Monday, July 30, 2007

Pure Motivation: Do you have it?

“Too many times, it happens so fast, you change your passion for glory; don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive”

I’m sure we all recognize these lyrics from the song in the Rocky movie. I want to discuss in the month’s Blog how we often can have our passions run aground and change our perspective from something worthwhile to something else, as reflected in this above passage. No one is immune to this. It has happened to me as well. I want to discuss in this month’s Blog the dangers especially for competitors to lose their own “pure motivation” and see it turn in to compulsive behaviour. The reasons for this happening are many and often a natural consequence of competitive success but the consequences can lead to all kinds of negative experiences and practices that I observe all the time in my role as coach.

“The dream never dies, just the dreamer, the dreamer never dies if it’s strong, the song never dies just the singer” While this dying of dreams happens it’s often for all the wrong reasons from the results of pure motivation becoming compulsive. And while the dream may not die, it gets altered from experience, and then the exact thing that used to bring so much joy now brings stress, alienation, heartache, and a constant obsessive pre-occupation, with results or measuring and judging everything that used to bring such joy.
First let me lay bare a couple of concepts and then let’s explore further what can happen when competitive fires burn inappropriately. It’s often said that motivation and passion or competitive instinct can be a lot like dynamite. Implemented accordingly it can be a tool for explosive results leaving everything else in its wake. But passion not handled or managed correctly can result in you blowing yourself up, and I see the competitive instinct and motivation in our sport turn in to that too many times. It happened to me as well, early on in my own career development.

Do you have a “pure motivation?”
First I’ll explain what it is and then ask you to honestly address this question. So many in our sport suffer self-deception on such a grand scale that they have lost perspective even on what drives them. Having a pure motivation or pure passion, means having just a love of training, and/or competing. Do you remember when training and competing wasn’t about anything else than the enjoyment of the process? People with a pure motivation enjoy not just training but usually experience major performance breakthroughs as well from not being attached to outwardly variables. People with a pure motivation seldom experience stress or anxiety or tension before a competition, just excitement and anticipation. They experience training on a much deeper level than just being workouts. This is what being in the zone is all about in athletics.
However, early success usually means aspiring to meet greater demands and this is where initial passions can be altered with out due attention. All of a sudden a person becomes immersed in the “how to’s” of everything from diet to training to competition.
Learning is great, but it can take on obsessive characteristics that take people further and further away from a pure motivation. All of a sudden a competitor has won a show or two and now motivation also includes “the right program, and the right approach” as well as a mentality begetting a ‘comparing and competing” mentality. I don’t mean on the stage either. I am referring to everything a person now does to prepare for the stage that they “think” is right. All of a sudden obsessive behaviours take over, and all motivation becomes an ego driven pursuit at the expense of everything else. When this happens, then the dreaded judge and measure mentality takes over. External pressure come to bare as well.
All of a sudden the log book takes on bible like importance. People start measuring their moods based on numbers in a log book, or on a weight scale of how much weight they have lost or gained. The thrill and exhilaration of “just doing” is now gone. These people don’t even stop to ask themselves if they “enjoyed” their workouts, or the pre-contest challenge. They expect such answers to be a reflection of numbers in a training log, because they have lost that pure motivation. It has now morphed in to something else.
Suddenly all variables are something to be compared to everyone else. Winning and deserving comes to be associated with “suffering” This is ego run amuck. It is an amateur trait or the sign of a very insecure person.

Instead of a “comparing and competing” mentality, a pure motivation will always remember instead that the path to rewarding experience is based on “aspiring and appreciating;” not forgetting your athletic routes but taking stalk in how far you have come, and appreciating it for no other reason. There is an old saying that “real winners forget they are even in a race; real winners just to love to run”
If you are experiencing stress and anxiety about competing then I suggest to you that you have lost perspective. If the people that you care about the most “just can’t wait till it’s over” then your motivation is not pure and comes from somewhere negative that needs to be addressed. If motivation is pure, and not ego driven, then suffering changes to “striving” motivation becomes inspiration, and discipline and commitment become, challenge. This is more of a drive based on a pure motivation. And a pure motivation will always yield an enjoyment of the process and a celebration of the event. If you are not competing with an “attitude” of celebration the day of your contest, then your motivations are less than pure and need to be addressed.

Negative Emotions and Personality Traits

Competing or becoming competitive may be a way for you to experience joy on a grand scale of the human spirit, or it may just end up being a reflection of a negative ego driving force. If you are motivated as an athlete by anger, a fragile ego, or emotional voids like a lack of respect, lack of self-respect, inner peace, a need for validation or recognition, you may indeed have pure ideals but these driving forces will not give you an optimum “experience” of competing and will more than likely result in foolish practices, even though you talk one way, you are driven another. Read all that again ten times!
I see this all the time. I see competitors who talk the talk of maturity and balance and then everything they do and say reflects the opposite. This is the ultimate in self-deception that will lead to an unhappy experience regardless of results. People whose motivations are less than pure will more often than not experience, “post contest blues” Does that sound familiar to anyone?

All of a sudden true and sincere enjoyment is only a result of something you can “judge and measure” and cannot stand on its own interpretation. People totally lose perspective and either need to control everything or they have little control over nothing.

For instance dieters lose perspective totally, and a good or bad day in life, is only reflective of a good or bad day dieting! In his book, “Eating Well for Optimum Health” Dr. Andrew Weil says that eating right is NOT just about dieting on certain foods, but also eating right is about ‘the enjoyment of the experience of eating!” Most folks in our industry have lost that capacity totally. Figure girls can no longer “enjoy” a cookie. Measuring and judging everything means either guilt associated with that cookie or compulsive behaviour that leads to eating “all the cookies till they are gone” Both of these examples negate the “experience” of eating.
Enjoyment born of a pure motivation has been replaced with compulsion, guided by guilt, reward, denial etc.

As a person has more and more competitive success, he/she becomes concerned more and more with ego driven and compulsive behaviour, that takes them further and further away from a pure motivation. They end up losing that “kid in a candy store” level of excitement to training and diet challenges. Instead it becomes all about “getting that pro card” or what the competition is looking like, what other people are saying or might say. This is why as a person progresses with an impure motivation, the experience becomes something else. Many spouses of competitors report that the competitors no longer have any fun, they have no energy for household chores, or enthusiasm for anything.
I guarantee you that an impure motivation will drain your mental energy, and stifle the joy of training and competing. (it's not your pre-contest diet!)
The new mentality will make an already tough sport more of a “survival mission”. This becomes true not only for the competitors but their loved ones as well. I’ve seen far too many competitors win “the show” but lose everything else in the process. Sure they won the competition but lost their relationship in the process. In essence they have won a tiny life battle, but lost the meaning for the war from that point on. Most unfortunate in my opinion!

Emotional Intelligence

The mind body connection is quite real and exists on levels far deeper than we realize. Also associated with that is emotional intelligence which comes to bare on the competitive mentality. When motivation is pure, our emotional intelligence nudges us toward higher performance, pushing, striving, enduring.
Once impure motivations take over the result is often burnout, health problems, suffering, mood swings, and a serious level of a feeling of over whelming ‘stress” associated to the very process that used to bring so much joy!

As world champion triathletes Brad Kearns said:

Making the right choices takes someone with awesome physical, emotional, and mental wisdom. The underlying goal of the champion athlete is to have a positive attitude, high motivation levels, intense focus and a sense of balance. (Notice focus does not mean obsessive behaviours like measuring and judging every detail of performance criteria) In contrast there are many physical talents who don’t have the emotional wisdom or mental make up to become a champion. The reasons are many: poor decision making, inability to harness their own egos and competitive instincts, lack of pure and deep seated self-confidence, impatience, compulsiveness, lack of self awareness or dis-honest self analysis, and other destructive personality traits. (2006: p6)

The above quote speaks volumes to athletes in the bodybuilding industry. Three points need to be made here. The above reflects 1) that as I always say genetics are as much from the neck up, as they are from the neck down, 2) all the more reason to have a coach that cares enough to keep you grounded and on a healthy path FOR YOU; and, what I see most in our industry is 3) rampant lack of self-awareness and dishonest self-analysis.

The compulsive motivation vs. pure motivation produces an “attachment to results and outcomes” All of a sudden how one places or even how a workout unfolds will determine a feeling of “worthiness” or worthlessness, that is all set up in the mind. Every good athlete competes to win. That should go without saying. But the very best athletes do not attach “happiness to outcome” Imagine if Tiger Woods was miserable and angry after every time he did not win until the next time he did win. That would mean a great deal of time being miserable for arbitrary reasons. Winners do not think that way. Win or lose their happiness is less attached to outcome than to “striving” to improve. That is a pure motivation.

Case in point: I recently had an inquiry from someone to train for a level one contest. Seems this person had been beyond level one but needed to requalify at that level. After reviewing my prices his opinion was he really didn’t need me at that level for that price in order to win. He may have been correct on that but his comment yields an impure motivation which will prevent him from going far. You see his mentality was only about “winning” instead of about being his absolute best. One takes care of the other when motivation is pure.

The truth is often an athlete needs to get out of his/her own way in order to succeed and proceed. Once again this can necessitate employing a wise coach.

It’s a passion for process and challenge which is why most of us choose such a pursuit to begin with, that is the key to a pure motivation and a happy experience each and every time out! The problem is a little success can often lead to external influences like concerns over rivals, what others are saying about you, which you pretend doesn’t matter, but does if you are aware of it! It leads to all the compulsive behaviours I pointed out above sure to shorten rather than enhance the competitive experience.

I implore you all to look inside yourselves and find your “pure motivation” Nurture it, protect it, let it guide you. Enjoy and appreciate the challenges again. Aspire to greater ones, not measured in log books, finish lines, or first place trophies, but that feeling inside that says to you “well done, let’s do it again!”

Begin to aspire to inspire, not others but that little kid that lives inside all of us. Be real to that kid. Forget about what everyone else has to say about your own experience and your own path.
As Henry David Thoreau said, “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things that he can afford to leave alone” You don’t need to want it all, to be happy and successful and striving for more. All you need is to be your all at whatever your pure motivation directs you toward.
Kid in the candy store.
That is the goal. Make every workout like a trip to Disney Land. If you are gifted enough to be a great competitor then compete with dignity by recognizing how special any gift is to have. Cherish such gifts. Master them with an attitude of pure motivation. Celebrate the competition day.

As usual, some of you will get it, some of you will not. I welcome your feedback on my Forums section

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 13th Canada Trip

















July 13th Canada Trip

We couldn’t wait to get out of Regina this morning. It’s a really depressing place to be. Funny what an effect economic depression has on a people. The city and its people really seemed to lack any real “spark” so to speak. Now keep in mind we were only there less than 24 hours, so maybe we aren’t the best to assess this, but all three of us couldn’t wait to get out of there, so we packed up around 4:00 am and hit the road.
The rest of the drive through the prairie was awesome to us. So many people had said what an “empty drive” it is through the prairie. We loved it!!!! At first as the day dawned the skies opened up and we witnessed a pretty spectacular thunderstorm complete with fork lightening and the works. The skies were very heavy dark grey and the clouds so low it felt you could just reach out and touch them.
As fast as it came and as long as it seemed to last, it was suddenly over and then it was about as blue a sky as I have ever seen. There were points amid the prairies where the beveled land of fields and the blue skies meet at the horizon’s end (or beginning) and it seemed like an infinite reality. Like the bible says somewhere, “world without end”. It was incredible actually, and I said a brief little prayer of gratitude to even be able to witness it, and more importantly to be “present and there” to witness it. It is glorious!!!
With nothing for light to bounce from, the blue of the sky was the most inviting blue you could imagine, bright but not blindingly so, and with not even a hint of what a cloud even is, it just went on and on. The feeling that comes over you is one of calm quiet. Then it occurred to me how often and how intensely our senses are bombarded in every day life. This was like a Relaxation massage for the senses. There was no noise (I turned off the car radio even), the quiet brought an overwhelming peace. Of course there were no smells to take in, so the olfactory sense got a rest as well, and the sight, the sense to the eyes was just empowering; and peaceful and tranquil are the appropriate words but still do not do the moments justice. It was more than all of that.
It reminded me of when Annie and I go to the Caribbean and we spend a day searching for a secluded beach and we find one, no people, no noise, nothing. The ears delight to a soft rush of surf. The smell of the salt water and fresh air awakens also a sense of peace. The bright sunlight meeting the blue ocean, and the effect on your mind’s eye; that overcoming calming. And mix that with no one else around and it just re-invigorates your whole being.
This was just like that; except the blue of the Caribbean was replaced by a cloudless perfect sky, and it was like the earth all around was the sunlight. Sort of an upside down experience of the Caribbean, but much more calming and awe-inspiring. Words cannot do it any justice. Not even pictures can capture the serenity of it. But the spirit: the spirit captures it, cradles it, and plants it in the mind for ever. I will forever have the “peace” of this day inside me.
I think I captured a piece of it when I got this pic of Annie. Look how blue the sky is!!! Notice how there is just “nothing else” there. One just makes the other so much more natural and beautiful! See how the sky seems to just envelope her. What an aura it created and I don’t know if this pic even comes close to capturing it.
I hope I did it justice to even try to describe it. Some things are best left to “witness” than to delineate in prose. I hope you all experience the “sameness” of this in some way, some day in your lifetimes. Just be “present” when these moments occur and they will blow your mind, and enrich your soul!
We decided to take a bit of a rest day today. We opted to stay in Medicine Hat. It’s a very upscale, nice small community here. The girl that checked us in to our hotel is from Mississauga. Nothing happens by chance in this life.
I had a nap, took care of some things, and now am of course re-engaged to the whole experience! Can’t wait for what is next. I’m so glad so many of you are along for the vicarious experience. So I will try to make a bigger effort and supply you all with more details.
Remember you can click on any picture to make it bigger.
So far, three time zones, three provinces, and over 3,000 kilometers since Sunday afternoon, and so much richer for the experience, and so much more affected by it as well.
Oh, and as for the “other picture” They say when in Rome…..
So after three “extra large Tim coffees, I had to unleash my own “Prairie Dog” so to speak, and Annie thought she better capture the moment for you all.
Blame her !!!! LOL

July 14th Canada Trip











July 14th Canada Trip

Well we got up today at 4:00 to head out. We got to Calgary and we were quite impressed with the city, but we didn’t stay. Downtown had some traffic problems and gridlock so we moved on. But it’s obviously a very nice city. (As was Medicine Hat)
It occurred to us how our senses hadn’t been inundated with big city “bad news” and frustrations till we hit Calgary. Grid lock, stabbings, car accident deaths, ruled the air waves. We hadn’t heard much of that since leaving TO. We won’t miss it at all.
Well we got to Banff shortly after and words could not prepare me for this place. We are staying two days so I will hold off too much commentary right now.
It’s beautiful.
The city is so dog friendly. We took the Gondola up the mountain, and they allowed Hooch to come. (I faced my fear of heights head on). 8,000 ft, in 8 minutes, and then a quarter mile walk or so to various mountain peaks. Unfreakinbelievable!!!!
And then we walked back down. Almost 6 kilometers, DOWN. What a day, and Hooch enjoyed all of it as well.
Two of my favorite quotes of all time come from Einstein.
One in particular fits this situation: Einstein said “there are two ways to live your life, one is as though nothing is a miracle, and the second is to live as though EVERYTHING is a miracle”
Hard to see this place and not adapt the latter position for the rest of your life.
Nature is just so profound on its sometimes subtle and other time deliberate influence on our senses. There’s a reason she’s called “Mother Nature” This place is God’s Country to be sure. You can’t help but feel inspired but still insignificant against God’s Grandeur.
Poet Keats said “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”
Keats would himself have carved that into one of the rocks in this area.
I can’t wait for tonight and to spend the day here tomorrow
Pictures will never do the dimensions of this place justice, and we’ve just begun to scratch the surface. Stay with us.
Better yet, take my advice (I am quite well traveled) Book a week off and get here sometime in the summer. Maybe not this year, but put it on your “Must do” list.
Trust me !!!
Right outside our walkout is a guy on a Picnic table, and he has a Prairie Dog sitting on his lap sharing a bag of chips with him……..
Till tomorrow …………..
God Bless

July 15th Canada Trip











July 15th Canada Trip

Annie and I slept in till a late “5:00 am” this morning. We took Hooch down to the water front for his morning walk. The Emerald Green water here is not to be missed. In the middle of our walk, a deer walked right by us! He gave us a glance as if to say “tourists!?!”, and then proceeded as if we were no big deal. Annie walked right up to him and got a great pic.
We went back, got Morgan and headed out for the 40 minutes drive to Lake Louise. What a place! I’ll try to post pics of all of this later if I can’t get them in here. We must have taken 50 pictures today, all of them fantastic, so we’ll see. Those of you who will get copies of ALL the pics will see the enormity of this place.

On our way back, we took the slower “scenic alternate route” There were lots of great views and then we were stopped in our tracks by a family of elks just heading across the street, again, like we were no big deal. We were about 10 ft. away and Annie got another keeper of a pic.
You know I’ve never considered myself a nature lover before now. My idea of roughing it was a 3 star hotel! But you can’t help when you get to places like this, but to reassess all that you’ve missed up till now. It’s really pretty amazing.
Annie decided to do some laundry while we rested up before going back into town. I handed her my pants and forgot my day’s supplements were in there. Poor Annie did all the laundry and all my fish oils boiled and melted and needless to say all our clothes smell like dead rotting fish. (She is now happily RE-doing all the laundry) Ok, may be not happily!!

We went back into town and Annie bought me a beautiful hand carved walking stick. Since my back surgery and my reliance on a cane for so long, I’ve always wanted a walking stick. Everyone here uses them.
Tonight we are going to rent a movie and relax before heading to Whistler BC tomorrow.

We all woke up in various amounts and types of pain. Note to self:
In the future remember the Specificity Principle of Exercise physiology and maybe not try to walk down an 8,000 ft. mountain, without previous physical preparation. We are all hobbling in various amusing styles. LOL

On a side note: It’s amazing the power of politics. In Ontario the reactions to Hooch varied, some from tolerance to outright hostility and panic. Since Ontario EVERYWHERE we go people stop us to comment on “what a beautiful dog we have, what great shape he’s in, and even funnier, “What breed is that!”

Just proves the power of the media to shape people’s thinking toward any topic. It’s so amazing the way people are reacting to him here. And believe me his ego is soaking it all in!!! (He’d make a great bodybuilder!!! LOL)

Finally so cool how many of you are letting us know you are following the Blogs. It makes me feel that many of you are right here with us.
I wish my Mom and Dad, and Annie’s sister Maulkie could see such sights.
They deserve to be so indulged.
The whole realm of good people deserves it!
Don't forget you can click on the photos to enlarge
Till tomorrow………
God Bless

JULY 18TH, CANADA TRIP











JULY 18TH, CANADA TRIP

Hey folks, I know it’s been a couple of days, sorry about that! Some of you were even concerned something may be wrong. That’s so cool!!!!
But we’re fine.
Sunday we drove 13 hours from Banff Alberta to Whistler BC. In kilometers the drive would have been much shorter but the Rockies in BC is lots of twists and turns and a 40 klms per hour speed limit a lot of the way. We veered off and took Hwy 99 up to Whistler. It may have been 13 hours but at least 10 of it was mind-blowing. It’s a totally different experience than the mountain drive in Alberta.
The Rockies in BC take you right along the friggin edge of the mountains. You see many caverns and canyons WAY WAY below and you drive right along the cliffs edge. The views were incredible but I must admit going through every pair of underwear I owned in that 13 hours. Most of the time I was scared %&^*#less!!!! LOL
At one stop a cash clerk said “it’s a very treacherous drive” with all of the wildlife on the highway etc. There is even breaks in the road for trucks to drive up if their brakes fail!!!!!
Sure enough, up ahead a buck and doe interrupted us for a kilometer or two, and then just as quickly veered off, with sudden leaps up the mountain side.
Very cool to witness
Lots of bikers went by the other way and one had one hand on his handle bar and the other was holding out a small video camera as he flew by us. Too funny. And here I was scared out of my jock strap!!!!
We finally made it to Whistler, and it’s an awesome place but we were too tired at that point to really soak it in.
The difference between Whistler and Banff is just money related. There is obviously way more money around in Whistler, but somehow that seemed to detract from the quaintness that Banff had.
But Whistler is beautiful for sure.
Yesterday we continued the drive down the coast into Vancouver. We visited a park in North Vancouver and we took a walk along the tree tops in the Suspension bridge. Once again I faced my fear of heights.
Actually I think Annie and Morgan are trying to scare me into a heart attack so they can collect the life insurance!!!! LOL
Cool being among 300-500 yrs old Fur trees that are some 500 ft high. Really neat
Finally we made it into the city.
Vancouver is beautiful and we will explore it today, but after all of the natural beauty of the last 8-9 days, a city loses its appeal.
We will try to find it today!!!

As a side note we figured since we are going to be in the city for a few days we would drop Hooch off at a nice Doggie Spa. (You can’t say Kennel around Annie!!)
As we dropped him off a line up formed behind us. As Annie was giving all the special instructions about Hooch (his feeding, his supplements, his blankie) the lady behind us with her family sighed, “man, I don’t go through this much when I drop my kids off somewhere”
It was quite funny!!!
Dog lovers will relate. And ours is as spoiled as it gets.
I could say lots more. The drive was engaging and inspiring.
There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING that can compare to Mother Nature’s natural beauty forged over eons for our heart’s delight…!!!!
Till tomorrow
God Bless

July 19th Canada Trip












July 19th Canada Trip

Our third and final day in Vancouver: Yesterday and last night we traipsed around the usual tourist sites. Annie really enjoyed the Gas District and all its history.
Downtown here sure is hectic. It’s actually a little out of control for us. We went to Chinatown and really did not enjoy it so much.
Then we found the area near to the hotel that was more to our liking. Right around the spot called English Bay, adjacent to Stanley Park. It is really quite beautiful.
This morning we rented bikes and rode through the beautiful Stanley Park area. We rode all along the sea wall. The views of the city from Stanley Park were captivating. (one included)
We rented these new bikes, but they look old style. So Annie kept “la la laaing” the tune in Wizard of Oz, in the beginning when the witch rides by on her bike during the tornado. We all ended up humming that all morning.
We are in reality three idiots, when we get going. (Or Larry, Curly, and Moeisha!)
The ride was awesome. More to the theme of what so far has been an amazing journey.
I think we are now finding just a little bit of sensory overload. We’ve taken in so many sites over these last several days. I wish we could post ALL the pics.
Priceless for me in Stanley Park was when a mother raccoon and her two cubs came out from the heavy forest and just sort of walked around all the tourists at Prospect Peak. They ended up climbing into a water fountain to get a drink and then resumed walking among the tourists like it was all so normal, for animals and humans to be interacting.
There was unfortunately a real down side to touring the city, but I’ll share it at another time. Nothing to do with anything that effects us, but still hard to witness. I will address it another time in a more suitable Blog issue.
Tomorrow begins the last leg of our journey and the most trying. We will go pick up the Hooch Pooch, and head to our new home. But our home will be empty till Saturday and then the real work begins.
I may not have internet till some time next week, but I will go to an internet café at least twice per day to check e-mails.
And this whole Blog journey is NOT complete for several days yet, so hang in there!
One again, we’re so glad so many of you are along for this journey.
And no trip to the West Coast could be complete without hooking up with our west coast, Eastern Philosopher and fellow student of life, Wade Mcnutt.
I’m waiting on his call now and then we’ll meet up somewhere to chew the fat a bit.
Or as Aaron puts it, discuss the latest “Scuttlebutt” LOL
Till sometime tomorrow…….God Bless

July 20th Canada Trip











July 20th Canada Trip

I’m including pics from yesterday in this Blog.
One is of us with our bikes in Stanley Park and the other is the sunrise from our hotel room. Pretty nice

So last night as promised Wade picked me up and took me for a “real tour” of the “real Vancouver.” It’s a really nice place to be sure. Lots of walking trails along the ocean, and relaxing places right in the heart of all the hustle and bustle.

It was nice to spend some time with a former client who is doing so well. The one thing about Wade is that he has never become a slave to his success. Lifestyle is still his number one indicator of success and determines how he lives his life. As he puts it…. “ I’m the happiest guy in the world, I have the best life in the world”
It’s often said that “success is getting what you want, while happiness, is wanting what you get”. It’s great to see people I know that accomplish both.
More importantly we got to chew the fat on issues of importance to us both.

Wade has a great deal to offer in the area of Metabolic Damage as well. I think between him, myself and Dr. Ken, and all of our networks of experts, we can really come to some helpful protocols in this area:

Great to see you Wade.
Proud to see all you have done for yourself on so many levels; spiritual, mental, material, financial etc.
I love it when people I know and have been involved with make such huge strides in their lives. Wade, my best friends Trevor, and Rui, all have made remarkable impacts with their lives and have become pretty incredible people in the process. Warms my heart to even know them, and count them among my peers!!!

Ok, so a little off topic. Pardon my regression there.

So this morning we headed out and took the Fraser Valley all the way along into Kelowna. The Frazer valley offered still another version of seeing the mountains and beauty of the BC area. What a place this is. But we didn’t stop for any pictures. I find myself now quite exhausted from the whole trip.

WE HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED AT OUR DESTINATION !!!!!!
WOW!!!! Some 5,400 kilometers we have wracked up. We are still in a hotel for two more days and then the real work and chaos of unpacking begins. But everything has been absolutely worth it. And seeing Annie’s face as we climbed up the street to our new house, is a moment I won’t soon forget!!!

The other day at breakfast one of my favorite John Mellancamp songs came on, called “Your Life is Now” and I thought, DAMN RIGHT! It’s a lesson some people never learn. If you haven’t heard the song you really should go out and give it a listen.

Yes, Your Life Is Now.

It’s not in some past hurt, or some past failure, or even in some past glory, or accomplishment. It’s not in some future risk, or some future probability, or some future path to happiness or security.
Your life is now.
I learned several years ago to do something every single day no matter how small to celebrate my existence, and to do something nice for someone, no matter how small. Practice random acts of kindness for no reason, other than to do so, and celebrate life.

Your life is now.

Great words to live by.
Attitude they say is the paintbrush of your soul. If that is true, than your life is its canvas. What type of art will you create? Will it be a personal Masterpiece? Or a poor copy, paint by numbers rendition of someone else’s art?
It’s up to you!
It’s up to me.
This Blog update is a little off topic from my intention. But I guess the built up intensity of the moment has caught up to me.
I guess I just wish for so many people that they could take such efforts to a live a life of design rather than just making a living.
I guess I just wish to see people so excited about their lives as Annie and I are about ours.
And that happens by acknowledging first and foremost,
YOUR LIFE IS NOW!!!!

This isn’t the end of the trip Blogs. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update
God bless

CANADA TRIP RETROSPECTIVE: LIFE IS A HIGHWAY

This is a Blog I started to contemplate July 9th a couple of hours into our drive across the country to our new home. I had forgot about it since but I think now it would be a fitting end to this chapter, and then we can get back to all the “industry” business at hand.
So it occurred to me once we started driving how many miles (or kilometers) we had ahead of us that first day, that life really is a highway. I guess we all know the song and I’ve long heard the expression “highway of life” and in my younger years we even had a TV show called “Highway to Heaven.” So with a mind full of all kinds of various emotions that day, I started exploring the metaphor “Life is a Highway” deeper in my mind and I think I came up with a few extrapolations of that metaphor which may be a fitting end to this Blog journey.
If life is a highway, then what does that mean exactly? Well one place to start is the certainty that you are either heading toward something, or away from something else. But this is a tricky thing to assess. People who think they are heading “away” from something are fooling themselves. There’s an old saying that “wherever you go, there you are” This one has many meanings which could be a Blog to explore all in itself but for the purpose of “Life is a Highway” it means you can never run or drive away from a bad or negative situation. You will always take life experience with you wherever you go.
Like Annie always says “Life is 20 % what happens to us, and 80% how we react to it” So although some may “think” they are moving “away” from their problems or heart aches, that can never really be true, because, “wherever you go, there you are” You can never escape yourself.
But as I drove it occurred to me that this highway of life offers to us so many experiences from which to learn. Some are familiar roads. Some are brand new or even still “under construction” and come with no map to guide us save what we have stored up as past experience. As I drove I started to let my rear view mirror become a symbol of my past. The cars were no longer cars but represented instead, my teen years, my 20’s, 30’s and time up until now. (I was driving away from these times)
That began to represent whole decades of the 70’s 80’s 90’s etc. My mind was flush with memories, great, good, bad, funny, and even unimportant. But it occurred to me none the less that, our memory serves us much like a rear view mirror. Its there to make sure that we keep moving forward and forward, but we keep an eye on “what we left behind” or what is behind us, as a learning tool.
It is said if we do not learn from our mistakes, we will keep repeating them. So memories and experiences of the past become much like our rear view mirror. We can see where we’ve been and we keep a close eye so as to make sure, these objects in our rear view mirror stay there and we do not let them approach us and pass us again in either lane, our fast lane of planning ahead, or our slower lane of contemplation of the present.
As I drove something strange was happening for me, and I realized has been happening for some time now. Objects in my rear view, were no longer “closer than they appear” I had let go of them. My rear view was becoming less and less significant, and now my side view (of the present position of my “vehicle”) suited me just fine.
As I drove through the prairie of my consciousness, my rear view was now insignificant, and my windshield seemed larger and larger taking in an all encompassing view, assuring me that the “view ahead” and the “road ahead” were flat and steady, well paved. The blue skies and sunlight of the immediate and long distance ahead were inviting, and clear for me to see. It became obvious indeed that my “highway of life” is driving toward something, not away from anything else.
I set my self up for a long drive on “cruise control” since the road ahead was well paved, and flat and straight for as far as my mind’s eye could see! How empowering is this! Most people hurry through to the destination, never taking stalk of the journey, or just paying lip service to it, while life continues to float by, day by day, and they become lost on an off ramp to no where, bringing them back to travel the same roads over and over again.
Most will choose this path, out of a false sense of “security”. Better the road you know, than the unknown highway ahead.
This is the highway of guilt, remorse, and regret. It’s a highway with lots of traffic on it, but no definite destination other than the huge city of disappointment.
Cruise control is the way to go. It’s the path of the sure, the patient, the self-adjusted and the confident. Since the path ahead is so smooth and clear, might as well enjoy the ride, and make sense of the whole journey. (what we call introspection)

I started to contemplate all the various highways I have traversed in my life. There were many. Some had winding hills; others had bumpy roads, unseen damaging pot holes, speed bumps, and lots of crossroads as well. Sometime I took the right road, often I did not.
The wrong highways just lead to longer drives on more dangerous roads, some appearing alluring at the time, with their faster speed limits etc, but their off ramps always led me back to the same spot.
So even though time had past I had not traveled any meaningful distance along life’s highway.
I came to many detours in the road, many roads under construction, many roads closed. I also experienced many times, the grid lock of life’s highway. I have many friends and colleagues that still do.
Their highway has become cluttered as a traffic jam in their minds, of duties, chores, have to’s…. They become a slave to the very things that were to free them, their cell phones, their PDA’s, their e-mails.
So much to do, so little time, so they step on the gas only to have to “hurry up and sit in the “rush hour traffic” of their minds, not going anywhere, frustrated by all the congestion, and realizing, if they are lucky:
That this gridlock they bring on themselves is handcuffing their life experiences.
Their daily commutes in gridlock back and forth along the same highway of life, just saps them of life’s time and energy; Moments, minutes, hours, and experiences and moods they can never have back again.
I realized that the times I experienced detours were often blessings in disguise. What seemed at the time like a real inconvenience still got me to my destination, and I was usually better off for it, now having yet another path to take, to arrive there. It became quite obvious to me as I drove along this highway to a new uncharted destination, that the only times that forks in the road, or “construction delays ahead” ever bothered me, was when I was in a sure fire hurry to get to my “destination”
Once I made my highway focus more about the journey, I seemed to suffer no frustrations from life’s highway, either in reality or in my perceived consciousness.
But never underestimate, the way other people will be driving along their life’s highway. Some will be paying no attention; others will be suffering “vehicle trouble” along the side of the road. Others may be driving under a philosophical influence that makes them dangers on the road to all around them. (Remember the energy vampires and the like) Still others may be at their own crossroads, and may be going the wrong way down a one way street.
It occurred to me, it’s not my job to stop them, and scream.
It’s my job just to get out of their way. The outcome of driving down that path is obvious! Careless drivers ahead! There should be a yellow sign for that all along the highways of life.

You are NOT your Vehicle:

It also occurred to me as I drove that whether I looked back in my rear view on Life’s Highway, or forward down the road, the vehicle carrying me just did NOT enter in to it. This is a lesson to be learned most by those in the cosmetic industry of Figure, Fitness, and Bodybuilding.
Stay with me here a minute by metaphoric example:
If a car is the vehicle that carries us down the highway, our body is the vehicle that carry our consciousness down Life’s Highway through the roads of experience and perspective.
Both are empowering and contribute to your betterment and that of your fellow man. However if you become ALL ABOUT your vehicle, you will miss both perspective and life experience all along the way.
And your vehicles will change through time anyway. You may indeed drive a “luxury vehicle”, a “sports car”, “a Hybrid” “an economy car” or a “Hummer or Monster Truck” It’s all fine until and unless you become all about the vehicle. Then my friends you miss the whole point of even being on life’s highway.
It’s not about the vehicle you drive that carries you, it’s about what it carries you to experience on the highway!!!!
You miss the point if you think I drive down the highway so “people will notice my vehicle”
The point is you are NOT your vehicle. It’s not that people can notice YOU on the highway of Life, it’s what YOU should experience along the way. And you can’t experience any of it full bore if you are only about the vehicle that carries you.
As an example, bodybuilding served me so well in my career by giving me an opportunity to add miles to my “highway travel”
Whenever I did appearances, I always took whatever I was paid and stayed in these places longer to explore them and add “miles” to my highway of experience and perspective. I saw and experience much of the world this way.
I traveled often with many bodybuilders who had the same opportunities. But all they ever saw in their travels was the airport, the hotel room, the appearance venue, and then the airport again. So they can say they’ve been to a bunch of places, but they never traveled the highways of life in these places to build on their experiences and perspectives. Why?
Because they were always only about the “vehicles” I’ve seen this many times where instead of bodybuilding providing for blessed people “opportunities” of travel, it instead handcuffed them to staying in the garage of life, forever working on their engine, forever polishing the chasse, and forever missing out on huge opportunities.
Bodybuilding and Fitness can be a huge opportunity for growth and experience down life’s highway, or it can be a totally destructive influence, it depends on how you see and how you treat, the “vehicle that drives you”
Be obsessive and you will surely stall and end up in a scrap yard. Earn perspective by taking advantage of opportunities to travel life’s highways and you will surely grow and develop and graduate to full “limousine service”, realizing that all along the “vehicle” serves YOU, not visa versa.
I hope that metaphor was easy to follow.
Some of you will get this about the “Highway of Life” I hope to those of you who do, it offers some perspective.
Some of you will see this whole Blog as a complete waste of your time. Maybe at another point in your drive along the highway it may make more sense.

The truth is we are born to die.

The highway of life is what lies between. In the end will you have been a “world traveler” all about the journey? What kind of map of life will you have made for others to follow?
Dare to be a traveler!!!!

Or will your map just look like an oval track going round and around? How disappointing if so.

In one of the best guy movies ever made, The Shawshank Redemption, the lead character, Andy Dufresne says “it’s really all about one choice isn’t it….get busy living or get busy dying”
As the character Red, narrates this comment, “Damn Straight!”

I am reminded of a real good navigational tool to help you travel the roads of life’s highway. It’s a quote made famous by AA members everywhere that so many people know, but so few practice. It’s called the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change,
the COURAGE to change the things I can,
And the WISDOM to know the difference”

I think my cross Canada drive along life’s highway was so rewarding and special to me, because I’ve finally learned this important navigational tool, for a better “driving experience”


Thank you all reading this for indulging me this far. I hope this long metaphor can and will serve you in some way.

For now, just drive forward, drive toward, toward, toward. In the end there is only one FINAL destination, with several stops along the way.

Hype, Buzzwords, and Other Propaganda; What is Expertise Anyway

It’s occurred to me through some of the responses to my Blogs that most consumers out there even at the highest levels do not understand the difference between hype, ad copy, persuasion, and real expertise. This confusion leads to a great deal of the myths that currently permeate the diet and training industry so I would like to address a couple of these notions. Most of us in the industry, especially those who compete know just how difficult it is to change our bodies and that the process is slow to say the least.

We have all witnessed late night or early morning infomercial programming that promises unreal results with minimum time and energy expenditure. Most of us laugh at these commercials for sauna belts, abs rockers, thigh and bun blasters etc. We think we know better. YET, when the same ad hype is aimed at you within our industry, a great many of you “buy” right into it. Words like “easy”, “effortless”, “fun” and better yet “secrets” are used all the time to promote supplements, training equipment, training programs and even “expertise” This word “secrets” is a word that has been researched and suggested for use in all such ad claims because it is “convincing” As astonishing as it is to me that this is so, it really does sell the consumer, even the ones I presume should know better like hard training athletes in our industry.

This became increasingly obvious to me recently when exploring some of the “best” Internet trainers and their websites. The word Secret appears constantly, like they have some proven secret that keeps you from getting results and that once exposed you will be no longer held back from making real gains. It’s amazing to me that consumers can see through this on one side, like in ad hype for sauna belts or “easy” diets, but not see through it on another side.
For instance I went to this number one Internet Trainer’s site and he is indeed quite successful and my hat is off to him for that. Good for him I say. But I wanted to see what his level of expertise was. I followed down some text that seemed to go on forever, where the word “secret” or “secrets” was repeated over and over as an ad “hook” to a potential buyer.

Now I am indeed new to the whole internet marketing thing, but not new to ad hype, having written some myself for various magazine and supplement lines. So I skipped over much of this endless hype and use of “buzzwords” to get right to the crux of today’s “secret” When all was said and done, the “secret” referred to front squats as the “elusive” exercise that can help you send your leg development in to the stratosphere or whatever. Right then, I knew that this person who is indeed a “success” is not truly an “expert”

You see expertise lies in guidance and application. While the front squat is a great exercise indeed for potential quad development progress, it is not, for 1) a secret and 2) not applicable for everyone.
An expert would know the following:
Those with narrow clavicles would not do well with a front squat because they would not be able to support the weight properly and therefore would not be able to concentrate on the quads during performance of a rep, and would need to focus too much on bar support, which would take away form, and intensity, thereby negating the productivity of such a movement.

Next those with very weak or stiff hip flexors (and those of you who sit a lot and don’t stretch probably fall into this category), would also not find this movement productive because it would cause you to bend forward during descent, which would take the stress off the legs, put sudden and undo stress on the para spinals, and erectors, and again make the bar difficult to balance.
Those with a weak core would lack the necessary stabilizing strength through the entire range of motion to make this an effective quad movement, and would also bend forward to compensate for a weak core, which would then thwart the effectiveness of the movement. Recall again that in the kinetic chain, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So if the core or hip flexors or both are weak and/or stiff, they will take the bulk of the work, the athlete will NOT be able to use sufficient weight to overload the quads because of this weakness or stiffness, and therefore that movement, becomes either less effective or useless depending on the severity of the above limiting factors.

Anatomically, those with a longer torso would be less suited to do front squats because of the overwhelming demand for stabilization throughout the entire range of motion.

So you can see what started out as a “secret” to let everyone in on, from the viewpoint of an expert merely was ad hype, in the guise of expertise. The consumer needs to be aware of this, but seldom is, even when it is staring them square in the face.

And those of you reading this who think this does NOT apply to you, Think again. Look at the Metabolic Damage issue, which has become an epidemic because people “buy into” expertise that ends up doing damage short and long term.

How many of you guys and competitors out there go to “websites” and chat rooms for stack advice, not knowing ever who it is doling out such information, and what they really may or may not know? Most people unfortunately rely far too much on word of mouth. My level of expertise is clear I think in my Blogs and articles, yet others who have repute of expertise or training knowledge have absolutely no “real” proving ground to speak of.
Where have they spoken, and to what kind of educated groups, and at what level? Who are their colleagues? What articles have they written and where that elucidate some level of expertise?

Sure said trainers or coaches may produce some champions, but that is deceiving. Anyone can demand of a student to over train, over diet, and over consume performance enhancing substances. That doesn’t require expertise, it just requires a mentality of absoluteness. I think I have stated before, watch these “champions” two and three months or a year or so “post contest” and see if the diet and training and drug use, has done something negative “to” their bodies, rather than something positive “for” their bodies.

Because the idea should always be progress.

But I digress.

Lots of people get confused with what expertise is, and what it is not. Many “trainers” or coaches out there will try to confuse the uninitiated by making things really complex. I recently had a bodybuilder join with me, whose former trainer put him through just that. Remember the old saying “bull#%$& baffles brains” Just because something is complicated to follow, that does NOT make it advanced and can often cause much confusion metabolically for someone. No.

Real experts know that there is genius in simplicity. The best path to achievement is the path of least resistance because it is the most sustainable!!! But it must be scientifically sound and individually applied. This is where TRUE expertise comes in as I proved above with the “expert” advice on the “secret” of the front squat.

Diets work the same way, as does performance enhancement supplementation of any kind. Throwing “more drugs” into the mix, “just in case” to back up a lack of knowledge is foolhardy. Remember just like diets, expert advise should serve two criterion in order to be functional. A protocol must 1) serve the body and 2) be sustainable long term.

Again, just look at the post contest physiques of those around you to see if “expertise” has been truly applied to them. If blowing up 50lbs or so post contest is your idea of “applied expertise” then go with that. I’m not talking about filling out and I’m sure most of you are smart enough to know the difference.
Still it amazes me how much money people will dole out for ineffective supplements, overuse of drugs or supplements, or money wasted on investing in “trainers or coaches” who do not meet the criteria of “expert”
You know its funny I’ve had so many people that have come to me after being trained by one of my clients and later saying “oh my gosh I can’t believe the difference” I was already doing your stuff, so I thought, why pay him!

I hear that a lot and they are shocked because they don’t realize that expertise is not about having handed down information, but about having objective criterion applied directly to your own case. So even though they may have had my “stuff” as in a program or a diet or both, they did NOT have me applying it. When they finally do come to me they always report that they can’t believe the difference.

This is the difference of EXPERTISE.

Often I will have people write me and say, I can’t believe all of the information you “give away” on your site. These are the kind of people that buy into the whole “secrets” and buzzword hype.
Listen, I have spoken at many Symposiums etc in my time, with most of the top minds in the industry, and the whole idea of going to these seminars or presenting there is to be exposed to information. What these experts know, that others do not understand, is that “application” of knowledge and information takes expertise. Just because you go to a seminar and hear someone speak does NOT mean you know what they know, it just means you have been “exposed” to their ideas and their level of expertise. Only a fool would then go out and think they are equipped to start applying it, and even more foolish is the person who thinks they are getting something for nothing by “skipping” involving the expert, and just getting their hands on his/her stuff.

If there really was “secrets” then experts would protect them, but there is only information and its application, and that requires first and foremost, expertise.

The other thing is that when experts ideas get handed down they often get perverted. I experience this myself ALL THE TIME. Someone will read a “fat loading article” of mine or be trained by a former client of mine who sells my stuff. Then the person will say “I tried Abel’s stuff and it didn’t work for me”….. Really?
Did Scott train you? “No, but I tried his stuff and it didn’t work.” Listen, you haven’t tried my “stuff” unless I have trained you, because my “stuff” is my expertise, not one of my programs or one of my diets, or fat loading or the Cycle Diet, or Innervation Training or whatever. (yes, I did indeed create these, which is another indication of expertise)

In 2002 at the SWIS symposium many of us had the chance to speak with Dr. Barry Sears, creator of the Zone diet. He was at that time emphatic to now separate himself from the word the “Zone Diet” because he said “it has been twisted and perverted so much that now the perception of what people call the Zone Diet, doesn’t even resemble my initial creation.”
That is what happens when expertise gets watered down, especially by non experts who think they are capable of applying concepts simple or advanced that are not what the creator intended.

Later, I heard Dr. Atkins say the exact same thing about is diets, and how much they have been perverted from his initial creation. So I guess I am not the only one who goes through such frustration, as we sit and hear and watch other people “bastardize” our knowledge base and our expertise. I’m not suggesting they are attempting to do so. They are indeed attempting to help, but they just are not equipped with the same information tools, and knowledge base of the expertise they are basing their suppositions upon.

Me, I like to delve right into the advance stuff, and expect consumers to keep up, but I was/am constantly told that that is not the way to go, and that I will lose more people than I would gain in terms of exposing them to information. Robert Kennedy, publisher of Musclemag once told me I need to write “down” to the level of the reader, otherwise, anything I have to say will fall on deaf ears. I used to be stubborn about such things, and thought, in school I was always expected to rise to the level of the writers I was studying. So I thought this to be good application for the way I wrote as well. But I’ve since seen the difference.

Some of the best experts I know and see speak in this industry, have an amazing knowledge base and tons to offer attendees but they speak so far over their heads that many people just walk out, knowing that these experts, are indeed smart, but not leaving with a sense of empowerment that they have learned anything.

Recently when doing a DVD conversation with the founder of SWIS Dr. Ken Kinakin, he reminded me, that “Scott, you can’t talk about all this stuff, even though it excites you. You have to remember most people out there are doing math, and we’re doing advanced calculus” By way of analogy there, I got his point.

So instead I aim for somewhere in between. But I just wish that the consumers in our industry, especially the consumers of knowledge and expertise, well I just wish they would be a little more discriminating in their choices.
I hope this Blog helps to serve you to be just that, in addressing the level of expertise that currently guides you.

Diet Psychology

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Being a Champion: Accomplishing Greatness

Well at first glance you may think the above is one and the same. But it is not, and often the two are a far cry from each other. I just want to take a minute and comment on both.

I have been in this industry for some time, and I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Most come and go fast. Few last long in this game. I think much of that has to do with faulty thinking, faulty logic, and just incorrect assumptions and incorrect self-talk.

You all know I cover these topics time and again, and the reason is because mind-set is so important, yet so few make a study or practice of it, and by neglecting it, end up accomplishing very little, no matter how many shows they win, or don’t win.

(Notice for instance I don’t use the word lose.) There is only one way to lose and that is by quitting. Quitters never win, and winners never quit. Yet that is indeed much different than the mindset of a champion. In this industry I have personally witnessed many, who indeed “won shows” and were “champions” but lasted all of a blink of an eye, in the long run, never becoming great, and never living a life of a champion. (Genetics has always been as much from the neck up as it is from the neck down!)

This is what I would like to address today.

I have been studying athletes and the way they think for over 20 years. My Master’s thesis, which was about professional athletes as commodities took me in this direction quite frequently, in terms of studying and addressing the mindset of both champions, and champions that achieve GREATNESS.

One thing is for sure, and that is although there may be underlying commonalities, there are just as many differences in how athletes think or motivate themselves. If we could bottle what makes these super athletes special, we could all go in and win win win. But here’s the thing; winning is only a small part of the equation of greatness more important is a commitment to greatness, a commitment to aspiring and reaching farther, and a commitment to never losing, and never quitting. It’s this one quality that separates champions, from people who just win events.

Why is it some competitors command our attention while others just blip on and off our radar screen? The answer lies in the intrinsic vs the extrinsic. Believe it or not but athletes concerned only about “winning” an event command less attention than those who demand greatness of themselves at every level of the game or practice.

This all came clear to me some time ago, and although I am known world wide for being “the maker of champions” that is an event denotation only. What I know and realize and see all the time is the difference between people who win events, and champions of spirit.

Champions of spirit have it in them to become great, not only in their chosen endeavor, but in life in general. The reasons are many, subtle AND obvious but few take the time to nurture greatness in themselves, to recognize it, respond to it, feed it, and grow into it. This is one of things that separates winners from champions.

I have been in this industry for ¼ century-ish now, and what I have seen in bodybuilding is a counter-intuitive response to winning in this industry.

After a certain level, you start competing more and more among only “other winners” The competition gets tougher as you move up the ladder, and genetics aside, only a select few become champions after experiencing winning.

I have been at many Arnold Classics, back stage, many Olympia contests, and dozens of other pro shows. I’ve seen them all come and go like I said, but I’ve witnessed very few champions of spirit. Many never make the leap from winning being “all about them” to the bigger picture of the responsibilities of a champion. Being a real champion is a special quality that most of us recognize but few can define. That is why it remains so elusive, a quality to acquire.

I bring this up because in our industry I see very few people who come out of Canada, that acquire a pro card, and then do anything with it once they have it. Achieving pro status can be something special, it can also be a trap. I can’t count how many people I have trained that became pros, then thought they could do it on their own, and then never made the cut again, at a show. Most unfortunate, and most of it has to do with mindset. So what is it that makes a champion different from a winner?

Well I mentioned above the “never say die” attitude, but bodybuilders can often take this out of context. Never say die, does NOT mean win at all costs, defame yourself, disrespect yourself, abuse your body and use “being an athlete” as an excuse, and the even bigger mistake of thinking the event is “all about you”. Bodybuilders and Figure athletes often miss the point.

Winning is great of course and everyone strives for victory. That is as it should be. But being a champion has NOTHING to do with contest placings. Being a champion is way of thinking and a way of living.

This past weekend one of my clients won the Overall in a contest that now made him Nationally qualified. Good for him I say, of course. But now the challenge is on, to BE the champion he competed into becoming.

This is where many bodybuilders have the situation upside down. Being a champion means thinking like one all the time. ALL THE TIME. Every second of every minute of every day. That doesn’t require arrogance or false bravado. No. It requires more than ever a commitment to reality and a commitment to oneself in terms of performance demands.

It requires realizing that the competitor is NEVER bigger than the game, at any level. It also means realizing the game can never truly be conquered. What can only be achieved is being ones best, at being “in the game”

This is one thing that separates Champions from merely contest winners. Another, that is lost on many in this industry is that being a champion means acquiring a greater responsibility for the game itself. Remember always, it’s the game or contest you use to compete in as a measure of yourself. Should you be fortunate enough to win at a higher level, it means being in the game has given something on to you.

You must as a real champion, give back unto the game. Being named winner means even bigger shoes to fill. It means you carry the game or industry you represent wherever you go. You become an ambassador on behalf of the very game itself. It requires you to be bigger than yourself. It’s no longer about what the game can do for you, but what you can give back to the game; as a competitor, as an ambassador, and just as a participant. You become a champion, by rendering on to other people that they can also share such a role. And you do it by example. You live it!

You become a champion by being the first one with your hand out to shake another’s hand. You become a champion by avoiding the gossip about “everyone else” including yourself, and paying closer attention to only your own task at hand. These are some of the “other-oriented” responsibilities of “champion status”

But inside a real champion burns a fire to excel. Inside burns a fire to reach higher and higher, not to prove anything to anyone, but for the sake of excelling. Performance becomes sublime.

It becomes it’s very own measuring stick. Inside a real champion is the need to jump higher, run faster, get better, attain the unattainable. It is the indefinable thing that separates champions from winners, and I have seen it my whole career.

This past weekend Tiger Woods won yet another major championship. Golf is a lot like Bodybuilding in that you can never master the game. Champions realize the game is their master, and they merely measure themselves against the greatness of the game, not against other competitors. Tiger showed that this weekend.

Before the first round, Tiger was to be paired for the first time with the number two man in the sport. At the press conference one of the media people repeated to Tiger what he thought of another caddy’s quote that when Phil Mickleson is on his game he is the best golfer in the world. Now even though all evidence points to the contrary and Tiger is probably the best golfer that ever lived, he merely replied “well I think when I am on my game I’m pretty hard to beat too”

What an understatement! I watched Tiger’s eyes as he said it, and I remember saying to myself right then, this tournament is over. Tiger will win!!! And of course I was right.

Tiger doesn’t compare himself to other players, but all other players compare themselves to him. So even though he doesn’t WIN every outing, he is indeed the recognized CHAMPION. But more than that, he lives and breathes as a champion. As an example:

With an insurmountable lead on the Final round on the second last hole on Sunday, Tiger muffed a shot. Now no one in the contest had a chance to catch him at that point, but he stilled showed displeasure in himself, for the shot being less than what he wanted. He was already going to win. No one could catch him. Yet he still got mad at HIMSELF for missing the shot. That is a true champion. He wasn’t measuring his game by winning, he was measuring it by EXCELLENCE. That is how you become a champion from only winning, and how you grow into Greatness from first living the life of a champion.

You just expect more of yourself than you expect of anyone else. And you expect it all the time. You don’t try for it, you don’t hope for it. You become it. Winning at that point takes care of itself.

The other measure of a champion is thriving in the stress of the moment. When the game is on the line, and there is one second left, do you want the ball? Winners always want the ball in that predicament. And champions, well when you are a champion that is when you, your team mates, and everyone watching wants you to have the ball when it’s all on the line!

I don’t witness that too often in bodybuilding. When the diet is at its toughest, most are thinking of quitting. Most are thinking of never doing it again. Most are questioning if it is all worth it. Few muster the cajones necessary to thrive in that moment and know, this is what separates me from everyone else, right here, right now, this moment, and yes, I want the ball !!!
To quote Rocky Balboa, “I didn’t hear no bell, let’s go ONE MORE ROUND!”

This line of thinking is the most self-empowering. When the challenge to self is on, at its greatest and you can talk to yourself, and talk greatness TO yourself.

This takes a tremendous deep belief in yourself, and a belief in your fortitude and a confidence in your strength of will. It takes knowing on a deep level that the game can never be beat, but the game will never beat me either.

It also takes tremendous amounts of mental and emotional preparation.

I have been fortunate in my life time to witness the best athletes of all time, play the game, in most sports. Many qualities of character separated them from the others. One was a sense of personal responsibility. Win or lose, there were never excuses. No pre-made ready to go reasons why the job just didn’t get done. That really separates champions of spirit from just winners.

I recall noting the difference between watching Michael Jordan and watching Vince Carter. Jordan, always hated to lose. He was always involved and always took losing personally, on his own shoulders.

A champion never ever will settle for being less than all he/she can be, and elevating the game of everyone around him/her.

On the other hand, near the end of his time in Toronto, one night the Raptors were getting beat badly by another team and there on the bench Vince Carter was laughing and joking with the other players. The loss was not affecting him.

From that point on, he would never have been on my team again.

Yes, there should always be pleasure in the game. The game must always be for its own sake. But the spirit of competition precludes the acceptance of failure, or the non-chalant commitment to winning or not winning.

Individual sports like bodybuilding or golf rely more and more on the personal commitment of the athlete to greatness and not just to winning.

It’s indeed the challenge of the thing itself.

Champions are also smart enough to not try to achieve without a good team. Look at Tiger. Given that a caddy makes 10% of what the golfer earns, how good do you think Tiger’s caddy is, at his job? Tiger’s dad was his best coach. No champion ever takes the people in his life lightly. They hire and use the best, whether it be coaches, advisors, mentors, whoever.
Champions would never, ever get themselves in a relationship situation with an Energy Vampire. Their desire for achievement would preclude that from the get go.

In bodybuilding it’s curious to me how many competitors that claim to be serious, will not seek “serious” help, and how the bodybuilders seem to more often than not find themselves in one personal drama after another. I think this indeed has some real life parallels to the person who is striving for achievement, vs. the person striving for attention or the “appearance” of achievement.

One other final thing that makes greatness such a rarity is the lifelong commitment to achievement that greatness requires. Remember Tiger Woods has been playing golf since he was 2 years old. He internalized a love for the game at a young age. He also internalized competition at a young age, and internalized a winning spirit at a young age. Only then does time forge these traits into a spirit of a champion and a quest for greatness.

Its’ obvious this spirit lies in each and every one of us.

Yet it gets so little nurturing, it never comes to any kind of fruition.

So the path to greatness may be forged over time for sure. But it does have stages. First stage is appreciation and love of the game. Next is competing, even if it is within yourself. After that comes acknowledging yourself as a winner, and holding yourself to that level of commitment always, even when things do not turn out as planned.

At that point the doing of the thing is for the love of the game, and the spirit of “conquering”. Not conquering the game, not conquering the competition but conquering the challenge of the game in front of you. It becomes just about the doing of a thing as a measure of yourself.

When Edmund Hillary was asked way back when “Why climb Mount Everest?” He gave the best answer ever that reflected the attitude of a champion. He merely replied, “Because it is there”

So I guess the point of all of this is that there is a path to greatness for each and every one of us, should we dare to take the walk. But it means going beyond doing it to win, it means becoming something else in the process.

It means becoming a champion. A champion of spirit is a champion of humility. It is the acknowledgment that being good at something is a beginning to a higher calling. And that should you be fortunate enough to find that thing by which you can measure yourself, that thing is always greater than you; you are merely a player within it.

That my friends leaves the ego out of the equation. That is what makes the doing of that very thing, so worth doing, and so worth being something at which you can measure yourself.

I have always said and always believed and still do that:

“it is better to reach for the stars and only get to the mountain tops, than it is to reach for the mountain tops and only get to the trees”

The key lies in the VERB, to reach. It implies, going out and doing it. What is the old saying?

Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and go out and achieve them.
Inspire yourselves first and always to be your own champion. To develop and practice and know humility.

Then add one challenge to the achievement of a previous one, and build a staircase for yourself out of small achievements to reach to the highest.

Practice and honor yourself and your game always. Whether your goal is to lose ten pounds or to win the Nationals, understand the power behind the achievement, and turn it from upside down to right side up, and realize nothing makes you a winner, other than the thought that makes it so.

And with winning there is an opportunity to be a champion. It means being challenged to live to abide always by your highest self. To expect the most from yourself always, and to take on the responsibility and reward from doing so.

Never to make excuses for achieving less.

Realize that there may indeed and should be off-time, but there is no off-season. Thinking is the process that begins to make it all real. If the thinking is powerful enough and emotionally charged enough, action will surely follow.

If not you, then who, and if not now, then when?

Appendix:

I am reminded of a scene from a really good movie that sums it all up neatly. In the movie “With Honors” a Harvard undergrad befriends a street bum, but a wise street bum. After observing the Harvard student’s desire to do anything to graduate “with honors” including butt kissing or whatever, the bum calls the Harvard Student “a loser”

These are strong words that stick with the student whose lot in life is surely on a better path than such a bum. But because the word “loser” bothered him so much he pressed the bum for an answer.

“Why did you call me a loser?”

The bum replied “because you try too hard (to win); real champions forget that they are even in a race; real champions just love to run”

Some of you will get it, some of you will not.

JUST WHAT IS MET TRAINING? AND WHY NOW?

With my new DVD’s about to be released and some posts on my Forums site regarding the new MET training phenomenon, I have been getting a lot of questions about MET training and I thought explaining it in a Blog may help. So here goes.

MET Training is just a term I coined meaning Metabolic Enhancement Training. Now there are indeed many facets to this, and I will just go into a few for now. I will as time goes by, be writing more and more on this topic and “latest” training protocol that I have developed.

It is a fact in the sports world that certain sports are more metabolically demanding than other sports. Certain sports also have different demands on muscle systems as well. Development wise, everyone in the Bodybuilding/Figure/Fitness industry is interested in mostly cosmetic ends, and actual training response or Fitness level doesn’t ever really enter into it. Until now:

It’s become quite obvious over the last few decades that traditional bodybuilding movements, and contest preparation routines, and protocols offer little in terms of Metabolic Enhancement. People that have been in this game a long time know that year after year, getting contest ready seems to get harder and harder, and more and more sacrifices need to be made. (most of which are unhealthy because of the current drug-mindset, that exists across the board in people competing in these endeavors)

But as I have always said I was never really a part of the whole “bodybuilding subculture” (for that I am quite thankful!) even though I have been a leader in it.
I always considered myself, and those under my charge, as “athletes”, which demanded a different level of honor to the game in my mind, and therefore I always had a different thought pattern. As an athlete I was also very fascinated with the demands of other sports physically, mentally, metabolically etc.

What I have noticed in the last decade or so, in the bodybuilding arena is that athletes have lost their athleticism, and they also have metabolisms that instead of being stoked by activity, seem to be thwarted by it. I have studied and researched this over and over, and have seen it in my own clients as one year progresses to the next. Metabolisms just seem to get more and more sluggish, and results are less and less obvious and harder to come by, and whether it’s bodybuilding or Figure, this leads to really short term, unbelievably dangerous practices out there, that seem to become the “accepted norm” of contest prep in bodybuilding and Figure, and in short not only is it not true, but can be permanently harmful. (Read my Blogs on Metabolic Damage)

I began to look further and further into other sports and started to collect “training clues”
There are many sports out there that create a heavy metabolic demand, and still lead to enhanced physique development.

I have always said that “success leaves clues” and this is also true in the world of athletics. If I were to right now ask you, what athletes have the best developed physiques? (bodybuilding excluded, because of the overwhelming extensive drug use and abuse compared to other sports)
Certain sports and their athletes come to mind. Gymnasts, spring board divers, and track athletes in sprint events, all seem to have very developed physiques, and V tapered bodies, and a great amount of muscular development and definition, correct?
Position players in the NFL such as tight ends and defensive backs also seem to fit this criteria. I have seen many athletes in these sports that could walk out on stage at a bodybuilding show and win it all, with no deviation from their current plan, at all !!!!

The important thing to note here as well, is that these athletes, do not diet, to look defined and ripped, and developed. They are that way because of the training demands of their sport or their position in their sport.

Not only that, but there are other sports where very specific bodyparts are also well developed because of the nature of the training for that sport. In bodybuilding we naively look at some bodybuilder with specific genetics for a certain bodypart, and then wonder how they train, not realizing this is an individual genetic gift. It doesn’t really matter how someone with a genetically gifted bodypart trains that bodypart, because it is likely to develop from any kind of training!

But what of a sport where almost all the athletes competing in it, have a certain level of a well developed body or bodypart. Well, then it must be the nature of the training demands of that particular endeavor that produces that level of development.

So we can look at the well rounded delt development of male gymnasts due to the tasks of their events; we can look at the V tapers of springboard divers because of the nature of their training; we can see instantly the level of inner and out thigh sweep on speed skaters. The demands of their sport, the nature of their training leaves clues to not only physique enhancement and development but Metabolic Enhancement as well. Remember, few of these athletes, “diet to look good” for an event. The look like that all year long, because of their training protocol.

So all of these sports, and the training demands of these sports leave clues, not only for development but for Metabolic Enhancement as well. They not only leave clues from their own sport’s training demands, but also leave cues as to what is wrong with the current state of traditional bodybuilding/Figure Training.

The Adaptation or Overload Principle of Exercise Physiology is that as the body adapts to a certain level of stress, greater amounts of stress must be applied in order to force further adaptation. Most people vary training parameters, of sets, reps, duration, volume etc to try to achieve these ends. But after awhile even subtle variations of such training variables no longer really become adaptive stress. Trying to lift more weight and do fewer sets, doesn’t work, neither do many of the other options. This is because the training “effect” has already been adapted to. Now it requires not just “greater amounts of stress or stimulus” but a different type of stimulus as well, but still within the parameter of “hypertrophy” demands to influence development of a mature, yet Metabolically responsive physique.

Over the course of a few years, those in the physique game begin to train in what I call “comfort zones”. Sure they may vary training loads, sets, reps, etc but the “style” of training stays the same. This “comfort zone” by its very definition can no longer “force an adaptive response” no matter how hard an athlete trains or how “heavy.” They have not furthered the Metabolic Demands of their training so adaptive stress stops, because the body is so well adapted to the varying kinds of training stress variables being virtually the same over several years. (relatively same exercises, same rep ranges, same overall set protocol, etc)

Too often traditional training in bodybuilding relies on movements, that are exclusively linear, and too uni-planar. More often than not multi-planes of motion are totally neglected and in particular the posterior plane of motion in traditional weight training circles. This is basically ubiquitous in the training I have witnessed, and that is not only limiting further physique development but is also causing so many of the “itis” type conditions and injuries we see in the weight training world today. Rotator cuff problems, impingements, tendonitis, bursitis, etc, all tend to be caused by repeated patterns moving in the same plane of motion over and over again. These are syndromes of overuse, but more importantly specific pattern overuse. This can be prevented with proper use of MET training protocols.

It is imperative for those training with weights regardless of their goals to restore tri-planar and multi-planar function to the muscles being trained. This will have many effects but one is that the muscles will now be more “responsive” to the training stimulus.

ENTER FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

With the proliferation of Functional Training methodology throughout all sports we have seen another “training trend” develop. However this one has legs, meaning there is merit to it. The problem with Functional Training as it exists right now is that it is so mis-applied. (just like traditional bodybuilding training protocol) Not only do I see the Functional Training exercises being bastardized everywhere I go, but the sequencing in which they are used usually also makes no sense at all.

Remember like I always say, a collection of exercises does NOT equate to a proper training protocol, workout, or program. People still approaching their training that way should not be surprised to see they aren’t getting anywhere.

Recently even Functional Training has come under some criticism which is warranted, somewhat but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here!

There is good sense to use Functional Training movements and methodology for bodybuilding training and for Metabolic Enhancement, and for fat burning. As a matter of fact if done correctly, and if a program is assembled properly, Functional Exercises done with weights, or for power will most definitely increase muscle size and power.

Functional Training Circuits will also burn fat much more effectively than will traditional bodybuilding “cardio” protocol. The difference in this one type of training is huge, for that purpose.

But I will back track a little bit.

Functional Training is different from most traditional bodybuilding protocols in that Functional Training is centered around movements, while bodybuilding exercises focus on muscle. But these two factors need not be mutually exclusive. Functional Training exercises can teach the body how to distribute the load of any movement over several different muscle systems at once. This is fantastic for neural learning. And furthermore, this is amazing for bringing up weak or unresponsive bodypart. Remember a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you make your “weakest bodypart” part of a kinetic chain that involves your strongest bodypart what do you think happens? That weak muscle must respond by adapting to that overload and being “functional” within that chain! That is only one such use of Functional Training within a traditional bodybuilding training program.

Remember the sports I mentioned above. No way the involved muscles of these athletes, performing these moves, could be any weaker than the other involved muscles or the movements in these sports, like gymnastics, diving etc, just could not be done. By training in a way that involves all muscles to work in a kinetic chain, there is even development throughout the entire physique.

But what else do the moves of athletes involved in the sports I mentioned above have in common? The most important answer is “speed.” Or to couch it in terms of an exercise scientist, VELOCITY. No moves such as triple twists, and somersaults, and dismounts etc in any of these sports can be done without generating maximum speed or maximum velocity. This is what also effects metabolism most in these sports activities training and this is what also is missing from current bodybuilding training protocols.

To understand velocity specific training we need to understand what it is and what it is not. First there is the concept of strength. Strength meaning force. After strength comes power. You can’t be powerful without first developing strength. But the main component in power is velocity. This is expressed as Power = Strength X’s Velocity.

Follow me so far?

In other words it takes more power to do a movement faster. Period. So the goal in any resistance program is to generate power; which again has a velocity component to it.
However there is also an inverse relationship of force and velocity. What this means is that if I lift a weight that is really heavy for me, even though I attempt to generate velocity, the weight moves slower. This is in fact the traditional approach to training with weights for power and for hypertrophy. And this is one mistake of the modern bodybuilding training protocol, always employing slower movements with too much weight.

Tie a weight to a gymnast or a diver mentioned above and they will not be able to generate the power and velocity needed to do the moves, which effect their metabolisms, and develop their physiques. Makes perfect sense does it not!??!!

Yet this is how bodybuilding/Figure athletes have been training almost exclusively in the modern era. Therefore metabolism is thwarted, and so is athleticism. Put some properly placed speed and velocity movements back in to traditional bodybuilding training protocol and you have MET training, guaranteed to take the physique to new levels of development, and give metabolism back to the hard training athlete.


And there is still more to this. The latest thing in advanced sports training technology is lactate threshold training. Traditionally all Metabolic Training had to do with lower body intervals only. Yet it is very obvious that all muscular systems can suffer from lactate fatigue and tire easily. Training not only systemic but local muscular systems to enhance training performance in this regard further enhances physique and metabolism. And we can do that with a velocity component approach to specific areas.

Power is yes, strength X’s velocity, but Metabolic Power, is a training protocol designed to repeat bouts of velocity training to enhance power-based endurance. This takes a lot of training fortitude but also will add, to the Metabolic Demands on a systemic level. So training for Power Endurance, or Metabolic Power or effect, is about not only training fast but circumventing recovery as well, just like in Lactate Threshold training.

So the key here is to not only perform movements for speed and power but to repeat such demands without full recovery between bouts of exertion. This is the key to enhanced metabolism or metabolic effect of training, and making training demanding enough to produce adaptive stress all the time.

I have broken down MET Training, into variable systems. One system is a Hybrid system of bodybuilding training that employs Power Endurance, and Speed movements mentioned above, along with specific Functional Training movements that have till now been neglected in the bodybuilding world, but if done properly, can take muscle gains to a new level.

Then I have made Circuit Training protocols to replace traditional cardio and enhance metabolism in terms of calories burning, and post exercise response. The key elements here is that in proper Circuit Training protocols you can focus on very specific areas, as in my Abs/Core training Circuit. The Circuit produces the metabolic demands, and the fat burning on a whole new level, and the focus of the circuit targets any key areas that may need addressing in a specific athlete. I have broken these down into 1) systemic 2) upper body 3) lower body 4) abs/core. Right now, I only have the abs/core focus available as DVD, but others will follow. The applications are limitless.

And while it’s impossible to spot reduce fat, it is not impossible to focus metabolic activity in one area over the course of “fat burning sustained activity”

This is part and parcel of the Circuit Training protocols, which will for sure replace “traditional cardio” as it is done right now for pre-contest or cosmetic results. That kind of training is now ancient. Functional Training Circuits and “focused” Circuits will provide tonus and way more efficient fat burning, than will traditional bodybuilding, and cardio protocol. But forget about what you see in your local gym described as “Circuit Training” This stuff in gyms is NOT circuit training in real terms, but is instead used as a marketing idea. And the MET Circuits are different also in that they are done again, with Speed and Power as the main focus.

Furthermore, combining traditional bodybuilding training for strength and hypertrophy along with Functional exercises that hit the body differently but still create neural demand, and using lower loads with extremely high velocity, can and will induce greater adaptation, than will traditional methods alone. The side benefit of such a Hybrid Program, is that Metabolism is enhanced rather than slowed down, or nullified.

This is a huge leap forward in modern bodybuilding training protocol.

I’m sure my new Hybrid Systems will be met with some criticism by the “traditionalists.” My Innervation Training was met with the same skepticism some 15 years ago, but is now practiced and copied everywhere. MET training is set to give bodybuilders and Figure athletes back their athleticism, and their metabolisms, while still accomplishing all the same goals. This is cutting edge stuff for sure. It’s too bad there are so many myopic traditionalists out there.

Why is it that there exists so much “expert bias” out there? Go to any Symposium and it’s always the same thing. Every “expert” thinks their way is the right way, and the only way. Pilates people think that is the Fitness cure, Yoga people think it’s all about Yoga. Bodybuilders are probably the worst in terms of not getting the bigger picture, and it’s hurting them, in their physiques and their metabolisms.

I often liken building a physique to building a house. I use that example often in seminars etc. Well training protocols are tools to building a physique. No more, no less. Can you build a house with one tool???? Obviously not.
So does it make sense to employ other non-traditional training protocols to build your physique, if such training shows in other sports that it does indeed accomplish that end?

The answer is obvious. There is so much more I could go into on the benefits of Hybrid and MET training but this is at least a beginning and hopefully will get you thinking. You can continue on your usual traditional stuff, and have it be harder and harder every year, just to maintain the same results, or you can step into the future right now. Once word gets out on all of this the “traditionalist doubters” will be left behind. This new system is here to stay.

It’s not only non-traditional, but it is a lot more fun as well, to train in so many different ways, in different multi-planes, at different speeds, with different weights, always feeling a different kind of stress. And the added benefit to MET training or Hybrid Bodybuilding training is the enhanced metabolic effects of it. This is counter to the trend you all know in traditional bodybuilding cardio protocols where metabolism seems to get more stubborn every year.

This is just the beginning. I will obviously be writing more on all of this as time passes. And when the first DVD’s get out there, and word spreads there will be I’m sure tons of questions and testimonials etc to expand upon. There is already such discussions of applications for MET training and feedback from these workouts in my Forums section.

I think it’s too bad in 4-5 years, when there will be tons of “proof” for MET training the traditionalists will be on the same old, “I just wish I had of done this sooner list”

Which is something I usually hear from people after they become clients of mine LOL

This will no doubt be the same. People will want to “try” and will copy MET training to try to catch up to those who have been doing it for some time. Always makes me laugh.

Anyway, I hope this begins to explain to you all what MET training is and how it came about. Now all that is left is for you to try one or more aspects of it, in application.
As usual your comments, or questions regarding MET training on my Forums section are always welcome.