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Positive Thinking for the Win!

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Daily affirmations have been around for a long time. I’ve heard about them for quite a while, years even, but my most recent injection of it was from reading Scott Adam’s blog a while back. Scott Adams, for those who aren’t familiar with him, is the creator of the comic strip Dilbert. He talked about how he used them to help him become a multi-millionaire. Yeah, selling comics. Taken out of context that’s quite a statement. I believe I read somewhere a while back that he’s a Mensa member, or at least has an IQ score high enough to be one. That tends to take the sting out of the idea of taking advice from a cartoonist. Or does it?

Is it a cause / effect relationship? Being smart enough to focus on positive things helped him achieve them. By his own admission he has failed far more times than he’s succeeded. As a possible counterpoint to that alleged high IQ is the fact that he seems to enjoy poking fun at established paradigms and enraging various groups and individuals. As a bystander, I’m often amused by this. I don’t always share his views, but I don’t believe he cares so long as he’s entertaining. That and he’s generating publicity and for someone like him, publicity is a good thing.

So what is this positive thinking nonsense and what are these affirmations. Affirmations, as I understand them are writing down positive things and goals on a daily basis (or more often). That helps you focus on them and the more you focus on something, the more you tend to make it happen. The trick is to keep it from becoming and obsessive / compulsive behavior. Or maybe that’s when the real success happens? Okay, so the trick is stopping just shy of being hauled off to a padded room.

Do I do that? No, of course not. WHAT?! Yeah, I know, what a jerk. What kind of hypocrite am I? Well, I may not write my goals down on a frequent basis, but I hold them near and dear to my heart and I’m always striving toward them. Set backs will happen, but that doesn’t mean giving up is ever the answer. The one exception to the rule would be a romantic interest in someone who’s taken a restraining order out against you. Give that one up.

Let me share a personal example. I’ve written many posts about lifting weights. Check back in the archives if you’re interested, I’ve give tons of tips and valuable information on both lifting and nutrition (including weight loss). My goal has always been to get as strong as I possibly can. I don’t necessarily want to look like the guy who can lift the rear end of a car, I want to be the guy who can do that. I even competed as a natural powerlifter for a year, and had plans to continue doing so prior to an incident occurring. That incident involved me tearing my left pectoral muscle so badly it was completely separated from my left arm.

Take a minute and think about that. The big muscle over your heart that controls your arm moving forward and pushing against anything. Ripped free from the arm it controls, leaving the arm more or less flapping in the breeze like a lame duck.

It’s kind of hard to bench press without that muscle attached. I went to the doctor because, to be honest, this injury terrified me. I identified myself with being big and strong. I was a skinny-fat kid through school who fantasized about fantasy, science fiction, and comic books. I wanted to be special, but it wasn’t until I applied myself and realized that I could only achieve what I wanted through hard work that I began to become what I’d long aspired to be. So being injured like this felt like what I imagined a marathon runner would feel like if they were told they had to have their legs amputated.

A month later I had surgery to re-attach the muscle to the bone. It’s not routed quite the same way it should be – the doc asserts that he’d never worked on someone with so much muscle in the area and because of that it was no easy task to reroute it and reattach it. That was both a compliment and a pronouncement of doom. I moved to Utah a month later, preventing a follow-up or professional therapy. So instead I used what I knew about lifting and the human body to create my own therapy routine. I pushed myself safely and it worked. Six months later I was able to bench press again, though my strength had faded considerably. I worked damn hard and before I left Utah I managed to use my bench shirt with a good friend I’d made out there spotting me and I managed to bench press almost 90% of my prior competition best. Still a ways to go, but it was more than I ever thought I could do again.

As a follow up, earlier this year at the gym I moved to in Ohio I managed to match my best competition deadlift. I collapsed after lowering the weight and, had I not been gasping for breath from the effort of picking up so much weight, I might have broken down at achieving it even though I was a year and a half older. I continue to push my bench as well and even though I acknowledge I may never hit my old numbers, it’s not because I’m not trying to get there. I’ve made changes to my lifting form and training style, incorporating my triceps and lats more. The devil is in the details, but for the sake of the moral of this story it’s really all about aspiring to reach your dreams and not allowing the road blocks that get in the way to make you give up.

And writing? Yes, writing is perhaps even more important to me, so I know I will succeed. I’ll struggle at times and I’ll have to find new tactics to achieve my goals, but I’ll find them and I’ll use them. If you want it, stop making excuses. Go and get it!

Trust me, I’m positive about this.

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Cutting it out

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Fair warning – this is not about writing, editing, cover arting, or anything related. This is about my 3 month or so stint to cut some fat and lean out.

To recap, after bulking up to 241.5 pounds (mostly a good bulk, I was around 14% bodyfat at the time), I wanted to trim down for the rest of summer. So, three months later I bottomed out at 212 pounds – that’s a total of 29.5 pounds lost. Average of 10lbs / month. By Biggest Loser standards it might not be so great, but I can still bench 315 and pull (deadlift) over 500. I call that  win, losing 30 pounds and retaining 90% or more of my strength. In fact, the calipers (I took multiple measurements) had me under 8% bodyfat. I don’t believe it, but I focus on my worst spots. For me the midsection is my worst, by far. I can see upper abs and everywhere else I’ve got good vascularity and definition, but the midsection refuses to lean out like I want it to.

C’est la vie. I’m a powerlifter, not a guy who likes to walk around on a stage in a speedo. Now I’m trying to put some muscle and strength back on for an unsanctioned bench only meet just to get back into it. It’s been almost 2 and a half years since my last meet, thanks to me ripping my left pectoral muscle free from my arm. Surgery and a lot of self-guided therapy later I’m trying to get back up there. I may never bench 400+ again but I’ll be damned if I don’t try for it!

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