Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Give Up To Go Up

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way".  It's a humbling moment when one realizes that the person responsible for their current circumstances is the one staring back at them in the mirror.  Some learn this early.  Some need to be reminded.  And for some, unfortunately, they never quite learn this lesson.

When I was twenty years old, a mentor of mine sat me down and asked me to take out a pen and paper.  He then instructed me to draw a very large "T" on the sheet of paper.  On the top left he said to write, "Things I want".  On the top right I wrote, "Things I'll have to sacrifice or give up".

In his "Good 'ol Boy" drawl he said, "Bo, think carefully about what you want in life.  Be specific.  What type of car, how large of a house, how much money, etc. And write 'em down.  Now, on the other side, start thinking about the sacrifices you're gunna need to start makin' so you can get all them nice things!"

I started to have fun with this little drill.  I knew what I needed to do in order to accomplish my goals.....or so I thought.  When I was finished writing, the list of "what I want" was nearly three times as long as "what I was willing to sacrifice or give up".  He took one look at my list and said, "Bo, you got no chance".

I went on to learn that if we're not willing to list much on the right side of the page, we're not going to accomplish what we want on the left side.  This way of setting goals can help you immensely.  In order for us to go up, sometimes we need to give up.  What we need to decide from the onset is whether or not it's worth it.

For example:

Say you want to take your family on vacation to Europe.  You and your spouse are in total agreement, and are excited to start planning.  But, in order for you to afford to take this time off and pay for a lavish trip, you're going to have to start working more and saving for the next 90 days. It will require your spouse to pick up your slack in the form of cooking dinner, picking up and dropping off the kids, cleaning up, maybe missing a tee-ball game or dance recital.  Is it worth it??  Only you and your family can decide that one.

See, the idea of the vacation is great, but what comes after we make the decision is much more important.  The bigger the desire, the greater the sacrifices sometimes are.

If you want to live a healthier life, you're going to have to give up smoking and watching too much TV.  Is it worth it?  If you want to get out of debt, you're going to have to cut back on frivolous spending until you're back to even.  If you want your relationship to improve, you're going to have to push your ego and pride aside, and focus on the other person.

Someone always says there's a smarter, easier way to become successful.  The reason why people hate "Get Rich Quick" schemes is simple - they don't work.  Why would we despise something that worked and made everyone rich??  We need to pay the price, and enjoy the results.  Like Abe Lincoln said, "My father taught me how to work hard, not to love it."

That might just be good enough.  Fall in love with the results and accomplishments, and have enough industriousness to see it through.  Spend some time making your "T-List" and make sure that your goals and expectations are aligned.

What have you had to give up to go up??  How'd you see it through?? Was it worth it??

Friday, January 27, 2012

One Simple Step To Accomplishing 75% More In Life

Don't worry, I'm not going to package this as some "secret".  This isn't some mystical, mental internal message that you should serenade to yourself while sitting Indian-style on your roof during sunrise.  However, this one simple step is a step that only 2% of the population does, that helps you accomplish 75% more.  And it's a step that you've heard many times before.

When it comes to goal setting, the pen is mightier than the WORD.  Simply put, studies show that those who write their goals down are 75% more likely to accomplish them.

Simply writing them down, however, is not enough.  There are some additional steps that, if taken, will all but guarantee your success.

1 - Write clear, specific goals.  Creating crystal clear images of what you want stirs the soul into action.  To say, "I want to lose weight" isn't nearly good enough.  Write down how much weight you want to lose, and imagine what you'll look/feel like when that goal is reached.

2 - Put an action plan behind each goal.  One of my favorite quotes is by John Foster Dulles, who said, "The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year." Figure out exactly what steps you need to take, daily, weekly and monthly in order to see it through.

3 - Share them with those closest to you.  Don't keep your goals a secret.  There are plenty of people who'd like to see us start succeeding beyond our current levels.  Clue them in, and don't be too proud to ask for support or advice.

4 - Review them regularly.  Keep your list of goals and plans in plain site.  Maybe on the bathroom mirror, or in the kitchen.  Anywhere that will work as a regular reminder of what your striving for.  It also gives you an opportunity to measure your progress on a frequent enough basis.  You don't want to go too long without making necessary adjustments.

5 - Discipline your disappointments.  Making a goal is easy, even exciting.  It puts us in a frame of mind of "what could be".  It's managing those decisions each day that's the work.  There will be push back, and resistance.  Don't quit, and keep the end in mind.  This is why having a deadline is so crucial to goal setting.  If there's no finish line, how do you know when the race is over??

Whether you're trying to lose weight, earn a promotion, save for retirement, buy a new car or home, putting your goals to paper will instantly increase your chances in bringing them to fruition.  One of the first steps we take with a new sales professional is what we call a "Blueprint".  It's a short list of questions that helps us figure out what their short-term and long term goals are, and what they are committing in order to reach those goals.  As long as your goals and commitments are aligned, nothing can stop you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 4 of 26: 10 CrossFit Lessons Learned in 21 Days

Week one sucked.  Week two and three weren't a walk in the park (the park is free, and pleasant....and easy).  Week four probably won't be much easier.  And that's the idea, right??  I mean, if it's easy it's probably not worth it.  In business I was taught that any worthwhile goal comes with it's fair share of obstacles.  In my pursuit of personal records and regular Rx workouts, those obstacles are literal.

They say that things become habitual after three consistent weeks of doing them.  That goes for good habits, as well as bad habits.  So, three weeks into CrossFitting, and even as the challenge grows, so does the excitement and addiction.  It's at the point now where missing a CrossFit session would make me feel worse than the workout itself.

Here's what I've learned so far:
1 - Don't quit.  Push for YOUR best time, that's all YOU can control.

2 - It's all about form and technique.  The best work outs done incorrectly won't help....in fact, it will hurt.  Literally.

3 - Push yourself to get as close to Rx weight as possible.  It's recommended for a reason.  This step might not apply to everyone, but it's surprising how much progress you could/should be making in as little as 2-3 weeks.

4 - Warm up 15 minutes prior to the WOD.  Stretching is an absolute must.

5 - Learn the WOD BEFORE you get to the gym.  It saves a lot of time.

6 - Trust the trainer

7 - Invest in a good...no, GREAT heating pad.  Don't know about you, but I'm wearing mine out!

8 - Get familiar with the most unfamiliar exercises before class, and during open gym.

9 - Get to know other CrossFitters, there will be moments when they are your only proof that the workout can actually be completed.

10 - One bottle of water is NOT enough.....bring a back up.

164 lbs. (+4 lbs)

What lessons should I heed for the days, weeks, and months to come??  Would love to hear your feedback!  Off to spoon with the massage chair......

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things I Would Tell My "Younger" Self

"Don't do as I do, do as I say" was a popular line in the Stewart household growing up.  My dad had his habits, good and bad. And he determined it would be much easier to just inform me of which ones were acceptable for me to pick up on, and which ones were not.  Smoking - bad.  Meatloaf (the band) - good.  Foul language - bad.  Hot Rods - good.  Feet on the couch - bad.  Grilling - good.

I just grew up assuming everyone's parents barbecued, drank and played darts every weekend.  I've since learned, that's not the case.  We all have the opportunity to learn from the good things, as well as the bad things that we experience - as a child, and as adults.  Even through the mixed messages growing up, I deciphered between right and wrong, which habits I would hold onto, and which ones I should pass on - in my opinion.  And since learning I, myself, am going to be a father, I started thinking about some of the things I would go back and whisper to my five year old, eight year old, twelve year old and teenage self.  Here's what I would say:

@ Age 5:  "Your little brother isn't that bad.  He's just different from you.  He looks like your mom, and he's the baby, and he'll get a lot of attention from her, and from her friends.  Don't take that personally, because you'll always be your dad's favorite.  They'll never say that, but trust me, it's true.  Later in life, your brother and you will become the best of friends.  He'll stay young a lot longer than you, which will be a breathe of fresh air at times, and make you scratch your head equally as much.  He'll figure it out, and it will be in large part because of how you act as an older brother.  Don't be too hard on him."

@ Age 8:  "Savor this.  Enjoy this time.  The next few years of you playing little league baseball will be critical.  Don't take it too seriously.  I know you hate losing, but relax.  It's just a game, and you'll end up winning much more than losing.  Your dad is your #1 fan, and your coach, which isn't easy - for either of you. Life right now is a big game, play it right.  Oh, and be nice to girls.  You'll have your hands full before you know it!"

@ Age 12:  "Ok, remember I said not to be too hard on your brother?  He's only eight, so don't kill him.  Lighten up.  No matter how bad something is, it's not that bad.  And, no matter how good something is, it's honestly not that good.  Don't be so dramatic.  You'll be starting high school in a couple of years, and it's ok to be different, you don't need to copy every one else - just be yourself.  Read more, you'll learn to love it.  Write more, you'll learn to rely on it.  And brush your teeth, for your own sake - it gets expensive."

@ Age 16:   "Listen, life is more than just girls and sports.  Stop rolling your eyes. And no, before you ask, we're not done here yet.  I'm not ruining your life, trust me.  Neither are your parents.  In fact, I think you're ruining dad's life more than anything.  Let me share something with you that you'll read someday; For the first twenty years of your life, you think everyone is thinking about you.  For the next twenty years of your life, you don't give a damn what people think about you.  And for the next twenty years, you realize no one was really thinking about you to begin with.  Instead of being overly moody and awkward, try being less selfish, and realize the world doesn't revolve around you.  You've got a lot on your plate, and even though your parents aren't "perfect", you turn out just fine.  College will be an option for you - but don't freak out if you don't go.  Again, you turn out just fine.  Get a job, save some money, and stop speeding!  Oh yea, remember I said to be nice to girls - not that nice!"

What would you tell your younger self???  What do you know now, that you wish you knew as a kid???

**The comment box is now open to the public**

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week 3 of 26: Weight For Me

There's burpees, wall ball shots and kettle bell swings - of the american variety.  We'll run around the "island", down to Southern, and follow it with some rowing.  Dead lifting, thrusting and dipping with chains are of the norm.  Front squats, power cleans, pull ups and chin ups will rock your world.  Do "AMRAP" (as many rounds as possible) and you'll be left feeling like you're DOA.  Pushing myself to my "PR" (personal record) made me feel like I needed the ER.

It's just a workout, and I'm not a paid spokesman.  But you will question your manhood in this "box" (gym).  More than learning all the acronyms and abbreviations, I'm learning to push myself....sometimes to the limit, but always past my comfort level.  This theory has worked for me professionally, financially, relationally....and now, physically.

162.5 lbs (+2.5 lbs)
The scale is not broken. It's accurate. Trust me.                                                   

Making the decision is the easy part, but true success and results come from making important decisions, and then managing those decisions every single day.  What decisions have you made, for 2012, that are helping you grow, and reach your goals?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Health, Wealth and Legos - My Top 11 Fatherhood Influencers To Pass Down

We all want more for our children than we want for ourselves.  Selfishness goes out the window, and we begin doing what we can to set them up for success.  For anyone with a soul or an ounce of decency, it comes naturally, and it comes easily.

Some of the advantages I hope to give our child are the obvious ones:  a healthy, loving environment, food on their plate, clothes on their back, ride a bike, etc. etc.  The things that all parents are "expected" to be able to provide for their son or daughter.

There are other things on my list though, things that I feel helped mold me.  I'm sure we all have our list of influencers that made us who we are.  Some items should be passed down, and some items don't exist any more.  I'm certainly not suggesting you force your kids to play your old antique Atari.  But here's my ever evolving and expanding list:

1 - Legos:  The "building blocks of life"????  Maybe, maybe not.  But, every kid should have plenty of Lego's for them to use as a creative outlet - and for their parents to step on.  It's life, and it's natural.

2 - Plenty of Coloring Books and Crayons:  In my head our child is going to be a combination of Picasso, Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Sinatra, Walt Disney, Princess Diana, and Albert Einstein.....now my list is pro-son driven with a dash of Di - and I'm sure my girlfriends list would be pro-daughter, with a dash of Gosling.  Crayons and coloring, inside the lines or out, are essential for creativity and imagination.

3 - A dog:  Is anything cuter than a cute baby and a cute dog doing cute stuff??  I think not.  It also teaches companionship and a love for animals.  Show me someone who doesn't love animals and I'll show you someone who probably doesn't love people much either.  They can't be trusted.

4 - Love for their mother:  Shocking news - The divorce rate is high.  I look forward to the day when people stop announcing that, and start focusing on a solution.  One of the best quotes I've read so far is, "The best thing you can do for your child is to love their mother."  I want my son or daughter to know love, see love, and feel love.  That must come from both parents, and, ideally, directed towards each other.

5 - Charity:  Our child is going to be coming into a very financially secure environment, and will live a life free from lacking the necessities.  We're extremely blessed when it comes to our careers, but we don't want our son/daughter to not understand or empathize with what it's like to be on the "other side".  Charity is the best way to convey that message, while helping those less fortunate.

6 - Bank Account:  Even at a young age my girlfriends parents opened her a bank account.  What an awesome way to teach responsibility, independence and financial maturity to a child.  Debt is more rampant than divorce, and a lesson that needs to be heeded early on.

7 - TOO Tech or not TOO Tech:  I wrestle with this idea of giving our child too much technology too soon.  I'm 100% AGAINST kids living through video games.  It makes me surprisingly angry when I see a kid listening to their iPod at a restaurant, or playing a video game while sitting in a shopping cart.  I don't want them in the stone age, but I don't want them to lose touch with the real world.

8 - Books:  Actual books.  Not books on cell phone.  Or books that a robot reads to you.  For God's sake people, read to your kids.  Read as many Dr. Seuss books as you can possibly stomach, and then keep reading.  It was one of the most important things my parents did for me.  One that too many kids are missing out on today.

9 - Learning multiple languages:  We live in the greatest country in the world, yet nearly every other country raises children to know and actually speak more than one language.  Could you imagine where the US would be if we adopted that same philosophy?  And closer to home, how your 5 year old would feel knowing that he/she can communicate in ways other kids can't??

10 - Music:  All types of music. To play, and to enjoy.  Maybe this is just a desire to instill independence in our little one, but I grew up with noise.  A lot of noise.  Music late into the night, and plenty of partying.  It drove me crazy sometimes as a kid, but later in life I learned to appreciate it.  I know music that most people my age don't know, and learned it's possible to live an exciting life full of action and excitement, even with kids.  I'm not talking about neglecting them, I'm talking about including them.  Music will get kids of all ages through life's ups and downs.

11 - Travel:  Life is short, and you'll never have time to see it all.  But that's no reason not to try!  I know my parents wish they would have seen more, and shown us more.  But, like many people in that generation, all they knew was work.  They worked, and provided for the family.  And then worked some more.  We're blessed to have a strong desire to travel, and a means in which to do it.  To be able to show your children the world is something more valuable then what I can put into words.

No kid is perfect, and no parent has it all figured out.  Sometimes your plans go out the window, but it's sure as hell better than not having a plan at all!  If we've learned life lessons, we owe it to our children to teach them the same lessons early on.  Over the next 80-100 years the kids that learn the most, change the fastest, adjust on the fly, have fun and stay positive, will be the ones that rule the world.  Why not have it be yours??

What would be on YOUR list???
Would love the comments!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Week 2 of 26: Same Weight, Different Day

Five CrossFit sessions in six days.  Not bad, right?  I feel great, and am feeling better after each class.  To my surprise I had begun to transform into some sort of human walrus, and developed a layer of blubber to help keep my core temperature up during the winter months, from lack of cardio.  I'm happy to say that I was able to shed my coat of fat in just a few, albeit intense and painful, workouts.

I've heard several people compare CrossFit to drug usage.  Now understand I might be the worst person to compare anything to drugs or hallucinogens. The only high I've ever experienced has been a food high after a Victoria & Alberts meal.  But, courtesy of CrossFit iQ, in less than a week I have seen stars, felt winded beyond belief, on the verge of light-headedness, and thought I was dying.  Again, not speaking from experience, I can now understand why CrossFit is sometimes compared to paranoid pill poppers.

In a great way, of course.  I've never felt better about working out, and where I'm heading.  Something amazing happens when you see the clock hit 3 - 2 - 1, and the trainer say "GO!" My body flips a switch.  A switch that triggers adrenaline, excitement, determination,  and I begin to anticipate the pleasure that comes from the pain.  With nothing to compare it to, this is the best kind of drug I've taken.

Now, with that being said, you also should expect to feel a type of hangover way more painful than any you've experienced after a weekend bender you went on in college.  It hurts, and it hurts so good.  It's like a regular reminder every time you stand up that whatever the hell a "Sumo Dead-Lift High Pull" is, works!  You want to rest, but your body is already hooked.  As if that's not scary enough, you're surrounded by the worst kind of enablers imaginable.  The kind that actually WANT you to do more, feel more, hurt more, and take you to your limit.

160 lbs.

My philosophy is, one day at a time, one workout at a time, one pound at a time.  Regardless of how much weight I gain over the course of 26 weeks, there's no question that my body will see the side effects of regular 30-45 minute binge exercises from CrossFit iQ.  If you're not excited about getting your fix from your neighborhood gym routine - come find us in the back alley, we'll be the ones that the out-of-shapers cross the street to avoid, shake their heads at, don't quite understand, yet secretly envy.

How is YOUR CrossFit experience going??

What advice do you have for a new gym rat??

What are you eating/drinking in addition to your workouts??

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fatherhood: The Newest & Biggest Chapter of My Life

The story of my life is a book I would want to read.  But, equally as important, and much less narcissistic, I think it would be a story others would want to read.  Sure, I'm young, and maybe right now it resembles a short story more than a novel or collection.  But it's also still in production - every day.  You can find it in the humor/business/drama/inspirational/cooking/non-fiction section.  The newest chapter will likely be the largest, most interesting of them all.  And it's in a department of the bookstore I have yet to venture in to.

Who knew that a small plastic stick would have such a huge impact?  Learning you're going to be a father is possibly the biggest reality check a man can experience.  Like a kaleidoscopic on speed, images start popping up in your head faster than you can actually process them.  Boy or girl? What will they look like? Things you want to experience with them.  Your parents.  How to raise them?  Finances?  Taking care of their mother during the next 8 months.  Home size, car safety, college planning.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Within 24 hours I start motoring through websites, magazines and books that are parent related.  I figure THIS new job I just landed as a father is my most important, so I better be prepared.  But, does anything really prepare you for it?  Like in sports, you can practice all you want.  But nothing really prepares you for actual game speed and the pressure associated with it.  I know I'm suppose to be "nervous".....but I'm just not.  Not sure if that's entirely normal or not, but my male ego kicks in and gets excited about the challenge.

Maybe the two best bits of advice I've gotten so far have been:

- The most important thing a father can do for their children is to love their mother.
- Think about the things you wished your father had done with/for you, and then commit to doing those things with/for your children. [from my uncle]

I think I like both of those most because they're so simple, so straightforward.  Certainly not always easy, but definitely doable.  What I've gathered so far is that it comes down to caring more than you've ever cared about something before, and learning from those around you - both from the positives and the negatives.

But, let's be honest here:  Its obvious that the child is helping this new father grow as much as I am committed to raising them.  So far, they seem to be doing a great job publishing the next chapter of my life.  I'm learning quickly, my mind is still absorbing information rapidly, I'm optimistic, and I have energy in abundance.  I'm learning so much from him/her, and I'm looking forward to repaying them and sharing all they've taught me in July.  Stay tuned.....this story is getting interesting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Week 1 of 26: Fit To The Death

Is it possible to die from trying to live a healthy lifestyle?  Granted, working out hadn't even entered my mind over the past 10 days of vacation.  And yes, it's true, I did eat my way across nearly every city in between Los Angeles and San Francisco while away.  Still, I walked into my first CrossFit iQ session confident - maybe even slightly arrogant.  "I work out 3-4 days per week, how hard can this be? I can do this!" , I announced to myself.

And within 5 minutes I was gasping harder than a fish not just left out of water, but dropped in the Sahara.  Pushed to my sooner than expected limit, I just start sucking in whatever oxygen my lungs will allow.  The trainer asks, "How's it going Jack??"  I force a pained smile, trying to mask the fact that my respiratory system is acting like it's not yet ready for the New Year and decided to take another week off. I manage to give him a "thumbs up".  In my head I'm saying, "Screw you trainer guy!!  I hope you drop this kettle bell  on your toe, which probably also has muscles."  My pained poker face fools no one, especially him.  He's seen this look a million times before, I'm sure.  I'm grateful that the music is blasting, because my wheezing sounds like the opener to the Andy Griffith Show.

Listen, there are a lot of horrible things that a human body can go through, and I'm convinced that Burpies are near the top of that list.  I keep thinking that my second wind is surely right around the corner...wait for it.....wait for it......nothing.  Still struggling, still (somehow) managing to get another rep in. Until, what seemed like 3 hours, the hardest 30 minute workout of my life is over.  That's right, 30 minutes.  Seems like nothing now that I think about it, but don't make the same wrong assumptions I did.  It's no joke.  It's not easy, and I'm convinced that CrossFit will totally humble anyone not in tip-top shape.

My mission (or challenge from my unsympathetic, cruel yet sweet significant other) - gain 20 healthy pounds of muscle by June 15th.  Each week I'll take a picture of the weight that registers on the scale, and we'll see how it goes. No cheating, no excuses, just hard work.  Most people are trying to lose weight as a New Years resolution - and I'm trying to gain weight.  In truth, continue to do what I can to be as healthy as possible.  If you're resolving to do the same in 2012, check out CrossFit iQ in West Palm Beach.

For anyone wondering, yes, it IS possible for your ears, chest, arms, lips, legs, and feet to all be sore simultaneously.  Next class is on Thursday - and like Bart Scott, "Can't Wait!".