For those of us who live in areas where winter will be dark, cold, rainy/snowy this is a great time of year to up the intensity of our training programs. Its not all about locking yourself in your garage and working out 6 hours per day. The winter weather, particularly snow, can offer ample opportunities for conditioning as well; after all, Rocky did it to train for his fight with Drago.
Let’s face it; it is much easier to get outside in the summer when the sun is shining, the days last longer and the weather is warm. As a matter of fact, it may be a challenge at this time of year to get yourself to the gym and work out. The winter, on the other hand, is cold, wet and the sun sets at like 4:30. This often makes it easier to get into a great rythym for training, as well as pushing our game to the next level in terms of conditioning. For those who go through a bit of depression during the winter time, ratcheting up the intensity of your workouts can help overcome that. I realize that a lot of bodybuilders use this period to “bulk up” adding muscle at the same time adding fat which they will “cut” before summer. I don’t subscribe to this theory. What I am talking about is using available time to lift harder, heavier, jump rope, hit the heavy bag, condition, condition, condition! Using this method we can come out in the spring stronger, faster,more agile and looking great!
Here are some simple ways to up your game this winter:
1) Lift heavy: This goes without saying. Spend some more time with the iron, maybe even an extra day. Decide and act on a specific goal that you would like to achieve over the winter and do it. This could be something as simple as adding in an extra shoulder exercise daily. Its your call. Since I train 6 days per week anyway I usually like to lengthen the duration of my individual weightlifting sessions. I also add in training whenever I can. I took a cue from Cade Courtley and I often do pullups everytime I enter or leave my bedroom. This can be switched up as well to pushups, situps, squats or anything that you want to challenge yourself with; it is extremely versatile.
2) Getting outdoors during the winter also provides fantastic training opportunities. If you live in an area with snow or close to snow there are several excellent sports that you can add in to your routine. First, just consider going for a walk in your locale while there is snow on the ground. Go walk several miles or several hours. Walking through somewhat deep snow adds a considerable amount of exertion; I guarantee that you will be starving afterwards. If you have small children put them on a sled and pull them during your walk. If you live in the mountains or near by, adding in snow shoeing or cross country skiing periodically is a great way to up the ante on your program. Maybe these are things that you have never done before and you can use it as a challenge for yourself as well. If you don’t often go into the woods or nature take the time to prepare seriously, nature is a beautiful thing but it must be respected as well.
3) Do some extra conditioning this winter. If the weather is crappy outside and you want to condition inside there is a tried and true, inexpensive method of conditioning that is among the best; jumping rope. Boxers train with it because it works so well. You can get a decent jump rope for next to nothing. I would recommend getting real rope. I have tried several synthetic jump ropes and I keep coming back to the old standard rope with wood handles; nothing else works as well for me. Jumping rope for a while will get your heart rate up and give you that burn in your lungs that you get from a good run. Sandbag workouts are another excellent form of conditioning.
4) It is important to take care of ourselves all year round but the winter months will afford us some more time to devote to self care. Stretching is important. I do a deep stretching program in the morning and in the evening before bed as well as a warm up before working out. Sounds excessive but I wouldn’t have it any other way, my flexibility is great and at 41 I still workout like crazy with a minimal amount of injuries. The older you get the more you need to focus on flexibility and stretching if you want to continue to push yourself in your workouts. In addition to the stretching program its great to go get a massage periodically as well as a sauna and anything else that relaxes you. Foam rollers can work as well if a massage is not in your budget right now.
5) Increase your focus on specific body parts. Our bodies develop in different ways, some part develop faster than others. Pick those parts that need extra work and hit it like mad. You can also focus on those parts that are specific to a sport or combat art that you do. I like to really focus on neck bridges and forearm development at this time. Stretching and maintaining flexibility is also vitally important here too, particularly for kicking and grappling.
6) Try something new. If you are looking for a new weightlifting program I highly suggest Victory Pride’s, “Body of a Spartan” This is the program that I have been using for some time now. Not only is it a great program for your body but it is also good for your emotional health. This program will get the testosterone pumping!
7) Discipline. Finally, this is a great time to focus on self discipline and challenging one’s self outside of the weight room as well. This is also time where I check in with my motivation. I like to go through Victor Pride’s, “30 Days of Discipline” as well. If you are just learning about masculinity, being alpha or motivation then this program is an absolute must; go get it now and start right away, it will change your life. If you have been doing this for a while then this is a great refresher course; I use it several times per year just to check in, almost all of these things are now daily habits for me but it is good to refresh and rebuild. Setting a time apart to intensely focus on acquiring greater self discipline is immensely valuable. This program will help any man do that. Being as we are nearing the end of the year, it is an awesome practice to do the 30 day program and then work on your goals for 2015 after that, you will be in a completely new state of mind, totally motivated.
8)Earn it. Finally, with Christmas and New Years coming up, there is a lot of eating that will be taking place. I like to enjoy myself during the holidays and take part in all of the festivities. In order to do that, I make myself earn it first. For instance, on Thanksgiving day I added in extra HIIT training in addition to my regular workout. As a matter of fact I will probably do that every day of Christmas week. Nothing in life is free, including eating tasty food. The “conventional wisdom” is that you eat like a pig and then make up for it by working out like crazy the day after. I prefer to do the working out beforehand. This way I not only train my body but also strengthen my self discipline; if I don’t earn it beforehand then I don’t eat it.
Please comment and let me know what you do for winter training.
One of my business mentors is a former boss of mine, who incidentally helps me out by working for me 3 days per week now. I remember his office, it was clean and basic yet tastefully decorated in a very manly way. One year he held a Christmas party at his house and I noticed that his home was the same way; very basic, clean lines, well kept and very masculine. You will notice a pattern forming here. There is an old saying, “A sound mind in a sound body”, I would also add a new saying, ” a sound mind in a sound environment.”. The bottom line is that successful men are not slobs. Take the movies as one example: the powerful sit in offices that are well taken care of free of clutter and unnecessary junk.
There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that the rich and successful live below their means. Read that again; the rich and successful live below their means. This means that a successful man will be a minimalist because he does not purchase unnecessary junk. He purchases only those things that contribute to his greater good. When he does purchase something, he purchases something of value. He purchases things that will assist him in his quest to be a better man. He does not buy useless toys for the sake of buying or having. This also means that he will value his time greatly. He will not clutter his time with unnecessary junk either. Everything he does will have a purpose, even his leisure time.
The second reason is an offspring of the first. In order to have a clear mind, free of mental clutter, our external environment must also be free of clutter. Having outward clutter in homes, offices, vehicles and in dress are both the cause and effect of a struggling mind. It is a cause because it is very difficult to unclutter useless thoughts and emotions from our own mind while being in a space that is clutered and dirty. Clutter in our spaces and in our dress is also an outward sign of our inner disposition. This is one reason why it is so important to dress well. It is either a vicious cycle of depression or it can be an upward cycle of clarity and inner peace. That is our call to make. This is one of the reasons that the military is so focused on uniform appearance, cleanliness and discipline.
We are not isolated creatures. Our surroundings affect our mindset and our mindset will affect our surroundings. The main thing that we need to do is to take control of the situation around us, one of the by products of practicing assertive masculinity. When people enter our space, be it our office, home, vehicle or all of the above, they are coming into our world, a small kingdom so to speak. A man must own those things that are his. If you have peace in your surroundings it will help you to have peace in your soul. If you have peace in your soul it will affect your surroundings. One of the best exercises to do is to remove clutter, donate the stuff that you don’t use anymore, then start to surround yourself with books. Of course you will need to read them too, but the act of having neatly arranged books surrounding you will affect your mindset tremendously. If you have a room that is a study or a home office this is even better. After dinner, retire to the den for a while and pick a book off the shelf and read. Expand your comfort zone by also purchasing books that are not directly in your realm of interests. If you love history, buy a book on basic physics, if you are a science guy pick up a book about philosophy. By doing this daily you will acquire vast amounts of knowledge in a very short period of time! Just as we can see in the mirror the physical aspects of ourselves that we would like to change, we ust be honest with ourselves as far as the intellectual weaknesses that we need to overcome. Only by knowing what we need to change can we attack that aspect and improve ourselves.
Being a minimalist is necessary to focus in on our goals, and finding our purpose in life. Once we have established these things, being a minimalist will help us to focus only on those things that are necessary to achieve these things. We will recognize the clutter trying to intrude on our lives for exactly that they are; a waste of time.
When I was in 8th grade there was one particular girl whom every boy was in love with. She was absolutely beautiful. She was part Finnish which gave her an amazing look. Not only do I remember her, as I was one of those boys with the crush on her, but I also remember her father. He would come to pick her up from school. He was a kind man, and you could tell that he was very handsome. The other thing that you could also tell was that he had given up. He was a beaten man, he was depressed and looking back I can see that he had settled in his life. I heard that he and his wife later divorced. I don’t know why this happened but most likely there was no longer any polarity or attraction left in the marriage. He married because he was manipulated into it, she married because she was in love with an alpha who woulde degenerate into a beta, thereby losing all of her attraction and respect for him. I remember looking at this guy and thinking to myself, “being married sucks!”. I wanted no part of what he had; my 14 year old self realized that a miserable existence like that was not for me, not for any man. As I grew older it seemed that the hordes of depressed, married fathers driving mini vans only grew. I kept observing and realizing that not a single one of them had anything that I desired. I must admit that at this time these were confusing thoughts to me, after all this was the “way it was supposed to be” yet it seemed so wrong, so out of balance.
I once witnessed two co workers having birthdays on the same day. One was a female, the other male. They swapped birthday presents. He then gave her another one, then another one and then another one. She smiled, laughed, giggled and lost any attraction that she may have felt for him right then and there. He knows it deep down, yet if he is like most guys in America today he will continue to try to buy her affection with material gifts and sweet words and attention. Unfortunately he has not yet learned the cold, hard fact that giving women gifts does not in any way get you where you want to be, unless for some reason you want to be a girly man beta orbiter for years to come. While he is going to try to “nice guy” his way into her heart, she will be salivating for a man who confidently strolls through life, whom she can respect. She will do whatever it takes to win that man’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, she will let the beta orbiter hang around, maybe for years, because after all girls do like the attention.
So, this puts us in an interesting spot. If these two examples have nothing that we want, and actually turn us off, where do we go from here? Well, the answer is easy; be your own man. It is really amazing how so many things in life seem complicated yet can boiled down to their essence pretty easily. This is the whole truth about relationships. Chris Kyle in his book, “American Sniper” put it pretty well. His priorities were God, country, family; pure and simple. This comes from one of the greatest warriors of our age, a man whose life was cut way too short.
This is where we come to one of the most fundamental truths that I have discovered in relationships; women will stay with and respect a strong man who is willing to be kind, yet they will never, can never, respect a nice guy trying to be strong. In contemporary society, I believe that people mistake “niceness” for “kindness”. Let me elaborate; “nice” is about manipulation, control and trying to affect an outcome by behavior. it is actually a method of control. Deep down I believe that all “nice” guys are actually angry and passive aggressive. Kindness on the other hand comes from a position of strength, it is a moral virtue. Kindness is given with no expectation of repayment, it is chivalric. In order to be kind, a man must be strong. In order to be kind, a man must not care what others think about or have to say about him. In order to be kind a man must be willing to suffer ridicule. I believe that this is exactly what Jack Donovan wrote of in his book “The Way of Men”. In order to be a good man (kindness) a man must first be good at being a man (strength). Nice guys do finish last. This is not a travesty, it is a self inflicted death sentence. Kind men don’t finish last because they have already won by their strength and self respect.
There are men who just naturally ooze Assertive Masculinity. The operative word being; naturally. They do this naturally because they are authentic, they are themselves. While there is something to the theory of “fake it till you make it”, eventually the behavior, in this case lets call it alpha behavior, must become natural. It must become who a man really is or else its just acting. Focusing only on “faking” it, leads to just that; being a fake. Eventually fakes are uncovered and nobody respects or likes a fake. This is why women get so creeped out by a guy who hopes he can orbit in the “friend zone” for years while secretly harboring romantic intentions. The alpha does not hide his intent. Some say that men with higher levels of testosterone are less likely to lie. I don’t know the science behind this theory, but this isn’t suprising since an alpha male is secure in himself, he lives a life of action rather than reaction. Lying is a reactive behavior.
We often “act” for a variety of reasons. What is harmful to us is when we start to act and then be for other people, when we start to script our lives to their wants and needs, their perceptions. When we say things or alter our behavior for other people what we are essentially doing is trying to control others thoughts and situations. This is both unhealthy and futile. In this case we choose form over substance.
There is a time for acting. We act like the man that we want to be in order to become that. The “acting” is a transient phase, it is a tool to get to a higher goal. Here is an example; if you want to have integrity you must immediately begin to act as a man who has integrity. You must also visualize yourself this way. By doing this you will struggle day by day. You will work and sweat to become this man. My experience has been that consistent visualization and work will start to bear fruit after several months. You will just realize one day that you are evolving into who you want to be. Visualization, or modeling/acting will not in and of itself do anything; you must make the choices and take the actions to become the man that you are visualizing. We don’t “hope” to become something; we decide that is what we want to do, then we do it using visualization as one of the many tools in our box. Always remember that action is the greatest tool of all.
What we can control and determine is who we are and what we stand for. Once we do this, we don’t need to act because we become; being is much more rewarding than seeming to be. This goes hand in hand with goal setting and reflection. Coming up with a baseline of beliefs and a code of conduct for ourselves, we begin to live our lives in a thoughtfully proactive manner. We start to live our lives with integrity; our thoughts, feelings, words and actions become aligned. We begin to de clutter our lives from comittments that do not benefit us. We begin to learn the power of the word “no”. We boil our lives down to the essence, we become clear of thought and more able to be in the moment. Our workouts get better, they become something out of time.
Freedom comes from being ourselves; pure, simple and unapologetic. Other people respect straightforwardness but what is most important is how much we respect ourselves. Who is the man looking back at us in the mirror?
Keys to Success
“Your success depends on you.
Your happiness depends on you.
You have to steer your own course.
You have to shape your own fortune.
You have to educate yourself.
You have to do your own thinking.
You have to live with your own conscience.
Your mind is yours and can be used only by you.
You come into this world alone.
You go to the grave alone.
You are alone with your inner thoughts during the journey between.
You make your own decisions.
You must abide by the consequences of your acts…
You alone can regulate your habits and make or unmake your health.
You alone can assimilate things mental and things material….
You have to do your own assimilation all through life.
You can be taught by a teacher, but you have to imbibe the knowledge. He cannot transfuse it into your brain.
You alone can control your mind cells and your brain cells.
You may have spread before you the wisdom of the ages, but unless you assimilate it you derive no benefit from it; no one can force it into your cranium.
You alone can move your own legs.
You alone can move your own arms.
You alone can utilize your own hands.
You alone can utilize your own muscles.
You must stand on your feet, physically and metaphorically.
You must take your own steps.
Your parents cannot enter your skin, take control of your mental and physical machinery, and make something of you.
You cannot fight your son’s battles; that he must do for himself.
You have to be captain of your own destiny.
You have to see through your own eyes.
You have to use your own ears.
You have to use your own faculties.
You have to solve your own problems.
You have to form your own ideals.
You have to form your own ideas.
You must choose your own speech.
You must govern your own tongue.
Your real life is your thoughts.
Your thought are your own making.
Your character is your handiwork.
You alone can select the materials that go into it.
You alone can reject what is not fit to go into it.
You are the creator of your own personality.
You can be disgraced by no man’s hand but your own.
You can be elevated and sustained by no man but yourself.
You have to write your own record.
You have to build your own monument-or dig your own pit.
Which are you doing?”
B.C. Forbes 1917
It is hard to believe that it is already September. The time has flown this year, but it always does, whether we choose to do something or nothing. To me, this is an important time of year to check in with my goals that I set in January. We are entering the final quarter of the year, so its important to make sure that I am dialed in for the remainder of 2014.
As I move through life, one of the things that I notice in the vast majority of the population is that they lack any sort of introspection. This is not a knock on other people, just an observation. We all have struggles, none of us are perfect, but introspection allows us to see what we do well, and what we need to work on. We then take the appropriate action. Serious introspection is necessary to be able to do this and make the right calls. If you run a business that has any sort of inventory then you know the importance of having an accurate account of what you have in inventory and the quality of said product. The same thing goes for our lives. I have a close friend who is in Al Anon and has turned me on to some of their reading materials. The program is based on introspection and awareness of one’s state and then working to make things better. The program is completely about personal accountability, there is no blaming others. This is right where we want to be.
This is a good time of year to do this inventory. I take a daily inventory in the morning and evening before bed, but I like to do a more in depth review quarterly. I review my goals and plans in the light of some of these questions: What worked? What didn’t? Why? What did I learn from it? How can I take this lesson and apply it to my life? What things can I use now to take the ball over the finish line in December? Am I where I need to be? Are there any things distracting me from my purpose, my goals? In what ways did I apply lessons that I may have learned from my reading? Did they work? I gain so much knowledge about myself and where I want to be by doing this. I also use this information as a foundation to build my goals and plans for the coming year so that when the calendar rolls over to 1 January I am already solid, I’m good to go.
Of course, the first assumption here is that a man has goals, focus and a drive to see these goals through. Just writing down your goals and dreams will do nothing. Action is the only thing that will make them come true. It is a lesson in discipline, fortitude and commitment. Finding your goals and purpose is not a haphazard process. It takes reflection, desire and clarity. I suggest taking a weekend trip away from the normal distractions of life, this helps to be able to think more clearly, although it is not necessary. The other important aspect is that the goals must be your goals, they must be your desires. It may sound strange but for many of us it is difficult to come to a decision about what we want out of life. Most of the time you will find that your goals come up very differently from what society tells you that you should want. This is good. When a man dials in his goals he finds that he wants less and less of what society has to offer. Having set goals and a code to live by also gives us the freedom to focus. We know the things that are not important, and the things that are. We can measure every question we have by our own question; “Is this action or thought in line with my goals and my vision of who I am?” This will boil things down to their essence which is exactly what we want. If you think of your favourite historical figure, action hero, or someone whom you look up to, my guess is that there is one thing that they all have in common: they live by a code that they do not violate for anything or anyone. To me this is all summed up by the Duke in “The Shootist”; “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a hand-on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.” In fact, all of the great legends, myth and folklore have one common thread; the hero, a man steeped in valor, honor and grit, takes on a journey from which he never wavers, despite a myriad of distractions. He often winds up engaged in combat as his values are tested and he must stand and fight for those things that he believes in. Life is full of distractions. A clear, definite sense of purpose as well as clear, defined goals will help us to focus on what we need to do to get where we want to be.
One must choose his goals and “code” wisely; once he chooses he must stand up for these things. Once chosen and internalized it becomes a mater of a man’s hounour and integrity; things which cannot be lost, only surrendered.
A man must look good, he must know how to dress, yet he is not a metrosexual who is overly concerned with his appearance. The basic underlying element of all masculine style is to never compromise on his masculinity. Here are some very basic tips for dressing like a man and establishing a basic masculine wardrobe.
1) Don’t let women dress you. “What?!?!?” you may ask. “Isn’t this the best way to look good? After all women know what they like in a man!”. Allowing women to dress you will get you the same results as asking them relationship advice. It will not get you where you want to be. Here is the deal: ask a woman what she wants in a relationship and she will tell you about being nice etc… You will be nice until the cows come home while she is sleeping with your best friend who is doing everything the opposite of what she told you she wants. The same goes for clothing. She will buy you trendy clothes, the latest fads. You will look like every other guy on the planet. Trends are marketed to boys and boy-men, not real men. Masculine style on the other hand is more timeless. It is more mature, independent. You can dress trendy like everyone else, but you will be as unnoticeable and average as everyone else too.
2) Wear well fitting clothes. For some reason, most guys seem to think that buying a shirt with a collar on it automatically means that they have dressed up. You may feel that way but if the shirt does not fit you well you will look like you picked it up off the rack at Target. Buy shirts that are somewhat fitted. If you can, go for something slim fit, or ultra slim fit. Every man should have one or two custom tailored shirts. Make sure that you purchase dress shirts with sleeves under the collars for collar stays. These will add an extra element of sharpness to your appearance. When purchasing dress pants, even if you get them off the rack, you will need to get them tailored. Finding a good tailor is essential for every man. Your pants need to look perfect. The cuff must fall at the right place, not too short, nor too long. Don’t buy pants with pleats in them. To add an extra element of style and sophistication go with French cuffs, cufflinks and pocket square.
3) Wear solid colors and avoid all uneccasary patterns. As with posture and body language, people respond sub consciously to colors as well. Wearing conservative colors with basic patterns or no patterns at all. This will sub consciously communicate strength and power. Shirts should be basic as well. Skip the non functional add-ons such as epaulettes, logos, designs and other sorts of bells and whistles. Keep it simple and masculine. Even t shirts should fit reasonably well.
4) Finally, if James Bond wouldn’t wear it outside then neither should you. Use this as a measuring stick when choosing clothing.
These simple steps will ensure a solid foundation in the building of a masculine wardrobe.
If you have ever seen the movie “Fight Club” then you know exactly who I am writing about. You probably know exactly why as well. No matter where we are in life, the character of Tyler Durden resonates with all of us, for good reason.
Now, what I am addressing is not the Tyler Durden who was blowing stuff up, who was basically a terrorist. What I am talking about here is being the man who you want to be, none of the illegal stuff. So, I am not advising you to do anything illegal. Obey the laws. That being said, here is the rest of the post.
Authenticity is the reason why we all are drawn to this character. From the very first meeting on the airplane, Tyler stands in stark contrast to Edward Norton’s character. Norton is caught up in a fake world. He is caught up, as 99.99999% of American men are, in fakery, consumerism, and corporate slavery. His life consists of one “single serving” after another. He lives a depressing existence, his inner warrior is dying a slow, agonizing death. He is not true to himself. Think about it, his character doesn’t even have a name in the movie, he is just a cog in the machine. As a matter of fact, at the time of day that I began this post, most nameless cogs are sitting in traffic, on the way to a job that they despise, having left a home whose mortgage payments are choking him, with a woman who he doesn’t really feel attraction to anymore and who has absolutely no respect for him. There is no polarity in the relationship. Sound familiar?
Enter Tyler Durden. Tyler has no pretensions, no apologies, he can’t be manipulated because he is not going to do something that doesn’t fit in his life’s mission or purpose. He is solid, he is present because he is not worrying about what the other person thinks, or trying to influence their thoughts with his words. He is not a “people pleaser”. He asks questions that make Norton uncomfortable because he is direct. Tyler’s appearance gives rise to a movement that takes on a life of its own because, as in real life, their was a majority of silently suffering men who needed to find direction. I think it was said very succinctly in one conversation, “We are a generation raised by women.”
Here is my question to you. Who is your Tyler Durden? Think about it, but the answer is simple; he is the man that you have always wanted to be. Tyler Durden is as different for Edward Norton’s character as he will be for me and for you and for your neighbor, coworker and friend. My fight club will be different than yours. For some it may be a real fight club, getting involved in some sort of martial art, for others it may be speaking up and letting their voice be heard, for someone else it may be taking the plunge and starting a business of his own, his dream job. It could be practicing assertive masculinity. The key is to be authentic, but in order to be authentic we must first find our purpose, and begin to formulate our goals. We can then begin to pull ourselves out of the “rat race” in all of its facets; including corporate and social; its all the same, its all poison. Political correctness, poison leaching into our bodies from soaps, deodorants, plastics, GMO food, factory farmed beef and chicken and pork, pollution, artificial lighting, smog, stress, etc have all taken their toll on our bodies, minds and souls. This is not how we are meant to live. Most guys will choose to live, or rather die this way, but we cannot. We will work for our dreams and goals, because we know that no one else will do it for us. So, while the dude who we spoke about earlier is dreaming about getting drunk on the weekend and playing Grand Theft Auto, we will be reaping the rewards of our hard work and discipline .
After his encounter with Durden and the founding of the fight club, Norton’s character undergoes a radical transformation. He realizes that the “reality” that he was living in was no reality at all. All the men in the fight club become transformed, with a clearer view of life and a definite vision of who they are. The world just looks different to them. At one point Norton makes the comment that after 1 month he didn’t even miss television. His thinking is cleared because the clutter has been removed from his life. Once the veil of the cathedral and all of its propagandistic minions is lifted there is only the clear, fresh reality.