When your body talks…

You’d be wise to listen to it.

You may remember a while back I started a ’30 day burpee challenge’ where for 30 days, I would do 30 burpees per day. The clue was in the name. It all started so well.

Body talks..

After about 5 days, bits of me started to hurt. When you’re used to training and pushing yourself, this is nothing new, but this pain was new and unusual. I was beginning to experience some intense, shooting pain in the base of my toes and it didn’t feel good.

I expected pain in my quads and core but not in the base of my toes. That was just weird. 

Pain such as this is usually associated with poor technique so I checked mine. Whilst I was doing it it felt right but the pain was evident almost immediately. I stopped.

One thing I had noticed a long time ago (approximately 14 years) was that my body took longer to heal almost immediately after my 30th birthday. Decades of martial arts training had put my body under a lot of pressure and from time to time the inevitable would happen and parts of me would fail. Immediate injury management was necessary, followed by either passive or active recovery. Anything remotely serious could be overcome in around 6 weeks. Up until the big 30 that is.

The change was noticeable.

Fixing things just started to take longer. Clicks, creaks and groans replaced the subtle swish of my combat clothing. Ce la vie.

I spent a while fighting it but then I got smart.

The human body was designed to move.

Just be clever about how you do it. New pains that aren’t part of the muscle growth process should be taken note of. Adjust accordingly.

I haven’t given up; not totally.

I still need to add some serious CV to my routines. In the meantime, I have replaced the 30 day burpee challenge with the Men’s Health 500 rep challenge. When I can move my arms again I’ll make another video.

BSD

Ps, videos are new! I discovered an editing suite called Lightworks v.14. It’s free to use and comes with great tutorials. I will get better!

Sunday was supposed to be so good…

I had it all planned out.

It was my weekend with my cubs. We’d been a bit housebound so to stop us all getting cabin fever I’d planned a walk across the nearby fields.

My daughter had her eye on this stretch of land for a long time. It was at the edge of a football pitch and was fantastically uncultivated. Meadow grass, wild flowers, daddy height thistles and all the fauna to match.

My daughter had reliably informed me that it was the perfect environment to track down the creature that had long eluded her; the grass snake.

My daughter has found a hero (other than me of course) in adventurer/explorer/naturalist and climber Steve Backshall. She’s seen everything he’s done and hangs on his every word and that’s fine. I love nature and the outdoors and so she does too. She had earmarked this bit of land as her hunting ground.

I primed them both for the big walk on Saturday promising a picnic and some pioneering off of the beaten track.

The big day arrived

I was up at the usual 06:00 and the cubs weren’t far behind.

The problem was, they’d woken up tired. I’ve seen them like it before so we lounged on daddy’s bed for a bit and had a cuddle. My daughter then asked if we could watch a movie; my son was nodding in agreement so we watched a movie.

I must admit that I had a little snooze during the movie and felt better for it. I was also determined that we would go for a walk in the countryside.

After much prodding and persuasion I got them both washed and dressed. We had breakfast then packed my rucksack with various snacks and our raincoats; it was glorious sunshine now but rain had been forecast.

I shouldered my trusty D5000, with the intention of getting some good shots for a blog entry under the ‘Activities’ heading; the premise being that I would illustrate how quality time doesn’t have to be expensive.

Off we went.


The sun blazed down but spirits were high. Both the cubs were freerange as we made our way across the top of the pitch and up a beaten path into the meadow. Then it began.

Two stinging nettles were enough to convince my son that the safest place for him was in my arms. Instead of picking him up, I showed him how to stand on the low ones and circumnavigate the taller ones. In his defence, I wouldn’t be comfortable in 6 foot stingers so I cut him some slack. We pressed on.

5 minutes were enough to convince my daughter that she would never find a grass snake so she disengaged stealth mode to see if she could convince some other elements of nature to reveal themselves through the medium of undergrowth kicking.

I don’t remember seeing Steve Backshall kicking nature into plain sight!!

She agreed, before catching a grasshopper in her hands.

My son had run off ahead up the hill and was now proudly holding and waving something green and plastic at me. It was a cigarette lighter. The grass was tinder dry.

One daddy sprint later and disaster averted. I gave him a chocolate bar from my bag and told him not to pick things up off of the ground. We pressed on (again)

I saw my first photo opportunity in a macro of a thistle. I could foreground it with my son running up the hill behind it, blurred into the background. Genius.

I lined up me shot and pressed for autofocus before manually adjusting. The D5000 responded with the idiot bleep and the message No SD card inserted…’

My daughter held up the cigarette lighter and called out; ‘Dad; I’ve found this!’

We went home.

As we entered the park to reach the main road, she found two feathers. one appeared to be from a Jay and the other from a Buzzard. She turned to me:

Best walk in the countryside ever!

 

Here is a photograph of my camera. That’s all I have to offer.

IMG_0115.JPG

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.4

Time to start hunting.

My inspiration; and my first plug

I was introduced to this book 10 years ago when I started going through management training. I was very skeptical at first. It’s plays quite heavily on religion and even though I was a Christian at the time (more on that paradigm shift later!) I found it quite heavy going. I was missing the point.

Move forward a decade and the pages of my copy are well thumbed, dog eared and colour coded.

I’ll try not to make this a War & Peace length post but here’s my interpretation of this bestseller

  • Be proactive. (Get ahead)

More racing

Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen! One great excerpt from this chapter is “act or be acted upon.” There have been times in my life when I’ve procrastinated myself into a needless situation. No more. I now practice Flexible Planning.

  • Begin with the end in mind

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer

You need to know where you want to end up, but not necessarily how you’ll get there. Take those first tentative steps and you’ll be surprised at what doors open.

  • Put the first things first

first things first

Estimate a timeframe. How long you think it should take to achieve. Then work backwards. If I want to be achieve X in 5 years time, where do I need to be in 2.5 years? I’ll need to have achieved Y. To achieve Y in 2.5 years where do I need to be in 1 year? Where do I need to be in 6 months etc, all the way until I have an idea of what I need to do next.

Taking those tentative first steps is a little easier when you know where to plant your feet. The importance here is to be flexible! Life tends to get in the way of plans but stay focused!

  • Think win/win

win win.jpg

This took me a while to fully understand. I used to think in a binary terms of win or lose. For me to win, someone had to lose and vice versa. Wrong. This ideology placed me in direct competition with everyone and anyone and is destined to fail. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, how knowledgeable you are, how fast or strong you are, someone will be that little bit better than you. Read my lesson in humility here..

I now aim for win/win, or no deal. What if we work together? Imagine what we can achieve? Find others to help you reach your goal and help them reach theirs. If someone is where you want to be or doing what you want to do, learn from them! Read what they read, do what they do and if possible, move in their circles.

Don’t ever compromise your values to achieve a deal. This will not sit right with you and will be unsustainable in the long term.

  • Seek first to understand then be understood

listen

Shift your focus a little. No one is obliged to understand you. Other viewpoints exist and just because they do not align directly to yours, it doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Senator John McCain defended his then opponent Senator Barack Obama at his own Republican rally, when one of his supporters began a personal attack. What amazing strength of character. I’m a Brit by the way but I’m interested in politics and great orators.

Look to understand someone else’s viewpoint and you will understand what drives them. This involves active listening.

  • Synergise

synergize.jpg

Creative cooperation. Working together to achieve more. For example, I’m involved in a number of projects outside of what was the norm for me. It has taken a lot of learning and self discipline to get where I am (I’m not actually broke!) but there is still work to do. I planned this blog for 6 months before I began it but there was only so much I could do alone. I had to jump in and then the second part of my learning could begin. I now learn from you, my fellow bloggers. I read your blogs for information, entertainment and more importantly in order to  improve mine.

  • Sharpen the saw

stacked stones

The principle of renewal and the greatest invest of all; the investment in yourself.

  • Physical (exercise, nutrition and stress management)
  • Social/emotional (service, empathy, synergy and intrinsic security)
  • Spiritual (value, clarification and commitment, study and meditation) and
  • Mental (reading, visualising, planning and writing).

Balance and clarity in these areas can help you achieve balance in life. I have prioritised or neglected all four of these at one time or another and suffered the consequences. It’s a work in progress.

Time to go and get what you really want.

Sticking to this stuff takes discipline. Mine fluctuates! When I stick to it; life works!

Don’t just take my word for it; read it for yourself.

Follow this link for a hardcopy 

Or here for the audiobook

 

BSD

A lesson in humility.

I might have mentioned my keen interest in martial arts before.

Kung fu in fact. This has been my staple art for the last 3 decades but it wasn’t where I started.

These folk have a lot to answer for..

I do not own these images

Around the time of my 6th birthday I discovered Monkey and The Water Margin. The mere theme tune would get me hopping around the living room with glee!

Or this video

It wasn’t long before my mum had had enough. The twirling of the broomstick in the living room was getting out of hand. So was the imaginary battles with the imaginary warriors from the next [imaginary] village.

Off to Karate I went. I did that for a bit but didn’t take to it. Then Judo. Two gradings later, I left that. Then Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do. They didn’t stick. I then discovered Muay Thai. That did the trick until I discovered traditional Kung Fu. My instructor was multi-disciplined in the Chinese arts and well connected (authentic lineage is vital in traditional martial arts).

Luckily the town I grew up in was rich with various styles of fighting arts as you can see.

I was 14 when began that journey. The training was hard and brutal; if you ever watched a Shaw Brothers classic you’d get my drift. It was great and I made lifelong friends with my instructor, his family and my classmates.

After a few years I took my knowledge into the ring (on to the mat). My first competitive fight was against a TKD black belt. Luckily it was semi-contact so the beating I got was limited.

I went back to the drawing board; more press ups; more sit ups; more kicking and more sparring. That did the trick. I entered the world of full contact fighting.

Competitions came thick and fast and I was doing well. The stars were falling into place for some title shots and I had performed well in team selections, well enough to get into the British Team.

Being 6’4″ and quite a big unit I found that most people in my weight category were more weight than style or strength. I used this to my advantage and quite literally walked through my opponents. I was fighting in two styles, Tien Shan Pai and Shuai Jiao and winning at both.

I won the British Championships with a TKO in 43 seconds. I won the European Championships in Milan almost as easily, after injuring my first opponent and the referee calling off another fight when my opponent fell over after kicking me in the chest.

That was it; I was through to the World Championships in Brazil, with ease.

Unfortunately my downfall was well underway.

I had little respect for what was needed to be a champ and because my preliminaries had seemed easy, I slackened off my training. I was convinced that the title was as good as mine and why not? the last two years leading to this moment had been a breeze.

I apologise for the quality of the photos that follow. They’re old, I didn’t take them and a friend took pictures of them on her phone in order to put them on facebook.

The team landed in Sao Paulo two days before the competition and checked in to our hotel. All the teams were in the same place and over the last couple of years we’d made great friends with the Italian, American and German teams. I was professional enough not to touch alcohol but I did keep late nights.

I did some light sparring in the courtyard but nothing major. Then the day before the fight I hit the hotel gym for some cardio on the bike.

Wake up call number one..

I selected a low resistance as a warm-up then got to work. And promptly stopped. I couldn’t breathe!

I had a drink of water and pushed on but had to stop again 10 minutes later. This time I had to get off, as my lungs were screaming, my muscles couldn’t support me. Not good. Back to the room.

Wake up call number two..

As the lift climbed to the top of the hotel, I felt dizzy and slightly nauseous. I thought I’d be able to sleep it off..





Two coaches picked us up the next morning and took us to the venue. It was 0800 and the weigh-ins began at 0900. Due to my size and weight my category was always the last to fight and depending on the field of competitors, this could take hours.

Wake up call number three..


The temperature in the venue was about 35ºc by 1000. I couldn’t get enough water down me and even through the light warm up – warm down cycles I felt poor and was leaking fluid like a damaged faucet.

Meanwhile in my head, I was still God’s gift to martial arts; the title was mine

I found an American fighter from my weight category and walked up to him whilst he was warming up. “I guess it’s you and me in the final” I said arrogantly.

I retreated to the stands to focus and lose myself in music. Eventually, I was called up.

Wake up call number four..

My opponent was a local fighter, disciplined in both Kung Fu and Muay Thai. At 6’1 he was giving away height but we weighed about the same.

I stepped up onto the Lei Tai and then it hit me; not my opponent but a wall of heat. The ambient temperature was augmented by the lights above the ring. Although the platform was only about 3 feet high, I can only liken the experience to getting into your attic on a midsummer’s day.

Boom; strength gone; energy gone; the referee dropped his arm. I hadn’t come this far to roll over and have my belly tickled so I went on the attack.

I threw everything at this guy; lefts, rights and when I could summon the strength, a couple of kicks too. Let me give you the real picture though; this wasn’t the stuff of movies, more like a town scuffle on a Saturday night.

He absorbed everything. 

I took a step back and we looked at each other. He was playing the classic fighting game of letting me burn myself out. That point wasn’t far off but I wasn’t quite done yet.

I only had one thing left in the toolbox so I threw it. It was a running, jumping knee strike to the chin; a surefire knockout blow.

I did it; he took it. Noticing my shoulders drop in disbelief, he moved in. I shut one eye.

Boom. It landed; a big right. This was the first time i’d ever been hit in the face! It hurt like hell but I was still standing!!

Not for long.

I opened my eyes to an incoming front snap kick that knocked the wind out of me, me off the platform and out of the competition.

I got back on to the mat but was injured. I kicked, he blocked and it hurt me! I went down again and this time I couldn’t get back up. I looked at the English ref and whilst counting, he mouthed ‘get up’… I looked to the side of the ring and one of the American ladies was gesticulating ‘get up get up’. I couldn’t. My fight was over; I was beaten mentally.

The lesson

I failed to prepare so was doomed to fail. I knew nothing about the country or it’s climate and the altitude. I knew nothing of my opponents even though the circuit didn’t really change and more importantly I knew nothing about myself.

Thankfully that has changed. I flew home with my tail between my legs. I received a world ranking of 4th, but there were only four of us in my weight category.

I learned a heck of a lot that year. Thank the lord there’s no videos of it.


Oh well; at least the beaches are amazing.
BSD

Today served as a stark reminder

Time waits for no one.

Nothing I didn’t know and I’m sure you’re the same. Let me talk you through this one.

Sunday is the day that my ex and I plan childcare arrangements for the week ahead. We actually do this a month at a time, but Sunday is confirmation day. This week, it was also when we entered ‘Meet Year 3 teachers‘ for this afternoon at 16:30.

Head down in projects and deadlines I lifted it above the parapet at 16:10. No drama; the drive isn’t far and work is flexible enough for me to pick up the slack later.

Driving affords me the great opportunity to be alone with my thoughts

I’ve known where my priorities are ever since my first born came into the world. Parenthood had a profound affect on me, and where I had been a career driven promotion hungry chap before that day, my focus undoubtedly changed when I became a dad.

I got to the classroom one minute late (time means a lot to me) and squeezed my huge frame into those chairs that are perfect for little people. The two new teachers were at the front, presenting; the parents were scattered around the classroom on a combination of chairs and desks (If only I’d been a couple of minutes earlier..) and our respective children playing and reading quietly on the far side of the classroom.

Then, a no so subtle signal that I’d got my priorities right; my daughter looked up from what she was doing and spotted her daddy across the classroom. Without hesitation, she stood up, made her way through her soon to be teachers, through the parents (who were smiling, knowing where she was heading) made it over to my side and threw her arms around me. Decision qualified.

School 1

This is not the focal point of this entry. My point is this; it quite literally seems like yesterday that I walked her into school on her very first day. It all seemed so wrong! she was my baby! she’s way too young! she’s not used to these people or this place etc… She was still so small and vulnerable. I took a photograph of her in her new uniform and shiny shoes as she sat on a bench outside the classroom, waiting for her day to start.

That yesterday was actually 3 years ago.

crayons

Life does not hang about waiting for us to make the right decisions; we have to get up, get out and live. We make decisions without knowing if they’re life changing or not; those effects won’t show themselves until years later but, we have to do what we feel is right.

For me, the right decision is to put my cubs first. A missed deadline, an unanswered email or an embittered boss will pale into insignificance in 12 months but my daughter remembering that her daddy was at sports day, at the summer dance, at the nativity and at the teacher meet will last forever.

Choose wisely; you don’t get that time back.

stop time

BSD

Still last weekend..

Sunday

It looks like my lazy day has turned into a lazy weekend. I’ve sat in bed; I’ve watched a couple of movies but I just had to get up.

The contents of the fridge are still there so I’ve decided to make something out what’s left. One pack of sausages, one bag of frozen veg, and some potatoes both sweet and normal. It looks like it’s going to be sausage and chips for Sunday lunch.

Time to cook these blues away.

Sunday afternoon

It looks like the cooking has come back with a vengeance, and what I thought was just going to be a boring meal turned into to something absolutely average.

For Sunday dinner it was a pretty lazy/easy cook with everything lobbed into a pan and left 45 minutes.

For some reason my phone has rotated this

I put some broccoli in for extra health, trying to wipe out the poor diet I have had over the last couple of days. Result was nice but then again I’ve always liked roasted sweet potato.

I shall call this ‘Hot Mess’. You should try it

You can tell I wasn’t convinced about this one as I took the pic after starting it. Mayonnaise is optional..

The shopping needs to get here soon though before I get scurvy.


Future goals:

  1. Copy a fellow blogger’s recipies
  2. Don’t ever upload from a mobile. Twice as long   

BSD

This weekend…

Well, technically last weekend.  

Saturday 
I’ve decided to give myself a lazy day today. I’m laying in bed watching movies. 
We’ll see how long it lasts. I already feel uncomfortable and I’m finding things to do mentally. Never was very good at relaxing.

 

Still saturday, but a bit later
This is what being lazy looks like to me; Kitchen cleaned, downstairs loo cleaned, all rooms dusted, upstairs bathroom cleaned, ensuite cleaned, wash load done, dishwasher on. I’ve got a feeling that my cooking may suffer.

It did….

BSD

CONTROLLING THOSE LIMITING BELIEFS – time to stop running and start hunting. pt.3

But as I said last week; a day is just a day. We make it what it is and our internal coach has a huge part to play in that.

Neutrality

Ok; we’ve established that now; there is no such thing as a bad day or a good day, but how do we really live up to that? How do you stop that one occurrence in the morning from clouding your whole day?

You need to coach your inner coach, and here is why.

You wake up, you stub your toe getting out of bed; what does your coach have to say about that?

“Awesome start you klutz!”

Now at this point, you have a choice; write it off as a one off or let it snowball..to some degree it does depend on what happens next, or more importantly how you reference what happens next.
A thought that becomes an > expectation that manifests into > a reality that forms an > experience.

Let’s go deeper; what if that whole process I described is repeated, and the experience is the same?

Kolb’s Experiential Cycle

This is a theory that really stuck in my mind when I was studying psychology. My mind likes order and I see in models and algorithms.

Kolb

 

Concrete Experience

You stub your toe; you lose your keys; you get toothpaste on your tie; you ladder your tights; you’re stuck in roadworks….

roadworks

Reflective Observation

You think about what’s happened/happening  and give that event a label mentally.

Abstract Hypothesis

Here is the watershed; the fork in the road. You can label the event as ‘bad luck’, or ‘That wasn’t the outcome I wanted; I should change my approach’. This is the most important part of the cycle and where thoughts are reinforced in our minds.

Fork in the road.jpg

Left or right…?

Active Testing

Deal breaker; if only we recognised it.

Active testing is the part of the scientific method (a set way of doing and testing things. This is where in theory, we test our concrete experience against our perception of the outcome. For example, leaving the house at the same time, taking the same route and becoming stuck at the same set of roadworks, instead of either leaving earlier or taking a different route.

OK, I’ve over simplified things in that example but it serves to illustrate my point.

If you attribute too many experiences to bad luck, you will conclude that you are an unlucky person. This isn’t true.

It self fulfils and we now have a behaviour that is based on those concrete experiences that just keep happening to us. We expect it to happen because it has done so many times before. So we find ourselves in the situation again and guess what? The same thing happens..

Why?

This know as a self fulfilling prophecy and usually climaxes with an ‘I told you that would happen’ from that internal coach. It can work for us, stopping us from engaging in harmful activities, or it can work against us, stopping us from pushing through our barriers.

But if our thoughts are that powerful, what would happen if we could only imagine the best for ourselves, all the time?

Breaking the cycle

Now we know what our limiting beliefs are we need to take action to stop them. This is easier said than done, don’t forget you’ve probably had these thoughts all of your life; I know I have.

Perhaps given to you by your parents then reinforced through those oh so real experiences they are now well and truly engrained.

Technically speaking it should take the same amount of time to rewrite them. If that’s correct, I’ve got something to look forward to on my 86th birthday.

Well I’m not having that; and neither should you!

Next week: Let’s finish this. I’ll explore some scripts that work for me in pt.4

BSD

Champ

School run

It’s business as usual by the time I pick up my daughter. 

My son is asleep within 5 minutes of me driving off. The day is warm so I don’t blame him. 

She is full of energy and big hugs which is always something I look forward to. I ask her about her day. 

My friend hypnotised me with a piece of bread and I’ve been practicing my kicks. I can kick to a child’s head!

Ok. I don’t want to know how she knows that, but as I received no phone calls during the day, I’m good. 

BSD