Priorities and Sacrifices

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution ūüôā

Happy February! We made it through the first month of 2015, and we are rolling right along! To everyone who started a new process, started chasing a new dream, or found their passion this year, I commend you, and I encourage you to keep up the good work! At the¬†end of the first month, what changes have already taken place? What data¬†do you have from the past 30 days, and how are you going to use that information to continue your process and build on your success in the coming months? Lifestyle change isn’t always simple, and sometimes change can be challenging. To be successful, we need to develop positive strategies and behaviors that contribute to, rather than detract from, our success. To that end, I want to talk today about how we make choices, how we prioritize our time and energy and the “sacrifices” we make to achieve our desired results.

As a frequent observer of human behavior, I am often struck by how people make decisions, and how people react to the choices they make. I see people in the gym all the time who show up 10 minutes late to class, socialize instead of pay attention, and then whine about how sore they are or what they see on the whiteboard. They seem generally unhappy and their presence greatly disrupts the flow and tone of my class. I am always curious about how these people function in other aspects on their lives, and I wonder if they consider the fact that while it is a positive behavior to show up to the gym, the rest of that negativity and unpleasantness greatly detracts from any forward progress that may have been achieved.

By contrast, I also see people who arrive 15 minutes early, spend 10 minutes mobilizing before class, encourage other members through their workout, and generally contribute positive energy whenever they attend my classes. These people aren’t always the fittest, they aren’t always the fastest, they aren’t always on top of their game. But they don’t let the challenges they face break their spirit. They don’t let their struggles and problems bleed in to all aspects of their lives. They recognize the beauty of the process, they recognize the value of discipline, they understand how to prioritize their time, and they show a willingness to “make sacrifices” to achieve their goals.

When we think about sacrifices, we typically think about giving up something we really want to get something we are trying to convince ourselves we want. This is a silly premise to start with, because¬†every choice is a “sacrifice”. Every time we choose something, by default we can’t choose something else. The words we use to describe this equation are what get us in some serious trouble. When we talk about living a healthy lifestyle, or changing behavior in any way, we talk about “giving up” something (sugar, caffeine, porn, etc.) because that object is preventing us from getting something we really want. It may taste good or feel good, but you¬†know you¬†can’t do what ¬†you REALLY want to do if this “something” stays in your life. Using this terminology immediately imbues this conversation with a negative connotation, and we convince ourselves that it really is a “struggle” to avoid cookies, or to drink black coffee instead of a 36oz mocha, or to read a book instead of surfing the web for porn. You tell yourself it will be “hard” to do without these things, but¬†you tell yourself you can manage because you REALLY want to lose a couple pounds, or not be such a hyper spazz, or you would like to have a relationship with a real person instead of your computer screen. People fail at this all the time, and I think it is because instead of turning their attention towards their new PRIORITIES, they refuse¬†to shift their mindset from focusing on sacrifice, and they get stuck.

When we prioritize something, we put our attention toward that thing. We focus, we concentrate, we engage, we emphasize. Take a quick minute right now and look up “sacrifice” and “prioritize”. Go ahead, I’ll wait… isn’t it interesting that these two words are basically opposites that mean the same thing? If we prioritize any behavior, by default we can’t do anything else. Instead of focusing on what we are giving up (sacrificing), we put our energy towards the choice we made and the behavior we perform.¬†¬†If we choose to make something or someone important, then we make time for them. Period. If we talk about things we want to do, then those words must be expressed in action, or the words are null and void. Placing value on priorities allows you to look forward in a process, rather than constantly looking back to remind yourself all the stuff you “sacrificed” to be where you are now. Do you understand the difference?

We have so many¬†opportunities to pay attention to how we live and what we do. We have limitless opportunities to choose something to improve. How does each decision¬†build on the previous? How do patterns present themselves and repeat themselves? How do those little parts of the process add up to something larger or more profound? The idea I’m talking about here is complex and it requires effort and it forces us to choose what our priorities are, and it forces us to live what we believe. Here’s an idea: let’s make choices in life based off what we want and what will bring us the most happiness. Try it. Pursue activities that make you¬†feel alive. ¬†Do stuff that makes you¬†use your body and mind in all the myriad ways Nature intended. Choose to interact, choose to reach out, choose to connect.¬†¬†When we focus on the joy in the decisions we make, rather than decrying all the stuff we are missing out on, we are able to find happiness easier. Yes, it is true there will be stuff you miss out on, we can’t do everything, all the time. However,¬†we can PRIORITIZE what will bring us happiness. We can choose to be happy with our struggle, let go of our “sacrifices”, and relish the small accomplishments that add up to large success.

Here is a cool article that ties in well with what I’m talking about here, check it out: The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

I’d love to hear how you are progressing in the New Year so drop me a few lines and let’s start a conversation! What are you prioritizing this year? Let me know! As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution!! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

 

Inspiring Loyal Believers

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A large part of my role as a Crossfit coach is to promote what I believe and show my clients and gym members what works for me, namely the benefits of fitness and a healthy lifestyle. I use my education, experience and a healthy dose of experimentation to share what I know, and convince others they need what I am trying to give them. How I present myself to other people, and how I create connections, and ultimately, how I make a living, are all contingent on how well I establish a foundation of authenticity. Authenticity and transparency are two attributes that help create loyal believers and I want to talk a bit about how loyal believers are the foundation of any successful movement or process.

I started the year with a rant, and while it feels good to get that off my chest, I’m going to downshift this week, and start a discussion about how we inspire each other, and how that inspiration turns in to a process, and how that process eventually helps us achieve our desired results.¬†For any movement to be successful, or for any process to produce results, the individual participating in that process must be a loyal believer in the process, and that loyalty must be inspired by leaders who choose to set a positive (albeit not perfect) example. As a movement gains momentum, the followers continue to observe a leader’s actions and behaviors, and if authenticity is maintained, the likelihood of those followers “drinking the Kool-Aid” and committing to the process grows exponentially. No matter what kind of process or movement you are involved with, we all need mentors or provocateurs with good intentions to push us in to new and uncomfortable territory because we so rarely have the gumption to go to those places on our own.

We all struggle when confronting the part of ourselves we need to change. When the struggle becomes too much, it is appropriate to ask someone else for help, motivation, and information. I hear gripes and whines and excuses all the time about how “difficult” it is to make time for training. I hear moans and groans about how “hard” it is to eat enough protein, or sleep more than 5 hours a night, or drink 64 oz of water in one day. I love hearing these gripes and moans because this shared struggle is one way connection and community are established, and helping people find solutions to these challenges is what makes my job so interesting and exciting!! On a daily basis, I strive to create a community of people who practice encouraging each other. On a daily basis, I thrive on creating an atmosphere in our gym where anything less that your 100% is unacceptable, where there is no qualifying your effort as long as you are committed to the process. On a daily basis, I am rewarded when I see people overcome challenges, build mental and physical strength, and achieve their goals.

As you continue to forge a path in this New Year, I encourage to ask yourself if you are a loyal believer. Do you observe you current health status and your current physical abilities and decide that maintenance and optimal performance are optional? If your physical body and the duties you are able to perform contribute to your self-image and self-worth, I encourage you to commit your time and effort and consciousness  to process of making yourself better today than you were yesterday. As you evaluate the goals you are chasing and the processes you are involved in, ask yourself if what you are chasing with change your lifestyle in a positive way. Are you committed to being better today, in some way, than you were yesterday?

Answer these questions, and then shoot me few lines and let me know how you are progressing in this New Year. I look forward to hearing from you :). As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution!!

Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

Proficiency, Efficiency, and Excellence

proficiency = a high degree of competence or skill; expertise.

efficiency = the ratio of the work done or energy developed by a machine, engine,etc., to the energy supplied to it, usually expressed as a percentage.

excellence = the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.
Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution ūüôā
  The definitions above have been simplified, but I think it is hard to miss the meaning of these powerful words. How grandiose!! How magnificent!! The synonyms go on and on, but I want to talk more about the ideas represented by these three words. These terms were brought to mind after I attended a local weightlifting seminar, but as I ruminated on what these words mean, I was inspired by how they can be applied to any and all aspects of life.
When applied to the sport of weightlifting, or more broadly, the concepts of human movement, these terms follow a simple progression: develop proficiency first, maximize efficiency, then achieve excellence. Again, in terms of sport, every championship team and Greatest Of All Time athlete possesses these attributes. They dedicated their lives to developing a high level of proficiency, they supplied the passion to refine their chosen craft to leave behind only what brought success, they endured the gauntlet of challengers to establish their superiority.
  I started thinking about these words, and I started to get a little bit pumped up. I mean, what would happen in your family, your community, or the world, if we all started pursuing our lives with these ideas in mind? What if, even in the simplest tasks, we sought to develop expertise? What if we did even common tasks uncommonly well?
¬† Some of the worst parts of humanity stem from apathy and indifference. Our darkest moments are when we choose not to participate because of laziness or disinterest. Instead, let’s continue to evolve, and pursue excellence in all aspects of our lives. From the most mediocre task to the magnificent adventure, let’s begin to cut away the unnecessary bullshit, and strive for optimal efficiency. For every little action, for every little movement, for every posture and position you encounter throughout your daily life, I challenge you to develop unrivaled proficiency. Go out in the world today and BE AWESOME!
  Do you have some amazing ideas about how to apply the ideas of proficiency, efficiency and excellence? I would love to hear from you!! Drop me a line at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com, or leave a comment below. Also, you can find me on Instagram now!! @livingrevolution (duh.).
¬† Thank you so much for reading my words, and as always, thank you so much for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

A Good Place to (Re)Start

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This week represents a shift in the seasons, as summer ends, ¬†and fall begins. For me, this week also represents a time to “start over” or refresh. My family lives a hectic and busy life, and we try hard to establish and maintain routines that are effective and efficient. We try hard to prioritize our time together, and still leave room for leisure activities and spontaneity. Often, when we are focused on constructing our schedules, we overlook the blank spaces on the calendar. We forget about those time when nothing is going on, and we have the opportunity to relax at home, without an agenda. The quiet moments spent reading together on the couch, the teamwork of preparing and sharing dinner as a family, the relaxation of lying in the yard, soaking in the sunshine, all represent a sense of freedom to me. In my mind, this downtime is much more important than all the activities and hobbies we chase after to fill up our lives, but it is often neglected, and that sense of freedom is replaced with a sense of obligation to what comes next on our weekly checklist. Is this any way to live life?

Today, I want to share a short video with you that asks a very important question: What does freedom mean to you? The speaker in this video offers some interesting insight to possible answers to this question, but I would very much like to hear what you have to say on the matter. Post a comment below or shoot me an email and let me know how you manifest a sense of freedom in your life on a daily basis. Thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

On Redefining Masculinity

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Well, friends, I survived October.¬† The last couple weeks have been an incredible trip, fraught with emotional perils like I’ve never encountered. Much of my internal universe has shifted significantly and continues to bend, flex, contract and expand as I process these new feelings and all the excellent information I received from the friends and family with whom I sought counsel. I am looking at the world through a very different lens as I write this now, and I want to share with you some of what is going on in my head :).

Two stories in the popular media grabbed my attention this month. First, a¬†communal act of bravery and unselfishness demonstrated by a team of middle school football players. The second, a bullying scandal from another¬†football team, the Miami Dolphins. The actors in this story are, by most conventional definitions, considered adults. The actors in the first story are boys, just delving into puberty, young men, at best. Both stories are emotionally charged, but they inspire feelings on opposite ends of the spectrum of human behavior. The Dolphins story pisses me off and makes we wonder how some human beings are infected with so much negative energy and darkness they forget how to treat¬†the people around them¬†with dignity and respect.¬†The first story inspires me and reminds me there are good things happening all around us, and changing the world in a positive way still takes place on a person-to-person level. It makes me ecstatically happy to see compassion, camaraderie, courage, and love acted out by children who probably don’t yet understand the gravity and influence of their actions.

In light of challenges I’ve been working through recently in my personal life, I am looking at these stories and asking questions about what it means to be a “man” in both these situations. What impact does gender have on stories like these? What are the cultural implications for men when we recognize these kind of stories on a national level? What kind of precedent is the current generation setting for acceptable male behavior in modern society? What changes must be made now for men who wish to live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives? What lessons must we teach our sons to ensure they won’t suffer¬†or create suffering as a result of their emotional immaturity and ignorance?

Here is the link to the blog article that got me thinking about all this:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9939308/richie-incognito-jonathan-martin-miami-dolphins-bullying-scandal

Here is a link to the story about the middle school football team:

http://elitedaily.com/news/world/can-learn-lot-middle-school-football-team-video/

I believe we are all familiar with how our culture and American society views and expresses masculinity, and how this culture defines being a “Man”. Boys are taught to be tough, to go for the kill, to compete, engage and destroy. Men are reminded to never show weakness, to suppress emotion, to grow beards and build muscles,¬† to overcome, pillage and conquer. These notions and ideas are antiquated leftovers, the dregs of a mentality that has little practical applicability to modern culture. However, these ideals persist, and we find the negative consequences from this kind of thinking in aspects of culture ranging from professional sports to politics to business. Problems arise when our men and boys don’t see these attributes and behaviors as metaphors, but rather as tangible characteristics they should develop and express. Problems arise when we forget to teach our boys and men¬†how to temper aggression¬†with¬†empathy, sympathy and compassion, and how to turn off the “killer instinct” when it is inappropriate. ¬†In the sport-specific examples above,¬†we forget these men and boys are playing a game,¬†not fighting a war, and we forget the “ripple effect” these stories have as they reverberate through our collective consciousness.

For¬† my part, I will tell you where my focus has shifted. While I value my “masculinity’ and what it feels like to “be a man”, ¬†I am also learning how to subvert this way of thinking and open myself up to expressing my manliness in ways that have nothing to do with aggression or violence. For example, I am learning new ways to express¬† humility toward my partner and my children through the¬†domestic endeavors of daily housework. I am learning compassion and patience from my kids, as I attempt to understand life from their perspective, and frame our interactions knowing they are still figuring out¬†how this crazy world works. ¬†I am learning more about trust and love as I work to make myself emotionally vulnerable to my partner and my intimate friends. I am stretching my boundaries and learning about courage by pursuing my desires without attachment to an outcome, but rather enjoying the process and the journey of what my life is right now.

None of this is easy work, and I am confronted by challenges on a daily basis that make me sit down and think hard. But, I’ve recognized the value of this work, and I continue to see positive changes in my own behavior, and I continue to recognize how my positive energy impacts the people with whom I interact. So, I am writing this post for a few reasons. If you are male-gendered and reading this, I encourage you to check the links I posted and feel how you react to these stories. I want you to turn a critical eye inward to determine where you find yourself on the spectrum of human behavior. Do you embody and express empathy, compassion, and sympathy in your everyday life? Why or why not? What example are you setting for other men,¬†OR if you are a father, what example are you setting¬†for your children?¬†If you are female-gendered and reading this, I want you to check the links, and think about how you interact with men in your life. Do you continue to accept and allow aggressive, offensive, hurtful behavior in your daily life? To what standard do you hold the men in your life? How can you take action to teach men this nastiness is unacceptable and it is time for a BIG CHANGE?

Ultimately, this isn’t a gender issue, but a HUMAN issue, and I understand that we all need to be working to prevent behaviors like bullying, racism, aggression and interpersonal violence. We all need to be working harder to proliferate behaviors of kindness, compassion, empathy and sympathy, because life is already hard enough, without any added interpersonal bullshit.¬†This post is part of my commitment to change, both in my personal life, and in the world around me. Won’t you join me? Thanks so much for reading this, and for participating in the Living Revolution :). Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

On Trying Too Hard

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Many of you know I spent the last two weeks in the depths of a¬†personal hell I’ve never experienced before. There was a darkness inside me that I couldn’t explain, and it broke me down in a powerful way.¬† In an effort to determine the cause of this madness, and to find a way to heal myself, I reached out to family and friends, in hopes of finding a sustainable solution.

My mom said it was probably a lack of healthy bacteria in my gut.

My dad said I play on the internet too much and I need to spend more time with Nature.

My coach said I should have my hormone levels checked, and immediately start supplement use.

My circle of friends suggested I should quit smoking pot. Or smoke more pot. Or meditate. Or exercise more. Or exercise less. Or see a therapist. Or start writing again. Or eat less gluten. Or breathe more deeply. Or bang my head against a wall. Or just ignore what I was feeling and it would go away. Gaaaaaaah!! I researched depression and anxiety. I researched mid-life crisis and hormone imbalance. I researched gluten intolerance and THC overdose. None of these seemed to adequately address what I was feeling or the thoughts that were keeping me up at night. The struggle continued…

While I am grateful for all the advice, assistance and encouragement, most of this info just made me think harder about what was swirling around in my head, and my confusion increased. Most everyone told me it was time for me¬†to “CFO”(chill-the-fuck-out), and quit trying so hard. But “trying hard” is what I do. Confronting problems head-on is my MO. My first solution to most problems is more effort, more energy, more work. If this wasn’t the solution, then what was my next option?

Because I so highly value logic and reason, I began to think about what it would feel like to take everyone’s advice and not take life so seriously. Is it really a big deal if laundry doesn’t get done today? Is it really a big deal if I only train 4 days a week, instead of 6? Is it a big deal if it takes my kids 30 minutes to get ready in the morning instead of 15 minutes? Surprisingly, the answer to all these questions is a resounding “NO”.¬† It really isn’t a big deal. Huh. What a novel concept.

I started small. I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in one day, then I cut that list in half. I engaged single tasks, putting energy and effort in to the enjoyment of completing that specific task, without considering the next item on my list. I began to practice mindfulness and conscious concentration. I began to prioritize what made me feel good, and I decided to avoid letting my checklist determine my happiness. I reduced my social schedule, and spent more time writing, reading, and sitting in silence. I stopped counting calories. I stopped tracking my workouts. I stopped texting while driving. I took a break from self-medicating to remind me what sobriety feels like.  And you know what? Things began to change, immediately.

The terrible ache in my stomach dissipated. The cloud over my heart and my mind began to lift. Most importantly, the world did not end. I used my words and kept checking in with the important people in my life, and they assured me it really was okay if I wasn’t Superman all the time. It was okay if little things slipped through the cracks. It was okay if I allowed them to help me. It was okay that I asked for that help. It was okay that I needed to step back and take stock, reevaluate, and take some time for myself. It was okay for me to prioritize what I really wanted, and to cut away some of the silly bullshit I was using as an excuse to stay busy ALL THE TIME. I started to feel passionate again about the parts of my¬†life I truly love: my family and my tribe, my writing, my jiu jitsu practice, my work and the people who trust me with their health and fitness. I took my “busy” energy and refocused that effort on the things that truly matter to me. At first,¬†I¬†was worried this kind of mindset would seem selfish and egocentric, but that isn’t true. By taking more time for myself, and making sure all my silly business is organized, and making sure I am on point, and making sure I have my ducks in a row, I am a more fulfilled human being, which, in turn, makes me a better PARTNER, FATHER, LOVER, BROTHER, COACH, FRIEND, SON, ATHLETE, WRITER.

I am only one week in to this new practice, but it feels right and it feels like it is working.¬† It is all about awareness of addressing little pieces at a time, and allowing the bigger picture to come in to view in small increments, rather than as a shotgun blast to the face. Clarity is easy to maintain when I don’t have a whole bunch of silly bullshit clouding my view.¬† I am sure this will be a practice I will continue to develop, and I look forward to learning more about myself and the world around me through this new adventure. I know it would be helpful if I left a detailed description of this practice here for others to follow, but I feel like this is an experience that is different for each person.¬† Have you experienced a shift like this in your own life? What brought you to a positive resolution? Are you currently dealing with the heaviness and darkness¬†I mentioned? Maybe something of what I’ve written here will be helpful to you. Won’t you please leave a comment here, or on the Facebook post and let me know that you are okay? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences and how you come out the other side. Thanks for reading this, and for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.