The TRUTH about commitment

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson

With REAL commitment, there’s no debate.

There’s no longer equal opportunity for DO or DO NOT.

The decision’s been made.

(The root of the word “decide” is the latin decidere.  It literally means to kill any alternatives.)

All that remains is the steady forward march of implementation.

That’s why commitment is the ultimate ZEN.  It silences the chorus of opposition, and clears the path for unobstructed and pointed action.  It’s like water running downhill; it effortlessly curves to the configuration of the terrain.

I’ve experienced real commitment only a few times.

Not because it’s hard.

Because it’s so easy it scares me.

There’s so much power in it, so much real-ness to our potential that I deign to use it only sparingly.

But I wonder sometimes where my life would be if I wasn’t afraid.

What if every decision was a FINAL decision?

Sure, you could re-evaluate long-term commitments to determine if they still serve…or make short-term commitments, and periodically re-commit…but what if, for the most part, that was that?  What if, in the Viking warrior tradition, you could burn the ships as soon as you land in new and unconquered territory? Could you gaze up the beach and know that beyond it are only two possibilities – victory, or death?

All great *gut check* questions I’ve been asking myself as I hang up my calendar for another year.

As human beings, we’re capable of so much, yet we squander our powers.

For what?

Security?

It’s an illusion…a mere shadow of Mother Nature’s attempt to protect her children from an unpredictable ecosystem.  Safeguards placed into our brains by DNA.

We are no longer children.  We are the part of nature that is coming to know itself, and we stand face to face with the unboundedness of our existence.

We are free…

2017 will be a year of massive reinvention.  Anything is game.  There is NO certainty.  Trust me; you don’t need it anyway.  NOW is the time to find your center and live from that place.  Not fear, but opportunity.  Not what anyone says (much less what the media says), but what inspires you…

The future belongs to those who create it.

Let’s make it good.

Happy Committing,

Conor Kelly
conorkelly.com

The bloodsport of writing

One of the best examples I know of suffering for your art is Virgil’s famous poem, the Aeneid.

He started writing it in 29 B.C., and continued until 19 B.C. – and still wasn’t finished.

That’s an average of a line per day over eleven years.

Some days were good.  Words flowed, and well-formed ideas leapt onto the page.  Other days he sat and stared as doubt and self-condemnation welled up inside him.  He was never happy with the end result, and agonized over every line until his death, upon which he left instructions for the manuscript to be burned.

Bit dramatic for my tastes.

But I am tempted to hurl my laptop from the balcony on occasion.

I emerge from some writing sessions like Jean Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport, with the emotional equivalent of broken ribs and a giant cut that swells my eye shut.  Or like the guy whose face is the slow-motion close-up of a foot entering and permanently disfiguring it.

I’m deliberate about every comma, every break in the text.  Even then, when I finally push ‘send’, my finger hovers reluctantly above the button.  It’s as though my child is leaving the safety of the nest for the first time, “She’s too young!  She’s not ready!!”

Maybe some people feel 100% confident about their writing.

I guess that’s not me.

Anyway, the point is getting fit’s like that too.

It’s non-linear.  I’ve never met anyone who lost exactly two pounds per week for 26 weeks.  Instead, there are fits and starts.  For some people, the engine of transformation comes roaring to life in the first month, only to sputter and fall silent in the next.  For others, nothing visible happens until one day – months later – the fat falls from their flesh as though it were well-cooked steak.

Most folks land somewhere in the middle.

It’s an awkward (and often messy) beginner’s dance between progress and plateau.

All of this offends our aesthetic sense.

But thinking you need to be perfect is a trap.

If I needed to draft elegant prose every time I sat at my desk, you’d never hear from me.  But I write every day.  How?  I embrace ENTROPY.  It’s the principle that everything in the universe tends toward chaos.  Or, in my layman’s interpretation, the energy you put into something becomes a lower, less-organized form, but is never wasted…

Perfect is the enemy of good.

It’s action that counts.

If you’re not having the occasional meltdown, you’re not trying hard enough.

For all his hysterics, Virgil created works that endure two millennia later.

So borrow a page from his parchment, give yourself permission to fail, and be bold enough to take your best shot.

Happy Mess-Making,

Conor Kelly
conorkelly.com

4 books that changed my life

Confession time…

I’m really a nerd trapped in a strongman’s body.

I read voraciously, and when I do, I use a pen to underline important passages (no pocket protector for that pen…YET).  I read many things twice, even three times.  Howevs, once in a blue sunrise, I come across something that inspires me to read it over and over again.

These 4 books are like that.  I’ve read each of them at least five times.

In January, I shalt devour them once more.

To make a short story long, here they are…

1. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.  First published in 1937, it’s the best-selling personal development book of all time, AND tops the reading list for most of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs.

But don’t be mistaken, this is not simply a book about how to get rich.  Andrew Carnegie hired Napoleon Hill to interview and stalk crazy successful humans like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt, to discover their methods, and deliver the ultimate success philosophy.

What’d I tell ya?  That’s all kinds of cool.

2. The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, has credited this book with changing his life.  And behold, the little Austrian boy has done okay for himself.

It’s sort of vomited onto the page with little direction in terms of chapter subheadings, but it’s filled from cover to cover with amazing stories that illustrate its core principles.

Truly an eye-opening read.

3. Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.  Dr. Maltz was actually a plastic surgeon.  He found that for most people, if you give them a facelift, a nose job, or remove a prominent scar, it would transform their entire personality.  But in some cases, even when the surgery had been successful, the patient would fail to notice ANY improvement in their appearance.

This led him to posit the existence of a self-image as separate from what we see in the mirror…and that the key to change lies in altering this self-image.

4. The Complete Works of Florence Scovel Shinn.  A contemporary of Napoleon Hill’s, she’s remarkable for being a woman in a field that – especially in the first half the 20th century – would have been uniquely male.

This one’s got a definite Christian bent (a lot of interpretation of the Bible), which might not be your cup of tea, but I still think it’s worth a mention.  I’ve given it to non-Christians who loved it so much it became their Bible.

She writes with a joyful tone, and makes you feel playful about life.  It’s hard NOT to be charmed by her.  Also, her poetic affirmations are great in dealing with fears and anxieties, and have guided me through some tough, valley-of-the-shadow-of-death type places.

By the way, you’ll notice not one of these was published any later than 1960.

There’s a method to my madness…

I like principles that have stood the test of time.

Anywhoo, put these on the reading list for 2017, or don’t.

Whatever minces your mackerel.

Just know that each of the above has helped me bigtime.

For further inspiration – and perspiration – call (416) 826-4844 to request your personal training consultation.

Happy Reading,

Conor Kelly
conorkelly.com

What a Trump win can teach us about fitness

My 4-year old stated yesterday she wants to be President.

When I asked her what she would do as Commander-In-Chief, she said, “I’d look after the kids…if something breaks, I’d fix it…and if there’s a mess, I’d tidy up.”

Not bad.  I’d vote for her on that basis.

Admittedly, I’m biased.

However, it struck me that her platform is about as detailed as the current President-Elect’s.

And this speaks to the power of his messaging.

Let me be clear: this is not a Trump endorsement in any way, shape, or form, nor am I condoning any of his more prickly comments.  I’m referring to the attractiveness of the FORMAT he uses in his rhetoric.

It’s not a coincidence that my kid’s campaign promises mirror in tone those of a – now successful – presidential candidate.

Experts say Trump’s speeches register at a fourth grade reading level.

One reason his words resonate is because, in their simplicity, they bypass the critical analysis of the forebrain, and go straight to the lower, emotionalized structures of the lizard brain.  Even if his supporters can’t say why, they just know what he says feels good…

“We’re gonna make America great again.”

[Lizard brain]: Num num num num…

From his victory speech:

“I’ll put America first but I’ll be fair to everyone…You are gonna be so proud of your president…I’m gonna do a great job, I promise you…”

All statements that (a) might stumble out of the mouth of my kindergartner, and (b) can soothe disenfranchised voters like a blanket and a hot cup of cocoa.

Where am I going with this?

Transformation requires strong self-messaging.

Without it, you don’t build enough velocity to escape the gravitational clutches of your current thoughts and habits.

You can use a similar dumbed down approach when training your mind to make better decisions.

SIMPLE, SHORT, and IMPACTFUL principles are the building blocks of my 16-week program.  That’s why it produces results for such a wide variety of people.   For example, you’ll know what workout is designed to boost metabolism, when it’s time to build your fat-burning engine, and how to amplify fat release by means of a protein day.

Clarity breeds compliance.

Put that on a baseball cap.

But don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself by calling (416) 826-4844 to request your personal training consultation.

We’re gonna make your body great again.

Or, to paraphrase a little politician: “If something’s broken, we’ll fix it.  If it’s a mess, we’ll tidy it up.”

I’m a believer…

Happy Messaging,

Conor Kelly
conorkelly.com

Don’t make me go back to the OLD me

“I’ve done some things in my life…things I’m not proud of.  A long time ago, I promised someone I love that I’d never go back to being that person.  But for you, I’m gonna make an exception.”  – Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, The Equalizer

Once upon a weekend, I worked security for an all-ages event at The Kool Haus.

Essentially a warehouse converted to a concert venue, the main room held elaborate scaffolding with wires and fixtures that powered the light show, scant furniture (shrink-wrapped in plastic, against spills and other projectiles), and a long bar that served only water and soft drinks.

Several DJ’s took the stage to entertain a crowd of 16-year-old’s.

Apart from the usual thoughts of “was I ever like them?”…not much was happening.

That’s until I noticed one kid in full mount on top of another, flailing away at him with punches.  The bottom one lay prone on a couch with his arms raised in defense, trying to prevent his face from getting jack-hammered.

I immediately jumped to the rescue.

I pulled the first guy off, tossing him aside, and checked with the other to see if he was ok.  Then I felt a sudden stinging sensation.  The aggressor, whom I’d casually dispatched, came back with a wild punch that landed on my ear!  I pivoted, a bit stunned.  As soon as I realized he’d hit me, I was, shall we say…a tad peeved.

I grabbed him, picked him up, and not-so-gently redirected his azz toward the exit.

To hear my security buddies tell it, I dangled junior in front me, feet off the ground, and shook him like a rag doll – for three hundred feet, until we reached the parking lot.

I don’t quite remember it that way, but this was at the height of my strength career.  And he weighed a buck fifty, if that. With my adrenaline going, I’m sure I could’ve made a relatively small human dance like a marionette on a string.

(Legal note: no teenagers were harmed in the making of this email.)

For the purpose of lifting heavy objects – and dealing with troublesome club patrons – I’ve found it useful to have an alter ego.

Mine’s The Giant Killer…my nickname when I did strongman.

The Giant Killer’s got the right sort of slightly-pissed-off determination to move things along when needed.  Even today, when faced with a difficult task (e.g. a training session I’d rather not do), I find I’m able to summon The Giant Killer to my aid in getting s**t done.

Look, some things are hard.

Ain’t no but’s about it.

Leaning on an alter ego is one way to beat the resistance you feel, by making yourself EQUAL to the job.

(The other is to chunk it down into smaller, more manageable bits.  That’s why my 16-week program works: it provides you a step-by-step process to achieving your fittest body.  Hit *reply* to request your personal training consultation, and find out if it’s for you.)

Think back to a time when you channeled some hutzpah, stood up for yourself, and felt powerful.

Who were you then?

Who’s the HULK to your Bruce Banner?

Give your superhero identity a name.

And next time you’re confronted with a challenge, don’t be afraid to let *the other guy* (or gal) take over.

You’re a nice person.

I get it.

But for this…you’ll make an exception…

Happy Alter-Egoing,

Conor Kelly

 

Hear me now, believe me late-ah

Meet Manfred Hoeberl.

In the mid-nineties, Manfred was one of the top strongmen on the circuit, and a contender for the title of World’s Strongest Man.  He was Austrian (form the same town as Arnie in fact), six foot five, and 325 pounds of solid muscle – not an ounce of fat.

At the time he was said to possess the largest muscular arms in the world at twenty six inches in circumference!

Dayum.

For my shekels, Manfred’s best feature was his interviews.

About half of them sounded like they were taken verbatim from an SNL Hans and Franz sketch.  On one notable occasion, in ’93, Ol’ Manny was having a hard time recovering from a vehicle pull, and the show’s coverage took a statement from an onsite doctor, who described his condition as a symptom of *sheer size*.

Hehe.

Then, cameras panned to a hunched over Manfred who commented (remember, same Arnie accent)…“I’m suffering from …the buildup of lactic acid…in my huuuge mah-scles.”

Don’t think Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey could have scripted it any better.

And they had some zingers…

“I’ve got more mah-scle in my baby finga then you have in your whole bah-dy.”

“Better not open your belt, you might cause a flaaabalanche.”

Anyway, the point of such ramblings?

One of their best (and most apt) slogans is hear me now, believe me late-ah.

In it is contained the essence of what I call *coachability*.  Unless you’re coachable, you’re not a candidate for transformation – of the body, or otherwise.

Being coachable is suspending disbelief, doubt, or judgement long enough to implement what I recommend, and find out for yourself if I’m on point.  Listen now, believe when you’ve done it…and experienced the RESULTS.

Anytime I find myself resisting coaching/mentoring/professional advice, I ask (1) how much do I trust the source of the information, and (2) am I being coachable?  If the person is good to listen to on the subject in question (i.e. has a proven track record), I think ‘what have I got to lose’ and give it a whirl.  This built in truth meter has allowed me to make leaps that would never have occurred otherwise.

A great mentor once told me, “success is easy. Find someone who’s already successful at what you want to do, and learn from them.”

Conor likes.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.

My 16-week personal training program is designed to be your introduction, and launching pad to a flabalanche-free physical future.  Find out if you qualify by calling (416) 826-4844, or replying to this email to request your personal training consultation.

And I’ll give you fair warning: I might not have the accent, but I am prone to obsessive flexing.

Happy Hearing and Delayed Believing,

Conor Kelly
(416) 826-4844
conorkelly.com

When it’s better NOT to think

Less than a week before the 2004 Ontario’s Strongest Man competition, a vicious attack of gout hit me.

My big toe swelled to painful proportions.  Tomato red and extremely sensitive, it throbbed, and the pain intensified with the lightest touch.

I could barely walk.

Yet in 5 days I was scheduled to suit up in the province’s premiere test of strength.

I was particularly doubtful about the Truck Pull.

In the Truck Pull, you’re harnessed to a transport tractor-trailer – typically 40,000 pounds or more – and tow this bad boy using only your bodyweight and whatever arm power you can muster by pulling on a rope secured near the finish line.

Proper technique is to lean your body into the harness and get low, where you can leverage your weight and use your legs.  But you’re essentially on your toes the entire time.  With the gout doing its worst to slow me down, I had little hope I’d even be able to do it.

But since there wasn’t any chance of my withdrawing, I wrapped my toes in athletic tape, hobbled out onto the tarmac, and signaled the volunteers to harness me up.  When the ref’s whistle blew, I blocked everything out and just went for it.  I ended up somewhere in the top 12 in a field of 24, and my foot wasn’t even a factor.

In 2005, I tore a rotator cuff muscle five weeks out from OSM.

This time I stared down an opponent called the Viking Press.  It’s an ATV mounted on a cubic steel frame with a pivot on one end, and handles at the other.  The idea is to grab the handles, which are at shoulder height, and press the estimated 275 pounds overhead to arms length, as many times as possible.

In warm up, I couldn’t budge the weight.

But when my name was finally called, I somehow managed 6 reps.

Again, I just didn’t give it a second thought.

I have no explanation other than NOT thinking about pain allowed my mind to pick up the slack where my body stalled.  And I’ve experienced this phenomenon many more times throughout my lifting career…a PR deadlift with a sore back, a top 3 finish in log press with a torn pec, a record number of high rep squats while suffering from a virus that hijacked my lungs, the list goes on…

We all know that people are capable of seemingly impossible feats under conditions of extreme stress.

And it’s a power that’s innate within each of us.

Why we don’t invoke it more often?

Let it serve us?

We face challenges every day that are either going to get the better of us, or push us closer to our goals.  We live happier, more fulfilled lives based on all the little (or large) victories we accrue.  All it takes to summon mind power to your aid is a decision to get out of your own way.  You can focus on what’s stopping you, and the reasons you might not be successful – or throw away your excuses and move ahead forcefully.

It’s do… or die.

(Which, in a sense, is true.  You either get the improvement you want, or you don’t.  And you have to live with either result.  The stakes ARE high.  You’re just not always looking at it that way.)

Thinking is useful.  But not when ACTION is called for.  In these moments, too much thinking creates paralysis.  It destroys initiative.  When the time comes, put thinking aside.

Dive in.

It won’t always work out.

But more often than not, you’ll discover the strength was in you all along.

Happy Diving,

Conor Kelly

P.S. Know what else you shouldn’t think about?  Requesting your complimentary personal training consultation.  Do it now by calling (416) 826-4844.  Find out how my 16-week program gets you strong, lean, and healthy.

Try not to know what you don’t know

Before my daughter was born, we had her name narrowed down to either Gabriella or Nicole.

We’d shared the options with family, many of whom were willing to have their vote counted.

(We didn’t add friends to the mix, for fear of hearing something like “Nicole?  Oh, let me tell you about this total be-otch I know.  Her name is Nicole.”)

Anyway, young Gabriella was talked about in various scenarios pre-delivery, until she was fully baked and ready to be brought forth onto this planet.

When she did finally make her grand entrance, neither of the front-runners among the names we’d considered seemed apt.

She just didn’t look like a Gabriella.

A few weeks prior, I’d been served my espresso by a Starbucks barista like a sitcom character.   Her off-beat sense of humor made me laugh – and this was pre caffeine…

“What’s your name?”  I asked.

“Olivia.”  She replied.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now as I looked down at my newborn, it hit me…

“What do you think of Olivia?” I suggested.

“It’s perfect.  I love it.”  Raya answered.

And so it was.

Good choice too.  She’s definitely an Olivia.

(Nicole became the middle name.)

It’s a perfect reminder that often we try to call it before we truly understand it.

Many circumstances just don’t fit the category we assign them, and only later do we realize it.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not that smart.  I don’t know everything that’s going to happen.  That’s why I try to make it a habit to challenge my assumptions.  I’ve learned that I might not always be right, and, [pause for dramatic effect], I’m often happier to be wrong.

So I try not to let what I don’t know run my life.

You hate your job but you don’t think you’ll be able to support yourself if you quit.  How do you know you won’t find something better?

You have a passion for a different business but you think you’ll make more money in your current business, even though you’re bored with it, so you stay.  But you don’t know that you won’t make ten times the dinero in some other gig.

There’s something you’d rather quit (a food, a medication, a business or personal relationship) but you don’t think you can go without.

I can go on…

The philosopher’s mantra of an unexamined life is not the only life not worth living – so’s a life with without experimentation.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

So don’t pretend to.

Put your assumptions to the test wherever possible.

Make things earn their label.

Otherwise you can end up calling it something other than it is.

And after all…what’s in a name?

Happy Assumption-Challenging,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Think you can’t follow through on a 16-week program to transform the way you eat and exercise?  Try me.  Reply to this email for your complimentary personal training consultation, and let’s find out.

Why summers are all about the weak end

Statistically speaking, summers are a horrible time to get in shape.

It’s when folks are most motivated to look and feel their best – but few ever do.

For many, the social calendar steadily builds to a crescendo of backyard barbecues, cottage get togethers, and patio cocktail binges.

In one major study, it was found that any weight lost during the week readdresses itself on summer weekends, leading the study’s authors to conclude that they’re just as bad for your fitness goals as major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Eeek.

So you enjoy life…

I’m not gonna eat your lunch for that.

(Although I’d be assuming the burden of those calories for you.)

What I will do is give you some weapons with which to strike back at the deadly scourge of summer pool parties.

First off, if your plan is based on controlling yourself, you need a new plan – especially if even a splash of *the drink* is involved.  Instead, try to take self-control out of the mix as much as possible.  As per a core principle of my success philosophy, think in terms of making what I call context changes to your environment.

A radical context change would be to simply not agree to any social invitations.  While such anti-social behavior does have its applications for your physique goals (and possibly money-saving goals), it’s not necessarily the most realistic option.

For some examples of less extreme measures that allow for both summer fun AND summer wellbeing, peep the following…

*Don’t show up hungry – eat a meal or snack right before a social event (to the self-control piece: a well fed brain is a stronger one.  Low brain glucose drops willpower like an anchor.)

*Make an accountability pact or ridiculous bet with a friend.  You can (a) promise to keep each other in line, or (b) set guidelines and deter cheating with an embarrassing consequence like, e.g., starting every sentence with “my friend [friend’s name], the greatest living human, has granted me permission to say…”  See?  Parties can be fun without food.

*Keep logging your nutrition, even at nightclubs.  I have an industry friend who logs his vodka-water on his phone while standing at the bar.  He’s a bit of a buzzkill, but he’s lean.

*Book a class, or a training session in the morning to offset the sins of the afternoon. (GIANT CAVEAT: This one won’t do diddly squat unless combined with some form of moderation on the consumption side.  You’ll never run far enough, or fast enough to outpace indulgent eating and drinking…and you’ll probably injure yourself trying.)

You get the drift.

Have some fun with it.

The main thing is to respect the destructive wiles of the weak-end.

And strategize.

Invoke some brain power (not just body power) to beat the class average.

Only then will you emerge from the season unscathed – but for the occasional sun burn.

Happy Summering,

Conor Kelly

P.S.  Another great example of a context change?  My 16-week program.  Call me at (416) 826-4844 for your complimentary personal training consultation to break the summer curse, and discover how to take control of your health, once and for all.

How to have more self-control

One of the major tenets of my success philosophy is to limit the extent to which you rely on self-control for getting things accomplished.

This ties into to a revelation in psychology studies that willpower, or more generally *self-control*, is like a muscle that fatigues the more you flex it, and ultimately tuckers out.

Thus, you make better choices by organizing yourself to make fewer choices.

That’s the mantra.

(Check out my post Give Up The Willpower Binge for more on this.)

The flipside to this deeelightful little nugget is you can actually build your self-control muscle for times when some good ol’ fashion, forceful decision-making is required.

In brain science terms, the neural connection between the instinctive emotional functions of the limbic structures and the thinking capacities of the cerebral cortex can be strengthened, lending some additional juice to your resolve.

To this end, experimental psychologists have prescribed everything from journaling food, to money management tasks, to more adventurous themes like avoiding curse words, or never beginning a sentence with I.

Result?

Subjects on these mini power programs are more resistant to the standard pattern of self-control degradation.  They even show improved discipline in their lives…watch less tv, drink less alcohol, eat less junk food, exercise more often, and study longer.

In the same way regular workouts can improve your body, the habit of deploying your self-control in measured bursts can help your brain.

The key is to do this on little things first, then let it expand into other areas of your life in which you’d like more self-control.  Something as simple as brushing your teeth or operating your mouse with your non-preferred hand can turn up your impulse control a few notches.

Here are a some of my preferred self-control boosters…

*Keeping a nutrition journal
*Daily exercise (even if it’s just going for a walk or doing a few pushups when you wake up)
*Reading instead of watching tv
*Going to bed 30 minutes earlier
*Eliminating starches from your diet 1-3 non-consecutive days per week (eat just proteins and veggies)
*Talk to strangers (seeing as you’re not five years old anymore and can probably update Mom’s advice)

And my favorite – if less obvious – self-control adjustment: learn a new language.

Language is one of the most transformational forces on the planet.

(More on this in another email.  Suffice it to say, the hippocampus lights up like a Christmas tree in language learners, affording you improved memory, and easier adaptation as your brain reshapes itself.)

Whatever self-control regimen you choose, start small, with seemingly unnecessary, and emotionally neutral tasks.

Be persistent.

You’ll pick up steam as you go along.

If it becomes a permanent part of your daily routine, then, in the words of William James, “[you] will stand like a tower when everything rocks around [you], and when [your] softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast.”

Dude could write.

Happy Self-Controlling,

Conor Kelly