Happy Tuesday everybody! First and foremost, I’m new to blogging. You all know by now that I love to vlog… but now, I will also be blogging! My goal with Steve Cook Health is to inspire as many people as WE can (that’s right, WE are Swoldier Nation) to live happier, healthier lives. I feel that a consistent stream of my mind to yours through written format might enable us all to explore the world of health together that much more. I will do my best to deliver accurate information through links to other blogs, forums, websites, social media, etc. But as you all know, the internet is packed full of information, and even the best of us can get tricked by useless or completely inaccurate information. More than anything, I hope these posts will inspire educational and fulfilling conversation amongst the Swoldier Nation comment feeds. I plan to provide motivating and humorous insight into current events or links I come across in my studies. We will dive into fitness, food, life, and most important…try to keep it fun With that said, let’s get right to it.
As I prepare for the biggest competition I have had the privilege to compete in, Mr. Olympia, I look back on my journey in life up until this point and sometimes ponder the concept of blessings. Everybody is born into different circumstances. I think it’s fair to say that culture, society, nature, economics, genetics, politics, and many other things can affect the outcome of our lives, but I also think it’s fair to argue that we DO have power over how we handle the situations that come our way and we CAN alter our future. We DO have choice. We are blessed to live in a time period where most of the world today has some sense of freedom. Hopefully it only gets better. With the family and environment that I was raised in, I can’t help but feel blessed. Not only in terms of fitness related things or genetics, but in many aspects of life, I am so blessed. It really makes me wonder…to what (or who) can I give credit to for my current state? Can I take all the credit? Or what about the difficult things in my life? Can I blame that all on somebody else, or is there something in my life (my choices) that could be affecting my state of mind…my state of health….my state of happiness? What can I do to improve my own life? What gifts or talents have I been blessed with that I can improve even further? What are areas in my life that I struggle with? Are there gifts and talents that others have that I envy? Or covet? I end up coming to a similar conclusion most of the time…I am in charge of my life. It is my responsibility to make myself happy. I cannot wait for anything or anybody to come along and do it all for me. I can only hope and search for guidance to be there along the way helping me feel confident about the choices I make. Do I think Michelangelo was gifted? Yes, but I also know that he could have also chosen to do nothing with those gifts. It’s important to recognize when we are blessed, or when we feel that we have gifts in any areas of life, so that we can make them EVEN greater! Like Macklemore says, “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great cause they paint a lot.”
Try for a second to truly take in the present tense. Sure, you could measure “present tense” by a day, a month, a year, a decade, or even a century… but what I’m talking about is true present tense…the time representing now. The hard-to-define moments that fill the gaps in between our breaths. The value of a moment. The value of a split second. If you think about it too hard, it can almost get to that point of frustration like when you try to think about the beginning or end of time (that one will get you busy in the head for a minute) The present tense is literally escaping us, constantly, into the past, while future becomes present, faster than we can comprehend sometimes. Wow, I got deep there for a second Based on my choices and the uncontrollable factors like we mentioned that we are born into and are surrounded by, this very second that we are living in right now is the outcome of, really, an infinite possibility of OTHER outcomes. The “present” that you live in right now, has definitely been a product of the countless decisions made by you in the course of your life. And again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing the fact that sometimes we truly have no control over things like when other people come into play, and where, sometimes, our freedom does get complicated by other people, or nature’s involvement. Given that idea, and taking reality into consideration (but not being shy with your fantastic dreams), what “present tense” would you choose from the infinite possibilites? What reality do you wish was yours? Plan time to think through this. Think through it. Make plans to make it happen. Make it happen.
I think we live in a complex universe where there is a being in control of it all. I hope for and have faith in the idea that that being, or presence, has the ability to guide us in our lives, and bless us in incomprehensible ways. Most of the time, we are able to recognize blessings when we realize that we have the ability to beckon them into our lives. Whether you believe in God, an energy, a program, or even absolute chaos that directs this universe in which we have the ability to think for ourselves and deal with what comes our way, I think we all have the power to be in charge of our future, control where it goes, and become who we want to. All the while seeking for supernatural gifts and blessings that will accompany our hard work and true effort. I believe that not only the reception of blessings, but the recognition of blessings requires motivation, hard work, planning, and education. When we are giving it our all, in most cases, is when we start to recognize blessings from some higher power. I don’t think it’s that we have to work hard to RECEIVE blessings, I think we receive blessings on a daily basis. The fact that my heart is beating and my lungs are transforming oxygen into life, for me, blows my mind. I can’t help but think that some higher power is responsible. So yes, I think life, in and of itself, is a blessing, and that there is something here amongst us as real as the mid-day sun that has the ability to guide us through this craziness. With hard work, educating ourselves, and planning, naturally we will see the benefits, recognize blessings, and in turn, gain more and more motivation to endure the times when life gets a bit difficult.
I don’t think that it requires much argument to convince ourselves that there is a HUGE difference between easy and happy. Some of the happiest memories that fill my brain are also associated with periods of crazy hard work, stress, frustration, pain, confusion, or many other synonyms of difficult. I’m guessing we all have some form of chapter in our life that deserves the title of “the good ol’ days”. But in reality, in that moment, you probably didn’t realize they were the “good ol’ days” until you were out of them. They might have actually been full of exams, breakups, deadlines, bosses, bad friends, or other disasters in life. But I’m guessing that those days were good because you were probably hitting some personal goals or feeling fulfilled. Even if that personal goal was to …..relax and nap more. Atleast you were being who you wanted to be, and most importantly, taking charge of your own life. Or, maybe I’m way off. Atleast for me, I feel happiest when I feel productive, and don’t let me forget, when I’m not making it about me.
It’s incredibly difficult, in this industry, to not let it be about yourself. I have found that when I strive to educate and inspire others, I get more fulfillment than if I just make it about the guy in the mirror. While planning my days, I know myself well enough to understand that, sometimes, I might just have those days where I don’t want to go to the gym, or prepare meals. Or maybe I get to the gym but only work half-ass instead of giving it my all. Being aware of my human weaknesses, I simply put plans in place that will encourage productivity and motivation, and give me every chance to overcome my weaknesses that may or may not get in the way. But knowing they might, I plan for it. I plan time before each workout to go through my binders full of motivating and informational articles, and pictures of my role models. It could be easy for me to say that I am good enough to start my workout without it, and granted, I could probably work hard without a “book-session”, but I don’t count on that. I make plans that give me time to do it right. I never plan on cheating myself. That moment before I actually start working out helps get me in the zone. I spend careful time putting material together that I can have ready for that moment. And that brings me to my next point…education.
Education. I’m not talking about schooling. You don’t need to go to a university to educate yourself. I loved my university education, but I don’t recommend that for everybody. Find mentors, heroes, role models, and friends in your life that make a habit of educating themselves, and surround yourself with good people that have similar goals. You will find this to be one of the best ways to find and maintain motivation…hang around other motivated people. Search books, videos, the internet, or even your gym for new techniques, new insights, and new motivation. Develop a hunger to learn more. If you hate to read, practice reading. You will get better at it, and learn to love it, because you love what it does to you. Keep track of your level of motivation, just like you should keep track of your workouts. Make it a point to understand that your mind is a muscle JUST like any other muscle in your body…it requires repetition, training and practice to develop that muscle memory, which in turn will produce a mind that craves new information with less and less effort to maintain that level of motivation. The motivation that seems impossible to harness today, could very well be something easy for you in the future if you train your mind to need it…to hunger for it.
But again, you can’t just wait around for somebody, or something, to be the catalyst for your motivation. On a daily basis, I search the web and books for new information, and new ways to stay motivated. An obstacle that can deter your motivation is the lack of proper training. You might be coming out of the gym with no pump, and be wondering what’s the point? You might be giving it your TRUE all, and still not seeing results. You might be lifting properly, but your diet could be lacking structure. Whatever it may be, I think it is wise to look out for pitfalls and obstacles that could be hindering your progress, which could result in a lack of motivation. Prepare for this. Educate yourself.
On yesterday’s episode of Swoldier Nation-Trainer Edition-Chest Training 101 ( http://www.stevecookhealth.com/archives/1810 ), we learned about the basics of chest training. Before you even get to the gym, make preparations so that your workout will yield motivating results. I found a great article at www.projectswole.com that gives 6 chest training mistakes. Even if a piece of content, or an article doesn’t have a “motivation” theme, anything relevant to what you are training/studying/perfecting will provide a great base for powerful motivation. The small amount of time it takes to prepare yourself to be motivated will save you time in the long run. It literally took me 13 seconds to find this well written article that helped remind me of simple mistakes that are made while attempting to build the chest. Those 13 seconds of searching, and few minutes of reading, might save me minutes, hours, or days of frustration or error in the future. Understanding these 6 mistakes will give you that much more confidence that you are doing it right, which will naturally help you perform the exercise correctly, which will produce better results, which will produce more motivation to come back next week and do it all over again. Even if you are a pro, it is nice to have “crash-course” reminders.
Take a moment to look at this picture of Arnold, and ask yourslef “Did Arnold fail to prepare or educate himself on building a bigger chest?” I can guarantee that Arnold knew what pitfalls to look out for because he took the time to prepare himself. This allowed him to train properly, see amazing results, and maintain motivation.
Take a moment to read the article. Better yet, read this article, and take 5 minutes to find another source that validates the information in this article (or refutes it, even) and share it with us in the comments. I think the internet has a powerful way of keeping this global consciousness of ours in check, and helps us learn together in amazing ways. Take any information you find, or that I give you, for what it’s worth. The best way to know the worth of anything is to give it a try. Ask questions. Make friends. Take control. It’s your life….plan to make it better, and make it better. Plan to be motivated, and do everything you can to make sure that your plan to be motivated comes true. Everybody has different training styles, and everybody has different learning styles. If you don’t know what your style is, you probably haven’t given self-education and self-motivation a true, honest attempt. You will find what works for you, and that ,in turn, will produce motivation to keep learning and training that way. I will do my best to continue linking you to good material, but again…don’t wait around for me to find good information for you. There is plenty of it out there, and you just need to find enough self-discipline to start. Give it a try. Make plans, and stick to them. Set goals and set time to hit those goals. Decide today that your happiness depends upon your preparation and effort to become happy. Happiness requires motivation. Motivation requires planning and education.
And now, to try to sum all of this up into one theme… you can be happy NO MATTER WHAT! Happiness starts internally. You can’t expect happiness to fall in your lap, rather you must seek after it. And like a harmonious cycle, from a happy person will flow many desired qualities, such as, being prepared and motivated