Five for Friends – 3/08

Quote: “The way I see it if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton. From the mouth of our modern American Saint, at least of the internet. This quote has been grounding and empowering me to lace up my running shoes despite the cold and apropos to the quote rainy weather this week. I promised myself that I would commit to my conditioning for the races I have signed up for after having disappointing results at the beginning of the year.

Book currently reading: Washington’s End by Jonathan Horn is a book that I find myself happy to say I finally started on, as it a modern historian’s work to divorce us from so much of the myth-making that surrounds the founding fathers. Particularly by starting the book where my elementary, secondary, collegiate education and most biographies end: Washington’s farewell address. Much like being caught in sudden rain, it was refreshing, if not a bit bracing, reading how the Founding Fathers of America were just as preoccupied with their reputation and ventures as modern politicians. In short it is a read well researched and told through not only through eyes of the father but with correspondences and accounts from his family, friends and foes filling in cherry tree sized gaps.

An article worth a read: How the brain processes emotions
When n I first started recommending articles to my friend before deciding to commit to sharing them as a blog post, reading and sharing exciting things was long before the majority of my day was dominated by constant emails, Zoom & Teams meetings. So, it has become difficult to have any article really stick in my mind as significant, but in this 2-minute read was refreshing this morning before clocking in because today marks a year of working remotely, and recognizing over the course of the year the very sparse emotional cues I can pick up from conference calls where I have to enforce corrective actions the stymied expressions people gave often did give me a great deal more pause. The full study wasn’t available and the article’s author didn’t operationally define the other important measure “wisdom”, focusing on “loneliness” so I am hopeful that the researchers expound on their criteria and findings as soon as possible, as they alluded to brain structures that are used to measure empathy.

Small Purchase: The Nutribullet Go – I admit I received no compensation for linking products or services that I find useful, and where I ended up spending $50 for this minimalist gem because I purchased it on Amazon Prime. The link provided below is significantly cheaper if purchased through the manufacture’s page. But, speed and paring down the number of decisions I have to make in the day often means paying a ‘convenience’ tax for knowing it will arrive at my doorstep.
The reason this is worth sharing is it solved a few issues I was having with my morning routine and a nutrition concern I was experiencing. After a year indoors as some kind of corporate vampire, a doctor’s visit revealed my lethargy was caused by dangerously low levels of Vitamin D. Something I had imagined was impossible for a Florida Resident. However, that kind of flawed thinking still meant I wasn’t as active and not going out until later in the evening. In comes a very small cordless and waterproof blender that I could make a single serving cup packed with high fiber fruits, leafy greens, and supplements that I could prepare, drink and clean giving me enough time to walk in my neighborhood before logging in. A small part of me remembered back in the days of fighting and managing my weight a smoothie was the light solution for mornings that revolved around studying for the first half of the day before having to be on the floor and still trying to digest a real meal.
Nutribullet Go

What am I working on:
After a year like 2020 and missing so many of my personal training and competition goal due to illness and injuries was a beating to my motivation and confidence as an athlete. Especially as I find myself coaching and motivating so many of my friends & clients who also are commited to improving their health. What comes to mind is an adage because leading by example is important, my aim is be consistent.
I have been taking more time working on movements that don’t require a high degree of mastery and just work to keep building my threshold.

2min single unders
10 KB Romanian Deadlifts
10 Russian KB Swings
10 Shoulder Passes
10 Good Mornings
10 PVC Windmills
5 Down Dog to Up Dog
5 Inch Worm to Sumo Squat
10 Cat-Cow
10 Fire Hydrants
10 World’s most significant stretch
10 Scorpions
10 Crash Victims
:30 Pigeon
Deadlift (4-4-3-3-4)
building E2MOM
3 Rounds (for time)
30 KB Swings
40 Burpees
50 Sit-Ups

Return for more space

Post detailing my thoughts of the experience of unexpectedly returning to a service that helped my personal growth, not an advertisement or promotion for Headspace. approx. 3 min read

With pressing urgency, I feel compelled to attempt to transcribe a feeling, fleeting yet insistent. A few days ago, a friend offered a well-meaning gift, a subscription to Headspace. Inexplicably I felt dread, of all things, mixed with gratitude for the gift. I had to think. Over the years, this friend and their spouse have worked with me on improving communication, specifically expectations. Troubled, I had to ask myself, was this some Covert Contract that they were offering? No, they have made a lot of progress about stating intent. What did I miss? Rereading the text, they had presented it because it was a family plan, and the price was the same whether 2 or 4 used it or not. Okay, the most straightforward answer win’s again; and, proof that this year has been more than mentally taxing for me and a return to guided meditation should be would be a pleasant return.
( Covert contracts occur when you have a plan in your head, some trade, but it is never explicitly stated, so when it comes time for “payment” and it falls through, you feel cheated, but the other person is oblivious.)
But, where was that unease coming from. Clicking the invite link and downloading the app again had a rush of nostalgia. Hours of use from 2014-16, 2018 all tracked in the app. A quick text from my friend something about ‘visualizing their thoughts like cars in traffic’ brought me out of my revelry, thinking, “huh that’s a nice touch, I remember that, but it doesn’t have the same vibe as monkey-mind.”
The errant thought also brought me back to a question I didn’t know the answer to; do I start back with the Basic 10? Before clicking on it, I could already recall the lilting British accent of Andy’s opening words. I remembered; hundreds of minutes of gentle reminders crashed into my psyche. I didn’t even choose a thing to click play on yet, but a voice from my memory rang out that this wasn’t my mediation practice. My daily routine is very movement-oriented while training or running. A fearful illogical question came, “Why did I say yes to a service I’ve outgrown?”
By no means am I remotely suggesting a person can say, “Done! The hyperactive spaz has become the sage of the easily gamified version of meditation you carry on your phone.”
Only the real answer for my seed of dread finally did make it to the front of my mind. The thought: I could have done more. Despite all of my years of training and growth, looking at this screen led me to compare who I am to some magical version of myself that committed more to the process. That version wouldn’t be such a roil of strong emotions and thought, tempered by a disciplined yoga and meditation practice, a very unfair thought to have. But, the just as sudden realization I could interrupt my unproductive-thought with objective statements—a hard-won skill gained from the years competing in sports, martial arts, and torrenting meditation books. Before, I eventually could accept meditation was something I could do to slow down my thoughts.

In all of these words, my hope was to explain this restless feeling I get when revisiting something that has become so practiced it left me wondering what lessons will be returning to a template provide?
How do I use a tool (my phone) I’ve spent a concerted effort to use less in my daily life? So much of my daily life has mindful check-ins to map my body and become aware when I am holding tension while working. But, here’s to leaning into the cringe and returning to a tool that I have recommended to so many friends, family, and strangers I’d think I was getting paid for referrals. But, my only compensation is feeling more connected to friends who once wouldn’t take seriously a suggestion to take ten deep breaths, who are the ones nudging me to use the app.

Here’s to taking it 10 minutes at a time.

5 for Friends 12/1/19

Quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill, a feeling as the days get shorter; it is often a simple reminder to know what view am I looking at the world. 

Currently reading: Extracted by R.R Haywood What can I say other than I love time travel! Because it often rides so close to being just another story, except for the science fantasy McGuffin, which can save or destroy everything that matters to the characters. A team-up story of three capable and brave in fictional British history who are extracted out of the timeline to prevent their deaths and hopefully prevent an even worst disaster. 

Article worth a read:  What I learned from my first powerlifting meet Lifehacker’s Health editor, over the last year, has become one of my favorite creators to read weekly. With this article and has been refreshing to see and be reminded of the beginner mindset and why this mindset is especially valid, as I come closer to another event and training with absolute beginners. 

Small Purchase: There is not much that comes to mind as a small purchase that has been worth sharing. With it being Thanksgiving, I am just going to note that after all the family gatherings, the most valuable investment in my week was heading up to Coolstuff Games with a friend and jumping into a 3 vs 3 Throne of Eldraine Draft. $12 that paid for 3.5hours of fun and catching up with one of my best mates.  

What am I working on:  The countdown continues as I’m delving into another Mud Run, and getting ready for the slog. So the work out of the day to ensure I am getting the explosive work in. 

12min AMRAP
12 Cal Bike
12 Deadlifts (155/105)
9 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)
9 Strict HSPU

5 for Friends 11/19/19

Quote:  “Be a practical dreamer, backed by action.”- Bruce Lee
This is the foundation of my life philosophy that captures sometimes big hairy audacious goals sound nice, but they still need to be grounded enough so I know how to take the first step.

Book currently reading: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Late to the game this was a refreshing read of the stoic approach to my own life, that has a modern sensibility, well very plainly states how we care too much about matters outside of our own control.

Article worth a read: Stop using public USB ports
That’s right, according to LA county district attorney advised against using the default data cable to charge your phone at these public ports, due to the risk your data could be compromised.
The silver lining to the doomsaying, the comments section did mention you can always use a charge only cable to ensure no data connectivity is an option.

Small Purchase: By no means is this an endorsement of this specific branch, but I took advantage of finally seeing a chiropractor. There was a chain called The Joint that accepted a walk in who commented on there isn’t so much as an apparent skeletal issue, which is a relief, but confirmed I do sit like a goblin while I hack away on my keyboard.
And for $29 for an assessment and adjustment is just the kind of arb

What am I working on:  One more competition down; Critical Fit put on another great annual tournament at Gett-it where the team I drafted got to experience their physical limits and go beyond, in an obstacle course relay race that was my wildest elementary school dreams. The stipulations of the draft with 5 friends who wanted to captain was to form a team with 1 male and 1 female with less than a year of weightlifting/training experience. Mostly to keep from doing exactly what the top 3 performing teams did which is like gamers optimize teams for the challenges.
Moving on with this team work kick in the next couple weeks the gang will be heading down to South Florida for a December Tough Mudder! So to train I broke down the demands and keeping my training geared towards building explosive pulls and stabilizing.

Warm-up 2min bike
5 Romanian Deadlift
5 Hang Power Cleans
5 Front Squats
5 Push Press

10 Good mornings
10 PVC Windmills
10 Toy Soldiers
10 WGS
10 Cossacks
10 Scorpions
10 Crash Victims
:30 Pigeon
Thruster (5-5-5-5-5)
building E2MOM
Metcon (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)15min AMRAP
4 Bar Muscle Up
8 Deadlifts (135/95)
12 Alt. Pistols

5 for friends 11/12/19

Quote:  “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”Henry David Thoreau
With enough years of experience this is far from rah-rah optimism, but an insight to how our minds work. The saying we become what we think about most.

Book currently reading:  Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
A couple years ago the when the book was first released I was hesitant to pick it up, despite not realizing that my favorite genre is Nonfiction with a shot of self aware humor. But, it was recently on an Audible Sale and I had a drive to Tampa I was making. It spoke to the very real and often frustrating experience of rarely ever feeling like you’re being yourself or getting to know a person very well in the initial phase of dating online.
The biggest take away I recall was how in modern friendships making plans somehow requires being your own secretary with the other person scheduling time. Essentially requiring another skill and a degree of luck for people to interact with each other in the physical world.

Article worth a read: You might not actually be middle class [Fast Company]
In this 6 minute read the author highlights how a demonstrably large percentage of Americans (70%) believe they are in the Middle Class, and how that mindset itself impacts higher earners who report do not feel financially secure in their own position. From a cultural perspective this is interesting to me.
Small Purchase: A recent purchase I can’t believe it took me so long to get for myself has been a adjustable monitor arm for my home office desk. Now I do have the link of an Amazon Basic Model that when pulling it up is certainly not the price I paid, so I would like to make a non sponsored recommendation to download Honey as an extension so you can have AI search for the most competitive price of an item. While we live in an age of 6 Sigma reduced variability, spending more for an item really doesn’t make much sense.
Lol, as an after thought the real reason for the monitor arm is because I use my Laptop or Ipad for everything, but when working on a project having a second larger screen off my desk and rotate it with a twist is likely my favorite thing I didn’t know my soul was missing.

What am I working on:  My body has taken a back burner from the open after having a sprain that lasted a few weeks, and taking care to avoid doing anything strenuous as I keep on pace with my larger made up goal: building the stamina and mental toughness to conquer a Spartan Trifecta. Specifically the longer distance races, Super and Beast.
This week going into a Charity Competition that has a lot of demand for jumping, pulling and bounding today’s metcon brings home a lot of what I plan on tuning up:

Metcon (Time)18-15-12-9-6-3
Thruster (75/55)
Power Snatch (75/55)

5 for Friends 11/04/19

Quote: “As long as you’re being a copycat, you will never be the best copycat.”- Dr. Eric Thomas
The more work I do on efficiency and productivity I fully recognize how when learning to do something we’ve never done before we apprentice and copy those who have come before us. You don’t have to change the world; just remember being the best version of yourself is a great goal.

Book currently reading: African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan by Thomas Lockley & Geoffrey Girard
As a history nerd I really did enjoy the accounts of one the most historically significant times in Japanese history, to be clear the unification of Nipon under Shogun Oda Nobunaga, and the many factors that contributed to his rise of power. So kinda like the reverse of the last Samurai, a warlord’s embrace of technologically advanced weapons from the Jesuit missionaries. Along with all of the baggage that we can muster from living in the future, but the context of the authors reminded me the world is still a harsh place. And, how both cultures believed the others to be barbarians.

Article worth a read: How to Send the Perfect Thank you Note a 1 minute read, and the advice isn’t as important as the reminder that first you should be following up with something meaningful. 1. Handwritten is better 2. Use stationary and a pen 3. gifts are also nice
This article summary is longer than the article because of a long conversation I’ve had this week about standing out after a party or investor meeting.

Small Purchase: This week I finally got around to purchase Team Shirts for the an up and coming Critical Fit Tournament, despite my marketing suggestion they did not go with Crit Fit 2 the electric bugaloo, but the more Fantasy appropriate Champion of Legerran to go with their fitness card game being launched. The t-shirts came from and have to say a pretty nice deal for a shirt I was going to turn into a cutoff anyway.

To go with my rowdy demeanor this 100% Heel for this event lol

What am I working on:  My own crossfit training is continuing to take a back seat while I am writing training plans for my Critical Fit team, and organizing how the team can train together. But, the corporate challenges I have been preparing for in addition to my continuing education work I’m trying to complete before the year ends I have been interested in going further in my lean six sigma training. More because it is a great tool, even though how I’ve seen this tool wielded by non engineers has felt akin to using an oven and calling it a toaster.
So, let’s go a level deeper and see if I can understand where the disconnect is occurring. And improve my own processes.
Anyone that really comes to see what I’m training for the day
Today to match the output for CritFit Challenge 1 we’re keeping it simple with
3 Rounds
1K Row
40 KB Swings (53/35)
20 Pull Ups

5 FOR FRIENDS 10/29/19

Quote:  “Know your limits but never stop trying to exceed them.”

Book currently reading: Talking to Strangers: What we should know about the people we don’t know
By Malcolm Gladwell
Like many curious people, Gladwell is among my all time favorite writers and this book is worth it’s time to sit down and dig into. Like the fusion of Outliers and Blink, Talking to Strangers is home for so many interesting ideas about how humans “people” amongst each other and captures how all too often how mental shortcuts lead to major consequences when situations fall into just different enough parameters.

Article worth a read: Scientists may have found a structural cause of anxiety in this article the author addresses how certain cells and molecules are that produce/cause of anxiety (within rodent populations full study). The study by no means prove that they understand the pathology or the root cause of anxiety, but this does show aberrant microglia activity is associated with many neurological and psychiatric disorders, and that’s a meaningful step forward than ghost in your blood causing your mood.

Small Purchase: I am a sucker for a great deal, and during my freshman year of college spent my entire first paycheck at Express, just because I stacked discounts and got 90% off everything. This time I finally got to relive those thrifty days and finally opened the piggy bank for 4 new fitted dress shirts. The last 6 months has been struggle with all of my old shirts fitting too tight in the check and collar that I risk a wardrobe malfunction of akin to the 2014 Hulk out after my first few months getting into powerlifting.
There was a final sale of all of the clearance, and conveniently as their sizes have slimmed more and more over the years I know get to experience what it’s like to be a young Governator without needing a tailor, $4.95 for XXL extra slim fit shirts that I once used to pay 69.95 a piece for back in the when I was originally a Smedium and wanted to look fashionable with fitted shirts that I couldn’t afford.
The quality from how it feels is the same as shirts that have been since gifted to my older little brother. Since there’s 1MX shirts I’ve bought back in ’04 that short of replacing a button show no signs of fading.

What am I working on: This week post terrain race I need to work on slowing down! I mean that in so many ways: as if on cue in tandem with my over reliance on caffeine for the last few weeks in the middle of stretching for a 5k my back went on strike and decided everything was wound too tight. Current goal after spending the evening on a heat pack and feeling out a potential sprain.
The goal is to spend a little time cycling on a recumbent bike and catch up on some pulpy sci-fi novels and not lift any weights.

5 for friends 10/22/19

Quote:  “Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”Author unknown but the statement is the truest thing I’ve discovered in my own life.
Book currently reading: Royal Assassin, book 2 of the Farseer trilogy. My hope remains that ever so slowly I’ll be able to keep up with the somewhat strange pace of a story that I don’t know what it wants to be. Admittedly I’ve never been a fan of political intrigue stories. Particularly as a very blunt person I never understood the power of a “withering glare”, but ever so slowly. I am too invested in Fitz and a main cast that no one
Article worth a read:  Prioritizing the process One of my favorite sports psychologist took time to consider two details that lead to amazing results. For those not familiar with Magic: The Gathering one easy replacement is replace the word magic, deck, or sideboard with: your hobby of choice i.e “poker”, “rock climbing”; strategy; or back up plan to hedge
Small Purchase: New pair of Browline glasses from Zenni. After a nonstop year my last pair of glasses have a bent arm that didn’t help my already disheveled aesthetic. With shipping, blue light blocking, and impact resistance frames came under $60. The upside very low price, the downside you have to know your PD (pupillary distance)
What am I working on:  Other than going back to the globe-o gym and leaving the Hive my training has been going well. Completing 20.2 last week was certainly a burner that really challenged me, but has affirmed that my core, grip and coordination is progressing

Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
4 dumbbell thrusters (50lbs)
6 toes-to-bars
24 double-unders
Put down 18 like a golf course. And, my calves have a long way to go.
overall with my core and absolute strength has gotten to a point that I’m content with; I’m ready to level up my dexterity and work the challenge that is distance running and climbing.

Outside of the world of fitness I have taken on a challenge of using databases to organize how to write and deliver training programs for people who train with me so I can open and make updates a little bit easier. For a while I’ve used Scrivener because that is by far the program that works best for organizing lots of research notes, but exporting the information doesn’t exactly work well for clients. I have looked at Excel templates and that might just be the wave I need to ride.

If anyone has comments or suggestions on how to wrangle lots of training notes, without going to a paid service like TrainHeroic/Wodify what works for you managing client progressions

Part 1 of The Tao Te Pokemon

After a long break from writing on a blog, it has become apparent the only consistent work I will do is to write with a friend in mind to give my jumble of thoughts shape. For today, I endeavor to shape my ongoing philosophy and training model lovingly referred to as The Pokemon Rule, Tao Te Pokemon. 

What initially began as a way for athletes from other sports to successfully transition into combat sports such as grappling and kickboxing. After being introduced to the late great Poliquin Sensei, I started seeing how we could expand these rules for people interested in strength and conditioning outside of martial arts. 

After compiling a decade of training notes, there was an age-old trend found that every management book loves to bring up, a Pareto distribution(80/20). As you see on a whim I often ask trainees (Clients, students, seminar attendees, people on the street) what is their favorite Pokemon, like a modern zodiac/personality test; confident there is something that can be gleaned from their 1 choice out of the staggering 807 in the Pokedex (of this write Pokemon Sword & Shield has not included in this total). Because of the 18 “Elemental” Types in-game, the majority of responses overwhelming fall under 5 of the classical elemental types you see in many popular mythologies. To reward those keeping track, 20ish% of available responses make up more than 80% of the answers trainees give.

A very happy realization to simplify an increasingly bloated model from with details that encourage people happens to be extremely narrow, let alone care to work it into training.

The model is simple. No matter how strong or fast you are, there will be a few vital moves you have that bring you success. For the uninitiated, no matter how many techniques a ‘mon is capable of learning, it can only remember 4-moves at any time. This connection occurred to me while training a soccer star for their first kickboxing match. What I thought to be a cakewalk turned out to be a frustrating experience until offering a comparison to Pokemon. He’s watched dozens of martial arts/action movies and had great stamina and coordination as a midfielder. But, there is a learning curve to new skills that good stats can’t translate into results. Expertly kicking a ball and an opponent has many similar mechanics, but they are not the same conditions or contexts. No, how much we love the cult classic Shaolin Soccer skills when starting a new endeavor start back at level 1. So, relaying it in terms of his favorite starter ‘mon (Squirtle for those who care) who only starts with two moves, one not particularly powerful the other deals no damage. The new kickboxer had to back burner the dozens of kicks he was ready to practice and begin with a Jab. Mostly because he was a lifelong gamer, he accepted my pokemon analogy and agreed only to learn four techniques over the month, and how those were all we needed to defeat his yet to be named opponent. 

lead hand punch, Jab

Rear hand straight punch, Cross

Lead leg pushing kick, Teep

Rear leg round kick, Roundhouse 

Often from people with no sports training but have seen plenty of martial arts flicks, that don’t include The Karate Kid, assumed I must not be a good teacher when they hear the story of basics and contrast it with tales of how I learned to do a 540 kick after watching my senior doing one at a party. Looking back, I was a young and a terrible teacher: impatient, expected everything from my students, and cared about ego too much. It took training a friend who was practicing at a very high level with semi-pro clubs in soccer who wanted to compete in a sport that breaks and concussions are on the menu. It was the click in my adolescent mind I didn’t get. Since many people are drawn to combat sports also identify with having a fiery nature themselves, so watching a technique and then immediately weaving it into a whirlwind combination of attacks is what my cohort of Fire types do in our little Dopamine craving brains. 

To train someone who is contemplative has many questions, and practice with the goal of perfection is going to be irritated by a throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks approach, which is how I thrived. Like Water, this student had to find their tempo; because coming from being an expert in one domain and starting at level one in something else has an adjustment period, mentally more than physically. But because of the hours of practice required to become an expert on the pitch was a blessing to accepting that it would take time and four techniques would be plenty in the beginning. 

I don’t have any other words at this time on the subject without delving into another topic, so I would like to close and for next time would like to go further into the detail about the 5 types and how they best respond to training.

5 FOR FRIENDS 10/15/19

Quote:  “When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And
when you have fun, you can do amazing things.”Joe Namath
There are truly amazing things you can do when you believe you can.

Book currently reading: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. Book one of the Farseer Trilogy was on my reading list for a very long time. It has been months since reading a book that reminds me of The Name of the Wind, The KingKiller Chronicles. It is an unfair comparison because the similarities begin and end with it being the narrator telling the story and taking pauses for some omissions from memory.
But I am a sucker for a coming of age story of a bastard trying to find his place in the world.

Article worth a read:  New typeface hides a secret in plain sight
I have a not so secret love for good design. And this goes double for new insights that help special populations. Reading about how designers are going against conventions and working with the Braille Institute of America to create fonts that are easier to read for the visually impaired warms my heart. On the nose naming convention aside, “Hyper-legible” typeface borrows from a smattering of fonts for the visually impaired better distinguish letters, such as “E” & “F” instead of keeping to aesthetic choices for uniformity.

Small Purchase: Instead of a small purchase, a small gesture that had very little cost for me except for sleep was leaving work and cooking dinner for a friend that keeps even worst hours than I do. But, for the costs of ingredients and prep time some tortellini and asparagus made for a great dinner.

What am I working on:  Last week was the beginning of the CrossFit open 20.1 and it was an aggressive time cap of 10 rounds of Ground to Overheads and Burpees reminded that even after 4 months of high volume you work, will not undo 3 years of strongman lifts.
My current aim is to continuing get faster and improve my endurance to be a great allrounder. In the meantime babying my elbow and making sure I don’t reinjure it.