I have been getting a lot of emails from people being hard on themselves, saying they aren’t good enough or they’re lazy because they only went to the gym 3 out of 7 days of the week. One woman was hard on herself for eating some cake! We always focus on the things we didn’t do, rather than the things we did do. How about focusing on those 3 out of 7 days that you DID make it to the gym, or the days that you chose to eat healthy! Just because you miss the gym a couple days, or you eat some cake every once in a while doesn’t mean you are a failure! I mean I love eating sweets, it is my weakness from growing up in Austria. It is very hard for me to say no to a Sacher torte or a Linzer torte.
Every time I want to eat sweets, I remember what Jack LaLanne said: "If it tastes good, spit it out!" The fact is, so many things that are enjoyable aren’t great for us, and that’s why we need to do everything in moderation.
If you just ate cake because you were down, just move on and focus on tomorrow. Don’t beat yourself up, because then you will create an endless cycle of making yourself more depressed. Focus on eating less cake the rest of the week and making a change. If you are attacking yourself, you aren’t improving yourself. Pick yourself up and move on, because you have value, and you want to grow your value like a good investment, not run yourself down.
Declare victory every day.
I want to share a story from this month about what I mean by that.
A couple of weeks ago I had a magazine photo shoot, and I had to wake up at 4 in the morning to drive to the desert to take photos at a giant wind farm. It was early, but I was excited because I had a mission: doing a great photo shoot in the middle of a wind and solar farm that started because of the clean energy policies we passed when I was Governor. This goes back to what I always tell you about having a vision. When you know what you want to accomplish, it doesn’t matter how early you have to wake up or how much work it takes, it's a joy to do it because you know it is bringing you closer to achieving your vision or accomplishing your mission. After we finished in the desert, we drove three hours to the beach where we did another photo shoot, this time with my daughter Christina. It was a really long day, but when we finished, instead of going home, I went with my friends and my daughter straight to a sushi restaurant to celebrate.
They asked why I wasn’t tired, and I told them it was because we were declaring victory. We finished our photo shoot, but the day wasn’t really over until we could celebrate. So we gathered around the table, 16 hours after our day started, and we had a toast and a great meal to put the cherry on top of our day.
I think it’s so important to declare a victory every day, whether you went on a long walk, pumped iron, finished a great project at work, studied in school, or spent quality time with your children or grandchildren. Just declare victory every single day, and take the time to celebrate yourself.
Here’s a video of our day at the wind farm!
And for those of you that can’t relate to my photoshoot story, I wanted to share one about my Chief of Staff that may be more relatable. He decided he wanted to deadlift 500lbs before his 36th birthday. Leading up to it, he was working out more than ever, eating better, and focusing on getting where he needed to be for the lift. On his birthday he was able to lift the weight, and celebrated his big moment. But the real victory was proving to himself he could set a big goal, always keep that in mind, and do the work to achieve it! And on top of all that, he learned some important lessons. He learned that when he wrote down his lifts every day, that was its own victory. He learned that cutting bad habits and being disciplined makes a goal so much easier. He even learned that he likes lifting for an audience, even if it was just his dogs sometimes. He told me it sounded silly but when his dogs were staring up at him, he could lift more. And most importantly, he learned that every big victory comes from a thousand little victories.
Another fun thing I did this past month is celebrate my three sons’ birthdays. Patrick is on September 18th, Christopher is on September 27th, and Joseph is on October 2nd. It is always great to spend time with your family, especially on their birthday, and I’m lucky that I have such an amazing family to spend my time with. Recently, I was asked in an interview what I’m most proud of, and I had to say my kids. The joy of watching your children grow up is so rewarding. I find more happiness in their successes than mine.
As far as what I’ve been up to, things are starting to get busy again! I just came home from Columbus, Ohio where we held our 32nd annual Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition. The athletes were incredible, the fans were pumped up, and the stage looked better than ever. Even with the pandemic, and only being allowed to have 2,000 people in the audience, we were able to put on a great experience for our fans, and I’m proud of that. And I am even more proud that with all of the limitations, even though we knew the event wouldn’t make as much money, we kept the prize money for the athletes at the same level. I knew I’d lose money with the fan limitations, but I was more than happy to pay them out of my own pocket because they need it more than I do. I got into promoting bodybuilding so that bodybuilding could be a profession and they wouldn’t have to lay bricks like I did, and I always have that in mind. I can’t wait to be back next year, when hopefully we can get back to our full fitness expo. Check out the highlight video here, and catch the whole broadcast here. For the first time in years, I did commentary with the team, and I had a fantastic time.
One thing I mentioned on the broadcast that really bothers me is how dangerous bodybuilding has become. In the past 10 years, bodybuilding lost more competitors (14!) to early deaths than any other sport, including MMA and football. In fact, most football players that die from CTE problems die much older than bodybuilders, and with the exception of a tragedy this week, MMA fighters die at a much lower rate than bodybuilders. You would think that the head trauma from MMA and football would outweigh the organ failure in bodybuilding, but bodybuilding is much, much worse. We need to fix that, because bodybuilding should be about promoting health and fitness. I don’t know if the answer is more testing or promoting the smaller divisions more. What do you guys think? Check out these two stories to read more about bodybuilders who have passed recently.
We also had successful Arnold Classic events in Spain and the UK, where I appeared virtually. I want to thank Rafael in Spain for putting on a good show, and I really want to thank Stephen Olexy and Eddie Hall in the UK. They had a show I couldn’t believe, with Sly and Dolph Lundgren and Khabib and Georges St. Pierre. It was HUGE, and I can’t wait to be there in person next year.
A Cleveland Adventure!
Speaking of good news, on the way to the Arnold Classic I stopped in Cleveland for my one year checkup after my heart valve replacement surgery. My valve is working perfectly and I couldn’t be happier! I can’t thank all of the doctors and nurses and everyone at the Cleveland Clinic enough. And a funny story, my friends and my team decided that they would explore Cleveland, Ohio while I was at the doctor, so I told them they should go see the sculpture “The Thinker” by Rodin outside a museum not too far from the airport. It is one of only ten 6 foot tall Thinkers in the world that was actually cast under Rodin’s supervision. Long story short, they spent 4 hours looking for the statue, wandering through Cleveland, and ended up in East Cleveland by accident, but they persevered until they found the statue.
UFC Featherweight Championship
After the bodybuilding finals in Columbus on Saturday night, my team and I went back to the hotel to watch UFC 266 on pay-per-view. What a fantastic night of fights. We didn’t get to see all of them, but the main event was one of the best fights I have ever seen. The champion, Alexander Volkanovski from Australia, versus Brian Ortega from right here in Los Angeles. At first I thought Volkanovski was going to walk right through him. I mean the first 2 rounds weren’t exactly that close and Ortega was starting to fade. Then came one of the best rounds of fighting I’ve ever seen. Volkanovski got knocked back with a jab, and Ortega locked him up in a guillotine choke. A guillotine choke is when you grab your opponent in a headlock while they are facing you and choke them. This was one of the tightest chokes I’ve seen, but the champion managed to get out! Look at the highlight video below! Then next thing you know Ortega locks him up in a triangle choke, which is where you choke your opponent with your legs when you are on your back!
Then Volkanovski gets out again and starts hammering Ortega with huge ground shots. At this point I thought the fight was over and the ref would stop it. But they let him go on until the end of the round. At that point there was some confusion because Ortega did not look all there, and seemed to be answering the concussion questions wrong, but they let him fight anyway, and he ended up winning the last round of the fight. These are two of the toughest fighters in the world. They never gave up, even in the face of danger. I heard that Volkanovski thought of his family while he was caught in the choke, and used the motivation to give it all he had to get out. He didn’t want to lose the belt for his family, or for himself. That is a champion’s mindset. I am sure Ortega will be back fighting for the belt in no time, too. He is one tough son of a bitch.
A special cigar...
This month I also got together with my friend Danny DeVito to promote our movie Triplets! Ivan Reitman, our director who you know from Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Ghostbusters, wanted to get us together with our new, third brother, Tracy Morgan over Zoom. Naturally, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring back a prank Danny pulled on me all those years ago on the set of Twins. You may remember the story about Danny putting marijuana in my cigar. Well this time we turned the tables! We waited until the end of the shoot and gave Danny the gift. But unfortunately he still has the nose of a bloodhound, and sniffed out the special ingredient right away. Here is the video of me giving him the cigar. I’m still waiting on Danny to send me the video of him giving it a try later that night. . .
Raising money for After School Programs
Earlier this month, I hosted a fundraiser at my house for After-School All-Stars that has become an annual tradition until last year, when the pandemic hit. In our best year, we raised $5.3 million from 150 guests, so we weren’t sure what to expect since we limited the number of people and required COVID testing. But we blew our record away! We were able to raise $6.3 million dollars from 75 people in order to make sure kids have a safe place to go between the hours of 3 and 6. This issue has been a passion of mine for more than 30 years, and I’m so glad we were able to put together a safe event during the pandemic to keep the momentum going! I love to get dressed up in Western attire and smoke cigars with my friends, but the best part of it is raising money for kids who really need it. Check out this recap video:
Here was a bright spot in my month! I always love to visit our firefighters and pay my respects. I’ve said this for years but they are the real action heroes in the world. Especially with how bad the fire season has been this year, they deserve a little pumping up. They are this month's community heroes, and I hope you all remember to thank your local first responders.
I also want you to check out the Schwarzenegger Climate Initiative newsletter. It may not be as wacky as this one, but you will learn a lot about the environment and saving our planet. It even includes my first in-person Stammtisch! Subscribe here.
This month’s animal update comes with a lesson. If you haven’t noticed, I love lessons.
Here’s a video of me dealing with Whiskey and Lulu in a way you haven’t yet seen.
See, on social media, we always share the positive: our vacation photos, the shots where we look our best, and our animals in their great moments. I saw a recent study that said social media is ruining people’s confidence. A big part of that is because we don’t see the struggles. This goes back to why I started this newsletter. Remember the person who emailed me beating themselves up about having some cake? They probably don’t realize that the people they look up to also eat sweets, because everyone has a tendency to only show their best side. And mostly, you guys have only seen the best of Whiskey and Lulu, which is why they have become stars on the internet. But I don’t want you to think it’s all play and no work. There is always a lot of shit to be shoveled. Reality is never what it appears - everyone has ups and downs. Always remember that when you’re looking to social media for inspiration.
Check out this article to learn more about what I'm talking about.
What exactly is the muscle-mind connection?
There are so many answers for that.
There are certain things we need to train our minds to do automatically by creating a routine. My morning routine is getting up, taking care of the animals, making the coffee, turning on the music, going on the bicycle ride to the gym, and working out. The first three hours of my morning are on autopilot. There is an art to thinking, and there is an art to not thinking. Maybe part of your routine is learning Spanish, so you might be thinking while you learn, but opening the app to learn Spanish should be automatic. The first and most important muscle-mind connection is making it automatic that you go and do your training every day. It should require no thinking. It should become an instinct that you train no matter what. You do this by training every day and creating a real routine.
The other part of the muscle-mind connection is what Plato talked about: “Mens sana in corpore sano.” Sound mind in sound body. Socrates said, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Even the greatest philosophers of all time knew that you could have the smartest mind in the world, but you needed to build your body to have one worthy of carrying your strong mind.
And one other thing: just like muscles, the mind grows with resistance. Every mistake, every error, and every struggle builds your mind’s ability to deal with the future.
If you just meant the muscle and mind connection just when you’re in the gym, that is the most important part of a successful work out! Have you ever tried to workout when you are distracted, and you pace around for too long between sets, and then when you lift the weight it feels heavier than usual? This is because your mind is not connected to your muscles. In order to get the perfect pump, your mind has to be the body’s guide, thinking about every part of the movement, every contraction, every squeeze. If your mind is involved in your workout, there is no way you can lose. I look at it as a form of meditation! The more I focus on the lift that I’m doing, the more present I am in the moment, meaning I can feel exactly how my body reacts to the lift. Get to know your body, and get your mind working in sync with it.
There was a book called Inner Skiing, and they write about how the mind is so important to physical activity. When a downhill skier is going down a course at 96 miles per hour, they are going so fast that their brain can’t react to the gates, so they visualize the entire course before they leave the start gate. The mind has to be connected and working totally in sync with the body during any physical activity.
When I do a bicep curl, I am not mindlessly doing reps. I am concentrating on the whole muscle and the whole movement. I feel the muscle contracting. I put my mind right inside the muscle for all 15 reps. Yes, like all of you, I get distracted. But then I bring my mind back into the movement. You can call this meathead mindfulness.
What do you mean by sleep faster?
You might have heard me say this before in one of my speeches, but we all have one thing in common: 24 hours in every day. Say you work 8 hours. That means you have 16 hours left. Maybe you commute an hour each way. You have 14 hours left. I sleep 6 hours a night, and I tell people who need more sleep to sleep faster, but let’s be generous right now and say you get 8 hours of sleep. Now you have 6 hours remaining.
Imagine what you can do in six hours! You can learn a new language, work out, and read a book for an hour, and still have three hours of real quality time with your family.
When I met Pope John Paul II years ago, I found out he worked out, and I said right then and there, if the Pope has time, everyone has time. When a lot of people say they don’t have time for working out or learning something new or spending time with their family, I just hear that they aren’t prioritizing. We all have 24 hours. The question is whether you use them to live, or just to exist.
How has aging affected you physically and mentally?
Aging is an interesting thing. I feel much smarter than I was when I was younger, because I’ve read more, I’ve met more interesting people, I’ve become wiser, and of course, I’ve learned from my successes, and I’ve learned even more from my mistakes. The older you get, the more your horizons expand and you can see more and more. Today at 74, I’m fighting for a clean environment, I’m a fitness crusader, a good government reform campaigner, a businessman, and of course, an entertainer. In my younger days, I couldn’t have talked healthcare policy or infrastructure in a really intelligent way, but now deep conversations about those topics bring me great joy. And I’ve learned life is about giving back, because in the end, we won’t be judged by how much we make, but by how much we give. It’s not just about me, it’s about we. In those ways, my life has only gotten more fulfilling.
Physically, you just have to accept reality and do the best you can. It is always difficult to accept that you aren’t where you once were. You look in the mirror and you think, “what the hell happened here?” More than 2,000,000 Americans over 65 suffer from depression. I think a lot of that comes from hormonal changes that cause us to lose muscle over time. The global anti-aging market is worth 58 billion dollars. That is a lot of people trying to hold on to their youth.
But none of us can beat time. So you can either mope around and be mad about it, or you can adapt. I’ve chosen to adapt to my age, make my workouts a little bit different and focused on staying lean, and avoiding injury. This is why I’ve moved away from free weights and stick to the workout machines. But I still workout, because luckily, I’m addicted to training, and I have to start my day in the gym. So today, even though my body won’t react the way it did 50 years ago, I can maintain as much as I can and it brings me great joy.
How do you create your visions? Do they just come to you?
I created my vision by spending time with myself to give myself space to daydream and explore other parts of the world and other ideas through things like movies and reading. I had a window to the world from my little village where I could see and read things that inspired me when I had time to daydream. I’ve said this before, but that was easy for me. We didn’t have all these machines and social media distractions. And don’t sugarcoat it, they are almost entirely distractions. It's not all that bad, and we all need to tune out sometimes. But if you’re looking for a vision, you won’t find it scrolling and scrolling through your feed - you need quiet time for your mind. Sometimes I have my best thoughts at night when I put away my iPad and go and sit in my backyard.
First, I saw a short 8mm film about America in school. That was the first window that opened for me. The big cars, Muscle Beach, Hollywood, the Empire State Building. I thought: this is where I belong. That was step one in my vision.
Then, I started to think, “How do I get there?” I read about the greatest boxers, and then I read an article about Reg Park, a bodybuilding champion who played Hercules in the movies. Another window opened. I realized bodybuilding could get me to America, where I thought bodybuilding was wildly popular based on everything I was reading. And I saw Reg's movies and that gave me another window: I’d get into movies like Reg. That was step two in my vision.
This wasn’t an overnight epiphany. From the time I learned about America, to the time I decided bodybuilding was my path, and then I’d get into movies, years passed. I had time to think and plan, because there wasn’t much to distract me. And I also had my window to the world.
Take the time to look out your own windows to the world, and sit with yourself and daydream.
Here are a few of my favorites from last month:
Pump of the month: Arnold Press
Song of the month: You Could be Mine- Guns N’ Roses
Movie of the month: Pumping Iron - I watched this with some friends for the first time in a long time, and it brought back great memories.
Book of the month: Bully Pulpit-Doris Kearne Goodwin
Archive shot of the month: Since this month was the 36th anniversary of Commando, here I am with Alyssa Milano, who became a fantastic actress.