Be Here Now!

I saw it on a bumper sticker and I decided to get it tattooed on my body. I had survivor’s guilt. I was with Sparkly Devil just a few hours before she died. This happened in May 2013 and I’m just now able to type this out. We were all backstage, laughing, talking shit, and drinking. There was a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon being passed around. We all drank from it. We all thought her husband (who was driving) was fine and that he didn’t seem impaired. Fact: No one can “see” blood alcohol levels, especially if none of the telltale signs of drunkenness are present. Fact: His BAC was .18

When Sparkly Devil and Bones Padilla left for the night, her last words to me were “I’m getting stronger!” We were scheduled to run the Tahoe Tough Mudder together that year and she was excited about how well she was doing in her training. She was getting stronger and I was happy to hear how excited she was about that strength.

They never made it home that night. They were in a car accident and Sparkly Devil died on the scene. For weeks, I kept questioning what I could have done differently. What if I didn’t pass that bottle? What if I stopped them from leaving even though Bones “seemed fine to drive”? Why didn’t he die that night? (That may sound like an ugly thought. But, I’m being vulnerable here. Bear with me.) After all of the crying and guilt, I realized that I was doing something that a lot of us do… I was allowing my mind to be everywhere and everywhen else but here and now.

Some time later, I got a tattoo inside of my right forearm, where I’ll never be able to ignore it, the ink reads: “I’d rather be here now!” I saw it on a bumper sticker. I look to this ink when my mind drifts to the wasteland of “what if”. I look to this ink when my ego wants to time travel and make things (my definition of) right. I look to this ink when I need to be reminded that magic exists, here in this moment. I look to this ink when I need to express gratitude for the ability to be here now. There will come a time when I can’t change what’s happened. When that time comes, I’ll need to stay centered and be here now. There will come a time when the training will hurt and I need to embrace that pain to move forward on the path to strength. When that time comes, I’ll need to stay centered and be here now.

When I began using TRX to assist with my handstand/hand walking skills. I was training and misjudged my vector. I came down hard on the, thankfully, padded floor during rush hour at Equinox in downtown San Francisco. I wasn’t embarrassed because of the onlookers. (None of them seemed to give a shit.) I was embarrassed because I let my ego try a new move and gravity won, decisively. I lay on the floor laughing out loud until my inner voice told me to get some ice and plan better for the next attempt. At that time, I had to remember there is no such thing as an exercise that makes you feel weak. There is only an exercise that will show you the path to strength. #Jism Falling didn’t make me feel silly. Falling pointed out my flaw in execution and showed me the path to balance/stability. It’s my hope that you all have some positive/rhythmic phrase that you repeat when the pain comes. No matter what your mantra, I hope that there’s no other place you’d rather be than developing strength in your body, spirit and mind.

Just a thought… What if we all stopped comparing Superman to Batman, Lebron to Jordan, ex-girlfriends to next girlfriends or feelings of nostalgia to the present? What if we stopped complaining that apples don’t taste like oranges? What if we all breathed a sigh of acceptance to what once was and found the peace in accepting the things we cannot change? That would be a nice world to live in. If “remember when” is the lowest form of conversation, “should’ve been” is the sub-basement. Stay present. Be here now. Keep celebrating as you grow stronger.

I love you, Sparkly.

Change Your Mind Before Changing Anything

Any change begins with a decision. Anything that you’re doing on your path to change should have a why attached to it. That why should have come from the same place as the decision to make change. Before we change just about anything in our lives, we must change our minds first. If your daily habits have gotten you here (to a place in your life where you want to change direction) it only seems natural that you’d need to change your habits.

As a Fitness Coach, it’s important that I challenge the choice of words my clients use during the workout. I believe that helping to reprogram the internal dialogue (monologue?) away from misleading phrases help to change the mind. What I’m suggesting is an argument you’ve heard before. Thoughts become words > words become actions > actions become habits > habits become your character > character becomes your destiny. You’ve heard it before. Don’t worry, this is not a blog about your destiny or your character. If you’re anything like me, an attitude adjustment is always welcome.

Try this on for size. You’re in the middle of a challenging exercise. A siren goes off in your mind that shouts, “this is hard!” As a follow-up, because our bodies don’t want stress, your body stops the exercise. Take two. You’re in the middle of a challenging exercise. A reminder goes off in your mind that speaks to you in the calmest voice you have, “I’m, intentionally, doing something challenging in order to become stronger!” As a follow-up, because your body doesn’t see this internal monologue as a stressed cry for help, your body continues working.

I’m not suggesting that you sing Kumbaya as you go for a PR on your deadlift. I’m certainly not suggesting that happy positive thoughts will make 100 pounds weigh an ounce less. I’m most definitely not suggesting that you lie to yourself. Don’t say “this is easy” when it may well be the hardest/heaviest challenge you’ve ever encountered. Sometimes, the challenge will be hard. It’s not called a WORKout because it’s easy. What I’m suggesting is that you still need to complete the work to reap the benefits. Make the work feel less like work by changing your focus. Don’t focus on how heavy the weight is, focus on how strong you are. Avoid those words that poison your training, like ‘weak’ or ‘can’t’. To say, “I’m too weak, I can’t do this” is the same as saying, “I have no desire to become stronger, I’ll choose not to try.” There’s another way to get it. Instead of walking away from the car because you’re unable to lift it, learn how to lift the car, one piece at a time.

Let’s talk anatomy. Have you ever said, “I have no triceps”, “I have no core”, “I have no muscles” or “I have no abs!” Yes, you do. You have all of those muscles. If you were born without any of those muscles, you’ve probably been to a number of specialists by now. The muscles are there and they keep us moving. Often, there’s a layer of protective love hiding our muscles from the world. Some people have less of a protective layer than others and that’s why the definition, in their abs for example, is easier to recognize. So, change your mind. Don’t think about the definition you don’t have. “Oh come on Jet, you know what I mean when I say that I have no abs!” No, I know what’s been said and it sounds like you don’t have any faith in your body’s potential to be great! Instead of focusing on definition, focus on how you feel. Focus on your love of the training and the definition will come.

Take the time to write down why you’re doing this. What reason is important (and long-term) enough to keep your inner monologue positive as you train? Write that reason down and repeat it, often. Enjoy your training!