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A Reawakening [Mar. 6th, 2011|03:27 pm]
2 more weeks are in the books and just under 6 weeks remain.  As each day passes, I realize the importance of patience and mental toughness.  Every meal, every workout, every minute posing has a purpose.  There are no shortcuts.  Each is a planned step along the way, with the goal of peak performance on April 16th. 

I have decided to compete in both the novice and open men's divisions.  I figure I should take care of the novice division with my goal still being the open division - and a pro card.  Usually the novice division takes place before the open, so it should serve as a warmup for when it really counts.

I recently found a bunch of pictures from my first show and I can flat out say that my physique then, pales in comparison to where it is now.  My posing back then left also left a lot to be desired.  However that first contest served an important stepping stone as I'm making improvements and adjustments from where mistakes were made last time. 

I've added a lot of muscle since then - which I would hope would happen after 4 years.  My posing now is way ahead of where it was for that contest.  I have a better game plan in mind for the presentation details, so that should improve as well.  I think I'm going to be able to present a pretty complete package come game day. 

Over the last few weeks with my increased focus on the competition, I feel that I've reawakened something inside of me.  Although I haven't stopped training over the years, my interests have gone in other directions.  However, the more I focus on the competition, the more I'm reacquainting myself with an area that has lied dormant.  When I first started training for this, I could barely remember the mandatory poses.  But now, things as starting to feel like second nature, like instinct.  That competitive fire is back.  That will to win at all costs is back.  The animal is back. 
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Seize the Opportunity [Feb. 20th, 2011|06:54 pm]
1st week of dieting is in the books and 8 weeks remain.  Two weeks ago I dropped 4-5 lbs and was a little concerned that I was dropping weight too quickly.  My weight stabilized this week.  After starting Monday at 201, I was down to 198.6 this morning.  Losing 1-2 lbs per week is my ideal plan.  That should put me at around 190 a few days before the competition and allow me to drop to 185ish the day of the comp.  My concern was whether I would be conditioned enough at 190 or if I should drop to 176, but this week has reaffirmed that 190 is the ideal weight class.

My training is really gearing up in intensity.  I'm now doing 30-40 sets per workout, 5 times a week.  Most people dial back the training for the competition but most people are soft.  There's only one way to train - and that's all out.  I set a new max on the leg press this week, hitting 1110 for a set of 12 on my 7th set.  I've got 8 more weeks to take the training to another level.  Expect a lot more intensity. 

The biggest obstacle will be the posing.  No one trains harder than me and my conditioning should be fine, but posing will decide whether I win this or not.  I'm focusing on making sure that aspect won't drag me down.  I'll soon be figuring out the posing routine I'll be using.

Life is full of opportunities and you need to seize them when you have the chance.  This competition is my opportunity.  Just like the bench press competition my senior year was the end of an era, this is really a culmination of nearly 7 years of dedicated training.  More than a quarter of my life has been devoted to lifting and it's led me to this point.  Sacrifices have been made along the way and opportunities have been missed.  The past cannot be changed but it has served to get me to this point.  To this competition.  8 weeks remain until I put it all on the line.  I won't let this opportunity pass me by.
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Far Beyond Driven [Feb. 13th, 2011|12:33 pm]
So it's been almost 2 years since the last post so I think an update is a little overdue.

In the last entry I talked about the bench press competition possibly being the end of my lifting career.  In a lot of ways it was.  I've continued to train but without a competition or direct goal in sight, training isn't the same.  For the most part I was ok with this.  But I noticed that I still had something in the basement.  I had considered doing one more bodybuilding competition for a while now but decided that now is the time.

Towards the end of last year I decided that I would compete in an April natural pro qualifier with the goal of winning a pro card.  Natural contests are ones that test for steroids so I figured I'd be on a level playing field - although I can dominate juice heads just the same.  I started to put together the plan for competition.  I took the last 3 weeks of December off to try and rest my body for the training.  With the competition being April 16th, starting training at the beginning of the year would give me 15 weeks of preparation.

I just completed my 6th week of training.  Starting on Monday, I officially begin dieting.  There are 5 weight classes - below 150, 150 - 165, 165 - 176, 176 - 190, and above 190.  I plan on competing in the under 190 weight class.  Although I haven't officially started dieting yet, I've cleaned up my diet recently.  This week I lost 4 lbs and weighed under 200 lbs today for the first time in years.  Over the next 9 weeks I'll be gradually cutting down on the calories with the goal of competing around 185.  I figure that at 185 I'll keep most of my size while ensuring that my conditioning is spot on.  Last competition I was at 176, and while I was definitely shredded, I felt that I was smaller than I would have liked.  Hopefully 185 will be the ideal weight.  Since I lost 4 lbs this week without really trying, I know I won't want to cut the calories too drastically as I don't want to lose too much weight too quickly.  9 weeks should give me a decent time frame to ease the weight down.

Right now I'm training 5 days a week.  I'm doing a chest/back superset day 1, legs day 2, shoulders day 3, back day 4, and core/explosive training day 5.  I'm focused on improving my back and legs to match my chest/shoulders/arms.  I'm leaving nothing to chance.  I'm trying to build the biggest and most balanced physique on stage.  I plan on showing them something they've never seen before.

A big key will be mastering the finer points of posing.  If I can perfect this, I should be in good position to earn the pro card. 

Right now I'm far beyond driven.  My conditioning is really good for 9 weeks out and my training is all out intense.  Now that the dieting is beginning it's time to take the training to another level.  To compete it takes a lot of sacrifice.  There are a lot of things you miss out on but my goal is to win - to win at all costs - which will make the sacrifices worth it.  I refuse to be outworked and I refuse to lose.  Although circumstances and priorities change over time, I know one thing hasn't changed.  I still have the animal inside of me.  Now it's time it unleash it.
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The End of a Lifting Career? [Mar. 4th, 2009|09:44 pm]
So today was the day.  I've been anticipating this day since losing last March.  I've chronicled my training so no need to rehash that so I'll just concentrate on today. 

So I had class today from 10-4 and it was the longest 6 hours of class ever.  I did my best to try not to focus on the competition but had little success.  I had so much nervous energy that I couldn't sit still all day.  I was just hoping that all this nervous energy wouldn't result with me being drained come game time.  I got out of class and was able to bs for an hour until I got dinner and it was time to get after it.

This year I was going heavyweight with no intentions of dieting as in years past.  I weighed in at 226 (a little skewed because I was wearing shoes and clothes).  It was only me and my main competitor in our class.  He and I were in a league of our own and it was going to come down to which one of us could get the job done when it mattered.  They did all the small fries first.  I didn't even watch any of it and couldn't tell you what any of them lifted as all I cared about was the showdown.  After the smaller guys got done it was time for the big dogs.  I would say we started warming up around 7 or so (contest started about 6:20).  I did my usual warmup - bar to get loosen up, 135 x 10, 225 x 3, 315 x 2, and 365 x 1.  All of the warmup sets were good.  Although I was nervous I felt good and the reps were clean.  The order was determined based on the weight you were attempting so my opponent (Mitch) was going first with an attempt of 375.  He always starts low and builds off of there.  He did 345, 365, then 390 last year as opposed to me who started at 380 hit it, then missed 395 and 390.  He hit 375 with ease as I expected he would.  My first attempt was at 405.  The room was packed with people watching.  It was the moment of truth.  I stood in front of the bench closed my eyes and just visualized and tried to relax my heart rate.  I got a good liftoff and powered the weight up clean for a successful attempt.  I declared 415 as my next attempt.  I figured Mitch could probably do about 405 and I knew I needed that weight to get on the board but I figured that if I could hit 415 that it would get me the win.

Mitch's next attempt was at 395.  I figured he would probably get this but he seemed to get it easier than expected.  Next up was 415 for me.  Just like the last attempt I closed my eyes and visualized.  If I could hit this I'd win.  I got a good lift off, brought it down under control and powered it up.  I slowed a bit in the middle but nothing I couldn't man up against and finish.  Attempt 2 was a success.  Mitch originally planned to go for 415 for his 3rd but changed to 425 at the last moment.  There was actually a rule that said in the case of a tie, the higher weight of the 2nd rep would determine the winner.  Mitch realized that if he went for 415 and hit it, he would lose since his 2nd attempt was 395 as compared to my 415.  He took his time for 425.  If he hit this rep I would have to match to win.  Originally I declared 420 based on his original declaration of 415.  However the rule of the 2nd lift seemed somewhat cheap if it came to it so I hoped that it wouldn't be decided that way.  He got set for 425 and went for it.  He got a good drive off his chest and reached the mid point of the rep and hit the wall.  He battled for several seconds but eventually the weight started coming back down.  I really thought he had the rep but he just didn't have enough to finish.  I had won the contest before my 3rd attempt.  But this 3rd attempt was all about pride.  I decided to go for 425 as well.  I was a bit more relaxed this rep but still focused.  I got the liftoff and got a good drive off my chest.  However I also got stuck at the midpoint.  It was from here that I defined my lifting career.  I fucking battled like never before.  The bar literally stopped midway but it really wasn't coming down.  It was going left and right but I kept my back and ass down on the bench.  After what seemed like an eternity I drove and somehow locked it out.  I wasn't sure if it was a good rep since it was downright ugly but the refs said it was - I had benched 425 and won the competition.  The most anyone had ever done was 390 last year by Mitch so I shattered his record by 35 lbs.  He and I are seniors so there stands a legimitate chance that the record may stand for years.  Before Mitch and I the record had been 385 by a heavyweight.  I still owned the light heavy weight class with a lift of 365.  Thinking about the last lift now I've come to the realization that it was symbolic of my lifting career.  I started lifting in 7th grade when I weighed 90 lbs and just used to do hundreds of bicep curls.  Throughout high school I lifted but for most of it I was weaker than a lot of people.  However what set me apart was my drive.  No one trained harder, even back then.  I used to be furious if anyone lifted more than me and was determined that one day I would be the strongest.  Well the day occurred early in college and I've grown since then.  Even though I've been sort of lifting icon of sorts at the DAC, that desire has never relinquished.  Today it surfaced one last time.  Mitch and I's attempts at 425 were extremely similar, we got stuck at the same point and it came down to desire.  Basically he came up just short and my desire to lift harder and push harder allowed me to get that last rep. 

After winning I received a ton of congratulations and I certainly appreciated every one of them but all I could think about was the one person that's not here anymore - Ian.  I feel that I had 3 truly close friends at Drexel (4 if you include the College of New Drexel) that I really trusted and would always know that would be straight with me through good and bad.  Since Ian's death not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about him.  Sometimes when I'm with friends we joke and remember the good times we had but often when I'm alone the pain of losing him sets in.  The reason why I bring this up is last year when I lost the competition, I was crushed.  I had trained so hard but came up short when it mattered.  However the first person to send me a consolatory text was Ian basically saying that he was sorry to hear that I had lost and that I was still the man and the most dedicated person he'd ever met.  I thought about that today because of the congratulations I received.  Certainly I was appreciative of every one of them but I also realized that in life it's so easy to be someone's friend in the best of times.  But the true friends are the ones that are there for you in the worst of times.  I just keep thinking back to the night of the accident and wondering why.  It kills me inside that Ian is no longer here.  

I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with him one night.  If you had asked him about it I doubt he'd remember but it was meaningful to me and something I haven't forgotten.  It was January 2007, the Saturday night before the Eagles Giants playoff game (I remember every Giants loss to the Eagles quite vividly, unfortunately).  It was Ian, Matt, and I just chilling in Crossings and the discussion came to be about what we wanted out of our college experience.  I talked about wanting to leave a mark - through lifting - so that my name wouldn't be lost.  I've always felt that if you look at the universe as an infinite time, the span of our lives essentially becomes 0 when compared to the universe, unless we leave some kind of mark that lives on past us.  For me I always saw lifting as a possibility.  I discussed the possibility of being the first 4 time bench press champion and that being my mark.  Ian pointed out that if I look at life that way I miss out on things.  If I'm so committed to training I let college (and life) pass me by.  I really thought a lot about that night.  It's so hard to balance things in life that often times you become so focused on one thing that you put blinders on to everything else.  He talked about the way he would remember me - the guy that chugged Evan, all the random stories we had since freshman year - and things like that.  7 months later I competed in my 1st bodybuilding competition and I came back to that conversation.  Instead of looking at the competition as a starting point, I looked at it as the fulfillment of my goal.  I felt that now I had completed everything I had wanted and could look towards enjoying the time I had left in college.  Although it might have been hard to notice from the outside, I really did begin to change.  I looked less at what my next workout would be but rather how I could enjoy each day more.  

There's really not much time left for me in college. I have a couple weeks remaining this term then 10 more in the spring and that's it.  When I look back on my years I think one thing that could describe my experiences is "sacrifice."  Sacrifice in the weight room, in my school work, at my co ops.  In high school I used to wonder what my life would be like had I made different choices.  You can think about that all you want but at the end of the day you cannot change the past, only live with your decisions and make the best of them.  Everyone wants different things out of their lives but I feel that the best way to look at your life is whether you can look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of the person that looks back.  I've made some decisions I wish I could have changed and possibly gotten more enjoyment out of things, lost sight of things at times that are important such as family and friends but at the end of the day I knew I could always look in the mirror and be proud of the guy that looked back.  I never sacrificed my ideals for others and for that I am proud of the way I have spent my college years.  I think this quote exemplifies it best, "Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free."  If this is the end of my lifting career, I'm so proud of the way it ended.  I'm appreciative of the friends that I've made throughout my years here, and in high school, and my only regret is that Ian isn't here anymore.  However, his spirit will live on and I hope that his words and our times together can continue to shape my experiences and allow me to live my life to the best of my ability.
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Final Tuneup [Mar. 1st, 2009|05:01 pm]
Today I completed my final workout.  I simulated the bench press competitions with what weight I'm going to warm up with for how many reps and the 3 attempts I'm going to go for.  For my first set I went for 405.  I was able to hit this as I had done consistently.  Next up was 415.  I had hit it for the first time on Thursday and I wasn't about to regress.  I got a good liftoff and was able to hit it again.  For my final attempt I was going to go for 425.  I got a good liftoff and brought the weight down under control.  I got a good drive off my chest and got to about the midpoint and started to battle, I drove with everything I had and completed the rep.  A new max of 425.

Before all of the sets I could feel my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping.  I was able to control my breathing and slow down my heart rate.  Every set today was very clean because I had the weight under control.  The biggest challenge I now face is controlling the adrenaline on Wednesday.  I know I'm going to be amped up so the key will be controlling it and utilizing it effectively.  I'm going to try and get as much rest as possible between now and Wednesday.  I started the program with a max of 395 and finished with a max of 425.  I would say that's pretty good preparation.  The only thing left is game day execution.  Preparation puts a competitor in the position to succeed but ultimately it's the execution that determines the winner.  Time to execute...
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6 Days... [Feb. 26th, 2009|09:09 pm]
Today was my last workout of the program.  Only 6 days remain.  On Sunday I will simulate the bench competition conditions by going for 3 attempts.  What I do on Sunday will dictate what I attempt on Wednesday.  So onto today's workout.

As you all know by know, I had been unable to hit 415.  I had been perfect between 400-410 but haven't had enough to get 415.  Today I planned to change that.  Lately it's been tough to get in the zone but today I could feel something different.  I could feel the intensity building inside.  For my first set I was going for 375 for 3, which I hit successfully.  My second set was 405 for 2.  I knew I wasn't going to get 405 for 2 unassisted so my goal was to get 405 for 1, and get the 2nd with minimal help.  I could feel my heart begin to race before this set as I felt the pressure build.  I was actually happy my heart was up since it would give me an opportunity to control it.  While getting mentally focused I also concentrated on bringing my heart rate down.  After bringing it down to a sufficient level I got ready to go.   I dominated the first rep and was able to get the 2nd rep up with a minimal amount of help.  Two good sets so far but the real test was to come.  After spending sufficient time between sets it was time to man up.  I was a little more relaxed for the attempt at 415 than I would have liked to have been so I concentrated on increasing my heart rate slightly.  I got set up and got underneath the bar.  All I could think to myself was fuck this weight, this weight is mine.  I got the liftoff and absolutely dominated it.  I set my new max at 415.

So this brings me to my plan for Sunday.  Right now my plan is to attempt 405 first, then 415 second, and decide from there on my 3rd.  In years past I've always taken a week off before the competition but each of the past 3 years I've actually performed worse the day of the competition than the weeks leading up to it.  The 2 years I won the comp it didn't matter but last year I didn't make weight and it finally caught up to me.  I decided this year to take no break.  I will have Monday and Tuesday off and that's it.  I've cut back the weight this week on non-bench exercises and now I just need to get enough rest and my body will be ready to go.  My body is as conditioned as possible.  I've trained chest for 23 weeks straight.  I haven't taken a week off since the first week of fall term. 

The biggest challenge that remains for me now is controlling my adrenaline and my heart rate on Wednesday.  I've adjusted my bench form slightly to bring the weight down a little slower in order to gain better control and it seems to have worked well.  I've stressed the principles of preparation and execution.  Well the preparation has been good, so now it comes down to execution.  Can I get the job done when it's on the line?  That's the question I have to ponder for 6 days.  As it says in "Twilight of the Thunder God," one of my favorite songs, "Ride to meet your fate, your destiny awaits."  My destiny awaits...
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Fight to my last breath [Feb. 12th, 2009|09:51 pm]
So this has been a trying few weeks for me (and all of my friends).  No need to discuss why as everyone reading this knows why.  As if dealing with our loss wasn't enough, I came down with one of the worst colds of my life.  In addition to all the symptoms I endured, I lost about 10 lbs in 1 week.  Well finally this week I started to see some light ahead.  I've started to put the weight back on - about 6 lbs so far and I'm starting to regain some of the strength I lost.  As I had mentioned in my last entry, I put up 410.  I'm happy that I've consistently hit 400-410 - so far I'm 4-4 in that weight range.  In fact I'm thinking I may go for 405 as my first attempt in the competition due to the consistency with which I've hit it but I'm after more.  For the last 3 weeks I've been trying to hit 415 and unfortunately tonight made 0-3 in my attempts at the weight.  After a trying few weeks I can feel the competitiveness rising once again.  Last week I couldn't really lift since I was too sick so the only workout I got in was to max my bench, in which I hit 395 for 1, 405 for 1, and then missed 415.  Today I hit 370 for 2 sets of 2, 400 for 2 sets of 1 and then missed 415.  That was nearly 4 hours ago and all I can think about is going right back to the fucking gym and hitting the rep.  I know I have it in me.  Not only that, I know I have more in me than 415.  Mark my words as long as there's one breath left in my body I will never give in, I will never quit.  When it comes time for the competition, my opponents will have to stare into my eyes and see the fire burning in them.  They will need to overcome my desire and NO ONE wants this more than me.  The joy of winning isn't what drives me, it's the hatred of losing - and I refuse to lose.
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It Finally Happened [Jan. 22nd, 2009|09:54 pm]
After years of trying it finally happened - I benched 400 lbs - 410 lbs to be exact.  I've been so close for so long but haven't been able to reach this milestone until tonight.  I wondered how it would feel to finally hit this mark.  Strangely I wasn't fired up as I expected and more relieved than anything.  I was also in a bit of disbelief as after the set I checked with my partner to make sure it was a good rep on all accounts, which it was.  I was flat out exhausted after the set and just laid on the bench for a few seconds and started to see stars.  I didn't know if I would be able to hit it because I didn't seem to be at my best today but I channeled all the energy I had left in my body and completed the most intense set of the day.  But this is not my end goal, only a step on the way.  I'm finishing week 5 out of 7 in this program, although I will be adding 3-4 more weeks since the bench competition was pushed back from 2/11 to 3/4.  After week 7 I'll test my new max and re-complete the last 3-4 weeks of the program based off the new max.  I'm putting it all on the line - no mercy, no regret.     
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It Begins... [Dec. 20th, 2008|08:27 pm]
So starting this week I officially begin my training for the bench press competition.  I've been lifting since Week 1 of fall term without taking a break.  By my count that's 13 weeks in a row with this program being 7 more weeks.  In preparation for benching I've been doing heavy sets of 3 reps each, increasing each set by 5 lbs.  I would do 6 sets of this and would get 3 reps for everything except the last set.  Normally I would bump up the starting weight from the previous week 5 lbs so that my last set from the previous week would be my next to last the following week and I would usually get 3 reps the 2nd time.  With that layout in mind my last bench workout on Tuesday finished as follows

1st Set: 325 x 3
2nd Set: 330 x 3
3rd Set: 335 x 3
4th Set: 340 x 3
5th Set: 345 x 3
6th Set: 350 x 2

I was especially satisfied with last workout because the previous two I was only able to get 340 for 2 each time and 345 for 2 last time.  This time I pounded that shit up for 3 reps each set.  In addition I've been doing some manly close grip pressing, sets of 4, and I culminated by doing 315 x 3 (after doing all the bench and other chest).  This weight is pretty nasty since it's more than just about anyone else benches, and it's my close grip.

So before I start my program this week I needed to find out what my 1 rep max is.  I really didn't know what to expect since I haven't benched over 365 since April.  Last year at this time I started this bench program with a 1 rep of 370 and after completing the program I was able to put up 395.  I was hoping to start above 370 because I already knew the expectation that if I started at 370 I would probably only reach around 395 again.  

So after warming up it was time to get after it.  I was thinking about this workout all day yesterday so today I was able to dial up the intensity.  For my first set I went for 365.  I did this weight with absolute ease.  Next up was 375.  I nailed it like DarkStar nailing an RB with the Chaos Theory.  Next up was 385.  I needed to channel some Tom Stinson intensity for this one.  As I was finishing setting up before my attempt at making 385 my bitch, this older guy who was standing and watching tells me "You've got this, you're my hero."  All I could think of was, no one talks to me when I'm about to lift.  Fuck this pansy.  So I got the liftoff for 385 and dominated that weight.  Next up was 395.  This was the most I had ever benched so if I could get it I would be starting the program at my all time max. 

I could feel my heart begin to race before this set.  Normally when I'm benching my heart rate doesn't raise at all.  I've gotten so conditioned to heavy benching that I not only don't sweat, I don't even raise my heart rate.  But part of the reason I lost last year was my inability to control my nerves, I was too amped up.  Well I started to feel the same ampedness before this set.  I thought this would be a good test for when it counted.  I gathered myself and prepared for 395.  I got the liftoff, balanced the bar, and brought it down to my chest.  I held it there for the second I was required to, and drove with everything I had.  I drove through my feet in one explosive movement driving the weight up and was able to hit the rep successfully.  I had just matched my all time max, to start my training with.  I went for one last set with 400, I had good focus but I just didn't have enough in the tank to get it up.  However hitting 395 far exceeded my expectations.  I wanted to get more than 370 but realistically didn't think I would get much beyond 380 or 385 at most.  395 was some serious shit.  

So this week it begins.  Everything is in place, it's now up to me to prepare and on the day of the competition to execute.  Last year I was stronger than ever before and that was with a weight of 370.  I said several weeks ago that it will take more than 400 to win this year, well the first strike has been delivered.  No fucking mercy.  Train beyond the pain... and death is your only release.
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Win at all costs [Dec. 8th, 2008|11:38 pm]
On Saturday I went to the IFC championship football game; although I probably didn't need to specify the game because the 4 people that read this know what I'm referring to.  AXP lost a close game and although I don't play for them or belong to the fraternity I felt the all too familiar feeling of a championship loss.  3 years of flag football disappointment, last year's bench competition and this.  Since when did losing become a part of my life? 

I was thinking about that this morning before I went to lift and when I got to the gym I noticed for the first time that the new bench champion plaques were put up outside the weight room.  The previous plaque had no additional room on it so a new plaque was ordered with the 08 champs all the way at the top.  They relegated the old plaque beneath the new one.

I used to read the same articles every day called "Intensity or Insanity" before I went to the gym and I modeled my approach after this.  These articles were about a former Mr. USA who's theory on training was "Train beyond the pain...and death is your only release."  With that came that notion that winning is all that matters and it meant everything.  Win at all costs... 

Well fuck this losing bullshit.  Most people love to win.  I don't love to win...I despise losing.  I hate losing more than I enjoy winning.  That losing feel burns inside of me and the only cure for it is some fucking domination. 
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