UI 074: 3 Lessons For Starting Over

street-368719_640Sometimes I talk about ultimate issues in the big, global, macro arena and other times it’s a small, personal, micro subject.  This week’s topic, while a big deal, is more of a micro, personal subject.

The Issue is about  Starting Over…

Too often people quit before they ever start… and that is definitely a problem (you can check out my very first podcast for more on that subject.)

This time lets look at what happens when we start a project or hobby or some life experience, then for whatever reason we stop, and then we realize we need to start again.

I’ve done this more times than I care to admit.  Part of my challenge is that I find so many things fascinating and I get super motivated by the obstacles they present.  But then over time, bloom is off that rose and I might get bored or might just find something new to tackle.

Here’s a short list of some things I’ve started but haven’t fully followed through on:

– Numerous “.com” businesses

– Herbal line of products

– Patented exercise equipment

– iPhone App

– Training videos

Really the list goes on and on.

But believe it, or not, the one thing that I most regret stopping after I had started was bodybuilding.

I had been bodybuilding since I was a tiny 13 year old.  I was short, skinny, and weak.  I figured that since I could change my height, I should focus only on changing what I can… my physique and strength.  So I started seriously training around 12 or 13 years old. I was not even 5 feet tall or more than 100 pounds at the time.  I was the stereotypical puny kid.

Then I grew.  By the time I was 18 years old I had won the Texas Teenage title for bodybuilding and was successfully competing in powerlifting as well.  For six years I had been working out daily, eating 5 – 6 meals a day, and abstaining from a lot of the partying other kids were into.

After competing nationally, moving to Venice, CA, and fully embibing the bodybuilding professional world I became disenchanted.  Nothing was as it seems.  Very few people were making any money.  Because of that, there was a dark side to bodybuilding that I was unaware of, and I’m not just talking about the drugs.

So at the ripe old age of 21, I quit bodybuilding and focused my life on martial arts alone.  Obviously I martial arts helped my stay fit and disciplined.  But in time, I was itching to start lifting again.  So I tried to make a comeback.  After I married my first wife I started training hard again, and was looking to get big and strong again.  I was done with bodybuilding, but I thought I could just focus on powerlifting.

And here is lesson one:

You can never step in the same river twice.

Training when I was 16 was nothing like training at 26.  I had already accumulated injuries and now some of the abuse was coming back to haunt me.  My body and my ability to recover were not as great as they used to be.  Also, my life was filled with adult obligations I just didn’t have when I was so young.  When you are young it is rather easy to be selfish.  I don’t advise that when you get older, and definitely not once you are married.  The truth is that there is a degree of selfishness that is required if you want to be a competitive athlete in general.

So this come back led to what others had predicted… a bad injury.  First, I tore my hamstring pretty bad. But I kept training.  Then, not to long after I recovered from that injury… I tore my pec, and that was really bad.  Having no insurance at the time, I did not even attempt to get it looked at for surgery.  Instead, I just stopped training seriously.  I would resolve myself to martial arts and body weight exercises.

Now I’m around 40 and realizing my body and my health are no longer in maintenance mode.  No, instead my body has been feeling aged, and I had fat around my mid-section I had never experienced before.  Even worse… everything hurts.   I have been feeling like I was  physically falling apart.  Even though I am getting older, I don’t believe that necessarily means my body must degrade and wither away.

So, I’m fighting back and starting over.

But this time I am trying to go at it in a much wiser manner than ever before.

Lesson two:

Kill your ego. Nobody else cares anyway.

When I tried to comeback last time, my ego was driving the bus.  And my ego drove me right into a wall.  Now, I know I need to do this is in a very different way.  NO EGO.  Just improvement.  Just discipline.  Just persistence.  I am not special, and I don’t need to be the biggest or strongest guy in the gym.  Besides nobody else cared about all that anyway.  Now it’s simple.  I just love training, and hate feeling like hammered crap.  The better I train the better I feel.  The less I train the worse I feel.

Lesson three:

Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them.

For me this means no powerlifting. It also means no lifting heavy in general.  Those two things were the source of most of my injuries.  So for me, they are out.  I have changed my perspective to understand I am not a “weightlifter”.  The benefits I am looking for are not going to be found in moving more pounds up and down.  No, I need to concentrate on my body and muscles working properly in any given exercise and getting the most from myself everyday.  Again it’s simple.  Train correctly and wisely so the body will benefit.  Nothing else matters.

Bonus lesson:

When starting over, get back to the basics and keep it simple.

I’ve learned a lot since I initially started this journey nearly 30 years ago.  I have gained experience and education in health, fitness, physiology, and philosophy.  But here’s the thing… All I need to do is what I first was taught by Vince Gironda back when I was just a 13 year old at Vince’s Gym.  Vince taught me pure bodybuilding.  It was based on hard work, incredible form, consistent training, and tenacious dieting.  That’s it in a nutshell.  All the fads and new tech stuff or supplements aren’t that important.  What is important is your work ethic, discipline, and tenacity.

Photograph of Vince Gironda (November 9, 1917 - October 18,1997)

Photograph of Vince Gironda (November 9, 1917 – October 18,1997)

In working with all the incredible people I’ve trained (from pro athletes to celebrities to housewives to senior citizens) there is one thing in particular that I have realized:

What People are Capable of Doing is Amazing.  It’s What They Are WILLING To Do that Makes the Difference.

Have you quit something you’d like to get back to?

Are you willing to start over?

Have you already started over?

What have you learned?

How is it different this time?

I’m sincerely curious.  Let me know…

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