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

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

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

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

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

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

No, I didn’t think so.

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

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

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

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

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

Not good. Not realistic.

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

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

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

I choose to do so.

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

Friends, they are truly amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

No!

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

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

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

Please apply.

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

I wonder?

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

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

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

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

But, I still wonder?

All the best to you and your friendships.

 

Until next time,

Best of Vitality to you.

 

The old Captain Viking Pirate Fiji Island Muscle Monk

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

Friends that workout together … stay together?

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Fairness in Love?

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

Do you believe in love?

Do you believe in lasting love?

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

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

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

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

Hard work strongly involves working at fairness.

How do I know?

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

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

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

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

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

A friendship that lasted over fifty years.

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

Side triceps in my gym of seven years.

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

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

Do you argue fairly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, from my experience, I believe that –

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

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

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

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

Oh love … oh fairness fairy.

We seek your guidance.

Amen.

 

Until next time,

 

The Old Captain Viking Pirate Muscle Monk.

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

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot

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The 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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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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Learn to be more coachable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s call this individual “Dave”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, he did have an accident.

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

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

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

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

That was unacceptable to him. Period!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun with your workouts and have fun with life.

 

Until next time,

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

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

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

The greatest expression of self-respect.

Say no. Vv.

Say no.
Vv.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say NO. Release the champion within you!

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

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

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

As the great thinker Aristotle said –

 “Where we are free to act,

We are also free to refrain from acting,

And where we are able to say No,

We are also able to say yes.”

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

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

Little things (like saying no) matters.

Dream. Decide. Do.

 

Until next time,

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

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

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