Day 90 – The Checkered Flag

This is it.  My final daily contest update.  Hard to believe 90 days have passed so quickly.

I still have to do my start/finish weight and body fat comparison as well as my final essay.  I did have some photos taken this morning.  I will be posting a final wrap up and pictures at some point within the next few days.

My preliminary thoughts are that I did a good job and should be proud of my efforts.  I did identify a few areas where I could have been a bit better.  Those areas will be addressed during my next 12 week training block.

I am on my way to the racetrack so I have to cut this post short.  I hope to be posting a picture of my son going around the track with his first checkered flag today.

Have a great day everyone!

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Day 89 – Almost There

This evening I completed my final lifting session of this 90 day contest.  In the morning, I will be taking my final pictures.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that my photos & story will be good enough to get me into the final voting.  If this happens, I will be ecstatic.  If not, I won’t get too down over it.

This weekend is going to be a busy one.  My son will be racing his quarter midget both days so I’ll be spending a lot of time at the track.

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While it will be hectic weekend, it will be nice to put this contest period behind me & get my mind off of the weight room for a couple of days.  A few days off is just what the doctor ordered.  I will use the time to clear my head & get myself ready for the next 12 week training block that begins on Monday.

I hope to have enough time this weekend to post my final pics & final thoughts on the last 90 days.  If not, I will do so as soon as possible.

Day 88 – Is Your Goal Powerful Enough?

Today is a scheduled off day from the weight room.  I have a Tabata cardio session lined up for later this evening.  My 90 day transformation contest period wraps up in just a few days.

Over the next few days I have a great deal of work to get done:

  • One more weight lifting session
  • Sunday weigh-in
  • “After” photos & final essay
  • Prepare training logs for the next 4 week training block that begins Monday
  • Prepare meal plans for the next 4 weeks

I’m sure it will all be taken care of so I won’t stress out over it.

I’ve given an honest effort during this 90 day transformation contest.  With that being said, I believe I could have done a better job.  There have been instances where I caved-in to a food craving & strayed from my meal plans.  I can probably look back to a lifting session or 2 where the intensity was lacking a bit.  I also could have been better about getting in some additional Tabata work during the last few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my efforts over the last 88 days.  I’m also proud of the efforts from my fellow transformation contestants.  Seeing how far some folks have come during their 90 day transformation period has been inspiring!

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that something was just a little “off” at times during this transformation contest.  I haven’t been able to put my finger on it but every now & then I could feel that something was amiss.  After some soul-searching & asking myself a few questions, I believe I have figured it out.

The following quote by Bob Proctor sums it up quite nicely:

“Most people are not going after what they desire. Even some of the most serious goal seekers and goal setters, they’re going after what they think they can get.”

I set out on this contest with the following goal in mind:

  • Build 5-10 pounds of muscle & burn off abdominal fat.

This is not a bad goal or an unrealistic one.  But there’s a problem with this goal.  I wasn’t even aware of it at the time I crafted this goal.  When I set the above goal, I set it based on what I thought was possible, not what I truly desired.

If I’m honest with myself, that goal probably should have read:

  • Build 20 or more pounds of muscle & a set of ripped abs while getting down to 7% body fat.

But you see, that goal seemed to be “too much” at the time.  I placed artificial limitations on myself when I set my initial goal.  These limitations are what left me feeling a bit “off” at times during this contest.  Deep down my higher self knew I was settling for less than I was capable of achieving.

When I read that revised goal above, it gives me goosebumps.  It also stirs something inside of me.  It is hard to describe what it is/how it feels but whatever it is, it is hard to ignore.

This brings me to another Bob Proctor quote:

“Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time. It must be a goal that is so appealing, so much in line with your spiritual core, that you can’t get it out of your mind. If you do not get chills when you set a goal, you’re not setting big enough goals.”

When I sit down this weekend to craft my new fitness goal for the next 12 weeks, it will be something that gives me chills.  It will be ambitious.  It will also scare me when I realize the price that will have to be paid to see it become reality.  But that apprehension will quickly melt away.  Every time I think about achieving this goal, it will get me so excited that any fear will disappear.  My new goal is probably going to look a lot like the goal I listed above!

My challenge to you is to do just what Mr. Proctor said in the quote above.  Set a goal that ignites a fire within you that can not easily be extinguished.  That’s what I will be doing over the next few days!

jack-canfield-quotes

Day 87 – So Powerful & Easy

Today I completed a full body style weight lifting session.  The focus of today’s lifting session was to get in about 30-40 minutes without pushing too hard.

After 12 consecutive weeks of training, I’m in need of some rest/recovery.  I’ve altered my lifting schedule a bit to accommodate this need.  My lifting sessions haven’t been as intense as usual but that is by design.

I don’t have much more to add as far as my training session is concerned.  I do have a quote from Jim Rohn I would like to share though:

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I absolutely love this quote.  It reminds us of the awesome power we all have inside of us.  What is that power?  The power of Personal Responsibility.  

I choose my own thoughts & am responsible for what I allow into my mind.  No one else thinks for me.  My thoughts lead to my words & actions.  My words & actions will result in me becoming what I think about most often.  We speak our world into existence.

Because I am responsible for my thoughts, words & actions it stands to reason that I am responsible for where I am in life.  I’m getting exactly what I deserve.  Most often, life gives us what we deserve, not what we want.

If I don’t like my current situation, what can I do about it?  I could blame the weather, my parents, the economy or anything else but that would just be a form of denial.  I am above that. I refuse to blame anything outside of myself for my current conditions.  I attracted the things in my life due to my thinking.  I am responsible for my life.

So rather than play the victim, why not change my thoughts?  It doesn’t take much to change my thoughts but the results are powerful.

The minute you realize that you can change your life by changing your thoughts, you will feel more powerful than you ever have.  It’s your choice.

Day 86 – It’s The Journey….

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I did get in a nice 20 minute walk/jog with my dog after work.

My plan for the rest of the week is to lift weights on Wednesday & Friday.  I must take my “After” pictures no later than Sunday morning so this schedule will allow me to get in a few more lifting sessions prior to the photo session.  After 12 weeks of hard lifting, I’m using this 13th week as more of a working recovery week.  No need to push too hard before tackling another 12 week training block.

My hope is that my “After” pictures are much better than my “Before” pictures.  They will be better but by how much?  Will it be enough to earn me a spot as a finalist?  I would like to believe so but I honestly do not know.

In the last week or so, I’ve come to realize that my foray into this contest was never about the prizes or the recognition.  My focus shifted towards those things for a bit & I lost sight of the real reason(s) I entered this contest:

  • Establish a healthier lifestyle, both in & out of the weight room.
  • Inspire others to begin their own journey fitness journey.
  • To set a goal, achieve the goal & become more disciplined as a result.

There are a few more reasons that I haven’t included because, well, they are private.  Rest assured, these reasons are pure in nature & are in harmony with the reasons listed above.

When my focus shifted to “winning the money”, my participation in this contest was no longer fun.  It became laborious.  I had put an insane amount of pressure on myself & everything had to be perfect.  I became overly critical of my efforts on a number of instances.

In short, I forgot that it’s the journey that makes the ride to the destination worth the effort.

Now that I have firmly set my focus on the real reasons I entered this contest, I better understand this concept.  I am also able to see that I have, in fact, nailed my goals:

  • I have established much better eating, exercise & rest habits.  I’m not all the way there yet but I am really close to having those 3 things dialed in tight.  When I begin the main portion of Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0” on Monday, I will be primed & ready to go.  The habits I have developed over the last 86 days will go far in helping me achieve my #1 fitness goal.
  • I have inspired others to begin their own fitness journey.  Through this blog, my Facebook page & the ETR Progress Journal, I have been able to reach out to a number of people looking for fitness information & motivation.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been an inspiration to a number of family, friends & even a few folks I’ve never met face to face.  I can honestly say that reaching out to others & knowing I’ve had a positive impact on them has been more rewarding than anything else related to this contest.  Talk about warming the heart/soul!
  • I’m really close to having achieved the goal I set when I started this 90 day transformation period.  The reality of the situation is that I am probably going to come up just a bit short of the weight/body fat % I set out to achieve.  I’m cool with that.  I have the rest of my life to work towards my fitness goals.  The main thing is to just keep working at my goals.

I’ve also achieved one of those “private” goals that is the least pure of them all.  It’s kind of egocentric but it was/is a good motivator.  I will share this “private” goal with everyone:

When people see my “After” photos, I would like for them to think that I don’t look like the stereotypical 39-year-old accountant!  The image that many people have of an accountant is this:

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Not this:

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Although this picture is from last fall, I’m looking about the same, if not a little better right now so I can honestly say I’ve nailed this particular goal.

So, the contest period is almost over & I’m feeling good about the accomplishments of the last few months.  Maybe I win, maybe I don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is the journey.  The destination is really just a stopping point for the next journey.  I’ve already begun mapping my next fitness journey.  I’m looking forward to the ride!

Day 85 – Are You Experienced?

Today, I completed Session A of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  I was very thankful to be in the weight room this afternoon instead of outside shoveling snow like I was last Monday!

Getting into the weight room 4 days a week is something I really enjoy.  I’m so thankful that I decided to enter this body transformation contest.  Had it not been for the contest, I doubt I would have gotten serious about my fitness.

Sure, I had been serious about my fitness in the past.  But I was working with a personal trainer & paying a pretty penny for it.  Once the training relationship ended & I had no financial skin in the game, my motivation went into the toilet.  I stopped doing the things that I had done to get into good shape.

Once this contest was announced, I knew it would be a chance for me to get serious about fitness again.  Getting serious about things is exactly what I’ve done!

But, this 90 day contest is rapidly coming to an end.  What is stopping me from backsliding again?  How will I avoid the same pitfalls that tripped me up in the past?  What is different about me now?

The answer to those questions can be summed up in one word: Experience.

Last spring/summer/early fall I experienced a dramatic body transformation:

Front View April 2012-Nov2012

 

I had never experienced anything like this in the past.  I was on top of the world.  Then I stopped doing the things I had done to achieve my transformation.

experienced a new feeling a few months later when I found myself looking more like my “before” picture than my “after” picture.  That sucked.  Big time.  But it turned out to be a positive experience.

The pain that I experienced served as a great lesson & showed me the error of my ways. It also re-ignited a fire in me that had been extinguished for a bit.

Now that I am nearly done with this 90 day contest, I am experiencing the same positive feelings that I did when I completed my first body transformation.  It feels wonderful!

My intention is to avoid repeating the same mistakes I made last fall.  I do not wish to repeat the experience of watching all my hard work turn to mush right before my eyes.

Plus, I have a goal that I would like to achieve & it won’t happen if I don’t stay on track.  This particular goal is more a “fun” goal but it is worth pursuing.

My goal?  To look at least this good or even better when I get old:

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I can do it but only if I stay on the path that I am currently following.

When I think about getting older & see the picture above, it reminds me of one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes:

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”

That’s sound advice I intend to follow from here on out.  Why not do the same?

Day 84 – The Old Me I No Longer Wish To Be

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I have a Tabata-style cardio session planned for later this afternoon along with some yoga.

My weekly weigh-in was this morning.  I was down about a pound on the scale.  The vast majority of that was fat loss based on my skin-fold/body-fat % measurement.  One more week of attempting to get as lean as possible for my “After” photos.

Once this body transformation contest wraps up I plan to put my best effort forward with the Main phase of the Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0 program.  For the last few weeks, I have been following the Beginner phase of the program.  It has been a good introduction to the heavier, compound exercises that make up the bulk of the main program.

Besides putting forth an honest effort in the weight room, I also intend to be better about my food choices.  While I have been much better about food choices I still have room for improvement.  Specifically, my weekend eating plans need some refinement.  I tend to slide an extra cheat meal or snack/two in on the weekends.  That is coming to an end.

I’ve set a new fitness goal & to accomplish it will require a better effort in the weight room & the kitchen.  My new goal?  To be one of the finest looking 40 year olds you will ever see.  I have 364 days to make this happen.

As I take daily steps towards achieving this “new” goal, I am also taking major steps towards achieving my #1 fitness goal.  I haven’t shared my #1 fitness goal with many people.  Maybe 2 or 3 tops.  This is a rather ambitious goal & will probably take at least another year or more to see come to fruition.  I’m ok with that.

After reviewing my journal, I now realize that in the last year I’ve gotten much closer to achieving this goal than I thought possible.  I remember how much doubt and fear I felt last year when I committed to achieving this goal.  So much so that I nearly erased the goal from my journal right after I wrote it down.  My head was full of negative thoughts & my self-talk reflected this:

  • “You’ll never be able to do it.”
  • “You’ve failed every program you’ve tried.”
  • “You don’t have the necessary genetics for the body you dream of so why bother?”
  • “Who are you kidding, you won’t stick with a program long enough to see results.”
  • “Even if you do stick with it, this will take a long time.  Why bother?”

These were just a few of the fears/doubts that I experienced when I first crafted my #1 fitness goal. But I decided not to entertain those thoughts for very long.  Instead, something inside of me experienced a major shift.

The old me I no longer wished to be.

Instead, something inside of me greatly desired to become the person I would become if only I had the courage to follow my dreams.  The desire to become this new me was very powerful.  I became excited about the possibilities.  My vision was clear.  I actually allowed myself to believe I could do this.

It was right then that I found the champion inside of me.  The champion that we all have within us.  The champion that gets imprisoned in the mental jail cell we refer to as our comfort zone.

My inner champion was released from prison that day.  Consequently, the “little me” that shirked the hard work & discipline necessary to achieve my goals was locked up that day.

It has been a year since I committed to my #1 fitness goal.  I’ve come a long towards accomplishing this goal.  In one year, I have gained about 20 pounds of muscle & shed nearly 10 pounds of fat.  This may not mean much to some people but for me this is a HUGE accomplishment.

But, there is still much work that must be done.  Gaining the next 10-20 pounds of muscle is going to require an even more focused effort than the first 10-20 pounds did.  It will definitely be a challenge.  But I am eager to face this challenge head on.  I no longer fear the unknown.  I embrace it.

You see, this body transformation quest I am on isn’t just about looking good (although that is a GREAT benefit).  Nope.  It is about becoming more disciplined, leading by example, being more accountable to myself/others & many other positive outcomes.

I firmly believe that how we view ourselves inside is reflected on the outside.  I know that when I was in my worst physical shape, I was also in my worst mental shape.  It is no coincidence that as my body started to look better, I started to feel better about myself.  As my confidence rose, so did my belief in myself.  This has propelled me to this point & will continue to push me onward & upward.

My challenge to you is to set a fitness goal that makes you a little uncomfortable at first.  Something that is going to challenge you to blow through every excuse that will hinder your progress.  Something that requires you to step out of your comfort zone & to free the champion within.  Something that will transform not only your body but your mind & your spirit as well.  You won’t regret it.

Speaking of regret, here’s something from Jim Rohn that is worth pondering:

Jim-Rohn-Quotes-The-Pain-of-Discipline-Weighs-

Day 82 – Thank You Mr. Rohn

Today is an off day from the weight room.  I have a yoga session planned for this evening but that’s about as far as it goes for fitness related activities.

My intention is to start off Saturday morning with Session C of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  After that, I’m not sure what will be going on.  I do know one thing about Saturday (assuming I am blessed with another day on Earth):

I will turn 39 years of age!  Where does the time go??  More importantly, where am I headed??

One thing I used to do regularly on my birthday was to take a look at what had transpired in my life since my last birthday.  That’s where keeping a journal came in handy.

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Here’s my current journal.  It may look plain & unassuming but I know better.  If you ever wanted to get a good idea of what makes me tick, looking inside of here would do it.  This book is full of my inner-most thoughts & is rife with raw emotion.  I hold nothing back when making a new entry.  Whoever gets their hands on my journals when I die is in for a treat.

In my late 20’s, I was introduced to the importance of having a journal by a well-known success author named Jim Rohn:

Jim Rohn

His audio program, “The Art of Exceptional Living” is where I first learned of the importance of not only keeping a journal but reviewing it each year.  The audio cassette has long since worn out & I have yet to replace it.  But there are certain portions of that program that have stuck with me for the last decade.

Unfortunately, the portion about regularly keeping a journal is something I haven’t been the best about.  I will admit that up until last year it had been many years since I had kept a regular journal.  Having seen the folly in my ways, my intention is to maintain my journals on regular basis from here on out.

Why is keeping a journal so important?  How else can you really measure your growth if you have no measuring stick?  A journal is a perfect measuring stick when looking at one’s life.  What a great way to track your victories/defeats, gains/losses & anything else relevant to your growth!

Memories fade over time & sometimes deceive us.  But a record of the situation, written in the current moment, will endure.  It won’t change or become fuzzy.  Forever frozen in time, each journal entry is real-time window allowing one to peer into the mind of the author.

Some of the most empowering moments I have ever experienced were directly related to my annual journal review.  I am so thankful that I will be able to review my journal sometime on Saturday.  I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

How much have I grown in the past year?  What obstacles have I overcome? What fears have I extinguished forever?  What areas still require my attention?  Where am I lagging in my growth?  What lessons have I learned?  Who has entered my life & who has exited it & why? Where have my thoughts lead me & where are they taking me?

These are just a few of the many questions that will be answered during my review session.  More importantly, my review session will allow me to begin charting my course for the next year.  There’s another concept I learned from Mr. Rohn.  Below is a quote that I believe sums this up perfectly:

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In my opinion, the 3 most important “things” we leave behind when we die are these:

  • Your music/audio programs – Music is so important to me for so many reasons.  It is restorative, therapeutic & motivational among other things.  Music speaks to the heart & soul.  My audio programs have brought me many great ideas & concepts.  They have truly enriched my life.
  • Your pictures – If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what is a lifetime of photos worth?  Your life story, captured on film, is priceless.  Where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, who was important, etc.  When your memories fade, a picture can help take you back to a time & place you had long ago forgotten about.  Time travel is possible.
  • Your books/journals – While your music & your pictures are valuable, your journal is probably one of the most valuable things you will ever leave behind.  Your thoughts are laid bare for all to read.  The real you is one display.

If you aren’t keeping a regular journal, why not start today?  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  The most important thing is that you get started now!

Day 81 – Old Time Muscle

Today, I completed Session B of the Beginner Program from Jason Ferruggia’s “Muscle Gaining Secrets 2.0″ program.  This session was a Lower Body dominant routine.

Squats, Deadlifts & Barbell Rows.  The barbell rows were in place of Dumbbell Hammer Curls.  I just felt like changing up things a bit today so I did.

This post is going to be a bit short but I would like to share a few photos of some people you may or may not aware of:

First up is George Hackenschmidt aka The “Russian Lion”

George Hackenschmidt Circa 1900

The “Russian Lion” Circa 1900. Age 22.

This old-time “strongman” was just that, a very strong man!  You can read more about him here.

Next is Eugen Sandow

Sometimes referred to as The Father of Modern Bodybuilding

Sometimes referred to as The Father of Modern Bodybuilding

 

Another old-time “strongman” who I find fascinating.  Read more about him here.

What fascinates me so much about these men (and many others from this era) is that they were this muscular in the late 1890’s/early 1900’s!

Their recipe for success?  Lifting heavy weights, eating whole foods, getting in plenty of rest & participating in physical fitness activities on non-weight lifting days.  No supplements, no steroids or HGH, no fancy machines.

And ladies, I didn’t forget about you.  This is Abbye Stockton:

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This picture is from the mid 1940’s. In this picture she’s in her mid 20’s, stands 5’2″ & weighs about 115 pounds.  She’s pressing 135 pounds overhead in this picture.

Wow!

Ladies, DO NOT be afraid to lift heavy weights!!! You won’t get big & bulky. You’ll get shapely & strong.

Abbye is considered by many to be the first “real” female bodybuilder.  Her recipe for success?  Same as the guys above.

I’ve noticed a common theme here.  Lifting progressively heavy weights, being physically active on “off” days, eating whole foods & getting ample rest seems to have the strangest effect on the body.  Turns out these things help build muscle & burn fat.  Who would’ve guessed?

If this worked for them, why not for me or you?  It’s a pretty simple formula.