I’ve been playing around with this concept in my head for the last several weeks.  I’ll be totally honest, I took inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new book “Be Useful.”  It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from French physical educator Georges Hebert: “Be strong to be useful.”  The first time I heard it, I got goosebumps.  It reminded me why being physically and mentally strong are so important to me.

     The more I talk with people and share stories, I realize we’re all so similar in many ways.  We all have a story, almost always filled with some kind of darkness.  Whether it’s a death in the family, addiction or trauma (to name just a few), we all have baggage.  Let’s be honest and admit that in some way, we’re all damaged goods.  NOBODY gets through this life without at least a few scars, both the metaphorical and literal ones.  

     When I entered the fitness industry in 2012, I was young and aimless.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know what the hell I was supposed to be doing on my first day even after getting a certification and being a supposed “expert in the field.”  With time and experience, I started to really appreciate the value of physical and mental health, especially after years of taking them for granted.  Like everyone else new to any endeavor, I slowly started to find my way with the help of amazing mentors.  

     As we get older, I’ve noticed that we tend to take on more responsibilities.  From family to owning a business to more duties at work to community volunteering, our plates tend to get plenty full at some point.  It’s very easy to lose yourself in these pursuits, putting all of your time and effort into serving those in your charge.  I can tell you that as a stay at-home Dad for almost three years, self-care gets super tough to maintain as life continues to change at a chaotically-rapid rate.  However, I’ve decided to flip the script.  Since becoming a father, it’s become even harder for me to make the time to do what I need to do.  At the same time, it’s never been more important to me than it is now.  

     I strongly believe that we have a duty to ourselves and those in our care to perform at our best most of the time.  Obviously there are times when we are sick and/or hurt and simply do the best we can in less than ideal circumstances, but I truly believe we should be refilling our cup constantly.  I believe that we need to do the work.  

     The concept of “do the work” will be different for everyone, so what I’m about to lay-out should not be taken literally, nor do I feel that my strategy is superior in any way.  I will use myself as an example, feel free to keep what is useful and discard the rest.  Physical and mental health are more important to me now than they’ve ever been.  I want to be at my best for my family, clients and community.  To me, it’s very simple.  They deserve me at my very best, no excuses.  To attempt to accomplish this and to fortify myself from stress and life hardships, I employ the following methods I refer as “the work:”

  1. Train hard for a reason.  I’m currently training for the kettlebell Sinister challenge and working towards a full range of motion pistol squat on each leg.  These goals set my soul on fire and give me the kick I need to train on the days I don’t feel like it.  
  2. Drink water and eat food.  This one is probably a no-brainer, but I want to give it its day in court.  When I make a concerted effort to maintain hydration throughout the day and fuel my body with enough fat/protein/carbs, I perform better.  It’s simple, but often overlooked in the midst of a chaotic day.  One small change I made was slamming 24-ounces of water THEN grabbing that morning coffee.  It helps a ton, give it a shot.  
  3. Sleep.  There are mountains of research that have been conducted on sleep, so I’ll keep this simple.  I won’t make an assumption as to your sleep needs, but I’m guessing you thrive somewhere between 6-8 hours a night.  Whatever it is, aim to hit it 5-6 days out of the week (more if you can) consistently.  My mental health improved dramatically when I stopped staying up late binging shows on Netflix and followed Samuel L. Jackson’s advice to “Go the fuck to sleep!”  
  4. Go to therapy.  I’ve done therapy off and on over the past decade, and this latest run has been a little over a year.  My mindset has changed a bit and I’m looking at it as much more long-term effort as opposed to my prior sporadic bouts.  Honestly, I’m convinced that we all need someone to talk to.  It’s amazing to have someone who is an impartial third party that will give you their undivided attention, provide a small amount of feedback and let you run through the steps of processing the fucked-up things that have happened in your life.  I am a better human because of therapy.  Seriously, please go to therapy.  

There are more steps I’m going to lay-out in a future YouTube video on mental health, but these are the 4 main ways in which I do the work needed to achieve my highest self.  Not everyone is ready for this conversation, and I totally understand that.  When you’re ready to flip the switch, there’s a life of meaning and purpose on the other side.  

To your lifelong health and success,

-Demarco

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