Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Interviews with Ahimsa Lifers: Fitness w/ Damon Valley (#1)

I met Damon sometime in early 2011, just a few months after moving to Los Angeles.  I hadn't consistently been going to a gym and did not have a specific workout routine, so I got involved with Damon's boot camp training in Pan Pacific Park.  As a trainer, Damon runs La Vie Physical Fitness for your "Vital Strength for the Body and Mind." The three days a week I spent an hour boot camping definitely gave me the vital strength I needed for my body and mind, and, after a first day of vomiting (just a little... I wasn't ready to rock... yet), the work ethic, drive, and focus Damon drove into me has led me to my own consistent fitness efforts for the first time ever - and put me in the best physical shape of my life.

I am so excited to feature Damon and his fitness business(es), so all of you Ahimsa Lifers can get to know him, all of you LA-based Ahimsa Lifers can train with him to get into the best shape of your lives, and to introduce everyone to a (com)passionate individual that lives an Ahimsa Life.

Ask him how many pull-ups he can do.
He'll show you.

Ten words that paint us a picture of who Damon Valley is: Passionate, Driven, Humble, Honest, Self-less, Creative, Fighter, Considerate, Curious, Blunt

When did fitness come into your life? What role does it play now? I began exercising in 2006.  It really just came about because I was trying to fix a life in shambles.  I began to make myself a priority, health-wise, and with that came fitness.  It actually surprised me how powerful fitness can be.  It is the catalyst for positive movement, confidence, growth and productivity.  I am constantly using fitness to improve myself physically and mentally.  I also use it as a tool to inspire others.
How long have you been vegan?  What does eating plant-based and living compassionately mean to you? I have been vegan for three years or so.  I have found that the meaning has evolved over the years.  In the very beginning, it was all about my health, improving my health.  Now it is about improving the world as a whole, the people and animals that make up our planet.  It feels good to be healthy and enjoy amazing food without the slaughter of so many beautiful animals.  Veganism is more is more than human health, it is planetary health.

What important qualities does an outstanding coach/trainer exhibit? You absolutely need focus.  You cannot simply tell someone what to do and leave them to it.  That is how injuries happen.  Focusing on the client allows you to help them get the most out of each set, each rep.  It really comes down to respect.  Respect the people you work with, and they will respect you.

What does a coach/trainer look for in his/her clients? Respect.  They must respect my time, my energy.  If I program something for them, do it.  Another thing that is demand is effort.  Give me real effort, real work, real discipline.  Don't half-ass a workout.  

Health, Strength, & Charity
Tell us about LVPF and Vigilante Fit Club:   It is simple.  I just want to help as many people as possible, beyond fitness and nutrition.  There are so many reasons for people to step up and make a difference in the lives of others.  That is what I am attempting to do with the Vigilante Fit Club.  It is a fitness program, yes, but it also reaches out to our communities to help others in need.

Helping those in need - a true Giver, of food and fitness

What are Damon's Top Tips on:
Work Ethic? Be intelligent with time management and bring it!

Making Food Healthy & Fun? Spices, spices and more spices.  They make a simple stir-fry exotic and refreshing.

Struggles/Breakthroughs? They are temporary, so focus on pushing through them.

Losing Weight and Building Muscle? Cycle your starches and lift moderate to heavy weights a few times per week.

Motivation? Find it everywhere, and fill your life with as much as possible.  Post reminders of goals around your house, or as a lap top screen savor.  Anywhere that crosses your path.

Dictionary listing for: Tough!
Ahimsa Quickfire:
Favorite workouts? The Sarah Connor Workout.  I created it as a prison cell workout that can be done almost anywhere.  It is comprised of exercise ladders: pullup: 1-5, squat jump: 2-10, push-up: 3-15, prisoner squat: 4-20.  Do it 2 or 3 times through as quickly as possible.  Amazing metabolic workout.

Favorite mantras, affirmations, incantations? Live to Conquer - That is how I live.

Favorite meals? I love this power smoothie: coconut milk, chocolate protein powder, frozen cherries, frozen spinach, spices.  Tasty.

Favorite resources? Articles by Jason Ferruggia, Chad Waterbury, John Romaniello, Craig Ballantyne make up my primary fitness reading list.  Google them!

Mentors? Besides the resources above, I am constantly inspired by the people who give themselves to a greater cause, people who stand up to injustice and inequality.  They remind me that the world is worth saving.

Check out http://lvpf.net/vigilantefitclub/ or contact vigilantefitclub@gmail.com for more information on how to start training with Damon.  Keep an eye out for his upcoming Food Bank Boot Camp on Saturday, August 25th at 10:30 am.

And as Damon says, "Get Strong. Get Lean. Change The World!"

All the best and yummiest to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Goal is to Improvise the Goal of Improvising the Goal: Part 2

In Part 1, we explored the initial connection and three of the tenets of improvisation that apply to outcome/goal (o/g) setting, relationship, journey, and completion.  Let's discover twelve more that will create a most connected experience for you!

4) Be specific.
Generalizing will lead you on a long journey without the fulfillment for which you're looking. Are you looking for "a little here, a little there," "sorta this, kinda that" or are you looking for something complete and direct? You don't have to over-specify every tiny detail to be specific, but, without clarity, you may find yourself struggling to connect with your true, exact o/g. Be clear - what do you want?

5) Label in early moments and choose to know.
Identify the important details and players in your journey toward your o/g. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Know the answers to these. "I Don't Know"s prevent progress, accomplishment - use your IDKs to explore answers, seek them out, and utilize them to guide yourself to achievement.

6) Set up your partner(s) and accept gifts.
The circle/cycle of giving and receiving is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, in consciousness. Shower your o/g with love and attention, be willing to accept whatever your o/g gives (back) to you and ride those gifts to the next step of your journey.

7) Deal with your partner's statement, don't move on to a completely separate idea.
We all suffer from Overwhelm enough, the last thing we want to do is overwhelm ourselves more. Focus on this one specific o/g and carry it out to fruition (or revision), rather than add on numerous o/gs that will spread your attention, efforts, and purpose too thin.

8) Embrace the simple and leave room to build/heighten.
The top of the ladder, stairs, mountain is the last place you reach in your climb. Don't aim to immediately start there - you won't have anywhere to go, and you'll also be setting yourself up for an impossible feat (Can you make it to the top of the ladder, stairs, a mountain in one step?). Keep it simple and understand it's a process, which you get so much out of in itself, with many rungs/steps/terraces - often in a specific order - leading to your ultimate o/g.

9) Make use of powerful silences.  
There will often be chunks of "downtime," "inactivity" while you're taking action, moving forward toward your o/g.  These silences are to allow room for you and your o/g to breath.  Neither you nor your o/g want to be suffocated - find the power, revitalization, and balance you (re)gain during these periods where it seems like nothing is happening. There's actually a lot going on.

10) Don't over-think, sometimes go with first impulse to hit you.  Listen to your inner voice.
Have you ever thought yourself into something, out of something, back in and out all in one sitting? This type of over-complication will compromise your o/g and mindset. Your heart, "gut," and universal consciousness have equal voices in this whole process - receive their ideas, feedback, and trust the internal and external messages that are sent to you.

11) Stay present.
Your o/g is not in the past. While it will come to fruition in the future, as of this moment right now, your o/g is not in the future. It is here with you, right here, right now. Stay with it in the present as it grows with you. All of your planning and action steps will set up for a beautiful future for you and your o/g, and when that future comes, guess what? It'll be your present.

12) There's no such thing as a mistake.
Doubting Debby and Danny have no place in your o/g journey. (Sorry, D&D.) Your pathway may not resemble a straight line, in the beginning or by the end. You must let go of the exact path and know that if there's meaning in your o/g and you've connected completely with your purpose (the "Why?"), you will travel from start to finish, no matter what bumps you encounter along the way.

13) Reveal yourself through your character.
Be open, honest, and spiritually naked to your o/g - and others with whom you interact on the journey. If your o/g and others who will help you don't know what/how you're feeling, they won't know how to assist, guide, and connect with you most effectively. Take off your self-defense mask and allow your vulnerability to be a valuable tool in your outstanding accomplishments.

14) Find your function, role, purpose in every game.
You can't be the star in the spotlight for every step in your journey. Know that your o/g will always consider you its leading man/lady, but sometimes you will have to trust the signals that tell you to back off, step forward, quiet down, get loud, take a break, power through. You'll most likely experience a mix of different roles - connect with Why? you're doing what you're doing and relinquish yourself to wearing a hat that was intentionally given to you, even if you had something else in mind for that moment.

15) Have fun. 
Have fun. That's it. If you're not having fun, neither is your o/g. Make your work play and your play work. Have fun.

The funniest part about all of the connections between improvisation and o/gs might actually the one major factor that is completely opposite! While you're going to want to set your o/g, knowing the ending (or thereabouts) from the very start, you have no clue what the ending is going to be at all when you start an improv scene!  Beyond that difference, hope you take a lot out of the many similarities and improvise your way to your outcome/goals!

What value have you found in conscious improvisation in your own life? 

All the best and yummiest to you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Goal is to Improvise the Goal of Improvising the Goal: Part 1

I've been improvising at this amazing improvisation (comedy) training center/school/theater for the past seven months called iO West (formerly Improv Olympic).  It's been an absolute joy and privilege to dive into this art form of improv, one that depends on being present in the moment, reacting to onstage stimuli, creating character and situation and heightening both, in addition to many other areas connected to the craft.  I've been learning, growing, and playing, and having the best time doing so.

Which made me think of... life.  Living.  Our day-to-day lives.  Don't we improvise every day of our lives?  We go through most of our lives making choices that we didn't quite know we would make the second, minute, hour, day before.  And the best life we can lead happens when we are present in the moment, reacting to stimuli, creating and heightening, and more, right?

So all of this led me to Wikipedia to get a definition for everyone.  Here it is:

  • is the practice of acting, singing, playing musical instruments, talking, creating artworks, problem solving, or reacting in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. 
  • can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or new ways to act.
  • occurs most effectively when the practitioner has a thorough intuitive and technical understanding of the necessary skills and concerns within the improvised domain.

i.e. The simple act of speaking requires a good deal of improvisation because the mind is addressing its own thought and creating its unrehearsed delivery in words, sounds and gestures, forming unpredictable statements that feed back into the thought process, creating an enriched process that is not unlike instantaneous composition.

So, basically, aren't we all improvisers?  Every day, in our very own lives, delivering an unconscious, or conscious (or both), performance of living.  The plays, film, poems, music, comedy shows that involve improvising reach their outcome/goal by their end, concluding the journey on which they've taken us.

(Note: "outcome/goal" is not be confused with "outcome-based goal." While there are "outcome-, or result-, based goals" and "process-based goals," I use the term "outcome/goal" to bring more attachment, connection, solidarity to you and what you're going to complete/achieve.  Goals can often seem distant, something for which you're reaching (too far); outcomes are something you have decided - "This is my outcome. It is done." The combination gives at least a choice, or, hopefully, a greater sense of destined accomplishment.)

If we were to look at our outcome/goals we set in the same way, though, we often go on the journey but don't always reach them.  Why is it?  Maybe it's because life is very complicated and we don't have "a thorough intuitive and technical understanding of the necessary skills and concerns within the improvised domain".  So what if we applied some of the main principles of successful improvisation to our outcome/goal (o/g) setting, relationship, journey, and the completion of it?  Let's see how much actually connects!

1) "Yes, and..."
The power of agreement.  Negative emotions/talk ("No," "not," "can't," "failed, failure") and denial/denying all stop o/gs right in their place.  Also, agreeing and adding on to progress toward the o/g is much more effective and valuable than agreeing and staying complacent with where you are at.  

2) Make a choice. Make a strong choice.
How can you get anywhere if you don't choose to go there? You must be active to forward action in your life, and that means making a choice. There are not necessarily right or wrong choices; more often, there are strong and weak choices. What is the most active, strongest choice you can make to get closer to your o/g?

3) Make eye contact and connect with your partner(s).  Listen and remember.
You must connect with your o/g, or else it will wander off from you. You are building a relationship and that means direct, attuned contact and communication with your o/g. In addition to your own stating of what it is, what you want, you must listen to your o/g and remember the signals, clues it gives you along the way.

What elements of improvisation do you use, do you think are valuable in your outcome/goal setting, relationship, journey, and completion?

*Here's Part 2, where we explore 12 more principles that will allow you and your o/g to have fun (and success) improvising together!

All the best and yummiest to you.