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TEAMWORK: THE GREEN BERET CHALLENGE AND A LESSON IN LIFE

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Being a part of a team will definitely increase motivation and drive.  The problem is that if you are no longer participating in team sports, it is not so easy to find others to join you in your fitness or competitive endeavors.  It may give you a different perspective.  Certain challenges may be easier or harder for you than your teammates.  Maybe their input will be the difference in completing your challenge in a more effective manner.  There are some things that take a team.

Today I just competed in The Green Beret Challenge, in Farmington, MO.  I’ve done plenty of Obstacle Course Races and have done a number of them with friends.  Than again, I have done most of them by myself.  The Green Beret Challenge is a team event.  In order to compete you need 4 people, including yourself.  If you decide to do this challenge, take my word for it.  You will need 3 other people who will NEVER GIVE UP.   I picked my team several months prior to doing the event.  I never had a question that any of them would bail on me.  If one guy bailed that would have screwed all of us.

It’s not so easy to rely on others.  How many times have you heard someone say that they stopped going to the gym because their training partner stopped going?  I’ve had lots of training partners during my life and I’ve been motivated by all of them while we worked out.  However, things change.  You probably aren’t going to train with the same individual for your entire life.  No matter what, I have no intention of putting an end to training.  I do make changes to how I train and where I train, but I don’t rely on someone else to get me in the gym.

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At the end of the day, what is more important to you?  Not letting yourself down or not letting your teammates down.  This is a true life lesson.  I know 3 guys,  (Paul Rozek, Joe Larsen and Nick Martin) who will not let me down.  That’s the reason these guys are a part of my team.  They all showed up and they did their part.  The 4 of us maneuvered over 8 miles of rough terrain, dragging tires and sandbags.  Carrying sandbags, ammo crates.  Engineering an improvised device to carry a 55 gallon drum of water a mile.  The 4 of us lifted each other through out the course.  Times do get tough and having a team that works well together will get you through it.

When it comes to life think about the people that will do what they say.  Think about the people that will be there for you if you need them.  Think about the people that do what it takes to get the job done.  I know who my guys are.  I know who I can rely on.  I have been disappointed before, because of people who don’t follow through.  It’s one thing to try and fail and it’s another to not even try.  The guys I picked for The Green Beret Challenge not only showed up  but worked and finished as a team.

Mark Ballas the founder of The Green Beret Challenge (And a Green Beret) and all of the guys (also Special Forces) who work with him did an awesome job at putting together a challenging course.  Everything that they do is based on some of the things that they went through during their military training.  Obviously, the military is the ultimate example of teamwork.  I’m just happy that they are putting these kinds of events together, in order to give others the opportunity to challenge themselves and be a part of a team, even if it is only for a day.

This honestly was the greatest and toughest event that I have participated in when it comes to challenges.  

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Don’t Look For The Easy Way Out

When I was in high school, I thought that I must be a genius because I came up with a new formula for some geometry problem.  The best part was that it was easy and I found my solution very quickly.  It worked out great for me until the day that I took the test and my formula failed to produce the correct solution to the problems.

Easy isn’t always better.  I still do like to think outside of the box, however I am not always looking for the easy way out.  In fact I find that the harder I work the bigger the payoff is for me.  When I workout, I am usually going in solo.  In the past when I had a team around me or even a workout partner or trainer, there is usually some kind of competition.  I don’t want to fail, give up or give less effort.  If I am doing someone else’s program I have to keep up. If I am leading the program, I want to make sure everyone else knows how hard it is.  So, when I go into the gym by myself, I know that I can’t make it easy on myself.  I know what it feels like to train hard and I know what I should feel like when I go through my workout.

When I train, I work more focus more on muscle endurance and activating my core and my stabilizer muscles.  For others, it might be more about having a 400 pound bench.  I’m more about increasing my overall athleticism.  I change-up my workouts every day.  I take exercises and make them harder.  When I bench, I might  pick my feet off of the ground or might do rows from a plank position or I might do dynamic push-ups (drop from an elevated level and push back up to it from the ground).Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 3.39.50 PM

If it is an exercise that is too hard to do, I will work on it until I can perform it.  I am currently working on one-legged squats.  I’m using a TRX to help me keep my balance.  I’m planning on being able to do these unassisted, within a couple of weeks.

When I accomplish something that I consider hard.  And I continue to do it, I find that it actually becomes what I consider easy in many cases.  Increase the difficulty and conquer your next challenge.  Learn to S.W.I.M.™ 

What Is A Midlife Crisis And How Will You Face It?

On April 2, 2012 my life changed.  I made the decision on that day to commit to transforming my body.  Little did I know at the time that I would grow more in 2012 then ever before.  Not only would I drastically change my body over a 12 week, no 16 week, actually I think this thing is a lifetime transformation challenge.  I would change my mind (how I see things, how I am influenced, how I make decisions, etc…)  and my life.  I can not really say that I was unhappy or miserable prior to accomplishing my transformation, but I wouldn’t say that I was exactly happy.  Maybe it was more that I had my moments.  I wasn’t really honest with myself.  As my transformation progressed I became happier every day.   Obviously there have been situations that have happened in my life during this time which may have brought sadness, but I have also been able to continue on with my life in a positive way.  I am excited to wake up every day and I enjoy doing things that I may have missed out on in the past.

At 45 years old I guess I decided that I wanted to meet life head on.  As a little kid I grew up playing soccer and swimming on the swim team.  Once I entered High School, I moved on to football and wrestling.  I  continued with football throughout college. Towards the end of college I moved on to rugby which I played for the next couple of years.  Up until this time I was always involved in pick up games of basketball, team handball, handball and football.  Since high school I had also worked out.  Around the time I turned 25 all of this came to an end for the most part including the working out.  Every once in a while I might walk into the gym but it wouldn’t last.  In 1998 I competed in and became a Runner UP in the Bill Phillips 2nd Body For Life Challenge.  This new inspiration helped me focus on my health and fitness and got me into the best shape that I had been in during my adult life.  I was able to straighten out my nutrition and got into the gym on a regular basis.  This changed my life for the better.  I felt like I was doing everything that I had to do to continue with my healthy lifestyle.  I let it go.  I continued to work out but my nutrition was not good.  My head was not in the game.

In the back of my mind I knew that I wasn’t.  I was having trouble  being honest with myself.  I wanted my competitive life back.  The life that I left behind 20 years earlier.   For those last 20 years I was consumed with work.  60, 70, 80 hour work weeks.  My life was my work.  Sure work can be fulfilling, but aren’t there other things in life?  Once you enter the workforce is there limited time to do things that you really want to do?

I remember the days when we were forced to do one sprint after another at the end of football practice after you beat the hell out of each other.  I had a never quit attitude and would push harder and harder.  One day it all came to an end.  Let’s be honest, I never liked running and I still don’t.  Once it all ended there was no reason to put myself through the torture of training.  Training for what?  Turkey Bowl?  That’s once a year and just like every year I am going to go out and pull a hamstring or sprain an ankle or crack heads with someone else.  I don’t have to train for that.  I don’t have to torture myself for that. Well I do work out and I’m in good shape.  I can walk by the mirror, suck in my gut and see how great I look.
Well I guess that was about the time that my Mid Life Crisis set in.  I realized something was wrong.  I’m working out but I don’t look like I did in 1998 when I finished Bill Phillip’s Body For Life.

This was what helped motivate me to launch my new transformation.  Another Bill Phillips contest (Transformation Challenge).

This is when I started to learn to S.W.I.M.   For whatever reason I missed a lot of this in my first transformation.  Mostly the psychological side.  The part that could influence other parts of my life.  Also what made me decide to go even further on my “Journey to be Fit”.  The part that removed my limits.

I realized that I only have so much time on earth and I already let so many things pass me by.  I’m not going to miss out on something because I can’t make a decision or because I am waiting on someone else.  If I want to do something I am going to do it.  What does NIKE say?  I had been considering doing a mud run for about 5 months.  This is after I noticed the Tough Mudder.  However, I saw that the Tough Mudder was 12 miles and there was no way that I was going to run 12 miles.  Like I said.  I hate running.  I looked around a little more and noticed some shorter races.  Some of these were only 5k’s.  I already was running about 3 miles a day.  No problem.  I did my first race a few weeks into my transformation.  On Saturday, November 17th I will do my 7th race.  It’s a Spartan Race in Fenway Park.  On December 1st I will do my first Tough Mudder.  (I thought you said that you hate running?   Yes I did, but these obstacles are a blast.  The competition, challenge and achievement make you realize that you are alive.

I have a lot of people who wonder what the hell I am doing with my life.  Over the last 10 weeks (not long after completing my transformation) I have driven up to Plainfield, IL and stayed for 4 days and 3 nights each week.  I go there so that I can train at Xtreme Speed, which is a performance center owned by a friend of mine.  These guys are very intense.  I decided that I want to be on a whole other level.  In order to do that either train with people who have the same goals.  People who want to be where you want to go.  Or people who are already there.  These guys are already there.  I missed two weeks because I also went to Jackson, WY to have some new and old injuries treated by a friend of mine that does some amazing things with healing injuries and even illnesses with his own formulations.  (I will have more on my blog about him soon).  I also had a trip to Denver where I attended Bill Phillips new Transformation Program.  Basically all of my recent trips have been for myself.   It’s not like I stopped working.  I can work from anywhere.  I just made the decision to do things that I wanted to do.  At this point it is anything from sight seeing (places like Red Rocks in Denver) to training (which I love, especially when it is something different.  I also have another performance center that I will be checking out in the coming weeks) to running in mudruns or obstacle races.

I love the challenge.  I love being able to compete.  I love being more athletic than I have been since I was 25.  It’s never too late.

Is this my Mid Life Crisis?  If it is… Bring it on!  I’m turning 46 in 8 days and I look like I’m in my 30’s and feel like I’m in my 20’s.  Over the last 7 months I have totally transformed my body, mind and life and brought competition back into my life.  I also hope that I can help influence others to join me in this life changing experience.  

Midwest Spartan: What Would You Do for a Free Bottle of Body Wash?

                       

I’ve been doing obstacle races for less then a year.  My life has changed over the last year and much of it has to do the my Body Transformation.  The transformation has helped me live my life the way that I would like to live it.  I take opportunities that i would have let go in the past.  These races have become a challenge for me.  They have provided me with competition.  Something that was missing in my life.

The Spartan was an awesome race.  So far it has been the most challenging race that I have competed in.  It was also different running with a team (Team Dial for Men).  I met some great people at this race.  When I pulled in it was around 40 degrees, 

people were coming in from the earlier waves and  most of them looked pretty cold.  I met the rest of my team which included 5 other guys.  We had our “Before” picture taken as a group and were told that we had to run together as a team.  When we finished we would have our “After” picture taken.  

We ran for a couple of miles before we actually hit any water.  We ran through it to get around a group of people who were backed up on a hill.  Traffic jams can be frequent at some of these races, so you look for the way around them.  Usually the way around them is through water, mud or up a steeper part of the hill.  Anything to keep moving.  As cold as it was outside, I was hoping to stay dry a little longer but part of the challenge is to keep moving at a good pace.  Not long after that it wasn’t going to matter anyway.  We were running close to a creek and came upon our first barbed wire challenge.  The wire was low and we had to commando crawl to get through it.  I should mention that we were crawling across rock and mud.  The mud kept making me think of Bill Cosby.  “Whatcha gotta do, ya see is dip the spoon in the pudding”.  This stuff was thick and unlike pudding I had rocks digging into my elbows and knees.   Every once in a while I would smash my balls on a rock sticking up out of the mud.  We got through the 50 foot crawl and were a little bit colder than when we went in.  That’s ok we were still moving and the mud that dried on my skin became insulation

for me.  However, what was stuck to my clothing was still cold.  Not long after it dried we were hitting water again.  Some of my favorite obstacles are 7 and 8 foot walls..  Jump up and pull yourself over.  Before my transformation this might have been pretty difficult.  Not so bad anymore.  The only bad part is the crushed nuts as you flip over the wall.  Between the walls and the barbed wire I think I limped away about 4 times because of the torture my balls.  Maybe next time I will wear a cup.

Other challenges included running across logs, climbing towers, dragging cement blocks attached to chains, carrying sand bags, flipping tires.  One of the toughest obstacles was getting over these raised logs that were 6 feet to 10 feet high.  You could have someone help you get over them.  Unfortunately for us they were wet and as you grabbed onto the you would slide underneath and fall to your death.  I came down and hit hard.  I was already so freaking cold that none of my muscles reacted to my fall.  I came down with a hard thud.  Nice, only 6 more of these.  One of the other guys that was on my team (Brad) launched one of the other guys over a log and he came down head first.  Couldn’t help but laugh.  It was too funny.  I guess one of us on the other side was supposed to catch him.

As we approached the end of the race we came up to another barbed wire section.  This one was about 50 yards.  Being wet and cold was already causing involuntary muscle contractions.  It was so cold that I felt like George Costanza in the Seinfeld episode when Jerry’s girlfriend walks in on George changing.  “There was shrinkage”.   Crawling through the mud, more cold, more rocks in my arms and legs.  It’s getting closer, keep going.  I was basically numb from the cold.  The cold was the hardest part and only added to the challenge.  We got though the barbed wire and finished the race by slamming into the Gladiator at the end of the race.  We decided to dish something out on someone else.

Now for the hard part.  Get our “After” picture taken for Dial.  Fortunately, Curtis the Dial rep was  close to the finish line so we got the picture pretty quickly.  Next we had to wash off and get pictures taken again.  The cold became unbearable.  Standing around soaking ass wet holding a bottle of Dial Speed Body Wash (We did get to keep the Body Wash).  That’s not a smile on my face, I’m freezing and my damn teeth are chattering.

When my mom asked me about it and I told her about the race, she said, “that sounds horrible.  Why would you do that?”  I said, “Horrible? It was amazing, I had a blast.”  This is how I know that I am alive.  Why do I like pain?  I like the challenge. I like the accomplishment.  Your mind will quit before your body does.  How much further can you push your mind?  I’m not quitting and hopefully I will keep my balls intact.  Thanks for the soap.

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