Journey with Jiu Jitsu

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I felt like throwing up. I almost decided not to go in. My first day of Jiu Jitsu was like the first day of boot camp in the Army or at your local fitness gym. Expectations, wondering, faint glimpses of sweat or maybe even blood. Sitting in the Jeep before going in I had no idea what to expect. As a local gym owner I deal with first day people all the time. I see the nervousness in their eyes, shaking knees, and coarse throats. Being the newbie is intimidating. There’s a whole new world inside the doors of the school, the gym, the church. You try to imagine what the minute by minute details will be like, but no matter how hard you try, you never get the idea until you step into it.

Jiu Jitsu was something I knew nothing about. I watched a few videos of black belt champions showing how easy it was. Truth is nothing is easy. Not even the warm up. Until we did it in class I never once did a forward roll or backward roll. Hadn’t even heard of what “shrimp” was. Walking into the new world as a student was liberating. Nobody looking to me for answers. Nobody had questions about my expertise. Being a personal trainer who helps people daily get in shape I’m consistently sought after for advice. Chris, the coach, and owner of Sakura BJJ was that guy and I was just like every other new student. Amazing.

What made we want to try it were the stories I heard about the stress relief it offered. The relaxing feelings in your mind and body after a hard class of drilling and rolling. My mind was only occupied by the gym, by family, and books. Nothing else stirred within. As a stay at home Dad in between my classes at the gym, I needed the break offered by “me time”. At first I felt guilty taking it because my poor darling wife never asks for her own. But it’s necessary for me to operate at my best.

Many people fall into a trap of routine that sucks them of vital life energy. They help others more than they care for their own soul. Friendships lost and hobbies tossed into the dark muggy basement beneath the old canvas tarp. Hardly ever to be seen again. For me Jiu Jitsu was a chance to find something outside of life that was new. Disappoint me, it did not. I found myself more alive, more awake.. Jiu Jitsu helped me save myself from destructive thoughts and lazy attitudes. It showed me the strength within my arms and the power of self defense. I never thought I’d be on the mats for long but this journey has been good to me and I’m excited about the future days of drilling endlessly and aggressively rolling with good people. Good men and women who too are on a journey to fulfillment. It’s been kind, but not easy. Nothing I’ve ever tried besides caring for my children has been harder. My perseverance helps me continue to show up. My curiosity helps me continue to improve. My coaches help me continue to know that there is much to learn.

Does Getting In Shape Have to Be Hard?

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Each morning would begin with some eggs. Possibly a piece of Ezekiel toast and a side of blueberries, but more often than not it was strictly eggs. By mid day, an hour or so before lunch, I’d snack on an ounce of almonds and a protein powder drink mixed with plain water. Next up came lunch. Most days lunch was a huge salad with a few ounces of lean chicken breast, mixed with some other nuts and a fat based dressing. Before I left work I would have another scoop of whey protein powder in water and maybe a banana and then head to the gym. At the gym I worked with Starting Strength, a strength based progressive program, and would do Squats, Bench Press, and Barbell Rows. Before I left I would spend twenty or so minutes of the elliptical or stationary bike. Some days I would do a circuit of different exercises, build a sweat, and go home.

After each meal and workout I’d write the foods I consumed and the exercises I did. I kept solid track of what was happening. I knew where I needed to be in terms of Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates, water, and total calories. I also knew where I was and what more or less I needed when it came to water and exercise. Most mornings after I woke up and drained the tank I would weigh myself to see where I was in terms of weight.

Doing this strictly for thirty days showed very effective. At the end of the month I stepped on the scale and it showed a total weight loss of seventeen pounds, in only thirty days. My strict but simple plan was proven.

Twice in the last five years I did this plan and the results were the same. Seventeen pounds lost and none coming from muscle. In the coming weeks I will again attempt this plan before summer to drop the winter excess pounds from bulking up. During those thirty days I did enjoy two or three cheats meals of pizza and beer.

So this begs the question: Does getting in shape have to be hard?

Before I answer this with why it doesn’t have to be hard, the answer is a simple yes when you ask the question. If you believe getting in shape will be, or is, hard, then it’s going to be a struggle. The negative notion of the question will bring about doubt, heartache, and frustration. For one to begin a weight loss with the thought of it being difficult is to begin with failure rooted in mind. To start on the right foot, forget asking the question of will it be hard and instead, intend to succeed with positive force.

Getting in shape is not hard. It does require a good amount of work but “hard” it is not. Anyone can do it. Moms with three kids have gotten in shape. Men who had heart attacks and strokes have gotten in shape. Truck drivers weighing over three hundred pounds with no exercise experience in their life have gotten in shape. A stay at home Dad, me, has gotten in shape.

There are two things you need to succeed. A plan and being disciplined in your plan.

What makes a plan effective?

Simplicity. We can’t over complicate the process. If you look at my simple and basic plan there was nothing in it that required an education level beyond the third grade. A child would understand what needed to be done. A quick calculation of my macro-nutrients based on my weight and age gave me all the details I needed to develop a good plan.  A simple and effective plan.

When it comes to exercise we can get very complicated and develop a plan like a NFL Linebacker would follow, but for most of us, that is unnecessary. Following a simple strength and conditioning program is all you need. Getting into the fine details of exercise can come when you advance to a higher level of fitness. For the majority of the country, simple is all that is necessary.

Working out four to five times a week for at least thirty minutes is simplicity at it’s finest. Work the basic movements of the human species. An upper body push, an upper body pull, the hinge, squatting, and loaded walking are as basic as you can get. Hundreds of thousands of people have followed simple plans with those six basic human movements and have changed their life. That is all there is to it.

Quality nutrition also makes a plan effective. Without knowing what to eat it can be frustrating. To save you headache and heartache here are a few good foods you should be eating. If you have to ask if something is healthy, it is not.

Lean Meat (Chicken, Turkey, Beef, etc.)
Fish
Green Vegetables
Other Vegetables
Fruits
Nuts and seeds

When you eat those foods in line with the details you found when you did the simple calculations of your macros (mentioned above) you will succeed.

BUT.. that doesn’t make a plan effective. You won’t have success using a very basic and simple plan unless you are disciplined in actually doing it. Most people can maintain discipline for ten or so days but then something can happen that knocks us off the tracks. Our discipline has been compromised. A very simple way to maintain discipline is to slow down your thoughts and stop rushing through life. Sure we all have places to go, people to see, work to do, and things to get done, but we can slow down that process and think. Something that seems lost in this rush age of society, thinking. When we actually set aside time to think, great things happen. The iPod was reinvented and changed music when thinking time was spent effectively.

The same goes for your discipline. A great way to help yourself attack your goals and succeed with your plan is to be professional with it. Treat your daily action steps of getting in shape like it was your job. Treating it like a hassle or nuisance is setting yourself up for failure. You must be professional and aware of what you are doing and need to do. It’s that easy.

It’s a shame we try to over-complicate the process of living healthy. Corporations need to make a profit and therefore we create the noise involved with living healthy. Parents are thrown into the pit of lions when kids want sugary snacks and foods. But the disciplined parent knows not to buy that garbage and bring it into the home, where temptation lurks. A good way to think about living healthy when it comes to nutrition is, does buying this food help a fortune 100 company make even more money or is it going to that local farmer who sits in the back of the church on Sunday with his family?

Getting in shape does not have to be hard. Make it simple. Make it so easy that a third grade student can understand it and follow the plan and be successful should they choose to. The more nutrition and fitness clutter we remove from our minds and days, the better we will do with our plan. Remember, you can do this. It is easy when we positively intend for it to be. Too choose otherwise is foolish.

Stupid Shit That Doesn’t Matter

It’s the thought of the day. The meaningless bullshit many of us are involved in. I call it stupid shit that doesn’t matter. You can see it on social media. Across all platforms. Everyday. Endless scrolls of bullshit that drains the mind, tires the eyes, and fogs the senses. We’re all caught up in it. Even if you don’t do social media, you’re caught up in it somewhere. Maybe you waste time thinking about the perfect front yard and manicured lilies and sunflowers and specks of lavender. Or maybe you insist you know Bigfoot is out there, hiding from the sight of human eyes. For millions of years we’ve been caught up in shit that doesn’t matter.

It’s hard to define what that is and what is actually stuff that matters. In my opinion, stuff that matters are things like the smile on your daughter’s face or the goofy glasses that make her look like a geeky nerd. Or the crazy jumping of your son who flaunts along like a jackrabbit. Things that matter are quiet moments in front of a fire or sitting with a few friends on a summer night talking about life, fishing, and good beer.

Technology is important but much of it is stupid shit that doesn’t matter. iPhones and Androids that distract us all. DVDs and online streams. The best streaming is out in the woods where the water is so perfect you can drink it from your hand and not violently explode with sickness the day after. Streams that start in the middle of the mountains from ice cold glacier springs.

Football and baseball and the NBA Finals are things that don’t matter to your life. They won’t bring true happiness unless you’re on the field enjoying a game with friends or enjoying the exercise of running down the fields or courts or across the diamond.

Brand new fancy cars and all of the super special packages that seem to be standard now don’t matter. A fifty thousand dollar truck or car or special utility vehicle is a waste of time, effort, and money. What does it matter if you travel in style when all that matters is if you arrive alive and at your destination on time.

Stupid shit that doesn’t matter is there to fill a void of inner knowing and inner peacefulness. We have become so involved in what is outside that we fail to realize or embrace that which is within. We race across the clock doing stupid shit that doesn’t matter instead of sitting around the table with family listening, talking, playing, and laughing.

Stop for a moment and take an inventory on all the stupid shit that doesn’t matter in your life and see what you have. See what you can get rid of. See what you waste countless hours involved in and what you neglect or fail to recognize. The mind doesn’t notice much but when you deliberately stop and seek, question, listen, and look you will see what’s been there the whole time.

 

Wake Up, Get A Drink, And Kick Ass

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The morning comes and you half slide and half roll out of bed. The alarm clock one second away from being crushed with a hammer. Your eyes shut, weak in the bathroom light, mind trying to catch up with your legs. It’s time to gear up for a great day, for an action packed day full of effort and positive momentum. No ill thoughts, no negative doubts, no beliefs that will bring you down.

It’s time to get up and get to work. You have goals. You want to be successful. So then, get to work.

Many times we roll out of bed dreading the occurrence. Just another second, just another snooze. I’m just like this. My 4am alarm usually follows with alarms every 2 minutes until I can get my wits and step out of bed. Then I think about WHY the hell I’m getting up at 4am in the first place. It’s not just for me, it’s for the people I care about the most.

As soon as I get up and get dressed, I grab a huge glass of water. The water acts not just as a mineral for my body but as a way of knowing my day is starting anew. A clean slate of time to get important work done. Whether it’s hanging with my kids or doing consultations or being a husband.

In those moments of first rising in the morning we set the tone of the day. Do you want it to be a great day? Speak to yourself about how it will be a great day, show gratitude for the goodness in your life, and believe the day will be awesome. Thoughts of a bad day, a bad mood, a bad headache, and a bad job are going to steer your day exactly where you are thinking it’s going to go, more accurately, where you subconsciously hope it’s going.

If you want to live life activated you need to take charge and control of each morning and the thoughts that come with it. It takes one second to slap the hell out of a negative thought. It takes one second to bring up a positive thought. Don’t waste your morning on negative crap. Believe in yourself and believe the day is going to be awesome. Your first 15 minutes of the day set the flow of the minutes and hours to come. Make the most of it and kick ass.

 

 

 

Writing Down What You’re Grateful For

Being home with my kids each day is a mental challenge for me. Recently it feels like they have sucked the life energy out of me and left me for dead. Naturally I want to throw the towel in when they misbehave and when they drain me of my life force, but that is too easy. What would that teach them? What good would come if they see their father as the quitter, the push over, the exhausted parent who lets them get their way? Being a dad is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My patience is short and my anger is tested each day. I try my hardest to not yell when something happens that shouldn’t have and in the recent months it’s greatly improved.

Each morning I started talking to my kids about gratitude. I ask them each what they are grateful for today and it’s been fun to hear them say Daddy most of the time, or Nana or Pop-pop or Mommy. For awhile I got away from writing down my three things each day that I’m grateful for but recently started to again after hearing Cornell Thomas speak. This simple practice is amazing. Nobody knows what is behind the energy that it brings but there are many lessons to be learned as you do it each day.

It’s hard to be upset, angry, and down when you search for what you’re grateful for. You’ll think of things like- my family, my eye sight, my job, the roof over my head. The little things we take for granted like the roof over our head or the clean water we can bathe in and easily heat or the gasoline in our cars all make a major difference to the ease of our life. Millions of people around the world do not have half the luxury that we do in the United States. What we take for granted, millions of people would, and probably have, killed for. When we wake up pissed off that our life is out of whack, we forget about the little things that truly matter. When you write them down in a gratitude journal, it helps you realize it and keep the thought in the top of your mind awareness.

Start today. Try writing down three things each morning and/or each night that you’re grateful. Do it with no expectations. If you expect something to happen like magic, you’ll be let down. Do it with love and with the full expression of the goodness inside of you.

Doubt, Confidence, and Succeeding

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“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay

Five years ago I started training people to help them lose weight. Prior to getting the game started I had been sitting on my certification for six months. For nearly half a year I was a personal trainer to nobody. I didn’t even try to find a client to train nor did I even bother telling people I was a trainer. My confidence was non existent and I had no self-esteem regarding training. I also had some negative body image doubts that held me back. We all do. This happens to many people.

The lack of self-confidence and self-esteem in the world is devastating to goals, dreams, and action taking. Our doubts about our appearance, our ability, and our self worth hold back our true greatness. It stops us from achieving the highest of our potential. If you ever want to improve your life dramatically and take your achievement to a higher level, you need to push doubt aside and take the action.

Our fears are usually stronger than our confidence and esteem. This is why it’s so hard to take action. We think we lack the courage needed to push the envelope further, but the truth is, we are strong enough and we are courageous enough. The step forward we take will prove this.

You have to understand that failure is okay and that it happens. 2016 was a pretty big failure for me in terms of my goals. I fell hard in many areas of life and I let other things control my actions instead of owning it and grabbing the wheel. My attitude sank and my confidence was flushed down the toilet. But the fact that I notice it now is all I need to make sure I don’t let it happen again. I’m okay with my failure. I accepted it. Not that I wanted it to happen, but I knew it was possible and if I did fail, no big deal. Dust off the shirt and move forward.

Five years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to say that. I would have felt horrible and defeated and most likely would have quit. My successes were up and down and even though I was higher in the past than I am now, I know I can get there. The journey has increased my confidence, my esteem, and my attitude. When I wrote five books in two years I was on fire. The last two years that fire was suffocated by doubt, fear, laziness, anger, and mental exhaustion. Not a big deal. Back to square one and onward from here.

One of the reasons my confidence sunk was because I put what people said and believed above my own beliefs and values. I let negative thinkers, cowards, and people who disrespected me get the best of my emotions and feelings. It was a hard hit to the face followed by another to the gut. What I should have done was thanked them for what they said and did and removed the thought from my mind for good. We often get tied down by negative people, thinking, and energy. My energy balance was broken and the results showed.

In 2017, it’s not what you think. It’s not what my family thinks or what clients say or coaches say. It’s about what I believe, what I see and feel, and where I want to go. I am in control of my life. I’m confident I can take this to the next level and I’m confident you can level your life up as well. Close your eyes and visualize what it is you want to achieve. Once you open them, get to fucking work.

Being Positive, Selfish, and Getting to Work

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September 22nd, 2016 is the last time I published a post on this site. I’ve been away too long. I fell flat on my face, bit the dust, and ran away like a scared puppy. In over five years of writing blog posts and books, I thought I wrote it all. I lost my mojo more than once and this last time it’s stayed hidden. I’m going to attempt to bring it back or just create some new mojo out of nothing. My mind has been preoccupied on other matters. I’ve been busy helping men and women lose weight and fell better at the gym. I’ve been practicing Jiu Jitsu, although I had a four week layoff due to a MRSA or Staph infection that practically crippled my left hand. And of course, I’ve been home with my two little kids who have drove me nuts and then turned me into butter.

During this past year I realized that my attitude and my mindset changed. There were plenty of hard times and my energy was exhausted early being home with my kids. I dealt with some issues that tore me apart, but I think I sowed myself back together. My positive spirit and mental attitude seemed to be lost in space. If you search back through many of my blogs or read my books you’ll see that being positive and upbeat and happy is a major part of my life. In 2016, it wasn’t that way at all. Most of the time, I simply faked it when I had to.

I’ve had trouble over the past five years with my energy and my attitude. During this time I’ve built Activate Fitness in Hackettstown into a great place to be for weight loss and to just feel awesome. I had two kids and was nearly divorced twice. Going through older posts you’ll see where my attitude went up and where it dipped. It’s just a part of our life cycle, but I’m not okay with it. Being positive is rare these days. People are afraid to be positive because so many people are tied down by negative forces that when we show positivity and happiness, they think there’s something wrong with us.

Before my children were born I was a big time fan of Floating and Meditation and when life got hard, I abandoned my practices. I see now how that was foolish and I realize even more now the awesome power of float tanks and meditation. Those two critical components of my positive mental attitude vanished overnight and left me high and dry.

I went to hear a speaker yesterday at our Jiu Jitsu school. His name is Cornell Thomas and he lit the fire under my ass again. One of the best things he said during the hour or so speech was this “Never let doubt stop your do.” and I realized that in 2016, my doubt crushed my do. His energy was great and obviously I borrowed some as I feel different today, but it will be a long road back to where I once was. In the past, I could write through a stream of consciousness up to five thousand words about being positive and happy without taking a piss break. Now, my attention is good for maybe thirty seconds. When I wrote five books, it came easy. It came naturally. The work was fun and it didn’t seem like it took a lot of effort. Today, writing is draining. But I know why.

I need to take a break from certain things in my day to day routine. I need to be selfish and spend more time improving myself so that I can recharge my important energy. I need to stop stressing over working and writing and get on the ground and roll with my kids. Instead of answering the twenty emails I get each day, go to the movies and relax. Instead of being at the gym at five o’clock in the morning, sleep in and get important rest. And that’s another thing, a totally different topic, but something that pisses me off. People wear getting up early as a badge of honor. For the past five years I’ve been getting up super early, most days at four, and while many people claim great benefits from rising early, I think it’s not the best option, for me and my happiness. Many awesome people come to train at my gym at Five O’clock every single day and they love it. For me, it’s crushing. I need sleep and I operate ten times better when I sleep, if not a hundred times better. If you have to wake up early to workout, make sure you get to sleep earlier than normal and do your best to make it the best quality sleep you can.

Remember, living life activated takes work. It takes a lot of work and for many people, like me in 2016, that work feels like it’s not worth it, but at the end of the year when you come up short in your goals and you feel like I felt (exhausted, angry, tired, lazy) you’ll see that the work needed to be fully activated, to be awake and alive, is most definitely worth it.

Stay positive they say… I say live activated.

From Nothing to Something: Going from Rock Bottom to Living Activated

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If we go back just ten years ago my life was very different from what it is now. Ten years ago I was hiding from the world around me. I literally was hiding from the law over a traffic violation that I failed to pay, which led to a warrant. I was young and afraid. The real world in front of me was a scary place and I had no clue how to deal with it and make it in a world of sharks and lions. I was terrified of trying and therefore, I hid. Unfortunately this did nothing good for my life and I ended up being homeless. At one point I delightfully gave up all of my possessions and moved forward with the clothes on my back and maybe ten other items.

Drifting through life with no plan was the order of the day and most of the time I was under the influence. Much of my time was spent like a hermit. I hardly went out, I had few friends, I didn’t care for my appearance or health, and I was broke. For awhile I was coasting through a shitty job as a lighting salesman slash stock boy slash driver slash cleaner. The job actually wasn’t shitty, but I would have rather been partying with my friends hiding from people. But I did what I had to do. Once I lost that job because of my lack of caring about anything, I was broke. I couldn’t afford food, I couldn’t afford car or health insurance, and I couldn’t afford a place to live. A few months was spent squatting in my Grandmother’s house that was for sale. I stayed until the last possible day. The heat was turned off and I slept on the hard floor with a sleeping bag I had from my days camping.

Once I was forced to leave because the sale of the home was finalized, I had nowhere to go. Twelve or so days was spent hanging out at my friend’s house on his recliner. His parents had no idea I was sleeping there. Once they found out, I was toast. A few nights were spent sleeping under a bridge and I came to a point of life or death. Do I march forward or quit like a whiny ass punk? Luckily I decided to move forward and caught a break when my Aunt allowed me to stay in her home.

Within a few days I got a job as a landscaper, doing mostly hardscaping work. Which for those who don’t know is the construction of paver patios, walkways, retaining walls, and such. It was hard work but looking back now, I miss it. Being outside in the hot sun working your ass off, sweating like a pig, lifting heavy objects for ten or twelve hours a day was brutal, but it built character and I never felt better. I was doing exactly what our biological DNA is built for. Working with your hands and heavy objects and the weather around you is good for the soul. Sure it sucked when it was a hundred degrees, but the ice cold beer and steak dinner afterwards always sat nice.

About a year of doing this while pretending I was a licensed driver, it was suspended because I failed to appear in court, it was time to face reality. I couldn’t keeping hiding and had to address the law. Thankfully, it was silly and the prosecutor actually laughed about it. My warrant was dismissed and I received a fifty or sixty dollar fine. That was a brutal lesson on why it’s important to get the job done right away and to face my unrealistic and blown out of proportion fears.

Once I got my license back and a car I started working for my mother. For quite awhile I enjoyed the air conditioning, the heat, the convenience of a kitchen and bathroom, and sitting by a computer. That quickly changed when I realized my primal nature was to be active and not sitting all day. I started to get a little stir crazy, even though I wouldn’t accept to believe it.

During my time as a medical biller I met my now wife and we quickly hit it off, got married, and bought a house. All while I wasn’t ready for any of it. Coming from what I went through in the previous years before meeting her, I wasn’t ready to be the man of the house, let alone have a house. But like the day I left my Grandmother’s house to become homeless, I rolled with it and went to work. As life as a new homeowner and married man unfolded I began to realize I wasn’t happy about my work. I didn’t want to be there but knew I had to be. I also knew there was more in store for me and more I can share with others, I had to figure it out.

So I spent most of the first year as a newly wed new homeowner working on becoming a personal trainer. I wanted to help people get in shape. For the past two years I was working out and lost about sixty pounds of fat. I thought I knew what I was doing and wanted a way out of the office and into a world of my “own thing” being my own boss.

Here’s the thing about training and having my own business… I knew nothing. I thought I knew everything but I quickly became aware of the fact that I was in for a big surprise. Through my focused efforts and intense studying I received my personal trainers certification and then promptly hid the fact, out of foolish fear, that I was a trainer. For several months I did nothing about. Finally after some pep talking from my wife, I decided to give it a go and offered my services as a personal trainer for free.

Now this was about five years ago from today. When I first started Activate Fitness, I was scared shitless. I was afraid of the other trainers in town, I was afraid of internet trainers, I was afraid I didn’t have the skills and knowledge to get the job done right. I was afraid of gym owners in a twenty mile radius. I absolutely did not want to take action on my dream. I was frozen in place and had zero dollars to make something from nothing.

But I said FUCK THAT and ultimately took control of my life and destiny and decided to do it anyway. Starting out training others for free or for five dollars is how I had to get things going. It took years for me to finally be able to open my own gym and when I did, I was just as broke as I was when I started. My wife was pregnant and we had no money to lose but we took the risk and I threw myself in the middle of the street, ready to help people change their lives.

I stood there in the arena and took my bumps and my bruises and kept coming back fighting. I failed hundreds of times during my years of owning Activate Fitness. I worked through competition opening all over the place and kept my vision pointed straight ahead, success or die. There is no room for failure. It’s do it or lose it. Mornings came when I said Fuck it and wanted to quit. I waited patiently and silently begging for my wife to throw in the towel on my dream and bring me back to safety. I cried because of the stress of dealing with others. I cried because the numbers weren’t good. I cried because I missed precious time with my family and neglected them, especially my wife, for years.

They can stab me with their sword and dare to declare victory but with courage and hope I won’t stop. I choose to live my life activated. I choose to live awake and alive. I choose to be the one in control and refuse to let others control my life, my way of being, my destiny. I stand here today a man who has seen rock bottom but a man who also braved battle and decided winning was the only option. I refuse to lose. I will not lose.

You can choose to live life activated.

You can choose to take control of your life.

You can choose to chase your dreams and gear up for the war you’ll definitely face.

You can choose to wake up and live awake and alive.

Will you?

Join us here for support and accountability in your journey to living your best life: Your Life Activated

The Hardest Parts of Being Dad

When my wife first got pregnant over four years ago I knew I wasn’t ready to be a Dad. I hardly ever spent time with little kids and my patience for anything in life was a thin sheet of ice. There wasn’t one part of how to take care of a child that I knew. We went to the local Barnes and Noble one day and I bought several books on being a dad and on what to expect when my wife was pregnant. I probably read a chapter of one book and never picked it up again. Going in as a rookie was going to have to work.

Now, I stay home with my munchkins every day and bring them to the gym with me when I have to go workout and train classes. I can tackle any task involved with caring for my children. Each day is a new adventure and it’s surprising how much I learn from my children. Watching them is like sitting down to catch an old school Animal Planet show where the narrator gives a play by play of the lion stalking the gazelle. They certainly are interesting creatures.

But it’s not all fun and games. There are some hard things about being a dad that get to me and as is for any parent anywhere in the world, it’s exhausting. I feel I’m in the position of being home with them every day as a spiritual lesson on how to be a better human being. It’s part of my life experience to be there for them and teach them how to live. But often, I just want to escape.

It’s not easy being dad, or mom. One of the hardest parts is understanding the simple fact that my children are exactly that, children. They’re going to do crazy things. They’re going to destroy my rug, slime up my chairs, throw things, break things, climb things, and turn everything upside down. There will be long nights of screaming kids fighting to not go to sleep. There will be battles at the dinner table when my daughter doesn’t eat her carrots or when my son won’t keep his filthy feet off the table top. Keeping composure is tough. We want to scream and yell to release some of the tension their behavior creates, the hard part is being calm.

One of the toughest challenges of my life has without a doubt been the fight of exhaustion. As an introvert who thrives on alone time and regains mental clarity and energy during that time, being with kids every day drains me completely, by ten o’clock in the morning. It wouldn’t be fair to not say this, but without a quick nap when they nap, I’d probably operate like a Walking Dead zombie. When my kids drain my mental energy it’s easy for me to lose control of my work, my purpose, and my attitude. “I don’t give a fuck” has been a statement I’ve declared many times in the last three years, because quite frankly, when I’m exhausted I honestly do not give a flying fugazi.

Caring for them when they don’t feel well, finding them another option when they don’t want pork, trying to contain them in the play gate at the gym during class, and having an adult conversation in their presence sucks the life out of me. But before I know it, they’ll be in school and gone all the time. They’ll be going to wrestling practice or jiu jitsu class. They’ll be sleeping over friend’s houses and partyting until the sun comes up. They’ll be asking for gas money and looking at colleges.

The hardest part of being dad is that knowing one day, they won’t be hanging on my shoulders and spilling my water on my computer and paperwork. For now, I need to enjoy the moment.

Yes, You Can

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Do you want to lose weight?

You can lose weight.

Do you want to earn more money?

You can earn more money.

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life is within your ability of doing so. You can travel the world. You can get season tickets to your favorite team’s games. You can quit your job and start that business you have been dreaming of. You can sell your house and scale down if that is what you want.

Whatever you want.. you can do, get, see, and live.

There is only one thing stopping you from achieving your wildest dreams and that is your own fear while not having a positive belief in yourself. Many people struggle with overcoming their fear. Napoleon Hill, author of the world’s most successful and highest selling self help book ever Think and Grow Rich, never published Outwitting the Devil while he was alive. He was afraid of criticism and thought he would get a negative response and ruin himself. It’s one of my favorite books.

In High School, I never tried to join the wrestling team. I wanted to, my friends wanted me to, and I enjoyed watching it. My fear of failure, fear of effort, fear of hard work, and fear of people laughing at me prevented me from ever trying. Today I practice Jiu Jitsu and had I wrestled, I’d be much better.

Our minds are our best friends and our greatest enemies. Our mind is capable of conceiving dreams, ideas, goals, solutions, and more. It is also capable of breeding in fear in reasons of why those dreams are stupid, why those ideas will never work, why those goals are outlandish, and how those solutions will result in failure.

But, you can make the right choice, every time. As a coach I have met my share of angry and bitter people. You can smell the anger and bitterness when they walk in the door. Each time I try to engage in positive and encouraging conversation, but those people are hard to crack. They’re stuck in their ways, stuck in their beliefs, and have something deep inside that is bothering them. They’re choosing to keep it in. Instead of accepting whatever trouble it may be, they stoke it with wood and feed their fire. They’re choosing to let it burn. I see this in people throughout life. Instead of choosing to find a solution and doing the work to overcome whatever roadblocks they face, they sit and dwell in fear and negative attitudes.

Most of the time, they don’t believe they can change, they don’t believe they can be happy, they don’t believe their life can be better. And so, they stay stuck and hold it in. Eventually this will manifest as dis-ease, wrinkles, grey hair, weight gain, depression, divorce, loneliness, and more. All because they think they can’t. The truth is, you can.

Ask for help, seek advice from a friend, a family member, or a professional. Notice what troubles your mind and then run towards that trouble and fix it. Accept the past for what it is and concentrate on making today better. Do your workout, write your story, eat your healthy food, go see that friend, make the changes you need to and don’t worry about failure or criticism or change. You can live your best life and you can live the activated life. Do it now.