“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.” // Muhammad Ali

In the winter of 2011, I decided it was time to get off my ass.

I am 5-foot-7 and at the time I weighed around 180 pounds. That’s fat.

I hadn’t worked out in any respectable capacity for a couple years. My wife at the time had started going to the gym daily and she was slimming up and making me look the opposite of Jack Spratt.

That was the shock I needed to get my system going. But what to do? I had always hated exercise — treadmills, lifting weights, exercise machines… if I wasn’t falling asleep from boredom I was always an inch away from injuring myself.

Exercise for its own sake was not something I’ve ever been interested in. I needed to find something effective, efficient, and ultimately useful. And I needed to learn how to do it correctly.

I had always had a fascination with boxing. Muhammad Ali was a hero of mine since I was a kid — for his drive, commitment, gift for words, and, oh yeah, his boxing skills.

“Screw it,” I thought (not my exact words). “Let me try this boxing thing.”

So back in the winter of 2011, I committed to putting my money where my fat mouth was and hired a personal boxing trainer and got my bloated ass in shape.

My goals with boxing training were actually two-fold:

  • Get into decent shape once and for all.
  • Learn how to exercise properly so I could it do by myself.

You know what? It totally worked.

Today, I weigh a more respectable 150 pounds. I have strength. I walk and carry myself with more confidence. I know how to throw a decent punch. I dropped numerous sizes in clothing… I haven’t gotten any taller, but that’s OK.

All that is great and I’m satisfied with a mission accomplished. But there’s more to it. I received a couple bonus benefits from training in and continuing to dabble in boxing (I have no dreams of entering the ring).

These benefits have come in handy in the rest of my life, career, and relationships. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Slow Man (and who doesn’t, right?), I highly recommend getting into boxing. Here’s two things you’ll get out of it and can put to use in your own life:

The Art of Balance

When I first started training, I was eager to start punching shit. But before that could happen, my trainer spent a lot of time focusing on what arguably is the most important thing: stance.

Having balance — weight equally distributed across your body — helps keep whatever comes flying at you from knocking you over, whether it’s a left hook or a text message from your significant other saying, “We need to talk.”

It’s also what helps you launch an effective attack. Both defense and offense stem from the stance. That’s pretty important.

How balanced do you think you are? Like my trainer did to me, I invite you to have someone just give you a gentle push and see how easy it is to fall down when you don’t have the proper stance.

The Art of Relaxation

One of my favorite part of the boxing regime is putting on the gloves and hitting the bag. Even better is when someone else puts on pads and you go through combinations of punches.

There’s a particular sound you get when you square off and strike a good punch. It’s a loud, sharp sound that screams satisfaction. I learned pretty quickly you can never get that sound when you’re too uptight. Contradicting every notion I came into with the sport, in order to get anything out of boxing — and again, LIFE LESSON here — you must be relaxed.

Yes, boxing as a physical activity involves exertion, intense activity, and profuse amounts of sweat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be relaxed while you’re doing it.

What does that mean, really? I take it to being fully aware, in the moment, feeling every part of your body working and flowing, and letting go of all the tension that you’ve built up throughout the day.

If you’re like me dealing with annoying coworkers, rude subway riders or aggressive drivers, bad TV, catastrophes on the evening news, etc., can really build up intense stiffness in your mind and body. But, just like boxing, you can’t strike those satisfying punches if you’re all clenched up, uptight, and too rigid — either mentally or physically.

Relax. Punch. Hear that sound?

If not boxing, get into something. Stop dreaming about it and get outside your comfort zone. I can almost guarantee you’ll step out of the ring with a new perspective on the rest of your life.

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Much like the rest of planet Earth, I saw “The Avengers” recently. I had a revelation in the midst of all the avenging, quipping, and smashing. SPOILER: it didn’t have to do with Scarlet Johannson’s badonk (we all knew about that already).

I finally understood a deeper reason why the Slow Man, since his nerdy youthful days of reading comics, has always liked the Hulk. Sure they both talk in third person, but there’s more to it than that.

See, the Hulk gets all green and smashy when his host Dr. Bruce Banner — played with understated, but palpable anxiety and internal intensity by Mark Ruffalo — gets angry. The common conception is that Banner loses control of his anger and unleashes the Hulk unwittingly on buildings, people, baddies, and mountain ranges.

But, the Avengers movie does something extremely interesting with the Banner-Hulk dynamic, something that made my own gamma ray induced brain go pop. POSSIBLY REAL SPOILER: Towards the end of the film, Banner turns to his brawny and bewildered buddies and tells them, “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”

Hulk, Say What?!

Our image of the Hulk — and other Id fueled monsters of absolute destruction — is that they are the results of uncontrollable anger. This one line in this billion-dollar-movie takes that notion and wraps it in a Slow Man-approved flipped script.

This Hulk is awesome because he has anger inside of him all the time and chooses when to let it loose. In the movie it is always when it’s most useful to him.

But if he’s always pissed off inside why isn’t he a violent monster 100% of the time?

How You Can Be the Hulk (Without Destroying Property and Your Wardrobe)

I think there are a couple choices we face when it comes to anger. Counter-intuitively, we can learn about these choices from this nuanced Hulk of 2012:

1. Recognize that we all have anger.

Anger isn’t only for angry people. We all experience it. The problem is we usually hang onto it longer than we need to. Or beat ourselves up about it.

What a Hulk-controlling Banner has to do on a daily basis, minute by minute is take that anger and push it along and through himself. Some people do it through meditation, or exercise, or through giving something to others.

However you do it, the way to be Good Hulk is to realize that anger is completely normal, natural, and manageable. Recognize you have it — just like everyone else — and move on. Your anger ain’t nothing special. Recognize it, give yourself permission to feel that way, then let the rage go.

2. Use anger to smash the things that make you angry.

The Hulk has this down pretty pat. The difference for us non-green people is we can’t just go punch a flying alien living tank-thing (which was an awesome scene in the movie, by the way).

Non-superhero Hulks like us need to face down the things that make us angry and deal with them.

Most of us get mad for pretty tangible reasons, whether they are rational or not. Figure out what they might be, identify them — target them, to use that macho, combative language we love about superheroes — and smash them into dust.

The sooner we deal with the sources of our anger and distress, the quicker we can become calm, cool Banners again. And the quicker we can move on and stop holding onto the emotional detritus that keeps us feeling angry, fearful, and threatened.

In short: Become the Hulk to stop being the Hulk.

There are plenty of other reasons why the Hulk is incredible. And he stole the show in “The Avengers,” in my opinion. A lot of that has to do with the sheer, raw power that anger holds over us. What the Banner-Hulk complex teaches us is that controlled anger can save the day.

More Awesome Avengers Sh*t

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How to grow a beard? Why grow a beard? Do women like beards? These aren’t questions mankind has had to deal with until recent times. Personally, The Slow Man is a bit partial to his facial hair — but that’s mainly because his woman prefers him that way.

But if you study the history of manly facial hair and learn how women’s attitudes about dudes with beards have changed so dramatically, it leaves you wondering: Should you sport the clean shaven look or hold out for a woman who can embrace the beard? Check the science and sociology of beards below and let me know what you think.

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Are you settling into spring yet?

Here’s a few things that I’ve been sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets. Now that my fingers are all thawed out from spending too much time smoking cigars in the winter chill, I expect I’ll be posting a bit more. As always, open for suggestions and ideas.

Happy spring.

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What’s so great about being Slow? It’s a fair question.

Usually, the fast, cheap, and easy are applauded. So much so that everything that has to do with slowness has negative connotations. But, come one, sometimes things are just better when you take your time, right?

I believe there’s a great benefit to taking this Slowness approach. There’s a lot wrong with the world and much of that is because we are moving too damn fast. Sometimes, I think it’s a tough concept to convey, but that’s part of the reason I’m here writing this crap — to figure out how to tell the story…

Maybe it’s easier to tout Slowness by explaining whats wrong with moving too damn fast.

Moving too damn fast is:

– taking a blind shortcut
– acting at the expense of others
– sacrificing long term benefits for short term gains
– ignoring the true costs of our actions and decisions
– letting others do for you what only benefits yourself
– making convenience a driving force

Lets face it: speed kills. No one ever died from taking one step at a time.

What else? Does “moving too damn fast” bring anything particular to your mind?

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For reasons both personal and professional, I’ve been on a bit of research kick around the idea of confidence. The short version of the story is that I came to a realization recently that I will never achieve any of my goals and desires if I don’t figure out how to get more self-confidence. Publishing this site is a part of my process to deal with self-confidence, in fact.

Some people who know me personally might be a little bit surprised by that confession, but it’s no lie. I’ve struggled a long time with a somewhat warped sense of self-confidence — believing in myself up to a point, but never far enough to take too many risks. Put that together with being a natural introvert and you realize it’s always a challenge living  in a world where confidence (often without competence, but we’ll get to that in a bit) is vastly more rewarded than just merely being good at something.

So, I needed to find out a few things. Is confidence merely a state of mind? Is it a set of trainable behaviors? Can you fake it when you need to? In the little bit of reading and personal discovery I’ve been through over the last few weeks, I came up with a small (but growing) list of things I learned about confidence:

  • Confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing. You can be confident without self-esteem and vice versa. It’s important to recognize the difference.
  • Confidence cannot be given to you. You have to take it for yourself. If you rely on others to give you a sense of confidence, you end up codependent.
  • Building your confidence requires taking risks — often. Get used to it.
  • Yes, you can fake confidence. Just be sure you have the competence to back up what you’re doing, eventually.
  • One surprising thing I’ve discovered — be eager to give and share. It’s amazing what a boost this can be.

I believe confidence is the key to achieving everything you want. Sure, you need the world to cooperate for some of your goals and dreams, but who will the world better listen to: the wallflower who doubts every other word he says, or the vocal, forthright, steadfast person oozing self-confidence that not only wants to get what’s his or hers, but is willing to share it with you in the process?

I will write more about all of this in future posts. For now, tell me, how confident do you think you are? Are you doing anything to improve your self-confidence?

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