With winter well and truly here in the UK and the dark mornings keeping people in bed longer it is easy to forget about the simple things in life, like going outside. Depending on the time I leave the house I normally catch the first glimpse of daylight peaking over the horizon.
This is my view (below) when I get out the house in the mornings.
Now, that is often the view on nice days and considering there is a lot of rain in England that is not the view most days. Having grown up in Africa I can categorically say that any glimpse of sunlight makes me yearn for warmer weather.
It’s normally in those moments that I become very thankful for the ability to enjoy being outside and walking outside in the early mornings. Even if it is a short walk to the car and a drive into work in the early hours of the morning. Why am I thankful you ask? Well, up until a few years ago the only time I ever saw 5am was after a late night out or coming home from a crazy late shift in a bar where I completely hated my job.
I would never be getting up to exercise and certainly wouldn’t want to move from bed unless it was to go to work or the shops for cigarettes and crisps.
Every time I walk out my doors and the sun is shining I take that little bit longer to get to my car, I sometimes take a walk when I can, or I simply stop for a moment and appreciate the fact that my life has changed for the better. I’m, thankful that I'm not lying in my bed every single day off, smoking 20 cigarettes, letting food comas kick in to ‘get extra rest’ and hoping against all hope that I don’t have to get out the house.
This month is important for a lot of people, for most, it is about family and spending time with loved ones. I'm here to say that you should make this month count for the better by keeping active. Keep yourself moving, don’t put things off until the New Year because you could miss moments like the one that I saw the other day, blue skies, fresh air and sunshine!
Stay active this holiday and encourage others to be active too. It just might help save someone’s life. I know that movement saved mine!
Have a great week ahead!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
Last year I helped to run an event at Virgin Active Solihull that has been a tradition for a few years. The event is called the Spartan Challenge… This year I was asked if I’d like to run the event with one of the members who helps each year. The video below is the result of the hard work that all the competitors put in to achieve the fitness levels necessary to compete.
It was really great to see people joining together, pushing each other and making the event truly inspiring to watch. Some people might sit an question why people would push their bodies and minds to such a point of destruction.
I think it is because once you’ve learned how to push your own limits, mentally and physically you start to realise that there is a certain flow state that you reach. I’ve written about this before (click here to read it) it’s a state of mind where nothing else matters, you are not thinking about anything other than the task at hand. The sense of achievement in pushing yourself beyond limits, whether it is in a tough workout, a new task at work, a challenging hobby or losing some weight makes the suffering worth while.
Fitness is such an interesting thing to measure because the fitter you become the smaller the leaps of progression become, it is why I am a firm believer in chipping away at your goals, everyone in that room on Saturday had to start somewhere and had their own challenges within the challenge.
I feel a lot can be learned from watching them compete; sure there something very primal about the nature of competition, but Saturday meant many different things to many different people. For me it was about bringing people together to be fitter, stronger and better than they were the day before. I think there might be those who will look at this video and say, ‘I’d never be able to do that.’ If you want to say that to yourself then note this down and repeat it each day until it sticks…
“Never say that you can't do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can't be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be; human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds. We are each the masters of our own reality; when we become self-aware to this: absolutely anything in the world is possible.
Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be it's conqueror.”
― Mike Norton
With that said, go out there and have an epic week and an awesome build up towards Christmas!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
It seems unreal that 16 years ago I left the country of my birth, the thought only dawned on me the other day that I have been out of Zimbabwe for over half my life. It is also insane to think that I have spent about 14 years avoiding the country as a topic of conversation for the simple reason that the discussion always ends with the same question. "How much suffering do people need to go through before change happens?"
Each person that has fled the country will have endured what they could for as long as they could. Those that stayed have endured more… One word springs to mind when I think about the nature of Zimbabweans, the word is resilient.
There is a saying that I grew up with, it is one that I think is sums up the Zimbabwean nature and attitude towards life.
The saying is ‘make a plan.’ It is used for a lot of situations…
George, “lets meet up next week.”
Fred, “yah, lets make a plan.”
George, “ah man, there is no petrol at any of the fuel stations in Harare.”
Fred, “we’ll make a plan.”
George, “I need to go overseas but can’t buy and foreign currency in Zimbabwe.”
Fred, “no stress man, I know someone who can make a plan.”
With social media and online media companies erupting in celebrations over the last 12 hours it is safe to say that the people of Zimbabwe ‘made a great plan’ for what seems to be a peaceful transition of power.
I wanted to write about this on Monday as the blog post for the day, however I wasn’t sure that things would turn out the way that they have. Is Zimbabwe safe? In my view, not yet, but there is certainly hope, there is a way forward for the country. The people of Zimbabwe should remain resilient.
Is there something to learn from the last 37 years of Mugabe’s reign? Of course, there is tonnes to learn, the most important of which is no matter how dark times get stay resilient, make a plan that gets you the life you want and remain as stoic as possible in the process.
I wish the people in Zimbabwe a peaceful transition into new leadership, one that sees them prosper as a very deserving nation. I wish everyone else who reads this the ability to see past any cynicism over power and politics, (I am guilty of that in a big way), and see the positive - there is always a peaceful way to achieve what you want.
Have a great end to the week!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
It's amazing how much things can change in 30 days. I've been seeing a lot more clients at Virgin Active Solihull and my workload has determined a slightly later blog post this week.
In the last 30 days I have witnessed some clients reach some amazing personal bests. From a client mastering a front squat after years with troublesome knees, to seeing people smash some Ankorr challenges and beat their timings week on week.
It has been wonderful to see, and the best part is the fact that people have put the effort in to become better versions of themselves, they've enjoyed their training more and understood the results are because of their strong efforts.
It has reminded me to remind all of you out there to trust the process.
Tough times do still happen when things are going well, especially on a fitness journey. It's about taking the rough with the smooth and pushing towards the goals you've set for yourself.
None of my clients got there because of my drills or my shouting, they got there through sheer will to be better than they were the day before.
Heading towards Christmas it is easy to forget about things and 'let things slide'. I'm saying that you should use this time to be laser focused and remember that you've got what it takes!
This midweek motivation is all about forgetting that I didn't post on Monday... haha, but also to remind you to be the best you can each day... You never know where you'll be in 30 days time.
Have a great push to the end of the week!
Stay strong and keep moving!
This post will be a shorter one this Monday for a number of reasons. The first and most important is that I wrote a completely different blog post for today; however, I felt it necessary to follow up two previous blog posts from a couple of years ago now.
If you haven't heard or read about Marc Cayeux, I'll give you a brief rundown but take some time to check out the two previous posts by clicking on the images below.
The reason I bring this up is because Marc made his first cut on the Sunshine Tour since being injured in a car accident in 2010. It has been 7 years of recovery and trials and tribulations with surgeries and having both legs shortened. One was not by choice, the other was by choice.
To say that he has been through the wars is an understatement but he has fought back strong and is in a position where his confidence can only keep growing. If you can watch the video where he is interviewed on the Sunshine Tour's Facebook page you'll understand that Marc has a strong mind; "What ever you want to do in life, you've got to stay focused on it, believe you can do it, stay committed to it."
Watch his video below:
In my mind, no better words have been said when talking about a come back from a serious set back. I can vouch that the attitude Marc carries with him will serve him late into his career because he has the fight not to give up.
Last week I spoke about turning a negative emotion into a positive outcome, well Marc exemplifies this. 27+ surgeries and procedures and endless support from his loved ones has got him, literally and figuratively, back on his feet.
I hope that you can take this into your Monday as a bit of motivation and inspiration that you can make positive change happen in your life. Just believe you can and chip away at it each day and be proud of your work!
Have a great week ahead!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
"Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re probably right." - Henry Ford
I mentioned last week that I was building up to writing something about onions, in truth this post has been in the making for several months.
The title, somewhat bizarre, might lure you into thinking, ‘how dare you call me an onion.’ Well, let me explain.. (I have actually written about this in the first part of my book which is coming soon, I promise...)
When I was 13 years old I started high school in Zimbabwe at a very interesting time in my life. The goal, to play cricket for Zimbabwe.
I went to high school at one of the best cricketing schools in the country, a private school that was heavily influenced by ‘old school’ boarding school culture. Despite having played provincial cricket at a young age and being captain of my primary school team for my final year, I was not known at the new big high school.
I don’t quite know what went wrong within the plan, but I think my troubles started in the classroom and just after I was placed in the A team for cricket. I was in the bottom ‘C’ stream of my year in classes, I struggled socially with the kids in my year and worked hard to get into the ‘B’ stream.
High school felt like I had stepped into another world, a world which I had no place in. I was always a, ‘solid B’ kind of student. Never really awesome, some potential but laziness and day dreaming about sport led me towards under utilised potential in the class room.
Despite that I was keen to break free from the 'C' Stream and my attitude towards the classes and improving myself to get to the next stream wasn’t something that made me a really cool dude in my high school year. My time at that school ended after bullying and some traumatic experiences. I was too shy to stand up for myself and when I did it was too late which caused more problems for me.
As a result of what happened I lost my focus with cricket and gave up on it, I spent more time focusing on golf. I also developed a want to be liked, a fear of confrontation and desire to have good friendships.
Throughout my years I have always tried to be nice to people, mindful of other people as best I can, sometimes to my own detriment. I’ll delve deeper into this in my book. The reality is I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to learn from various incidents and experiences that I thought all happened to me, it wasn’t until I read a book recently that I realised things happened because of me...
The book is called, ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F*ck.’
Known as; 'A Counterintuitive Way To Living A Good Life.’
I know what you might be thinking, “How does the title align with a positive outcome?” At least that is what struck me when I read the title, but the deeper I got into the book the more I realised that the author had some great points to make. I’ve highlighted some of the key points that stood out to me below:
Specifically on the fourth point, our deepest layer as a human being is going to be our value layer. if we have pretty poor values then the rest of the onion becomes pretty bad.
Good values are:
The point the author drives home and this is one I can truly vouch for is that if you are miserable in your current situation it is because you feel that you lack control of something in your life. Like 'bad luck' has been thrust upon you. The reality is that we are responsible for everything in our lives, because it is our life. We are in control of how we interpret, react and or respond to everything in our lives. Blame and fault are past tense whereas responsibility is present tense.
I can truly vouch for the fact that it wasn’t until I took responsibility for my own health and stopped blaming my depression that I started to emerge from a dark point in my life. I had to change my values towards health and wellbeing before I took a step in the right direction. The positive emotions of success in reaching a goal are rewards for taking action. Which is why I talk to my clients about their ‘wins’. Understanding and recognising your ‘wins’ is how you know you’ve taken action.
So, this post has a little bit of everything in it today, you can apply it to life and fitness. Most of all you can use it to assess yourself and drive yourself forwards. Remember you are an onion and your layers and emotions can truly govern your circumstances.
I wasn’t 22 stone and miserable because someone threw 100000 cakes in my mouth, I was 22 stone because I had lost my way, I had lost sight of my values and allowed negative emotions to define me instead of challenging me to be better.
If you are feeling down and out, or know someone who is then this is your chance to explain to them (or yourself) that you need to take action and become the best and strongest version of yourself that you can!
Have a great week.
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
fI’m working on a blog post that isn’t quite ready yet, I was hoping to publish it this week but unfortunately there is a bit more stuff to dig up regarding mindset and onions! Stay tuned! Yes, I did say the word onions...
Regarding this week’s post, well… According to the calendar people are counting down the weeks leading up to Christmas. Our lives become a little more hectic this time of year, naturally routines change and fitness is often the first thing to take a back seat.
I hear a lot of people talking about, “getting serious about fitness come January.” Or “really focusing” after the new year.
I can understand what people are saying about the time of year as it challenges will power and food choices. When I was about 30kgs into my weight loss I got an injury on my left leg and it stopped me dead in my tracks over the Christmas period. (November 2013 into January 2014).
It is always the time of the year where there are going to be a lot of parties and lots of opportunities to make poor choices. Back then I promised myself one thing, I wouldn't train, but, I would maintain focus.
I made sure I ate really good nutritious food for the whole month and a half without worrying about the exercise part.
At that stage I still had very little confidence and the thought of stepping into a gym, or speaking to a fitness professional about my injury was just not going to happen. So I worked my way around the problem and it was a time that was extremely rewarding from a mindset perspective.
All I did was stick to my promise, I ate good food and made sure I got enough rest. I also made sure that I watched or read something inspirational each day, be it a YouTube video or blog post. However, the major thing that really helped me was researching and planning my resurgence from injury, it was my way of staying focused through the holidays.
With that said, if you are thinking of slowing things down because Christmas gets too hectic then don’t! Stay the course and focus on being the best you can be towards the end of the year.
If you are injured like I was or cannot espcape the break from routine then you have a few options:
The main thing you need to take from today’s post is that there is never a time to quit, or pause things, you just have to work around obstacles and adapt.
So this week just keep your mindset alive, stay committed to your goals and head towards the new year with the most awesome mindset you can have!
Have a great week ahead and remember to watch out for next week's post!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
When I set out to write a blog post I like to think about things or situations that have affected me throughout my life and lessons that I can learn from them.
Being a personal trainer I am constantly learning, learning new things about the human body, learning how to deal with people and learning to deal with the idea that the more I learn, the more learning I feel I need to do…
Each day I learn about people, I learn how they move, how they think regarding exercise and lifestyle changes and each day it hits home that there are a lot of people out there striving to do good things for themselves, striving to over come obstacles in their lives.
About 9 months into working at Virgin Active in Solihull we got a new personal trainer on our team, his name was and still is, Gaz. He had recently returned from Australia and eventually became my manager, as time ticked on we became good friends and even climbed a mountain together - see this masterpiece of a video: SNOWDON 2016
The reason I mention him today is because last week he self published a novel. It’s taken a year for him to polish up the final draft and I was very grateful to be one of the first to read it and give my review on it. It is fun, fast paced and will get you hooked in the first few pages, a good read.
I’m not one for reading many novels, I’m more into books that relate to mindset and personal development or that fall in line with my work. However, I managed to read his book cover to cover in a couple of days because it was fun to read. If you like an adventure novel then follow this link and let’s collectively make him a best seller!
You might be wondering why I am plugging an adventure novel? Well, Gaz is a great friend and has done a lot for me as a friend and on a professional front in the last 18 months. However, I mention him and his book is because I know that when he was writing the book it wasn’t the easiest time of his life.
That is why I am proud to bring him into my blog today, because despite adversity he still reached a goal that he had set for himself. His book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the point is that he set out with a dream and has put the hours in to achieve it.
He didn’t write the book overnight, he wrote it by chipping away at it, reading it, editing it and repeating that process until he felt he was happy enough to publish. He didn’t write the book with the intention of being a multi billionaire, although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind; he wrote it because he wanted to do it for himself. That translates so well for me to life, it reminds me, and now can hopefully remind you that the path to achieving your goals, be it in fitness, or in getting contentment in your life, is to be mindful of the plan and chip away one step at a time.
Just to drive the point home again, Stephen King is possibly one the worlds most famous authors, not everyone likes his work, but he didn’t get there by writing a couple of good books. He got there because he is known for routinely writing 1000 words a day. I’m pretty sure that some days he doesn’t feel like writing but I’m sure he gets the job done anyway…
So with that said, you now have a cool youtube video of Gaz and I climbing a mountain together and a great book to read! As well as the advice that some days may not be your best, but if you show up and keep your goal in mind then you might just get to where you want to be! Take that into your week and make it a good one...
See yo next Monday.
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
The title of today’s post is actually similar to a title of a book that I once read. It was a book written by Tiger’s golf coach when he was a kid. I must have read it when I was 14 or 15 years old.
I thought it would be a good topic for today’s blog is that I saw a video clip last night of Tiger Woods hitting golf balls again and it got me thinking...
If you are a golf fan then you will no doubt realise the impact that Tiger has on the game of golf. Despite his recent misgivings, years of injuries and press coverage he still remains the most popular player in the field when he tees it up.
Whether it is because people want to see a glimmer of the man that once was, or if they want the chance to say that they saw him play, or simply because he is still a great player and might actually make a sneaky come back.
As a kid I was fixated on a career path to golfing success and spent hours each day at school thinking about my next round of golf and day dreaming about teeing it up next to guys like Tiger. As a young teenager, when I was handed a book about nurturing self confidence to become a great player I was in there like a shot.
If you speak to any old member of a golf club there will be a couple of things you’ll hear, one will be crazy golfing jokes and stories that will make you chuckle and the other is the undeniable reality that golf is possibly the most frustrating simulation of life that there ever has been.
I’ve played golf all around the world and met people who share the frustration of wanting to quit the game, scream, shout, rant and throw their golf clubs in the bin. And then the next day, after quiet reflection, they are back on the booking sheet or the course for their next round of golf.
The best example of frustration I can give you on this was when I was in Texas and playing the final qualifying round to make the team for the NJCAA Championships in 2007. I was leading the group of golfers coming into the last 7 holes, my game was on point, every shot I hit I visualised and implemented perfectly. I had managed to ignore the banter from the playing partners about the impending danger on each hole, their subtle way of trying to get in my head, and stepped up to the final stretch of holes with a decent lead.
The wind was up and the realisation hit home that I was making a seriously good impression on my coach. My whole year I had underperformed and I was putting words into action, hitting my stride and showing him shot by shot that I had what it took to be on the team.
I stepped up to hit my tee shot on the hardest hole on the course, I looked at my target and visualised the shot, I could see the coach in the distance watching with the rest of the team. With confidence I took the club back to hit the ball and for the briefest moment I let self doubt creep in, “don’t hit it out of bounds,” a little voice in my head said as I got to the top of my swing.
I looked up after making contact with the ball to see it start out right of my target line, the wind caught it, my body english signalling the ball to come back, every fibre in my body hoping for the wind to die down, but it wasn’t to be…
The ball sailed over the fence on the right of the course and landed in a field.
It was a moment that shook my confidence, it grabbed my mind and for the final few holes allowed for a series of smaller mistakes to roll through my scorecard and put me 2nd overall. I had lost, I had lost the chance to prove myself and the chance to travel with the team. Not only that I had lost the chance to make the team for the following year, I just didn’t know it until later in the year. Despite the set back I stepped onto the course every day afterwards, however the confidence knock and the fact that I couldn't be on the team stopped my pursuit of professional golf.
There are a few things that I learned from that experience that I try to relate to life when I can:
When I saw Tiger hitting golf balls again I thought to myself, “wow, he is still chipping away at his goals.” Granted his goals might have shifted from 10 years ago but he is still trying to push past his set backs, his personality flaws and be the best version of himself that he can. What that means for his future in golf is unclear but what is clear is that there is never a time to give up on yourself. Tiger hasn't and if you think about it he shows the traits of a Tiger, tough, mighty, and dynamic, something we all can be!
Go out there and have an awesome week and remember, IN EVERYONE THERE LURKS A TIGER!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
I was on my way to work the other day and for a last month I have been desperately trying to get myself through a backlog of Audible purchases.
Audible (audio books) is my only way to absorb books at the moment as I find that I tend to fall asleep too fast if I read in bed, and when I do read the books either hit me in the forehead or end up falling on the floor and waking me up... Anyhoo. The book I was listening to was talking about motivation being only a small part of any kind of change or thing that we do.
It got me thinking back to when I was trying to lose weight and the whole idea of the motivation spiral. The diagram below will explain what I mean and how most of us view the process of change.
You could argue that some find inspiration then motivation. Today I’m not saying that the above image is wrong, but the reality is that there are a two steps before action in this specific spiral. If you are at the bottom of that spiral the chances of staying at the bottom increase because the action step is often the hardest for people to take.
Im suggesting today that we flip things up to face the spiral in the image below.
Instead of trying to motivate yourself and find inspiration just tell yourself that those two already exist and the only thing left to do is act.
Now let’s remember I am blogging here about change in your life, positive change, be it with mindset and most likely exercise. Most people get stuck in the first spiral because of the FEAR OF FAILURE which I have discussed before.
We often let our heads get in the way of affirmative action, hence last week’s blog post was on point. Less talking from me and more action. 50 burpees a day for 20 days, you might be sitting there saying, ‘ah well, I can’t do that!’ Or, ‘that is too advanced for me.’
My response would be simple, don’t look for spiral number 1. TAKE ACTION and work within spiral number 2. Realistically lying down on the floor and standing back up is something that a rather large majority of people can do. It doesn’t matter if you do your first set in 50 minutes or 1 minute because you are looking for your incremental improvement over the 20 days.
When I set out to make this website I started with a Wordpress domain and a YouTube video on how to build a website. As I got more involved the name came to me through inspiration, I had absolutely no idea what I would put on the website, I just knew I had to do something. Slowly the motivation to write and the inspiration to share my story became more apparent and thus Raw Motion Fitness was born.
What I'm saying today is rather than get caught up in the thought process or build up to action to change your circumstance just do something different. Call in sick from work and go for a long walk, spend the day nurturing your health and put yourself first, read that book that you've been meaning to read, or join that gym that you have been meaning to check out. Just change one thing in your day with a positive and build on it each day with affirmative action.
You'll soon notice that action leads to more inspiration then to motivation and the cycle will continue and you will grow and change.
So today's challenge is, go back to last week's blog post and get started on your own 20 day challenge!
Today's challenge is to TAKE ACTION!
Have a great week, Stay Strong and Keep Moving!
Brendan is the owner and head trainer at Raw Motion Fitness.