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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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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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a better life, accountability, action, adaptation, awareness, balance, Beliefs, better choices, choices, courage, decisions, Energy, examined life, game of life, genuineness, Goals, taking action, truths, your life

The big mistakes I see people making when it comes to muscle, fitness and nutrition.

 

Enjoying the sun at a local beach.

In my line of work, part of what I do is help people, help themselves with change as they transition through various phases of life. I help people, help themselves re-engineer themselves in to the person the imagine themselves to be.

A Life affirming approach.

I help men and women of all ages and sizes help themselves, find their best selves and work towards increased balanced and symmetry – externally and internally.

Someone asked me the question posed in the blog heading recently, and it got me thinking. Put simply, people don’t stop, start from a clean slate and prepare for the beginning and the end. Upon reflection of my experience over the last quarter of a century, I have attempted to answer it below –

I have found that ….

People don’t begin with belief.

People don’t begin with trust.

People don’t begin with hope.

People don’t begin with love.

People don’t begin with patience.

People don’t begin with a dream.

People don’t begin with their imagination.

People don’t begin with simplicity.

People don’t begin with continuity.

People don’t begin with gratitude.

People don’t begin with care.

People don’t begin with discipline.

People don’t begin with courage.

People don’t begin with balance.

People don’t begin with harmony.

People don’t begin with the end in mind.

People don’t begin with responsibility.

People don’t begin with their heart.

People don’t begin with desire.

People don’t begin with forgiveness.

People don’t begin by unthinking.

People don’t begin with acceptance of responsibility.

People don’t begin by aligning their philosophy with nature’s principles that is fundamental to Life and living well.

People don’t begin with the end in mind.

People don’t begin with the unconscious.

People don’t begin with their spirit.

People don’t begin by being still.

People don’t think.

People don’t DO.

Enough.

People don’t begin by giving….

So …

People don’t receive …

Enough.

But letting go of things you hold dear is very difficult and the little things, like letting go of a habit that is not life affirming can be very difficult. Neuroscience research tells us now that letting go a habit can take anywhere between 31 and 267 days. Wow! So, be patient and be kind to yourself if you’re thinking about making a change in the way you look.

The fact that you are ‘thinking’ about change is a win in itself. Before a change, any worthwhile, life-changing change can happen, you must want to have a change in mind-set. Now, to do this, even before you think about exercise, dieting or your fitness, you should firstly accept YOU as you are now, not the you – yesterday. The present self “is”, and your former self ‘was’, and in truth, your ‘was’ self is not identical to your ‘is’ now.

They are not the same.

People change, you change. Life is about change, if you’re not changing, you’re not living!

So, let go of the ‘was’ self (past) by letting go of any and all regret and guilt resulting from the past ‘was’ self. The past cannot be rewritten, but you can view it through different lenses and re-framing your view of your ‘was’ self. Tell yourself that past errors are mainly due to limitations in perception and ignorance and that they belong to that ‘was’ self at a certain point in the time continuum. It was all part of the learning process and gaining wisdom and was unavoidable.

This applies not only individually but collectively as a human race.

Most importantly, tell yourself – your ‘is’ self (now) that the habits that were acceptable in the past is no longer acceptable today and now. All regrets and guilt of less-than-ideal and less-than life-affirming habits that helped create the ‘was’ self is now boxed up and viewed simply as an error of judgement, ignorance, mis-perception or miscalculation. Put simply – an error.

All this brought about as a consequence of a limitation of human consciousness.

The first stage is self-forgiveness. This is facilitated by humility but also acceptance of this limitation (by letting go of the ego).

Solution: Begin with the right philosophy, filter and remove beliefs that are no longer relevant, acknowledge your soul and then reach out and …

Embrace the ‘is’ YOU with your whole being. Show you care. Feel your love. Allow the healing to happen – to you and those you value around you. Changes then become long-lasting and sustainable as you chart your new course through the sea of life.

All the best in your choices,

 

Until next time,

The right strategy –
” a quality plan + quality implementation
===> quality results. A quality strategy
of a balanced nutrition, exercise philosophy and rest of the body, mind and spirit helps you achieve a ”6-pack”.

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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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a better life, action, attitude, authenticness, awareness, balance, beauty, Beliefs, change, choices, courage, Energy, game of life, genuineness, man, perspective, real man, responsibility, self improvement, self-respect, symmetry, your life

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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