Doing what I can but also exploring “what can I do?”

There has been an acceptance from myself that have to do things differently from many people. It’s a mental attitude picked up from an early age that I had to find alternative routes with things, so doing that in the gym wasn’t alien to me.

That being said, it was notion having to find my own way from the very start.

I didn’t know in my early years that what I was doing was far from “the norm” – it’s the environment we end up in and being told that “you’re different” that triggers this separation, but I didn’t understand until much later.

Here’s an interesting discovery I made

There’s a balance between heading into the gym and training with my mind set on “Doing What I Can” from the off, but this is just the start of the magic. There’s something else that generates a feeling of “let’s try this” or “what if that could be placed there” Creating a thirst of exploring as a result and this feeling takes over!

So yes, even though there are things I’m still trying to figure out, that’s also exciting too! I get to have another go, and another – some things stick, some don’t (some have not worked at all!) but moving through this just keeps so fresh.

This past week I’ve worked on a new bicep curl variation which I’ll share here…

It’s a work in progress but it’s progress all the same and day by day that’s what I love to do.

Keep exploring!

Finding Resilience and adding it to my programme…

There have been many reasons why I wanted to get into fitness over the years.

I remember my own journey starting just after Christmas 2013, so rather than scoff at “New Year” posts, I love seeing and engaging with the positivity from the drive that people have. I believe it’s takes courage to not only want to improve something, but to actually publicly state it, goes a long way to finding a way for it to stick.

The resilience I finally found in 2013 was through breaking things down at a slower pace when those opening weeks of excitement steadied. The realisation that my journey was going to be longer one to make the smaller changes noticeable over time took some getting used to.

The battle remains today even 8 years in, reminding myself that the challenging days will be there and to learn something each day that will help later & to experiment, test and be patient.

To keep working on my resilience is as important a component to my training as the actual sets and nutrition, to try and see the bigger picture. This is exactly why I feel fitness takes such a priority. Not just being the barer of health, but of clarity, of discovery, physically & mentally and the time to allow creativity to flow in those glowing hours after too!

Resilience has helped me see through many challenges with my disability, it’s helped strengthen the resolve but also assisted in building a slow burning confidence forged then (and still to this day) from trying to find alternatives ways to move and the gym brings an abundance of that.

The 2022 Plan? Keep on tweaking the plan!

There are so many objectives ahead in 2022, more family activities, plans to get bigger physically , career development, sharing more stories, get more sleep, it could be literally endless…

The issue I’ve realised at the turn of the year reflections is that I can’t cram it into 30 days, nor do I want some of them to be finite at 12 months.

There are ample opportunities to change things up, daily, weekly and by the end of the year but I’m conscious of the need to tweak various elements of my routine to push this through.

For example, take time allocation. To make an improvement I’m going to need to make it fit somewhere. My first question is where is on my list of priorities?

I want to test out a few changes but I want to make them stick. The pod has been something I’ve wanted to improve over the last few months but I had to ensure the time was there to make it work so I made sure I can allocate what I wanted – if I want to make longer form ones stick, it will need a bigger time allocation, more often.

With my food and training, I will look to keep things simpler still by adding & removing things slowly to reveal small changes that over time will give me that knowledge to create a bigger impact over 52 weeks, and make adjustments.

This is also why I love experimenting and tweaking my training to allow time to test new sets to adapt to my structure, keeping things fresh and exciting without throwing things off completely in the process.

So, in short, more changes, but over time!

Have a great 2022!

Even more grateful for…

I’ll look back at 2021 finishing with even more gratitude of what I have.

It goes without saying how grateful I am for my family and our health. For this year has made us acutely aware of each precious moment.

In a year with further study of the Stoics thanks to the fantastic Ryan Holiday, I’m reminded more so of ‘We control how we respond’ through Epictetus. It’s not lost on me how we started 12 months ago back in lockdown and really struggling for a time.

What did happen was having to dig deep to find the path that took us through the the 1st lockdown – how did we adapt? How did we get our exercise in the first instance, where were my mistakes? How did we get better?

The response to react quicker to install a familiar routine helped a lot the during the 2nd period 12 months ago. With what ended up being a longer time out of the gym, the moment we got back propelled that sense of gratitude any type of movement, let alone concern over what equipment I had, was very much at the forefront of my mind.

Do I use “positivity” as a defence mechanism? I don’t think so, but I think I’ve realised it goes deeper than me just trying to think positive thoughts. I believe it’s an appreciation of what I can do / have access to. There’s been a battle mentally for that for years but the gratitude I have for my life and my experiences is greater now than it ever has been.

A challenge facing me now is to continue to evolve that with each battle that is presented…

So, on to the next challenge!!

An Adaptive Intensive Cruise to see out 2021…

My favourite go-to training programme for some time has been the variety offered from Fortitude Training by Dr Scott Stevenson.

As we enter the winter of 2021, I finished the first phase of a progressive blast lasting six weeks culminating in my current 14 day “intensive cruise”. Where the time is spent on a deload allowing my body to recover from the previous six week phase.

There have been various ways to construct an intensive cruise and I found it incredibly beneficial to allow my body time (particularly with cerebral palsy) to rebuild its energy stores.

The emphasis for me in this two week period has been to look closer at the adaptions available to me with the gym set up. Asking myself are there any new ways to build my left side into my training program – so the current focus is on different rotations on upper chest isolation and rear and front delt work.

Further ahead, I intend to do the same with legs in the next round of the cruise in the second phase of my improvement season.

This has enabled me to find even more variety and adapt around even more equipment. I will report back on each stage of this development so that I can continue to learn more and share the findings with you all.

In many ways this year has had to be a long road of discovery through the uncertainly. I’m trying to find different ways to train which suits my goals, be that at home or in the gym.

Although I will pick the gym over home workouts every single time, the ability to think outside the box on occasions doing a homework out early in the year enabled me to find more creative ways to work out once I got back in the gym in the spring.

What I have learnt is that the attachments in the gym enabled a far greater range of adaptive working sets rather than just being able to work both on my stronger right side and build up the muscle structure on my left.

As many of you will know already I’ll use 2022 as a building year, the first 12 months of such since I started competing (but I have the intention to compete in the following year!) in order to build even more muscle tissue.

That being said I’m still very much excited about the opportunities ahead in 2022 and being able to share more stories to my social platforms and being able to present ideas which I hope will bring more accessibility throughout the fitness industry which will enable even more people to take part in this great sport.

Managing My Energy and Performance with Cerebral Palsy

3-5x more energy required for people with cerebral palsy.

That’s an astonishing piece information I received a few years ago, only pointed out to me from someone who had the same muscle structure as me.

No wonder I felt tired!

It was often lost on me that the tiredness I felt, the guilt, the annoyance, the frustration, All emotions playing out surrounding general performance, particularly with sport was answerable because of CP.

My mind wants to go!

It’s a very infuriating element sometimes. That being said, it doesn’t prevent me from researching my own body and managing the energy….with some caffeine to help along the way as I made me way into my 30’s!

The energy equation has had me realising that I HAVE to manage my performance, at the gym, work and in other environments in such a way that brings my best with my disability. Much of this also accounts for how other challenges are tackled too…lots and lots of pre-planning.

Ironically I used to find planning all the time exhausting but I love it now, that time allows me to plot to the best of my ability exactly what is required to get the best from every single moment. From nutrition, sleep, travel – if I can plan it, the less stress there is, I can allow time and carve out some more ‘energy credit’.

By doing more of this I can see where I’m at my best, know when likely challenges will come and make changes ahead of time for me and potentially let others be aware if need be.

Now, it doesn’t ALWAYS work – there are the occasional changes but it just helps so much in usual day to day tasks that’s it very much worth doing!

Grateful for this chance…

I’m grateful…

To have a chance to improve

To move

To ponder

To experiment

To change

To be free

To build strength

To challenge myself

To be ok not to be ok sometimes

To have space

To be still

To create

To explore

To question

To build

To thrive

I’m grateful…

My Physical and Mental Fitness “Improvements Season”

I like the term “improvements season” – the transition from a pre-contest to post (physical) fitness contest or ‘off season’ is not always as straight forward as I think it will be sometimes…

To elaborate, so much time and energy around the gym is allotted to the season ending finale with often a single focus on that last bodybuilding show, whilst perhaps being beneficial for that event, it brings with it an almost inevitable void thereafter which is not always easy to replace.

Having finished 3rd in my disability category at the PCA British Finals in October, I’ve settled on an improvement year in 2022, before stepping back onto the competition stage in 2023. That being said, whilst initially stating that the focus on a physical level is to improve strength in the gym, it’s good to also turn attention to my mental fitness too.

With ambitions to do some talks on strength and wellbeing in the disability bodybuilding space (be that on stage, podcasts or video) throughout 2022, this will help with personal and professional development too, reassessing my processes for focus, confidence and clarity.

How do I deal with this situation? How can my reactions be better? How do I tackle a challenging environment? A difficult conversation? All good thoughts to open and be open about..

They will aid my mental AND physical fitness, all year round!

I love to study smart thinking, the stoics with Ryan Holiday, I’m also looking to expand my knowledge in economics, business development, more reading on leadership with Jocko Willink, biographies and nutrition, the list goes on…

This great mix will help in so many disciplines over the coming year, be that improvements in the gym, my career, the seminar stage or how I react to challenges – I feel it’s important for me to work on both aspects going forward and to be open about it too, they both matter so much in so many areas. In all seasons, throughout the year.

D for Daddy…D for Disability

Tackling potential challenges with being a Daddy with a Disability much like other hurdles in life!

Discussion One:

How will I hold them?

Starting a family was something I had looked forward to for a significant time & finding out I was going to be a parent was a wonderful moment but looking back there were also some previous long held worries about adapting to life as a Father with a disability (cerebral palsy in my case).

With babies, my perception was that the looking after of one came with lots of multi-tasking, involving hands and that brought concerns with how I would cope, potentially on my own times – with feeding, nappies, seat belts, clips or harnesses. In addition to help they would need growing up with hair, clothing, climbing and fixing things.

Saying that, above all else I wanted to be a Dad, to grow a family and to bring along all that experience growing up, together with my amazing wife’s help, we have adapted around my disability with everything else in our lives.

The crucial thing I learnt in the early days is to remain calm and adapt to each situation as you would in any other challenge in your life around you. Each challenge my disability has presented me is an opportunity to fashion a unique solution in life.

Having a baby brings added pressure admittedly. This bundle of joy you’ve created is dependant on you yes, but in my experience, this dependence is about bringing your best adaptions with you that have helped so much so far.

For example, there was learning to keep my right hand (my most mobile side) free for potential trickier functions such as using a bottle feed whilst my left side is stable to provide support for my resting baby. There were no sudden movements in those early days from my daughters, so I found it comforting knowing they were secure in my left arm.

I can only go from my experience but I learnt beforehand that many people with a disability find their own way with parenting so that helped so much as I went on this incredible journey myself. Yes it can be tricky at times but so rewarding. I’ll be recalling more of these unique factors as I go but if there any questions you have or stories to share please get in touch!