Total Pageviews

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Power Belly

Rolling bellies and waving hands dance around the dinner table as we eat together under the golden lights of this beautiful Italian Restaurant.  We laugh around the table as if a teammate just ducked walked a lift while spinning into a 180, then standing!  I point my finger across the table with a look that loudly reads, "You, son of a bitch!".  Chris Gute, you know I'm talking about you. Ha!  Rewarding our bodies from the battle, we eat....and eat hard.  It's not all about gaining weight, it's about recovery, and the more recovery you feed your body, the more weight you will gain.  We must gain more weight.  We must wake up in the middle of the night and eat a PB&J with a cold glass of chocolate milk.  Extra scoop of creatine in case training goes into overtime.  A blended protein shake with snicker bars, gummy bears, and chicken alfredo from last night's left overs.  Why gummy bears you may ask? I truly believe that sugar is good for athletes; it makes us strong, powerful, and ready for the world.

Making your body happy is so underrated.  I look at it as rewarding my body from everything it has done for me.  A happy belly makes for a happy training session.  People always ask me how to gain more weight, or that they are having trouble packing on the pounds, and my first response is always the same, don't just eat more of your "healthy" foods, eat more foods that your belly likes.  Let fat into your life, let calories into your life,  let bread, for good Lord sakes, into your life! You want scientific backing, well I got it right..........well no, I don't have any.  This is why I don't write a lot about food and diet, because I don't know much about it.  But the diet I have created for my skeletons in this Dark Orchestra has worked wonders for them and me.  They have stronger bones, bigger bones, power bellies....(which every weightlifter has), and they can go longer in training and recover better than any other.  The key word for this blog is athlete, and not civilian.  Athletes like ourselves must intake more of everything, not just more of some things.  More sleep, more food, more water, more sugar, more milk, more coffee, more TRAINING!

Slap hands and tuck your napkin in your shirt while bonding with your teammates.  After a workout, meeting up with your fellow gym family and eating is better training than actual training itself.  I only write about what I have seen, nothing else.  And I have seen remarkable achievements accomplished by bonding, laughing, trusting, and loving, all gravitated towards food.  Meet up at the deli of Safeway, and eat.  Slide the mayo across the table and eat.  Extra steak on my sandwich?.......ummm fuck yea. Don't stop eating even after you're full, this is so important.  STOP LISTENING TO YOUR BODY!  I just can't stress this enough, in training and in eating.  Train your body to eat, just like training it to train.  There is no such thing as full, only recovered.

In my opinion, football games are won in the weight room, in the dorms, at triple keg parties. Weightlifting meets are won from happy bellies, and a good relationship with your coach and teammates.  What a better way to attract all of this than eating. For those that are on a strict diet, that's ok! Attitude Nation is all about doing what works for you! Ac up windows down. But, for athletes on a semi strict diet that are wanting to add some pounds to better themselves in their sport, try this.  Once a week or even once every two weeks, go out and eat a lot of whatever your diet does not allow you to eat.  My favorite place to eat when my weight gets down, is a pizza buffet. Coach takes me there and force feeds me 'til I almost throw up.  Lol, it's awful.  Eating is hard, especially when we are forcing food down your mouth throughout the day when you are already full. I always say that the day I retire from this sport, I am going to weight 90 pounds because I am never going to eat again.  It's so true though, think about it.  For us athletes, every time we eat it's because we have to for recovery, or to gain weight. I can't even remember the last time I ate because I was hungry.  When I retire from this sport, I will happily retire from food.  I will clean up my non-athlete diet and probably eat very clean, but not now.  Now it's war.

I ain't got time for healthy food, only food that is going to make me lift bigger weight.  I don't give a rat's ass about how healthy I am, all I care about is winning.  After I am done winning, I will get my monthly doctor's check up.  We must not forget why we are eating the way we are, is it because it's good for you, whatever that really means, or because it's helping us become better athletes? Diets to me are like general strength training programs, I still have no idea what they mean.  In my opinion, everything in life is specific, we must be specific, and that goes for eating as well.  I hate food, but I love getting strong.  I love this blog. I love Italian food. I love a happy belly.  Salute.

Friday Max Out Day video.  We are beat to bloody hell. 

New MDUSA video below from monday afternoon!

Eat 2016

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Go Under

Pull my head out of the sand and go under.  Sometimes your thoughts don't look good on paper, and right now my paper has been stamped defeat.  What am I so scared of anyway?  The boogie monster?  What's under that bar that has me doubting myself?  What lies underneath the bed that makes me hang upside down before falling for cover underneath the blankets?  I pull the shades up for light, only to slam the door in front of my own face.  I play peek a boo with going underneath.  Every time I peek, the crowd boos throughout my head, leaving me feeling gutless, shameful.  I have always said that weightlifting is like going to Vegas, your odds of making the lift go up significantly when committing.  In a sport where I truly believe is based on 95 percent skill, and 5 percent luck, we must at least go under even if the weight feels like a dead body.  Go under and cross your fingers for the 5 percent that could land in the palm of your hands, sending a shock wave of surprised emotion to our face.  Go under for nothing more than respect, to show others and yourself that you are a warrior amongst droids.

I realize this is easier said than done.  It's very easy for me to sit in front of a computer screen while sipping tea....but I'm aware that its one of my biggest problems at times, the balls to go under, or better yet, the wits that stopped me from going under.  This can leave you turning in your bed while sheltering your thoughts with a pillow.  I don't "clark" as much as I used to, I have mentally trained my body to go under no matter what.  I have come to the conclusion that I would rather break my arm than bathe in my own shame.  And yes, I have missed thousands of lifts, but I have made hundreds as well.  It only takes two lifts to win, just like it only takes two white lights for a make.  Give me two made lifts with two white lights and a million misses, over a million makes and two misses.  I would rather lose knowing I went under... than win knowing I left something on the platform.

I came to this realization about a year back when the bar landed on my head, splitting a small part of my skull open.  As the blood dripped down my arm I realized something fascinating....I was ok.   Like a kid who has fallen and scrapped his knee, the kid is not hurt, but will cry if others around him panic.  I wiped the blood with my shirt, and began to finish practice.  "A bloody bar makes for a strong heart," Shankle replied to my confused face expression.  Confused in a way that has helped me to this day.  Confusion led to understanding, and understanding led to realizing that the bar is all talk and no chalk.  The bar doesn't hurt.  The bar looks mean, but hits like a girl.  I smiled and kept lifting like a kid getting released back to recess.  Shankle winked at me, coach nodded at me, and the bar wouldn't look at me.  I slam you bar, you don't slam me. I am in control, not you.  Now don't get me wrong, the bar put up a fight, and it still is.  Landing on my back, my head, spitting me out from the bottom like a baseball player and his chew. The bar ain't got time for me, and I ain't got time for the bar.  Now I don't give the bar respect, I stopped giving it lunch money years ago.  No more bar, fuck you.  Now miss or make I go under, and the bar hates it.  Going under means make, means success, means good.  There is such thing as a good miss, and no matter how bad the miss might look, going under will get you one step closer to your goals in the bitch of a sport.  

Under, under, under, make it, miss it, squat it, press it, get red lighted, get white lighted, who really cares?  The only thing that really matters is going to bed knowing you left everything on the platform.  Bleed from your head and piss blood from striking the bar so hard.  Stab your legs with squats and beat your shoulders up with a hammer.  This means you are getting strong, and not just physically, but mentally.  Thick skin means strong legs, bloody skulls and bruised backs means big balls, standing tall and ripping the heads off lions.  This blog is what I have learned throughout my career, what I have learned from the streets of weightlifting.  A melting pot, dark and light, misses and makes.  Anybody that says this is not a technique blog....well then they are dead wrong.  Dead like the dead weight of the bar at it crashes on our backs.  Dead wrong like how our bodies will feel the minute we retire and have to become normal sheep.  Technique comes in all shapes and sizes.  Learning how to become a weightlifter is technique of its own.  Training your mind to go under weights you are scared of takes hundreds of mental hours of training.  Never ever listen to your body.  Listen to your mind.  Train your thoughts to paint a picture...then fucken paint.  Paint what works. Paint a miss and put it up above your bed.  Stare at it, get to know it.  Understand that misses will occur more than makes, and this sport holds more bad days than good.  It's the athlete than can understand and cope with this that will succeed.  Miss a weight or make, at the end of the day we are training, and training is what will rise us above the rest.  Train hard, and always go matter what.  

Ain't got time For The Bar 2016

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mike! Let The Sun In!

Across the gym, I yelled with my hands cupped around my mouth, "Hey Mike, open that garage door so the sun can pierce through our iced coffees and onto our platforms!".  I yelled in slow motion, as millions of little drops of spit came flying out of my mouth while my eyes were shut strong. Bars being lifted up and down like the keys on a piano.  Smiles washed away with anger.  A grave yard of past away energy drinks lay at rest below our feet, as we rumbled and tumbled around the gym like a school yard play ground.  Old coffee cups like skeletons on a pirate ship hanging around as if the cups were still a part of the team, which they truly are. Atmosphere and a good support structure is everything. Mike let the sun in! Let the warmth hit our face reminding us how great it is to be alive, how lucky we are to be able to do what we love.  It would look as if I was waving to you from the other side of the gym Mike, but what I am doing is flying through the land of dust and chalk that the sun has made visible on this early morning in a... well, a very dusty gym.  Dust mixed with chalk has put me slap dab in the middle of a snow storm, a wild storm that has me fighting for my life, as I gasp for every breath, thankfully finding shelter underneath the chair I call my safe place.  Let the light in Mike! Give this gym life, let this gym breath! Let the world hear the techno music.  Try to make the neighbors mad at us, if accomplished then good news... this means we must be training well.  Lift weight shirtless only to feel the sun shine through the gym door.  Learn how to train, don't worry about technique right now, just train.  Don't worry about the program, just train.  Don't worry about your body, just train... just feel the morning sun and the kisses from your coffee. This is how you get strong... by training.

I think us weightlifters appreciate the sun more than anybody.  The bottom of the titanic can become overwhelmingly smokey, dark, and tiresome.  Shoveling coal can make our back hurt, our thoughts a little scattered, and our souls heavy.  Us weightlifters need sunlight to make maximum attempts.  Open that mother fucken door Mike, and let life punch us in the face!  Breath in the dust, pour the cold coffee over your face, shovel that coal into the fire to keep this machine of a gym we have built moving!  Let me walk around the gym with wide shoulders and broken hands.  The weak minded aren't welcome in the fortress of sun and dust, atmosphere is everything.  Let me wrap my knees while my fingernails bleed from the hook grip I have strangled them with.  Sun and coffee, coach and teammates, music and the bar.  All bad mother truckers who spend their day with brothers who fight for the same thing... gold.   Mike opened the door as if he was raising the MDUSA flag above the gym, while in slow motion, the sun crept up my body and over my motionless face.  The spit from my yell across the gym was falling slowly like a paper plane running out of speed.  My eyes opened from being shut so strong, and then it happened........Someone pushed play and.....well nothing really happened, coach told me to stop looking like a zombie and lift the bar.

New MDUSA Squat Video.  I can't feel my legs.  I'll see you this Wednesday 220kg.  

Thank you Crossfit Rapture for having us, and for hosting an awesome 26th Attitude Nation Certification Seminar!  AC UP WINDOWS DOWN! Watching everybody Slam Bars while coaching was hard, so I just had to slap the shoes on and throw some weight around! (videos below)

159kg snatch

182kg Clean and jerk

Strong Legs 2016

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still Standing

I came across this poem below that I wrote in 9th Grade while digging through some dusty old memory boxes hidden away in the closet.  Pictures of my child hood.  Home made movies.  A box full of good times and great memories.  Happy times that no one can take from me.  A picture of my mom and dad getting married.....weird.  A birthday letter I wrote to my father in 3rd grade.  F report cards next to hundreds of poems and stories I used to write in my room.  I forgot how much I used to write.....I forgot how angry I was.  But where did this anger come from? All these pictures and home movies show a happy family with a happy kid.  I was the most loving kid in the whole world, the happiest damn kid my mom would tell me repeatedly, but deep down I was a troubled kid with many problems by looking at this box full of crinkled papers I put to writing.  Hot or cold.  Bomb out or gold.  In jail or buying a house.  Happy or sad.  Very close to my dad, now couldn't be further away.  An extreme lifestyle that started I guess when I was born.  An angel and demon on each shoulder that has no understanding of compromise.  Why this broken heart growing up?  Why the running away from home?  Why the drug and alcohol use?  What was I trying to hide from, or make go away?  

I guess the Dark Orchestra started in 5th grade when I wrote my first poem for class. The teacher called in my mom and step dad to talk about how disturbing she thought my writing was, and where it was coming from.  They said it was "too dark" for a kid my age.  The Dark Orchestra was born, the skeletons were lining up to enter my closet in a single file line.  Councilor after councilor I went through.  Story after story I wrote with pain in my pencil.  I would write at the bus stop, or while I slept in the woods when I was a run away.  I would write high as a kite at 2 AM.  Thank you writing for letting a confused kid express himself.  

Here is the poem I wrote and read in front of my class in high school.  It was a contest where I ended up placing dead last.  They said it was a little "too dark" for this type of competition. Words I have heard before.  Another F, another brick on my back.  People ask me how I became the weightlifter I am today, and I tell them it was from all the years of fighting with myself that has made me stronger than any weightlifting program could ever accomplish.  No regrets in life.  Never dwell on the past, for without the past you would not be you today.  Use what you have been through to your advantage.  Just like the cab driver in my last blog, his coffee cup was half full, not half empty.  Salute.  

Still Standing

by Jonathan North

My tears have fallen
My knees have shaked
I've been hit torn and stabbed
but never lose fate
I've slipped into holes with no escape 
trying to look for a hand to help
but always too late
My small steps are still young
for long strides I may fall
Deep holes keep me down
but never I stall
On my hands and knees I crawl 
then to stand tall
for eyes I see
but no response from my call
Which path do I take
Which decision do I make
I feel so lost and empty and built up with hate
searching for the one to speak words that relate
So I wait, soon I will be followed
for it's my turning point of tomorrow 
A shadow that casts a brighter light on my sorrow
the anger and frustration I will never have to swallow
My insides have been beaten
My skin hasn't been touched
I will fight this war
Never give up
Rest my head to sleep and fierce to wake up
I never burn down
with bricks on my back in water don't drowned 

Pencil & Paper 2016 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cab Driver

His coffee cup was half full and stained from such an ongoing use of consumption there was really no time for cleaning. A way of thinking I can relate to.  I leaned over his right shoulder from the back seat and whispered that I didn't have time for percentages.  His response was a puff from his half lit cigarette  and a drink from his luke warm coffee.  It would never have crossed his mind that the coffee cup was half empty, I know this from the simple smile that came across this unusual cab driver's face after taking a 3 in the morning sip of his best friend.  5 minutes into the cab ride and still no talking, even though we were having a great conversation while staring out into the dark night.  The smoke from his cigarette never bothered me, because it smelled just like the steam from my tea.  His elbow pointed out the window in an upward direction from all four windows being broken.  It looked as if we were sliding down the top of a house key, and into a laser tag arena from the outside lights shooting through the cab's windshield.

Another seminar to coach, another customer to drive.  Another late night training, another late night driving.  No music, which made the ride a little awkward at first, but after the silence crept in the outside world was blaring with sounds, sounds that made the cab driver bang on the steering wheel while occasionally grabbing his Babe Ruth bobble head so it wouldn't slide around the dash board.  He drove with such rhythm, such speed, but at the same time with such relaxation.  No worry in the world, just a cab drive with coffee and a midnight smoke.  A gold chain around his hairy neck that had a picture of an old lady in black and white.  A folded up book on how to draw, and a flashing clock that wasn't even set.  Time to him did not exist, what's the point?  What's the big deal with time anyway?  This is what he said to me without saying anything at all, only a very smooth drag from his smoke, and another smile after drinking miss brown eyes from his yellow finger nails and calloused hands. Happy, nothing more, nothing less.  Two people in the back seat as if we knew each other for years.  Or better yet... like we were never there.  Still no talking, besides a slight cough that led to another, then a long chug from the life juice that keeps him company on these late nights of driving.  Driving his life, driving us, driving coffee to his soul, only to drive to get more.  The whole world is asleep besides him.  Driving throughout the night passing through every green light you could imagine.  He waves to the local police as he drives by, while keeping his eyes straight forward, the cold wind outside blows out his cigarette, does he notice, of course not, he ain't got time to notice, he only has time to max out.  At this point, the smoke is completely out, but he still puffs away with his eyes on the road, focused, getting work done, training hard in his own way.  A part of the Attitude Nation and he doesn't even know it.

This cab driver reminded me why I ain't got time for percentages, because he doesn't.  There ain't no percentages for feeding your family.  There ain't no percentages for doing your job, being happy, riding the rhythm of the night with Babe Ruth.  There ain't no percentages for the hard workers, the late night smokers, the Miss Brown Eye's lovers, the cab drivers.  Weightlifting is like the real world, it's always max out time.  Windows broken like my back, coffee mug stained like my chalky hands, driving with speed and precision like a weightlifter does with the bar.  Rhythm of the night like rhythm in the gym.  There is no difference between this cab driver and me, from him to you, you to me.  No time to set the clock, we don't need to be reminded when and what to do because we are there before the clock could ever do its job.  We don't live because we are told to, we live because its what we want to do.  Freedom is what this man has that many don't.  Freedom is why we roll down the windows at night.  Freedom is why he drives with so much rhythm.  The cab driver has reminded me why I drink coffee, why I drive with the AC up and windows down, because we are free.

The cab driver dropped us off while still not speaking, only a popped trunk like Tyson Hips, and a bag grab and drop like the hit and catch drill.  We missed each other's eye contact, and then that was that.  He drove off into the night with smoke swirling out from his broken windows.  Off to max out in life, to be rewarded with family and happiness.  His cab was beat to bloody hell, his finger nails were yellow, his bobble head didn't stay in one place, and his coffee cup was a mess......... He ain't got time for percentages.

Max Out 2016

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Hello Skeletons, its been a few days but now Im back.  Training and traveling can at times keep me from seeing you, and I hate that.  My favorite thing in the whole wide world is this blog, and when life gives me little time to write I slump with sadness.  My life is full of bar slamming, competing and traveling, so this blog is the one time I get to really relax and express emotions I would never be able to find through speaking.  My radio show and this blog are worlds apart. This blog will always be number one, even over my gold medals.  Because of this blog I have gotten to know myself, and because of this fascinating discover of me I have been able to compete at a very high level.  We are the only ones standing in our way, once we build a relationship with ourselves the sky is truly the limit.  I really don't now what my overall point is.  I just want to say that I have missed you, and thank you for being part of this emotional journey throughout this rocky path called sport.  Salute.

I was going to continue on with the paragraph above and write a new blog, but a situation has taken place the last few days that has reminded me so much of a true story blog I wrote quite some time ago called "him".  This is one of my favorite blogs, and I think one of my most important blogs I have ever written.  Hopefully this story can save someone from becoming....well....."Him."  PS:  the reminder of this blog is not from the guy visiting with the team who is trying to make the walk on team right now.  lol just want to make this clear.   


It was sad to watch him leave. It truly broke my heart. I wanted to run up behind him and catch him before he disappeared through the front door. The way his head hung low with his droopy eyes and rolled over shoulders showed defeat; he knew it, and I knew it. He is now just another weightlifter who has been killed by rest. Another soldier who has been taken down by the brutal training that will either make you or brake you. Another soldier down. It was as if the sharp rays of the sun striking through the door were pulling him towards the bright outside.

Training was finally over and all the weightlifters seemed to gravitate toward the bench presses and free weights. Lots of grab-assing, laughing, and all around tom-foolery was taking place at this time. Coach joined in and gave a lecture about how we weren't pushing ourselves hard enough in training if we still had all this bull crap energy to fool around with this "curls for the girls" type crap. Everyone laughed and so did coach, but me, I had my eyes and emotions wrapped up in him, him being the soldier who desperately needed a hug. You would of thought I was a part of the crazy loud crowd by the bench, but I really wasn't. I wasn't laughing or grab-assing. I wasn't talking about how big my chest "pump" was, or showing everyone how much I can bench press. I was lost in the lost world of "him." I watched his every move. It has only been a week since he flew into train with us, yes, training has been beyond hell, but already? Is he already breaking down? Is the imagination and temptation of rest getting to him?  These were the thoughts that were racing through my head as I watched him slowly walk around the gym picking up his stuff one by one as if he was a prisoner on the chain gang. He grabbed his back with his right hand as if someone just shot him with a paint ball gun. His eyes closed as his pain flowed though the air and hit me right in the face. I felt his pain, as I was once like him. He reminded me so much of myself at that moment, he reminded me of the hell my mind and body went through when I first joined the team and had to adapt to the training. His pain seemed to leave his body as he bent over supporting his weight by resting his hands on his knees. Sweat was dripping down his face like a waterfall. In the first few days of his arrival he was talkative, outgoing, and definitely would have been down here by the bench press messing around. But no, not that day, that day he only had one thing on his mind, and that was rest.

Then it happened, the most amazing thing I have ever seen happened right in front of my chalky face. Rest walked in the front door with her beauty blinding the room with light and love. In shock, I started hitting Tom next to me keeping my eyes locked onto her beauty. I told Tom to "Look, look Tom." But instead of the reaction I though he would give, he simply told me to stop hitting him in the arm and to leave him alone. To my surprise, no one in the gym saw her. They were going on with their everyday business as if nothing was happening. She wasn't walking, but floating across the gym straight toward "him." I stood there like a deer in the head lights, watching rest float across the gym with her smile, comfort, and ease. He saw her and broke down into tears of joy. He put his arms out like a kid wanting to be picked up by his mother. His smile was long and desperate, desperate to be saved by her, desperately wanting to leave this cold dark world that us weightlifters call home. She put out her open hand, and he took it. His eyes were wide open, completely focused on her every move. She smiled at him while pointing at the door behind her. He nodded and returned the smile. Rest started to lead him toward the front door and I knew I would never see him again. He is with rest now. She will take good care of him, or so he thinks. I wanted to say something, or even run up behind him and tell him no, stay with us, don't fall for her beauty. But no, I did nothing. I just stood there watching what others for some reason could not see. I thought for sure he would see her long red pointy tail. I guess her tail blended in well with the color of her red dress, because he did not see it. Then he was gone. He vanished outside into the bright sun never to be seen again. The light vanished and a second later hundreds of rusty black prison bars fell from the sky all around the gym. I was thinking about going with him, but I guess there is no getting out of this hell.

Goodbye him, farewell my friend, it was nice training with you for that short time. Tell rest hi for me and let her know that she might have gotten you, but fuck it, she will never get me.

Good By Him 2016

Friday, January 11, 2013

Get Off Me Bro Video

New Attitude Nation Video

The Red Dress Will Never Get Us 2016

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bloody Smiles

Our smiles, bloody from the bar hitting our chin, with shaded faces from the dead tree that hangs over our platform, and black eyes that seem to stay hidden from the hood that lays over our beat up thoughts.  We like to think we have cast them out, only to find that we are the ones who have been out casted.  A double edge sword makes my hand bleed from emotion and too much coffee.  Word choices I wish I could take back, but an overall point that I hope killed the 500 pound elephant.  Keep walking hooded man, stay invisible, get to the gym without being seen.  Train with rhythm, train with pride, train in the dark only to make the light feel warm on your skin.  Drink your coffee while the rush of life rushes down to your toes.  I understand you, you understand me, they understand mediocracy. They understand what they have been told to understand. We understand what our minds tell us to understand.  You know who they are, they come in all different shapes and sizes, they are whoever you see them as, they are different for everyone. They will never understand what we do and why we do it.  We live by a different set of rules, three white light rules, a program of rules that keeps us steady, strong, and balanced.  Speak loud to the ones who listen.  Be strong for the ones who fight with you, understand you, want to understand you, believe in the goal, the task at hand.  Change lives, while at the same time fully commiting to yourself.  I heard your speech at the end.  My chipped tooth and bloody mouth smiled with reassurance that at times this life does not offer.  Only we can make the world around us.  The world we are making is loving, strong, and powerful. 

Keep walking, keep training, keep an eye open for the ones who want to join our shaded world.  Our jungle of iron, our beds of dreams, and our hearts full of anger and happiness.  I love this sport more than anything, but this sport is not what brings us together, it's the lifestyle we have created, not joined, but created.  The iron life, the bloody mouth way of teaching, living, learning, and achieving.  A bloody mouth means we have bitten the dust, hit the floor, hit the wall, but got the fuck up to smile about it.  White teeth shine through the blood only because we brush our teeth a lot, "why?", they ask, well actually they don't ask why because we don't exist to them.  Our teeth are white because we take care of ourselves.  We not only train hard, but brush hard.  We don't only brush hard but we eat breakfast hard.  We do everything hard, and because of this addiction, we even take the hard way to get to our goals.  We like hard, even if easy seems easier.  A hard life means tougher skin.  Your hard life means that I have something to learn from you, and vice versus. 

We are not training, our skeletons are training.  Our deepest darkest cuts that slash across our chests, bleed through our shirts while we gasp for more air.  More is what we want, more pr's, more training, more life, more motivation, more family, more kids, more of everything.  If there is one thing that weightlifting has taught me, it's that the pain is good, pain is the best coach anyone could ever ask for.  Give me pain over pleasure, and my pleasure will be greater than any pleasure ever experienced. I see you under that hood, to me you are clear as day, even though to them you are a freak, a non existing outcast of a human life. Why are all our gyms tucked away from the population?  Why are our gyms off a small deserted road? We are shunned, not welcomed.  We train in the darkest of the gyms.  But here is what they don't understand, they are welcome any time.  We take the high road.  Our gyms are brighter than any Gold's Gym.  Our gyms are warmer than any 24 Hour Fitness.  Our dirt is gold, our bloody smiles are wide, or scarred hearts beat the hardest.  Our skeletons have become our friends, a bond of acceptance and understanding.  A brotherhood of freaks who live in the dark, let's keep training. 

Freedom 2016

Saturday, January 5, 2013


They took the 10 foot giant and locked him away in the coldest, darkest dungeon the world has ever seen. No light, no bed, no anything. 24 hour lock down, 24 hour bars, 24 hour nightmare. The beast wasn’t allowed to get up, he had to lay there on the dirty ground with his face smashed against his own urine. Every time the giant beast tried to get up, the guards would kick him down, take their boot to the back of his face and press hard. The giant would cry, shake, call out for his mother, pray to God he could be set free, pray to God the pain would go away. But this never helped, it only made the guards more ugly. His body was green and blue from the beating. He couldn’t move his legs from being so sore, his body and mind completely shut down. He would lay there and take it, he came to the reality he would die in that cold cell, the beast was a goner. "Keep kicking him, and never stop!" The beast squeezed his hands and closed his eyes as hard as he could, trying to stay alive, trying to fight through this beating, trying to be strong.

The beast fell asleep and awoke to surprisingly little pain. He thought the guards had finally left him alone, he finally felt nothing. He didn’t know if he was dead or alive, he felt good, he felt strong, he felt pissed off, he felt ready to get up, ready to fight, ready to see his mom, ready to kill the men who did this to him......the beast was becoming a beast. The beast looked up to see five guards kicking him, but he did not feel their boots. The blood starting pumping through his body faster and faster, his heart was strong, his mind was deadly. He became numb, his body was a machine, it adapted to the kicks, it adapted to the cold cell and dirty floor, it was untouchable now and ready for war. As he started to push himself off the floor, the guards kicked down even harder, and soon more boots ran in to help. Now there was 10 guards kicking the beast on every part of the body, and the beast fell back to the ground. But every time the beast tried to get back up, he became closer and closer to standing, he became closer to killing and closer to destroying. Every attempt to stand the beast got stronger, until finally the beast stood tall, standing 20 feet high smashing his head through the roof of the cell! His eyes became red, and his arms swung side to side breaking down buildings and light posts. With one step this beast killed all 10 guards, with one step this beast created an earthquake, the beast was free and stronger than ever.

Train more, train heavier, train to train with pain, train 'til you feel weak, train 'til you can’t sleep nor walk. If you feel good during training then you’re not training. If you train three times a week, you are not kicking your body down. Get kicked! Stay down! The longer you are down the stronger you will be when coach stops kicking you and lets you stand. The weightlifter who stands all the time will not stand any taller. Start counting the cracks on the floor, it’s a fun game. Let me guess your knees hurt.... well good, that means you're training, they are supposed to hurt. Make hell your home, make pain your comfort, sit in the dark.... after a while your eyes will adjust. Train your body like a dog, train it to take the work load. Stop listening to your body! Don’t stand, not yet!

Attitude Nation is the cell and the weights are the guard, let’s get locked away and become the beast, let’s get kicked and then kick ass. Attitude Nation salutes you the fighter, the fighter who only sees the sun through the high bared window. Attitude Nation salutes you, the weightlifter who lives in the dark and sleeps in pain. Attitude Nation Salutes you, the warrior who keeps coming back for more. Attitude Nation salutes you. 

Crazy Battle between a few of my team mates!  I had to match Coach's 100 bucks to make this Colosseum death match just a little more interesting.  Go team MDUSA! 

Stand Tall 2016

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Response

I believe that no answer, is at times the best answer.  Not doing anything, is sometimes the hardest thing to do.  I hope you will end up reading this whoever and wherever you are.  I hope that my silence has spoken loudly and you have found the right path on your own.  I hope you will respond to this blog, if not... then I will assume you are out there, happy and doing what you love.  I think you, the reader, can understand and relate to my situation.  Maybe you, the reader, might disagree with my decision.  Either way, I would love to hear your two cents.

I had a college kid write me a long letter last year, a letter that keeps me up to this day, a letter that I have thought about everyday up 'til now, a letter about a love affair with training vs school.   It was a crossroads letter that I spent about two days typing a response to. It was a letter that many people go through.  Am I happy doing what I'm doing?  Which way should I stray?  And most importantly, how do I know if the decision I make is the right decision?  His letter was so detailed, so passionate, so heart felt that I had to think long and hard before writing him back.  Do I stay in school?  Or do I drop out putting everything into weightlifting?  My answer could have huge impact on this kids life.  My answer could change this young man's life for the better, or who knows... the worse.  I would type then delete, another sentence erased, another paragraph down the drain.  A call in to some very close friends, family members, and a long chat to my wife.  What and how should I respond?  Right when I thought I had an answer it changed, finding myself at the end with no answer.  I could tell him to do what I did, but he is not me.  I could tell him to stay in school, but am I killing his dream?  I could have taken the easy way out and told him to do both... press send.....complete.  But did I really believe that? No, I didn't.  He reminded me so much of myself through his letter.  He was standing at the crossroads of life, the same place we have all been.  If you the reader are very young.... then I think the rest of the Dark Orchestra will agree with me that someday you will be standing on that dirt country road with chalk in one hand and a brief case in the other, and when that day does come, ask questions, explore, pick people's mind, indulge in wanderlust... just like the young man who wrote me did.  But at the end of the day, follow your heart, trust yourself.  You might not know this at the time young reader, but the most beautiful part about walking right instead of left, is the fact they are both the right direction. You will someday look back at that time you stood in the dusty wind storm with a corn field in front of you, while two very life changing roads sit besides you, and you will smile with happiness as you get ready to sit down with your family for dinner.  You will smile as you chalk your hands before pulling on the bar.  You will smile as your students enter the class room for math class.  You will smile while you train for your sport while holding a full time job.  You will smile young reader because I know you, I know the person who wrote me.  He was me, I was him, and I know whatever I, you, or he sets his mind to we will all succeed, no matter what it is.  Happiness finds us, we don't find it.

I never responded.  It's been close to two years now and not a day goes by that I don't wonder what kind of decision he made. What path he decided to walk down.  Weightlifting or Academics or both, or something completely different that he didn't even see coming.  I wanted so badly to help, but I knew that by not responding was the best way I could help.  I didn't want to limit this young man to only two options.  You have the whole world in front of you my unseen friend! Don't you dare limit yourself to two options!  I cannot answer your question, you must find it yourself, just like I did.  Does it kill me that you think I might not of read your letter, yes, more than ever.  This is what's hard for me to swallow.  Maybe I should have wrote you a simple, "It's up to you" letter.  Still to this day I feel I made the right decision by staying silent.  I don't want to make it easier on you.  I want you to burn your hand! Get in trouble! Find what you're good at! Meet friends you never thought you would ever be friends with!  Find yourself, never have anyone find it for you.  You might not be in control, but you are 100 percent in control.  That might not make any sense, but then again life doesn't always make sense, weightlifting doesn't always make sense, and your decisions will half the time never make sense.  Yes, I am speaking to many people through this blog right now, but most importantly I want you, you the young man that wrote me that powerful letter two years ago, that yes, I read it.  Yes I read it and still do, just to remind myself how far I have come from that dirt cornfield road, and how far you will go as well.  And young reader that hasn't bumped into the corn field road........just remember....You ain't got time for percentages.  Everyday max out.

PS:  Young man who wrote me that letter, if you find this blog post, please contact me.  I want to know what and how you are doing.  If you have decided to lift weights, then I would love to help you in any way possible.  I will give you my phone number so we can chat.  Salut

Young reader 2016