Don’t be a hypocrite.

We are just a few short days away from the annual pilgrimage of New Year’s resolutioners heading to your local gym. Sadly, more often than not, they are greeted with quite a bit of hypocrisy from the self-proclaimed “gym lords” who are now upset they have to share the equipment. These are the same folks who spent the last year making fun of people who don’t work out who now feel compelled to make fun of them for coming in and working out.

They can’t wait to sit back and make someone who was already scared to come in the first place to be the butt of their jokes in a private chat group (at best) or on World Star HipHop (at worst). As if they weren’t beginners once themselves.

How quickly we forget from whence we came. Here’s the reality regarding why most people don’t start a gym program–it’s not because they are lazy–it’s because they are scared.

We have a horrible problem in our society of assuming that overweight people are lazy. We judge them harshly, ignoring the fact that many who are overweight hold important and stressful positions. These people who are deemed lazy are frequently extremely hard working and more “successful” in life than the “bro” talking shit about them at the gym. Far too often, the gyms in America are a throwback to high school era shenanigans where the “jocks” make fun of the people in honors classes.

And so, in a country facing an obesity epidemic of epic proportions, people avoid the gym because they don’t want to wind up the next viral youtube video or meme simply because they tried to put their health as a priority.

So to my friends committed to fitness, I have a challenge for you this year. Don’t become part of the shit talkers standing around armed with a protein shaker bottle and a judgemental eye. Don’t be the cheerleader who can’t wait for everyone to fail in their goals and clear space on “your” favorite machine. Instead, offer to take that fledgling fitness fanatic under your wing. Help guide them in their journey. Become a battle buddy for someone who’s trying to turn it around.

It’s one of the easiest ways to save a life.

About your “Thank you.”

Veterans Day always leaves me feeling odd. I can’t quite explain it, but I’ll never be comfortable with it, even though I think, as a nation, we need to do so much more for our veterans than we currently provide. I guess I feel this way because it reminds me of what I call #Hashtagcharity.

Veterans Day falls into this category, much like Thanksgiving is the only time far too many of us visit our family. It becomes a check the block that lets us feel good about ourselves without really doing the work. I gave you a free meal, or I tied a Yellow ribbon around a tree, or I ordered the salute to service jersey of my favorite team to show that we are united behind you.

Meanwhile, the remaining 364 days of the year, we allow our nation’s promise to go unfulfilled. Our VA system as a whole is broken despite the best efforts of those involved. They are underfunded, understaffed, and overworked in a desperate attempt to try and keep the flood gates closed. But we can see the cracks in the dam and the water is about to burst through.

We have known about the suicide epidemic that plagues our ranks. Depending on the study you cite, you can see estimates that range from 16.8-22 veterans per day that commit suicide. It will never set well with me, knowing that more veterans are dying here at home than in the longest sustained war in our nation’s history. How can we make the advances we have in protecting the body of the warrior but still remain so far behind servicing their minds and souls?

As if that wasn’t enough, there appears to be another wolf at the door– “friendly fire.”

The unseen effects of burn pits have followed us home, and it’s not like we haven’t done this dance before–Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and Gulf War Syndrome in the first Gulf War. Yet, here, we are not supporting our veterans again.

“The Veterans Administration has established a voluntary burn pit registry, and more than 180,000 people have signed up. But of the 12,000 claims filed to the VA connected to burn pits, only about 2,500 have been accepted – and a victims’ lawsuit against contractors who oversaw some of the pits was rejected by the Supreme Court.”

So understand it’s not that I don’t appreciate the thank you’s, I really do. I just ask that you consider putting those thanks into action for the things that we really need. Ensuring that we are taken care of when the fighting we did is killing us inside.
Or, if we lose our life, long after we returned due to the road we took, take care of our family who now will have to walk alone.

Sometimes I am afraid.

A lot of people believe those who have seen war are never afraid.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fear is a funny thing. It manifests itself in many different forms.

I have seen the bravest man in combat become a stuttering fool when in the presence of a beautiful woman.
I have watched the most courageous of cage fighters shuffle their feet and look at the ground when it came to speaking their mind.

Every single man, woman, and child experiences fear.
Fear isn’t a shameful thing.
Cowardice is.

Just like all of you, sometimes I am afraid too.

Sometimes I look in the mirror, and only self-doubt looks back.
The fear of failure always lurks in the back of my mind.
Sometimes I look at those who depend on me to be right and worry about what happens if I am wrong.
In those moments of weakness, when I’m afraid to take the next step, I remind myself that I am not alone, and I put my next foot down.

It may be on shaky legs.
I may need to share the load with others.
It may even be in the wrong direction.

A lot of things may vary, but one thing always remains the same. I step.


That step leads to another, and another, and another.
Before you know it, the walk has become a jog, which then turns into a run.

Regardless of where you’re headed, it all begins with that first step. The problem lies in that the first step often starts with fear and doubt.
And most people can’t handle fear because they are busy seeking comfort.

Don’t be like most people. Don’t let fear freeze you in place.

Stop worrying about what you can’t do tomorrow; instead, focus on what you can do today. What you can do right now.

Take that step.

#Justtheramblingsofanolinfantryman

The Red in your ledger.

I wonder as you read this do you feel the weight of your past? Do you feel all the wrongs you’ve committed?

All of the mistakes.

All of the people you’ve hurt or let down.

The times you faltered.

The times you failed.

We’ve all bled someone.

I wonder, do you feel as I have, that your past robs your future because it was too bad to warrant any good in your life? As Black Widow said, “I have a lot of red in my ledger.”

The sad thing is that we condemn ourselves to remaining forever in our own way. Shackled to our sins. Unable to accept redemption because we really don’t feel like we can “wipe it clean.” We look to the past as precept to all the potential that we will ever have. As if yesterday is somehow irrevocably locked into tomorow so that time no longer bends to the whims of today.

We plod along, filled with condemnation for ourselves, as if we are the only ones who ever fell short of our ideals. Trust me, you are not alone in your shortcomings. We all stand in that line.

Ideals are by defintion something we seek to aspire to but are never attained. None of us are perfect after all. But when failure to reach our aspirations leaves you filled with desperation we have to ask, “Should you reset your compass?”

You can’t start where you wish you were. You must start where you are; here today. With all your past mistakes and misdeeds. Know that all it makes you is human, but what a powerful thing to be.

You remain the physical manifestation of potential. Just like the earth from which you came, no matter your current state, you remain maliable–able to be reshaped with the hammer of discpline. No matter how many times you are broken down, you can always be rebuilt anew. The only thing holding you back is living in yesterday.

As V said, “The past can’t hurt you anymore. Not unless you let it.”

It’s time you stopped.

#Justtheramblingsofanolinfantryman

It’s a shame we’re fat.

I recently came across a tweet that had a picture that we often use here at Soldierfit for a visual of the fat that really matters – visceral. In the accompanying text, the doctor touches on the the absurdity of fat shaming while at the same time pointing out that as a physcian he cannot pretend the health risk associated with obesiety do not exist.

There is no doubt about it, being overweight or obese poses serious health risk to the individual. Still we have to ask, is it any of our bussiness to address it? The answer, especially if we end up going to a universal health care model, is pretty straight forward.

Yes.

“One of the most cited economic impacts of the obesity epidemic is on direct medical spending. Obesity is linked with higher risk for several serious health conditions, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, asthma, and arthritis. Direct medical spending on diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, therefore, is likely to increase with rising obesity levels. Several studies offer retrospective or prospective estimates of the degree of disease incidence that can be linked to obesity, and of the magnitude of associated direct medical costs.”-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047996/

The reality (that everyone knows) is that we have an obesity epidimic in our country. The rates have doubled since 1970. Two-thirds of our country is now overweight. Even without universal health care it still affects all of us in some shape or form.

It can drive up insurance cost for companies.

It can add strain to team members who need to pick up slack due to lack of productivity based on team members who have to take increased time off due to illiness.

It can afffect family members who have to deal with the ramifications of the onset of obesity related health concerns.

illustration for overweight NCO’s cheating on Army promotion boards in the Gannett Government Media photo studio in Springfield, Virginia, on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. (Mike Morones/Staff)

Hell, it even affects our national defense. The United States military has cited it as a major national security issue because it reduces the capabilites of recruits and those who are already in armed services.

The truth is, being obese isn’t a solitary issue. It spreads to your circle. But let’s be super clear about one thing. That does not now, nor will it ever, condone fat shaming.

You simply can’t lift anyone up while putting them down.

However, that doesn’t mean that we can continue as a nation, as fitness profesionals, and as parents avoid the hard conversation with those we love and with ourselves.

Our choices are killing us.

Each and every day we make a choice with our mouth and our body. And sadly for the majority of Americans, we are choosing to move less and eat more. The worst part of this is that we continue to make this choice despite the overwhelming amount of research that we are killing ourselves.

My challenge to everyone who reads this is to have that hard conversation with yourself first. Then start making changes in your own life. Once you do, or if you are already there, start mentoring someone you love.

Prove to them that you care by investing in them. As someone who used to be almost 300 lbs, who has struggled with his weight his entire life, I know the trepidation many face walking into a gym. Just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean they are lazy. Hell, some of the hardest workers I have ever met are overweight.

Still, if we are to ever make a change as a nation and as individuals we need to be able to say the hard truth without worry of being accused of fat shaming.
So I say now to everyone, what I once said to myself:
It’s a shame that we are fat.

Not because it makes us worth less, matter of fact it’s because of the exact opposite.

Our lives are worth so much more.

#Justtheramblingsofanolinfantryman

But, it ain’t fair.

Perhaps there is nothing more taxing on my patience than the person who laments the “fairness” of life. They wax on poetically about their latest slight, real or otherwise, and expect the world to come to join in their private pity party. Misery loves company, especially when the company is giving you a pass for giving up. After all, they want you to say it’s O.K. when they quit too.

If I’d focused on what was fair, I’d never have made it where I am today, and trust me, just like you, I had a lot in my life that wasn’t “fair.”

I have been abandoned.
I was molested.
I dug through the rubble to find bodies in the Pentagon.
I fought in a war.
I have struggled with the transition.
I have failed in business.
I have failed in marriage.
I was homeless.
I failed (thankfully) at suicide.

I was down, and it felt like the world was doing their best two-step on my ass while I was. I felt like quitting multiple times. I won’t lie, I came close several. But, I was once told, “Courage is fear that held on a moment longer.” So, I held on.

Then, little did I know at the time, it was my indifference to what wasn’t fair that would change my life.

I had signed up to take an MMA fight. I had no illusions of grandeur. I never thought I’d be pro. I simply wanted to challenge myself while having a little male bonding time with my brother from another, Dave Posin. What happened next wasn’t fair. But it happens all the time at the amateur level.

My opponent got switched at the last minute.
The new guy lied about his record; he said he no fights when he had seven.
He didn’t make weight, missed it by 20lbs.
He was the head coach for the other team.

My coaches even knew it wasn’t fair and didn’t want me to fight him. By this time I’d learned fair didn’t have shit to do with it. So I asked to be allowed to fight him anyway.

I told Master Mike, I can’t promise I’ll win, but I promise I won’t embarrass you.

I went out there and proceded to get my ass kicked.

As I was getting ready to pass out, I remembered what I told Mike; I promise I won’t embarrass you.

And so I fought on, coming back and winning with just a few seconds left in the round. That night changed my life. It launched Soldierfit when Mike came up to me after and said; “You won’t quit, would you like to bring your program in my gym.”

Had I focused on what was fair, I wouldn’t be married to Jen. I wouldn’t have two beautiful little girls with her. I wouldn’t have 14 gyms under our brand. I wouldn’t be living this dream, and thousands of people wouldn’t have found a home and family with us.

So the next time you are focused on what’s fair, instead of what you can do with what you got, just think of me and remember that the biggest travesty in life isn’t someone who was mistreated.

It’s someone who falls into the trap of victimhood because it focuses on what limits us rather than what empowers us.

The empowered person sees only opportunity.
The victim sees only opposition.

One will go on to shatter through glass ceilings and barriers by proving that not only do they belong but that we couldn’t do it without them.
The other will go to the grave with all their talents and abilities never shared muttering “life wasn’t fair.”

It’s not your Friends list. It’s you.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. “I am deleting Facebook. It’s just too negative” or “I am purging my friends list, sorry if you don’t make the cut.” People take to the social media platform to dramatically share that they are cutting or purging all the drama from their lives. “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”

I learned long ago a lesson that has stood the test of time. Those who tell the world they hate drama are always the initiators of it. The reason they can never outrun it is because they are carrying it on their back.  The negativity you find is that which you went looking for. And the truth? You love it.

How do I know you love it? You keep finding it.

The truth is that we all go through this phase at some point or another. Mostly in our youth where we believe that we can change everything and everyone in the world. We stop finding it when we decide to grow up and focus on the things we can actually change.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pessimistic post. I am not saying that you cannot change the world. You can. You just can’t change all of it. So it’s time to pick your battles.

That part took me a while to grasp. I wanted to right every injustice I saw. Stand up for every man, woman, and child. I wanted to “be the change.” But change takes time and sadly time is the only thing that all of us have in very limited supply.

That’s why social justice warriors actually accomplish so little. They are so busy trying to be involved in everything that they never accomplish anything.

When you pick up your “social sword” and wage “holy war” on every perceived slight known to man don’t be shocked that you’re exhausted by noon. When you try to be friends with everyone, don’t be surprised when you are loved by no one. When you take to social media to declare that you are removing the privilege of being friends with you on the internet, don’t be insulted that no one cared.

After all, we were just getting ready to “unfriend” you ourselves. We just weren’t going to be all dramatic about it.

Everyone hates the peanut gallery. Yet, here we remain, a world full of “nuts.” 

 

All it takes is a quick scroll on social media to find the peanut gallery is always standing room only. People are quick to opine on everything you do.

How you should dress.

What you should eat.

Who you should vote for.

They got “plays” for days.

The problem is most of ’em have never even been in a game. They never laid it all out on the line. They never risked it all and chanced the fall. You know how you know? If they did the last thing, all they’d look to do is tear someone else down.

People who’ve “done it” have very little desire to attack someone one else who’s trying to do “it.” They are interested only in helping others like them, that, or they simply shut their mouth. Keyboardwarrior

People attack the “doers” because if they messed up the deed they can chime in and say how stupid it was to even try.  If they did the deed, have no fear, now they can nitpick at how it could have been done just a little bit better or faster.  They make these attacks because the act of doing something disproves all the excuses they have sold to themselves and the world.

Your actions make them a liar and everyone hates to be called out.

So, unless they’re calling you “coach,” running your mouth on the sideline is pointless–no one’s listening.

They’re too busy scoring.

If you think you can make the play,  put the keyboard down and get in the game.

#Justtheramblingsofanolinfantryman

 

 

 

 

Check Please!

check please

 

I recently stumbled across a post on Facebook geared towards women and the table of friends they often find themselves sitting at. One that makes them the point of conversation when they walk away, and not in a flattering manner. While this particular piece was geared towards women and gossip, I felt it fell short in explaining how you arrive at that table in the first place.

There is a Bible verse that talks about change that serves to remind us that everything has its own place and time.  The problem is that we keep dressing as if it were last season.

season
“For everything, there is a season.”

As I turn 40  next month I have seen that changing tide quite a bit in my life. I have learned, often the hard way, that people I thought were “ride or die” were simply tagging along to their exit.  And guess what? That’s ok. Matter of fact, for the most part, that’s appropriate.

After all, we are all growing.

I mean, let’s take a step back and look at yourself.  Are you still running with the people who used to occupy a lot of your time? For the most part, I hope the answer is no. Sometimes you outgrow them and sometimes they outgrow you. In running this marathon we call life none of us run at the same pace.

Evolution is a natural part of life – if you are living correctly. At 40 years old, if you’re still going to the club every weekend, more power to you, but I personally think you’re missing the point. Somewhere along the line growing up means moving on to bigger and better goals. It means striving for more than just instant gratification. It’s about chasing big dreams and being the hero to your tribe–spouse, children, and a close circle of friends. All of that takes time and patience.

That is where everyone finds themselves in a bind. They keep trying to be there for everyone. From this season to last.

You must learn that every acquaintance ain’t your friend and every friend ain’t your family. What’s more,  that doesn’t make them bad or an enemy. It makes them human with a limited capacity to care– just like you.

Once you come to terms with this you’ll stop getting your feelings hurt when someone at your table says, “Check, please.”

More importantly, you’ll be okay asking for it yourself.

#Justtheramblingsofanolinfantryman

 

 

Someday isn’t on the calender for a reason.

 

Q1 and you.

Where are you right now? No, I don’t mean physically. I mean where are you in regards to accomplishing your goals for this year?  You know the ones you made in that dead space where nothing productive really happens between Christmas and New Years.  Somewhere along there, either on a couch or in drunken ecstasy, you set resolutions to make 2018 your year!

So where are you? I ask because Valentine’s day served a dual role. Not only was it a day to either tell someone you loved em or to wallow in the fact that you are currently single, it also happened to be the midway point in Q1 of YOUR year. Do you have any clue how close you are to making that resolution come true? Or, are you still as lost as when you were drunk in IHOP on New Years Day?

Statistics state that 92% of you are still feeling lost. That’s right, just 8% of folks achieve their New Years resolutions. But why? Why do we continue to strive for greatness every December only to have forgotten about our goals by Valentine’s day? Why do we settle for the absoluteness of failure when we all know it should be finite?

I mean think about it, nothing is more American than the come from behind underdog story! We love to hear tales of the little guy or girl who was knocked down by defeat only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes to snatch final victory from the jaws of defeat! So why don’t we do it ourselves?

In a 90 minute movie, the hero doesn’t have time to forget their motivation. In life, not so much. Sure time waits for no man, but as the saying “Days are long, years are short” implies those long days cause us to lose sight of our goals in all the mess of everyday living.

How can you be focused on your goal of losing weight, starting the company, or loving your spouse when the car broke down, lil Timmy has the flu, and the boss is breathing down your neck for the TPU report?  Then one morning, in the middle of all of that living, you wake up and instead of losing weight you’re up 5lbs, your company seems as attainable as a unicorn, and you haven’t hugged your spouse in a month…

Then, as you feel your sanity slipping away, you accept defeat just 7 weeks into the year. Doomed to repeat the cycle again. It doesn’t have to be this way. This is your Q1 wake-up call!  So let’s get down to work, shall we?

Everyone has goals; it’s the plans they lack.

Everyone I have ever met has a goal. But the vast majority of them have zero plans in place to accomplish them. From weight-loss to small business startup, success relies on the following three things.

  1. Planning.
  2. Showing up.
  3. Consistency

 

Planning:

As we were instructed in the Army “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  Even in an organization that has Murphy’s law etched into its soul ( No plan survives first contact) we planned, and planned, and planned some more.  Why? Because when you force yourself to plan out all the possibilities, good and bad, you won’t be quite as shocked when that first contact comes; and trust me, it’s coming.  With a plan, you are prepared for it, even the unexpected because you expected something to go wrong. The flip side is that when you don’t formulate a plan when you get punched in the face for the first time it does more than just bruise your ego. It knocks you flat on your ass.

Showing up:

If people were paid for talking we wouldn’t have a broke person on Earth. It is easy to talk about an idea. It is easy to say what “would, could, or should” work. The difficult part is stepping up to the plate and risking striking out in front of everyone you care about. But what you need to remember is that even if you strike out, you’ll get another at-bat and you are only one swing away from the game-winning home run.

Consistency:

Of the three I think this one proves to be the most difficult for people to do. Even though it’s a small number of people who will create a plan, those that do find it relatively easy to do at first. With a plan in place, we can typically even get them to show up. They are even motivated to be there! But what finally does them in is the failure to be consistent after that first punch in the jaw.  I call this the Mike Tyson effect.

Back in his prime his opponents would have a plan, they would show up, but Iron Mike was the punch in the face they just couldn’t handle. So much so, that he made the famous quote “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth!” That my friends could be the story of life.

Those hard times are coming. The times where you feel like the breath has been knocked out of you. When you are down on one knee and life is laughing at you. When you are overwhelmed by the enormity of everything you have to do, and everything you want to do. Those days when you lose a battle and go home with your tail tucked between your legs. It is in those moments that you are one night’s sleep away from the what will define you. The next day, bruised, battered, and doubting, will you show back up?  Or will you say it’s not in the cards right now and quit under the justification that “someday” you’ll do it?

If you chose the latter just remember Someday isn’t on the calendar for a reason.

 

#Justheramblingsofanolinfantryman