Though we haven't seen each other in about 20 years, our next guest writer, Brian VanNostrand and I had remained in loose contact on Facebook. Every now and then, he would send me a message about he appreciated my writing.
Knowing that Brian was always very smart, literate and funny I held his praise in high regard. When he decided to sign up for the Die Mighty online training program I was beyond thrilled. I was extra excited when I received his blog.
We can all make change. We can all grab the sword. We can all Die Mighty. We just have to break the paradigms and barriers we can spend years building for ourselves.
Please comment, like and share if you relate to this or think it can help inspire someone.
Ladies and gents, here's Brian's guest manifesto.
SEEING PASSED THE PARADIGM
A Die Mighty Guest Manifesto
By Brian VanNostrand
I was never good at sports – at least that’s the way I remember things. I wasn’t some kind of cliché; bespectacled and clumsy and always picked last for kickball at recess, but I wasn’t very good either. I suspect my ineptitude at physical games was the result of being overweight as a child, and my tendency to fantasize about the origins of Star Wars characters when I should have been paying attention to what was flying at me in right field. My classmates and (especially) my teammates were always quick to point out my mistakes in the oh-so-gentle way children have of criticizing each other, so naturally I started to shy away from physical games pretty early on.
My parents encouraged me to join different league sports – soccer, baseball, football – I tried them all and dropped them all pretty quickly. I just wasn’t the “athletic type”.
Now, what I was good at was academic pursuits. As early as I can remember, I was praised for my grades and my ability to comprehend things passed my age. I was highly imaginative, and loved to draw and make up stories, and many of the adults in my life reinforced this by commending me on these pursuits. Because of all this, somewhere along the way, I unconsciously decided that this was what would define me.
I was creative, an intellectual.
Physical activities just weren’t for me.
Some people were sporty and others weren’t. I knew where I belonged. This pattern, this paradigm, dividing people into these two groups (the physical and the intellectual) unconsciously dominated my thinking for decades.
Oh, there were a few moments of defection. I briefly played football in the 8th and 9th grade, and lifted weights for awhile in high school, but I really did these things to try and impress girls, and didn’t ever take either very seriously. No, for the most part, I worked on developing my mind and neglected my body.
And this way of seeing the world persisted for decades. Here and there, I would try and get on a “health kick”, but I always ended up quitting and returning to a sedentary life of bad food and plenty of beer.
I got married, had kids, started a career, and bought a house. These were all good things, but they also made it easier for me to ignore my health.There was never enough time to exercise, I was too busy to diet; the excuses were very easy to come by.
Then, a few years ago I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I started taking the medication and just kept going, eating and drinking like a sailor on shore leave. My doctor would suggest exercise, and I would agree (“I really should, but there’s never any time…”). Meanwhile a little voice in the back of my head would be muttering, “Exercise? That’s for jocks! Can’t she see we are an intellectual?”
The high blood pressure diagnosis was soon followed by high cholesterol and another pill I had to take everyday. Still I kept going, pushing on, ignoring what my body was telling me. I would exercise for a little while, then drop it, the old subconscious paradigm still nagging me.
A few months ago, just before my forty-third birthday, I was prescribed my third and fourth daily medicines. I was despondent now, I thought of myself as an unsustainable organism. I would look at my wife and kids and imagine what their lives would be without me. How would my children remember me when I died of a stroke or sudden heart attack? Something needed to change. I realized I needed to change, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.
After reading the first few blog posts from Coach Fury, I saw a way I could help myself. I could take charge of my physical life in the same way I had always taken charge of my intellectual life. I needed to see that old paradigm as just what it was – an old thought that I had been thinking for too long. I had repeated it to myself so many times over so many years, and used it to define myself within such narrow parameters that I dragged myself into disease and danger.
I started to see beyond that old perspective, and realized that I could be better; better for myself, better for my wife, and (most importantly) better for my kids.
I want to be healthy for myself, sure, but I also want to show them that the only limits we have in life are the ones we put on ourselves.
I want to show them that these self-imposed limits are artificial, just a thought we had and have been thinking too long.
We humans are not defined in only one way or the other – we can be all things at once.
I want them to know that I’m in this life for the long haul.
Along with creating Die Mighty, Steve “Coach Fury” Holiner is a trainer at Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC and is an Original Strength Lead Instructor, a Master RKC Kettlebell Instructor and a Master DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Instructor. Through his leadership roles, Fury travels throughout the U.S. and internationally to teach. Fury has also written for Mark Fisher Fitness, the RKC, DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training, Bodybuilding.com, Details Magazine and his own site.
He’s also a big Godzilla fan.
Want to dive deeper into Die Mighty? Fury is available for online training and is teaching workshops.
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