wellness

6 months to live

Stardate: 16th January, 2017

“Ask him”, a woman’s voice said.
“Excuse me sir”, I heard a boy say. “Are you a trainer? Can you train us?”

I smiled, angling my head in the direction of those voices. A mother. Her three young boys. It was June of 2016… in a random carpark… at a random mid-morning hour.

“I have cancer”, the mother informed me. “I’ve been given 6 months to live. I’m going to beat it though. So, I’m going to hire you for 12 months.”

On July 7th, I pulled in to her driveway. Off and on for months, we trained hard. 6 months passed. She was still alive.

Last week, during month number 7, she messaged me. “I have bad news. The cancer’s spread to my bones. I am in SO much pain.”

She didn’t respond to any of my follow up messages. Her doctor had basically told her to say her goodbyes. I thought… Christ… that our last conversation, would be our last conversation.

Stage 3 cervical cancer.
Stage 3 lung cancer.
Silently, I stalked her social media… vicariously experiencing the days through her eyes.

This morning… Monday, 16th of January, she showed up at my door in workout gear.

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“I don’t know if this makes sense”, she said.

She’d given up.

I haven’t.

To date, she hasn’t documented her fitness journey.
Today, I’m sharing a snippet… without revealing her name or face.
Hopefully, your kind outpouring will encourage her to do the same.

…to know that she’s supported, loved, and admired.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

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Zen-dom… biceps, business, and bliss.

Stardate: 2nd March, 2016

Hey all!

I often say that my lifelong dedication to fitness has positively affected me in all areas of my life. Training to be a competitive athlete, meant training to be better… period.

A better person.
A better business person.
A better everything really.
Discipline isn’t accidental.

But why the correlation?

Working out is mostly psychology. Yes, it pays to understand human physiology (- this is an understatement really). But when it comes down to understanding and manifesting success or failure… that’s psychology.

Think about it: A guy can lift a rock 100 times each day, and develop a strong lean body without any real understanding of correct movement ( – as long as he does what feels right, and isn’t living in the pie section of the supermarket). But it takes that psychological trigger to initiate that desire to want to get in shape in the first place. Think about it.

You thought about it didn’t you? And that’s my point: higher brain function, emotive responses, rationalisations – that isn’t physiology. Not in its purest sense.

*points to skull*

That’s grey matter.

A lot of trainers and trainees alike don’t understand that. The weakest link in your plan of attack isn’t usually your back, inactive glutes, tight hamstrings, or bum knee.  It’s your spouse. It’s your workmate who comments on your meals and weight daily. It’s your skinny friends who invite you dinner, feed you garbage because they can eat it without getting fat.

It’s you.

It’s your mind.

Luckily, the mind can be trained. Hell, most of the time it NEEDS to be trained. Most of the time, it needs to be trained harder than any muscle.

My clients mostly think that I’m some insane zen master, because I’m always dribbling the above. But they, like me, still practice that thing I like to call “Iso-Perfection” – Isolated Perfection… which, basically, is the process of drilling absolutes in to the subconscious.

Nothing exists outside of that absolutely perfect repetition.

Not music.
Not work drama.
Not your spouse.
Not the cunt who cut you off in traffic and cussed you.
Not the other 8 reps you should be shooting for in that set.

Nothing… outside of the immediate now: You, struggling against you… to manifest a better you.

And, I realise that this sounds like the opposite of everything your muscle and fitness magazine subscription and copious hours of youtube exercise-video-watching  would suggest… but, were you to think about it logically, you’d probably reach the same place as we.

Again… you thought about it… didn’t you? 😉

Studies show that stress increase cognitive decline. Yet so many of us prime the edge (i.e. force the fight or flight response) in an attempt to power through to a desired outcome.

But we fail. Repeatedly. We psyche up, when we should be calming down: immersing ourselves in the moment, experience, and environment.

Think about the number of times you’ve gone to lift something that you know you could lift, psyched yourself up, and failed… stressing about every little thing, except that perfect rep in that intentionally perfect moment.

And it’s the same for every other area of life: work deadlines,sex with a new partner for the first time. You name it. Performance anxiety is no joke.

So, what can we do?

How do we brainwash the brainwashing away?

1. Learn to activate, and deactivate tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision, like bacon, gets a bad rap. The world, and intellectual discussions alike, tends to be all or nothing: something is either the best thing in the world, or pure poison. Tunnel vision is one such thing. Pundits are quick to label it as negative. But successful sportsmen have been (successfully) using this manner of thinking (-did I mention successfully) for centuries. The problem lies in not knowing when to shut it off.

With myself and clients, I use it situationally: If my goal is a perfect set of 500 lb deadlifts, I switch it on just before my first repetition… right before I…

2. Visualise
We get what we focus on. This is true in all areas of life. Successful basketballers focus on the hoop. Successful golfers focus on the hole. Successful cricketers focus on the ball. Nothing else around them matters in that moment. Normal people focus on distractions and can’ts. How many times have you thrown trash at a garbage can and missed?

I thought so.

When I’m in the gym, before the start of my set, before my tunnel vision switches on, before I even touch the bar, I close my eyes and visualise. My hands travel to the muscles that I’m about to fire explosively. I touch, contract them, and imagine them hoisting an ungodly amount of weight in a stupendous manner. I talk to myself. And then I…

3. Quiet the mind – Practice mindfullness: The beginner’s mind
Jeffrey Brantley, and Wendy Millstine, in their book “Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind” defined mindfulness as: “… paying attention on purpose in a way that […] does not try to add or subtract anything from whatever is happening.”

They also defined the “Beginner’s mind” as: “paying attention to each moment and to your breathing as though you’re doing it for the first time, so that you’re curious and welcoming.”
Which is a mouthful mind you. The easiest takeaway of which is: “pay attention to your breathing.”

I often use verbal cues with my clients, and self for this purpose.:
  • “breathe”
  • “relax your shoulders”
  • “push your tummy out when you inhale” (-which is an uncomplicated way of getting a person to focus on expanding and contracting their diaphragm muscles… utilising full lung capacity – something that the average person doesn’t do).
  • “breathe”
I know this has been a lot to read.
So, here are footnotes… for those not inclined to read all the way through:
  1. Train your mind for better fitness results… and better life results. Period.
  2. Focus on perfection in the moment. Nothing else matters in that time. Nothing. Trust me. The world will continue to turn in those moments when you act like it doesn’t exist.
  3. Anxiety isn’t our friend. And life isn’t a competition. The only person you have to beat is you.
  4. I really like bacon.

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Vaaya Mudra – The yoga hand gesture for calmness

 

Yours in fitness,
– 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,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net

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

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.


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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 🙂

Have a great day all.

Yours in fitness,
– Corey Springer
Apollo Fitness Barbados

http://www.GetNarked.net