Build your core: Maintaining strength and stability.

Core stability is key.

I woke up at 7:00 a.m. this morning with the mind to work out.

I was scheduled to return back to my fitness regimen at least three Mondays ago but something always seems to 'come up' the morning of.

Weird how that works huh? You want to work out and know that you should but you find every reason not to. So then you mask your apathy with the hollow promise of "I'll start next Monday," knowing full well that when 'next Monday' arrives, you'll be equipped with the next set of excuses.

I am you. You are me. This is us!

I struggle with maintaining consistency. I am always excited to begin a thing, but somewhere down the line, I lose my zeal and end up falling off. This glaring truth extends beyond fitness goals, as I am able to observe inconsistencies in my professional life, spiritual walk, and even relationships. But on this morning's run, up the steep, thigh-burning hills of Clermont, I experienced a sudden and striking realization as to what has really been taking place at my core level.

Half a mile into my run, I was winded. My breathing was shallow and coming from my chest as opposed to from the depths of my diaphragm. My legs felt weighted, and the heat of the Florida sun beating down on me made me wish I did wait to start 'next Monday'. I got to the bottom of the hill and looked up to see what was waiting ahead for me, closed my eyes, breathed in, and began my hike up. My thigh and calf muscles supplicated with me to give them a moment's rest, but I kept on. My heart was pounding in my chest like the rhythmic beat of African drums, but I resisted the urge to give in. Left, right, left, one leg in front of the other, I climbed. And then midway up I heard it....a still small voice. So soft and so faint that my heartbeat almost drowned it out.

"Your journey of entrepreneurship is much like this run. The determining factor of a successful climb up is rooted in your core strength and stability. If you wish to soar, build your core." What...?....Woah! Lightbulb moment!

For the sake of this conversation, core strength is defined as the ability to produce force with respect to core stability, which is the ability to control the force we produce. Core strength is comprised of four parts like we see pictured in the diagram above: breathing, flexibility, posture, and resistance training.

A good runner knows how essential proper breathing is during exercise. Good breathing patterns ensure that your muscles receive the oxygen they need to keep contracting, while effectively eliminating waste gases like carbon dioxide. Even more, a good runner's breathing is not dictated by fatigue level, rather the runner maintains control over their own breathing to combat exhaustion. Apply this same understanding to areas of work, especially as an entrepreneur. The journey is full of highs and lows, the work is demanding and requires a lot of time, energy, and attention, which, if you aren't careful gives rise to exhaustion, or worse burn-out. Consequently, mastering your breathing is vital to your success. It has been said that a quiet mind leads to a quite breath while a turbulent mind leads to disturbed breathing, so I like to practice prayer and meditation. Silencing my mind, body, soul, and spirit to become one with the universe allows me to achieve balance, clear my thoughts, release negative vibrations and reset my goals. Other times, breathing looks like vacation and trips to massage parlors, celebrating every milestone (big and small), speaking positively, encouraging myself after experiencing a let-down and remembering to enjoy the process while I am working towards the results. Just breathe.

The quality of bending easily without breaking is the art form of flexibility. In regards to exercise, when your muscles are flexible, you are less likely to get injured during physical activity. It also reduces muscle soreness. The beauty of flexibility is that it is achieved by stretching beyond what feels comfortable. If you don't like to stretch, it is safe for me to assume that you don't like to grow. When working for yourself, you must to be willing to go harder, higher, further, and deeper than you've ever had to go to achieve what you've never done. To a large degree, it is about your ability to power on after hearing countless "No's" from people, companies, and organizations who can help, but don't see the value in you just yet. "No's' roll of the shoulders of flexible people. It doesn't break them or injure their hustle. On the contrary, it provokes them to level up, transform their pitch, and evaluate their angle to get the "Yes" they're in pursuit of. Stay flexible.

Posture is the attitude assumed by body either when the body is stationary or when it is moving. The key word here is attitude. The saying "your attitude determines your altitude" is more than fitting in this definition. Pay attention to the way you respond to criticism, failure, stagnation, and disappointment, and keep an eye on the way you treat others when you come into success. Both occurrences draw attention to your heart's posture: your intentions and/or intrinsic motivations for doing whatever it is you do. Sit up straight.

Lastly, resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increase in tone, mass, and/or endurance. Another words, not all opposition is designed to harm you or frustrate your advancements. Some resistance come to bring you evidence and expectations of increase. Let that revelation marinate. The weight of the wait is often burdensome, but the gains....the gains remind us all why we set out on this journey to begin with.

Say it with me. No more excuses. I will not pass off what I can accomplish today unto "Next Monday." The time is now! I am in control of me and because I want to soar, I will commit to building more core.


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