Go beyond the obstacles to bloom with greatness

By David Tepera, February 14, 2019

I once observed a wild flower blooming through the crack of an old sidewalk. I couldn’t believe how something could survive, plus look so beautiful, under all the elements it must encounter.

There’s no one to help fertilize and water its soil. No one to protect it from the Texas wind, heat, or being trampled from the busy pedestrians. But, somehow, this flower reached to the skies, with determination, to show all its beauty.

How many stories have we heard about people who found financial success coming from poverty?

Oprah Winfrey was raised by a single mother and lived without running water and electricity. She is now worth $3.1 billion. Oprah kept her focus on school, participated in beauty pageants, and worked at a radio station before getting her big break.

How many famous athletes with severe disabilities overcame the obstacles?

James Abbott, a former baseball pitcher, was born without a right hand. He was named the best amateur baseball athlete in the nation in 1987. Abbott played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Angels, White Sox, Yankees and Brewers from 1989 to 1999.

What separates all these people from the average person? What traits do successful people have in common?

Persistence and determination are at the top of the list. No matter what obstacles you face, you should keep taking small step towards your goals. You can’t achieve or find success without commitment.

Years ago, when my oldest son Dustin was around 10 years old, I took him with me on a business trip to the border of Mexico. I wanted Dustin to observe other children at his age who live in very questionable conditions. The whole purpose was for Dustin to never create excuses for not succeeding.

There are plenty of us who take the basics of life for granted. We’ve become spoiled to having fundamentals of food, housing and a booming economy. But, for some reason, you still have a hand out wanting more.

Why aren’t you putting a hand in? Are you getting up each day to not only better yourself, but also others?

Let today be just like that wild flower. No matter your circumstances, find a way to reach to the skies and bloom with greatness.

If not now, then when?

By David Tepera, February 6, 2019

Lately, I received emails from people pertaining to joining a gym, plus starting to eat healthier, as soon as they receive their tax returns. Of course, my question to them is: “Why you waiting? Yes, a gym membership will help, but why not start doing something now?”

Here’s my best advice; start exercising your body during the time slot you’re expecting once you’ve joined a local gym. I’m referring to random exercises like walking, riding a bike, jumping jacks, sit-ups, and so on. What will happen is over time, your body will adjust to exercising at this particular time each day. So, when you finally can afford a gym, your body is ready to go. Make sense?

Let’s ask ourselves this same question, ”If not now, when?” to other areas of our lives.

How many of you keep putting off seeing relatives, going to evening classes, completing projects, attending church, taking vacation, cooking healthy, etc.?

Let’s be for real, you’re not really going to save any more money than you’re doing right now. Procrastinating has been your downfall for way too long. It’s what has kept you stale, blah, depressed, and stuck-in-a-rut.

Look around you. It’s possible you’re socializing with others who’ve lost their ambition. Break away from the norm. You no longer have time to waste. The time is now, today, this very moment that you’ve decided to change your life.

How many times did you fall learning to ride a bike? Plus, once learned, how many times did you slip and fall again? But did that stop you from getting back on again? Nope, because before long, you were riding wheelies down the street.

I have a 54-year-old client who has been battling stage four bone cancer. Without the consent of his doctor, he took off for a three-day mountain climb and snow-skied back down. Sounds like a Tim McGraw song doesn’t it?

Now, I’m not telling any of you to do anything against a doctor’s orders, but I believe you get my point. We don’t know when Father Time comes a knocking. If you’re like me, I read the obituaries every day in The Daily News. It’s never empty.

Pull out your phone, snap a picture of your meanest face possible, save it, and look at it throughout each day. It’s your reminder that no one or any obstacle can stop you from your goals.

So, the answer to the question “when?” is “now.”

Moving the chains

By David Tepera, January 30, 2019

If you’re not familiar with the football term “move the chains,” it’s pertaining to the sideline down-and-distance markers. These markers are 10 yards apart held by chain-links. So, every offense’s motive is to drive the ball 10 yards, within four downs, in order to move the chains. Of course, the ultimate goal is to reach the end zone to score points.

Since the new year has started, many people have reached out to me pertaining to diets, fitness, life skills, parenting, employment and much more.

Let’s try to keep this simple. Really, when wanting to improve, enhance or move forward with any aspect of life, just move the chains.

For example, you want to quit smoking? Try to smoke every three hours instead of every two hours or however often of your habit. Hopefully, with each day and week, the desire becomes less and less. The good news is — you’ll move the chains.

You can use this example with anything. Want to strengthen religion? Increase prayer frequency and attend church. How about adding one healthy decision per day? Fruit instead of chips, grilled over fried, mustard over mayonnaise, water over soda and so-on.

How about being kind to the first five people you meet each day? Eventually, this kindness will become part of your character.

Want to be a better employee with hopes for promotions? Ask to take on a small project at no extra pay. Show them you are the go-to worker who’ll get the job done. I promise, all eyes will be on you. Make sure to treat coworkers with respect.

Bottom line, no matter what’s going on in your life, there’s room to improve by moving the chains.

Don’t forget, a football team gets four tries to move the chains. There will be times in your life where you’ll get sacked, fumble or get hurt. But, don’t let that be a permanent setback. Just get up, shake off the dust, regroup and get back in the game.

Many of my clients have medical conditions that makes daily life a challenge, but each week, along with our style of weight training, they’re getting stronger and enjoying life.

So, remember, each day is another opportunity to better ourselves. Now, jump up, rejoice and see that life is an amazing adventure. Make this is your day to “move the chains”.

Get up and do something about it

By David Tepera, January 23, 2019

So, you’ve been bombarded with advertising to eat foods that are sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, low-sodium, non-dairy, no carbs, high-protein, no-protein, yada-yada-yada.

As I was growing up, I can’t think of any of my older relatives who were overweight. Believe me, none of them ate that crap, and really, neither do we or my adult children.

The only reason you’re fat and obese is because of lack of exercise. You’re being suckered into buying expensive foods and crazy diet programs because you’re lazy. Bam! Yep, I said it, and the truth hurts.

My late grandma Tepera was a lean religious lady who lived to be 92. Grandma ate fried chicken, homemade bread, Czech kolaches and other foods that are now considered bad. Now, she did eat fresh vegetables grown in her garden. Boy, I sure miss her cooking.

Bottom line, grandma was not lazy. She was on the go from before the sun rose until after sundown. This work ethic was instilled into my dad who passed it along to my sister Karen and I.

What are you passing on to your younger generation? Maybe, it’s time for you to get off the couch and do something about it.

Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle. How many of you have to hold your breath in order to bend over and tie your shoes? It totally sucks doesn’t it?

In the far past, there were times I needed a good tongue lashing to wake up and be productive. Right now, as you read these words, I’m so in your face that you can smell the coffee on my breath.

There’s a reason at the end of each column I write “keep moving and improving.” If you don’t, you’ll wither away and die earlier than expected.

From now on, delete the words “lazy” and “undisciplined” from your vocabulary. It’s you that’s going to change and be a leader amongst your family, friends and coworkers.

So, put down this paper, tie up your sneakers and head out the door to begin your new journey of health and fitness. There’s a lean, mean-fighting machine lurking inside of you, so get mad and let that tiger out — now!

To make progress, you should be measuring

By David Tepera, January 15, 2019

Recently, we were invited by our friend Jerome Karam, the owner of World’s Gym in Texas City, to attend a free seminar by former Mr. Universe Lee Labrada and his son (and IFBB Pro) Hunter.

I was intrigued since Lee was our Houston hero in the body building industry throughout the 1990s, plus he holds over 22 body building titles. Since Lee is my age, I followed him over the many years to learn more about the sport.

Tina and I spent several hours with the Labrada duo discussing everything from weight training to nutrition. This was extremely important to us since we offer these services to all our clients.

But, what struck me the most was how well in shape Lee was, along with the muscle size that he still possesses. Being a motivational speaker, I had a few questions for the 59-year-old former Mr. Universe.

Me: “Lee, what became your motivation to pursue body building as a pro? It’s a hard road and only a few truly make it to the top level.”

Lee: “David, I started weight training to help rehab from a high school football injury. I quickly gained muscle definition to which I realized I was better at lifting weights than football. I won my first contest as Teen Texas and was hooked. My drive to push my body to its limit, to be better than others, a never-quit attitude, had helped me to become a world champion.”

Me: “We’ve just started the new year, and most everyone’s resolution is to improve health. What’s one piece of advice you can give my readers?”

Lee: “First of all, you should always be measuring something. If you’re trying to lose weight, measure your fat percentage. For me, I was working on muscle growth, so I constantly tape measured my biceps and legs. Look, even changing your food portions is a means of measurement. Most people use the weight scales for measuring, but if you’re weight training, the scale can be deceiving for fat loss.”

Now, after a few informative hours with Lee, we both agreed that our society has gotten out of control with obesity, and it’s our responsibility to use our platforms to help others seek a healthier life.

We exchanged books, took some pics, shook hands and agreed to continue our journey to impact this world. So, a big shout-out to Worlds Gym for helping me connect with one of my body building idols.

Learn to ride the waves

By David Tepera, January 9, 2019

Back in the 1980s, in my early 20s, I chose to take up surfing because it seemed really cool, I loved the ocean, and thought the girls would dig it.

I didn’t think it would be too difficult since I was a competitive swimmer and former water polo player. So, I borrowed a friend’s board and headed out to Galveston seawall along pier 39.

Before I dove into the water, I watched the other surfers hoping to learn some tips and tricks. Feeling confident, I plunged in ready to show off my skills and be king of the waves.

Well, as you can imagine, it didn’t turn out the way it played in my head. With each crashing wave, I slipped, tumbled and choked on water. I couldn’t believe that “me” a strong swimmer was getting his butt kicked by the ocean.

But then it happened, I clumsily rode my first wave along the shore. The feeling of accomplishment to conquer and tame the ocean was addictive. At that moment, surfing became my passion for years.

Within a short time, I became a seasoned surfer learning the importance of waxing for grip, the difference between long and short boards, and to hang-10 under a rip-curl.

How many can relate other moments in life similar to my surfing experience? Remember the feeling of your first birdie or parring a hole, riding a wheely on your bicycle, first home run, or hitting a 3-pointer?

From all the examples I listed above, how many times to did you crash and burn before accomplishing any feats?

For all you sales people, how many times did the gate keepers prevent you from meeting with the top brass? But with persistence and creativity, you found a way to land the business.

A hundred doors of opportunity might slam in your face, but all it takes is one big break to change your life. Remember, your biggest successes came from multiple failures. If you want it, never ever give up because with persistence, you’ll learn to ride the waves

New Year, new level

By David Tepera, January 2, 2019

OK, here we go, another new year full of hopes and promises. Believe me, I agree, we should set higher expectations of ourselves and give it our all.

Tina and I just returned from a Christmas cruise out of Galveston. There were more than 3,700 people on the boat, and we were a little shocked that most people were way out of shape. We stood out amongst the whole group, with tons of people asking questions because we were at a level they’ve never seen in person. Tina and I were very gracious, approachable and offered all the advice necessary.

Now, this isn’t a bragging moment for us, it’s a realization that there’s really a serious problem with American diet and exercise.

Once we returned home, Tina and I took the kids to dinner and had a discussion about taking our lives to another level. We are a family of physique competitors and people need our help, but we have to be leaders in all aspects of life. This isn’t just our bodies, but the way we apply ourselves towards everyone.

Even though my kids, who are 20 and 18 years old, are very kind and respectful, I want them to be leaders amongst their peers, plus anyone they come in contact with.

So, the Teperas’ new year’s resolution is to take our lives to another level by helping others.

What about you? What is your current status in your environment? Are you satisfied with your job, as an athlete, student, parent, employer, religion and so on?

Do you just want to be on the team, or do you want to be a starter? Are you working to improve your skills, giving up partying, studying or going to night school, being more understanding or changing social circle?

Here’s a list of some things that will prevent you from reaching another level: taking things personally, holding on to the past, over-stressing, poor diet, complaining, gossiping, stuck on Facebook and other social media.

Of course, these are my personal opinions, but I’m hoping to create some constructive thinking.

You’ve already decided to make this year better than the past. I’m on board with you. Let’s all continue to improve. Make set-backs and failures be a teaching moment. Learn from these mistakes to better ourselves.

Remember, 2019 is the year you’re going to stay focused and take your life to a whole new level.

Christmas blah, bloated and broke

By David Tepera, December 26, 2018

Well, you’ve made it through a long month of Christmas parties, gifting and lack of exercise. Yep, right now, you’re probably feeling a little blah, bloated and broke. Don’t feel alone, even as a family of professional physique competitors, we’ve battled the diet challenges all month, too.

I know there’s still one more week of celebration with New Year’s around the corner, but it’s time to get your bodies in motion again.

Being in the fitness industry, we typically see people registering for gym memberships in January, along with every quick weight loss program imaginable. Then finally, people start signing up for personal training by February and March due to the lack of success on their own.

I’m not referring to anything negative about this process, it’s just the way it has always been.

The good news is people are truly sincere about enhancing their lives to become healthier. I applaud your efforts because it is life changing.

Remember, the journey to a healthy life is a marathon and not a sprint. When you go all in too quick, you set yourself up for failure. I always tell my clients not to beat themselves up for falling off the wagon. Just pick up where you left off and keep moving.

It takes three to four weeks of steady training to get your bodies adjusted. Then, starting around the fifth week, changes become visible. All of our clients notice muscle gains and fat loss around that time.

What’s most important is to stay focused and determined because your body will keep improving. Yes, if you skip an entire week, it will be a set-back, but don’t give up. Your body will bounce back, plus you’ll feel better about yourself.

Here are some of the benefits for weight training alone; lean muscle, stronger bones, metabolism boost, better immune and cardiovascular system, and most importantly – anti-depression.

I’ve heard repeatedly from people whining about not having time or can’t afford a gym membership. My response “exercise is free”. Back in the day when time and finances were difficult, I would jog throughout my neighborhood for cardio, put cans of food in pillowcases to use as weights, load books in my backpack to perform sets of pushups, plus lay on the floor while watching tv and rep-out tons of sit-ups.

So, to me, there are no excuses, just be creative and have fun.

Now, let’s all get rid of the Christmas blah, bloated and broke feeling, and start ramping up for an amazing 2019.

Discipline, dedication and desire is the only answer

By David Tepera, December 19, 2018

There’s no secret, America is plagued by an obesity epidemic. According to statistics, 67 percent of people will never use their gym memberships, and 80 percent of you will fail new year’s resolution by February.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, local gyms were scarce. There once was a perceived thought that weight lifting was unhealthy, and bulky muscles would slow down athletes. Thank goodness Arnold Schwarzenegger came on the scene because he put weight training on the map. He has spent his entire life changing the health and fitness industry. Now, gyms are popping up everywhere, just like donut shops.

Even though the fitness industry is a booming multi-billion-dollar business, there’s a problem. We are bombarded with false promises, fads and magic pills. Admit it, you’ve been suckered, too.

I’m not one to throw stones because throughout the years, I’ve wasted money on plenty of products. But, that’s where I gained knowledge of this ridiculous fad marketing.

Besides my reader base, our personal training clients range from fitness competitors to serious medical conditions. They need the best advice possible. Our company not only helps patients get lean muscle, but a variety of doctors are signing up for our style of weight training, too.

Believe me, there’s really only one true way to reach health and fitness, and that’s from discipline, dedication and desire.

Yep, there’s plenty of you who’ve lost weight on fad diets. How’s that going for you now? Guess what? You created muscle loss, and sadly — weaker bones. Now, don’t misunderstand me, a healthy diet is more important than any other part of fitness, but not these so-called quick weight loss programs.

This isn’t just my professional opinion, there’s plenty of studies and documents to support this.

Listen, no matter your age, you must add weight resistance into your routine. It’s the path to slowing our aging process. The majority of our clients are from the ages of 40 to 70. After five weeks of training, their bodies are gaining muscle, plus their energy level is growing. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of our business.

The new year is coming, and most people are gearing up to improve their health conditions. Just know, weight training has a long list of benefits beyond stronger muscles.

So, throw away the false promising fads and get your butt in the gym.

Christmas parties about more than just eating

By David Tepera, December 12, 2018

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been bombarded with questions regarding Christmas party eating. Most people are trying to keep their diets in check, but the variety of foods has become challenging.

My advice is to enjoy the holiday festivities because this is that time of year where we have the opportunity to taste many homemade desserts. Now, don’t make a meal out of sweets, only sample the ones you want.

When it comes to slices of pie or cheese cake, I always share with another person. To be honest, I typically share several slices. Since I do all the cooking in my house, it’s not too often I get the pleasure of other people’s homemade delicacies.

Remember, it’s not what you eat, it’s how much you eat during these parties. But, if you feel that you’ve indulged too much, then on the following day, perform extra cardio work, plus reduce carb intake significantly. I promise, you’ll feel less bloated as the day goes on.

Recently, I attended an annual Christmas party given by two animal rescue organizations in Friendswood. I did my fair share to indulge all the tasty treats, but the best experience was meeting the special people who volunteer to help needy animals.

There was David and Vicky, who not only change the lives of countless canines, but gave a financial donation to the PTSD Foundation of America through my book.

A wonderful lady named Karen has literally hand-raised hundreds of kittens, vetted all their needs, plus found loving families to care for them.

The list is too grand because everyone at the party had a special connection for a passion towards animals. These particular gifted people are just to name a few.

Really, my message today is to look beyond the wonderful foods at Christmas parties, mingle with strangers and find the uniqueness we all possess. There’s good in all of us, so this is your opportunity to make new friends.

Now, next time you attend another Christmas party, enjoy the tasty treats, and bring a gift of joy, happiness and love. Remember, it’s more than just eating.