Facing Your Fears: Living Life In The Key Of Awesome

Whether you know it or not, we’re all on a cliff together.

Some are standing around idly, waiting for things to happen, while others are shuffling around, moving towards…something. They’re not exactly sure what just yet, but they have this inkling in the back of their skulls that there has to be more to life than this.

The first group, the Standers? For the most part, without a major intervention, they’re hopeless.

The second group, the Watchers? That’s where most of us are, where you are (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), but I don’t want to focus on them either. It’s this third group that I’m most obsessed with.

There is a difference between this group, the Jumpers, and everyone else. For them, that mere tickle is transformed into a drum beating inside their mind, beckoning them forward while others simply meander around.

They’re called Jumpers because they don’t just listen to the battle call; they answer it. They dive off the cliff and into the frightening unknown in search of what drives them.

But why the hell are they jumping? They don’t know what’s out there. For all they know, it could be a land filled with quicksand pits, poisonous fruits, machine gun toting fembots and Velociraptors equipped with samurai swords and dream killing missiles!

As someone who’s run the gamut from Stander to Watcher to Jumper, I can assure you that taking the leap of faith is not only worth the risk, but is absolutely necessary if you want to live the kind of life that you imagine yourself living.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers as I’m still making my way through this world myself, but I want to share some strategies that I’ve used to deal with fear along the way.

1. Tackling your fears may get you killed.

Havi Brooks over at The Fluent Self got me thinking about fear in a different way. First things first: we’re not going to tackle our fears head on from the jump. Why not? Because that’s a sure fire way to get taken out faster than General Tso’s chicken. That would be similar to starting a videogame, completing the basic tutorial and then waltzing up to the final boss ready for a showdown. Some fears are rational, but most are simply powerful illusions brought about to keep you on the defensive; reacting instead of being proactive. Therefore, the first step towards fear domination is not going after them right away, but simply acknowledging that they are there.

2. Become curious

If you want to piss fear off, treat it as a curiosity rather than something to be afraid of – it hates that. This is where the actual facing of your fears come into play. March right up to the beast’s den and look it up and down. Walk around; study it; learn all that you can about it.

When you notice that sense of dread creep up inside of your chest, ask yourself why you feel this way. Ask yourself as many questions as you can about why this situation or action scares you so much. Is it from a past experience that you or someone else had? Is it your imagination getting the best of you?

The more you familiarize yourself with this seemingly foreign emotion, the more you’ll realize that it’s actually not some malevolent emotion, but your friend. Your fear loves you. It loves you so much in fact that it’ll do everything in it’s power to keep you from being hurt or disappointed. Sadly for you, fear is the offspring of Professor Xavier and therefore has the ability to project devastatingly horrible outcomes of future events into your head in an attempt to keep you from breaking out of your comfort zone.

Don’t jump out of that plane – you’ll die!

Don’t ask that question – they’ll think you’re a fool!

Don’t pursue that idea – you will fail!

3. Ask “what if”

Now that you know your fear is coming from a place of love and not hate, you can get down to the business of letting it down gently with these two simple words: what if.

What if you don’t die when you jump out of that plane? What if it’s an even greater feeling than you thought it would be?

What if you help yourself and others when you get the answer to that question?

What if you don’t fail? What if you succeed? What will your life be like?

Fear, obviously, won’t have any logical response to these questions, and will respond by yelling even louder, but you’re prepared. Let fear know that you’re a grown man (or woman) and are capable of making decisions for yourself without it’s input.

4. Look to the Jumpers

Don’t ever take fear’s word for anything, unless you want to become one of the Standers or Watchers. Fear’s main job is to keep you paralyzed, keeping the impossible from becoming possible, so the only way forward is to challenge it’s claims. The most difficult part is that you haven’t done what you want to do just yet, so you really don’t have any tangible ground on which to base your hopes and dreams on.

The answer? Look to the Jumpers.

Chances are anything that you want to do has been done before, and if that’s the case then you’re literally surrounded by a wealth of evidence that you can use to counter fear’s persistent urgings. Take advantage of these resources! If you lived in Gotham City and wanted to become a crime fighter, it’d be silly not to look to Batman for advice. Want to become a motivational speaker? Anthony Robbins has already paved the way for you. Dream of writing a book on a subject that you’re passionate about? Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have you covered. What if you simply want to see as much of the world as you possibly can? Chris Guillebeau can show you how.

The best thing about this group of people is that, having once been in your shoes, more often than not they’ll be willing to help assuage any fears that you have as long as you’re willing to ask for their advice.

The Jumpers are here to show you what is possible. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you as well.

5. Just do it.

Nike had it right all along. With all of this lovey-dovey, touchy-feeley conversation going on, it’s easy to just acknowledge that your fears are there and not do anything to move past them. Likewise, I’ve seen several would-be Jumpers get stuck in the planning phase for far too along and accomplish nothing. Like my good friend JC says, planning is good, but doing is better.

You’ve gone on your quests, you’ve upgraded your weapons and armor, but sadly you’ve leveled up as far as you can without facing the boss and progressing forward.

You’re ready now, and the stakes are higher than ever.

When in doubt, shoot first and figure it out as you go. At worst you’ll fall short of your initial goal while at the same time proving that your fears were grossly exaggerated, using this experience to move you forward over time. At best? You’ll reclaim your life from the clutches of fear and take a huge step past your peers and towards your dreams.

30 day Sexification Challenge: What are your fears? What scares the hell out of you? More importantly, what do you plan to do/have done about it? Pick one or two fears that you’re committed to working on and leave them in the comment section or send them to me via-email if they’re more private. Let’s keep each other accountable and use the next 30 days to work towards crushing them.

Photocredit: Divemasterking2000

Glycemic Index and Fat Loss: It Doesn’t Matter

As you probably have figured out by now, I’m a huge fan of dietary freedom as long as it brings you closer to your goals. I’m also quick to whip out some flaming Nunchucks in order to lay the smack down on any dogmatic method or gimmick that stands in the way of said goals. In many fitness circles the Glycemic Index is viewed as the magic bullet that makes fat loss possible, but I say this viewpoint is pure is hogwash.

But first things first, what is the Glycemic Index? It was created in 1981 by Dr. David Jenkins as a way of helping people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, and this concept has been carried over to the fitness industry within the last decade. The idea behind this is that low GI foods digest more slowly and thus keep blood sugar levels in check, helping keep the hunger beast at bay. Subsequently, higher GI foods are thought to send your blood sugar levels through the roof, only to come crashing down faster than a 1990′s Mike Tyson knockout.

This may sound all nice and dandy, but in terms of fat loss, why does it matter? Answer: It doesn’t for several reasons.

1. Taken out of context

In the case of the Glycemic Index, you have a tool that was created to help people with an actual health issue (diabetes) control their blood sugar, that is now being marketed towards people with no actual health issues as a way to lose fat. When you take the index out of its original context and apply to another vastly different situation, it ceases to become applicable, especially when you consider that the GI of a food is determined by eating it in isolation and after an overnight fast, both of which are not reflective of how we eat on a daily basis. Throwing in the fact that you can raise or lower the GI of a food by adding other foods to the meal doesn’t help make things anymore reliable, either.

3. Not supported by scientific evidence

A 2008 study out of the University of Cambridge compared a group who consumed mainly high GI foods to one that consumed mainly low GI foods. The result? That the GI of a food had no effect on body weight whatsoever. There are several diet books on the market that point to the Glycemic Index as the engine behind their results, when in reality the only magic happening is that many of the lower GI foods also tend to be lower in calories, which helps in creating a caloric deficit, which in turn drives fat loss. As a general rule of thumb, whenever a diet plan or system focuses on one food group to show you that this is the reason why their plan is superior to all others,  it is pure hype and they’ve simply managed to come up with a way of convincing you to eat less than you need to on a consistent enough basis to see results. All these roads lead to the same place in the end.

3. It makes things more complicated than they need to be

One thing that I’ve noticed above all else when I talk to people about nutrition is this: they’re confused as all hell, and with such a plethora of conflicting diet information available on the internet and in bookstores, I don’t blame them. You can eat this food but not that food, or you can eat both foods but only at breakfast, and if you for some reason disregard this advice and eat both foods together after 12pm, your dog will be kidnapped and the money in your savings account will be converted to lima beans – and you hate lima beans! This is a huge problem because this categorization of “good and bad”  leads to more unnecessary food discrimination that is the major source of all the confusion in the first place.

Imagine this scenario. You’ve had some issues with losing fat in the past due to confusion about what to eat, but now you’ve finally figured out a way to eat that is in line with your goals and you are experiencing much success – sweet. You get to talking about your newfound awesomeness to a friend whose opinion you respect greatly, and he tells you that while you’re losing fat now, it is simply a fluke and that your results aren’t “official” because you’re eating high GI foods. Because you respect this person so much, you abandon what was clearly working for you and start following their advice, and your fat loss stalls as a result.

You see what happened there? Well intentioned but crappy advice was given, and this already confused person who thought they were doing great by eating some watermelon and beets instead of a Big Mac was told that their food choices suck because because they both don’t follow some nonsensical rule. Now they’re more confused than they were before, and instead of this tool actually helping them, they have to deal with the cognitive dissonance of having their favorite foods labeled as subpar. Trust me, I know a woman who loves beets with all her soul and I pitty the fool who tries to tell her that they are anything but heaven on Earth.

The take home point is that you don’t have to complicate your life with any of this nonsense if you’re healthy, active, and simply want to look good. Cut the jibba jabba and stick to the basics of eating mainly whole & unprocessed foods and creating a caloric deficit through diet and training and you’ll be well on your way to achieving maximum sexy.

Photo Credit: WorldIslandInfo

Your Guide to Personal Freedom: Spartan Style

Are you living a life worth remembering?

Put another way, which do you remember more – what you had for lunch 2 years ago, or the inspiring speech you heard 10 years ago? The lunch was so mundane that it could have happened last week and you would remember just as much (aka nothing). But the speech, oh the speech! It moved you. It challenged you to think about things in a different way. It forced you out of your comfort zone and into action. But, most importantly, it changed you, and from that moment on you would never be the same again.

Well, that moment came to me during the film 300.

As much of a fan as I am for an unabashed man movie, this one connected to me on such an emotional level that is difficult to put into words. Thankfully I managed to power through that difficulty and distill a few lessons that will help take you from where you are to where you want to be.

1. Find Your Why

In 480 BC, the Persian king Xerxes sent a messenger to Sparta asking the king for earth and water as a token of their submission. If the Spartans accepted, they would become part of the empire, receiving the spoils that came along with such a distinction. If they denied, they would incur the wrath of the Persian army; their men would be killed and the women and children forced into slavery.

So, what did the good Spartan king do? He kicked that sucka down a well. Request denied!

And with that act, the gauntlet had been thrown down – the eve of war was now upon them.

But why fight, especially when the numbers are far more in favor of the enemy? They fought because they had a reason to. They weren’t fighting to protect some abstract notion such as honor, but something more tangible – the lives of their loved ones and their very way of life.

Why am I here?

This examination leads to a lot more questions than actual answers. And not just any questions, but black hole, time stealing ones the lead you down an infinite rabbit hole and serve only as a distraction from the life you’re living.

Why am I doing this?

Why do I want to do this?

These are the questions that you need to ask yourself; these are the questions that need to be answered because they lead to action, not just more reflection. If you don’t have a strong enough why, then nothing else matters. Without a rock solid reason why you’re doing something, the how you’re going to do it will either never manifest itself, or, even worse, when it does it will be so shaky and vague that you buckle and your resolve falls apart at the first sign of external pressure.

2. Cross The Point Of No Return

By sending the Persian messenger for an eternal swim, the Spartans sent a message so bold that they had no choice but to move forward. They couldn’t just go “oops, my bad” and hope that all would be forgiven. Nope. They had crossed the much dreaded point of no return, the point in which turning back is either impossible or much more difficult than continuing along the chosen path.

But this isn’t Sparta, this is your life.

By crossing that boundary, you’ve essentially gone all in and put some serious skin in the game. Are you so deep in debt that it is gobbling up all your money, time and preventing you from achieving your dreams? Then find your why, create a strategy to pay it off, and start plugging away – and keep plugging away. Eventually you will have gone so far that the pain of continuing forward will pale in comparison to that of returning to your former state of life and the state of mind that got you there. As frightening as it may be at times, this is where you want to place yourself. This is where true growth and progress begins, yet this is also the resting place of dreams; where those who choose not to continue forward abandon their aspirations and turn the other way. But this won’t be you. This can’t be you. The stakes are too high for you not to continue forward.

If not now, then when?

If not you, then who?

3. Defy Convention

With just 300 men against an army of thousands, it would have been suicidal for the Spartans to attack head on. This is exactly what the Persians were expecting, because at least that way they could easily crush this small annoyance and continue along the warpath. But the Spartans chose to ignore standard war tactics and used the landscape to their advantage by forcing the Persians into a narrow pass where their large numbers meant nothing. By defying convention, the Spartans forced the enemy to play into the game that they created.

What about us, though?

Take a look around and you’ll quickly realize that everyone more or less is doing the same thing. Because it is safe.

Because that is how it has always been done.

Because it is what others expect.

Because of rules.

These rules, whether they are written or implied, are dangerous. They confine your thoughts and they limit your actions to whatever fits within the constraints of these rules, even if the situation demands that they be tossed aside for fresh ideas.

But what if there was another way? What if, instead of simply following the crowd, following what is practical and logical, you listened to that inner voice of yours? You know, the one that still wants to test the boundaries of life and explore what is possible. You might fail, but you also might discover that the only limits imposed in life are the ones you set for yourself, and through that realization begin to shatter those preconceived notions.

And Failure? It pales in comparison to the infinite possibilities that await those who are brave enough to treat reality as their plaything and create their own blueprint.

His helmet was stifling – it narrowed his vision, and he must see far. His shield was heavy – it threw him off balance, and his target is far away. With the hurling of his spear, king Leonidas proved that even a God king could bleed and solidified his place in the books of history as a testament to when free men rebelled against tyranny. What are you doing to ensure that your legacy lives on?

Photo Credit: Pasukaru76

Finish Him!

This industry has to be one of the few where folks are actually looking for pain. Some people think that if they aren’t writhing on the floor covered in sweat and cursing the Gods at the end of their workout that it wasn’t good enough. While I don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment, what kind of mean ‘ol Scrooge would I be if I didn’t give them what they want?

Enter The Finisher

Doesn’t that just sound like the name of some 300 pound rock solid guy fresh out of the joint ready to shank you? But I digress.

So, Rog Law, what exactly is a finisher? I thought you’d never ask! A finisher is a great way of topping off your workout with a little special treat at the end, all while bumping up the intensity and building some mental toughness during the process. If you find yourself ending your workout looking just as purty as you did when you started it, then adding a finisher from time to time is something you want to consider.

Submitted for your viewing pleasure, below you’ll find footage documenting my near death experience with a finisher as well as the reason behind my current stance on them.

Now some might watch these videos and get all hyped up, imaging how fun it must have been to do something like this. Me? Not so much. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this finisher took at least 7.6 years off of my life as well as about 100 points away from my street cred on the internet. My point is this: match the finisher up with your current level of fitness, and make sure that you like it enough to want to do it again at some point in your life.

Here are a few ways different ways I like to approach them.

Timed Sets

This is one of my favorite methods to use with my clients. All you do here is pick 2-4 exercises and perform them in circuit style fashion, with minimal rest between each exercise, for a specific time limit (say 10min).

I enjoy these because they bring out the competative side of me. The first time you perform one of these, it’s to get the hang of it and set the benchmark. The second time though? Oh it’s on like Donkey Kong in a purple thong running a telethon because your goal is to do more work in the same amount of time than you did before. Here is an example finisher that follows these guidelines:

A1) Dumbbell or Kettlebell Swings – 5 reps per arm
A2) Medicine Ball Slams – 10 slams
A3) Pushups – 5 reps
A4) Jumping Jacks – 25 reps

Say that you managed to complete 6 rounds of every exercise in this circuit – great. Now the next time you perform this same workout, anything over 6 rounds is considered an improvement. If you want to progress, simply add more reps, more resistance, less rest time, or a combination of all of these.

Straight Sets

For this type of finisher, you go in knowing exactly how many sets of an exercise (or series of them) you are doing, so on those days where you just aren’t up to the task of pushing yourself these would serve as a good option. Here is me dropping some knowledge on you:

A)  Farmer’s Walks – 3 x 50 yards
B) Bear Crawls – 3 x 50 yards
C) Sprints – 3 x 100 yards

With this, you would perform all 3 sets of an exercise before moving on to the next one.

So, have you done any finishers lately? If so, what have you done? Share your experiences in the comments section and let’s see what kind of ideas we can come up with together.

Open For Business

Note: New post coming on Tuesday!

Have you been telling yourself that you’re finally going to get in shape once and for all, only to have another week, month or year pass without any significant change despite all the effort you put in?

Have you just gotten out of a rough relationship and are looking to make a transformation both inside and out?

Are you simply wanting to feel stronger and look better but are surrounded by people who aren’t supportive of your goals and only serve to drag you down?

Welp, haters are gonna hate, but that’s just too bad because your time is now. And I can help.

Today, right at the very moment that your eyeballs wiggle across these words, I am available for online training and nutrition consultations. In order to mark this special occasion, I’m giving away free 20 minute phone consultations to the first 10 people who contact me via e-mail here: roger@roglawfitness.com. Consider it my token of thanks and appreciation to you for helping make this site what it is today.

For more information on my services, check out this page here.

P.S. – Make sure to put “Sexification” in the subject line so I don’t miss out on your e-mail

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks