“Ok Kalvin – breathe – you’re almost there – breathe – secure your feet – good – trust your grip – NOW TAP THAT BELL!”
This was my internal monologue as I struggled to inch my way up the rope climb obstacle with my remaining strength during the last Spartan Race weekend at Vermosa, Cavite.
If you invited me to do a Spartan race 2 years ago, there wouldn’t be any chance that I’d say yes. I was extremely obese and didn’t really have enough physical capacity and willpower to finish anything this challenging.
My Spartan journey started last October 2021 in Batangas Lakelands. My gym coaches Joel and Thea of Fitness and Health Gym encouraged me to join, offering me another challenge after gaining strength and losing a lot of weight during the pandemic. Up for it, I said yes and started my training with practicing the rope climb in our gym.
Being so heavy back then, I would chicken out and panic when I reach the middle because I had a strong fear of heights. I also managed to get a good bruise on my right leg due to the rope lock and lots of painful popped hand blisters. With practice and determination, I was able to overcome my fear and finally RING – THE – BELL!
My fitness journey taught me a lot about myself and these lessons were magnified even further when I started training for Spartan races. There are many, but I’ll share ten that I have a deep connection with.
10 Life Lessons from a Spartan Race Junkie
Set yourself free from your own unbelief. Be best friends with yourself and believe in you!
You only have one body, listen to it. Eat right, rest right, treat your body right.
Trust your own process. You are gifted with a unique way of thinking and a unique set of biomechanics. Find what works for you and stick with it.
Nothing can take your strength away from you. Whatever strength you’ve gained, you’ve gained. Trust me.
Your weaknesses does not define you. Accept them and learn to love and strengthen them. You are ok as you are.
When you get stuck, ask for help. Keep yourself humble and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Failure is not the end of everything. It’s okay to fail, just make sure to learn from it and carry on.
It is ok to feel fear, anxiety, and doubt. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your feelings are valid.
It’s okay to go slow. What matters is you finish. Don’t compare your pace with another. There’s a time to go slow and a time to go fast. Going slow allows us to see beauty unfold in our surroundings.
We are all capable of jumping through fire. Life has already equipped you with tools to overcome, trust and open yourself up to do the impossible.
I believe any kind of sport that you train for can teach you something about yourself and how you overcome life challenges. These little nuggets of wisdom that we earn through grit and hard work is what makes us better athletes and ultimately better human beings. Every time I finish a Spartan race and see the results, I get to see a better me, that I’ve only ever dreamed about, become reality. I am amazed of the transformation I have achieved both physically and mentally.
There are just some lessons you have to experience first hand so it can make enough of an impact to change your life forever. Also, perhaps, in your own growth, you get to inspire other people to pursue their own version of a more active lifestyle.
Right now, I know I’ve already come a long way, but the more I explore the gift of what my body can offer me, the more I realize that the possibilities are endless.
The Bonus Lesson: In every circumstance, always find a reason to SMILE.
So friend, and fellow Spartan – Let’s move! Aroo!
Photo Credits: Spartan Race PH, Pitikulochi, Team Vitality, Team FHG
This week has been a very busy one for me at work. I had several important meetings and urgent deliverables that I needed to attend to almost everyday. I had to do a video and voice recording for our community’s virtual music video. Also, I’m catching up on writing articles for my contributions to an evangelical social media account – Unmasked. It’s quite a long check list and a little bit overwhelming but these are things that I have wholeheartedly accepted. I’m thankful that I have things on my plate than none because I know that whatever I’m working on gives value to people and that in turn gives me fulfillment.
Despite the busyness I found that I just couldn’t drop the drive and idea of going to the gym. It has somehow been ingrained in my system to keep on going regardless of what I feel. Taking time and effort to stick to my goals is already pre-programmed in me for the week ahead. I have no reasons to stop especially when I’ve already come so far. I’m making time for gym because hitting my personal health goals is of high importance.
I’ve been shifting my gym schedule around this week and thankfully I found perfect slots that fit! So here is how my fitness journey went this amazing week.
I think it’s good to start my week with back day. My posture just zips right up after the gym session
Coach adjusted the weight on my deadlift so I can have better control of the bar when lifting and do more reps for the last set.
Instead of doing the bent-over row with a barbell we switched to plates. I find doing it with plates a little easier than with the barbells. The trick is to control raising the plates so you target the right muscles.
Yes, I still don’t like doing that T-bar.
Doing the straight-arm lat pulldown was educational. At first it looked easy because you have to explosively pull the bar down towards your thighs and then add resistance to the bar as it raises. That resistance on the release is what you call “negative training”. Instead of putting pressure on muscles during the “contraction movement”, you put control and resistance on the “release movement.” This, according to research generates more tears in the muscle resulting to better gains.
The core routine after lifting weight was intense as it targets the upper, lower, and middle abdominal muscles as well as the obliques.
I’m not quite sure but I think I went over my calorie intake today. I feel a little hungrier than usual. I didn’t restrain myself much and even enjoyed two slices of bread with peanut butter.
Warm-up: 10 min. Stationary Bike
Workout Target Areas: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Doing the sets for chest is a little bit easier now compared to last week. Keeping negative training in mind, I tried to apply in all my sets. It does make a ton of difference.
While I was stretching out my chest doing a T pose, my coach noticed my arm flabs. He added a 3 triceps routine after my shoulder to get them more toned. I will still be working on them on Friday.
What I noticed about my body while I was doing shoulders was that my arms are not of the same length! my left arm is slightly longer than my right. This triggered an aha moment for me because it may be the cause of my wrist pain. I’ve been trying to keep them even when lifting although they are not. I need to adjust my posture to compensate this somehow.
Negative training while doing the shoulders was challenging but you can really feel the tension in the targeted muscles.
By the time we got to the triceps, I was amazed that I still have energy left to do the sets.
Coach ended my session with a 15 min bike since we also included triceps.
It was such an intense cardio session. I was partnered up with someone to do it with and both of us were swamped!
I had an amazing feeling of accomplishment after finishing the four sets of the grueling cardio routine.
We focused on targeting the back for our weak point training. It’s good to workout your back for better support and posture.
Applying the negative training is something to get used to especially that I am now more aware of it and its effects. It helps to know about what you’re doing so you can appreciate it while you’re doing it even if it’s hard
My diet is somehow all mixed up this week since my sister sent us a package with groceries and treats. I had to recalculate my caloric intake so I won’t over eat.
Warm-up: 10 min. Stationary Bike
Workout Target Areas: Legs & Arms
Legs: 12 Weighted Hip Thrust (3 sets) 12 Dead Squats (3 sets) 12 Leg Press (3 sets) 12 Romanian Deadlift (3 sets) 12 Leg Extension (3 sets) 12 Calf Raise (3 sets)
It still amazes me how much strength I’ve gained in four months. I’m lifting heavier weights now which I couldn’t even budge before.
I learned something new about doing the hip thrusts properly. I need to position myself correctly and be mindful of how I position my back and hips during the movement. This would be my third time doing it, I know I’ll eventually get the hang of it.
For the biceps we only did 4 sets of two routines. And trust me, they were extra challenging!
We’re focusing on making my flabby arms less flabby haha! So the triceps routines are really in it this week.
I’ve somehow gotten my caloric intake under control but things could be better in terms of the quality food I eat. We have a happy problem with our pantry I just need to be smarter in terms of eating.
As I have mentioned, my sister sent us a huge package of groceries and treats from the states. I have exercised a considerable amount of self restraint to monitor what I have been putting inside my body. My folks really enjoy eating the treats so I’ll just make eating the treats a few pieces at a time as a reward for a job well done. My sister also sent some healthy treats that I can use in my baking so I’m excited for that.
Yes, eat smart and not starve, or deprive yourself, else you’ll just binge.
I also did a meal prep this week which greatly helped me in my eating decisions. I know how many calories I’ve already eaten and adjust accordingly.
We have many things to do every day and all of us have different things that we attribute as “important.” Your “important” can be any of these things: taking care of your family, building a business, reading books, practicing an instrument, spending time with your friends, etc. Don’t let what’s important to you become lost opportunity because you didn’t make enough time for them.
If you really want something of great importance to grow and stay, you have to make enough time for them. Time doesn’t come cheap, wisely spend it on things of great value.
This week, my mindset was to keep myself committed to my health goals. What helps keep me in line is giving myself positive affirmation when I see myself in the mirror, and establishing routines that makes it easier for me to go for the healthier choice. One of the routines was to prepare my meals for the whole week so I wouldn’t bother ordering anything else and indulge in my cravings too much. I would just get what I prepared in the fridge, heat it in the microwave and eat not worrying too much about how many calories I’ve already consumed.
I think when we want to change something, we must understand that the process for that change to happen is where we should focus our energy on. It’s the process in the middle that makes the change happen. We need to be consistent and committed to it until we finally reach our desired goals. If the process isn’t working, adjust it to make it work well for you and not the other way around.
Submit to your process, keep at it until you reach your goal.
Core (3 sets of): 30 Mat Ab Crunches 30 Leg Raises 30 Figure of 4 Crunches (per side)
2 min Plank (Finisher)
Doing legs is so tiring. It engages many muscles.
I’m still getting used to doing the hip thrusts. Good thing I’m alternating doing them with another person so I can see how it’s to be executed.
There was a kind lady in her senior years who’s still going to gym making her body fit. She is a huge inspiration because at her age she strives to keep herself healthy and strong. She even got me beat in the muscle territory! Amazing!
One of my fellow gym-goers celebrated their birthday today as well and bought some food in. I wouldn’t refuse such a great offer! I had a slice of pizza, a cup of spaghetti, and a piece of roast chicken after finishing the sets for my core.
I did do my meal prep for the week. Each prepared meal amounts to more or less 500 calories. I try to hit at most 1800 calories per day. The remaining calories I use for snacking on some healthy or unhealthy cravings. The difference from last week with regard to my nutrition is that whenever I eat a snack, I would look at the nutrition facts at the back and check the serving size guide so I can adjust the amount I consume.
On the left is what I would have for dinner, some zucchini and pork belly. What you see in the middle is the treat I rewarded myself with midweek, an ice scramble with all the naughty toppings, that cup replaced my dinner. On the right is my meal prep of baked chicken breast with bacon, hard boiled eggs, stir fried ground beef, and some stir fried veggies.
Two consecutive weeks of eating prepared chicken breasts and hard boiled eggs is getting boring but it helps me stay committed. Always try to find something new you can incorporate in your routine to mix things up and keep your drive going especially if you’re just forming a new habit. Make the process work for you and not against you.
Oh and please, do you have any recommended low carb recipes you want me to try?
Coach mixed the routine up this week again so my body won’t quickly adapt to the same workouts. It was fun learning new things though it takes a little getting used to. Still, I kept my head in the game and just stuck with it. Discipline and determination are the keys to good gains.
This was a great day. I felt confident doing the deadlifts and all the other routines. The belt helps brace my waist and back for proper form.
I’m gaining strength in my triceps as well. I’m amazed at the progress that’s happening. I’m so proud of myself.
I remember not being able to do 5 continuous Triceps Dips but now I can finish 20 in one go!
The Decline Crunches and Russian Twist is a new routine for me. THEY HURT SO BAD! I’m exaggerating but I told Aldren that I felt like I was dying haha! I completed the sets anyway all for the sake of progress!
Coach Joel told me that it’s important to master the correct form first before adding more weight. If we don’t do the correct form it will do more damage than good gains.
Ugh! Fasted cardio homework is really challenging!
My balance is really being tested with the running lunges followed by the burpees.
Capping the workout with 100 Leg Raises followed by a 2 min. Plank gives me a great sense of accomplishment in the morning.
Oh! everything just hurts so well!
Warm-up: 20 min. Stationary Bike
Pre Cardio (2 sets of): 15 Squats 15 Running Lunges
Legs: 12 Dead Squats (3 sets) *compounded 12 Leg Press (3 sets) *compounded
*All repetitions increment in weight per set
Core: 100 Crunches 100 Leg Raises
To be honest I was feeling really lazy to go to the gym today. I think it’s because I moved our schedule from morning to the afternoon to make way for a meeting.
Coach Joel wasn’t there yet when I arrived but he gave me instructions to do 20 min. on the bike.
Coach Thea took me in for cardio and I did Tabata with fellow gym-goers. It was a first for me though it was really fun! We executed a series of floor exercises with music. I was drenched in sweat when we finished and left a little puddle on the area I worked out on.
After Tabata, I lifted weights with Coach.
Working out the shoulders is challenging for me since I seldom use those muscles extensively on a daily basis. I am proud that they’re now getting stronger. What I couldn’t lift before, I can now lift with better ease and a few grunts.
We took it easy on the legs today since we’re going out on a hiking trip this Sunday. It’s my first time joining them on an outing. I’m excited!
To end, I want to show you guys a lonesome yet festive “Christmas Tree” I found on my walk home. Going to the gym and becoming a healthier version of myself is one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever given myself. I’ve never felt this good about my body for years! Here’s to a bright Christmas season for all of us!
Hindi ko alam ang sagot Sa lahat ng mga tanong mo sa buhay Pero itanong mo lang Makikinig ako sa bawat salita Makikiramay sa bawat luha Nandito ako
Pangako, palagi kang may tahanan sa akin Hahawakan ko ang mga kamay mo At sasamahang hanapin ang mga sagot Sa bawat sulok at bawat dulo Magka sugat-sugat man tayo
Kung pagod ka na Ang alok ko’y kapahingahan Lalaban ng magkasama Hanggang malaman natin na Wala pala ang sagot sa mundo Kundi nakatanim ng malalim sa puso Hindi na kailangan pang lumayo
Buksan ang iyong dibdib Na napalambot ng paglalakbay Ilabas lahat ng tanong Sa tahanan ng iyong puso Pakinggan mo at unti-unting huminahon Tahan na, tahan na Naririnig ka Sinagot ka ng Pagmamahal
Answered By Love
I don’t know the answers To all the questions you have in life But ask them anyway I will listen to every word I will remain through every tear I’m here
Promise, you will always have a home in me I will hold your hands And be by your side to find the answers Through every corner and every dead end Even if we get wounded in the process
When you get tired I offer myself as a resting place We will fight our battles together Until we realize that The answer is not in the world But planted deep within our hearts We didn’t need to go far
Open up your chest Softened by the journey Let all your questions out In the home of your heart Listen and slowly calm down It’s okay, It’s okay You’re being heard You were answered by Love
I originally wrote this tula (poem) in Filipino. I tried my best translating the words and feelings in English. I hope the message comes across the same. For the ones who have been searching for so long. For the ones who feels heavily burdened by with life. I hope that you find a home to come back to. Whether that home is a person or a place, I sincerely pray, especially as the year ends, that you come to a home where you are welcomed, appreciated, and loved. May each of us find our way home.
“What you desire on the deepest level, tells you of who you really are”
Sr. Bubbles Bandojo, RC
We are all made up of different parts and pieces. Some pieces may be broken, and some may have gotten unbreakable through time. Each piece is an important part to complete the whole.
We sometimes ask these questions: “Why do I feel like there’s something missing?” “What is my purpose in life?” “How do I go about finding it?” “I think I already found it, what should I do next?”
Friends, I assure you that you’re not the only one thinking about these things. Finding the missing piece is a journey that’s worth taking. I hope to at least be a humble guide who can point you in the right direction by sharing what I know.
Journey with me in three parts in finding our missing piece. Let’s go right in.
What Do You Desire?
When something goes missing our first instinct is to try finding it. It’s easy to start a search when we can describe what we are looking for. If it’s a pen, we can search an area for a particular brand, model, and tint color. Without any description, it’s not so easy to look for something missing.
I’ve come across many people, including myself, feeling that their life seems to be meaningless and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Most of them have stable jobs and income, and yet they feel stuck. It was hard for them to find their missing piece because it is not something they can fully describe. Sometimes, they don’t even know that it’s already in front of them.
Some may have it all figured out already. Part of our missing piece can be found in pleasurable experiences. “When I get a taste of that special ramen from Japan, my life will be complete.” Or it can be expressed in our dying wish. ”If I could only talk to my daughter again and ask for her forgiveness, I can go peacefully.” Our missing piece can be anything and they are different for each individual.
But where do we look? The piece that we are looking for can be found in our deepest and truest desires.When we live out our desires with a sound mind, we find a sense of purpose and direction. I say with a sound mind because we have to be able to discern which particular desires will serve us into becoming who we want to be.
So, what is it that you desire?
For some, this is an easy question. The majority gets stumped by this because they have been so busy living their lives not realizing that they’re leaving their desires behind. Right now I invite you to set your inhibitions aside and take the center stage.
Awaken Your Desires
We will go through an activity to help guide us and awaken our desires. I encourage you to do this in a reflective mood, without any distractions.
Get yourself a pen or open a notepad.
Click the play button and jot down as many answers as you can until the music stops.
Proceed to the next question and do the same.
Are you ready? take a deep breath.
What do you LIKE?
What do you WANT?
What do you DREAM?
What do you DESIRE?
I am sure you have written down many things. Keep your answers so you can ponder about them later.
You would notice that even if the words above are synonymous, the depth of their meaning also progressed. Likewise, the things you have written may have also progressed in depth and some of the items you wrote may have funneled out. The way we write our answers gets deeper as we progress toward the word “desire.”
Our desires may change over time. What we desire now can even give birth to another desire as we begin to journey along where our desires are pointing. The journey with desire has three movements.
3 Movements of Desire
Your desires are part and parcel of who you are. Let them surface without judgment. Sometimes we tend to suppress our own desires because we are ashamed of them or we have lost hope in them for they seem so impossible to reach. Desires are anchored to your values. Recognize and honor your desires.
I hope the previous exercise helped you remember and acknowledge your desires. Maybe you listed down some of your closely held dreams since childhood. Like a child, allow yourself to wildly desire for something again without any self-doubt and certain that it will happen at the perfect time. Also, maybe your desires have changed since you were a kid. Look at the difference between your desires then, and your desires now. Did your desires become more meaningful or have you given up on them?
Electricity. Which of your desires is your strongest desire? Which one, when you think about it gives you goosebumps and the feeling of electricity running through your veins? Which desire ignites a blazing fire in your heart? Is it only one desire or a combination of many?
Being able to live out the desires that give us life and electricity makes us free, they make us fly.These electric desires can point us to where God wants us to be, and what desires for us to become. Feel the electricity.
Now that your electric desires are known. The next movement is for you to desire it more.
Let your desires deepen its roots. To strengthen your desire you need to test it. Is this something I deeply and truly want? Will this desire lead me to a future where I will be at peace and happy? Is this desire truly mine or just brought about by peer pressure? Does this desire deepen my love for myself and others? Desire your desires.
Pray for your desires and see what more you can discover about them.
Do not worry if you still haven’t figured out your desires. It’s not a race. Maybe that’s where you need to start – to have the desire to desire.
As our desires take root and lead us deeper, you would notice them bearing fruits. Fruits that bless you and the people around you. The stronger and deeper the roots are, the harder it is for your desires to be toppled down by other people.
With our desires taking root, there is one movement left that we need it to go through. It’s the most difficult one. Letting the desire go.
3)Let it go
I know, I just told you guys to acknowledge and deepen your desires and work on them. Now I’m telling you the famous words of St. Elsa of Arendelle – Let it go.
Let it go.
Our desires lead us to a destination. A destination that we can picture out in detail. If you desire to get married, you have probably imagined yourself at the altar tying the knot. If you desire to have kids, you can envision yourself carrying a baby in your arms with your spouse. If you desire to become the CEO of the company, you may have daydreamed about going up the ranks and successfully making it on top.
We should be prepared to let go of our desires.
We should not be too attached to it especially if it’s not giving you peace.
I have a friend who once went inside a novitiate following a vocation to become a Jesuit. He was so sure that this is what he wanted for his life. While inside, he was having trouble in his discernment a couple of years in. One night he fervently prayed for God to tell him if it’s his will to become a Jesuit. In his heart, God told him – “Is this what YOU really want? You can put it down.”
One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go of what you hold precious in your heart. Especially letting go of things that you have been fighting and working so hard for. My friend put his desire for pursuing his vocation down and ended up blessing many people by serving as their spiritual companion. Letting go of his deepest desire made way for an even better one.
Let go and know that what’s meant for you will stay and work out for your own good.
Does your deepest desire truly complete you? Does it lead you to peace? Does it bring you closer or away from God? Let it go.
These are the three movements of desire. It’s a lot to take in and unpack but I will let you do that in your own time.
Your desires are real and important. Honor them, make them grow, and when the time comes, let it go. Your desires will lead you to your truth and you’ll begin to uncover your life’s greatest treasures.
I pray that you keep nurturing your healthy desires.
Thank you so much for reading until the end. You did such good work on yourself. Sending a virtual pat on the back!
Keep safe my friends.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the first part of “finding the missing piece”. Comment below your insights, realizations, questions, or anything that crossed your mind in this post. Click follow to get notified when part 2 and other content is up.