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The one with the Boss Song and the Attitude Adjustment

Friday, October 17, 2014

So I'm in the steam room talking to this guy Tom, an old retiree who is the center of the social life of the gym locker room in the mornings. He is loud and wonderful, always with a smile, and sharing jokes with everyone. Once you're on Tom's good side, you feel like part of the in crowd, and so each time I get a chance, I engage with him. He makes you feel good about yourself.

And Tom asks how things are and I tell him I'm wonderful. He smiles and returns a reply when I ask.

"I'm great. I tried on miserable, but it didn't suit me"

And that struck me. I mean, I legitimately felt wonderful this morning. I love friday workouts, I'm just in the zone. All of the work of the week and the wonder of the build from friends and family and the anticipation of the weekend all collide to make me amped. And given the rest time, I'm doing a third workout in five days, so I have that base soreness to work through, so I feel more accomplished.

But even so, there was this feeling I got, this reminder that the thing we get to control in life is our attitudes. Tom reminded me of a very important truth. We can try on miserable or happy, elated or wanton. We get to choose our feelings, and we should.

My weights were heavy today, and I crushed them in the way that a man, coursing with spunk and sweat does. My squats were 230. I felt this pull across my quad, deep into my ham and glute. Today I also felt the abductors. The stabilizers. I felt the wonderful stretch in my hip and inner thigh, and the strong weight on my traps. The bar pressing into me as I lifted.

And I crushed it. My body shaking and my smile everpresent. I just pushed and celebrated and enjoyed every minute. I just let myself be male and animal and power and press.

And then my bench was 150. And although that's not to my goal of pressing my bodyweight, it was getting there. I'm under 30 pounds to it, and I'm happy for that. I'm tired, and sore, and my arms hurt, and my chest is pulled wide and I breathe out each rep. And on the fifth set, I fail. Only four reps. But it was wonderful. I pressed and shaked and smiled and let myself be me.

And then rows, 150 as well. Strong and powerful, pulling my shoulder blades together at the top and pulling my elbows back each rep, trying to pull through the bar with my elbows.

Each time I sat down at the bench, I panted, let my body shake.

And a good set gets you to this place in your head. It gets you to this place where you have to try and decide. Where you have to say "can I go on" and "am I this strong" - and you have to choose. You can choose strength, power, will. Or you can give in, say you're too tired or too weak.




After 9/11, Bruce Springsteen put out this album called the Rising. It's this powerful, emotional album, and there is this song on the album called Into the Fire. It's not a song I'd normally pull up on my workout days, but today, I did. I wanted to revel in the emotion of the album and use the sense of hope it has for my work. The song is about firefighters who, instead of running away from the challenge, choose to run into the din. The chorus is a very powerful repetition of a mantra, one so strong and moving to me.

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

And in that moment, with the weight of the bar looming over you, staring down the iron, with respect and fear, with wonder and awe, with power and acknowledged weakness, you make a choice.

I chose to be strong. I chose to have faith. I chose to believe in myself. I chose to indulge in love in the most primal and raw way possible.

I chose to pound it, to really crush. And when I came to fail. To pull myself back up. I had a choice, and I made it. I moved forward each and every step. Every rep. Every set. Every lift. My choice was continue on.

I remember 9/11, and I remember fear. Even now, staring at the TV, with ISIS and with Ebola and with an obesity epidemic and with all the murders and accidents and terror on tv there is great fear. There is this lack of investment, and this hysteria, and this global sense of dread. The market is falling. The economy is flat, we're in this place of powerful negativity.

But you can choose. You can. You should.

It's small wins. It's the comfort of a friend who wishes you luck, or encourages you on workout days. It's making sure there are prizes for yourself, large and small for doing the work and being powerful and strong. It's about closeness and tenderness among people. It's about strength and hope and faith and love. It's about the cool wonder of a perfect fall day, it's about the sweetness of the fruit you choose to eat, it's about the wonder of sharing intense moments with others.

It's about people. And choosing.

"I tried on miserable, but it didn't suit me"

So choose to be better today. Choose it. And live it.

I'm proud of you, all my sparkfriends, for all you've accomplished. For getting up when you fall. For not being a slave to your failures, but in putting them behind you and moving on. I'm proud of you for challenging your paradigm and for accepting warmth and love in your lives. For taking risks and being true to yourself. For your passions and your reactions to the world. For your willingness to choose every day and not letting that be as daunting as it can be.

So thank you.
(now you. Go out there and choose. And then pay it forward. Tell someone else you care. Help them too, to choose their attitudes, and be a boss in the world.)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CRABADA 10/17/2014 12:13PM

    In my heart of hearts, I do believe you can choose your attitude, your actions and reactions. But I forget sometimes and get swept up in the whirlwind of life and feel like I've lost all control. Sometimes it leads to simple annoyance that I'm not moving forward, but sometimes it leads to that vast, black ocean that I fear so much. Thanks for this beautiful reminder that not only is it possible to wrest myself out of the chaos, but that I'm the only one who can actually do so.
xo,
C.

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ADARKARA 10/17/2014 12:11PM

    That Tom guy, he knows his stuff. Every day we're presented with choices: what to wear, how to act, what to say. Some choose to be victims, and some choose not to be. Some choose to complain incessantly about their life, and some choose to focus on all the wonderful things they have instead. Some people choose to stay in bed in the morning, and others choose to get up before the sun and pound some freaking iron before work. Some people choose to hide inside, and some choose the inspiration of nature. Some people focus on the negative, and some on the positive. I choose the latter option in all of those, because in 20 years, the negatives will fade away and all I'll be left with are good memories.

Thanks for sharing!

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ANNIESBANANNIES 10/17/2014 11:24AM

    That's awesome, love the attitude! We can all be Toms to someone, especially ourselves.

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AERO_NERDETTE 10/17/2014 10:59AM

    That Tom guy, he said what I've been needing to hear. Why keep "wearing miserable" when you can change to something better? It's the same thing with those old "fat clothes"...Why keep wearing them if they don't fit? Changing from negative emotions to positive ones can be difficult if you're comfortable in your cave (like I've been before) or scared to reach out, but it's like finally trying on clothes that fit you correctly instead of curling up in that triple-XL sweatshirt (even if it is super comfy).

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REBESANCON 10/17/2014 10:33AM

    Loved your blog! Thank you for sharing, and keep up the good work!

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The one with the very poorly articulated new beginnings thing

Monday, October 06, 2014

My weekend was lovely. Well, except for the vaguely sick kids. Not totally sick. Not like, throw up all over the place sick. More like waking up in the night and feeling generally ungood and dry cough sick. Each day was pretty much kidstuff -- running and giggling and laughing and dance partying to hair bands in the kitchen and batman/powerrangers/starwars mashup playing with my son and art project/school project/note writing to neighborhood kids with my daughters. But then, as the evening wore on, weariness and emotions set in, along with cough and lethargy, and then, as an overprotective dad, I bundled them all into my bed so I could stare at them all night long just like I used to do when they were babies and I wanted to watch them breathe by moonlight.

And so, it was a relaxing, albeit sleep deprived weekend.

Oh, and there was that pint of ben and jerries. (seriously, um, who gets four servings out of a pint of ice cream?)

And, in there, as I enjoyed a more lackadaisical weekend filled with more space and simplicity than usual, I thought.

[Sidebar: I'm not good with being alone with my thoughts. Like many fat kids, or former fat kids, or kids who think they're fat kids, I have some self-esteem issues. Despite the way out of my league ladies who like to say I'm "hot" and "sexy", this is an ongoing problem for me. I suck at taking compliments, and I suck at having positive body image. I'm sure this resonates. More importantly, I have a pretty strict set of guidelines personally that I follow. I don't hold anyone else to such a high standard, but for me, I have a really hard time not using high abusive language about myself, and questioning every last terrible thing I've ever done. Think Chunk in Goonies "spilling it" -- this one time...

Nonetheless, I'm not very good at being alone with my thoughts, and I'm working on it, honestly. One step at a time. But it's hard, you know? So, if you catch me doing it, feel free to call me out. But do so gently. You know, emotions and learning and stuff. End Sidebar]

So, I had some time to reflect. Last night between coughing fits of the kids and after the football game (haters. Alert: Patriots fan). Tom Brady said something that struck me. He was contrasting last week's monumental loss (by 27 points) to this week's monumental win (by 26 points). He sort of shook his head and said (paraphrasing) -- you know, in the NFL we get sixteen games in the regular season. There are no "statement games", there are no "messages" to send - each week is it's own thing. In the end, if you win by 1 or by 30, you got a W. And if you lose by 1 or lose by 30, you got an L. And in both cases, nothing that week means anything to the week after. You can celebrate the win, but then you have to quickly get over it and focus on the next week. It's connecting a bunch of 1 game wins.

And I thought to myself, earlier in the week when looking at my spark streaks how much of the past is embedded in them. I log in, on average, 64% of the time, well, since some random date in 2013 when I reset the streak promising myself I'd do better. And life got in the way, really, here and there. I don't track my food every day and if not for my fitbit, I'd not track my exercise either. Hell, some days when I show up I don't want to track my mood because I know it's a 1 or a 2. And I don't want to see it. On days when I know I'm going to drink myself to next sunday, or, as might have happened this weekend, eating a full pint of ice cream in one sitting while watching "biggest loser" on DVR (which, by strictest definition, is NOT ironic. That's what I get for being a little bit of a language/writing geek, despite the general lack of grammar and prose in these here blogs). And I don't track then. I just... don't.

And you know what, perhaps I don't have to. Yesterday, well, that was yesterday. And tomorrow, that's tomorrow. In life, you have today. And that's what's important. And today isn't about making up for the sins of yesterday. I don't have to run for 124 minutes today www.2020lifestyles.com/resources-too
ls/blog/2013/06/if-i-eat-this,-how-muc
h-cardio.aspx
to make up for that ice cream. I don't have to lament the beer I drank, or do some sort of penance for my sloth/gluttony/lust/pride/greed/envy/wrath (soul saving aside). The truth is, all I need to do is start a new streak. One that doesn't get tallied the same way, one that doesn't focus on how long I've done the streak, one that doesn't get caught up in the future.

One that starts today, and is meaningful today, and is worth only today.

Sure, it's sort of a cop-out for excessive ice cream (and let's admit it for this weekend, also beer) consumption. But it's also a way of putting that aside.

Because I woke up this morning jazzed, and went to the gym and pounded the iron. And I lifted and pressed and although a little worse for the wear of insufficient sleep and a touch too much in the edibles department, was a solid one day streak of doing it right.

And thus far today, I've eaten well too.

And thus far today, I've been able to look at myself in the mirror and say "who cares about the past. Right now, today, I'm doing right by me" and mean it.

(and even if I don't think I'm all that sexy or hot when I look in the mirror, I can feel the vague throb in my muscles, feel how moved I was by the morning workout and say "I'm proud of me" -- and that there, my friends, is a great one day streak)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BETHLS79 10/16/2014 11:24AM

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today, so thank you for sharing it.

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CC3833 10/16/2014 10:45AM

    The harsh thoughts are hard to get rid of. As you said it's a day by day thing. And what helped me get rid of those thoughts was making a promise to myself to say one nice thing about myself every day whether it was physical or not. If I was having a day where I just felt terrible about my body image I would say something like "You have a nice smile" or "You are smart", and on the days where I was having a good body image day I would say "That dress looks great on you" or "Your stomach is flatter"... then it just becomes a little easier with each time you do it.

Food is also an issue. Sometimes you just want that ice cream, so I will eat it and just adjust the rest of my day around it because the day is not wasted because I wanted to indulge a little bit.

Good for you! Glad you're having a great day!

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ADARKARA 10/6/2014 5:38PM

    I am definitely not one to eat my feelings. I eat when I'm bored. And often... during the day at work if I'm kept busy or distracted by someone or something I occasionally forget to eat my snack. So I guess I can't help you there.

I'm also sure that whoever these ladies are who think you're hot and sexy know what they're talking about. Most women I know don't throw stuff like that around unless they mean it. And the fact that it's plural is even better!

But on a serious note, in all truth, no one can make us feel any better about ourselves unless WE feel better about ourselves. It's something I'm working on, too. I'm making myself stop those negative thoughts about myself before they leave my lips, and instead, like AERO_NERDETTE said, just say "thanks".

I've also started working on complimenting strangers. Yesterday at the Faire I saw a woman in a dress that was made from black brocade with a RED SKULL AND CROSSBONES DESIGN (I love skulls). I loved it, so I leaned and told her so. She was really shy but smiled at me. I'm making that part of my process. If I can compliment people I don't know, then I can take a compliment if a stranger compliments me.

I know how much you love working out, and it's good for you, so keep tackling that iron! You get that tasty cocktail of dopamine and endorphins that make us feel good. emoticon

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AERO_NERDETTE 10/6/2014 3:37PM

    I have the "not good alone with my thoughts" disease, too. Mine usually end up being unfair comparisons between my body and my sister's (which are completely different and thus shouldn't be compared), which means I end up angry, depressed, and usually having a good cry until my husband (hero that he is) talks me down from the ledge before I dive head-first into a quart tub of ice cream. Once I'm off the ledge, I go for a run to clear out the "junk thoughts", and start over.

I'm also learning how to take compliments, since I've never been used to people complimenting me on my appearance or dress (typical hide-in-the-corner geek). The easiest thing to do is just smile and say, "Thanks," and leave it at that (even if I don't agree).

Inspired by your "one day streak" mentality, I'm going to start tracking my workouts more closely to see where my improvements over time are. Competing against myself to make improvements is what I should be doing anyway if I want to see results.

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The one with the keystone habits

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yeah. So new job. Which is fun, but also sucks. That's how it is to be starting new. There is never enough time in the day and you never feel like you're going to get over that hump of learning new. I will, and it's an awesome new job, new possibilities and challenges and goodness, but hard.

We've got a week long orientation coming up next week. I'm excited about that, to learn and ask questions in a comfortable open environment. They sent out some pre-work. In it was this:

www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-duhig
g/the-power-of-habit_b_1304550.html?ut
m_hp_ref=email_share


And I read it and thought about it deeply. Spark is built on this. And so is my current lifting routine. It's about small things that make big changes and focusing on mindsets and behaviors and not the big end goal. A peachy little friend of mine once told me to set small goals (and not to get too ahead of myself (which incidentally I still suck at)) and I find it works. It's not about the weight on the scale, or the look in the mirror. It's finishing the set. It's putting on another five pound weight. It's making sure I'm tracking. It's counting the glasses of water I've had today.

The little things, when piled upon each other, lead you to new little things which lead you to big things.

So change something. Make it small. Make it meaningfully small. Don't do the radical change. Do the small change.

And change your heart too.

Because it works.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WESTERNSAGE 9/25/2014 7:13PM

    Congratulations on the new job. Yes, there's always a learning curve but at least you get paid to climb it! I also smiled at the article linked to the blog. The referenced success method for weight loss (keeping a food log) was first recognized at the University of Colorado Medical Center back in the late 1970s or early 1980s as being the single most effective way to both lose and keep off the weight. Like so much wisdom from the past it gets lost over time, and then a new generation (NIH in 2009) discovers it and says, "Aha!" This article was more helpful, however, because it pointed out the consequences that were discovered from the process. Thanks for passing along the help.

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TERRIMMIX 9/25/2014 12:18PM

    I'm exactly the same way, I try to do too much too fast. Adarkara's right, baby steps is the way to make permanent changes.

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ADARKARA 9/23/2014 4:46PM

    Yes yes YES! You're getting it!

Small changes work. Living proof right here. By the time you get to your fifth tiny change, the first one is so ingrained within you that you can't even imagine turning back to your old ways.

Great article, too!

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The one with the 80's throwback and the alumni frat party

Monday, September 22, 2014

Saturday morning I woke up and decided I wanted to get a little "light workout" on.

Light workout in this case was a three or four hour walk through longwood gardens with my kids. First, it's a great way to get the kids out of my wife's hair for a few hours of much needed alone time, second, it's a great way for me to get exercise while enjoying private time with the kids. I will admit I really love doing this, and am so glad to have a membership, to just be able to drive there as I see fit and walk. One direction or the other. This way or that.

So we walk in the new meadow. It's the big thing these days, and the kids are enjoying the flowers and the trail, and we make jokes about the animals in the acres. Leon the lion, shhh, don't wake him. Tim the Tiger, shhh, don't wake him. Veronica the Velociraptor, shh don't wake her. We laugh and giggle. Alan the Annaconda, watch out if you hear slithering. Brenda the Bull, be careful of her temper if you're wearing red. Caroline the Crocodile, she's just misunderstood.

As we walked towards the fountains, amid a crowd of people, my son begins to look around questioningly. We're in a large crowd, and we've been walking for miles (seriously, miles). I thought he had to use the rest room. So I slowed down to ask him. He looks up, and then at the top of his four year old voice begins to yell...

"SHOT THROUGH THE HEART. YOU'RE TO BLAME..."

and then my girls chime in, breaking into a half dance as they walked.

"YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME"

The crowd looks, some join in almost involuntarily, as they finish the chorus. Others are aghast at the outburst. I myself. We'll I'm just proud. Sometimes the best blessings of being a parent are hidden in the moments when you realize they've been listening to everything and it turns out okay.

(because frankly, knowing they listen to everything means they could have said some other stuff).

So six miles of walking. Troopers of kids. Several bottles of water drank. Smiles abound.

And then I went off to a party with my old fraternity brothers. We laughed and drank (too much) and told old stories. It was awesome to catch up. And we continued to tell dirty jokes and play drinking games into the night. Add to that a few wonderful notes from amazing friends, and I was filled with joy. My entire day was filled with peachy thoughts and wonderful moments.

I got exercise in, and also fell off the wagon. And I woke up with a smile. I went to sleep with a smile. And everything in the middle, well, it just fit.

Today, back to the routine, the diet and the exercise (5x5 today, BEAST MODE), and work-- because it's monday, y'all. Monday. But I'll carry with me the memories, the wonderful memories of all the amazingly impactful moments and they will be the thoughts that compel me on.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AERO_NERDETTE 9/23/2014 10:59AM

    Your kids sound like LOADS of fun! I'm going to inundate my future ones with all the good music, too.

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ADARKARA 9/23/2014 5:10AM

    Nothing better than waking up with a smile and going to bed with a smile!

Very cute kid story! As a Jersey girl I am obligated to adore Bon Jovi! Well done, sir!

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The one with the early morning hot date...

Friday, September 19, 2014

You know how when you need to wake up for something you're up earlier than the alarm.

Yeah. This morning.

What was I waking up for? What was this thing I had to be so on time for? I had a hot date with this incredibly attractive, absolutely overwhelmingly mind-consuming woman. I was getting up to go see her. The thoughts in my mind were totally and completely dream-like, taking me places that only the imagination can take you, and I was totally engulfed in them. I was so filled with want for this date, and I couldn't help myself.

I brushed my teeth, rinsed. All the while thinking of this hot date. I did this little breath check thing, you know, where you blow into your hand and sniff. It was passable. Mornings are hard.

I had laid out my clothes the night before. Set them out on the bench in my closet. I pulled them on slowly, carefully. Admiring myself in the mirror. I enjoyed the sense of excitement in my belly, and the joy in my heart. Oh, and I think I looked good too. I was definitely dressed perfectly for this early morning hot date. I was rocking it, working the spartan look, blacks and greys.

See:


(yeah. I was going lifting. That was my hot date)

I ate some cottage cheese and drank 16 ounces of cold water and then hopped to the car. Drove the brief ten minutes to the gym and got out with a smile. Front desk guy checked me in before I even showed my card "Morning Rich" he said with a smile. I gave him a sly wink and walked past.

I put the music on loud and I began to slow dance with the iron. I grabbed the bar and wrapped my fingers around it gently, hoisted it carefully and began to lower myself. Keep the head up, let the body do the work. Straight back, pressing out the rear as you descend. Going all the way down. Feeling that sudden tension when you change direction and press it back up.

I'm squating one-seventy-five. I'm one workout away from squating my body weight. Damn, it felt good.

(and I felt strong too. Powerful. As if I were dominating the world.)



And as I walked to the bench for part two, I felt totally into this date. I felt like I could take the bull by the horns and own it. I was on top of the world. How could I even begin to stop. Not as I pulled my shoulder blades together and lifted the weight off the rack and pounded it up and up and up. Five times. Five times Five. I'm not yet to my one rep max there but I'm getting close, and the way the stretch across my chest pulled me I knew I was getting my work in. Ninety seconds of rest and then back at it. Ninety seconds and then another set. She kept teasing me with getting so close and I kept teasing back.

I finished the set with a smile. (note. this is not a smile...)



Final part of the date. Rows. I felt how wonderful it was to be there, to be present, to have the comfort of this place, this work, this effort. She was mine for the moment, and I was hers. It was beautiful.

So I pulled, letting each rep touch the floor, pulling her up against my chest in that wonderful way that I so desired. Each rep a new embrace. She's heavy metal, she's beauty and power. It was wonderful. Each rep, each set another moment of clarity for me.

This is worth waking up for. Sure, it's not easy. It's not something that anyone can do. But I so very much enjoy it. It's my time to shine, to be free, to do whatever I want. It was me, and her. And it was lovely.

I may not be perfect, far from, but in this moment, it was amazing. It was a great date.

(despite not smiling at the end...)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIFEFOUNDONARUN 9/20/2014 10:21AM

    This was an awesome blog! I loved it! I'm a runner and know I should be putting more effort into my strength training. It's been that little voice in the back of my head nagging me for a while. In fact just yesterday it was reminding me to get it on the books for the weekend...forgot all about that until I read your blog lol. Thanks for the reminder to get on it! Lovely blog. Just lovely. Keep up the great work!

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ADARKARA 9/20/2014 5:59AM

    You look fantastic, as always. That barbell is one lucky lady! emoticon

Love your blogs!

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CRABADA 9/19/2014 2:47PM

    I also had a hot date with the iron lady this morning. It started with me kicking all 450 lbs. of her away with my legs and ended with her laughing at me as I attempted -- and utterly failed -- my deadlifts. :)

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LALATIDAH 9/19/2014 2:44PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PROPMAN1 9/19/2014 2:15PM

  emoticon emoticon emoticon Have a great weekend!!

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