Cost: $225 (Payment plans not a problem! Additional costs for non-Anytime Fitness members)
– Twice-a-week indoor workouts – Brand New Fit Test
– Group Step/Mileage Challenge
– Nutrition Tracking with a Trainer – Return of the “Challenge Soundtrack” – Custom Shirt (handmade for you with your own personal design!)
– Themed workouts (including BLACKLIGHT, Time Warp, & “WTF”)
– Return of the “MVH, Unicorn, & Legend” Awards
… more details to come as the get ironed out!
If you’re a woman looking to building some lean muscle but are new to the neighborhood, then let me be the first to welcome you! If you’re a veteran when it comes to throwing it down in muscle town but are looking for some new juicy tidbits to further perfect your bodily craft… then let me be your huckleberry for the next few paragraphs!
Firstly, let’s talk “fear” and “apprehension.” Are you fearful that the moment you start messing around with some weights you’re going to wake up one day having accidentally morphed into a gargantuan she-beast, ripping your pajamas at the seams with an insatiable bloodlust for steak? Does that make you apprehensive to starting a workout program beyond cardio components? Well then, it’s a good thing we’re here because I can 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically, and unequivocally assure you that will never happen.
Cue sigh of relief.
What you’re up against is your body’s natural chemistry impeding you from bulking up like an Oklahoma hay bailer without a LOT of a hard work. I mean… a lot. It can take months to see standard fitness progression let alone years for a complete muscular metamorphosis, and that’s with specified intensive training (i.e. definitely not accidental). That’s not even factoring in the nutritional component! You’d need to eat like an NFL linebacker every day to gain the kind of muscle mass you’re fearful of. I guess what I’m saying is muscle building in any capacity takes blood (flow), sweat, and tears (micro tears in your muscle fibers that improve themselves via the repairing process to be more specific). Never will you bulk up accidental. Ever.
Plus, I’ll be damned if I spent 4 years competitively body building in daily pursuit of size, strength, and more size with the effort of Atlas and the progress rate of your local government’s highway construction only to find out someone new to working out stumbled upon the Rosetta stone of muscular development with a few bicep curls and some anxiety…
… Kidding! You know, mostly.
What are the major ways women can build lean muscle?
Building efficient & functional lean muscle is going to require resistance training of some sort. To get technical, resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, and/or endurance. Hence the intro. Henceforth these tips:
Start Weight Lifting with Compound Movements – Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. They tend to mimic every day movements while engaging most of your muscles. That means increased caloric burn, improved endurance/joint stability/balance, better functional strength, decrease your risk of injury, and overall improve all aspects of your health & fitness. The following are your best bets when it comes to checking out compound movements;
Be sure to do your research on proper form! See how these can fit into your current schedule… or make a new schedule with these included!
Incorporate Circuit Training – Circuit training is when you take multiple exercises and put them together back-to-back (to-back-to-back etc. depending on how many you include… the sky is the limit!). This methodology keeps your body from getting complacent in a routine while diversifying your movements. You can expect some fantastic heart health too when you incorporate some circuit training at least 1-2x a week. The best part? You can make a circuit with as many compound movements that your healthy heart desires feeding 2 birds with 1 seed on your fitness agenda!
Incorporate HIIT Training as well! – HIIT, or “high intensity interval training” typical involves doing quicker, more cardio based movements for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between. This will not only help keep your body fat percentage down but will also target your fast twitch muscle fibers which are essential to muscle building. Lean and a machine, baby! The following are some primetime examples to crush, HIIT style;
Are there any habits or things women might be doing in the gym that are hurting their chances of building lean muscle mass?
Cardio Killer Queens – All too often women will jockey the elliptical, treadmill, or bike with little regard to much else. Although you’re working a major sweat and burning through calories like you’re trying to collect them all, it’s long term ineffectual. You’re not really enhancing anything once your body gets used to it. You burn the calories, you build a sweat, and that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not bad at all! However, if that’s all you’re doing then it’s time to expand your program. Instead of giving yourself long term benefits with a balanced program your keeping your goals shortsighted with little room for improvement beyond wherever you’re at now.
Stretch! – If you’re constantly working your muscles via resistance you are simultaneously building tightness. It’s a natural byproduct of high intensity muscle flexion that can potential leaving you feeling like a ball of stress. Proper static stretching and foam rolling (SMR… look it up!) will balance you out and enhance that lean look you’re searching for.
Do the Research – Have you ever REALLY wanted something and decided you’ll do whatever it takes to get it? Could be a job, a new piece of technology, running shoes, a midnight pizza… you know, the usual suspects. Anyways, that determination can tend to fall juuuust short when it comes to health & fitness goals for some women. Have you researched exercises and programs? Have you tried them? Have you talked to a professional about how to do them properly? Practiced proper form? Met with anyone that could help you? The lack of proactivity from individuals who are desperate to better themselves doesn’t fall on laziness the way one might think… it falls on self-sabotage. You skip out on the leg work because you’re fearful you’ll never achieve what you want since “it’s just not meant for you”. Or you’ll look silly trying. Or you’ll give-up halfway through “like usual.” You’re padding your crash landing so when that moment comes of you falling out of sky, you’ll have a nice, soft nest of inner voiced “I told you so” waiting for you at the bottom. It’s time to buck your personal trend and get after it. Do the diligence, try out everything you need, practice till it’s perfect, and never stop believing in yourself. Sometimes you’re all you’ve got and in cases like this it’s time to be your own best friend.
What are the best ways to eat for lean muscle?
Nutrition is integral to lean muscle building and quite honestly, we could be here all day on the topic. Since that’s not an option here are the simplified staples;
Keep Your Macros Balanced – Macronutrients are comprised of fats, proteins, and carbs. It’s a relatively simple approach to the complex nuances of the human body… but it works. If you can keep these 3 macros balanced in your daily nutrition then you’re on the right track with your foot fully on the pedal. Carbohydrates keep you fueled, energized, & sharp (as long as you don’t go overboard!). Proteins will keep your muscles satiated, repaired, and strong. Fats will lubricate your joints, better your brain, INCREASE your fat burn (when having the proper amounts of good omega fatty acids), and keep you satisfied. Leaving any of those out (unless on a specialized diet) will only set you up for failure in the long term.
Ditch the Booze – Wine, beer, hard alcohol; it all causes your body to react to it like a toxin. Effectively shutting down your body’s reparation on the work you put in at the gym and instead focuses on getting the alcohol out. “Luxury” functions take a backseat as your body just tries to reset to zero. Kudos to you if you’re well practiced enough to not feel the effects of long term, consistent alcohol intake anymore… but that just means you’re stunting your results big time.
Limit Your Sugar – This seems standard at this point but in case you haven’t heard sugar isn’t all that great for you… it’s not. Essentially every time you flood your body with a rush of sugar it spikes your insulin like a climbing roller coaster. While you experience a surge of short-lived energy your body’s fat burning switch turns all the way off. It stays that way even as you start to crash. All the while your hormones are going bonkers causing you to feel all sorts of terrible. Then that gremlin of sugar addiction gnaws away at you, yearning for a new fix since internally that insulin spike hits all the pleasure buttons in your body and it can’t WAIT to experience it again. Detox is hard… I recommend cold turkey. It’s sugar free and jam packed with protein that your body needs *rimshot*
Stay Hydrated – Another one that is par for the course but always a good reminder. Especially if this one tends to elude you. Without high quality h2O running through your system your cells can perform their jobs correctly. Your cells make up, um… every single bit of you. That should be motivation to throw in an extra glass of water here and there, right? … Right?
“I’m unwilling to be a helpless victim. Sure I’m scared sometimes, but I force myself to do what I have to do. It’s not the things I’ve done that I’m proud of, it’s the stuff in my head I’ve had to fight through to do it.”
Those were the first words to come out of Cheryl’s mouth when I asked her what she wanted her story to say once people had the chance to catch a peek through the kaleidoscope that is her. Simple yet powerful her statement cuts like a knife through the gimmicks and trickery often sought after to “make it through” life by trimming away the bullshit and leaving you with a foundation you can either choose to accept or deny; you have the choice to be life’s victim when it attacks unexpectedly and relentlessly but rest assured that throughout that decision making process it will be terrifying beyond belief. We ALL have felt the mind and body blows of that last statement, but it’s what you do with yourself as the dust settles that defines who you are at your core… How do you respond and what actions do you take? If you’re Cheryl you respond like a cat with nine lives and the tenacity of a tornado… This is a glimpse of Cheryl’s storm.
If you were to catch snippets of Cheryl’s life growing up you’d swear you were watching reruns of “Leave It to Beaver.” You’d see a loving family with a nice home in Northern California that recycled before it was cool. Church every Sunday with full societal calendars for the whole family in between… they were the epitome of the American dream. A dual parent household with one daughter and one son that ate healthy, exercised regularly, exceled in work and school, adorable family dog… I think you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, per all circumstances her upbringing carried with it the “usual suspects” regarding growing pains and tumultuous times but to her own admittance nothing too extraordinarily tragic beyond that.
It was while she was attending grad school at the San Jose campus of the University of Phoenix when Cheryl’s Americana upbringing suddenly took a turn towards “The Twilight Zone” of the television spectrum. It started with a hospital trip and the two reasons that prompted her to take it; a bruise resembling a black and purple vortex that showed up out of nowhere on her hip and the nonstop bleeding that occurred after casually scratching an itch on her head. Combined with the extreme fatigue she’d been feeling (among other symptoms) she decided it was time to promptly get checked out so she stopped her dinner preparation for that night and had a friend bring her to the ER.
She never made it back home that night.
After having some tests run Cheryl could hear her name announced over the intercom with a tone of urgency that instantly made her anxiety swell. Her husband at the time was working night shifts which left Cheryl by her lonesome to deal with the fear bouncing around in her head like pieces of shrapnel.
“I was in the waiting room for the longest time. While I was there my greatest fear was that it could only be one of two things… cancer or AIDS.”
A lot of us have gone the “Web MD” route in our brains of figuring out the worst case scenario and convincing ourselves that’s EXACTLY what we’ve got, but when it turns out to be true… it can be profoundly soul shattering. Unfortunately, it did end up being one of those two things… leukemia. At the very least she had an answer to the suddenly surging ailments she was experiencing; it just wasn’t the answer anybody ever hopes for. Boot straps were pulled up as treatment started immediately and aggressively. With her grit to keep moving forward and the support of her family Cheryl went about trying to beat the cancer that had suddenly found its way into her family’s home.
Progress was swift and after only a few months of dedicated cancer management (radiation therapy included) the cancer began reverting course! They’d beat the cancer into remission! It was an optimal situation because it gave them more time to get it gone for GOOD.
That lasted 3 months.
The beginning of 1998 did not bring good tidings as the cancer came back with a vengeance in January forcing Cheryl and her family to get right back into defense mode. It would only be fair for Cheryl to deal with one life-altering catastrophe at a time but as we all know life is FAR from fair and it was April of 1998 when life dropped another sledgehammer driving Cheryl even deeper between the rock and hard place she’d already found herself in… On the day Cheryl was scheduled to have her annual bone marrow biopsies from the diagnosis a year prior, she had a stroke.
“After the cancer came back I harbored a LOT of anger. When I had the stroke though… It was bad… I mean I’m 29 and I’ve suddenly lost the ability to walk, talk, drive, ski… I thought I’d never be able to go to work, travel, or get on a plane ever again…Things you can take for granted until all of a sudden you can’t do them anymore.”
Awhile back Cheryl and I had a conversation about the daily planner she kept at the time of her stroke. Cheryl detailed how she kept track of everything in this agenda; work obligations, social events, and medical appointments filled the bylines within the weeks up until the day where she was set to have a bone marrow biopsy which was cause for a very powerful moment when she showed me the point of stoppage. It bore a symbolic resemblance to an author stepping away from writing a carefully crafted book mid-paragraph.
With the leukemia coming back around a second time and in rapid fashion the bone marrow transplant was a necessity still regardless of this newfound “kitchen sink” life had just rocketed Cheryl’s way. After gaining some control on the stroke situation the transplant was pushed from April to July. It was during those months Cheryl found herself dwelling on what she’d lost in her life and reveling in the anniversaries of bad occurrences for a long time afterwards.
“When I was in the hospital my Dad brought in a ‘PEOPLE’ magazine for me and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t read it. I remember thinking ‘I JUST WANT TO READ THE F*&@!ING MAGAZINE!!’ but… nothing. That was hard.”
When the time came for the transplant fingers were crossed and prayers were sent out that Cheryl’s body would accept the new bone marrow and an immediate road to recovery could begin so they could put as much of this awfulness as possible behind them. At this point in the story I’m sure you’ve picked up on the tone that things hadn’t taken a lucky break yet and I’ll tell you they weren’t about take a turn in that direction now. With her body rejecting the transplant Cheryl suddenly found herself in yet another situation where she wasn’t sure she was going to make it out alive. Things got so bad physically she nearly needed a feeding tube to combat the inability and lack of desire to eat. Luckily Cheryl found herself able to stomach grilled cheese sandwiches which is essentially what she lived off of from July of 1998 until February of 1999, the date she was released from the hospital with her body finally accepting the donor marrow.
Christmas of ’98 was spent in the hospital. Making it to Christmas of ’99 was in genuine doubt in this picture…
Once released from the hospital the fight was far from over, but things were at long last starting to look up. With the bone marrow transplant going from being rejected to being accepted it wasn’t longer after Cheryl was deemed cancer free. The rigorous, aggressive, and draining treatment paid off! Sure, she had to get annual marrow biopsies for 10 years (they have to drill a hole in your hip to put in perspective those unfamiliar on how “not simple” this task is) but that’s better than actually having cancer! Cheryl’s spirit, however, was far from healed… The unexpected and sudden loss of abilities coupled with the weight gained from the drugs she now had to take left her in a dark, defeated place.
It took a fateful crossing of paths at church with a single mom who had multiple sclerosis that started the revolt against her own demons keeping her down.
“What I really admired about her was that she never let the MS get her down. I started going with her when she ran errands and even went to the gym with her. She helped introduce me to people after I’d been in a cave for so long. She showed me that things could be different…”
Bit by bit Cheryl started to crawl out of her shell as the days went on. She even started to do some volunteer work at her Church again! Over the years Cheryl dug deep to regain her life back even though the realization that it wouldn’t be the same life she had before had a tendency to send her on a roller coaster of ups and downs. Through the rough times Cheryl retaught herself how to drive, how to walk, and how to eat healthy again. She got herself back to work, travelling with the family, and even joined several gyms with yoga becoming a new favorite therapy for not only her body but her mind, too.
Getting back to everything she was able to do before sometimes means needing a cane or motorized transport to aid with the devitalized left side of her body, but it all goes back to the first words Cheryl said when we sat down to put the pen to paper on this;
“I’m unwilling to be a helpless victim. Sure I’m scared sometimes, but I force myself to do what I have to do. It’s not the things I’ve done that I’m proud of, it’s the stuff in my head I’ve had to fight through to do it.”
It was 2009 when Cheryl found her way to Anytime Fitness.
“I’ve belonged to a lot of gyms in my life, but none of them hit like Anytime did. It was different… I found myself actually wanting to go and really liking the people there. I also remember thinking ‘who’s the weirdo who yells a lot?’”
(Spoiler alert: I was am that weirdo who yells).
Wasting no time she joined up with a transformation challenge that just so happened to be on the verge of starting and wouldn’t you know it… she won the damn thing. She even lost 20 lbs in the process! It was soon after that when Cheryl, who was once told she wouldn’t ever regain the ability to walk all that well ever again, trekked across the Golden Gate friggin’ Bridge.
“When I walked the Golden Gate, it wasn’t exactly something I’d been fantasizing about for years and years or anything… It was that things were going really well and I wanted to make a bucket list to give myself some goals and aspirations. I needed that, or else I wasn’t going to keep pushing myself. You need to have goals to work towards or else you won’t do anything.”
To know Cheryl now means most would be surprised finding out that for as gregarious as she is, she still sticks to her reclusive tendencies (only they are much healthier now). From that initial challenge in 2009 Cheryl has joined damn near every single Hulk/Rebel challenge since (missing one due to hip surgery in 2011), putting her up there as one of the most tenured Hulkster/Rebels there is. Her presence is coveted and her inspiration is legendary as she’s shown more people than she knows the true meaning of strength, inside and out. If you ask her about her inspiration and her take on it though, you get a much different and humbled response:
“I get it, you know… People being happy for people with disabilities being able to make it past them, but I don’t see it that way. In my head I don’t see myself as disabled… I’m Cheryl.”
This photo was taken once we concluded our session. What you’re seeing is the first time Cheryl crossed her legs casually in a conversation since her stroke. The best part is it was inadvertent yet instantly recognized. Thank you Cheryl for such a wonderful moment :).
The 500 club is a straight to the point, no nonsense style core workout that will work every single inch of your most important muscle groupings. From your lower back and hip flexors to your abdomen and beyond, this workout is not only effective, but VERY adjustable! Able to complete one round in a breeze? Do 2! Want an added boost to the workout? Incorporate dumbbells and BOSUs!
The actual workout itself consists of doing the following exercises and allotted repetitions all in a row (That’s one round):
Forearm Plank Knee Drivers (50 Reps)
Crunches (50 Reps)
Straight Arm Plank Position Toe Tappers (50 Reps)
Flutter Kicks (100 kicks)
Straight Arm V-Sit Twists (50 Reps)
Jumping Jacks (50 Reps)
Straight Arm Plank Position Hand Tappers (50 Reps)
Crunches (50 Reps)
Arms Extended Prone Cobras (50 Reps)
If you tally the rep counts, you’ll see that’s where the name derives… 500 repetitions! If able, proudly become a member of the Grand club! The 1,500 club and beyond! This workout can be done at home or at the gym!
To help you out, I’ve provided brief videos of each exercise being done so you aren’t left in the dark:
First and foremost, “Hanky-Plank” means nothing. It rhymes and it’s catchy, so you’ll remember it… Now that you’ve uncovered my hidden agenda there it’s time to get down to brass tacks! (PS I am certain it’s not “tax” if that’s what you’re thinking right now. Trust me, I am well versed in my haberdashery skills).
The challenge is simple; Every OTHER day, hold a 5 minutes accumulated plank. It doesn’t have to be 5 minutes in a row, but does need to total 5 minutes. Once you are able to 5 minutes in a row, then it’s simple… Add another minute! If you get to the point where you can hold a 5 minute plank continuously, then go to 6. Once you can do 6, then go to 7… Trust me, the numbers won’t be climbing at a rate you won’t be able to keep up with :).
To start, watch this video as a guide on how to implement the perfect plank and keep it perfect:
The goal;To strengthen your core to the max! Out of all the exercises in existence, I believe the plank is the most structurally sound when done right. It reinforces your body from the inside out, incorporating your entire body in learning how to work together as a whole. Having a strong plank will not only better the quality and effectiveness of your workouts, but also your life! It is functionality training at it’s finest when done right, and that’s what I’m here for… To make sure it’s done right ;). By the end of this thing, I hope to have created some plank MONSTERS!
The prize;You will get a special “Plank Specialist” t-shirt provided and designed by myself, customized to YOU, as well as a highlighted spot on the shovel when it comes time to sign it! You have earned both simple-yet-prestigious prizes if you are able to take the top plank spot!
1) The winner will be decided during the end of challenge fit test once both teams have done said test. DURING the challenge however, I strongly encourage doing the plank in the “knees down” position if it is too much for your lower back. Hurting yourself is not worth it when the goal is to better yourself.
2) Follow the instructions of the video carefully. Be AWARE of what every part of your body is doing and listen to your body if it says it’s time to take a break. There’s a difference between sharp lower back pain and a difficult exercise. As human beings, we have an instinct that tells us when something is harming us as opposed to when something is just hard. Listen to that instinct. Along the same line,
3) If your lower back starts to hurt, then rest until you are able to perform the exercise WITHOUT your lower back taking all the pain. That means your body isn’t strong enough to go any longer, but it doesn’t mean you’re not working it effectively. The important thing here is a healthy body, not “as long as possible at all costs.”
4) We are going on the honor system here, since in the end the fit test will show the practice!
I promise that if you follow these guidelines your plank time will not only go through the roof, but your body will feel like brand new! It we will be hard work, but that’s what makes it worth it. The benefits FAAAAAAAR outweigh the energy output used in tackling this challenge. You will have a reinforced structural integrity that you will be able to reap the benefits from well past your workouts and into your every day life.
I had lost 40 lbs here and was feelin’ like a young Rod Stewart!
I was going over past posts on my former blog and I came across this post. It brought a lot of memories back and also made me want to share it again. A lot of people have come into my life since this was written that I think this could help out. Thanks for taking the time to read it :).
“This Saturday, December 31st, I will be running an 8k. That is 4.97 miles.
This weekend, I ran the better part of 9 miles in Pt. Reyes (with a LOT of help from a Unicorn).
For this weekend, I am scared shitless. Wondering why? I’m not.
This weekend, including the Pt. Reyes run, Tough Mudder, and any of the spring lake/Annadel runs I did with anyone BEFORE Tough Mudder (and NOT including any runs I will do this week) will mark about the 10th time I’ve run for any “remarkable” amount of time in my entire life. You see, I never was a runner and never thought I would be. I still don’t think I am. I’m someone who the mere THOUGHT of running sends me into “mini-anxiety” mode. Not because I don’t think I can do it but because instinctively that’s how my brain has ALWAYS been wired.
For me, running is associated with pain and humiliation. Emotional, physical, and mental pain and humiliation that is really hard to shake. I’ve always had chronic shin splints from being so heavy most of my life, and for the first time in my life, they don’t exist… I credit that in large part to my lifestyle, changes in training (BOSU is my BABY!), and consistent commitment. I got the “shins splints always held me back!” out of the way because that is the least of why this 8k this weekend scares me shitless.
You know how someone who is claustrophobic can be absolutely fine until they get into a confined space? That’s when the cold sweat, increased heart rate, heavy anxiety, and nausea sets in. Often times it’s the equivalent of kryptonite to a persons superman. Mental fears can cripple the most able of people. I am one of those able people who has more allergies to kryptonite than most people know.
My heart beats faster when I remember what it was like to be told “we’re running the mile today!” in PE and getting so physically sick that sometimes I was able to get out running it all together. There is nothing more physically degrading than trying as hard as you absolutely can, digging with everything you’ve got, feeling your joints explode and grind with the wear and tear of your obese body chugging along with all the might it can muster, and still running a 13 minute mile. As a prepubescent child who can’t physically do what other kids my age could do, I found out really quickly they never let you forget it. Not in a nice way either, in the cruelest of ways. I’m not the minority though, I’m the majority as far as knowing how that goes. I want to change that…
Whenever I think “I’m going to run” I follow it with “and be humiliated” out of instinct. It was all I ever knew. On top of the emotional humiliation, I always got to look forward to my body feeling like it was going to drop dead of a heart attack, stroke and brain aneurism. A child should never feel that way. Ever. That’s how bad off I was.
So when I got the e-mail that I was actually REGISTERED for an 8k (Pacific Coast Trail Run for those in the curiosity department), my heart dropped and the pit of my stomach flared up with the weight of a dying star. I understand that sounds a little dramatic, but when my brain reverts back to the paragraphs above every single time I know I’m about to run, I don’t care if you think I’m being dramatic or not. Truth be told, there will never be words to describe the anxiety, but you’re going to get my best absolute effort to do so.
Cara is the one who registered me for the 8k, and she has been my running inspiration (along with Tye) for quite some time. The 9 miles we ran together wouldn’t have been possible without her. She doesn’t know it, much like most people don’t know it who I have run with before, but I was terrified. Especially at the end of our run. The final 1.5-2 miles brought back all the familiar feelings of how running USED to make me feel. I felt bogged down, tired, tight, and like I was failing. Trying so hard, yet failing a little harder. That was when I exploded…
“I don’t like eating your dust” Cara tells me.
“I had 2 options… I could have faded away or I could have exploded. I chose to explode” is what I told The Unicorn.
That final mile and a half, I chose to impress myself. I felt the familiar feelings of failure creeping up towards my soul, starting at my toes. I didn’t let it get any farther than that. I reminded myself “You are not who you used to be, and you’re better than you wanted to be” and set out to stay true to my word. I used to fade away, but on Christmas Eve in Pt. Reyes I took that fear that had crippled me for a lifetime and I literally ran with it. With each step I increased the pace. I could feel my hips firing like pistons and my quads taking a lactic acid bath as my strongest muscle, my heart, took over. With each step I ran away from the debilitating anxiety and towards what I have always known deep down… That I can do anything.
In that moment, I chose to live. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I chose to embrace the fear rather than disgrace it. My fear has made me fearless. I don’t hate fear, I respect it. Because of that, I don’t even fear “fear itself.” I don’t even fear failure. The only thing I fear is forgetting where I came from. I think we all know that will never happen…
In the end, I am scared shitless for this 8k. However, I will embrace that fear and Hulk smash the hell out of this Pacific Coast Trail Run. I will leave a big, green imprint in the dirt as I stir up more dust for others to eat. I will embrace the love of the Unicorn who is my guiding light in this whole process, and hold my shirt up high at the end with a “tell me I can’t do something” shit-eating grin on my face.
Take that failure.
PS I chose to make my most personal “Hulk Talk” ever, public. I have more than 75 people entrusting me during “Hulk: Trinity – Round IX” so the LEAST I can do is leave no stone unturned with me. If you have 17 minutes to spare and would like to get a VERY personal account as to why I don’t accept “I can’t” then click the links below… Merry Holidays y’all!”
The video below makes a TON more sense if you read the explanation below THEN view. Not only that, but I guarantee you don’t have to have participated in the exercise to have it resonate with you. More people than just the 75 or so that went through this exercise need to have this kind of liberation.
Welcome to the Rebellion.
This video doesn’t exist
On May 29th, May 30th, and May 31st, I had a special exercise I did with every team that’s a part of Rebel X. Team Ignition (VROOM VROOM!), Team Beast, and Team Ballistic all took part in this activity where upon arrival everyone was asked to write down 2 things; The thing they hate about themselves the most on the pink card and a compliment that would make your absolute day if someone were to approach you and give it to you.
I then had everyone place their card on the wall. All the cards were anonymous, and I shoveled the cards so no one knew whose was whose. Everyone then proceeded to squat down and HOLD the squat position in front of whatever card they had in front of them. After holding the squat sit for 10 seconds, absorbing the card and everything it says, I had everyone step directly over to the next card and hold the squat sit again for 10 seconds. Again, all the while the focus being not only on the burning in your legs but the card in your face.
We did this until all the cards had been read and absorbed by every single person.
At the end, I made the very clear point that each card represented one of the MANY negative thoughts swirling around in every single persons had that was in that aerobic room. When I asked how many people related to more than 2 cards, every hand went up. When I asked how many people related to more than 5 of the cards, every hand went up. When I asked how many people related to more than HALF the cards, every single hand went up…
At this point I’d like to remind you that every age, gender, occupation, athletic ability, mind set, and every other variable you can think of was represented in this room. This was NOT a room full of strictly athletes, nor was it a room full of strictly first time “weight losers.” I repeat… EVERY SINGLE HUMAN DEMOGRAPHIC WAS REPRESENTED IN THIS EXERCISE
Once everyone’s hand had gone up after asking how many people felt connected to more than HALF the cards, I asked the all important question…
“How many of you feel the way you read on those cards towards ANYONE ELSE HERE other than yourself?”
Eyes averted downward. Crickets all of a sudden became an explosion of noise. Most evident however was the lack of a single hand being raised.
The point was this… All those horrendously negative things swirling around your head are created BY you FOR you. You think anyone else is pointing the finger at you CONVINCED your belly fat is awful, you’re weak and lazy, you have terrible skin, you’re self conscious, you have a problem with eating too much, you constantly assure yourself you’re a failure, and you’ll never amount to anything? NO! THEY ARE TOO BUSY THINKING THESE THINGS ABOUT THEMSELVES!!!
So, I decided to burn all the negativity away. Get rid of it. Gone. Finite. Chapter closed. I hope you understand the video above, to many people, is more than just words on paper being burned on a pot. It is a mindset that is put out in the open so it can FULLY be let go of. Kind of like how on any supernatural “ghost” show or movie 9 times out of 10 the reason the “ghost is still in the living realm” is because it hasn’t lived out it’s purpose. Well, your negative degradation has served its purpose, and now it’s time to get laid off. It’s expired. The purpose to show you pain so you can know happiness.
How long are you going to drag out the pain? When no one feels that way about you but YOU, when are YOU going to forgive yourself and move on? No better time like the present…
As for what I did with the compliment cards… I turned the lights out, had everybody hold a wall sit, and read off every single compliment. This was the light and fun portion (before we went out into the back alley and did lunges until our legs didn’t feel feelings anymore) but also the most important. This was the portion where all the things people DO notice about you but perhaps don’t say as often came out to the open. This was the point of the day where all the nice things you need to hear more than you realize get told to you. Not because it’s nice… but because it’s true.
Seriously, you don’t look that old at ALL. I see how hard you work, it’s definitely paying off! You look like you’ve lost some weight! I love your arms! Nice ass! You’re a WONDERFUL mother! You’re gonna be an AMAZING Auntie! You seem so happy! I’ve never met anybody as strong as you! You’re so inspiring! You truly look spectacular, you have a glow about you! I love being around you! You make me laugh! You make me happy!
That’s exactly why I’ve never felt more alive. Join me? Welcome to the Rebellion…
Let me start off by saying that everything you are about to read is unfortunately the perspective of a great majority of people rather than the minority of a few. SOMEWHERE in this brief synopsis of how I’ve come about to the person I am today you will be able to affiliate yourself with a nugget or two of moments that make you say “I feel that way…” That is why, as a representative of the majority, I’ve yelled about change to the point where I have literally scarred my vocal chords and changed the pattern of my voice forever. Here is why…
I grew up in a household where money wasn’t abundant and there wasn’t enough hours in the day for the amount of hours my parents needed to work to raise 2 boys. Week days were “mom time” and weekends were “dad time.” While this worked out when I was younger, it turned a little tumultuous as my years started to advance. I started to crave television and cheap junk food rather than playing outside and coming inside when the sun went down. My parents were concerned, and definitely tried to coax me off the couch, but my brain always overrode their efforts. Kids are cruel, this is not a mystery, but for some reason they seemed to pay extra special attention to me. My triple chins, thick afro-esque hair, and shy demeanor made me an easy target. It didn’t help with each passing grade I seemed to gain about double the weight that is average for a kid to accumulate as he matures.
This made its presence known through a variety of ways. I’d wear sweatshirts in 110 degree heat and tell people I ran cold blooded when the sweat on my brow and stains on my shirt were a dead give away that I was lying. The reason for this? When you are uncomfortable in your own skin, you are ALWAYS aware of it. Every second. Whether you’re going to bed, taking a shower, watching a movie, exercising, eating, hanging out with friends, working in the yard… ANY moment you can think of you are aware of how tight your pants feel. Of the crease in your belly hanging over your pants (or that very same belly resting on “its side” when you are laying on your side on the couch or in bed). Of your lungs seeming inability to work right when you do something as simple as climbing a half set of stairs. Of people taking pictures (making sure to keep your chin really high because if you can’t get rid of your chins, you can at least stretch them out, right??). Of eating whenever there is ANYONE around and feeling ashamed of it because all you can think about is how disgusted they probably are at watching you eat. It didn’t help that at every corner, at the bus stop, on the bus, in class, or walking home I was constantly blasted with every insult under the sun and beyond pertaining to how fat someone could be. If I responded, it riled them up and made it worse. If I didn’t, I was laughed off and called every colorful adjective to let someone know they are a “pansy.” I could go on and on…
To handle this, I developed several coping mechanisms. The first was to cut myself. In the thigh. With pens. In my room. By myself… I grew to crave it. There was something liberating and exhilarating about being able to CONTROL the pain I was in since I was going to be in pain all the time anyway… At least, that’s how my brain viewed it. My “pilot” (the area of my brain where I get to make conscious decisions) was on a psychotic break and wasn’t very good behind the wheel. My brain turned into a dark haven of self loathing and worthlessness. If I was Batman, my brain was Gotham City. The criminals, indeed, were winning.
Enter Freshmen year of High School… Even though I was coming in at a tiny 5’3″ and a not-so-tiny 265 lbs I thought “ok, kids are more mature now, maybe I can get a break!” To summarize how well this worked out for me, the INSTANT I stepped foot on campus I got greeted with “hey, nice shirt!” from a senior who earned points with everyone around him because everyone LOVED it. Literally the SECOND High School started, I figured out that older kids aren’t mature… They’re meaner.
After a traumatic event of bullying that I’m not quite ready to share with the world on a national scale quite yet (but soon. Let’s just say it involved bleachers, duct tape, and a secluded park corner) I decided to make a change. It was 2 weeks in to Freshmen year that this event occurred and I thank everything considered holy that it did. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a life changing event such as mine. Trust me, at the time I felt it was the extreme opposite of luck and fortune, but hindsight is 20/20… After all, you’re reading this now, aren’t you?
I was sick of being scared all the time. I was tired of feeling worthless. I couldn’t stand my own mind, body, or soul anymore and SOMETHING had to change. So, I marched home that fateful day on a mission. That mission was to join a gym. That’s when my mom saved my life… She not only got me a gym membership, but promised to drive me there every day. She made good on that promise. There came a time when I started to ride my bike to the gym, but at the realization that it was a great warm up not because she got sick of it. Again, my mom saved my life.
Flash forward to Sophmore year. I’ve lost about 40 lbs and have successfully “cleaned up the streets of Gotham” for about a year now. I had even started the habit that has stuck with me to this day of constant self research and looking for the most optimal yet varied way to eat right and exercise properly. It was around this time there was a criminal uprising… My dark haven was starting to make a triumphant return. Things like “you really think you’ll always be able to keep up with this much exercise?” and “you were born to be a nobody, that was your roll… why fight it?” kept popping up. I also hit a plateau in weight loss and went from feeling accomplished to being convinced I was spinning my wheels. I thought to myself “something has to change…” That’s when my NEXT major coping mechanism reared its ugly head. After all, it was the only logical step…
So, I started to throw up all my food. In bags. In my room. By myself… Not only did this hurt my throat, give me horrible teeth I still pay for to this day, and cast doubts on my health by my peers, but I didn’t tell a SOUL about it and battled this new demon all by myself. I learned to hide it better and better as I went, and the more I put up a fake smile to assure everyone everything was alright when it was far from, the more the miserable the heavy feeling in my chest became. The more worthless I felt. The more I believed everyone who made fun of. I thought “so many people can’t be wrong… I mean, am I the only one who doesn’t realize I’m a loser?”
Then an epiphany hit. A “moment.” A strike of teal lightning. If you’ve seen the movie “Phenomenon” starring John Travolta, then the moment when he looks into the blue light in the sky… Well, it was kind of like that…
I had a realization that I didn’t want to settle for misery anymore. I was tired of being tired. Sick of being sick. I was worthWHILE, not worthLESS damnit. See, all this time I was trying to prove this to all the wrong people. I wanted my parents to be proud. I wanted love and admiration from my peers. I wanted girls to like me. I want to have nice abs like the jocks thought “I need the perfect body so that everyone will like me! Then, I can buy the clothes I want to buy! I’ll get a girlfriend! I’ll stop getting made fun of!” All this time… I was doing this for all the wrong people. It took years of mental warfare that manifested itself into physical torture on every level (cutting myself, obsession with exercise, and bulimia… The big 3!) for me to come to a conclusion that too many people never get the gift of realizing. A gift that has caused me to scream about this realization so passionately that my aforementioned permanently scarred vocal chords are worth ten times that if only one person makes the same “Phenomenon” style conclusion I was able to make at the very young age of 17.
Instead of “proving myself” to my parents, my peers, and family… I needed to be healthy for ME. I tell you… That day the clouds parted. I stopped everything cold turkey. I stopped throwing up everything I ate. I stopped cutting myself. I stopped LISTEN to the negativity that seemed to be the only thing swirling around me and realized that there was positivity everywhere! I just had to open my eyes to it! It was a scene straight out of the Wizard of Oz only I had made it to the destination. My yellow brick road was lined with Reebok cyclers, pens, vomit filled grocery bags, tear stained pillows, fake smiles, more hours spent at the gym than at home, and many more character building side stops along the way. The pain and sorrow was necessary though. For me at least. It showed me there IS sunshine after the storm! You just have to find out… All that glitters ISN’T gold! Sometimes though, gold isn’t what you need… The grass ISN’T always greener on the other side because if you take care of the grass you DO have, then who cares about everyone else’s grass! You’ve got your own to worry about!
Once I realized that the goal wasn’t the light at the end of the tunnel, but rather making my own LIGHT in the tunnel and ENJOYING the journey… Life has been the best roller coaster any amusement park has to offer. I’ve competed in several body building competitions, I’ve run (and led) 2 Tough Mudder teams, I’ve completed an 8k (a fat kids marathon), and more importantly… I enjoy the sunshine every day has to offer. I wake up with a vigor for the day, rather than a resentment that I woke up again… I’ve learned to ENJOY eating right and staying active for the sheer reason that I’ve never smiled so much in my life! I used to look at it like a chore, but now I remind myself that I do this for the friendships I’ve formed with everyone I’ve come to find who thinks like I do! Who have been down similar roads! Now, I can go to the river and take my shirt off regardless of whether I have a pudgy tummy or not. I can enjoy it! Why? Because I no longer huff and puff climbing down the sand hills to get there!
To conclude, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. They say misery loves company, but I find the exact opposite to be true… Misery loves to keep you to itself, where as euphoric bliss is TRULY the gregarious social butterfly…
The second you BELIEVE you can is the second your life is yours.
I just wanted to put out there a reminder that every Wednesday night at 7:40pm at Anytime Fitness off Santa Rosa Avenue there is a food group open to all members of Anytime Fitness and Rebel X! If you’re not a member but would still like to check it out, no problem! Just send me a quick e-mail (Alllevelstraining@gmail.com) and let me know! I’ll make sure you are properly set up to have a good experience (mandatory I get an e-mail though… We need to know and be ready for any non members showing up).
For those of you who don’t know, We are the Rebel-yum. A group of people who get together weekly and discuss how our weeks nutrition intake was. We go over ups, downs, victories, disappointments, frustrations, questions, realizations… Everything that makes eating right and taking care of yourself so damn hard… because let’s be honest, we all LOVE having great energy, feeling good about ourselves, feeling comfortable in clothing of our choice, and feeling amazing when you’re being active… So again, we go over all the reasons why we know all of the latter yet it’s like pulling teeth from a shark sometimes.
Puttin’ down the cheese wheel and going for the greenery… I like it!
In food group, you’ll find new perspectives you might not have thought of before. You’ll find you’re not the only one having a tough time. You’ll be a part of a support group set and ready to keep track of you on the “My Fitness Pal” app that is all the rage (that app is awesome! It let’s people keep up with you and share information all while having an insane database of food to make keeping track of what you eat SUPER easy!). You’ll also have the ability to share what YOU know that could possibly help someone else! We’ve all accumulated a lot of experience on this journey we call life… Let’s put it all together and make figuring it out easier!
Every week, we will have a topic of discussion as well as a healthy food recipe provided by everyone’s favorite Bobbi Rivera. This week, the amazing and fantastically super Liz Rait (who co-leads the group with me… Thank you Liz!) will be offering up a special “exercise” (non physical) that all I can tell you is going to be a ton of fun while helping integrate some light bulbs hopefully turning on as well :).
Lastly, you don’t HAVE to speak. You are more than welcome to come join the Rebel-yum as a spectator until you feel comfortable enough to share! If you’d like to keep up with everyone via Facebook (CICK HERE), we also have our own group where The Rebel-yum posts daily. VERY helpful!
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at AllLevelsTraining@gmail.com. Look forward to seeing you there!
When running the same monotonous rat race doesn’t work for you anymore.
What I want you to do is become one of the millions of people watching this video. Learn the lyrics. Feel the song. Let it make your blood turn into sensual soup as you gyrate to the synth’d rhythm and raw emotion surge like an overload circuit. Let sweat from your brow drip onto the floor by the pint as you can’t stop working your arms and legs in a running man motion revamped for this generation.
Because we’re gonna do a viral video!
So, here’s the deal. Many of you have seen the video of the Harvard baseball team rocking out and doing a choreographed mock video of this song. It’s gotten almost 9 million views, which is pretty damn impressive. I’m not taking anything away from these guys, but I’m also not trying to be one of MANY people to try to attempt to outdo them along the same lines.
Instead of a van, I want to use a gym :).
This right here is an open casting call for everyone that would like to rock this video out with me. Similar to an “OK GO” music video, I want to one shot this video. People will have “roles” ranging from big to small, but it will definitely be an awesome circus production. I want people who are ready to wear rebel shirts and sport the rebellion with pride! I want people who are ready and willing to get really goofy for the sake of something really fun and awesome. I already have my camera guy (Tye) and now all I need are MORE people. About 50 to be exact…
I want to meet at the gym at 1pm this Sunday, May 27th. If you have a Rebel shirt, it is a must that you wear it please :). I know this is memorial day weekend, which is why I want to shoot it at 1pm when the gym should be very very empty. It will be about 90-120 minutes total considering giving everyone direction, teaching everyone the simple dance I want you all to do, the timing, and any repeat takes we need to do.
Simple break down:
What: “One take” music video set to “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen with the intent of going viral.
Date: May 27th (Sunday)
Location: Anytime Fitness off Santa Rosa Ave. (next to Target).
Contact me (Josh Cox) if you want in! Just send me an e-mail at Alllevelstraining@gmail.com and let me know if you’re coming! Friends and family are definitely invited :). Can’t wait to see you all!
PS here’s the Harvard video if you want to see where the motivation came from;