“It takes relentless self discipline to schedule suffering into your day every day- but if you do you’ll find at the other end of that suffering is a whole other life just waiting for you” David Goggins
I stole the tagline for this blog from Killer Mike. Sweat today so you don’t regret today. I gotta say it every time I don’t want to go run or throw some weights around the yard. It’s true on several levels. You can’t get out what you don’t put in. Lines like that one help me lace up my shoes and put down my excuses (there are sooo many) and get some blood moving. I’m only preaching to you here now ’cause I DON’T WANT TO DO IT, and yelling at you and hearing back from you keeps me accountable. Here’s a quick rundown of my battle to become consistently healthy, as well as everything I’ve picked up nerding out on workout regimes over the years.
“WORKOUTS ARE FOR MEATHEADS”
When I was little, I worked out a bit but thought that in general working out was for jocks. To be a cool artist (whatever that is), you shouldn’t be caught trying to “bulk up.” Rock ’n’ rollers were all skinny and cool and unaffected. Would Bowie be at a weight bench? You think Prince had a treadmill? Disgusting. Now that I’m all grown up, I bet Prince had a room full of custom purple workout machines and three trainers on call 24 hours a day. I thought artists were otherworldly and could never be concerned with mortality.
What I didn’t understand was the best way to access a full day of making “art” (for me, music) is to have your mind in a good place. Nothing helps me get my mind calm and creative more than working out early and being ready for the day. The time I take to do this actually saves me time everywhere else by having more energy. There are 168 hours in a week—I can give five to seven of them to working out to get the following benefits:
Calms and centers your mind. I really believe working out is just as important as reading/learning for your mind.
Improves mood more than anything else I’ve found.
Sleeping better at night.
Alleviates lack of sleep too. (This might sound crazy, but Henry Rollins talks about it—when you work out and eat clean, you can sleep LESS and still feel OK. This is incredibly helpful out on the road.)
Stretched muscle tissue brings in nutrients from food.
More energy and confidence.
Good for practicing breathing (singing—running around on stage—yoga helps too).
Keeps stress much lower/makes you a nicer person/keeps your mind from getting clogged.
Creates muscle memory, i.e., health for life. (Steven Tyler once said, I mowed so many lawns growing up, if I just get down and do 10 push-ups, I’m back in shape. :-))
Cleans lymph nodes—cancer killer.
The discipline extends throughout the day, helping you attack goals instead of making excuses.
Kills the afternoon slump. (I hate the afternoon—least creative time for me—but working out makes it much better.)
Keeps you from getting sick. (I used to get sick on some of the tours until I started working out on an iron-clad schedule.)
You have WON THE DAY. No matter what else happens that day, you have already conquered one thing.
Lastly, feeling focused and clear makes you more CONFIDENT, which in writing, creating, or starting anything is CRUCIAL. If you feel like an idea is gonna fail, you are dead before you start. To push through some suffering, to be able to practice a discipline consistently moves into EVERY OTHER AREA of life.
If someone could bottle a drug that did one-fourth of the things staying fit did, we would all give up half our paychecks, but that’s the rub. There are no shortcuts. NONE. And the ironic thing is, the pain you have to absorb to get to your goal is actually one of the biggest gifts in the world.
To see this perfectly laid out, check out my new favorite book, David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me, about a Navy Seal who came from a horrible upbringing and 300 pounds at age 30 before breaking unbelievable strength and fitness records, including something like 4,000 pull-ups in 17 hours. A wonderful book about training your mind and pushing through adversity.
MY CURRENT GOAL
At one point years back, when Jesse and Billy and I were playing all-nighters for months in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas and eating Denny’s every night at four a.m., I came home, and I was around 170 pounds. It’s wild how quickly we can gain and lose weight depending on where our mind and discipline are at.
Once I got down to 12 percent body fat at 150 pounds (I’m 5 foot 10), but it took more time than I’m willing to give, and I was no fun to have lunch with. My goal right now is 15 percent body fat at 155 pounds (I’m at 17 percent at 155 right now). It takes a bazillion push-ups and miles of jogging to change these numbers for me. My overall weight is pretty locked in, and I eat really healthy, but less body fat and the same weight means more muscle, which is something you have to burn in to keep throughout your life. This goal keeps me focused. The numbers really don’t matter—it’s about how I feel and keeping my mind calm—but the number keeps me working at it. I’m currently trying to do an hour of something (yoga, weights, or running) 66 days in a row, as I’ve heard that’s where the habit burns in fully. This ties in nicely with not drinking and not eating late, which are other habits I’m working on, though not with 100 percent success. 🙂
Here are some tricks that helped me get and stay in the saddle. If you have more, PLEASE write back or comment on the socials (I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Lay out your clothes the night before. Set your mind on it before you go to bed. Set your clock—it’s non-negotiable as you sleep. (I stole this from Jocko Willink, and it works.)
- Remember the CIRCLE of momentum works both ways—when you exercise, then you automatically want to eat right, then you sleep better that night, and you want get up and do it all over again. When you don’t work out, BOOM—you are eating McDonald’s and hell no, you don’t feel like doing anything but taking a nap all afternoon. Maybe you will have some drinks tonight (which KILLS muscle) ’cause who cares—today sucked anyway and tomorrow is another day (that excuse is a killer). And guess what—then you are up at four a.m. eating Doritos, and you won’t feel good enough in the early a.m. to work out next time either.
- Remember that a one-hour workout is only 4 percent of your day.
- Early morning helps, before the bells and whistles of the day start roaring. Working out and writing are the things I try to keep non-negotiable first thing in the a.m.
- Get a friend to hold you accountable. I hate working out with others because I get weird and want my music loud and want to talk into my phone’s voice memos, etc., but this works.
- I always try to remember, most of the people I am inspired by have fitness as a central part of their days. I remember during the Obama years, I read that the president did 45 minutes every morning and could bench around 200. Forty-five minutes and 200 pounds became my goal simply because I realized that if the president of the United States of America made time to work out, what kind of excuse did I possibly have?
Lastly but probably most important to me, GET YOUR PLAYLIST RIGHT. And get your headphones right. One of the best investments I ever made was the new Beats wireless. They sound great, they are built well (unlike the original series, which were plastic toys), and not having a cable is essential in moving around. If you are short on funds, the $29 stock Apple EarPods actually sound pretty amazing.
My playlists are now so locked in and I have heard them enough times, I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I hear the beginning of Audioslave “Cochise” or the Roots “Can’t Help It,” and my feet starting running no matter how horrible I feel.
TWO WORKOUTS—HOME AND ROAD
I have two workouts. One is built around four compound lifts that should hit every part of the body (thanks, Michael Matthews). I work on deadlift, bench press, squat, and military press, and then a whole bunch of little moves with 30-pound weights to work specific muscles. I have a pull-up bar in the room next to where I record and mix, so when I’m bouncing tracks, I can try to get a few in instead of watching the computer screen and sinking into my chair. Use it or lose it, bubba.
The other workout is the prison workout, i.e., a workout you can do in a Motel 6 boxed room with no gear. This can be done with nothing but a mat or a towel, and it’s just a series of push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, “supermans,” etc. When I force myself to get even a few minutes of these in, even on a day where we start at four a.m., I can feel a massive difference by the time we hit the afternoon hours.
Quick note to those working out at home—you can achieve almost all results with just the floor and a pull-up bar. Jamie Foxx swears by a set of push-ups and pull-ups. The pull-up bars helps your back in ways I don’t think you get on the ground. Almost everything else can be attained by your own body’s weight resistance. This is why yoga folks are usually in incredible shape with no weight sets around.
My weakness is not wanting to add weight or reps as I go. That last bit of pain is where the growth is. I gotta push harder. I hate the meatheads that say “no pain, no gain,” but it’s true in the workout as much as in life. I know at some level I am really just getting in the ring with myself—with my mind and my willpower—and having some control over those things is the key to everything else I want to get done.
JUST DO SOMETHING—ANYTHING
I used to read tons of books about fitness. I would watch YouTube videos, ask advice from people 20 times stronger than me, and all that is well and good, but it’s really easy to study something and not EXECUTE. JUST DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Don’t hide behind the pillar of getting too much information. Motion creates motion. If you aren’t in great health or just starting out, even taking a walk each day is a HUGE benefit, and I believe gets you some of every single thing on that list of positives. Start where you are at.
“Wow, I wish I wouldn’t have done that workout,” said no one ever.
Let’s get after it. I think we all might get along a bit better and be a little nicer if we weren’t trapped inside of our bodies feeling sluggish and eating garbage (ON DIET mania coming soon). When we are down, it’s easy to let social media and negativity addict us further. Let’s break the cycle. I’m going down now to hit the weights in the yard (as you can see, Lil Olive is waiting for me :-).) Thanks for checking in. Wishing you all the best, and thanks for reading!
Kingston Springs, Tennessee
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