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14 days before the Pro Show

October 20, 2012

It’s 14 days out from the IDFA Pro show in Missisauga, ON!

The commitment to compete was made back in September 2011. From the date of commitment until now there have been a number of different life directions that vie for my attention. Many of these other ‘things’ have taken me away from 100% focus towards the competition goal.

Allowing myself these distractions has greatly enhanced how my life is unfolding. Instead of keeping myself ALWAYS on track, I really appreciate the ‘appreciation’ of unexpected gifts that life can bring.

During the summer we took 6 weeks to drive across the country… while preparing for a professional natural bodybuilding competition. I would never have allowed myself so much ‘slack’ time a few years ago.

Now… it’s 14 days out.

At this point I am weighing in at 157lbs and am very near stage–ready. To provide perspective… back in 2009 when I first competed, I was onstage at 148 lbs… now, with very near the same amount of body fat I’m a solid 157 lbs.

From April 2010 – November 2012 I’ve gained between 6-8 lbs of solid muscle. It feels good to see what the body can do with somewhat modest & consistent effort. There have been lots of casual, travel & relaxed months within this 2 years.

Now… it’s 14 days out.

I’m running full speed in my daily life and am feeling a number of physical effects. Not sleeping enough lately, combined with an aggressive diet and intense workout has combined to create a lethargic, slightly irritable and sore man.

Today is a reefed day. I knew this because my brain is no longer functioning the way it should and my sex drive has virtually disappeared. These are big signals that I had not even noticed until last night.

At this point my refeeds range from 1:7 days to 1:4 days. I’m thinking I’ll have a least 1-2 more before peak week in 7 days. So far I’m a few hours into the reefed day and am writing a blog entry. This is good.

Carbs Today + Sleep Tonight = Happy Cam tomorrow!

Posted in Fitness, Life Lessons, motivation, Personal Development.

Learning from Frank Zane

Frank Zane is one of the world greatest professional bodybuilders. In addition to being a 3 time Mr.  Olympia champion, Frank has also been teaching others since his retirement from bodybuilding in 1983.

Ever since I started working out in grade nine I have dreamed of looking like Frank Zane. While all the kids were freaking out about Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Dorian Yates (he was the reigning champion at the time) I just saw Frank’s physique and knew that is my ideal. Heck, it’s most of humanity’s ideal.

Fast forward 18 years… I’ve entered the realm of Amateur Natural Bodybuilding and received some acclaim. My body tends to respond very well to exercise and I’ve noticed the inklings of a great physique amid my small 5′ 6″ frame.

One of my many dreams in life has been to meet Mr. Zane in person and gleen whatever knowledge & experience he was willing to share. I’ve known about his “Zane Experience” for a few years and had kept saying “one day I’ll go”. Since one day never actually arrives, I simply decided to book an appointment and drive from Vancouver, BC to San Diego, CA to see him.

Fast forward to the experience…. meeting Frank Zane is like meeting a childhood hero (actually that’s EXACTLY what it is). The first few minutes are spent in wonder as I question whether this is actually real of not. I expected this would happen and looked forward to the feeling to go away. It’s not that I don’t respect him, it’s that I needed to see him as another man. A regular man that has done great things.

Life lesson #1: Put NO man on a pedestal

This way it’s easier to do what he has done, and he cannot fall off of the ground. Putting any person on a pedestal provides psychic ammunition to talk yourself out of any worthwhile achievement.

  1. It can prevent a person from being able to ‘relate’ to their hero. If I see him as better than I am, or more valuable, then it stands to reason that I may not see myself as having what it takes to do what he did. Of course, it’s possible that I don’t actually have what it takes, but I’ll let the world decide that for me since it’s good enough at providing challenge.
  2. A pedestal is also something that a person can fall from. Anytime we put someone higher than us its simply a matter of time until we realize they are human. No human is perfect. We all make mistakes and have character flaws. When someone is on this figurative pedestal they will, inevitably, fall off when we find flaws.
  3. It’s also unfair to anyone to be placed upon a pedestal. It encourages their belief that they are better than others and makes it easier for them to develop greater ego issues.

It’s possible to show respect without being submissive or sub-ordinate to another person.

Life lesson #2: Talk Less, Listen More

As the younger person I can have a tendency to want to interject and provide my own opinion on all kinds of topics that come up. Then I realize why I’m there… it’s to learn FROM Mr. Zane, not try to teach him anything new.

I’m not saying that my knowledge is un-valuable, or incorrect, it’s simply to say that I am paying money to listen to Frank. He didn’t pay money to learn what I have to say.

There’s actually two parts to this lesson of talking less. One, I paid for a service and should listen to his advice. 2. As a younger person it’s becoming clearer to me that more experienced people deserve to be allowed to speak MORE than the younger person. They have been around this earth for longer than younger people and have learned things that we cannot even grasp yet. If I want to this that my life experience is more than someone else then… I’m an idiot.

It tends to be a safer bet to listen to people with more experience and add ideas/comments when it makes sense in the context of conversation, not based on when I get excited about something and want to jump in.

Life lesson #3: If you want to be the best, you need to meet the best

In order for me to take my game up to the next level it is absolutely invaluable to meet people that LIVE on that next level. I need to understand how they think & act…. then think how they do, and act how they act.

Meeting with Frank has given incredible insight into the traits of a superstar. Guess what? They’re not magical or unbelievable. In fact, the information he has is less valuable than the experience of being near him.

It’s not the knowledge of a secret weight/rep/rest scheme, or a special combination of macro nutrients. Just witnessing his confidence and persistant work ethic (the ACTUAL secret to success) makes it easier for me to give myself permission to increase my own belief-in-self.

Life lesson #4: Have an eye on the long-term

I am incredible fortunate to gain advice from Frank on long-term consequences of decisions. One specific question was “If you had the chance to start again, would you train the same way you had in the past?”. His answer “No. I’ve learned too much through injury and would be more careful next time.”.

Something might be fun & exciting today, but remember that every action (whether in the gym, or anywhere else in regular life) has an ultimate consequence.

Life lesson #5: Believe THEN achieve

Frank said that in order to WIN, you must win in your mind before ever stepping foot on the stage. It must be an all pervasive thought. It must be so pervasive that the concept of losing doesn’t exist in your mind. When you walk out on stage you have to act (and believe) as though the judges are fortunate to have the opportunity to see you.

Posted in Life Lessons, motivation, Personal Development.

Knowing what you want

I may not always know what I do want, but knowing what I do NOT want can be a useful tool. In my past life I was married at 21 years old. This was an excellent learning opportunity as I stumbled my way through a young, immature and abusive relationship for 4 years.

Coming out of the relationship I still didn’t know what I wanted in life, but I sure as hell knew what I would never every put up with in a romantic relationship every again. That clarity allowed me to outline all of my future relationship agreements with great success. Since then I have not had a single romantic partner even come close to abusing me.

Right now I am in the middle of a deep learning phase in life where I’m trying on different ways of living (nothing new here) and determining what I want vs. what I don’t want.

There are a few thoughts & feelings kicking around and I expect them to be clarified in the coming months as I keep thinking about these from different angles, journalling on a regular basis and discussing with friends.

Posted in Life Lessons.

Walking in another mans shoes…

“If I could be you, if you could be me for just one hour,
If we could find a way to get inside each other’s mind,
If you could see you through my eyes instead your own ego
I believe you’d be surprised to see that you’ve been blind..”

~ Elvis Presley

I am so incredibly thankful to continue learning new things every day. Today contained a particularly powerful lesson that I want to share.

Lately I’ve been stressed (to say the least) about my job. During this time, the quality of my work has been communicated to me as either:

  • Barely acceptable, or
  • Unacceptable.

Notice there is no ‘exceptional’ in that bullet list. There are two reasons for this… some of my work has not been exceptional, yet other work has been exceptional and does not receive positive recognition.

Now I find that whenever I hear from my supervisor it’s for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. To provide me with work tasks, or
  2. Reprimand me for unacceptable work.

I’m not saying that sunshine should be blown up my ass, however I am becoming acutely aware of the devastating effect that negative feedback has on morale & performance. At this point my intrinsic motivation to produce excellent work is down to zero because there will only be neutral or negative feedback as a result. My only goal is to work to avoid being criticized.

Now when I look back over my work & personal life I can CLEARLY see how I have treated others in a similar manner. When I think about how I’ve treated others and compare it to how I am feeling as the receiver of such judgement and negativity… it makes me cry with pain. The pain I feel for the hurt I have caused people. People that I love. I cry with the pain I feel inside my heart for being so thoughtless. I have regret.

“There is never as much value in being right as there is in being happy.” ~ Me

As much as I get focused on specific projects in life, the only ‘projects’ that hold any genuine value are the relationships I share with others.

While the process of receiving negativity has been quite hurtful lately, I am 100% grateful for being part of it. I am grateful to take the chance to feel as others have felt. I am letting go of the regret, making apologies where I can and moving forward.

Being the person on the receiving end of negativity has allowed me to walk in the shoes of others that I have wronged. I get it. I am aware. Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and invite this bad habit to leave my life.

PS – I have also discovered that as much as I have been critical of others, it is only a shade of how critical I am of myself. This opened up an entirely new realm where I am considering the words & feelings I direct toward myself with the intention of increasing peace & compassion.

Posted in Life Lessons.

Never tell a programmer how to do his job

While running Blueline Safety I had the chance to learn how to build a website. Actually, it was the chance to learn how to ‘get a website built’ for me. This isn’t as easy as one might think.

After years of working with web developers, and multiple versions of our site being created, and recreated, I’ve learned my job. As the client I have the responsibility to tell the programmer what my goals are. His job is to utilize the most effective way to get here.
Could you imagine going to a mechanic and telling him ‘how’ to install your clutch? He’d throw you out of the shop.

I learned this lesson with life today. Back in August I had wrote about the things I wanted, and didn’t want in my life. One of the things I didn’t want was to be an employee. What a silly statement. Why is it silly?

Because I’m eating my words. Recently I was hired into a management position with a local safety association. The job is an excellent career opportunity for me. More importantly here are some of the other things it does does for me:

  • Provides consistent income,
  • Allows me to have complete autonomy over my work schedule & location (I can work from home whenever I want),
  • An opportunity to influence the organization,
  • 100% encouragement to learn new skills and implement new ideas,
  • My contribution is valued,
  • Lots of vacation time and a better benefits/compensation package than I ever would have expected as a person with no formal education.

It’s not that I didn’t want a job. It’s that I didn’t want what I thought a job represented. Confinement. Lack of autonomy. Lack of challenge.

Lesson: Know the ‘way’ I want to live, and how I want to express myself in this world. Let the world work out the details 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized.

Breaking through barriers and the value of experience…

In September 2009 I had just started a 7 month journey to transform my body using nothing more than focus, determination, healthy eating and a rigorous training regime. However there were a few barriers (to say the least).

  • One of these barriers laid in my image of self. Until this time I had NEVER been ripped. I had never had a six-pack. As a consequence I found self-sabotage come and kick my ass whenever I started growing past my current ‘best-self’.
  • Another barrier was simply lack of experience. Do you ever notice that it seems to take longer to get somewhere if it’s the first time you’ve ever been? This happens to me on road trips all the time. Since I had never done anything like this in the past I had NO idea what would happen, how it would happen or what I should be feeling. This contributed a LOT of uncertainty and 2nd guessing along the journey.

We’ve been back in Canada for 3 months now. Since that time I’ve dropped 12 lbs of fat (gained while enjoying world beers & hearty meals throughout Europe), while following a diverse and moderately strict diet. However it’s barely impacted my lifestyle. Meal planning is so easy, and 2nd nature now, that I had to write this blog post as a personal reminder of how far I’ve come… and to let others know that it gets easier with practice.

I’m leaving on a 2 1/2 day road trip to Victoria tonight. During this time I’ll be visiting with my sister, holding a sales meeting for work, meeting with other friends, going to a physio and dentist appointment… and working out twice a day… ALL while following a 100% compliant bodybuilding competition prep diet. In fact, getting my food ready for this trip took less than 15 minutes. I’ve got the rubbermaid all packed up and can’t believe how simple it was.

Oh, and the idea of breaking through a barrier has been a landmark lesson for me. Now I am impatient at how long it’s taking me to get ripped although everything is exactly on track, the idea is that I CAN picture this and am actively moving toward the goal with no self-sabotage anymore.

Here’s a pic of my travel stuff ready to go:

  • gym back
  • clothing backpack
  • Rubbermaid
    • workout & nutrition guide (duotang)
    • food scale
    • George Foreman grill
    • raw oatmeal with cinnamon & nutmeg
    • protein powder
    • daily vitamins/fish oil
    • cottage cheese
    • egg whites
    • eggs
    • broccoli
    • zucchini
    • raw almonds
    • organic natural peanut butter
    • rice cakes (if I’m dying for a snack)
    • my favourite omelette-making frying pan & spatula

“You can make excuses, or get results… but you can’t have both.”

I don’t make excuses.

Posted in Fitness, Life Lessons, Nutrition.

Pain vs. Pleasure

The sooner we recognize that our entire lives are driven by these two powerful forces, the sooner we can take control of our behaviours.

In the past, (and occasionally still) I’ve had challenges around changing my habits when it comes to junk food. These challenges were put under a gigantic spotlight while preparing for my first natural bodybuilding competition where junk food was 100% NOT permitted.

In order to help my mind see foods in a different light I spent some time and made these visual reminders. They sit on the fridge door, and I look at them every day of my life. It’s funny, looking at these now isn’t as big a deal, of course I crave almost nothing on the ‘bad foods’ list anymore. I honestly don’t know how much of my perception has changed just from having these simple tools, but every bit helps. I will keep these for a long time.

Fear/Pain Motivation

The things I don’t want. Clogged arteries, early  death, heart attack. These are bad. Cookies, ice cream sandwiches, pizza, burgers/fries all contribute to these health issues. They all contribute to the things I don’t want.

Of course people will say “but, a couple cookies here and there won’t kill you.” I agree, this is about changing habits, not creating absolutes. Once I am in control of a habit, then I allow myself to indulge when appropriate (once in awhile), not anytime I get a craving.

Hope/Pleasure Motivation

In addition to knowing what to avoid, I created a clear picture of what I want. What I am passionate about. This helps me stay on a clear track for living a healthy life.

Posted in Fitness, Life Lessons, motivation, Nutrition.

Finding/Creating a New Life

On June 23, 2010 Amara and I had sold almost all of our possessions, quit our current jobs and moved to Europe for an indefinite period of random travel and life experiences. Part of my intention in coming here was to simplify and get away from the daily distractions of regular life. To have the mental space to really consider how I wanted to live in the next 5-10 years.

About a month into the trip I realized we had been so ‘busy’ trying to ‘simplify’ our life that I hadn’t taken the time to invest quality thought into what the heck I actually want to to.

Now I am living (by myself) in a house in Paris while Amara is in Berlin for the month of August. During this time I’m learning French during the week and have the evenings/weekends to myself. This is where I am finally easing into the mental space needed to get this thinking started.

Living in this house, completely alone, has been a pretty interesting experience. For the first week I was paranoid at night time. Being in a completely foreign house with weird sounds coming from all over made my imagination get a bit active, however it calmed down soon enough and now I’m much more comfortable here.

There is a lot of time spent in complete silence.

Some days I wake up motivated and ready to take on the world. I get up, do some vigorous exercise then head to school with a great attitude. Other days I drag myself out of bed, do no physical exercise and end up being late for school… with a much less-than-great attitude.

It’s only been today (after living here for 15 days) that I finally ‘get it’. It happened while I was doing internet research. I was looking for buddhist retreat centres near Berlin and was thinking about spending a week at one of these places. The goal was to take time to have mental space to think about life. Then I realized that I’m living that life this very minute.

I have a very peaceful, comfortable environment, all the amenities I could ever need., lots of physical space and lots of time to devote to quiet thought.

So here I am. Thinking. Of course I need to write down what I’m thinking because I forget. This is where the blog comes in.

Things that are important:

  • Being free of monthly bills is a great feeling. Something I like to the idea of keeping for a long time. Yet at the same time I do want a house one day (whether it’s a rental or purchase I’m not sure yet).
  • Having the time to pursue passions, spend time with friends/family, is awesome.
  • Being able to inspire others through action/idea is vitally important.
  • Literally ‘creating’ how I live is important.
  • Having the money to do whatever I want is important.

Things I love:

  • I love the topic of motivation,
  • I love the topic of psychology,
  • I love learning,
  • I love using my body kinetically,
  • I love adventurous stuff (skydiving, scubadiving, etc)
  • I love thinking
  • I love doing
  • I love creating
  • I love learning about nutrition and fitness
  • I love teaching/instructing
  • I love making money
  • I love working really hard
  • I love playing really hard
  • I love time by myself

Things I will not tolerate:

  • Living the way I’m “supposed to”
  • Working as an employee scratch the ’employee’ thing and read this post. What a good lesson.
  • Living without questioning everything (starting with myself)

Amara and I have talked about joining forces on a new project during (or after) this trip. We both value a flexible lifestyle and figure that if we can build a business together it would be the best option. That being said, we haven’t come up with a ‘plan’ yet of exactly what that would be, or how it would work.

Here are some ideas:

Start a website (this is a given).

I’ve purchased a bodybuilding-related web domain and am thinking about what to do with it. Ever since leaving Canada I’ve craved a gym so bad (they’re not that accessible in France) and have thought about the kind of growth I experienced while training for the last competition. It left quite an impression on me.

This website may just be a bodybuilding-related blog, yet there is potential for other directions as well. It could sell vitamins and natural supplements, there could be event listings for bodybuilding competitions across Canada, it could showcase competitors, it could sell ebooks, have audio programs, offer virtual personal training. There are so many options. In one way, I want to do all of them and at the same time I know that focus is what brings success. More thinking to do here.

Become a Personal Trainer (virtual and/or in person)

Virtual requires time in front of a computer, which would be great to minimize. Yet it also provides location flexibility. In person is more active. Yet is very location specific and requires more marketing effort. Amara would also need to fit into this somehow. She’s not a numbers person, so she wouldn’t do the books. We would have to figure something out.

Write E-book(s)

This is a great way to make passive income. Once the book is written it pays for itself within the first few sales. There would be a TON of time investment to research topics and create an effective collection of marketing strategies. I estimate 200 hours of effort to go from zero to having a complete book written, marketed and sold.

Open a store/franchise (ice cream store or something)

A bit more traditional and, well, the idea just feels nice. There’s something about going to work every morning that makes me warm and fuzzy inside. My favourite thing is to actually be the person that opens up the shop/store, turn on all the lights and warm the place up. I like routine. And just the idea of running a little ice cream shop (or something similar) feels good. Of course it means we would either be: location dependent, or have to have excellent employees. Realistically it would be a combination of both. The first year would like be lots of overtime on our part as we got trained, then trained a team of people to take over for us while we traveled.

Provide personal life coaching

This goal is more oriented to me specifically than to Amara and I both. It’s been a goal of mine for about 5 years now and was planned to be pursued in another 10 years. I used to think that a person couldn’t legitimately claim such a title without having at least been alive for awhile. That being said, this is a potential option. I’m not going crazy over it yet because I still feel it should be awhile before I would be qualified. It’s just that I’ve helped SO many people in the last year with all kinds of personal issues that maybe it’s time to start considering this.

Start businesses

I’ve got stupid amounts of motivation sometimes. When it burns, it burns red-hot. This is what makes businesses get off the ground. I’ve done it twice and will be doing it a few more times before I kick the bucket. I’ve considered helping new business owners by running their company for the first 1-2 years then stepping back as it grows. My only compensation would be a share of ownership and some ongoing income AFTER the business is profitable. It’s an idea.

Of course I could just start my own businesses then take on CEO’s to manage them for me as I pursue other passions. In general, I love business. But I don’t want to sell them. I think they can be an excellent source of ongoing revenue, and provide all kinds of opportunities for creativity. I picture having 4-5 businesses all running in the next 10 years and being able to jump into one (as an employee or contractor) for a couple months at a time, work my butt off, and have fun.

Grow or Modify Blueline Safety Ltd.

My current business. It was incorporate just before we left Canada. I put some trusted people in place to manage things for me and, at this time, I can actually work from my laptop in France and have services being provided to clients in BC while making money. It’s not huge by any means, but there is potential there. I just need to think more about how/if I will improve this model.

Start a Fitness Retreat Cente

I LOVE being fit, and I love helping others get fit. This could be a great way for Amara and I to live a healthy lifestyle while helping others. I picture a place where we would teach classes on nutrition and various types of exercise. It would be coupled with hikes, runs, yoga, weight training or any other physical activity we wanted to host.

This would also open up the idea of having ‘experts’ come onsite to run specialized workshops for meditation, vegan cooking or any number of health/fitness related ideas. It would also open up the opportunity to offer ongoing in person/virtual personal training services for people that wanted ongoing support after their retreat stay.

We could live in this place as our home base, and travel as we liked as long as there were trusted people to run the place while we’re away.

That’s all for now. There will be more soon.

Posted in Life Update, Personal Development, Professional.

Kinda excited

So I’m in the middle of the highest demand project in the history of my company.

And I’m doing this on my own… almost. Trevor came in, and helped me greatly over the past couple days. This has been a tremendous relief.

Now we’re close to finished and I can feel the excitement building for our trip to Europe.

We’ve sold about half of our things so far with more to go.


Posted in Fun.

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Creative cooking while travelling…

I’ve been reinvigorated to take a fresh approach to healthy eating, which is well-timed because I’m on the road all week. First I was working Squamish then spending two days in Mission followed by another two days in Vancouver with friends & family.

Staying ‘on-plan’ can be challenging under normal circumstances, yet doing this while travelling is usually even harder… unless you change your perspective.

Now I’m making it an intellectual challenge to create/discover and try new ways to cook healthy food while saving money and keeping my body healthy. The first ‘experiment’ is for tomorrows food. Chicken breast while travelling has been a pain-in-the-butt. I would pre-cook all of my chicken at home then pack in a cooler. However if I’m gone for four days then it makes for some pretty ‘unfresh’ food.

Tonight I went to Save On Foods and bought some boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets. Then I got a shaker of Ms Dash (no salt/sugar) Lemon Herb Seasoning and some 1% milk.

Back at the hotel I began two experiments concurrently.

  1. Coffee Pot Cooking – Yes, you read correctly. I found this awesome article that gives some really creative ways to cook when you spend lots of time in a hotel. So of course I had to try it.
    • Put the chicken cutlets in the plastic ice bag (courtesy of Best Western), add Lemon Herb Seasoning and shake,
    • Put the coated chicken in the coffee pot and add some water (just enough to cover the bottom 1/3 of the chicken,
    • Turn on the coffee machine (don’t add water anywhere else),
    • Let cook until it looks cooked then flip the chicken and add some milk,
    • Keep cooking until done.
  2. Microwave Cooking – This is pretty simple. Do the same as above but put the food in the microwave instead. The machine here is ultra high power and had them cooked in less than 5 minutes!

The coffee pot here is pretty weak (the element doesn’t get super hot) so I finished off the coffee pot chicken in the microwave. When finished I was left with a nice smelling, good tasting chicken meal with a light sauce. Mix this with some Edamame and just like that you have a portable-easy-to-make meal!

Posted in Uncategorized.