a better life, action, awareness, balance, Beliefs, change, courage, decisions, desire, Energy, habits

Giving Up.

Our Everests - giving up.

Our Everests – giving up.

Life is beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are disillusioned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until next time,

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

Being a parent teaches you about giving up.

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Your daily elevator ride.

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

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

Changeless change.

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

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

Change is good – for the most part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Plan
  2. Implementation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

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

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Two ears and one mouth.

 

Listening is an attitude of the heart. Vv.

Listening is an attitude of the heart.
Vv.

I see and hear it almost every day.

At times, I admit, I am guilty of doing it too. I’m talking about being a poor listener. I am blessed to have two ears and one mouth but have not always listened twice as much as I have spoken in my dealings with others.

What about you? Do you find yourself butting in or cutting people off in the middle of their statement?

A big part of what I do in my coaching business is listen. I believe every person has a story and I love hearing people’s stories. I also believe that listening helps you learn a lot from people and I certainly have learned a great deal from listening carefully to the thousands of people in the gym environment.

Most people are poor listeners. Most people seem to enjoy racing their minds fast forward preparing to say something or forming a reply when they should be listening.

I try to remind my children when I want their full attention that to listen is to listen with your two ears, your two eyes, your body and your heart. They are still trying to understand this request because it is difficult to do.

Adults find listening difficult too.

It takes a lot of effort. It is hard work! You need a lot of focused ability.

It is much easier to say something rather than listen. Listening takes a lot of patience and this is a dying trait amongst many in today’s fast-paced societies.

The first key is raising your awareness of your listening habits. Are you aware of your listening biases? Do these biases contribute to you being a better listener or not? I notice many people tune out children or old people. I have been made aware over my life so far, that many women have and still complain that men don’t listen to them as carefully as they listen to their mates and other men.

Why is this so?

I’m sure there are many reasons that contribute to this problem in society. I believe the lack of good listening skills starts at a young age as children generally struggle at listening to their elders. However, this poor listening habit continues as children are great imitators of these same adults.

Listen with your two ears, your eyes, your body and your heart. Vv.

Listen with your two ears, your eyes, your body and your heart. It is, after all, an ‘attitude of the heart’.
Vv.

I believe the world aches and cries for good listeners. There are some studies that show that many doctors report that they daily see patients who have nothing physically wrong with them.

Turns out that the patients merely needed someone to listen to them.

So, reflect on your listening behaviour. Be honest with your assessment of your ability. If you need to improve, do so.

Speak less, listen more – with your ears, eyes, body and heart. We have two ears and one mouth. A wise man once said to listen twice as much as you speak.

Very simple advice to make the world a better place. The sad thing is that the simple things in life are also the most difficult thing to do.

But if more of us did better listening and less talking, maybe, just maybe, there will be fewer sick people visiting doctors in the world tomorrow. To not only listen more but also to listen better.

To choose to take more care in listening is a gift, a gift that may be the highest form of respect you could probably show the person who is doing the talking. It is an attitude of and from the heart. 

Part of having an attitude of gratitude.

Best of vitality to you!

 

Until next time,

Part of growth in my self-development programs - Listen & Learn (Awareness); Apply (sufficient & appropriate actions); Adapt. Vv.

Part of growth in my self-development programs –
Listen & Learn (Awareness); Apply (sufficient & appropriate actions); Adapt.
Vv.

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Torn between two hands.

My beautiful wife of almost 12 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

My beautiful wife and co-captain in life of over 15 years now. My love for this human being keeps increasing every single day.

I love life.

Being an avid student of life, I think a lot about life and it’s definitions and prevailing beliefs and belief systems, on all levels.

I think every individual should have a continuously questioning curiosity to everything in life, which includes their existing beliefs and values and everything else. A questioning attitude just like scientists have had and use in their reasoning.

I ask again what it means to be a man?

I’ll say it again, it can be difficult to be a man in today’s world. I believe he is torn between two hands. Let me elaborate. You see, every man – every male strives to meet his basic psychological needs.

“And what are these?” I hear you say.

Well, firstly, I believe it is simply to know and be known. If we keep it simple, in addition to this, every man needs to love and be loved.

He also needs other very important psychological needs. By “other”, I believe men need deep caring relationships with other men. If I recall correctly, I think it was one of the disciples (James I think) who said christians should be encouraged to confess their sins to each other and pray for each other … or somewhere along these lines.

What does this mean for us?

Well, I believe it means that every man should have another man who would have their back. What this boils down to is that a man who does not have at least one other man to whom he can be accountable regarding his failures, hurts and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger.

You witness evidence of this erupting in almost all areas of our society – in families, in schools, in workplaces, in communities, in countries and between nations.

The angry man in our society is caught between an unrealistic ideal brain-washed in to him by previous generations. That is all they knew. They knew no better.

Today’s men strive to live up to this “unrealistic mythical masculinity ideal or stereotype” on the one hand and true masculinity on the other.

He feels the pressure to –

  • Achieve
  • Earn
  • Conquer
  • Win

And in a lot of cases, do all these things on his own. Do it at all costs. Costs to his health, his relationships, his family, his community of friends.

… just to live up to these unrealistic expectations society places on him of outdated stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘real man’. But every man has a vulnerable side. Every man is a Mr Vulnerable too where he also feels the need to love and to nurture those he loves and be loved and nurtured by those who loves him.

But this is an impossible ideal. An impossible dream. As he, today’s Real Man futilely attempts to reconcile the two in his own life. He is torn between being invincible and vulnerable, aloof and involved, self-serving and sharing.

He is torn between two hands.

The roots of this conflict send up numerous shoots of anger-producing tendencies in his life.

Anger tendencies that can be dangerous for the man, the people around him, the community he lives in and the nation as a whole.

With the next generation of Valentine males - Zachary.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

Men should not be made to feel ‘torn between two hands’. Men should not be made to be torn between these two ideals. Men should not feel they should travel alone. Men should also welcome the vulnerable side of him. Men should accept that sharing this responsibility is one of the best ways to move forward in the direction of a new definition of what it means to be a Real Man in today’s world.

It is not fair on the man and not fair on those he loves. I feel very blessed that the woman who chose me to spend the rest of her life with allows me to be vulnerable. It is “Mother’s Day” today and she is the most amazing woman I have ever met in my life so far. My children are very blessed to have her as their mother. She is my co-captain on our ship through the sea of life.

For the women reading this, please try and listen to your man, really listen. Listen with your two ears, your body, your spirit and your heart. Help him be Mr Vulnerable too, if you’re not already doing so.

And for the man, embrace your Mr Vulnerable. It does not make you less of a man. I believe it makes you more of what it means to be a Real Man. Today’s definition of a modern-day Real Man, what true masculinity really is.

It is one of the most important gifts you can give the little men (our sons) of the future. The young men we entrust to lead and make decisions when we are old and grey and when we are gone and forgotten.

Do it for the future of Man-kind.

 

Until next time,

My daughter and I. I cherish every moment I have with her. She allows me to be Mr Vulnerable too. Vv.

My daughter and I.
I cherish every moment I have with her.
She sees a healthy dose of masculinity in me and Mr Vulnerable too.
Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable. Vv.

Its ok to be Mr Vulnerable.
Vv.

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The unexamined life.

Being honest with yourself and being brave enough to be allowed to be examined in front of a mirror is critical to successful body re-engineering. Like muscle, life requires that you regularly examine yours.

Being honest with yourself and being brave enough to be allowed to be examined in front of a mirror is critical to successful body re-engineering.
Like muscle, being a “Student of Life” requires that your life is regularly examined for increased awareness.

It is quite alarming at the prevalence of people living day-to-day without reflecting on their ways – their lives.

In my time owning and managing a gym for seven years, I have gained a lot of insight in to life. I spent a lot of time listening and observing life through other peoples’ experiences (OPE), from people from all levels of society. From the very rich (I had a member that was one of the Top 100 wealthiest people in Australia) to the very poor.

It has taught me a lot.

The examined body leads to positive improvements. The examined life leads to a life more worth living. Only if you desire it so.

The examined body leads to positive improvements. The examined life leads to a life more worth living.
Only if you desire it so.

From OPE and my general curiosity, I have found that among the many problems that man has, a very big problem with the modern man (and probably has been this way since the dawn of time) is that the majority lead unexamined lives. Most men (and women) have not carefully plotted their life view and purpose.

Most use the ‘scatter-gun approach’ and hope to get a hit, similar to the concept of the lotto and why it taps in to the very nature of people’s inner sanctity.

They have not really taken the time to ‘think’, to really reflect and honestly examine their life so far and the life they would like to live in to the future. A lot just go about life copying the generations that has passed before them or what they are told by the media. Very dangerous and not wise I think!

It is akin to using a cassette tape player to listen to music in the technological age we’re in now. It is not relevant. The model is not relevant.

I can put it down to one thing: it is people’s inability to search for truth and obedience to GOD! This model has stood the test of time and is still relevant today. It is the only way to salvation.

In the modern world we live in, it seems everybody is in a rush and are ‘busy’. It’s almost as if it is a competition. Everyone is trying to be busier than the next person. People are rushing from task to busy task but are not taking enough time-out or ‘pit-stops’ to reflect on life’s larger meaning and purpose.

Instead most are living from day-to-day-to-day. Most are living under the burden of today’s problems. Most are consumed in action(s), constantly reacting to a never-ending in-box of stimulus vying for their attention. A seemingly endless menu of options of reactions to constant interruption. Interruption to your life … your hours … your seconds.

People are spending a big portion of their 86,400 seconds per day just reacting to interruption (via the various technological inputs we have today in addition to other mediums). People’s attentions are being hijacked and in turn, so are their lives (time) and money.

What is all this rushing around for? Where will it ultimately get you?

I think it was Ghandi that said once “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

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

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

I think a lot of people in modern society have lost their spirituality, their belonging to something greater than themselves and places of worship (churches) have seen a dramatic drop in numbers.

As a result, sadly, too many become “lost souls” and are just going through the motions. Their minds mostly occupied by office or superficial problems that is slowly eating away in their guts like a cancer and stripping away at their inner-self, their soul!

Most don’t get a chance or don’t make the time to reflect on the true meaning of life, their true meaning of their life. Sad, but true. They don’t get a chance until it is too late.

Re-think: there is a God, believe it so! All he wants is his people to believe. To believe without a doubt that he is God.

There is holy spirit in every Christian. Give it some time in your busy schedule. Allow the holy spirit to speak with your creator – God. “Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall receive” as the Bible says. Allow him to shower you with all his love, all his grace. And why? Because you deserve it because you try to mirror what you expect out of life.

Like everything else, practise helps. As a lawyer or an Accountant or a sportstar is no better than the effort he puts into keeping up with his profession, so is the Christian no better than the effort he puts into self-examination of life’s big questions.

So, if you have not done so already, make time to reflect and examine your life today … before it is too late. It is your life, you only have one life after all. Achieve your salvation.

As Socrates said a long time ago –

“The unexamined life is not worth living”.

Start praying for answers to life’s big questions. I believe that your most important task is to not only be unafraid to ask questions but to ask the right questions.

For your sake, if you have not done so already, start examining the most important person in the world to you and that is: YOU!

It can be very scary and a very difficult thing to do. As a start, release all fears and release all doubt to aid you to release the unexamined life and embrace the examined life. Find your way, your true path in life, even if it is a path less travelled.

Become increasingly Aware; take sufficient and appropriate Actions. Adapt (My Triple A philosophy to self-improvement in all areas of life).

Examine life. Examine you. To become the best you. Then, by default, everyone else gets the best of you too.

The examined life may not be all that flash either but I think it would be a life worth living as it would attract what you expect and reflect what you desire.

All the best!

 

Until next time,

In the heat of competition. Vv.

In the heat of competition.
Vv.

~~Life &; wellness COACH~~

~~Life &; wellness COACH~~

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Simple is beautiful. Complex is not.

Keep it simple.

Keep it simple.

I love simple. I love simplicity.

I believe the very idea of ‘keeping things simple’ and the very idea of simplicity adopted in all areas of life is one of the most valuable yet still very under-rated aspects of life.

In all areas of life one needs to strive towards simplicity as this brings you towards a more harmonious life.

I can see where this trend of ‘minimalism’ has evolved from in today’s modern world. Smart living is what I call it, smart living. Similar to the way I encourage every person that I have ever helped in the gym over the last twenty plus years is to Train SMART. This is partly why I believe that simple is beautiful.

As I have said in previous blog write-ups, my definition of beauty or beautiful is ‘balance and symmetry’. Nothing more, nothing less. We can see it readily in nature – a beautiful flower or leaf, the beauty of the way a shark swims and the beauty of autumn leaves scattered all over the ground. It’s everywhere! We just need to learn more from nature.

How? We’ll keep it simple!

To become more balanced and symmetrical in the various areas of life though, you need to work, and you need to work hard and smart. You need to work at becoming a little more organized and organize things a little bit more differently in order to approach simple. You need to be able to let go, to destroy what is not relevant in your life. You need courage to bring chaos in to your life to have the opportunity to create and evolve. With a continuous adaptive strategy you can find your new equilibrium, your new state of balance and symmetry.

Just like Life, muscle too, is the continuous fusion of chaos and order. The real skill comes in the awareness of simplicity because mastering the ability to ‘filter out what is not relevant in your life’ (being a better manager of your funnel) is one of the most difficult skills in life to master. Through continuously assessing multiple feedback loops, you are able to self-tune. This takes courage and it takes time. Ultimately, this brings you closer to ‘the essence of the various areas of your life. This brings you closer to simple. Why?

Because SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL!

Look & learn. Start from a clean slate. Create & Evolve.

Look & learn. Start from a clean slate. Create & Evolve. Keep it simple.

Making anything – any process, any part of your life more complex, eventually leads to ugliness. Because complex is ugly. Some people may like ugly and that is ok. But I think we have enough ugliness in the world already.

So, it follows that one has to make the complex – simple.

This can only be achieved through increased awareness. Increased awareness within yourself and increased awareness of the external environment that affects you and your life.

Then, make a quality plan and sometimes getting help from a strategist to guide you in taking sufficient and appropriate actions towards non-complexity, one step-at-a-time. A quality plan is useless without quality implementation.

The most important step and almost always under-rated step is to adapt. A lot of people forget to do this or don’t do this completely. It is the process of adaptation that really allows you towards your state of beauty.

Perhaps it is this: ‘truth is beauty, beauty truth. That is all ye need to know’ as the famous poet Keats wrote. There you go – beauty is not only simple, it is truth or closer.

Ultimately, you have to find your truth. And what is beauty to you?

My tip: whenever something is starting to become complex – simplify it. It is as simple as that but as a great philosopher once said, ‘it is the simple things in life that is also the most difficult to do’.

Still, just try and continue doing so. The returns are far greater to you in the long-term compared to the short-term costs invested in time and resources.

Simplifying the complex in all areas of life is key. This will save you from a lot of re-work and headache later in life.

Observe. Learn the basics. Start from scratch. Stick to the basics. Keep it simple, continuously.

Begin. There’s no time like the present as there is no time to waste.

 

Until next time,

A slight variation to the common 'back double biceps' compulsory body-building pose.

A slight variation to the common ‘back double biceps’ compulsory body-building pose.

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My Top 5.5 Tips to avoiding injury.

Education through a perception of the truth. Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement. Vv

Education through a perception of the truth.
Increasing your awareness, taking sufficient and appropriate actions and adapting accordingly is key towards self-improvement. All done in my programs.
Vv

I have been very fortunate that in over twenty three years of training in the gym I have not been seriously hurt in any way. I am very proud to say that in that time I have not seen a physiotherapist or chiropractor for any training-related injury.

I have always been a stickler for form and ideal exercise execution. Always. Accelerated increased awareness from the guidance from some of the best coaches in various fields such as martial arts, power-lifting, boxing, athletics, squash, soccer, hockey, rugby and resistance-training has also contributed heavily to me staying injury-free.

Mastering the basics in any physical endeavour is paramount to you excelling in and enjoying the experience while doing it. Everyone that I have ever helped over the years get educated in applying the basics of training all the time – not some of the time! This loosely applies to most worthwhile goals in life.

Getting injured is a pain. Apart from the physical pain, one has to endure days, weeks or even months of re-habilitation. It can drain one of mental and emotional energy too and be quite costly if the injury is very serious.

Over the years, I have adopted certain routines with deliberate practise (habits) that I believe decreases my chances of getting injured while training in the gym.

Below are 5.5 key tips to help you lower your risk of injury:

Tip # 1: Aim for balance & symmetry.

My whole goal from the very first time I lifted weights was to build a more balanced and symmetrical physique. I believe this is one of the main key factors in me staying injury-free all these years. This is despite me lifting relatively heavy weights for most of this time (especially the two years when I trained for the World Championships in New York).

For example, a lot of people train the ‘mirror muscles’ more than they do the muscle in their posterior chain (muscles you don’t see in the mirror). This leads to asymmetry and muscle group imbalances.

Not a wise thing to do.

Focusing say, on your chest and shoulders and biceps (the ‘show-me-your muscles muscles) and neglecting your upper back muscles like the traps and rear delts and middle back can spell disaster. The most common gym-related injury for young men world-wide are shoulder injuries primarily because of this.

Muscle imbalances lead to increased risk of injury in the respective joints and muscles.

Besides, why do you want to be the strongest or biggest guy when you can build the most balanced and symmetrical physique for your frame. This is more aesthetic and more pleasing to the eye.

So, leave your ego at the door and work towards a better shape – a more balanced and symmetrical physique. If you don’t, you may regret it later.

Results with care. Here, Brad is 'feeling the essence' of the exercise and inching closer to his best self. He is in total control and 'feels' the muscle being worked. Vv

Results with care.
Here, Brad is ‘feeling the essence’ of the exercise and inching closer to his best self.
He is in total control and ‘feels’ the muscle being worked.
Vv

Tip #2: Be aware of your breathing technique.

I believe incorrect breathing technique is one of the main contributors to getting injured when training in the gym. Keep this in mind – for:

Pushing motions (bench press; shoulder press) – exhale at the point of contraction (when your arms are furthest away from you)

Pulling motions (lat pulldowns; biceps curls) – inhale when your arms are furthest from your torso.

Breathing also helps you with the next tip.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain - Phil Waugh performing a set of squats. Using good exercise technique(which includes proper breathing) is paramount to success.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain – Phil Waugh performing a set of squats.
Using good exercise technique(which includes proper breathing) is paramount to success.

Tip # 3: Focus!

Concentrating on your breathing and what you are going to do with the weight for those 15 to 45 seconds (a set) is critical to lowering your risk of injury.

Every fibre and cell in your body needs to 100% fully-focused! Don’t get side-tracked by other conversations and mentally block out all distractions. Focusing certainly aids you putting on good lean muscle. Period!

A slight loss of concentration could lead to less than ideal execution of exercise leading to increased levels of risk of injury.

I have developed quite a few formulas relating to peak performance over the years and one of the most important ones is:

“Focus = Results” (a shortened version of my formula).

Tip # 4: Always assess exercise execution with ‘risk:benefit’ ratio mind-set.

What I mean by this is that you need to increase your awareness of the exercises and work on improving your risk assessment of the exercise relating to:

  • Exercise choice and safety – a particular exercise that may be safe for someone may not be for another.
  • High-risk lifting – improper execution of certain exercises can increase levels of risk for very small increments in benefit. The range of motion of exercises need to be tied in to the ‘risk:benefit” ratio of the exercise and the trainee’s goals

Always avoid “high-risk’ lifting. This relates to variables such as excessive weights; excessive number of repetitions; excessive range-of-motion and so forth.

Tip # 5.5: Apply correct training principles.

I’ve always believed that building muscle is like LIFE. It relies on two principles:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Continuity

There are many principles to building and keeping muscle and after 23 plus years in the gym I have concluded that the two above and this next two principles – 3) control and 4) feel are key towards lowering your risk of injury.

All beginners and intermediate trainees or less experienced gym enthusiasts should master these before ‘going heavy’.

When you keep it simple and focus on the full range of motion of the exercise with continuous tension, you increase your ability to build good, quality muscle.

Because you are 100% focused and are using the right weight for you to correctly execute the exercise, you have better control and feel. This allows you to ‘work the muscle, not the joint’.

If you can’t control and feel the muscle being worked, you’re not building muscle, only ego.

A lot of people still aspire to the ‘No pain, no gain’ maxim but I think you should not follow this. Listen to your body: never do anything that hurts and don’t train if you hurt yourself or suffer from an existing injury.

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'. Focus + heart + visualization ===> results. Vv.

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’.
Focus + heart + visualization ===> results.
Vv.

Most injuries happen over time, through cumulative effect of muscular discomfort and micro-scopic tares and inflammation of tendons and ligaments around the joints. Most injuries are the result of an imposed force exceeding the structural strength of the involved body-part.

Don’t copy the super-stars and genetic elite who look and train the way they train because most of the time you don’t know their full story and so this may give you a false sense of direction and could lead to injuries.

Those who don’t do away with the maxim ‘no pain, no gain’ and try to train like the super-stars usually regret it, sooner or later. A better maxim to adopt is ‘No brain, no gain”.

Strive to Train SMART. What I mean by this is that I have always promoted a more conservative approach to training. My own experience and what I have learned from observing countless other trainees – has taught me that a more conservative way to training is not only the most effective but also the safest way to train not only in the short-term but more importantly for your long-term health.

Strive to stay injury-free. You’re in the gym to work on making that person you see in the mirror (you!) – better. Not for ego.

You want to still be doing this activity and off-setting the on-set of ageing (by building muscle) well in to your 80s and 90s if you live that long. It will certainly add quality to your life. Like I have said before, Muscle is the potion of youth!

All the best in your training this year.

Embrace my Triple A to self-improvement: be more aware; take appropriate actions and adapt accordingly to reach your goals in life.

Cheers and Happy January to you!

 

Until next time,

Just like friendship, genuine muscle requires a lot of time and hard work to be built and sustained. You do this by adopting an 'adaptive strategy' of self-tuning. Vv.

Just like friendship, genuine muscle requires a lot of time and hard work to be built and sustained.
You do this by adopting an ‘adaptive strategy’ of self-tuning.
Vv.

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