tell, is in the ‘feeling.’

It is the feeling that allows one to build and soak in the ‘essence of the exercise.’ And how do you get the essence? That involves much, much more than just lifting a weight against gravity and moving the weight from point A to point B.

I will save that ‘find the essence of the exercise’ to another blog.

Providing a little bit of assistance. My pupil here ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise.
All relationships require work and time .
Sometimes, its the little things, that determine your success in pursuit of a worthwhile goal.

Reps

Reps, is the shortened version of repetition. Part of gym lingo. It is the basic unit of a set and the building blocks of your workout. It is the number and tempo that dictates what kind of set you’re doing and the feeling you get at the end of the set (if you get any at all).

Not every rep is the same, just like not every golf swing is the same, using different clubs for different strokes.

Performing the rep is when you ‘get your hands dirty.’ It is when you feel the blood pumping excitedly through your veins. It is when you sweat. You sweat to earn those muscles. The rep is when you experience what I call a ‘continuous progression of focused moments.’

Some people call this meditation.

Everyone is at varying levels of meditation and are, ideally, working towards improving their meditation ability or what we, bodybuilders refer to ‘mind-muscle’ connection.

This is when you ‘feel the essence’ or what Arnold calls the ‘pump’. It is an elusive thing and not many gym rats get to experience this climaxing moment. It is the holy grail of lifting weights. It is one of the factors that separate real bodybuilders from the gym rats.

So-called self-help gurus have, for decades now, spoken about how one can ‘get in touch with one’s inner-self. Well, I have news for everyone, bodybuilders, real, authentic bodybuilders have been their inner-self for over a hundred years now.

Bodybuilders have a very highly level of understanding of getting in touch with one’s inner-self, because you couldn’t really get any more any ‘in touch’ with yourself then getting in to the individual cell, with vitality-infused blood.

Feel the essence, I say!

Fully focused!
A true warrior & champion. Phil applying principles in one of my programs and adopting my framework.
Focusing on making every repetition of every set of every exercise as ideal as possible.
Practise does not make perfect – Perfect practise makes perfect!
Photo: Retired Champion Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain & NSW Waratahs Captain and player in action under my watchful eyes.

Synergy

Sets alone or sets carried out in no particular order could mean success … but very little: Second set, 8 to 12 reps, power on the positive, control on the negative with a 2-1-3 tempo! Oh, I get it. A workout is completed; sense of achievement arise. How does that happen? It happens because the gym enthusiast/bodybuilder puts the sets in an order in which he has learned to recognise a pattern of relationships and so can derive satisfaction and purpose. It happens because of the innate human avidness of the human GIFT for seeing and attributing meaning to patterns – and for storing and repeating them in mind and body and spirit (dare I say, speech).

We humans make sense of our life and in the world we live in by learning how things interact, what causes what. The way every cause has its effect; the way every action has its actor, its object and its consequence. So, most gym rats learn that for every

What I am trying to say is that put a man and woman who like the look of each other in a place together and what you’ll get pretty soon, among other things, is someone doing something; and someone doing it back; and two people doing something together. What you get is ‘synergy’.

Sex; a relationship; perhaps issues. What you get is sets performed – simple, compound, complex and compound-complex, fragments and fractals.

What you get is synergy.

Anyone can ‘lift weights’, but unfortunately, not many can lift weights with synergy. And how do you do you make those reps, those sets perform their alchemy and achieve synergy and purpose.

I have found that one can learn the many different types of training ‘techniques’ and ways of lifting without ever knowing what the essence feels like. Just like you can understand the whole scheme of evolutionary history, without ever knowing why a minah bird moves exactly, and with such intelligence, as it does – why that is necessary and how it came to pass.

Achieving and feeling the essence and flowing with synergy in your workouts is another lively mystery.

A tip: one needs to learn rhythm. This comes after years of deliberate mind-muscle-heart-spirit practise. One of the greatest joys of doing a workout is not just achieving synergy but also making music within.

That is when you get hold of ‘that mystery’ and master that miracle within.

Good repetitions of good sets of good exercises performed well, amongst other variables, performed with synergy and music .. .makes for a good workout.

And the more balanced and elegant one’s sets are, the sounder they are structurally, the better one’s workouts will be.

You approach what I refer to as the ‘state of beauty’ … an enlightened state that brings you closer to balance and symmetry, a state of finite bliss. A state of enhanced balance and symmetry, when done correctly.

Not many gym enthusiasts ever get to that state. That is ok, most don’t. … and most don’t know how to, either.

 

Until next time,

Captain Viking Pirate Vaughn-Van-Valentine (VvV)

Collage of some bodybuilding poses

Collage of members of my gym in action … many, many years ago.

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.

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Mid-life Crisis.

Hello!

Sacrifices

One of the wisest men I have ever been mentored by, my good friend – Dave ( a fellowship member of Menza) told me once that “Nothing Changes but form.”

Do people change. Of course they do. But, change according to what? And … what is your perception of change?

Got me thinking.

What is a “worthwhile sacrifice?”

A four year undergraduate degree at a prestigious university? An apprenticeship with a famous chef? Sweeping the floors of a multi-national conglomerate just to “get in?” All these sacrifices and those like these change the person – some for the good and some for the bad.

If you’re in a relationship, like I am – in a relationship with this woman for 19 years now. It sounds like a lot but it is nothing compared to her grandparents who lived to their 90s and were such beautiful people.

Time (& space), as Einstein said is relative. So, basically, nineteen years, in the whole scope of the time spectrum, is put simply – nothing!

So, what do you do with marriages that go through periods where there is ‘rough seas’ as they co-captain their ship through the ‘sea of life?’ I know for a fact that over the years, I have carried my wife (& was the stronger one) and in other times (like the whole of last year), she was the STRONG ONE & carried the weaker one – me.

Sailing through the sea of life, will inevitably produce tough times, it’s just foolish to think that you won’t encounter bad weather & monstrous waves in the depths of the sea of life. Foolish.

It is in times of trouble that, you just hang on to each other, because it is easy – very easy to lose one another. You need to go ‘above and beyond’ your call of duty in seeing that the weaker partner gets through that rough period ok. Everyone responds differently to unexpected rough weather & no one is immune to it.

Change is a certainty in life. Life is about change, if you’re not changing, you’re not living. But the rate of change differs between individuals. I think it was the great science thinker – Stephen Hawkins – that said “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’ I agree.

The woman and man need to adapt to the changing stimulus (phase of life) because it is in the process of adaptation that new growth is experienced & felt. So, don’t be afraid to sacrifice old philosophies and adopting a new, evolved one, in order to provide the glue that keeps them together.

Needs

Owning a family gym for six years has taught me a lot of things about life – in fast forward. In those six years I helped, with my programs, helped people transition through the sticky phases of life – teens to man-hood; the troubling 20s; the ambitious 30s; the ‘lost hope’ 40s; the care-free 50s; the uncertain 60s & the content 70s and 80s.

If you reach the 90s, its highly likely you’re on your own to celebrate your 95th birthday because everyone you ever knew is …. Six feet under.

Now, I have concluded, in my experience and my small sample of men and women in my lab (my gym), that part of the reason people stay together in marriage is because their needs are being met.

At first glance, that idea seems to be self-centered and selfish. Maybe it is. Just maybe, we ALL have the ‘selfish gene’ in us, like the aetheist Richard Dawkins proclaims. Good on him & his followers.

Marriages that last, include couples who WORK hard at it. Marriage, that is.

I believe they have a deep sense of commitment, a desire to stay together, and an ability to express affection as they understand each other’s needs and … I believe, specifically work at meeting those needs.

That is paramount. The meeting of these needs at various phases of life. It is never static, always continuously changing.

Understanding & meeting your mates/husbands/wife’s/ partner’s needs is a powerful way to serve your mate and strengthen your marriage.

So, what are you waiting for (if you’re married) …… go make your spouse her favourite warm drink (coffee?) & do it with love & care. Thank you.

Romance

What is romance?

I’ve never really understood what it is. I mean, I have done something in the past that I didn’t think was special, and I was thanked for being ‘so romantic.’ There are other few times where I thought I was trying to be romantic and got the cold shoulder.

I’m still confused and I’m a Mr Valentine?!

All these years later, I still don’t know what is to be romantic. I’m sure a lot of males out there do (and that is great) … but I struggle with being romantic.

I think romance should be done daily, in the little things that we do for each other, that won’t make a romance novel – like making your husband a cup of his favourite coffee or giving him hug when he least expects it. It does not take much to please a good gentle man and make him happy. Taking care of mozzies (mosquitoes) daily, not this ‘once-in-a-blue moon’ party shi*t@!

Romance, as I see it, is built upon qualities that each partner (hopefully) showers on each other, Some of them are –

  • Meeting each other’s needs;
  • Being tender;
  • Considerate & sensitive;
  • Thoughtful & …
  • Listening

Listening is very important. If you’ve been together for a long time then you should know him quite well so in addition to listening to what he says, try to listen to what he ‘does not say.’ Now that takes listening to a level that only very close ‘best friends’ tap in to.

Emotional Connections

What happens when man enters his mid-life years? I have a fair idea because I have seen and helped many-a-man transition through this phase of the many phases of life.

One thing that comes to fore is the feeling (from the mens’ perspective) that they are being ‘mothered.’

But, from my sample of hundreds of men over the last two decades, I can conclude that men DO NOT WANT A MOTHER. Women, do you know what they want?

They want a GIRLFRIEND. They don’t want a mother to make them feel like they are ‘one of the children.’

No!

They want a girlfriend.

Now, for a woman to become a girlfriend to her husband, I believe (from my observation of life), she NEEDS to develop spontaneity.

Now, what does this mean … well, let me take that previous statement back. I think there is no such thing as spontaneity because a person has to have the thought – first, before any action is executed.

It may mean (for the wife), assuming a younger outlook on life, or a younger approach to the relationship. She should think in terms of how a younger woman would act around her husband.

She should, above all else, show admiration and affirmation to the extreme …. & dare I say it, ACT MORE FLIRTATIOUSLY.

Little things matter. But what makes you do the little things (I call these the ‘mosquitoes’ in life), whether positive or negative? Have you every thought about this? You may have heard people say ‘willpower.’ I have news for you, it is not willpower. Willpower means forcing yourself to do something you don’t really want to do. This is a never-winning game for you.

You cannot keep forcing yourself to do something if you don’t really want to do it. Period.

So, no, it is not willpower that drives your actions, but your ATTITUDE.

Attitude shows itself in everything you do – actions speaks louder than words, as we have been told when we were a child. So true, your attitude determines both your simplest and most complicated actions – from the way you carry yourself to the way you deal with hard times.

And a man going through a mid-life crisis phase … is a hard time. Let’s not kid ourselves, it is not funny at all.

So, for the partner we need to embrace this phase – not with willpower, not with determination or controlling your attitude and feelings. No. You need something more stronger, something that is at the heart – the breathing source of your attitude.

You need to re-discover this energy source to give you that ‘edge.’ And what is this source, well, it is simply your ‘philosophy’, which is a fancy word for the way you see yourself and the way you see the world. It is your philosophy that feeds your attitude.

Attitude is everything in life.

Your attitude is never static, it is changing all the time. And as your attitude changes, your feelings also change. Your philosophy is the secret that lies behind the puzzle of fate or destiny. So, to summarise –

A positive philosophy ==> positive attitude ==> positive actions ==> positive results.

A negative philosophy obviously does the opposite effect. Remember the “Ripple Effect” … well, it works both ways!

To manage this phase your partner/husband is going through you have to change yourself. And how do you do this? Well, your change yourself by changing your philosophy. BUT, you have to be willing to change or ADAPT & change if your want to change what’s happening in your life, your philosophy or how you see things must change.

And, very importantly ….

Don’t bring up the past in a negative sense. One of the quickest paths to success (I believe) is to get out of the past. Sure, its smart to review mistakes and unhappy events because that helps you to make better choices in the future. However, keep it swift.

Review, understand and take responsibility for the errors you’ve made (and we all have our fair share of mistakes/errors … no body is perfect, right?) But, don’t even spend too much dwelling on this even. Just use the past as a tool to do things differently in the present and, most importantly ….. MOVE ON!

So, invest your ‘emotional labour’ towards emotionally connecting to your partner/husband and realise that other things in life are not as urgent as they seem.

They can simply WAIT.

It is time to give your spouse your time and attention (before it is too late).

Please understand that this is just my initial thoughts, nothing more, nothing less. There are obviously many other reasons (when compounded over time) provides a leathal dosage of destruction.

Don’t’ let that happen to you. I will embrace it if it ever happens to me.

Amen.

Best of VITALITY to YOU.

 

P.e. Valentine.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with ex-Australian Wallaby & Waratah Captain, Mr Phil Waugh.

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a better life, accountability, adaptation, ageing, awareness, balance, beauty, better choices, children, Energy, game of life, good posture, habits, life, long-term perspective, long-term strategy, mind-muscle connection, self improvement, self-image, self-respect, symmetry, taking action, Vitality, you, your life

Practise Perfect Posture – your life depends on it.

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Change your philosophy, change your life. Vv.

You see it everywhere you go. We all hear about it and we know someone who has it, but have you ever asked the question if you’ve got it too?

Bad posture, that is.

I think it is and has been a growing problem of modern societies today and I would claim, it is now at epidemic proportions. I believe it is a more costly problem to society than the well-known obesity epidemic that is gripping us.

But no one is talking about it, and yet, it is all around us! Everyone needs to practise perfect posture.

One of my key goals for twenty five years and one of the many reasons I love weight training is it allows me to continuously sculpt and design my ever evolving, dynamic physique towards better balance and symmetry. It never ends. Your body is never static, it is always changing.

I constantly apply my ‘adaptive strategy’ approach for this dynamic and complex environment/system that is the human body/mind/ heart and soul.

That is part of what I do and have done with the hundreds and thousands of students I have taught over the years. Design an improved version of themselves – they become a walking, talking, sitting, sleeping, living piece of art in motion with better balance and symmetry.

I help move people away from hate towards love. That is the essence of design, in my case, designing a new body – a new YOU. Incidentally, striving for improved balance and symmetry in my tailored programs, adopting my framework, indirectly and directly converts bad posture to good posture.

One of the many hidden benefits of my custom design bodies programs.

Good posture is needed for balance, symmetry and a healthy body. Take a look around – everyone that you see at the bus stop, on the train, on the street and even at home. If you’re brave enough, take a look at yourself. What is your posture telling you? Is it ideal? Can it be improved?

What you will see, is what I have stated in my first three sentences here – real impressive figures are few and far between. I look around and symptoms of the aged (like bad posture) is inflicting the young school children.

It is depressing to say the least. How did society get to this stage?

Not sure why children are being affected with this at such a young age, maybe because stooping low would gain more acceptance with friends. Standing straight, with good posture may offend someone, it may give an air of cockiness or a holier than thou perception.

Maybe. I don’t know, I was not one to succumb to peer pressure in teen years.

Sure, parents and carers notice this early on-set age-related ailments adopted by their teenage children. They must ask them to stand up straight but it seems that this habit is ‘set’ in by the time they arrive in their 20s. The poor posture is established and almost irreversible.

Sad, truly sad.

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Doing and being is essential to muscle building success for your health and muscle goals. Connect the two. Make them one. Vv.

The years of continuing bad posture has resulted in the less-than-ideal situation the aged population is suffering from now. A lot of people are living longer but spending the last twenty to thirty years after sixty five with delibitating posture and increasing immobility. Increase immobility leads to reduced sense of self-worth and increasing levels of mental diseases and worse.

We’re all getting older by the second, yes but could I suggest that we slow down the ageing process by firstly becoming aware of our posture every day. Everyone shouldn’t be too concerned with ‘living longer’! I think it is a sales gimmich, everyone should be aiming to:

“grow younger, not older!”

“Growing old” is a decision, afterall. A MIND-SET.

Is this possible? You bet ya!

First stage of any form of self-improvement is to increase your awareness. Then, consciously (in this case), you need to take ACTION – try to improve your way of standing, of walking and sitting.

I believe that correct posture helps manage stress and keeps us healthier. Poor posture on the other hand can have an adverse of effect on the internal organs, causing numerous aches and pains. The compound effect of this as we age results in the reduction of mobility which is an affliction of the aged population now.

I believe in striving towards ‘balance and symmetry’ of the body, through sufficient and appropriate weight-training, coupled with a sensible diet, stretching and cardiovascular exercise. The body works as one and you’re made up of a chain of muscles that are constantly contracting and extending. When one part of your body is out of alignment, the other areas are also off-set. The domino effect then takes hold.

A big mistake people make is thinking that the body will correct itself. No, it won’t! The body will grow to the shape and posture they consistently adopt and practise every single day.

Think about it – the more you slump, the more you lose flexibility so you not only move older, you FEEL OLDER and you APPEAR OLDER!

Now, why would you want that for yourself?! Aren’t we all aiming to ‘off-set the on-set’ of ageing as best we can?

I’ve said it before that a prerequisite for the elusive balance and symmetry (and health ) of the body (and mind, dare I say) is good posture. I will go as far as saying that a person who consciously carries him or herself with a proud upright posture is more likely to come across as a fit, energetic, and even a more attractive and hence more desirable individual.

Yes, you read that right!

Having a good posture makes you MORE ATTRACTIVE!

If this is the case, why aren’t more people doing it? Because it takes effort – it takes work and deliberate practise because to achieve good posture, you need to make a habit of checking your posture and correcting it if necessary.

It can be hard work.

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Fine-tuning the ‘mind-muscle’ connection through intense posing. Hold!

A few things to consider to help you work towards your ideal good posture:

  • Is your butt sticking out too much that it causes a sway in your appearance?
  • Is your shoulders slumping forward causing your scapulae to stand out like wings in your back?
  • Do you balance evenly on you feet?
  • Do you round your back when eating at your dinner table?
  • Do you tilt your head to one side when using a computer or while writing?
  • Do you allow your head to stick out in front of your body?

I truly believe that posture can reveal as much about a person as his/her face does. Poor posture can make you a billboard of insecurity and old age. Why add to the effects of gravity? Everything will sag in time – don’t accelerate the process, gravity does not need help!

I also believe that it is every human being’s ultimate responsibility to take care of themselves and do everything they can to slow the ageing process and the effects of gravity. This amazing, unrelenting force is tugging at you and me this very moment!

One way that is within your control and that you can fight this force is to have good posture.

If you want to instantly improve your attractiveness, you don’t need to run to plastic surgery or put on tonnes of make-up, work on your posture. Attraction is the greatest factor in love. It’s hard to relate easily to a man or woman you find unattractive. We all enjoy relating to attractive people.

I’ll say it again – posture is one key ingredient to this attractiveness.

So, you see, posture is the one thing we can all improve almost instantly. In time, you can then work on other significant changes.

Here are my top 3 tips for you to adopt to work towards good posture:

  • Quit overeating, over-drinking and smoking
  • Start exercising regularly – three to four times per week
  • Consciously check and correct your posture throughout the day

Then ….

When you walk, practise perfect posture and … walk as if you were seven feet tall!

I know I do (even though I am ‘slightly under six feet tall’).

Best of vitality to you!

 

Until next time,

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My beautiful daughter and I enjoying “Daddy-daughter time” on the Ferris Wheel at Luna Park in amazing Sydney, Australia.

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A Happiness KEY: Be naked, exposed and vulnerable.

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In the heat of battle at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, NY, USA. Me (4th ranked) and competitor (3rd placed) striking a “Triceps Pose”.

A wise friend told me once a long time ago that if you love life, life will love you back.

I have seen them, so perhaps have you – people who seem to have been freshly scrubbed or newly minted. They have taut skins and great smiles. How do they do it?

They do it partly through increased respect for their body, spirit/soul, heart and mind.

If you see one of these people, ask them their secret and then … get in touch with me and we can tell it to the world. Their secret would be worth more than a pot of gold!

Well, after twenty five years of helping people, help themselves work towards a better version of themselves, I believe a key factor is in better energy management and also that these lucky people have better experience of happiness, daily.

Managing energy better does not only refer to raw materials taken in and outputs expanded from the human machine that is the human body, it also refers to our state of mind and state of heart and spirit.

It seems that many people are of the belief that constantly ‘being happy’ is desired and so they spend all of their day choosing and stressing about being happy. I believe that striving to constantly be in a state of happiness takes you further and further away from the elusive happiness. They do so to such an extent that the drive to be constantly happy leads to unhappiness and an empty feeling.

Why is that so, I ask?

Well, it is because, a human being is also an emotional and spiritual being. I believe that to be truly human, one needs to be able to feel ALL emotions, not just being happy all the time. A human being needs to feel emotions including those that are unpleasant – like anger, hatred or sadness amongst others. One needs to FEEL the whole gamut of emotions in one’s life to be truly closer to happiness.

So, in essence you have to experience UNHAPPINESS to experiencing growth towards happiness in your life. There is no other way. This is a key to happiness.

There is a catch though, as (like anything worthwhile getting), it isn’t as easy as it sounds. To get closer to genuine happiness in your life, you need to strip bare (be honest and brave to oneself); be naked, expose oneself to the world and allow oneself to be vulnerable.

This is a difficult task and for some people, impossible.

Being vulnerable is liberating, it is a genuine taste of freedom. Being vulnerable is truth … it is peace. Being vulnerable is harmony and symmetry … being vulnerable is beauty.

I believe part of the reason people don’t allow themselves to feel the full range of emotions, particularly the unpleasant ones is that we’re all sort of brainwashed to some extent, that ‘getting in touch’ with your inner negative feelings is not recommended and frowned upon.

There is a high need and practise in modern day society to reason and provide an objective and logical explanation to everything, without any feeling. That is the key phrase – “without any feeling’. It seems that people think that they must express everything like this – giving well thought out, logical, step by step reasons for a situation without any empathy and feeling.

You see it everywhere, where people frown upon or look at you with surprise when you voice your disagreement, disgust, anger, frustration and so forth because you actually allowed yourself to experience that emotion.

Oh no, that’s not civilized, not good behaviour … you need ‘anger management’ help. A load of c%ap!

And why is this so?

Well, I have told my wife this many times over the years – that the lack of ‘feeling’ is increasingly a sure sign that peoples’ spiritual lives being poverty-stricken.

Basically, one cannot give and share what one does not have in the first place. In other words, we cannot mirror, cannot radiate the tenderness (of God/positive energy) because people have not experienced it themselves. Sad, but true.

If you believe in God, in a God, please understand one thing: I believe that God expects us to show all of our feelings to him – happy and unhappy feelings, everything. Nothing is off-limits!

However, I believe that before a man or a woman can really FEEL his or her own feelings and be able to express them fully, you have to go back to your past and deal with any hurt or anger. Ask for forgiveness and ask God (and your God) for your forgiveness.

There are few certainties in life – death and taxes are two of them. A third one and one that is relevant to my message in this blog is that God does not change, God is a certainty.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Because of this, if you believe in him and you believe in his healing power, you can let go. You can forgive and be forgiven for your past, because it can be UNDONE and off-loaded on to God forever, releasing the shackels you’ve put yourself in.

This is what is meant by being naked.

Allowing you to feel empowered again in your own skin – to be unarmoured … to come out from the wall of invulnerability on those deeply sensitive spots that hold you back from truly feeling the whole spectrum of feelings.

So, being naked, being totally exposed, ironically, provides you with the ultimate armour: increased spiritual connectedness.

A man or woman who has embraced this heightened spirituality, invites wonderful healing of painful memories formed in his or her past. This healing, in turn is the key to be more caring, more empathetic outward expressions (including unpleasant ones too).

Increased awareness of your spiritual part to your whole being allows you to let down the walls of invulnerability, allows you to drop the façade’. It allows the TRUE SELF to be set free, the TRUE YOU.

A great thinker once said that the most difficult thing for a person to do in his or her lifetime is to BE HIM or HERSELF, in a world that is constantly trying to make you somebody else.

So, building your spiritual self allows you to be more of who you really are, not somebody else, not a fake you. You get to love yourself more which ultimately shows in how you show love to others (outwardly), because you are now naked and exposed and vulnerable.

This vulnerability allows you to experience not only the happy feelings but also the unhappy feelings or the undesirable feelings and be more complete.

You see, to me happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain. Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have (others may not think so). All emotions can be positive in some contexts and negative in others, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.

Happiness is also about being content, a sub-set of happiness.

So, if your goal is to be more happy (and almost every human being has this goal) then to be more happy, learn to feel more. Learn to be unhappy occasionally (when appropriate), don’t be afraid to. It is human to feel these less-than-desired emotions.

To get closer to the elusive happiness – be naked (and honest with your spiritual self). Be real and authentic. Be You. No one else in the world can play that role better than you can …. The role of YOU.

Here’s to your happiness (and unhappiness)!

 

Until next time,

 

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