A Confession

Posted by – April 24, 2012

I have to admit something, I’m writing this as much to admit the truth to myself as to whoever may read it.

I am my own harshest critic. I hold myself to ridiculously high standards and ambition that I, mostly, have no hope of achieving within a time frame that I am happy with. I’m very sensitive and have a lot of trouble expressing exactly what I mean. I’m not dishonest, but I may not be telling the whole story. Most of the time it is simply due to being unable to find the right words.

I expect to be perfect in everything I do and mentally beat myself up when I make even the smallest mistakes. I’m intelligent enough to know that I should not be doing this and that mistakes are simply part of learning and progressing, but I cannot reconcile what I know on an intellectual level with what I feel on an emotional level.

I’m highly emotionally sensitive, which has its advantages, for example I’m very empathetic. I can pick up what others are feeling. But it affects me too and so I have to be able to shut it out when necessary. I can’t always do that.

I’m totally out of touch of world affairs. Mostly because I simply cannot face going through my life being angry and upset at the world every single day. I know a lot of shit goes down that would make me feel that way.

I don’t want to live like a hermit but I struggle to find my place in a world that I feel like I don’t always belong in.

I’m excellent at coming up with ideas, terrible at executing them. Not because I’m stupid, incompetent or lazy. Mostly because I can’t get started and pursue something to its conclusion. I’m so easily distracted that I forget what I am supposed to be doing and do something entirely unrelated instead.

I hate having to much structure in my life, but I require a certain amount in order that I actually accomplish anything at all. It’s hard to strike that balance that allows me to function properly, keep moving forward and be creative.

I know that I can’t achieve everything I want to on my own but am reluctant to ask for help until I desperately need it. I can admit I’m wrong and make mistakes but I don’t always learn from them.

I sometimes wish I was more, “normal”, that I could fit in. But I realise that I would then relinquish something that does set me apart. It makes me different, not in some new age and everyone is unique bollocks, just unusual. I almost wish I knew what it actually is, but the mystery is a more romantic image.

I fluctuate between confidence to the point of arrogance and too self conscious to leave my room. I don’t let people see the latter side most of the time. I’m up more than I’m down but when I’m down I forget the good times and only remember my failings. When I’m on my game I’m virtually unstoppable, when I’m shooting air I’m just about successful at getting out of bed and not fucking up so badly I get fired from whatever job I have that’s paying the bills right now.

This is who I am. It’s not perfect and I do strive to be better, but more than anyone else, I am all too aware of my own failings. Contrary to what I feel, I think it is a lot easier for other people to accept me as I am than it is for me to.

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Bikini Body

Posted by – January 8, 2012

Ok…this one is left field. As you know this blog dedicates allot of its forums to health and exercise. I came across the following link about getting the perfect bikini body

If you click on the link it will take you will hear Jennifer Nicole Lee, a self professed author, international weight loss success story and fitness celebrity and your coach to say “so long to the sarong and hello to your bikini model body”.

Taking a look through the website it is filled with comparisons, motivation by envy, reinforcements of falsehoods, and allot of other text that is designed to make you want to purchase her material.

So the question is, in this weight loss and fitness world who can you trust? Jennifer Nicole Lee?

Ok…so lets look at the facts

By researching her wikipedia entry and her website she reached 200 pounds (90kg) before she got on a weightloss and fitness kick to drop 70 pounds (32kg) and go on to be crowned “Miss Bikni America” in 1996.

I think by how we measure success and motivation on this website that has to be a win in anyone’s book. To go from massively overweight and not only improve their general health and well being, but to go on and win a national competition which judges you on your physical being is pretty amazing.

So getting past the marketing blurb…what does her program tell you to do and is it sound advice?

I took the bold step and as a male subscribed to get her free bikini boot camp report. And here is what she recommended:

- the special bikini diet

- change up your work out every 4 to 6 weeks to prevent a weight loss plateau

- jumping rope

- warm up and cool down

- strength training

- repeat work out 3 times a week

- motivational tips

Her list of exercises are below:

Abs: Crunches / Straight Leg Raises / Kneeling Roll Out

Waist-Line: Crunches with Twist / Bicycle Crunches / V-Sit & Twist

Lower Back: Back Extension / Swimming / Back Extensions with Swiss Ball

Biceps: Concentration Curls / Alternating Biceps Curls / One-Arm Side Push Up

Triceps: Seated Tricep / Extension / Skull Crushers Dips

Shoulders: Upright Rows / Shoulder Press on Ball / Lateral Raises

Back: Boxer / Seated Rows / Reverse Flys on Ball

Chest: Chest Press / Push Ups / Chest Flys on Ball

Thighs: Forward Lunge / Wall Squat with Ball / Single Leg Squat

Hips: Bridge Ups / Skater Squat / Genie Sit

…not allot of details, but if it is sensible, then there is nothing here that raises alarm bells.

So the conclusion…in my opinion, knowledge is king. If you already know about fitness and managing your weight I don’t think you are going to find anything here that will give you new information. If you are someone who does not know about this stuff, who wants to lose weight, and needs motivation then perhaps Jennifer Nicole Lee is for you. She did it, she seems to know what she is talking about.

It is easy to be cynical and criticise. If there are women who are improving their lives and health through JNL’s examples and materials then good for them, and good for JNL who is no doubt making a good living improving the world one bikini body at a time.

Check out the bikini body website for yourself which I am sure is completely relevant for all our male readers :)

 

Careful what you wish for

Posted by – December 31, 2011

It has been exactly 500 days since the appearance of 37 in my life and boy what a difference 500 days can make. Inspired by such examples as Tim Ferris, I have attempted to reengineer life away from the daily office grind towards inspirational living. Key events are:

- Left full time (well) paid employment on September 30
- started seakayak travel business www.remoteadventuretravel.com
- started Kayak37 T-shirts www.kayak37.spreadshirt.net
- completed a six week sea kayak guiding course in the United Kingdom and got my guiding ticket, surf lifesaving qualifications, first aid, VHF licence and know how to start a fire using nothing more than a knife, twigs and one match
- travelled to Dunedin, New Zealand as a ‘mini-retirement’ to test remote working

Even as I write this I am impressed by how much I have achieved (even if I say so myself). This has all come about thanks to my ‘thirtyseven’ experience and the support of good friends (James, Denise and Michele you know who you are).

So what next? hmmm….well that one is easy. Money!!!

Despite starting two online businesses my sales are a poultry zero. Put that in USD, GBP, AUD or CHF it is not allot. T-shirt business I am behind $350 and the kayak business about $10,000 (due to magazine advertising, lawyers bills and web development). Know is the time to sit back and let the next stage happen. I have now freed myself from the day to day routine, now I need to be focussing on those things that generate cash. If not, I will be forced to return to the land of cubicles and fluorescent lightbulbs. As nice as a 50 watt sun tan is, I prefer the roasting from a Southern summer.

More soon on my journey into market and product selection, SEO & web marketing, and website usability….my current challenges.

Rich

A Broken Finger

Posted by – October 7, 2011

Theatre, music, film and training. These things, in no particular order, occupy my mind for the majority of the day.

They are all cool projects to be working on. The main issue is actually having time and energy for everything. I have trouble focussing on more than on thing at a time and so I do better working in bursts. Focussing on one or two things for a certain time then switching it up when the time is right. The problem with that is the things in the background get virtually neglected during this time. Take recently for example. I hadn’t really trained properly during August or September due to theatre and music projects. Sure I’ve been to the gym but I’ve not really pushed it hard or been often. I’m not complaining, it’s a welcome break in some ways, and I’ve had a chance to figure out some weaknesses and work on those.

So last month I managed to break my left pinkie during a performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Fun. Sitting around in a hospital for 3 hours and a X-ray told me that I had a small fracture which took about two weeks to heal, six to be fully mobile and get the strength back. At least I could still train.

Usually I’d be really pissed of by the whole thing but I realised I can’t change what happened. So I might as well make the best of whatever I can do. I always try to remain optimistic. I get in a little funk when things like this happen, I figure I’m fucking up something, somewhere, somehow. Which is probably true. But it’s probably not as bad as I make it out to be to myself. It’s probably just a teensy snafu and it serves as a reminder to pull my socks up and get on with the important shit. Which is exactly the right thing to do, just reflect on what can be improved and get on with that.

I like making plans but I think you have to be able to work a situation that presents itself to your best advantage, even if you didn’t plan for it. This goes for training, music, work, theatre or life. It’s not black and white or set in stone. That’s one of the cool things about being creative.

So I’m curious as to how this year will actually turn out. My friend keeps telling me it’s a quarter life crisis that this generation suffers from. Maybe it’s true. Maybe I’m coming through mine.

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London

Posted by – October 5, 2011

I’m writing this on a bus going back to my cousins flat in London. It’s been an interesting couple of days. I have seen the side of London I forgot about. The creative side and the bustling side that everyone moves here to be part of. I don’t think I could live here again, no latter how many advantages there seem too be, I’ve never been happy living in London. I also feel a similar way about the uk. I just don’t think I could go back to it.

I love being back in an English speaking country. It’s my language. I love the culture and variety here. I love the food, don’t get me wrong its almost solely because of all the immigrants in the uk but you can eat well here for a reasonable price. I love that my family is here.

But I don’t feel at home here. I feel like a stranger walking around familiar territory. I feel like there is something missing. Not necessarily from the country or the people, but from me. I don’t feel like I have an identity here. It’s where I was born and raised but it is not my country, but now it seems like somewhere I can visit but have to be able to leave. Though at the same time I’m inexplicably drawn back here sometimes.

I don’t know if Basel or Zurich, where I will shortly find myself, is the right place either. It seems to fit for now. I feel like I can find out what I am doing there. I feel like I can safely experiment with my life. I guess it will become apparent soon enough. I hope I can find a balance between my creative projects and strength & conditioning. Sometimes I’m worried, sometimes curious, sometimes apprehensive, sometimes excited. I want to wake up every day of my life and be excited and engaged. Not disillusioned and disassociated with myself and the world.

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The Placebo Effect

Posted by – July 18, 2011

The placebo effect also works in reverse.

If you believe you are not capable of achieving something you won’t. I don’t really care if science backs this up or it is total broscience, but it is evidenced to be true by the number of people saying how they are incapable of getting a better job or position, losing or gaining weight, finding a partner or any other change in their life and low and behold, they aren’t. It doesn’t take a genius or a controlled study to figure that if someone doesn’t not consider something possible then it just won’t be. If they merely believe there is the smallest of chance of something occurring then there is at least that small unlikely chance. If you have even that small belief and work hard toward whatever it is, then you will reach it eventually. I mean that. It’s not a question of if, but when. As long as you stay roughly on the path you set out on you will reach your destination, how quickly you get there depends entirely on you.

Say you want to lean out for summer, ok discounting that it’s a little late now as summer is questionably here already. Drop a few kilos of fat. Well if you follow a reasonable dieting plan and increase your activity then guess what? You’ll drop some kilos, it might take three months to really see the change but it’ll happen. Just because, and I’m the worst for this, you don’t instantly get leaner, stronger, richer or whatever, doesn’t mean you won’t at all. You just need to give it time.

I’m still in a rehab process from fracturing my collarbone several months ago. I’ve had a few other small, recurring injuries the past couple of years that were also kicked back up by this. I’m still rehabbing several months later partly because I kept jumping back into heavy programs before I was really ready. I didn’t listen to my buddy Danny who kept telling me that it was more important to get the movement quality solid and consistent, then I could do whatever crazy Soviet weightlifting program I felt like, as long as I kept doing the stuff needed to prevent future injuries by addressing know or potential problems before they came up again. I thought this was crazy talk because I’m 26 and invincible. Of course patellar tendinitis and chronic shoulder and hip pain have done a lot to disabuse me of this notion. With his help I’ve finally got my hips to start working properly and and am now working on my shoulders which would have probably been asymptomatic were it not for the bike accident. In some ways this is not a bad thing, I have learnt a lot that I may not have done otherwise. But no matter how frustrated or down right pissed off I’ve been about not being able to train or not being able to squat, I know that if I keep going then I will eventually in a few weeks or months well surpass my previous level because my body will actually work properly. I am in the strength game for the long haul and not the short workout buzz. So although it might seem like I’m taking it easier I’m learning to move properly again and getting stronger at the same time.

My goals may be slightly difficult to reach but I firmly believe that if I put the work in and am consistent then half the battle is done. The other half is believing that it is possible in the first place.

Call it confidence in your ability, self belief, arrogance or a positive placebo but really if you have a little faith in yourself, you’ll go further than you think.

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Goals

Posted by – June 30, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve had something to write about. There has been one particular thing on my mind recently though, in case the title doesn’t make it blatantly obvious I’m talking about goals.

Setting goals is an important step in actually doing something worthwhile. Using the ridiculously named but well thought out SMART principles we can begin to formulate a plan. I hate acronyms and such corporate tag word sounding bullshit but the principle is sound.

There is another aspect of goal setting that can be very powerful. Accountability. If you set a bunch of goals and then don’t meet a single one, who is going to care? You, probably, but no one else. But if you hold yourself accountable to someone else to achieve the goal then you will have more motivation to succeed. This could be having a goal partner or group, making it a bet or entering a competition or just simply telling everyone about it. The more people you tell, the more likely you will actually do it as then they will all expect it and there is nothing like some external pressure to give you a square kick in the butt to get moving.

I have chosen to take the latter route and I’m beginning with this, a public statement of my goals for the next 6 months. They may change slightly as I’m definitely one to change his mind on impulse on occasion but these are things I’ve thought out for a long time and are all related general, long standing goals. They are in no particular order of importance but have been grouped by theme.

- put on a successful production of Hamlet with a minimum of 75% of seats sold.

- have over 80% of my income from creative projects, i.e. voice work, theatre, film or music in any capacity.

- put on a minimum of 10kg of lean body mass while not getting fat.

- compete in at least one weightlifting competition.

- Snatch 95kg, Clean & Jerk 125kg and Squat 180kg.

- hit full front and side splits and squat to stands.

- complete 100 burpees in under 5 minutes.

Those are my goals to be achieved by January 1st 2012. They are all achievable within that time frame. It will require mostly consistent work, not hard work, not drudgery, as these are things I actually like doing. It will require discipline, that might be a challenge, I’m pretty fucking lazy sometimes. They all have sub goals related to them, one being rehab on my knee and hips so I can actually squat regularly. Or networking in order to get more voice jobs or the like.

So what are your goals this year?

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You don’t really want the truth

Posted by – April 25, 2011

I’m a very honest person. Actually that is an understatement. I have had the accusation levelled at me by many different people that I am more truthful than necessary, or as one friend put it “honest to the point of too much information.” I don’t consider this a good or bad thing. It just is. I prefer to be more honest than is perhaps called for, I sometimes don’t stop to think about the effect of my statements but I’m working on that.

The main problem is that most people don’t really want the whole truth. They want to hear what they want to hear. I’m not saying that encouragement or criticism are inherently bad. But if a girl asks if her bum looks big in her jeans she most certainly doesn’t want to hear the answer, “yes”, even if both parties recognise it to be true. It’s not that there is anything wrong with a big booty, especially a nice round and firm one, it’s that the question being posed is most likely going to be met with either a lie or an answer that isn’t
wanted in the case above. No one wants to be wrong or have negative feedback. But then how do you improve? If you can’t accept that you may need to do something differently because what you are doing is not getting results then how do you progress in life?

I have two chronic injuries, both sustained or one at least exacerbated, from a bike accident several months ago. I fractured my collarbone above the AC joint and have two herniated lumbar discs this basically stopped me training completely for at least two months and I am still not back to training fully. I have been having physio and have some rehab to do before I can start training olympic weightlifting again. I don’t really like to hear that I have movement dysfunctions, postural problems and some mobility issues. Buy if I don’t address them they’ll get worse and I may end up injuring myself in training, competition or just some random incident in a much more severe manner. I go to physio and get some vicious soft tissue work done and get told what I’m doing wrong and what I should be doing to correct it. It’s not really fun, it’s actually pretty boring sometimes to do this rehab or prehab stuff. But it’s necessary in order to be physically functional in the manner in which I desire. Sure I can still lift and do some things that are fun but at the moment the overwhelming majority of my training is corrective. That scale will soon tip back in the other direction but until that point it is a case of being diligent and patient. Patience is not one of my strong points.

It’s hard to hear the truth sometimes. Its even harder to be truthful to yourself. Do you like what you do? Are you happy? What are your goals? What are you doing about it? If you can honestly answer the above questions about yourself you are off to a good start. Then perhaps you might be able to listen when someone tells you something true. But remember, it’s only really relevant is it is true for you.

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Link Up: Everything You Know About Fitness is a Lie

Posted by – April 15, 2011

I recently read this article which expresses, to me, what is really wrong with health & fitness today. Click here for the full article, it really is worth reading.

I was a lazy kid, I hated sports. All of them…well…maybe I kind of liked some. Tennis was ok, rounders (a precursor to baseball but with a one handed bat and less complicated rules) was kind of fun, I was a good swimmer. But I was never a fan of team sports really, maybe I’m not really a team player. Or maybe I just sucked and I didn’t like being picked last. At some point I got interested in health & fitness, I started going to the gym. I quickly realised that doing what everyone else was doing would get me the same results as them and that was not exactly amazing. So I worked out at home, I did some martial arts and ran a lot. I could have been considered fit. But I was weak.

Sometime in 2007 I found out about this place called Gym Jones and I spent hours reading through their website, watching movies and trying stuff out. I then found Crossfit later that year and started trying to follow that kind of training. I didn’t have any weights so I bought some kettlebells and tried to work out how to do the exercises by watching videos. I found again that I was fit, but weak. I got a lot fitter, but only a little bit stronger. Fast forward a couple of years and it was moving to Edinburgh that I embarked upon my first proper bout of strength training. I stopped random conditioning workouts and running and all that stuff and lifted heavy weights. Bear in mind that before I did any training I weighed about 60kg at a height of around 180cm, that is skinny, almost concentration camp skinny. After some crossfitish type stuff I got up to around 70kg, still skinny but healthier. After about a year or so of real strength training and weightlifting I got up to about 95kg at my heaviest, as I mentioned before I was a little chubby at that weight. Not fat but with a definite little tummy. But damn was I stronger than ever before. In the grand scheme I am of average strength when compared to most athletes, but for an average guy I am strong. What was the result of it. I am not really fit by most peoples standards. I’d probably not be able to run more than 5km and that would be a stretch. I am reasonably mobile but haven’t got much stamina or endurance. So what? Things are easier. Last year I moved flat from the fourth floor to the fourth floor of another house, no lift, it took most of the day and although I was shattered at the end of it I recovered quicker than the others and went training a day later. I competed in a crossfit competition twice last year Crossfit Basel, I was at most 20% slower than the guys who actually train for that stuff and in the first event I used more weight.

This isn’t some, how cool am I for doing this shit diatribe, it is pointing out that strength has more carryover in other physical attributes than anything else. It also has more “real world” application. I can’t think of too many situations where being able to run for two hours will be of particular use, but I can thing of countless activities that would be aided by increased strength. Take my example of moving flat, a stronger person will find shifting heavy furniture around comparatively easier than their weaker counterparts. Carrying kids around all day will be easier if your are stronger.

All of the physical goals you may have will be aided by strength training. This is true whether you are an athlete, a parent, a teacher, a lifeboat crew member or a desk jockey. You will benefit from being stronger. It fights ageing, it promotes growth hormone release, increases endorphins, burns fat better than cardio (yes its true) and a whole host of other factors aside from just being generally more useful.

So do yourself a favour and if you want to get fit or generally improve your physical health and ability, find a gym that has a decent strength coach, Crossfit Basel is a great place for those who live here, otherwise shoot me an email telling me where you are and I’ll find you a place to go. You need to be taught this stuff, it is so much easier than trying trying on your own. Once you have this knowledge and experience do what you want.

In the words of the renowned coachDan John, “I said it was simple, not easy.”

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Is it important or am I missing the wood for the trees?

Posted by – April 12, 2011

Is it important or am I missing the wood for the trees?

A conversation with two friends made me think about this topic. I train with both of them at Crossfit Basel, they both train for general strength & conditioning with the focus on getting stronger. One was asking for recommendations for a type of protein powder, arguing that many contain GM and hormone enhanced by products. The other one was arguing that it doesn’t really matter where the ingredients come from and so much of our food is treated in some way or other anyway who cares.

I sat on the fence a bit then decided I disagree with both of them. They both are missing the point of what they are doing. The silly minutiae of detail from one and the blase ignorance the other was displaying, though knowing him this is not true. They have to put things in order of importance. What is more important, to get in enough quality food, specifically protein, even if it comes from hormone enhanced sources, or to eat as cleanly and chemically free as possible. Well both, or neither, depends on your goals. A big, read over 100kg, guy who trains hard, generally eats well, cycles his carbs gets in enough protein and doesn’t eat sugar and all the other shit can start tweaking his nutrition, upping the quality or refining the sources. Or conversely a guy who eats from clean sources can start experimenting with other dieting protocols. But only if they fit in with their lifestyle. Paleo is a great way to eat, if it works for you, carb cycling can help you gain muscle and lose fat, if it works for you. If you can’t afford the time or money to eat grass fed, organic, hormone free meat and vegetables all the time, (read that this means you will likely have to prepare ALL of your meals if you want to go 100% in this mode) then find some way to achieve that ripped muscular look that works for you. I’m not advocating being reasonable in your approach but be aware that you will have to make major changes in almost everything you do to accomplish anything in your life that is a big change in one area.

Take physical objectives, I wanted to get bigger and stronger a while ago. I tried lifting heavy and eating strict paleo, what happened? I lost 4 kilos in two weeks and my strength gains over the following months came slowly. I switched over to a seefood type diet, I was literally eating 8000+ kcal every day, I stopped doing any form of conditioning, focused on the big lifts and I gained 15kg in about three months, all of my major strength lifts went up faster than ever before. Ok I got a bit of a tummy, so what, I was stronger, and that was the point. Then I got an inury…that is another topic. Have you ever tried eating that much food in one day? I’ll bet no.

I’m NOT advocating this approach, upon cleaning up my diet I realised how fat I’d got. The point is to eat that amount of food I had to eat most of the day, or be drinking milk. These days I don’t eat as much junk food but I still eat a lot, especially protein.

My two friends above are being caught in the, I just read something on the internet and must take it as gospel, trap. Your guru might have some fine points and is great at what he does, that doesn’t mean you should do everything he says. Read it, think about it, if it seems like it’ll work, try it. If you try it and it works then keep doing it. Is drinking mass gainer after a half-assed workout going to get you ripped. No is the short answer to that. Will taking steroids and growth hormone get someone as jacked as Arnie? Possibly, but not really as effectively as if you were already 90% of the way there with all the other shit you do. Will running on a treadmill miraculously make you lose those few kilos and firm your butt, you can bet your life it fucking won’t! If you don’t know what to do then ask someone that does. How? Google :) or talk to your friends. Talking to people or just putting what you want out there can actually put you on the path to achieving it. If you don’t know what you actually want then sit down and honestly evaluate what you desire.

So to put it simply you need to evaluate your goals and what is required for you to achieve them and then either do it or not. Don’t half ass it but don’t beat yourself up or worry over tiny details or minor slip ups. It’s what you do most of the time that really counts, not what you do occasionally. Use he 80/20 rule, you will get 80% of your results from 20% of your effort. Find out what that 20% is, do that most of the time and be cool with fucking it up from time to time. Consistency and persistence is key. I am possibly the worst person I know for getting worked up about the little things and totally missing the big picture, or swinging to the other extreme and missing all the fine details because I’m only focussing on the big picture.

Next time you are considering making some kind of change or as a a good exercise to to regularly to weed out bullshit, sit down and look over your goals. Figure out what you are DOING to effect them, figure out what you are doing the rest of the time and for each point ask yourself this question, is this bringing me closer to my goal?

In another way you can ask yourself, what did I do or what will I do today that will bring me closer to my goal?

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