Poop And Love, Entry 4: I. Am. Iron Man. (Success!!!!!!!)

IMG_8377IMG_8401Let me just go ahead and throw this out there: I blew the roof off of the goal I created in Poop And Love, Entry 3: Project Iron Man: To break my personal body mass index record, coming out of my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my diagnosis in 2003. I’ll share the scoop with you, if you will agree to be infected with positivity and sexy confidence.

A QUICK REFRESHER

In January of 2015, I went into my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my 2003 diagnosis. From January to early May, I would drop from about 145 lb. to 122 lb. due to this chronic bastard &*%$ illness. That’s the closest I’ve come to my 2003 record low of 112 lb., when I was first hospitalized. Here’s what 122 lb. looks like (pretty sure the hair weighs around 10 lb.):

From January to May, I spent a whole buttload (badump, chhhh!) of time in the usual self-pity, anger, resentment, yada yada yada. I finally had enough, I got some stellar coaching from a few friends and mentors, I got off my sappy ass, and I created a plan to gain the weight back and become a confident, sexy-ass beast.  I ran with this change in mentality and created my first goal: To return to what I weighed before the 2015 flare (145 lb.). I started with pushups and a 20-lb. kettlebell, which I affectionately named Rose Bud. I improved quickly and in June moved up to a 35-lb. kettlebell. I named it Pain. By July, I’d met my first goal. This is me in June at 140 lb., and closing in on my first goal:
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On September 24, 2015, after I’d maintained my original bodyweight for a few months, I created a brand new goal to push it a step further: Break my personal body mass index record by gaining an additional 12 lb. of muscle in 32 days. Easy right? (Yeah, I have a lot to say about that, and I’ll address all the naysaying canker blossoms in a later post). I digress. I’m what you call a hard gainer, an ectomorph. I’ve been skin and bones all my life. Combine that with ulcerative colitis and you have a condition that I like to call Jack Skellington Syndrome.

In a society where being slim is the Holy Frickin’ Grail of all that’s sacred, maybe that seems like a luxury. But when you come from a background (as I do) of always the weak one, the frail one, the bullied one, the last one picked for sports, etc., then being slim serves you about as well as a Motrin for chlamydia. It’s all about perception, my friends, and everyone has a unique one. For more on the life of an ectomorph, see Poop And Love – Entry 2: You Are A Sexy Beast. In the spirit of being fit for life and a confident, sexy-ass beast, on September 24, 2015, I got started. I charted my progress:

Calorie_Count____Weight_Tracking

I used the kettlebell workouts from Pavel Tsatsouline’s Enter The Kettlebell; I added knife-handed diamond pushups; and I threw in some good old fashioned deadlifts using a standard barbell and some stacked concrete blocks. These were some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever experienced. I occasionally found myself dry heaving during and after. To build muscle, you must push them to COMPLETE FAILURE to trigger the release of growth hormone. I discovered that this takes tremendous mental discipline. When your mind says you’re done, you usually have a few more reps left. You have to push yourself beyond your mental limits.

And yes, you have to diet to gain weight too (and even more so with ulcerative colitis, because you also have to avoid foods that can trigger another flare). Sorry to suck the Febreeze from the naysayer’s last BM, but it’s damn sure not as simple as scarfing Big Macs and fries and donuts and Funyuns all day. You have to limit your sugar intake. You have to limit your fat intake. You have to measure your carbs and protein. And you have to count calories like Dustin Hoffman counts toothpicks in Rain ManBy the  October 26, 2015 deadline that I declared on September 24, I had exceeded my goal by a pound, weighing in at 158 lb. BOOSH. Here’s what that looks like:

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Stepping into the arena, declaring a goal, and blowing the roof off of it will light you up. And it’s within the realm of possibility for anyone. I got so proficient with the 35-lb. kettlebell that I moved up once again to a 53 lb. kettlebell. I named it Rebirth. Here are some expected (and unexpected) results:

  • A back of steel, and hips and shoulders that feel like freaking machines.
  • A core that’s stronger than ever.
  • Years of frequent shoulder pain, pops and crackles have disappeared.
  • A resting heart rate of under 60 BPM.
  • A new weird-ass bunch of bulging veins in my upper biceps and shoulders; I haven’t decided if they’re sexy or creepy.
  • I can totally jiggle my tits at will.
  • A return of confidence.

I’m not Bodybuilding Magazine‘s next cover model, but I don’t really give a crap. This project wasn’t based on comparison to anyone else. I did it as a testament of personal power and discipline, and as a means to light you up, to inspire you to dream up something and go after it. Let me tell you a secret about experiencing the miraculous in life: Declare a goal, something big, something that scares the shit out of you, something that seems impossible, and then make a relentless commitment to deliver on it, even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it.

I like to make promises that I’m not sure I can keep, and then figure out how to keep them. – Sophia Amoruso

I’m not superhuman. Hell, maybe I am. But if that’s true, then so are you. If I can do it, anyone can. Change your mentality. Stop obsessing over all the reasons it won’t work, and start obsessing over all the reasons it WILL.

Mural1

Dream big. LIVE BIGGER.  

tripp.life

Poop And Love, Entry 3: Project Iron Man

Pain and GainYou can do anything you want with your body. ANYTHING!

In 2013 after a massive drop in body weight from a bad ulcerative colitis flare, I got the nerve to do some self-experimentation based on an article by one of my all time favorite life gurus, Tim Ferriss: go from 128 lbs to 150 lbs in 40 days. And I freaking did it. In January 2015, ANOTHER flare, the worst one since my diagnosis. I lost all that weight and more. After several months of lying around on my snot-stained pillow and feeling sorry for myself, I stepped back into the House Of Pain, used the aforementioned method, worked my ass off, and ONCE AGAIN put the muscle back on (122 lbs to 145 lbs in about 45 days). That’s TWICE I deliberately and intentionally created a goal for my body and delivered on it, despite some HEAVY circumstantial resistance. And there is NO reason why you can’t do the same thing.

I’m currently creating a brand new goal for myself: to break my personal Body Mass Index record. I’m calling it Project Iron Man. According to the National Institute Of Health, a normal BMI range is between 10-24. I’ve averaged around 20 or below most of my life. I’m shooting for 22.5. All that means is that in order to top the record, I have to gain an additional 12 lbs of muscle. Target weight: 157 butt-lbs (underwear only), which will incidentally will be the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.

Get inspired. I’m putting my money where my mouth is and inviting all you canker blossoms to drop your lame-ass excuses and get into motion on something in your own life. Whether you want to gain muscle, lose weight, get ripped, run a marathon, strengthen your core, or just be a plain old sexy-ass beast, here are 4 tips from my personal stash that I’ve implemented for success. I guarantee you if you use them, you will see results. After each tip, I’ll tell you how it applies to my current goal.

1. Define it. “What can be measured can be managed.” -Peter Drucker
People say “I want to get into shape,” and they hop onto a treadmill a few times a week, with no structure or plan. They say “I want to lose a few pounds,” and add a daily salad to their meal plan.  It’s not enough to say you want to lose a few pounds, for example, or that you want to gain some muscle. First and foremost, create a SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE goal. How many pounds? How much more muscle? You want to be able to visualize your progress. If you haven’t done this sort of thing before, start with a small goal, get some victories under your belt, and work your way up to bigger goals. Or hell, go big or go home! There is no wrong way.
MY GOAL: 22.5 BMI (gain another 12 pounds of muscle mass).

2. Time it. “Begin with the end in mind.” -Steven Covey
Have a START and an END time for your aforementioned goal. Once you declare that start date, deliver on it as if your life depended on it. My start date was Sunday, and it was a near-puking workout AFTER I washed and waxed my car. Jim Morrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi could have returned from the dead to have drinks with me at the local bar, and I would have instructed them to go shoot pool while I finished my workout. As long as you’re throwing out start dates (or any other plans) with no intention to deliver on them, you’ll never move forward.
MY DATES: Start 9/20/15; End 10/26/15

3. Declare it.”Embrace peer pressure. It’s not just for kids.” -Tim Ferriss
You can wander around all day with a goal inside your own head and see how far it gets you. But declare it definitively to everyone on Facebook and watch your motivation change. I’ve even found it helpful to do a little friendly trash talking from time to time. One of my co-workers is going on her fifth week of quitting smoking cold turkey. One of the greatest motivators according to her? Husband and kids taking bets on when she’s going to buckle and have a cigarette. Tangible risk of failure after you’ve publicly declared it can be a great tool for keeping that locomotive in motion.
MY DECLARATION: By 10/26/15, I will weight a minimum of 157 sexy muscle butt-lbs (in underwear only; no cheatsies).

4. Plan it. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” -Alan Lakein
When will you workout? How will you workout? Will you alter your diet? How will you chart your progress? Who are you gonna talk trash to? This might require a little research. Calm your life. Sit your dramatic arse down and take 30 minutes to an hour to investigate the best method and sketch out a plan. There’s a wealth of resources out there. I’m by no means an expert, but if you’re completely stumped about methodology, look me up.
MY PLAN: Workout one day on (Beast Mode), two days off (Repair Mode), using only a barbell, a few concrete blocks, a kettlebell, and bodyweight exercises. Minimum 2000 calories consumed per day, limit 75 grams maximum sugar consumed per day, minimum 120 G protein consumed per day. One binge day allowed per week if all other plan requirements were followed for that week.

Work your plan like you would contract syphilis and drop dead if you didn’t deliver on it; like every failure to deliver would result in being forced to watch The View for seven days straight while hungover; like your very life depended on following through!

We break commitments to ourselves with embarrassing regularity. -Tim Ferriss

Jump on it. Start something. AND FINISH IT. If one of the three smallest kids in my class throughout grade school WITH A CHRONIC CONDITION THAT DIRECTLY AFFECTS BODY WEIGHT can do it, so can you. Cheers.

First Album Release and the Quest For Perfection (Which Is BS, By The Way)

Superglue NightmareI’m thrilled to have just rereleased the Superglue Nightmare Demos, number one of my first three albums released from 2002 to 2009. These albums are raw and far from perfect, and after enough internal conflict and angst to fill three psych wards and still have enough left over for both sides of the Caitlyn Jenner debate, I’ve yet again found myself fumbling (and occasionally just walking) down the path of self discovery. Current life lesson: Peace with imperfection. Let’s discuss this elusive bitch, er, beast that is “perfection.” It’s a pandemic that has infected every human mind in history at some point or another.

We humans have this obsession with flawlessness, with the way things SHOULD be, but aren’t. Then at some point, we have this big revelation and decide that being flawless is crap, and we’re not going to give a shit about our flaws anymore! What you see is what you get! Then we have a meltdown because we realize we’re not flawless at being cool with our flaws. So then we do some yoga or meditate or pray or stab our spouse or something, after which we arrive at a peace with our newfound discovery: that everything ALREADY IS flawless, for better or for worse! Perfection! We just didn’t see it before! And that makes us better than you, because you haven’t made that particular discovery yet. But it’s OK, young Grasshopper. Here, you can bask in our flawless glow. 

In December 2014, you may have read my post about splitting with a promising record label. In January 2015, after dealing with some frustration, I picked myself up again and started making plans for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remainder of my half-finished Tripp Powell & Co. debut album, Vintage Revival. I also began working on a publicity album entitled The Shotgun Sampler. The premise of The Shotgun Sampler was to put a few original songs from each of my first three albums onto one compilation for distribution. The album was so named for the manner in which I intended to release the compilation: quickly, without worrying about over polishing it, just to give fans a sense of my original sound. I’ll give you three guesses to see where this is going.

So four months later, I’m still working on the finer points of this “quick” album release, finding myself averaging 4-5 hours of crappy sleep per night, sucking down one to two energy shots per day, juggling my paying job (nursing) and my non-paying job (music), in the middle of my worst ulcerative colitis flare ever, frail and sickly. It took me that damned long to admit to myself and to everyone else that I was stressed out of my mind. After all, I’m the positivity guru, right? I’m beyond stress . . . cough, cough, BS!, cough, cough. And the ultimate stressor? DELUSIONAL SEARCH FOR PERFECTION. I found myself completely sold on the notion that this musical venture should be flawless, perfect and without mistakes. Are you starting to smell what I’m stepping in?

So once again, I picked myself up (side note: NEVER GIVE UP; thank you John Eliopolo), checked myself into the ER for a jump start to wellness, started therapy with a great new GI doc, picked up the kettlebell once again and started putting on the muscle with an old trusty (and absolutely brutal) weight gain regimen (thank you, Time Ferriss and Pavel Tsatsouline), and took the following detours:

  1. The Shotgun Sampler can go to hell, or at least collect dust on an earthly shelf for a while.
  2. All three of my first albums will be hitting online stores, starting with the Superglue Nightmare Demos. Look for the next two in the coming months. They each have imperfections, and dammit, I’m cool with that.
  3. Vintage Revival will be postponed, but is still very much alive. I’m leaning toward giving Kickstarter another shot later this year for funding.
  4. In the words of my good friend and mentor Javier Silva: “Get your shit out there and start playing live! Get messy! Make some mistakes!”

My friends, we human beings have the misconception that there is a way life SHOULD be, which causes us to resent and to resist the way life IS. Consider my notion that this musical venture SHOULD BE flawless, perfect and without mistakes. See where it got me? A pretty fair shot at taste testing different soil types and contributing to flower growth, if you catch what I’m saying. Have a look into where you expect perfection, or where you try your best to portray it. True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it. 

“I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking of making some more.” -Cheryl Cole

Tripp Powell & Co. are rehearsing and gearing up for live shows in the near future. If you’re itching to get your hands on a copy of the Superglue Nightmare Demos pronto (and you should be!), you can find it here. Expect it on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Amazon and all other major music outlets soon. Cheers.

Poop And Love – Entry 1: Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis

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I’ve been entertaining the idea of throwing out a periodic entry on The Impossibility Movement about dealing with the chronic condition known as ulcerative colitis. You can thank my defective, rotting gut for the inspiration. Calm your life. It won’t be loaded down with force-fed anatomy lessons or sultry emotional agony that would rival angst-filled teenyboppers thrown headlong into premature menses at the news of Zayn’s departure from One Direction.

I’ve been inspired to share a little personal nugget about my life that you may not know about me. It might inspire you. It might give you the warm fuzzy tinglies. Or it might make you want to vomit.

Well anyway, I shall tell you the story of my diagnosis. I will spare you the gory anatomical explanations. All you need to know for this entry is that UC means “ulcerative colitis,” and its most recognized defining characteristic is lots and lots (did I mention lots?) of shitting.

As it happens, I’ve been in and out hospitals a lot in my life. A torn ACL; a head contusion (twice); bloody noses (multiple); dislocated and broken fingers; deep foot laceration; complications from some rare bizarre bleeding disorder (for which I still have no diagnosis); and a host of hospital stays for the UC (amongst other things) have led me to the receiving end of medical care many times. It’s part of what inspired me to become a nurse.

One thing that happens when thrown into a hospital setting for the first time is that you lose certain parts of your dignity right swiftly. Many people resist it. Me, I chose to embrace it. It’s actually quite liberating to stop giving a crap about how you look. For example, during my first hospital stay for UC, multiple nurses and medical staff bore witness to my numerous sprints to the bathroom, open butcher paper gown traipsing merrily upon my exposed naked ass, breaking wind and/or other substances, left hand flailing violently in front of me as if to clear traffic, tips of right fingers crammed against my asshole like a mobile home versus a tornado, not a chance in hell of stopping the great deluge of Montezuma’s Revenge about to vacate the premises of my bowels.

When an imminent liquid bowel movement comes forth, your life’s priorities are suddenly quite simple. Nothing in life matters at that moment except making it to the nearest toilet; not bills, not looks, not relationships, not personal safety, and you certainly don’t give a rat’s ass about how many total strangers lay eyes upon your sunshine and biscuits.

During that particular hospital stay, I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy. That’s where they shove a small camera into your brown star to inspect around 80 feet of your colon. You have to prep by completely emptying the colon, hence the aforementioned sprints to the bathroom (as if I wasn’t crapping enough as it was). Twelve years ago, prepping for a colonoscopy was simple. I’ll paraphrase as instructed by the nurse:

Only consume clear liquids the day before this fantastical, magical experience; twelve hours before, quickly drink a half gallon of this pasty liquid that tastes like Vomit of Lucifer on a decaying possum carcass, with just a smidgen of skunk piss; you may add grape or lemon lime Gatorade to sweeten it. Try not to yark.

Bollocks. Lady, Wille Wonka and a Pope’s exorcism wouldn’t touch this forlorn concoction. I think I vomited more than I shat.

Anyway, the next day, after like 30 days of round the clock bloody diarrhea, my new GI doctor would report to my hospital room to deliver the official news that I had ulcerative colitis. Admission weight: 112 pounds as I recall (down about 30 pounds from my average weight at that time). I looked like Skeletor on Speed and Adipex. He would go on to explain all the wonders of this exciting new disease for which there was (and is) no cure, and with which I should be prepared to deal for life. So here I was at 25 with no major medical history, thrown headlong into the world of chronic disease.

I must say that I’ve been blessed to have spent the majority of my life since my diagnosis in remission. That is to say, I usually only average a flareup about twice a year, and through self-experimentation I have developed several methods for quick recovery.  Over the years, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve learned about life with a chronic condition. You learn that you can take much more than you thought, that you can find peace and happiness even in the midst of excruciating pain, and that your outer condition and circumstances have little (if anything) to do with your inner spiritual state.

My friends, true peace is possible in any circumstance or condition. I am the evidence.

Cheers.