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!

The Peace Within

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

 

If you are struggling with nutrition, fitness, a relationship, your job, or life in general, I want you to realize something. Nothing outside of yourself that you do will matter if you can’t get your mind right. The secret to everything in your life is much more simple than you think.

A powerful mind is an interesting thing to define. Some will think of a story or movie they are familiar with that tells a story of overcoming hardships or life and death struggles. Some will think of the Dali Lama. Some may think of prisoners of war. But each of us is trapped within our own prison or cell. Our minds are so often the limiting factor of what we can do or accomplish.

Have you ever stood in your shower and turned the hot water down or off? At first, the feeling is unbearable…or so you believe. But there is a wonderful strength to be found in learning to bear such situations. Growth is most often achieved through overcoming difficulties. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable teaches us to dig within and find the piece of ourselves that allow us to persevere.

At the heart of it, these things come from love and positivity. Love and positivity are so important. I cannot stress this enough. If you cannot see yourself and your life in a positive way that allows you to visualize your success, no amount of hard work will matter. Wake up thankful with a vision of your life in mind. Say thank you out loud if you want! Write your goals for the day. Meditate and breathe peacefully. This isn’t all hocus-pocus. It is about getting you a set point that springs forth in a positive way. Knowing that any situation, no matter how daunting or awful, is simply temporary. You can choose how to react to it but nothing more. Your reaction is your own.

Here is a test…
The next time you are in a quiet place, close your eyes and attempt to clear your mind of everything. No thoughts of your day or obligations or responsibility. When something springs to mind, remove it. Clear your mind.

Were you successful?

I can tell you that, in times of stress, I used to find it impossible to simply read a book. I would read the same sentence over and over, with thoughts of my troubles constantly invading and overrunning my peace.

You must find your peace and your center. You must find your positivity. You must be able to focus on just your own breathing or heartbeat.

Until you can master your own mind, body, and soul you will find it difficult to master anything outside of that.  And like exercising or training, there are ways to train this. No one masters it without exercise and repetition.

This is truly where your journey will start. Just practicing being at peace with yourself.

There are so many good places to begin. Sit on the beach and watch the waves cycle. Walk through the woods and pay no attention to anything except the stimulus around you. Sit in the woods before daylight and watch the world begin to awaken as the sun rises.

The world is cyclical. Be mindful in your pursuit of these cycles and in your pursuit of peace. It is there for all of us and free of charge. It is your therapy and your medicine.

Your life is yours and yours alone. No one in this world cares more about it than you do. It is up to you how you will perceive it and grow within it. You cannot control what happens to you, only how you react to those things.

Live on your terms. Define your own goals and limits. Learn to be good company for yourself. Build a mind that is the strongest part of you. The rest will come.

 

The Fight

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The fight is not always outside. It is not always muscle against muscle, the metallic taste of blood, the sound of flesh being bruised and beaten, or the smell of war.

No, often, the struggle is within. It is a hard fight to stay the course. To be steady in your thoughts. To learn to absorb the pain and stress and keep it from those you love. To know that you will accept the pain and let it dwell within you until you find a place to unleash it. A proper place where no one will be hurt. Where, afterward, the only dweller in the pain cave is yourself, and it has manifested into the physical pain of true intensity and effort to make your mind and body more armored.

This fight is real, my friends. It happens within many of us without anyone ever hearing a word about it. The only sounds of this battle turn out to be gasps for breath, crashes of metal, the grunt of pain. One man finding a way to unleash this creature in a struggle with the iron. A place to leave all of the pain, the anger, the fear, the loss, the grief, and exchange it for mental toughness and physical improvements that ends each time with a wave of pain as the warrior lies on the ground and lets it wash over them. Cleansing. Fierce and burning. Curling the body into positions of safety.

A dip into the cleansing fire, a warrior emerging feeling victorious and battle hardened. Not so much over the iron or the demon that dared try to drag him away. But over himself. His own rapt fear and insecurity. His own pain and anger and longing.

He lies there, feeling the waves of pain washing over him after the intensity of the job let him stay just ahead of its breakwaters for just long enough to finish. But now, plunged into the cave with the tides coming to take their due, he basks in the pain. The pain lets him know he is still alive. Still ready and able to do battle. To kill the him that was there when he arrived. To exit reborn, a bit stronger and better.

You walk by and see a man looking at himself, sweating, drinking water and gulping air. Wondering why…why anyone would put themselves through that. Why they enjoy that pain so damn much. Why their palms rip and body aches, bloodied and flush. Unable to talk and maybe still lying there, trying to be able to move again. Perhaps one day you finally ask them…
“Why? Why do you do this to yourself? Why would you destroy yourself over and over every day? What are you trying to do? Kill yourself?”

He would look at you. Stare and try to discern why it is you cannot understand. Why you would ask such a ridiculous question. Maybe he would have his breath to answer. Maybe only his soul could whisper. Maybe it is written in the stare through pained eyes, the blood on his hands or shins, the tattoos on his skin, and the sweat rolling from his body.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Yes. I am trying to kill myself.”

 

“I am trying to kill the part of me that came in with the pain from missing my children and my love.

The part of me that misses my family, those by blood and by choice.

The part of me that came in with the pain of the brothers and sisters lost in a far-off land.

The part of me that lost my best friend just weeks ago.

The part of me that came in with the pain of feeling isolated and alone.

The part of me that came in with the pain of feeling helpless to help someone far away.

The part of me that came in with the pain of feeling I lost myself somewhere.

The part of me that came in with the pain of being weak, fat, out of shape, an embarrassment to myself.

The part of me that came in with the pain of never wanting to leave my children far too early, as my parents did me.

The part of me that fights through sadness every day of my life.

The part of me that hates who I have become because I know who I once was.

The part of me that wants you to know that I have your back, even when you could care less about mine.

The part of me that thinks being called average is an insult, not a compliment.

Yes, I am trying to kill myself. Because a better man rises from that. A man that demands more of himself. A man that strives to become the best version of himself he can be.

The fight is not always out there. The fight much more often is in here.

I know my enemy’s weaknesses as he knows mine.

We will continue this fight.

The fight is not always out there.

The fight is within me. A beast. A beast I love and that I hate.

I am winning, for now.

And I will never stop fighting.”

;IGY6

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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.