How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

  • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

  • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
  • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

  • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
  • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
  • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
  • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
  • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
  • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

Cheers,
Vaughn

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Every Thorn has its Rose

Fairly certain that you’ve heard the song, Every Rose has its Thorn, by Poison. If you haven’t heard it, you certainly have heard the saying… Right?

Anyway, I think about this song and saying often. Honestly… I don’t like it. To me, it sounds negative. It sounds like, “you’ve got something beautiful in your life (a rose), but it always comes with pain (a thorn).” The other day I was scrubbing my underarms in the shower, and it hit me… What if you reversed the saying? Wouldn’t that put a positive spin on it? Think about it… “Life is full of pain (thorns), but where there is pain, there is beauty (roses).” Sort of like, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Love it!

So I came up with my own saying, “Every Thorn has its Rose.”

Life is tough… Life will beat you up… Some days are incredibly hard… Bad things will happen to you, your family, and your friends…

So what? Bad days and hard times do not define you… They only make you stronger and more prepared. When bad days come (and they will), hunker down and roll with it. Just know that good times are coming.

If you run into thorns, just know that there is a rose on the horizon! Hang in there and believe. In the long run you will have many more roses than thorns. Take my word on this.

Life is a beautiful thing. It is a special experience designed just for you and me. Live. Live happy. And… Spread the happiness in the form of love!

I’ll leave you with a few of my related quotes that I’ve said throughout the years.

“We’re all going through something … The trick is to go through it anyway!”

“Life has its ups and downs… Ride the downs and climb the ups!”

“Life throws punches. It’s not about punching back… It’s about taking ’em, and still standing.”

 

Hoping this article touched you and maybe even gave you a dose of inspiration.

Hugs,
Vaughn

Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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First Quarter Goal Gut Check

You guys might or might not have read and participated in my 2014 New Year’s Resolution post, Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

Well, today’s article is a quarterly check-up on where we stand, and what we’ve accomplished since that initial post.

Here is my list and notes on how I’m doing:

Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • It is our 20th Anniversary next month… Must think of something special.

  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • This is in the work and the gears are spinning. More on this later…

  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Last year’s job situation made this one tough… Slow going.

  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • No injuries yet this year, and my workouts are more powerful than ever.

  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • I’m signed up and training hard…

  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • Done!

  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 135. My current PR is 150. Yahoo!

  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 255. My current PR is 305. Very close…

  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 205. My current PR is 215. This one will take some work!

  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 235. My current PR is 260. Getting close.

  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Books and backpack purchased. Starting to study and plan training. Plenty of time, but don’t want to slip.

  • Publish Decrypted;
  • My agent is working diligently on this one and I’m helping where I can.

  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Struggling here. 2014 has proven to be a very busy year. That said, I am working on it.

  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • About 15% done with this one, so I’m behind schedule… Ramping up the efforts.

  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Planning is done and planning has begun.

  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • I was sworn in as a board member, and I have visited Maryland senate to help pass a bill. Yay!

  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  • I was averaging three posts per week in 2013… This year Ive struggled. Must work harder!

    Now let’s list all of the people who commented on the initial post with their own goals and resolutions:

    Andrea’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Staying fit in ways that are not dangerous to me, including exercising at least 5-6 days a week.
  • Doing at least 3 different kinds of exercise on a regular basis to mix things up (e.g., running, swimming, cycling, lifting, hiking). Bonus points if I can get up to 4 modalities on a weekly basis.
  • Maintaining my weight. Bonus points for dropping 5 lbs.
  • Maintaining or growing my running group.
  • Visiting my mom and sister at least 3 times.
  • Helping my son to stay fit and pursue any sports activities he is interested in (right now learning to swim, hiking, running).
  • Going out on a date night with my husband at least once a quarter. Bonus points for going monthly.
  •  

    Lesley’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Make religion part of every day.
  • By the end of the year will be debt free.
  • Lose my final 10 pounds.
  • Allow myself to learn the art of forgiving, compassion, and loving towards others.
  •  

    Sara’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Better manage my time.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for myself to adhere to each day.
  • Cook more often.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Do one project for myself each month to completion.
  •  

    Melanie’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Reduce my 5K time to 25 minutes by the end of 2014.
  • Go on monthly date nights with my husband + use our firepit more and go on more weekend camping trips together.
  • Email/write my brother at least once a month (he’s in the military).
  • Schedule my work so I can spend time back home in Indiana for about 2 weeks this summer.
  • Cut way back on soda, ie., Sprite. (I already gave up caffeine in 2009.)
  • Improve core strength and do more strength training.
  •  

    Eric’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Be a better father: listen more, make more small time, yell less.
  • Get a new job.
  • Fitness Metrics: get weight <195, squat 135×10, deadlift 195×10, Clean&Jerk 135×5, Pullups x5, Dips x10; get flexible enough to squat below parallel with wide stance heels.
  • Do a ‘new’ fitness event for me – something not already checked off.
  • Get the cub scout pack in order.
  • Get 20 minor projects done around the house.
  •  

    Please comment and let us all know how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and resolutions!!!

    We’ll be back in three months with another check-up. Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – The initial post
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    The Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search

    A sudden and powerful change happened to me on (or about) March 11, 2014. I was flipping through the pages of Men’s Health magazine and saw an ad titled “Are you fit? Healthy? Driven? Giving? Enter to win the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search.” The ad went on to say that one lucky winner would be featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine.

    I smiled and thought… I’m extremely fit. I’m very healthy. I’m over-the-top driven. And… I absolutely love giving. My smile eased a little and the gears started grinding in my head. I chuckled… But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized… I was cut out precisely for this competition.

    Then the doubt started creeping in. You know the doubt… The realist inside each of us. It was saying things like, “Dude, you’re 46 years OLD.” “You’re medication over the years has stripped fat from your cheeks and butt and stuck it in funky places!” “Life has put battle scars on you.” “There will be two dozen or more seriously good looking model-ish men competing in this among a field of hundreds of others.” Finally my inner demon said, “What possible chance do you think you have?”

    For a few minutes I nodded my head in agreement with the dark side of my mind. Then, a tipping point happened. I thought of John Belushi saying, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” I laughed again. And something neat happened… A glimmer entered my eye. And, I realized that this was doable. I knew it would be an uphill battle, but honestly what great outcome isn’t tough? I decided then and there that I would enter. The contest started on March 15, 2014 – so I stored this thought in the back of my brain, tore the page out, and got on with life.

    Jump to 3/15/14 – Some of the original negative thoughts started pouring in. I was nervous. Am I being silly? Before these bad feelings could bring me down, I suddenly had another thought… Has a hemophiliac EVER been on the cover of Men’s Health? I don’t know… Maybe..? Has an HIV+ person ever graced the cover of Men’s Health magazine? Again, I didn’t know, but figured probably… (I should know this stuff). Then it hit me – I know… That there has NEVER been an HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, because I know them all! It was settled then and there… I opened the website and started my entry process.

    March is Hemophilia Awareness Month. For goodness sakes, Ronald Wilson Reagan made it so back in 1986!!! And, more than 90% of ALL hemophiliacs born before the mid-1980’s got HIV from a bad blood transfusion. And, almost ALL of them died from AIDS or complications around this horrible disease! It was destiny that I would stumble on this opportunity in March, during Hemophilia Awareness Month!!! I was in head first!

    Honestly, I was simply hoping to be in the top ten, so I could raise awareness for hemophiliacs and HIV+ people. When I entered I sincerely did not think that I would win. The competition would be far too strong and who the heck am I?

    Guess what… On day one, I skyrocketed to first place. And, I’m not talking about a little jump, I was ten times ahead of the second place person! It was incredible.

    By day two, many more men had joined and they were gaining, but I was still at least four times as many votes ahead of everyone else.

    By day three I realized, I could actually win the voting portion of this competition. That was when it happened. You see, in life, nothing (I mean NOTHING) worthwhile is easy. And, there is no reason that this would be different. Realizing that I could win this voting section of the contest, I re-read the rules carefully. There it was glaring at me…

    Upload at least one (1) but up to three (3) digital photographs … taken within thirty (30) days prior to the date of your Entry into the Contest…

    Holy crap! In my rush to enter… With the mindset of “I can’t possibly win this thing…” I had made a vital mistake. I had uploaded older photos of me… You see, I am 46 years old (47 next month) and because of how fit and healthy I stay, my physique really hasn’t changed very much in over a decade. So, I assumed any photo would do, because quite honestly I am in the best shape of my life NOW and even look better than those photos from a year or two ago…

    The sinking feeling of dread overcame me as I realized that I could potentially be disqualified. And, on top of that, I was essentially cheating by not following the rules. My head pounded and my stomach was upset… This couldn’t be happening to me. Moments later, I wrote the editor of Men’s Health and explained my situation looking for a resolution. Well, fortunately for me, the editor was very cool and said simply “you are also permitted to enter once per day per email address throughout the entry period. So, you are welcome to submit another entry with current photos…”

    Well… That settled it… I had to ditch my first place entry that had more than 2,200 votes already and start a new entry with current photos. So, I worked with my Aunt, Patty Abrams, to quickly take a few “today” photos of me. These photos were nowhere near as cool as my previous entry (me posing in a triathlon suit looking all heroic, me on Mount Rainier in -40 degree temperatures, and me on a 185 mile bicycle ride on the C&O canal towpath), but they are legit and follow the rules.

    My new entry, was sitting there with zero votes in 113th place… Wow! Talk about a buzz kill. To add insult to injury, my original entry is still sitting there on top of the pack all pretty and perfectly happy. DANG!

    Time to eat some humble pie… I spent a few minutes typing up a quick status update for my social media friends that had all helped escalate me to the top of the heap. I had to explain that our 2,200+ votes weren’t going to count toward this newest entry. I laughed at myself. Cheered them for their support. And then asked for their continued support. I wasn’t sure how folks would respond. I mean, I’ve already been SPAMing them with numerous requests to vote for me as a cover model… yada. I thought they might rebel. *insert upbeat music here* Something very special happened. They all stood behind me, and picked me up. From the nadir of this event, my friends and their friends all wiped the dirt off my face, picked me up, brushed the tears from my eyes, and gathered as a community to support me… Their brother.

    After adding my second entry, folks got behind me and stormed the contest pouring in massive votes. Within one day I had gone from 113th place to 3rd place and had a solid 600 votes! Just when I thought all was cool, Men’s Health reached out again and said that they need to remove my second entry. So, they offered to put one of my new photos in the original entry and delete my second entry into the contest. Unfortunately they were not able to migrate my votes over. However, I still had the healthy amount of votes and a solid lead. Stuff happens, and I’m usually one that rolls with the punches. Besides, I can’t really complain considering my sizable lead.

    You guys have all given me so much support during this entire process, and I am eternally grateful!

    This is what it’s all about. I now know why I’ve entered this competition. It’s not some vain attempt to plaster myself on a magazine… It’s not about me. It is about us. It is about hemophiliacs. It is about HIV+ people, it is about average Joes who are beaten down ever day of their lives and continue picking themselves up and reporting for duty despite the odds stacked against them.

    I have survived for more than 28 years as an HIV+ human being. I believe there is a reason why God spared me. I honestly believe that it is my duty to spread awareness and advocate for people who struggle to have their voices heard. Well… I am here. And, I felt you help pick me up. I feel your love. I feel your support and caring. I feel you. And, I love you. I will fight for this and every other opportunity that we have to scream at the world.

    Together, you and I can and will put the first ever HIV+ hemophiliac on the cover of one of the most popular men’s magazines on the planet.

    Please help support this cause by sharing my link, voting (you can vote daily), and spreading the word.
    www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37/

    I’m currently standing with a strong lead in first place…

    Love to you all,
    Vaughn Ripley

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Be an Alpha Male

    You are a man… Now grow a pair, and act like it!

    Dear ladies – I know that I have a few women who read this blog, and I feel very lucky to count you among my readers. Please, please do not be offended by today’s article. Instead, embrace it. Allow me this one diatribe and I promise to get back on track… Actually, this post is about being healthy… Just in a manly sort of way. You see, I am an alpha male. And, I am happy being an alpha male. There are moments when I walk around like a rooster (cock) and flair my feathers… Most of my friends know this is so, and they like me anyway. My wife says it’s because I’m an Aries… I think it’s a combination of things (and none of them is my cosmo sign). I imagine that some of it I was born with (genetics and all of that jazz from the jizz). Some is root cause (we’ll talk briefly about my Dad and upbringing). Some is because of my hemophilia (being told I can’t do anything masculine during most of my childhood). Perhaps most of it is because I faced death (in the form of HIV and AIDS) at a young age and lived through the hoopla. Regardless, (and despite what many of you might be thinking) today’s post is not about me. It is about men in general.

    There is a problem in America. I call it the pussification of Americans. We are getting weak. We whine too much. We sit in our cars, at our desks, and on our couches. We complain about stupid shit. Don’t get me wrong… I love that technology and inventions are making our lives cool and supposedly easier. However, I can’t stand some of the by products of this enlightenment. For instance, I take a hard stance against giving every single player and every single team a trophy. Some of you may not agree with me on this, and I’m cool with that, but hear me out. When you give every one of our kids the same trophy (win, lose, or draw) you are teaching them something innately wrong. You are teaching them that everyone wins regardless of ability, talent, and most important, will to succeed. Think about it… Do you want your kid to believe that he can do a half-assed job and get the same reward as someone who works his or her butt off? I don’t! I refuse to teach my children that! Success requires grit, determination, willpower, and hard work! PERIOD

    ego digresso

    Let’s start out by defining what an alpha male is. I normally think of the alpha male as the leader of the pack. The wolf comes to mind… Hence my headline graphic. “Pack” is a very broad term. To me, the pack is your immediate family and close friends. Your pack is the epicenter of your life and must be protected at all costs.

    The alpha male is someone who can protect himself and his pack (the pack always comes first). He is someone who is not afraid to fight for what he believes in. And, he is ferocious when he needs to be. That said, he is also calm, good-natured, loving, nurturing, and understanding. He is a peaceful being that will try and find a peaceful solution before falling back on aggression. But, God help you if you force him to the level of aggression.

    Fighting is not the way of the alpha. First and foremost, an alpha displays compassion, expresses gentleness, and always tries to find a reasonable way out of a fight. An alpha does not fight out of anger or for revenge. Rather, the alpha only fights when there is no other option, and he only fights until it is no longer necessary. He never continues fighting a man who is down and/or out of the fight. A coward kicks a man who is down, the alpha refrains and refuses to do this. He uses his head and best judgement always. An alpha male stays in complete control, even in violent moments. Most importantly, an alpha never compromises his values in the heat of the moment. A calm presence and cool head are distinct attributes of the alpha male.

    “The best fighter is never angry.”
    – Lao Tzu

    My Dad was an alpha male. And he taught me and my brothers to be alpha males. He taught me that I must NEVER start a fight. And, that I must ALWAYS finish a fight that I enter. Never give up. Always be strong and fight for what you believe in. Care for others and protect those who cannot protect themselves. NEVER EVER be the bully, but stand between the bully and anyone he would try to bully. These are the alpha values that I am now passing along to my son.

    The alpha male is a warrior. He is strong. He is courageous. The alpha male is adventurous and has great stories, because he is not afraid to live life. He is also funny and has a great bond with those around him. The alpha is a hard worker. He is often quiet and an avid listener. The alpha has a thirst for knowledge (kaizen). The alpha never fights to destroy things, only to defend. He defends women and is always chivalrous. The alpha male is generous and gives his time, energy, and money to help others. The alpha male is an alpha male without trying, he does not strive to be one… He simply is one. Most of all… The alpha male is a humble man.

    My son (and all of the alpha male offspring) are the beta males while living under the roof of an alpha male. He is there to support the alpha and learn from him. It is your duty (as alpha) to teach him the way of the warrior. He must learn and understand that values like honor, courage, and commitment (thank you, US Navy) are incredibly important. And, that you must stick to your values (once they are properly defined and fine-tuned) at ALL costs. My son will grow into a strong alpha, because it is in his heritage. It is in his bloodline. He will grow up like the fathers before him. He is an alpha, because he is.

    If you want to be an alpha, or you are unsure if you are one, here are a few pointers (my humble opinion) that can assure you get there:

  • Increase your testosterone – lift heavy weights (intensity level needs to be high), burn fat, have more sex (I’m not kidding), take Zinc supplements (fewer than 40 mg per day), increase your vitamin D (the sun is the best source), get quality sleep, limit (or eliminate) alcohol consumption, eat quality fats, lower your sugar intake, and eliminate stress (alpha males do NOT worry).
  • Strive to be a born leader – read leadership books, and coordinate your skill building around this essential alpha male skill.
  • Create your own moral code – design a moral compass based around a personal mission statement, vision, and a list of values. Most importantly, once you create your list of values, strive to live them!
  • Listen to others – you must listen to and carefully assimilate what other people (especially those in your pack) have to say.
  • Practice daily kaizen – spend a little time EVERY day adding to your knowledge.
  • Confidence over cockiness – learn the difference and hold your chin high with confidence.
  • Give back to your community – you know what to do, now do it!
  • NEVER EVER back down from protecting your pack and those who cannot protect themselves.
  •  

    Either you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem. I’m asking all of you to step up (unless you already have) and accept responsibility for your role as a man on this small blue dot that we affectionately call Earth. Be the alpha male that you were born to be! Together, we can change the world.

    Last note… When you see another alpha, you will recognize him. Nod, shake his hand, and encourage him. We are all in this life together. Act like the man you are.

    Man up!

    Written with sincere feelings and love,
    Vaughn

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    Was Steve Jobs a Hero or a Shithead?

    Is that the question?? Before you guys attack me for such a blatantly ugly question, allow myself to explain … myself. Steve Jobs was fond of calling people heroes or shitheads. Walter Isaacson points out numerous “hero” and/or “shithead” occasions in his biography, “Steve Jobs.” Jobs rarely found a middle ground. As a matter-of-fact, it seems like people were black and white to Jobs. Most of us mere mortals see people in shades of grey. Jobs had a knack and perhaps even a gift of calling it exactly the way he saw it. His brutal honesty would often make people feel like kings or tear them down into shreds of flesh.

    I grew up knowing about Steve Jobs because my dad « Continue »

    Get Your Beach Body Now!

    Since the New Year is here, and we already discussed resolutions… Let’s talk about the most popular New Year’s resolution in the world… Get fit. I want to take it one step further, and assume that many of you with this goal are actually trying to burn some fat, add some muscle, and look all around better for the Summer.

    We already know (from my previous articles) that fitness is extremely important, that pushing yourself to and beyond failure is a huge key to success, that making excuses for skipping workouts are weakness, and that you will live longer if you get and stay fit… That isn’t anything new. Today, I’m going to tackle something that I know many of you want to do… Preparing and shaping your body up for this coming Summer.

    Since many swimming pools open on Memorial Day, I thought I would simply count that day – Monday, May 26, 2014 – as our finish point. In other words, we want to achieve our lofty outcome prior to that day.

    Before we do anything, let’s get the dagg-on disclaimer out of the way…

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s figure out our goal, plan to accomplish it, and get started!

    First and foremost, before you dive into a workout routine, I think it is imperative that we carefully figure out precisely what we’re trying to achieve. For ease of use, let’s assume that everyone reading this article has the following desired outcome:

    I want to get healthier, burn some fat, lose a little weight, and pack a little muscle and definition on.

    Perfect! Now we can get to our plan…

    We need to know our timeline… Well, since we know our goal needs to be reached by 5/26/14 it is easy to calculate… We see that we have 20 weeks (approximately five months). This is more than enough time for us to lose 20-40 pounds of fat (if we need to) and tack on five pounds of pure muscle. Plus, and most important, this is ample time to get us in terrific shape for the beach!

    Now let’s quickly tackle each key subject area to getting in shape. Note: I won’t cover this in great detail. Most of you know what I’m talking about, and the remainder of you curious/learning folks can research the web some to get more than you ever imagined possible. If you need more information and tips, start with my Health category.

    REST DAY
    This one doesn’t require much description. Suffice it to say that you must take one day off from working out each week. This day is key to letting your muscles heal from the previous six days of working out, and it allows your entire body to regenerate stronger than before. Do nothing during your day off!

    EAT GOOD
    Do I really need to lay this one out? Simply eat better foods and fewer calories. On top of proper nutrition, make sure you take in liberal amounts of water (90 or more ounces each day). What you eat is what you get! Read my Nutrition article for more info.

    WEIGHT LIFTING
    Hit the iron. Hit it hard. Take your body to utter failure in each set! Do a full-body routine twice per week.

    CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTS
    In order to turn your metabolism into high gear, you will do six days of cardio each week. Each day will consist of 45 – 60 minutes of cardio that will have your heart rate in a target range of 65 – 85% of your predicted max heart rate.

    CORE CROSS-TRAINING
    This is an optional workout that you can do three times per week. This is for those of you who REALLY want to rip up your abs and core to give yourself the best beach body possible. Read my Chiseled Abs article for more info.

    Now let’s break the week down (each week is precisely the same over the entire 20 week training).

    SUNDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    MONDAY – Cardio and core
    TUESDAY – Cardio
    WEDNESDAY – Cardio and core
    THURSDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    FRIDAY – REST DAY (this can be any day, but it must happen!
    SATURDAY – Cardio and core

    Last note… If you’d like more info, I recommend perusing this blog in the “Health” section. Especially checkout this article: healthywealthytribe.com/secret-to-getting-fit

    Finally, pick your butt up and get to the gym to get started TODAY!!! If you follow this advice for the next twenty weeks I can guarantee you a new you!

    I hope this helped, and I hope you follow through! Please keep me posted and let me know about your experiences.

    Good luck,
    Rip

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    Twenty Seven Years of Survival

    Fasten your seat belts, folks. This article may have a “me-me-me” bend to it. And, that’s because it does. Most of my articles are focused on “us” (you and me). But, this one is my celebration of life. More specifically… A celebration of MY life.

    Yay me!

    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

    This post is about My Surviving Anniversary – On January 3, 1987 I was diagnosed as being HIV+. Somewhere between mid 1985 and late 1987, I was transfused with a bad batch of blood. To quote Huey Lewis, “Sometimes, bad is bad.”

    Officially, I have been diagnosed with HIV for 27 years. Unofficially, we don’t know when I got it, because I’m a mild hemophiliac and don’t have to get factor VIII or cryoprecipitate (clotting factor) on a regular basis. I have a letter from my doctor, which arrived days after Rock Hudson’s death, dated October 9, 1985, stating that I tested HTLV-III negative. The old test they used couldn’t detect the virus unless it had been in your body for more than three months… This means that I was infected somewhere between (circa) July, 1985 and October, 1987.

    Semantics aside, suffice it to say that it’s been more than 27 and fewer than 30 years. Regardless, I have lived more than a quarter of a century past where my doctor predicted. Hoo-Rah!

    Circa 1989 I got shingles and then a pneumonia. My CD4 levels were brutally low and when they dipped below 200 I was considered to have ARC (AIDS-related complex). Later, doctors said that if your levels dropped below 200 you had “full-blown” AIDS. I think they did this for medical insurance reasons, yada. Again I was told that my life would end in a very short time. By now, I was used to being told, “You ain’t got much time left, kid.”

    Well… I didn’t die. Now I’m one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, there are others who have survived and lived as long as me (or even longer). However, when you think about the numbers… More than 25,000,000 have died and only a handful have survived this long… You get the picture.

    My wife, Kristine, and I found out about a new and “safe” way for us to have children in circa 2002. It is called ICSI (you can read more about this in my in vitro article) in vitro fertilization. We made several attempts before finally being successful and having our little girl in early 2005. This was a milestone of epic proporations, because we always assumed we’d never have children.

    Back in 2007 I celebrated my 40th birthday. The theme was, Forty Years of Life and Twenty Years of Survival. Kristine and I invited 105 of my closest friends and we rented out two adjoining hotel ballrooms. We hired a live band ( The Reagan Years are a 80’s throwback cover band, and they are AWESOME!) We had a catered dinner. And, we had an open bar. This was my knockdown, drag-out, bash! And, it was quite the celebration!

    Then in 2010 I published my memoirs, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C. This book details my battle and struggle to thrive.

    I feel pretty good, considering I was told I had fewer than two years to live when I was 19 years old… My plan is to live another 30 years. I figure 77 years old is a cool number, so that’s the one I’m going with. However, if death comes knocking on my door sooner, it better have an army with it, because I’m a warrior. Death does not scare me. Not in the least. However, I won’t simply lie down. Count on that!

    (:

    In the meantime, I have some lofty goals. Here are a few of them (in no particular order):

  • Travel to Italy, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, Fiji, and Australia with my family;
  • Compete in 100 triathlons;
  • Publish a dozen or more books;
  • Finish a full Ironman distance triathlon;
  • Travel the world inspiring diverse people;
  • Make a difference in the hemophilia community;
  • Teach my children wrong from right;
  • Figure out my spirituality and what I believe in;
  • Climb Mount Rainier (and maybe a few others);
  • Love my darling wife until my dying day.
  •  
    Thank you for all of the support, friendship, and downright caring that each and every one of you gives me. Hopefully this “me-me-me” article was fun for you guys too. Now let’s get back to the “us” articles!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn Foster Ripley

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    Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

    HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!

    Now let’s address this tough title. I think it’s time that we start facing facts… The fact is that a majority of us will come up with all kinds of cool changes we want to make in our life and follow through with them for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months… But, we won’t keep them as life long changes. In essence, we will fail.

    I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions (because I think you should strive to make yourself better EVERY day, not once per year – Kaizen, people!) However, I know that many people set resolutions and it is fun to hear and support them. So let’s take advantage of this new year and do something different this year. Let’s set some measurable goals and stick to them!!!

    Who’s with me?

    Before we set off on this grueling task, let’s take a quick look at why so many folks fail. I believe the main reason for failure is not proper follow through with maintaining and tracking the goals. If that is true, than we can easily cure this. We should write down our goals and track them on a regular basis.

    My plan is to put my goals/resolutions in writing (on this post and on printed paper). I will also do a quarterly blog article about my goals (and anyone else who responds here with goals) that lays out my goal progress throughout the 2014 year. In this way, I hope to better myself by keeping my wants and needs on my immediate radar!

    I’m sort of contradicting myself (I do that sometimes), by starting this post bashing New Year’s resolutions and then asking you to create some. My point was to make sure that we do things differently by following through and actually accomplishing some (or all) of these!

    Hypocrisy aside, here is my resolution/goal list for 2014:

    Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Publish Decrypted;
  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  •  

    Feel free to put your goal list for 2014 in the comments below. That way we can track each other’s goals and how we’re doing throughout the year.

    Note: If you comment on this post with goals/resolutions, you will be held accountable and called out in my quarterly update post about goals!!! So beware! That said, if you’re like me, that will only incentivize you to participate!

    Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – This initial post
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (April Fool’s Day!!!) – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    So… What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

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    When the Going Gets Tough…

    The Tough Get Going!

    I know this saying sounds cliché, but sometimes each of us needs a kick in the tush! As 2013 comes to a close, I thought I would quickly chat about something that most of us like to avoid discussing. Life can be tough. We all know that… But we don’t all react the same way to tough things in life.

    Stepping into 2014 let’s agree (together) to battle this tough life head on! I mean come on… Is it really that bad? I don’t think so.

    Anytime I feel down in the dumps (yes I do, I just avoid showing it if possible), I think about people who are less fortunate than me. I mean there are people with no legs who somehow manage to thrive in life! There are people with inoperable brain tumors who refuse to give in and keep living despite their ailments!

    If these folks can survive and thrive then who am I to complain?

    Your life will have its downs. You will struggle sometimes. Some things will seem unbearable and inescapable. You need to suck it up and carry on during these times.

    If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that even though we have hard times and down times, life will always come back around and improve. Just batten down the hatches and trudge through the tough times.

    What do you do to help yourself during your times of need?

    Let’s make 2014 a banner year!!!

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

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    One Rep Separates the Boys from the Men

    That’s right folks… There is a secret to making physical gains after all… The secret is…

    *drum roll please*

    ONE REP!

    Most will have you believe that the secret is actually going to the gym and working out. While this is true for beginners, it is not so for intermediate or advanced lifters. The true secret, and the thing that separates the boys from the men (or the girls from the women) is the last rep. I’m dead serious!

    Depending on where you fail, and where you quit, determines the type of gain(s) you will make. I mean it… If you REALLY want to make measurable gains in your level of fitness, your strength, and/or the size of your muscles then you need to do one more rep.

    You know how when you are doing curls and it gets tougher as you’re finishing a set? That is because your body is reaching muscular failure (your lactic acid threshold). Well, the largest portion of your gains will be made precisely AT (and even beyond) muscular failure.

    It is easy to type, “just do one more rep.” However, if you are really at your limits and cannot possibly do anything else, then one more rep takes more discipline and determination than anything you’ve ever imagined. If it is so tough that you cannot imagine completing it, then you are there, my friend.

    So, the next time you’re banging out reps and calling it quits when it gets too tough, and your body is screaming, and your muscles are failing… I challenge you to do just one more rep. I know it feels like you couldn’t possibly do one more. I know that it hurts. I know that it is tougher than imaginable… I also know that this is the point in which your muscle will make the biggest gain!

    I have a simple plan of action, and follow this same routine each time… Try this:

    First, you must know your limits… Know approximately where failure will occur. I am intimately familiar with my body and what weights take me to what failure point at how many reps. If I’m trying to make bigger muscles (maximum slow and fast twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy) I will aim to fail between 8 and 11 reps. If I can’t muster eight reps than I know the weight is too heavy. If I do more than eleven, than it’s too light. Adjust accordingly. (that said, for strength gains, I shoot for 6-8 reps before utter failure / for fat burning (I never do these, unless I’m simply doing periodization and switching up routines) I would shoot for 12+ reps).

    Once we know the proper weight, bang out your ten(ish) reps. Go until you are certain you cannot do another rep.

    Now comes the tough part (I’m not kidding folks… If you are truly at failure, this could possibly be the toughest thing you do all day)… You must dig deep. You must tap your inner willpower. You MUST do one more (painful) rep. For best results, use a spotter who can take a half a pound off the weight by lightly touching the bar and helping you accomplish this.

    Try chanting this in your mind, “Anyone can do one rep!”

    USING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE – GET THAT LAST REP IN!

    We aren’t done yet. Now we are going to do what lifters call a negative. Instead of dropping the weight and crying, we SLOWLY lower the bar over a six to ten second period, using every ounce of energy left. If you did it right, tears will be welling in your eyes, your muscles will be SCREAMING, and you might even feel light headed. Congratulations!!!

    If you can accomplish this with each set, I guarantee quick results. You will make (and see) serious gains that you never thought possible.

    Give it a go and let me know what you get out of it!

    Thanks for reading,
    Rip

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    Thanksgiving 2013

    Many of my posts talk about being grateful and expressing gratitude for all of the things that you have in life. As a matter-of-fact, I have one article, healthywealthytribe.com/what-are-you-grateful-for, that is specifically written around this topic. Well, what better time to tackle gratitude again than on Thanksgiving Day?

    Thanksgiving is a national holiday that was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest. In the United States, it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. More recently it is known as the holiday where you stuff your face with turkey (among other fatty foods) and watch football all day. I prefer to remember that it was (and is) a time to express thanks for EVERYTHING in our lives.

    Many of us (me included) often feel worried about family events that will end with fighting and misery… Unfortunately, there are frequently practical brawls when we get estranged family members together. It is imperative that we find the good in our family and friends during these special holidays. Put your disagreements aside and love one another! You only have to do it once a year, people! If you are one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have any problems with family during these times than consider yourself lucky and disregard this paragraph… HA!

    Regardless of what you believe or think, the name sums up this most excellent holiday. Thanksgiving is easily rearranged to “giving thanks.” If you dig, use this time to meditate briefly and concentrate on what’s important to you. Think about all of the fortunate things you have in your life. And, share your feelings and gratitude with those closest to you.

    I’ve already mentioned my “thankful list” in that previous post, but I thought I would add to it a hair, and list it again as a reminder to myself… In no particular order, I am eternally grateful for:

    • Kristine
    • Trinity
    • Xander
    • Brothers and sisters
    • Moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
    • In-laws (all of them!)
    • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
    • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
    • Hobbies and fun stuff
    • Home Sweet Home (shelter over my head)
    • Food on the dining room table (and in the fridge)
    • Five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
    • Arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
    • The sun (and the moon)
    • Computers
    • The snow
    • Four seasons
    • Social networks
    • My gift of writing
    • Internet access
    • Life coaches and mentors
    • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)
    • Decent brains
    • Music
    • Pets (dog, snake, fish, and even the cat)
    • Modern medical treatments and science
    • Filet mignon and lobster tail

    What are you grateful for?

    Enjoy yourself! Eat lots of food! And, most of all… Tell your friends and family that you are thankful for having them in your life!

    I’m also thankful for you!

    -Vaughn

    p.s. I’d like to add one thing to my Thanksgiving Day prayer… “May the Dallas Cowboys get their proverbial butts kicked!” hee hee…

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    V is for Victory

    I’m gonna start this article with a disclaimer… I do have a sharp tongue. I often give people the wrong impression. As my friend, Katty, says, “There’s a fine line between being proud of what you’ve done with your life and rubbing your accomplishments in the face of someone else that doesn’t have your motivation.” Obviously some people don’t have the same motivation as me… That does not make them a bad person. Sometimes when I try to “help” folks by talking about my personal accomplishments and what I’ve been able to do (or can do) and combine it with my sharp, blunt tongue, it can (and does) hurt feelings.

    If you do not have a thick skin, I will probably offend you with this article. I apologize in advance… But, if you don’t want scary answers then stop asking scary questions!!!

    I sincerely love all of you! For different reasons I have found joy in my relationships with everyone I know. Life is a playground… You’re gonna scrape your knee sometimes. We dust ourselves off and get back in the game. That’s a given. But, when you fall on the monkey bars and land on your nuts… That’s what separates the boys from men.

     

    Without further ado… Here comes the rant!

    It’s hard for my friends to understand this, because for the most part, they are overachievers as well. But… I believe that most people are lazy. And, not in a good way.

    When I first started this article I really just wanted to talk about body language. Have you ever noticed that when someone runs across the finish line of any race they raise their arms into the air creating a “V” as they complete the race? This is especially true of someone who wins the race. And, referees do the “V” to signal a touchdown. The weird thing is that pretty much every person from all different backgrounds does this famous “V” when they are victorious. It is a natural reaction to throw your arms in the air when you win! Rocky (and other boxers) did it with every win and every success!

    I recently asked myself, Self… Why can’t you simply raise your arms for victory before you do something and then be better at it? The answer I got back was strange (mostly because I was talking to myself)… I can. That’s right folks… I believe in the power of body language. We all know it is important for communicating our feelings with others, but many of us didn’t know it works for ourselves too. Try it. Put a huge smile on your face, hold your head high, and throw your hands into the air. You will feel like a million bucks. And, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially.

    Now let’s segue into the second half… Simply throwing your arms in the air is not enough. You MUST dig deep and stay motivated to accomplish great things!

    Dead Horse… Kick… Yada… I was born with hemophilia. I spent my entire childhood being told by doctors, parents, adults, siblings and friends what I COULD NOT do. I was rarely told what I could do. At nineteen I was told by the family doctor that I would be dead within the next couple of years. Did I give up? Nope. Did I die? Nope. Have I been held back by my disorders, viruses, diseases, and injuries? Say it with me… Nope!

    After my HIV diagnosis, I spiraled into a stint with drugs and suffering. Shortly after that bad faze in life, I was gripped by reality and turned my life around. I went from making $9 per hour to running an entire systems department. Within five years of this, I had quadrupled my salary. QUADRUPLED, people.

    Two years later I started a computer consulting company with two close friends. Within a year we had twelve employees and were pulling in $2,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Since then, I have had two children even though I’ve been told countless times that it isn’t even possible.

    From a fitness and healthy perspective, I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and moan at me about my LUCKY metabolism. Funny thing about my luck (to paraphrase Harold Hamm), “The harder I work, the luckier I get!” Most people see my slim, muscular build and assume this is a metabolism thing. Has anyone seen my father? Metabolism is not one of our gifts. I workout HARD and OFTEN.

    I play hard – Ask any of my mountain biking buddies. Ask any of my paintball buddies. Ask any of my motorcycle friends. Ask any of my climbing bros. Ask anyone who off-roads with me.

    I workout hard – Hello? Come join me at my gym (it’s called The Vomitorium) for the beating of your life… If you dare, punks!

    I work hard – I haven’t gotten where I am in the business world by sitting on my thumbs.

    I study hard – I have literally read thousands of books about manifold subjects. Ask my dirtbag friends what I did when we started climbing… I am a self taught computer programmer. I am a certified personal trainer who adamantly studies exercise and the human body. I am certified and taught motorcycle classes to beginner and advanced riders.

    Did you know that I post an article on this blog every other day? Do you think that is easy? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? HA!

    Am I rough around the edges? Hell yes. Am I a straight shooter, who will tell you how it is? Yep. Most people around me appreciate my bluntness… Those who don’t rarely last.

    Do I know the secret to life? Nope. But I know what it ain’t… Lazy.

    Enough tooting my own horn for now… There will be plenty of time and other posts for that.

    (:

    Am I vain? If being proud of my accomplishments in life is vain, then yes I am. Merriam Websters defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. I do show pride in my appearance and achievements… Is it excessive or undue?? I say, nay.

    Do I have to be vain and have an enormous ego to accomplish great things? Absolutely not.

    I guess my point is that it takes some confidence and motivation to really push yourself past the envelope. In life, people will try to bring you down. People will try to tell you what you can’t do. People will doubt your prowess. Prove them wrong!

    Do you have some accomplishments that you battled to get? Do tell…

    I challenge you all… Step it up a notch! You can start by motivating yourself, and by starting tough tasks with your arms raised into a “V” for victory!!!

    I will leave you with this:

    Tony Manero: You know what I wanna do?
    Jackie: What?
    Tony Manero: Strut.

    *struts*

    Posted with an edge and some love,
    V

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    Believe in Your Dreams and Believe in Yourself

    Rome was not built in a day. Like the Romans, you are creating something that will take incredible amounts of time and effort. You are working on yourself. Making you a smarter, stronger, wiser, healthier, more loving, believing, hard working, patient, and understanding person takes time. You absolutely can improve yourself in a day. You absolutely cannot create your ultimate desired outcome for yourself in a day.

    As I’ve said in plenty of previous posts, kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that essentially means small, daily improvements. It is a way of life, not a quick fix. If you want to be all that you can be… If you want to maximize your life, than you must plan and follow through over decades! Baby steps is the simple answer to creating the best you.

    My favorite analogy to improving yourself is, oddly enough, like learning to drive a car with a manual transmission. I’m a stick-shift fan.

    Soon, this analogy won’t be relevant, because it seems that the manual transmission is becoming extinct. For now, I will stick (no pun intended) with my story…

    Assuming you know how to drive a stick… These days, it is basically second nature for you to shift gears. We can easily drink coffee, listen to the radio, think about work, think about family, hold a conversation with the passenger(s), and simply switch from first to second gear without any hesitation or actual thought.

    However, it was not always so easy. As a matter of fact, if you’re honest with yourself, it was downright tough as nails to drive a stick-shift car when you first started out. Close your eyes for a moment and gradually slip back in time to your very first day in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a manual transmission. During that very first experience, you were learning and you couldn’t do any of things we listed above. Not only could you not do them, you had to concentrate and focus completely on switching gears and switching gears alone.

    Nervously, you gripped the wheel and struggled along. When it was time to change from first to second, you adjusted your hands shakily on the steering wheel so that the right hand was off the wheel and had access to the shifter. From there, you eased your foot off the gas while slowly pressing the clutch in with the other foot. Once that tedious part was done, you gripped the shift knob as sweat started to form on your forehead. Pulling the lever with just enough force, you popped the transmission out of first gear and into neutral momentarily. Finally, you kept pressure on the shifter, sliding it carefully into second gear. As if all of that wasn’t enough, now you had to time smoothly pulling the clutch back out while applying gas incrementally.

    Do you remember that first time? Getting your stick-shift cherry popped?? Wasn’t it kind of like that?

    Even after that first time, we still had to practice this carefully for hours, days, weeks, or even months before we perfected it enough to feel comfortable. Small gains and improvements were made over time before we could finally switch gears without thinking about it. Over time muscle memory took over and we were finally able to do it without a second thought. These days, you don’t even think about the entire process and can juggle in a bunch of additional tasks. Heck I wrote this blog article while driving a stick-shift, eating an Egg McMuffin, and singing along with the tunes jamming out of my stereo… Ok, I made that part up, and I would never condone blogging while driving… But, you get my point!

    Improving ourselves is done much in the same way. When we first dabble into an improvement, it often feels foreign and impossible to accomplish. However, with determination and drive you quickly get past that feeling and over time you create a desired result that feels like second nature today.

    Remember to carefully choose your improvements. Then, draw out goals along the way to achieve your dreams. The last piece of the puzzle is to not only stay focused on your dreams, but to dig deep inside yourself and find the willpower to follow through!

    Nothing is impossible to a person who believes in their dreams and believes in themselves.

    Dream it! Write it! Plan it! Do it!
    (I’ll let you in on a little secret… It can be anything… The sky is the limit)

    Your daily dose of inspiration was brought to you by,
    Mr. V

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    Wiggle Yourself Awake

    Most of you know that I’m a fan of literally leaping out of bed the moment that you wake up. As a matter of fact I recently wrote an article about that very thing: Jump Start Your Day. However, as we all know, some mornings are tougher than others. The day (or two) after a really tough strength training, long ride/run, or race I am pretty tore up and not only feel weaker but also am rarely in the mood to leap out of bed. This post is for those mornings.

    Workouts aren’t the only reason for getting out of bed slowly… Sometimes you might be experiencing injuries or facing an illness. Also, as we get older, our bodies simply don’t respond the way they did when we were younger. On top of that, there will also just be days that you don’t feel like jumping out of bed. Regardless of the reason, I have a few tips on what you can do to help cheer you up and get you feeling great before you even lay a foot on the floor.

    You might find that this is a fantastic way to wake every morning and start adapting your morning ritual to include this. Before we tackle this subject, let’s get the fitness disclaimer out of the way:

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    I really do hate having to pop that disclaimer into each healthy post, but you know that it’s necessary for a rare few bozos out there that would blame me and others for their stupid decisions. There… I said it.

    Let us begin! When I wake and feel sore or overly tired I almost always start my morning with a wiggle… Thar is to say, I do some calisthenics and stretching in bed, under the covers, before I even attempt to stand up. Here are the types of things that I do:

    1. I stretch my ankles, toes, and feet. Because of peripheral neuropathy and a target joint, my feet and ankles give me some extra troubles first thing in the morning. So, when I first wake, I often stretch them carefully. After a minute of stretches, I do some deeper stretches, circles, and wiggles. This helps to get the blood flowing into your legs.

    2. Flex my butt. Next, I like to tighten and loosen my gluteus maximus. At the same time I tighten and loosen my hamstrings and quadriceps as well. This is a focus on the big muscles of my body.

    3. Calf raises. Finishing off the legs I do some simple moves for my calves. Note that we already hit them some during step one (ankles). Remember to hit all three primary calf muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior). We hit the gastroc when our legs are straight, and we pull our toes toward our knees. The soleus is hit with the same flex of the foot and ankle, but while the knee is bent. Finally the tib (the front of our shin) is stretched when you push the toes down and away from the knee.

    4. Repeat one through three on your arms, hands and wrists. Simply think of your arms, hands, chest, and shoulders in the same way you did your legs and repeat the routine.

    5. Jiggle. That’s right… As I finish up my routine, I like to jiggle my body. Make sure to incorporate the core (abs and lower back) and get a good jiggle on. Vibrate throughout your body and make this a fun experience. This will really complete the blood flow sequence and get you ready to jump up.

    6. Flip off the covers and leap! That’s it in a nutshell… Once I’ve woken my body, I leap out of bed feeling like a million bucks!

    That’s how I do it. Now, I’d like to share some tips and pointers from my mom, Yahna Christensen, who does a more in-depth version as her body ages and struggles (especially during the morning hours). She calls her morning exercise “Rollercise” and this is what she had to say:

    A little over 10 years ago I started recognizing when I stretched in bed immediately after waking the better I felt when I stood up, how I was able to think more clearly, and how I just really was smiling about the day ahead. So I started a regular routine. Over this last 10 years I have made some discoveries and have fine-tuned this wake up routine. Some of my discoveries and lessons learned are:

  • since there are different types of beds some soft some hard etc. I realize that some exercises are not well suited as they may be difficult or even cause more damage than good
  • if it involves lifting the head up, one must be sure that the lift doesn’t come from the head rather from the stomach
  • the First Alert the body needs is to do some deep breathing which I do with my hands above my head … half of the breath into the diaphragm and then pull that diaphragm breath along with the rest of the inhale up into your shoulders… I repeat this 10 times and then start my routine
  • most of my exercises involve a gentle rolling motion… as soon as I finish breathing I put my hands behind my knees and just roll from side to side not very far just a slight roll I started with 10 and now I do 50 of these each morning…which really wakes up the spine. then I proceed with a dozen or so other exercises.
  • my biggest discovery was that if I skipped a day my body quickly went back to unstable, blurred mind, and a so-so attitude for that day, so not having that really great feeling is a tremendous incentive helping me to look forward to my body wake up routine
  • I am currently in the process of capturing this routine as I have had so many ask me to write a book so that they too can get the daily benefits. My goal for the book is to have it done by March 11th, 2014.

    -Yahna

     

    Just like the engine of an automobile, your body needs to warm up before getting out into the day. Think of this as some pointers on how to warm up your body’s engine prior to tackling the day.

    Let me know what you do to get yourself warmed up, stretched, and ready to do the day’s tasks. Please comment and give me some additional pointers that might help me!

    Thank you very much for reading,
    Vaughn

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    Is Exercise a Waste of Time?

    I have heard people from time-to-time say things like, “Workout, eat healthy, and die anyway.” Or they might ask, “Don’t you think that working out is a waste of time you could better utilize?” I have thought long and hard about these kind of naysayers. I’ve drawn my own conclusion that I decided to share.

    Last year I exercised for 155.5 hours. This year I anticipate meeting or beating that number. So… Was that time that I could have better used for something else? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. You see, by working out (properly) you do things to your body. For instance, I sleep deeper when I’m training and I do not need as much sleep. I might save 30-60 minutes per night in sleep. With sleep alone I’ve already made that time up that I lost during my workouts. Also, working out (PROPERLY) improves your immune system and makes you less likely to get sick. I probably knocked off a week or two of sick days from my year. That could amount to ~336 hours of being sick and unable to do most things.

    Here’s the kicker… Studies have shown that healthy people who eat right and exercise regularly add 7.2 year to their life expectancy. That may not sound like much, but when calculated, it becomes: 62,899 hours!!! That’s right folks… By working out, staying at a healthy weight, and eating healthy you add an average of 62,899 hours to your life!!!

    Time to do a few calculations (my favorite part of life)… If I workout an average of 175 hours per year for 50 years, it will cost me 8,750 hours. Let’s see what this gives us, shall we?

    8,750 (50 years of workout hours)
    -9.125 (50 years of gained sleep)
    -16,800 (50 years of gained sick days)
    -62,899 (adding 7.2 years to your life)
    ===========
    80,074 hours added to your life

     

    That computes to 9.2 years! In actuality, you are adding nearly ten years to your life when you stay fit and healthy!!!

    The next time someone asks you if you’re wasting your time with exercise, tell them that you are actually adding ten years to your life!!!

    In addition there are so many benefits that come from exercise that I can’t list them all. But, I’m gonna try:

    1. Lengthens your lifespan by ten freaking years;
    2. Promotes better sleep habits (as I mentioned above);
    3. Gives you more productive hours each year;
    4. Improves your sex life (believe me);
    5. Increases your stamina;
    6. Improves your mood (decreases and prevents depression);
    7. Boosts HDL’s (lowers your cholesterol);
    8. Decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases;
    9. Helps prevent Type-Two diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome, some forms of cancer, and arthritis;
    10. Increases your balance and agility (which can prevent falls and accidents);
    11. Boosts your energy levels;
    12. Increases your strength;
    13. Induces a euphoria and/or natural high (thanks to my friend Laurie for pointing this one out);
    14. Makes you look better and healthier, leading to confidence (self-esteem);
    15. Reverses stress;
    16. Improves learning by increasing growth factor chemicals in the brain;
    17. Decreases memory loss.

     

    The list goes on-and-on-and-on… Do you have a favorite number above? Or, do you know of another benefit you dig? If so, please comment with your favorite benefit and say a little something about it.

    There really isn’t any reason for us to make a laundry list of great benefits… Living longer and having great sex should be more than enough incentive to get anyone wanting to do physical activity. The other great effects are merely icing on the cake!

    Join me, my friends! Let’s exercise!!!

    Sent with love,
    Rip

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    Sugared Water

    Many moons ago, Apple Computer wanted John Sculley to join them as CEO and apply his marketing skills to the personal computer market. Sculley was not sure that he wanted to join Apple and Steve Jobs sealed the deal when he made his legendary pitch to John, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to come with me and change the world?”

    This quote has stuck with me through the years and it is always a powerful reminder for me: I think that 99.9% of what we humans do to earn a living is selling sugared water. Think deep and hard about what you are doing in your job. Does it embody your high level of standards? Does it fill your heart with gladness? Does it inspire you to be even more? If so, then congratulations! If you are doing your dream job and making the world a better place, it is my belief that you are among 0.1% of the population of this small blue dot we affectionately call “Earth.”

    If on the other hand, you are like most of us and unsure of what you are doing to make the world better, than maybe you should ask yourself the Steve Jobs’ question… And, if you do ask that question, you might get a sinking feeling in your stomach that says, “You are not doing everything in your power to accomplish great things.”

    Supposing you do get that tummy ache, I suggest that instead of pouting and feeling sorry for yourself, you decide to make a change! Think about it… We are all capable of controlling our destiny. You! And, you alone can determine what path you take each day. Sure there are outside influences that will try to knock you off your path. But I believe that you can either let those influences alter your course, or you can stand up to them and say, “No.”

    Together we are capable of anything. I mean that. You and I can make the world a better place. I choose to believe this, and I choose to do something about it. I’m doing it right now in fact. My blog is one of the ways that I strive to inspire my friends, family, and complete strangers who follow my shenanigans. This is one of my many ideas to make the world a better place. Come join me!!!

    For what it’s worth… When Steve asked John that question, he thought about it and then accepted the job. Powerful words with an even more powerful meaning!

    So tell me, Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or, do you want to come with me and change the world?

    All the best,
    Vaughn “the world changer” Ripley

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