A Night Light in Darkness

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When I was a child, I was scared of the dark. ANYTHING could happen in the dark, and none of it was good. My son is the same now. He knows that the only way to make the darkness go away is with light. For now, we combat that.

Try asking him if he thinks that it will help if we kill all the lights and shut his door, making it darker. Ask him if that will drive out the darkness that brings him so much fear.

I am not the answer to all of the world’s problems. But WE ARE the answer to all the world’s problems. We can all be night lights.

Darkness and hate can not be driven out with hate and darkness. It doesn’t work like that. It has never worked like that.

The only thing that cuts darkness…destroys it…is light.

You want to destroy darkness? Try light. Try being the change. Be a night light. The cool thing about a night light is that, yes, it helps with your own dark. But, almost by accident, it helps with other peoples’ dark as well. It does not choose where its beams will fall. They fall everywhere and cut the darkness, providing a brighter view to the world around it.

What we are seeing right now are people fighting hate with hate. Closing the door and making it darker, believing that this will help fight the darkness. Until the rest of us learn to love, really love, nothing will change. It will grow darker. You will stop caring if the sun rises.

Be a night light.

Me? I still look for the sunrise. I still notice the vibrant greens after the rain. I still smell the salt air or the pines on the breeze.

Yes, I am a man that will always do what is necessary. Sometimes those things are not pleasant for everyone. But that is not what is needed right now.

The problem right now is a lack of love, compassion, and light. The problem right now is that there are too many fighting hate with more hate. We are killing EACH OTHER. We are not the enemy, folks. We are humans. We are beings.

We are scared of the dark. Be a night light.

Unless we can find a way to accept each other and love each other just for being a human, we will not recover. We can’t.

We need a night light.

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It Should Be FUN

Sometimes you have to remember that simplification can bring the fun back. Especially the kind of fun that leaves you smiling and in a sweaty heap.

My Workout for Monday

Tire Flips A1
Tire Jump Throughs (Jump into and out of the tire = 1) A1
Curls A2
Press of any kind A2
Goblet squats A2
Lat Pull Downs A2
Face Pulls or standing cable rows A2

Start at 10 for A1, 20 for A2
9 for A1, 18 for A2
8 for A1, 16 for A2
All the way to 1 and 2

And I had FUN! It was at home, I beat on myself and sweated hard. No music. No mirrors. A storm outside the doors. And it was AWESOME.

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I came across 3 big tires of varying size (see photos), a large wooden fence post (maybe a quarter of a telephone pole) , a Weider Machine, and a couple barbells. FREE. I was heading to the Y and then asked myself why. I didn’t have a good answer so I created a full-body circuit and had some fun. To be honest, it was the most fun I have had working out since I was last in a CrossFit gym or working out with a buddy back in IN. I plan to add a wheelbarrow, a rope or 2, a couple sets of Rings, and a couple sledgehammers. And maybe a bit more weight.

Here’s the thing that I think we forget…
You don’t NEED a gym. What you need is a dollop of discipline. Motivation gets you out the door, but discipline makes you return when you don’t feel like it. THOSE are the most important days. The days you go but don’t feel like going.

And when I say “going”…that’s to your spot. Is that the woods? Is that the living room or basement for a BeachBody program? Is it the gym for some Wendler 5/3/1 or something of your own design? Sprints in the backyard? CrossFit box or the WoD from CrossFit.com in your garage? A long walk in the woods stopping to lift a log, carry a rock, jump a creek, or climb a tree? Because whatever it is, it will become a sanctuary. A home. A place for you to put in the work. That’s it! It is one of the pillars we will discuss. One of the load bearing beams that keep your roof up.

You don’t have to follow a set plan or program. It can be this simple…
Eat real foods: Meat, veggies, fruit, some nuts.
Move daily and at high intensity a couple times a week
Repeat.

Suddenly you won’t be so sore. You will feel good when you move. Serotonin and Endorphins do their work and you notice that, as you are recovering, you are smiling! And you want that feeling again!

There is no right or wrong. There is simply looking at your life and figuring out where a workout fits. Looking at nutrition and understanding it. There is no cheat. There are simply foods that you choose to eat. Some have better effects on your body than others. So when you eat something because you are at a party, you know what that does and how you feel. You enjoy it and move on.

There are no such things as “cheat” foods. There is only food with varying degrees of nutrient density. Choosing nutrient dense food more often will lead to positive changes in your body!

Got an idea? Go put it in action and see how you feel. Day 1 you will feel tired. But feel beyond that. How do you feel overall?

Discipline and habit will always beat out motivation in the end. But motivation is what will get you there today. Motivation was when I found myself 6 years ago too out of shape to play with my children. Discipline helped me make sure I can continue running with them, picking them up, PLAYING!

More about food and fitness in the future. But for today I am just enjoying a body that feels like it did work yesterday. And it is a great feeling.

Want some help with what any of that looks like? Message me! I will be happy to help you with a way to eat or move that works for you.

 

Do The Damn Thing

My Dad and I always had a tough time. He was a damn good man that tried really hard, but never quite got me, although we did finally connect on a deeper level a month or two before he passed away. He was a tough man to please if you were his kid, a great hunting pal in my adult years, but a loyal friend to the people around him. I learned a lot of lessons from him. A love of the outdoors, the value of a hard day’s work, how to trust first until you had a reason not to. Some were about how to do things. Some were about how not to.

Dad had a lot of sayings, but there was one that stuck with me all these years.

“Son, if you’re going to do it…do the damn thing.”

Maybe at first blush, it doesn’t mean much when you read it. It may just look like a Dad telling his son to apply himself.  Heck, maybe that’s even what he did mean. But to me, it has come to mean more.

Do the damn thing.

At one point, it became a battle cry in our gym. When things were about to get nasty with a particular workout, just before we started, I would say “Let’s DO THE DAMN THING!” It never failed to fire us up.

But there is another meaning there.

We all live this life doing what we must. Working a job, living a life, taking care of our families. Most of us also have a dream. Making the leap to follow that dream is spicy. It is terrifying and will launch you into a state of being uncomfortable. Of uncertainty. It is outside what you have built as your comfort zone. A scary, dark place.

But if you want it, if you truly believe you are moving to your life’s purpose, there is but one thing to do…

DO THE DAMN THING

Take a chance. Make that leap. Be a catalyst for change in your own life and in the world around you. It may be terrifying, but will it be more terrifying than leaving this world with that regret? That “What if” still in your soul?

You know what you want. You know the chance is there. You know it will be hard, as most things that are worthwhile are. You know your beliefs, your purpose, your life’s goals.

Mindfulness, purpose, fitness, health, a new career. You know your dreams and goals.

There is really only one thing left to do.

Do the damn thing.

What Pain Do You Want?

What do you want out of life? That question is ok, but the answer will be pretty vague and usually be “happiness” or something to that effect.
A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is this:

“What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”

That seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

 

The Man in the Arena

On April 23rd, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic”. There was one part of this speech that resonated with people. And it is a worthy lesson.

The excerpt is called “The Man in the Arena” and it speaks of something that is the most important lesson you will ever learn. Something I have taught my children. Something I have been taught by many great people before me. By the giants whose shoulders I stand on now.

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

No one who has ever tried has completely failed. The only people who truly failed are those that never tried. Those that never took a chance. Those that never fought a losing battle to the end just to make sure that they finished.

Anyone can fall. It is those that get up, dust themselves off, wipe the blood from their face, and dig back in that know the real beauty of life. It is impossible to fail if you keep standing up.

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. The secret is to stand up one more time.

Time for a Tune Up

A week ago I decided to go back to basics in another aspect of my life… fitness and nutrition.

Over the last 5 years or so, I have really enjoyed myself by trying all sorts of interesting programs. The first, which was actually 10 years ago or more, was South Beach Diet. And it worked fine, but just wasn’t the right thing at the right time for me.

Then, about 5 years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution. I joined Planet Fitness and started working out. No other real changes, just that. And I started losing weight. But I was BORED to tears. Nothing against them, I just needed more.

I saw a commercial where a guy was sprinting, hitting a tire with a sledgehammer, climbing a rope, and jumping on a box. I started looking and found CrossFit. I walked into CrossFit at about 300 pounds. I had just really let myself go. It was really disappointing. I walked in and asked the coach (who I am still buddies with) “Hey, is this for big guys, or just little fellas?” He laughed and assured me I was good to go. I went Paleo and worked out 5 to 6 days a week for anywhere from 20 mins to an hour each day.

6 months after starting, I dropped to 254 pounds. And plateaued.

The problem with that is I didn’t understand why. I felt like I didn’t have the energy I did and I wanted to get stronger. So I decided to complicate things.

Since then, I have played with all sorts of eating styles and workout programs. I got strong as heck and then injured. Had setbacks here and there. Marginal results. But never duplicated that 1st time.

The thing is though that…you know…how could I? When I first started I was eating like a fast food critic and basically sedentary. My body was primed for crazy change! The problem for me came when the results weren’t happening fast enough. And then when I went from “I want to be healthy and run with my kids” to “I want to be the most powerful CrossFitter in the world!”.  And injured and 280 I went. Frustrated.

So, since I am going back to basics with so much, I have designed a workout program for myself that is simple and easy to follow and went back to eating whole, good foods from good sources. In the first week, I have lost 7 pounds, and that was with a very southern Easter feast mixed in.

There are no post-workout shakes. In fact, I am not starting the workouts yet. Just walking. Next week I will begin the full program I designed.

So, here’s what we are going to do with this. I have taken before pictures. Uncomfortable, horrible, real pictures that I am not posting quite yet. However, I will track the progress through photos and show the before and after at the 30-day mark.

I can tell you that my diet is basically meat and veggies with some fruit sometimes. Black coffee. And healthy fats. And it is DELICIOUS.

I think that is the one thing I really want people to keep in mind here. This is not about counting macros or anything else right now. It is about getting lean protein, healthy fats, and LOTS of veggies. Eat until you are almost full, which feels a LOT different without processed food. To understand that, eat ssslllooowwwwllllyyyyy. Eat mindfully. Eat with purpose while thinking of how these things are fueling your body, visualizing them helping your body and turning it into a leaner machine.

Here is the main goal in this:
Get and keep a healthy relationship with food and its role in your life!

Look, this isn’t about never again eating fast food or cheesecake. It’s about understanding why you aren’t eating like that every day. It’s about treating your food like what it is. It is fuel for your body (machine). Here’s what I mean.

When your car runs out of oil or fuel, you know it. All the signals are there. It is time to get more fuel.

If you put the wrong or dirty fuel in, your car runs awful. It is sluggish and sputters. No oil? The engine seizes up and is done. But put in the right fuel and oil? Your car gets better gas mileage. It runs better. It even lasts longer! Perfect! Let’s do that.

Now think of overfilling the gas tank. When the tank gets full, it triggers you to stop adding fuel. Well, what if that trigger is broken or, worse, ignored? Well, you overfill the tank and gas runs everywhere. All of that gas on the ground around you is what turns to fat in your body. You just need to fill your tank and move on.

Because of processed foods, many of us have broken full triggers. We are used to “Thanksgiving full”. That full where you loosen your belt and can’t eat another bite. I just did that at Easter! But that is not the feeling we are striving for every meal. All we want is to feel satiated. To know we are not hungry anymore. And that’s where eating mindfully will help. You will begin to notice your body has its own trigger, even with these nutrient-dense, non-bloating foods. It will take time, but it will happen.

I encourage all of you to take your time. Eat your meal slowly, a bite at a time. As a former Marine, I am TERRIBLE at this part. But I am improving. And so is my machine. And yours will as well. You will feel the food begin to nourish, picture it filling your tank, noticing how much better it feels when it is well-chewed. And that is where the magic will start to happen!

Then start walking. Sleep longer. Turn off the tv and read or play with your family. Go climb a tree with them or just play tag. Or go for a walk.

More on my program later and progress coming down the road. But I want to leave you with a single goal for now.

Change just one thing this week. Just one. A goal that you can meet quickly. Unsure what to change? Try one of these:

  • Drink one less soda or sweet drink
  • Eat a veggie instead of fries
  • Eat an extra veggie
  • Drink an extra water every day
  • Get up and walk once per hour (this is mine!)

We all have to start somewhere. Start with a small goal, crush that, then add another.

I know you can do this. I believe in you. Huge change always starts with the smallest detail.

Let me know what the one thing you are changing will be. And give a yell if you need help choosing.

Now…START YOUR ENGINES!

Something to Believe In

 

There is an amazing speech that too few people have heard or remember. This speech comes from the movie Second Hand Lions. It’s a movie you don’t hear much about, but that had several good messages. I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone that is trying to walk that path of honor and integrity and be a mindful human in this small world.

The text of that speech is as follows:

Walter: Those stories about Africa . . . about you . . . they’re true, aren’t they?
Hub: Doesn’t matter.
Walter: It does too. Around my mom all I hear is lies. I don’t know what to believe.
Hub: Damn, if you want to believe in something then believe in it. Just because something isn’t true that’s no reason you can’t believe in it.
There’s a long speech I give to young men. Sounds like you need to hear a piece of it. Just a piece.
Sometimes, the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything. That power and money, money and power, mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil, and I want you to remember this, that love . . . true love never dies. You remember that, boy. Remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, you see. A man should believe in those things because . . . those are the things worth believing in.

We cannot choose or control what happens in our lives many times. What we CAN control is the way in which we react. Reactions are our own and no other being can ever force our reaction. It is purely yours. That makes it especially valuable and powerful. Don’t waste it.

Now the things that are worth believing in…

That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything. There is a simple truth I grew up hearing and that my kids are growing up hearing. That simple truth is that the most valuable things you own are your name and your word. Without both, they are worthless. Together, they are priceless. Honor, courage, and virtue are things that can be overlooked in today’s world. Make no mistake…their value is not lost. Only the appraisers.

That power and money, money and power mean nothing. Here’s the thing…if you lost every dollar you had, you would still be you. Remember that.

Good always triumphs over evil. Some will say that this makes things too predictable. We are, after all, in the age of the anti-hero. Breaking Bad, Deadpool, The Walking Dead, and a few others are good examples. But there is a greater truth out there. The good will always outnumber the bad. Always.

True love never dies. I don’t think I need to go into this one.

And really, that’s the point he makes in his speech. It doesn’t matter if they are true. It doesn’t matter what I say. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. All that matters is if you believe.

My suggestion is pretty simple…figure out what you believe. Figure out who you are. Figure out what counts.

Then become a warrior who is not afraid to fight for what you believe. Who is unafraid to sacrifice everything for those beliefs. Who makes those things worth believing in your creed and your life. Who is unafraid to taste their own blood to protect them.

Someone who will do whatever is necessary to make sure those beliefs stand firm.

Someone who needs no motivation, for they have discipline.

Become as valuable as your word and your name. And then make sure those you surround yourself with are held to that standard. After all, sometimes believing in someone is enough for them to become what you believe they can be.

Love and belief…therein lies the real power.

Eating Mindfully

Being mindful and purposeful in your life can take on many forms and happen at any time. Many of the chances to do so are things you do every day. Although a meal may not seem to be something that you can do purposefully and mindfully, I will use today’so breakfast to give an example.

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The coffee is from Black Rifle Coffee Company. They are a vey involved with other veteran-owned companies and are supportive of veterans. A sip is delicious and reminds me of the people I served with as well as the ones deployed and the ones that never are to return.

The bacon is uncured and delicious. It reminds me to read ingredients and understand as much as possible about sourcing.

The strawberries, spinach, and eggs are local. This reminds me to be conscious of helping the community around me and the chances that exist to provide for ourselves with more work.

Then the Kerry Gold cheese reminds me to not only consider my food, but the foods that my food takes in. Food sources are important on a nutrition, local, and global stage.

The key is that a meal does not have to be all personally sourced. But to be mindful is to consider the meal. Be thoughtful about what the meal means. What the foods are doing as fuel for your body. What that fuel means and the things it provides.

Take your time. Be mindful and purposeful with each bite. Chew it thoroughly and thoughtfully with each bite.

And most importantly, enjoy the meal completely and the way it feels. Not to be full, but pay attention to when your appetite is satiated. The point where you are really no longer hungry. How that feels. How your body reacts and the way not hungry feels as compared to the feeling of being “full” that most will try and attain. This is a very important lesson. Hunger can be a great tool and something we can all learn from. Hunger is a chance to be uncomfortable and find a way to be comfortable with that. It can then translate into comfort in many aspects of your life that may also be uncomfortable.

A meal isn’t just fuel for the body. If done well, it is a meditation.

It’s Simple: Just Live

Some folks have asked me where Hunter Living comes from. Why is Hunter Living a thing? Is it about hunting?

The short answer is no, it is not. But one pillar of Hunter Living does come directly from the hunters and gatherers of our past. And, to that end, many of the healthiest populations in the world also share this trait.

That is, an active life.

For the hunters and gatherers in our past, being active was a necessity to survive. Working fields to grow crops, fishing in part to fertilize the fields, hunting to bring home meat and knowing you would go hungry if you failed. Life was constant work to take care of your family’s needs. REAL needs.

Although it is more indirectly, the same can be said for us today. One of the issues is that instead of journeys by foot, most of us sit in a vehicle to get to a desk where we sit. Many people wake up at the last minute, eat whatever is handy, if at all, show up and stare at a screen. We sit our entire lives. We are largely sedentary. And it is killing us. Not in some dramatic way, but slowly.

One of the most important lessons in Hunter Living is to be active. So no, it doesn’t mean gathering berries and seeds and hunting for your dinner…but it could. You could plant a garden, forage, hunt. Those are wonderful ways to feel at one with your environment and great practices in mindfulness. However, you could also walk to the store when possible, get up from your desk 5 minutes every hour and walk or do some other form of exercise, or do some form of exercise in your life.

This pillar is not about me designing a workout plan for you, although it could be. No, it is about finding a way to be a little more active daily. Move and use your body a little bit more. Be a more active participant in your world. And this does not need to be an all-in, overnight change. It could be as simple as taking a walk every day.

Believe me, I understand being busy. But if you don’t make time for yourself, your health, and your own piece of mind, who will?

If you want to look at your diet or exercise and find a way to small improvements, that’s fantastic. I would even be more than happy to help. But the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. So try and mix in a 5 minute walk today and see how it goes. Do it 3 days in a row and you suddenly have a habit.

Life is not meant to be passively enjoyed. We were not designed to sit for 12+ hours a day and then lie down for 8. We were not meant to be tied to a desk for hours at a time with no freedom of movement or control over our environment. We are, all of us, meant for greatness. Get up, move around, discover your environment and find a way to actively enjoy it. Be involved in your community and life. Make them better. And leave the world a better place.

Love yourself so you can love each other!

You don’t have to be a hunter or farmer to live better. But you do need to be active in your life. How you choose to do that is up to you.

Make the most of what you have.

That is Hunter Living.

Hunter Living

To be a mindful person means a lot of things to a lot of people. But there is one really good place to start, and that is with answering a couple of simple questions:

Where am I?

What time is it?

Being mindful means recognizing some really simple answers to those questions.

Here.

Now.

Many other things can be going on that define those two spaces. But your job is to recognize what they mean and where you fit.

In you’re here and now, are you eating? If so, have you thought about where the food came from? One of the biggest problems with fast food is not only the added calories through needless ingredients. But also losing touch with the fact that the meal is important. That there was a story. If I go and plant a garden and harvest the vegetables. Then I hunt and use the meat, prepare a bone stock, and perhaps tan the hide yourself to have a blanket. These things all make you consider what went into it as you eat. The memories of things that happened when you were preparing the garden. The hunt that brought your satiety and warmth. This is not only with meats, but with all things that you have.

We will speak more on the hunt later.

For now, just try thinking on your place and time. One of my favorite quotes by Seneca reads:

“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”

Try being still and quiet. Can you clear your mind of all of the traffic that is usually moving through? Or is there so much that it is hard to sit and just “be”? I can recall being in a place where I could not even sit down and read without being flooded with thoughts. Being bombarded with thoughts and stressors. One thing after another screaming for attention. I was a man unable to do as Seneca suggested. That meant needed changes in my schedule and routine. Add time to get my body and mind strong again.

Learn to recognize where I was and what time it is.

Learn to, once again, get to know the man I was staring at in the mirror and to take good care of him. To be mindful of his place.

That is Hunter Living.