My Experience in Vegas: World Championship Edition

Wednesday is over with and I’m getting dialed in. Even though I was tired after a jam packed evening with clients, blood is pumping and visions in my head are forming about the meet; what I’m going to wear, how I’m going to lift it, how I”m going to warm up. This is the most important competition of my life thus far.

Thursday- The Flight In

The evening before, I prep myself to go to bed early. It was difficult. I knew I had to keep my calories down still (eating nothing but protein and a small amount at that) and start dialing back on the water. Woke up (starving) and was already slightly annoyed. Why? Because I found out the night before my 8 o’ clock flight was not 8am….it was 8pm.

I literally kept my schedule open so that I could ya know….be on the flight to Vegas. By this time it was too late to reschedule anyone.

I sat around the house, watching TV, sipping on water just to get by, and had one apple. Then shit hit the fan.

I was packed for more than a week out and I still didn’t have enough clothes. Not to mention I didn’t have a carry-on sized bag for the plane. The one I had was twice the size (and I thought it was a carry-on size).

Having said all that, my girlfriend helped me out by meeting me at the department store to pick one out. Finally got one, and for cheap too, I realize I might of had too much stuff in my original bag to pack. I haven’t been on a plane in quite some time. Somehow, my two pairs of size 12 shoes, lifting belt, and other clothes and essentials fit in the bag. The woman was a freakin’ magician.

It’s 5:30pm and we get on the road. And met by traffic over 2 miles long. Awesome.

Turns out a truck crashed, caught on fire and held up traffic on I-55 South. Managed to take a short cut and was on the way to Peoria Airport.

We get to the airport and I’m met by something I’ve never experienced. TSA security. I just realized I’ve never been on a plane in over 12 years, pre-911.

Get passed security and have my second meal of the day. An apple. I’m realizing the whole time that I should of eaten more through out the day to make sure I make weight for the weigh-in Friday evening. I still have no idea what my weight is.

Get on the flight and I’m immediately uncomfortable- middle seat, underfed, thirsty and tired.

Plane lands in Vegas and I’m super hot and lightheaded feeling queezy. This isn’t good.

 

las-vegas-riviera

My girlfriend is trying to help, but I’m not doing much but making faces and looking like I’m about to pass out. We get some food finally at a burger joint in the Stratosphere and I order a chicken salad. I’m trying not to eat a whole lot, but just enough to keep my hunger at bay. I’m still a huge asshole by this point.

Friday- Weigh in 

It’s 8:30 am Vegas time (10:30 am at home) and I’m starving. By this point my vision is blurry. I wanted to go watch my teammate, Melissa Klein (123 Masters 40-44 and Overall Lightweight World Champion),  perform. And. She’s. Killing it. I feel bad for the competition frankly. They didn’t have a chance. My heart is pounding as I watch nervously, munching on a bacon-egg n’ cheese sammy for breakfast. I make sure not to eat the whole thing because again….I have no idea what I’m doing.

My lips are suuuuuper dry too, choking down the food without any water. It’s the best tasting thing I’ve had in a while as it seemed…until someone brought crispy chicken strips right next to me. I cursed their names a 1000 times over.

6 hours later the meet is over and I finally get to weigh-in. 177.5 lbs. Well, I certainly made the cut off. Now it was time to eat.

No. FEAST.

Almost immediately we head to Walgreens to pick up some Pedialite to re-hydrate and get some electrolytes into my system. I start to feel better. In fact, it’s filling  me up. I notice when I don’t eat my stomach shrinks, so I”m not able to hold as much in my stomach as I’m used to (when I was over 190#’s a week or so ago).

We get to Carnivale buffet in Rio Hotel off the strip in Vegas. I literally spent about 2 hours sitting down eating food, making deliberate walks to help with the digestion. I’m pretty sure I had well over 2,000 calories which was my goal. I felt no shame.

Carnival-World-Buffet-Desserts

After we get done, we walk towards our hotel at the Riviera…..which was 2.7 miles. And I just googled that. Holy crap.

Anywho, we get back to the hotel and I’m partially kept up by the guys next door most likely doing drugs but who knows. It’s Vegas. They’re having fun. I’m nursing a food baby. It’s all good.

I begin to visualize what’s going to happen the following morning and start watching some motivational Powerlifting YouTube videos before I go to bed. My clothes are set out and ready to rock the competition once again.

Saturday- D-Day

It’s 5:30am (7:30am at home) and I’m already up. My body is ready to go. No more sleeping. My belly is somewhat still full from that amazing dinner I had the night before.

Singlet, socks, shorts, shirt, pants pullover, shoes then hoodie and my hat. In that order. My Creatine, BCAAs and pre-workout are already in my gym bag along with my shoes. This was it.

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It’s 7:30am and I head down with Karin to start warming up. There are 2 guys there setting the place up. That’s it. I was the first lifter there. I felt like I had won already.

It was cold, but I was bundled up. I started to foam roll in the warm up room until one of the officials came to get my attention that no one could be in there before 8am. I said no problem. He shook my hand, I felt out of respect for my hustle and tenacity for getting up so early to be there. I warm up and stretch for a good half hour or so before the lifters has to be called in for rules.

Rules meeting gets over with and we’re assured that the meet is going to go fast. Which is good because I was sooo wound up and ready to go that I was afraid I was going to burn out.

But this meet was different. I was focused. Yet so relaxed. Besides buzzing off my pre-workout, Taze from Complete Nutrition, I was getting psyched from my playlist on my iPhone that served me well all year.

The squat was up. My opener at 430 was on the bar and I stared that son of a bitch down. Un-racked the bar. Went past parallel (like I always do). Hardly made a sound while squatting. All white lights (Note: 3 white lights is good, 2 white lights is still good, anything less than 2 white lights is a bad lift).

Gimme some mo, Coach” is what I was thinking.

Coach Austin has done a great job at giving me my numbers. We both know knowing what those numbers are before I lift then does the mind no good. You start to think about them too much.

The next weight is on the bar. They call me up even though I thought I was in the hole. Frustrated that I didn’t get enough time to prep myself…I knew I was ready anyways.

Annoyed, I walk up to the bar and took what seemed like 10 seconds to get ready.  I know it’s heavier than my opener so I take this one seriously because it’s going to set up my 3rd lift. I un-rack the bar. it’s a bit heavier as I stand with it for a few seconds to get used to it before squatting it. Past parallel. Came up a big slow. Not a sound. All white lights again.

“What was it??”

“446#’s”, he said.

Sweet.

We then have a discussion about how I’m feeling and that I need to not fuck up on this last one. “It’s gonna be a PR”, he says. I nod my head in agreement and visualize myself absolutely killing this PR. I have no idea what the weight will be, but it doesn’t matter. It either goes up or not.

Get up to the bar taking a little longer than I have in the last 2 attempts. This time I”m making sure that everything goes right in my mind and the bar is placed well on my back. Un-rack the bar. Hold the bar to feel the weight. It’s definitely heavier than what it was.

“SQUAT!!!!”

I get a little stuck in the middle but my lockout has been awesome all day so I push through that shit.  All white lights. I’m relieved that’s over.

“How much was that??”

“457.”

I’m Ok with that. Went up pretty fast for a PR.

The bench is up next, my worst lift. All day we’ve been talking about how I need to get my bench up. Warm up with 225, 265, and 275 before resting for my opener at 285.

I’m not tooo enthusiastic about the bench, but I knew I was going to kill this 285. Sure enough I did and thought nothing of it. What I was concerned was about my 2nd and 3rd attempts. I knew somewhere around 300 was going to be up there. My name is called. Bar is loaded. It doesn’t look too bad. In fact it went up pretty fast for being over 3 bills. 303 was on the bar and I was happy with that.

My last attempt was at 308 and I knew that beforehand. Why? Because it was either 308 or 314 (a hyoooge PR). I hit it before earlier in the year, but it was a fight to the death. I didn’t have it in me to finish the fight and lost. No lift. Next time, baby.

The last lift is up. The deadlift. It’s the 4×4 relay of the Powerlifting world. Half of your total depends on how much you can pull. Plus my back wasn’t killing me which it normally does by this point. I was feeling amazing.

I was going to put on a show.

I set my opener at 545 just so that I could be confident with it. Already it’s the heaviest bar on the platform and I’m about to pull this bitch like an eagle snatching a kid from a playground. I get up there and I pull it. My adrenaline was pumping so hard I might of let the bar down a little faster than I should have. The judges seeing how easy it was for me was nice enough to give me a warning. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but it’s not my call.

I knew 585 was next on the bar because I knew I could hit it. The idea was to see how I felt after each lift to try and get over 600, a meet PR.

To make sure I didn’t get red flagged for releasing the bar too fast. I make sure that the judges know that I can control the bar. It goes up. I hold it.

I look to my left, look to my right and the judges tell me twice to put it down. I set it down as gently as I could without being overly confident about it and mess my back up. The crowd gets a good laugh out of it as I mock the judges for almost red flagging me.

I talk to Coach Austin about what to do next. It was either 600 or 614 to go on the bar. I couldn’t believe that was the only 2. I went conservative and wanted 600 on the bar. I had only pulled it two different times in my life. Once in competition early in the year, the other outside. In jeans and sunglasses. It was random and awesome.

I walk. NO. Run up to the bar as shit was getting intense. I ask the crowd waving my hands up for some help. I haven’t been this intense in a while, but I knew I had to to get this weight up.

I do my thing. Get up to the bar. Pull it. Had the wherewithal to make sure the judges knew I had control of it looking all 3 of them dead in their eye before setting it down gently once again. The crowd gives me an ovation. Lifters give me a pat on the back. The President of the federation gave me a handshake as he knew it took me a couple years to get to 600 in this federation.

I’m super thrilled about my performance, but even more so about how my body felt. I didn’t feel beat up or anything like that. It was a miracle.

But actually it was due to the fact that I trained my body to lift without a belt for 8 or so weeks building up a foundation of strength. Once I used the belt it would become more of a helping tool rather than me relying on it for strength and stability.

The day is over and the awards are handed out. I take my picture with former top 10 Miss U.S.A. as they call me up to collect my trophy for 181 Overall World Champion. I tried to act like I had been there before in the winner circle. But this was different.

This was a fucking World Championship. So I acted like a total goofball because that’s what I do.

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My goal was to get to an elite total but I felt like I won the day already when I got up that morning. I was so mentally prepared and physically prepared that I knew my competition couldn’t be me. Only I could beat me. It’s not cockiness. It’s confidence. There’s a difference.

I DID lose the Pound-for-Pound title though. As the results show (pending drug tests) I placed 3rd in the position. There were some really strong lifters there that day for sure.

Performing in Vegas was the best experience I’ve had in a while at a meet. I only wish I could take it all in, but there was just too much going on; first time on a plane in over a decade, first time in Vegas, first World Championship. Needless to say I want to go back to really get a chance to enjoy Vegas, but I have a feeling I will be back there for another big competition. And I’m sure the result will be the same.

Here’s a video of my lifts. Enjoy and thanks for your support!!

The Self-Saboteur

The idea that the worst critic is yourself, is true.

It’s not the haters on the interwebz. It’s not your mom who thinks that having too much muscle is unfeminine and ugly. It’s not your friends who think you’re a douchebag for ditching them for the gym instead of going out to get hammered. It’s not your coach for when they reduce the weight on the bar because you’re not feeling it that day.

It’s you, the self-saboteur.

 

The Self-Talk

self-sabotage-2

 


Here’s a fact: The world is a shitty place.

Here’s another fact: The world is a wonderful place to live in.

Clearly these “facts” are opinions of the self and we hear either one a lot, but perception is reality. Sometimes there’s no study or statistical data that could tell us different in a particular moment. We see ourselves in others, but we look at ourselves in the mirror every single day. What’s consistent is our age in that we get older everyday. That we can’t control.

What we control is how we feel, how we look, and how we perform.

I mentioned to a client of mine the other day that scapegoating seems to be really popular lately.

It’s never our fault, it’s always someone else.

Before that, I wrote on twitter that you are the solution to your problems. For a lot of us control freaks, it’s the best news you can get.

Yet we continue to talk ourselves down and damaging our self-confidence…or what’s left of it.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I believe that there is a lot of talent out there in the world that could change the face of sport, business or even relationships. We’ll never know because that individual kept themselves from moving forward with negative self-talk, sabotaging their greatness.

5 things that come to mind about Self-Saboteurs:

1) Self-saboteurs allow fear to guide their thoughts, plans, and actions.

2) Self-saboteurs focus on the past,

3) Self-saboteurs feel that deep down inside they don’t measure up.

4) Self-saboteurs drive people away.

5) Self-saboteurs settle.

As a trainer, I work with a diverse group of people every single day and every day is different for them. One day they’re up. One day they’re down. However, when they talk about themselves in a negative manner,

“I don’t think I”m getting any better…”

“I don’t have any confidence….”

“I can’t.”

I watch and hear my clients and others talk about themselves this way. I understand “every dog has it’s day”, but there’s something more to it when they’re being vocal to others about it.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Most of the time, what you say or think about yourself over and over, you tend to believe it and directly or indirectly cause it to be true.

Don’t think you’re going to get to reach that milestone? There’s a good chance you aren’t because you think you’re not. It’s that simple.

But being around others who think the same way don’t help. In fact, they almost always make it worse.

The expectations people have about how others will behave play a large role in determining whether people cooperate with each other or not. And moreover that very first expectation, or impression, is hard to change. “This is particularly true when the impression is a negative one,” says Michael Kurschilgen from the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn (science daily)

Can you blame someone for not picking YOU to be on their team when you don’t have any confidence about yourself? Telling other people how much you suck isn’t going to help your outlook and others impression of you. You can only be frustrated for so long before you start pulling away from your goals and actually start believe what you say about yourself.

self-fulfilling phophecy
The fix: If you believe in yourself, you set yourself up to be successful. We all are leaders in our own right. At the very least, lead people to believe that you are strong and confident. Even if you don’t believe it yourself, others who look to you for your strength will continue to as long as you show it.  This can transfer into your training too.

If you believe you can hit that PR, someday you will. As long as you work towards it and trust the process, it’ll only be a matter of time.

Composing yourself in the face of Stress

Stress comes in many forms: financial, family, competition, training, etc.

There’s no way to avoid it. It’s in our lives every single day.

But how you handle it is the X-Factor.

I see it as two ways–either change what stresses you or change how you think/feel about it. I know it’s easier said than done, but you have no other choice.

If you go about it negatively, you’re sabotaging your health and potentially those around you. If you go about it positively, it could really change the way you look at things

I watched a TED talk the other day about how using stress to actually help yourself. The video explains.


It sounds crazy, but I thought about it and it totally makes sense. Having a positive outlook on work, your family, life, or even training can make a world of a difference in how you feel mentally and physically.

It’s always going to be dark with your head down in the dirt, if you don’t look up and try to find light at the end of the tunnel.

So you broke a nail. So what, they’ll grow back (or you can buy new ones).

You bombed out at a meet even though it should never happen. But so what, there are other meets. Learn from it and move on.

Your kid broke his leg. Sure he’s hurt, but he’s alive and safe. Be open to the fact that it may happen again. We’re human.
We may crumble under stressful circumstance, but as long as we get out of it we’re going to be okay. Looking at it as the end of your progress or a bump in the road you can’t get around is nonsense. Life moves on.

You’re either going to spend the rest of your time working towards controlling YOUR stress or you’re going to let it control you. It’s up to you.

Being the Self-Saboteur is so easy these days. People will look for the quickest way out or excuse for not being where they want to be. It’s bullshit. If your goal is to make people feel sorry for you, that’s fine. But it’ll get you nowhere to where you truly want to be.

Surround yourself around people who will help pick you up. DO things that will make you happy, make you laugh or an exercise you know you can do with ease build back up that confidence.  DON’T talk shit about yourself. DO look at the big picture. Look at what you’ve done successfully. Success leaves patterns. Follow it and make adjustments along the way.

To say be positive is kind of corny, but it’s true damn it. Take time to yourself to critique your performance and get your head back in the game. DON’T be the Self-Saboteur.

There are people counting on you.

YOU are counting on you.

-D

2 weeks out- World’s Training

Squat Day

135 x 10

225 x 8

315 x 4

385 x 1

405 x 1

425 x 1

430 x 2 x 1

First day of  lifting this week definitely set the tone for how the rest of the week was going to go for the most part. My nutrition has noticeably been off and I’ve been doing it the wrong way; not only cutting back calories, but meals as well. Thinking that I can maintain my weight being around the mid-180’s and upping my lifts in retrospect is laughable. Here is my 430 squat which will be my opener, using Oly plates to get used to the density of the plates. While I am happy that I put up 430 in the gym- albeit on shit nutrition and lower energy levels. I fucked up the 1st set at 430 by having the bar waayy to low on my back. Came back for the second one with it actually where it usually is and nailed it. I know for sure once I get more food in me after the weigh-in the day before the comp, I will absolutely smash my lifts.

 

Bench Day

132 x 10

176 x 8

200 x 2

242 x 1

286 x 1

299 x 1

301 x 1 (gym PR)

I’ll admit, today was my best lifting day of this cycle. Albeit with lower energy levels from shit nutrition, I was most happy with this lift. Anytime I can get 300+ up in the gym is always a win for me and a huge confidence boost. 299 felt heavier than it should, but I made sure to put on my Oly shoes, belt and wraps (as allowed in competition). It did make a huge difference. I will say too that I picked up some new BCAAs and Pre from Complete Nutrition and it certainly has made a difference. I think what helped was the meal the night before (which I can’t remember) and the amount of water I have been pushing; it really does help with the effect of the supplements you take.

 

Deadlift (2.2kg conversion)

70kg x 11 (overhand grip)

120kg x 8 (OHG)

160kg x 5 (OHG)

442 X 2 (regular grip)

492 x 1

522 x 1

565 x 1

586 x 1 (didn’t budge)

 

Ah, deadlift day….by far the worst lifting day of this cycle. And I know exactly why. For starters, my nutrition has been off. When I did eat, I had crispy chicken, 2 orders of fries for lunch and Chinese for dinner. As you can see, when I did eat, it wasn’t the best. Rice has been my staple in my diet all year and I’ve cut it out for several weeks now to get my weight down. While I’ve been trying to stay under 190 (so I can make my last days easier to lose), I’ve been doing about it all wrong. Especially for today.  Not to mention I didn’t set myself up for success by downing water like it’s the last thing on earth the day before.

I was able to get 565 up mainly before I’m a strong mother fucker. Energy wise I wasn’t there and mentally I wasn’t there. Fortunately, my back doesn’t feel like it’s about to spas on me like it has in my last training in the last meet, so I’m grateful for my training and recovery process; but what I’m doing diet-wise is not making the best of what I’ve built so far. So, next week is deload @ 60%. I will starting getting my water in better and start eating more leafy shit with protein to keep my energy levels up and recover. This day won’t defeat me. Instead, I will learn from it. Recover like I need to. And get into the habits that have made me a consistent-successful Champion.


3 Weeks Out: RAW Worlds

Squat

135x 10

225 x8

315 x3

385 x 1

405 x 1

420 x 1 x 3

420 x 2 x 1

This set of 1 was the last of the 3 singles. I did a set of 2 earlier because I felt like I could. Since I’m getting close to showtime, I knew practicing my singles would be best. Feels good to train at a weight that was once your opener a year ago.

 

Bench
Banded Kettlebell Press

16kgs x 5

95# + 16kgs x 5

135# + 16kgs x 3

225 x 3

255 x 2

275 x 1 x 3

 

Bench few up today. Was really happy with this week considering I started cutting back my carbs. I’ve also learned for the first time to push out my elbows on the way up. Big difference.

 

Strict Press 4 x 8 75#

 

Bench Supported Rev. Fly

4 x 10 25# DBs

 

Deads

135 x 10

225 x 8

315 x 5

405 x 3

495 x 1

515 x 1

525 x 1 (work set)

535 x 1 (work set #2)

550 x 1 (work set #3)

 

Worked up to 550 today. Possible opener, but days like today I’m not sure. It took a long time today to get up to it, but I got it done. I believe it came down to the training atmosphere. Also, the fact that I have reduced my carbs throughout the week might have something to do with it. Took 3 naps yesterday which I think helped, but took more will power to get this weight up, but it went. One more week of heavy training to go. I’m gettin’ pumped!!

GHR 3 x 12

My 24 Hour Weight Loss Experience

I’d like to start out by saying that I believe that there is a place for everything; certain exercises, foods, supplements, etc.

As a trainer, I’m all about trying to help people look better, feel better, as well as have more of positive outlook on themselves in general. There are certain things, however, that will constantly bring us down because of its inconsistent nature.
Of course I’m talking about the scale.

 
Earlier this week I decided to start reducing my carb intake in order to get my bodyweight down to be able to enter the 181# weight class. My girlfriend influenced me to document this publicly in order to show the ins n’ outs of losing weight. Not wasting anytime, I announced on my Facebook page that I will be documenting my weight for over 24 hours.

 

So at 3pm, I weighed myself on a Taylor Home scale that is located at work as well as my apartment.

 

Here’s how the experience went:

 

Monday-3pm: 192.2lbs

By this time, I had1-solo cup of my “Mojo Shake” (OJ, Oats, Banana, Frozen Strawberries, Ice, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Protein Powder) and close to 100oz. of water. I started work at 6am, showered, napped from 7ish-8, worked 830a-1230p, another nap, had a pound of lean beef and broccoli at work.


I was wearing biker shorts during the weigh-in, and then headed to work at 330p.

5:02p: 190.8lbs (-1.4lbs)

I’ve had 2 clients since the last weigh-in. Consumed nothing but water (with BCAAs)and then proceeded to weigh myself. I’m not at all surprised by the weight loss within the last 2 hours or so; mainly because it was hot a balls and I’ve been peeing like an old man.

I was wearing biker shorts.

7:30p: 191.8lbs (+1lbs)

Even though I haven’t been peeing as much, I certainly have become hungrier by this time. I weigh myself before I leave the gym and head home to end the work day. I am starving. This already is starting to suck.

I was wearing my work clothes (undies, shorts, socks, and shirt)

9:07p: 191.0lbs (-.8lbs)

So it’s night time aaand I can’t take it anymore. I have a super early day (again) and I have to squat big, one of my biggest squat days yet. I should also mention that it’s supposed to be in the high 90’s and humid. So I head to Fresh Market after work to pick up a regular rotisserie chicken from and 2-Youkon Potatoes. I wiped but satisfied my hunger. 

I weigh myself on the scale at home before heading to bed wearing socks, shorts and undies.

 

Tuesday-5:57a: 190.2lbs (-.8lbs)

It’s stupid early as this is the first week I will be waking up before 6am, 5-days a week. It’s a short 30-minute session after which I plan to go home and nap again (note: I like naps). I have my shake to keep the hunger pangs away. I have another half-hour appointment at 8am and plan on training afterwards.

 

7:59a: 186.2lbs(-5.8lbs)

Before arriving to work, I shower and start downing the water preparing for my training session in the hours ahead as it starts getting hotter and hotter outside. 

I weigh myself right before my appointment wearing work clothes (biker shorts, shorts, and shirt).

 

10:13a: 190.0 (+3.8lbs)

I start my workout at 9am warming up on squats (look out for my training blog at the end of the week). I knew I was going to feel like ass doing it so I was going to take my time before my next appointment at 1130am. Downing water because it’s already in the mid-90’s outside, JJ (CFBN/BNAF Owner) mentions that I’m probably going to retain water and bloat from the workout and supplements. Knowing me, not everything applies. 😉

I weigh myself wearing my workout gear (shorts, biker shorts, shirt, and socks) on the scale at work.

 

1:31p: 189.0lbs (-1lb)

I mention on my update that I forgot to weigh myself after working out and working. Seriously though, I was tired, it was hot and I just had an awesome squat session. I really didn’t give a shit about my weight at that point because I had more important things to focus on. With more water and a little food, I have one more weigh-in to go.

I weigh myself in my work clothes (shorts, biker shorts, socks, and shirt).

 

Final Weigh-in 4p: 193.0 (+4lbs)

With more work and programming to be done, I clearly forgot to weigh myself again. It’s the last one and I couldn’t care less if I didn’t see another scale for the rest of the week.

Some of you may be thinking:  wow, that fluctuation is cray, son!!

Because you know…everyone talks like that.

I ended up making 7 eggs and half a bag of hasbrowns with salsa and cheese. It. Was. Delicious.

But it made me realize how some people, including some of my clients, feel about their weight and how they go about life in dealing with it.

 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE??

It was hard. I hated having to check my watch for every 2 hours of the day. It was weird because when I weighed in past the deadline, I was kind of annoyed. I found myself thinking about it the whole time, mostly because I was interested in how it was going to turn out.

WHAT DID I EAT???

Monday I had my “Mojo Shake”, lunch (as referred to earlier in the log) and dinner. Tuesday I had more of the shake, but a bigger lunch in having tilapia and broccoli. Later that evening I made the eggs and hashbrowns I explain earlier.
To some of you folks, this may not sound too bad; Monday I had basically 2-3 meals as well as Tuesday.

 

But I’m a high level Powerlifter. I require 4-5,000 k/cals daily (more so on training days) and doing what I normally do with a calorie reduction seriously was messing me up. Tuesday and Wednesday I practiced my lifts for my competition upwards of 85-90% of my max. As you can imagine I was a bit cranky when I woke up, could barely get out of bed and longing for another nap soon.

WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THIS???

I was told that going through what my clients go through is a great way to understand where they’re coming from so I can relate to them better. I agree completely. However, it doesn’t mean that they SHOULD be weighing themselves daily.

I do understand though that some have lost 10, 15, 50, 100 or more pounds and never want to go back. Based on some research at LIVESTRONG, people are going to gain some weight on average every year.

This piece reads:
Between the ages of 25 and 44, the annual increase in weight jumped to 3.4 percent in men and 5.2 percent in women. This means that if a man and a woman who each weigh 160 pounds both gained weight at this rate, the man would gain a little more than five pounds each year and the woman would gain a little more than eight pounds each year.”

 

What many don’t realize is that fluctuating +/- 5lbs IS NOT going to make you look any different. Sure people wear their weight differently, but the bigger picture is whether or not you feel better, are performing more efficiently, and looking better as a result. I remind you, YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO.

Everything that you do in life; how you handle stress, what you eat, how you eat, and how hard you train is all going to have an effect on your body…including your weight.

Ultimately, I went through a lot to try and lose weight in a short amount of time and I ended up gaining a whopping .8lbs. For some this would be frustrating to go through all of that, but people do this shit every day. It’s crazy and time consuming.

Again, I felt no better. I performed well but not better than I knew I could because I was tired and “under-nourished.” I also didn’t look any different. While I understand where my clients are coming from, it still makes no sense to weigh yourself every single day.

STOP IT.

stop it

There’s too much manipulation involved at the mercy of how you perform and how you feel. A gallon of water weighs 8.34lbs. If you drink that daily or more, you’re constantly gaining 8+lbs. Sure you’ll pee a lot, but don’t weigh yourself right afterwards. You’ll probably freak out.

See how silly that sounded? All you did was drink water!! Not cookies, or pies, or junk food.

Just. Water.

Water retention can cause an increase in weight beyond what is normal and has medical, hormonal and dietary causes. Common medical causes of water retention include heart and kidney problems because there is a reduction of fluids being moved through your body. Circulation problems may also cause water retention and swelling in various extremities. Lymphedema — prevention of lymph drainage because of lymphatic system congestion — can occur after surgery or as the result of a sedentary lifestyle. Hormonal fluctuates during a woman’s menstrual cycle may lead to water retention. In addition, cortisone released during periods of extreme stress can cause your body to retain water. Finally, too much salt in your diet can cause minor water retention and weight gain because it causes your body to hold onto fluids.”-Jackie Carmichael, LIVESTRONG.COM

Fortunately, most people don’t say “well I’m on water reduction to lose weight.” In fact, when they do gain, water is one of the last places people look. Why? Because It’s just water damn it! Chill the F out!!

 

Everybody Chill

 

DEVILS ADVOCATE

Now, let’s say you want to weigh yourself. I recommend doing it once/week. Want you want to lose is body fat. The less fat you have, the better you’ll look and keep THAT weight off. Since diet is a big contributor in weight gain/loss, it’s important to keep that under control.

 

You want to aim for .75-1lb/week. This is different for everyone of course; the more you have, the more likely it is to come off quicker. The less you have to lose (regardless of what YOU think) the harder it’s going to be. The body likes to get to a certain state at some point. So when there is a plateau, you have to do something different. What that is, is going to take some time and work on your part.

My body likes being around 188-195 naturally. If I want to get under that it is going to take a lot of work to get some off and keep it off. Otherwise, I let go for even a little bit and it’s going to shoot way up like it as shown on Tuesdays log before regulating.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS


Weighing yourself is totally a waste of time.

You worry? You gain weight.

You get stressed?? You gain weight.

You eat more calories than you expend? You gain weight.

You drink more water than you normally do? You gain weight.

All of these things happen on a daily basis. Life happens and you have to deal. The last thing you need to do is finish or start your day by getting on the scale and making things worse. YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU WEIGH.

I tell my clients all the time, no one walks down the street with a number above their heads for people to see. What we see ourselves in other people.

Yet no one else feels what you feel. No one else does what you do on a regular basis. To be judged or judge yourself on how much you weigh is so insignificant to everything else that you’ve accomplished and will accomplish. Don’t get hung up.

Be happy with yourself. Choose your path wisely. Look forward to where you want to. Don’t stop until you get there.

 

 

Week 5 Training

Squat Day
135 x 15

205 x 6

255 x 3

375 x 1

415- 2 x2

 

I came in feeling not so sure about my workout, but that’s why you warm up. I’ve changed up my warm-up attempts as well. I figured if I didn’t feel gassed going into my workset that lowering my reps would be good. I also started taking bigger jumps on my warm-ups. This way I could have more stamina to do more worksets

B- GHR 3 x 10

Knee to Elbows 3 x 12-15

 

Bench Day

135 x 10

185 x 8

225 x 5

270 x 2 (pause)

270 x 2 (pause)

270 x 2 (pause)

 

I was happy with this weeks bench. I was schooled on how to use my elbows/shoulders by pushing them out on the way up. For years I’ve been tucking my elbows on the way up. So next week I’ll work on using them more efficiently and try to maintain the bar path.

B- Close Grip Bench

185 x 10

185 x 10

185 x 10

C- Pullups 5×5- 8k

 

Deads

135 x 12

225 x 10

315  x 5

405 x 2

475 x 1

500 x 2

515 x 2

520 x 1

Not much to say here. This week was doubles. I felt hella good and went for 520 for a single. Nuff said.

B-RDL 2 x 15 135

 

C- Rollout 1 x 10-12

 

D- Toes to Bar 2 x 10

Why being Mentally Tough is Crucial in Your Performance

As I sit here writing this, I am just 4 weeks out of heading to Las Vegas for my first World Championships in Powerlifting. Forget the fact that it’s Powerlifting for a second.

 
Let’s say you’re me 4 weeks out from a huge event that you’ve been preparing for: a speech in Executive Office at work, an Olympic qualifier, on a game show to win a million bucks, your first time saying “Hi” to a girl…

You get the idea.

What you have done is what got you to this point. But hold up…now you start thinking differently. Why is that?

Wouldn’t it make sense to go into it as confident as you have been this entire time?

For quite a few of us that isn’t the case. There’s a difference in the thinking process of those who aren’t as experienced and those who are. Let’s address those for a moment.

 

The “In-Experienced”

“I can’t do this. I’m going to get demolished.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I don’t lose the weight/body fat?”

“When will I succeed?”

These are all questions and concerns that I hear from other competitors and the clients I work with on a regular basis. I know for sure that I have had these thoughts running through my mind at various points in my Powerlifting career and otherwise. We all have.

The one thing that I find consistent is how those who have never been on their biggest stage don’t know what to expect or worse, have expectations.

The latter is the one thing that could really mess with your head. In competition, your first time out should always be to have fun and remember to follow through with what got you there in the first place.

A lot of us may suffer with what I call the “Rookie of The Year” complex. That is to try to win or be beyond amazing your first time out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good positive attitude and great approach to your sport or event, but having these high expectations might set you up for a big let down.

I try to tell my clients that you’re going to fail. A lot. Heck, if you don’t, you’re either not trying hard enough, are really lucky, or haven’t even started yet.

I’ve only have been competitively lifting for 4 years. I have multiple records, rankings and championships. You better believe that I’ve lost too. Not just on the platform, but in the weight room. I’ve been a trainer for over 6 years and some know the story, but I failed my certification exam 3 times before passing finally passing it.

Fortunately, it is ingrained in me to fight for what I believe in and have a stellar work ethic. Perhaps being introverted and finding confidence within or being around really supportive people is what helped. Maybe it’s all of it.

I know that focusing on what you CAN do and have done is a great start. Only will you get better with more experience and become mentally tougher.

 

 
“The Veterans”

For the less experience, these are the people you want to hang around. If you want to get better, work with those that have been in your shoes.

These may not be those who have gotten the best results or won a ton of awards. They’re the ones that are consistent. They’re the ones that if they fail, they’ll comeback with a vengeance rather than breaking down.

I have a client that wanted to have better health. Her name is Kim. She’s literally half the woman in size and weight that she was 3 years ago. She’s had her mouth wired shut, been through dozens of diets. It was only then did she have go to go through lap-band surgery to help her lose the weight.

She reached out to me to start exercising. She’s been told to do this over and over and over again and it wasn’t until the surgery that exercising and eating better was the only way to stay that way.

2 years later she shows me a photo of her in 2010. I see her a few times a week and I can’t believe it. It’s a lot different when you see transformations like that on TV, but when you’re involved it’s a bit surreal.

We started 30-minutes/day, twice a week. Then we got to 3 times/week. Then started to do 45 minutes and then hourly. Today, she’s gearing up for her first Powerlifting competition in October (I have no idea where she got that from; P).

It sounds great and all, but we haven’t been training consistently over the years. She’s had her body break down a couple of times. There was even one point when she was out for 3-6 months. As you can imagine she was discouraged.

When she came back, she was very hesitant about what we would do. The moment that pain would come back and she’d be out for a week or so.

But she had been down this road before. Knowing that becoming more and more inactive and being afraid to move on was going to lead her to more weight gain and bring her right back where she started.

Kim has had experience. We’ve been pretty consistent training ever since then. When ever there is an injury or an ache, we train AROUND it and work on something else that wouldn’t keep her from being out of the gym. We’re 6 weeks out from competition and she’s looking strong and staying positive.

 

That’s what mental toughness is.

 

It’s never giving up and focusing on the bigger picture ahead: That if you stop the journey, you will fail 100% of the time.

 

Can you teach it mental toughness??

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Some people don’t think so. Some people think you just have it. Some people think you have to grow up being around it. But I believe it can be taught.

I’ve had the pleasure of training a young lady who coming out of Junior High was on a State Championship winning volleyball team. She didn’t start, but has wanted to continue playing on her high school volleyball team the following year.

With 60+ athletes trying out for the squad every year, your chances of making the team isn’t a walk in the park.

She wasn’t the best jumper when we started, wasn’t the strongest or most coordinated. It was going to be a long summer.

I explained to her mom that while she’s training for this, she’s going to have to accept the fact that she may not make it. Having been there I knew this from the start.

As I mentioned earlier, to not have the expectation that you’re going to make the cut is going to help you recover from it and focus on working harder next year.

Now that the talk was out of the way, we could start focusing on her training and nutrition.

Knowing full well when one is consistent with their training and keeping up fairly well with how they’re eating and hydrating, the next thing I wanted her to work on was visualization and mental preparedness.

I wanted her to write down on a poster board where she can see it every single day of when the tryout date was. Everyday she came in, I asked her when is try outs??

 

“August 14th!!!”

 

We got into the routine of this every training day; making proper hydration and adequate nutrition a habit.

Once you do the little things and feel more confident about them, you’ll automatically start to feel more confident about your chances of achieving success.

 

                        “There are no secret for success, there are only patterns.”

 

I know for me when I prepare for competitions, I watch videos of other competitions and getting psyched up. I go to bed dreaming about what I’m going to do the morning of. I also accept that I may not win, but I will make damn sure I go down swinging.

The week of the girls tryouts came and I could tell on our last session she had it on her mind. Day came and she made the team. I couldn’t be a happier coach.

I don’t care what the circumstances were of her making the team, fact is she made it. That means everything that we have done over the summer was worth every second, every medicine ball slam, every goblet squat, and every sprint.

And guess what?? Even if she didn’t make the team…it’d still be worth it.

She’s never worked that hard before and never had so much confidence and learned how to be mentally prepared for things like this.

 

Closing Thoughts

You can be the most physically gifted individual known to man. At some point we all know someone who has had “the potential”, but potential is wasted when never realized.

We all are so physically capable of doing so much and could be so far along than we are now. Our worst enemies aren’t the people you’re going up against for the job position or the title. It is our mind.

Those who crap out and don’t come back are not quite ready yet, and never will unless they revisit what defeated them in the first place.

Embrace the reality of defeat for you will also find success if you chose to continue on. If you do, you’ll be better off. You’ll be stronger (mentally) as a result.

Week 6 Training

Squat Day

A- Max Sets of 3

Warm-up 1: 135 x 10

Warm-up 2: 225×5

Warm-up 3: 375×1

Work set: 405-2 x 3

Needless to say, I was looking forward to this day. After weeks of high volume and belt-less training, It was time I started getting closer to my max and using a belt. The video below was actually my best set. I used the belt on the second set, but it didn’t feel as good yet I had more stability. Evidently my midsection seemed to have grown to compensate for the lack of the belt and create a better foundation of strength and stability. It felt a bit harder than I wanted to, but looking back in my books, I don’t think I’ve squatted 405 for more than a double. I’ve done 415 for a double in training for Nats, but 405 with no belt–in weightlifting shoes–for triple is a big difference.  All in all I’m happy with the result.

And if my squat seems a bit high…fuck off. I bury my squats when it matters.

B- Front Squat 5×5 135

Bench Day

A- Max Sets of 3 (paused sets)

Warm-up: 135 x 10

Warm-up: 185 x 5

Warm-up: 225 x 1 (with pause)

Warm-up: 245 x 1 (with pause)

Work Sets: 265- 3 x 3

Drop Set: 225 x 8

Since the bench is my weakest, it’s fair to say in terms of the numbers/percentages it’s not quite the heaviest in training for needing a belt. It’s strange. I suppose it’s about how taxing the weight is on the body, but unless I’m in the 300’s I’m not going to feel like I’m going to die. I could of gone for another set, but being the smart guy that I am– I knew it was going to look like shit. The video is the 2nd of the 3 sets. The 3rd one started to look bad so I stopped. The drop set was random, I wanted more volume. I will be doing this from now on.

I knew I was going to need wrist wraps though, especially ever since I went 3 fingers on my AMRAP squat a couple weeks ago. The wrists have been feeling weak since then so I used the wraps as precaution. It’s important to note they’re 26-32cm wraps too, competition legal. No sense in using what you can’t use on stage, ya dig?

B- Incline DB Press 4 x 6

65 x 6

70 x 6

75 x 6

80 x 6*

(*rep PR at this weight. Probably won’t go past this for the following weeks by lowering the weight and upping the volume for light work so I don’t kill the shoulders.)

 

C- Landmine Row (with horn grip attatchment)

55 x 10

60 x 10

70 x 10

C2- Banded Triceps Pushdowns

Green Monster Band- 3 x 15
Deadlift Day

A- Max Sets of 3

Warm-up: 135 x 12

Warm-up: 225 x 10

Warm-up: 315 x 5

Warm-up: 405 x 1

Warm-up: 455 x 1

Work Sets: 480- 4 x 3

I was very pleasantly surprised at my performance on this day. There’s no doubt with the help of #2scoops of pre and an awesome dinner the evening before that knocked me out, I was ready to lift. Today didn’t come without a challenge and work threw a wrench into things, but I was able to utilize my time wisely and get my shit done. I think the 2nd and 3rd sets felt best, but mainly the 3rd set (see video below). I noticed in the videos my chest keeps dipping forward which pisses me off a bit, but I hadn’t stretched like I have been recently and worked on activation drills before hand. I was just ready to go, man. Decided to go head and use a belt right from the jump and boy did I feel  a difference. Like the squat, it took a little getting used to, but the squat is my bread and butter. There isn’t much that could mess it up. I was ready to go for 500, but Coach Curtis made the call for 480. Now I know for sure I’m ready for 500’s. 


B- Snatch Grip Rack Pulls

225- 4 x 8

C- Weighted GHR w/ 8kg KB

3 x 8

Week 7 Training

Squat 

A- 7 x 3 @ 75% of 90% (305)

No video this week. Totally erased all of my videos for the squat. Needless to say though it went well, especially towards the end as always. I realize it is going to take me a few sets to get warmed up regardless of my warm-up sets.

B- Reverse Hypers 3 x 10 50#

 

Bench

A 7 x 3 75% of 90% (210)

Even though I didn’t have a spotter, the weight wasn’t nearly as heavy today as it was last week when I did 85% for AMRAP. Thus this week was easy of course, but still high volume sets. Using a spotter for sure helps a ton, but given I was the only one in the gym this day I did what I needed to do.

B-
Incline Dumbbell


60# x 8

65# x 8

70# x 8

75# x 8

B2- Bodyweight pullups 4 x 10

Deadlift

A- 7 x 3 75% of 90% (410)

On this day lifting over 400 and feeling the way it did towards the end was gratifying. It seems every week I train without a belt I feel like I’m getting stronger. Some people don’t like to use a belt period, but I know now more than ever that it is more of a tool than something to rely on. I will work on not “bouncing” the weight off the ground and more resetting after each lift when I’m about 4 weeks out to work on technique. 

 

Shoulders

A- Shoulder Press 6 x 4

105 x 3

115 x 2

125 x 1

B- Curls 4 x 10 20#

B2- Lateral Raises 4 x 10 20#

C- Alligator Walks to Pikes 1 x however many

Week 8 Training

Squat Day

A- 55% x 5 (225)
65% x 3 (265)
75% x 1 (305)
85% xAMRAP (345)

Squats felt really good today. If you notice, I’m wearing OLY shoes again after deciding I’m not going to squat without them anymore. I’m pretty much learning where I am most comfortable in my squat– I’ve been messing with how forward I should lean and my hand placement. On the last set, my wrists started to give out, otherwise I’d get more than 8 reps. Overall, I’m very happy with the weight that I’m able to rep-out still without a belt.

B- Reverse Lunges 4 x 8 95#

C- GHR 4 x 6

Bench Day

A-55% x 5 (150)
65% x 3 (180)
75% x 1 (208)
85% x AMRAP (235)

Bench felt really really great. Ended up getting 12 reps on the last AMRAP (as many reps as possible) set. Keep in mind, I have been training my wide grip to get better chest development. I’d say it’s working pretty damn good. I am considering staying wide after this competition and build my strength that way.

B- Incline Barbell Press 4×8

135 x 8 

145 x 8

150 x 8

155 x 8

Incline press or doing shoulders at all is my worst enemy when it comes to upper body development. Since I’m a “streaky” lifter once my bench went well, I also went wide grip on incline and felt way better, too. Taking advice from Matt Houser using a lift off while going wide I think was key.

C-Landmine 1 Arm Press 3 x 8 @ 95#

C2- Weighted Pullup 3 x 5

Deadlift Day

A- 55% x 5 (300)
65% x 3 (355)
75% x 1 (410)
85% x AMRAP (460)

FUCK YEA!!!! What else can I say. This was an awesome deadlift day. Hitting my final AMRAP set for 12 at 460, WITH NO BELT, is huge for me. I really just took my time with it but everything was feeling smooth. My back tends to be really tight, but on movements like squats and deadlifts, it takes me a while to warm up. I can’t wait for next week. Stay Tuned….

B- RDL 5 x 8 @ 205

C- GHD 4 x 6 w/12kg kettlebell