Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's All You

Nearly six months ago I decided to pick my New Years Revolution. Want to guess what it was? That's right. It was the same thing it has been every year, the same thing almost all of us choose. To lose weight and get in better shape.

That was the goal. Simple enough. I've always been in alright shape, but I'm a big beer fan so the gut has been sufficiently present. And I've always been able to lift a lot of weight and make my arms big but I was never really in good shape. Just kind of...bigger. Not the sort of all around I'd wanted.

And I told myself this year the same thing I tell myself every year, "It's going to be different this time! I'm actually going to do it! I'm going to look and feel the way I want to look and feel! All my life I've had a goal and I've never done it, until now! Now is the time! I'll do it." But usually every year I'd get about two months in and life would happen, or laziness, or exhaustion, or boredom. And I'd quit. I'd go back to it off and on but I was ultimately a yo-yo.

But this year, boy, this year! I decided, though I always doubted they worked, to try the at home stuff. I'm too poor to afford an actual gym membership (which isn't free at our Apartment complex because that's how the fancy kids roll apparently), so I started P90X. And I kind of enjoyed it. Then I decided I wanted faster results and saw a preview for another program called Hip Hop Abs. (I'm pretty sure it's more designed for women but hey, I had fun.) So I ran both of those programs side by side in a sort of doubles workout.

Though I started noticing results, I would miss days because, again, life would happen. I'd rarely so Saturdays or Sundays if I was supposed to, and stuck to my diet sort of Monday through Friday...until Friday night. Then the weekends were anything goes.

90 days later I'd completed P90X and took my after photos. I was in BETTER shape, but I knew I hadn't really given it my all. I'd slacked off in my diet, cut days of the workout if I was tired, and still fell prey to my own excuses. As a result, I had decent results, but not the results I'd hoped for. I was still making excuses for myself. Not everyone is required to be as strict, many people want different things, but what I wanted from myself is what I've wanted since I was a kid. To be in the best shape of my life. So it was time to step it up. I knew I really had to get serious if I was going to achieve my goal. That pesky belly fat clings to you like you wouldn't believe and love handles make you feel anything but love.

So I went back over the recommended diet. Calculated my caloric intake, and realized the most important thing I've ever realized about myself. Not just in fitness, but in my personality, in my world, in everything that makes me do the things I do. There was no one standing in my way. Absolutely no one. The only person who had caused me to slack off, to make excuses, to prevent me from reaching my goal was...me.

It was all me.

I decided to bump up the intensity with the next Beachbody program titled Insanity. This kicked my butt like you wouldn't believe. See I thought I was ready for it because I did P90X. Wrong. I was tired and sore and sweating more than a man could sweat if he was having dinner with the Devil. I felt like I was dying. I almost puked actually. (That's not good, remember that. That's bad.)

But I knew I still had a long way to go. But these were at home workouts, meaning the privacy of my own home, meaning I did them alone, by myself. Sure the people on the screen can motivate and push but at the end of the day...it's just a DVD you can turn it off as simply as the next. In fact you don't even have to put the disc in. You can skip it. It's up to you.

But I realized if I wanted what I always pined after, what I saw tons of other people having, what I thought about or how I felt when I got jealous of others, that it wasn't their fault. I can blame them and cry "It's not fair!" all I want but that won't change a thing. The only person who could change me at the end of the day was me.

And that's one of the meanings of life. It's all you.

And after knowing that little nice piece of trivia about myself, about all of us. I got the results I'd been after.



But if you hadn't noticed by now during all the hardships you've faced in life, it isn't easy to be positive all the time, to be motivating, to be strong willed and determined. In fact that's the hardest thing to do. The easiest thing to do in life is nothing. It's easy to make excuses, to lie, to cheat, to steal, to explain to yourself why something is okay even though deep down you know it isn't. That, unfortunately, is the easiest stuff in life. The bad stuff.

And you know that part of you that tells you, "They're different from you. You'll never be like that. Just accept the way you are and forget about your hopes of being any different." Well that part of you is lying to you. The only truth is that they're different from you. We're all different. That's called being an individual. But there is a very important sameness we all share; the ability to do whatever it is you believe you can do.

Cue the cheesy motivational speech? Sure. Cue the cliche's? Why not. But do you know what? They wouldn't be so overused and cliche if they weren't true. And do you know what a lot of people's reactions are to things like that, "you can do what you set your mind to"? Their reaction is, "Yeah, whatever. I'm not you. We can't all be like you. Don't give me that motivational crap." You know why people say that? Because they're afraid they don't have the same amount of confidence as someone else. And they think it long enough that eventually they believe it. Well it's not true and I'm telling you to stop it right now. To be blunt; stop making excuses. Sure you can't be me, exactly me. But if you're saying you can't do something, that's to say you and I are not equal as human beings, that's to say you don't believe in the equality between two individuals, for two people to be capable of the same things, and that's to say you surrender your ability to be extraordinary. This is akin to giving up.

You know the saying, "You're your own worst enemy"? Do you think your neighbors are waging war on your esteem? Your classmates are plotting against you? Your parents, friends, and peers are looking for any way they can to get inside your head and destroy you from the inside out? Sure there may be people in the world who don't like us, but the key to confidence is...we don't need them to like us. We can like us just fine. And when all this is said and done, the person responsible for feeling confident and sure versus down and defeated is yourself.

Don't take no for an answer. This isn't just about fitness anymore. Though it is now a very important and enjoyable part of my life, this is about what it takes to succeed at anything in life. A man or woman is only a failure if he or she accepts it. You yourself can never BE a failure, but you sure as hell can convince yourself you are. That's when you stop listening to that part of you that gets some sort of odd pleasure out of keeping the clouds over you, that likes it when it rains on your parade every day, that refuses to let the sun shine into your life.

But just as much as we all have that part in us, we each have equally as strong a part that can bring us out of that funk. You are not your own worst enemy if you refuse to let it be so. In fact, there is no greater motivator in your life than yourself. Friends can help. That's why I'm here. That's why I write this blog. But you know just as well as I do that the choice is ours to make. That's the point of free will.

It's all you.

You don't have to be your worst enemy, you can be your greatest hero. You can stop that voice inside that tells you you can't do something and tell it, yes I can. Success is a gradual process. It takes lots and lots of time and it takes a lot of hard work. But if you quit, where will you be? Back to complaining about how you aren't where you want to be. And who's fault is that? Stop pointing the finger. Accept some responsibility. And with that responsibility accept the knowledge that you can do whatever you set your mind to! Clearly in the past you've accomplished great negative things when you've set your mind on negative things. So why couldn't you be capable of doing just the opposite?

I could run in circles all day with this. The point being, I did something I never thought I could do. Never. I did something I always told myself I wanted to do then quit and made excuses and failed time and time again at. And the only reason I managed to succeed in the end was because I realized I would rather be my biggest supporter than my greatest threat. And I embraced that part of myself and put the negative part in perpetual time out. In fact he's still sitting in the corner right now, I can see him, all pouty and sad and feeling sorry for himself. And I just leave him there because I don't need him. He's no good for me.

Negative self esteem is worse for you than anything else in the entire world. Worse than soda and candy and junk food and booze and gambling and drugs. Because that negative part of you talks you into doing the things you know are bad for you. So smack him! The power of Christ compels that little bugger! Throw him out the window! You don't need that negativity. You've created it, so just as easily as you've embraced it, you can let it go.

I believe in Universal truths. Sue me. This is one of them. You and I? We're the same. You can have the confidence, the will, the determination, the courage to do the things you've always wanted to do. There's only ever one person standing in your way.

You.

So what are you going to do about it? What do you want from life? Are you ready to let go of that darkness inside you that you've been feeding off, that you've led to believe you need? Because it's time. Stop abusing yourself and start loving yourself. You can do it. I did. Anyone can. That's why I'm dedicated to building support teams, therapeutic little ways for us to motivate one another, to help instill in us the confidence we know lies dormant, but can burst out and shine brighter than any sun. Please, contact me, comment, say anything. You don't have to take no for an answer. The decision is yours. For better or for worse, it's all you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weinergate 2011!! (Taking back the power!)

Weinergate. Whoever coined the term, zing to you. Actually sort of a stupid name, but it sounds funny because, that's right, the word Weiner is in there. Plus it's like a scandal, like the Watergate scandal, except Watergate didn't literally involve water, whereas this does, in fact, involve weiners. Two actually.

But title of the "scandal" aside, there's that part of me as a human who thinks, "Holy hell! Why does this deserve our political coverage? There are more important things to discuss in the world!" and then there's the comedic gossipy girl inside me who thinks, "Tee hee hee, weiners..."

Mostly because I dislike always being serious, or always posting about things like spirituality, mortality, etc. I'm giving into the Diva part of my personality who, when I ask myself, "Should I comment on the Weinergate situation?" She's boisterously supporting me by saying, "You go girl! (er...boy!)"

First off, who hasn't taken a weird photo of themself? Not like Weiner weird, but just a photo that, if someone else saw it or it got onto the internet, you'd turn a few extra shades of red? I've got them. I've been trying to lose weight and get in shape, and naturally I've taken several topless photos of myself flexing in mirrors. (I say topless because I'm taking back the power in what it means to be a topless male. See that ladies? Guys can be topless too.)

But seriously. If someone found my phone and went through my pictures, BAM, they'd see me go from round to not so round over the course of nearly six months. Yet, there are no really risqué photos. And I wouldn't keep them somewhere they could be found even if I had them.

The most frustrating and easily implicating part of all this, is the always indirect way of trying to say "No" without really saying no. When someone asks you a simple, yes or no, question, providing you the opportunity to really proclaim your innocence, and you ramble on about God knows what, then we start to wonder. Evading the question, "Is that a photo of you?" with the answer "The main question people are asking is: Did I send the photograph? I did not. This was a prank, a hoax." That's basically you saying, "It's my junk BUT...I didn't send it."

And why does he keep talking about the photo in these vague unrelated terms like it being "manipulated" or "dropped in"? Does it look manipulated? It's a picture of a guy's thing in his underwear. "I didn't send it. So then it becomes well how did someone get access to my account? How did someone get access to photographs, is the photograph-or-was it manipulated, was it dropped in? I don't know."

Is Rep. Weiner trying to say that the original photo was a picture of him in a nice pair of slacks, that was doctored to appear as a large member hidden beneath the thin veils of men's underoos? I don't know. And even me, a young guy who's on twitter, facebook, all that jazz, is sort of confused when he keeps saying, "...was it dropped in?" What does that mean? Like...dropped in to a post...on the internet? Or are we talking about Seal Team 6 drop in stuff? Is Anthony Weiner afraid he's the victim of serious governmental tactical operations? Ones seeking to expose pictures of his gobbledygook?

Stop saying things like "doctored", "manipulated", and "dropped in". It wasn't any of those things. When we're asking, "Is that your photo?" and you respond with any of those answers, you're basically saying, "Maybe." Which we all know it's Politician speak for "YEUH DAWG!"

And what's the affinity for people taking lewd photos of themselves, and beyond that, why hasn't there been one politician who had photos of his puppy leaked onto the net?

"It's a simple yes or no Congressman, is this your puppy?"

"Without any sexual implications, yes, that is my puppy."

"Your puppy is adorable."

"That's what they tell me."

Everything that comes out of Weiner's mouth is horrendous backtracking, further implicating himself. Like when he called CNN's Ted Barrett a jackass for "interrupting" him. The best part was that Weiner was interrupted at the start, and then would start to talk just as Barrett would start to ask a question, so as to give the illusion of being interrupted.

"Representative Weiner did you--"

"What?"

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"...Representative Weiner, did you post --"

"What? I can't, I'm trying to talk."

"No, I'm trying to talk."

"What are you DOING!?"

"What are YOU doing!?"

"You, sir, are a Jackass!"

When I finished Catch 22 some months ago, I thought to myself, how absurdly hilarious. But surely politics, the military, could never be as wildly absurd in reality.

False.

This is a scene straight from Joseph Heller. And the thing is, because it's pretty clear he's being dodgy, and even if people say, "Will, just wait! He didn't do it, it's not his picture!" I don't care. You know why? Because he's stoking these flames. It's like Clinton asking what the definition of is, is. (Granted Weiner's situation is not as big as Bill's.)

Here's the biggest part of it all. Who the hell is Anthony Weiner? He's all, "I have 45,000 followers on twitter! I am an important individual!" Come on. I'm not saying no one knows who he is, but history isn't really going to remember Representative Weiner. If anything, they'll remember the hilarious irony of a guy named Weiner falling prey to a rather grand weiner joke, and may have been responsible for it himself.

People who get caught up in hot water like this who are guilty, only raise the bar for disappointment from their followers when it's revealed that they're lying. If you're not responsible, say and give a clear and definite "No." If it is you, if you did post it, come clean. Either that or take the awkward, sort of above it all I'm a funny guy approach.

"Is that a picture of you?"

"You bet your buttons it is."

"Why would  you send this to a 21 year old college student?"

"Uh, let me ask this question, why wouldn't I send it to a 21 year old college student? Even better, why aren't you sending her pictures of your ta-tas."

"Excuse me?"

"Look I don't have time for this. I sent it, it's me, the size is not to shabby, let's move on. I've established I'm well endowed, maybe now people will stop picking on me."

And this opens the door to that crazy, out of the blue, emotional turn on a dime which could win people back over.

"YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE! Having the last name Weiner...all the kids teasing you, mocking you. My whole life I've been the butt of Weiner jokes! I've suffered with depression and I just want some friends and reassurance that I'm a cool guy who has an impressive whozeewhatsis!"

Then he can break down into tears and people will go, "Damn, this guy is really suffering from something. We should leave him alone."

And boom. Problem solved.

So, now do you see!? The lesson of the story isn't necessarily to encourage politicians how to become more moral, and how to refrain from being lewd, but it's a lesson in how to play dirtier politics! It's not that you simply tell the truth, it's that you tell the truth so awesomely with so much gusto that people drop the issue. Don't dance around the fact that this happened, your name is Weiner! We're always talking about taking back the power of our words, take back the power of your Weiner!

"Yeah I posted it! My last name is Weiner! I'm taking it back! This is for being harassed as a child!"

So perhaps, in some roundabout way, Anthony Weiner will come out of this as a ray of sunshine. He's the beacon of a generation of young people bullied to their wits end. You try having his last name, see what happens. Anthony Weiner could be saying "It gets better! Just show them lewd pictures of yourself and become involved in witless, unnecessary scandal! Take back the power of your Weiner!"

I'm seeing bumper stickers! "In 2012, take back the Power of your Weiner!" Uh oh...new presidential hat might get thrown in the ring!

I think when the dust settles, people are really going to be back on the Weiner train. I'm feeling the support for him mounting already!

...Oh wait, that's right, his methods aren't working at all. You know what does? Not being like Anthony Weiner.