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I’m proud to say it… I survived Insanity!

No, not mental insanity, a workout program. For those who aren’t aware, Insanity is an intense workout program developed by fitness instructor Shaun T. It was described at the time of its release as the hardest workout ever created. Its designed for you to develop a better body in 60 days. I first became aware of Insanity one night when I was bored watching infomercials (Beachbody is known for advertising their products that way) and I came across theirs. I’m familiar with Beachbody programs as I’ve had an experience with Turbo Jam before. The first thing that interested me is that no weights were needed. While I have nothing against weight training, I also am not interested in purchasing a gym membership just to have access to them either. Plus, like any other Beachbody program, I just needed a room with lots of space, a TV and DVD player. I got the program back in May and interesting enough, it sat for 6 months. I would watch some of the videos to get an idea of what I would be doing but I never started it. That changed one day when I got a job that required me to be in a car for 8 hours. I found myself getting tired within the first hour of my shift. Needless to say that wasn’t a good thing being that I was not only a hazard to others on the road but also to myself. I knew right there I had to increase my energy level. That day, I made a decision to start the program at the beginning of the week. It started becoming real to me when I set out the DVDs, posted the calender up and prepped all the necessary paperwork needed.

The Journey Begins

Me before I started INSANITY

The following Monday, I got dressed for the workout, got my water and prepared to start. The first thing Shaun T has you do is the “fit test.” It’s designed to track your progress every two weeks but for the first day, it’s to see where you stand. The first fit test was extremely hard. So hard, I threw up at the end of it. I couldn’t even finish the ending stretch. My sister, a former Big Ten Division-I athlete, told me to “be careful” with the workouts and never over-extend myself. The second workout was also tough and a pain to get through. I did finish it and felt like I was throwing up but didn’t. I did have to sit down for nearly 10 minutes before I could move though. I spent the rest of the week, falling through each of the workouts with similar feelings to the first and second days. Week two was much better as I was able to push more and do more than just keep up. I even worked out Thanksgiving Day (it just so happened I started through the stretch of the holidays). When I took my second fit test, my results were much better than my first and I didn’t have another sickness episode.

Hitting Walls and Pushing Through

By the fourth week, my knees started to give out. The intense workouts started to catch up to me and I knew it. I’m an athletic person, I got the build and the activity level but I was never an athlete. This entire process was very new to me. The good news is that in-between the 9 weeks of pounding your body, there is a recovery week. It came right when I needed it and I took that entire week very easy.

Next week started month 2 of the workouts and the Christmas week (it was an off day so I didn’t workout like Thanksgiving). It started with a fit test, which my results improved, and a new routine of workouts. After the fit test, I worked out that same day and it felt like week 1 all over again. Falling through the workouts. This time, I was able to push through and work harder. During that particular week, I was asked to watch my friends house as they were out of town for Christmas and take care of their cats. I still found a way to workout, even while pushing the cats out of the way and doing it on my laptop (try going from a 42″ to a 15″ screen). Unfortunately, I also strained my tricep that week but I didn’t let that stop me. I kept pushing and getting my workouts and fit tests in, as I always got better). Much like week 4, my knees started to give out the last week of the program. This time, I knew how to treat that and I kept giving all my energy in the workouts. When I finished my last workout and fit test, I was excited!

Fit test results from beginning to end

Reflection

Beachbody’s key branding statement is, “Decide. Commit. Succeed,” and that’s exactly what I did. I committed to something greater than me, for me, to bring about the best possible body possible. Aside from creating a better physical frame, I also learned a number of other lessons and increased some of the skills I already had. After 2 months, I enhanced my outlook on life and I’m ready to share it with everyone. Here are some of the lessons I got out of the Insanity experience:

Completed INSANITY Calendar

Don’t Let Anything Get In Your Way

I don’t care if it’s a broken down car, bad day at work or school, a fight with family/friends, etc., don’t let that deter you from your goal. Your commitment isn’t just about words but about the actions you take daily toward your goals you’ve set. I’ve talked about a bad day not effecting you unless you allow it to. That will be key in completing any goal or task that you set. If I can fight through 4 cats getting in my way from working out and still get the body I want, you can get through whatever excuse you’re telling yourself.

Always Do Your Best

There are many times where I phoned in a workout but I came back the next day and kept going. Usually that next day I killed the workout. The cool thing about Insanity is that it’s not about keeping up or besting the workout, it’s about doing the most to get your body to the point you want it. In everyday life, sometimes we phone in our efforts but we always get back in and go at it the next day. As long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other you’ll be fine.

Keep The Ultimate Goal In Mind

Why did you commit to that goal? What was that milestone result you wanted? Whether it was for business or a personal decision that goal will keep you moving to the direction you want. When I started working out, it was to help keep me awake on the road. Even when work slowed down and I wasn’t working, I still kept doing it because I wanted to feel a certain way. I wanted more energy and develop a body I never had before. That goal, kept me moving even when I had my lazy episodes. Make sure that goal you have stays at the forefront of your mind. If it helps to make it an urgent goal, go for it. In the words of Shaun T, dig deeper.

Project It Forward

If I can create a better body in 60 days, what else can I do with that level of committment? That became a key question I asked myself. It was certainly an adventure that taught me more about myself than anything else I’ve done before. I’m so happy I had this experience and what it taught me. I feel it helped me break some of my old habits I had in the past. At this point, there’s only one thing to do. Keep it moving and keep moving forward.

Where’s My Shirt Shaun T!?

What great things have you committed to that changed your life? What new habits did it help you form? Please share and give feedback.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve had a case of writers block and never was inspired to write anything but after a very lengthy conversation the other night, I think I found exactly what I was looking for.

When I’m in the mood (which is usually), I go out to an open mic night at one of the local bars. Being a musician I tend to look for opportunities to express my artistic side. This open mic has a featured artist which gets a little more time to perform. That night, one of  my friends I haven’t seen in awhile was the feature so went up there to see and support her. Usually when you go to open mics, it’s a crap shoot of talent who’s there. That particular night, everyone was amazing! Everyone was super talented on the level of the feature and it was one of those nights where I wish every night could be like that. One particular person who came through was an activist and spoken word poet who called himself Jus Rhyme. Jus Rhyme was on a tour he called the Segregated City Tour, visiting the most segregated cities in the country (unfortunately, Detroit certainly holds one of those titles) bringing awareness to the issue. I was very intrigued by his tour as he came from Los Angeles. After I performed my set, he enjoyed hearing my saxophone playing so much he asked me to perform with him during his set in the open mic and I gladly accepted. I totally loved the energy he brought during his performance.

After the performance, I talked to Jus Rhyme about his home and found out he was heavily involved in the Occupy Movement in LA and Oakland. He then asked me if he we could talk about it more and exchange my ideas on camera for his tour and I gladly accepted. We talked about many things from the occupy movement to money, success, spirituality, social issues, etc. While those recorded conversations were amazing, it was the conversation afterward, not recorded, that inspired this blog. We got into a conversation about his tour and touring with him and I mentioned to him I feel there’s too much pointless competition in the music world. “Co-operative Economics,” he said to me. “You are not my competition, you are my co-operation.” That was a profound statement to me because I’ve believed that for a long time now. He mentioned he has a hard time getting his regular band to tour with him because they don’t understand that. When he mentioned that, I started to think about how that showed up in other areas like in business and this one was easy… Gary Vaynerchuk! His whole business approach is that exact thing with the “Thank You Economy.” People think that he can do that because he has money but that’s why he has money. He learned (early) that it’s not just about listening to your customers but also caring about them. By doing that, you actually create a community that interacts with you (and each other) getting them involved. This allows you to go the extra mile and do things for them like sending them signed jerseys from their favorite football players and other acts that help to create repeat business. It was one of the most profound conversations Jus Rhyme and I had that night and we had some good ones. Naturally, I stayed in contact with him through facebook and twitter.

Outlook For The New Year

I sat on this post for a few weeks because I wasn’t quite sure how to transition through this story but with the new year comes new energy and new inspiration. The thought of co-operative economics has been running through my head for weeks now and I thought about how we can implement it into our lives. As I thought about it, I realized the solutions are actually quite simple. “How simple,” you say? Well, read on…

Thoughts

What goes through your head everyday? While you can’t monitor every thought every second of the day, the general repeating thoughts are the ones that you need to be concerned about. This means that the first thing that needs to change to bring about a change is changing you. Thoughts are a very good place to start. There was a pattern that many successful people and spiritual teachers talk about. Thoughts become beliefs which become actions which determine your results which create your habits (I may have switched two of them around but you get the point). You can chart it like this: Thoughts->Beliefs->Actions->Results->Habits. This means that everything that’s in your life has been created by YOU. In essence, you are responsible for everything that has come in your life at this moment. If you want that to change, you have to make a conscious effort to do so. We have to leave things like blame behind and start taking responsibility for our own lives. In the movie Thrive, Deepak Chopra says that if we want to have a different experience we have to start telling a different story to ourselves and to other people. Your thoughts are a good place to start. Just to throw this out there; Since it’s the new year, everyone loves to talk about the dreaded new year’s resolutions. I quit making resolutions years ago because if something is that important in life. I have to address it right away, not wait until January to attempt to change it. That’s a good example of what I’m talking about.

Community

This one requires much more action. Our communities have to be in a state of communication before we can co-create together. A general thought is, “I can’t just go around to the average person in my community and ask them to change,” and that’s true. This is where you need to seek out like-minded people. There are tons of people who want to create a co-operative community within everything but you have to find them. One of the ways I’ve found those people is through networking events. There are only a handful I go to because of what they believe in and I support that mission. Just remember that whenever and wherever you go to meet and network that you take the time to learn about people. Take time to learn about them, their community, background, beliefs and other areas of their lives. You may find you have the same things in common. Accept and respect everything about that person and what they share. Don’t focus on the negatives. While you may not necessarily like everything about them, you have to respect it. This is the only way you can create a bond with them. Only then can you start coming up with solutions and executing them. Another place you can connect with great minds is at an Ignite! or a TEDx event. Those events are all about what’s happening in your community right now and how you can get involved. Community is a big one for me because I feel with the state of the world, this is desperately needed at this point in time. I could definitely go into more but I’ll leave this for later.

I could write more but I want to open this up for discussion. I really want people to contribute to this and help create the world they want to live in. We can no longer rely on institutions to give us the world we want. It’s up to us. I know what everyone is saying about 2012 but it doesn’t have to be the age of Armageddon.  It can be an age of golden harmony. As Foster Gamble said in the movie Thrive, we have what it takes to thrive. Let’s make it happen!

How can you contribute to a co-0perative economic system? What issues need to be solved and actions taken to help create our world? Please share your thoughts!

It has been said we are creatures of habit. Everyday, you can look around you and see the things that you have created through your habits. It’s also said that old habits die hard. Depending on who you talk to, that’s very debatable. So how do you create new habits and release old ones? There was a study done years ago that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. With me being in-between jobs, developing a new business, running a band and feeling a bit down, I figured why not try it out?

Almost a week ago, I started a daily diary for myself called “The Daily Gratuity.” Why? One of the tactics used by Tony Robbins (and various others) is that to help you get moving physically, mentally and emotionally is to develop an attitude of gratitude. So everyday, preferably in the morning, I sit down, open my journal, write the day’s date and what I’m grateful for. Has it helped me? So far after 6 days, I do feel a bit different. I’ve noticed that after I do my gratuity writing, I feel more energized to do something. I’ll work on my biz, music or whatever. It’s also brought more of a focus on me and pulled me away from the outside world. Like I’m centered. I’ve noticed that if I can’t focus on my tasks and my energy, I don’t accomplish anything. I’ve also noticed that I feel obligated to write these down. Almost like there’s a Universal calling for me to give thanks everyday. It’s certainly helped me feel better and has increased a call to action from me. Aside from meditation, this as been a really amazing thing so far. I know it’s only been 6 days but it has helped me so far. I’ll do a follow up after 21 days.

If you’re going to create a new habit in your life, make it a constructive one. Developing an attitude of gratitude is one that makes you open and ready to receive more information to help you through your life. If you’d like to develop an attitude of gratitude but you aren’t sure where to start here are some tips that have helped me:

1) Write Everything Down

During the meetings with my spiritual adviser, she would try to get me to write everything down and for the longest time I didn’t do it. After going through a major life shift, I started to do it and realized that I could look at what I wrote down, analyze really work on it and own it. Writing things down allows you to release the energy within you and puts it out into the Universe. Since everything is cyclical in the Universe, gratuity comes back as well.

2) Start Simple

Not sure what to write? Start with the simplest thing you can think of. Something like, “I’m thankful I woke up this morning,” or, “I’m thankful the sun is shining.” Simple and to the point to get you started Once you start writing simple things, more and more things will come out. It will get you moving, writing and feeling better. You’ll also begin to notice that as you write more, you have more than you think you do.

3) Leave Out Negativity!!

This is extremely important! This diary is about YOU not other people. The point of this is to draw attention away from the outside world and more toward yourself. Putting in a directed comment about getting away from this person or that person is bad energy and sending that out to the Universe will result in that coming back to you.

4) Start Early

I try to do my diary entry at the beginning of my day. It’s a great tone setter and reflects throughout the day. After that, you can carry that energy with you and it’ll show.

 

What say you? What are you grateful for?

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