“It’s supposed to be fun…”

2014-07-15 12.47.14“It’s supposed to be fun”

As kids, during sporting events, we can all recall hearing this. Remember? After losses, coaches and parents would always remind us this: “it’s just a game, it’s supposed to be fun!”

The sad reality is, I look around at the kids now and it doesn’t look like one OUNCE of fun. I see 7, 8, and 9 year olds having the pressures of grown men bestowed upon their small-framed shoulders. Their underdeveloped bodies and minds are just learning of this world and already it’s forcefully instilled in them, it’s PRESSURE and losing is UNACCEPTABLE. If your not the best or do not win, you are insignificant here on planet earth….

Parents and coaches seem to lose sight of the sole purpose of athletics; learning teamwork and building a strong work ethic.

From what I can see from 5 years of being a speed and strength trainer is this:

*Parents MAKING their kids play.

*Athletics being more important to the parent than the kid.

*Parents spending unreasonable amounts of money for the best training, the best gear, and the most elite tournaments, not to mention travel costs (gas, food, hotel, etc) to give their kid exposure. (Exposure? They just learned to tie their damn shoes!)

*Kids trying to have fun but being robbed of that by people who probably didn’t amount to what THEY wanted to athletically. Yeah, you got that right…..Vicariously living through children. Pathetic. Inexcusable.

It makes me want to grab these parents up by their shirt collars and teach them a lesson. But that wouldn’t teach them or the kids ANYTHING. So, I refrain. I watch. I try to be the calm, peaceful force amongst poor mannered, temperamental, and embarrassing grown men and women that put so much energy and stock into their child’s athletic “career.”

Let’s get rigorously honest. How many professional athletes are there? 18,000 in the USA is the approximation. That seems like a lot. It’s not. At all. It’s estimated that there are 4 million athletes JUST in the USA. 18,000 out of 4 million. So, even if you want it REAL bad for your kid, the chances and percentages that stare you in the face don’t lie.

Would I ever discourage a kid from pushing himself and putting everything he has into becoming the best he can be? Absolutely not. Athletics teach individuals how much they can endure, how hard work does pay off, and how being a teammate sometimes means not being the shining star. Do I agree every kid deserves a trophy every single time? No. Learning how to lose is vital to human development.

Life lessons. Yes. Many, many invaluable life lessons can be learned from athletics.

But the one gleaming reality I see is that kids are no longer allowed to be kids. What happened to capture the flag? Catching fireflies?  Racing homemade boats in the creek? Freeze tag? Pick up wiffle ball, backyard football, and playground basketball? Why is it all so SERIOUS?  Why is so much emphasis placed on forcing these boys and girls to be men and women far before they’re ready?

I ask you to please, let your kid be a kid. Life is short and time really does fly. Pressure and obligation is waiting for all of us but for 10 years of life, it should be carefree and FUN.

“It’s supposed to be fun!” Adults, coaches, parents, this message is to YOU. I hope this hits a direct shot to the CENTER OF YOUR HEART. I hope you consider that every person only gets ONE childhood. HOW DARE YOU TAKE THAT AWAY……#BzBe13

Strength and blessings.

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IMAGE….

2014-07-12 22.23.57“200 pounds. Ripped. Tattooed. Bench 405, squat 585, deadlift 600. Furocious. Feared. Physically dominant over anyone I encounter…”

This was the expectations. This was the motive. If any of these numbers slipped, I was no longer good enough. I was no longer significant. I might as well end my life.

IMAGE. A detrimental and often disillusioned perception of ourselves in comparison to others. The mirror became my DEEPEST enemy. How do we get to the point where we set that internal bar or standard so high that anything less is gravely unacceptable? How did our exterior all of a sudden begin to define our entire existence? How can these numbers be maintained? How can a person even have any quality in their life compulsively attempting to maintain and battle this urge to be physically superior to all?

The answer is, when a person’s heart and soul are shattered, physical appearance seems to be the only real CONTROL left so once this realization is born, things can spin wildly out of control…QUICKLY. People can hate you, fire you,  break up with you but they cannot stop you from being a physical specimen. The problem is, to answer the next 2 questions is that, these numbers cannot be maintained for a lifetime and there is an extremely low quality of living scrambling to hold onto what we’ve concluded is the “best version of us.”

We grow up and are told we can be anything, do anything we put our brain, heart, and mind to. This is true, TO AN EXTENT. Studies show, some of the most exceptional physical specimens are the most DEEPLY afflicted individuals mentally and emotionally. How do I know? Because I lived it. I STILL live it, every day. I’ve won major weight lifting competitions and have one of the top deadlifts in the state of Pennsylvania but I still found myself…..EMPTY…wanting, needing, CRAVING more. When my addiction was at its worst, so was my body dysmorphic disorder. An obsessive compulsive thought process mixed with an insanely impulsive attitude is a combination of character defects that can strip you of everything you were meant to be spiritually, mentally, professionally, and emotionally. Beware….

I see it every day. Pictures, posts, and videos of lifting, training, and eating habits. Plates of food and advice. When called conceited or self-absorbed the quick lash back defense response is, “I’m inspiring others.” This may be the case for some, but not all…search your soul, question your intentions…

I get agitated and my ego puffs up like a hot air balloon some mornings when I see people self-glorifying but then I realize, that might be what THEY need to stay motivated. They may NEED affirmation from others. I did and STILL DO sometimes but I’ve concluded, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you’re great, YOU have to be at PEACE with YOURSELF in EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE to be truly “healthy.”

If we’re completely consumed with our own image, what is happening to our heart and soul? Something always suffers when we neglect certain parts of ourselves. The same goes for people who are all about spiritually or their career. Their health tends to slip. How do we become well-rounded then?

The answer is within YOU. It’s not for me to tell you. I just know my own experience. I know that when I get too obsessed over physical appearance, I become an emotionally and mentally ugly human being that no longer serves others. Exercising is beneficial. Yes. I’ve been a trainer for 5 years and promote exercise and healthy habits. The problem lies when that becomes someone’s center….when the mirror and scale becomes….their GOD.

Those numbers I spoke of at the beginning of this article. 200, 405, 585, 600. Yes, they were very real for me. I hit and even exceeded most of them, at one point. I still could. But in reality, I’m 30 years old. I’m trying to better my life professionally and spiritually. I’m 193lbs, I bench 355, I squat 475, and deadlift 600. You see, those numbers have decreased… I’ve fallen short of my unreasonable expectations. I still have days where I punish myself in the gym because of the unhealthy cyclical pattern of thinking that leads to me looking in the mirror saying, “You’re  failing.” The notion that I’m a pathetic failure….the torture, the isolation, the self-punishing behavior of not feeling good enough for my family, my friends….anyone. Not even MYSELF.

When I take a closer look I see that I’m not failing. I’m growing up. I’m realizing that life has more dimensions and branches to make the tree healthy. If one branch is strong and the others are weak, it’s imbalanced and will tip over…

So, anyone on a lifting or fitness journey, UNDERSTAND one thing. It can be as detrimental as heroin, cocaine, crack, acid, alcohol, and opiates. It can absolutely become a drug. Drugs kill. So, although it’s a huge oxymoron, working out can be very much UNHEALTHY for certain human beings. It can take your soul. Don’t let it do that. Take a day off. Keep your workouts to yourself. Realize that power, strength, and beauty fade. Be beautiful in the way that can NEVER BE taken away…….INSIDE.#BzBe13

Strength and blessings.