Every year I get new team members. And every year I ask them, “Are you ready to sacrifice, for a short while, what you NEED to do in your personal life to accomplish what you WANT to do in this competitive life?” Look, let’s face it, being a competitor at ANY level takes dedication, discipline, drive, determination, and focus. Regardless of the sport, whether it be individual or team, being a competitive athlete means something is going to have to be put on the back burner so that what’s most important to you currently (your contest) can be accomplished. I’m not saying that all competitors in all sports have bad relationships or no life while they’re chasing their dreams. Heck, you see all the time professional athletes who have been married for years. And you also see athletes who have lives outside of their chosen sport. But let’s be real here, if you have a worthy goal you want to accomplish, something has to sacrifice, and many times that something is someone. In all walks of life, where one has to put more energy into accomplishing a highly specialized goal, something must be given up. Our significant others want our time, and sometimes we just can’t, at the moment, give it to them.
Skip La Cour, arguably one of the best natural bodybuilders of all time recently said: “Competitive bodybuilding had a huge impact on the quality of my relationships with others and loved ones—and it certainly wasn’t a positive impact. Looking back now, competing for 15 years straight and the amount of focus and discipline that I put an extremely high priority on really compromised my ability for any real intimacy. I didn’t truly realize the depth of its negative impact while I was going through those years because I was so committed to reaching my goals. But hey . . . those were the choices I made. I’m a big boy who made his own decisions. In life, you have to take the bad along with all the good things that come with that type of determination. During a recent podcast, I talked a lot about the challenges and personal pain that I suffered in terms of the quality of my personal relationships, while, at the very same time, was achieving tremendous success as a competitive bodybuilder.”
Paige Hathaway, a competitive female athlete, recently said on her Facebook page: “It’s Saturday night and my tunnel vision is in full effect. With success I’ve learned that you must be willing to sacrifice and give up comfort and convenience in order to achieve your greatest potential. You may have to give up hanging out with friends who drag you down rather than lift up your dreams. You may have to give up TV in order to have the time to read, study, and perfect your craft. You may have to give up sleep, your Saturday nights or your favorite foods. Everyone who’s achieved success has given something up. It’s against our nature to give something up. You fight harder to keep from losing something than you fight to create something new. Now’s the time to break that pattern. Let go of what’s holding you back from achieving your dreams and ask yourself “Am I living up to my greatest potential or down to my perceived limitations?”
I remember when I started school. For the first two years of my Bachelor’s degree, I was able to compete in a few shows, but I noticed that my placings dropped due to my lack of time, effort, and energy that I needed to give my training to be at my competitive best. Once I got to the final two years of the Bachelor’s program, I pretty much had to stop competing as I just didn’t have the time, but I was still able to make it to the gym regularly, but it was more for quick 30 minute workouts than anything else. And at the Master’s level, I pretty much got two weeks into each semester and then all training stopped because I was either in school, studying, or sleeping. I didn’t have time for anything else. I had to put my competitive career on hold to accomplish a greater, more prestigious goal – the goal of education. Now that was me, and me only. I know of some people who were able to compete while going for their PhD. Everyone is different and unique, and what’s challenging for one may be easy for another. And as soon as I finished school, I got right back into competition. Prior to school, I sacrificed much to compete. Once in school, I sacrificed competition. In life, there will always be sacrifice as we attempt to juggle said life.
Two philosophical laws that the ancient wise mystic, SO WATT, developed, demonstrate that perfectly. These two philosophical laws are closely related, so close that they could almost be written as one, but SO split them because people had a tendency to confuse the two. His Law of Sacrifice and Law of Balance caused many problems in the lives of his students, and he quickly learned that he needed to teach his students that they could not have everything they wanted. With his Law of Sacrifice, he had to get them to understand that there would be times when one thing had to be put aside to accomplish another thing. Let’s take a look at how SO would have perhaps handled a competitor back in the day…
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SO – PART VI
SO WATT’S fifth law, the Law of Sacrifice, states that to accomplish one worthy thing, you must, to a certain degree, and for a certain time, give up another. SO learned through his many years of education and teaching that many individuals would talk the talk but few would walk the walk. SO knew that to achieve one’s ultimate goal, one must give up much. This was a difficult principle for most students to grasp, as they wanted not only their cake, but the ice cream too. And they wanted to eat it all as well. SO did his very best to instill in his students the simple phrase he used, “To get something you never had before, you must do something you never did before. This will require giving up something you cherish.” SO explained this to each and every pupil, but for some strange reason, they did not heed his wise words. I wonder what a conversation would be like if SO had a conversation with a potential competitor? Perhaps something like this…
In the very ancient time, in the land called the Hood, the wise old mystic, SO WATT was approached by a man who desired to train under SO’s tutelage. The man had heard of SO’s knowledge and wisdom in his distant native land of Wannabe, and traveled far and long to learn at the wise one’s feet. The man wanted to compete in a newly-created ‘Old Men’s Bodybuilding’ contest and believed that SO was the only one to help him achieve the results he wanted. SO did not like the “Old Men’s” name and quickly corrected the man saying, “You are not old. You are mature. And you have learned much and have much to offer the younger men in terms of wisdom and knowledge, so we shall call this new division you will compete in the “MASTERS” class. SO had the man stand in front of him, suit on. SO walked slowly around the man with his hands clasped behind his back, taking in every inch of his physique. SO looked him up and down, from top to bottom, left to right, front to back, and side-to-side several times stopping and pinching crucial areas on the man’s physique, nodding his head, but expressionless other than that. Finally SO spoke.
“I can help you build the physique you desire, but you must sacrifice many things in order to reach your goal. I am the river, you are the mountain. I will carve great muscularity and etch fine vascularity onto your body. You will be a specimen to behold. You will work long and hard, doing things far more difficult and challenging than you have ever imagined. Is this agreeable to you?”
“It’s on like Donkey Kong,” replied the man. “Let’s do this.”
SO saw that the man was carrying too much bodyfat. SO knew that he needed to get the man down to where his muscularity and vascularity showed through. SO saw that the man’s skin was thick, so SO invented the ‘skinfold’ calipers to measure the thickness of the skin, and developed a formula to determine the leanness of the man. Since SO stayed lean year-round from years of training, he knew exactly where the man needed to be for his Master’s contest.
SO said, “You will need to lose 25 lbs of bodyfat and gain 5 lbs of muscle in the next 3 months. This will require you to change your lifestyle. Here is what I recommend.” SO mapped out a nutritional plan, devised a strength training program, and implemented a cardiovascular regimen that would surely garner change and gave it to the man.
The man took one look at everything and cried, “Hold up…hold — up! I knew that I would have to sacrifice to some degree but this is ridiculous. I am not willing to give up all the foods I love to eat. Dude, me and Cheesy Bread have a nightly love affair. And I will NOT give up my latte’ every morning! Oatmeal and egg whites e’rry single morning? Are you serious? Can’t we compromise? And what’s up with this much cardio? How am I supposed to fit it all in? Two sessions a day?? Are you kiddin’ me? I can do 30 minutes, but that’s about it. I’ve gotta get home each evening and watch my shows. Oh, and one other thing…there’s no way I’m going to be able to go on this 5-day split and still spend time with my new girlfriend. And I’ve got my three kids and baby mama drama, and family is always hittin’ me up to help them. And by the way, I’ve got a reunion coming up 2 weeks before the show! Do you really expect me to cancel that?” On and on the man went, almost becoming hysterical in the process. Finally he yelled at SO, “ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? THERE’S NO WAY I CAN SACRIFICE ALL THIS. I CAN’T CHANGE MY WHOLE LIFE AROUND FOR THIS CONTEST!”
SO could not nod his silver-white head in his normal fashion as he was having his hair braided, so he just stroked his silver-white beard and replied, “So”?
The man just stared at SO! He’d heard that SO was the most intelligent of the intelligent, and this was all he got – a stinkin’ ‘So’? SO continued to look at the man, legs crossed as he sat in his chair. ZA -BAMM!!! The man had the biggest revelation of his life!
‘I get it,’ the man replied, nodding his head in complete agreement and approval. “So what you are saying SO, is that I must sacrifice many things to achieve this goal. I must give up my early morning latte’ and my late-night Cheesy Bread to get lean enough for my muscles to show. I must learn to eat the right foods at the right times in the right amounts to build the muscle you say I need, and that doing so will also help me burn bodyfat. And I must also find time to do the two cardio sessions, as your research shows that as one of the best ways to lose bodyfat. I will not be able to go out with friends like I used to as that time will now be spent on my second cardio session. I very well may have to pass up family functions to ensure that I stay on task. And I must tell my girlfriend that this is important to me and that I need her help and support, and that this will last just a short while, and then I can give her the attention she deserves. The same with my kids. I now realize that I have the same 24 hours in the day as every other person on the face of this earth, and how I choose to partition that time is entirely up to me. The gym shall become my mother and you shall be my daddy.”
The new pupil looked deep into SO’s ancient eyes. ‘Master,’ he said. ‘You have given me great wisdom and knowledge. I shall go forth and make it do what it do.’
‘Weedhoppah,’ SO replied, ‘You have discovered a great truth today – the truth of sacrifice. You have learned that you must sometimes give up what you love to achieve a worthy goal. You have learned that contest preparation is temporary, as is the sacrifice, and if you advise friends, family, and co-workers of your situation, they will more likely than not whole-heartedly support you. You have learned well. Now go forth and be successful…and yes, make it do what it do.’
The new pupil left, realizing that he was no longer sacrificing anything, but merely making a decision on how he wanted to live his life for a few months.
SO WATT mused, “It has taken many years to educate people on understanding the three basic principles of bodybuilding – (1), to eat the right foods at the right times in the right amounts, (2), to train smart and intense, and (3), to do some sort of cardiovascular and fat-burning exercise to enhance one’s look, self-efficacy and belief in oneself, and functionability. It is good to see that they have learned well. There is no magic, and there definitely are no shortcuts!” To be continued…peace