Protein shakes, Broccoli Birthday cakes and footy…

Yep! I’m 32 today, 32!

Age is just a number and all that, I can honestly say I get more joy from seeing Isla getting excited about it these days but hey! Great time to still celebrate and reflect on another year on this great earth.

How shall I be celebrating? Well, I’m still in prep for my 1st comp and whilst it may be tempting to have a bit of cake and a glass of fizz I’m quite content to abstain, enjoy the day with the added bonus of a re-arranged match at Bristol City tonight (3 points on my birthday is a must by the way lads! Lol) Plus, What’s not to like having a decent coffee with my post workout grub this morning!

So yes, I’ll still be settling in my seat at the stadium tonight with my chicken, sweet potato and broccoli – I’m saving a cracking bottle of red until after my comps in May!

As always, have a great day folks, Enjoy!

Goals, gifts and giving back…

A few weeks ago I was approached by BBC Radio for an interview about my bodybuilding comp. What has happened since continues to take my breath away.

Humbled by the comments, views and shares I have been approached by many individuals and also parents of those looking at adaptive training, I’ve had some really interesting questions about how I do what I do. I try out, a lot of trial and error, starting small and building, bit by bit. You adapt to your own style & the situation in front of you and give it your best shot!

Thank you to Emma, Jennie and the team at Radio Bristol, they made me feel really comfortable and confident to speak about my disability and training.

In addition, off the back of the stations video posted on their Facebook page, I had a wonderful surprise bundle of training wear sent to me from clothing brand Gymshark. (See below) I was suffice to say very emotional at such a gesture for doing something I love everyday and cannot thank them enough.

I am always thinking of ways of giving back what I have learned over the years and if I have inspired people to look at adaptive training as a result than I am delighted and proud to show my progress to the world.

I’ll continue to work and giving it my best shot, I’m currently 6 weeks from my comp date, I will continue to keep you posted!

All the best,

Matt 💪🏋🏼

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The Continued Journey AND a Thank You…

Last week was a fantastic ride of emotions, not least the incredible amount of support and well wishes on my bodybuilding journey. It’s been a fantastic, humbling and in so many many ways, a positive chapter.

I was surprised, humbled and above all thankful for such a reaction to my segments about the steps I’m taking in disability bodybuilding. I’ve had a lot encouragement and support and I’ve read all the comments and tried to go through & thank everyone.

Moving forward (And that is exactly what I intend to do!) I know this is only the beginning, a statement of my intention to pursue a dream. I’m half way there to making it a reality and get on stage in April. A lot hard work has been done to build this platform by many people and I want to make them proud – my family, my friends, my coaches, they have all invested their time and support and I owe them a lot.

Coupled with the coverage last week – I start my new job this week and I cannot wait to hit the ground running…

Onwards and Upwards!

Keep pushing folks, keep fighting for that goal and get one step closer….

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The lop-sided man in my mirror….

I took the decision a while back that to reach my potential on both sides of my body I needed to try and drop my self consciousness about the reality that I build muscle much faster on my right then on my left due to hemiplegia and the sheer difference in muscle fibres.

It has taken long time to fully admit to myself that this will be the case. Over the course of the summer I’ve deliberately added weight through the right training and a calorie dense diet to get some size and with that the physical changes in the mirror have provided me with joy in one sense in so much that I can see progress but also that like before, my left far more visibly reduced compared to my right and that has been tougher than I first thought it would be.

It has surprised me that I been that self conscious about this internally mainly due to the fact that it’s something that I haven’t seen before – another part of my body that has been seemingly ‘left behind’ while my right side continues to develop.

However, as I’ve tried to mentally dig myself out of the hole during these months I’ve tried to position my left side with a status of a ‘supporting role act’. I’ll try to explain…

The ability for me to lift heavier weights on my right such an EZ Bar or Shoulder Press is reliant on on good balance in part – my right NEEDS my left to help it lift – I wouldn’t be able to lift what I do without my left hand at least. Therefore – my mission is not beat the guy next to me – It’s to create the best ‘leading role’ for my right AND creating the best supporting role for my left! That way it will build muscle on both parts as far as possible, to the best of its ability.

We are all unique and by the tine I get on stage next year I’ll be bringing the best of my right AND the best of my left….

Keep pushing folks….As hard as you can, it will all be worth it…..

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We are all dealt a different hand…

What we do with it is down
to us…

As I look to explain and describe living with hemiplegia – one essence that always dominates how I get around things is the deep understanding of what each side of my body can do.

Physically, the biggest difference is the size and movement – in particular my hand – it is the most visible and striking element of the structure. However, it affects the whole of my left side (my hemi side) – the calf is smaller, I can just about wiggle my toes and as I noticed when training, my hip extends far more than your ‘average’ should apparently do.

Here’s the one takeaway that only a handful of folks know – when I was growing up (and I still do this to some extent now) I often felt my left side would have its own identity from my right – like a little brother, just a smaller version, constantly trying to catch up, wanting to do the things the right did but not quite getting there as quick, Using my right to pull my left along, get it into the angle to grip a knife when eating even if it was just for appearances at the table, I didn’t want to be ‘different’.

Mentally this took its toll – it’s confusing growing up, having to constantly explain what’s ‘wrong’ with my hand – I luckily had it from birth, so that’s all I knew, saying this I’m also lucky I have parents that pushed me – not allowing the disability to exclude me from activities, I loved rugby (Townhill Junior ‘Most Reliable Player, 1996’ I thank you 😀) I also managed to toe poke and limp my way through lunchtime footy, but I loved it all the same.

The thing is this, it was and is a challenge, and after years of battling not to be different, I have accepted and embraced the disability – it is different, it is unique, but aren’t we all? I few years ago I got over my stubbornness and passed my automatic driving license 👍 a couple of years ago, I wanted to get fit – I read and was inspired by how disabled bodybuilders stepped on stage.

A new battle is taking place as I see my body changing as I train – my right is getting bigger than left – it is only natural as the muscle fibres are bigger – there will be two sides to this journey and I will bring my best efforts to both my right and my left in preparation for a competition next year!

More soon folks,

All the best,

The Game Plan to the Stage

So here is the 2017 plan, put into action as from this week…

You could say I’m in prep already, however, 7 months away from a potential disability bodybuilding show it’s more a structure in which to achieve my ultimate goal.

By my own admission I had been a tad woolly when stating a time to compete (by Sept 17) What I’ve done now is to put a map in place with the help of the coaches at ProteinCard week by week, firstly to build / bulk then to use the cutting transformation to get into my best shape with the same method from March of this year.

Only this time there will be that ultimate step for me to get on stage at an as yet to be chosen show at the start of April with a bigger step to continue to the PCA disability bodybuilding show at BodyPower in May next year.

It’s something I have wanted to do for time so I have listened, watched and learned and will continue to do so over the coming months as things start to literally take shape.

Thank you to all the guys who have inspired me in the catagory and the guys at Proteincard…you have given me that belief, that push and knowledge to get this in sight – I owe a lot to the growing community of disability bodybuilders, I’ll see you all in April and May!

Let the games begin!!

You put your left arm in….

I hated that part of the song 20 years ago! 🙂 But I did it, I didn’t care, it was part of the song, that arm was being used…Same goes at the gym, my left arm is part of my body, it’s gonna grow, one way or another!!

Recently, as I sat for a few moments on the bench, I gave out a huge sigh, my left hand had let me down – my wrist had buckled in an attempted lift after applying an extra 2.5kg.

I sat there in frustration for 10 seconds. Lamenting the fact I have lower muscle tone on that side. 10 seconds…Then I got my **** together & remembered why I was there, because I had got it together, 3 years ago – and reminded myself how far I’d come and in a split second after that pause, I got back to what I (and countless others) have always done – working out how the bloody hell I was going to get round this. That’s the way. Previously my hand would always give and slip during deadlifts, BUT, apply some liquid chalk to rid my smaller palm of the moisture and suddenly it’s a different equation!!

At the moment my max is around 20kg plus the bar on the bench – strong in the belief I can go heavier on my right side. Who cares?! Folks aren’t going to judge me for that, My delight is getting any muscle growth on my left too, if it’s dragging itself behind then so be it, I’ve found both sides are built at separate rares. And if my wrist gives way, well I get my strap, attach it to my forearm & get on the cables – There’s always another way forward for each muscle group.

I used to worry I’d get lop sided abs when I first started out, I used to worry about back problems, my leg being shorter, WHO CARES?! The difference is the will and the mindset – I had (and will continue) to push my left & right side to the absolute limit…that is how boundaries are smashed and progress is made, not by self pity on my backside beneath a bar that needs lifting!

The wrist giving way isn’t an extra problem, Everyone is pushing, everyone has an obstacle and everyone will find their own way to pass it….

Whether I need some liquid chalk, a wrist strap, a bit more patience or a little more grit in my teeth, that muscle will grow in both my left and right just as you would tweak your diet, tweak your programme or even your thinking for any type of progression.

So, you pick yourself back up, keep tweaking and never think that you are done….Time to Step Up…AGAIN

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Disability Bodybuilding: Preparing for Reality – The Mindset Shift

The reality is this – I haven’t got on stage and competed…yet.

BUT….
As I continue to face different challenges about the possibilities ahead, the mind is always there to make or break a session, a week or even a vision. Are you good enough? can you actually do this?

My mind is the same vehicle that conceived the idea of getting on the stage by September 2017 and continues to push my boundaries.

What I’ve decided to do is to mentally place my body on that stage, to think like a bodybuilder – after all, my training, my nutrition and my lifestyle is gearing toward this event. Yes, the date and location are yet to be confirmed – however – the mental switch has changed the thinking and going a long way to silence self doubt.

In the early stages, steps which I am still embarking on, I can look at my body and confront those doubts, everyone has the them. BUT the focus cannot be put off by what I can see now – it should be centred on the potential – and even I don’t know at this stage where I can take it, that’s the exciting part!

The difference is now I can see the ‘steps’ leading to that stage, yes the mind can play tricks and place doubt from within, HOWEVER, it can also provide me with the tools to push my body to extraordinary heights – it’s what creates our success. I can learn a huge amount from those folks that have been there, experienced what I want to be a part of, listen, read and practice, every single day.

So, to conclude – I don’t want to become a bodybuilder, To me, the reality is am a bodybuilder…. in training.

With the help of my coaches, I know what physical tools are needed to prepare my body, where I want to be before stepping up there – One of the biggest pieces of the jigsaw, the mental preparation, is that final personal hurdle to jump over for each individual & I plan to push the boundary of every rep of that set!

Building the Disability Bodybuilding Mindset: A 12 week Journey…

This should be the easiest blog to write – bloke eats right food, trains hard, loses weight, tries to get into shape….Job Done. BUT it’s the mindset that is much more complex to pen / write down.

Putting your trust in a process that you’ve not gone through before can be daunting – The ProteinCard guys had given me reliable discounts for some time so the prospect of joining their 12 week journey was easy – nothing to lose, everything to gain – to see if I really could edge closer to getting on a disability bodybuilding stage.

So I signed up. Sent my measurements and got the plan – To be honest, I was dubious to start – my first thought – ‘cutting calories from around
3,000 to 1986 for a guy at 157lbs – How will that work to build muscle?!’ oh the thoughts of a novice!

I’m an Ectomorph, I had always wanted to bulk, bulk, bulk, but that, I realised, that could wait – I had previously just put on belly fat – it was time to trust a process to see what shape I could get in, could I be disciplined enough?

In actual fact it was a significant amount of food, (7 meals!) stripping back to just nutrients free of added sugar, dairy and full of what I found to be a great deal of protein, a balanced level of carbs for energy & fats. The Challenge? To stay the course, learn the discipline of allowing the right prepared food to fuel and advance your training (learning the discipline of prepping the food was another big success!) aided by a fantastic team of coaches from ProteinCard.

The training? structured, tough, engineered to get you to really push your physical boundaries with weights complemented with fat stripping HITT sessions.

I adapted around the training with my disability as I had previously, testing what worked and pushed harder than ever before. I found that connecting with the core of the collective online group of folks on the same journey was such a motivation – yes I had to adapt my training but everyone is unique and will encounter different challenges – my disability is no different to any other barrier people face in their lives.

The biggest joy from the programme is that I now have the firm belief I will get on stage at a disability show next September, it is no longer just a distance dream, it’s a reality that I’m building toward.

In addition, you know what else that made this journey so pleasing? It was the realisation that if your got your mindset right – you really could achieve anything. The ‘week 12 graduation’ this past weekend was an outpouring of celebration from the group…whatever our goal, we had finished the first phase of our journey, each knowing how tough it had been & how hard we had worked. It was a wonderful experience and we are forever grateful for the help, guidance and vital support our coaches provided, they’ve not just shown us the skills to develop the right training and nutrition for 12 weeks, it’s the lifestyle that has been adopted as a result.

As for the next 12 months of training?
BRING
IT
ON!!

🙂

Week 1 to 12…
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500 Miles, 1 Million priceless reasons to feel inspired by Hero’s…

Last weekend I embarked a road trip, it would take in a drive North, to the South and back home to Bristol again – for 4/5 key hours.

I’d be invited to attend a “Reaching out to Inspire” Seminar at Steve Johnson’s Tops Gym in Wakefield, a wonderful fitness & rehabilitation centre.

Now yes it was a few miles on the clock, but the journey & time the panel (Josh Goodfellow, Dean Bromley, Sam Watson & Darran Pytlak-Stanesby) had taken to share their stories (for free I may add) was priceless. These amazing individuals spoke candidly of their challenges in not only day to day life but also pushing boundaries to get themselves to an incredible state of fitness & to become beacons of the growing sport of disability bodybuilding.

Each opened up to the group, documenting their tremendous fight, spirit and drive to live a full life & to push themselves higher and higher.

I’ve had contact with Josh for a while, sharing his knowledge and passion – something I’ve really been able to relate to, but to actually meet him & the others, hear them talk so passionately, was one of the most inspirational afternoons of my life, they have set the bar, growing the sport of disability bodybuilding – I cannot thank them enough for their time, I will see them again, no doubt about it, within the sport and one stage – one day. They are my hero’s.

That motivation then got me through a charity 10k in fancy dress the following morning in Southampton – it was the end of great weekend, full of empowering inspiration – you couldn’t put a price on the significance of what it has meant to me – watch this space.

Finally, a heart felt thanks to Steve Johnson for setting up the space and providing the platform for such an amazing event!