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Posts Tagged ‘weightlifting’

The Family That Stays Together Slays Together

This is an update on The Goblin Queen. From the story perspective, it’s getting there. I’m over 60,000 words into it and (I think) only have a few chapters left. Getting to those chapters is proving troublesome though.

I’ve been ridiculously busy as summer is upon me. Work is increasingly hectic of late and there’s talk of saddling me with more responsibilities (which may or may not be welcome, depending on how it plays out). I also spent the last couple of months cutting (dieting / exercising to focus on losing fat but keeping muscle) and did a good job of it, now I’m trying to build more strength and put muscle back on which means eating more and working out 5x a week, with at least 3 days having both an am and a pm workout in them. It takes a lot of time, effort, and discipline to do it right and not lose everything I gained when I cut the weight in the first place.

Oh, and we’ve got a new camper we bought this spring so we’re trying to get that out at least once a month and last weekend was one of those weekends. My son has baseball games and practices after school, and there’s been lots of house / yard work that has to be done.

All in all, everyday problems everyone has to deal with. For the most part, it’s simple enough to knock those things out. We haven’t had a chance to crack open any more D&D sessions since my last write up, but I’m happy to say that my wife is going to join us. After all, the family that slays together, stays together! Hopefully soon we can get her a character put together and continue the adventures. They’ve got much to do to finish off their introductory session, and then after that I have some really fun ideas to keep them invested and furthering their careers as fantasy heroes.

This is supposed to be about The Goblin Queen, but I can’t stop myself from sharing the idea I stole from some random reddit posts – I’m going to set up alternate versions of the Disney Princesses as a coven of witches spread throughout Kroth for the players to try to take out. They’ll meet a witch hunter when they finish their current story arc and he’ll enlist their aid (hopefully). If not, I’ll find another way to encourage them to do that. Then again, it is D&D and the possibilities are endless – maybe they’ll end up heading off in another direction entirely if they choose. Not a problem if they do, I’ll have the evil Princesses on standby.

Now back to The Goblin Queen. The good guys just triumphed over evil in the book! Yay! Except the victory didn’t turn out to be a battle like they expected, nor were they prepared for what happened when they struck down the enemy that had consigned their souls to the dark magic of the Order. Even worse was learning what comes after – they’d fallen into a trap that they might have survived, but at a cost that could be the lives of thousands of innocent people that they know and care for. The Goblin Queen has played her part, but the final victory they need rests in the outnumbered hands of a desperate paladin willing to risk everything for their faith.

Oh, the cover is coming along nicely too. We’re still trying to figure out the art work portion of it, but I’m in love with the design we’ve got so far. I’m trying for more of a cover reminiscent of Child of Fate instead of the recent covers in The Serpent’s War series that some people found harsh or disturbing (I loved those too, but generally what I like and what most people like are not the same).

Now then, back to work! This book isn’t going to finish itself.

 

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

Picking Up Heavy Things…Again

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve gone personal on here – hopefully that doesn’t drive anyone away! This has very little to do with books or writing and more about health and fitness. You see, almost entirely by chance this morning I stumbled across the reddit Arnold Schwarzenneggar did on a fitness channel. There wasn’t a heck of a lot there from him, but what there was hit home.

A couple of points – he indicated he doesn’t lift like he used to. Seems like a no brainer to me, I’m suffering the same sort of things and he’s got over two decades on me. Case in point, he can’t do as many barbell curls as he used to due to shoulder injuries and surgeries, so he’s worked in the preacher curl machine to help out. Well, for anyone that’s seen a recent movie of his, it’s working!

I’ve been a big opponent of machine for a long time, but I’ve been discovering recently that my go big or go home mentality towards lifting isn’t working like it used to. I wipe myself out and suffer minor injuries that end up being more of a setback than they are a gain. Coupled with being so darn busy between work and writing and family, I haven’t even been able to find as much time as I should to lift. Factor in an injury and you can see where things are headed.

To counter that line of thinking, I grinned like a fool when I read his method of gaining strength. He’d warm up for several sets (10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 4 reps – I might be missing a few in there) and then do sets of 2 at the heavy weights before backing down to 4 and 6 rep sets. That’s virtually the same thing I used to do when I was getting stronger for powerlifting! Some tweaks here and there, but there’s a lot of similarities. It would probably still work too, especially given multiple warm ups to really make sure the battered and abused body I’ve given myself is ready for it.

And speaking of injuries and taking time off – Arnold had another great point about making time to work out. Every minute spent on improving your health is not a minute lost from a day, it’s minutes gained on your life. So what if 30 minute are gone some evening, if that helps me live a week longer, that’s 10,080 minutes extra. And without health there’s no way to pursue other goals (work, family, money, building a replica of the empire state building out of toothpicks, etc.).

A final note on cardio. That’s how he said he’d cut weight / fat when he needed to, he’d add in extra cardio and cut out bread, pasta, and desserts. I’m notorious for hating cardio, but I have to admit it is damn effective. There’s nothing like jogging to burn calories. I also discovered something a year or two back when I got in a minor cardio frenzy that didn’t last long – I got stronger too. I was lifting as well as running and somehow my gains were improved when I did both over the span of a week. There was a study that Will Brink posted / commented on that supports it. I can’t say anyone else will have similar results, but what’s trying going to hurt?

On the subject of goals after fitness there’s writing. I’m on the verge of finishing my latest Vitalis book, but I’ve been on that same verge for over a week now. I keep adding more and more to it, improving the story and details. I’ve been on the last two chapters for at least ten chapters now, believe it or not, but I think I’m finally almost there. Looks like I get my cardio through my fingertips when it comes to writing!

 

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

Fallen Heroes

January 18, 2013 1 comment

I’ve been so caught up in writing that I missed some big news this month. Lance Armstrong, who most of you are probably sick of hearing about, admitted to using performance enhancing substances to win all his medals. I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to many people, but if it does, I’m sorry you had to witness the fall of a hero.

Does it change his accomplishments or his victories? Not really. He still won all those races and he still beat cancer. As Mr. Armstrong himself put it in his interview with Oprah Winfrey, he was leveling the playing field.

That’s what I’ve been telling people for years. No, not that I’m doping up to compete because, well, I don’t compete in any physical venues these days. Although I did spend a year as a competitive powerlifter before a catastrophic injury sidelined me, but that’s another story. From the college level of sports and above (and sometimes even in high school, sadly), athletes are doing whatever it is they need to do in order to compete. They’re told to win and that the end justifies the means. So as soon as one guy grabs a needle then the next guy knows he has to grab one too or he’s not going to be able to stand a chance against him.

The thing is, enhanced or not, these athletes are playing on a level field. There’s no competitive advantage, it’s all about training and hard work. You can’t inject 1000mg of testosterone every week and expect to become the world’s next home run king without working out and swinging a bat thousands and thousands of times. You can’t bench press 800 pounds without spending years working your way up from 135 pounds to 225 to 315 and every five pound increase in between. You can’t skate hard for over sixty minutes while pounding other players into the boards and shooting a puck past a goalie to win the Stanley cup in triple overtime. You can’t survive being pounded by 300+ pound linebackers every time somebody hands you a football and still go on to win a Superbowl ring. And you can’t win umpteen Tour de France and Olympic medals in cycling against an international level of competition. These things can’t be done without years of incredible focus, determination, and hard work. And if even one guy is using a little something extra to get a boost then if you want to win you have to use it too.

The International Olympic Committee and the Tour de France stripped Lance Armstrong of all his medals. Big deal. The guys that got moved up know they didn’t win. Sure, they got a shinier medal now, but they know they did the same thing that he did, they just didn’t get caught for it (yet). And even doing the same things they still couldn’t beat him. But by stripping him of the medals he spent years working hard to earn they sure taught him a lesson, didn’t they?

The lesson, sadly, is that you do what you have to do in order to win and then you have to lie about what it really takes to be a champion. This is one of the reasons why I admire bodybuilding and powerlifting so much – there are no stupid rules that say we want you to do superhuman things, but you can’t do what you need to do in order to win while you’re doing it. Oh, sure, there are drug free federations and competitions and those are definitely worth watching and competing in (that’s what I did, for the record), but when it comes to the pro circuit – the guys everybody looks up to – there’s no hypocrisy involved. And get this – the guys lifting crazy amounts of weight that admit they take testosterone, masteron, trenbolon, deca, anadrol, anavar, winstrol, and a host of other performancing enhancing substances to get there? They’re lifting the same weights that you see in the Olympics or other world class drug free sanctioned events. The same weights that are physically impossible to lift without those performance enhancing drugs and years of hard work.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said it but I’ll say it again. To the IOC, Tour de France, and other legislative bodies made up of scrawny or overweight armchair coaches: Knock it off. Stop being blind and stupid. Stop demanding the impossible and then punish people who find ways to do it. To be fair the world is at fault for wanting superheroes to be real, then demanding that there be nothing super about them. Or as Dash put it in The Incredibles, saying everyone’s special is another way of saying no one is.

Now to twist this into more than just a rant, I can get around all these complications. I do it in my books all the time. I write science fiction and fantasy stories and in those, performance enhancement is the name of the game! Sci-fi offers opportunities beyond anything you can imagine, and I try to make it legal and ethical when possible (unless it’s a bad guy, of course). Fantasy, on the other hand, is the realm of magic. Anything’s possible when you’ve got magic. The hard part about magic is finding balance, otherwise things will spiral out of control and bad things happen. Bad things like villains taking over the story and world and people losing interest because there’s no challenge or adventure anymore.

To be fair, there are dangers involved in using performance enhancing drugs. They vary by substance and a host of other factors, so I’m not in favor of blind acceptance by any means. But, on the other hand, there are dangers involved when communing with an extra-dimensional deity exchanging future favors and promises for the ability to summon fire from the sky and raise the dead. It just goes to show that there’s no such thing as a free lunch…

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

My Pants Are On Fire!

Back around 2004 I held the match used to light a fire under my own ass a little to close. I haven’t been able to put the flames out since. No, there’s no burning sensation when I go to the bathroom, it’s all about motivation and self-discipline.

I received a Christmas present from my wife and kids that seems a little funny. It was a book. A giant hardcover book. I write books, what do I need to read one for? Not only that, but I’m a huge proponent of ebooks, what’s this boat anchor doing on my desk? First and foremost, a writer that does not read is a writer doomed to obscurity. Secondly, it’s no simple task to get somebody else an ebook for a gift. Oh sure, it can be done, but I think that Amazon needs to come up with a way to make it a simpler process.

So what book was it and how does this have anything to do with my pants being on fire? The book is Total Recall. It has nothing to do with freeing Mars from an oppressive regime (nor does it involve Colin Farrell). Total Recall is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. So far I’m only about a third of a way into it, but that’s due to lack of opportunity, not lack of interest.

I grew up in rural Michigan. No, not on a farm. Yes, I grew up learning to shoot guns and we ate the larger furry critters for dinner when we could. We had electricity and modern conveniences, though I was eternally upset that we couldn’t get cable TV and in those days a satellite dish was outrageous. So I read and watched movies and found ways to go outside and entertain myself (see the aforementioned “shooting things”). About the age of 8 I stumbled across a movie on network television called Conan the Barbarian that my dad was watching. I was instantly mesmerized. As soon as I could I had him rent the unedited version on VHS tape (it may have been a few years until VHS was available, come to think of it). Then sometime later I bought the tape and watched it again and again, as well as the sequel, Conan the Destroyer.

I loved fantasy, so that wasn’t surprising that I’d take to those movies. It was more than that though for me. I felt the story and I connected with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I had it good compared to him, but I didn’t know that. I was a stupid kid who thought he lived a miserable life. Nevertheless, I was sucked in and eventually ended up owning all of his movies on VHS that were available. These days I still have several of them, but they’re on DVD. And yes, there are couple of real stinkers in the group, but you take the good with the bad.

I read up on the guy over the years and followed him as best I could. What a story he had, it was something the best of fiction writers couldn’t make up. Or, if they did, nobody would dare to believe it. A poor Austrian kid that managed to rise to the highest level of athletics, international stardom, and even land the position as the governor of California? Who does that? Whether you agree with his beliefs or like him or not, I think everybody alive has to respect his accomplishments.

And now, reading his autobiography, I feel a lot of things clicking for me. Of course the book is a matter of hindsight and I’m sure he’s remembering and portraying only the more positive things in his life. He mentions a few mistakes here and there, but this guy is a salesman – he knows how to put a spin on things. Even so, the drive and the way in which he set goals and worked towards them leaves me with warm fuzzy feelings. If he accomplished all that he did using his methods, it makes me excited about my own future. I woke up in 2004, so to speak, and stopped being lazy. I went back to school not because I wanted to, but because I needed to in order to accomplish the goals I set for myself. I got back into working out and not only improved my health, but I won some powerlifting contests and set a few state records (that have since been beaten). I took my writing seriously and was picked up by a small publisher, then I launched out on my own and started my own publishing company with the help of a friend. My books are doing better than ever these days and I hope one day down the road they’ll hit the point that I can make writing my one and only profession.

I have no interest in politics or acting, but I have a lot of things left I want to accomplish. Reading Total Recall is reaffirming my drive and letting me know that somehow I may have stumbled across the path to success. I compare it to working out – no matter what the routine is or who the trainer is, each weightlifter is different. Each body is different, and only by discovering for yourself what works and what doesn’t can the optimal growth be achieved. I still lift some pretty damn heavy weights even though I don’t compete anymore because I know that’s what my body needs. I know it’s the same level of hard work and dedication that’s necessary some times to write through a tough part in a book or to get through learning the next technology I need to master in order to finish my next project at my day job. It’s about setting goals, working hard, and not making or accepting excuses.

And maybe, one day, I’ll be able to write a book like Total Recall that people will be interested in. I doubt it – I have no interest in celebritizing myself, but I learned long ago to never turn away from an opportunity!

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

 

The 25th Hour

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Several years ago, before I had children, it became obvious to me that if I wanted to achieve my corporate ambitions I needed to go back to school and get a degree. As it was I was setting on about six credits I’d picked up nine years previously. So I did, simple as that. Over the next three and a half years I obtained an associates and a bachelors degree. I was working full time and going to school more than full time during all of this. It was early into this experience that I learned there weren’t enough hours in the day the way I was doing things.

These days a lot of people are shocked at all the things I do. I’m often asked if I sleep. The truth is, probably not as much as I should. But even with that, what I learned through trial and error is that there are enough hours in the day, so long as you learn to prioritize things. Now to be fair, prioritizing may mean getting to something tomorrow instead of today, but as long as no feathers are ruffled, that’s okay. A good example would be my schooling. I busted my tail getting those undergrad degrees out of the way, but when it came time to go after my MBA I slowed down. I finished that one in four or five years because it wasn’t as important. I’d go into more detail on that, but that’s another post in and of itself!

My wife and I had a couple of kids along that bumpy ride. As any parent will tell you, kids are giant time sinks. I’d hoped it would be less demanding once they got out of the crawling and falling down stage, but I’m learning that’s not the case. Children, like every other facet in life, are yet another priority to work into the mix. Now I understand why my bedtime was so much earlier than my parents when I was a kid! Happy hour has nothing to do with half priced drinks, it’s that precious time between when my children go to bed and when I go to bed!

Time management is a wonderful tool that has made worlds of difference to me. It’s how I can write a novel in a month as well as maintain a happy family life, day job, kids, and a demanding hobby that requires I pick up the heaviest weights I can wrap my fingers around. Prioritizing tasks makes all the difference and it helps you realize what’s really important in your life so you can achieve your goals. Oh sure, maybe some days the kids drop down the list and miss a meal or two, but they don’t seem to mind…

(For anybody who’s suddenly horrified and doesn’t get my sense of humor: I’m kidding about the skipping meals bit)

 

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.

The Ultimate Zero Calorie Desert

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

This article has nothing to do with food. I apologize to all the sweet-craving and fad-diet mongers out there, but read on anyhow, you might like this. This is about persistence and setting (and achieving) goals. And it’s about picking up heavy things. What about writing? Well it applies there too, just read on to see why.

I used to be a competitive powerlifter. Back in 2009 I suffered a catastrophic injury that made my world come crashing down around me. I ripped my left pectoral muscle off of my left arm during one of my final training sessions for a powerlifting meet. A month later I had surgery and was told I would never bench heavy again. Even worse was that I was moving in another month after surgery, so I wouldn’t be able to go through insurance-based therapy. That meant I had to put my own therapy program together at my new home in Utah. I couldn’t just give up lifting – part of who I am is centered around being a big and strong guy. I had to find another way.

I can’t say whether my version of therapy was better than a licensed physical therapist’s or not, but I do know that I started lifting seriously six months after surgery. I’d been doing all sorts of other exercises up until that point to try and teach my body how to use the reattached muscles and build up supportive strength as well as shore up the reattached tendons and connective tissue. Within eight or nine months of my surgery I was back up to 90% of my previous strength as far as my upper body was concerned. I’d also gotten my lower body strength back up to my previous competition best.

It’s been a couple of years since then now and life complicated things by getting really busy. Recently I’ve redoubled my efforts in the gym and I’m happy to say I’m back up to where I peaked post-incident. As a matter of fact I’m even reaching new personal bests when it comes to my lower body strength. I’ve accepted I’ll never bench press what I once did, but that doesn’t mean I’m still not hoping to trick my body into working its way up there again!

The moral of story is one of persistence and setting realistic goals. Sure, maybe one day I’d like an impossible dream, but that’s not a realistic goal. It doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t happen, it just means I have to break down the path and create smaller goals along the way that are achievable. Like the tortoise and the hare, success for 99% of us is achieved through hard work and determination. Whether it’s benching over 400 pounds of learning to surf with one arm, there are examples all around us of people that have done what somebody said was impossible. And if one person can do it, than so can I and so can you.

What does all that have to do with desert? Simple, after each achievement I’ll look back and have a warm and fuzzy feeling not so different from a great piece of cheesecake (or whatever favorite desert). I’ll know I accomplished what I went after and I never failed something because I didn’t try or work hard enough for it. And when I’ve done all I can do and the end is near I won’t have any regrets for things I didn’t try. I think that’s more fulfilling than any combination of sugar and flavors. And who knows, if the goal is lose a little weight than maybe basking in that triumph helps keep the calories off too.

How would this apply to writing? That’s easy too. Setting goals applies to everything in life. My goal is to be a successful writer. I’m doing okay right now, but nowhere near good enough to hit the numbers I need. I’m trying different things to make that happen, from some marketing and promotion – including a three month promo campaign I just started on Monday (which I’ll share the results of as I get them. Ultimately my path to writing success involves writing though. I just keep on writing more books. Life has slowed me down a bit over the last few weeks but I’m still hard at work on my next book. Since your curious, my current project is the third book in the Wanted trilogy.

And after I finish that one I’ll start in on the next – I don’t believe in wasting time between novels. I’m not sure what the next one will be, unfortunately, but I’ve got several options. Presently I’m leaning towards a sequel to Child of Fate, which is a fantasy novel that should be released late October or early November. My third Wanted book will hopefully make it out shortly after that, mid to late November.

And now back to your regularly scheduled day. Just remember as you go about it to give yourself a goal to accomplish with some challenge to it. Enough to make you feel good about accomplishing it and once you’ve done that, do it again (new goal, not the same one). There’s power in victory, and once you become addicted to it the sky’s the limit!

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.