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 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 44: Conversations with a Friend

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Confession:  I’m not the most gifted writer.  I don’t have Hemingway’s conciseness, nor King’s ideas, nor Shakespeare’s gift with words.  I find myself critiquing my blog against other, more popular blogs, and always coming away wanting.  Every time I get down on myself, however, I think three thoughts:  1, it doesn’t matter, I’m not doing this for adoration.  2, practice makes perfect.  3, with dedication, I can overcome.

On that note, I had the opportunity to have lunch yesterday with a very close friend.  Among the many topics we discussed was his confession that he follows this blog and has been trying to use it as inspiration for bettering himself.  However, he has trouble maintaining focus beyond a week or so.  It feeds a vicious cycle…he’ll work out for 4 or 5 days, then go 4 or 5 days without working out.  This leads to a desire to work out, so he promises to work out again.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

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It’s a tough cycle to break.  The only way to do so requires intense dedication for a few weeks.   A friend once told me that when it came to cracking your sweet tooth urges, it requires three entire weeks of completely abstaining from sugar.  Her reasoning?  The average taste bud is regenerated every 7 days.  So you have to see to it that the current generation of taste buds is completely gone, as they have the taste.  Then you have to wait 7 days so the next generation never sends the sugar signals to the brain and the nerves begin to “forget”.  Finally, you have to wait one more generation to ensure you’ve completely destroyed those taste pathways.

I realize this is far from scientific, and I can guarantee it has no basis in actual taste bud science or biology.  But it is an interesting thought.  Change requires discipline.  You have to be dedicated to not giving in to your cravings in order to change.  Do you actually change your taste buds?  I doubt it.  What you do is develop new habits and new desires.

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I used to eat McDonald’s almost every day.  In high school, as a growing boy with a sky-high metabolism who constantly played sports, I could eat anything I wanted and not see the effects (outside, at least).  What better way to sate a hunger than three Big Mac’s every day for lunch?  For years, I continued to eat McD’s when available, until I watched the documentary Super Size Me.  It’s not so much that it turned me off of greasy hamburgers as it piqued my curiosity to try a similar experiment –  in reverse.  I committed myself to not eating any fast food for two months.  Those two months turned into almost 6 months, and on the day that I finally broke down and had some fast food…well, let’s just say that I felt the difference.  Within an hour of eating, I was gassy, felt bloated, and actually lost energy.  My body wasn’t used to the preservatives, low quality ingredients and fat in the food, so it didn’t react well.

The point is this:  My desires and cravings changed when I forced myself to abstain from them.  The same has happened to me over the first 6 weeks of this year.  I used to have to drag myself away from the television late at night to go to bed.  After a full day of work, taking care of kids, cooking and evening chores, all I wanted was to shut my brain off.  TV was an all-to-convenient way to do so.  I would head downstairs, plop my feet up on the couch, and veg.   This year, however, I made it a point not to watch TV in the evenings (notable exceptions:  Super Bowl, Grammys, big special events).  I’ve discovered lately that I no longer have a desire to turn on the boob tube.  Instead, when I get downstairs, the first thing I want to do is either run on the treadmill or start working out.  As soon as that is over, I find myself either blogging for the day or cracking open whatever books I am reading.  It took 40 days for me to realize it.  40 days to change my thinking, my habits and my desires.

In the grand scheme of things, 40 days is a blink.  Have you ever given up anything for Lent?  That’s 40 days.  The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a shade under 40 days.  Think about the last time you took a nice vacation that you were looking forward to.  In the month leading up to it, were you counting down the days?  That month was almost 40 days.

Trust me, 40 days is doable.

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As I ran today at the gym, I was thinking about this post.  How could I wrap it up?  Then it dawned on me.  I was running, and I wasn’t even thinking about it.  Several weeks ago, I would have been concentrating on the ticking off the miles, half miles, quarters and tenths of a mile until I was done.  But today?  Today I was focused elsewhere.

That sums up the shift that has happened for me perfectly.  By throwing myself wholeheartedly into this endeavor, I’ve begun to change habits in myself.  It took dedication, because Lord knows there were nights I didn’t want to read my devotional or crank out pushups.  I had to force it.  As I said before, it’s becoming routine for me to almost wander into workouts unconsciously.  I now love reading my books at night.  I feel bad if I don’t post serious thoughts to my blog.  I love it.  I’m becoming disappointed by the things that used to be my goals!

That’s the sign of progress.  When you begin to leave one horizon behind in search of a new horizon, you know you’re moving forward.

And you can quote that.

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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 42: A Running Perspective

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Confession: I haven’t been reading a lot of other blogs lately because it’s the new year and I’ve been trying to get my own thoughts under control. I have a few that I follow and read regularly, but as for the others, well, I’ve been a little lax. So when I updated the WordPress app on my iPad tonight, and it opened to my reading list, I perused through a few of the new updates, and I came across this great little post that goes perfectly with the quote I wanted to use today.

Read Ebenezer’s post here: King of the Hills- Running Like a Child

I’ve never been one for recreational running. I prefer to chase and be chased, usually at max sprint speed, and always with the threat of bodily harm through physical contact. Hence my love of football and rugby.   However, as I’ve been on my running kick this year, I’ve slowly developed an appreciation for recreational running. Heck, I’ll be doing at least one 5k run this year, and want to complete a sprint triathlon as well.

A lot of this newfound appreciation has been because I’ve come to realize the cathartic release that comes with running, as your mind begins to focus on your thoughts and your body goes on autopilot. It’s a big change for me, because I usually prefer to switch my brain onto autopilot and focus on my body.
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Either way, Ebenezer’s article makes a great point…as children, we look forward to running around until we can no longer move. Somewhere towards adulthood, we lose that joy and dread a running workout. Really, though, it’s all a matter of perspective.. Do you choose to look at workouts as tedious or as fun? Do you choose to look at obstacles in your life as barriers or as conquests? It is all a matter of perspective. Trouble is only trouble if you choose to view it as such; otherwise, it is opportunity.

Change your mind and you will change your life.

The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.
-Ayn Rand

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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