Monday, December 17, 2012

Goal Setting

It may be the fear of failure that keeps people from ever bettering themselves.  Do not ever be afraid to fail, be afraid to never start your journey. 

Knowing where you want to be...  Setting a goal...

This may be one of the most overlooked tools in a person's arsenal.  If one does not set goals, then they are running blindly and cannot plan their life accordingly [whether it is for fitness or life in general].  There must be an end game in mind.  

Even more overlooked is the little achievements along the way...  Setting an overall goal is great (to lose weight, to build muscle, to make more money, to be more attractive...) but you also want to set specific, achievable goals to keep you motivated along the way. 

This is a diagram that each of my clients know very well.  
Start by writing down where you are now.  Be honest... but not brutal.

After that write 2-3 easily obtainable goals for the next month.  These must be specific (lose 5 lbs, write a resume, etc...). 

After that, write 2-3 more slightly more general goal for a 3 month goal.  Continue being more general for 6 and 12 month goals.  

This will be your map to success.  Now you can plan your workouts, your career, your life accordingly.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This week's workout

I've been asked to show my workouts for this week.  This is my planned workouts for the next week if any of you are dumb enough to try it out. 

You will note these workouts do not include any crunches, planks, or accessory exercises…  they get done several times during my Pilates and stretching routines.  These workouts are not the only thing I do, just the main part.

And eating wise… My diet is everything.     

Workout1 (Sunday-LEGS)
Ss1 (5 sets, 20 reps)
            Jefferson Squats (light)
            Butt Busters
Ss2 (10 sets, 20 reps)
            Leg Press
            Calf Press
Ss3 (10 sets, 20 reps)
            Leg Curl
            Hip Ab
Ss4 (10 sets, 20 reps)
            Leg extension
            Hip Ad
Squats (Ramp up 5x10, close with drop sets)
Walking Lunges x100-weighted

Workout2 (Monday-Chest/Arms)
Bench Press (Ramp up 5x5 sets)
Ss1 (10x10)
            Dumbbell Press (10x10
            Dumbbell Incline Press
Ss2 (10x20)
            Triceps Kickbacks
            Alt Incline Bicep Curl
Ss3 (5x10)
            Skull Crushers
            Preacher Ez Curl
Ss4 (5x10)
            Cable Machine Triceps Press downs
            Barbell Front Raise
Ss5 (5x10)
            French Press
            Reverse Curl

Workout3 (Wednesday-Back)
Dead lift (ramp up 5x5 sets)
Straight leg dead lifts (ramp up 5x5 sets)
Pull ups (to failure 10 sets)
Bent over rows (5x20)
Reverse Fly (10x20)
Lat pull down (5x20)
Back Extension Machine (3x20)
            Straight Arm Front Lat Pulldown 10x20
            Trap Shrugs 10x20

Workout4 (Friday-Shoulders)
Ss1 (5x10)
            Dumbbell overhead Press
            Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Ss2 (5x20)      
            Dumbbell Fly
            Dumbbell Reverse Fly
Cable Fly (5x20)
Cable Reverse Fly (5x20)
Cable Front Raise (3x20)
Cable Upright rows (3x20)
Ss3 (5x10)
            Wrist Curls
            Reverse Wrist Curls

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Secrets Here... Strength Routine.

So I've gotten several people who have requested routines on how to get stronger.  There is no secret, you go pick something heavy up and don't get hurt doing it.  But since everyone wants a plan, here is a simple, effective, and adaptable workout plan.  It even includes a mini nutrition guide too!

I created this beginner and intermediate program a couple years ago after studying several different muscle and strength building strategies.  Stick to it, perform every rep with perfect form and full range of motion, and you will increase your strength faster than ever before.

Recipe: Hearty Stuffed Meatballs

This is my recipe for Hearty Stuffed Meatballs.  They can be served with pasta, on a sandwich, or are good just by themselves.

 Per Serving: 200cal, 19.5g Protein, 10g Fat, 1.6g Carbs

1lb ground sirloin (90% lean)                    
3 slices bacon, minced           
2oz mozzarella cheese            
1tbsp Parmesan cheese            
½ egg                                      
5 soda crackers (crushed)       
1 tsp Garlic
tsp onion powder
tsp parsley
tsp garlic powder
tsp black pepper
tsp celery salt

Total: ~1195 cal, 117gProtien, 64gFat, 10gCarb
Serves 6 or 1 bodybuilder.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix Sirloin, Parmesan, egg, crackers, garlic, and spices.  Mince and cook bacon, drain and evenly mix into other ingredients.  Divide mix into 6 even portions and fold a ball of mozzarella inside, carefully sealing the meatball.

Cover with aluminum foil and let cook in Glass Baking Dish for 30 minutes, turn each ball over at this time and cook for another 20-30 minutes covered until cooked through.  Drain any excess fat in pan.

Add marinara sauce (optional) and serve.


Intensity is the Key!

Intensity is the piece of the puzzle most people are missing.  You can have short effective workouts if you are willing to push yourself.  This article is about changing your routine to achieve this.

One of the things I see going on in the gym everyday is people wasting their time…  while others may use the gym as a social outlet, you are there to work out so treat that time as sacred.  You are there to get a job done.  You are there to build muscle and destroy fat.  You are there to become a better person.

Now this is not to say you can't have fun or occasionally talk, but do not spend three hours in the gym only to complete three sets while talking the rest of the time to the hot chick behind the counter at the smoothie bar, then claim you "work out".

Tip:  Unless you are a high maintenance athlete or a cardiac rehab patient, you probably are not going to be able to monitor your heart rate the entire workout.  Instead, learn to listen to your body, as your breathing is directly tied to your heart rate.  If you are working hard enough to be winded, then you are around your anaerobic threshold (think sprinting) while if you are able to keep up with breathing, you are in the aerobic zone.  

So let's take a typical hour workout and look at the intensity (based on heart rate).  I compared the two following workouts several times using the calorie meters (bodybugg) our gym has at our disposal.  

So here it is, this is what most people's workout routines look like if you looked at their heart rate and effort.  Remember that the higher the intensity, the more calories will be burned.  Most people burn between 300 and 500 calories in an hour workout doing this workout plan.

Problem 1:  the warm up… Most people come into the gym, hop on a treadmill and "warm up"…  a warm up is just to get your body into a state of readiness-preparation of the workout ahead-and should get your heart rate at least up into the aerobic state.  This should only take 5 minutes… instead it usually takes 10-20 minutes for most people.  This is time wasted that could have been spent burning calories or building muscle.    

Problem 2:  cardio…  Most people do cardio first.  If you do cardio first, you expend a lot of effort that could be used towards your resistance training, which you should be focusing on being at 100% effort.  If you do cardio first, you will be lucky if you can put 80% effort into it, your lifts affected by the earlier stress.  Cardio is only about holding a high heart rate for a long period of time.

Problem 3: weights…  Doing resistance last.  Your resistance training should have you hovering near the anaerobic threshold…  where you can barely keep your breath.  This stimulates your body into a place where it must adapt to survive.  You will get stronger, tougher, and more resilient… but only if you give your all.

So lets fix this…

This is the revised workout.  By fixing the order and intensity of things, most people can burn 600-1000 calories in the workout.

Fix 1: WARM UP!  Get your body prepared for the task ahead.  Don't just hop on a generic piece of cardio equipment; instead, do calisthenics or light sets and stretches to get the blood pumping and the neurons firing which will control the muscles. 

Fix 2: HIT THE WEIGHTS! Get to your resistance training first and put 100% in.  make the body adapt to new intensity and levels of training each workout.  Get your heart rate up near the anerobic threashold and stay there as long as you can stand it.  This is your "Warm up" for cardio.  Tons of calories will be burned during this time.  For most people, a good resistance training session may only take 15-20 minutes with minimal rest.

Fix 3: CARDIO!  You already got the heart rate up…  now just keep it in the aerobic state and keep yourself occupied on the equipment for maximum calorie burn.  Heck, if you want try Interval Training.


So there you are.  Hit the gym with purpose and intent and you will begin to see results you never thought possible.

Back Pain: Forming Your Treatment Team

Back pain affects around 80% of Americans.  Whether acute or chronic, if you have experienced back pain you know how debilitating it can be.  There are several reasons for back pain from structural, to postural, to degenerative discs.  Each one presents with different symptoms and unless the case is severe, most back pain can be alleviated with simple strengthening routines. 

Injuries come frequent for athletes…  most minor and treatable.  I spent my day yesterday having deep tissue therapy done to help correct an injury from a few months back.  (Tip: if your workout partner drops over 300lbs, don't try to catch it all yourself… and defiantly don't continue the workout after the injury happens).  Luckily, since I have experience with treating severe back injuries, this will be only a small obstacle.      

It took time but by using the techniques presented in this article I was able to rebuild my back strength after my injury in 2006.  Since then as a personal trainer, I have dozens of other back pain sufferers cope with their back problems.  From my experience I have learned that the best way to cope with chronic injury is to have a coordinated and experienced treatment team. 

Most people go through life with back pain and don't know why they have it.  The most common reason stems from just having weak back muscles or muscular imbalances.  As the muscles weaken, the spine, lumbar, hips, knees, neck, and shoulders are all pulled out of the correct postural zones and cause pain.  Most people then do the exact opposite of what they need to do and end up avoiding using the afflicted area instead of strengthening it.  Little things such as picking up a weight or even brushing one's teeth can throw out the back.  Years and years of this abuse adds up to chronic injuries such as degenerated discs, herniation, and postural deformities. 

All of this could be avoided if one just identified the issue early on and treated it.  Even if a person is experiencing issues currently, actions can be taken to help strengthen the body and alleviate the pain.

First thing a person needs to do is identify the problem.  Ask yourself the following questions…

~Is the pain sharp or a dull ache?
~Is the pain in the upper, middle, or lower back? 
~Is it on one or both sides? 
~Is there numbness or tingling radiating from the area?

Identifying each of these will help you assess the problem areas and also help any doctors you have on your treatment team.

A dull ache typically ends up being sore, weakened muscles and can be easy to treat while a sharp pain—especially one that radiates or causes numbness—should be treated as severe issue and a qualified professional should be consulted as-soon-as-possible.

There are several routes you can go, but no matter what you should consult a qualified professional.  This section breaks down each of those who may be able to help you.

1: A Orthopedic Surgeon or Neurologist specializing in Back Injuries. 
This should be your first action if you have severe pain.  These people should know what they are doing*.  They will be able to take xrays and MRIs to help diagnose the structural and neurological issues you are experiencing.  They can prescribe medications (typically pain killers and steroid injections) to alleviate the pain and allow you to perform exercises to strengthen the muscles around the problem areas. 
(*Notice I said "should"…  For every good doctor, there seems to be a dozen bad ones.  Research you doctor first, and if you feel uncomfortable with them find another one. )

2: Chiropractor
While not surgeons, a good Chiropractor will be able to assess if your problems stem from a structural or posture issue and be able to help treat it.  Many chiropractors also have access to tools such as a "Functional or Standing x-ray", Electro-Stimulation, and Ultrasound device which can help them diagnose and treat your symptoms. 

Avoid chiropractors who are quick to treat without clear diagnosis.  "Bonecrackers" are the ones who give chiropractics a bad name.

3: Massage Therapist
Like a Chiropractor, a Licensed Massage Therapist can help you assess and treat your injuries.  While Chiropractors deal with the structural issues of the skeletal system, Massage Therapists deal more with the connective tissues and muscular system of the body, manipulating it to make it more efficient.  A note, these typically will not be found in the mall doing chair massages.

4: Acupuncturist
There is no Ancient Chinese Secret…  While people try to put stone age mythology into medical practice, the core idea of acupuncture is sound.  Acupuncture is based around trigger point release and manipulation of the healing processes of the human body.  While not for everyone, acupuncture can be used as a pain reliever for joint pain, as well as help direct blood flow to problem areas.  Finding a good acupuncturist can be hard, so ask around and do your research before letting someone stick you with pins. 

5: Physical Therapist
A physical therapist is specialized is rehabilitating the human body after injury or surgery.  They typically use conservative exercise regiments and rehabilitative tools (e-stim, ultrasound, etc…) to help strengthen the body and get a person back to normal.

6: Personal Trainer
A personal trainer can help you maintain your body and help prevent any muscular weakness or imbalances that cause back pain.  Finding a good personal trainer who specializes in back pain can be a challenge, but once found they can help you lead a healthier life.

Once you have figured out what is going on, you can treat the problems.  Make sure each person in your treatment team has each other's information and make sure they communicate with each other.  Some treatments can conflict with each other.

I've been there.  So you cannot afford a treatment team…  well, thanks to the internet there are many online resources and forums that have people like me who just want to help others treat their problems.  Some problems can be as simple as fixing your posture or doing corrective exercises.  It's all about leaving pride behind and asking for help.

If you have chronic pain and are in need of help, feel free to email contact me through my facebook account or email me at lasharm(at)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Recipe: Creamy Chicken & Broccoli

If you take the steps to control portions, make healthy choices over unhealthy junk, and make sure you enjoy the experience of your food then you will be able to easily control your weight.

However; for anyone who lives with a high maintenance athlete or a bodybuilder, it can be hard to eat with them--especially if you are trying to maintain or even lose weight.  My former roommate Caleb and my long time partner Dee knew this feeling too well.  During my bulking periods, I would be eating a "disgusting" amount of calories (in the neighborhood of 5000-8000 a day).  So to reach out to my friends, I decided to try to change up some of my recipes so I could still bulk, but they could still enjoy a meal with me.

I decided to make this "healthy and flavorful meal" for Dee and I this last weekend.  Here's the Recipe and the Breakdown.
Tip: Buy in bulk...

1 lb chicken Breast, cut into chunks                                          
3-4 strips bacon, cut into thirds                       
1½ cup broccoli                                              
½ sweet onion, sliced                                                 
1 clove minced garlic                                     
½ can of Chicken Broth (low sodium optional)                  
1 cup rice (add 1/6 cup vermicelli and +½ can of Chicken Broth for variety in texture)
celery salt (1 tbsp)
black pepper (1 tsp)
onion powder (1 tsp)
garlic powder (1 tsp)
2 tbsp olive oil                                                            

 Makes 4-6 servings... Easily serves 1 bodybuilder.
~1280 calories = 50g Fat (450c), 125g Protein (500c), 77g Carbs (308c) (sources:

1: Set stove top to low heat.  Sauté onions and garlic, pan fry bacon until brown-set aside.

2: Set stove top to medium low heat and coat pan with oil (olive oil spray is good).  Cut chicken into pieces and slowly brown (making sure inside is cooked through). 

3: Add broth, onions, garlic, bacon, and spices to chicken and stir.  Set to simmer.
4: Cook broccoli and rice covered for 7-10 minutes (til broccoli softened and rice is tender).

5: Mix broccoli and rice to chicken.
6: Cook till the broth reduced down to a cream. 

Serve and Enjoy.  May be stored and served for up to 2 days.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Foam Rolling Primer

Get Rolling!
 Written by Richard Tarleton

What is Foam Rolling? 
Foam rolling allows you to do the work of a massage therapist, kneading and working out tight and sore muscles, speeding recovery and improving balance, coordination, and flexibility.  Athletes and clinics have been using it successfully for years. 

Foam Rolling works by utilizing your body weight against the roller and gently "rolling out" with the grain of the muscle from one end to the other.  When properly performed foam rolling is a self deep tissue massage technique (Called Self-Myofacial Release) that mobilizes the tissues and stimulates circulation to the area, helping you recover quicker and keep your muscles flexible.  Depending on your goals, foam rolling may benefit you before and/or after your workouts.

What is a foam roller? 
A foam roller is a piece of extruded foam, much like a swim noodle but denser.   They are commonly 6-inches wide in diameter and can be between 1 and 3 feet long.  There are some "advanced" rollers that are textured or made of PVC piping, but they are reserved for those with dense muscle tissue (i.e. athletes). 

Rolling Technique is simple. 
With the roller on the ground gently place the end of the muscle you want to work on it.  Slowly start to roll back and forth with the grain of the muscle.  Start with small short passes at first eventually rolling from one end of the muscle band to the other. 
If you encounter any knots or hot-spots, back off slowly and gently roll to "bump" against it until you can make a full pass over it.  Each muscle group can be rolled for 30-60 seconds (performing between 10 and 20 full passes) or until it feels relaxed and mobile.

A gentle word of caution.  At first, using the Foam roller can be intense—and even painful—as any deep tissue massage can be.  As the tissue becomes more pliable over time, the pain will diminish.  Avoid putting too much pressure on joints, bony structures, and tendons.  Go easy at first.

Some exercises focus on balance and muscular coordination rather than self-massage.  With these exercises, perform each movement slowly and in a controlled manner.  The goal is to remained balanced on the roller.  Also, key note: Remember To Breathe!

Now that you understand what the goals of rolling are, here is a 10-exercise starter program for Foam Rolling.  Try each of these exercises before and after your regular workout.

These 10 exercises are the basics of foam rolling.  A personal trainer can help you decide if other exercises will benefit you and how to get the most out of your workouts. 

DISCLAIMER: These exercises are intended for healthy adults.  Perform these exercises at your own risk.  Consult your trainer, physical therapist, or doctor before starting a new exercise program. 


Source:  Hughes, Erin. "Foam Roller Fitness".  2002.

Weightlifting Primer: The Layman's Guide to the Big Three

Getting stronger is simple…  Pick up something heavy, don't hurt yourself, and after resting repeat with something heavier.  This simple idea is how athletes have been building their strength for ages.  It's called "Progressive Loading". 

Progressive loading's roots begin with the story of Milo.  In the ancient Greek myth a boy named Milo carried his pet calf to town each day. Each day the calf grew larger and Milo continued carrying it until he was hefting a full-size bull to town each day.  While it is not recommended using a cow as a strength training device, the idea remains the same… Start with a weight that is manageable yet challenging and each workout gradually increase the weight. 

Over the years many institutions have tested out several methods of training.  By knowing an estimated 1-repetition max of a trainee and knowing their goals a progressive plan can be designed.  As a general rule , to keep progressing with a resistance exercise each workout add an incremental amount of weight (2 ½ to 5 lbs). 

For most people it comes down to either wanting to increase their Muscle Strength or their Muscle Size.  For those who want to maximize strength (Powerlifters and Strongmen), it has been proven that training with more weight vs. less reps works best.  For those focused solely on muscle size (Fitness Models and Bodybuilders) it is better to train with more repetitions at a weight that is still challenging. 

For Joe and Jane Fitness who are usually just wanting to "tone up", training somewhere in the middle is best.  There is less risk of injury and overtraining while still building strength and muscle definition (though not as quickly as those training in the extremities).  When a person is just starting out, sets of 8-to-12 repetitions are recommended (usually 1-3 sets total).  

Proper form is as important as the weight a person lifts.  If a lift is executed wrong, shearing forces in the joints and on tissues can cause serious damage.

A good example of this is with the Squat.  Most novices let their knees bow in too much, which puts excessive force on the ligaments and meniscus, which can tear both. 

An experienced lifting coach is a tool for success with resistance training.  Compound lifts such as the Squat, Dead Lift, or Bench Press are complex movements and without an experienced coach to make sure the lifter is performing them properly mistakes can—and will—be made.  Those mistakes are hard to spot while the person is in the middle of a lift and can result in injury once the resistance is increased.  Try to find an experience coach at your gym when starting out to mentor you. 

There are three important lifts for anyone to learn; the Squat, the Dead Lift, and the Bench Press.  These three lift provide the core to any good weight lifting routine. 

Knowing the proper form for each of the three big lifts is essential for success.  If the form is off even by a small fraction with little weight, the malfunction will be exaggerated at heavier weights. 

If you cannot do the exercise with perfect form, then you cannot do it at that weight.  Bad form will result in injury.

The following section details the Three Big Lifts, accessory exercises, and making a routine.


Known as the King of Lifts, the Squat when performed correctly requires great leg and core strength. 

The exercise sounds easy; however, most people do not have the flexibility, core strength, or balance required to do weighted squats.  It is recommended that a person master a body weight squat before attempting a weighted squat.  

THE BARBELL SQUAT is performed by stepping into the rack and position the bar at back of shoulders, just below the bottom of the neck (on the Trapezius, avoiding any bony structures), grasping the bar on the sides.  When gripping the bar, have the thumbs on the outside of the bar, this will reduce the chance of the bar "rolling" and injuring the wrists.

Pushing elbows up maintains bar stability and comfort. Making sure to keep the chest up, dismount from the rack and position heels shoulder width apart, facing 45 degrees out.
As you descend, push your knees out in line with your toes and allow your hips to bend out while keeping your chest and elbows up. Descend to full range of motion and then push up through your heels, driving through your hips and keeping your chest up. 

Remember, the bar will be traveling with your body in a virtually straight "up and down" line.  If you feel the bar pulling you forward or backward during the lift, reset with a lighter weight and practice your form.

If you find yourself doing any of the following, focus on your form extensively. 
            -not reaching at least parallel with your hips.    
            -knees bowing in or out.
            -weight shifting to the balls of your toes.
            -pain in the knees or ankles.
            -looking down at feet while squatting.
            -losing balance.
            -not able to "sit" in bottom position.


"What's your Bench?" is one of the first questions any decently muscled guy gets asked about weightlifting. 

The Bench Press is an effective exercise for building the chest, shoulders, and arms.  Maintaining proper form is essential as overloading the shoulder can result in serious injury.

THE BARBELL BENCH PRESS is performed laying flat on a bench.  Your chest should be pushed slightly out and shoulders square. Maintain a natural back arch (a hand should be able to slip between the arch and the bench).  Grip the Barbell around shoulder width.   

Dismount the barbell from the rack with an overhand grip. Bring the barbell down to your middle chest, then press up until your arms are fully extended over the shoulders.  Do not lock your elbows.

The forearms should always remain in line under the bar.  If the forearm becomes out of alignment, the weight will be unevenly distributed and carry the weight towards the head or the waist. 

Arms and chest aside, the back and feet are just as important in the lift. 

The back and feet act as a giant stabilizer during the lift.  A weak back will limit the lifter's ability to maintain control of the weight.  The Feet should remain firmly against the ground throughout the lift to maintain balance. 


You pick it up and put it down…  It's that simple.

Unfortunately, most people don't know how to lift things off the ground properly to begin with; pulling straight-legged with the back arched twisting and jerking.  Herniated disks and pulled muscles await those who try to go heavy and not learn proper form. 

THE BARBELL DEADLIFT starts with positioning yourself over the middle of the bar with feet shoulder width apart. Make sure the bar is parallel to the middle of your feet, close to your ankles.

Bend down and grab the bar with an Overhand or alternating grip, slightly bend your knees bringing your shins forward till they touch the bar and look straight. 

Keep your chest up so that you maintain a straight posture with your back. Lift the bar by extending the hips pulling the chest up, keeping it in contact with your shins on the way up and making sure to retain that straight posture.

Lock out at the top of the movement and put the bar back down keeping it close to your shins. 

For beginners, the Deadlift can be uncomfortable as the bar scrapes up the legs.  If this becomes a problem, wear long socks or pants to guard the shins.   


While virtually every muscle is taxed using the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press it is still good to round out a routine with accessory lifts.

While you cannot spot reduce fat, you can enhance specific muscle groups through isolation exercises.  If you focus on a lot of curls and triceps extensions, your arms will get bigger.  The key is to look in the mirror, figure out what you want to enhance, and work on it.


The key to progress is to know where you have been.

Keep track of each workout; every rep counts.  Every time you come in to the gym, look at what you did the workout before, add some more weight to what you did before (2 ½ lbs to 10 lbs), and lift.   

These exercises are the basics of weight lifting.  A personal trainer can help you decide if other exercises will benefit you and how to get the most out of your workouts. 

DISCLAIMER: These exercises are intended for healthy adults.  Perform these exercises at your own risk.  Consult your trainer, physical therapist, or doctor before starting a new exercise program. 

Sources: Hatfield, Frederick C.; Fitness: The Complete Guide; I.S.S.A.; 2009 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm the MAD guy at the gym...

Most people don't know me...  so I'll lay it out for you.

I'm that guy in the gym who everyone thinks never smiles.  They think I'm always mad.  Even though all of my clients and friends will say I act with a gentle but firm hand, I am not there to be nice...  not there to make excuses or listen to them.  I'll tell you what works, and enable you to attain your goals.  I know that if you take the necessary steps, plan for your goal, and learn to push through every obstacle you can get farther in life than you ever thought possible.  I will go out of my way to help you get the results you deserve.

...but I wasn't always this way.

A decade ago I was lost... had no passion or plan.  I was selfish.  I had just got out of high school, and though being athletic with a background in weightlifting, gymnastics, and wrestling I had not prepared to become a successful person.  I had thrown away opportunities in pursuit of insignificant pleasures.  I sacrificed time and opportunities to play games, watch TV, and generally screw off.  I bounced around from job to job, trade to trade, never finding anything I wanted to do.  This led to debt, being frustrated, and eventually to my downfall.

In 2006 I got injured.  I took a 15' fall at work and sprained every muscle from my chest to my knees.  I also chewed up 2 of the discs in my lower spine which led eventually to damage to my nerve tissue.  I spent months dealing with insurance companies and docs who refused to treat me.  I dealt with depression, chronic severe pain, and true rage...  I watched my body start to whither.  My left leg started to shrink and eventually I could barely walk on my own.  I decided that it was do or die.  I contemplated my options, and it was kill or be killed.

I got MAD...  Mindful, Aggressive, and Determined...  and took action to solve my problems.

I studied, learned the physiology of the human body.  Kinestheology, biomechanics, pain management techniques, nutrition, supplementation... these became my arsenal.  Now I needed a team to bring it all together.

I found a doctor who was able to help me, a chiropractor who helped me rebuild my back, and a physical therapist who gave me the strength to rebuild my body from the ground up.

3 years of hell.  Every day, focusing on the end game.  At first it was to walk, then it became to become better than I was.  At the start of 2010, I had become stronger than I ever had been and had learned who I was.

I had found my passion.  I had found my purpose.  I had to continue to evolve and help others do the same.

So that is what created me...  the MAD guy in the gym. To achieve your goals, you need to be Mindful, Aggressive, and Determined.

The Journey Begins

This is to chronicle my journey to becoming a Bodybuilder, to keep myself motivated, and to help other stay true to their path seeking better health.

This blog will feature every trial I encounter... from workouts, injury prevention, dieting, recipes, schedules, and even dealing with life that tries to interfere with my journey.

More to follow soon...

~Richard Tarleton