Category Archives: General

Deadlift Diaries: My Mental Battle

Sometimes a guy just needs a little push to get going…or a little pull in this instance. I am putting my progress out there to keep myself accountable and to hopefully help out others in a similar situation.  This will be an ongoing thread as I attempt to break my intimidation over the deadlift.

The deadlift is in my opinion the king of all strength exercises.  It is mind over matter, you against this bar that you are attempting to pickup off the floor with no real feel of how heavy it is until you begin your lift.  This is very different from a squat or bench press.  With those lifts you can feel the weight on your back or you can feel the pressure of the weight in your hands and wrists.  The deadlift does not give the nervous system that luxury.  You are almost flying blind with it.

It can “get inside your head” like no other lift.  Because it is such a different feel you can psych yourself up or out in an instant.  I have been powerlifting since may of 2015, I do realize I am a noob at this but I have made it a priority to allow myself to get stronger in this lift and not get into my head every single attempt.

I think my recent history with this lift can show how frustrating it can be.

Going into my first training session in May of 2015 I tested out at a 330 lb deadlift.  Within a couple of months I was up to 350.  I then hit a road block and stopped gaining, I even started to backslide and get weaker. In Sept of 2015 I hurt my back and tore an erector muscle on a 350 lb attempt that took me out of commission for a couple of months. I worked my ass off and came back stronger, crushing 385 in Feb of 2016.  I trained for a while and again my strength went down quickly.  I went all the way down back to 315.

What happened?  Was I all of a sudden weaker?  Did I forget how to deadlift?

Enter months of frustration.  I wanted to just quit.  What was I doing this for? I thought to myself I was never going to get stronger.  I was ashamed of my lack of strength.  However, I could not quit.

“Tomorrow I will quit.  This will be my last workout. ”

That thankfully did not happen.  I always came back.

January 2017 My strength is coming back.  Based on reps and weights I am very close to where I was before after being at 315 just a couple of months ago.

So what changed?  I will be honest there was a lot of experimentation with stances, programming, accessory exercises, volume, frequency and pretty much every variable imaginable.  The three things

August 9th 2017

No updates because unfortunately there has been no progress in terms of poundage increase, but I would not say there has been zero progress.

I have modified my footing, realized my head position is all wrong and have been working on keeping the chin tucked.  Today we tried to blast out moderate singles.  275×1 for 7 sets looked pretty good, but I did notice my right side is coming up faster.  I’ll have to look closely to determine what is going on there.

 

Once More into the Fray – What It Means To Me

Have you ever watched a movie and be so moved that it help make a lasting imprint on your life?  I’ve been emotionally moved by a movie, but never until only recently has one moved me to the point where I felt compelled to actually move forward with change.  Excitement is one thing, but excitement followed by action is another.

A movie that I had mixed feelings on the first time I watched it has grown into a favorite of mine.  That movie is “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson.

I won’t pretend to be a film critic here or even go into dramatic detail regarding the plot of the story, but the point is Neeson has a choice to make in the film as most of us do at some point in our lives; dig deep inside of himself and reflect.  Is he going to fight or just lay down and die.  That is the age-old question isn’t it?  Will you stand up to fear, look it in the face and move forward?

As he is presented with several near death experiences he recollects on his childhood and a poem written by his stern and at times quite unloving father.

Once more into the fray

Into the last good fight I’ll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day.

To me this poem means that every day we are faced with two decisions:  Are we going to live and make the most of each day or are we going to slowly die and not search for or carry out plans to live our dreams.

Blended with this poem is an image of his now passed-on wife.  They lie side by side in a bed, the camera pans out and there is an image of an IV drip for his wife.  She’s beautiful, stunning really and they lock eyes.  Fear washes over his face but there is an acceptance of fate in hers.

“Don’t be afraid” she whispers.

This is the part that really got to me. When I see this I pictured my own wife lying beside me, telling me not to waste anymore time and fulfill my own dreams; SEO marketer, writing and becoming a leader in the massage industry with my own ideas.  Then the questions started.

What kind of life could we have had if I had acted on this sooner?

How much happier would we have been?

Now even if I do accomplish these things I won’t be able to share it with her.

Why the fuck did I wait this long!

My effort definitely started changing the day I saw myself in this situation.  Things began to move more quickly, I started to move more purposefully.  I say find your dream, chase it. There is no certainty in any of this life, but that at some point we will have no more life to live.

Once more into the fray

Into the last good fight I’ll ever know

Live and die on this day

Live and die on this day.

 

RGD

 

The Dilema of Charging Friends For Personal Training Sessions

This is an area of contention and debate for a lot of people, both clients and trainers alike.  My stance may change in the future, but currently I do not train friends for free.  Here is why.

The client has no vested interest in a free session or sessions, there’s nothing to lose. 

Sometimes it can help one’s motivation if there is something on the line.  Putting a financial wager on their fitness is often enough for people to work out. If they don’t do it they are out no money.  They can always do it later.

This also adds value to the session

I tried to look at it from a client’s perspective. After all even as a personal trainer I still see the benefit of having a trainer myself and I do on a very regular basis.  Do I train with people that only charge peanuts for their services? Absolutely not.  My trainer is $70 per hour.  Free sessions can then be viewed as being of lesser quality.  If I see $5 personal training sessions being advertised I immediately question that trainer’s qualifications.  I think to myself “something has to be up. Something is off with that offer.”

You Need to Optimize Your Time

Time is money.  Focusing on paying clients only makes business sense.  Pouring time into clients who are not ready and those who will not pay is unfortunately not a practical way to make a living.  Keep these people in the back of your mind, stay in touch but focus on those that are ready to invest completely including monetarily.

My advice if you are contemplating training friends for free –

  • Stay positive.  This is a hard industry.  Not seeing clients on a regular basis can wear on a person’s confidence. You got this. Keep your chin up.
  • Don’t give your services away.  Stay the course with your pricing.  You can give discounts now and then but do not give it away.  Remember, your time is valuable too.
  • Give your business enough time to grow.  A couple days, a couple weeks or even a couple of months is not enough.  I realized you need to plant a few seeds in the minds of people about who you are and what you do before your business will flourish.
  • Keep in touch with your contacts. Remember, these friends have friends of friends and they too might be looking for a healthy change.

Friends will understand that this is a business and will ultimately understand you need to help people but also make a living. Do not feel guilty about that.  Take pride in what you do, again do NOT give it away, focus on your passion and everything will work out.

RGD

 

 

That Scary Career Change Isn’t So Scary After All

Recently I have decided on a date to fully make the transition from technical support to full-time massage therapist.  The timing, finances and opportunity finally lined up.  It is time.  Obviously this is something that I have been working for, this has been my end goal for going on four years now, but that does not mean there will not be new challenges.

One of those more immediate challenges has been dealing with the less than confident responses from others when they find out what I am doing.  I know a lot of them have my best interest in mind and simply don’t want to see me get hurt or put myself in an impossible situation, but some of the comments although not particularly offensive, they also don’t give me the impression these people necessary have my back.  A few examples:

Does that pay, OK?

I hope it works out.

You’re just going to throw away your IT career?

You can ALWAYS go back to your old job.

I mean they didn’t come right out and call me a moron for making the switch, but that last comment is the one that really got my attention.  It ignited and still ignites a spark inside me.

Going back to the IT world is NOT an option.  I absolutely refuse to work in an industry that I do not enjoy.  It had it’s place and was good to me but that does not mean I need to be married to it for the rest of my life.  I found something I enjoy, saw other people making a good living with it and decided to grab a hold of it with both hands and not look back.

Looking at the tech job from a business decision perspective it merely helped fuel my true passion and assisted me in financing my dream.  I learned to eventually accept that and not feel guilty about it.  Working massage and personal training part-time gave me a taste of what living my dream could be and at this point I refuse to give that up.

I do not believe that is being selfish I believe that is being true to myself.  Why would I want to go through life thinking what could have been?  My wife is behind me as well as countless others.  I will not let a few comments keep me from taking a calculated chance. I would not say I never have any doubting moments about this change, but that’s just part of the stretching and growing process.  Those moments would eventually pass and I refocused and a breakthrough would usually follow.

If you are going through a similar transition and run into people like this who are trying to keep you safe, take a couple things from my experience:

Most of them don’t mean any harm they just do not want to see you hurt.

Keep moving forward. Take their comments with a grain of salt and move forward.  Keep moving forward no matter what.

If you find yourself being thrown off-track by the negative commentary, focus on your purpose.  Why do you want this? Write it out, say it out loud.  It is remarkable how calming this little exercise can be.

My dream happened and is continuing to happen.  I hope you read this and make the option to pursue your own dreams.

RGD

 

 

The Meaning of ‘RGD’

I sign my name on these posts as “RGD” but that is not my name, those are not even my initials.

So why do I do it?

When I started this blog I wanted to stay anonymous.  I was working full-time and did not want anyone to know what I was doing on the side.  I didn’t want to get grief, I did not want to answer questions and I really did not want the attention.

When you’re anonymous criticism is a little easier to take.  If someone does not like my post I can delete their comment and move on.  However if I am not writing under an alias and a friend reads my post and does not like it I hated the idea that they might talk to someone else I know and spread the word that I really suck at this.  I have since developed a little thicker skin but at the time my mind would run wild with how this thing could snowball and I was certain that eventually everyone on earth would be laughing about my blog. Sounds ridiculous I know, but that’s the dangerous game you play when you let your mind wander in a destructive direction.

What does it stand for?

It is the initials of three men:

R stands for ‘Ray’, my father who has since passed on.  My relationship with him was the strongest near the end of his life.  I do wish I had done some things differently early on, but I am glad we were able to create a tremendous bond while he was still with us.  Other father/son relationships have had a longer stretch of good times but I am fortunate we had the good times that we did.  Some sons never get any of the good stuff with their dad, this short stretch of good times was how it was supposed to be for me. It was when he became very, very sick that I had decided that I was going to get clean and get start to get my life in order.  I decided on this change for myself, but it was also heavily influenced by my dad.  As I watched him battle his own health issues, a lot of which were probably attributed to decades of alcohol abuse, I could see in his eyes that he knew things were not going well for me and it tugged at his heart.  His generation is not big on showing emotion but you could clearly see the empathy he had for me.  He did not want me to make the same mistakes he did.  He wasn’t mad that I too developed an alcohol problem but he more than anything wanted to see me be happy with being me, being Dan.

G stands for ‘Galen’, my father-in law.  When my father passed on I was definitely a little lost.  I missed that father figure who I could talk sports with, get advice from and tell me what I needed to hear not just what I wanted to hear.  I found that in Galen.  He showed me you can show your heart and still be a manly guy.  Follow your heart, it doesn’t matter what others think.  When he came into my life I really started to be more comfortable in my own skin.

D stands for “Dan”, me.

This is really an evolution.  Ray helped shaped me in the beginning, Galen picked up from where Ray left off and the two of them shaped who I am today.

Well, that is why I use those initials and why I will continue to use those initials.  I am not hiding anything, it’s more of a comfort thing which has now turned into a tribute.

RGD

Being sick and water weight | over reacting to waterweight gain during sickness

Everybody will get sick eventually.  No matter how hard you work to take care of yourself it is inevitable that a cold or the flu will sneak through. The body can become extremely efficient and fight off most of it, but you’re not perfect.  So, you get sick, your body adapts, fights it off and regains its strength or even comes back stronger.

My first thought when I get sick isn’t about what I’ll do about missed appointments at work or meetings I won’t be available for.  One of my current jobs (that shall remain nameless) isn’t really one I care that much for so a few days off is pretty sweet.   I welcome the break from work. My apprehension comes when it comes to what it will do to my body. I think, “Oh my god. I’m going to miss my gym time!”

Being very active and regularly exercising, I enjoy the benefit of rarely getting sick.  Unfortunately when I do get sick its usually quite significant.  This past winter I had come into contact with what I thought was for sure some version of the bubonic plague.  It was terrible.  Rundown, congested, a cough that would not stop and lasted over 2 weeks, and constant fluid in my lungs causing me to wheeze day and night.  I had previously had a couple bouts of pneumonia so that also crossed my mind.

Is this going to be another bout of pneumonia? Not even kidding but people die from stuff like this, don’t they?

The wheezing would annoy me so much that the mere sound of it would prevent me from sleeping.

What in the hell is that noise?..Oh, wait..its coming from me.

While getting my body healthy, drinking plenty of water and missing several workouts for 2 weeks and then some, I noticed that what I had lost in strength seemed to be replaced by water weight.

 

I thought my diet remained the same.  If anything I had been eating less, but my weight grew 6 lbs in a very short time.

Why?

Part of this was just how I react to sickness.  Some people lose weight, others like me seem to want to retain water.  Some doctors told me it was a result of inflammation, others said it was just the excess water I was taking in.  When I looked at things closely I think it was mostly diet.

No. I was eating less, but I was consuming a lot more carbohydrates and specifically a lot more breads and a ton more sweets.  When I looked back at my actual diet log I saw that there was a daily sugar fix, sometimes less sometimes more but it was a weight gremlin plotting, adding pounds to my diet.  I simply craved simple sugars.  I took in these simple sugars, spiked my insulin, craved more sugars, took in more sugars and the cycle continues.

Was all of this a fat gain?

Every 1 gram of carbs holds roughly 3 grams of water.  1 gram of water weighs 0.00220462. lbs, seems like a very small number right?  You can easily have a favorite ice cream treat that is in the 100-150 grams of carb range.  Lets say you eat clean all day but indulge at night and have this treat.  Now lets say you go over on carbs about 150 grams for 5 days in a row.  All of a sudden you are at 750 grams.

Each of those grams (750) holds 3 grams of water.

3 * 750 = 2250 water grams

2250 *0.00220462 (lbs per gram of water) = 4.96 lbs.

You could easily show a 5 lb gain on the scale in one week.  Some days I ate less, some days I ate more, but most of those days I ended up eating something super rich in simple sugars.  Of course I would eat it quickly, further aiding my insulin spike.

My sickness did eventually stop.  I got better and I got stronger.  I took my time, did not panic and resumed my workouts.  Slowly but surely the weight came off.  I think it was about 3 weeks and I was back to normal weight.  I could have probably done it in half that, but I had no urge to rush it.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, you are not alone.  Take a deep breath, step back and look at the entire picture.

  • Are you truly staying on your diet?
  • How has your sleep been?
  • What is your water intake?

All of the above can drastically change when you’re not feeling well.  Don’t let temporary weight gain stop you from your long-term weight goals.

RGD

Be OK with BeingTalented | Accept your ability, accept your talents

Why would anyone have a hard time with being talented?

What does ‘talented’ even mean?  Who gets to decide this?

I have always had no problem with the talent of others, I could always see that.  The problem I had was   the definition of “Talented” for myself. There were conflicting ideologies here.  Everyone was talented, I of course was part of everyone, but I did not consider myself talented.  I could see the tiniest bit of potential in almost everyone and I had set an unrealistic expectations for myself as far as what I needed to do to be considered talented.

Previously when I thought of someone being talented I thought immediately of someone very well known, famous.  Not just anyone with a slightly better than average ability at something, but I thought of those that were stood out worldy in their profession.  Actors, musicians, billionaires, people with a star on the Hollowood Walk of Fame.  These people were talented, I was not.

Ridiculous, right?

If I consider my mom talented for her meatloaf (and she definitely is), how could I not consider my massage work and growing writing ability to have some sort of

I can say from personal experience that this is a hard thing to get over.  It’s hard to be OK and secure with the idea of something that you cannot see, you cannot feel.

For me it feels as though I am a part of a featured artist opening in an art gallery, walls lined with magnificent paintings and sculptures.  I can see the work of others.  I can marvel at the beauty they are trying to capture.  I can see their ability and message shine though.  It’s just so obvious.  Then I come to my wing of the gallery that is also on display.  It is just as full of on-lookers and fans as any other wing.  Others give tremendous compliments on what I have done.  I look and strain my eyes.  I look at it sideways and frontways, a little closer, a little further back maybe, but from all ways all I see is a solid white canvas.  How can I possibly accept a compliments when I’m staring at that?  I feel like I did nothing. Am I going crazy? Are they just being nice?  I just don’t see it.

How did I start seeing my talent?

-I realized that talent is very raw in nature.  It is not an end-all.  You may show a natural ability for something but that can only take you so far. If you do not work at it you will not become better, good or great.

-Realize you are telling yourself a lie.  Is it really possible that everyone else is talented at something and you’re just left out in the cold? Get over it, stop feeling sorry for yourself, accept the fact that there is good in you and move forward with it.

-Feel out your talent.  What I mean by this is that try to play with it, practice it.  Maybe it’s only 5 minutes a day but what we’re trying to do is see if there is a spark there, to see if this is something you would like to pursue and take further.  You should never feel forced into something and it is quite possible that it is not something you want to pursue.  That’s perfectly fine.

For me I found this entire process very frustrating at first, but it grew and developed into a very real passion of mine.  I hope you have similar results, I hope you can learn to see your gifts and nurture them.  No one wants to live a life of regret of what might have been.

3 Breaths to Let Go of Worry | anxiety,workout anxiety, pre-workout jitters, anxiety relief

As a personal trainer, as someone who powerlifts, as someone who is very physically active, I know the importance of proper breathing.  It should be simple, right?  After all, its not something you have to concentrate on in your daily activities.  You just do it.

But there is a tremendous power, a tremendous visualization that can happen when you sit down in quiet and concentrate on your breath. With deep and focused breathing there is a oneness and awareness with you and your surroundings that takes place that can take you from panic to peace in a matter of minutes.

As someone who has battled anxiety for all of my adult life I have used the technique below with great success.  Do not let the simplicity fool you.  It is powerful and just like a new exercise at the gym you are unfamiliar with at first, the more you practice it the better you will get at it.

  1. Find a quiet spot, free of distractions, free of noise.
  2. Sit comfortably straight with your feet on the floor.
  3.  With your eyes closed, breath normally, focusing on your breath.  Breathe in through the nose and out the mouth. Pay attention to the sensation of air coming in and then going out of your body. Pay attention to the space you occupy and where you are right now.
  4. First breath – As you breathe in we begin to ground your own energy.  Some people choose to breathe normally, I choose to breathe in more deeply.  It is your choice.  Simply saying your name in your head to yourself or thinking about the person you truly are or want to be can be very centering.  Take a moment and think of just you and the energy you bring to the world.
  5. 2nd breath – As you breath out think about an issue that has been bugging you, draining you of focus, distracting you from functioning optimally.  Maybe it is a problem with a boss who is not understanding or maybe that boss chewed you out the day before for no reason.  Maybe you had a fight with a loved one or spouse and said something you regretted.  Find something that you feel a need to let go of.  While breathing out, imagine this problem leaving your body through your breath.  With each breath out the issue becomes smaller, weaker and less significant. I often picture my breath leaving me in color. Sometimes its red, sometimes its blue or some other color.
  6. 3rd breath – This one was the most difficult for me.  Here we think of something we want and “breathe it in” to our body, our whole being.  This could be more time to do something you love, a weight loss, more money, a new job, etc. Think of this item and how it will make you feel to be in possession of it.  Do not feel guilty for wanting it, this is something I battled with for years.  You are worth it and are deserving.

My personal preference is to practice each breathe individually first.  At the end I will go through all three in sequence.

Example – First breath, I concentrate on just the grounding piece.  I do not concentrate on the exhale.  I do this 5 or 6 times or more and then move onto Second breath.  On the second breath I just focus on the exhale. I do not pay attention to the inhale portion.  I do this 5 or more times and move onto Third breath and do it in the same manner.  After I have done all three and bring it all together. I breathe in and ground, breathe out and let go and breathe in again to ask for something I aim to achieve.

Feel free to practice it any variety of ways and make it your own.  The adaptability and freedom of creativity make it a favorite of mine.

Try and practice this daily.  It might be a struggle at first but with time the issue you are battling should seem less worrisome.  As your anxiety goes down your creative juices will increase and you will find yourself most likely coming up with more solutions than you had otherwise realized.  Give it a shot, let me know if there are any questions and I am eager to hear if others have had similar success with it.

 

RGD