As many of you may or may not know, Facebook (add me!) is taking over the world. While it’s easy to get lost in the sea of apps, games and other ridiculous stuff on the site, I’m incredibly happy that I’ve decided to be more active on there as of late.
It’s mainly because I’ve gotten the chance to develop some pretty cool relationships with my readers and other fitness enthusiasts – more so than I have been through just my writing and email.
I’ve been incredibly busy the last few weeks with work, finishing up my academic semester at MTSU (I’m actually typing this from the library right now), planning for the summer travels and other fun stuff I have planned for the site.
So today’s guest article is by a young guy I’ve been getting to know as a result of being more active on Facebook and I couldn’t be happier to publish this post on his behalf. I see a lot of myself in Jordan – mainly his drive and open-mindedness at such a young age, as well as his minor obsession with psychology and personal development.
So, without further rambling, here are some words of wisdom from the up and coming Jordan Syatt who now writes a ton of awesome articles at SyattFitness.com.
To be honest, I have somewhat of a love affair with training, nutrition, and personal development. It’s always been easy for me to write about science and fact, but I’ve never taken the time to reflect on my past in context of where it has gotten me today. This is my story:
Being the only athletic person in my entire family, including extended relatives, coupled with the majority of them being significantly overweight set me apart from the get-go. Despite being a relatively skinny kid, I was always self conscious of my body and hid it whenever possible.
Needless to say, pool parties were never a fun time. Regardless of being uncomfortable with my body, I was extremely lucky to be naturally athletic. I played every sport you can name and did fairly well with most of them. Being active and athletic was extremely fun for me – I found my niche.
As I got older I began to focus on soccer and wrestling. However, I eventually ended up quitting soccer to wrestle year-round. Upon entering High School I competed with a junior for the starting spot on varsity and beat him; I was 14 at the time. It was during this season that my love affair with training and nutrition began to evolve.
Weighing in at a measly 112lbs, I learned I’d be competing in the 103lb weight class. Being 14 years old with no concept of proper nutrition or exercise, I accidentally resorted to anorexia.
Between the intense, albeit for the most part pointless, training sessions combined with my extreme calorie deficit, I was losing weight rather quickly. Within two weeks I was 105lbs. Without going into anymore detail, the rest of my season spiraled in a similar fashion landing me at merely 98lbs.
Upon seasons end, oddly, I loved the way I looked. Regardless of my complete lack of discernable strength or muscle, my abs were clearly visible; this was more reason for me to continue my routine of overtraining and under eating.
As I no longer had practice 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, I found it extremely difficult to train as intensely as I had during the season. My solution was to run. A lot.
Almost overnight, running became my obsession. In March I started running about 5 miles every day. By mid July, I was running 10-15 miles 5 days a week. While I was eating more than I had during wrestling season, my diet mainly consisted of fruits and veggies with the occasional chicken breast or tuna sandwich.
Staying skinny and having visible abs was my soul priority. Over school, family, friends, and even athletic performance, my looks were now the most important aspect of my life.
My mentality of “looks come first” remained with me over the next couple of years. I experimented with every type of training you can think of from bodybuilding training to circuit training, kettlebell training, “functional” training and everything in between.
Regardless of the method I was using at any one time, the common theme was to go as hard as possible and for as long as possible. This was, after all, how to achieve a great physique – or so I told myself.
My entire life was centered on my appearance. The way I ate, the way I trained, the things I read… I was consumed with the idea having the ideal body.
The crazy thing is, the more intensely I focused on my appearance the more I became dissatisfied with it. I was extraordinarily critical and was never fully comfortable with how I looked. The more I trained for looks, the more insecure I became.
It wasn’t until I got my first training job at a gym which specialized in kettlebell training that I first began my transformation from an ignorant and vain “fitness and nutrition know-it-all,” to a goal-oriented and lifetime student.
It was because of this job that I began to read some truly great material. I remember opening Pavel Tsatsouline’s The Naked Warrior for the first time and reading it cover to cover. From that moment on I was unstoppable; I read Pavel, Mark Rippetoe, Eric Cressey, Zatsiorsky, Louie Simmons, Dave Tate and countless others.
I was no longer reading T-Nation (read the Don’t Be Mislead portion), or other websites of the sort. I was reading books, articles, blogs, forums, and threads by all of the top strength coaches in the world. I also started reading a lot more about nutrition, specifically focusing on Intermittent Fasting; Martin Berkhan, Brad Pilon, and Ori Hofmekler were the authors of my favorite books and articles on the topic. I was a likened to a crack fiend. The obsession of my youth had transformed into a passion. I began to love and appreciate training and nutrition.
From that point forward I ceased all working out. I actually haven’t worked out in a very long time; for years in fact. Now I train.
Not only do I train, but I train with a purpose. I set goals for myself and I stop at nothing until I achieve them. My goal is no longer to look good. This is not a goal. A goal must be specific. A goal must have a time frame and there must be a plan of action to achieve it. A life without goals is an excuse to merely exist.
I don’t want to exist. I want to thrive.
I don’t want to be strong. I want to be the strongest. I don’t want to be good. I want to be great. Now I train. Funny thing is, since I stopped working out to look good and started training to be great, I have developed a physique in which I am very proud of.
Am I satisfied? No. I’ll never be satisfied. That is just the nature of my being. I always want more and will push for more. I am never strong enough. I am never knowledgeable enough. There is always more to learn and to gain – always.
My current training goal is to be the top ranked powerlifter in the USA Powerlifting Federation (USAPL) at 132lbs. I placed 2nd in the USAPL Championships this past January in PA and am competing for the national title this coming August.
My other major goal as of late is to finish the book I have been writing by the end of Summer 2011. Some of my previous training/nutritional goals have been to maintain a body fat below 6% as well as to do 5 or more weighted chin-ups with the equivalent of ½ of my body weight added.
Knowing that I have taken the time to think of, and then actually achieve these specific goals is monumentally important to me. Most people rarely experience victories such as these, never mind on a regular basis.
Along with a lack of passion, I feel that people generally fail to reach their “goals” because in reality, they don’t have any. Sure they want certain things; a “better” body or to be “healthier,” but what do these things really mean?
When I work with clients I encourage them to write their goals down and to be as specific as possible. I’ve found that when a person takes the time to invest in themselves and their personal development, not only do they reach their goal but they finally recognize how capable they really are. Most people never live up to their true potential.
What I love to do is push people beyond their comfort zone to accomplish things they never dreamed possible. No matter how big or small, over time these victories evolve into a passion for life and success.
And when a person develops passion… real passion, which can only be described by those who’ve felt it actually rear up inside them, then that person can enjoy life in ways that others couldn’t even begin to fathom. These are the simple pleasures in life.
I am proud to say that I am an extremely happy young man. My approach to training and nutrition is to find whatever makes you happy. If Powerlifting makes you happy then go for it.
If marathon running makes life more enjoyable then do that. I do not advocate only eating “clean” nor do I force any one specific diet on anyone. Every person has different needs and ambitions.
Find what works for you and run with it. If somewhere down the line something’s not working, then reevaluate and fix it. There is never a good reason to live in sadness, depression or mediocrity.
Be sure to live every moment with as much passion and love as you can because life is far too short for anything less.
Jordan Syatt is currently studying Exercise Science and Nutrition at the University of Delaware. His passion is to help others reach their fitness and nutritional goals while also leading an exciting and fulfilling life.