Friday, January 26, 2018

A New Year, A New Focus.


.2018. The sound of it is scary. The ugly truth of that statement is the fact that the years are flying by and everyone is getting older. Every morning I look in the mirror and I find a new wrinkle. Even though we are getting older, every January 1 brings an opportunity to change. This is a time for new beginnings, a rejuvenated hope, and endless possibilities to grow as a person. It gives you a chance to become whoever you want to be. But as we change and evolve, new obstacles will arise. If we don’t adapt to the change, we will continue to live our life on replay as time passes us by. For some, change is inevitable. As we change we must shift our focus from who we were to who we will become.

George Lucas said, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” I believe this statement is very true, but our focus and reality changes as we age. Many times, our focus of what we want to do and who we want to become is blurred by distractions. Other times our focus must shift in order to take on new responsibilities. As we move into this New Year, ask yourself, what is your focus in 2018? Will I continue to focus on the distractions that don’t allow me to grow, or will I focus on what will allow me to grow? This year my focus will shift to a new reality. Fatherhood.

For those of you who read my last article, “What Are You Running for?” I revealed the courage and strength my wife has as we embark on our IVF journey. In 2018, our IVF journey will slowly come to an end as a new light will shine. I’m no spring chicken, and the thought of fatherhood scares me. The fear of losing freedom and my wanderlust personality will slowly fade as we inch closer and closer to adding a member to our family. Am I ready for fatherhood? I don’t know, but is anyone ever ready for a child? I don’t know that either.

Everyone tells me children are a blessing, and at times I have a hard time believing them. The thought of dirty diapers, the excessive crying, the screaming, the additional financial cost and the
added responsibility is a very real reality coming my way. But, if I focus on the negative, it will determine my reality. I can focus on the negative or choose to focus on the positive to determine my reality of what fatherhood is. Fatherhood is much more than the ugly truth of unwarranted diaper changes and screaming. It’s about a new selfless focus of responsibility with unconditional love.

At the end of 2018, the definition of what fatherhood means to me will change. I can only assume that fatherhood will require me to be comfortable with being a hero to someone (next blog) while also being respectful of the power of what being a hero entails. Being a father does have one advantage over being a mom. Stress-induced gray hair on a dad is actually viewed as a prestige rite of passage. For now, I’ll focus on the reality that future gray hair from fatherhood will make me appear very wise and distinguished.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What Are You Running For? I Run For Cool Running.

Over the past several years, one simple mud run in the panhandle of Florida has led to an obsession of running.  Since that day, I have been asked by many, “Why are you running?” “What are you running for?” and “How much longer do you think you will keep running?”  I run for Cool Running.
 
People run for many reasons.  I started running as a means to support a friend when he called me and told me he wanted to lose weight.  He lost nearly 140lbs and accomplished his goal of running a Tough Mudder. You can read more about his story at “the power of 225” in my blog.  Following this obstacle course race, OCR, my obsession and reason for running changed.  
 
I continued to run not only because I enjoyed the races, but I wanted to make it a way to give back to various charities. These charities included The Prostate Research Foundation and the 31 Heroes Project.  During this time, deep down I really just wanted to push myself further than I ever pushed myself before.  Two years after I began this journey, I ran 40 miles at the World’s Toughest Mudder in 2016.  But this wasn’t enough. 

During this race, I came up with the idea of my Mile 12 Concept blog.  I wanted to share my story and help motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle.  Even from this point, the reasoning behind my running has changed again.

A month following this race, life began to throw everything it had at me. Not only did our dog injure her knee that required surgery, but my wife and I were hit with the hard news that many couples face.  We are unable to have children unless we go through the IVF process.  At first, this was a tough pill to swallow and one that I hope others do not have to endure.
 
For those of you who do not know, this process can be very expensive and stressful.  This process is both physically and mentally draining.  My wife being the all-star she is, researched everything about IVF. From the retrieval to the transfer, she knew it all and was ready to go! Then the injections started and the discomfort that led to the retrieval.  I saw this strong woman sacrificing herself, so we may have kids.  Seeing her strength through her struggle motivated me.  It pushed me to train harder and run farther.

Over the next 2 months, I saw her status change through the IVF process.  Following her retrieval, she was hospitalized overnight for hyper-stimulation and dehydration.  She remained strong and continued to push through the hard times.  After the retrieval of 68 eggs, we ended with 11 embryos that were placed in a freezer to allow her body to recover and, so she may have a second surgery.  As we progressed through our challenges, I continued to run with her motivating and pushing me through my training.  It was at this point that we began to use a code word for this IVF process.   Cool Running.  Cool means frozen. Running means our Journey.

5 days before I left for World’s Toughest Mudder 2017, my wife had her second surgery.  She recovered well but this didn’t make it any easier leaving.  The tough decision to leave while she was recovering was not an easy one.  While away for my race, she continued to encourage and support me.  My why for running changed and adapted from wanting to push my physical and mental limits while raising money for various charities to running for her.  Prior to the race I wrote the letters “IVF” as a symbol of my wife’s courage and strength through our IVF journey.

The clock struck noon and the race began. I was running well, and my body was feeling great.  At the 10-hour mark I was 35 miles in and on course to hit my 75-mile goal.  It was at this point that my race plan changed for the worst.  It became extremely cold in the desert night, and I was having difficulty regulating my body temperature.  As I laid in my tent wrapped in a sleeping bag, I saw my goal slowly slip away.  I told myself, all I need is 3 more laps and I’ll beat my results from last year by 10 miles.  I began to replay the past through my mind and saw the strength my wife had through her challenges.  She never quit, and I wouldn’t either.  3 hours passed, and I hit the course again.  I remained cold, but I continued to push on requiring another long break to warm up.  Still cold, exhausted and ready to quit, I went out for my last 2 laps hitting the 50-mile mark.

At the beginning of this article I asked, “Why are you running?” Many people ask me this same question.  The reasons I run have evolved yet the underlying reason continues to be the same.  I run for my wife.  I run for others.  I run because it is hard.  I run so I am prepared to endure the pain and hardships that life may throw at me in the future.  I run for Cool Running's.

People call me crazy for putting myself through these physically demanding events.  That’s okay! They are not for everyone. I will continue to run for the people who say that I am crazy and incapable of any achievement as these negative thoughts and statements fuel my drive. Others ask, “How much longer will you continue to run obstacle course runs and subject yourself to such strenuous training and activities?” I don’t know, and I don’t have an answer for that. But I can tell you this.  When the shoes are worn, and I can no longer run, I will continue to run through life conquering each goal and achievement along the way.
 
Nothing in life will be more difficult or painful then running 50 miles in the desert for 24 hours.
 
 
It’s times like this that give me the strength to endure the news that my wife and I will require IVF in order to have a baby.  It’s times like this that give me the strength to endure sleeping on the floor next to my dog in a kennel as she cries herself to sleep following her surgery.  It’s times like this that give me the strength to endure negative situations at work that are mentally difficult.  It’s times like this where I stay up throughout the night with my wife because she is extremely ill. 

When your back is against the wall and life has you, what will you do? Stay where you are and blame everyone else, or will you continue to run? When times are hard, you know what you run for.  Run toward something. A goal. A passion. A loved one. Don't run away from it. 
The more you have to run for, the better you run and the more driven you become.
 
 


 
If your values and beliefs are aligned with the reason of why you run, you will work harder towards achieving success.  If not, your motivation and purpose will suffer and so will the team.


As we head into 2018, ask yourself this. What fuels you? When people call you crazy, what will continue to drive you forward toward your goal.  For me, it is my wife and future kids that I run for. I run for Cool Running.

 

 



 

 

 
 

 


 



 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Monday, August 21, 2017

Mt Elbert: 5 Lessons Learned From My Old Man While Hiking Colorado's Highest Peak


"Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach."
-Marcus Aurelius


A few months ago I posted a blog called, "Achieve Your Mountain".  In this article, I wrote about how I perceived success as a object sitting on top of a mountain waiting for you to reach it.  I still agree with that statement, however, following a recent trip to Colorado, I believe success is much more than achieving a positive end result or a goal.  Success is about the journey and the people you surround yourself with that will determine your end result.

In summer 2016, my father reached out to me and stated he wanted to hike a 14,000 foot peak for his 60th birthday.  Easy enough.  All I have to do is meet him at the Denver airport, rent a car and start marching our way to the to of a mountain.  I initially planned this summit weekend for August 2017.  This weekend would consist of reaching the top of four mountains all of which are over 14,000 feet tall. During the planning process,the first mountain we chose to hike would be Mount Elbert. Sitting at 14,439 feet tall and just outside Leadville Colorado, Mount Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest in the lower 48 states.  After month of planning and preparation, the time had come to hike the 4.5 miles to the top.  With 4,500 feet in elevation gain, we would find out this will be no easy task.

We started the hike to the top of Mt. Elbert at the northeast trail head at 5:30am.  This day was highly anticipated and we could not wait to sit on top of Colorado's highest mountain.  We began our hike up a few switch backs and south toward a sign at a fork in the trail.  We took a right at the sign which was labeled Mt. Elbert.  As we ascended towards the top, we occasionally took breaks to take our jackets off, refuel on cliff bars or take in the sights of the surrounding rocky mountain wild life.  Every thing was going as planned until mother nature had a different idea for us.  Anyone who has been to Colorado knows that the weather can be very unpredictable and can change very quickly.  Blue skies turned to grey and black thunderstorms. It began to rain.   After waiting in the trees for 15 minutes this system passed through and we were back on the trail.  As we reached the tree line we noticed many people coming down the mountain and gathering under trees.  A second storm developed and we were once again stuck under a tree in a thunderstorm.

After the storm passed, many hikers decided it was best for them to turn around and return to their vehicles.  Not me and my old man.  We stared Mt. Elbert in the face and we had come to far to turn back now.  After the storm passed, it was our turn to make our push to the summit.  With the skies blue and the image of the beautiful mountains of Colorado appeared,  we made our push to the summit.

The treeline is an area in which trees are capable of growing.  As the elevation of the mountain increases,  the oxygen percentage in the air decreases making it incapable for trees to grow.  This decrease in oxygen also plays a major role when it comes to hiking.  The higher a person hikes, there is a decrease amount of oxygen for a person to breath.  The higher we climbed, the lack of oxygen began to take a toll on my dad.  The higher we climbed, his pace began to slow down, rest breaks became more frequent and the thought of failure began to show face.


As time passed, we kept pushing our way to the top.  I noticed my dad was in pain but the old dog kept pushing onward.  As we hiked, we would pass people who would tell us, "not today" and "this is much harder then I thought. I need to turn back."  When we thought we almost made to the top, a snow storm began to approach.  We took shelter against the side of the mountain against large boulders thinking we would be protected from the storm.  People kept passing us on their descent trying to beat the bad weather approaching.  When everyone turned back, we embraced the storm.  It was 2:00pm when 50-60mph winds blasted snow into our face.  The storm didn't last long but it came with a punch.

Shortly after the storm passed, we began our ascent again toward what we thought was the summit. On Mt. Elbert, there are three false summits. As we approached the second false summit (13,900 ft elevation), we realized we were not even close to the top.  Sitting on top of this summit, we took a break.  As we rested, my dad would explain to me how humbling of an experience this is and he never imagined that this was so physically challenging.  He explained to me the amount of pain his knees were in and how hard it was for him to keep moving.  At his lowest point of the trip, I decided to facetime my nephew/his grandson.  "WOW GRANDPA! Where are you?" Ethan asked over facetime.  " I am so proud of you grandpa you are awesome!"  After eating his fair share of humble pie and hearing the words from my nephew, he had the energy and the courage to keep moving forward.  Slow and steady up the side of this mountain we kept pushing our way forward to the next false summit (14,300 ft of elevation)  With the end finally in sight, we took one last break before our final push to the top.

With each step forward,  we were getting closer and closer to achieving our goal. At 3:30 pm, 10 hours after we started our journey, 4,500 ft of vertical ascent and standing at 14,439 feet above sea level, we finally made it.  We were the only ones standing on top of Colorado's highest peak. When others turned back, we kept pushing forward.  As we stood on top of this mountain, it occurred to me that success is much more than a destination, its about the journey.

5 key lessons I learned hiking Mt. Elbert.


  • Success is a journey, not a destination.
    • Remember the journey and the people you encounter along the way.  Your journey to the top is just as important as the end goal.  Do good to others, encourage people to do great things, help others in need and embrace the hard times.
  • You're journey may change and evolve.  
    • Initially we planned for 4+ peaks with including other mountains like Long's Peak.  
    • Through the course of our journey and an unexpected difficulties. We manage to accomplish one peak.  At the end of the day we still achieved a goal we set.
  • Goals that you set may be harder than they appear. They may even have a false summit.
    • It is always better to over prepare for what challenges may be a head.
    • When you think you achieved your goal, it may be a false summit. The smaller goal blocks our vision until we achieve it. When then realize it is just a stepping stone to the bigger picture.
  • Eating humble pie.
    • The taste is horrible and tough to swallow.  During your journey you will be in a situation that will humble your arrogance.  
    • Eat it, digest it, learn from it and move forward.  Don't be discouraged.  Embrace it!
  • When others turn around, keep moving forward!
    • In your life there will be doubters, there will be people who turn back, there will be people who try to bring you down, there will be people who say your vision cant be accomplished.  Prove them wrong.
    • "Don't give up. Don't ever give up." --Jim Valvano 

    After embracing each other at the top, it was our time to turn around and make the descend down. Although I will never forget the moment the feeling I had of standing on top of Mt. Elbert with just myself and my dad,  I will never forget the struggle and hardship it took to make our journey to the top.  

    If you have a goal in mind that you want to achieve and experience the journey of success please sign up to my email list.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. 

    Over the next several months, I will be releasing a free online webinar. There will only be 25 spots available to the first 25 people who sign up to my emailing list.











    Monday, August 7, 2017

    GET MOVING! 4 easy steps on how I got off the couch and into the mud


    I know what you’re thinking, here is another motivational fitness blog that tells me to exercise. Yes. That is correct.  As a physical therapist, I work with many patients that are recovering from an injury that requires surgery, an overuse injury or chronic pain. Counter too many beliefs, the number one reason I see a patient is due to chronic pain from being inactive.  WE ARE SUBJECTS TO OUR ENVIRONMENT!  If we sit for long periods of the day, we become restricted in this position.  Our hips become tight, our core becomes weak and our tolerance to physical activity dwindles. Think of it this way, your body is kinda like a car.  It requires routine maintenance or it starts to break down.


    Before physical therapy school, I played college football.  During this time was in the best shape of my life.  I was working out 6 days a week.  When I was accepted into my physical therapy program in 2011, my body began to adapt to its environment.  Long school days with many hours of studying at night began to take its toll. Due to my schedule and long commute, I was unable to find the time necessary to stay in top shape.  My body began to change. I lost 35lbs in an unhealthy way.  I was 155lbs on a 6’1 frame at graduation (picture below) . My diet was terrible, my stress was extremely high and I my physical activity dwindled.  
    After physical therapy school and receiving my license, I started to practice my trade.  During the first year as a licensed physical therapist, I became very comfortable and slipped into a state of laziness. I increased my social drinking habits and played my fair share of video games.  It was not uncommon for me to drink a 6 pack of beer and eat a take-out pizza every Friday night.  My weight slowly began to return to an unhealthy and out of shape 190lbs (picture on below).
    At the end of this 2014, my friend called me and told me he achieved his extreme weight loss goal (refer to power of 225 Blog). Now, he wanted to run a tough mudder.  At this point I had no idea what a tough mudder was but I signed up anyways because that’s what friends do right? I figured it wouldn’t be hard to run a 5k in the mud.  Well, I discovered that I was wrong.  A tough mudder is a 12 mile run with very demanding obstacles.  I was not prepared to run 100 yards let alone a tough mudder. I knew at that moment I could either quit on my friend or start running.  I decided to run.

    4 KEY STEPS THAT GOT ME OFF THE COUCH AND INTO THE MUD! 

    • Starting:
      • Get off the couch! Plain and simple.  You cannot get in shape if you do not get off the couch.
    • Break your routine:
      • Some-one once asked me, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” 
      • Find something your passionate about and work towards it.

    • Create a Goal:
      • Get SMART- Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time
      • Create short goals that will keep you focused and encouraged through small victories that will allow you to achieve the bigger picture.
    • Run: 
      • Just get moving! You don’t have to literally run. You just have to believe in yourself and start moving!

    If you are having trouble finding the courage and you have know idea where to start? Subscribe today to my free mailing list for free up-coming webinars that will give you the tools you need to start moving!


    Thursday, June 8, 2017

    3 STEPS: How to create goals with VISION and a PURPOSE!

    Where will you be in the next 5 years? Furthermore, where do you see yourself in 3 years? 1 year? 1 week from now? What goals will motivate you to actually improve your life and others around you? Go ahead, take a second to answer this question before you continue to read. 
     
    Will you be standing on top of a mountain of success?

    Many of us are too blind to answer these questions due to poor vision.  Setting goals and achieving them increases self-satisfaction and the confidence to endure more difficult tasks life my throw at you.  Poor vision is the result of reduced ambition to create goals that we are ridiculously passionate about. For example, “I want to complete all my errands and house duties by the end of the week.” This is an example of a goal that many of us will make but are not very passionate about.  What will happen at the end of that week when all duties and errands are finished?  Will it really motivate you to achieve more in your life or will it take up your time in your schedule preventing you from doing what you are passionate about?  I believe that goals which lack substance are revolving tasks that fill up our time on a daily basis.  Goals without vision or passion that do not motivate you and will deny you the ability to become obsessive and passionate for other greater goals that are never attempted or created.

    In the previous articles, I presented the power of 225 and how one man’s journey changed the lives of people around him.  I explained how achievement is a mountain that success sits on top of.  Everyone has a 225 goal or a mountain but it is very difficult to acknowledge, create and pursue them. We become overwhelmed by the everyday life of nonproductive work. Our ambition, Gone.  Effort, Gone. Our ability to make a positive impact on others and be successful is stolen from us by the lack of desire and motivation to achieve more. 
    In the beginning of summer 2015, my brother-in-law came to me interested in running his first tough mudder.  He was pumped about finishing one but there was one obstacle in the way.  He is a diabetic.  In 2009 and almost 30 years old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  After many months of training and 12+ miles later he completed his first tough mudder.  You see, he created a vision of him at the finish line, made a SMART goal and became obsessive to complete it.  In the end he achieve his goal! Here is how he did it:  


    3 Steps:

    1     1. Create a solid VISION with a WHY!:
    ·  Think of something ridiculously awesome that you want to achieve. Example: climbing a mountain, completing a marathon, a tough mudder, losing an extreme amount of weight, ect.

    ·  Know your why! Doing something and not knowing why you are doing it will result in failure.  Why are you trying to achieve this goal?
    ·  Where do you see yourself in 1 month? 6 months? 1 year,? 3 years? 5 years?
    2     2. Get SMART
    ·   Specific: What do you want to achieve? What do you want to do that will change your life and make a positive impact on the people around you?
    ·  Measurable: Distance, length of time, weight loss/gain, elevation climbed, ect.
    ·  Actionable: Create a goal that you can control.  For instances, most running events require you to sign up months in advance.  So take action, sign up, train for it and hold yourself accountable!
    ·  Realistic: “I want to wash my clothes and finish the bills.” Yes this is realistic, but lets be honest, it SUCKS. This isn't a goal you can become passionate about.  It is boring and pathetic. Create something that appears out of reach yet realistic. “I want to run a half marathon or marathon” or “I want to hike a 14,000 foot peak.” These goals may appear out of reach for many but very obtainable with the proper training and game plan.
    ·  Timed: Be realistic with timing. You will not be able to perform a couch to Boston marathon completeion in 1 month.  Give yourself a realistic time frame for the specific goal.  For example, before I ran World’s Toughest Mudder 2016, I planned and trained for 2 years. Along the way, I created smaller 1-3 month goals to keep me focused on the larger picture.
      3. SHARING IS CARING!
    ·  Share your goals with others! If you share your goals with others this means you are extremely passionate about what you are trying to achieve.
    ·  Tell people about your VISION and WHY. This will help drive you to get it done!
    ·  People who do not share their goals with others will not risk anything due to fear of publicly failing.  Not sharing goals with others decreases your confidence and creates insecurities that may hinder your vision. Use the fear of failure to help drive you to the top of your mountain!
    ·  A goal that you cannot invest 100% of your effort towards and you do not care to share with others is not a goal worth making. Become obsessive and attack it!


    Remember the old saying, "Rome wasn't built overnight. " Creating and achieving your goal will not happen overnight either.  Time, commitment, obsession, passion, perseverance, strength and courage is needed to accomplish them. You will not only need the physical toughness to achieve your goal but the mental grit as well. You may have head of the quote by Eric Thomas, “You have to want to succeed more than you want to breath, then you will be successful.”  This means you have to hold your goal at such a high priority that it becomes as important to you as the air you breathe. Do you have what it takes create a vision and then the passion to conquer it?  


    Monday, May 8, 2017

    ACHIEVE YOUR MOUNTAIN!

    What does it mean to be successful? A question many of us ask but few are able to answer. Does it mean getting that big promotion at work only to realize that you now just answer to a different boss? Or, does it mean living pay check to pay check, working 70 hour weeks coming home at 4am every night all so you can pay to keep a roof over your children’s heads and food on their plates? Success, whether big or small, is still success.  Whatever your personal definition of success is, the dictionary defines it as the accomplishment of an aim, goal or purpose.  Believe it or not, success is a purpose or goal that sits on top of a mountain waiting for you to reach it.

    If success is the accomplishment of aim, I set my sights on unrealistic goals.  Many people are afraid of creating unrealistic goals and prefer to live in the status quo.  They fear failing, rejection and deny themselves the opportunity to succeed at something greater than they believe is possible.  Last summer, I invited a friend of mine, who was facing many struggles and obstacles in his life to join me on a hiking trip in Colorado. I challenged him to take a risk, set an unrealistic goal and let’s climb that unrealistic goal called a mountain.  He agreed.


    From the very beginning, the difficulty of Barr Trail was obvious.  This path that leads to the top of Pike’s Peak, is not a simple stroll through the park. When hiking a mountain in Colorado, it is not only physically challenging but mentally as well. The further we hiked, the more the elevation took a toll on my friend.  The higher you hike in elevation, the less oxygen there is in the atmosphere. As we pushed higher, the amount of negative thoughts increased. “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not capable of making it to the top” filled my friend’s head greatly discouraging him from achieving his goal.  With a mile remaining to the summit, I gave him an ultimatum.  “You can either find the courage to prove to yourself that you are capable of doing great things, or, you can quit on yourself and hike 11 miles back down to the car. The choice is yours.” I turned and began the last one mile to the top.  After many hours of oxygen deprived hiking and the constant battles with self-doubt, my friend made it to the 14,110ft summit. Success!

    As people progress through life, success is molded and formed from what other people perceive success to be rather than through personal accomplishments.  You begin to believe that you are not capable of achieving unthinkable tasks and worry more about what other people think of you.  You constantly worry about what type of car you drive, the brand of clothes you wear, the number of exotic places you have been, the number of children you have and what their accomplishments are.  This image you have created in fear of failure and rejection becomes a reality.  It becomes what you believe is success when really it is all based on what others created for you. Is this idea of personal self-fulfillment based on what others think, a success? That’s for you to decide. I tend to believe success sits on top of a figurative or literal obstacle, a mountain that can and will be climbed.


    What is your mountain in 2017? My mountain is Long's Peak. 14,259 feet above sea level. This year, break free of the status quo and join us this summer. August 9th-13th 2017, 4 mountains 3 days. If interested in joining us this summer, please contact me at Mile12Concept@gmail.com for further information. You don’t want to miss this!