With all the fun and craziness going on this summer, I have had a lot less time to break down my life and all the things I want/need/hope for. I love training, I love working out, I love cooking and eating and I am getting to do all of these things more than ever. But, I also love reading, analyzing, and learning, and the time to do all of that has been cut back a ton. What generally happens when I am searching around for info on life and health and all that fun stuff, is I end up translating what I've learned into my own life. I always try to utilize the information I gather to make myself a better coach, athlete, friend, and you know, person. So, some of you regulars might remember I posted up a Bucket List that I fully intend to pursue over the years. But there was something somebody told me when we were talking bucket lists that really hit home. The question was raised: have you ever taken the time to appreciate all the things you have done?
This stopped me in my tracks. I have always thought that I have a pretty good perspective on all the great things I've done in my life, but when I started thinking back, I realized all of a sudden that there are SO many things I have simply forgotten about. Arguably ALL of these things have had some form of positive impact on how I turned out today. So, today's post is me starting the ball rolling. But before I do, I want to make sure a couple things are clear. Generally, this sort of thing is seen as bragging, or "stroking ones own ego". And you know what? Yep, it is. But unless you go around telling everyone all the cool things you've done on a regular basis (which will pretty quickly make you a pretty unpopular person) taking the time to not only acknowledge what you've done, but to share it with others will generally give you a tremendous kick of motivation to continue doing great things! The next thing is to be honest. Appreciating the things you've done in your life is all about you finding self-respect in yourself and your life. It's not meant to impress others. Hell, if something you're crazy proud of seems insignificant to others, that doesn't mean don't share it. It was something that meant a lot to YOU, and that is the point of this exercise. The second you start to allow other peoples' opinions dictate everything you say and share, you lose your voice, you lose what it means to be YOU.
Also, it doesn't have to be a short or long list. Just a list that males you look at it and be able to smile and feel proud. I'm sure I could write a 3-thing list one day and not have a clue what else to add, and then the next day be able to write a 200-thing list. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you are honestly appreciating what you've done in life.
I made a commitment to myself when I was in early High School: I wanted to play baseball professionally, and I wanted to inspire people (didn't know how I wanted to inspire, I just knew I wanted to). Now, I played 3 years of pro ball (one in Europe and two in US of A) and I am so lucky to inspire a good deal of people every day. I do think every single day how incredible it is that I get to do exactly what I've always wanted to. It's damn cool.
I ran 12 marathons. I broke 4 hours.
I ran an ultra-marathon. A 50-mile race through the woods!
I've written two full screenplays.
I made a short film that won almost every single award at the Siena College Film Festival. I wrote, directed, starred, and helped edit it, and it took only 3 days to do in total.
I fell head-over-heels in love.
I started my own business, and it has grown each and every year. Even through a move to a location where I knew nobody, it still grew.
I played drums and sang in a relatively successful band.
I have written over 100 songs and 50 poems from the age of 7 or 8 until now.
I taught myself how to play the piano and the guitar.
I had a podium finish in my first ever triathlon. And also in my first ever jiu-jitsu competition.
I actually toured with a pretty successful Eurythmy troupe in High School (if you don't know what that is, you clearly didn't go to a Waldorf School).
I spent three months in Germany as a foreign exchange student.
I went to a modeling audition once. It was hysterical.
I went to a movie audition once. I'm pretty sure I embarrassed myself more than any other moment in my life. But I walked out extremely proud (I was contacted to play a dilapidated insomniac. Really? Me? Wasting away? I was set up to fail!). It was awesome.
I've hosted three successful CrossFit competitions and a marathon.
I rode my bike 1800 miles in 13 days before crashing just past half-way while trying to ride across the country, and raised $8,000 for Children's Miracle Network.
I've won, and had top-3 finishes in all but 2 of the CrossFit competitions I've been to as an individual (top 6 in all but 1!).
I had a mohawk for a few months, and really like it (even went to a wedding with it!).
I've actually talked my way out of over 10 fights. In almost all the cases I've become friendly with the person trying to start the fight (talking like fist fight type of fight here).
I've found the things that make me truly happy in life (being in the wilderness, working out, challenging myself physically and mentally on a daily basis, and passionately pursuing my life-goal (refer to the first thing for my life-goal).
Want to know what's happening with me right now? I am remembering more and more things I've done. I am also feeling very proud and good about myself. I do NOT want this to become something where people say "oh, good job Josh, you're so cool." Or, "Jesus Josh, get off your high horse." I am merely doing this to give the example of what I mean when taking the time to appreciate your self-worth in the world. While I am sure that there are plenty of ways to do it, this is a way I really think would do a lot of good for people. And if you think it's stupid to share your thoughts, emotions, feelings, successes, and failures with other people, I will leave you with a great quote from John Krakauer's "Into The Wild:"
Happiness is only real when shared.
Share your life with others so that your life has meaning in the world. So that you can be supported and loved by others. So you can converse, debate, argue, and grow. So that the things you do can have meaning to more than just the closed-off closets of your own mind. Share so you can inspire others to be better and to learn.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
First off I want to apologize for the crappy video uploads on the Occupy Strength event, I tried like 4 times and still couldn't get them all up there! If you really want to see all of them, and check out some pictures, your best bet is to go to my Facebook page. They're all on that. Next up, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up to find myself on CrossFit Footballs mainsite page! Pretty cool! Two more things! I have created a site for trial this summer and you can check it out HERE. It is meant to be for all the athletes who are training at The Garage this summer, but I am in the process of trying to generate some data for the thing and if you all would be so kind as to check it out, offer opinions, ask questions, etc. And finally, I am hosting The Courage Games IV! All info will be posted in the Courage Performance Facebook page, but click HERE to register!
On to the good stuff! Breathe. Nope, this is not a post about the benefits of proper breathing techniques while lifting, although that would be a great post! This is more about taking the time to sit back, take in the warm summer air, and just breathe. All sorts of stuff has happened with me over the past six months. I have been up, down, and sideways. It's basically been one of the biggest roller coaster rides of my life and it left me more confused, lost, and overwhelmed than I've ever been. I forgot what it meant to live for the things I most hope for in life, and I got caught up in so much negativity I began to lose the ability to be positive and happy myself. This is always a tough place to find yourself in, and while I'm sure everyone experiences it, and I would honestly say that everyone SHOULD experience it, I really don't wish it on anyone. Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to experience joy, positivity, and good. And everyone deserves the opportunity to live a life they dreamed of. The really cool thing to realize is that these things are constantly available to you if you just know where to look, how to ask, and how to take them.
With my days filling up with clients, workouts, social media craziness, and programming, I am finding it somehow easier and easier to just take a moment (even though the moments are sparse) to just sit down, gaze into the woods, and breathe. And every time I do, good things flood in:
I love that I can sit on a plyo box in my tiny little gym and look into the woods.
I love that every day, athletes of all shapes, sizes, and ages come in to work hard, have fun, and get better at whatever it is they hope to get better at!
I love standing in the backyard in the humid evening air, charcoal fire slowly cooking a grill-full of grass-fed steak, chicken and asparagus for my wonderful feasting.
I love the sweat dripping down my face as I grab the chalked-up bar, every inch of me focused on executing my next rep as perfectly as I can. Getting stronger, getting faster, getting better.
I love my friends who I know I can call and meet up with to fill up hours of energetic and fulfilling conversation. Having groups and individuals who support you in being who you want to be and challenge you to keep perfecting that is becoming more important to me every day.
I love the hope of another day bringing more experiences, more smiles, more challenges and more excitement. The next few months are going to be tough, I know that much. I have TONS of people to train, I have tons of training to do myself. I have major life-choices to make that no matter how you look at them, will make some people upset. But I see so much more clearly now that that sort of thing is just a part of life. Challenging decisions are the ones that end up changing your life the most, so they are not to be taken lightly. The only thing you can do is clear your mind of the things that weigh you down, and the answer will come to you, more obvious than ever!
I love hope. But I hope I'm not addicted to it.
I love learning. I love learning through doing. I love learning from failure. I love learning through succeeding. I love learning from reading. I love learning most through watching.
How many of you could articulate what it means to be happy, successful, positive, satisfied and generally GOOD with yourself and the world? And how many of you are DOING it? Because Batman is the greatest character in the history of anything in the world, it's obvious that I would use quotes from those movies and comics:
"It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you"
LIVE the life you want and not only your life, but the lives of people around you will be wonderful.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Having trouble posting these up, let's see if this works! These are some videos from CrossFit Football's Occupy Strength competition this past weekend.
After missing this, I decided I'd just rip the 305# off the ground with every ounce of aggression I had! It's messy, it's a PR!
440# going up easy
For the life of me I don't know how I missed this. At 460# it would have been a welcome PR.
Missed 315#, then got it here. Rushed the first attempt a ton.
Happy with this 525# pull!
Pretty tough metcon! Killed the grip for sure. Got 3:32 and it was enough for 1st.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Saturday was my first event since Regionals, and it was a great one! CrossFit Football is making a big kick to expand their name a little and they're doing so through a string of events they are calling Occupy Strength. The competition consists of the CrossFit Football Total (1 rep max of power clean, squat, bench and deadlifts), then a short, heavy metcon.
For starters, I didn't even know I was going to be competing until the Tuesday before, so while I was super stoked to be in, I hadn't really thought about planning/tapering. I ended up taking Wednesday-Friday off, not only to let my muscles and brain recover, but also because Tuesday night I came down with a pretty rough cold. My throat swelled up on me real bad, and Wednesday the floodgates opened in my nose! All weekend I was having a really rough time breathing so while I felt good muscularly, I was a little nervous going into the whole thing.
The second challenge was to make it down to the middle weight class (187-220) so I actually had a chance at being competitive in the Total. I weighed in on Tuesday at 228, so it was going to be interesting to do that cut without killing myself or making myself even more sick. It ended up being pretty easy though. Thursday I cut back about 500 total calories on the day, with zero carbs. Friday I had my small meals throughout the day while drinking about 2 gallons of water between 7am and 2pm. At 2, I stopped consuming anything and layered on my sweatpants, sweatshirt, hat, and non-breathable rain jacket and hung out in the gym for a couple hours. I did a 20 minute stationary bike with the outfit on then troweled off. Weigh-in had me at 224. At 8pm I did another 20 minute bike ride, showered and sipped ice water (about 2 small cups of it) until I went to bed around midnight. Weigh-in had me at 220. I then drove the car up in the sweatsuit, with the heater on, and I weighed in officially at 219.7. Success!
The event was hosted at CrossFit South Baltimore, a sweet setup in a warehouse directly across the street from Ravens Stadium. It was packed with about 80 total competitors and another 50+ spectators as we got rolling. The energy was wonderful! Luke and Bo, the guys from CrossFit Football went over the day with everyone and things began.
It all basically worked by height, not by weigh class or weight lifted. So, interestingly, the strongest guy on the day was lifting with 3 women, because he was short. My squad consisted of some of the nicest, coolest dudes, and I have to admit, being with that crew for the long day of heavy lifting really helped a lot. While I knew a ton of people there, it was a great day in that I walked out of there with another 4-5 people I know I'll stay in touch with! We had 20 minutes to attempt a 1 rep max 3 times, then rested about 1.5 hours before our turn for the next lift came around. So think about that; 5 or so hours, 12 total attempts to overload the body in 4 different ways. Complete mental exhaustion. I learned so much about how to prepare for heavy lifting! What was cool was that I felt completely recovered and prepared each attempt physically. I ate well between lifts, had fish oil to help spread the nutrients, hydrated very well, and stayed horizontal as much as I could. What I didn't recover well was my nervous system. Honestly, I don't really know what to do to quickly recover this besides lift heavy all the time so it knows how to adapt to the demand. I think if I stayed lying down for the entirety of my rest times, I would have been a bit better; and, it became clear (thanks to the observation of Andrew Whitener) that I needed to get a good deal more pumped up each attempt. Getting fired up, yelling a little, and getting the adrenaline going really helped heighten my awareness and fire the nervous system. I think that's why I got all 3 deadlifts while missing other lifts. I was hyped up for them!
CrossFit Football Occupy Strength Event
Power Clean - 275, 305(f), 305(pr)
Squat - 440, 460(f), 460(f)
Bench - 315(f), 315, 325(f)
Deadlift - 500, 515, 525
Total - 1585 (2nd place finish in the middle weight division)
By the time we finished all the lifting, it was already about 3pm. Long day! And we had the metcon to get to. Well, more food, and then the announcement of what the metcon was gave me a crazy spike of energy.
4 rounds of:
12 KB swings 70#
8 pull ups
5-10-15 yard shuttle run 70# sandbag
(KB standard was bell above shoulders. Pull ups were any style. The shuttle sprint was 5 yards out and back with the sandbag, 10 yards out and back with the sandbag, drop the sandbag and go 15 yards out and back)
Total wheelhouse workout for me. My buddy John Dill was in the first heat and paced it a little, getting 3:42. And when nobody in the next two heats came close to that, I was really excited for the chance to get in there and win! My goal was sub-3:30, I finished in 3:32. The sandbag running was just hard enough to really crush your ability to do the KB swings fast. And the grip was definitely a factor as well. But, that DID end up being the score to beat and I finished with a WIN! So, 2nd on the Total, 1st on the MetCon. Good day.
To finish up here, as always with these events, I leave feeling like I became so much better of a person. I feel like this because I got to push my limits, challenge myself, and seriously compete all while hanging out with a huge group of people that believe in the same wonderful lifestyle I want. I feed off days and gatherings like that, they make me feel alive, and they confirm all the things I want out of life. Yes, it's great to win, but in the end, just to hang out with such cool, motivating people is something I will clearly benefit from my entire life. I honestly can't wait until the next one!
Congrats to fellow Outlaws Courtney Modecki (1st place women's lightweight total and 2nd place metcon), John Dill (2nd place lightweight Total and 3rd place metcon) and Sean Dunston (3rd place lightweight total). Huge thanks to CrossFit South Baltimore for being such gracious hosts and supplying all the volunteers and judges. I know the stress of putting on an event, and that one was a long one! And of course, CrossFit Football, great guys, great program and great event. Finally, I just want to give a shutout to everyone who competed and spectated. I really can't say enough about the people who take the time and energy to be a part of these things and I am so glad and honored to be a part of a community that is so eagerly involved in the betterment of the human body and mind.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This week has been a roller coaster already and it's not even Thursday yet! Athletes have been coming out of the woodwork (at LEAST one a day) and that is pretty crazy when you're running probably the smallest gym in the country! My goal this summer was to have at least 70 athletes come through my tiny little gym, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to blow that number out of the water! Either way, it's really exciting to have all these people in for training because the more people I can help and watch get better, the more I know I am doing something to better things in the world (granted, it's a tiny little speck of the world, but still). Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of some other stresses in my life, I have caught myself a bit of a cold. Nothing to really hinder my ability to coach or train, but a bit annoying all the same. And today, while I was contemplating taking a quick nap or getting my barbell work in, I got an email saying that I got into the CrossFit Football Occupy Strength competition this weekend at CrossFit South Baltimore! Pumped. Up!
So, I ended up taking the day off, chilled in the pool a little, fueled and prepped my next two days of mobility and CNS prep for the big day. The event calls for the CrossFit Football Total (a 1 rep max of power clean, back squat, bench press and deadlift), then a heavy weight metcon. All stuff I am really excited to execute! My goals for the day are to PR each lift and to WIN! This will be my first event with my new attitude of "beat everyone." I normally just do this stuff for fun, competing with myself to be the best I can be. And while I refuse to be an asshole, and will always be my nice self and walk around and talk to people, I will be there with the mindset that nobody can beat me. I want to see how my adrenaline reacts to that mental approach.
So, with the event coming up in a few days, I'd like to talk a little bit about cutting weight. I've done this once in my life, and it was perfectly timed with a veggie juice detox I trained. Over the course of a month I was able to drop about 18 pounds, while still staying very healthy and strong. I entered my first ever Jiu-Jitsu event at a weight class under 200 pounds (lighter than I have been since around freshman year of high school!) and took a podium finish, tapping out 3 of the 4 guys I faced. Ever since then I have messed around with training and nutrition programs. I've fluctuated from being ripped to being pretty damn big (two weeks ago was the largest I have been in my life, weighing in at 235# with around 13% body fat). As of today i weighed in in the middle of the day at 225 and I want to weigh in at the event at 220 so that I can be part of the light heavyweight division. So, how will I do this? Well, I will continue on the nutrition plan I am on right now (which I will write about over the weekend) drinking about 2+ gallons of water tomorrow. Friday I will flush my system of water weight with some sweaty activity such as wearing a sweatsuit and jumping rope in a heated room. I have lost 8 pounds of water weight while rolling on the mats for jiu-jitsu, so i am sure I'll be able to drop 5 pretty easily. I'll do a crash course in the same thing on my way up to weigh-ins on Saturday morning, then I'll promptly house a decent sized breakfast and about a gallon of water before lifting more weight than I've ever lifted before! Now I'm no elite level wrestler or anything (you know those guys who drop like 40 pounds in a week through insane starvation tactics), but I'm pretty sure this method will have its desired effects while still allowing me all the energy and strength needed for the event.
Hope I can get over this sickness by the end of the day tomorrow...
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Had a bit of an extreme weekend from every single angle. But, I'm pushing to be on a positive kick so I'll go ahead and stick with all the positive, because there's plenty of it. A little last minute, but I learned late Thursday night that there was a training camp going down at Outlaw for a handful of the stud Games Qualifiers. I just had to be in on that one so I shifted some of my plans and was ready to throw down with the crew! The plan for this camp was to get the "real exercisers" of the group some solid work on potential weaknesses (read: muscle ups to ring handstand push ups, weighted jumping squats, bench press in a metcon, strongman work, overhead pistols and on and on). Myself and a few other Outlaws were there for the ride and it was a pleasure as always to work alongside such an awesome group of fitness freaks.
Let's just go ahead and say it like this, the workouts were hard, duh. They were strange, which made me happy because I like non-conventional exercise. And even though I decided to take the final day off (I brought them all Courage Bars, so that was a hit!) I had some good confidence boosting by being able to hang with Brandon Phillips and Jason Hoggan for the most part (um, Oly lifting was just an embarrassment). So yeah, that was cool.
The rest of my weekend was spent trying to do things that make me happy. I grabbed lunch with my boy Ori in Old Town, browsed through the Life Is Good store for a while before deciding on a frisbee and heading over to a little park and throwing that around for an hour in the 98 degree weather. I then went and took a nap by the pool (see above picture) before grabbing dinner with my dad and catching up with him to talk about my future and the direction I want to move in. The process of re-learning how to see the good in all things is a very gratifying one, and if you go ahead and try it, you will instantly see how much life can change for the better.
Tomorrow I have a crap-ton of athletes coming in to train, I'll get a good workout in, and I have a world-record powerlifting friend of mine coming in to go over some technique drills to add some weight to my lifts! AND, he'll do some Poloquin testing on me to see how to better use food to control all the inner workings of my body! I cannot wait to do all that work.
Here's to the pontential of a good week.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Happiness. Joy. Positivity. Beauty. All these things and everything good are always right there in front of you, it's your state of mind that allows you to see them all or not. Have you ever looked at something and just didn't give it the time of day, just walked on by, or even scoffed at it thinking how insignificant it is? Then, all of a sudden one day you see the same thing and you are blown away at how amazing it makes you feel? The thing itself did not change; it’s you that did.
I knew all along during my time of negative thoughts and extreme lack of motivation that I would find it all again. After all, I have always prided myself as being one who saw the bright side of life, and spent more time seeing the good in things than the bad. And it's just so funny to think that out of the blue you can see the world in a whole new light. I'm not about to say that I am ready to go skipping through the woods, rejoicing and singing songs or anything. All I am saying is that I have remembered what my purpose is in life and have re-focused my attention to what I like and what makes me feel alive and good. There are still bad things there, but I am systematically moving them away from me so that I can be the person I've known I wanted to be for so long.
It's incredibly powerful, and awesomely self-strengthening to realize that it's completely up to you to feel good or bad. If something is happening in your life, you ALWAYS have a choice to keep it, or get rid of it. I know that there are times when that legitimately feels impossible, but the fact of the matter is, you really do have the power to be in control.
When you see your life spiraling in the wrong direction. When you are getting sick, getting overly stressed, acting out, expressing anger, sorrow, fear, and you are becoming generally more angry for any reason at all. It could be your job, your family, your relationship, your living situation, literally anything. You need to take a moment here and there to assess whether or not some of the things in your life, or the choices you make on a daily basis are the right ones for you. Here's a bit of a light-hearted example. Over the past few months I have been watching a crap-ton of TV shows on my computer. No joke, I would probably spend an average of about 4 hours a day watching shows (honestly, it had to have been more than that!). I was doing this to avoid having to face the fact that I was acting like a little bitch and avoiding all the things I should be doing. I was feeling so down, sorry for myself, and so many other things that I overwhelmed my own brain and just decided I would do my best to check out. I didn’t go run around the woods, I didn't go climb a tree by the water. I didn't hit an extra workout, hell, half the time I didn't even hit ONE workout. I could watch an entire episode of Arrested Development without even cracking a smile. Now that is freaking bad! The things that made me happy were right next to me all along though. Sort of hanging out, waiting for me to give them attention because they knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them forever. I guess my happiness is smarter than me.
And all it took was a little change of perspective. A little time where I could rip myself away from the negative things bringing me down, where I didn't have a computer and couldn't escape to my TV shows. When all of a sudden you have a handful of incredibly supportive people next to you, asking you to join them in things you know you love doing, rather than you having to find the motivation to do them yourself, your eyes will just flash open. For me it happened with three major things: running up the crazy sand hills at Baker Beach and looking over the Golden Gate Bridge while gasping for breath and dripping sweat. That was nice. Climbing a tree in Golden Gate Park, somewhere away from the cars and people. And walking a freezing, windy, empty beach at Ocean Beach. Just a couple days and all of a sudden I could not keep fooling myself into being a lazy, negative person. My natural personality reemerged and it was so unbelievably invigorating and exciting.
For me, it was simply putting myself in a situation where people that naturally supported me doing the things that make me feel good could surround me. And where I could not avoid doing things I liked to do. I was able to remove all negativity from my life for a couple days and that was all it took. Maybe all I needed was an hour, or perhaps I would have needed a week or a month. Either way, the simplest way to do it is to step away from things that bring you down, surround yourself with things that lift you up, and boom, you're good to go!
I know it's all way easier said than done, but saying it, or finding out what to do to make your life better is so simple. Age-old quotes and sayings are age-old for a reason; they work. Get rid of all the negative in your life, and surround yourself with the positive. If you choose to make excuses about why your life sucks, that’s on you, it’s your damn choice to make things better. If you know what you want out of life, pursue it with more passion and energy than anything else in the world. And if you don’t know what you want, constantly try new things so you can learn what it is you were built to do best. I am a rare case it seems. Rare in the fact that I have known what I wanted since I was pretty young. I wanted to play professional baseball. I mean, I REALLY wanted it. I never knew anything else besides that desire. And when baseball became a reality, that same passion and drive was found in wanting to inspire others to become healthier. I hope to inspire people, not just through writing and coaching, but through living my life the way I always talk about and share with others; you know, practicing what I preach. And I preach to be honest with yourself, wear your personality on your sleeve for everyone to see, good and bad, and do what makes you feel good and right (as long as you're not hurting others).
I still have plenty of things to work through, and I will always have negatives in my life. It is ridiculous to think or expect that everything will always be wonderful and perfect. But if you spend most of your days completely understanding what it is you are living for, it makes it so much clearer and easier to figure out how best to deal with the negative and the bad.
I am waking up each day now thinking about teaching and coaching. And right next to those exciting thoughts is an eagerness to spend my quality time with the barbell and the outdoors each and every day. And the people in my life that bring me warmth, and respect me for who I am will inspire me today. And the ones that question me, and bring me down with their negativity will not get my attention.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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