Reality Check

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When Thomas started bouncing around the idea of “Wreckognize Fitness”, it became clear that he needed a guinea pig to test his new approach to fitness. Someone who is not in shape, who has zero gym experience, and eats Waffle House five times a week with extra hash browns. A true couch potato… That’s where I came in. Patient Zero.

I’ve known Brandon, Lyle and Thomas for a while. We play golf together almost every weekend during the summer, play in the same Fantasy Football Leagues and so on. But the friendship did NOT extend into the gym. This is where I drew a hard line in the sand. I would much rather eat double cheese burgers with super-sized French fries in my recliner than make even the slightest effort to workout.

Eventually, just like drugs and alcohol, the food was no longer working. When I use the phrase “no longer working”, I’m referring to it no longer making me happy. It stopped offering a temporary escape from reality or responsibly. I understand that may sound extremely messed up and depressing, but that is where my relationship with food ended up. I was once again at a turning point. Do I continue down the path of inaction, day after day, expecting my life to magically get better? Or do I get off the couch and take the steps necessary to achieve a healthier lifestyle. If you want something in this life, you need to get up and do the work. It’s that simple. There are no shortcuts, no magic genies to grant you 3 wishes, and no miracle “diet pills” that melt away your problems. The only thing that will get the ball rolling is that little space between your ears. Make a decision to do something today that you’ll be grateful for tomorrow.

I wish I could tell you that the proverbial light bulb went off and I immediately started eating a perfect diet. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. However, I did make some changes in the first week that I hit the gym with Thomas. It was mostly little changes, such as: cutting out all white bread, threw out Dr. Peppers and Cokes as well as passing on those French fries. The little changes were actually the hardest. The first couple of days without any soft drinks were, without a doubt, the hardest. I love me some Dr. Pepper and didn’t think I would be able to give it up. For 3 or 4 days I experienced headaches, fatigue and overall irritability. Without my comfort food and drink, I was always in a bad mood.

The dark days, the bad attitudes, your aching muscles, and the tiny voice in your head that says, “you can’t”, are what make your successes that much sweeter.  

However, after that first week, I gained way more energy, began sleeping better, my endurance improved, and, most of all, the pounds started to fall off. Around the second week, I started thinking ahead and planning what I was going to eat the next day. Instead of eating fast food, I would come home and fix my own lunch. I began eating turkey or ham sandwiches on wheat bread. For dinner, I would usually hang around Thomas after we left the gym and eat at his house most nights of the week. Slowly I began learning what was “o.k.’ to eat and what wasn’t. Today my diet consists of a small breakfast, usually a healthy breakfast bar and head out the door, a turkey on wheat sandwich for lunch, a small healthy snack around 4:30, protein shake at 5:00 right before the gym, then end the day with grilled chicken or egg whites with a side of wheat toast. When it comes to my diet, I still have a lot of room to improve. For me, the diet was not something that came over night. It is something I tweak on a daily basis. I have to keep reminding myself that the way I eat now is leaps and bounds better than how I ate before. Progress not perfection.

After a little over 3 months of eating better and working out on a regular basis, I was excited to get back on the scales and see my progress. On day one we took some measurements to give me a base line. I was somewhere around 28% body fat and 226 pounds. At 6ft even, I looked chubby, completely out of shape., and miserable. My buddy Zach Kirksey made a deal with me that day. If got to 19% body fat, he would buy me a large pizza to gorge on in triumph . So that percentage and pizza party became my goal. I had no idea what was a realistic goal and was not. I had this belief in my head that after 3 months I could shed 10% body fat without a problem. This idea was not based in any kind of reality. I had no idea what results I should be expecting and didn’t even think to ask the guys who actually know what they’re talking about if this was even feasible. I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it right now. I decided on my own that this is where I should be in 3 short months. Needless to say, I got a quick reality check. In the first 3 ½ months or so I have lost over 20 pounds and 5% body fat. At first, it was a kick in the nuts. How could this be? How come I’m not at 19%?

For a brief moment, I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk out of the gym, pick up some unearned pizza and watch tv on the couch. Fortunately, Thomas was there to put my progress back into perspective. The fact is that my goal was ridiculous. I’ve never worked out this serious, for this long, ever in my life. So who am I to say what should happened at the end of the first 3 months? Thomas put it to me like this. The facts are as follows: I’ve lost over 20 pounds the right way, I dropped 5% of my body fat and gained a ton more muscle, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

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The amount of weight I struggle to lift 5 or 6 times during the first week is now the weight I use to warm up. This is true for everything from bench press and curls to squats and shoulder press. I had come a long way but couldn’t see it based on my own unrealistic expectations. The next day, I left it all in the gym. I worked myself into the ground, and for the first time, I truly gave it my all. I didn’t slack on any of the workouts or cardio.  I refused to quit even after I went into the bathroom and let go of my lunch. I gave each set everything I had. That is my motivation going forward. No more shortcuts, no more half sets, taking breaks, or lackadaisical cardio efforts. If I want to reach my first goal of 19%, I have to put in the work. Nobody is just going to hand it to me. Today I work out just for the day. This means that each day I set a new goal for myself. No more unrealistic expectations. All I can control is how I preform in the gym TODAY… That’s it.

You Will Not Out Work Me

This is the mentality we must adopt in order to find the potential we all have locked inside.  Each person has a Lion locked within his or her soul that is begging to be freed and fed.  There is a resolve, a passion, a ferocity, and a drive that will carry us through any obstacle placed in our way.  It is the heat that rises up the back of your neck when someone says you can’t do something.  It is the burn in your lungs after a hard workout or a long run.  It is the the feeling of complete elation after you accomplish the impossible.  It is the feeling of life rushing through your body.  Release your Lion.  Let the Beast Eat!

“You might be smarter than me.  You might come from privilege. You might have more talent than I do.  But you will NOT out work me!”

– Eric Thomas-

Be determined, motivated and empowered to reach whatever goal you have chosen.  Do Not be outworked.  Do Not compare yourself to others.  You are better than you give yourself credit for.  Let your unflinching work ethic speak for itself.  Life will not be a cake walk.  There will be times of extreme discomfort.  You will be faced with seemingly immovable obstacles and the walls of life will close in to choke your resolve.  Hard decisions will need to be made, sacrifices must be taken, and your will to continue will be tested.  It is forward or fall.  Life or death.  Happiness or despair.  We all have a choice in this wonderful life of ours.  Your work ethic must be an unrelenting monster.  Never allow someone or something to beat you because you didn’t prepare enough, work hard enough, or fight with everything you possess.

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We all have one shot to live the life we believe we can.  If you have a dream and it is hard to make that dream a reality, good.  Rise to the challenge.  No matter what, DON’T EVER QUIT.  Never, ever give up on what it is you want out of life.  Be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, decide on a plan of action, and move forward every day.  When you get knocked down, get back up.  If the day is going bad, be thankful you’re alive and make an adjustment.  Keep your hands up and fight until the bell rings.  Whenever you are afraid of something and that crippling fear starts to constrict your drive, do something.  Anything!

Action is the cure for fear.  Once you take action, your brain has to focus on the task at hand and there will be no time to think about how scared you are.

If you prepare properly, work diligently, act accordingly, push ferociously, and never give up, there is literally no limit to the things you can achieve.  Don’t let the world beat you because you didn’t give it your very best.  Hold yourself to the highest standard you can and work your ass off to meet it.

Nutrition Basics

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Chicken Breast with Sweet Potatoes/Carrots

We all struggle with trying to find the perfect diet. The problem is the word “diet”. This, in my experience, is the wrong way to go and can lead to much unneeded stress, disappointment, and discouragement. A diet is simply unsustainable. We become entrapped in an endless cycle of diet, failure, new diet, and then failure again. Each time we put ourselves through this psychological seismograph we inevitably emerge angry and scarred by a lack of progress. The only way to jump out of this cycle of torment is to create a true lifestyle change.

Diets, by their definition, are temporary objectives that people adhere to in order to lose fat or cut weight as fast as possible. A lifestyle change is something that becomes habitual, gratifying, and sustainable. When you systematically alter the food you ingest while understanding the purpose of this change, you can create a healthy and fulfilling daily menu. It is a very simple concept that is hard to master. It takes time, energy, and forethought to consistently eat the correct foods that will allow you to reach the goals you set.

First, it is wise to understand how the foods you eat affect your body. There are three main macronutrients that your body can utilize to create amazing results or disappointing consequences. The macros are: Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. Each is necessary for your body to mold itself into the figure you desire. Too much or too little of anyone of these macro nutrients and the balance is thrown off. Your body will attempt to compensate for the imbalance to dire effects. A great beginner guide is to consume 45% protein, 25% fats and 30% carbs on a daily basis. So you should aim to eat mostly lean protein and a small portion of fats and carbohydrates with each meal to hit this breakdown. As a rule, think of how your plate would look with almost half the portion being protein and the other half split between fats and carbs. This is a very well rounded starting place and can help you begin your fitness journey. Everyone’s body is different so later on down the road you can adjust your macros to suit you. Let me explain each nutrient.

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Steak with Quinoa

Protein:
This is the building block of muscle. It provides the most powerful energy source for your body. When you workout, you are basically destroying your muscle fibers and protein is the best way to help those muscles rebuild themselves.  Not only is protein needed to build muscle, it is also necessary for muscle maintenance and energy stability.  Without adequate protein, your body will shrivel and your energy reserves will be at constant negative.  The target is lean protein sources that are not fried. Frying anything has a way of destroying some of the goodness that the food provides and adds a bunch of not so good fats to the mix. Always try to grill, pan sear, or bake your protein sources instead of adding unnecessary fats to the equation. A meal plan rich in protein will open the door for you to excel in all of your fitness goals.  Great sources include:  chicken, lean ground beef, fish, pork tenderloin, venison, lean steak cuts, protein powder, and eggs.

Fats:
People have a big hang up about this macro nutrient. From birth, we are basically trained to avoid all fats at all costs.   The problem is that there are many fats out there that do wonders for you body and you will need them to help boost your ability to shed pounds.  The best fats are omega-3s, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. Good fat sources are: Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, peanut butter, salmon, and coconut oil.  These will help you burn more fat, keep your heart healthy, and allow you to stay fuller for longer periods.  Beware, some bad fats do exist.  Trans fats are the killers of positive gains and can be found in many fried or heavily processed treats.  Avoid these no matter what. Saturated fats are not too terrible but need to be limited in a healthy eating plan.

Carbohydrates:
This macro nutrient can either be the bane of your existence or the answer to all your prayers.  In simple terms, you should think of Carbohydrates as sugar. Sugar will either be released slowly or very rapidly, depending on the type of carb you are ingesting.  There are slow digesting carbs such as: sweet potatoes, wheat breads, wheat pastas, whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, and vegetables.  These are great during the day and provide a steady source of energy that your body can use to fuel your activities.  Then there are fast digesting carbs like: candy, white bread, potatoes, processed snacks, chocolate, cakes, and basically anything that tastes too good to be true. If eaten during the day, these will spike your insulin levels too quickly and force your body to store the excess sugar as fat. (Fruits fall into this category but are full of good nutrients. Just limit how much you eat and keep them closer to the A.M. time frame so your body can use them as energy to start the day.)

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Pork Tenderloin with Wheat Pasta/Light Red Sauce

If you have a crazy sweet tooth, do not panic! You can still eat your treats, if you time the consumption perfectly. After a tough workout, your body is depleted of all its resources and is begging for reinforcements to be called. Eating some fast digesting carbs within 30 minutes of your workout will help speed recovery and provide your body with the the much needed energy source it is screaming for. Don’t go overboard. 25-40 grams of the sweet stuff will be just enough.  I like a single serving of gummy bears or three packs of smarties after my intense sessions.

This is a crash course in nutrition. There are many tweaks, additions, subtractions, and formulas that can be used to create your perfect meal mix. I like to start off simple. Just plan your meals ahead of time with the right mix of protein, fats, and slow digesting carbs. In my experience, it is best to eat smaller portions about every three hours. This keeps you satiated and helps rev up your metabolism throughout the day. The change will be difficult, but once you get used to the preparation and understand how the food you eat affects your body, you can dine with a purpose. Ask yourself before every meal: Will this food help me reach my goal? If the answer is no, make an adjustment and eat for positive results!

Be Yourself

Be who you are no matter what.  It is a tiresome game to try and conform to everyone else’s preconceived notions of who you need to be or what you need to be doing with your life.  We are all different.  Each one of us has talents, abilities, interests, personalities, and ideas that can vary drastically from person to person.  It is okay to be different.  It is okay to be weird.  Embrace your own uniqueness and go forth into the world carving your own awesome path.
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I worked for years to be the best pretender in the world.  I was chameleon that adapted my speech, attitude, and appearance to match whatever group I was with at the time.  I needed people to like me on a deeper level then I actually realized.  It was almost like the first drug I ever abused.  I sacrificed anything and everything I believed in for the approval of those around me.  I never had my own opinion, I was always agreeing with the majority, and never wanted to be on anyone’s bad side.  This was one of the most exhausting experiences of my life.  I spent all my time trying to be someone else that I lost myself in the process.

I finally realized, after many months of sobriety, that didn’t have to please everyone I came in to contact with.  I don’t have to give a shit what another person thinks about me.  As long as I work to do the next right thing, I can be myself without fear or apprehension.  The funny thing is that most people are too wrapped up in their own mess that they don’t have time to worry about liking me or not.  It is a selfish view to think everyone is constantly watching or judging me.  I love who I am today.  It is this love for myself that causes me to continually search for improvements.  I want to be the absolute best me that I can possibly be so that I may give the best of me back.

No days are perfect and I fall short most of the time.  Yet, it is my effort and intention that really matters.  If I perform the daily disciplines that will lead towards my success as best I can, then the results will take care of themselves.  Don’t ever compromise who you are for the sake of someone else’s opinion.  Each of us can be awesome and we possess amazing talents waiting to be contributed to society.  The only person you need to impress is yourself.

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Work as hard as you can every day, be honest, follow through on your word, and help someone else.  These are undeniable principles and, if you practice them, quality people will naturally be drawn to you.  Be tireless in the pursuit of your dreams, passions, and interests.  Don’t take yourself too seriously and make time to enjoy the ride that is life.  As you work to better yourself and find the path that best fits your happiness, you will be amazed by how many people begin seeking out your approval.

What is your WHY?

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

I can not tell you how many times I have started something new and never made it to the end game.  I would be completely obsessed with my new hobby or interest for two weeks, three max.  Then things would inevitably get difficult.  A problem, issue, or complication that seemed insurmountable presented itself and I buckled.  I gave up at the first sign of discomfort.  I was completely unwilling to persevere through the difficulties and I wanted everything given to me without much fuss.  I wanted the gold at the end of the rainbow, without having to track down, capture, and coerce the leprechaun.

This behavior led to a perpetual state of dissatisfaction.  I could never build any self confidence because I wouldn’t finish anything.  I had zero faith in my abilities because I didn’t truly see what I was capable of.  I didn’t grow or move forward as a person due to my inability to look past the pain.  I was utterly stunted in misery.  I didn’t have a strong WHY that kept me sloshing through the muck of life to reach my goals.

The WHY is arguably the most important piece of your success puzzle.  Whether you want to start a business, make a good grade in a tough class, or become physically fit, you have to establish the strongest WHY possible.  Decide your goal, think about what you need to do to attain said goal, and then answer the question:  WHY am I doing this?  Without the most powerful answer you can think of to this question, failure is almost inevitable.  Your WHY is what gets you out of bed at 5:00 AM, pushes you through a grueling leg workout, forces you to turn the page of a text book, or eat a healthy meal over a fast food option.  The WHY is what makes the sacrifice mean something and dulls the pain of the difficulties you will face on your journey.

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I encourage you to sit down and write out the reason WHY you will continue through whatever obstacle you may face to achieve your goal.  Memorize it and repeat it to yourself on a daily basis.  You will be surprised after a few weeks of mental conditioning, how automatic your response will be to pain on all levels.  If you can visualize your WHY and the goal you have, then nothing can stop you on your way to victory.

Know this.  You will fail.  There will be days that suck.  There will be times when you ask yourself if all this torture is worth it.  You will want to quit.  You will want to throw on your sweat pants, heat up a hot pocket, grab the ice cream tub, and crawl into bed for the longest Netflix marathon imaginable.  It is just easier that way.

When you feel like QUITTING, think about WHY you STARTED.  Remember that you EARN your body and EVERYTHING else WORTH having.

When the easy way out seems like the best option, remember the WHY behind the suffering.  Think about how far you have come.  Remind yourself that everyday is a blessing and that there is someone out there that is doing more with less than you have.  Say how grateful you are to be alive and tell yourself that the reason you are working so hard is bigger than the pain!  Once you remember how strong your WHY is behind your actions, the barriers will melt away.  You are only hindered by your own imagination, belief in yourself, and the strength of your WHY.  Smash through the pain and find what your’e truly made of.  I think you will be surprised by how strong you actually are and I am willing to bet that, once you have your WHY, nothing can hold you back.  Be unstoppable.  WRECK IT!

3 Simple Ways to Start a BadAss Day

Happy LyleFirst off, you’re not going to wake up every day feeling like a gladiator ready to ask the world if it is entertained.  It just won’t happen.  Life has a way of messing with your rhythm and putting you in a toxic state of mind.  If you don’t start your day off with the right mind set, then you are at the mercy of the uncertainty of life.  I do not profess to be a guru on how to live your life in the best way imaginable.  I am just a simple recovering drug addict that has found a way to make my next 24 hours have a bit more purpose.  I hate feeling stuck on a hamster wheel that is governed by things outside my control.  I attempt to let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on the process that I have in place to achieve my goals for the day in front of me.  I don’t worry about the day before and I refuse to stress about crap that hasn’t happened yet.  All I have is today and I plan on making it the best damn day I can.  Here are a few of my go to disciplines that help start my day with a Badass mind frame.

1.  Be Grateful

The first thing that I do is remind myself of how grateful I am to be alive.  The fact that I can breathe, walk, talk, smell, hear, and see are blessings that I am lucky enough to enjoy.  I am thankful for the house I live in, the truck I drive, the job I have, the woman that hasn’t left me yet, my sobriety, and my physical health.  Doing this simple thing reminds me of how precious life is and how wonderful it is to be a part of this beautiful world.  I have effectively tricked my brain into being positive about the day ahead of me.  I can go forward from here with a passionate outlook and the belief that good things are bound to come my way.  No matter your current situation, you can find something to be grateful for.  You might not have what I have and I might not have what you have, but there are things in life that we take for granted on a daily basis.  Tell yourself how grateful you are for your family, your friends, your home, your relationship, your working brain, or the air you breathe.  It can be anything!  Put yourself in a position of positivity that can be built on like the foundation of a house.  Your success starts with being happy with who you are today.  The belief you can achieve your dreams starts with being happy with what you already have.

2.  Spend Some Time to Yourself in Thought

Get your damn mind right.  Spend three, five, or ten minutes contemplating the day in front of you.  Think about what you wish to accomplish and the activities it will take to bring about your success.  Focus on the tasks and not the results.  If you put forth the maximum effort in the plan you have set forth, than the results will take care of themselves.  I take this time to pray.  I speak to the universe and ask for strength in my endeavors.  I ask for the will to carry through the next objective and the ability to handle any adversity that is thrown my way.  I think about the goal I have in mind and I visualize myself reaching that goal.  I try to imagine the feelings I would have after achieving the impossible and revel in the awesomeness that is accomplishment.  I challenge you to see your goal and imagine yourself already being at the finish line.  You will intuitively focus your energy towards the tasks that will help you meet the dreams you have.  Runners can endure longer races if they perceive the end to be closer than it actually is.  This is the same type of mentality.  Believe that your goal is right in front of you.

3.  Cook Breakfast and Eat it

Cooking a good, nutritious breakfast is a very important step for me.  When I skip this step, my days never turn out as great as I envisioned them.  The first meal of the day jump starts your metabolism and provides you with the nourishment you need to tackle the hardships that lay ahead.  You are more alert, smarter, and more energized after a morning meal.  Cooking breakfast yourself also puts you in a good state of mind.  It allows you to control the fuel that starts your day, gives you a chance to spend extra time with your family or test out your creativity with new ingredients.  My girlfriend and I take turns cooking breakfast.  We have turned it into a fun competition to see who can make the better meal.  I always leave the house in a great mood after this morning ritual.

These are just some things that I try to do on a daily basis to help me have the best day possible.  When I start off positive, my day inevitably ends positive.  It will be difficult to start a new routine but I promise, once it becomes a habit, you will feel almost lost without your morning rituals.  Play with your own method and create the morning plan that gets your brain ready for the challenges ahead.  Find the routine that puts you in the best position to have a truly Badass Day.