In the 8th installment of “Indomitable Fitness, Athletics and Heroics” with guest contributor Bill Walker, he gives his views on hard work and what his cousin Calvin can teach you about your fitness journey.
“Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”
– “Lex Luthor” played by Gene Hackman in Superman circa 1978.
That above quote is an essential skill and one of my favorite things to do. To see something and apply it’s logic and lessons elsewhere. One of the hallmarks of wisdom and understanding is to be able to take knowledge from place to place and apply it somewhere else.
The past Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to travel to my mother’s ancestral home of West Virginia for my family reunion. Deep, but high in the mountainous regions of Beckley and Oak Hill. It was hosted by my legendary O.G. cousin Calvin and his wife Tracy who hosted the reunion in the house that they buult…yes built…as in constructed by hand. My cousin Calvin not only built the house but he built a large carport and a huge gazebo at the bottom with several other mini gazebos and things of that nature around. Astounded to say the least, I began to think how his accomplishments and way of thinking can be applied to your personal fitness quest and maybe any other goal in life. Will this be the only time we talk about those philosophical and inspirational esque principles? No. of course not…most of everything is repetition but let’s begin.
“These are a free folk indeed.”
Jon Snow – Game of Thrones
My cousin was under no time constraint to build this estate. He merely said he would do it and later did it. Time was irrelevant to him in this. Is there a place for deadlines and goal setting in this world? Very much but for him such constraints would demand a pressure which can often take the passion out of it or frustrate you to the point of not doing it at all. It took him ten to seventeen years for the foundation and about three years to build it.
In your fitness quest, we often say ” I want to lose such n such lbs by whatever or move such n such weight by whatever.” While that is good, and you should work hard to meet that promise, know that you may only hit a certain percentage of that goal. What do you do? Well you celebrate, you achieved more than you had not doing it. I had a goal to be 215 by May of 2011. By that time I was around 238. Was I mad…no. Victories are victories. I asked him what the most challenging was about the project and he said…”None.” No start time, no stop time. No added pressure. What mattered was that his wife was understanding and supporting of his quest.
Preparedness and Grit.
Excuse my ignorance of the home construction process for all you home building aficionados but foundation and all that. A lot of trees had to be uprooted. He tells it’s as if the ground uprooted himself in support of his move. Trees literally came down. He still put the work in but I joked with him though serious, that GOD himself was there helping his move.
I sometimes think when you set out to do something as in really set out to do something, things will either get out of your way and open up for you and or stand in the way to test your resolve. Before I even started working out I changed my diet up. I literally would climb the steps (climb as in climb) just to hop to the computer and sit and watch fitness and nutrition videos. This was literally months to a year before I was actually cleared to workout. It was literally as if the gym I trained in, and the people I met were orchestrated for us to know each other and help each other with our goals
You may see cool stuff people do on social media, magazines and all that in fitness but all that came from the work that was done beforehand…whether it was building relationships early on, hours and hours and hours of training for years before you saw their continued evolving of a finished product. The same thing will go for you. People often ask me how long it’ll take before I “look like… (whatever goal) ?” There’s no real answer to that…only changes that come about through years and years of work. The only thing you really need to ask yourself is are you willing to put in the energy. How dedicated are you. When I hear that it took a decade plus or so for the foundation, I just hear that he made it a part of him. To me, and I don’t know anything about carpentry or construction but you are essentially a builder. It is a way of life for you. You are already mentally prepared for this task because it’s in you. It’s your psyche. It’s what you do. Long term success in personal fitness demands that you make it a part of who you are. It’s not a weekend thing, an outfit that you wear sometimes. It’s in you like an organ or your coded DNA. What happens in the short term will not overall dictate the long time because this is your life journey.
Talking to him about his youth, the home, and our family members, I’m reminded of the grit spirit that existed from folks from West Virginia. These folks are capable of hunting, building, growing food and probably everything you can think of. While you may imagine a bunch of dudes hunting and building, the women…yes the women did it too. Everyone did everything. Calvin’s mom was good at carpentry and knew how to hunt. A lot of these folks can hunt,throw knives, build, work on cars and possess archery and firearm schools. To me that requires a type of grit and confidence. Just knowing I come from people capable of all that lets me that I can do anything if I just practice and take the time to learn it. Most of all you can do the same thing in health and fitness. Grit is probably one of the most important skills to have. Some of you who are great at carpentry may go on to build your gym at home. A lot of folks do build their fitness careers and journeys at home. If you’re reading this right now know that YOU, yes YOU have to what it takes to succeed at fitness and just about any endeavor.
“You aint gonna do it!”
You’ve probably heard this before. Calvin told me that even he had people who said, “you aint never gonna finish that house.” He didn’t care. He just kept on and kept on and kept on. Maybe you don’t have the support of family and friends and your fitness endeavor. Maybe you’ve never been known to stick with something or you’re just around negative people. That’s all good. Guess what? Continue. Don’t feed into any of it. Just continue to build your sanctum (your body). One day the same people will see your finished product. However at the same time, this isn’t for them. This is your own personal goal and legacy you’re crafting. Your time and their perceived time are two totally different things.
Teamwork, and Specialized knowledge.
I’m not a carpenter, and I can’t fathom how to build a house, but if I had a question I’d call my cousin. You may not have any specialized fitness knowledge but you can use that good ole googling machine. You can read articles and talk to friends “WHO’VE DONE IT” and seek out expert advice. Hey…like me!
Calvin also has the support of a loving wife who helped and even other relatives helping on from time to time. He even his then four year nephew would be excited to help. If you have family and friends on the outside cheering you on that will be a boost too. If not, then hey you’ll find some along the way. Again like him, while others think you will or will not “build your home” is irrelevant. You are going to do this anyway.
Beyond the house there was this steep hill where the gazebo was where we had one of our reunion dinners. It was an awesome scenery. However when it was over you had to get back up the hill. It was incredibly steep (but doable). Everyone had to climb this hill to get back to the top. Even if you drove a car back up, I’m told the car felt like you were almost vertically traveling up the mountain!
We all will have a mountain to climb regarding fitness. For some it will be the discipline of going to the gym regularly, for some it’ll be eating right. For some it might be setting up those appointments with a trainer for that expert push. For me it was often dealing with sometimes incredible pain and lack of movement. Maybe you’re incredibly lazy (the worst and and most dangerous of all hills). Some folks will have to find a way to manage their time with work, kids or whatever is going on. No matter what…you will still…have…to…climb…the…hill someway…somehow. I suggest accepting this as a part of your life and finding a way to do it.
I loved the hill. It felt awesome to walk up something that steep. I thought about later carrying odd object up the hill for resistance. Maybe later lol. All I could think of was feeling like Kratos from Sony’s God of War climbing up the mountain to reach his destination. Enjoy your climb. Enjoy your pursuit of knowledge within fitness. Enjoy the whole process of losing weight, getting stronger, faster, more agile and just better period. You’ll look for more hills to climb and then when it gets dark like it did on our family gala, you’ll climb the hill but help others reach the top.
To quote Game of Thrones…
“The Climb is all there is.”