True Story: How The Face Bite Was Invented

It was the early 1990s in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. A lazy suburb in North East Ohio made up of Cape Cod and Colonial homes. If you drove through this town, you would never know the darkness that lurked below the surface. The yards were well maintained, and people smiled at their neighbors. But, below the surface was violence. Seriously, three times a week after school, there were fights in The Falls. In fact, it was worse than the inner city Akron schools I went to before and after going to The Falls.
My group of friends were no exception. Every day, after school, these older kids would mess with John Heaton, Chuck Jones, and me.  When we were Freshmen and Sophomores, these kids would drive by us, scream out the windows, and threaten to beat us up. Sometimes they would stop and get out, other days, they would just scream. But, the tension was broiling, and we knew eventually we would get into a fight these kids. Not that we wanted to, but we knew it was coming to us. We had to walk home, and there was no real way to get away from them.
It was a serious situation, and we had to come up with a solution. John and I strategized about what could be done. One of the kids really seemed inclined to fight John. I’m not sure if it was because John was the biggest one out of us, or he was just a bigger smart ass. We contemplated sneaking weapons to school, but that felt like a bad idea. We contemplated using skateboards to beat them down, but it doesn’t seem to ever work as well as people think. Finally, we came up with the face bite. We were both pretty ruthless at headlocks, but they never quite seemed to shame the other guy bad enough to truly make them leave you alone. The headlock would tire the enemy out and hurt their necks a little. It usually hurt them enough end the fight, but it never left a mark like a black eye. The headlock never seemed to break their will for long, and they always seemed to want to fight again.
And so the face bite was born.
One day on the way home, those kids drove by John, Chuck and me. They screamed out the window like normal. We screamed back. They stopped, got out, and threatened to fight us. John accepted and a fight ensued.
A short period of time later, John got him in a headlock. John had him there for a while, but didn’t seem to be employing the face bite. I wasn’t sure why he was being apprehensive, so I screamed “BITE HIS FACE!” John snapped out of his stupor and bit the living fuck out of the kid’s cheek. I’m not kidding it was like three minutes and the kid was freaking the fuck out. He could NOT get away. A headlock plus a seriously locked in cheek bite is basically impossible to get out of. The kid tried everything, but John just closed his eyes and bit harder.
I’ve never seen anything like it before or since.
Eventually, the kid was done. I mean, he was just done. His friend threatened to jump in, and I threatened to hit his friend in the head with my skateboard if he got involved since I knew it would involve entering a wrestling match on the ground. Eventually, a good bit after the kid’s spirit was broken, John let him go.
The next day at school the kid walked in with this giant, bloody, scab-like, ring on his face in the middle of purple bruises that looked like Halloween makeup. Everybody was like, “what in the holy fuck happened to your face?” You can imagine that that rumor spread all over school like wildfire. When kids would threaten to fight John or I, we would just threaten to bite their face. They’d talk shit, like “you try that shit on me, and I’ll fuck you up” but they would usually just back down. The threat of the face bite became legendary.
Also, John and I never discussed how long to hold the face bite. On that day, I learned that John was a fucking psychopath. Who bites a face for three minutes? I mean seriously. I assumed he would bite his face for like 5 seconds, freak the kid out and let go. Nope!!! 180 seconds later, he was still locked on like a Pitt Bull. I will admit though, the psychotically long hold is probably what made it so effective. Should you ever be in a bad situation, remember these rules of the face bite. Just hang on like a psycho.
To this day, as a man with a family, I always know that I can employ the combination of a headlock and a face bite on a would be perpetrator of violence. It warms my heart.
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My Covid-19 Training Routine

Over the past 3-4 years, the core of my training has centered around barbells, typically with some sort of undulating or linear progressions like a 5×5 or Wendler 5/3/1. Given that the gym is out of the question, while we are on quarantine, combined with the fact that we are preparing for a new baby, I just can’t build a home gym with barbells right now. I have fallen back to a training program that focuses on Calisthenics and pulls from the GoRuck training I did in 2019.

  1. Workout A: Focus on upper body. Typically done on Monday. Most of 1-5 can be done outside on warm days.
    1. 24 minute run to warm up
    2. 3×10 push-ups
    3. 3×8 push-ups with 40 lbs backpack
    4. 3×20 flutter kicks holding 40 lbs pack
    5. 3×20 sit-ups
    6. 3×5 Australian pull-ups with Perfect Pull-up bar unlatched
    7. 3×5 regular pull-ups
  2. Workout B: Focus on lower body. Typically done on Wednesday:
    1. .45 miles with 40 lbs pack
    2. .45 miles with 40lbs pack and 10 lbs kettlebell in one hand (alternating)
    3. .45 miles with 40 lbs pack and 50 lbs Jerry Can full of water
    4. .45 miles with 40 lbs pack and 60 lbs sandbag
    5. TBD .45 miles with 40 lbs pack and 120 lbs sandbag
    6. 3×10 kettlebell swings with 25 lbs
    7. 3×10 kettlebell swings with 35 lbs
    8. 3×20 one handed kettlebell swings with 35lbs (10 per arm)
  3. Workout C: Focus on upper body. Typically done on Monday. Most of 1-5 can be done outside on warm days.
    1. 24 minute run
    2. 3×10 push-ups
    3. 3×8 push-ups with 40 lbs backpack on
    4. 3×20 flutter kicks holding 40 lbs pack
    5. 3×20 sit-ups
    6. 3×12 reverse rows with 25 lbs kettlebell
    7. 3×12 reverse rows with 35 lbs kettlebell

Some Shortcomings

  • I’m coming back from being sick for about 3 weeks of March 2020, probably had Covid-19 (will find out when antibody testing becomes available)
    • I want to work up to sets of 5 to increase volume
    • I want to increase weight linearly, will use pack weight
  • I want to add some jump rope back in
  • I am limited to 35 lbs kettlebells because that’s all I have. I really wish I had 45 lbs, 55 lbs, and 65 lbs kettlebells
  • I want to build back up to carrying the 120 lbs sandbag on leg day
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Injury is an Opportunity for Growth, Not Just Recovery

Injury is an Opportunity for Growth, Not Just Recovery

A few weeks ago, I injured my back boxing – badly. My left hand is numb and feels like I hit my funny bone – all the time, all day and night. It kinda sucks. I can’t squat, deadlift, run or ride a bike. These are things I really miss, but it’s going to be a few months, at best. That said, I have learned some very interesting things from this injury.

  1. I had to completely change my mindset – quickly. The week I injured my back, I still squated 310lbs three times. Then, three days later, I failed getting my deadlift to 350lbs – only made it to 275lbs. Lighting pain was shooting up my back in two places, but I was in a growth mindset. I was in a heavy week of training where my mind thought I was going to break person records. But, I figured out quickly that if I kept this mindset, I would become even more injured. I couldn’t walk right for two days. I had to take a step back and create new goals. That was very difficult mentally – depressing even.
  2. I had to learn to experiment again. I have mentioned this before, but when you simply can’t do something, you have to change your mindset. I almost killed myself squating 310lbs (three times I might add) with my back this way. To continue is madness and will genuinely cause me more injury, so I had to go back in the gym and experiment with things I didn’t ever want to do, like leg presses.
  3. I had to rethink strength training. I am a fairly strong advocate of the Mark Rippetoe method of Squatting. It moves the most weight with the most muscle mass over the biggest range of motion. Thus, it is the most efficient time splent in the gym. That said, I can’t do it. But, I can leg press 410lbs, ten times, do back extensions as a separate exercise, and do pull-ups without bothering my back. This gets me close, but moreover it gets me thinking differently. This leg press is WAY more weight than I can squat. It is stimulating more quad growth, which is useful in Jiu Jitsu with my guard. Coincidentally, we are focused on guard for the next 6 months. Growth, not just recovery.
  4. When I hear guys at the gym talk about injuries, my ears perked up. I am a lot more empathetic. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sympathetic, but injuries just didn’t interest me that much. For that, I feel like a bit of an asshole. I also feel a bit wiser now. Probably, I will be a better day for this 🙂

I am not going to stop training because of this injury. In fact, everything I have read says you need the strength training to recover faster and better. I am still doing:

  • Strength training 2/week
  • Jiu Jitsu 2/week
  • Yoga 3/week

Power lifting may be out for a while and I may never do boxing again (we shall see), but I am using this as an opportunity to strengthen my back (pull-ups, back extensions), up my Jiu Jitsu game (leg presses), and learn 🙂

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The Many Versions of You – Comparing Yourself to Others in a Healthier Way

The Many Versions of You – Comparing Yourself to Others in a Healthier Way

“Should you compare yourself to others when attempting self improvement?”

That’s what we debated this morning at the local coffee shop. It started because a young guy said, “I try not to compare myself to other people” – his intention was to imply that you are somehow a better person if you don’t. It was some sort of pop-culture, Buddhist-like reaction. It’s common wisdom right?

When, I heard him say this, I thought silently to myself, that’s interesting, because I don’t even know how to make that delineation anymore. I think comparison is fundamental to self improvement. Whether it’s working out, learning a new subject or just attempting to become a better person (Buddhism anyone?). Here’s why…

A long time ago, I realized that the old me and the current me are not the same person. This sounds completely obvious at first, but a bit crazy when put it into action. It all started when I was documenting things for work early in my career. I would write something down, and then months or years later, I would read it again because the task needed done again. As soon as I’d look at it, I’d say to myself, “Who the heck wrote this? It doesn’t give any of the detail necessary to complete this task, much less modify the task for a new situation with any sort of confidence.” My first reaction was to be annoyed by the utter lack of foresight that “old me” had when he wrote it. I remember thinking, that guy was selfish, lazy, and didn’t write it all down. But, that guy was me, so I only had me to blame.

Then I realized, okay, I have to actually come up with a technique to help the future me who won’t be able to remember all of the things that I remember right now. I need to write to the future me and fill in the gaps so that when he reads it, he says “oh, this is pretty easy to do. I see all the backstory. I see why, I see how. I see how this other piece works that interacts with it.” I wanted future me to say to himself, “old me, you were pretty damn good!” 🙂

This thinking technique gives future you the warm and fuzzy feeling. Future you is very similar to a completely different person because you’re not going to be current you in two years when you read that documentation. This also serves as a good foundation for writing to others – though, I have found it’s always easier to write to future me because I have learned how my own brain forgets things. I have gotten to know future me pretty well, really well.

So, this led to the epiphany this morning while debating, that you’re really only ever you for a moment. The duration of “current you” is seconds at best. Ever forget what you were in the middle of doing? The old you is not the same as the current you. The current you is not the same as the future you. The only real you is the current you, so living in the present, as Buddhists say, is really the only thing that’s real – and also, quite logical.

So when you think about self improvement, you need a frame of reference – current you – you’re really comparing “current you” to a potential “future you.” The goal of self improvement is to ensure “future you” becomes something better. Basically, “current you” and “future you” are two different people. For any self improvement to happen, you’re really always comparing yourself to somebody else.

So, I don’t know how to separate future me, and past me from other people – logically, it’s similar.

Fine, then it’s OK to compare yourself to other people, but we all know there’s a healthy way and an unhealthy way. Well, first off, don’t take it to the extreme – to where you feel bad about how you’re performing now because of how the old person used to perform. Also, don’t feel bad because you want to perform better in the future and you can’t do it now. That’s the same as looking at some other guy at the gym who’s lifting more weight than you, and feeling bad about it. Don’t do that.

Conversely, don’t look over at a guy that’s not picking up as much weight and feel better than him, because that’s an unhealthy comparison because you’re only “current you” for a moment. Today, tomorrow or next month you could be injured, paralyzed, or find out you have cancer. Being competitive to the point of feeling superior will burn you, here’s why…

You’re really a summation of all of those past versions of you – you quite possibly will become the future you when you’re 70 and you won’t be able to do it anymore. Too young, too old, it has happened and will happen to all of us. Period. Let that sink in. Prepare for it. Really, just remember that the present you is composed of all these other yous that are in the past and future.

Now take it to another level, when you look over at the person at the gym next to you. Realize that they are… their past, current and future them. Don’t compare your current you to their current them because both of you are so much more than that. There’s no point taking the comparison to an unhealthy place where you’re thinking you’re better or worse than them. Think about it, they were a past them at some point and they weren’t able to pick up that weight, run as far, and didn’t know as much. Or if you feel better than them, just remember someday they might get better, and they might be able to kick your butt.

So, today, I tell you to break two Buddhist rules – live in the past, present, and future as well as feel free to compare yourself to other people – just do it in a healthy way. Think with more dimensions, this is a gift that, as far as we know, only Homo Sapiens has – use it. You will go through periods in your own life when you can and can’t do certain things, whether it’s learning, strength training, running or just walking. Accept that and live in the current you. Once you start thinking about it dimensionally, thinking about all the versions of you and them, the comparisons become a lot more healthy.

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Body Hacking – Most Business Travelers Are Body Builders, They Just Don’t Know it

Body Hacking – Most Business Travelers Are Body Builders, They Just Don’t Know it

If you are a road warrior, you have probably never thought of yourself as a body builder. But, if you have ever wanted loose weight, you probably are body builder and just don’t know it. For a long, long time, I hated the idea. I loathed it . Eventually, I I learned to embrace it because body builders know how to loose weight better than anyone. Here’s why. Physical fitness and looks are two separate things. One is mostly governed by how hard you work out, the other by diet. One is mostly governed by training program, the other by social perception. Mostly….

Sure, they are related statistically, but any individual can have a completely different physical relationship between the two. You could be the big guy with a belly roll, and still out sprint a smaller guy. You could have better cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, strength, explosive power, and speed – and, still have a deposit of fat around your midsection. Statistically, high body fat relates to health problems and lower performance, but specific individuals, who train really hard, but still eat like crazy, can crush performance and be healthy. On the other hand, you could have a very good diet, look very healthy, barely work out, be weak, slow, and have barely any endurance. That’s because fitness and looks are two completely different aspects to general health and general fitness.

They are related, but not 100%..

To get to the elite levels of fitness (competitive sport level) or elite levels of body shape (body building) you absolutely have to do both. But, as a regular business person with a sedentary job, you can surely have a decent, healthy combination of both. So, if you weigh 260 lbs and want to weigh 180 lbs or weigh 160 lbs and want to weigh 130 lbs, you will have to adopt the methods of a bodybuilder. You will have to count calories, you will have to “cut” as they say in body building. Trust me, they know how to do this, they have been doing it since the 1950s. If your goal is to lose weight, you have to cut. Cutting is a technique which focuses on reducing body fat. The goal of reducing body fat is primarily to change how you look and feel, not how you perform. Your performance may increase, it may not. You might lose strength, but you might get faster because you’re lighter. It will all depend.

Decide what your goals are. Do you want to look “better” (your perception, or the world’s perception?) or do you want to perform better? Embrace your goals, don’t feel bad about yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself. If you do let yourself feel bad or underestimate yourself, you will just waste precious time in life – waffling. So, grab your belly roll if you got one and and tell yourself, “this is just for looks” – if you care about looks, adopt the art of the body builder. If you don’t care, embrace it. If you want to build muscle and have fun, lift weights. If you want to run faster, practice sprinting. If you want to run further, build up distance in practice If your goal is medical health, it will take a combination of nutrition and exercise.

Fitness, looks, and health are all different things. They are different physical goals. At he elite levels, they are particularly related, but at normal human levels there is a lot of leeway. So, the next time you look at some bigger guy or girl walking down the street, try not to judge them, they just might kick your butt in a sprint or out run you in a distance race. Never judge physical fitness by their physique.

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Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

I recently read Road Warriors – Healthy Tips for Staying ‘On Plan’ by Steve Katasi and thought it was really good. We have developed a lot of the same strategies. I wanted to point people towards it and add a few additions:

  • 1.1: Snacks: there are a TON of good options for protein bars, and powders. Also, many gas stations have Muscle Milk or other protein drinks. Just pay attention to nutrition labels. A lot of them are more junk than food. Remember macros, macros, macros.
  • 2.2: Make Hotel Gym a Must Have Criteria: Calisthenics can be done at any gym. There are progressive overload techniques for calisthenics, so for a day or two trip, this can work.
  • 2.3: Better Still – Access to Commercial Gym: I would go a step further than Steve does. Not only are external gyms better equipped, they can be destinations in and of themselves. I love working out in other countries. Japan, Belgium, and Czech Republic have all been extremely interesting – each country has it’s own gym culture. Also, many major cities have amazing old school gyms. In Dallas once, I went to Doug’s Gym (see picture) – it was an old gym opened in the 70s after the owner won the lottery. It reminded me of Rocky I. Find an awesome gym, it’s totally motivational.
  • 2.4: Lower Workout Expectations: I don’t completely agree on this one. Generally, I find having a keel to your workout programming helps keep you on track. For me, that is Wendler 5/3/1. I also have days for conditioning, Yoga, running, and other accessory work. I prefer to program the flexibility into my routine. Then, when traveling it makes it easier to stay on the program. Even a 20-30 minute run mixed in can help, bu that’s part of my program. I don’t recommend lowering your expectation, I recommend having harder and lighter days. Count the travel days as lighter days in the program.
  • 5.4 Avoid Crappy Sandwiches: I COMPLETELY disagree with this point. Food is Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. While, I can absolutely feel it when I eat high glycemic index foods (I can feel the hunger strike harder), this is nothing more than an optimization. Also, when you eat a sandwich, just drink a protein shake, and maybe a high fiber bar (there are plenty). As long as you mix a high protein source and some fiber (which is a carb), you will feel fine and be totally fine. Also, there is NO evidence that Gluten is universally inflammatory. In fact, it’s recommended that you should eat gluten, unless you are sensitive to it. Read more here and here.
  • 5.4: Good Protein – Rich Breakfast: Again, a mix of science and fact. I absolutely agree that breakfast is the meal to get things going in the right direction and in fact, it’s the best one to start with a strong protein macro count. That said, there is NO factual evidence that skipping it matters for calorie control. That is a myth. In fact, the latest science basically says that meal timing is irrelevant. Three medium sized meals, five, small meals, 47 tiny snacks. It all works. See more here and here.

My few disagreements aside, I think his article has some really great tips and tricks…. Good luck, and keep hacking…

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