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Sunday, March 31, 2013


Written by Jessica North

My decision to complete a 30-day Paleo challenge was a journey in itself.  It was not a one day, “I want to try it,” kind of decision. I spent over a month contemplating, researching, reading books, talking with Jon, speaking with friends that live a Paleo lifestyle, and mostly convincing myself that it was something I could and wanted to do. Coming from a weightlifting culture, any form of dieting or restricting what a person eats outside of cutting for a meet is taboo. To be just considering Paleo, I had gone off the deep end in the eyes of my peers. That is why not only for myself, but for all people really scratching their head as to why I chose to do the 30 day challenge, I feel it is important that I share my story. I am the brave hunter and gatherer that left the feast on the platform, and ventured off into the forest alone, and this is my story.

What is paleo and why did I do it. Paleo, as I understand it, is short term for eating as though a person lives in the Paleolithic era. It consists of 4 main food sources: meat; vegetables, with the exception of corn, peas, beans, or items with high starch content; spices; and natural healthy fats such as avocado and coconut oil. Paleo is widely believed to not be a diet but a change in lifestyle. It is lifestyle change that I wanted to try. I strongly believe that if a person does not love their life, they should change it. It takes bravery to change old habits and especially ways of living one’s life, but I have learned through my short 25 years of life that change is a good thing and worth trying if it leads to a better life.  My health since I was a child has always been on a ledge. The issue that affects me the most is that I suffer from chronic migraines. One of my earliest memories is at an outdoor sidewalk fair with my sister, maybe 5 years old, walking down the street, and being struck with a migraine so rapidly that I lost sight, hearing, and then fainted on the sidewalk. I have been tested for diabetes along with many other diseases with no avail. Migraines are a part of my weekly routine. Of course this is something I strongly wanted to break free of, and having done my research, I believed it to be possible with Paleo.  Another reason I wanted to try Paleo is my energy levels. Living life on at least one green Monster a day, I felt pretty spunky, but I desired more of a natural energy that did not send me up and down so much. Many days I felt my energy was like a roller coaster, and timing it right to be up in energy for training was off. Most days I felt the most tired going into training, and that is not good. Cosmetically, I entertained the idea of a little weight loss as well. Although it was not the strongest motivating factor, I had hoped that going Paleo would help define my muscles, get rid of what I think of as my love handles, and slim down my face. I am not the typical woman that stresses over the number on the scale. Being a weightlifter, I learned to be happy as long as I maintained where I needed to be in my weight class, which is 75kg. 8 months ago, I was in the 69kg weight class, but having switched to weightlifting as my full time job, I naturally put on muscle mass and increased in weight. As my squats went up, so did the number on the scale, which was a good thing for my height, being 5’ 10”. I would say that I maintain between 73kg and 74kg, which did not bother me. The one thing that I had trouble with looking in the mirror was the fullness of my face.  I am sure people in my daily life did not even notice, but when I looked in the mirror I saw chipmunk looking back at me. Along with finding a cure for my migraines, balanced energy levels, and slight trimming up, I desired to feel an overall improvement in my strength and wellbeing. Since it is commonly believed that “you are what you eat,” I decided that Paleo was a worthy endeavor.  I figured at the very least, I will do this 30-day challenge, and if I hate it, I will have just eaten healthier for one month, and there is no harm in that.

Each person in life has their “go to food”, the one comfort food that is hard to let go. For many people, that food is something sweet or a dessert. My food is all things wheat. Before Paleo, I could live on Frosted Mini Wheaties, the orange box, breakfast lunch and dinner. I love granola. I am a sucker for bread. These were the hardest things for me to say goodbye. The day before my Paleo challenge, Jon and I went to Cracker Barrel and I had a going away party for my food. I ordered a hearty plate of French toast, another favorite, ate at least two biscuits, had a tall glass of orange juice, another food group I would miss, and I am pretty sure I had a big bowl of cereal when we got home as well. Other items like desserts, fast food and so on was not as an adjustment for me like it is some people. I had already cut the majority of those things out of my diet. Before going Paleo, I believed myself to have lived a pretty healthy lifestyle of eating. I did not eat fast food. When Jon stopped by Bojangles for a snack during the day, I never indulged. Most dinners out I ordered a steak and passed on dessert. I served a vegetable with every dinner, although it was almost always corn. My dad taught me growing up that potatoes would make me strong, or as he put it, “Grow hair on my chest!” I thought that eating a granola bar, as a snack was a healthy choice.  I rarely drank soda, but when I did it was a clear one like Sierra Mist or Sprite, which I believed was better for you. All in all I think that it took me so long to change, or try something new because I felt I ate above average for a typical American. Little did I know that what I thought was going to be a small adjustment, changed everything.

After completing all of my research and finally convincing myself to do the 30-day challenge, I decided to follow Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo. The book was recommended to me by a fellow athlete, and after ordering it, I really found value in its unique layout. In the book, she not only shares her story in a way that very much related to me, but there is the research and science of course, many recipes, and what I found to be most helpful, a variety of 30 day specific meal plans based on your goals or conditions. For example, there is a plan for cancer recovery, a plan for weight loss, a plan for thyroid problems or chron’s disease, and several others. I followed the athlete’s specific plan. 

Now I may or may not of had the best approach to Paleo following this 30-day plan because I followed it so strict. What I mean is that whether or not I liked a food or had even tried a food before, I followed exactly what I was supposed to eat for each meal according to Diane Sanfilippo’s athlete meal plan. This made for many poor moods because the joy of food was often taken away. For example, only two days in and Day 2’s breakfast was left over flank steak with onions and peppers from night one. I did not enjoy eating steak for breakfast at all being that I was such a breakfast (cereal, French toast, eggs) type of person, but I sucked it up and ate it. Then Day 2’s lunch was canned salmon. Yuck! My mom said to never use the word hate, but I hate seafood of ALL kinds. I plugged my nose and got down a few bites swallowed whole, only to gag the rest of my lunch. Dinner saved my spirit with turkey legs and sweet potato pancakes.  Not to make it all sound bad, but I greatly struggled with many meals.  The bright side though is that each day was a new discovery and a time to try something new. I found many foods that I would not have ever known I enjoyed, for example, beets and fennel, yum. I learned new ways of cooking. I mastered many new recipes and flavors, even making my own spices with the recipes provided in the back of Practical Paleo. One of my favorite changes in habit is now using coconut oil to cook my foods. It adds wonderful flavor to any meat or vegetable, allows me to cook at a higher temperature without burning, and is so much cleaner to eat. I always used vegetable oil before, and I will never go back.

My spirit to complete the challenge remained strong despite all of the temptations around me. My tests at the time were very hard, but now looking back are funny stories. Beginning a challenge like this definitely takes a support structure and someone else rooting you on. I explained to Jon beforehand my reasons and goals, and he supported me 100 percent which was very important. I appreciated him dearly for rooting me on, although without realizing it, he also made it very difficult at times. My first test, having said goodbye to coffee and energy drinks, was Jon making his daily stop at Starbucks. Now I knew that I could do without the coffee and if necessary I was allowed green tea, so I was not too concerned with my will power, until Jon came out holding a brown treat bag along with his coffee. The second he got in the car I could smell it. Apple fritter. Test two also involves a doughnut. Traveling in the airport is a weekly part of my life and what I found having turned Paleo is that airports do not offer healthy food whatsoever. I really struggled with my first trip, and went hungry rather than cheated. Jon, however, indulged even more than usual, whom at the time was maddening but like I said before, is now funny to look back on. He stopped at an ice cream shop and added Butterfinger, syrup, m&m’s, and other heart attacks to his bowl. Then he made a quick trip down the terminal to get some pizza and ate it right next to me. Once we landed in the next airport he made another stop at the Duncan Donuts for a powder-covered doughnut and 6 blueberry muffin tops, and a coffee. By the time we got in the cab I wanted to throw a pie in his face. Like an animal in a new environment for the first time, I learned to adapt though and my will power never waivered. By making extra each meal and always having food packed for times I was not home to cook really made my life easier.

On to the more specific pros and cons of my journey. I quickly saw results in my body shape. I started to trim in the mid section after just a few days. Not only my belly, but also my arms, back and legs showed more definition. Last but worth the wait, I saw a decrease in my chipmunk cheeks. My energy levels definitely felt more even. Although very low and nowhere near what I was hoping to achieve, I did not feel the up and down like I had before. Eliminating the sugar, except for one piece of fruit as a dessert each night, I really noticed a difference. My insulin did not spike and I was using my natural energy on a consistent basis. It took until week three, but my overall health started to improve. I maintained my usual schedule of migraines, until week three when they subsided to what I would call headaches instead. Something unexpected is that my skin even noticeably cleared. Also unexpected is that my vision changed. I do not know for the better or worse, but by week two, I started to notice that my sight was different. Focusing on small things took an extra millisecond, but I was seeing them in more detail. Call me crazy but it is true. Despite all of the positives, I could not help my mood swings. I developed very poor mood swings through week two. The thing I attribute it mostly to be the lack of energy. As I said I was more even, but I evened out at a very monotone, low. My strength decreased as well. By week two, I was having nightmares of trying to run but I could not lift my legs to even walk they were so heavy. It was awful and a very hard adjustment that made me really grumpy. Week three this improved slightly, I do not know if it is because I just adapted in my mindset, or my energy levels really did pick up a little.  The last negative, which I am not claiming any cause and effect because I am not certain, is that since the end of week one through the rest of the month, I have been ill with a horrible cold. I do not know the science of it. I could have simply caught a bug, or the changes in my body could have affected my immune system, I am unsure. What I do know is that I have had the cough from hell for over three weeks, stopped up sinuses, and for the first time in my life, multiple nose bleeds. I will not blame it on the Paleo, but the coincidence is very high that one week in this plagues me and will not go away. To end on a high note, the last positive that I want to share is recovery. Having not been taking my supplements this whole month such as creatine and protein, I have not found the need for them, as my body is naturally recovery on its own which is a significant blessing.

It is said that 20 days is the magic number for something to become a habit. For example, that is the proven reason of 20 cigarettes in a pack. Once a person finishes one pack, they are supposedly hooked by habit. I found this to be true for my journey as well. Once I reached day 20, everything became much easier. I did not have to think about every detail of what I was eating or how to cook it, or even how I felt. My new routines slowly became my habits, and I settled into my new lifestyle. Paleo transformed from a diet and my 30-day challenge, to my way of living. How I will go forward with my newfound relationship with food will continue to be an exciting journey. On day 20, I experimented, not because a lack of will or surrender to desire, but as a true experiment. I cheated for the very first time. I ate a single crouton that was served on my salad at a restaurant, and took a large drink of Jon’s Sierra Mist. Although delicious going down, within seconds of them hitting my stomach, I wrenched in pain.  Experiment complete.  What I had thought would last only 30 days, is now lasting longer one day at a time. If you are wondering what I did to celebrate day 30, I cooked a Paleo blueberry pie, and it was delicious.

Day 1: 73.5kg / 161.7 lb

Day 30: 68.27kg / 150.2 lb

 11.5 Pound Loss Total (first 10 pounds were lost by day 15)

Love Your Life or Change It

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gym Bag

A long stare at his old blue gym bag as it sat lop-sided beside him on the subway bench, waiting for the 7 o'clock train. There were no words being spoken from his long chin and stubble covered face, just a stone cold look and a thought of how this gym bag hasn't been replaced by now.  How has the bag with so many stains, broken straps, and holes gone this long without being put to rest. A small crinkle in his forehead asked the bag if the old blue warrior was growing, and getting bigger over time.  It looked as if the bag had grown at least a foot since the night before. He would know because the bag and him have been training partners since college back at Cal, and it was only last night that he stocked it with plastic bags full of supplements of all different colors and textures.  He regretted not cleaning his two shaker cups better the night before while preparing for this trip, as he could smell them both seeping from the inside of the bag to his nose.  Still no emotion, as his eyes glazed upon the bag with straps that were hanging on by a single thread from all the abuse they have seen.  How they haven't broke by now will always be a mystery.  Some say that trying to figure out weightlifting can lead to madness, for the sport never, and will never make sense.  His head titled slightly down, and the crinkles in his forehead smoothed back out.  His eyes hadn't blinked since he sat down, and the thought of becoming mad haunted him.  How do you know when you have lost your mind?  He asked the bag while looking back up.  This time words came out from his mouth, while the person sitting across from him grabbed her two kids and scurried them away to the waiting bench three vending machines down. The bag did not reply. The bag just stared back at him while slightly molding itself deeper into the bench, as if to say he was done, and could not carry on from here.  The yellow Cal label on the front of the bag facing him was turned brown from the years.  He was saddened by the fact he just now noticed how worn the bag really was.  His body still hadn't moved, but his eyes started to frantically flicker back and forth as if he couldn't figure out what to look at.  Memories of slamming the gym bag against the wall out of anger.   Dropping the bag down on the dusty gym floor while walking over it to get from resting bench to platform.  Laughing weightlifters in the car after a long day of training, while his best friend and biggest supporter of so many years laid defeated in the trunk under boxes and old books.  Memories and reminiscing of how well he used to treat his new bright blue bag when he first got into weightlifting, or back then just weight training / body building / wide feet power looking snatches and pose offs with his friends.  A gym rat that had no plans or ideas of what he was doing, or wanted to do.  All he knew back then was he loved the weight room, and the lifestyle the weight room produced.  The blue bag was just as important as the weights.  Just as food and bed are to recovery.  Belts and coffee, chalk and music, all a family that you grow to know and love throughout this lonely sport of weightlifting.

A small smile crept across his face as the noise from a train passing by broke his long stare, waking him up to a darker than usual subway full of old newspapers and a cold gust of air coming from the stair case that led outside.  He rubbed his hands together to get warm, while thinking about all the different ways he was going to treat his bag better from here on out.  He opened his mouth wide while rubbing his cheeks with his hands to try to snap out of his trance and wake before the day passed him by.  A weightlifter must learn how focus on both weightlifting and everyday life, sometimes at the same time.  When these two completely different worlds meet they can cause doubt, confusion, and the worst of all....excuses.  Learning how to be a weightlifter is the hardest part in learning how to be a weightlifter.  The bag made a small noise from something inside moving out of place.  He patted the bag with a broken smile and whispered as if he was talking to a puppy, "You know what I'm saying, right boy?". The bag looked back with a glow of appreciation and relief.  The bag was just as much a weightlifter as the man, and the man knew he was just as much part of that bag as the bag itself.  The man felt lighter from their talk.  A sigh of understanding and respect.  He was at first blind sided and taken back from how old the bag truly was, but was now proud of himself and the bag for keeping an honest relationship, and continually staying the best of friends.

The man pulled his hands away to straighten out his clothes in anticipation for his train the he could hear down the tunnel moving his way.  The light from the train opened the subway up with a new perspective.  The newspapers were not scattered around the floor nor were they dirty.  The floor was clean and the vending machines where glowing bright.  There were more people than he thought there was hustling and bustling around as if an army was forming to attack the day.  The man opened his wide eyes and quickly turned to his bag, hoping that his bright blue Cal bag was young and strong as he always knew it to be.  The bag laid half dead as its shadow crept down the bench towards the man.  The man's eyes followed the dark shadow running into his hand that was structurally there supporting his excited lean towards the bag.  The man noticed his hands.  He picked both of them up and turned them side to side in front of his face.  They were torn, bruised and old.  They were stained yellow from the cigarettes he once smoked.  Old chalk lived deep under his nails, and the blood paintings that webbed across his hands from broken blood blisters made sure that he was just as broken and used as the bag sitting beside him.  The man has aged with his bag.  The man then realized sitting on that subway bench, that he had become his own gym bag.  

Inspired By Mark Haz's Cal Rugby Bag

Focus 2016

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Hat

My ass meets my heels as my knees meet my chin.  My mechanical top hat has seemed to fall back from the roof above my head closing in.  A chain stationed at the hips rattles its way up to the weightlifter's elbows, only to meet a crossroad of different levers and directions.  Everything is connected.  My finger connects to the dirt below my bottom position as I draw lines and circles reflecting past memories and future ideas.  Sick with tea, cold from the fever.  When I am sick the weightlifter is sick as well. A run of bad luck runs a line around my body as to say stay away.  A part of the sport that's not talked about.  Life affects sport and sport affects life.  My fort of blankets that stretches from one end of the living room the the other, keeps me hidden from anymore back pains or illnesses that seem to have a hit on my head.  The dirt below my feet has turned into murky bubbly mud from the tea that has fallen from my cup from swaying side to side, while still being hunched over in this ever so low bottom position.  The sheets above my head flap as I forgot to close one of the windows outside the fort.  Cold wind sneaks through the red glow from the blankets around me.  Falling like opera curtains as the chattered whispers overflow the room in preparation for the show.  Top hats and long smokes, glasses with no frames, and mustaches that look like the line of bar path in a weightlifting instructional video.  Some, more vertical than others, and some so extreme it looks as if a child with a crayon had a go at them.  An odd time in my life, a stuck time that has stopped the clocks and erupted more thoughts than I knew I even had.  Thoughts like sand slipping through your hands. There then gone.  A feeling of whole, followed by a feeling of empty.  A call to an old friend across the world for a midnight chat leads to a dial tone of "this number is no longer in use, please hang up and try again". This is how I feel. my friend.  I am one of the loneliness people you know.  Old travel receipts lay at my feet, while plane stubs have made a permanent home in my wallet of crinkled white papers and scattered change that always makes it extremely hard to close while trying to slide in my back pocket.  Pictures and lovely memories of PR's and bar slamming keep me company in my fort of red.  Faces appear and fade.  Glossy memories make it hard to sleep as I scroll down and up my phone looking for someone to call.  Always leading me to the same place as always....a smoke outside with a hot coffee to keep my mind sharp and intact.  Facebook friends I don't know, while chatting with friends on twitter I have never met nor scene before.  "Come alive" I scream!  Come alive and let's shoot some pool, break balls, and get in trouble.  Let's run from the cops.  Let's push over every shelf in Walmart telling them to start treating their animals better.  Let me raise this mechanical top hat high and enter a whole new experience outside of this red blanket glow that forces me into a fantastic bottom position.  I am sick from this bad back and living room fort I scurry under after a long weekend.  

A weightlifter body moves from chains and levers that pull and pry, squeak and chatter.  Bone against bone as we catch the weight in the whole, stretching the chain tight, as your face makes odd emotions from the small razor thin strings that attach to your pores.  A rusty chain means under recovery, or too much time away from operation top hat. The higher the top hat, the stronger you will be.   The top hat holds the engine underneath its black leather shell, producing all of the levers to work as one.  This is why all of the great weightlifters have tall hats, hats that hold wisdom, experience, and knowledge.  Or your top hat can be broken like mine.  Broken from injury.  Everything must move together with no hitches.  A rhythm lifter has mastered the art of body, bar awareness.  One who has done the movements over and over until they become second nature.  If wind passes your ears on the pull, and you are hanging onto the bar like a kid on a roller coaster, then you have mastered your style of technique.  All of your levers and strings now sound like an orchestra of beauty.  This my friends takes time.  This my friends takes many nights under a tree fort of red.  This my friends is more bad days than good, more bomb outs than wins.  This my friends is a lifestyle of hell.  

 Where I'm at now is where I chose to be.  These living room forts are at times necessary.  Dark days are like misses, they happen, and there is such a thing as a good miss, and good dark days.  I sit in this red fort over dirt, passing my finger back and forth while understanding and gathering thoughts on what it takes to succeed.  I have been here before, understanding the darkest, coldest nights always bring the warmest, brightest days ahead.  Sometimes you have to take three steps back, to take 20 steps forward.  Salute.  

White Light 2016

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Bar whip will whip your ass under the bar like a sling shot on pink pills.  A shot from a sling that will pay off when catching.   Rhythm, timing, bounce, fast, explosive, coffee, love, hate, steak, Shankle and a lion, and green monsters in your belly.  Oscillation is behind all of these tricks to the game.  Street weightlifting.  Not talked about movements that hide in the dark of this orchestra only to come out and play when fast moving freaks like us give their day job the finger and smash weights through the floor pissing off every damn neighbor in sight. More pink pills means more strong, and if you can't take pink pills like myself, then bar whip is the next best thing.  USADA has single handily given me the full use of bar whip, while other countries get two sides with their main course rather than just one. Screw it, no excuse, let's just use what we have been given by the weightlifting gods to our advantage.  

Oscillation means more float time.  Float time for the arched angel to flap her wings, her 20 kilo wings that is.  A spoon full of sugar and a shot of coffee can make any weightlifter fly while still keeping their toes planted on the floor, giving off shock waves of massive destruction to those commie North Korean sons of bitches.  A golf club that bends can make the white ball go further.  Whack! Hips to bar when done right and timed right can do all the work for you, slapping you smack dab in a roller coaster of speed and power. What do I think about when I lift?  Hanging on.  The wind passes my ears like a kid out the car window headed to Disney Land.  The harder you push back, the harder the force of contact you create, giving the bar longer time to flap her wings and make love to you.  

Why do you lean back so much on the finish Jon? Oscillation, I answer while chugging coffee as if I have been stranded in the desert for 2 weeks without coffee.  On a side note.....could you even imagine no coffee for two weeks?  You can't, me neither.  Awful......let's move on.  As I was saying, the longer your hips come through the bar, the longer the bar will oscillate in mid air, giving you just enough time to dive under, pull under, drop under, shrug under, Ali feet under.  Whatever term you want to use, it's all the same. This is why Tiger Woods follows through his swing......power.  The hips are the golf club, the ball is the bar.  Cut your arch short, and you will cut the make short right on the back of your neck.  Now drink more coffee and keep reading, for hopefully this might help you the next day with gaining a relationship with the bar, which is the number one road block for a weightlifter at any stage.  Relationship.  An understanding.  Not a scientific understanding, but a personal understanding.  Only one you can have, no one else.  James Tatum said it best, YouTube is a great way to learn and be coached.  I agree full heartily, but when not knowing what to look for, it can cause head scratching and frustration. It can blind what's really in front of you.  I went through this Ray Charles syndrome for many years.  What the fuck am I looking at or for.  I would have just done what any man in my shoes would of at that time, drank more coffee, but at that time of my life I didn't know miss brown eyes.  I know, crazy right.  Why the hell do I keep getting off on coffee when trying to write a blog on the whip of the bar.  Good Lord, I am addicted.  Wait......better yet I am in love. OK fuck it moving on.  Understand it, see it, then feel it.  The feeling part might take a while, like years and years a while.  It took me about 3 years to really get the timing of her wing power.  And once I found it......what the hell was I suppose to do with it?  Reps, reps, reps, reps, reps, reps, and more reps. Turn up the volume and dance along.  

When the initial hit occurs, the bar will act like a belt wrapping around your waste.  The bar will try to touch both sides of the weights on either side behind your back.  Before the weights have the pleasure to meet each other they will have a rude awakening from the bar.  As you bring your hips through the hit portion of the finish into the full extension (aka) arched angel - the bar will then start to whip out in front of you with much speed.  But Jon, this is the problem, it's not good to have the bar swing out in front of you.  Hold on.....let me take my coffee cup and bash it upon this triple extension's head.  This is the triple extension's go to attack method.  Use the force on the outward moving bar, and guide it back towards you.  This is why the elbows must face back, never up.  If the hips don't come through, and the elbows are straight up, then yes......the bar will swing out in front of you. Come at me bro, I can literally go all day.  Especially with this very odd song I found that has put me in an ever so interesting mood.  I am definitely going to put the song above the blog on this one.  What if the bar never did bend? Then A) the hit would hurt like hell, this is why the better the bar you have the truly better your lifts will be.  I hate to say it, but it's true.  B) Since the wave effect of the bar would not be in affect, the bar would fall much much faster.  This is actually a pointless question in the first place, because the bar will always bend, unless you're lifting with concrete.....or triple extension. 

The oscillation helps wonders in the catch portion of the clean, much much more than the snatch.  Why?  As the outer part of the bar whip finally meets you in the bottom position of the catch, you are now going to catch the "bounce" and try your best to shoot up out of the "hole" aka the dark deep sea of missed lifts and wrist breaking.  The bar whip now starts to swing back up from its long drop down, and gives you that helping hand to add speed and power to stand tall in front of the crowd.  I say the oscillation works better in the clean rather than the snatch because the snatch is more of a balancing act. You must at times sit down in the hole, watch a movie, make sure the bar and you are under control, and then stand.  Rushing out of the bottom position in the snatch is death, don't do it.  The weight is light compared to your back, front, and clean lifts.  The bottom position in the clean is NOT YOUR FRIEND! Get the hell out of there, and fast!   

Everything applies the same in the jerk as well.  The biggest problem I see when watching people jerk is the slight pause, or for a better word hesitation, in the lowest portion of the dip before the drive. Why is this bad?  You will miss the bus.  This is why.  The bus meaning the bar, the bar meaning the whip, the whip meaning the oscillation, the oscillation meaning you holding onto a hot air balloon and taking you high into the air.  Miss the timing of the whip like I do many times a week, and your knees will collapse from the you trying to drive up while the bar is now coming back down like a coke head up for three nights straight.  Don't be the coke head, and drive out of the dip like you do in the clean. A drill to work on for this timing and relationship is taking out a very heavy weight in the front squat position, and dip and drive over and over for 5 minutes until you and the bar are on the same page. 

 I hope this helps.  I haven't written a technique blog in a while, it was fun.  There is so much more in between all of this.  I think this topic needs more parts on this blog in the future for sure.  I find it very interesting.  Goodnight.
The King of Oscillation 

Relationship 2016

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Itching to itch while itching for the future.  The closer the near future moves my way, the further away it feels.  I wait, for waiting is all I can do.  Ideas will soon blossom into reality, but for now they are only ideas that live in my head.  Fuck I am drunk off coffee.  Fuck it's hard to write with so much on my mind. Fuck I can't wait to train again.  The paragraph you are reading is and will be my final draft, no editing, no starting over, just mud that I am slinging at this screen.  Triple extension vs catapult vs my way all intertwined together in a story....yes this is what I want to write about.  But can't, my mind can't stay focused on one thing for longer than two minutes.  So I itch, scratch, and pace, drink coffee in the same place, while slapping myself in the face to wake from this realization of being completely alone in a big world.  I have been here before though. I am a life vet, a weightlifting soldier who has been to war and back.  I like the dark, no fuck it, I love the dark, wait... I welcome the dark.  Come on Jon, there is no difference from then to now.  Doubt only lives in going under 400 pounds, never in the pursuit of ripping the heads off lions.  It's either you don't or you do, and I do, we do.  

Let's be blunt, is my back getting better?... Better? It's ready for war, and war is what I am about to walk into.  Alone? Never.  I must only train with gladiators.  Spit in my face and remind me why I am doing this. You wanna fight? Let's go.  After we throw down let's then shake hands and eat a steak.  Drink milk as it runs down the side of our mouths.  Grow a beard and give the world the finger.  Tough skin makes for tough body, tough heart and a tough mind. Let's play call of duty between sessions and then go ham fucken sandwich on the platform. I fight, and I will die fighting.  Swing this axe and cut down the trees we must. Rip this head off this lion and drink its blood. Let me set up an atmosphere of dark, real, no chains and freedom.  Let me tell you about it, because as of right now that's all I can do. The next time I look at the calendar I am going to rip it off the wall and send it to those who wait to compete in their first a local meet.  Stop waiting! Get your ass out there and kill! Shankle nods his head while ripping the scabs off his rough hands.  The ideas and plans I have in my head are driving me crazy.  I want to open my mind and slam them down in front of me.  

Ring ring ring....hello....let's go....OK.  Grab your bar and meet me here in 2 days.  The eyes are watching so be calm and collect, duck under and stay hidden.  Bring your towel for sweat you will wipe, blood to clean up, and shade you will need.  Hey Dad, how am I doing?  You want to come visit me and see all that I have done? No response like usual.  Fuck em, I have you, we have us, I have weightlifting.  I am typing this incredibly fast, and I have no idea how it is going to come out.  This is the kind of writing you must do when the block of writing takes over.  It's funny, writer's block only comes from too many thoughts, rather than what some might think, not enough thoughts.  What to do when your thoughts are running all over the place? Run with them, run your fingers over the keyboard and don't stop.  Don't look up, don't worry about the spelling for right now.  Don't do what your English teacher taught you.  Listen to you, very close family and friends.  Snap back a monster and train. Write write write. Listen to the song Shankle told me about, and drink drink drink more coffee.  This watch I wear across my wrist will not move any faster, and it's making me wish I knew how to time travel.  Maybe I should of stayed in school and taken a class on this topic.  Maybe I should eat a whole bag of mushrooms and let my ideas surface to new sights.  Shit, can't do that, USADA won't leave me alone. Plus, I am not into drugs nor alcohol anymore.  I battled that war and thankfully won.  Anyone else want to get in the ring with me?  I am here all day and night.  

Light money on fire to warm ourselves in this cold gym.  I could care less about that green devil.  Turn up the techno to drown out our thoughts.  Slam bars and you know the rest.  I can't believe I am still writing without stopping once.  I must keep going before the block gets me and haters reach me.  Hater you can't find me.  I sit behind a wall full of hard work that they know nothing about, nor will they ever.  Haters equal excuses for their own let downs in life, I ain't got time for that.  See, we have many let downs and failures that we have had to come to grip with.  It's how we handled them that sets us apart from the haters.  We have dealt with them in our own way, accepted situations that we take blame for, said sorry for, and then learned from. We succeed past our failures from understanding our failures.  I believe haters have never dealt with their own loses and let downs.  It's like an alcoholic who will never admit he or she is an alcoholic.  It simply doesn't work, and the work they put in only leads to work they channel towards others.  Look, understanding the mind set of a hateful person is hard, I am probably just scratching the service.  I don't want to act like a know it all.  I must stop writing for just a second, my coffee is all out, and I am pretty sure I have a Rockstar in the sec...........................................................................................................  

Knees back then crack, I am back.  Posters, paint, platforms and bars.  Athletes, music, and plates.  Coffee machine, sitting bench and chalk.  Smiles and frowns, fights and hugs, pr's and misses.  A family of skeletons is what makes a gym a gym.  Itch, scratch, hot shower, cold shower, tapping fingers, clock watching, what are people thinking thoughts, too many smokes from too many coffee shots.  Come to think about it, this is the longest I have been away from training in 6 years.  My body looks different.  My face looks skinny. My hands look soft and clean, while my back and knees no longer shoot pain up my neck and into my brain.  I am a different person. A bitten zombie turned into a civilian who plays basketball outside and who shops at malls.  Disgusting is what I am. This fever that has come over me has made my bones weak, and my bubble butt smaller.  I find myself even taking the stairs for the extra cardio.....CARDIO PEOPLE! Good Lord, save me from this hell.  When a weightlifter chooses the stairs over the elevator something has gone horribly wrong.  Rest has taken over.  Soon, upcoming, around the corner I will again breath in the dust, hear the plates slam, feel the bar whip, and shoot rest in the fucken head. I will soon become a weightlifter. I will soon be home. 

Scratch 2016

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Support The Troops

The 29th Attitude Nation Support The Troops Certification Seminar was crazy fun. We were so grateful to be able to show our gratitude to all the soldiers who make it possible for us to do what we do everyday.  This is only the very start of our support the troops events and fundraisers.  The Attitude Nation will be putting on fundraisers for the Wounded Warrior Project in the near future, and more of these free clinics for our troops.  We will keep you posted with details for the events, times, and dates.  Anything we can do to help and show our appreciation.  Thank you all again. 

God Bless America 

Friday, March 8, 2013


Doing nothing is harder than training.  Pacing is more leg work than squatting, and waiting is more nerve racking than getting a look from a competitor in the warm up room.  Coffee and a clock, an itching body and too many thoughts.  Tea at night as I sit in this Orchestra of dark hoping to see the light soon enough.  Just writing about training makes my thumbs hook when typing.  Loud techno music replays in my head when the night is at its most quiet.  I close my eyes and see dead coffee cups scattered everywhere around my feet.  Every last empty cup is a teammate I have lost throughout this journey.  The only way I know how to repay their sacrifice is to drink more coffee.  I must be happy, this is the single most important part of training.  Happy leads to good mood, good mood leads to motivated, motivated leads to heavy weights, heavy weights lead to the Olympics. I would rather be a happy person and not a weightlifter, than a weightlifter that is not happy.  Both happy and weightlifter is the number one goal for any weightlifter, or athlete at that.

Details I cannot go into, but ideas and plans I must follow.  The bridge is strong and sturdy, and has two lanes that cross both ways. But I must walk one way, I must walk with a barbell on my back, to a place where happy lives, where people get me for me, who yell at me like I do them, who have similar ideas and methods of atmosphere and attitudes.  This is everything. Atmosphere is the home of happiness which leads to lots and lots of bar slamming, lots and lots of yelling, smiles, and tears. Some people like a certain way of training, a certain way of getting jacked up, a certain way of being motivated, which is great.  There is more than one way to lift weight, just like there is more than one way to look at the sport, view training, and get jacked up. Many different attitudes and outlooks mix and match for training.  Just like there is no wrong way to lift weights, there is no wrong way to train. Their are a million different atmospheres scattered all over the world in a million different gyms. I must find mine. This is a message for everyone across the world.  If you are not happy doing what your doing, then stop doing what your doing.  I would rather live homeless than be trapped into a web of regret and self captivity.  Winning only matters if you love winning in the sport you are winning in. "No comfort zones" - Shankle.

Never lay your sword down and surrender to a situation or atmosphere that isn't personally working for you. Fight! Lose! Live fucken homeless! I would rather rebuild from the bottom to someday be happy on the top.  Winning the gold of happiness is the hardest gold medal you could ever achieve.  Let's talk about happiness, let's make happiness our number one goal, and let the rest follow without ever resting. Let's use happiness to lift weight, big weight.  Not some top secret program, or technique, but true self worth, true love, true living.  I must go back to the start.  I must find "Jumping" Jonathan North again.  I must write Arnold across my chest while training.  I must slap hands and scream, chest bump teammates while at times becoming nose to nose with one about to fight at any minute.  I feel this is a win win for all.  No more walking on egg shells, no more apologies. Just Johnny Cash with his guitar.

Calm before the storm is what I was before the Arnold.  The Arnold never came for me due to a horrible back injury I received by the weightlifting gods in the warm up room.  The storm never came. The calm still surrounds me. The storm has yet to show its face.  The storm will come.

Atmosphere 2016

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coffee With Barbell Shrugged

My interview on Barbell Shrugged at the Arnold! Thank you guys for having me on your bad ass podcast.  I never miss an episode of this highly motivating, funny, entertaining and most importantly knowledgable podcast.  If you haven't ever tuned into BarbellShrugged then your missing out! Again, thank you Mike Bledsoe, Doug Larson, Chris Norman, and Chris Moore.  Go to to check out all the episodes. Salute!  (link Below)

Growing The Sport 2016

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Million Miles

Feet dangled from the tree branch, as he sat and stared.  A million miles with a million thoughts were lit up from the sun that slowly drew the night closer and closer up the tree's trunk, reaching for his bare feet. Cold, but inviting.  Quiet as a mouse, with nothing but the sound of the boy whispering his thoughts out loud.  All it took was a snap of a branch for the boy to become startled.  But soon back to a non-blinking stare into a million miles that sat upon another tree facing back some where a million miles away.  The sound of constant chatter with himself, the boy felt at ease on this empty tree. A buddy named Max appeared beside him as they admired the view of challenges and triumph, rolling hills and windy trees, while never once talking nor looking at each other.  Max, sitting beside him, stopped the boy's chattering amongst himself.  A full conversation with no words, just the smell of cooking from the town people below that caused their eyes to close while their heads tilted back catching all the scent had to offer.  The breeze from the trees ahead had finally met their arrival as friendly mother nature whistled through their toes like a subway train in New York.  Max soon disappeared, and the boy was then alone.  His head sunk and his stomach turned. The whole time Max was a branch.  The shadows from the sunset can play tricks on your mind.  Jared appeared to the right side of the boy and pointed out a giant deer that was sprinting across the field. The boy never once asked himself where Jared came from, or how Jared got up the tree so fast.  Frankly the boy didn't care, he was just excited to point at a deer with him.  Simple.  They both laughed at the exact same time, in the exact same way, sitting on the exact same branch.  A tree that makes you see things in a whole new perspective.  The boy didn't want to climb that high, and sit on the branch that far out, something just told him to. Situations that led to an outcome that no one will ever know, led him to this branch looking over a million miles of thoughts and ideas. Jared swung his feet and told stories of the old times.  A tear dropped from the boy's face splashing down upon the dark that was rising further up the tree and closer to his cold feet.  The cold hard truth is hard to make warm at times, and this was one of those times.  Jared's stories reminded the boy of just how long true happiness had been detached from his life.  Jared didn't seem to see the boy's sadness as Jared soon vanished and the night sky started to close over the boy's head, making branches and leaves look like past friends and funny stories.  Jared was never there, and the boy knew this all too well.  The boy could only sit on the branch and remember when Jared once was there, as a journey of memories played over in his head.

A man named Shankle came across the boy's path pulling a wooden cart full of rocks and stones behind him.  The horns from his viking helmet were bent sideways as if he had been in a few battles himself.  His voice was deep and his body was covered in tattoos.  "What are you doing up there young man!" Shankle asked as if he was giving a speech in front of a handful of town's people.  The boy's feet stopped swinging, the boy looked back out into the million miles of land, and this time noticed a group of swordsmen practicing battle in the open hay field below.  Roughly 1,000 feet away.  The boy's head didn't move, but his eyes shifted down.  Reality can be hard to face. The boy noticed his sword upon his waste was becoming rusty laying in its case, and the possibility of it sticking in battle could be costly. The boy spit on his light brown leather vest that had signs of wear and tear all over it, and wiped his sword clean.  Reality can sting, but the breeze that passed through his toes snapped him out of his trance, and back into the question the man with the viking hat asked him.  The boy confidently and proudly replied, "I don't know".  The viking below leaned up against the tree with one arm, and began to eat an apple with the other.  "What do you want to do?", replied the viking.  The boy wanted to take another gaze into the millions of miles, but knew that the answer to this question could only be found in his mind and not through his eyes.  Big Ben appeared beside the boy as the boy was in a battle of thought.  Big Ben slapped the boy on the back and chuckled, "this viking's really got you thinking doesn't he?".  The boy thanked Ben out loud, for Ben was his first coach, the start of it all.  The viking asked the boy who he was talking to.  "Big Ben"  Shankle looked at his apple in a funny and confused way, and then violently took a heaping bite out of the shiny red apple, while rocking his head back and forth. Ben leaned over and laid a Sac State towel in the boy's hands. Then before he disappeared, turning into another tree branch, he said fast and upbeat, "Start from the beginning".  The boy cracked a smile that even a scientist with a microscope couldn't find.  The boy kicked his head back and grabbed one of the branches above his head with his left arm, while letting the right arm clinch onto the branch as if he was going to leap at any minute.  The boy replied to the viking eating the apple, "I want to be a weightlifter".  Shankle smiled while nodding his head.  The boy smiled. The viking patted the tree a few times as if he was praising a horse, and then continued pulling his rocks and stones to where ever his destination may have been.  The boy looked back out into the now dark fields of the million miles.  There were no more swordsmen practicing battle in the distance.  The deer was no where to be found, and this time there were no branches that came to life in the form of an old friend, just the boy and a small light from the ideas and plans coming from his head.

The boy shed a tear as the black faced man he once fought for walked away, his pigeoned toed feet swaying him side to side . The black faced man disappeared over the hill from afar.  No more tree branches came to life.  Just a real man and a real scar. Real sadness with a lot of respect.  The boy took a deep

Train 2016