Mental Toughness, Motivation and Day 5 of eating CLEAN

My parent's pantry!

It is day five of eating clean. What a roller coaster ride! I can’t believe how hard it has been! The funny thing is all I had to do was eliminate sugars – which I found to be really hard by the way since I love my coffee with about four sugar packets and a quarter cup of cream in the morning. I had to eliminate Peanut butter as well, whelp! This guy here eats about a jar a week. It has been a key ingredient of my diet for my whole life, I believe in the sixth grade I was up to three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a day; Thanks Mom! I also had to eliminate Alcohol, and grains from my diet as well. While my diet has been tough, I am already noticing the difference. I have dropped about three pounds and I am starting to notice that my love handles are starting to shrink. I really didn’t want to post that but I made it a goal to be more truthful this year. What I am noticing during this key five day period that this diet has been a case of mental toughness and boy, have I grown from the past year and half with my mental toughness due to my weight loss, Spartan races, marathons and doing CrossFit. I absolutely love food – I was taught to eat everything off of my plate for dinner before I could do anything and if I didn’t, I got a scolding from Dad and occasionally my lovely crazy grandmother. It was tough growing up from a family where food is certainly a way of expressing love and on top of that, food was not to be wasted! On top of that I dated an Italian girl for about seven years and yes we ate a lot of pasta, so not having it right now on top of exercising almost twice a day has been hard! I also think I have a relationship with food, I think I can acknowledge that and I think a lot of other people who are heavier can attest to that as well!

So back to mental toughness and motivation. It is key that I have a goal and that goal is eating clean for thirty days which will clean my system out of all of the garbage that I have been eating. The motivation that I have is my body is going to look and feel better after the thirty days – hopefully! The diet is based on getting rid of inflammation which in my case, I have a lot of that around my stomach area! Ha-Ha So in terms of mental toughness, when I am coming against forces like my family wanting to order pizza last night because that’s what we do on Friday nights, I suggested to my mom that I have to eat clean and to please let me take her fifty dollars that she would have to spend on pizza and let me cook something healthy! She said yes!  Especially since she doesn’t have to cook which after cooking for five boys for the past twenty years, you can see why! I also saved her about thirty bucks since dinner was around 29 dollars, another plus! On my first day, I turned down a beer from a good friend after helping them with their water heater and if you know me, I NEVER turn down a good beer.

The biggest animal is not eating clean for thirty days but it is fighting yourself, your mind against the temptations that exist. It is easy to say oh well, I can have this, it is just one but what you are really doing is defeating yourself, before you know it, you will be saying well I already had one, what’s one more going to hurt and before you know it, you ate a whole box of cookies or a whole jar of peanut butter! I came home to my parent’s house this weekend due to a business meeting out in West Chester and there was my favorite cake on the table called a babka (a sweet yeast cake) and there are cookies still left over from Christmas! I have yet to touch them and I don’t plan on it. It will be much safer when I get to my bachelor pad that has barely any food in it but for now, I credit CrossFit and all of the races that I have done for improving my mental fitness. Without my mental fitness improving race after race or workout after workout, I wouldn’t be this good right now. Mental fitness is hard to come by and I have taken a lot of hits along the way.  I gave up playing college baseball way too early because I didn’t feel appreciated. I blew up on my diet after college because I was focused on taking care of someone else besides me. It is easy to say yes to the desert placed on your table at family dinners. It is easy to say yes to a beer with a friend because of the instant gratification that happens because of it. Our society is certainly struggling with that concept today with statistics that show more than half of Americans are obese and more than half of marriages end up in divorce. Say yes to something that is hard andit will change your life in the LONG run.

If I were an employer, I would immediately hire me or anybody else that has done races or does CrossFit because it takes an incredible amount of mental strength to complete those and trust me, you want someone that is not going to give up before the work even starts. We live in a world full of anxiety where people are scared to take chances before even taking the first step. Once you beat the negative voice that is talking in your head, everything else suddenly becomes easy! Tell your mind that you are going to accomplish something and the rest will follow. It is important to have goals because having goals will encourage you to stay motivated. Have rewards as well! I am hoping to look better than ever after this thirty days and hopefully if I do, I can implement it into my lifestyle and then have occasional cheat days to treat myself.

Take necessary actions to build up your mental toughness, it will make you stronger as individual and it will attract others around you that are the same which will enable you to be better off for it.  Once you achieve something relatively small, then all of sudden, a domino effect of more positive things keep happening in your life.

Work on your mental toughness by achieving one goal today. Tomorrow, when you wake up work on achieving another goal before the end of the day. Make it a habit.

Well time for me to do my workout of the day, I am going to run a mile as fast as I can which I am aiming for under seven minutes. Not bad for a guy who could barely finish one a year and a half ago.

Have a great weekend and look for my next blog post next weekend where I am going to write about being out of my comfort zone at my first CrossFit competition!

Until next time,

BA

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Why I am celebrating today and why the small stuff matters

Today I was scared shitless, today I was scared of failing, I was scared of breaking my neck and yes I was scared of making an ass out of myself.

But today I accomplished something that I NEVER repeat NEVER thought I could do and it was the most amazing feeling ever.

All of my life I have been the BIG guy and could never do anything close to gymnastics, I even got a B in gym for 6th grade for a quarter because I couldn’t climb a rope or do a handstand or do a simple pull-up. I was the best athlete in games in that class but I had earn that B and I was mortified. But today after my workout of the day which I crushed Elizabeth today with a 6:22 at CrossFit York, my trainer Madeline was helping a new friend of mine Carol with her Handstand Push-up and I simply walked over there today with a mindset that today is the day I am going to do something that I couldn’t do in 6th grade. It was also something i never tried again for fear of being embarrassed. I was motivated and scared at the same time which I am coming to find is the best feeling of all now.

After four attempts, I was able to stand on the wall and after a couple others I was able to do a push-up. I never felt so accomplished in my life after that moment. I had slayed the dragon. So in ending my thoughts today, find something that you want to do but scares you immensley and try it anyways. What is the worst that can happened?

The most important thing I can share with you today is to get of all of the negative thoughts in your head right now, I mean why give up before even trying? If it scares you, it is probably worth trying. You never know what you are going to get.

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A picture of progress from 6 months ago

I am sharing this picture with you to share my story with a picture. I have lost around 30 lbs in the last six months. It has been a super frustrating last six months of that and I feel like I have so much more to go. My goal is lose another 20-25 lbs before the summer. I have just started crossfit within the last year and I really think my body is going to explode into the best body I have ever had before summer gets here.

I will leave you with this, even when your world feels like it is crashing down on you and all you feel like doing is giving up, DON’T! It is a test to see how strong you really are. Be that strong person and then become that person that people look up to. Challenges will always be there and if you don’t have any, take time to truly evaluate yourself.

I am thankful for this journey and I am not going to say I wish the weight gain never happened. It truly showed me what was important in my life and that is my health as well as my self esteem.

Merry Christmas

Oh and one last food for thought, as we are going into the new year- I suggest to everyone to attack the new year as if you have nothing to lose, attack it as you have nothing to fear but fear itself. You owe yourself and everyone around you that.

Until next time,

BA

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My Spartan race journey, why everyone should try it once.

STFU (Spartan The Fuck up!) By: Bryan Adamson For those of you that don’t know my story, I will summarize it for you in a few sentences. October of 2011, I was 5’7, 260 lbs and absolutely miserable. As of the writing of this article Sunday July 15, 2012, I am now 206 lbs. In a period of nine months, I have lost 54 pounds, ran three 5K’s, a Tough Mudder, a half marathon and as of yesterday the Spartan Sprint Race. A feat I did not think was possible last year. A big thank you to those friends who have supported and encouraged me to sign up for the races with them, you know who you are! “Keep going Bryan, you will move mountains before you know it.” – Maureen Kane Now for those of you who have not heard of the Spartan races, here is the website’s definition. We are an international obstacle racing series with three levels of courses: 3 mile sprints, 8 mile Olympic (Supers) and 10 -12 mile Ultras (Beast) where you will run, jump and crawl your way over a dozen or more obstacles put in your way! Each region gets a taste of our races starting with a Sprint and working up to an Ultra. Courses are uniquely designed to test your mental and emotional fitness and push you past your limits. Our races are muddy, creative, and extreme. They will exhaust you and exhilarate you. For some individuals, it might not sound fun but believe me, once you try an obstacle race you slowly become addicted, wanting more and harder challenges. Here is the story of what happened this weekend at the Spartan Sprint Pennsylvania 2012 at Blue Mountain. I was super excited for this weekend to come because not only was I excited for the race, I was pumped about my ankle being healed and hanging out with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile. I was also in the best shape I have been for six years. I thought I was going to demolish this race. The funny thing was that the director sent us an email on Thursday warning us that this race was going to one of the hardest Spartan Race they have put on, the race was now five miles plus instead of three. Every obstacle you do not complete, you would be punished to do thirty burpees which I later found out can suck the life out of you. Still, I thought I was going to destroy the course because I had just done a Tough Mudder (an obstacle race that was fourteen miles long, thirty plus obstacles three of those where you are shocked with 10,000 volts of electricity and a half marathon a month before! Boy, was I completely wrong in my judgment! Since being from Philadelphia, the only time I ever go to the mountains or the Poconos is to ski. As we arrive to the parking lot, the mountain looked huge without snow on it and you could see groups of people at the top of the mountain. My buddy Travis and I were shocked. We did not know what we got ourselves into. We met up with a group of guys that were incredible and I feel honored to have met them. One of the individuals inspired the heck out of me and I will talk about more about him later in this article. We registered and then the mental preparedness was on! We stood at the starting line which was opposite of the finish line which is the best part for two reasons, one being that you survived a Spartan race and the other is because you get to run through the Gladiator pit! I was super pumped for this and so was my buddy Travis! The time never seemed to dwindle down to our starting time as it felt like we were stuck in a time glass. When the announcer came on, I was all of the sudden like oh crap, here it comes! He announces that we will be going all the way the top of the mountain, (I raced without my hearing aids because I knew I was going to get wet) Travis relayed this important information to me; I wished at that point that he did not! We take off, going up what seemed to not be a monstrous hill from the start to becoming very monstrous! Most of the runners which I am estimating at five hundred at our wave had to stop running and walk within the first ten minutes of the race! All of us probably did not even make it to the first obstacle without stopping to walk. We stopped to walk because it was a hike up a > 45 degree grassy slippery hill! I was amazed at how much I thought I was in shape and immediately how much I thought I was out of shape for this race. I was never a big hill fan, if you know me; you know I strictly manage to stay on flat ground when I run. Hills kick my ass. They make me better but they always kick my ass. Now I was running up an entire mountain or several hills for most of the race. The race directors are great at playing mental games with you right from the start. Within the first quarter mile, my calves were burning; it felt like they were actually on fire! We get up to a quarter of the mountain and we start going downhill, immediately in my head for some reason thought the worse was over, maybe we had made it to the top well I was wrong again! When we were going downhill on a trail made only to fit one person, and it was steep enough to do a jog at best, then my thighs started to hurt. I was not alone in this feeling, the group I ran with felt this way. When I say steep hills on the trails, my brand new pants are not happy with me because I literally slid down the hill on my butt on several occasions including the one in the quarry. We jumped over six feet walls and I thought it was awesome because I cleared the walls with no problem, was super excited because I thought that was all they had which I later learned during the race that it was not! The first wet obstacle was a two story foot climb on a rope, reminiscence of a high school gym class and was the only thing I did not do well in gym! Needless to say, I tried and did not succeed, the very beginning of lots of burpess was in store for me that day and I did my thirty. Travis, the buddy of mine I mentioned earlier got to the top of the rope, reached up to hit the bell and fell while reaching for the bell smacking the water on a double twist somewhat of a belly flop! He laughed about it and so did I because when he got out of the water, he had mud up his nose! We ran for bit, then started the steep uphill climb again, went through a trail and were met with gravel along with home depot buckets. We had to fill up our buckets with the gravel and then walk up part of the mountain and back down depositing the gravel where we found it. I also had the urge to puke, three times during this one. I tried to lighten up my demise and others by joking that beer was such a bad choice the night before. It was at this point where the never ending mountain climb started and it was brutal. It felt the mountain that was staring above us was tilted more than 45 degrees uphill at certain points, some people crawled, lots of people stopped, other shouted encouragement and I tried as hard as I could to not throw up on others that were below me. What a mind fuck this was. We made it to the top of the mountain exhausted and what an incredible view it was! It was the best part of the race and you felt like you accomplished something, even more so when I found out that the top of the mountain is the highest elevation point in Pennsylvania! We had no idea when that we got to the top of the mountain that we would be spending another forty five minutes climbing up and down a black diamond slope. We ran towards the ski lift on the other side of the mountain and there are sandbags waiting for us, some will say twenty, others will say close to forty pounds but all I can say, it was heavy. I picked the bag up looked at where we were going and saw that we were going down a black diamond slope! I can’t imagine skiing down this mountain now that I seen it without snow and filled with a mix of gravel, dirt and grass nor at this point did I see myself making it down the hill without sliding to the bottom. We got to the bottom and I was cooked, my thighs felt liked they were stabbed with butchers knives. Just looking up to the top of hill and seeing people only making it ten feet before they had to stop was enough to make me want to give up. As we were going up, it was slippery and I had to stop more than ten times, some people laid down and used the sandbags as pillows in the middle of the hills. It took all of the strength I had at the moment I THOUGHT I had. It was indeed another mind fuck as we thought when we have gotten to the top of the mountain the first time that the rest of the race would be downhill. What I realized at the end of this race is how much you can put your body through but it takes tremendous training of the mind to be able to do so!

Below is the picture of the view and yes, it does look more than forty five degrees downhill.

Downhill was steep, some parts were I had to slide down on my butt which must be why my butt is hurting so bad right now. We encountered several Berlin walls; one of them had to be twelve feet in heights, several of them I needed help on. This obstacle seems to be an automatic calf cramp for me. We came across the mud quarter mile, eight trenches of water that we had to climb in and out of us which was probably one of the fun ones. The best one is where we got to go down a large slip and slide estimated by our group to be a steep fifty yards long downhill into a mud pond. That was my favorite obstacle! We had to swim across the pond and out into the trails, next pond we encountered we had to carry down a cinderblock on a chain, into the pond and back up a hill which sucked! Then we had 100 yards of barbwire crawls on gravel and mud with a fire hose squirting full steam of water at us! We had a heavy tire flip which I was unable to do, I think it was close to three hundred pounds, I could be way off but my body was unable to flip it over. Back to burpees I was. Burpees are great exercises but once you do five, your body starts become numb; it is a complete body workout. Then we came to the last of the obstacles, we had the javelin/arrow throw which is awesome. Lot of individuals missed, I somewhat had it easy I guess with all of my previous baseball days. I am glad to see those days worked for something! The finish line was in sight, that is if you could see pass the dark thick smoke of a fire jump. The flames were high; considerably high that I had to jump as high as I could which was something I did not want to do at that point because I was hurting! Then we had to jump into water and climb out of it using a rope to get over a forty five degree wall. It was an amazing sight to see how close to the finish line you were and how freakishly huge the gladiators were. I collected my thoughts and took off full sprint into three gladiators. It happened in a blur and they swung their sticks at me, and I ran through them. I ran hard enough where I managed to injured one of them. For some reason, my body took over and I did a Ray Lewis scream with my arms open wide as I crossed the finish line. I was greeted by great volunteers who handed me a medal and several bananas. I did it and concluded that this race was tougher than the Tough Mudder. I completed the Spartan race in three hours and fifteen minutes which puts my mile pace at 48:36 minutes. My best mile pace is 8:37 which should show you readers the toughness of the course! I looked up my race results and saw that I was 2,730 out of the 7,500 participants that ran that day. A great accomplishment, the winner did it in 59 minutes which is unbelievable in my book. He missed the Olympic trails as a marathon runner which shows me even more the determination and athletic ability that our Olympic athletes have.

The guy in the middle wearing the light gray shirt motivated me to do more. Why? Mike had an accident in his childhood years which caused him to lose feeling to one entire side of his body; he endured numerous surgeries and rehab to gain back his ability to move. I think he told me that in the past couple of years, he has done MULTIPLE Tough Mudders. There were several points of the race where he got behind but he never gave up, I have absolute respect for him and for anyone that does this race. So ask yourself, if you are reading this, have I done all that I can in my life? What more can I accomplish? This guy follows the book of no excuses. He motivated all of us that day and several passersby who I quote said “how is he going to do the race? He can’t even walk! “Well guys, he did and maybe you should too. Find out what is inside of you, you won’t be disappointed, I promise! The great thing about this is that meeting Mike showed me humility; His story showed me that my life is not bad compared to others and I can do more. One more piece of advice, continue to meet others and find out their stories, you might gain a better appreciation of your life. I am glad that I ran into him and the others for I experienced a moment that I will never forget.

A conclusion of this blog, there was several times where my body and mind wanted to quit but every time it did, I immediately went into overdrive to think about how great I will feel when I accomplish this and how I can add this on my list of things that I did. This takes more mental training than physical training. I went from barely able to run one mile in October to conquering the largest mountain in Pennsylvania and as I am writing this, I am thinking to myself what is next? It is a great feeling and I am very overwhelmed in writing all of this, I can’t believe how far I have come. I am looking forward to doing a marathon in November. If anybody wants to join me, please do. If anybody wants weight loss help, motivational issues or has questions, please email me at bryaneadamson@gmail.com. Some more pictures are below. Thanks and until next time, BA is officially out! The light green area is where we ran, all the way to the top! The AFTERMATH!

Overwhelmed and Happy!

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