Work Hard, Find Yourself

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled program this week. This week marks the beginning of the 2015 Crossfit Open. It marks the 8th year of the Crossfit Games as an organization, and the 4th year of the Crossfit Open. If you aren’t familiar with these competitions, I’ll leave some links at the bottom. I suggest you educate yourself 🙂

This competition season also marks the 5th year since I began my journey with Crossfit. At some point, we’ll get in to that whole story, but that isn’t what I want talk about today. Today I want to talk about the importance of testing yourself as a means of self discovery.
 You can see this in the microcosm of every box around the world where people pit themselves daily against the barbell and against the clock. You can see this in the macrocosm of the Crossfit Games where international athletes gather to find out who can do the most work in a weekend.  This entire movement is about finding out what you are made of. There is no other event in the world like the Crossfit Open. Participants from 100’s of different countries battle against each other to find the limits of physical and mental fitness, and to find out who will be named “Fittest on Earth”.
Crossfit has turned in to a phenomenon. I was watching behind the scenes clips and motivational clips from  the 2014 games this morning, and this program has turned into an international gathering of athletes, supporters, admirers, and sponsors. Elite level athletes are signing endorsement deals and signing autographs. Like it or not, Crossfit is a Thing. We can watch people exercise on ESPN, and it really is a big deal!!
Crossfit began as a program for Operators and First Responder’s. The kind of fitness developed by early Crossfit workouts was functional and it correlated well with the kinds of jobs that required a ridiculous volume of work, high levels of endurance, and the ability to focus under duress. Think about Special Ops warfighters, or inner-city SWAT team members. The mentality required to perform some of the “original” WOD’S correlated well with these “high intensity” professions. This kind of training conveniently packaged the concept of mental fortitude and psychological toughness and made it available to “the masses”.
 
As more people found out about the Crossfit Method, and as the organization grew, Greg Glassman began issuing challenges at his gym in southern California. He wanted to find the toughest and the fittest and the most durable. He wanted to find the fastest, the strongest, the most resilient. A few people stepped up and said they would test themselves against the program Glassman created. Greg Amundson and Annie Sakamoto are two names that always come to mind, and I am sure you can find a few more if you really look hard. These few became known as “Firebreathers”. Their goal was to find the “most fit”. Their goal was train for the unknown and also the “unknowable”. Their intent was to create a system that could effectively prepare a person for ANY physical challenge or endeavor. All aspects of fitness were considered, generally described  in the 10 components of fitness. It was suggested that the person who could perform best in each of these categories would be considered  the “most fit”. 
 
How could someone be good at ALL these things? How could someone train in such a way as perform competently at ANY physical task? How was it possible to devise a system that sought to “punish the specialist”?  Were there people who sought out their weaknesses and worked to make them their strengths? Were their people who were willing to place themselves in difficult and uncomfortable situations, simply to see if they possessed the physical and mental character to not only survive, but to to thrive? 
 
The simple answer  is “YES”. And they came in droves! People around the world began following “Mainsite” (www.crossfit.com) and performing the “Workout of the Day”. People started constructing home gyms in their garages and backyards. Videos began showing up on Youtube and slowly but surely, the movement began to grow. The first Crossfit Games was held on a small ranch in southern California, and was an “invite-only” event. There were roughly 200 athletes, and a man named James Fitzgerald was crowned “Fittest Man on Earth”. In the eight years since, the sport (and the community) grew exponentially. This year the Crossfit Games will be held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, and it is estimated that more than 250,000 people worldwide will compete in the 2015 Crossfit Open. 
 
Whether you are a hopeful Games athlete, or you simply seek to stay fit and active as you age, Crossfit provides the template for self-discovery through hard work.  Through the competitive template of the Crossfit Open, we are able to test ourselves against each other and against the clock. More importantly, we are provided the opportunity to test ourselves against OURSELVES. We find our limits,  then we choose how to proceed from there. Can you push a bit harder? Can you lift a bit heavier? Can you continue moving just a bit longer? These are questions no one else can answer. I am looking forward to learning more about myself this year as I compete in the 2015 Crossfit Open. If you are competing or participating in the Open this year, I would love to hear your Crossfit story!! Drop me a line at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com or leave a comment here!
 
As always, thank you for reading my words and for participating in the Living Revolution!! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

Priorities and Sacrifices

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

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

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

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.

excess doesn’t = success, success doesn’t mean excess

Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

  I taught two Crossfit classes this morning, starting at the unholy hour of 515am. There is a very short list of activities I enjoy participating in at 515am, and teaching Crossfit classes is actually on that list.  I do this a few mornings a week, because I love it. I love that there are people who are crazy enough (and dedicated enough) to show up every morning and brace themselves against the rest of the day with a bout of intense exercise. I love being the first person in the gym. I love how quiet it is early in the morning, and how still it feels in the gym. I love writing the workout on the board, and then mentally rehearsing drills, points of performance and cues for the movements we are programming that day. I love coaching because it is something I am learning to be good at, and I am learning to be good at coaching because I love the work I do.

Strangely enough, I sat down to write today with the intent of complaining and whining about why I don’t get paid enough for what I do. This led to me complaining and whining about how I don’t get paid enough at my “job”. This led to a short(but frantic) Google search for part-time jobs, and being faced with the stark reality of the current job market. Which led to me complaining and whining about…you get the idea. But, when I sat down here to get all that out of my head, the above paragraph is what came out. The irony is not lost on me.

It is hard for me to describe why I struggle so hard with the idea of financial “success”. I get ideas twisted in my head, and somehow marry the ideas of happiness and success to financial gain, and that union has always left a weird taste in my mouth. I think I have a skewed view of what is “not enough”. I definitely have a different perspective on what is “too much”.  I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid to make sacrifices. Thankfully, so little in that regard is being asked of me. Instead, I feel a bit under-utilized. I feel like I’m holding myself back, or more accurately, I don’t know how to push myself forward. My ego is wondering what my real motives are, and where my loyalties lie. Can I simply continue to do what I love, share my vision with other people, AND use these connections to help achieve my financial goals as well?

I keep coming back to words like cooperation and collaboration. I keep thinking in terms of combinations, adendums, and aggregate. What part can I play? What idea can I spread? How do our goals and passions intertwine? Am I making myself clear? But, I digress…

These words are a small step forward. The conversations that will resonate through each of you, will be other small steps forward. I encourage you to reach out to someone today and share an idea. Take some time and listen to someone else tell their story, or share their idea with you. How can you use me to benefit, and how can our partnership benefit us both? What can I help you do? What can we share? What can we create that manifests success beyond what we can imagine? Leave a comment, or send me a note and let’s get this train rolling. I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing stuff comes next! As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution :). Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

 

A Work in Progress

Hello, and Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. Summer has been crazy and amazing! The kids went back to school this morning, and I am doing my best to get back in the groove of sharing my thoughts here and trying to make the world a better place, one day at a time. My goal this year is to enrich the Living Revolution experience, and to help keep me accountable to this blog, and all of you, I’ve been working on a few ideas to discuss. As always, I welcome any interaction from anyone who reads these words, and I would appreciate comments and inquiries that help drive these discussions towards action. I did some intense reorganization over the summer, and I am feeling like I need to make use of this space before I lose the opportunity.

So, henceforth, prepare yourselves. I’m sure it will be a bit random and chaotic here until I can find a nice groove, so I appreciate your patience :). To start things off, (again), I’ll leave you with a question…

On a daily basis, how do you manifest your uniqueness in the world?

If you read this, drop a quick reply to let me know you are “out there”. Thanks for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution!

 

 

 

Book Review: “Your Body has a Mind of it’s Own” by Sandra Blakeslee

Hello Friends, welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

I finished reading a very interesting book, and I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts about what I read. The premise of the book is an exploration of the interaction between the stimuli we receive from our environment and the system by which our physical bodies process those stimuli. The authors suggest there is a very real connection between your “mind” and your “body”, so much so they make the suggestion that we only exist in the sense that we can detect and process stimuli from the environment around us.

Isn’t that an interesting concept? That our consciousness is grounded in our ability (or inability) to process direct physical experience? Every moment you exist subconsciously filtered through the complex mechanisms of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste? The authors call these multiple layers of perception and reception “body maps“, and they believe these maps provide a network for understanding ourselves in a more complex and insightful way.

Hold on. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. I need to tell you why I was reading this book in the first place.

To be better at what I do, understanding how to help people tune in to their body is a great tool. Of course, there is no “right” way to teach or learn, so possessing a eclectic skill set will help me work effectively with people who fall anywhere on the continuum of health/fitness/wellness. Understanding the complex interplay between the psychological and physiological aspects of training puts me in a position to create effective and efficient training programs that are safe and sustainable. This makes me a better coach/trainer, which makes my clients better, which eventually makes the world a better place, and that is my ultimate goal!

As a coach, one of my highest priorities is to teach people how to move safely and efficiently. This job requires me to verbally explain a movement , physically demonstrate how a movement is performed, and then provide constructive feedback to my clients, ensuring they perform the movement correctly. Understanding how body maps are developed, and how each individual develops their personal conglomerate of body maps will help me develop my coaching skills so I will be able to effectively work with ANYONE. I picked up this book because I need to “buff up” my coaching skill set, and the concepts in this book have some interesting applications in the personal training/group class environment. I work with clients all over the spectrum of “body awareness”, so let’s look at a couple examples of clients with whom I work, and how their “body maps” effect training.

Occasionally, I’ll come across someone who has horrible problems learning new movements, someone who simply cannot figure out what I am trying to explain. Their body schema is negatively compromised in some way, and there is a significant disconnect between what want their body do, and what actually manifest in physical movement. Perhaps an old injury still bothers them. Perhaps they are morbidly obese. Perhaps they have never used their bodies for more than the most mundane tasks. These people need to be walked through new movements step by step. They require the most attention and the most work, but typically they end up being the most rewarding people to work with because they put so much effort in to doing good work. The skill set they develop is that much more valuable because of the focus and effort they put toward progressing. Their accomplishments are worth much more in contrast to their previous inactivity. These people help support the notion that body maps are fluid and can be reprogrammed, even if it does require lots of patience and hard work.

Most everyone else can learn the basic mechanics of a movement by watching someone else perform that movement. In “Your Body…”, the authors discuss how mirror neurons fire when people watch an action and then imagine themselves performing the same action. This simple idea drastically improves a persons ability to learn new ways to use their body, but it requires a higher degree of body awareness and a more intact collection of body maps. I learned about how mirror neurons in the brain work efficiently to convert what a person see to action in their own bodies. They will watch a coach demonstrate the movement a few times, and then immediately grasp the basic concept. These are people who typically have an athletic background or participate in some kind of active lifestyle outside the gym. They played sports as children, or maybe even in college, but then “real life” happened, and it has been 10 years since their last visit to the gym. I love working with these people because their basic understanding of physical movements allows us to spend more training time on refining technique, mastery and virtuosity. Years of physical activity have laid down body map patterns that provide more effective proprioception or “body awareness”. These people are your Master’s athletes. These are the retirees who refuse to retire. These are the “aging fit” who are working hard to figure out safe and effective ways to keep the fire inside them burning as long as possible. These athlete reinforce the concept that body maps are consistent and resilient, as long as they continue to be used. While conscious effort does play a role, the subconscious body maps developed by lifelong athletes help them retain a higher level of brain plasticity and allow them to continue to learn and improve in to the later years of their lives.

These are only two examples of how the concepts of body maps and proprioception manifest in the “real world”.  In “Your Body…”, the authors delve much deeper in to other examples including  how body maps are effected by stroke, how dysfunctional body maps contribute to anorexia and bulimia, and the interesting problem of “phantom limbs” experienced by amputees. After reading “Your Body has a Mind of it’s Own”, it isn’t difficult to understand how the interaction between our psychological selves and our physical selves is much more complex than previously thought. Whether you are a coach like me trying to improve your skill set, or someone who just wants to gain a bit more understanding of the complexities of being human, I encourage you to check out “Your Body has a Mind of it’s Own”. Thank you all for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.