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Friday, February 17, 2017

That AHA Moment

I was talking to a friend this morning and he explained how he's taking things one day at a time.
Those words inspired this post. 
I realized those were the exact words I was looking for. It fit right into a hole in my thought process. Let me break it down.

In the beginning, trying to lose weight, I was so concerned with the number I was trying to reach.
100 pound goal is intimidating! It feels like an impossible task. I told myself I will never get there!
     Of course as long as I had that mindset, I was right.

I was looking at the peak of a mountain from the base. 
Of course the task was impossible! 
There was a stinking mountain in front of me!

I would get so frustrated staring at the mountain because the peak was so far away. I was so busy staring at the peak, I didn't bother moving toward it.  
     Aim without action leads to frustration.

After many times growing frustrated and quitting, I knew something was broken.
There's plenty of people out there finding success, I should be too.. I had a losing strategy.
     "Hi, I'm Justin and I have performance anxiety."

I figured the more I aimed at my destination, the better I could reach it but that's not the case at all.
     Perfection is the enemy of good.

Ready... Aim...

All it does is ensure you don't take any steps. Just like I wasn't taking any steps. It keeps the goal out of reach. Just like my goals remained out of mine.
What's more, there's only so long one can aim before it becomes detrimental. You become worse aiming too long. You get fatigued, frustrated. 
It's a good way to give up.

The things is, you don't know how accurate your aim is until you act on it. Plenty of time on the range I thought I was sighted dead bullseye... But when I fired, I was off the charts.
Not in a good way. The paper target didn't even move from the wind of the bullet. 
That's how off I was!

But after aiming and acting, then aiming and acting again, I finally got on the paper. I finally started seeing results.
The more I acted on the aim, the better my aim got.

Listen, acting is not more important than the aim. 
     Action without aim leads to exhaustion. 
You need both! 
Acting without aim is dangerous, in a gun range and also in life. It'll also lead you to exhaustion  It's doggy padding against a rip current.

But aiming then acting, that's progress.

It's through action can one hone their aim.

Action and Aim are two legs of a stool. The things is, you kind of need 3 legs for steady progress, right?

What is that 3rd leg you ask?
Wouldn't you like to know.

The Third Leg

It's recording your progress.

I was trying to be clever and make the last word more meaningful to the entire concept.
I could use handwriting to reveal am AHA moment. But no matter how I tried, it just didn't fit.
But if want to have an AHA moment, by all means, use Handwriting.

For best results, you need to record your aim and your action. Without it, it is easy to get stuck in a losing strategy. It's easy to circle the mountain instead of climbing it. I know I did.

What's more, what if you stumble across a winning strategy and not remember how to replicate it? Sure, you got some ground but it'd be good to remember how you did it so you can do it more. When you record your aim and action, you can tweak what's wrong and milk what works.

It wasn't until I arranged my strategy on paper was I able to advance.
It wasn't until I was able to align my results in an array was I able to acquire the best plans forward.
Recording the process, both in failing and in success, scales progress.

So with me now.

Aim. Find your direction for the day. It only takes a minute.
Act. Head in your direction for the day. Every step counts.
Record. Write down what worked and what didn't so you can better hone your aim tomorrow.


If you need help with any 3, come talk to me.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

John 15:13

KJV John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Many people have heard this verse. Maybe you're one.

I always took it as the greatest way to love another is to die for them. While that sounds noble. I think there's more we can pull from it.

Let's break it down.

Breaking It Down

To lay down one's life. What does that mean?

My first inclination is to die, but when we die, do we lay down? No. More like we drop as in drop dead.

Maybe this verse is not talking about death at all.

When I lay down one of my children, I do it gently. gracefully... I try at least.

Don't get me wrong, there's times I want to lay them out but the verse doesn't command us to lay out our friends. That's not in this verse.

I mean, It'd be easier sometimes. But then again, since when did God prefer the east way?

Things Laid Down?

One thing which can be laid is a path. There's no greater love than to pave one's life for another. Work with me for a second.

Life is tough. If I can share my path with another, I could help them navigate around obstacles I struggled with.

How about bridge? We can lay down a bridge, right? There's no greater love than to bridge one's life for another.

It's a bit more meaningful to me. If my life serves as a bridge for another, it could help them cross something they may struggle with alone.

Digging Deeper

How about sacrifice? There's no greater love than sacrificing self for a friend. Sounds like we are heading back towards martyrdom with this synonym.

But sacrifice doesn't just mean to ritually kill. It can mean to gift, offer, surrender.

Maybe the meaning is to remind us we aren't the most important person in our lives.

Surrendering one's life for a friend.

Maybe it means stopping at an inconvenient time to comfort someone.

Maybe it means taking on the burden of easing someone's pain.

Maybe it means helping someone get through a struggle, even when it's a hassle.

Maybe it's about willing to lose your now to ensure a friend's win tomorrow.

Am I getting somewhere?

Win - Win

The greatest thing is helping others win scales. You win by helping others win. When you raise the tide of the ships around you, your ship rises too.

Maybe its about dedicating your life to serving others. Could it be that?

Greater love has no one than to serve one's friends.

Maybe to love is to serve.

Serving others is the greatest love.

Maybe that's the definition of love itself.

The Context

Let's look at the context of the passage the verse is in.

In John 15:15 Jesus completely contradicts my conclusion.

15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Or is it a contradiction?

A servant has a master but one friend is not master to another. Instead they both mutually serve each other.

You can serve a friend with out being your friend's servant.

That's just some thoughts I had. I felt like sharing. Heresy or Divine interpretation. You tell me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Integral Strength

You may know, I recently purchased Elements from GMB.

Actually, let me back up a little...

Back Story

For a year I followed GMB consuming their free content (exercises, podcasts).

During that, I was also following the Stronglifts 5x5 routine at the gym. It's a good routine but it wasn't for me. I never was an exercise type of person and my form, or lack of form showed it. I was lucky I didn't get hurt.

After struggling, I turned back to GMB and reevaluated their beginner program, Elements.

Their free content is great. They give $75 worth of information for free each month. But purchasing a program, that was scary.

What it the expense wasn't worth it? What if it didn't work for me?

After a bit of self motivation, I finally bit the bullet and purchased Elements.

Elements

There is a cascading waterfall of information in it, a ton more than what I prepared for. It overwhelmed me with the treasure of knowledge they provided. So much I had to do week 1 twice!

To be honest, my first week 1, I rolled up to the gym cocksure not even knowing my routine. That was a mistake. I spend most the time there leaning the movements and the regressions. About the time I understood the beginner variation of the first movement, I was almost out of time. The thing is, Ryan isn't long winded. I was just that dumb!

About the time week 1 was over, I was finally ready to start week 1. Luckily you can go at your own pace. It's not a race, and you don't get a prize for finishing early.

Also, spend more time than you think you need on the beginner variants. You can always redo the routine and step up the moves. More than once I attempting advanced variations when I still struggled with beginner. Learn from my mistakes, don't rush the process.

Come to think of it, I still have that problem in Integral Strength.

Integral Strength

Speaking of which, I recently purchased Integral Strength from GMB Fitness.

Elements was so good, I decided to kick it up a notch. The amount I progressed was nothing short of amazing. They lead me through a thoughtful program rich with information and technique. With the training and wisdom, I know have a ton more confidence to the point where I look for things to 'do cool stuff' on. To me, that's awesome.

I'm super excited to do the same with Integral Strength and plan on using the routine a few times. When I concentrate on mastering regressions the advanced movements will look Instagram Good. What? don't judge!

Note to Self

These program are not a race. You can always do it more than once. You can take time to master the basics. By mastering them, you will have the building blocks to do many amazing things. This is not a 1 step process.

Just like losing weight was not a 1 step process. Going from over 300 lbs to 200 lbs was not 1 step. I went from 300+ to 300, then I went from 300 to 290. Then, over time I progressed with weight loss, I learned how to maintain a weight around 210 pounds.

Sharing

Anyway, I wanted to share a time lapse of week 2 day 1 with you. It's not pretty but it's me. It'll look cool . Just you wait.

Also, thank you so much for reading this. I know there's a ton of other things screaming for your attention. I appreciate taking some out for me. I want to continue providing content worthy of your time, it's valuable.

Would you mind sharing your favorite article I've posted? It'll help me learn what you enjoy more and help me provide you more of it. I'd love you give you you more great content. Thanks.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stone's Gym Member of the Month

Recently I was nominated as the member of the month. They asked me to create a write up for them. This is it.

About Me

2015 was a powerful year for me. It was a year I realized I needed to stop doing what I was doing. I was watching TV, playing video games till 1-2 in the morning. I wasn't showing up for my family or work mentally, I was depressed.

To combat depression, I turned to food. Guess what, pretty quickly I became depressed and obese. Mid 2015, I discovered I was over 300 pounds. My clothes didn't fit. I had no energy. I struggled showing love to who mattered most because I couldn't find love for myself.

I didn't know what to do but I knew what I was doing wasn't working. But I didn't have the time... Or did I?

Desperate to find time to fix my life, I recorded what I was doing for a week. I was completely inefficient with the time I had. What's more, I spent half the time scrolling Facebook and Instagram drooling at the latest cake recipes or drink cocktails because that's a super healthy expense of my personal time. #sarcasm

I even prioritized shows I didn't enjoy over sleep. I was as efficient as a zombie on The Walking Dead.

So I shifted my schedule slightly and re-prioritized things I thought should matter to me. What's more, I did the same at work. Instead of smoking for my smoke break, which I quit in 2014, I began walking up and down the stair well. I could only get to the 3rd floor before I had to stop, out of breath. But after a while i made 4, 5, 6 and 7 floors without stopping.

Once I improved my stamina, I started going on walks at lunch. As you may guess with the weather in Houston, I came back a sweaty, stinky mess. It was only a matter of time before my noxious fumes drove my coworkers mad. That's when I remembered a few of them go to Stones to work out. Gyms had showers and I needed showers. Done deal.

But then I visited Stones and you guys had to be all awesome and cool. Curious, interested, and not pushy like so many other places I know. I got to know so many great people with so many great stories, both staff and members alike. It's hard not to love the place.

The coolest part is I'm just beginning. I've only recently started classes and my goodness, there are some exceptional trainers upstairs at noon. And they will serve you a fat slice of humble pie with a smile.

I get it, joining a gym, finding a new gym is scary. You don't know anyone, you think everyone's staring at you, judging your form, expecting to hear snickers when you fall to your knees 5th push up. That was me. But all I've received was love, some times tough love (Estella on Tuesdays [she's awesome]).

Anyway, I found it's okay to look silly at the gym. I still do. And yeah, some of my gym brothers do crazy intimidating stuff I don't understand. But we got to stop comparing or chapter 1s with their chapter 10s. It's a journey, start walking. And if you fall off the wagon on this epic adventure toward fitness, it's cool, don't get disgruntled, get back up on the wagon.

The only ones who don't fail daily reside in cemeteries.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Surprise Rejections

Today I found one my family unfriended me on Facebook. I don't know why. I had a mix of emotion for a minute, wondering whatever I did could provoke such an action.

I guess it shows what you do isn't for everybody. Sometimes yet, it isn't for those you'd think would support you the most.

But it doesn't mean there's no value to what you do. It doesn't mean your art, whatever it may be has no value.

You have gifts to offer the world. Your need to share your art.

Don't allow surprise rejections to stop you. They just aren't a part your audience. Not yet.

Speaking of, if anything I've said has made an impression on you, let me know. Send me a message. I'd love to follow up with you and maybe even help you reach your next step.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Racial Changes

I recently had a conversation with a friend where I shared my story and offered advice. I wanted share my part to you.

I hope you get something from it.

I made some radical changes over the past few years. My best answer is to get use to failing forward cause that's the only real way it works.

With smoking, weight loss, fitness, my spirituality... I had to stop waiting for the perfect plan to pass. It won't land in your lap. If you wait, you'll start getting real good at waiting.

In the beginning, it was an ugly, sloppy, poor excuse of doggy paddling against a rip current. Sometimes it still does. But guess what. Eventually I found forward momentum in all things. You can too.

Smoking

With smoking, I couldn't find a way to quit, but I found a transition from cigarettes to a vape pen. But it wasn't immediate. You got to understand, using the vape pen every other nic fit is progress. You can make it your goal and work on it until it's a habit. Once there, you can make the goal 2 of 3 time the vape pen, then keep adjusting your goal as you go along.

Yes your eventual goal is to quit but not even Ikea makes 1 step plans.

What else, sometime you falter and have to take a few steps back. You know sometimes you gotta step back to get forward moment to leap across that gap. Not every step is supposed to be forward.

And it sucks at times. If I could tell you the time I wanted to quit. There were times after I vaped, I still lit up a smoke. You're not supposed to figure it out the first time. Where's the victory in that. I know it sucks looking forward but I tell you when you look back and see all the obstacles you overcame...

I tell you when I started I sucked. It was brutal pulling myself up by my bootstraps. But after a few tries, guess what, I started to figure out the rhythm of transition. It's like riding a bike for the first time. You're gonna fall. Your gonna fall again. After enough falling and failing, it starts get familiar. Then you are gonna fall a few more times. But you will get it.

Donuts and Kaloches

Kind of like saying no to the donuts on Friday Man, my company brings them in every Friday. You know how hard it is to say no to those when you are 300 lbs? What's more, they have the gall to also bring kaloches. Got to be kidding me.

Last year I was 2 donut, 2 kaloches in before I even realized I was eating. They were already in my gut before I had the chance to regret my decision. Same for smoking when I was trying to quit.

I realized it was a weakness of mine. When blindsided on something you're weak on, you get bowled over. But when you're expecting it..

Mage Armor

Then you can start defending against it. When you know what's about to happen, you have time to cast dietary magic armor and deflect.

But don't stay too long, that mage armor goes away faster than you think in the beginning. There were times those cravings roll natural 20s and crit me. I'd swan dive right into the box and swim in glaze. Same with smoking.

Eventually my body grew used to saying no. The donut, the kaloche, the cigarette, the sitting on my fat ass all day. The depression.

Was it easy? Never. But I tell you, it was worth it. And every experience has given me the faith to push forward even more. It's pretty cool. You should try it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

February Challenge - Capture The Critic

*Note: this is not a political endorsement, it's a controversial topic turned analogy.

Ever notice the things we'd never say to others, we tell ourselves all the time?

It needs to stop and now. We need to enforce an immediate ban on all inner critics!

But how do we stop it? Do we build a 10 ft wall topped with razor wire all along the parameter, refusing to allow anything in?

I say that answer is not good enough! The thoughts will just come back like boomerangs, with friends, and ladders, ... or tunnels.

There is only so much wall you can build. If you ever watched World War Z, You know what I mean.

What's more. Locked down, impenetrable walls also keep out the good. When struggling with hordes of enemies, last thing you need is a ban on positive reinforcement.

Option 2

So what? Do you drop all ideas of walls and have an open border? Do you allow thought in and out with freedom? That's one good way to secure a flow of positive mental reinforcements. Or is it?

And what about the terroristic enemies of the mind? There's a reason why China built the great wall.

There's dragons out there hungry to consume you.

... So what do you do? Neither side is appealing for a safe, secure border of the mind.

Option 3

You can create a mental border patrol. You can be mindful of the thoughts which try to cross over into the sovereign soil of your brain. You can set up checkpoints where you can check the origin of the thoughts.

Because some thoughts aren't originated from with in. And not all external thoughts are there to better you. Some are there to break down and destroy you.

But what else is some enemy thoughts originate from within. Thoughts from your inner critic. The domestic terrorist of the mind.

The good news is you can establish your mental border patrol where ever you wish. You can have checkpoints middle of 'the Nebraska of your mind', checking the origin and intent of each thought.

Catch And Release

The things is like I said before, turning those thoughts away isn't a great long term strategy. Catch and release is a dangerous game to play with your mind.

Those terrorizing thought which paralyze you from action do come back and with reinforcements.

The good new is you can capture those thoughts. Lock them into a dungeon. Interrogate them. Find out where they came from. Counter their strategy, and prevail over them. And it's not that hard.

All you have to do is ask whether it's there to build me up or to break me down.

When your inner critic tells you you're not strong enough to resist that donut. Lock it up. Interrogate it. Find out where that thought came from. It doesn't build you up. It doesn't server to advance you.

Painful Example

When someone, say a step father, says you'll never get though boot camp. Lock that thought up. It doesn't build you up. Throw that thought in the dungeon and smash that key.

You can do it. You can rise above. Don't let that thought chain you down for the next ten years.

Don't allow it to preside over you post graduation when you did better than you ever imagined. Don't let the words infect your confidence to where you start self sabotaging.

Don't be lucky you got out with an honorable discharge, thank you God for that grace it wasn't deserved.

Welcome to my 20s. I wish someone preached that to me 15 years ago.

Breaking The Cycle

Just because someone tell you something. Even if it's someone you love and admire. it doesn't mean every word they say is there to help. Terrorists can come from allies.

I know more than once I sent a terroristic words into the ears of my loved ones. It wasn't intentional, it wasn't on purpose but it happened. That's one way I can forgive my step father because I've done it too.

I'm thankful I'm mindful now and send positive reinforcement into the ears on my allies. It's intentional and perpetual.

Because I know how it feels, thinking the world is against you.

I know how it feels needing those words of positivity. That's why I strive i breathe life into others. I remember clear when I thought my own life was dead, barren, lifeless... Full of terror, surrounded by enemies. I had no chance. But yet I did.

Wow, what a derail from my original thought.

Thoughts

We don't need an impenetrable wall. That blocks the life we can receive from others.

But we also need barriers to block the bad.

And we need security at the gaps checking origin and intention. Not just that but whether the though helps.

Because good intentioned words still can break us down. And bad intentioned words can build us up. It's weird. But it is what it is.

We need to know whether the words we hear help. If they do, embrace them, have them over for dinner. Write them down in a book so you can call upon in at a moments time.

But we need to know what words break us down. Then we can shut them down, and lock them away. That way they can't come back, like boomerangs, with reinforcements, and ladders... or tunnels.

And sure, some will still get through. You aren't perfect. None are. But catching 1 out of 10 is better than 0 out of 10. It's a start. Once you got one, aim for 2 out of 10. Then on.

Eventually you might get to 9 out of 10. Sure, 10% may still get through... But by then you're playing on a whole other level. By then, you're a superpower of positivity. Breathe life to others.

Challenge

Establish a Border Patrol for your Mind.

Capture some inner critics. Lock up some thought Terrorists. Stop the sanctuary cities that house perpetual depression.

Call upon some allies to render aid. Positive words of life to refresh your soul. Bring in the National Guard of the Mind to bring relief and rest to your anxieties.

Roasted Coconut Flake Trail Mix

This was first pitrched to me as a replacement to popcorn. It is not in a traditional sense but if you're looking for a healthier mindless snacking option. This may fit your bill. I frequently find large containers of organic coconut flakes on cleareance at my local Krogers. They are about $2 USD for 1 lb.

Click the image (or here) for the video version of the ingredients.

Roasted Coconut Flake Trail Mix

  • Prep: 1 min
  • Cook: 3 min

Ingrediants

  • 1 Cup Coconut Flakes
  • 1/4 Tsp Cloves (or Allspice)
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 F
  2. Mix all ingredients into a bag and shake until Coconut Flakes are coated
  3. Bake 3 Minutes

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Roasted Red Potatoes

I wanted to share with you a simple, healthy recipe I made a few days ago.

Click the image (or here) for the video version of the ingredients.

Roasted Red Potatoes, plain and simple... And Delicious.

  • Prep: 5 min
  • Cook: 10 min
  • Servings: 8

Ingrediants

  • 3 lbs Red Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Oil
  • 1 Tsp pepper
  • 1 Tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat Oven to 450 F
  2. Cut Potatoes into 1/8ths
  3. Toss and Mix Potatoes with Oil, Pepper, and Salt
  4. Layer on Baking Sheet
  5. Bake 30 Minutes, Stirring Once Halfway

Monday, February 06, 2017

Accidental Gratitude

Last week my family went of a Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Freedom. It was an awesome experience.

That ship has a great staff, professional and personal. It was everything one could hope for and more. It was a wonderful experience. I'll talk more of that later.

What I do want to talk about I didn't anticipate on this trip. It wasn't from the ship nor from our excursion, the good hope estate. It was between the two.

En route to our destination, we traveled past a run down part of Falmouth.

Now from the ship, we could see some slums and decayed, even destroyed buildings. The route out bus took didn't travel close to them. Instead, it went through another, less run down part of town.

Even Still, my heart grieved. What's more, my photos don't paint the story my eyes encountered neither.

On our route, we passed shanties consisting of tarp and aluminum. There were also lines of shacks made from plywood and bamboo. It brought into focus how fortunate my family was. It kicked my gratitude into high gear. My eyes reopened to see the poverty overwhelming many countries.

But in it all, I think the most remarkable thing I saw was a mural. 5 men using 5 computers. I realized I take for granted my car, house, work. But computers I also take for granted, in other countries, they become murals. Isn't that remarkable?