Day 167: Starting to See Results

The last few weeks have been extremely busy around our house.  We are now T-minus 6 days from the grand opening of my wife’s shop, my son’s first birthday is this week, and summer rugby is kicking into gear.  Posts have been sporadic from me because of the time it has taken to get the shop into shape.  I’ve been putting in a lot of late nights there, painting, building, cutting, moving, etc… All the grunt work that goes into opening a place of your own has been my flavor of the month lately.

However, I have been trying very hard to keep up with the rest of my commitments, and this past weekend I saw some tangible evidence that my working out is paying off.  My Father’s Day gift from my wife was a day to myself, and I chose to drive to Rockford, IL for a rugby tournament.  This particular tournament is not a team tournament; all players enter their names into a hat, and teams are chosen at random.  A full day of rugby is played with your new teammates in a double elimination tournament.  Close to 150 ruggers were present this year.

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My team won the whole tournament, and I could tell a big difference in my fitness and strength on the field.  It would have been difficult to make a judgement on my progress in just one or two games but over the course of 6 matches, while playing in both my usual position and out of position, I could tell that my stamina is greatly increased and my confidence is up.  My tackles are stronger and I was able to break out of a few attempted tackles easier than I could have before.

I long ago resigned myself to the fact that it is very difficult for me to put on weight (muscle), especially without having much time to be able to dedicate to lifting heavy.  But even doing the pushups, ab work and stretching every day has been good.  At the beginning of the year, I was having to do 3-4 sets of 10-15 pushups to meet my goal of 50.  Now, I am able to do sets of 50 and I’ve upped my daily goal to 100.  I can see a difference when I look at myself in the mirror, but it’s never enough.  However, I’m ok with that, at this point.  My goal this year wasn’t to pack on weight, it was to get in better shape, and I am well on my way there.

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It’s important to not lose sight of your main objective.  As I said, my goal isn’t to get jacked and ripped, it’s to be in shape.  I would be down on myself right now had my desire been the muscle mass.  But I knew I couldn’t devote the time and energy necessary to achieve that, so I chose a different target.  If, somewhere along the way, I put that size on, then it’s a bonus bit of icing for me.

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I’ll be posting some pictures of some woodwork that I did for the shop.  I’m quite proud of how it turned out, and every project has gotten better.  The desk that I built is functional and helpful, but a little ugly.  I’ve learned from those mistakes, however, and the new projects look great!

Other news?  It’s summer.  Fully, hotly, humidly summer.  I’m considering breaking out the A/C tonight to help us sleep.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 121: White Belt No Longer

WhiteBlackStripeBeltSee that?  That’s a white belt with a black stripe!   Yeah, boy, that means I passed my first promotion test tonight!

Do you know what else it means?  It means I am still the least skilled participant in my dojo, by several belts.  We had two new classmates join this session, a pair of 13-year olds.  Once again, however, they could kick my butt if it came down to a sparring match.  I’ve learned that the hard way.

I’ve also learned something else: a black belt is a white belt who never gave up.

Yes, it’s cheesy, but it applies to so much more than just karate.  To master any skill or trade, one has to be willing to put in the time and effort.  One must have dedication.  Most importantly, one must have the desire to get back up after every failure.  As the old adage goes:

Success is simply getting back up one more time than you’ve fallen.

I’ve taken quite a few shots the last few weeks when it comes to sparring.  I’m fine with my “katas” – a group of pre-determined moves you have to memorize – but when it comes to sparring, I’m heavy on my toes and awkward with my counter-attacks.  As such, I’ve been bested by two guys with brown belts (expected), got smoked by a woman with a green belt who weighs maybe half as much as I do, made to look silly by a 15-year old boy, and taken far too many kicks and punches from a 12-year old and 13-year old girl.  I’m 32.  I’m a tall, very athletic man in pretty good shape, and I’m the lowest on the totem pole.

One word: Humbling.

But I’ve stuck with it.  And now I am no longer a beginner.  I no longer get the funny looks from the kids in the “Little Dragons” class before mine.  I’m someone who belongs.  I may not be good, yet, but I’m trying.  And I’m not giving up.

That’s the secret.  Jimmy Valvano said it eloquently.

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We all get there.  Whether it’s a bad day, bad hour, bad year or bad minute, rest assured that everyone has the moment of despair where we feel like throwing in the towel.  But we can’t.  The only way you lose is to give up.  If you always give it another shot, you’ve never lost…you’ve only taken a step towards succeeding.  Take enough steps, and soon you’ll find everything getting out of your way.  Success will be yours.  You’ll feel alive.  You will have fulfilled your promises to yourself.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to beat me up.  🙂

Day 92: One Quarter In

 

keep-calm-and-check-progress-5So now that I am one-quarter of the way through this year, I took the opportunity to revisit some of my goals to see where I stand…

Physically:  I’ve been able to get a workout in every single day.  Some days, that workout consists of 50 pushups as I get ready to crawl into bed.  Some days it’s a full, heavy weight session at the gym.  But I’ve done some sort of muscle punishing workout every single day.  I’ve seen some results, too.  Nothing too tremendous, but enough that I’m happy with my progress.

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Day 4

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Day 89

No, I’m probably never going to be huge.  I resigned myself to that my senior year of high school.  Nor do I want to, as my wife claims she doesn’t like overly muscular dudes.  So that’s good.  But I am happy with my results so far.

Reading:

I’ve completed a number of books so far, but I’m slightly behind pace.  I realize that, but I’m not freaking out too badly by that, because when I get into a fiction book, I usually devour it.

Skills:

I’m pleased with my progress.  I’ve made a desk, learned to identify a lot of birds (which reminds me, we’ve seen our first robin in the yard), and I’m progressing towards my first belt in karate.

Running:  

Again, pleased with where I am.  I’m slightly off pace, but that will all change as rugby season comes into full swing this spring.  I run a lot during the spring and fall seasons.  So anywhere that I am behind, I will make it up very soon.  In addition, we’ve got our first adventure race of the season coming up in two weekends.  I’m excited to be running with my wife.  Also, I love my Vibram Five Fingers.

People Who Matter:
I’m a little behind on this, but several upcoming posts include more than one person, so I will be back to pace very shortly.

So that’s it.  A brief look at the first quarter.  I’m sure I could be more in depth, but none of this matters to you.  What really matters here is you.  Is this inspiring you to do something better?  Does it help you continue on a path you’ve wanted to walk?  In the end, that’s what I hope to do…inspire you.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 78: “Pretty Good With the Bo Staff”

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This is a gi (uniform).  I don't have one.

This is a gi (uniform). I don’t have one.

We busted out the bo staffs in karate class tonight.  NERVE WRACKING!  I’m the only student in class without a belt.

The next lowest belt in class is an 11-year old girl with a green belt!  In case you’re wondering, let’s just say that makes me the newbie by several years, despite having two decades of age on her.  I don’t even have a gi…I train in scrub pants and a long sleeved shirt.  Ergo, I have no business going up against my classmates when they have a weapon in their hands.

However, that left me with only two options.  One, sit it out.  Miss class.   Fail to learn something.  Not have any fun.

Or two, participate.  And when you participate against people swinging 7 foot hunks of wood in your direction, you better be fully participating!  No half-trying or going slow.  I needed to be focused, rely on my athletic skills, and react as best I could.

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How’d I do?  Well, I made it out of class without any injuries!  Granted, we weren’t actually sparring with each other, but those things pack a punch even if you’re just practicing blocking one another.

“That’s all well and good, brosef, but what’s your point?”

My point is this: You can’t be afraid to try new things just because you might be the only one who doesn’t get it.

And this:  If you’re going to try something new, give it everything you’ve got.  Otherwise, you’ll end up getting hurt.

Oh, and I guess this:  If you’re new to the bo staff, don’t expect to have skills as sweet as Napoleon Dynamite.

Had I not tried, I wouldn’t have had fun.  Had I gone half-speed, I would have wound up with a bruise or three.  Had I gotten a bruise, I might not have tried it again.  I enjoyed the heck out of myself in class tonight.  I never would have learned that, in all honesty, my hand-eye coordination from all my years of other sports lend themselves very well to using a weapon.  I’m actually pretty good at it.  For a beginner.

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You never know what you’ll discover when you try and try hard.

What are you failing to discover?

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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