10 Things I Love About You

This week, I’m asking you to do the work. You just have an assignment to complete.

Write a love letter to your body.

Step 1: Get naked. Don’t make a big deal out of it. You do this before every shower.
Step 2: Using a dry erase marker, write 10 things you love about your body on the bathroom (or other) mirror. This is not a time to restrain your sense of vanity. Focus on everything that you love about your body (and mind) on an aesthetic and kinesthetic level. Is there something that your body can do that you love or appreciate? Write that down as well.
Step 3: Challenge your friends to do the same.
Step 4: Repeat as often as needed.

Why? Because most people can spend 30 seconds talking non-stop about what displeases them about their bodies. When was the last time that you honored your gift and said thank you for the ability to think, move, fuck, etc.?

What if you don’t make it to 10 things you love about your vessel? (Spoiler: A lot of people don’t make it to 10.) Keep trying. Keep digging. Keep loving. Share your reflections on the experience (but not your actual list – that’s personal) in the comments below.

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Activism versus Reactivism [Action versus Awareness]

Do you remember that time that GoDaddy upset a lot of people by making light of puppy mills? (I’ve posted the ad below for reference.) Well, the ad made its way to the internet before it was supposed to air (during the SuperBowl) and lots of people found the ad so offensive* that GoDaddy pulled the ad and issued an apology. This week’s post (a tad later due to the holiday weekend and the elusive spirit animal known as sleep) is about the fallacy of activism delivered from the comfort of your pajamas.

*“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.” -Stephen Fry

Activism [ak-tuh-viz-uh m] noun – The doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.

Reactivism [ree-ak-tuh-viz-uh m] noun – A term that I created (at least I’ve never heard/read anyone else use this term) to describe those that react to a long-practiced injustice with words (hashtags, comments via social media, YouTube posts, etc.) and inefficient efforts that don’t actually do anything to generate change against the injustice in question. No vigorous action or involvement takes place with Reactivists. Hashtag activism is often in the category of reactivism. Creating a hashtag that goes viral will generate a lot of conversations and even some t-shirts. But, will there be change? (Hint: Conversations do not equal change.)

For at least the past decade, I’ve been saying, “If you’re doing nothing to make a change, you’ve lost all rights to complain.” I first started saying this in relationship to people that lament about their job or working conditions. My suggestion to resign was met with, “I can’t do that. It’s not that simple.” My immediate response was, “Then shut the fuck up about it, that’s pretty simple.” In other words, tell it to the wall. No one wants to read your comments, status updates, whining in the workplace, lament at lunch, or bitching over brunch if (and here’s the important part) you aren’t doing anything to make a change.

The concept of action over talk still applies to bigger problems that expand beyond workplace strife or relationship boredom. Sometimes, animal lovers are reminded that we live in a capitalist society wherein people have seized the opportunity to breed and sell puppies to make a living. When that happens, they can choose to become activists and do something about puppy mills or they can become reactivists and type angry words to let the world know how they feel. During the GoDaddy kerfuffle I wondered aloud, to anyone that would listen, what are all of these offended people doing to actually shut down puppy mills? People were offended, so fucking what. What did those offended reactivists do to elicit change? Did any of them contact the parent companies of pet stores that stock their cages via puppy mills? Did any of the offended reactivists start volunteering at the SPCA to get some mutts adopted? Probably not. Do I have the answer as to how puppy mills can be stopped? Sort of, but you wouldn’t like my answer. Stop dog shows for a start. Think about the conversations about breeds and temperament of dogs. Those conversations are often sparked based on the popularity of a certain breed, breed popularity is often associated with the winners/strong performers of dog shows. What if we all made efforts to stop caring about the breed of dogs? “Oh, but, Jet we have to talk about breed to make sure that the dog is the right dog for the family! I mean, you know about those crazy pit bulls!” That’s funny, every pit bull I’ve met has licked my face and let me rub their belly. They all had one thing in common, a sane owner. Stop blaming the breed’s temperament, especially if you don’t know anything about dog training. *tangent end* I don’t have the answers as to how we can eliminate puppy mills in a capitalist society. As long as people choose to use their money to buy specifically what they want, there will be an opportunity to provide the specific breed they seek. That’s the world we live in. Because I understand that, GoDaddy’s ad didn’t bother me.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m not an activist. I don’t go out in the world trying to make tangible changes. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t tried in the past. I started Meetup group in San Diego a few years back in an effort to change the world. The goal was to have like-minded people come together and share their ideas on how they could change the world on any scale (small or large). We would then discuss those ideas and agree on ways to fine tune them so that the ideas leaned more towards altruism than self-serving. Within that group we would assign random accountability partners that would make sure that the person to whom they’ve been assigned was actually following through on action items to implement their idea for change in the world. We had two successful meetings before a shrew infiltrated our group and criticized our plans and process. She kept insisting that “this isn’t how you change the world.” She went on to protest that everything we were suggesting was insufficient to effect global change. When asked how we could change the world, she had no specific answer, only more criticism of our attempts. I asked that she never return. It was after that that I moved away from San Diego and returned to school. I never re-started the group. I’m not an activist, I’ve never lobbied for anything in Washington, I’ve never called my local Congress woman. I want to make changes in the world, but much like personal training, I’m only willing to help those that are willing to help themselves (more about that later). While I’m not a reactivist, this blog post actually makes me a reactivist by the definition I laid out above. (Hello, self-awareness.)

Do you remember that time that everyone wore clown noses for poor kids? May 21st was Red Nose Day. I bought one of those noses from Walgreens. Basically, I paid a dollar for something (that doesn’t really fit on my big nose) so that 50 cents would go to “a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun”.  Based on a quick search it looks like over $100,000,000 was raised this year. I think that’s great. But, after the money is dispersed to help these kids, then what? (I want to be clear, I’m not criticizing Red Nose Day. I support Red Nose Day. I’m just suggesting that more can be done.) When I lived in San Diego I was a volunteer tutor for the Monarch School. “The mission of the Monarch School is to educate students impacted by homelessness and to help them develop hope for a future with the necessary skills and experiences for personal success.” In the spirit of doing more, we can give 50 cents to poor kids or teach them how to be successful. We can give them a fish or teach them how to fish. When I was there, six years ago, there were only two schools of its kind in the country. Why aren’t there more? With an estimated 1.6 million homeless children in the United States why isn’t there more action to elicit change?

Do you remember that time that people dumped buckets of icy water on their head in lieu of donating money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)? When given the option of donating money for ALS research or dumping an ice bucket on their head, so many people chose the latter that the trend went viral. “Fuck you, Lou Gehrig! I’d rather get this ice shower than donate money for research!” I know, a lot of money was raised for ALS research. But, did you ever survey friends that were doing the “ice bucket challenge”? How many of them had even heard of Lou Gehrig? How many of them had seen examples of how the disease manifests? How many reactivists did it because they were following a trend? How many people actually got involved by volunteering to help those living with ALS when their bank accounts didn’t offer the convenience of a donation? “Jet, come on! These ice showers were creating awareness!” In a society that has an attention span as long as 140 characters and about six months of pop culture happenings, that awareness won’t last. Try talking about the ice bucket challenge in ten years. You’ll get the same looks I get when I quote Chappelle’s show. Some people in the room get it, others think I’m weird.

It’s worth mentioning that the attention span of some people has been referenced in regards to the length of my posts. “That post was soooo long, I couldn’t read it.” It’s been suggested that I break up the density of words with pictures and other visual distractions. It’s been suggested that I write less. Fuck that. Read more, read faster, or both. I’m not going to water down my content because of short attention spans.

Do you remember that time that social media actually fueled a tangible revolution in Egypt? There are some instances when we see the benefits of social media. When typewritten words actually evolve into action and that action is the catalyst for change, that’s activism (root word act).

Do you remember that time that people changed their Facebook profile pictures to cartoon characters in order to “create awareness” about child abuse? Yes, that happened and it was just as pointless (read: stupid) as it sounds. The concept of creating awareness should not be confused with eliciting change. I actually got into a comment thread dispute with this one dude because he couldn’t answer a simple question. How will changing my profile picture stop children from being abused? I doubt that any child stopped being abused because someone had Mickey Mouse as their profile picture. Expecting any real world events to change or stop due to your profile picture is reactivism defined (read: ineffective).

Some would argue that the concept of control is a fallacy. But, there are some things that you can control. We have control over more than we realize. Have you ever heard the story about the person that was afraid to workout in a gym setting because they were concerned about judgment (of their lack of strength) from their peers? You read that right, some people have a fear of lifting weights due to physical weakness. How do you overcome physical weakness? You guessed it, lifting weights. Activism can also apply to the work that we do in the mirror to dismantle body image issues. It’s hard to go out and tackle world changes if you’re not confident in your own skin.

Do you remember that time when internet reactivists were outraged by body shaming? Well, it happens every goddamned day. What are they doing to elicit change? Well, here’s one stellar example. A man was dancing at a concert and others made fun of him because of his weight. The internet caught wind of it and decided to throw a dance party in his honor. Another rare example of social media doing some good. That’s activism… for that one dude. What about a more significant effort to elicit change against societal body shaming? As I mentioned above, I want to make changes in the world, but I’m only willing to help those that are willing to help themselves. Frustrated with the repeat occurrences of body shaming, I made an effort to elicit change. I came up with an idea to help change the conversations (and hopefully confidence levels) surrounding our bodies. I’ve posted about it before. I wrote, “It’s time that we talk about what we love about our bodies and the gratitude we have for our abilities (which comes from our bodies). Let’s change the conversation from Body Shaming to Body Faming. I’ve started a community art project called BodyFaming.com The way it will work is that people will submit anonymous (faceless) selfies with words of love, gratitude, and beauty about their own bodies. Take pride in your body, no matter the size.” The site has been active for almost two years now. I’ve had exactly two submissions. Perhaps I need a celebrity on a megaphone to make the site popular. Where’s Oprah when you need her!? As I mentioned, every goddamned day internet reactivists are lamenting on body shaming. But, what’s being done to fight back and take action? When I tell people about BodyFaming.com the response is always a bright and cheery, “that’s a great idea” or “I’m totally going to submit a photo”. After 100 of those responses, I’ve had exactly two submissions. When expressing my frustration for the lack of response, my friend reminded me that “people would rather complain than be creatively proactive about subverting the norms they hate”. That’s unfortunately true.

Takeaways If you don’t remember shit else…

~A hashtag is only a start, it is not the change itself. If you truly believe that #BlackLivesMatter then why haven’t you protested black-on-black crime with the same vigor as the recent deaths at the hands of police?
~This blog post isn’t intended to provide an instruction manual for activism. There are times when I try to make changes in the world, that’s just because I get tired of hearing myself complain.
~Use your intelligence to determine the difference between writing letters to empowered decision makers (read: not your like-minded friends on Facebook that will click ‘Like’ and keystroke your ego), pragmatic protests with specific and clear goals (think Selma), and the potential dangers of ochlocracy (looting and burning your own neighborhood only happens in crowds, think for yourself).
~This post is not an attempt to make change in the world, only to challenge the way you think. Before you consider yourself an activist (of any sort) ask yourself how much vigorous action you’ve taken versus the amount of typing you’ve done. Get up, get out, and do something. Are you living and breathing your cause or just posting something when you’re offended?
~Figure out the difference between starting/perpetuating conversations and taking (nonviolent) action as a catalyst for change. What are you doing to proactively elicit change in the world? If you’re doing nothing, stop complaining.

Touchy Touchy: Respecting Personal Space As A Fitness Professional

“Get your fucking hands off of me!” Those are the seven angry words that you never want to hear as a trainer. Truthfully, you don’t want to hear those words… ever. It’s a very real possibility that someone may think those words instead of making their frustration heard. In such an event, you’ve no doubt crossed a line and the person on the receiving end feels uncomfortable or threatened in some way. (More on that in a moment.) Respecting personal space starts with kinesthetic awareness. Knowing where your body is in relation to the space around you is important to the people around you. Are you standing too close? “Back up, Sucka! Give me three feet!” It’s also important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. To be more specific, put yourself in her shoes. This week’s blog post is about male-on-female hands-on training. Fitness professionals have different approaches to coaching. In my ten years in the business, I’ve made it a point to focus on my verbal cueing and demonstrative skills in order to avoid excessively touching female clients. You may be thinking, “Oh! I bet this dude had some sexual harassment charges filed against him! I bet that’s why he’s afraid to touch the ladies.” False. On the contrary, I’ve never had to defend myself against such accusations because I’ve never done anything to make a client think those seven angry words. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never done anything with my hands to make a female client feel threatened. The word threatened has a lot of weight to it. But, when I asked a few females about their thoughts on male fitness professionals (group classes or personal sessions) placing hands on them, the word came up more than once.

This topic came up during a recent photo shoot, I was being photographed with a client for an advertisement. I was instructed to “put your hands on her as if you’re correcting her form.” I replied, “I wouldn’t do that in a real session!” The photographer also wanted me to “get closer to her because I’m going to crop this vertically.” Again, I protested.

It’s worth mentioning… The photographer in question is a good friend of mine and she is very aware that all of the poses were “portrait pretend time” and that there are many trainers that don’t get all Handsy McHanderson.

I’m grateful for my female friends over the years. I’ve always had more female friends than male. It’s because of their countless stories of Coach McHanderson the personal trainer or group exercise instructor getting touchy feely with them that has made me very aware of what/where/why I touch my female clients. There are many ways of correcting a client’s form or to get them to accomplish a specific movement. Going back to my point on putting yourself in her shoes, training to become stronger and sweating through the process is a vulnerable time for anyone. So, this is for the male trainers. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. If you’re trusting your fitness goals in the hands of a stranger the last thing you want to worry about is stranger danger. Enjoy this PSA from the 1980’s to get the understanding of what it means to engage with a creeper.

Gentlemen, imagine that one of those creepy fuckers was your personal trainer. Imagine that they’ve asked you to tuck your pelvis under and engage your core as they stood over you in plank position. Imagine that they said it with their hands and grabbed both of your hips in the process. That wouldn’t feel great and you’d probably be bothered by the interaction. So, try to consider that when you place your hands on your female clients.

It’s worth mentioning… This blog is not about creating a PSA to tell all male trainers to never touch female clients. That’s not what this is about. This post is about being empathetic to the feelings of female clients. Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that female clients are the only clients with feelings or triggers. I’m not here to suggest that females are sensitive and need special handling. Unfortunately, women/womyn deal with a lot of harassment on the street. They often choose their gym because they feel like it’s a safe place free from comments, staring, and of course unwelcome touching. Walk in her shoes for a moment through this video:

After watching the video, before you begin questioning which one of those comments was/wasn’t harassment, think critically about to whom the men chose to speak. “Jet, that guy only said, HI! How was that harassment?” Well, why didn’t he say HI to everyone? Now, let’s bring this back to a gym setting. Have you ever watched a group fitness instructor using his hands to correct the form of people in the class? Have you noticed that all of them were females that had a similar look to them? Why didn’t he say HI to everyone with bad form? For the dudes reading this, don’t be that guy.

Have you ever wondered why there are gyms that are exclusive to women/womyn? Imagine that street walking scenario with fewer, tighter, sweatier clothes on. If you have access to some online forum, ask the question “Ladies, what makes you feel uncomfortable at the gym?” Delete all of the male responses and pay attention to the general theme (hint: objectification). I’m just saying, don’t take my word for it. Ask the women/womyn in your life about Coach McHanderson and the comments from the Numbnuts Gallery. In a similar online forum, a female commented that unwanted comments in a gym are worse than a bar because she doesn’t expect it at the gym. Again, we all want a safe place to get stronger and improve our overall fitness. Why do so many women/womyn LOVE going to the gyms in the Castro or SoMa ? Phrases like, “I don’t have to worry about that shit.” or “People leave me alone.” come to mind. Circling back to the street harassment video, what educated guess can you make (context clues are different from assumptions) about all of the males in that video? None of them were gay and none of them were females.

It’s worth mentioning… I’ve spent time with some females that identify as male and I’ve listened to a rare few of them catcall. It’s very rare and I may have only seen it twice in two decades. But, it’s heart-breaking that someone’s idea of male identification is being that sort of jackass.

Let’s loop back to the T word. I’ve heard some women/womyn talk about feeling threatened due to whom those overused hands belonged. When I asked a female about how she felt when her form had hands-on correction by a female coach there was often an indifferent response; when asked about gay male instructors the same response was conveyed. I found that interesting. So, when a female or a gay male places their hands on your body to correct your form you feel (for lack of a better word) safe. However, a well-meaning heterosexual male can use the same hand placement and you feel threatened? One could argue that there’s more to that assertion than I’m qualified to unpack in this blog post (read: I’m not a Psychologist.) Nevertheless, I will plug this anecdote in your brain’s soil to grow and flower some new thoughts. I once dated a female with implants. They were great and everyone wanted to touch them. She and I dated at a time when I still practiced/believed in monogamy. So, I wasn’t keen on the idea of other men touching her breasts. (I was a prude back then.) She would still come home with stories about how she let some dude feel her up “but, he was gay” she would explain in defense. “Oh, okay! Perhaps I’ll find a lesbian to rub my cock!” I would argue. [I never found a lesbian to help me win that argument.] What makes one set of hands safer than another? That’s rhetorical food for discussion at your next cocktail party. Are gay men or straight women/womyn safe just because they’re not actively pursuing you? Are all straight men a threat because of the dark cloud of rape culture? Fuck, I hope no one views me as a threat. If my heterosexuality (or the harassment she’s received from assholes on the street) marks me as a threat then no matter what I do with my hands, I’ve already lost. And that’s precisely why I don’t give anyone any reason to view me as a threat.

A message to male fitness professionals: Just to reiterate, this blog is not about you changing your touchy/feely habits. You’re an adult. Do what you do. But, it would benefit your coaching skills if you were to improve your verbal cues. Use positive coaching phrases telling your clients what they should do and what they should feel. Avoid speaking at length as to what they should not be doing. The brain has trouble processing words like not and don’t. Where’s the first place that everyone looks when you exclaim “Don’t look down!”? I often hear trainers lament on how they told the class to not do something three times and most people still did that thing. Another way to step up your coaching skills is to improve your demonstrative skills. Being able to execute the exercise is one thing, making sure that all of those viewing you have an ideal vantage point is another. Ideally make sure that they are gathered round in a semi-circle no more than three deep so that everyone can see you complete the movement. The demonstrating doesn’t need to stop there. I often stand next to someone that I’m correcting and do the following: “Right now I’m seeing this *mimic their bad form* and I need to see this *demonstrate the correct form*.” In doing that, I’m sure to use “I” statements and not sound accusatory/judgmental (again this should be a safe place to get stronger). It’s also important that many people may not have a high level of kinesthetic awareness. So, if I tell someone to move their hips and they respond by moving their feet, it doesn’t mean that they have less than stellar intelligence, it may just mean that they’re visual learners. The third and most important way to keep from being Coach Creepy is to ask for permission/approval or at the very least let them know it’s about to happen. There may come a time when teaching a class and things are moving fast and you have to correct form in less than 10 seconds. Saying things like, “I’m going to adjust your form” or “may I adjust you” will go a long way in the memory of that experience. You can also ask the class to raise their hands at the beginning of class if they do not want to be touched in any way. “If there is anyone in the class that does not want hands-on correction, please speak up now and I’ll find other ways to correct your form.” Everything written in this message to male fitness professionals goes for straight and gay alike. I’m sorry, homosexuality is not a license to be handsy with women.

It’s worth mentioning… There are times when I absolutely touch my clients. It’s often after I’ve had to repeat myself. It’s always after we’ve built up enough of a rapport for them to understand that I’m correcting their form in the most professional way possible.

Takeaways [If you don’t remember shit else from this post…]
I am not against touching clients. I touch clients. I use light touches from fingertips on neutral areas that involve more bone than flesh. (read: pelvis instead of booty cheek) I am against disrespecting the personal space of others.

Hands are hands. There should be no multi-tiered standard for straight men, gay men, straight women/womyn, and gay women/womyn. On the giving end, respect all bodies and individual preferences. On the receiving end, demand the same respect/treatment from everyone.

Coaches should use words and other teaching skills before relying on touch as a first resort. When touch is about/needs to happen, coaches should ask for permission. There’s a person under that flesh.

My Momma’s Advice (A Word On Arrogance)

I still remember the first time that someone called me arrogant. I was in the seventh grade and I had to ask my Momma what it meant. I had already looked up the word in the dictionary. But, “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities” didn’t seem to ease the butt hurt-ness that I felt at the time. I went to my mother seeking clarity. She put a positive spin on the label by explaining that arrogance was about making a conscious decision to be above fuckery and not be bothered with bullshit. I remember her saying, “You are too good for certain things. You’re too good to do drugs. You’re too good to be out there runnin’ the streets. You’re too good to be hanging around with those knuckleheads on the corner.” When she put it that way, it made perfect sense to me. I immediately thought about how I had no desire to do any of those things. In the years that followed, I kept telling myself that I was too good for bullshit. I want to be clear, I never felt as if people were beneath me, just the habits of some people. I’ve kept my life drama-free by keeping certain habits of others out of my sphere of influence and I’ve done it all under the umbrella of what society considers arrogance.

In my Sport Psychology class we spoke about the difference between self-confidence (in a sport-specific context) and arrogance. Before Barry Bonds was busted for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), he said something along the lines of (paraphrasing) “I’m not arrogant, I’m just good.” I won’t turn this into a post about PEDs but, that statement doesn’t mean the same since he tested positive. However, it does spark a valid question. “Are you arrogant if you’re actually good?”, I asked my Professor. I went on to say, “If everyone is giving you compliments and you parrot those same compliments using the same adjectives when speaking on your own behalf is that arrogance when your skills can actually back it up?” Think about whatever you’ve mastered. Think about your mastery as well as the compliments you’ve received on that particular skill. Now, imagine yourself in an interview when you’re practically required to blow your own horn. Is it arrogant to talk yourself up when your skills can back up the talk? What about on a date? If you’re a compassionate and affectionate partner in a relationship and your ex-partner can vouch for that is it arrogant to talk about what you can back up? What about basketball? If you rarely miss three-pointers and you talk that up; is that arrogance? Think about your own answer to those questions and then watch this fun dance video about talking shit on your own behalf. (If you’re going to talk shit, you should dance when you do it.)

The answer to all of those questions is the same… It depends. If you’re having a conversation with yourself and you give the pep self-talk, shouldn’t you be reminding yourself of your dynamite abilities? (Hint: Yes, you’re fucking right you should. It’s not arrogant to believe in yourself and to be vocal about it in the mirror.) With some of the (intentionally ridiculous) scenarios listed above you would most certainly be seen as arrogant. The unfortunate challenge with speaking up on behalf of our own skill is that arrogance is defined by society and the perception of others. Let’s loop back to my Mom’s spin on arrogance. In my years of making conscious decisions to distance myself from people that don’t have their shit together, I’ve been accused of seeming arrogant. That is to say that I never said a word, but someone perceived me to be arrogant based on their own insecurities. “Well, Jet, it may have been your body language or your tone!” Yes, but it could have also been that person projecting their baggage onto my efforts of self-preservation. Here’s another dance break about not wanting drama in our lives.

Almost 20 years ago, I decided to put myself through anger management. The first step for me was to acknowledge that I didn’t want the anger in my life. The second step was to determine the source of my anger and frustrations. Anger management is not about eliminating all triggers from our lives in order to stay cool. Instead, anger management is about being cool in spite of the triggers. Nevertheless, eliminating energy exhausting people and experiences from our lives is a good place to start. Those “knuckleheads on the corner” still exist. The corner has changed, the fuckery has not. Because of my Momma’s advice on carefully selecting the people in my circle, I think critically about how people live their lives and how it would affect mine.

It’s worth mentioning… That last line sounds like I just sit around judging people all of the time. Spoiler alert: We all judge. There are times when I don’t judge people or situations. But, if there’s a question of self-preservation (read: keeping my life free from the drama of others) you bet your sweet ass I make a judgment call. I could write a separate 2,000 word post about what it means to have one’s shit together. But, I don’t want to get too far off topic with specific examples. Just know that you have your own standards as to what “get your shit together” means. Back to selecting people in my circle…

Have you ever met that person that always has a fucking excuse? Whether they’re late, flaky, forgetful, or just plane ir-re-fucking-sponsible, they always have an excuse. That person is either lying (to you or themselves) or inept. I choose not to tolerate either. Why would I want that in/around my life? I’m too good for bullshit. Is that a statement of arrogance or self-preservation. You decide. 😉

Who’s in your circle of friends? Who’s in your inner circle, your roll dogs, your wingperson, your BFF, your right arm? Why? The friends in my life have a conscious decision in common. Most of them, at some point, decided that their life was too good to throw it away on drugs, alcohol, and other poisons. I have more fun with sober friends than drunk ones. Are your friends adding to or subtracting from your life? Are your friends a source of stress, happiness, or both? If both, what’s the ratio of stress to happiness? I remember this cat (“Richard”) told me about a friend of his (“John”) that was staying with him after a divorce. Richard said that after John had stayed there for a while, he kicked John out with no place to go. John stumbled and ended up on his feet, eventually forgave Richard, and their friendship got a positive reboot. Richard said that he did it in the name of tough love. Richard was an older, Southern cat and when he spoke of tough love, he was stern with a sense of genuine compassion just under the surface. Nowadays, I listen to stories about “tough love” and they involve nothing more than a stern talk from friend A to friend B. That’s not tough. Pushing a friend out of the nest and letting them rescue themselves is tough love. You’re too good for bullshit.

Disclaimer: You know how I feel about “life coaches”. The following challenges are not an attempt to coach you. I’m just giving you some food for thought. Do with it what you will. Feel free to respond to these challenges in a (respectful) comment below.
~Are you staying in a relationship because you see the potential in a person? If so, how much energy do you spend trying to help that partner find that potential?
~For what are you too good? You have standards (which is obvious because you’ve subscribed to this blog) but, what’s below your standard? Is it arrogant if you distance yourself from that which is below your standard? It’s worth mentioning… I’m not talking about classes/races/genders/lifestyles of people or any other potential hate speech. I’m talking about drama, just drama people. We all define drama differently. Don’t make this post into something it’s not.
~What are your triggers and are they a part of your life? If so, why? WTF are you doing? You know that person/situation makes you angry/sad/callous yet you keep that trigger in your world!?

My Momma’s Best Advice
I’ll leave you with this challenge that my Mother presented to me when I was at a loss for career direction. When it comes time to decide what you want to be when you grow up you should ask yourself the same questions a journalist would ask about a story.

Who
do you want to be when you accomplish your goal? What type of character will you possess?
What do you (specifically) want to do?
When 
do you want to accomplish your goal?
Where 
do you want to be geographically/emotionally in your life when you accomplish your goal?
Why
do you want to accomplish this goal? Dig deep for the answer, when the path gets tough, you’ll need to revisit this answer.
How
(specifically) do you intend to get this done? Can you get this done with drama and bullshit in your life? Aren’t you too good for that?

For those of you reading this that have given birth or have given care to another human being in the name of raising up an honorable human being, the world thanks you. (That goes double if your human is NOT one of the knuckleheads on the corner.) I still think greeting card holidays are contrived, consumeristic nonsense. But, I still want to give love and honor to the woman that taught me that I was too good for bullshit AND that I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Here’s a poem that I wrote for her many years ago.

Aquarian Matriarch

As the wind blankets the earth.
As the sun showers strength.
As natural resources are constant.
Love binds families together.
I would surely find my power to be lesser
without your influence.
Strengthen me once more.
Give me your words once more.
Forewarn me of what’s in store.
I assure you that I will not listen.
(That is my angst talking.)
The thickness of my skull
forces me to learn things on my own
at least until oats are sown.
You are the reason that I love with such passion.
I recognize more of you
in me
with each passing day.
I witness the circle of life.
As I will be there for you in the end
as you were for me in the beginning.
I cherish the moments that I complain about
yet I abhor the moments when we were happiest.
(For they may never be duplicated.)
Educate me on my ancestry
and how it is that my character traits
have come to be
so damned con –
fusion takes place on the day to day.
As I learn about how you decided on my name.
Why you only surrounded me with positive images.
How I came to be
through the jazz musicians,
detectives
and womanizers
of our families lineage.
These are the answers
to my long standing rhetorical questions.
I, the Lion cub, was chaperoned under the sun of Leo
and welcomed on to this earth through a guardian of Aquarius
and its representation therein.
My Aquarian Matriarch has asked nothing of me in return but love.

^from the mind of Nocturnus Exerçant Calme*

*-A former pseudonym from a few lives ago.

Be Ready, Be Patient (or A Multi-dimensional View Of Fitness)

“What’s your fitness philosophy?” That’s probably the most frequently asked question I hear from potential clients. I’ve written about it before in a post found here. But, in short it can be summed up in two words. Be ready. Our bodies were designed to move. I don’t need to quote any scientific data to enforce that point. Go for a four-hour drive and listen to your body scream relief when it’s able to move/stretch at the first rest stop. You may be wondering, “be ready for what”? Well, life is going to send some challenges your way. In the name of self-preservation, you may need to move fast to get out of the way of danger, an out of control car heading onto the sidewalk is one example. There’s a current trend in the world of fitness that is very anti-cardio. The doctrine of never doing any cardio often comes from meatheads that focus on the explosive movements in Olympic weightlifting techniques. While it may be true that cardio isn’t a necessity in burning fat, it is a necessity in being ready. It breaks my heart when a deconditioned person hears me talk about the importance of readying the body for the unexpected and they assume that I’m speaking from a place of judgment. The truth of the matter is that I don’t give a fuck what anyone’s body looks like. I don’t train people to sculpt a certain look. I train them to make sure they are strong, healthy, and above all else ready. If you find yourself running to catch the bus or running to reach a cab before some other joker reaches for the same door handle, you’ll want to be ready. The way the joke goes, two guys see a bear in the woods…
Guy 1: *takes off shoes*
Guy 2: What are you doing?
Guy 1: I run faster without my shoes.
Guy 2: You can’t outrun a bear.
Guy 1: I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.

“Now wait a minute, Jet! I have a car. I’ve never had to run for a bus, cab, or from a bear. This is poppycock!” Fair point. You may never have to encounter those situations. The point that I’m trying to make is that being ready is about expecting the unexpected. Do you need to run? No, running is like Dunkin Donuts’ coffee, some people swear by it while some people fucking hate it. There are other ways to be ready. I find it interesting when people apologize to me for their level of conditioning. “I’m sorry, I’m really out of shape.”, they’ll say. I hear phrases like that as if I requested some explanation for why they were tired or struggling. But, hearing phrases like “I’m out of shape”, “I need to get in shape”, and the most confusing quote “I have no muscles”, begs the question… What does it mean to be conditioned, fit, or “in shape”? Here are 10 components of fitness. Surely, you’ll find other lists that are shorter/longer. This is my opinion based on what is often tested/researched, consistently measurable, and applicable to real world situations (in no particular order).

1.) Agility & Reaction Time (skill-related): While these two aren’t the same thing, I’ve placed them together because both of them have a mental acuity component. Your reflexes and reaction can’t be sharp if your mind is not. Be ready for what? Ever changing terrain. Whether you’re on a trail run or walking on an urban sidewalk, you may have to dodge rocks, broken glass, poop (from horses/dogs/humans), and other fun surprises. How? Here are some exercises to get you started on improving agility. Here are some exercises to get you started on improving reaction time.

2.) Balance (skill-related): This isn’t just about standing on one foot, it’s about equilibrium. Although, it’s true that some of the strongest people I know are unable to stand on one foot, with eyes closed, for 30 seconds. Have you ever tried a “walk the line” sobriety test while sober or a balance concussion test with a clear head? Be ready for what? While I don’t know of any cases wherein someone has become ambidextrous overnight, I encourage clients to begin asymmetric exercises with their non-dominant side. I often remind people that if we get injured we don’t have the luxury of choosing which side. Learn how to use your non-dominant hand before life forces you to do so. I can drive a stick shift with my left hand. Why? Because I want to be ready if I should ever need to do that (trust me, it’s come up a few times due to injuries). Further, the greatest concern amongst the elderly population are fall hazards. I’ve worked with elderly clients to improve their balance. It’s ideal to get out in front of that sort of thing and proactively work on your balance starting now. How? Here are some exercises to get you started on improving your balance.

3.) Body Composition (health-related): No matter what I write here, someone with a societal-defined less than desirable body composition will be upset by my words (read: butt hurt). Some may even try to call me a body shamer because I *gasp* mentioned the idea that we have more control over our body composition than we care to admit. I want to reiterate, I don’t give a fuck what your body looks like. I don’t care about what percentage of fat you have versus muscle. I’m just pointing out that the human body was meant to move. You already know this. If your body isn’t very active, your body will eventually revolt. It may revolt in the form of weaker bones, weaker heart, or a weaker immune system. But, body composition is often an easier indicator than checking bone density for example. [Side note: Did you know that due to the absence of gravity, astronauts have to workout six hours a day to prevent bone loss!] Be ready for what? Many accident survivors have something in common, a high amount of lean body weight. That information is anecdotal not scientific. I’m unaware of any study that has been done on the body composition of (car/skydiving) accident survivors. I have seen data that supports an increased amount of blood in conditioned athletes versus sedentary humans. To put that in simpler terms, person A with low body fat (and usually higher cardiovascular endurance) has more blood in their body (pound-for-pound) than person B with high body fat (and usually lower cardiovascular endurance). To put that in even simpler terms, if persons A and B sustain the same wounds and begin bleeding out, person A has a higher chance of survival if they make it to the hospital around the same time because they have more blood to lose. [I want to be clear, I’m not suggesting that a low body fat percentage will make you invincible, it will make your body more efficient. That’s not a judgment, this isn’t about looks, this is about ability.] How? Your first order of business should be to throw out your bathroom scale. Stop weighing yourself on a daily/weekly basis. There’s a scale at your gym or doctor’s office. Use that one and check your body fat percentage no more frequently than once every six weeks. Unless you’re training for a specific sport that involves a weigh-in just get off of the scale. Be sure to ignore your BMI as well. BMI can be a useful tool for your RD to perform some calculations. It can also be useful for your insurance company to find a reason to deny you coverage. But, it won’t serve you. To put things in perspective, my BMI lists me as overweight despite having a low body fat % and dense bones. Beyond that, there are hundreds of ways to reduce body fat. Discuss it with your coach.

4.) Cardiovascular (Aerobic) Endurance (health-related): Aerobic power, stamina, staying power, or the ability to go the distance. Be ready for what? When the elevator goes out, when the car breaks down three miles from the nearest exit and *gasp* you have no cell service, or when your friends want to go for an “easy” hike and your group gets lost resulting in many more miles than planned you should be ready. How? So, you’re not a runner, swimmer, or cyclist, eh? No problem. Find your own thing. Perhaps it’s dancing. Get out on the dance floor with a sexy partner and make a deal that you’ll only leave that dance floor for water/bathroom breaks. You can make the same agreement with your partner in the bedroom and build up your cardio endurance by making sweet love… a lot. Running isn’t the only way to build up your stamina to go the distance. *giggety*

5.) Coordination (skill-related): In the previous bullet, I mentioned dancing and that word strikes fear into the hearts of many. “I’m not very coordinated, Jet!” I hear it a lot. You already get your arms and legs to do many different things for one purpose. (Hint: It’s called walking.) Be ready for what? The myth of multitasking. Yes, multitasking is a myth. Humans can either do one thing well or multiple things poorly. Below I’ve posted what I’ll call exhibit A. Nevertheless, the pace of life and technology has created a world in which we are forced to attempt multitasking. Coordination will help in certain situations. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know what I mean. How? Sign up for a dance class. Play naked Twister. Find ways to challenge your mind’s ability to synchronize your appendages to accomplish a singular goal more complex than walking.

6.) Flexibility (health-related): There are contortionists, there are people that can’t reach past their knees, and there are the rest of us. Many muscle injuries occur due to limited flexibility. Be ready for what? Surprise movements. Tight muscles and fast movements cause injuries. This is why dynamic stretching is encouraged before activity. Be supple and flexible to avoid many muscle-related injuries. How? Many gyms have partner flexibility classes. Basically, someone leans on you until you get into a new position. Sounds freaky deaky. Sign me up. You can also check out this site from my friend Kristina and order her DVD.

7.) Muscular (Anaerobic) Endurance (health-related): The difference between anaerobic and aerobic endurance is conversation. If you can have a conversation, you’re in the aerobic zone. If you don’t have enough oxygen to chat it up, you’re working on your anaerobic endurance. Be ready for what? Have you ever been chased by a dog? Do you want to wait until you get chased to find out that you have limited sprinting ability? Anaerobic is defined differently based on one’s ability level. So, your anaerobic threshold may happen during a walk up hill. How? Start by walking up that hill and carrying some groceries with you when you do it. Push yourself to the point of non-conversation and keep going until you’ve reached your personal limit. [Don’t be a hero. Don’t try to prove anything and pass out. Be smart and know your body well enough to know when enough is enough.]

8.) Speed (skill-related): Move quickly from point A to point B. Be ready for what? I live in the Bay Area and I often see techies wearing a Google t-shirt while running for their commuter bus. They seem to be late and they’re running with everything they’ve got and I often watch them miss the bus. Be ready to make the bus because you’ve got speed on your side. How? Some believe that you’re born with speed. Some believe that it comes from training. There’s more science to support the latter but, generally it’s a combination of the two. You’ll only be as fast as you train. There will be a boost of adrenaline on race day that will improve your time. But, if you want to get faster, train faster.

9.) Strength (health-related): Be able to lift the heavy things and appreciate the catharsis therein. Over time as training decreases, so will muscle. But, elderly people that were well conditioned in their youth have a much better quality of life in their golden years. Be ready for what? A woman once posted that she felt a job was discriminatory because one of the listed qualifications was the ability to lift 50 pounds. I responded that she was being sexist (and a dumbass) to suggest that only men can lift 50 pounds. The women I know can lift much more than that. Be ready for that job interview. Be ready to grow old with strength and grace. How? Start by ignoring anyone that ever tries to convince you that 3 pound weights will make you stronger. “But, Jet, I don’t want to get too muscle-y.” Shut the fuck up. That’s not a word. Take a moment to weigh your daily gear. The bag, laptop, shoes, clothes, everything that you carry on your person in an average day. You shouldn’t be surprised to find that it weighs more than 6 pounds. So, it’s simple logic that if you lift lighter than the weight you already carry around, you won’t get stronger. Lift heavy things, put them down, repeat. Be sure to focus on the repetition. Two sets of an exercise won’t do as much to build strength as five sets will. Try pyramid sets (increasing weight while decreasing reps per set) or burn downs (begin with a challenging weight, perform the same number of reps, decrease weight in small increments each set) to keep things interesting.

10.) Power (skill-related)
: Power is what happens when strength and speed combine. Be ready for what? To save someone’s life. I can think of more than one occasion when a friend was on the ground and needed to be carried to a safer place. I was the one doing the carrying. I’m glad that I was ready. How? Add explosive movements to your training. This is one of the reasons that Olympic weightlifting has gained in popularity in recent years. Please consult a coach (not a video) before starting Oly lifts.

There is a component of fitness that I don’t know how to coach. I’m unable to coach patience and that’s the most important element of fitness. None of the aforementioned training will happen over night. Do the right things to get “fit” and be ready. Once you start down the path, be patient. No one has ever seen results (other than psychological) in a week. Find a reason for pursuing a fit lifestyle that will keep you going into your golden years. While it’s never too late to start, there’s no sense in waiting. My motivation for a fit lifestyle is also the reason that I’m patient with results. My paternal grandfather died of a heart attack on the Ford assembly line when he was in his 50s. All six of my paternal uncles died of heart attacks. None of them saw their 46th birthday. My father is alive and still talkin shit in his 80s. To the best of my knowledge, the only difference between my father and the uncles I never met/barely remember is that my father lifted weights. Is that why he’s the last man standing? I have no fucking clue. Will that guarantee I’ll live past the age of 46? There are no guarantees that come with life. But, I’ll take my chances with a fit lifestyle over a sedentary one.

Family

Takeaways from this post. If you don’t remember shit else, remember these bullets.

*The human body is meant to move. If you are unable to move it at the speed of life (a speed over which you don’t always have control) that could work against you. Don’t get eaten by a bear because you’re slow.

*Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you’re unable to lift something.

*Don’t obsess over numbers or training. The worst thing you can do with your training is suck the joy out of it by obsessing or over training. Work hard and play hard is a stupid motto. Rest. Don’t be a dumbass. Train, rest, recover, repeat.