Archive | July, 2012

BEAST MODE!

26 Jul

BOOYAH, BABY!!!
I hit the “send” button emphatically, hovering on the edge of my chair in anticipation of the reply. My freshly created “Beast Mode Workout” program went out into cyberspace, soon to land with a “BOOM POW!!” in the email inbox of one of my super-star training clients.  I couldn’t wait for her to review it.
Not only do I have the pleasure of designing mental workouts and training programs for my clients, but I get to challenge them in pushing their bodies too. I will sometimes give them a view into my personal workouts by posting a short video of me performing a novel, yet effective exercise done to inspire them to not just “go through the motions” when they are training. And it works!

I get messages expressing desire and  intensity. But in them, whether my clients see it or not, I see and an assessment of and reinvigoration of purpose!

PURPOSE!

Read it again!

They may be asking: What am I doing in my workouts? Am I app

roaching my session with the intensity I could be? Are my workouts worth the time I’m spending on them? Is what I put on the back burner to get to the gym worth suspending my for training session?

Lately, this phrase, “Beast Mode” has inundated the pages of the Team K Facebook group. I love it! It conveys POWER and ACTION!

It embodies a way of operating.

In it I hear INTENT.

In “beast” I see a rabid, wide-eyed, lunging, passionate animal.

In “mode”, a way, a manner, a discipline.

These two words combined are meaningful because they convey how each of us would, ideally, prefer to approach our lives–and our goals–with a rabid obsession. No more complacency. We’ve defined our purpose and we take the steps necessary to get there, right? Simple!!

Not quite.

How often do you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I seem to…” or saying “If only I could…” and experiencing that push-pull between competing interests or responsibilities?

In my recent telecourse, “Maintaining your Mindset for Competition…and LIFE” (available in MP3 format), one woman, after reviewing the quiz I had participants take to assess their mental toughness, stated, “I can be on point at work, concentrate well, focus, tune out the unn2cessary externals, bounce back quickly from setbacks, and stay motivated, but when it comes to competing…”  Replace the word “competing” with anything you’ve put some level of importance on in your own life, and I’m sure you can relate.

Beast mode was eluding her when it came down to the effort being implemented toward her competition-prep process.

Our discussion at that point took a turn to address the meaning of her competition goal. Perhaps it just was not as important. OR perhaps after a day where she is challenged in such a large capacity, her resolve is diminished in such a way that the time and energy it takes to prepare for her competition is too taxing. If you have experienced this tug of war between competing goals, I would encourage you to ask yourself some key questions. Remember my previous blog addressing the importance of critical thinking? Here is your chance to practice. The discomfort this person was feeling — the internal conflict — was her signal to take stock and engage in some internal dialogue.

  • How come you’re pursuing this goal?

  • When you’ve reached the goal, will you be able to say that it was worth it or will you have more than a fair share of regrets?

  • Were or ARE the sacrifices made in the pursuit of the goal worth it?

  • Are there aspects of your life that you want to develop further but are letting go of in an effort to achieve this goal? Is it worth it?

  • What are you gaining or do you hope to gain by working toward this goal?

  • What was your impetus for choosing this goal ?

You may end up discovering that the goal you have chosen was not well thought-out. You may even discover that the goal isn’t even your own! You may be pursuing something that someone else feels is important.

This brings me to my main point: BEAST MODE. Action AND contemplation. Movement melding with reflection.

Beast mode to me means a constant pursuit…but not of a specific outcome. It can mean the willing involvement and openness to opportunities to get to know yourself!

A goal that is important carries meaning, has an enduring purpose and has been deemed “worth it,” but even so, these aspects do not make it “easy.” Quite often it can feel downright arduous! But it gives you a reason to keep striving. Each time you learn a  new skill in the process, you become a more complex individual. You increase confidence in your ability to persevere, and you will desire to continue challenging yourself when difficulties arise and NEW skills have to be obtained to overcome them.

Beast mode means you understand that in order to grow, you have to be stretched past your current capabilities and you’re willing to go to great lengths……but only if the goal is worth it.

Beast mode is yours for the taking … IF you recognize how important it is and you’re willing to go from your comfort zone to your discomfort zone!

Hatch!

25 Jul

When I graduated from my masters program I had no idea where I was headed. Not only did I learn how to be in the room with a suffering soul, I learned how to be in the room with two suffering souls. My client….and ME!

Like most first-year counseling students, I was terrified of what might transpire as I approached the practicum experience. What if I didn’t know what to say? What if I didn’t have the answers? What if….

It was during my two years, seeing over 20 clients, and logging over 2000 hours of therapy time, that I learned how to be much less in my head while being much more in my head.

Yes, the skill of critical thinking was developed over time, through a lot of dissection, much discussion with my peers, couch-time (pun intended) viewing and reviewing my sessions. What was my biggest lesson learned during what I might call the most pivotal two years of my life?

THE VALUE OF SELF REFLECTION

I came to understand just how often we deceive ourselves and that the only way in which we can get to a place where we are no longer creating our own barriers, building our own walls, kicking ourselves in the teeth, creating gashing wounds of pain, continually asking “why do I keep doing this to myself?”, and hurting others in the process, is to GET REAL with your self.

To do so I had to develop the ability to get into my own head, grab a shovel, start digging…in fact, never stop digging, rummage around, decide what to keep and what to toss out, and commit to a life-long process of asking myself over and over and over again, “What the heck was that about, Propst?!” In turn, I had to learn how to do this in an honest, yet non self-conscious way.

In my program I got drug through the mud, wrung out, thrown in the washer with the other soiled articles without the delicate cycle to choose, and dried on the hottest setting. My vulnerabilities were revealed repeatedly, and I got to stare right into the ugliest faces of myself. I developed a thick skin. By this I do not mean a defensive posture designed to protect myself due to insecurity. Quite the contrary! I learned how to be genuine in a manner that says, “This is who I am. I recognize my weaknesses, and when I recognize them I’ll admit them. I am by no means perfect and I never will be. ”

Are you shaking your head in disbelief and wondering where the heck I went to school?

I could not have asked for a better introduction to “life.” My graduate program was like re-experiencing birth. I was hatched anew, only unlike a newborn child, at the age of 20 I had already formed a conscience, I had beliefs, values, some irrationalities, assumptions I’d been making, patterns of behavior, conclusions I had come to, and motives that were not necessarily benevolent, to uncover. I was launched into my the parts of myself that I had kept hidden, and oftentimes not even consciously.

See, that’s what I’m getting at. Unless we are made aware of our fallibility as human beings or we meet someone who can be our mirror, who can challenge us to think about what we think about, to examine where we are coming from and why, to assess the reasons for our actions, to look at our emotions non-judgmentally, and to pursue the motives that guide us in so much of what we do, how can we ever hope to be rational? Reasonable?

Ignorance is only bliss until we realize that we know that there are things we don’t know.

Notice the people who you admire most– are they the individuals who are even-keel, take things as they come, seem to roll with the punches easily, persevere through difficult times? Mine are.

Do you know that this is resiliency? These people have developed the ability to look at their worlds more objectively. They are likely engaging in that internal dialogue I mentioned before….”That was a strange reaction…where did that come from?” They have developed the skill of assessing whether their reactions are biased, geared toward self-interest, or based on evidence and fact versus emotion.

Individuals who find themselves upset a lot, stressed out, succumbing to anger or depression, or uncomfortable a lot of the time 1. don’t recognize that it is often their flawed thinking that leads them to this place or 2. they are choosing to ignore that their thinking is flawed and unsound.

If you were suddenly made aware that much of your struggles were rooted in thinking errors, would you accept the challenge of self-reflection more seriously, checking yourself, and doing the work to improve and upgrade your critical thinking skills so you could live a more authentic and enjoyable life? Or would you choose self-deception?

I remember asking myself after I graduated, “I wonder what I would be like if I’d never gone through this program?” I remember at the time getting tired of thinking. Now, 10 years later, I feel as if I didn’t think and wonder and ponder and assess, I’d be oblivious to the mysteries of myself and the wonderment and intricacies of others. I’d be lost. I’d not appreciate so much what makes us so different and unique and human! And I’d not get a fraction of the pleasure I do out of writing blogs called Hatch that encourage my readers to break out of ignorance, crack their shells, and let their insides be revealed. There is freedom in this. There is a fuller, more enjoyable and happy life in this.

Absolutely Autotelic

22 Jul

It has been 3 weeks since my last blog. Every weekend I think, “I should write a blog.” And every weekend I struggle to craft one that I anticipate will resonate with you. After my last one, which was a perfect storm of emotional purging, how could my next even come close to its intensity? I’ve decided that it can’t, and that is no reason to not write anything at all. I have some important things to say–after writing my Ocean of Emotion blog, I didn’t just stop my typical wondering (I’m a perpetual analyst and thinker, and as you now know, feeler). I believe I just got caught up in the demands of life post-competition, and I threw myself into the priorities that presented themselves. Nothing I had to share quite measured up to my need to do something else.

I received a comment from a friend/client after reading my last post though, that I want to share with you. She said, “Wow, I really  liked your post. I could relate. It surprised me though.”

This came through in an email. I scrolled down the page, looking for the rest of her thoughts. There were none. I scanned the email more closely, and I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face while doing so. Nothing.

I hit the “Reply” button and typed, Thank you for your comments. I certainly just let it all hang out on that one. You saw a raw and vulnerable side to who I am. May I ask what surprised you?

I received an email back almost immediately. “You seem more human.” End of note.

Certainly not a woman of many words, but those four words that she did share with me were dripping with substance.

In humor I wrote back, Oh no! My robot facade has been broken!

The Kori who she had mistakenly assumed was unshakeable, had been revealed to be at the time a bloody pulp. Oh yes, I’m definitely human. The more human I become too, the more I accept myself. Rather than disintegrating when I “fall apart”, I feel more integrated than ever  before. Giving myself permission to experience the torrential downpours and raging winds and accepting –and expecting– them to be a part of my life, has given me a reciprocal solace and peace in who I am.

Perhaps the reason she thought I was not of this world– a machine — is because of how I have developed the ability to concentrate and focus so intensely on what I want to accomplish, that I appear unflappable. (I like to think I am a machine sometimes, and I often use this analogy when I’m teaching others how to develop the mental toughness necessary for achievement and enjoyment of the toil that accompanies daily life). She’d never been privy to the internal torment I can experience. The torment occurs often (yes, I go through that push-pull conflict of what I want versus what I need, what I should do versus what I’m doing, and being distracted by my thoughts), but it doesn’t last a long time. As my blog indicated, I may fall off the surfboard, but won’t get swept out to sea.  I connect with a rabid obsession of being autotelic.

Big word, I know. Until recently I didn’t even know what it meant, much less had even heard of it. I’ve been teaching the skills involved in embodying an autotelic nature, but did not have the vocabulary word to link them.

Autotelic is defined as “having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.” For example, engaging in activity purely for the experience of the activity itself, versus for any incentives that may follow. From experiences like this come growth of the self. An individual with an autotelic personality demonstrates the ability to become absorbed in an event or task, a situation, or circumstance, regardless of the external environment. If you have ever been “in the zone”, where you have felt like you’ve lost all track of time, you felt completely immersed in what you were doing, and you were not worried about how you looked or what other people were thinking about you, you experienced an autotelic moment.

I’m giving a seminar this week on mindset mastery and the talk will cover in depth how to become more autotelic. In essence, we are addressing how to create more flow in life– optimal experiences. Becoming autotelic will not make you a robot, but it might make you appear to be one.

Becoming autotelic gives you the skills to be mentally tough, to rebound from setbacks quickly, to become more aware and in control, to understand your skills, and to set goals and create momentum for yourself through a commitment to challenge. It can also give you a less self-centered manner (think actually listening to your partner when you’re engaged in a discussion rather than deciding what you want to say in response) of being.

I want to suck the marrow out of every bit of my life. I think my friend and client got that about me before reading my blog. But she is just  now learning to understand that in order to do so, you can’t be  bone dry.

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Ocean of Emotion

1 Jul

I’ve contemplated this blog too many times to count. Since arriving home from Barbados I’ve felt the need to write, even an obligation to write, and yet have not felt centered enough to do so. A friend and client of mine in an email said to me, “I think your clients are probably curious about your experience in Barbados. I can’t wait to read your blog about it.” I suppose that’s my signal.

But I’ve been so up and down and all around that creating a coherent blog for you has felt arduous and impossible, in much the same way that I felt the day after I took the stage at the WNBF Pro Universe.

I made the decision to compete in Barbados last January. I asked my good friend, Liz, who is also a WNBF pro competitor, if she’d like to compete with me there. Neither one of us had aspirations to compete until the fall, but we both agreed that a trip to the tropics to take the stage together was something we didn’t want to pass up. So we began our preparation process.

I kept my prep quiet, as has been typical for me the last couple years. Striking as much balance in my life as possible while I’m preparing for a contest is my biggest goal besides improving from the previous show. The more I can minimize competition prep becoming the apex of my world, the  better. As I type this I am shaking my head. Any competitor knows that it’s a pipe dream to think that true balance is achievable when preparing for a bodybuilding contest. When the first think you do each day is weigh in, the second thing you do is take photos, and the third thing you do is have a specifically planned out breakfast, your life is governed by the one goal. I’m not implying this is a negative thing, but what I am saying is that over the years I’ve changed how I approach my prep, and there are many things I do that a lot of bodybuilders don’t. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just what I’ve determined has been best for me.

For example, you won’t find me eating by the clock. I schedule my meals around my client appointments. There is no way I’ll be going into a counseling appointment when I’m hypoglycemic. My clients deserve my best, and that’s what they’ll get. I don’t tell the world I’m competing. Why would I? I don’t do this for the attention. It’s a personal mental and physical challenge to see how far I can push my  body. I won’t post photos all over Facebook every time I take a progress picture and can see another striation. People have better things to do than look at my photos, and I don’t need others asking a lot of questions. “How are you feeling?” “What are your food levels?” “What did you have for breakfast?” “What’s your favorite high carb day meal?” No. Honestly, I have more important things to focus on, like the couple who’s marriage is falling apart that I’m seeing for therapy, and the book I’m writing that will help others to understand weight loss and how the psychological components are just as important as the nutritional aspects for permanency. I love bodybuilding. I will never quit bodybuilding. I love helping others who want to excel in the sport. I’ve met the most amazing individuals through participation in the sport. And there are many other areas of my life that take precedence. I digress.

Liz and I made the decision to compete, and we did, this past Saturday, June 23. I competed in Barbados in 2009 and did not take any time after the show to enjoy the setting. This time Liz and I stayed a few days afterward.

The first day following the competition I can barely remember. I think there was a lot of crying. A lot. Lying on the beach, the waves would come crashing onto the shore like the discouragement rapping loudly on the doors of our hearts. My ocean of emotion was ebbing, flowing, rippling, and roaring. I said to a friend when I arrived back, “I am experiencing a tsunami right now.” At that exact moment I was. And a moment later I was floating on the calm waters before the tide comes in. The tears were saturated with sadness, embarrassment, fear, gratitude, happiness, joy, confusion, trepidation, ambivalence….

I just let them come, waves washing over me and then retreating. Liz moved from a friend to a best friend with this shared experience. I knew not until our time together that we were long lost sisters who had been separated at birth.

By  now you’re probably wondering why such a crazy time.

I do seminars on the topic of the post competition period. Most individuals express a need to understand why they would binge after the show and the few days or months following the competition. More importantly, in my mind, is the significant emotional consequences that follow the competition. Like a  birth, a death, a job change, or a wedding, what I had devoted six months of my life toward was now over. The tremendous drive, focus, determination, effort, and energy expended mentally and physically was now being forced to transition, morph, or  be redistributed. The show was over. Now what? Couple that with a finish I was not anticipating, and I was reconciling in my mind what I could have done differently, if anything. So I was swimming in a sea of questions and unknowns, as many competitors do. Only I knew to expect this. Is it easy? Not exactly. For the first 4 days after I could just burst into tears without warning. A thought, an image, a look on Liz’s face, some words in the magazine I was reading– any one of these things could cause the dam to develop a crack or even a gaping hole.

When I arrived back in Evansville I felt a sense of relief but also had a strong desire to be one with the ocean again. For a few more days. I felt as if I’d been ripped away from it, and Liz, too quickly. Just as I was feeling the sandy floors of my heart begin to settle, we had to leave. Our embrace in the airport as we said goodbye was one I’ll not forget. After scarfing down an abbreviated lunch, barely saying anything but knowing what the other was thinking, I said, ” I love you, Liz,” and we hugged each other like we’d never see each other again. I will see her in a month, but it didn’t matter.

I’m contemplating my next move. Like I had to just start writing in order to formulate this blog, I know the decision will come to me in the same way. I can’t stop my life in order to generate answers. I have to live, and through living the answers will come to me. I have plenty to focus on- -a book, a magazine, childhood obesity curriculum, new programming, my telecourses, a roommate, oh, and my PhD–but I also know that I need a physical and competitive challenge to be involved in. Will I do another bodybuilding show? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I want a sense of “normalcy” in my life. I want to be able to wake up and not have the first question I get from my coach  be “how much do you weigh?” I want to laugh more, not be emotionally depressed (yes, it happens to all of us whether we realize it or not), and be able to go out with friends and not worry about what my macros are. My coach said to me the other day, “You’ve laughed and smiled 495% more today than you have over the past six months.” I take things like that pretty seriously.

As the days pass, my emotional hurricane dissipates. A week ago it was so salient I had to keep reminding myself that it was temporary.  It can’t go on forever. Whatever rises must fall. If there is a lesson in this for my readers it is to honor yourself. Let yourself feel. Know that not being okay is okay.

I didn’t get swept out to sea, lost, and drowning. I became the sea.

See the difference? Whether you’re a bodybuilder or not, it doesn’t matter. We all feel. Unfortunately, too many of us try to push those emotions away. They can free us, teach us, move us….if we’ll pay attention.

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