Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Do You See in the Mirror?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do your eyes go
immediately to any perceived flaws and weaknesses, say crow's feet, wrinkles, funny nose or crooked tooth? Or, in a full-length mirror, do your eyes settle on unwanted fat pads, real or imagined physical disproportions, and other such undesirables? This is very common human response and a tremendous source of unhappiness and discontent. But it's a case of seeing the glass half-empty. From an early age, we've been taught to believe in lack and limitation. Starting in early childhood, your knowledge of the world becomes about what you cannot, and must not, do, as opposed to what is possible. Impressionable children are introduced to a finite, limited universe, full of lack and the fear of there not being enough for everyone, including themselves. This gets applied to our bodies and their potential.

The western medical model is based upon a germ theory of disease, suggesting there are dangerous marauders out there trying to get at you and there's nothing you can do about it but remain ever vigilant and defensive. People, in turn, feel helpless when it comes to controlling their own health and bodies in such a fearful setting and the standard of medical care supports their fears.

I believe you create your own existence with your own mind and as long as you have this ability, why not create something beautiful? Through a belief system in a universal source, you can create glowing health and well-being, both physical and mental. You can mold your body, first in the mind's eye, then manifested into flesh.

I became acutely aware of this many years ago, when serving in the armed forces. There was a sergeant in our unit, a black guy, with one of the single most chiseled and awe-inspiring physiques I'd ever seen. Even with crappy army food, and little opportunity for decent workouts, this guy maintained a fat-free, lean, incredibly muscular and chiseled physique. One night I asked him how he kept himself in such great condition, since I'd never actually seen him work out. He replied that every night, before he went to bed, he'd see his body in his mind's eye, exactly the way he wanted it to be. He'd take a mental scan and visualize himself as physical perfection. He further used the same technique for any ailments or health problems that might crop up. Indeed, I never saw him sick or with a cold, although others around him were perpetually coughing, sneezing or even bed-bound with the flu. This guy was able to transcend what other people consider normal, by controlling his subconscious mind.

Now many years later, after studying the techniques of mind science, I understand that everyone has the power to control their circumstances, including their health, through the power of the mind. I say it's science because there's a formula which can, if used properly, repeatedly produce the same results. One of the main principles requires never focusing on negative circumstances. Another tenet is that just because someone believes something doesn't mean it's real! So much of the world is illusory. Things aren't what they seem.

The same idea can be used with finance, relationships and living situations. Since this blog is geared towards fitness and health, I'll describe an effective technique for improving your health, well-being and physical beauty. These techniques have worked well for me and others. Caveat: you must have faith in the invisible laws of the universe to experience success.

1. When looking in a mirror, whether full-length, bathroom or plate glass window, NEVER allow your eyes to focus on any one thing. Take in the whole image and if anything, allow your attention to remain on something you find pleasing.

2. If you DO find yourself dwelling on something in a negative way, quickly dismiss it and chase it with a positive statement or affirmation. For example, if your eyes glance upon a roll of unwanted flesh in the mid-section, and you begin to generate a feeling of loathing, upset or disappointment, before the self-condemnation begins to accumulate, quickly dismiss the situation by claiming that no such thing exists in your world and further, that only physical perfection can manifest in same. Claim the perfect condition by saying, my waist is muscular, fat-free and perfectly proportioned in every way--or words to such effect. In this way, you are already programming the subconscious mind by exchanging negative thoughts for positive. You see, a person who believes in fatness and ugliness, will allow the habits of the fat and ugly, such as overeating and sloth. When you commence programming your mind with thoughts of beauty and perfection, you'll automatically begin to go about doing those things that create same. At nighttime, in the moments before falling asleep, the subconscious is most open to programming. At this time, take a mental inventory of the body and see it as perfect. Do not worry about its present condition. It's a known fact the body completely changes every cell within every seven year. Some cells reinvent themselves more often, for example, taste buds regenerate every 10 days. All change takes time; there are laws of the physical world at work here. Realize that it was negative programming which created the imbalance and poor body in the first place and the same mental faculties can be used to correct the situation. So, as you're laying in bed before the nightly slumber, image the perfect body and--this is very important--generate deep feelings of gratitude and joy as if what you desire has already been accomplished. In reality, time is a mere illusion and everything happens in the now.

3. If your mind is weak and you have trouble imaging your body, don't worry, like the body, the mind will strengthen. In the mean time, here is a technique that can assist you in bridging the gap while you build your mental equivalent. Look through a fitness magazine and pick out the physique of an athlete, model, actor upon whom you'd really like to model yourself. This person, of course, should have a similar bone structure and proportions as you. Visualize this image in your mind's eye. Make copies of this image and place them around your home on the bedroom, bathroom mirrors and refrigerator. You may choose top put one on the car dashboard. Put this image on your desktop. Gaze on it for a few moment and closing your eyes, see this image as if looking at this person from a distance, then switch the point of view so that you're looking at the body as if it's your own body and through your eyes, so that the arm in the image is your arm, the leg your leg, not a third person. I myself have a picture of Gerard Butler from the 300, looking totally buffed and ripped. I'm able to see myself in the mind, but I still value certain outside images. You can also imagine yourself eating perfectly and training with intensity. The mind is extremely powerful and will create what it is you focus upon. The life you have right now; the partner you're with or without; the circumstances in which you live; the money you hold in the bank; the body you inhabit are all a consequence of the focus you hold in the mind, whether you are aware of it or not. By increasing your awareness of this fabulous tool, you can program and use it to make your wildest dreams come true.

If you're used to this blog covering one-arm push-ups and swinging kettlebells (and that's all very important!) I want to remind you that the most important implement in your fitness arsenal is your higher mind power and how it connects you to the universal laws.

You are all invited to join me in my own quest for superior living and health at my upcoming workshops and certifications--I'm visualizing you there, now!

My body weight certification is popular with professionals and non-professionals alike. Body weight exercise seems so simple, does it not? But the reality is that for most people, they are the hardest and most demanding exercises. Many people simply give up trying to do chin-ups and pull-ups. But it's simply a matter of someone showing and teaching how to get the most out of these magnificent bodies of ours. Read here about one participant's experience, and then get thee nigh to Corte Madera; Wichita; Salt Lake City; Philadelphia; Frankfurt; Reykjavik or Hilo!


Ask Coach!!!

...I have your videos and I love them but I have a problem: I moved to a new house and I work out in my basement which has a low ceiling. I like to do Bottoms-Up Military Presses and I'm not able to do these now. Is it safe to press off your knees or your butt?

A: The solution is simple: sit on a narrow bench and do seated Cleans and Military Presses.
Even regular Cleans, done seated, have a tremendous effect on the upper neck and traps. They were favored by the old Russian KB lifters.

Expect these to be a great deal harder than from standing.

I'm interested in the Push-Up Board; I've been having trouble with push-ups lately. It seems my inside left elbow gets puffy and inflamed. Could the Push-Up Board keep this from happening?

A: The push-up is a very natural movement and should cause neither pain, inflammation nor irritation. What's most likely happening is that you're flaring your elbows out to the side and misaligning your hands.

While I can't promise the Push-Up Board will correct your personal misalignments, it certainly won't hurt. The instructional DVD for the board will assist you with proper alignment; it's fully explained and demonstrated and should go a long way toward getting you doing pain-free push-ups.

Another explanation is if you're excessively overweight--if you're really heavy--your upper arms may not be capable of supporting the body weight. If that's the case, you'll also need to lose a few pounds.


Kat said...

I love this "mind over matter" post. So true. The ideal body for me has been Maggie Diubaldo for the past year, and I'm almost there! This esp. helps me in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

you should list some of your recommended books about mind set training

Brett Cornwright said...

I believe you are right on in everything you said. The mind is so powerful, you have to harness it via practice. I would recommend meditation as an aid to getting the strong mind you mention in your post.

Namaste, dude. :)

Rod Smith said...

I ditto the request for your reading list... please!

The story of your friend in the military was so revealing.

I struggle with this whole thing at times... at age 40 I'm in great shape, but I find that it gets harder and harder to think positively as I get older. Your post reminds me that it isn't all that difficult: It just requires daily discipline.

My favorite book is "As A Man Thinketh" by James Allan. I must have read it 50 times.

Great blog - I wish you would post more!!!!

gereeves said...

Yes, some books or authors you have found to be helpful would be great, or a book of your own (I know I'd buy it) on mind set training, meditation, and physical health, or something like that. Great post and great tips Coach.

Damien said...

Being in the military I can totally relate to your story. There's so much negativity in the world today, it can zap you if you don't take control of your mind. Well said man. Keep the tips coming. Fly Navy!

Steve Maxwell said...

2 of my favorite authors are John Randolph Price and Ernest Holmes.
Anything by either guy is good. I also like Eckhardt Tolle, Stuart Wilde and Vernon Howard - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

Rod, "As a Man Thinketh" is one of my favorite books. - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

Thanks, Brett! - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

gereeves, I do a lot of visualization and mind set training with private clients. Haven't got the book written just yet!
Thanks for writing. Steve

hak said...

Great stuff Steve! Out of curiosity, how tall are you and how much do you weigh? You've done a lot to build a great physique and we may be similar enough structurally that you could end up as the visualization model...not to sound too weird or anything!

At the moment, my best role model for a great physique is the late Scott Helvenston.

Ronin said...

Great article I think sometimes people should start to train their mind before the body. with a strong mind everything else becomes easy.
Chek out some NLP with Bob spour at youtube.

Panagiotis Efstathiou said...

Greetings from Athens, Greece.
I follow your training instructions for the last 4 months and they have created a fundamental change in the way I train and also my training viewpoint.
Following your advices I purchased a sandbag and a pushup board. Both excellent choices, amazing strength results with the sandbag, a total body workout with the pushup board.
I was confused however, regarding the breathing pattern in some exercises with the board. In its accompaniment DVD in the Pump, the 5th Tibetan rite, you breath in as you raise the body and breath out in the pyramid position. In the Hindu pushup you exhale in the upward facing dog position and inhale as you come back. The two exercises have the same body positions so why is there the breathing difference?
I truly want to thank you ''ol' coach'' for all the instructions, inspiration and knowledge that you have provided me through your DVD's and this blog.
Panagiotis Efstathiou, Athens,Greece.

Sean Schniederjan RKC said...

Hi Steve,

How would you recommend training for your 2 minute, 24 rep pushup challenge? I'm stalling out at 18 reps.

I've got three kids under age 3 so with little time to train, that pushup routine has really been a lifeline for getting some endorphins. It also helped take my pullups from 3 to 7.


Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Sean,

When you begin to stall out on a BW exercise, there are only two ways to progress:

1)lose more body fat!

2) improve absolute strength

there is a relationship between absolute strength and endurance. improve absolute strength and endurance automatically keeps pace. this is true until the loads get below 60% max. Then, specialized endurance training must be done. In short, wear a weighted vest or place a BB plate on your back. Use a load that forces you to cut the reps in half, so now your max, using the same protocol, is ~11-12. Continue with the new load until you reach 18 reps, your current best. When you remove the weight, you'll find that your former BW record of 18 has increased by 2-4 reps. - Steve