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http://articles.elitefts.co m/features/iro n-bro thers/discipline-and-regret/
EFS Classic: Discipline and Regret
elit eft s™ Sunday edit ion
Discipline and Regret
I was f irst introduced to powerlif ting in 1983 by my sixth grade geography teacher, Mr. Spero Tshontikidis. In addition to teaching, Mr. Tshontikidis, was a competitive powerlif ter in the ADFPA. He brought powerlif ting to our school and convinced the principal to allow him to start a powerlif ting team. T he f irst day he mentioned it to the class I thought powerlifting sounded cool, so I decided to give it a try. Af ter all, what 11-year-old boy doesn’t want to grow up to be big and strong? Mr. Tshontikidis taught us how to squat on the f irst day of powerlif ting practice. I had never touched a weight bef ore…let alone squatted. I remember my hips and hamstrings were so tight that I had to put my heels on a 2 x 4 in order to hit proper depth. I did three sets of 10 reps with 95 pounds. On the way home, I noticed my legs getting a little sore, but I thought nothing of it. T he next morning, I woke up and tried to get out of bed. I took one step and f ell f lat on my f ace. My legs were so unbelievably sore that I thought I had seriously injured myself . I never experienced such excruciating muscle soreness. I convinced my mother to let me stay home that day. T he f ollowing day, I crawled back to school. I told Mr. Tshontikidis that I didn’t want to be on the powerlif ting team and that I would never squat again. He tried to change my mind, but I didn’t budge. Later, he would coach me on the junior varsity f ootball team where I blossomed into the team MVP as a f reshman. Meanwhile, he continued to encourage me to lif t weights. Although our school had a powerlif ting team, strength training was never emphasized f or the athletic teams. Occasionally, af ter practice, some of us ventured into the weight room. We were clueless. Typically, without a proper warm-up, we tested our manhood on the bench press, each of us trying to out-perf orm the other. We never considered squatting or deadlif ting. Af ter a f ew sets of bench presses, we usually grabbed some dumbbells and did some curls. We reckoned, “What could possibly be more important than working your chest and biceps?” All we cared about was making our t-shirt muscles look bigger. We were all young and ignorant about proper strength training. We lacked a f ocus. More importantly, we lacked discipline because we weren’t consistent. Contemplating my youth, my shortage of f ocus and self -discipline was a colossal mistake. A lack of strength training at an early age is one of my biggest regrets.
When I graduated high school in 1990, I began training with purpose. I wanted to get bigger and stronger f or college f ootball but didn’t know how to proceed. I asked around and f inally met my uncle’s personal trainer. At the time, Victor Furnells was a competitive bodybuilder. All I knew was that he was big and strong. I trusted him and f ollowed his advice. He soon became my mentor. He always told me that the two greatest pains in lif e are discipline and regret. At the time, I didn’t understand those concepts. Most 17-year-olds lack discipline, especially when it pertains to training. Likewise most high school kids have f ew, if any, regrets in lif e.
He regularly admonished me about the peril of not taking strength training seriously. He said it was unrealistic to expect continued progress if I wasn’t disciplined enough to remain consistent with my training. He reminded me that if I lacked self -discipline, I would regret it later. Ref lecting upon my youth, it all makes sense now. As the f amous 1972 hit song by Johnny Nash goes, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” Webster’s college dictionary has eleven def initions of the word “discipline.” For the sake of this discussion, I pref er to use the meaning of discipline as “the rigor or training ef f ect of experience or adversity.” Regret means to f eel sorrow or remorse f or an act, disappointment, or f ault. Experiencing lif e without ever exercising self -discipline ought to be a crime. Obdurate behavior comes back to haunt you and remind you of where you could have improved. Most people resist challenges and want things to be painless. Exercising self -discipline is an arduous task. Undisciplined people are usually devoid of self respect and respect f or others. If you last a lif etime without regret, consider it a miracle. Discipline hurts. However, exhibiting discipline during worthy pursuits is only temporarily painf ul. T he pain only lasts amid your journey toward the objective. Once you have achieved your goal, the pain is obsolete. While the pain f rom self -discipline is transient, the agony f rom regret is perpetually hurtf ul. Remaining remorsef ul f or a wrongf ul act or sometimes f or the lack of action gashes you like a knif e wound. Once you think you have vanquished your regret and your laceration heals, you look down at the scar only to be reminded of a missed opportunity. Success in athletics, achieving supreme f itness, and staying healthy all require self -discipline. Remaining disciplined necessitates steadf ast persistence. In the arena of achievement, you either stand unwavering in your quest or f alter and succumb to the pain of self -control. Discipline connotes repetitive behavior. Moreover, it routinely obligates one to either deprive the self and/or go the extra mile. Being on time f or work every morning, preparing your meals in advance, double checking your homework assignments, staying af ter practice to work on your skills, keeping meticulous f inancial records, spending adequate quality time with loved ones, sticking to your diet, not missing workouts, going to bed at a reasonable hour, reading your bible every day, and keeping your word are all prime examples of exceptional discipline.
$19.95 EFS Foam Roller 36×6 Work out the kinks with our tough roller. A-EFSFOAMROLLER-366 Add To Cart View Details To me, discipline is doing what you’re supposed to do even when you aren’t up to the task. Although I’m not a f an of competitive bodybuilding, I appreciate and respect the discipline that is required when dieting f or competition. In organized team sports, anyone can stay af ter practice when the coach releases you early and you have spare time. T he real indication of discipline is staying late af ter practice when you’ve just played your best game. Anyone can succeed during the good times when the obstacles are f ew. T he true measure of a man’s character is when things go badly, the odds are against you, and your back is against the wall. T his is when you f ind out what you’re really made of . It has been said that lif e is a journey, not a destination. Fixate on and appreciate the process rather than the outcome. I played f ootball at many levels, f rom boys’ club as a youngster, through high school, my f reshman year in college, and one year of semi-prof essional. Of the time I spent playing and practicing, traveling to games, and watching game f ilm on our next opponent, it was the camaraderie I shared with my teammates on the practice f ield and in the locker room that I enjoyed the most. Even today as I compete in powerlif ting, as much as I relish the competitions, I pref er training hard in the gym. T he countless hours centered on the singular goal of becoming as strong as possible make it all worthwhile.
My f avorite inspirational quote is by T heodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
T his quote coached me to live lif e with f ervor and to harbor f ew regrets. I don’t want to be the one always saying, “I wish I had done this or I should have done that.” Accordingly, I try my best to work relentlessly regardless of my goal. T hen, at the end of the day, I can sleep well knowing that I did all I could. T he best time to tell someone you love them is right now. Do not waste another moment. Procrastination is the badge of f ools. Cherish your f amily and f riends because one day they’ll be gone. Speak with sincerity. Chicanery leads to nothing but discordance. T hose that matter can tell the dif f erence. T he time to start eating better and cleaning up your diet is today. If you want to f eel and look better, why wait until tomorrow? Do it now. Stop missing workouts. Your training partners depend on you as much as you depend on them. Consistency is paramount to accomplishment. Travel more. See the world. God created the most awesome planet f or us to explore and enjoy. Do not wait until you’re too old to travel. Compete! Always measure yourself f irst and then evaluate yourself against others. T he only degree of improvement that matters is the one you make. Be disciplined. Once the goal is attained, the pain of sticking to the plan subsides. Pain disappears, satisf action arrives, and contentment washes away the possibility of regret. Aim even higher the next time. Our minds limit us more than our bodies. Believe in yourself . Roosevelt added,
“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”
For the past 13 years, powerlif ting and the pursuit of strength were at the f oref ront of my physical endeavors. I had my share of injuries and possess a high tolerance f or pain. However, it is nice to dif f erentiate between good pain and bad pain. Instilling self -discipline begets good pain that ultimately transf orms to f ruitf ulness if you endure. Missed opportunities engender regret. Regret evokes bad pain. Last year, I trained tirelessly f or the USAPL American Open Powerlif ting Championships in Scranton, Pennsylvania. My training went well, but I was def initely not at my strongest. On Sunday, December 2, 2007, while warming-up in the squat, I tore the vastus lateralis muscle in my right leg. T he pain was immense, and my leg still hurts to this day. Nevertheless, I am content tolerating the physical pain because I can’t imagine the mental anguish I would f eel had I chose not to compete.
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