Keep to the Middle

One of the principle tenets of Buddhism is something referred to as the “Middle Way” or “Middle Path,” part of which states that wisdom lies neither in self-indulgence, nor in asceticism (abstinence from worldly pleasures). Rather, it lies in a path of moderation.

  • Being too poor is not the path to enlightenment, but neither is being too rich.
  • Being too fat is no way to live, but neither is being too skinny.
  • Being too serious all the time is no way to make friends, but neither is constantly joking around.

You get the point.

It may be a bit far-fetched to extend this concept to an endeavor like bodybuilding – the sport of excess – but hear me out. If you want to excel, you need to do this for a long time. You need to find your “sweet spot” for nutrition, training, etc. This is the spot that allows you to enjoy the process, while also staying healthy, maintaining good relationships with others and not driving yourself nuts. The bottom line is that you need to find a way to progress with, but also one you can live with. The trainer who goes at 90 percent for 10 years will always beat the trainer who goes at 110 percent for three years, gets burnt out, and quits.

I’m not talking about “striving for balance,” though. If your goal is balance, don’t expect to excel. Join the rest of the masses that never accomplish anything.

I’m talking about learning when to say “go” and when to say “yield.”

There are certainly going to be times that require 100 percent of your effort, those times when 90 percent "just ain’t gonna cut it." Prepare for these times and go in knowing that your attention to other things is going to slide. There are also going to be times, however, where you can take your foot off the gas a bit and let your mind and body recharge. Many of the things you consider “so important” right now are going to be anything but that in less five years from now. Focus on the shit that matters, and let the other stuff slide.

It’s not always an easy distinction to make, but with time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it.

Little Fish Big Pond

In the world of bodybuilding, there are many levels of competition. There are local shows, state level shows, regional shows, junior level national shows, pro-qualifying national shows, professional level shows, etc. The competition gets tougher as you move up each level.

The difference between first place at a local or state level show and first place at a national level show can be quite drastic. In fact you can be the best guy (or gal) in your state, then go to the national level and get your ass handed to you, and possibly not even place. It’s that competitive. Jumping from first place to last place can be a hard pill for the ego to swallow...and ego is rampant in bodybuilding. Many choose to stay at the lower level because they’d rather be a big fish in a little pond, than a little fish in a big pond. They’d rather egobuild than bodybuild.

If you’re looking for a way to shortchange progress, that is it. By guaranteeing yourself that you will never have to compete against anyone better, you give yourself no reason to improve. The alternative is to leave your comfort zone, and make the necessary changes to do well in the bigger shows. This involves more work, more time, more sacrifice, and a whole new mindset. If you want to maximize your potential, this is the way to do it.

At the end of the day, which do you think is more satisfying?

I'm Not Always Motivated

It’s no secret that consistency is one of the key factors of success. He (or she) who does the right shit, the longest, usually wins.

Staying motivated to do this, though, is where most usually fail.

They start off with a bang, which quickly turns into a fizzle. Many just get bored with it. "Yeah, the results are great. But, man, this shit is tedious and never-ending!" Or, “life” gets in the way – your child gets sick, you’re called away on a business trip, your underwear catches on fire. It’s always something.

So what’s the secret? How do you stay disciplined and consistent, when your mind and body say no?

You go on auto-pilot.

You see, you don’t have to be motivated to do the right stuff all the time - you just have to do it. It’s kind of like going to work. Monday rolls around and you hate to see the weekend go, but you still drag your ass to work and punch in.  And again the next day. And the day after that. You always figure out a way to make it happen.

The motivation WILL return. It may wane at certain times of the year, but if you’re truly passionate about your endeavor, it will most certainly come back. And when it does, you’ll be thankful for all that time you kept plugging away at your goals.

Needs and Wants

It’s human nature to desire, to crave things. We crave money, sex, fame, power, drugs, attention…the list goes on and on. And with this craving we create our own misery.

  • If only we had such and such, then we would be happy and content.
  • Right now can’t be that great, because we don’t have (fill in the blank).

But once we get it (if we even do), we quickly realize it isn’t so great after all, and we’re soon chasing after the next shiny thing. The obvious problem here is that we never get it. We never get there. We end up spending our entire life striving, rather than arriving. As I mentioned though, it’s human nature. It’s hard to escape. In fact, in some respects, trying to escape can just become another desire.

Perhaps it’s best to realize the situation for what it is, and not let yourself get too wrapped up in it. Yes, you’re going to want stuff in your life – some tangible, some not, but don’t let it define you.

Like they say, “Pursue your dream, but don’t let your life become one.” Realize that the game of pursuit is one which can’t be won. Quieting your mind down and appreciating what you already have is just as commendable as chasing after your dreams and constantly improving.

Sometimes NOT getting what we want is actually what we need.