The Secret to Six Pack Abs (#BodyFaming)

I hope you liked the click-bait title. I promise not to pull a fast one and write about our lord and savior, Cthulhu. I’m writing this to address a frequent request from fitness clients. Everyone wants a goddamned six pack. Whenever someone tells me their fitness goal, I have an automatic response. “Why?” I’ll continue on to say, “Before you answer, understand that you don’t need to justify it to me. But, I’m here to motivate you. If I know the source of your motivation, I can help to push you in the right way.”
 
After someone tells me that they want a six pack, the answers I’ve heard as to why have never been about anything but vanity. There’s nothing wrong with being vain. But, sometimes we need a different driving force for the sake of longevity. Vanity of the societal conditioning variety touches us all in some way, I get it. The next thing I tell the hope-to-be six packers is some potential good news. I tell them the secret! Just be sure you are one of the two. There are two types of people who have those six pack abs we see in the media.
The first type of person to have a six pack, has it because they’re literally being paid to have one. Think actor, model, or internet celebrity. When your career, literally, depends on how consistently you rock those rock hard abs then guess what, it’s your life! Not just a regimen of crunches. No, it involves so much more. A variety of total body movement, dynamic core stability challenges, precise/planned eating habits, and several other daily choices that one has to make when they could lose a modeling gig due to not having those abs.
The second type of person to have a six pack, has it because they don’t care about having one. Think about every person you know who likes to play as an adult just as much as they did as a child. You may notice that they often have that six pack. I’ve often instructed my clients to go outside and play. They ask what to do in between sessions and I tell them to run, jump, dance, and just have fun for the sake of play. It really is a great way to help your body thrive. This type 2 persona just wants to ride, run, swim, surf, hike, hang glide, ski, etc. and in doing all of these things, the natural movement of their body and their own desire to eat healthy tends to leave them with a six pack. But, most of the people I’ve met who love to play don’t give a shit about that feature of their body. They care more about their next camping adventure.
Where do you fit into all of this? Well, obviously, all people in the world fit into more than two categories. But, where you fit should be determined by your answer to a simple question. Why do you want a six pack? Are you being paid to have/keep one? If yes, see above. Do you enjoy playing and enjoy foods that fuel your body (instead of foods that hinder your health)? If yes, see above. Do you just want a six pack because pop culture told you that’s how the world defines sexy? Do you just want a six pack to send a selfie-laden fuck you letter to your Ex? Do you just want a six pack because you think it will garner some street cred? If the answer was yes to any of those last three questions, take a step back. You’re fine with whatever way your belly looks right meow. Once more for the cheap seats, you look fine just the way you are today!
There are no scientifically proven health benefits to a well developed rectus abdominis. The irony is that stressing over having a six pack (or anything), increases cortisol levels. Cortisol causes inflammation in the GI tract and is often seen as belly fat. What if you didn’t stress over a six pack? What if you just chose to move your body because bodies are designed to move? What if you just ate good/whole foods because you still want to feel good in 10 years? This is the type of person I try to be. I take off my clothes for money and I don’t spend time stressing over my abs. I’d rather enjoy the movement and grind I’m giving to my audience than worry about muscular definition. As long as I can move, I’m grateful.
So, now you have the secret to six pack abs. The secret is that there is no secret. You have them because it’s your job. You have them because you enjoy moving your body in many ways and you don’t care about them. Or, you want them, refuse to change your habits, and stress over not having them which exacerbates the issue. I’m writing this to encourage you all to be in the category with me. Move your body because you love your body, NOT because you’re a critic of your body’s appearance. #BodyFaming


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Ethical Non-Monogamy

November 18th marked the 52nd wedding anniversary of my parents. They still live in the house in which I was raised. I grew up subscribing to the standard narrative that both monogamy and matrimony were “normal”. I expected both for my life’s journey before I ever began dating or having sex. However, the second time I ever had sex I kept thinking, “If this feels so stellar… I wonder how magnificent it feels with everyone else!?” I suppressed that feeling because I felt as if I was doing something wrong by even thinking those thoughts. It took me years of shaking off societal norms to realize that there is nothing wrong with this manner of thinking.
 
“Hello, Lawd! It’s me again. I just want to make love to the whole world and all her girlfriends. Now, don’t that make ya mind move?” -André 3000
 
There have been plenty of books written on the subject of ethical non-monogamy from various perspectives. The Ethical Slut and Sex at Dawn are two books, which I’m fond of, on the subject.

 
On my parents 43rd anniversary, I asked my mom what her secret was for staying together for so many years. “When we got married, I sat yo father down and told him that he could do whatever he wanted to do out in the streets… as long as he didn’t bring that shit home!” From that moment, I began to wonder if they practiced a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell brand of ethical non-monogamy.
 
Ethical Non-Monogamy is an umbrella term that has differently nuanced definitions based on who you ask and their perception. Polyamory is also an umbrella term. Some will argue that these terms are interchangeable and some will argue that they are not. Do your own digging, understanding, and defining. Just be sure to define for others what these terms mean to YOU before you start dating.
 
When I was introduced to the idea that couples could commit to one another without being exclusive, my entire worldview began to change. My parents have always supported my brand of love and commitment whether I was a serial monogamist, solo poly, and even now as an ethical non-monogamist. It turns out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Each of the aforementioned terms means something unique to me.
 
A serial monogamist is a person who is in perpetual search for “the one” and will even pack up and move to a new city in order to find them. I’ve lived in 5 major cities. Someone once asked what I was running from and the truth was that I was running to something, or so I thought. I was searching for the one. Once I decided that I would not find her in Atlanta, I moved to Las Vegas, then San Diego, and so on. Serial monogamists have a tendency to leap from one relationship to the next without taking time to be alone and learn about their own patterns and behaviors. Because of that unwillingness to be alone, they end up repeating the same mistakes in the next relationship. The mistake that I kept making was that I expected my partner to be my everything. I like to use the restaurant analogy. I agreed to eat at one restaurant as long as we were together. While that restaurant served a lot of my favorite foods, there were times when I wanted something off the menu. When I couldn’t enjoy that one dish that wasn’t an option, I began to complain to the manager of the restaurant (read: sabotage the relationship and start drama). It took some time by myself to understand why I was doing that. The short version of why is simple. No one person can/should ever be “everything” to someone else. Talk about a heavy load to carry!
 
Someone who is Solo Poly(amorous) is a person who will not allow another to dictate what they do with their heart (emotional connection with others) or body (physical connection with others). Solo poly people maintain friendships and loverships with multiple people while setting their own rules for how they navigate their lives. Solo poly people are never in a partnership that is rife with agreements and negotiations. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone.
 
Recently, I’ve discovered that I am an ethical non-monogamist. The list of people with whom I’ve wanted to begin a partnership is a short list. Like “six people in 15 years” short list. If you control for the quantity of those six who reciprocated my feelings, the list drops to three in 15 years. I don’t take the word partner lightly. I need to know that if we’re stuck in an action movie scenario, my partner can get us both to safety. I have no desire to date damsels in this dress or that one. Knowing this about myself, the thought of seeking or nurturing multiple partnerships doesn’t appeal to me. However, I still don’t want my partner to be my everything. I’m happy to build a partnership and possibly start a family. I only want that with one person while still maintaining other loverships. I don’t wish to have a primary. Such language allows for the subtext of secondaries and tertiaries. I don’t believe in ranking people. That feels shitty to me. But, above all else, I just want the freedom to be honest.
 
I found it difficult to be honest when I was a monogamist. We’ve heard all of the silly love songs about only having eyes for one person and all that jazz. The very idea that my partner will find no one attractive other than me is both arrogant and stupid. Over the years, I’ve had many fights with monogamy-minded (M&M) partners when I honestly shared with them that I thought so and so was attractive. Their response was to have the hurtest of butts and to hold that over my head for months. “Why don’t you just go fuck that girl on the beach from the other day!?” The other day… that was a year ago! You see, when people feel punished for being honest, it reduces the likelihood of them divulging other information. Then they live in the grey area between lying and withholding information.
 
In the practice of ethical non-monogamy, I’m more upfront and honest than I’ve ever been. “Jet, why couldn’t you be that honest when you were monogamous?” is a question I hear often. There are loads of unspoken expectations that come along with being monogamous. One of which is to never openly communicate your desires, even when you have no intent to act on them. Don’t believe me? Tell your partner that you want to have sex with one of their family members. Even with no intent to act on it, just be honest about finding their sister/brother/cousin sexually attractive and that they could get it. *I’ll wait* See what I mean? People find my honesty refreshing, but for some people I can be a bit too much. I get that. I often don’t last with those people and I’m good with that.
 
Through ethical non-monogamous communities, I’ve found myself in workshops ranging from better ways to communicate all the way to better ways to eat pussy. I don’t know that I would have found my way to some of these workshops as an M&M. I either wouldn’t have been invited or my M&M partner would have expressed contentment with how I do (insert theme of the workshop) and try to dissuade me from attending. I welcome this form of education that helps me to be a more attentive lover and communicator. When dealing with women who have internalized misogyny or rape culture, I’ve found myself actually coaching them on acceptable rules of engagement. Once, I asked a lover if she wanted to play. She replied with a drawn out “mmmaaaaaybe” to which I replied, I don’t understand maybe. I understand yes or no. Before she could respond, I got up and prepped to leave. She lamented that I just needed to “push a little harder.” Nope, nope, and fuck no! I went on to explain that the responsibility of consent should never be on the man to push or convince her in any way. “No one should tell you what to do with your body.” She thought I was a bit too much or too serious. That’s fine. I’m just grateful that my time in ethically non-monogamous communities has taught me to approach sex in a much more respectful way. I used to be a convincer. You know, “ComeOnBaby!ComeOnBaby!ComeOnBaby!ComeOnBaby!ComeOnBaby!” until sex happened. But, that’s not cool now and it wasn’t cool then. I’m just glad that I know better. \
 
Honesty, improved communication, and greater empathy are the reasons I’ve stayed on this life path. I am an ethical non-monagamist because of the freedom to be honest and share information with my partner and lovers without worry of arguments over undisclosed expectations. I am an ethical non-monagamist because these communities are sex positive and respectful of how sex should be approached. We talk out our agreements and have respectful discourse. Any time I get involved with someone, they know everything that comes along with dating me before the first date. That way, they’re able to make an informed decision. At that point, it’s up to them to decide if they think I’m “too much” for their palette.
If you have any more thoughts on ethical non-monogamy, feel free to comment below with your questions.

Mental Fuel: The Importance of a Mantra

One of the first homework assignments that I assign to clients is to create a training mantra. I’ve found that some people are unfamiliar with the word, so I wanted to share what a mantra is and why it’s important to have one for many aspects of life (not just fitness). A self-talk mantra can aid in fitness training, sexual kung fu, anger management, changing our relationship with food, or even breaking an addiction.

A mantra can act as a reminder to keep going. A short, rhythmic, and positive line of self-talk that encourages you to stay on the path to your goal. Goal setting is about knowing what you want. Discipline is about remembering what you want. A mantra should be your own. It’s fine to borrow someone else’s mantra. But, it’s important that your mantra be anchored to you and your path. Here’s a recipe for creating your own mantra.

Short Keep your mantra simple. Anything longer than a haiku becomes a recital and it will feel like you’re reciting an oath. While that may be fine for your evening recap in the bathroom mirror, it can become mentally taxing during an activity that requires more of your concentration.

Rhythmic Meghan Trainor’s songs are popular because they’re catchy. I’ve never downloaded a single track, but, I can sing along with the chorus because they’re all over the radio and played in every store/restaurant. Those simple rhymes // don’t require much of my mind // I repeat them in time // and say them line after line. Do the same when you create your mantra. Most people know the old anger management mantra: “Pins and needles // needles and pins // A happy me // is a happy me // that wins.” When I began anger management my mantra was rudimentary. “I don’t want this anger, I want love.” Over the years, it has evolved into something of a drinking toast. “Kiss your partners // kiss your friends // Make sweet love // and love again // No matter what trouble the world is in // as long as we love // love will win.” I’ll drink to that!

Positive The runner’s reading this post may have heard the old mantra, “the faster I run // the sooner I’m done.” While that may be true, “sooner I’m done” creates a negative association with an activity that is (or at least should be) making you feel better. Running isn’t for every body. But, if you’ve committed to embracing the activity, do it for the love of your body, mind, and spirit. Create a mantra that reinforces the positive association with your activity. This can also help when attempting to change your relationship with food. When I think about my comfort foods (usually filled with refined sugar) I think about desire. So, in changing my relationship with food and ridding my diet of refined sugars, I ask if I want that thing or if my body needs it for nourishment. I believe in eating what you want. I don’t believe that our wants should always go before our needs. So, if you want to drink Diet Coke, you’re an adult and you should do as you wish. Once you start drinking more Diet Coke than water, your kidneys will hate you. My self-talk reminds me to “give my body what it needs” and that mantra helps me to eat real food that will keep my body from breaking down.

How? 1.) Don’t put too much conscious thought into it. You’re not writing a keynote speech on neurological disorders. You’re not even writing a mantra. You should create your mantra. 2.) There’s no wrong way to do it. It may come to you from a song lyric. It’s your mantra, create it any way you choose. 3.) Make sure that your mantra ties into why you’re on this path to accomplish this goal. There’s no better reminder to keep going than to repeat to yourself why you took that first step in this direction.

Why? “Jet, I’m the shit. I am the bee’s knees. Why do I need to create a mantra? Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I’m sure that you’re stellar at what you do. Nina Hartley and Peter North want to honor your skills in the bedroom with a lifetime achievement award at the next AVN convention. However, I’m sure there are times when you’ve felt tired and somehow found your “second wind” in order to keep going. While I’ve read several studies* regarding our brain determining our level of fatigue before our body, none of those articles have been in a scientific publication. That’s my disclaimer. A little bit of Anatomy & Physiology understanding will point out that our brain will stop us from physically harming ourselves. Therefore, it is good to train smart instead of hard. Let me be clear, don’t be the jack ass that pushes too hard, gets hurt and needs an ice pack on your junk after sex. Afterwards, don’t try to blame the Kama Sutra because you skimmed the pages. Don’t workout until you pass out and try to blame Crossfit Culture. Jebediah Crossfit didn’t make you over train. I read an article in the Hindustan Times entitled, “Thought Boost” about how mantras kept athletes going longer. I’ve had personal experience with self-talk mantras aiding in my sexual kung fu practice, staying calm in high anxiety situations, and even staying alert after a long day-creating my own second wind.

Sit down, stand up, move around, embrace the words that will keep you on your path. “I’m not creative.” That’s an excuse. “I tried to create a mantra, I just can’t.” That’s a bullshit excuse. “I’ll be fine without a mantra.” Perhaps you will. You could be good at what you do. There will come a time that you’ll want to step up from good to great. At that time, you’ll want to do things differently. A mantra will help you to honor your physical strength and guide your mental strength. Physical and mental strength are tightly intertwined. Anyone can do the thing, be the one to do it smarter, be the one to do it differently. #GetUp

*Studies are hard to believe when no references are cited. Don’t believe everything you read, do your own research through scientific sources or your own trial and error when it’s safe to do so.

Tough Mudder Training

If you’re reading this, it’s because someone (hopefully the person in the mirror) has convinced you to participate in an adventure race. Maybe it’s a Spartan Race, an Urbanathlon, or a Tough Mudder. If you think it’s just a mud run, please keep reading. (Spoiler: It’s more than that!) I’ve finished a few Tough Mudder events and I wanted to write this up to (at least mentally) prepare people for the event. None of the aforementioned events compare to the Western States 100. But, Tough Mudder isn’t easy. You will be sore, but the event can be fun! So, you’ve signed up for a tough, fun adventure race that will make your body sore? Congratulations! Here’s how to survive it.

I’ve participated in Tough Mudder 2.5 times, all in Tahoe. I ran it in 2011 at the Squaw Valley resort. I broke my foot while training for the 2012 event. I still went up to Tahoe to give my friends the moral support they needed. I finished the Summer event on July 13th at the Northstar resort in 2013. Does that make me an expert? No. But, I can share some things with you that have helped me earn 2 orange headbands.

Choose your teammates wisely. Don’t choose your teammate based on fitness level. This isn’t the grade school playground. Don’t pick the tall kid, the fast kid or the “climbs stuff good” kid. Instead, choose the team member that will stay positive and smile when they are cold, wet, getting electrocuted in the face, getting barbed wire snagged on their booty cheeks or running five miles up a hill that never fucking ends. Never. Fucking. Ends. When you’re going through obstacles like that, no one gives a shit about how much you can bench press. When you’re going through obstacles like that, the attitude to get up and keep going is the only thing that matters. Complainers, settlers, and whiners should never be on your team. Complainers will find something wrong with every rock on the mountain and they’ll tell you all about it! They will not shut up! Settlers will settle for the bare minimum. No, we didn’t come this far just to fucking go around it. Tough Mudder is a challenge not a race. That’s part of the Tough Mudder pledge. Settlers will sing those words all over the mountain as they stroll along, claiming to be in no rush. It’s true. This event is not a race. But, it’s not a damned crawl either. We didn’t come all of this way to go for a stroll in the woods. Hustle up! Whiners will be afraid of every obstacle no matter how much you’ve prepared for it. So, having super heroes on your team is great. But, if any one teammate is a complainer, settler, or whiner, the whole team will get dragged down! Choose wisely. At some point, all of you will need to mentally or physically uplift the other.

Don’t just train, train with specificity. “How does somebody even train for that?” is the question that I hear the most. Well, isn’t it obvious? Go to the nearest mountain, build 20 obstacles that are spread over 10-12 miles, invite some friends, add beer, shake well, and giddyup! Okay, so that’s a tad impractical. Here are some other options. Run on trails with hills (no exceptions). If you’re new to running, start on flat asphalt and gradually move to grass, beach, then trail (in that order). But, hills and rocks need to be under/around your feet in order for you to prepare for this event. The biggest challenge will be running downhill on loose footing for 5+ miles with switchbacks. Get wet, run until dry, repeat. Find some little kids and fill up their inflatable pool with ice water. (Please, warn the kids first.) Jump in, fully clothed in your event day gear, stay in for at least 10 seconds, get out and run until you’re dry. Then do it all over again. Wear the right clothes and train in them, first. Old school rules state: Never do anything new on race day! That includes those special Underoos that you bought for the event. That ballerina costume fits great and looks great with the group photo. How will you feel after mile 5 when that glittery thong is in the crack of your ass? Wear things you are willing to part with (and that includes your GoPro-people lose shit all the time in these events). Remember, there is barbed wire. Do NOT wear shoes that are almost dead, you’re going to need some good brakes heading down hill. Do NOT run this race in Vibram Five Fingers. I don’t care how many people you’ve seen do it. I don’t care if your badass friend did it. I have two words why not, puncture wound. The TM staff doesn’t go through and pick out all of the pointy rocks so that you can have a safe run. One sharp rock can end your race. In both events that I’ve finished, I’ve seen people bounding up the hill in those shoes at the beginning of the race. By the end of the race, they were all limping due to rolled ankles, toe injuries, etc. Train in what you plan to wear on race day. Costumes are encouraged, just be prepared for what it’s going to feel like. Be mentally prepared to bleed. No matter how covered you are, there’s a good chance that you will bleed. In 2013, I wore a full body compression suit and I still walked away with three scars and a bruised rib. In 2011, I did this run in shorts and a t-shirt. Ha! The rocks enjoyed tearing up my skin. Crawl around on the ground. Learn how to crawl on grass, dirt, and rocks without terrorizing your knees. Find some monkey bars, learn how to hang from them without injuring your shoulders and get mobile using just your arms. Make muscle-ups your friend. This exercise will help you with a lot of the obstacles. So, to sum up your training. Be able to run in cold wet everything. Be able to crawl under anything on any terrain. Get over your claustrophobia. Learn how to hoist yourself up and over things. Learn how to run after unexpected pain zaps you. During training, I was stung (twice) by a Yellowjacket. While that wasn’t planned, we had to keep running (mostly out of fear). Nothing could have prepared me more for getting shocked in the face with 10,000 volts with 5 miles left to go. Yes. That’s a thing. That can and will happen. Which brings me to my next survival point.

Be strategic with those obstacles. Each obstacle will have a few lines so that everyone can get through. When you go to the grocery store, don’t look for the people that have the fewest items, look for the most efficient cashier. The same logic applies here. If you’re about to get into a dark underground tunnel and crawl behind someone, don’t get behind the person that seems uncoordinated and uncertain. You’re asking for a traffic jam. Further, give some space between you and the Mudder in front of you. Don’t go in on their heels, unless it’s your teammate and they want you close. During the Electric Eel obstacle (slip and slide + live wires + tight space = HTFU) I heard about this one Mudder that froze and curled up into a ball. The Mudder behind was stuck, getting zapped, repeatedly. Don’t slide into a traffic jam! Also, FFS, listen to the volunteers. They will be giving you coaching points on how to complete the obstacles. Don’t try to do it your way. Let go of your ego. You may be a badass, but you’ll be a tired badass. Play it smart.

FAQ
“Can’t I just walk around some of the obstacles?” Sure. You can also be locked in a room with a willing <insert your favorite celebrity> and give them a handy instead of going all the way. Come on people, you didn’t train, drive a few hours, and dress like a Liger just to walk around obstacles. Real talk, don’t be stupid. If you can’t swim, don’t jump in the deep water. Walk around the obstacles that could get you fucked up in the game. But, otherwise, go for it.

“What should I eat?” Eat a proper breakfast. Don’t eat a peanut butter sandwich and try to run 12 miles on a mountain. You’re an adult, you should know what a proper breakfast is, for your body. I’m not going to tell you to eat 4 eggs, 2 sausages, toast, coffee, juice, and a banana like I did. You might be a Vegan. Besides, I eat that same breakfast quite often. Remember, nothing new on race day. So, as part of your training, start eating a “proper” breakfast and see how far it will get you. If you run 2 miles and pass out, that’s not the right breakfast for your body.

  • Invest in some trail running shoes. Make sure that the laces can be tucked somewhere other than inside the shoe.
  • Don’t pin your bib number (and safety pins) on your chest/stomach. Did I mention that you’ll be crawling around, in mud, a lot. Unless you want to get a safety pin jab in the belly, just put the number elsewhere.
  • Gloves. You don’t need them, but should you wear them… They can be your best friend or worst enemy. If you buy the right gloves (that stand up to varying wet/dry conditions and still provide grip while hanging by your finger tips) then you’ll be happy. If you buy the wrong gloves, you’ll be pissed. Why would you wear gloves at all? NONE of the water is even 45 degrees. ALL of the water is finger-curling cold. After the 10th cold water obstacle, you’ll need to hang by those finger tips. So, of course you don’t *need* gloves. But, they’ve done me right.
  • Eyewear. Just don’t. Unless you wear contacts and you’re trying to protect your eyeballs, any eyewear will be a detriment after the first mud splash. They don’t provide Windex on the course.
  • GoPro. Prepare to lose it. That is all.
  • Underwear. Buy some moisture wicking draws or your underwear will become an under war.
  • Sunscreen all of your bits. There are some compression suits that have sun protection. But, your head and other bits of skin will burn like bacon. You’ll be out there for 2-6 hours. That’s not a typo. You will NOT leave your teammate behind. So, if you need to carry someone (yes, that is one of the obstacles) it may take a while. Waterproof, sweatproof, 10,000 volt proof sunscreen. Do it!
  • If you can find someone willing, get a Sherpa. Some teammate’s lover, friend, or roommate will (hopefully) be willing to hike the spectator trail and schlep some supplies for you and take pictures. Make sure that person (or your bag that you should leave at check-in) has a dry change of clothes and some comfort food for the finish line.
  • Lodging. Stay as close to the start/finish line as possible. Book your stay the minute they announce the venue. You’ll be happy when you wake up stress-free and happier when you can shower immediately afterwards. TM crew will hose you down at the end. The water will not be warm. Did I mention that all of the water is cold? So, choose your event date wisely! There’s an event in Toronto in Autumn. Ha! No thanks!
  • Create a team chant or call. When someone gets too far behind, they can call out the code word for “Wait for me!”

So, I hope all of this helps you to prepare for your first Tough Mudder. Don’t be afraid of Mudder. Make it YOUR Mudder. Enjoy your training.

Here are some pictures before, during, and after the event in 2013 with my teammate, Sae. Good times!


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