Sunday, July 2, 2017

Your High Heels Look Awesome....But They're Jacking You Up!

High heels.....

Yes, they look awesome!

Well, let me rephrase that - depending on the style, they may look great. But as we all know, no 2 high heels are made nor built the same.

At least that's what I'm assuming coming from a guy's point of view.  But I can vouch this very thing coming from my wife who every now and then finds herself in some stylish form of footwear to match the many dazzling outfits that she owns and wears. 

Despite the fashion craze for having the right heel for the right outfit, the question is - are you willing to endure the cons of the many issues that impact the kinetic chain from your walking gait, posture, low back and hip pain/discomfort in addition to muscular tightness that may restrict movement and range of motion (ROM)?

Here's a great video from the guys at Mind Pump as they discuss the importance of foot health, including exercises to relieve pain and increase your foot and overall health.


- AR

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Catching Up With An Old Friend

Have you ever had a situation when you ran into someone you haven't seen in a long time?

A longtime friend who's been MIA?

So long that when you met up face to face you turned it into an opportunity to catch up on the latest & greatest? About the things going on in your life as well of other acquaintances? 

Yeah, me too! 

Sometimes, the conversation can be as such.....

- AR

Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering the Fallen - Memorial Day 2017

Remembering the servicemen and women who have went before us and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom - thus allowing us to do what we do each day.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service.

Thank you for your HONOR, COURAGE, BRAVERY, and INTEGRITY in defense of our FREEDOM

God bless America!

- AR


Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Wait Is Over....Believe That!

HOLY CRAP!!!! (Yes, that's right! Four (4) exclamation points, son!)

How long has it been?! About a year?!

Yes, something like that!

But you know what?


And that's all that matters!

It's been helluva whirlwind of a year and lots has happened in the span of 12 months or so. Lots of things have evolved in and out of my life, including those around me.

There are many things that I aspire to share with you and the rest of the world. Whether it's for entertainment value or for the sole purpose of enriching and uplifting your lives in some way, shape, or form.

The goal for my posts have always been (and always will be) about improving the quality of your "Life, Health, and Wellness" - just as my blog is named accordingly.

As I was reflecting on my lack of posting any new content over the course of the year, I made a conscious choice to take a self-imposed hiatus of sorts to see if I could muster up "new stuff" and establish new ground with a fresh perspective on the things that have brought me to the point of where I'm currently at in life. Not just any bullshit stuff that didn't have any value. Rather exposing these things in a real & raw fashion and in a way that feeds your soul and spirit while giving meaning to your 'WHY'!

So here's the deal - my plan is to share with you how things inter-mesh and compound on top of each other and how they ultimately impact EVERYTHING about your life - your mindset, your physique, your sense of self, your relationships with family, friends, co-workers & colleagues, and your career/business. 

Over the course of the year, I've had a few friends and colleagues reach out or email me about when I was going to start blogging again. They told me that reading some of my older posts contained valuable info that I needed to resurrect and retell the stories for others to read, or re-read for those of you who were avid followers of my blog.

I guess this was the vote of confidence that I needed to hear while also knowing that there are actually people out there who are willing to take the time to read my stuff and how it resonates with them. Honestly speaking, I was truly doubting myself and my ability to create new content whether it was writer's block, lack of inspiration or motivation, being lazy or a combo of all those things. I guess you could say it was case of the latter.

One thing that I'm grateful for is that the time spent being away from here, in front of my laptop, had given my some new found perspectives on my personal and professional life, my overall shift in my personal health and well being in creating sustainable habits for life that keeps me healthy in mind, body and spirit, and to be able to reflect on the things that truly mean the world to me - my family, my dog, my friends & colleagues, and those who inspire and challenge me to be a better man today than I was yesterday.

With that being said, I just ask one favor of you.

To sit back and be ready to go on one heck of a ride! Cause this baby is definitely gonna be hittin' some speed bumps and some major turbulence along the way. Life isn't always smooth sailing and things don't always travel in a straight line, though we'd like them to. But let's keep it real folks!

No BS, no fluff, no blowing smoke up your ass!

Just straight up content that aims to upgrade the quality of your life!

It's a simple as that.

So, be on the lookout for more cool stuff coming your way in the next day or two.

Also, please be sure to tell your family and friends about my blog as I also plan on offering some promotional stuff on things such as nutritional products & supplements as well as travel and vacation getaways for discounted rates. I've managed to create some awesome relationships with some cool people who are willing to offer their products and services at reduced rates, specifically for my readers and supporters of my LHW blog! I'm almost positive that you'd all appreciate saving some of your hard earned cash rather than paying full price but still getting 100% benefit! You're welcome!

One last thing, if there's things that you want me to write about, discuss or give my take on as it pertains to the theme of my blog, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at

Until then, "keep your ear to the grindstone" and keep kicking ass in all that you do!

- AR

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rules for Results

Results don’t come easy! 

They come at a price. 

A price that many might not fully comprehend or think through until they take the plunge and submerge themselves into the health & fitness lifestyle to create the change (or 'upgrade' as I like to call it) that they’re looking for. Whether that change is weight loss, building lean muscle, improving energy system output, or just looking & feeling better, change is inevitable and must not be taken lightly.

The process of creating change also comes at a price depending on the level of commitment and consistency that one is willing to put forth. It won’t come easy, but it’s a must do if you plan to transform – in mind and body!

In other words, you have to be willing to put in the work to attain the desired results! Period!

Change is one of the hardest things that most people will struggle with. I remember when I'd meet new comers who would come and visit the gym for the first time. I'd explain what they could expect during their intro sessions as well as how they could truly benefit from a great workout without using certain pieces of fitness equipment that they were probably familiar with - treadmills, Stairmasters, recumbent bikes, ellipticals, the list goes on. I’d be willing to bet they'd probably wonder how in the world they expect get a great workout without using any of the items mentioned. In addition to this, I'd encounter those who would be adamant about doing away with their 45-60 minute cardio session(s). Walk into any ‘big box gym’ and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Don't get things twisted as I don’t despise the use of “fitness equipment” or lengthy cardio sessions at all. They all have their place. I just have a different perspective, philosophy & approach on how to obtain the best results possible with the least amount of equipment in the half the time that most people are use to spending in the gym.

Have you ever tried doing a full body workout using nothing but bodyweight exercises?

What if you didn't have access to a gym?

Or maybe couldn't utilize any fitness equipment of any kind?

What then? What options do you have? 

The point is this – it’s not the tools or the equipment that makes that workout effective….but rather the coaching! 

The coaching methods that I incorporate involve a progressive model by training our bodies the way we’re designed to move - pain free, multi-directional, compound movements. These ‘movements’ involve the pillars of human movement: 
  • Push/Pull 
  • Rotation
  • Hip/Knee Dominant - i.e., Squat, Hinge
  • Locomotion
  • Core Activation/Stabilization
  • Explosive - high-intensity interval training (HIIT) activities that jack up the heart rate & burn calories for hours post-workout.
So, is this what it takes to see RESULTS?

Yes and no. You see, training alone isn’t going to cut it if you plan to unveil that beach body come summer time. Not even close! The one thing, and probably the most important aspect of any personal health & fitness program is to get your mind right. You have to be mentally prepared to commit to the health & fitness lifestyle. Being mentally prepared means that you’ve made the decision to change your current situation in order to create a better one.

Aside from the mental preparation, here are some additional strategies that I use and believe in which I know will help you get closer to your personal health & fitness goals. 

#1 - Create and setup an environment & lifestyle for success – Your environment is more than just your home and your work place. It encompasses everything that surrounds you – from the places you go and see to the people you associate with.

The ideal lifestyle is one that allows nothing but positive influences to impact your life to a greater degree. If negativity is within your vicinity, how will you turn it around to create a positive disposition? This may entail that you remove yourself from the toxicity or possibly make some tough decisions to remove those who disburse negativity. Like I said, this won’t be easy….but it might be a necessity if you plan to become a better version of yourself.

Always ask yourself this question, which is applicable to just about every facet of your life – “Are the choices and decisions that I’m currently making getting me closer or further away to my goals?” Do that and you’ll get an appropriate answer each time you do.

#2 - Making optimal nutrition choices that align with your goals and creating habits that compliment them – This is one key factor that will take precedence before physical activity & exercise if you plan to transform physiologically. No matter what, you'll never be able to out train a bad diet. Period! I don’t care hard or how long you workout for, thinking that you can just eat whatever you want isn't going to deliver the goods to see results! This is like taking one step forward and two steps back - you’re never going to get ahead!

Keep in mind that not all calories are created the same. Let’s say you ate 220 calories worth of a pack of plain M&M’s (which is the actual calorie count), which is nothing but empty calories with no nutritional value. Compare those 220 calories with 4 oz. of grilled chicken breast & 1 cup of green beans. Now we’re talking about a protein-rich low carb meal that’s better for me and is aligned with my fat loss goals. I don’t know about you, but if I’m hungry I know that the M&M’s isn’t going to cut it. Plus with all that sugar, I’d be in a feeding frenzy as I wouldn’t feel satiated while eating more calories than I need.

The things you need to know about optimal nutrition aren’t complicated.

First, learn to read nutrition labels. Check out the total calories and the serving size for the product of choice. Check out the contents and nutrient totals for protein, carbs, sugars, fiber and fat. However, consider that fact that 'real food' doesn't contain food labels.  

Second, shop around the perimeter of the supermarket. This is where you’ll find the freshest & natural 'real foods' - meats, fish, produce/veggies, eggs, yogurt, fruit, etc. The only thing you should ever shop for in the aisles should be healthy fats, like olive or coconut oils, nuts & seeds, as well as frozen veggies, & fruits and herbal teas. Everything else should be off limits.

Third, stick with whole, clean foods – lean proteins, veggies, some fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive & coconut oil, yams, sweet potatoes, etc.

Fourth, make sure you hydrate with zero calorie beverages with the preferred being water and non-caffeinated herbal tea.

Finally, allow yourself one day to eat what you want without over doing it. This doesn’t mean to eat the poorest quality food all day, but do allow yourself to have a little of your favorite treat. Just make sure that you understand that this is only allowed 1x per week. Not every day….as most people do!

#3 - Exercising & training are key components that tie it all together – As I mentioned earlier, we must train the way our bodies were designed to move. Plainly put, our bodies were designed to move even when under load and tension. Not to sit around all day and do nothing. We all know what happens when we don’t do any form of movement - we decrease our metabolism and increase our chances of putting on unwanted body fat thus yielding an increase in our waistlines and decreasing our overall health.

A great way to start is with a progressive approach by using body weight exercise variations, then moving on to external loaded exercises using tools like the TRX suspension trainer, kettlebells, sandbags/sandbells, dumbbells, ropes, bands, plyo boxes, Dyna-balls, etc. The list goes on. 

The goal is to not only challenge you, but to also throw in the fun factor into your training program by providing variations of sorts that allows for pain-free multi-directional movement. I find that this will keep you engaged (preventing boredom) and challenged all in one.

The end result will be a stronger, leaner and better version of you! 



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Repetition - The Mother of Skill

I remember when I was a kid when I was first learning to tie my shoes. My dad would sit next to me and show me how he tied his. As I sat there and watched, I then started to mimic his ACTIONS and learn as I visually inspected and examined his every move.

After a few failed attempts and after devoting some time & energy in mastering this skill, I was ecstatic when I noticed that my laces were tied! Heck yeah! I was in business!

Then my grandfather would chime in and show me the way he’d tie his shoes. After watching him, it threw me off since his style was a little different than my dad’s. However, the end result was still the same – shoelaces that were tied and looking awesome!

As I grew older, I started to develop my own style and my confidence in my shoe tying skills started to increase as I became more efficient at doing it. Now if you think about, after so many years of putting on shoes, the skill of shoelace tying became easier & efficient simply because of the repetition involved in doing that particular action/task.

The more I did it, the better I got at it.

The better I got at it, the more I mastered it.

The more I mastered it, the more automatic it became at me doing it.

So, what’s the point I’m trying to make?

The point is this – Repetition is the mother of skill.

By constantly doing a task, function and/or exercise over and over again, the ability in mastering that specific skill, behavior and/or habit become self-regulating.

Now, let’s take into context ‘repetition’ and look at some bad habits that you know you’re making and possibly hindering your progress, which will ultimately delay the process in getting to where you want to be – what I call your “point B”.

We’re all guilty of making those decisions and choices (me included) that go against the grain when it comes to getting closer to our health, fitness and nutrition goals. Whether it’s foods that are processed, high in sugar, drinking alcohol, skipping workouts because we’re too tired, lacking energy or have no time, or associating with people who deter us away from the straight and narrow path that we know we need to stay on to create a better version of ourselves.

The question is how do we fix these things in order to give us the upper hand in making sure we say on track without sabotaging our efforts? In other words, is it possible to “teach an old dog new tricks” in order to reach a certain level of success?

By implementing and mastering the 4 Laws of Learning, we can instill good habits into our lives that will ensure we have the level of compliance that we can adhere to while creating balance and stability. We can also be assured that we sustain a level of sanity to let loose (within reason) and enjoy the fruits of life without any personal setbacks as long as we instill the mindset and behaviors to revert back to the way things should be.

Think of it as the 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle – 80 percent of the time you do things the way they’re supposed to be done (healthy foods, healthy behaviors, etc.), the other 20 percent you do things in way where you can indulge and “treat” yourself. If you want to take things up a notch, why not incorporate the 90/10 Rule? 

If we aim to master specific skills and certain crafts while becoming confident in our abilities to perform definitive tasks without hesitation, then following the laws above will assure that we become efficient and competent in creating better habits & skills sets that can be produced instinctively under great pressure.

The 4 Laws of Learning:
  • Explanation
  • Demonstration
  • Imitation
  • Repetition
As stated earlier regarding the skill of shoe tying, I can rest assured that the laws above played an integral role in being a proficient & experienced shoe tying expert. By consistently and persistently following the 4th law - Repetition, the more I did it, the better I got at it.

Why would it be any different if, for example, you’re looking to become better at food preparation for the week to adhere to a structured eating plan?

Getting to bed earlier in the evening so that you can you can get up early and get your workout in before the rest of your day takes place?

How about not skip any workout days?

Or the simple act of removing the toxicity from your life and surrounding yourself with liked-minded, successful individuals?

As my college football coach would say, “The 5 P’s are essential to your success if you ever plan to create great habits that will take you to the next level - Proper Preparation Produces Peak Performance!”

Performance = Action
Action = Success
Success = Opportunity and Preparation  
Opportunity and Preparation = Confidence
Confidence = Byproduct of Repetition

I've witnessed quite a few who surround themselves with people who are struggling to achieve what they want, rather than with those who have been there and done it. If you're really committed to achieve personal and/or professional success, chances are you'll need more than those who are currently in your life. Seek out mentors and coaches who won't only help you get there but will also challenge you in the process in order to make you more resilient in leveling up your game!

Make sure you go out into the real world and surround yourself with people you admire and respect; people who have achieved it; people who govern by their core values and beliefs; people who love and embrace life; people who contribute to the community and to others; people who make a difference in the world.

The more you can REPEAT this trend and behavior, the more successful you will become!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rise Against The Odds

Perseverance is to persist in anything undertaken; to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, hardship, adversity and pain; to continue steadfastly even when the odds are against you.

The harder the struggle is, the greater the triumph will be! 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Congrats! You're Fired!

It was about this time two years that I found myself sitting at the table in one of the conference rooms at the headquarters building of my corporate fitness job.

As I sat there wondering what the outcome would look like when I'd walk out of that room once our conversation was finished, I had a gut wrenching feeling that some bad news was about to go down given the atmosphere and current business practices that were happening around me.

Then a few minutes into our conversation, I was hit in the face (slapped is more like it) with the news I anticipated.

I was 'fired' from my job!

Well......'laid off', as they say.

Nah! Fired is more like it!

Knowing that I'd be relieved of my duties and being told that the company's health engagement program was no longer an area of focus and was going to be eliminated, I was taken back by the decision that the powers that be just made.

Surprised? No.

Shocked? Yes!

The 8 1/2 years of service that I committed & devoted myself to were taken away just like that!


This was the first time that I was ever let go by an employer and quite honestly, I was relieved.


Relieved I was getting fired?!

Yes! I was relieved because I knew it was going to be my time to grow, flourish and prosper elsewhere. I figured that if my employer couldn't see and recognize the value that I provided for the company and employees, then I didn't want to be associated with them at all.

My intention would be to wash my hands clean and start anew somewhere else where my skills, education and experience would be appreciated and highly regarded.

I was given a 60-day notice until my departure and I was on a mission to make it the best 60 days of what was left of my career as a corporate fitness professional. I didn't budge from my day-to-day duties and responsibilities as I committed (as I did from day #1) in helping those I served to empower themselves in defining their "Why" - discovering the true significance of their health, fitness and nutrition program and how it would impact everything about them. Themselves, their family & friends, their colleagues, their business, spirituality, well being, etc.
Providing clarity during a time when things would be somewhat fuzzy was quite ironic in the sense that in 60 days I would no longer be there. For the longest time, I had been the point of contact for the members and employees. I was their "go-to-guy" for access, guidance, motivation, association, and accountability. I couldn't help but wonder how things would be once I was up and out the door. I felt bad for the members knowing that there wouldn't be a qualified fitness professional to provide them with any practical, safe, and effective strategies and methods to make the most of their health & wellness program. After all, this had been the norm for a program that was in existence for just over 40 years!

On the flip side of all this chaos, I was scared shitless if truth be told! I was scared because I had no solid game plan moving forward as to how I would make a decent salary and continue doing what I do best as a fitness professional.

What I did know was that at the end of my 60 days, I would acquire a chunk of change from my severance package that would more than likely allow me to live without a job for at least 4-5 months max. That may sound like a long time but trust me, it would fly by pretty fast and I couldn't afford to waste any precious minutes/time without figuring out a game plan for any possible future employment.

Then again, I kept thinking about the 4-5 months that I could take advantage of and take a vacation and have some 'play time' which I could never get due to my work schedule. I would have $$ in the bank but I knew better than to spend my hard earned cash on silly things that wouldn't benefit me. My best bet would to be establish a budget on the things that I could afford as well as doing the things I wanted to do while living a little and having some fun.

When my 60 days were up, I remember saying my last minute goodbyes to my fellow co-workers and colleagues whom I had established relationships with over the years. Tears were shed and lots of hugs were given to many. After all, these were folks who would visit the onsite fitness center pretty regularly as well as seeing lots of others around the company campus on a daily basis.

As I turned in my security badge and keys to my office, I would walk off campus for the last time and I would never look back. And to this given day, I haven't stepped foot on the property. It's sad in some way as I have mixed emotions about the whole ordeal - sad in the sense that I had devoted so much energy and spent so much time there only have to the rug pulled out from under my feet, so to say, and get knocked down on my ass when I least expected it!

It also fuels my anger a bit due to some new CEO (who happened to have a net worth of over $40 million before he arrived) who took over the reigns of the company and started downsizing and cutting jobs for the sole purpose of meeting the shareholders demand on their investment(s). I mean, the people being impacted by these cost cutting measures were the employees and contractors (who were the life blood and pulse of the business) who devoted their life to the company. The resulting impact of a shrinking workforce meant that those who were given their 'pink slips' would be facing the dilemma of figuring out how they'd make their mortgage & car payment(s), put aside college funds for their kids, pay for that vacation they'd waited so long to take, save for retirement, etc. I empathized completely as I too was in the same boat as them.

Just as fast as this new guy took over the company, I was out of job just as fast!

That's Corporate America for you.

Dispensable commodities, I guess you could say. How ironic is that?

Despite the situation, I had no resentment at all. The company did take good care of me during my tenure and I learned a ton about myself and the things that I was capable of doing. I knew not to take things personally as this was the push that I needed to make things happen on MY terms.

I could take the time off to figure things out, find myself, create space to identify my purpose, determine my strategy for taking things to the next level, and take the initiative in making things a reality.

Walking off campus on my final day felt liberating. I had all the time I needed for me. The freedom to do whatever I wanted to do! Well, at least 4-5 months worth.

No morning alarm clock to set up, no boss to answer to, no set time for my next appointment, no meetings to attend, nothing!

All I had was a vision and a dream. A dream that is still very much alive to this day.

I know it's scary not knowing what the future holds and not knowing what tomorrow brings. But we shouldn't think that way. After all, tomorrow is not promised to anyone of us. All that we have is today - right now, this given moment. We can't spend the time looking at the wasted years that have already come and gone. Rather focus on the moment and how we can make the most of TODAY!

There's a great song by one of my favorite metal bands, Iron Maiden, that I want to quote which reflects the statement above. This particular one is simply titled 'Wasted Years':

'So understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years,
Face up....and make your stand
And realize you're living in the golden years'

Like I stated above, make the most of the present moment and live life as if it were last day on earth. Seize any and all opportunities as they may never come again. Take those risks without the fear of any backlash or repercussions. If it's a job you seek, take the chance and inquire about it, connect with your network of colleagues and get after it. If it's the girl of your dreams, why not take the risk and ask her out for a cup of coffee. How about changing up the routine and ask her out to Sunday brunch? You just never know how things could turn out. All that's required are some 'cajones' and persistent ACTION!

As for me, I still have big dreams and have every intention in making them a reality. I always take full advantage of the days that I'm given and I'm also mindful to give Him thanks for giving me the breath of life so that I may get 1 day closer to fulfilling all of my goals and desired outcomes.

You can never predict or know when you'll be forced into freedom, just as much as when you'll be forced out of it. One valuable thing that I've learned and embraced is that when you give up freedom for your dreams, you no longer feel like your being held hostage! 

Onward and upward.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lessons We Can Learn From the Spartan 300

So there I was flipping through the TV channels with my remote in hand. As I was going through the channel guide, I scrolled up & down when I came across one of my favorite movies. It’s definitely a guy flick and one that I was fortunate enough to learn some lessons from.

The fantasy war film “300” is one that I could watch over & over again, and I did just that once I saw that it was playing.

There’s something about a guy flick that never gets old! Whether its movies like Fight Club, Snatch, RocknRolla, The Godfather, Scarface, the list goes on, I can sit there and watch them again without ever getting burned out.

Going back to the topic of the movie 300, in case you’ve never seen it, it’s a fictional story about 300 Spartan warriors led by King Leonidas who go to battle against the Persians, about 300,000 warriors led by the “god-King” Xerxes, who is a quest to overtake the entire country of Greece. Although the Spartans were vastly outnumbered at the Battle of Thermopylae, their Code of Honor and sacrifice ultimately inspires all of Greece to unite and go to battle against their common enemy.

As I watched this film for the Nth time (I have no idea how many times I’ve actually seen it), I can say that I did learn quite a few ‘life lessons’ that I wanted to write about and share with you. My hope is that these lessons are applicable to your life, relationships, career/business, spirituality, etc., in some way, shape or form.

Lesson #1 – Protect Your Castle and Your Kingdom

Early on in the movie and without giving away too much info for those who have yet to see the film, a messenger comes to Sparta to ask King Leonidas to yield and surrender to King Xerxes in order to avoid bloodshed and war by simply offering him "earth and water" as a token of his submission.

The Spartans were of the demeanor of respect and honor. If you came into their house and displayed the opposite, chances were that you would exiting the city in a body bag - assuming that you'd be leaving the city if anything! 

In this case, the messenger insults Leonidas’ wife, Queen Gorgo, and threatens him on his home turf, his kingdom, by asking him to choose his words carefully as they could be his last as king. As one would take it, this sets off the king and let’s just say that the messenger was given a full dose of earth and water along with the soldiers who accompanied him into Spartan territory.

I take this lesson as a reminder that I am the king of my home, which is my castle. It’s my sole responsibility to care for my kingdom and to protect it by all means necessary. This includes protecting & caring for those who inhabit my home - my wife (my queen), my dog (my fur child), and any family & guests who come to visit and stay with us. If a threat of any kind comes knocking at my door or if any unwelcome guest so happens to make their way into my domain, I will be happy to provide them a fresh dosage of earth and water as needed!

So, what about you?

How do you protect and care for your castle and your kingdom?

Lesson #2 – Embrace Discomfort

Reading about the Spartan culture, it was evident that they were living a hard life so to say. They didn’t have much in terms of riches and monetary gain. They lived life without asking nor demanding more than what they needed. In other words, they lived a life of simplicity – doing more with less.

I firmly believe that today’s issue is a culture that seeks more in order to live comfortably. The problem with that is that the more we acquire the more complex things can get. We need this, we want that, this isn’t good enough, I want the next best thing, give me the upgrade as the latest model is so yesterday, blah, blah, blah! I know it sounds ridiculous but it’s true. And truth be told, I too am guilty of this! But I'm seriously making a conscious effort to change my surroundings to have less than what I know I truly need.

The lesson here is that the Spartans learned to embrace the life of hardship. It may have been uncomfortable, but what if that was their state of comfort?

There was a story that I read a while back that pertained to the Greco-Persian War and the Battle of Plataea in 479 B.C.; how Spartans embraced their code of honor by seeking to constantly better their actions and not seek more material items.

The story goes that the Spartans and their allies overcame the Persians at Plataea which included the spoils of great pavilion tents that belonged to King Xerxes. The king’s cooks, wine stewards and kitchen servants were also at their disposal which was a result of their victory. As a joke, the Spartan King Pausanias ordered the Persian chefs to prepare a typical dinner that they would make for the Persian King. As this took place, Pausanias had his own cooks whip up a standard Spartan meal.

The Persian chefs whipped up a fancy banquet composed of multiple courses all of which were served on golden plates - cakes, pastries, and other lavish delicacies. The traditional Spartan's grub was nothing to brag about as it was a staple of barley bread and pig's-blood stew. When the Spartans saw both meals side by side, they couldn't help but burst out in laughter. In a sarcastic manner Pausanias proclaimed, "My how far the Persians have come, to travel so far just to rob us of our poverty!"

The greatest part of this story is that the Spartans were so humbled and true to their code that they were self-disciplined enough to reject the elaborate feast before them! They retained their honor by not giving in to fancy rich foods and treats!

Lesson #3 – Don’t Be Cocky Because of What You ‘DID’

Reflecting back to the 3rd lesson above when the Persian Messenger rode into Spartan country, he gave King Leonidas an ultimatum to either surrender or die. The messenger’s attitude was that of arrogance, cockiness, and he was very conceited.  He based his attitude from the past accomplishments of the Persian Empire in hopes to intimidate the king and the people of his kingdom.

While success is great and dandy, always look to improve and better ourselves from our past accomplishments. When we do, we can apply them as lessons that we can learn and grow from while also working on what we must do for future progress and achievement.

Lesson #4 – Make Light of the Situation

One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Stelios (played by actor Michael Faasbender) comes face to face with another Persian messenger during one of the post-battle scenes in which he states that all of the Spartans are doomed – that the Persian Army/Empire was so strong and so abundant in terms of the number of soldiers that if they were to fire their arrows, they will blot out the sun!

Stelios smiles down upon the messenger and simply states, “Then we will fight in the shade!” I can appreciate Stelios’ quip and humor despite the situation they’re in. And by that, I don’t mean to make a joke out of it! Far from it!

His quip and humor doesn’t promise a solution nor a happy ending to their situation. It’s doesn’t magnify a glorious outcome of victory nor that any harm will come to any of them. What Stelios remarks do offer is a ‘reality check’! In hindsight, he implies that heavy shit is about to go down hard and he & his Spartan brothers are going to fight through it and not back down!

How many times have you been in an uncomfortable situation only to start making every excuse in the book to avoid it or find a way out? Rather than confront reality and deal with the situation head on, we’d rather turn a cheek and go the opposite direction.

As a strength coach, I remember telling my training clients that the workouts that I create & provide for them will always offer a challenge both mentally and physically. The lessons learned is to have them embrace any challenge – to accept the fact that no matter what they do, what they think, or what they say, there’s no way around it. You can’t go around, under or over any challenge. The only way to come out stronger and victorious is to go through it!

Lesson #5 – Unselfish Dedication

I respect the process of standing alongside you brothers knowing that they’re willing to sacrifice their life in order to protect your own.

What kind of person does that? To be willing to die for your brother so that he may go on! That’s some pretty deep stuff right there! The Spartans were that kind of people and they were true to their code of honor in watching each other’s backs at all costs.

When I think of this, I look at all of those men and women on the front lines who are willing to pay the ultimate price to protect our country from harm’s way; those who protect our communities from the ones who won’t produce for themselves and would rather take and steal what isn’t theirs; individuals whom wouldn’t hesitate to lay it on the line to preserve the true code of honor, courage, discipline, and integrity.

Lesson #6 – Adapt or Die

In the movie, the conditions of the Spartan’s surroundings were constantly evolving and changing. Each day offered a new challenge of sorts which required that they adapt to the imposition of came before them. They knew that they needed to be proactive rather than reactive in their quest for survival. If not, their fate was imminent. As the situation would change, so would they.

The same goes for us out in the real world. The obstacles and challenges that we face day in and day out, will better equip us to handle the ‘tests of life’. We can’t expect every single day to be all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. When things go sour, we determine the best course of action in adapting to the circumstances before us so that we may overcome no matter what. Embrace the suck!

We’re always going to have curve balls and breaking balls thrown at us. It’s just a matter of us stepping into the batter’s box, adjusting our hitting stance, and making direct contact. Of course we’ll hit a few foul balls here and there, but what matters most is that we’re always willing to step into the box, and make the necessary adjustments and who knows, possible even hit one out of the park!

Lesson #7 – Even a ‘god-King’ Can Bleed

King Leonidas was so adamant in thinking that the ‘god-King’ Xerxes was virtually untouchable. He had a gut wrenching impulse in knowing that this guy was mortal like the rest of mankind – that he (Xerxes) made himself to be this immortal being that no one could do him any harm. Again not spoiling anything for those who haven’t seen the movie, Leonidas was driven to prove his point which he eventually did!

The lesson here is that we tend to believe that we can’t compete against the ‘heavyweights’ in a specific field or someone whom we see as a pioneer within an industry. Let this be a reminder that everyone has great potential to compete against “the big boys” no matter what business or trade one is in. It all comes down to taking a risk while facing fear in the face including any ‘god-like’ adversary!

Lesson #8 – Change Tactics to Produce Results

As a new wave of attackers came to face to face with the Spartans, they were consistent in changing their tactics which was a direct reflection of the various game plans they had developed/created. They were relentless in their adjustments (see Rule #5 above) and were quick to react given their tactical & strategic planning.

We too must learn to have a plan for battle when seeking a goal and/or result. It’s never an easy feat when we aim to upgrade any quality of our lives as it’s a matter or purpose, consistency, dedication, and intestinal fortitude.

Create a game plan but also be willing to change your tactics as needed as it relates to your desired outcomes.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this film may be a fictional-based movie but there are some great lessons that we can all learn and apply to ourselves and our lives. I’m almost certain that I can go back and watch this movie again and come up with a few more lessons that I didn’t mention, think about, nor discuss above.

However, I’ll let that be the more of a reason for you to check out this film and see if you can identify any lessons that can applied in today’s modern world.

- AR

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Quote of the Day - Coach John Wooden

"Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day." 
- John Wooden, Legendary coach, author, and philosopher

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Getting Out Of a Rut

I remember a while back logging onto my laptop as I was about to check my emails when I came across a photo that I was tagged in on Facebook by one of my friends.

It was a photo that caught my attention because it was a quote from one of our Pacific Northwest local pro athletes/celebrities – the infamous starting quarterback for the NFL World Champions Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson.

Here’s what the pic & quote said:

As I read this, I thought of the times when I too became a ‘victim’ of feeling stuck and not making the progress I wanted to make as a Fitness Professional. What’s funny is that these so-called ‘limitations’ were a product of my thinking.

Yes, you heard that right!

I was feeling stuck because my mind was stuck in a rut where I found myself asking the same thing over and over again – “Is this all there is?”

I also felt angry and upset as I tried to figure out why things were so stale – both personally and professionally. I knew there was more to my personal and professional life than what was being reflected at the given time.

I knew that if I anticipated spicing things up, giving myself room to breathe and expand & upgrade my quality of life, something had to change. If I planned to elevate my standards of what would bring me more happiness, I knew I wouldn’t attain it if I didn’t transform myself from the inside out.

And it all started by making the conscious choice to change my routine!

I found myself being sick & tired, frustrated until I took ACTION and did something about it. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard numerous conversations from people I know or just being out in public with people expressing how they don’t like their current situation – how they dislike the way they look and/or feel, they’re miserable with their job/career, the relationships they’re in are going sour, how horrible their nutrition habits are, how they’re tired all of the time, how they’re so stressed out about X,Y or Z, how they've tried EVERYTHING (have you really?) to help get them to their desired goals and outcomes, etc.

If you’re that miserable, aggravated, upset, disturbed, annoyed and/or irritated about your reality, just like the quote above says, “It’s because it’s a reflection of your routine”!

I know I can sit here in front of my laptop and say things like “do something about it” in regards to changing your reality. But what good would that do if you’re not mentally eager nor motivated to alter and modify your current situation no matter what you’re dealing with?!

It all starts with a choice; a choice that allows you to explore your options with the intent to get out of the rut you’re in. I think more often than none, we find ourselves being bound by the infamous ball & chain not knowing that we have possession of the key to break away from them. One must summon up the strength to break the cycle even though it may take facing a fear or two, maybe more. 

When I found myself craving something different to do, I really had no idea that I was truly in a rut until I had a deep desire to quench my thirst for a change in my life. Maybe you’re feeling the same way too and not know you’re in a rut. However, you may have that gut instinct about something, which is a pretty strong signal that comes from deep within.

I know when I had gut instincts about things, I've learned to go with it, respect it and follow through with it. I do know that when I listened to it, things served me well. Rather than seeking other’s opinions, waiting for the facts or attaining permission to move forward, I simply said “screw that” and went with my intuition. Perhaps you may need to do the same!

And let me tell you, it's scary as hell when you do! But what's contradictory to it all is that if feels liberating! You gotta be honest with yourself and tell the truth, no matter how much it stings or hurts. I know this sounds cliche and all but as the saying goes, the truth shall set you free!

I briefly mentioned personal & professional growth and development above. As I took the time to reflect and get my thoughts in order in what I wanted to gain and what I aspired to achieve, I had to evaluate and analyze my strengths and weaknesses in ALL areas of my life.

When it came to the areas of giftedness, I knew I had to sustain them by working on my strengths. In terms of my character, I had to identify my weaknesses and start putting in the work to see what necessities I needed to acquire if I planned to grow and flourish. In other words, take this a way of saying that you should always work on yourself first and foremost. It also means to do more with less by simply focusing your time and energy on the right kind of work needed that aligns with your desired goals and outcomes vs. just spinning your wheels and taking on more than you can chew.

If you take the time to identify what you want, you will always have a point of reference as to why you do the things you do. I refer to this as your personal North Star - north as in the direction to always keep striving to move upward. It’s imperative that you understand that every choice and every decision that you make every single day will ultimately impact whether you’re getting closer or going further away from your goals and desired outcomes.  

What inspires you?

What are your motivations?

What goals, dreams and desires do you have for your personal and/or professional life?

What challenges, roadblocks and/or obstacles are you currently facing that’s getting in your way to achieve personal greatness?

What makes you happy?

What I've come to realize as a strength coach and personal trainer is that life is about more than just lifting weights, pushing sleds, eating right and eating clean.

It's about the unification of all the things that make you who you are within the 4 phases of total transformation - Physical, Psychological, Relationships, Career/Biz.

Act as if you have already arrived to where you want to be and reverse engineer the process to get you there.

You may just surprise yourself and what you’re capable of achieving!