advice

The Dark Side of Fitness

Aka: Why I’d never say to a client: ‘you look great! You should compete!’

AKA: Why I probably will never step onto a bodybuilding stage again.

me

Stardate: 16th March, 2017

Of late, the subject of competing in fitness has come up a lot. Usually it’s via the question, by the middle aged lady in the supermarket: “hey… Do you compete?”

Sometimes it’s a new client-hopeful… who integrates the thought of competing into their end-goal, because they see it as the ultimate achievement.

Sometimes, it’s via a former competitor… who, broken – post-retiring, can’t seem to find the wherewithal to get back in shape.

Today’s entry addresses that broken soldier.

Please note: i am NOT trashing the hardworking individuals who undertake the sport. Neither am I making excuses for those who choose to leave. My only motivation for today’s post, is to discuss that which is never discussed… which needs to be.

Hi. I’m Corey.
11 years ago, I retired from competitive bodybuilding. I’d had 7 very exciting, somewhat successful years within the sport. My name was known. My photos graced the walls of gyms. My shelves were full of trophies. But those weren’t my only momentos.

Nope!
I had a laundry list of issues:

  • Injuries (overuse, tears, malalignment).
  • Digestive issues (adult-onset food allergies and intolerances… Namely to almost all “clean” foods which the fitness-minded depend too heavily on).
  • An unhealthy relationship with food (- competitive athletes go through phases of extreme caloric restriction, followed by a period post-contest where they “reward” their successes with copious amounts of “bad foods” which they’d deprived themselves of for months. Yes… We binge. The most weight I’ve gained after a 3 day binge is THIRTY-THREE pounds. Yes. 33. 3 days).
  • Skewed self-awareness, self-esteem, as well as self perception (- for years, i didn’t take my shirt off at the beach… for fear of the comments. They were always either stupid, insulting, or sexually-charged… and none of that was what i needed. I mean, who needs someone telling them “where are your abs? Maybe you need to train harder” or someone shouting “steroids” as you walk by? Worse still were the women who’d ask crap like “is everything on you as big as your arms?” A lot of people ask how one could be “thin skinned” like that, after “prancing around onstage in a man-panty”… But hell, up there you can’t hear or see anyone. The stage of life is way different. And many of us leave the sport ill-equipped to handle the attention hypermuscularity nets. Further, many of us forget that the condition we slaved to achieve was only meant to be held for a night. So we end up beating ourselves up for the rest of our lives trying to maintain what wasn’t meant to be).

I mean, i wasn’t the worst off. But i struggled… Bad. And worse still, i watched peers struggle and fail to reclaim control of their lives once they stopped competing.

Maybe i was “stronger” emotionally/cognitively/mentally… Or whatever.

Maybe i was lucky.

Whatever the reason… I persevered, developed a way of living that allowed me to reclaim my health, peace, and abs… And managed to figure out ways to apply those precepts to my clients, so they too could avoid crashing and burning like my peers and i did.

“But… I WANT to do a show. I’m not like you. I’ll be okay.”

Maybe you will be.

One thing I’m not, is a pessimist. I that a dose of perspective goes a long way. So, rather than discourage you from competing, let me instead provide you with a checklist to keep you out of the psych ward.

DO:

  • Figure out why you want to compete. Whether you win, or don’t place at all, that reason will be your mission statement and anchor.
  • Surround yourself with objective people who are capable of critiquing you in a positive way. What you DON’T want is someone dragging your ass through the mud just because a chocolate brownie talked dirty to you and slipped itself into your mouth last night.
  • Set realistic timelines and goals. Stick to them. You didn’t put on that 30 lbs of fat you’re trying to lose in 8 weeks… Ergo, you shouldn’t expect to lose it in 8 weeks. Is it possible? Yes. Can it fuck your brain up? Yes.
  • Set rest days. Stick to them.
  • Talk to someone outside of the sport: Outside of your peers, family, and circle of friends; a professional. Often, our support bases are inadequate. Sometimes, they well-meaning but unintentionally cruel. Sometimes, our objectivity fails when it comes to those close to us. Whatever the case, talk to someone who’ll actually listen… to listen.
  • Hire a coach… a good one. Yes, there’s lots of free information out there. A lot of it is bad. A lot of it is confusing.  Did I mention that a lot of it is bad? Fuck, fuck, FUCK.

DON’T:

  • Starve yourself.
  • Compare yourself to others. The only person you need to beat, is that person you were yesterday. And, while that may sound cliche, this is the only truth that matters.
  • Force yourself to step on stage. You aren’t indebted to anyone. If you feel unsure about any part of the process, switch to something that makes more sense. I can the hear pundits now: “blahblahblah… passion… blahblahblah… dedication.” Guilt trip. Nothing more. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. Your journey is about you… and only you… and there is no finish line.

Hopefully, these words help at least one of you.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

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Last night, I punched my daughter in the face

But, before you report me to child protective services, let me explain: for the past 7 months we’ve been co-sleeping.

Co-sleep·ing/ˌkōˈslēpiNG/ (noun) – the practice of sleeping in the same bed with one’s infant or young child.

…Which I’ve been vehemently against, because I’m a 220 lb male with ZERO mid-sleep spatial awareness.sleeping w baby

Stardate: 10th February, 2016

So, last night it happened: after basically a 17 hour workday, I fell into a very deep sleep. I’d asked my wife not to put our little one between us whilst we slept, and at the start of the night she’d obliged. Somewhere during the night however, she moved Nevaeh to between us though. However I didn’t know this, until about an hour later when I felt a weird pressure under my left elbow… which woke me.

That pressure? The baby.

My elbow was resting on her forehead.

Did I mention that I’m over 220 lbs?
Her forehead!
I leapt up!

Jesus H. Christ, did that ever end my night’s ‘rest’. (- I say ‘rest’ because I used to average and be able to function on 2-4 quality hours per night. Presently, there is absolutely no quality to my nights.)

Immediately, I left the bed, and found something to occupy my brain until my alarm went off. That’s been the norm these past 7 months… when I actually attempt to sleep in bed.

Initially, we’d agreed not to co-sleep. There was a lot of conflicting research, as well as the loud “DON’T DO IT”s from my married female friends, whose relationships and quality of life had each been affected by co-sleeping. Some of my friends had pointed out that they’d read the blogs and tried it… and four years later, their children were still finding their way into their beds in the middle of the night.

My wife and her friends had different opinions, and read different blogs though obviously, because it was implemented anyway. We have, for the past two months, been trying to get our infant out of the behaviour however… but there’s been absolutely no progress on that front.

Please note: this isn’t a blame or shame post. I’m not calling out my wife or her people. I’m simply presenting a case for other soon-to-be-new dads and moms out there… from a guy who nearly crushed his beautiful daughter to death in his sleep. (lol – dramatic much?)

So what does the information on co-sleeping say?

Some pros!

  • It’s easier to soothe the wee one (- babies go back to sleep more easily as well).
  • Encourages breastfeeding.
  • Allows mum to get more rest at night (- rather, to sync her sleep patterns to the baby’s).
  • More bonding time for mum. Can lead to more intimacy for dad, if dad doesn’t see baby much during the day.

Some cons!

  • Less sleep for dad. Way less sleep actually.
  • Decreased opportunities for dad and mum to be spontaneous or intimate (- or spontaneously intimate) i.e. marital interference.
  • Less sleep for the baby. While those pro-co-sleeping claim that it results in more sleep, those opposed to it claim the opposite. The latter claim that the over-attentiveness (namely soothing every whimper) actually results in babies whimpering more… seeking out, and being rewarded with more attention as a result.
  • Terminal night-time dependency: the inability to fall asleep without the parent there; fear of waking up alone… and the like.

Like I said: there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. You, as a new parent, have truly got some reading ahead of you!

My conclusion though?
Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone. There are tons of pros, as well as cons. Research, research, research… communicate, field test, buy some wine, and a sleeping bag.

Did I mention that I bought a sleeping bag? It’s blue. (lol)

Yours in fitness (… and hopefully [still] marriage),
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

The Right Fat-loss Diet for you

“Hey! I just saw your client [*inserts name*]. Their progress has been seriously impressive! What diet did you put them on?!”

Stardate: 9th December – 2015

Hey all.

I get questions like that one at least once each day. I try to answer politely each time, though (if we’re to be honest) the answer… the true answer… is unavoidably one that will ruffle feathers.

That answer? “What I did with him/her isn’t relevant to you… at all.”

Invariably, the person asking will assume that I’m being an asshole. But, let me extrapolate: Any sensible diet works… and there are tons of them out there.

-Did I mention that they, basically, ALL work?-
So, it doesn’t matter whether it’s:

  • Low-carb with high fat and moderate protein
  • Intermittent fasting and its myriad of variations
  • Low-fat, moderate-to-high carb, and high protein
  • Paleo
  • IIFYM (If it fits your macros)
  • 80:20
  • The Military Diet
  • The It’s-Income-Tax-Season-So-I’m-Broke Diet

It truly does *not* matter.
What matters then? I’ll tell you:

  1. Picking a style of dieting (based on how its precepts fit your personality, lifestyle, and needs – Logically, if your life requires that you work for 12 straight hours without a meal, a diet plan that requires 6 small feedings will fail you).
  2. Adjusting your caloric intake to your needs and goals ( – here’s a handy little guide to calculating your caloric needs).
  3. Sticking to your plan.

It’s that simple.

No.

Really.

youre-welcome

Yours in health, peace, and fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

p.s. Let’s talk about the right diet for you in the comments below.

p.p.s – A rundown of eating correctly for your goals et. al.

Breaking the Cycle of Insecurity

Stardate: 21st August 2015

Hey all!
Sometimes, I find myself wondering what the conversation would be like… if the current me, met an older version of himself.

I experienced what I believe that would feel like, just a few minutes ago… when I received a message from a friend of mine letting me know that he’d read an article of mine on Barbados Today, today. He’d admitted that he’d read it a while ago… but that it had ‘just popped up’ in his feed last night… and it’d spoken to him.

I have to admit: It spoke to me as well.

Here it is:

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A few years ago, I had the pleasure of running into an old schoolmate of mine. He’s always been in ridiculous shape, having been a serious sprinter since high school. That night, however, I realized that he’d made the transition from fitness enthusiast to trainer. He was working with his client outdoors. His shirt was off, and he looked phenomenal.

Honestly, my first thought was: “If he and I were standing shirtless, side-by-side, and a chick was asked to pick one of us, based solely on our physiques, she would pick him without a second thought.” A minute of insecurity? Maybe. Maybe it was less than 10 seconds of it. But it was enough. Immediately, it made me think of some of the thought processes I’ve encountered with many of my clients.

Many of them see someone who, their minds tell them, is “better” than they are. And, immediately, they fall into a downward cycle: Why me? Is my girl/guy checking him/her out? Why is he/she with me? Why do I even bother coming to the gym? I’ll never look like that.

I’ve heard them all, and many more. Truthfully, I’ve never been able to relate fully. I’ll tell you why: I believe that comparison, self-evaluation, categorization, and self-quantifying are natural parts of the human psyche. Furthermore, acknowledging and embracing such (as opposed to denying, demonizing, and battling that moment of comparison) lends a person the ability to move past it.

For me, those couple of seconds of insecurity I felt, led to three distinct thought processes:

  1. An honest appraisal of my body-type.
    My buddy was always in shape (and will probably always be in shape). He doesn’t watch his diet, and has never needed to. He is pure ecto-meso. Me, on the other hand, I’ve always been ‘softer’, even when shredded. My body-type is closer to meso-endo. I have to watch what I eat, and I have to keep my activity level high. Standing next to him reaffirmed my life choices and diet choices for the past decade.
  2. An honest appraisal of where I was physically.
    I was carrying 20-30 lbs more muscle than my peer – possibly more, I was put together “better”. Then why would I feel self-conscious? I’ll tell you why:
  3. “I can be better.”
    For some, this thought exists in the back of the mind like poison: slowly seeping into unconscious thought, eroding self-perception, self-esteem, and self-worth. But, do you remember what I said about acknowledging it? Let’s bring it to the forefront. I did and, immediately, poison became a positive.

    I CAN be better, and will be.

    There will always be someone whose very existence challenges your sense of self. The truth of the matter is, you CAN be better. But, and this is the most important part, the person you need to be better than isn’t the phantom that you allow your mind to create.

    It isn’t the guy/girl your significant other thinks is attractive.

    It isn’t your subordinate, who happens to be more qualified than you on paper.

    The person you need to best is you.

    Every day, every week, every year, strive to be better than the person you were before.

    Life isn’t a competition. But if it were, past you would be the person to beat.

    Make it happen!

And, he’s right: The person you need to best, is you.

Today, I’ll aim to be a better me than I was yesterday.
Will you join me?

Yours in health, peace, and fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

Some thoughts on forgiveness

Stardate: 19th August 2015

Hey all. I had an amazingly cathartic experience, that I’d like to share with you.

This isn’t a religious post, but it did stem from a counseling session I had with my pastor yesterday. So… there’s that disclaimer. 🙂

In the session, my pastor said to me:

“The greatest gift you can give a person, is forgiveness.”

To my pastor’s declaration, I’d replied:

“But, this [forgiveness] goes against everything that I’m feeling.”

Truthfully, in my heart of hearts, I could not conceptualise my lips verbalising “I forgive you”  in any shape or form. Even thinking about it felt like a slight to my intelligence. It felt… as if I were urinating on my self worth. Dramatic? Maybe. But that was exactly how I felt in that moment… like I’d need a shower afterward.

My pastor replied:

“I know. But… forgiveness isn’t about accepting what they’ve done, or condoning it. It’s about healing… for both of you. You let go, and allow an opportunity to heal. Because you can’t heal if you’re still holding on to hurt.”

Some hours later… I met up with a friend who’s a lot like me: doesn’t hold grudges; moves on from a situation quickly; goes from full rant to zero in seconds. But, based on the session I had with my pastor, I realised that not holding grudges and ‘moving on with life’ wasn’t the same as forgiveness… and, really, that one can’t wholly move on without forgiveness.

And, finally, the difference clicked for me.

“I forgive you.”

These were the hardest words I’ve vocalised in a long time. “I’m sorry” doesn’t nearly compare. “I love you” isn’t nearly as heavy.

“I forgive you.”

With those words, I released a burden that I hadn’t even realised I’d been carrying. With it, came tears. With them? Lightness.

Who will you release today?

Yours in health, peace, and fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net