I’ll alternate future posts between current events surrounding the company launch and background history of the company. In this post we’ll start on the history behind the company beginning with its inception as an idea. Before it could take root in my mind as an idea, I had to make room for it. I had to let go of a piece of erroneous “knowledge” and open my mind to a better understanding of the truth. This is how it happened.
I’ve been an avid weight-lifter most of my life. I ordered a Joe Weider book on Bodybuilding at the age of 15, convinced my mom to buy a weight set, and commenced to build what by the age of 19 was a radically improved physique. Around that time I started to train in kick-boxing, a cardiovascular intensive sport. Before the few fights I had, like many in the sport, I cut weight to move down in weight class in an attempt to gain a power advantage. An unwanted side effect, however, was that I typically ruined my stamina and explosiveness in the process thus not only negating my hoped-for advantage, but putting myself in worse position than if I had simply remained at my natural weight. The problem, although I was so ignorant at the time I had no idea there even was a problem, was that I lacked a fundamental understanding of muscle fuel systems and the metabolic processes governing the break down or synthesis of muscle tissue. I know how to punch and kick, but I didn’t know how to cut weight properly and, more importantly, how to put it back on to restore athletic performance.
My kick-boxing career was a short one. I found that I didn’t enjoy the competition, writing myself off as just a little too slow to be good at it. In the years that followed I did learn more about what fuels muscles for work and growth and how to prevent the body from scavenging them for energy. But my knowledge was still basic.
My interests in martial arts remained, however, and in 2009 I found myself training in mixed martial arts at the Integrated Fighting Arts Academy in Austin, Texas. I noticed that the harder I trained in MMA the more muscle I had gained in the gym was lost. This was not necessarily a bad thing as I lost fat along with the muscle, but I though it would have been better if I could keep the muscle and just lose the fat. Although the effects were far less pronounced, they reminded me of what used to happen when I cut weight.
However, there was a trainee there named Randy who was over 50, was built entirely out of muscle, and had virtually no body fat. I wondered how he was able to train hard and maintain his lean body mass so successfully. I asked him how he did it. Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I had taken a large step forward in improving my knowledge and by extension, improving myself as a martial artist. I recognized a particular problem and began to seek a solution. As it turned out, the solution became much more valuable than I could have known at the time.
Randy’s solution was simple: drink a solution made of water, dextrose (a sugar) and whey protein immediately after training. Without getting into too much detail, the drink triggered a large insulin response which drove the sugar and protein into muscles at the time when they were most receptive to nutrient uptake. Once there the sugar and protein became the substrates for new muscle tissue and glycogen, the most abundant fuel source in muscles. I had heard about this protocol before and dismissed it on the general grounds that “sugar was bad”. But at it would turn out, I was making decisions based on a misconception. I believed that there were no instances in any context in which consuming sugar would be beneficial. The truth of the matter was that, at least from an athletic performance perspective, there was a context in which consuming sugar would be beneficial. My adherence to a belief to the contrary, to a misconception, was preventing me from seeing the solution to a problem that not only I had but others shared as well, albeit in slightly different forms.
Attack your convictions
Although I had missed opportunity to learn and apply a solution in the past, I was impressed enough with Randy that I decided to suspend judgment and give his solution a try. It was no momentous decision culminating from a sustained period of self-examination. I was just a dude who wanted to put back on 5 pounds of muscle that had been lost from months of cardio-intensive training and could see that someone else appeared to have the answer. It was more of a stumbling into the solution and then being flexible enough to suspend my belief in light of new evidence that seemed to contraindicate that belief. It was sort of a poor man’s version of Nietzsche’s dictum have the courage to attack one’s convictions. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
I wish I could tell you I put 15 lbs. of muscle in 3 months or dropped to 5% body fat. I didn’t. But I did see a steady improvement in my body composition and athletic performance. After a few months, the progress was undeniable. I had to admit that I had been wrong. In exchange for my erroneous belief and perhaps a little pride, I received a solid solution to one of my problems, the impetus to study the problem and solution in greater detail, and the nucleus of a business idea which I would later embrace and throw myself into heart and soul and from which I would derive tremendous satisfaction – a good trade by even the most stringent criteria.
I guess the takeaway from this experience is that finding the courage for an attack on one’s convictions comes in many forms. Sometimes it might come from a deliberate decision to question an existing belief structure, but in today’s busy society I suspect this is a rare event. Instead, I imagine this process happens in a more pedestrian fashion, the heart of which consists of being confronted with an instance or fact that appears to contradict one of our beliefs and then being flexible enough to explore the reconciliation of this instance with our belief structure. In this case courage comes in the form of keeping an open mind and a watchful eye for refinements in our understanding, particularly when such refinement can lead to solutions to commonly held problems.
I realize that the readership of this blog is quite limited at the time of this writing, but I’ll ask anyway: what experience have you had with finding a misconception in your belief structure, refining your belief and then finding a better solution to a problem? Was it a dawning or a sudden realization? What did you do to capitalize on your new knowledge?