As I referred to in my last post, I've been thinking so much about the reliance on man-made comforts to live. I've always been one to get out to the woods and disconnect form the craziness that we've all decided to take on as how to live. So last night I decided to try a little something new and just head out to some outdoor area with nothing but my clothes and see what happens.
I joined a good group for a few 400 meter sprints and the 6x150 meter sprints in the morning at the track. Then I had a rough platform session, only hitting 90kg (198lbs) on the snatch and 130kg (286lbs) on the clean and jerk. But, I was able to hit 350lbs for 3, and 365 for 2 on the front squats, that was cool. I then spent the rest of the afternoon just chilling out and relaxing after a pretty crazy week. Then, around 6pm I took a drive on down to Half Moon Bay. Stocked up some water for when I returned, found a pretty sweet place to gobble up a few fish tacos, then drove off into a random neighborhood, and a dead end at the top of a hill to park the car, check my gear, and head out.
Let's go over what the plan was:
Wear warm clothes. Bring a towel or blanket just for a little extra warmth. Bring along a small pocket knife for whittling. Walk out into nature and find a place to hang out for the night. That is all.
No lights, no food, no drink, no shelter; just me, my clothes, and nature for 12 hours.
My initial idea was that I'd hike ion for like 30 minutes or so and find a tree or something to hang out under for the night. But, it turns out Half Moon Bay has a fog horn that sounds every 8 seconds or so and does so for, um 24 hours a day, all year. And when you get out into the mountains, the wind carries that sound forever. So my 30 minute hike turned into a 3 hour, uphill trek to get away from the horn. I failed.
At around 10:30 or so, I found a little clearing, peeled of my drenched-in-sweat shirt and hung out there staring up at the incredible amount of stars. I'll be honest, i have no idea what i thought about over the course of those handful of hours. I know that my brain runs wild with all sorts of things, from technical business crud, to fantasies about fitness goals, to creating elaborate, fantastical stories of mystery that I am involved in. And I think after sitting there for long enough my eyes closed for 30-60 minutes. When I popped awake, and soaked in the mostly silent air (that damn fog horn), I decided I would keep going and see what I might find. So, it was off on the trail again, up, and up, and up.
The trail met a road (seemed really strange based on where I was), and the road became dirt. The dirt road (i assumed to be a horse trail) led me to a pretty nice clearing with a couple really big trees, and an abandoned tractor and some other farm junk. I set up shop under one tree and I think I spent about 2 hours or so there, thinking, whittling, dreaming, sleeping, thinking. I then moved to a trailer hitch; a nice flat, wooden contraption that I was able to lie down in and stare up at the stars. I slept a little there as well.
Somewhere around 4am I awoke and decided I'd just start to meander back down a little bit, taking my time and finding some random spots to sit down and think about whatever popped into my head. That damn horn was distracting. And I eventually found myself back down at my first clearing where I fell asleep for about an hour, facedown in the side of the mountain.
6am and I kept moving down, falling over only about 5-6 times as I realized how damn steep this mountain trail was! I got to another pretty nice clearing around 6:30 and decided to settle in to watch the sunrise over the mountains and out over the Pacific. It was incredible. The colors slowly shift from jet black, to dark blue, to the slightest tints of red, orange, and lighter blue, before the gold began to create that peaceful dawn down the side of the mountain and stretch out over the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I don't think I thought of much there, just watched it all; soaked it all in.
I found my way the car after getting a tad lost for about 20 minutes and just like that, it was back to the bustling of the real world. Cars, lights, breakfast in a nice spot by the beach, coffee, and in the gym to work on putting it together even more. In a strange way, it was like I never was out there. I could barely see anything all night. i have no idea where I went, what I stepped in, sat in, slept in, or what was around me. I spent close to 12 hours alone in a more or less abandoned area, completely blind. And when the word whirled back to me throughout the day, the long night seemed like a bit of a dream to me. So what did i learn? Did I have any sort of profound realizations? Was the whole thing even worth it?
Well, it's funny. I didn't "realize" anything like I used to on my long runs, or like when I was riding my bike alone along highway 15 for 8 hours straight. But what i did find was a whole slew of little things like: every shadow tells you something unique about the terrain (the darkness of each one will tell you how steep a slope is, or if there is a big divot or something like that). Things become a lot less creepy and scary when you're stuck plopped right in the middle of it all (after a couple hours I just decided that being worried about dirt, bugs, animals, killers, and all that other crazy stuff just didn't actually matter. Just because i couldn't see anything made things no more scary or creepy than if it was broad daylight. It was actually really relaxing to just BE in nature). We really are WAY, TOO, FREAKING COMFORTABLE. I talk all the time about getting out into the wild and escaping all our comforts, but I was thinking constantly about the warmth of my bed, a heater, a big bottle of water, a clean bathroom, and a hearty meal. It's honestly a complete joke how weak we all are. It hit me so hard when after about 3 hours I actually turned around to head back to my car. I stopped myself and stood there for about 15 minutes cursing myself that I would be too much of a baby to just hang out in the middle of Mother Nature for one stinking night.
One night. There's nobody shooting at me, nothing chasing me, I'm a few miles from my car and only about a 15 minute drive to my safe, warm house. Want to know what happened to me? Absolutely nothing. Nothing. I spent the night in the woods and then went home. It was a step in the right direction for me to learn what it means to be a human, a man; to be me. I'm happy i did it. I'll be doing more stuff like this, regularly, for the rest of my life.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Sometime the strangest things inspire the deepest thoughts on me. For example, I’ve started listening to comedy clips on Pandora as I do things around the gym, or run errands, and a clip from a pretty hysterical guy, Joe Rogan came on. He was on a roll about how useless all of us are in the sense that pretty much all of us have no clue how things work. Like the computer/phone/tablet that you are most likely reading this on; do you have any clue at all how all of it works? Most of us have no idea. As I type this out, how the heck are letters appearing on a perfectly lit screen as I smack them with my fingers. Just take a moment and think about that, we rely SO much on things some smart person out there invented so our lives can be a little easier. And thanks to this we all become a little more useless and lazy every day.
So, the way my brain works, I immediately got lost in my mind thinking about what it actually means to actually live. And I was brought back to being out in the woods like I always talk about, and how important it is in my opinion.
Taking a break from all these creations we’ve all decided to rely on really hits you, like really hard. When you have no phone, camera, car, air conditioning/heat, TV, bike, watch, you get the point here, you are left with only two things: your body, and your mind. If you want food, you have to create ways using your mind, and things you find naturally occurring in the wild to get fuel. If you want warmth and shelter, you must build and create from complete scratch. If you can’t handle being alone with your thoughts, you have no radio, TV, video games, or interwebs to distract you from yourself. All you can do is get out there and figure it out.
And then reality hits each and every one of us. Could you do this?
I mean seriously. So many people I know can’t handle their power going out for more than a few hours. A couple years back the power went out in the DC area for like 3 days and people were moving into hotels and such because they couldn’t handle it. For real, big houses and apartments, all filled with comfy, luxurious things we all “need”, abandoned because there was nothing happened when you flipped the light switch. Cars worked, hotels, generators, cell phones, plenty of stores filled with food to buy and air conditioning to hang out in (the malls were packed all day with people just hanging out). But people were so thrown off. It was like the world had ended.
Could any of these people survive more than a day or two with absolutely nothing? Build their own shelter, create their own warmth, find their own food, know how not to die? And I’m not talking about just living minimally out in the wild in a fancy cabin with a bed and sofa and sink and bathroom. I’m not talking about having a gun on the wall to go hunting for food that you can then cook in your kitchen in your cabin. What happens when the gun someone else built, and the bullets someone else made run out and break down? What happens when your generator runs out and your fridge won’t work and your lights won’t turn on? How long could you survive?
Now, I’m not proposing that we should not enjoy and indulge in all these wonderful things so many smart people have created for us to make our lives so much better. All I’m trying to bring up is that such a large reliance on these indulgences makes us weaker and weaker each and every day. If you can watch TV while also knowing that it would be incredibly easy to be in the woods with no screens at all for at least 24 hours, then cool, watch your TV (I’m watching a show on my iPad as I type this!). My issue is not that we have, use, and enjoy so many incredible inventions. My issue is that so many have no clue how to live without them. And worse yet, would actually not be able to survive without them.
This coming weekend I am testing out a project I came up with a long while ago with an old friend of mine. I hope to create a program out of it to help people understand what it means to be a human in the natural world. While there are lots of details to this that I’ll share at a later time, I am basically going to head out into the woods with nothing but the clothes I’m wearing and a rugged blanket, and I’ll just sit out there for a minimum of 12 hours. The goal is to completely and totally reconnect with Mother Nature. No distractions, no help or assistance, just me and the wild. I can’t wait!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
What a whirlwind the past few months have been! With everything going on, getting engaged, moving gyms and the conflict with all that, getting a new place to live, the holidays, and so much more, a lot of motivation was lost on my end of things. I struggled to stick to a really regimented workout schedule (nagging injuries didn't help out all that much either). Yeah, and my nutrition...ugh.
Anyway, upon returning back home from a long East Coast trip I decided it was high time to bear down and get my act fully together. And my first step? Make a point to get together with people that motivate me.
I have officially signed myself up for a once per week session with the best masseuse I have ever worked with, Joe from Your Life's Personal Best. I usually respond pretty quickly to focused body work and with all the stress and training, I really need to take the time to take care of myself. Already one session in and I feel like a different person. Once a week will be incredible. Additionally, Joe is one of those people that just makes you feel good to be around. He's kind, warm, and just straight up a freaking good dude. Every time I walk out of his place I feel like I just became a better person. That's kind of cool.
I've reconnected to my training partner from last year, Mike. We have committed to him coming to my gym once a week, and me going to his once a week. Mike brings out my competitive side like nobody else, and while I'm not generally an aggressive person, Mike really allows me to dig deep and find new levels of fitness that are hiding behind my sometimes wimpiness. Training at least twice a week with him is going to take my game to a whole new level.
I've always been one to want to connect and work with other gyms and fitness professionals rather than be an idiot and compete with them. For the most part it's worked out really well for me. While sometimes there are people out there who are way too insecure to work along side with and be buddies with someone in their own field, it's unbelievably rewarding when you meet those who actually thrive off it. Mike owns his own gym only a few miles from mine, we are extremely close friends and training partners. Another is Tim, owner of CrossFit Palo Alto. And he was basically the guy who was there at the right place and time for the fire to be re-lit for me, and I am so beyond thankful to him, and so happy to be back into it! Let's start with just going over the full day that got be back to my old self.
I woke up early to head to the College of San mateo track with a collection of awesome, motivated people. Marc Sylvester invited me and whomever else to his weekly track work, and Cullen, Lisa, and Sheri joined me for an early morning sweat at one of the coolest tracks I've been to. Marc is the man, and along with his group from A Runners Mind, the Courage Performance crew hit 1x800, 1x600, 1x44, 1x200, and 1x100. I paced with the actual runners there for a few extra 200's and it really opened me up. After that I was totally smoked and ready to sleep, but felt so internally energized!
Then back to the gym for platform work with some of the Team Courage crew. Not sure how the next step happened, but my CNS was so fried I was having trouble texting on my phone. But I felt good on the platform and was able to hit a 110 (242 pounds) snatch, that's a 17 pound PR; and a 145 (319 pounds) clean and jerk, for a 4 pound PR on both! I was SO fired up.
I could have easily called it a day, but Tim texted to see if I wanted to train, and I would not let myself turn down an invite from a good, motivating guy. So I went. 5 rounds of 7 muscle ups and 21 sumo deadlift high pulls. I was very nervous. Seriously, I had butterflies, I was talking myself down, trying to figure out how to get out of it, already making excuses as to why I wouldn't do well. Tim simply told me to stop getting so down on myself, and that worked. I hit 35 muscle ups with only missing 2, and that's after over four months of not doing them, and weighing in at 250 pounds! I felt good! I hit my 400 squat (410 actually), then Tim and I strapped in for a finisher of 1 mile sled drag with 135 pounds. Talk about brutal! Besides the turnarounds, I somehow convinced myself to never stop moving, and of course, having Tim there to chase and then chase me helped so much. That took just under 20 minutes and it was so, so awesome. I will probably be programming that sort of thing into my training a good but going forward.
I then joined Tim and his incredible family for dinner after that. I generally tend towards seclusion when I'm not in the gym as I spend so much time amongst others. But forcing myself to be a bit social , especially with genuinely good people really, truly is something that I, and in my opinion, everyone should do on a very regular basis. It was so nice to sit around a family table, eating good food and just talking.
Then, to finish off an already great day, i got a FREE coffee at Philz, and walked 3.8 miles from my zipcar drop-off home. Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night! I am so looking forward to continuing on this path of working out hard, being around honest, genuine people, and eating good food on a regular basis. I'm excited!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well holy crap, it's been over a month since my last post and so much has happened! I've moved into my new gym space, settling down and building it up surprisingly quickly. I've brought a small team to a weightlifting event and have another one coming up in two weeks, and then another in March. I've sort of got back into some of my old (GOOD) training habits, meeting up with my long time training partner today and getting two crazy workouts in. I've been squatting at least 400# for at least one rep every day for 33 days now! The gym is coming together like crazy. Our first of a regular yoga class was tonight, starting next week we will have the best masseuse (in my humble opinion) ever running sessions out of the gym, and we are getting a few new faces in the gym every single week! I could not be happier about all the goings-on.
With all the stress of moving gyms and all the crazy reasons why, the beginning planning of my wedding, and getting settled into a new house in California, a few things have fallen to the lower end of my importance list: regular workouts, eating cleanly (not sure why these two happen at all, it's kind of backwards), and blogging. Well, the workouts are coming back, and now that I have a house, I can really settle back into cooking my own meals on a regular basis. plus, I have found Caveman Bowls, which are helping so much in supplementing my work schedule and need for good calories. I have been hit with a few waves of really good blog post ideas, but when I sit down to write, nothing seems to come out. And now, with the daily posting of my squat, I sort of use that as an excuse to not write on this one anymore. Well, that ends today people! I'm not going to force myself to a set schedule, but I am going to focus much more on getting so many of these thoughts and ideas in my head down on paper and sharing them all with everyone. So let's get a few thoughts down now. Let's talk something cliche. Let's talk about the New Year!
I have rarely seen anyone really take their New Years resolutions seriously enough to continue with them past the month of January. One of my big things when people ask me about resolutions is to to always keep things small and simple. So, rather than writing out a page of goals involving taking over your company, getting a professional contract, gaining 10 pounds of muscle and achieving 4% body fat as the top resolutions, but then having about 6-40 more. No, you should focus on one or two. And you should pick ones that you KNOW you can do. Here's why.
New Years is just another day. It's not some special day where magic happens and all of a sudden your brain stops craving crap food and weights become so much lighter, and BAM, you have abs. No, it's just another day like all others. The significance of the day is that it represents a new beginning. So it can mark a start time for us to make changes if we feel things are not going the way we planned. But it is still up to US to make that change. To be a little blunt (and I do this all the time), a lot of us tend to not really want to put the effort into doing things that will really help ourselves live healthier, better lives. We like wine too much, or cookies too much, watching TV too much, or being negative too much. Making that those changes are actually pretty damn hard to do (this is generally why we don't do them, or put it off until Jan. 1).
But as mentioned above, Jan. 1 is not going to make these changes for you. So why would you all of a sudden be able to change everything about your life? Well, if you do, god bless you, and I've known a couple people who have done such incredible things. But chances are you're like most people and after a couple weeks you convince yourself to have those drinks, to have those cookies, and to stay up too late watching TV and being negative about everything. Then, pretty quickly, all those awesome resolutions you made become an afterthought as you return back to the normal, not so healthy, not so happy, not so better you.
Make change easier on yourself by starting small. This will lead to a greater chance of that whole snowball effect taking place. If you can make one good goal stick, then it will be easier to comprehend another. Then another, and another until maybe by the end of the new year you have achieved becoming that happy, heathy, better you!
Remember, it has taken you as many years as you are alive to create the negative qualities you feel you have. You can't expect to just erase those in a day. You CAN change, you CAN do so, so much good for yourself and those around you. Just recognize that it will take a little time. Change is an awesome thing, the process is where you learn so much about how you and the world works. Embrace that process and you might just begin enjoying it. And when you enjoy it, it becomes so much easier to set new goals and achieve them regularly.
Happy New Year everyone!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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