What Working Out in 2018 Has Taught Me

I haven’t written a lot about this, other than posting my workouts, but over the past 6 months, I’ve dropped 20+ pounds by turning myself into a well-oiled machine. Of course, I dieted (low carb), but for me that was easy. The real progress was teaching myself to enjoy self-administered suffering of 100+ rep workouts, rucks, sprints, and runs that I have put myself through over the year. It took finding myself getting way too soft after my accident and living with a mindset that saw new lows. Today I am still a work in progress, but the workouts are destroying demons.

Here are some highlighted records from 2018:

Pushups – 1010 in a day

Pushups – 500 in an hour

Pullups – 112 in a day

Pullups – 70 in an hour

Run – 4.5 miles (beaten today)

And more

Here is what the workouts have taught me in 2018:

  1. God didn’t invent couches, recliners, McDonald’s or Wendy’s, man did that because he is weak – but he did invent you and your two working arms and legs so get at it.
  2. Your mind wants you to give up when your body has only given 40% (credit to @davidgoggins for this)
  3. 100 is the new 20
  4. Unless your 16-25 years old you won’t build anything in 20 minutes a day. That’s like telling you to pay off your credit card using only minimum payment. It’s better than not paying but holy cow is that bs. Stop looking for quick fixes. You are going to have to suffer and learn to love it.
  5. Don’t listen to anyone unless you are paying them to train you or you are specifically asking a professional. Everyone wants to tell you a better way and at the end of the day, you haven’t repeated enough of the same types of reps to do anything. Discipline and consistency is the key.
  6. No days off. Only rotational healthy living. Ie: I never work the same group within 3 days. I may take one day off every few months. Not during the week.
  7. There are 24 hours in a day. Do what you hate first. I hate ab work. So I wake up at 430 and do 150 crunches and leg lifts before most people wake up. And that’s not my workout, that goes with brushing my teeth.
  8. If there’s a supplement advertisement, don’t trust the workout. They want to keep you weak to make you think that you need the supplement.
  9. Do not workout to improve how you look. Seriously, for most people, it won’t change fast enough for you not to quit. I workout for the sense of achievement and building character. I workout to fight my current demons and prepare for the next ones that will pop up in my path. I do the same thing when I’m in my Bible daily. Working out is complimentary.
  10. I put myself through more physical pain than anyone else could ever throw at me in a day. This is about mental strength, not superficiality and vanity.
  11. No gym necessary. I started with a pull-up bar and a deck of cards. Later I bought cinderblocks to throw around. Recently got a weighted vest and some kettlebells. But start from where you are.

KIDS ARE ALWAYS LEARNING – YOU ARE ALWAYS TEACHING

A few days ago I was standing in line behind a father and his two kids at fast food restaurant called Moe’s. Moe’s is kind of like a Chipotle, serving a Tex-Mex style cuisine with a Subway-style serving line. The father lets his two kids place their orders before them even though they are barely tall enough to look over the counter.

Behind the counter is an 18 to 20-year-old male, with gold teeth, designer glasses, and long gold chain, who was not enthusiastic about serving customers burritos and tacos. He didn’t act angry, arrogant, or like he had a chip on his shoulder, he just didn’t smile, greet people, speak loudly, or look even in the direction of his customer’s faces. One might expect that in mind, based on how he dressed and carried himself, that he was just going to serve tacos until his mixtape dropped and he found himself on the cover of Hip-Hop magazine. All joking aside, I give the guy a little bit of respect for lowering himself to serve Tex-Mex food and earn a modest living, though he didn’t fit the perfect picture of customer service.

So this little kid, probably about 8 or 9 years old, asks the guy for a burrito, with chicken, and NO beans. I’m standing about two people back, farther away than the server. I distinctly heard the kid say NO beans. Sure enough, the guy plops a spoon full of beans on the kid’s burrito. The kid immediately looks to his father and says “Dad, he put beans on it, I said no beans.” The father looks and the guy and back at the kid and never says a word to the server. The child let out a small whimper, and the dad turns to his child and tells him to be quiet.

Now, if you just read that correctly, and not a little irritated at that dad, you should be. Trust me; I am all for teaching children to choose their battles, but I am more of a proponent of teaching your kids to stand up for yourselves and when you know what you want, to go out and get it. What does is teach a child when fathers don’t stand up for them? It illustrates to the child they aren’t important enough to be stood up for. All this father had to do is say “Excuse me, my son didn’t want beans, do you mind starting over?” And I guarantee that guy would have tossed the burrito and started over after all his job is to please the customer. And you can’t make an excuse don’t irritate a food service person, or they will spit in your food, they are fixing it while you watch!

Without picking on this guy too much, I have to wonder if he won’t fight this small battle for his kids, what other more meaningful conflicts will he act like a giant chicken?

Kids are constantly watching parents and trying to learn from them. The other day, I finally got around to hanging some new pictures around the house. After hanging a few pictures in the living room, my two-year-old son started following me around with his toy hammer and banging on the walls next to me. Of course, we view this attitude as cute but here is the truth: I didn’t say to Bryce: “Son, let me show you how to do this, and you can help me, here are the tools, and here is the goal…” No. Simply by doing something around my son, he tries to mimic me on his own. Now, this is an example of a physical activity, but you better believe even though that child was upset by having beans on his burrito he learned the following lessons from his father in a matter of seconds:

  1. I’m not important enough for my father to fight for me.
  2. What I want is not important.
  3. When someone does substandard work, we should smile and nod, not critique, or correct.
  4. No one cares what I like or what I care about.
  5. When I ask for something as a customer, what they give me is not important, I should just take it.
  6. Suffering is a part of life, and we should just be quiet and suffer.
  7. My father would rather hurt my feelings than confront another adult.
  8. My father doesn’t listen to my wants or needs.
  9. My father won’t stand up for me.
  10. My father doesn’t love me enough to make sure that I have a quality experience.
  11. My father is a chicken.

Conservative theologian, Douglas Wilson said, “If boys don’t learn, men won’t know.” If a boy learns the above 11 lessons from his father, what will he take into manhood? These 11 lessons were taught in probably 11 seconds. It’s important to recognize that it’s the little things we don’t or don’t do as fathers every day that make a difference in child’s entire life. We have to be a bit more careful as fathers, be the dads we always wanted or needed, and to be strong and ACT LIKE MEN!

Parents, do not anger your children but rear them in the discipline and in the teaching of Our Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

CONTENTMENT OVER HAPPINESS

There is an interesting dichotomy in the world today. On one side of the coin, everyone appears to be continually living at such a fast pace, rushing everywhere, to and fro. Sometimes, I feel like people want to be busy, not for the sake of needing to get things done, but just to be busy, almost like they want to wear the “badge of busy” on their chests to prove they are valuable. On the other side of the same coin, life seems filled with more traffic, lines, and waiting rooms.

More than ever, people are searching for instant gratification over long-term contentment. People need nonstop entertainment everywhere they go. That’s why restaurants, waiting rooms, and even gas station pumps have installed TV screens to make sure there is never a moment you aren’t entertained. When the TV screens aren’t available, our eyes are squinting at tiny cell phone screens. This need to be entertained every waking hour creates a dopamine-driven entertainment addiction. It seems like to me we are all racing to catch our tails. And just like any addiction, the addict is continually looking for a bigger fix, never able to sit down and just be.

“The happy life is regarded as a life in conformity with virtue. It is a life which involves effort and is not spend in amusement.” – Aristotle

I am sitting here in my tree stand in the woods thinking about this dichotomy, listening to the wind blow through the trees and gentle raindrops falling on the freshly fallen leaves on the forest floor. There’s something primal about just sitting by yourself in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of traffic, noise, screens, and people.

Today people measure their self-worth by how many “likes” they get on a Facebook status or how many retweets on Twitter. It’s like measuring life with a rubber ruler. Contentment really must begin with being able to appreciate and feel gratitude for the moment that you’re in, not how many “clicks of appreciation” you receive. We must somehow teach our children this.

Finding contentment can be difficult while being barraged by other people’s drama on reality TV shows which can only be broken up by people telling what you need in commercials. Don’t give me wrong; the goal is to find contentment anywhere you are, but if you are not centered and well practiced at it, just like anything adding distractions does not help.

I play bass guitar in my church’s praise band. We practice once a week, without an audience to distract us so we can get the music close to perfect before adding the audience back into the equation. In other words, we isolate ourselves to get it right, before adding in the additional pressures of playing live. I find myself retreating woods for peace and solitude to practice contentment. The idea is, with practice, I can add the distractions back in and continue to discover the same contentment everywhere.

It seems to me like it’s an excellent exercise to get away from those things and go outside just watch and listen to nature, having no goal in mind, and have an appreciation for this world that God has made.

In a selfish world that believes more and more in subjective over objective morality, there is a hugely overused cliché that the meaning of life is seeking happiness. The problem with this idea is some sick people in this world find delight in murder, rape, violence and utterly depraved lifestyles.

The truth is, life is a roller coaster of ups and downs and to avoid everything that makes us unhappy or uncomfortable is running away from life. To expect nothing but happiness all the time is to believe we are always going to be sitting at the top of a hill on a roller coaster, but if you’ve ever gotten stuck on a roller coaster, you know that being stuck on the ride is just not enjoyable. A roller coaster requires all of the ups and downs to make it an actual ride. Our goal should not be to get stuck at any one place on the track but find contentment no matter where we are.

Contentment is the offspring of gratitude and appreciation. When things get hard in life, and we find it difficult to find contentment, seek out the things you are grateful for and appreciate and there you will find contentment. Practice gratitude and appreciation frequently alone and distractions will not shake your contentment in the long run.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

COMFORT IS NOT A VIRTUE

Early in my fire department career, an officer told our fire academy something that stuck with me for over a decade. He informed us “Fellas, this job ain’t comfortable – you will be hot, you will be cold, you will be tired, you will be hungry, but none of these things matter. You must complete your job.”

He was right. On the job I spent hours sweating in my fire gear, freezing in my gear, starving on medical calls, kept up all night long without rest, but somehow my crew and I made it through. As I have gotten older, I see that I have acquired the ability to be uncomfortable for more extended periods of time than I did in my youth and I can sit back and watch how other people react to being uncomfortable.

Today, in western society, many of us are programmed to be constant comfort seekers. We keep our thermostats in our houses set at 72 degrees and won’t even think of spending time outdoors if the ambient temperature is not within 20 degrees of that. We have big comfy couches and chairs, big screen TVs, hot water at the turn of a knob. We tend to take for granted that it has always been this way, and it has not. People survived for thousands of years outdoors working in any weather and finding refuge beside a burning campfire or wood stove. Many people in the world abroad still live this way and would have no concept of the comfortable lifestyles we live in the West.

Don’t get me wrong, being comfortable is ideal, but it is not necessarily the best thing for us. Being too comfortable in our surroundings can make us lose our edge and limit our survivability in situations where the there might not be any power, running water, or push button entertainment.

It is when we find ourselves far outside of our comfort zones we see how strong we are, how hard we can push ourselves, and our inner strength is leaps and bounds above where we thought it would be.

As a family man, and father, I take pride in the fact that I sell my personal comfort to make my family more comfortable. When I go to work, I sacrifice my time, sleep, and comfortable surroundings, to gain an income for my family so I can make sure they stay comfortable with all the amenities the four walls of my house can hold. When I get home from work, there is always more work to be done to keep the home functioning and comfortable: fixing things that have broken, cleaning things that have gotten dirty, and regular home maintenance.

The point is that we should not always accept the fact that we deserve comfort all of the time. Comfort ebbs and flows, to gain comfort sometimes we have to sacrifice it. To truly understand comfort we have to be made to feel uncomfortable occasionally. Perpetual comfort is not a virtue anyone should seek. If it were, life would honestly be empty, dull, and without meaning.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2