From the Inside, Out…and Back Again

31 01 2008

dscn3281.jpgI was thinking about ones “pace“, reflecting back on the pace I’ve chosen for this year and the resulting effect that’s had on different facets of my life.

For example, I chose to strive for excellence in one or two activities and in so doing, slowing the pace down. That lead me to choose kettlebells as my chosen physical activity. In going down that road, I’ve come to the American Kettlebell Club, which it’s style of patient, timed, strength-endurance qualities immediately clicked with me. So I’m going to train in that style for the most part (becoming even more specific, the outside reflecting the inside).

What’s been interesting are the other aspects in my life that have changed over the last couple months. Once I made the decision to make this commitment for this year, all of a sudden I’m listening to classical music non-stop. Seriously…..this is coming from a guy that has a hugely eclectic range of music that I love to listen to. From a guy that (although I always liked the “idea” of classical music) could never stay awake listening to the stuff, it bored me to tears. Now I can’t get enough of it. I actually work out to it….and am totally digging it.

I’m finding it much easier to get to bed at a decent time and to getting up earlier (for those 6 months of Crossfit Chris and I were doing, we were getting up at 6:30 am, but now due to an earlier start at work , I need to get up around 5:00 am to get my workout done). And getting up earlier totally jives with me better than getting up later.

I thought I’ve always dealt really well with stress, was never really bothered by much, took everything in stride. Well from how I feel now (relief and a sense of weight being lifted off my shoulders) you’d think I’d been a spastic, anxious, stress case.

I used to do Tai Chi as a kid, have taken Chi Gong, always loved the “idea” of doing it regularly, but could never seem to make it stick. Now, since the “Boys Are Back In Town” workshop in Oct., I’m doing, regularly, the Chi Gong system that Steve Cotter taught us.

I’m getting this greater sense of letting go of “stuff” that we have around the house. We don’t, by any means have that much clutter, but just really getting this sense of wanting to simplify and more detachment towards those tenacious items that keep hanging on for dear life (even though they’re life ended looong ago).

And what’s been happening as a result of all these changes, is the continued slowing down of my pace. They’re making it easier for me to achieve this state, which has not been easy for me to maintain, but is getting easier with each passing day.

dscn3282.jpgCreating change, for the better, is one of the hardest things we’ll do, continuously throughout our lives. By taking it one simple step at a time, I’ve, mostly by fluke, started off successfully with faster results than I ever have and than if I’d gone at it full out (even this reflective of the pace I’ve chosen). Started on the “inside”, got honest with myself. From there, applied it to the “outside”, to create and manifest the changes I wanted to make (slow but sure, no rush). And really, only to one aspect, my physical fitness (all the rest just fell into place by themselves). Then, by virtue of the changes made, the nature of the changes and their effect on my environment around me, it’s provided a “space”, with positive feedback, to allow the changes “inside” to settle, cure and become a firm foundation.

From the inside, out……and back again. Capacity increased, causing the bounce back out to have an even greater effect (on yourself and those around you) the next time around:)



Finding Your Pace

22 01 2008

albatross.jpgI was reflecting on this years journey (for greater details on that see “Excellence“), reflecting on the changes I’ve made this year in comparison to last and how that has translated into different aspects of my life. This year I’m really slowing down and putting more of my energy into a prioritized, focused endeavour (I’ve felt the need to do this for the last 10 years, but never took the time, as the pull of my “Do everything side” was quite overpowering). Now in retrospect, it makes sense that I would have this need to slow down the pace a bit, ’cause friends who describe me tend to attribute these traits with who I am: easy going, relaxed, not-stressed, calm. Yet the “pace” at which I lived my life didn’t actually reflect that. And even though I got alot accomplished, I still never felt like I was truly running at my potential, like I wasn’t really operating at my optimum capacity.

We are all very different, as people. We all have different speeds that we naturally run at. We all have different strengths. I think those variances are important in balancing us all out as a whole (meaning mankind). Part of finding THAT balance is the continuous, simultaneous effort of finding that balance within ourselves. And part of THAT balance is finding our “pace”. There is so much outside influence and pressure all around us to function in a particular way (otherwise you will FAIL……DUN DUN DUN!) that we are often not given enough time, space or support to truly find the pace we best operate at. Like putting an albatross up against an ostrich in foot race to succeed. There’s no way! But you let the albatross find his wings, flying at what may seem like a slow, easy going pace? Say bye-bye to Mr. Ostrich!

Trying to operate at an unnatural pace (no matter how much it “appears” you are getting done) is detrimental to both you and those around you. It has the effect of either running you ragged till you burn out at some point or just causing you to completely shut down, unable to function, not wanting to function.

So for your own benefit (and for the benefit of those around you;) take some time to step away from the “pace” you are running at and see if it truly is where you feel most comfortable, most natural. By making that slight adjustment, perhaps finding your wings, you may just be opening yourself to the true potential latent within.


Kettlebells vs…..Kettlebells

15 01 2008

There’s been a huge shake up in the last year within the kettlebell community in North America. Now I’m not going to get into the politics of it all, I’m not interested. But I felt I needed to touch on the whole issue, to clear up my stance on the whole thing, because of something I actually wrote in an earlier post. It was in “Ascending With Bells“. It was the part about:

“important note: There isn’t a difference between lifting kettlebells for sport and lifting for, say fitness. There’s lifting kettlebells and then there’s what you use Kettlebell lifting for.”

Not sure what head space I was in when I wrote this, but something wasn’t sitting right with me afterwards and I went back and reread the post. When I saw that part, I thought “What?! This would imply there is a right way and a wrong way, which I don’t believe in the least.” I had just ended up regurgitating a view (of which I was exposing myself to a great deal, reading all things AKC and related to AKC). But that is not my view. I’m not one to just take someone else’s word for it and repeat it on blind faith, especially if I have not done the tactile research myself. This is part of why I chose lifting kettlebells as my primary activity to develop excellence. I want to experience and learn the difference via doing the work, by putting my “time under the bells”, so when I share knowledge, I can share it truthfully.

rkc-bells.jpgSo, a right way and a wrong way? I think it’s more about a different way. I think the principals that were applied to the kettlebell are very sound (in it’s major introduction to North America about 8-10 years ago by Dragon Door). It’s gotten people into amazing shape, tapped into a whole sector of the population that didn’t exercise, not because they didn’t like exercising, but because they didn’t like exercising in a set-up that made them feel like lab rats. It can’t be totally bogus, because even elite athletes were using this RKC system of lifting kettlebells and were seeing huge improvements and carry-over to their specific athletic endeavors. Not to mention, with Dragon Door’s intro en mass, it assisted in causing a major paradigm shift in how fitness is viewed in North America (for the better) as it pertains to functionality and efficiency. Where the conflict appears to be coming from is an issue of integrity, which I will not get into, as I know nothing about it (not that I would be inclined to, even if I did).

akc-bells.jpgIn comes the American Kettlebell Club. The AKC has worked very hard in the last year to introduce Classic Kettlebell Lifting (or Kettlebell Lifting Sport), which uses a very different system of kettlebell lifting. A system tested and taught by World Champions of their chosen sport. And I can see, what with the strong foothold the RKC has in North America, why the AKC has had to come in with a rather strong stance. It’s the nature of the game. And they’re coming in with over 50 years of out of this world type results.

So the RKC, a system whose principles are based very similarly to those of a power lifting style (with a bunch of extra goodies:). And the AKC, teaching the system of pure strength-endurance. Are you right or wrong in training one way or the other? Should you be forced to choose between one or the other? Should you feel guilty (or allow anyone else to make you feel guilty) for the choice you DO make? Hell no! Lift based on what your goals are, based on what you enjoy, based on what holds value for you. You will derive great benefit from which ever system you use, whether it’s one or the other or both.

Now to end off, I will throw this out there, just something to keep in mind. For those who enjoy the RKC style of lifting and are focusing on that right now, if you ever come to a point where you feel you’ve kind of reached the top and just can’t seem to improve any further, consider checking out the AKC and Classic Kettlebell Lifting (CKL). From my research thus far (mind you, that’s research read and heard, as I’ve just recently actually started lifting) it seems that CKL WILL take you to levels beyond what a power lifting style can offer. And that comes from guys and gals who have been at the top of the RKC ladder.

But we’ll have plenty of time to come back and revisit this, as Chris and I continue down this path and gain our own hands on experience. Whatever it is you are doing, train hard, train smart and train truthfully to the path you are walking.


Be Careful What You Wish For…….

8 01 2008

copy-of-dscn3248.jpgAfter completing “300”, Chris and I had a couple weeks off from the hard training (well okay, it turned into 3) resting and figuring out what we would do next. We came to that decision, and have since been working on Kettlebell Lifting as I was taught in Vegas and have been able to gather from the info that is currently available out there.

Okay….well….Chris has been working on the Kettlebell Lifting. I’ve been….stretching. I wrote about finding what my focus for this year was going to be, here. A big part of that was slowing down, not being in any kind of rush (in that over-achiever kind of way). If “Excellence” is my major, than “Tak’in Time to Smell the Roses” is my minor. And as soon as I made that decision, just as I was psyched and ready to dive into the “Bells” (literally within 2 days of making the commitment), my back went out on me. REALLY OUT. Lower, middle, all of it. I hadn’t even started yet. That was just from trying to pick up a piece of paper off the floor. Had to go to the chiropractor, was laid up on the floor for a couple days, the whole deal. As I lay there, I tried to figure out what the heck happened and where that came from. Here I’d gone thru 6 months of hard training and completing one of the toughest physical tests of my life and my back had held out fine.

It didn’t take long for me to realize what (at least part of it) happened. I had just finished saying I was going to take it easy and not rush in. I’d committed to it, mind, body and soul. Yet, even though I was being much more focused, here I was, ready to dive in full bore. Now, keeping in mind the interconnectedness of all our facets, though my mind may have temporarily forgotten, my body sure didn’t and put on the brakes, full stop. “Whoa, Buddy! I’d be neglecting my duties if I let you continue”. So I slowed down, started small. I’ve been doing yoga and joint mobility. I’d built myself up to “two a day’s” and was feeling really good. Then pushed myself too hard one day (with some weightlifting….long story) thinking I was back, and relapsed, having to start all over again. No one said keeping it simple for the year was going to be easy;)

It was the relapse that finally solidified it in my mind. Only this time no chiropractor. I’d always been kind of anti-chiropractor. Then I was introduced to a great one about 4 years ago (after some re constructive knee surgery) and have gone in to see him about every 4-6 months to loosen up a tightening lower back (have had a bit of a lower back thing for about 10 years). Now I’m not saying chiro’s are bad. My chiropractor was awesome! They’re great! And they are very important for alot of people (who have it way worse than I) just so they can function. But I thought “I never used to need to see a chiropractor before, and I’m now in some of the most well balanced shape I’ve ever been in”. Doesn’t really make sense, does it. And I figured, well, if my body has been trying to tell me something via my lower back, then maybe I should listen. Getting adjusted makes me feel better and allows me to put aside whatever it is I’m supposed to be hearing. So, no chiropractor. I’m digging deep and working this one out on my own.

Yeah, it may be slow and it may not feel so good, but then, change and growth never is or does. Until after that is. Then you look back and say “Why the hell didn’t I do that earlier”! Hhhmmmnnn…….the back, the support for the body. Maybe if we take a peak elsewhere, some light may be further shed on this:)


I can’t do it!

5 01 2008

I know that this hole site is about being able to do it, pushing harder and not giving up  but yesterday I finally said in earnest, “I can’t do it”. The reason, however, was the right reason… I really could not do it without injury. In the process of fighting with oneself, in some cases on the regular bases,  we forget how important it is to listed to our body. They say ‘pain is weakness leaving our body’ and in my case it was true for me but yesterday I found myself trying something I can’t do yet. I have been at that point before but this was the first time that I stopped immediately and did not feel that I had failed. It was the first time that I felt ok with not accomplishing something I had set out to do. It is a very weird feeling for me since I am usually an over achiever! 🙂 The lesson was simple: If I can’t do it, it does not mean that I am not capable or willing, nor does it automatically put me in the quitters category, it simply points out the state of being we are in.In the process of setting goals we normally create smaller accomplishments which ultimately take us where we want to go but sometimes those plans are not realistic and we have to be OK with the fact. This allows us to re-evaluate and create new strategies which will ultimatelly get us there.So feel free to let yourself off the hook… no body is watching!ae