self love

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.ย  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,
โ€“ Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

Fitness: The Power of Words

This morning… I awoke with an overwhelming spirit of “can’t”.

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Stardate: 21st February, 2016

Hi.

Some of you know me: Corey Springer; that insane fitness guy from St. George – “I mean… did you SEE what he made those people do with those tires? Oh hell, are they about to push trucks?!!” – That guy.

Some of you are clients of mine… and aware of my super-long work days: 7-12 one-hour long Personal Training (PT) slots per day, plus 3 hour-long bootcamps per week, plus a couple hours per day of administration and cleaning/upkeep.

Some of you, just see the end product.

Both groups of you miss two things, that I plan on sharing with you today.

And they are:

  1. Despite appearances, I struggle with my own personal fitness… daily!
  2. Sometimes, despite my best intentions, I fail.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about not failing.

Today, I woke with a spirit of “can’t”. For whatever reason, I missed several workouts this week. To accommodate, I’d thrown in some sessions on the days I had bootcamp. So, needless to say, by the end of those days, I was pretty fried mentally and emotionally. Friday and Saturday were like that. Today, Sunday, after my first client – I had absolutely no interest in doing anything exercise-related.

A glass of wine maybe. Some cuddle-time with my daughter and pups, maybe. The cardio I was supposed to do? Hell no.

“I can’t. I am not able.” – These are the words I’d told myself over and over, from the time my alarm went off at 4 a.m… conditioning myself to a day of failure.

And, I would have failed… had I not walked past the mirror and caught a glimpse of the sloped-shouldered, dejected guy there.

It was me… but it wasn’t. The weight of my words bore down on my frame, contorting me into someone unrecognisable. Someone who I, in that moment, no longer wanted to be.

I grabbed my bike. I grabbed my gear. I whispered to myself: “I can.” And, I hurried out through the door. In my haste, I even forgot my water.

2 kilometres in – “OH MY GOD! My legs are burning. How am I going to get home?!”

4.4 kilometres in – “This isn’t so bad. But how am I going to get home?”

7 kilometres in – “My lips! Oh God! I’m parched! But, I’m making it! Why is there so much broken glass on the road? Will I get a flat tire? Is that RAIN I smell?!”

8.9 kilometres in – “I can do this. I can.”

10.94 kilometres – As I live at the top of a hill, I had to sprint the last 50 metres. My lungs were shot. My legs were shot. My legs were shot. Did I mention that my legs were shot?

 

…but I made it.

I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t fed my subconscious different words.

You may have rolled your eyes at this point, if you haven’t done so multiple times before now. I get it. I truly do.

I don’t look like someone who’d understand your struggle. I’m not the fat teen I was (- the fat teen that hardly anyone remembers as being so, because my current persona is so overpoweringly-Mr.-fitness). I’m not the heavily medicated asthmatic teen I used to be.

I’m also not the 20 years old, with no responsibilities.

I’m you: mid-30s, a full time business (-three really); a wife, a daughter, two dogs, and bills that need to be paid every month.

I am your body issues, your deadlines, your logic. All of those things affect my life, as they do yours.

And, like you… I am also my words.

So… Will YOU join me, in changing your defining phrase today?

You “can”.

Yours in fitness,
โ€“ Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

Staying Fit, despite depression

Stardate: December 2nd 2012

I tweet on twitter, and post statuses on Facebook.com so as to give subscribers a glimpse into my mind. My hope is that doing so serves to help people who deal with the same issues. Today’s topic is depression. A lot of ppl who’ve known me for years, especially clients, don’t know that I’ve dealt with depression since my teens. They see me laughing and smiling, functional, running multiple businesses…and think I could never relate to their periods of demotivation and lethargy. So, many hide ’em…and suffer in silence.


img src: http://amyjanesmith.blogspot.com/
Caption: “Some refuse counseling/medication/intervention…”

Some refuse counseling/medication/intervention under the misplaced belief that it is a reason to be ashamed… and under the misplaced belief that bravado is the required response as an adult. Oftentimes these same people end up cutting themselves (physically) and act out destructively otherwise rather than admit they have an issue. I know, because I’ve seen your scars.

While I did study psychology, I won’t pretend to be a psychologist. All I can do is illustrate my solution. I call it “functional depression”. It first comes from a realization that depression is a chronic manifestation, and like any other chronic illness, it can be managed…whether by medication, or other avenues.

Personally, I refused medication because I realized that it limits creativity in many creatives. As creativity is both my outlet and the basis for my professions, limiting it via medications was an illogical option in my humble opinion.

Having spoken to peers, I noticed a trend: People with high IQs, creatives and their ilk, tend to be depressed. Many of them turn to substance abuse so as to provide and outlet for expression… as expression is the ultimate form of therapy for these individuals. Having spoken to them, as well as my father (who, people would never have guessed, has dealt with depression his whole life) I decided on functionality.

For it to work, one must have intellectual honesty, and personal honesty. Don’t pretend that you’re ok and functional on days where you are not. Lying to yourself promotes a state of cognitive dissonance. Conflict begets conflict… pushing the downward cycle deeper and deeper.

re: Productivity
On the days that your mood dips into dysfunction, realign your work to suit. When you are in a productive mood, push more work. And, importantly, find a bridge that connects dysfunction to functionality. Whatever your ‘release’ is, embrace it… and let it act as an anchor and line to pull you back to functionality, and hold you there. For me that line is music/poetry, and areas of my work which encourage the mind to be creative. Take liberty and pride in yourself, and the fruits of your labours…and, in turn the product will inject pride into your state of being. i.e. You will preempt a cycle of positivity that feeds itself.

A reader asks: “were u ever suicidal? i mean truly so… there was no reason to exist further, n if so, what pulled u back?”


img src: http://www.tomcorsonknowles.com/

2007, and one period prior as a teen. As a teen, I can’t honestly say what pulled me back. Maybe it was transitional. I was quite arrogant back then, so maybe the though of irritated my sense of self. Actually, that sounds quite logical looking back at my teen years.

2007 however, my business saved me. I was quite broken that year. I had the shitstorm of my life hit me all at once…and it broke me. Apollo Fitness Barbados saved me… Because I, not meaning to be immodest, am brilliant at what I do. I immersed myself in it totally…and ran it on autopilot. I trained clients like a man with a foot in hell, and my mind shut down completely. I didn’t need to be ‘there’ emotionally to do my job. My knowledge base an innate passion for what I do allowed me a cocoon to escape into. And, that quite literally saved my life.

A reader writes: “if I had a body like yours, I’d just punch depression in the face and move on.”

lol… If I had $10 for every time a depressed client said that to me, I’d buy a plane ticket to every major city in the world.

re: Intellectual honesty, and Personal honesty
I was talking to my ex-fiancee the other day, and she said to me: “I’m proud of you babe. You don’t let stuff stop you in your tracks anymore. Before, when shit when really wrong, you’d just throw your hands up and stop right there and then.” – That isn’t totally true. There was a process back then to dealing with depression. i.e. To accept when shit went wrong (as opposed to sugar-coating it), mourn the clusterfuck…and then move on.

re: Intellectual Honesty
Modern Society revolves around lying to oneself. Friends lie. They say ‘everything will be ok’, and a bunch of other coddling bullshit which really does nothing but appease their need to be comforting… like a friend should be (or so society says). This does nothing for the dysfunctional depressed person, cept push them further into depression. On one hand their mind paints the world as it is (albeit through glasses with a magnified lense), and on the other hand the people around feed them tales of other people ‘having it worse than them’, and things being ok.

re: Society Encouraging Self-deception
Sure, there are people in Haiti living in huts… but does that mitigate the reality of the job you just lost? Does it trivialize the significance of such? It doesn’t… but friends are socialized to point out the plight of others, to trivialize and numb your feelings, and to redirect your thought process. This may work in the average person, but it doesn’t in the depressed person. So, as a depressed person, one of your first steps to mediating your condition is to DEMAND that your right to embrace what you are feeling as real and important to you. Stop lying to yourself. Stop pretending. Stop hiding. Only then will you be able to visualize a bridge between dysfunction and functionality.

A reader writes: “my tattoos are a direct result of me needing to “hurt myself”.”

Same here. Actually, it ran deeper. There is a thin line between pain and pleasure… so, honestly, celebration and self-denigration/punishment overlapped. re: punishment. There are few things are liberating as a needle punch you 300 times per minute. It’s like acupuncture and spanking had a baby. That being said, I realized (when I started to run out of skin) that my reason for tattooing was wrong. I mean, I used to get a tatt every birthday to celebrate, but then I started also getting ’em when huge bad things happened in my life… thus tainting the celebratory purpose of tattooing. So, things had to change.

A reader writes: “I try hard to keep those around me encouraged and happy. It depresses me more that when I am in need, the same people either put me on ignore or brush me off.”

Keeping people around me encouraged and happy is one of the biggest mistakes I made over the years, for exactly the same reason you slipped in just now: When I’m depressed and in need, those same people ignore me. I came to multiple realizations some years ago that I’ll share right now: One realization came when a guy I considered a friend for years said to me one day: I don’t even like you, I just keep you around because you make people laugh/smile… you’re good for a laugh. Another came within a relationship where I realized I would constantly be building up said person’s self-esteem, keeping them encouraged etc… while watching my emotional energy being sapped away. When my depression finally kicked in, I didn’t have the person to lean on…and I didn’t even have the energy to stand on my own. Opening yourself to others is fine. Becoming the foundation they stand on, isn’t. May sound selfish, but it isn’t intended to be.

I kicked those people out. I still work with them and assist them via my businesses. I still greet them amicably when I see them… but, I’m honest with myself. I can honestly say every year I get more happy. My body issues (which people/clients/friends can’t believe that I have) bother me less each year. My disappointments (which grow larger each year because I take bigger business risks each year to encourage growth/expansion) hit less hard. I wake up every single morning of every single day looking forward to the day. I literally leap out of bed every morning (and have for almost 5 years now), while normal people get out of bed and groan ‘do i have to go to work today?’ And, all that started with being honest with myself.

A reader wrote: “I used alcohol as a release…but then I found Valium.”

Valium. That’s one drug I never touched. 2007, I remember, I was at my biggest and most muscular… but at the same time my most self-loathing. One night enough alcohol to give two people alcohol poisoning, a couple lines of coke, 2 tabs of ecstasy, and enough weed brownies to put the pope in orbit. I couldn’t get high or drunk…or numb. I think my metabolism was way too high at that point, so my body metabolized that crap like it was nothing. But, it was also in those moments of loathing that I realized that my dysfunction was me trying to kill myself… albeit slowly. People who’d known me for years thought that I was just partying hard… They actually said “I like this guy”, that guy pounding the alkie, smiling, laughing… dancing. It was then that realized that people, as a whole, are clueless and truly disinterested in what others are thinking or feeling. They rationalize and label things so events fit into whatever makes them least uncomfortable.

re: Waking Every Day Happy
Yes, that even includes the days that run to shit. However, functional depression revolves around accepting when days run to shit…and being willing to end a day/conversation/activity (or whatever) at the shit point. Normal people suggestion trudging through. Fuck that. I call it a day… mourn the clusterfuck, and start the next day anew. NB: it doesn’t automatically mean taking an entire day off… It make take only a few minutes. Regardless, it is important for depressed ppl to stop, take the time, breathe, and acknowledge the stimuli before one can move on. Without this, you will get stuck in the downward spiral.

Anyway the footnotes (for anyone now joining the thread): Yes I have dealt with depression for most of my adult life. No I’m not dysfunctional.

Yes, you can be functional too.

/end ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great day all.

Yours in fitness,
โ€“ Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

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 โ€œbetterโ€ 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 โ€“ possibly more, I was put together โ€œbetterโ€. 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,
โ€“ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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”ย  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,
โ€“ Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net