Monday, July 23, 2012

First Thing's First

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I woke this morning and almost immediately began thinking of all the things that needed to be done today: lesson plans for the nutrition classes I teach at Wellpark College, preparation for upcoming talks, client plans and follow ups, and of course training!
I won't lie...For a while lying there I felt overwhelmed, that is until I thought to myself 'What is first?'

My Mum used to often say to me growing up "First thing's first", and if we can keep this simple tenet in mind it can go a long way to reducing stress and allowing us to start, when so often we procrastinate and worry so much that we never even begin. 
When we simply make a start the inertia builds and we find ourselves completing what we once saw as so very daunting. 

Lying in bed at 5.30am the answer to 'What's first' was simple:
 Get up. 
The rest follows. 

When you are stuck simply put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, step by simple step. 
You will eventually find the way. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yelling v Whispering

Everything we do is more than just an action, it is also a signal to the body of the way things should be and become.
That's why the intentions that we create and the things we say to ourselves and about ourselves are so crucial to our long  term health and happiness. They help to create the person we are and how we go on to think, feel and how we relate to the people and the world around us.
But more than just the thought-frames, words and images we provide to ourselves, any action we perform is also patterning us, and often in a more profound way than words alone.
Diet is a great example of this. All the intention and belief in the world may not offset the effects of a shitty diet. And all the belief and intention may not offset the patterning provided by poor daily posture.

If we try to offset our poor lifestyle actions with intentions and affirmations alone it's as if we are whispering to it ti become one thing, whilst yelling at it to do the opposite. Which one is going to win?..

Our intentions and affirmations are powerful tools for personal growth and evolution, but to BE the person we can be we need to DO the things that honor that being.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pomodoros and Pushups

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

There are times when the body feels a little beaten up and the energy to train hard, or the time you have available to get to the gym, field, dojo or box is lacking.
But often even when time, energy or even motivation are lacking, there is still a nagging desire on an underlying level to move, to be active or to challenge the body in some way.

During these times we have a choice. We can:
- Not train.
- Push through the lack of energy and simply train.
- Do a different activity purely for the fun of it.
- Change our training structure (work soleley on movement, technique, or drop the volume or the time under tension).

Or we could do a combination of some of these. None are better than any others. There are times when we need to rest, and there are times when we need to learn how to front up and get the job done is spite of things not being (or feeling) perfect. fact this week, is one of those times when the body feels like it needs a change or a break. I've recently come back from a great (but busy) speaking trip to Canada, am rehabilitating a few niggling injuries and am working long hours on several business and teaching projects. Previous to leaving for Canada I was also training very intensely - consisting of up to: 2 x Kettlebell sessions, 3 x Olympic Lifting sessions, 1 x CrossFit WOD and 5 x Jiu Jitsu sessions, for a total of round 12 hours of pretty intense training per week.

This week will be a much more low-key, and after a good squat session with 'The Beast' Dave Fitzsimmons and Andy Rodgers yesterday, and  stack of writing, business development and prep to get through today, a slightly different tack will be needed for training...

Enter: Pomodoros and Pushups!

I have for a little while now been using the Pomodoro Method to help stay focussed, and more importantly to remind myself to take breaks.
I thought this could be a great opportunity to 'grease the groove' in pushups and get some residual, low intensity activity into an otherwise fuill-on work day in which I won't be able to get to the gym or dojo...
Even if you can't get to the gym you can still train your body!

So here's how it will work:
After every 'Pomodoro' (25min work block) I will perform pushups at a set cadence (doesn't matter whether it's fast or slow) and terminate the set when the cadence begins to slow, well before actual fatigue or failure (the point is to get a volume of work done, not to go to muscle failure).

Early morning
Set 1: 43
[Spent most of the morning driving around to meetings - several hours elapsed without any PUs]
Set 2: 27
Set 3: 23
Set 4: 42
Set 5: 31
Set 6: 47
Set 7: 55
Set 8: 60
Set 9: 54
Set 10: 43
Total Pushups during the working day = 425

I had meetings through the day and so there were periods of time that I didn't do pushups. hat's not important as simply having a structure to remind yourself to MOVE is the key with this exercise.
Rep variations were due primarily to cadence (faster reps = less time under tension) and to longer rest intervals if I had been in meetings.

Next time I'm going to do 'Pomodoros and KettleBell Swings!'... stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Confession: I like it when things are easy...

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

I know that it may not be the 'thing to do' to admit to wanting things the 'easy way', but if we are realistic about why we do many (many...) things in life, we do it for that exact purpose: To make things easier...

The key is to not always seek the easy way 'out' but to do what you have to do to make the things that matter easier...

So while we might always want for everything to be easy, we realise that to achieve the really BIG goals in life we need to do the hard work at times when we could just as easily not...but in doing so we actually make the big events that much easier and put ourselves in a better place to transcend and if we don't do any of the difficult work everything will eventually be difficult.

Some would disagree with this assessment, but I have seen in so many of the sports that I've been involved in  that when I started they were so difficult I was actually scared. Literally, freakin' scared.
I remember when I first started sparring against good opponents in boxing I was a ball of anxiety. As I did more and more rounds it became 'easier'. It was still tough, but the 'want to run for the door', 'crap your pants' fear wasn't there. And that made the whole process more comfortable. 
I've found the same thing with public speaking. I now find the whole process comfortable, invigorating and fun! But when I started I was scared shitless! But I knew the gain would be so much greater than the initial discomfort.
The same thing happened with releasing my first book, competing in my first submission grappling tournament and many more instances.
The initial discomfort helps to make it more comfortable and that's when we can begin to be in the flow of what 'is' and truly begin to develop a higher level of skills and achieve at a higher level, a level of mastery.

As my good friend Darren Ellis of CrossFit New Zealand has said to me: "The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle."

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Every Moment is a Learning.

[Post by Cliff Harvey]

A client asked me a question the other day: 

"Cliff I'm feeling so much better, so much more positive, and just generally pretty awesome!...But there are still the odd days where I feel down, and times when I still experience pain. What can I do during those times?"

Remember that every single moment in life is a learning. 
Pain is simply a signal. 
Ask yourself: "How does this serve me?" "What is it trying to tell me?"

Often when we feel down we are not in heart-mind congruence. So when you feel down take a moment to sit in stillness. 
Close your eyes and connect to your heart centre. Then think of a direct energetic connection between your heart and mind/brain. Allow this connection to deepen, and when you feel it strongly begin to connect from your heart, down through your body, out your feet and to the very centre of the earth. 
When you feel connected and grounded in the earth allow the connection to flow up from your heart, into your brain and through the top of your skull out into the heavens.
Allow yourself to sit with this earth-heart-mind-universe connection for a few minutes.

Then allow yourself a moment of gratitude for your functioning, healthy body...and also for the signals that your body and mind provide you that allow you continued growth, learning and spiritual evolution (even if they are pain, depression etc). Remember that these are all part of the beautiful process of life...the beautiful process that is you. And so if you are to value, honour and love yourself unconditionally you must honour and value these parts of the process too.

Finally remember that sometimes it's OK to be down. We need not reject it, but recognise the learnings and then simply allow it to arise and fall, as we would any other condition of life. 

As we begin to rise to higher and higher set points of happiness we will still experience highs and lows, but they will be at a higher vibration than before. 


Monday, July 02, 2012


[Post by Cliff Harvey]

Remember that we can love all, even our enemies...even those who have hurt us.

We can arrive at a time, space and place where our tears of gratitude for the love that we can express totally and without condition amazes us.