Comfort = Stagnant? You Bet! Grow From Failure

Ladies and gents, after a spring hiatus, the MFG is back! In the past few months, there’s been much needed reflection, lots of failure, and new direction. I’m going to fill you in on all the details. Read on!

It’s half way into the year and what have you all been up to? Be sure to email me or hit me up on the comments as I enjoy hearing from you.

As for me, this year has been a rollercoaster of emotions, a period of reflection, failures, growth and now a new beginning.  Let’s get into it.

Health, Fitness and Exercise:

I’ve still been keeping up with my gym time as regularly as possible. I’m traveling for work a lot more but taking advantage of the hotel gym or bringing along my MightyBands.  Unfortunately, I’ve hit some minor bumps with some odd injuries from my martial arts training 1) this crazy tension I get along the right side of my neck and 2) shoulder tension I experienced from attempting dumbbell flies after an intense training session the day before.  (I’m hoping to get this looked at…)

What has this meant for me? I’m listening to my body.  My workouts are focused on hypertrophy (4 sets of 8-12 reps) but I’m sticking to manageable weights and bodyweight exercises while focusing on proper form and mind/muscle connection.  I’m also avoiding any exercises that trigger tension in my neck and shoulders. To minimize this, I’m also warming up before each session with 10 minute jogs on the treadmill.

Personal Reflection:

I’ve been reflecting a lot over this past year – looking back at what I’ve done, what drives me, what I need to do today and where I want to go.  Passion is key but mine seems to have dropped over the last year and this was very concerning to me.  What I have learned, however, is that passion cannot be forced. It comes and goes, like night turning into day, and winter turning into spring – passion is seasonal.

I like to think of myself as a passionate and driven person, but over the last year, it has not felt the same. I’ve tried to push through it by faking it.  I did not find this to help.
Instead, I’ve let the downturn in passion and drive just take me over and embrace it all. That lasted about a good month where I did nothing. I didn’t socialize, I didn’t take risks, I didn’t laugh much and all I did was distract myself with lots of insignificant things.  (On the flip side, I saved some money!).

Eventually, this lull ran its course and I started to get back onto my feet, started doing the things that I always do but with a little more jump in my step.

But something was off.

I was me on the surface, but I wasn’t me on the inside…

Growth via Failure:

There came a point where I realized I needed the equivalent of a polar bear swim, a cold shower, a crazy bitch slap.  What drove this? My realization that I wanted to take my current life-game and blast it into the next level.  Most people are content with 6 out of 10. I want 9.5 out of 10.  
My goal was to pick something I felt I needed to improve on and face it head on. That means I would fail, get rejected, lose, hurt, face embarrassment, etc.  This was the cold shower I’ve been looking for.

Where do I start?

1) The basics – that means commitment, determine a game plan and setting goals.
But there’s one crucial element to all of this.

2) The fact that I’ll fail and fail lots trying.

This was absolutely crucial to me because over the last 10 years, for the most part, I’ve experienced steady growth and success. The problem with this, however, is you get comfortable and the feelings associated with failure becomes foreign and what becomes foreign, becomes scary.
Being comfortable means being stagnant. That’s no fun at all. That’s not me.

3) I needed the right people around me to make this happen.

You need people that will encourage you, bring you up, and not bask in your failure. These people are there to push and encourage you, get you out of your comfort zone and support you. You should be able to laugh, joke and naturally connect with these people in your circle.  They should also appreciate the issue(s) you are trying to improve on and help you with that.

The End Result?

While I still have lots to work on, let me tell you, it’s been a great ride so far and grow I did!  I’m operating at a level I never thought was achievable and, better yet, it’s positively affecting all the other parts of my life.   

The first couple weeks were rough and fail I did – plenty of times and it sucked. I still experience failure but now it doesn’t sting – now it’s all just part of the show, of the fun. Like the burning sensation you get when lifting, like the high you get from getting hit while sparring – it’s all in the growing process.

Future Direction

Although I’ve been working on this one specific aspect of my life and growing from it, it has re-invigorated my passion, drive and hunger!

Case in point - I’m now working on a new web project geared to students breaking into the working world. I’m hoping to have my YouTube channel set up, videos posted and complementary website ready to go for the fall. Videos are another medium I’m not particularly comfortable with but that’s not going to stop me ;)

Bottom Line: Passion and drive comes and goes – this is natural. Embrace it either way. Comfortable = stagnant. Break out of your comfort zone and inject a catalyst into your life that will shake it all up. Have the right people around you. Fail lots and grow from it. Conquer the next item.  

My Body Composition Scan Done! Results May Surprise You..

The MFG got his body composition read – BMI, bone density, lean body mass and body fat %. What does all of this mean? Are the results of any value? Read on my friends! 

When we think of weight loss, we think of shedding pounds of fat. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. Depending on how you lose weight, eat and exercise, you could be shedding muscle, water weight and fat. The scale, however, can’t differentiate between weight loss of muscle or weight loss of water or weight loss of fat.

It’s actually for this exact reason that I typically don’t weigh myself and instead, look to taking before and after pictures. Unfortunately, even that’s not great and it’s hard for me to to tell if I’m losing too much muscle along with fat during my fat loss workouts or if I’m gaining too much fat during my muscle gaining workouts.

On top of this, who has regular access to fancy calipers and scales that can measure your body fat %, bone density, etc.? I don’t!

Until recently that is :)

To my surprise, I had the opportunity to get my body scanned for muscle, fat and bone composition via a DXA (DEXA) scanner. This was done in January 2014, after all that Christmas and New Years celebratory eating and drinking. I will admit I was/am not in the best shape as I could be, but that’s normal for me during that time. And today, my fellow readers, I get to share my results with you and what they actually mean.

How Does The DEXA Scanner Work: 

You lie on a scanning bed as the scanner scans you for about 5 minutes, shooting low level x-rays into you and it measures how much of the rays your body absorbs. It then calculates a value for your bone density, body fat % and lean body mass (muscle).

What’s also interesting is that it compares your value to an average value of someone in your age, gender and race category. This will give you an idea if you’re average, above average, below average for bone density, body fat and lean body mass.

It also prints out an image of your body and color codes the body composition: blue = bone, red = muscle and yellow = fat.


Bone Density: 

I have healthy dense bone. Not particularly surprising as I’m male, eat dairy regularly and resistance train. Bone density value is typically used to diagnose people with osteoporosis.

Body Mass Index (BMI): 23

According to my BMI, I’m within average range but very close to being classified as overweight.

BMI is not a great measure beyond how much “stuff” is in your body. That stuff, however, could be muscle too and big guys with very high muscle content (eg. power lifters, body builders, hockey players) could also get a high BMI reading, falsely classifying them as overweight or even obese.

Body Fat %: 16

This tells me how much fat I’m actually storing.

So of my 165 lbs, 26.4 lbs of that is fat.

Body Image:

The color coded figure actually shows me where that fat is stored and where I’m building muscle. According to these results, I have a thin layer of fat all around, but majority of it is around my torso and thighs.

In terms of muscle, I have significant muscle on my upper body, chest and legs. My arms could use some work (no surprises there!)

The Problem with Dexa Scan Results: 

I find it very interesting how the results compare you to the average. I’m still undecided if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I remember seeing some fairly overweight people looking at their results that are ‘just below’ or ‘just above’ average and think that they’re, for the most part, healthy. Some of them are even proud of this!

The problem with this thinking, in my opinion, is that the average is just that - an average. It’s like patting yourself on the back for getting a C when everyone else in the class got a D. Is that really the bar we want to set for ourselves? I don’t think so.

The average values of which we are compared to are based on what the typical person would be for my age, gender and race. That’s right; I’m compared to the average 34 year old, Chinese man, living in North America.

In my mind, this ‘average person’ won’t be particular active, won’t eat particularly well, and is probably too occupied by family, work, etc to incorporate health and fitness into his daily life. That person is also likely to not live in a health conscious city like Vancouver. From this perspective, this average person isn’t the average I’d like to be compared to and I would likely consider him to be unfit.

To compare me to that person isn’t particularly raising the bar of fitness and health. If my body composition was similar to his, I’d be a bit concerned. If my values are worse than his, I’d be very concerned.

Instead, I’d rather look at the actual values I got. I know that I have a BMI of 23, a body fat % of and a lean body mass of and it’s just a matter of improving those numbers to my liking.

Bottom Line: All in all, I’m happy with my results. But more importantly, it’s a great starting point and gives me an idea of where to go next. Now it’s just about how to get there.. Stay tuned for that!
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