YOUR VALUES

I once asked a mentor of mine how I could improve my ability to make faster decisions. His response: Get clear about your values, and you’ll always know what to do in every situation.

Turns out, it really is that simple.

A value is defined as, “A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”

Your values will direct you, and drive your ambition as you pursue different goals over the course of your life.

Yet, there seems to be some confusion.

I find most people skip over the process completely, thinking they don’t need to define what’s most important to them because they don’t believe it will help, or because they just don’t care.

These same people are slow to make simple decisions, and are completely paralyzed by big decisions, often avoiding them altogether and settling for the random shit that comes their way. They live in a state of fear, scarcity and confusion on a regular basis. Most of the time they’re not doing what they REALLY want to do and it causes massive unhappiness.

Is this you?

Things don’t have to be so difficult. Define your values, then set goals that are in line with them, and you’ll begin to live exactly how you want to live. It takes some planning and forethought, but it’s absolutely worth your time.

I won’t lie. It isn’t always going to be easy. People in your life will push back, and talk shit behind your back. You’ll have days where you’ll be overwhelmed with self-doubt. You WILL make mistakes. You’ll probably lose money. You’ll definitely cry.

As long as you’re alive, you’re going to have problems that need to be solved. But remind yourself that one day you will die, and that day is unknown. How do you really want to spend your time?

If you don’t know where to begin, peep my top 5 values below.

These don’t have to be yours. Do your own thing to make yourself happy. Google ‘Values’ if you need more ideas.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but these are the main things that drive my decisions every single day:

Health

If something will compromise my physical and mental health, I won’t do it. I recognize that if my health is fucked and I don’t have optimal energy and focus every day, I can’t enjoy or appreciate anything else in my life. My health comes before all else.

Love

I also won’t do something if my relationship will be compromised or harmed. I will protect my marriage with everything that I have. I will take out the garbage even if it’s the last thing I feel like doing because I know it will make my wife happy. I take care of myself so I can take care of her.

Discipline

I will do what needs to be done, even if I don’t feel like doing it; exercise, eat vegetables, floss my teeth, walk the dogs, make my bed, etc. I will recognize when I’m being lazy and when I simply need a rest. Being disciplined allows me to have everything I want in life. It doesn’t mean things magically happen while I sit on my ass. It means I work hard and delay instant gratification so I can have what I REALLY want.

Freedom

Discipline and freedom go hand in hand. This means I live debt free. I work for myself so I maintain as much control over my time as possible so I can do the things that make me happy every day. If something compromises my freedom, I don’t do it and I don’t buy it.

Adventure

For me, traveling is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for growth. It’s education. It fulfills my need for uncertainty and adventure. Traveling is stressful, and sometimes downright painful. It’s certainly not as glamorous as Instagram models would like us to believe but it’s also pretty awesome, and I’ll prioritize a plane ticket over material shit any day.

Please understand that chasing happiness isn’t always realistic, perhaps that’s not important to you. Life is filled with pain and stupid shit we don’t always want to do.

I’m fortunate to know what I want, it wasn’t without effort. Becoming clear about your own values isn’t rocket science. I’m not being facetious here. This process takes time, focus, deliberation with your spouse and soul searching. It’s worth it for you to do the work.

If you’re afraid, do it anyway. That’s usually how you know you’re on the right track.

Next Level Shit

I’m not one to set traditional New Year’s Resolutions. However, I do carve out time every December to reflect on the year and set new goals.

I absolutely need to set goals. I have to have something that I’m always working toward in every area of life or I’m a miserable asshole. 

It hasn’t always been this way. 

I was a lazy punk kid with no ambition. I didn’t push myself. I was a professional time squanderer for most of my 20’s. Looking back, it was like I was in a self-induced haze for about a decade. 

I have a short list of impactful events I can (and do) blame for why I was the way I was, but I don’t like excuses. Especially when they come from my own mouth. Fuck excuses. I’ll spare you the melodrama. 

In late 2017 while in Kauai, my wife Lela and I sat down together and wrote out the highlights of our year. We included every event that held meaning for us, and then we read our lists to one another.

While I did execute the plans I had for the year and we had some fun experiences, it didn’t quite get me where I wanted to be. Something needs to change. 

I use this super fancy planner from Ink + Volt that helps me keep my head in the game. One of the first things I was prompted to write out was my 2018 ‘theme.’

I thought, “Okay. I don’t really do themes.”

I sat for a few minutes and let my mind wander.

Suddenly it came to me.

NEXT LEVEL SHIT.

I wrote it down.

What does this even mean?

It means going bigger. If I’m comfortable with something, it doesn’t fall into the category of next level shit. It’s probably the same stuff I’ve been doing for the past 5 or 10 years that’s safe but not helping me grow. So, I can’t do it.

To honor my 2018 theme, I have to go up one or two levels and find something that not only scares me, but forces me to change up my routine and do something way outside of my comfort zone. 

We humans typically opt out of experiences that intimidate us because it’s easier to sit in a chair, farting and drooling in front of a bright screen than it is to do something challenging.

We deceive ourselves on the daily. We waste a lot of time on meaningless things that don’t bring us joy. We think too small. We doubt ourselves. We spend more time on social media than we do coming up with new ideas that could change our lives. We don’t know what we really want because we don’t take the time to ask. We scoff at our own dreams and then end up living a life we don’t even like that much.

Worst of all, we settle right in to this bullshit and stay there simmering because we’re too scared to go beyond what we know.

How is this any way to live? I don’t know, but this next level shit has got me thinking about taking a different path.

In order to go next level, I first needed to make a list of scary things to do.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve started training for all of the endurance events I have planned for 2018. This training has mostly consisted of making better choices with my nutrition, following my planned workouts and generally fine tuning healthy habits. So far, so good. I’ll continue to adjust my training each week as I progress. 

Here are some of the endurance events I have planned for 2018: 

  • The XTERRA Hammerman Triathlon in July (Goals: Have fun. Don’t get injured). 
  • The Lost Lake mountain race in August (Goals: Have fun. Run the race in 2 hours and 40 minutes or less. Don’t get injured). 
  • The Run Rabbit Run 50 miler in Steamboat Springs, CO in September (Goals: Have fun. Don’t get injured. Don’t cry until I cross the finish line). 

I live at sea level.

That last endurance event is 50 fucking miles running through the mountains of Colorado at 6,700-10,500′ elevation. And it’s the one I’m most excited about.

Sometimes I feel slightly delusional when I consider all that I have to do to prepare for each of these events, and then I’m reminded that when I choose to pursue goals that make me seriously doubt myself, I learn so much more in the process.

These lessons inevitably spill over into and benefit all others areas of my life.

Here I am on the edge of a big, scary mountain while my wife is down below yelling at me while simultaneously taking my photo. 

I’m writing this Blog post to keep myself accountable. If I share my goals with others, I achieve them. This works for me.

I’m not sharing this to convince you to do anything beyond what you’re currently doing. Don’t set goals if the process makes you unhappy. If life is good, don’t change a thing.

Keep doing you *High five* 

I have much to be grateful for. I live an incredible life. But there are new levels I need to reach in order to see what more I’m capable of. 

I just turned 36 last month. Life is flying by, and I’m not going to sit on the couch and watch it pass while I do the same things, and think the same thoughts over and over again waiting for a different result. 

My plan with this Blog is to share training updates, my struggles and my successes over the next five months as I prepare for and participate in each event. I’ll be spending a lot of time outside in the mountains where I am most happy. 

Maybe this will be useful to you, and if so, I’d love to hear about what you’re pursuing and how it’s going. Thanks for following along. 

Our Kauai Adventure

Kauai. The Garden Isle.

It’s magnificent. 

The pace on the island is more relaxed than some of the others, which is what prompted us to visit. Kauai gets more rain than all of the other islands but we had plenty of sunshine on our trip. 

If you enjoy hiking, you’ll love Kauai.

There are endless trails that lead to beautiful waterfalls all over the island. If you’re visiting during the winter months, get ready for mud. Lots of mud.

The famous Kalalau trail should be at the top of your list of places to explore when you visit the island.

If you’re up for a bit of an adventure, visit Hanakapi’ai Falls.

You’re looking at a two mile hike to Hanakapi’ai beach, and another two mile trek to the Falls for a total of eight miles roundtrip.

The beach is a nice resting spot, but you won’t be able to swim in it as the rip currents are too strong. 

Prepare for rain, wear good trail shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks. The trail is considered moderate but the mud and multiple river crossings make this a very challenging hike. 

Flash floods are a real possibility on this trail so watch the weather and heed the warning signs. Be smart and don’t go beyond your physical capabilities.

We arrived at the Kalalau trailhead around 9am and were able to snag a parking spot in the overflow lot.

It’s best to get there early to beat the crowds, otherwise you’ll have to park far up the road and walk to the trailhead.

Our plan was to go all the way to the Falls and have lunch. Despite the treacherous mud, we completed the trek in 5 hours roundtrip.

There were many people we met along the trail who turned back before making it to the Falls because they were “crunched for time.”

Don’t be one of these people! Give yourself adequate time and go all the way, you won’t regret it.

There were frustrations along the trail but it was certainly worth the effort. Be prepared and remain patient, you’re on vacation after all.

One interesting thing you’ll notice on Kauai are the wild chickens and roosters all over the island.

They are everywhere; lurking in parks begging tourists for crumbs, crossing busy roadways forcing you to slam your brakes, and digging in trash cans searching for scraps.

When hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992, chicken coops were destroyed, releasing domesticated hens and roosters all over the island. The result is an abundance of these feral fowl everywhere.

We were able to find some privacy on the island and had this waterfall all to ourselves for a few hours.

Taking a walk on one of the many gorgeous beaches in Kauai is an absolute must. 

We spent one sunny afternoon exploring Glass beach. 

If you’re willing to be adventurous and go off the beaten path, you’ll discover some very special places on Kauai. We got lucky and had this perfect spot all to ourselves on Christmas Day.
Kauai has some great Scuba diving spots. We did a couple of dives with Fathom Five Divers and enjoyed checking out Sheraton Caverns, a popular site located a few miles offshore.

Queen’s Bath is a tide pool in Princeville where people come to cliff jump and swim. We almost skipped it because we’d read it was too dangerous to swim in the winter and figured it wouldn’t be worth the effort to get there.

Ultimately we ended up going and I’m glad we did. While the short trek there was a little sketchy, and parking spaces were limited, it ended up being one of our more memorable experiences in Kauai.

Waimea Canyon, located in Koke’e State park, is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It’s at the top of every tourist’s list of “must see” attractions, and there’s a reason for that. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring! Check out the trails around the area and set aside a few hours to explore. You won’t be disappointed.

The Kauai Humane Society offers a unique opportunity for visitors to take a dog on an adventure for the day. They provide towels, a water bowl and treats. The dogs wear an “Adopt me” vest which makes for a great conversation starter. This helps the dogs have a better chance of getting adopted.

We decided to borrow a dog on our last two days on Kauai and it was a blast! We took out Winston our first day and all he wanted to do was eat hot dogs and sleep in the car. He was adorable and sweet, and we loved him.

The next day we took out Maui, who was a little more willing to adventure with us. He is also a fan of hot dogs. We took him to PetCo to get some toys and treats, and then we went for a walk. For some reason we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave Kauai without him, so we adopted him and brought him back to Alaska with us. He’s adjusting well to life in Alaska. 

We had a wonderful time in Kauai and highly recommend it the next time you’re considering an island adventure of your own.

~ S & L

 

My goals for 2016-2018

Over the last three years, I’ve focused a lot on goal setting and developing the necessary skills and discipline to actually cross those goals off of my list. Things have changed for the better in my life since I consistently put more of a focus on developing myself, and paying attention to the details of progress.

By thinking about, and writing out all of the goals you want to achieve in your life, you give your brain an important job to do. Our minds are complex, but they’re also easy to condition if we are clear about what we want, and we work toward achieving those things every day. 

The following is a list of what I want to accomplish in the next 26 1/2 months.

Fitness

My health is the most important thing to me. Without it, nothing else matters. So, I have a few health and fitness goals that I will work on improving and completing in the next two years. These are all things that encourage me to develop speed, strength, and mental toughness. They are also goals that challenge me to develop different areas of my fitness: 

  • Hold a 60 sec. unassisted headstand by Nov. 30th 2016.
  • 12 consecutive dead hang pull-ups by Dec. 31st 2016.
  • Run a sub 7:30 min. mile by January 31st 2017. 
  • Run the Lost Lake race in 2 hours and 30 minutes or less (August 2017).
  • Bodyweight to 150 LBS by August 20th, 2017. 
  • Run Crow Pass (2018).
  • Continue to improve mobility, and live pain free. 

Marriage

A happy, thriving marriage is very important to me, and building an amazing relationship with Lela is a major priority. Continuing to grow together, and to inspire one another to be our best has always been our vision. As time goes on, it can be easy to settle in and get comfortable- and that complacency in a marriage can lead to the deterioration of a relationship. The grass is greener where you water it, so next to my health/fitness goals, my marriage gets most of my attention. 

  • Buy Lela flowers at least twice a month. 
  • Sporadic love notes around the house every week. 
  • Make a big deal out of our anniversaries, and celebrate big.  
  • Card at least twice a month.
  • Movie/Restaurant date night once a month. 
  • Pedicure date once a month. 
  • Practice patience daily, and continue to be honest and open. 

Travel

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I haven’t prioritized it much in 2016, but that’s going to change for the next two years. I have a lot of catching up to do. While it’s certainly not as pressing as taking good care of my health, and nurturing my relationship with my wife, seeing the world is very important to me. I consider it a part of my ongoing education. My travel goals for the next two years are not completely set, but this is what I’m focused on right now:

  • China: Walk at least 10 miles on the Great Wall of China (Nov. 2016).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been absolutely in awe of the Great Wall. The Chinese culture has always seemed very different from life in the United States, and that’s what attracts me. The history, and eastern philosophy is what fascinates me most.  

  • Paris, France: Climb the stairs to the highest point in the Eiffel Tower (Dec. 2016).

I haven’t had much of an interest to travel Europe until recently. The food, the history, and the fact that I’ll get to visit a new continent are all appealing to me. The Eiffel tower is just as intriguing to me as the Empire State building in NYC. Plus, my wife really wants to go, and as I always say “happy wife, happy life.” 

  • Kona, Hawaii: Get Rescue Diver certified (undecided deadline).

I became a certified SCUBA diver in January 2009 while on a trip to southern Thailand. Diving allows you to experience the world in a completely different way, and it’s magical. I have since become Advanced Open water certified, and Nitrox certified. The next level is Rescue Diver certification which will make me a more competent diver and will enable me to handle every potential disaster I may encounter under the water. I’ve never been to Kona, so it’s time to cross that one off my list. 

  • Luang Prabang, Laos: Visit the Kuang Si Falls (Jan. 2018). 

I have a deep fascination with southeast Asian countries. Laos is a place that seems so different from anywhere I’ve ever been, and the Kuang Si Falls look incredible. Of course I’m drawn to this country for other reasons too; the history, the culture, and the people. Southeast Asian people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, and I find myself missing that human connection when I travel elsewhere. 

  • Bagan, Myanmar: Sunrise Hot air balloon ride over Bagan temples (Feb. 2018).

Bagan was founded in the second century A.D. I can’t think of a more interesting place to ride in a hot air balloon. Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world with the average annual income coming in around $1,500.00. There is something about this place that makes me want to put my philanthropic focus on it for future endeavors. I look forward to the day I get to visit, and in some way help to make a positive impact in the lives of those who live there. 

  • Nepal: Everest base camp trek (from Kathmandu to the base of Everest: Oct. 2017 or April 2018).

The Everest base camp trek appeals to this side of me that longs for mystery, and adventure. Uncertainty, and hard work. I love the mountains, and I can’t think of a better place to go to experience the most awe-inspiring mountains in the world. 

  • Dubai: Skydive with Lela over the Palm Islands (undecided deadline). 

Part of the fun of skydiving is enjoying the scenery below you after you jump from the plane. My first time skydiving was over a desert in southern California, and while I enjoyed the experience, I imagine it would be so much more exciting to free fall over the Palm islands in Dubai. I think Lela would appreciate the gorgeous view as well, so I have suggested we make that a goal for our first skydive together. Skydiving isn’t nearly as terrifying as it looks. But it requires you to come out of your comfort zone for many obvious reasons. 

  • 10 new U.S. States: Do something memorable in each one; this could be attending a major league baseball game, a fitness conference, or snowboarding in Utah. 

As of right now, I have 26 more states to travel to. In the next 26 months, I’d like to knock off at least 10 new ones. In no particular order they are; Colorado, Utah, Tennessee, Connecticut, Alabama, Arkansas, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi. 

Personal Development

  • Read a book a week, apply what I learn immediately. 
  • Journal at least one page every morning; include 3 things I’m grateful for every day. 
  • Meditate for 20 minutes at least 4x a week. 
  • Learn to play at least one new song on the drums every month. 
  • Attend a photography workshop. 
  • Attend at least two fitness conferences a year. 

Philanthropy/Contribution

  • Raise at least $20,000 for the FF Lost Lake team in 2017. 
  • Adopt a family for Christmas for every year. 
  • Raise at least $300 per month through our Boot Camp for a Cause program.
  • Volunteer my time, and continue to look for new ways to contribute. 

Figarelle’s Fitness

  • Sunday group hikes during the warmer months. 
  • FF fitness/adventure retreat (2017).
  • New gym equipment each month. 

Some other fun “bucket list” goals I have are: Start a ‘Figarelle’s Fitness’ Foundation where we can give back, and change the world on a larger scale. Meet Oprah. Write, and self-publish several best selling books. Become a helicopter pilot. Fly first class on an Emirates flight. Snowboard in the French Alps. Celebrate my 73rd wedding anniversary with my wife (this would mean I’d live to see 100 years old). Fly to outer space on Virgin Galactic (fulfill my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut). Bungee jump in New Zealand. Dive with humpback whales in Hawaii. Become fluent in Spanish. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list of every one of my life goals, and I haven’t included deadlines for every goal just yet. These are all things that are floating around in my head at the moment.

Making a list of everything you want to do before you die is important, it’s a start in the right direction. Take it a step further by including a deadline for each goal, and include why each goal is so important to you. 

The process of goal achievement has lots of moving parts. Depending on the complexity of the goal, you may be able to check things off your list left and right without a lot of effort or investment.

Ask yourself: Do these goals stretch me? Do they take me out of my comfort zone, physically and maybe financially? If so, what can I do to rise up to the challenge, and acquire the skills and knowledge required to achieve each one? Who do I have to become to achieve this particular goal? What books do I have to read? What actions do I have to take TODAY? 

Personally, I set goals that make me uncomfortable. Life is too precious to grow complacent in your relationship, your career, and in your daily life. 

Life is too short to avoid taking risks. As soon as you begin to feel all warm and cozy for too long, it’s time to shake things up and start setting some big fucking goals. 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

Mastering Your Mental Game

The other day a client commented on how much weight I’ve lost over the last 4 months. She wanted to know how I did it.
 
The short response was, “I did it by following every piece of advice that I give you guys.”
 
Over the last four months, there have been no quick fixes, gimmicks, drugs, ‘detox’ diets, special smoothies, body wraps, or magic pills. I’m not following Paleo or any other fad diet, and I’m not doing anything unique with my exercise routine.
 
I wish I had a magic wand to wave over my clients to get them the best results in the least amount of time.
 
But I don’t. It doesn’t exist. The magic wand is WORK. 
 
So, what have I been doing to achieve a 30 LB loss since April?
 
The following are a list of special sauce secrets. There is certainly more where this came from, but I figured I would offer up the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy! 
 
 
NO ALCOHOL
 
I have not had a sip of alcohol since April. I am not opposed to drinking booze, but I wanted to enter into this focused phase of my life completely sober and without a crutch to numb me when shit got tough.
 
I wanted to be completely present. My biggest issue with alcohol is that I consistently make poor food choices when I drink. I didn’t need to create temptations for myself, so I chose to abstain. 
 
I WRITE
 
I journal every day. I have a morning journal where I ramble off nonsense to clear my head. I talk about my workouts and nutrition and I figure out where I need to go by writing out everything and reflecting.
 
I have a separate workout journal where I record every exercise, set, and rep that I do. I also record my training runs, including distance, and duration. Writing creates clarity and allows you to reflect. Don’t trust your memory, write shit down. It will help you improve week after week. 
 
I DON’T CARE
 
When I began this process, I decided to kick out some gadgets from my life. I no longer run or workout with a heart rate monitor, and I don’t take body fat measurements of any kind. These things don’t matter to me.
 
Instead, I focus on how I feel, how I perform, and how I look. Then I adjust accordingly. I ran for years with a HR monitor and it was helpful when I was a beginner. I’ve been running long enough to know where my heart rate is, but I honestly don’t care. Maybe in the future I’ll go back to using it, but this process has been a lot less stressful without it. 
  
I CHECK MY WEIGHT EVERY DAY
 
I weigh myself on the scale every morning. The number that pops up provides objective feedback. It helps me understand my current level of hydration, and provides enough information to help me adjust my nutrition.
 
The scale keeps me accountable. 
 
When we’re able to face reality, we leave no room for excuses. If I don’t know my weight, it messes up my plan and I delude myself for days. Progress stalls, and I only have myself to blame. 
 
I RELY ON THE MIRROR FOR FEEDBACK
 
I assess my progress visually in the mirror several times a day. This requires getting almost naked, finding a big mirror in a room with good lighting and posing like a fucking weirdo (if my wife didn’t know I was insane before, she knows now).
 
 
 
Posing was an important part of my bodybuilding competition prep back in the day, and it helped me learn poise and presentation onstage. I taught myself how to pose and flex each muscle by reading countless bodybuilding books in High School. There’s more to this than just vanity. You learn basic anatomy, and muscle control. You also improve your mobility, and posture. 
 
Visually assessing the way your body looks in the mirror is one of the best feedback tools you can use. 
 
I DON’T REACT TO THE NEGATIVE
 
I sit with discomfort in a non-reactive way. I’ve been hungry, tired, and low on energy many times these past few months. This has forced me to slow down, and simplify my life. 
 
The knee jerk reaction when we feel hungry or tired is to immediately find something to eat to take the pain away so we can change our mental state, and “feel good.” We’re always trying to escape the moment, have you noticed that? 
 
When you’re cutting body fat on limited calories, you don’t always get to run and eat something. Rarely do you feel satiated. This has forced me to be more present, and in the moment.
 
I can’t run to food to soothe my pain.
 
This delaying of instant gratification has allowed me to deeply ponder my relationship with food. Do I really need to eat when I’m stressed or tired? No. I probably need to get up and move my body, drink more water, and take care of some business I’ve been putting off.  
 
Eating food alters our mental state and when we’re constantly medicating ourselves with food because we’re tired, bored, sad, happy, and stressed we become trapped in a cycle of dependence. 
 
We’re constantly eating to escape feeling something. I haven’t been able to escape in four months. And guess what? The best part of feeling and pondering is that I’ve worked through some heavy mental shit that had been camped out in my head for months. 
 
I SIT IN SILENCE
 
I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning. I do a simple mindfulness meditation where I gently focus on clearing my mind to become more connected to my breath. That’s it. I say gently because I don’t judge myself or violently force thoughts from creeping into my mind. I don’t get pissed off if thoughts invade my head while I’m sitting, that’s what happens when you have a brain. Don’t judge it. 
 
I’m not sure why the fuck the western world is so afraid of meditation. It’s an opportunity to slow down, breathe, and lower cortisol.
 
Wonder why you’re always tired, sick, and unsettled? Because you can’t slow your crazy brain down. Get a grip on that thing before it destroys you. Yes, destructive thought patterns like anger, anxiety, and guilt along with chronic stress can speed up the aging process and erode your quality of life.
 
I DON’T COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS
 
I get inspiration from other successful people. I don’t allow envy or jealousy to cloud my mind. I compare myself to where I was last year, last month, and last week. Am I better? If not, I make a conscious choice to immediately improve something. 
 
People become lost and confused when they put their focus exclusively on other people and obsess over everything they’re doing. Constantly comparing themselves and getting upset that they aren’t in the same place.
 
Success doesn’t happen by accident. You don’t get to magically have everything you want in life for no reason at all and get mad when other people have it because they’ve worked their asses off for it. This goes for success in all of its forms. 
 
I DO THE WORK NO MATTER WHAT
 
There have been many days where I didn’t feel like working out. I didn’t feel like following my diet. The problem with “feelings” is that they’re little liars that threaten to delude and derail you from becoming successful.
 
Every time you give in to a destructive emotion or feeling, you reinforce it. If I’m always conveniently having an emotional breakdown before every workout, that workout will never get done. I go in to most workouts without overanalyzing anything and dwelling on the fact that I don’t really want to be there. I’m like a robot with a plan. I walk in and execute the plan, then I walk out. 
 
If I gave in every time I felt depressed, sad, angry, or stressed out over the last four months, I wouldn’t have made any progress. Don’t believe every thought you think. 
 
You’ve probably noticed by now that I haven’t discussed the specifics of my workouts. There are a million diets and workout programs you can find in magazines and online that can help you get in shape. That’s the easy stuff. 
 
The hardest part about transforming your body is mastering your mental game.
 
 
 
 
 
 

5 Tips for a Kick Ass Marriage

I’ve been married a little over four years, and I love it. I love LOVE. I love to be loved, and I love to give love.

When I was a kid, I didn’t believe in marriage. I didn’t care about it. You rarely hear about the beautiful things a happy marriage can bring in to your life, and all of the ways a strong partnership can make you a better human being. Instead, you hear about losing your autonomy, the nightmare of waking up next to the “ole ball and chain” every day for the rest of your life, and the horror of going broke in the wake of a disastrous divorce. 

Take a look at the marriage statistics in this country. Something like 50% of marriages end in divorce. There’s no way to know how many people spend decades in unhappy marriages, but I would guess those numbers are high, too. 

With stats like that, who in their right mind would ever willingly marry? Talk about taking a huge risk. 

I knew I was going to marry Lela four months after meeting her. There was no question in my mind. Every time I looked into her eyes, all I could see was how amazing my future was going to be. I got married because I saw in Lela a partner who would always be supportive, loving, and loyal. She is the most compassionate, and kindhearted person I’ve ever met, and I needed more of that in my life. She makes me a better person. 

Colin Cowie Steph & Lela

After several years of loving the woman of my dreams, I’m still looking for ways to be a better spouse. I want to keep the fire alive in my marriage, and continue to make Lela as happy as possible.  

I’m not an expert on marriage, but I’ve learned many valuable things that I feel are worthy of sharing. Maybe these things will help you as they have helped us.

TAKE REALLY GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Exercise regularly, eat healthy food, set and achieve new goals, read books, learn a foreign language, meditate, get your hair done, dress well, take showers, brush and floss your teeth, and get plenty of sleep. Who the hell wants to be married to someone who doesn’t take care of themselves?

If I neglect myself, I won’t be able to give my wife 100%. Put yourself first, and you will be strong enough to take care of every one else. Use the airplane oxygen mask analogy; put your mask on yourself before assisting others. Because if you’re passed out on the floor or dead, you can’t do a damn thing for anyone else.

LIVE AN EXCITING LIFE TOGETHER

You have to marry someone who is just as excited as you are to do cool shit. I love to travel, and experience new cultures. I enjoy being a risk taking entrepreneur. I knew what I wanted out of life before I got married, and I wouldn’t have committed myself to someone who wasn’t willing to join me on these life adventures. For this one to happen, you must find the right person to marry. Obviously this requires some forethought, so be patient and choose wisely. 

While you don’t always have to agree on what constitutes excitement, you do have to support one another’s crazy ideas, and continue trying new things together. One of my favorite quotes is, “The grass is greener where you water it.” That makes SO much sense, right? Make your marriage, and make your life as exciting as possible. You have that power.

If you’re both honestly content sitting around watching TV together all day, then great! Just as long as you’re on the same page. 

We all have bills to pay, and we all have mundane obligations from time to time, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a mediocre existence. More excitement means more energy, and more energy leads to a more fulfilling, and happy life. 

KNOW YOUR ROLE

If you’re currently in an intimate relationship, it’s because one of you exhibits more masculine energy, and the other exhibits more feminine energy, thus creating a magnetic draw that keeps you both drooling over one another. If you’re still regularly having passionate sex, then you’ve REALLY mastered this energy dance. Congratulations! 

Sexual polarity must be acknowledged in the beginning of your relationship, and used appropriately if you’re going to have a lasting marriage. I am the masculine in my relationship, and Lela is the feminine. Just by looking at us, you would have guessed that. But this energy isn’t limited to appearances. I own my masculine, and it compliments Lela’s feminine. Part of the reason we work so well is because of this constant polarity. If we hit a riff in our relationship, it’s usually due to the fact that one of us is no longer honoring our respective core energies. Easy fix. Know your role, and play it well. 

Intimate relationships end when polarity fades. If the masculine becomes more feminine, the feminine core in the relationship will be turned off by the similarity between the two energies as the two of you become one, and vice versa. If you know you’re a masculine, whether you’re a female or a male, you need to own it. Masculine cores: Embrace your masculinity. Feminine cores: Embrace your femininity. Notice I didn’t say “be a man,” or “be a woman.” I’m talking about energy, and behavior, I’m not talking about sex or gender. For more information on this fascinating subject, check out David Deida’s book, “The Way of the Superior Man.”

TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING

In a marriage, no subject should be off limits. Talk about everything. Be honest. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Share stories of the past. Be Raw. Reserve judgement. Encourage communication. Shut up, and listen with an open mind. Be respectful. Open. The. Fuck. Up. If you can’t be completely honest with yourself, don’t even think about getting married. Sharing deep secrets, and building trust are vital to every relationship.

If you can’t discuss uncomfortable topics, what will happen when you face a challenge in your marriage? You’ll lie, or you’ll talk to someone else about it. What’s the point of being married if you’re pulling shit like that?

I don’t tell my wife that she looks good in a pair of jeans if I don’t really think it. I expect, and I get, the same in return. Same goes for her. If she thinks a business idea of mine is a waste of time, she tells me what she thinks. We don’t sugarcoat anything to spare feelings. Sometimes we take each other’s advice, and sometimes we don’t. We are free thinking individuals, after all. Truth allows us to improve as human beings, and your spouse acts as the mirror in your life. 

FIGHT REALLY WELL

Happy people fight. They fight REALLY well. Unhappy people are typically passive aggressive, and hold all of their emotions in. They sweep problems under the rug, and turn their backs like cowards.

When you disagree with your spouse about something, speak up, work through it and move on. Don’t continue bringing up the same tired ass arguments over and over again. Don’t be disrespectful, or create resentment. Remain calm, and ask questions. 

Often when our spouse points out something they feel we’re doing wrong, they’re giving us the opportunity to change for the better. Fighting well doesn’t mean you fight all the time, and it doesn’t mean you get to be an abusive asshole. It means that when something is wrong in your marriage, you fix what’s broken, and move forward with more clarity so it doesn’t continue happening. 

For those of you who are in amazing marriages, you already know that it’s not always easy to maintain a thriving relationship. Even if you’re really fucking happy, it doesn’t mean you get to slack off, and put your relationship on autopilot. Continue to find ways to stay inspired in your marriage. Write love notes. Surprise each other.

No matter what, do everything you can to keep the fire alive.  

 

What to do when your daughter wants to be a boy

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, the daughter of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, made the news yesterday because she got a fucking haircut.

Not just any haircut, she got a short haircut. 

I’m assuming this was important enough to share with the world because said hairstyle makes Shiloh look more like a little boy instead of a girl and this breaks the rules. Speculation about Shiloh abounds throughout media outlets on an almost weekly basis. 

I’ve read everything from people calling her “sick,” to criticizing her parents for leading her down the wrong life path, to calling the allowance of this self-expression child abuse.

Child abuse?

Because a little girl who allegedly feels like she’s a boy got a short haircut and wears androgynous attire, and her parents accept her?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Look, I shouldn’t have to say this, but not everyone believes there is just one path in life. SURPRISE. We’re all individuals. We think, feel, act, and lead different lives. We’re not the same. This absence of similarity should not be condemned, it should be celebrated. 

We’re human beings, and we can’t be forced into boxes with neat labels. 

Maybe Shiloh feels like she’s a boy, and she’ll grow up and get gender reassignment surgery and live life as a man. Maybe she won’t. But it really doesn’t matter, because it’s Shiloh’s life, not yours. 

Rumor has it that Shiloh’s parents support her and allow her to express herself how she feels most comfortable. Imagine that?! Instead of making every little decision for your child, you empower them to make their own unique choices! 

You give them the confidence to voice their questions and concerns. You follow them down their own authentic path, however unfamiliar the route may be to you. 

You trust them, and support them no matter what. 

You love and accept them unconditionally, even when you don’t immediately understand them. You honor them as individuals. You ask them questions, and invite them to open their little hearts to you. You gain their trust, and they tell you everything. For the rest of your life, you have an incredibly strong relationship with your child, built on a foundation of unbreakable trust. 

This might sound unfathomable to helicopter parents who insist on smothering their children and micromanaging every detail of their lives. Parents who would feel like utter failures if their child turned out to be gay or transgender. Instead of embracing something original, they resist accepting it altogether and punish their child for toeing the line. 

These parents prohibit certain behaviors that are not conducive to the child’s assigned gender. They don’t support unconventional decisions about hairstyles, toys, and clothing choices. They are rigid in their mindset about what is feminine and what is masculine, because there couldn’t possibly be any such thing as gender fluidity.

Lack of tolerance doesn’t mean that you’re somehow powerful enough to prevent your child from living their authenticity. 

Shaming, especially anything related to a child’s identity or sexuality, pretty much guarantees you will have a superficial relationship with them- if you even have one at all.  

I’ve preferred to have a boyish appearance since I was three years old. I didn’t have names or labels for my feelings back then, I simply felt more comfortable thinking of myself as a boy. It felt natural. 

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I remember playing catch outside when I was seven years old with my brother one day. It was a hot summer afternoon, so he decided to take his shirt off. I thought that was a fantastic idea, I was also hot, so I took my shirt off too. It made sense. 

My step-mother flew out of the house as soon as she saw be take my shirt off, and shouted at me to put it back on. She explained, “Little girls can’t take their shirts off outside, it’s inappropriate!” 

I didn’t understand, but I shrugged, and put my shirt back on. I realized the people in my life viewed me differently than I saw myself.

The reaction I got that day made me more careful, and I retreated inward. 

Being forced to suppress my true feelings made me distrust adults. They seemed afraid of what I was going to do or say next. On several occasions I was discouraged from wearing “boy clothes,” and I was criticized for even considering it. 

While I didn’t understand why I wanted to look differently than other little girls my age, not having the support of my family made life very difficult. Because they didn’t understand my choices, my family couldn’t support me. I felt alone, and hopeless. 

I became so introverted my stomach hurt whenever I had to be around other kids in school. I had feelings of self-loathing, and I lacked the confidence to engage in basic tasks that involved interacting with other people, so I avoided them. I feared their judgment too much. 

What kind of future was I going to have?

Turns out, a pretty fucking incredible one.

Being an introvert allowed me to use my imagination better than most kids my age because I had so much free time to think by myself. I dreamt up assorted versions of the life I wanted to live, and my ideas were limitless. 

If a negative thought flooded my mind, I simply countered it with an insanely exciting replacement.

When I struggled to love my body, I thought about all of the amazing ways I could display my physical prowess, and strength.

Then I trained myself and won my first bodybuilding competition as a senior in High School. 

When I panicked at the thought of never finding a good paying job because people would judge me based on my ambiguous appearance, I instantly thought of half a dozen business ideas to negate those fears. 

I started my own private fitness business in 2006.

When I feared I would never fall in love, I immediately imagined the most gorgeous woman I could conjure up in my mind. I thought about how much love, and passion we would share. 

Then I married her on top of the Empire State building in 2012.  

Colin Cowie Steph & Lela

Life is what YOU make it. 

There will inevitably be all kinds of different sized hurdles in life that threaten to knock you down, distract you, and prevent you from moving forward, but it’s up to you to blast through that shit like a freight train.  

It’s up to YOU, to recognize your worth.

You can never allow anyone or anything to prevent you from living the life of your dreams. If you succumb to the judgment being thrown at you, it will ultimately become your reality. If you constantly have to ask for permission and approval, you’re doomed to live a life of someone else’s creation. 

I used to care deeply what people thought about me. I feared their criticism, and I desperately tried to conform so they would accept me. I was miserable. Life became my own personal nightmare. As soon as I took ownership of my situation, I was rewarded with exactly what I had always wanted; loyal friendships, love, and respect. 

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” 
― C.G. Jung

As for Shiloh-Jolie Pitt and her short haircut; most of the naysayers out there won’t ever live half the life that Shiloh will, whether she lives it as a man or a woman. Those who spend their finite energy tearing down another human being, especially a child, usually don’t amount to much.  

From this angle, it appears that Shiloh is surrounded by love and support. Her parents aren’t enabling a “mental illness,” they are showing their beloved child kindness and empathy so that she can grow into a confident, capable adult who loves herself. They are doing the right thing.

I only wish half as many parents of LGBT kids could have the support that Shiloh has. I wish that my family would have known how to support me in the same way, but I’m grateful for the love and compassion that they showed me when I was finally ready to tell them who I was. 

 

 

You’re in the wrong locker room

I have always chosen masculine attire, even as a child, because I feel comfortable wearing it. Simple as that. 

I didn’t voluntarily wear dresses as a child, or pink bows in my hair. I would have preferred to wear my dirty converse shoes, and ripped jeans every day of the week if it were up to me. But, that’s not what little girls should look like. Little girls don’t wear cargo pants, or want toy guns for Christmas, and they certainly don’t walk out of the house with unbrushed hair.

I hated having my hair touched. I would cry every time my mom attempted to run a brush through it. I didn’t care what it looked like. I didn’t strive to be pretty. I wanted to build forts in the backyard, and explore the woods next to our house hoping to find a buried treasure, or a dead body like those boys in the movie Stand by Me.

All of this seemed acceptable up until seventh grade. I was entering Junior High. The big leagues. No more ignoring my assigned gender. It was time to acknowledge my femininity so I could be popular and have a boyfriend. So I would be accepted and understood. Respected, even. But that’s not what happened at all. Still transitioning from tomboy status to junior high girl, I found it nearly impossible to fit in.

One day early in the school year after walking into the girls locker room and waiting for gym class to start, a girl approached me and told me I was in the wrong locker room. I was mistaken for a boy too many times to count, and the whispers behind my back bothered me. I was asked on an almost daily basis if I was a girl or a boy. At first I responded politely, so it wouldn’t seem like I was annoyed by the inquisition, but after awhile, my responses grew more hostile and I became defensive and angry. 

The first half of seventh grade was a game of trying to fit in and to look more feminine. I styled my medium length hair as girly as I could. I think I even curled it with a curling iron a few times. I borrowed my mom’s eyeliner and mascara because I had grown so fearful of being mistaken as a boy, I was willing to do anything to avoid that question. It became agonizing to go to school because I knew a confrontation was unavoidable.

I began to feel less and less like myself because I was dressing so differently and pretending to be someone I thought everyone wanted me to be. The makeup wasn’t working, and I was still asked regularly whether I was a girl or a boy.

Then the question escalated to, “are you gay?” 

I was mortified.

Hell no, I’m not gay! I frantically looked for someone of the opposite sex who I might be able to use as a buffer. If I had a boyfriend, the invasive questions would surely end. Everyone would know that I was a girl, and I would be considered normal. This was the perfect plan! I began my search for a boyfriend.

The only problem was, I wasn’t attracted to boys. I liked hanging out with my guy friends, but that’s where it ended. I had no interest in dating boys. Or holding hands with them. Or kissing them. 

Nevertheless, I dropped my masculine demeanor as fast as I could and found a boyfriend. I had no idea how to have a boyfriend. Probably because I was in seventh grade and shouldn’t know such things, but also because “girlfriend” was such an unnatural role for me to play.

My favorite thing to do was to go skateboarding. So, I dated a guy who also liked skateboarding. He sucked. I was better at it than him, and it was uncomfortable to hang out and skate together because I had to downplay my abilities to appear more feminine. You certainly don’t want to be better at skateboarding than your goddamned boyfriend! He didn’t last long, because I loved skateboarding more than having a poorly skilled fake boyfriend with bad acne.

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I soon realized this boyfriend business wasn’t working for me. Not only was it uncomfortable and unnatural feeling, it was just plain boring. I had various crushes on the girls in my class and these faux boyfriends were taking up too much of my time.

I have been attracted to the same sex for as long as I can remember. I’ve had crushes on almost every one of my female teachers, starting with my pre-school teacher when I was five years old. Mrs. Swan was so hot. Probably still is. 

The only reason I stayed in school was because of the girls, honestly. I could hardly contain myself most days. I pined for the girls I had crushes on and would watch in horror as they dated some of the dorky assholes in our grade.

The greatest torment was a school dance. Watching a girl that you have feelings for dance with a guy the way you want to be dancing with her, is heartbreaking. But, there was nothing that I could do but stand by and watch a life I wanted to live pass me by. 

On the weekends, I dressed how I felt most comfortable- a ball cap, jeans, and a t-shirt. I skateboarded with my best friend, and dropped the bogus persona I had to entertain the other five days of the week. I got two full days to be myself before I had to go back to being what I thought everyone else wanted me to be.

As the year wore on, I found it more and more difficult to keep this girly charade going any longer. During the three weeks of Christmas break I got used to just being myself. It was too difficult to come back to school and pretend. I felt like I needed to wipe the slate clean and start over. 

One day after gym class while we were all sitting around in the locker room waiting for the bell to ring, I put my hat on. This was strictly forbidden in the hallways and classrooms, so I knew my time was limited, but I needed to feel normal- even if it was just for a couple of minutes. As I sat there, a few of my friends commented on how “hot” I looked, and how they wished I was a guy so we could date. I couldn’t believe the response I was getting. The bell rang, and I took my hat off so I wouldn’t get in trouble in the hallway.

I felt very different after that. I was no longer interested in looking feminine just to gain everyone else’s acceptance. I realized people wanted authenticity, even if at first my appearance was confusing to them. 

I was focused now on being myself, and earning a few more flirty interactions with some of my girl friends. My confidence was restored after that day, and I never went back to the makeup or hair curling. While the questions about whether I was a girl or a boy didn’t stop, I was now more emotionally equipped to handle them. I felt good about myself for the first time all year, and I wasn’t going to let that go for anything.

I learned that if I was going to dress like a boy, then I would have to be ready to field questions and stand up for myself. I went on to finish seventh grade feeling confident and more sure of myself than ever before.

I could breathe for the first time in a long time. 

Sharpening the saw

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln

Resting. Relaxing. Getting away. 

We need to regularly put time between us and the daily grind in order to maintain emotional stability, happiness, and to avoid burnout. Taking time to yourself allows you to gain perspective, and to better handle the challenges of life. 

Stephen Covey, best selling author of the classic self development book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this focus on preserving a healthy mental state, “Sharpening the saw.” It means taking care of YOU before all else. Eating healthy food, exercising regularly, meditating, reading, and resting are just a few examples of what it means to sharpen the saw.

The busier you are, the more frequently you need to take moments out of your life to focus on giving your body and mind what it needs. This can be reading uplifting material for a few minutes every morning, walking in nature, napping in the afternoon, or hitting the gym after work. Experiment to find the right blend of activities you personally need to keep you feeling your best.

 

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You cannot give to others what you don’t already possess.

If you’re constantly stressed out, tired, and running late, what is the quality of your interactions with others? Are you giving your commitments the time and presence they deserve? When we’re drained of energy, productivity often takes a backseat.

We’re more apt to emotionally react to situations than to respond rationally. Chronic emotional stress inevitably manifests itself as disease in the body, then we’re dealing with physical illness which threatens our livelihood and wellbeing. 

We live in a society where we’re often criticized for taking a break, and travel is viewed as a luxury not many can afford. Over the years I’ve fine tuned my perfect blend of saw sharpening necessities. They are: Traveling to unfamiliar places every three months so I can gain a fresh perspective on life and learn new things. Reading for at least ten minutes every morning and taking notes on what I’ve just read so I can feed my mind good things at the start of the day. Exercising in the morning, preferably hiking or taking a short run outside so I can connect with my body. Doing Yoga at least two days per week to ground myself, reduce tension in my body, and improve my mental clarity.

These are just a few things that keep me operating at my fullest potential every single day. After all, I need to be functioning optimally not only for myself, but for my wife, the important people around me, and for my business.

If you’ve been neglecting yourself lately, now is the time to switch gears. I encourage you to think about a few things that you really love doing, but don’t currently make enough time for. Implement a plan for how you can include more of the things that help you sharpen your saw.

We can never completely avoid stress, nor should we. Stress is a necessary part of growth, and without it, life would be dull and meaningless. Making time for the things that help us feel whole is vital to our every day happiness, health, and wellbeing. 

 

Life: Is it passing you by?

Remember when you were a kid and you would fantasize about what life would be like when you grew up?

You played.

You ran.

You let your mind wander without restriction.

When I was a kid, I dreamed about living in a huge mansion on the beach and driving a convertible. I was going to go skydiving and bungee jumping and see the world. I wanted to be an astronaut, a veterinarian, and a published author simultaneously.

When I was in 1st grade, I decided I would become a Scuba diver one day. There was a large blue poster on the wall in our classroom that featured all of the underwater creatures of the sea like whales and octopus. I didn’t want to settle for only seeing photos of them on a wall, I wanted to experience them in real life.

IMG_6620I couldn’t wait to wake up on Saturday to watch cartoons because I loved immersing myself in the story. It helped me sort through the details of my own life somehow.

I would lock myself in my room and tirelessly draw pictures of anything that popped into my mind. I would erase and redraw the nose of a character 6 times until it was perfect. I never watched the clock.

I’d crank my music up and put on lip syncing shows in front of the mirror when no one was home. I’d learn every lyric to my favorite song and sing it over and over as loud as I could.

One time I pitched a tent in my bedroom and moved everything inside of it, including my mattresses and clock radio. My mom was pissed and kind of creeped out, but I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

I plastered every inch of my walls with photos from magazines and fantasized about what life would be like to be a famous musician like the ones on my walls.

I talked on the phone with my friends for hours about nothing. But it was everything to me.

I cried freely. I would look at myself in the mirror. As soon as I got upset about something worth bawling about I would run to the bathroom and watch myself unravel. Ugly, twisted mouth, wet face, red eyes and furrowed brow staring back at me like a pissed off newborn baby. I would become mesmerized by my own miserable reflection. After a few minutes I’d wipe my tears and go back to my room, basking in the relief of cathartic release.

I didn’t consider time passing. I didn’t care about it.

In fact, most days seemed to drag on. Life felt like it would last an eternity and I figured I would have all the time in the world to build my mansion on the beach and learn to Scuba dive. I only focused on the fun aspects of life back then like most kids do, I assume. I didn’t worry myself with the logistics of what it entailed to achieve my dreams.

For the last 10 years I’ve really noticed the swiftness of time passing. Some nights when I’m getting ready for bed I feel like I just got up to start the day. I can’t believe how fast the day slips away.

I used to have the mindset that all that mattered was money and my material shit. I didn’t understand or appreciate the value of time.

Now, I only focus on time.

I value it more than I value money. I won’t spend my time with people who drain my energy and waste my time. I’ll pay more for something if it saves me time to do so, and I’ll say “no” to things I don’t want to do. I’m always considering time now, everyday. I guard it.

Everyday that goes by is another day closer to the end of my life.

Our culture struggles with the concept of death, and I’ve found that it’s difficult for people to talk about it. They want to deny that it will happen, so they remain terrified of it. I made peace with death many years ago and when I did, I vowed to spend my time in ways that make me happy.

That’s my rule.

I started my business so I could control my time instead of some asshole controlling it for me. I wanted my wife to join my business so we could spend more time together. I wanted my mom to quit the corporate job she despised so she could travel and spend as much time with her grandkids as she wants.

Time is passing right now as you’re sitting here reading this.

Are you happy?

Could things be better?

What areas of your life do you feel you need to improve?

What the fuck are you doing about it?

Do you make excuses for WHY you can’t make a change?

Stop doing that. Seriously. Instead of finding obstacles to set up in your own way, find ways to knock them down and get moving in the direction you really want to go.

What excites you today like the things that used to excite you as a child?

Ponder some of that for awhile, and make a plan. Then get to work.

Time is passing. What are you going to do with it?