“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
- Pablo Picasso
Very powerful words from one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. These words have stuck with me and become my ‘True North’ for as long as I can remember. They have driven me to continually challenge myself physically and mentally while I continue on the road less traveled. Trying new things can be scary and intimidating but I have found that I benefit most from the experiences which I would have rather not had. You either love it or hate it, are good at it or not, are a born natural or have to work harder for it. Regardless of your predisposition, there is always something to be taken away from these experiences- positive or negative. Each decision I make drives me to move faster and makes me stronger. That’s why my personal mantra has become #ForeverForward
I have always been active in many disciplines. I have been an athlete, designer, artist, welder, a waiter, teacher, student, and a dozen more. It is said that an Architect is a generalist who knows a little about everything, while an Engineer is said to be a pragmatist, often too specialized who knows everything about only one thing. I strive to be an architect in my own life. I admired the leaders of the renaissance: the painters, sculptors, engineers, astronomers, anatomists, biologists, geologists, physicists, architects, musicians, philosophers and humanists. They managed to accomplish so much in a shorter lifespan. I'd like to bring back that way of thinking and commitment to my life and see where it takes me. Personal experiences help shape who we are and how we choose to live. We should never limit ourselves by irrational thought or fear. We can try to prepare as much as we feel necessary, but the reality is that I never feel prepared to do something until the opportunity is actually knocking. Humans are like no other creatures on this planet. One major factor that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our cognitive abilities. The ability to create with our minds is truly limitless.
As a professional stuntman for the motion picture industry, my physical condition is a top priority. Bumps and bruises come with the job so, preservation is key. I find myself becoming more proactive, “Work smarter instead of harder.” Put slightly differently, I prefer to take a logical approach, not a reactive one! We should all truly be smarter in how we think about fitness. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used my gym/club membership? What would happen if I took the stairs to my office for a week? How many pushups can I do throughout an entire day? Can I squeeze a 10 min stretch in before my meeting?”
One small thing that has aided fitness progression is finding time everyday to foam roll my muscles. This is something everyone can easily do themselves which would help eliminate most aches and pains. I use an array of products by “Trigger Point Therapy” (www.tptherapy.com). Fascia is the soft tissue inside of our bodies covering everything from our organs, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. When it covers our muscles, it is called myofacia and when it is stressed, overused, or traumatized, it can tear and adhere together. When this happens we get knots in our muscles or "trigger points" and this is often the cause of pain which prevents our muscles from working properly. In layman's terms, rolling out our muscles helps get the knots out that restrict movement. It's like having your own personal massager.
Simple little changes in the way we live our daily lives can have a drastic long term effect, but this takes time and diligence. The same principal can be applied to how and what we eat. Once again, ask yourself, “Can I not drink soda for a day, a week, a month? Do I really need that larger order of French fries with my burger? With my steak, can I substitute the loaded mash potatoes with the vegetable of the day?” I'm sure you have heard of portion control. Don't stress yourself out with a specific time table of what and when to eat. Trust your body and be smart. Eat when your truly hungry and not because you are bored, nervous, or any other irrational reasons you may come up with. Just keep your portion control in check. This simple concept took me a good 3-4 diets to figure out.
Another habit worth trying is substituting a meal with a protein drink. I like this all organic plant based mix called “Raw Meal” by Garden of Life (www.gardenoflife.com). Try mixing it with an organic goat milk, almond milk or coconut water. If you need an energy boost, try mixing it with raw coconut water by “Harmless Harvest” (www.harmlessharvest.com). There is even one with fair trade coffee that will help energize you naturally. If we can do better job at distinguish what we need from what we want, we can start to make healthier choices everyday.
Yes we all would love to have that perfect “HARD” body with low body fat and muscles on top of muscles but most people who look like that usually don't have a regular 9-5. They look like that because it is their full time job whether they are an actor, model, or athlete. For the most part, they have a team around them controlling what they eat, how they look and what they do. The average person doesn’t have that luxury but if you did, would looking like that really help you live your life better? What is it really that would make you happy in life?” Do you want to be able to play with you kids without back pain? How about hiking along the Grand Canyon? Write a novel? Or even travel the world? Are you fit to do any of these? What about some? None at all? Whatever our goals may be, we have to start taking care of our bodies better each day little by little so when the time comes, we can enjoy our experiences to their full potential. Until science catches up with us, we only have one body so lets take care of it.
Lets face it, nobody is built exactly the same or has the same biological make up so lets be smarter by making the right decisions for ourselves. We need to recognize and accept what we personally need as the unique individuals we are. Since I changed careers about 6 years ago from a desk job as a designer to the active lifestyle of a stuntman for the film industry, I have found that my body needed some changes as well. Now I need to look the part. I need my version of a “HARD” body to be flexible, with a strong core, physical strength, lean muscle, and endurance and agility. Not an easy task by any standard but I have figured out a system that works for me. This didn’t happen over night. I started just like many others by trying different diets and workout routines but instead of trying to find that one perfect diet or workout that will do it all (like advertised on TV), I try them from anywhere between 10-30 days. Just enough time where I could get a good grasp on what each has to offer me.
Recently, I have heard from a few friends that vegan athletes have a faster recovery time from workouts and injuries. Right about the same time I had a minor injury to my quadriceps/knee so I decided to give this a try for 10 days. Surprisingly the 10 days went well since I wasn’t working out as hard as I normally do due to my injury, I decided to extend it to 30 days I can't say that I am a believer and completely converted over to a vegan lifestyle, but it did give me a little more insight on how I could be eating healthier. No matter what, the healthier you are will give you the best chances for recovery faster and more efficiently. From this little experiment I was able to change the way I look at what I choose to eat. A little better than before. Isn't that all we can truly ask for? Each diet/food fad usually tells you to eliminate certain food groups but our bodies are all different. Our bodies can be our best teachers, if we know how to listen to them. They tell us when we are tired, hungry, injured, working properly or not. But we have to be willing to take the time to explore and understand how our bodies work just like any worth wild relationship, this take time and commitment!
Real change rarely happens overnight but with a little time and patience, anything is possible. Don't try to get rid of your bad habits all at once. nstead try adding one new good/positive habit into your daily life. If you manage to keep that good habit for a few days then try adding another one, and then another one and eventually you will see those bad habits are no longer there! Perfection in its final state is static and boring, but to strive for it is not and will move you forward on a journey in which you can truly live life the way it was intend. Remember, life is a marathon, not a sprint so take it one step at a time. There are 365 days in the year so if you make one new positive habit a day just imagine what you can accomplish!