According to Wikipedia, “A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food, and who eats food not only out of hunger but also as a hobby.”
The first time I met Steve Mansir, I was working on a busy Saturday morning at Life Time North Dallas. As I walked past the row of leg equipment, a guy I had never seen before flagged me down, extended his hand, and introduced himself as Steve Mansir. The name seemed familiar, and then it clicked that one of my very best clients had mentioned how he had been promoting me to one of his good friends. That friend was Steve, and he and his wife Mari had just joined our gym along with their precious little boys, Stephen and Parker.
We spoke only for a moment as I was with a client; however, Steve expressed interest in meeting to discuss how I might help him and his wife get into better shape. And that was the humble beginning of a relationship that has spanned ten months. Steve and Mari have made significant progress in that time, and I’m so proud of them for the sweat equity they’ve poured into their health and fitness journey. They walked into the gym from day one, training harder than most, and now they clearly stand out as two of the hardest training members at North Dallas.
Steve was a wrestler in high school and hit his peak condition at a competition weight of 174 lbs. After school, with his wrestling days behind him, Steve’s weight would slowly creep up over the years to the mid-240s. Fitness was not a part of his life as he poured energy into his career in the wine industry. And while he achieved high levels of success financially and personally, deep down, he was not happy with his appearance or physical health.
The short answer is that Steve allowed life to get in the way; unfortunately, his health was not a priority. While lucrative, his career didn’t do him any favors as he is regularly tasked with entertaining clients at 5-star restaurants. Frequent travel, including some international, further compounds his challenge in eating healthy and exercising regularly.
When we first met on August 16, 2021, Steve weighed 205 lbs at 22.6% body fat. He carried 91 lbs of muscle mass and desired to add more while cutting his body fat in half with the ultimate goal to see his “abs.” From his peak weight in the 240s, he had lost a good bit on his own; however, he felt stuck and sought help to take his fitness journey to the next level. Ten months later, on June 18, 2022, Steve weighed 188 lbs at 12-13% body fat. He also managed to put on a good bit of quality muscle and gain considerable strength, which is quite the accomplishment considering the body fat he dropped.
I knew Steve was a worker when we sat down to talk that first night. He has a strong Type A personality which means he’s highly driven, task-oriented, and extremely competitive. He just needed someone to tell him what to do and then stand back. My initial assessment was most accurate, and Steve didn’t disappoint. With his wife Mari by his side, they tackled their first training program with a vengeance, and I promise that it was no “cakewalk.”
I don’t give my clients diet plans. In fact, the word diet is seldom used in my vocabulary. Instead, I teach my clients how to eat a healthy balance of proteins, veggies & fruits, smart carbs, and healthy fats. I also don’t do cookie-cutter programs. Each of my clients has a custom plan tailored to their individual needs, goals, and lifestyles.
Steve is a busy executive whose work and family schedule dictates that he trains in the late afternoon after work, and the following is his primary nutrition plan:
Meal 1 – Early morning breakfast shake Meal 2 – Mid-morning consisting of, for example, a homemade egg, chicken, and cheese taquito Meal 3 – Lunch consisting of protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats Meal 4 – Afternoon snack consisting of a protein shake or protein bars Meal 5 – Dinner consisting of protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats
From our first meeting, Steve and Mari asked me how often they could enjoy a “cheat” meal. One of my favorite posts ever, “No Cheat Meal Required,” is based on wisdom I gained from now-retired nutritionist Keith Klein from Houston, TX. The essence of what Keith taught me over thirty years ago and that I now pass on to my clients today is that you don’t have to eat perfectly to make dramatic changes in your body. However, I prefer to use the term “treat” versus cheat.
To me, the word cheat has a negative connotation. The word treat is positive, and I believe it’s much more appropriate when referring to a reward you earn because of your hard work. Regarding compliance, I told Steve and Mari to shoot for ninety percent, leaving ten percent for treat meals. When you’re eating five meals a day like Steve, this equates to several meals a week that can be off-plan, yet you can still make significant progress.
Given the nature of Steve’s job and their very social lifestyle, this was very positive news. Since we’ve worked together, Steve’s travels have included trips to Napa Valley in Northern California and overseas to Portugal and Barcelona. And it is a testament to his discipline and character that he’s conducted himself appropriately with clients, vendors, and coworkers while not shooting himself in the foot with his health and fitness goals.
Back home, they routinely go to some excellent restaurants with friends. And yet, given Steve’s adherence to my 90/10 rule, he has crushed his goals and has dramatically changed his body. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a weekly ritual for him to share his treat meals, whether for work or play, and yet his body composition has continued to improve. Further, he has told some great stories about the jaw-dropping reaction he gets from family, friends, coworkers, and clients who haven’t seen him until recently. Their reaction is generally a mix of shock, disbelief, and a little envy.
Steve and Mari lift on average four days per week, with a fifth devoted to the core, cardio, and metabolic conditioning work. I change their workouts every six weeks and strategically and incrementally increase the overall challenge with each new program. In contrast, while I push them hard in the gym, I’m equally adamant in encouraging them to chase full and proper recovery.
When I say chase, I mean to make recovery a priority. In today’s modern society, most people don’t get enough sleep, consistently and effectively manage stress, or fully recover from life’s heavy demands. I constantly ask my clients about sleep and stress management. It’s easy to take for granted, yet a lack of full recovery will leave you sluggish at best in pursuing your life’s significant priorities. You will also be more likely to end up with a compromised immune system which leaves your body more vulnerable to breaking down and getting sick.
Steve is a “Foodie” in every sense of the definition provided at the beginning of this post. He and Mari love great food and alcohol and frequent some of the best restaurants in the world. They have been married for 6.5 years and live a life full of family activities centered around their boys and frequent evenings out with friends.
As a result of having a load of responsibilities between work and family that sometimes spills over their respective plates, Steve and Mari don’t always get enough sleep. Whether simply due to a late-night with work or friends or the inevitable interruptions from two young boys, their sleep quality is not always the best. I tell them as I share with all my clients to do their best with their current circumstances. In essence, control the controllables, and leave the rest to God.
From the first night we met to the present, Steve and Mari’s mindset has changed completely. While they still enjoy their culinary indulgences, their total nutrition is much cleaner today than in our early months of working together. In fact, one of Steve’s associates just recently offered to bring him kolaches from The Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas. West is considered the kolache capital of Texas, and Steve LOVES kolaches. He said in the past, he would have asked for a dozen or more, which he would “graze” on for days. On this occasion, he politely said, “No, thank you. I’m good.”
I often share with my clients that good nutrition drives hard work in the gym, and hard work drives good nutrition. For some, one may be a more decisive influence than the other; however, bottom line, there’s clearly a positive cycle between training hard, eating well, and then getting the proper rest. Steve continuously validates this concept as he has said many times over the past ten months how good he feels physically and emotionally.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
You don’t have to be perfect to win. This is the best summation of Steve’s story. If his success in completely transforming his body from couch potato to athlete was tied to always eating perfectly, always getting enough sleep, and always managing stress, he would have failed miserably.
However, that’s not the case. Steve and Mari have lived the ordinary, everyday life of two hard-working parents who chose to be the exception and to make their health a priority. It’s not been perfect, but it’s been enough, and I believe the sky is the limit for them. I have been blessed to have them as my clients, and I think the best is yet to come.
Have you ever jumped to a hasty conclusion only to regret your initial assumptions? I once heard a story about a father riding on a subway with his two young sons. The boys were swinging from the rafters, so to speak, and it seemed as if the father was utterly oblivious to their behavior. Obviously, the boys were disrupting the peace of the other passengers, and so finally, one gentleman spoke up.
“Excuse me, Sir. Your boys are being pretty loud and rambunctious. Do you think you could get them to calm down”? The young father looked up with what could only be described as a lost look of desperation and said, “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for not doing a better job of managing my sons. We just left the hospital downtown where their mother died earlier today from cancer, and I’m not really thinking straight.”
The boy’s behavior was still unacceptable; however, when you know all the facts, you have to give them and their recently widowed father a break. The older I become, the more I realize the importance of having the proper perspective. It seems when I make my worst decisions, in hindsight, it’s when I was way off in my view regarding a given situation.
I heard another story two weeks ago at church that made me feel like a jerk and then brought me tears. One of our ministers recently took a bike ride with his young daughter to a 7-11 located close to their home to get a couple of Slurpee’s. As they were waiting to pay, a scene was developing in front of them at the checkout counter.
David and his daughter were standing right behind an obviously disheveled middle-aged woman, so he couldn’t help but hear the exchange between her and the clerk. She had loose change scattered over the counter and was trying to come up with the needed amount to purchase a bag of pork rinds and a 20 oz Dr. Pepper. The clerk was trying to be patient, yet the store line was slowly growing, and the situation was getting increasingly awkward.
As David told this story, my first thought about this woman wasn’t positive. I didn’t throw her entirely under the bus; however, I’m embarrassed to say that my mindset towards her wasn’t the best. Was she someone living on the streets trying to get something for nothing? She wasn’t dressed poorly; however, judging someone solely based on their wardrobe can be difficult. It’s common in the North Dallas area to see panhandlers’ at the major traffic intersections asking for money. They’re typically not dressed well; however, you will occasionally see someone looking somewhat out of place because they are relatively well dressed, yet they’re still asking for money.
Fortunately, David didn’t think like me. Obviously, the woman was having difficulty paying, and that’s when he stepped forward and politely asked, “Ma’am, would you be willing to let me and my daughter include your things with ours?” With David’s question, the whole place went silent. You could have heard a pin drop.
Then after what seemed like forever, the woman replied in tears, “Thank you so much for your kind gesture and my apologies for not having my act more together. I just left the hospital where my husband is dying from cancer. His two favorite things are pork rinds and Dr. Pepper, and I’m just trying to make him happy in his final days.” After her reply, the rest of the patrons in the store stood in silence, with several having tears welling up in their eyes.
David asked the woman if he could pray for her and her husband. Her answer was, of course, yes, and David proceeded with a short and audible prayer. No one said a word as if the whole store was now pulling for this woman and her family. At this point in David’s story, I had tears running down my face. How could I go from thinking poorly of her to crying about her struggle with her husband’s failing health?
The answer is attaining all the needed facts and achieving the proper perspective. It seems a common fault of human nature to assume the negative about someone in a given situation. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been guilty of this countless times in my life; however, with the second story above now burned in my mind and heart, I have pledged to do better.
There’s something to be said for giving others the benefit of the doubt until they give you a valid reason to think otherwise. The Golden Rule teaches us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. It’s simple to say and much more challenging to live; however, I think it’s a high standard worthy of our best efforts.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
The plight of the lady at the 7-11 clearly had an impact on me. While I had heard the story about the man on the subway and his two sons years ago, David’s encounter inspired this post. And after writing the bulk of this the first night, I was eager to share it with one of my most favored clients the following day at work.
Tay is one of my seniors, and I’ve been working with him and his wife for almost two years. He is a giant of a man at 6’5″; however, he has a heart of gold and is nothing more than a big old teddy bear. Halfway through his session, I brought up the subject of this new post and shared the first story above. While extremely sad, it did not trigger a physical response on my part.
As I transitioned to the second story, I acknowledged that I might not get through it without getting a little emotional. It was more difficult than I expected because the tears flowed, my voice noticeably cracked, and it took several pauses to regain my composure long enough to finish. I’ve always worn my feelings on my sleeve; however, I’m not sure what it is about this poor lady and her dying husband that hits me so hard. However, based on my actions with Tay, it clearly does.
In my four years of working as a fitness professional, I’ve lost two clients to cancer, and I’ve had numerous clients and two of my best friends lose parents or close family members for various health reasons as recently as last week. In all my years in sales, I never forged the relationships I have as a coach, highlighting two essential lessons for me.
The first is that life is short, and we should make the most of it every day. Plan your days and protect your health like you’re going to live forever, and then live each day like it’s your last. It kills me when people blow off the value of a given day. The late great Zig Ziglar used to say, “Every day is a good day, and if you don’t believe me, just try missing one of them.”
If you have a family member or friend where the relationship is strained or not the best, I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to make it right. As the great philosopher Apollo Creed said in Rocky III, “There is no tomorrow!” These are wise words to live by because none of us is guaranteed the next five minutes, much less tomorrow.
The second is that everyone is deserving of your mercy and grace. You don’t know someone’s story unless you know it. Regardless of someone’s level of success, everyone is struggling with some part of their life, and I believe everyone needs an encouraging word.
Last week at my gym, I passed a young lady heading to the women’s dressing room in the hallway around 5:45 AM. I had noticed her a few times on the fitness floor and was pretty sure she was a new member. As I started to say hello, she yawned big time. So instead of saying hello, I smiled and asked if she had a late night. She smiled and said she was still getting used to early morning workouts.
I asked if she was a new member, and she replied yes and that her name was Kimberly. She further shared that she is a single mom and the early mornings are the best time for her to train. I encouraged her to hang in with her new training schedule and that she would get used to it soon enough.
In parting, I told Kimberly how proud I was of her efforts to care for herself. She thanked me, and we went our separate ways. Now, I don’t know the first thing about this woman other than this, being a single mom is the most demanding job on the planet. Further, the gym environment can be terrifying to newbies, and you can 10X that terror if the newbie is a young, plus-sized woman.
Fast-forward to the next week, I saw Kimberly on the exercise floor. She was walking on a treadmill, so I stopped to say hello en route to the free weight area. She smiled as I approached, and after exchanging good mornings, I asked how her training was progressing. She said it was getting better, which was great to hear. Then to my surprise, she thanked me for noticing her the week before. She also thanked me for encouraging her and saying I was proud of her.
Wow! As I’ve shared with many other members and clients, I encouraged her to “persist” in her efforts, and good things will happen. Then as I was walking away, feeling very humbled, I reflected back to the week before when we first met. It started with a simple “yawn,” which was my “in” for saying hello. I still know very little about Kimberly; however, I promise you it is my mission to learn more because she clearly needs the support.
I know that question sounds crazy; however, I did and actually much, much more. My story starts with the freedom of getting my driver’s license as a sixteen-year-old. I was already hooked on diet soft drinks, so whenever I stopped to buy gas for my car, I would treat myself to an extra-large Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper.
While soft drinks, in general, are not healthy for you, how I was consuming them turned out to be the problem. You see, I loved chewing ice, and I would chew every piece out of every cup purchased. Now that may not seem like a big deal; however, when you multiply my seemingly innocent little habit over the years, it would lead to disaster.
In my junior year of college, I took a job tending bar at Piney Woods Country Club in my hometown of Nacogdoches, TX. I worked lunch on Tuesday, and the mid-afternoon to evening shift on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had regarding the people I served and the lifelong friends I forged. Unfortunately, it also fed my addiction to diet soft drinks and chewing ice as I had free access to as much as I wanted with every shift.
By the time I graduated college in 1991, I was totally hooked. My daily habit consisted of two to three 32 oz or 44 oz sized drinks from 7-11 or in later years once I moved to Dallas, RaceTrac, or QuikTrip. Day in and day out, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, my habit continued until the age of forty, when my dentist noticed something disturbing about my teeth.
I started going to Paul Griffin, who retired just last year when I first moved to Dallas in 1993. And it was during a routine cleaning, which I’ve always done twice a year, that he noticed my problem. For some reason, my teeth were wearing away. Fast forward six months to my next cleaning, and the erosion was clearly worse. Dr. Griffin said he had never seen anything like it and was deeply concerned.
I had never eaten hard candy or any other hard food ever in my life. Further, because we had determined years before that I tended to grind my teeth at night, he had fitted me with a custom mouth guard I used virtually every night. Then it hit me. My ice chewing was the one constant activity in my life that we had never considered. In fact, he had no idea about my insidious little habit and quickly stated, after my confession, that it was the likely culprit.
Remember, the Grand Canyon was created from water. In fact, according to Mother Google, “This natural landmark formed over five to six million years as erosion from the Colorado River cut a deep channel through layers of rock. The Grand Canyon contains some of the oldest exposed rocks on Earth. The mile-high walls reveal a cross-section of Earth’s crust going back nearly two billion years.”
So, in comparison, it would seem feasible that me chewing two to three large cups of ice for about 25 years would ultimately damage my teeth. My ice chewing stopped immediately, and fortunately, the erosion wasn’t too bad at that point. I walked out of Dr. Griffin’s office that day thinking we had dodged a bullet and didn’t give my teeth another thought. Until my next cleaning.
Six months later, when the hygienist greeted me, she said it was time for x-rays. Once the process was complete and she had the opportunity to view my films, she quickly pointed out that the erosion we identified over the past year had continued. In disbelief, I asked how that could be possible since I had quit chewing ice cold turkey. In discussing it further with Dr. Griffin, he suggested that the damage done over the years had apparently set in motion a process that may continue even though I had stopped chewing ice.
To what end, I asked? He said at some point, unless the erosion stopped, I would have to consider implants or veneers. Both procedures are costly; however, he strongly suggested the veneers, the more expensive of the two. Implants are much more invasive concerning the structure of your mouth. Veneers or “crowns” are common enough, with approximately four out of ten people having at least one.
In my case, I would need a complete set for all my teeth, which is extremely expensive. When I asked how expensive, Dr. Griffin reframed from giving an answer and had his front office work up a formal quote. The total was $36,500. Gulp!
My heart pounded, and my mind raced as I processed the astronomical figure in my hand. This was further compounded as I faced the reality that the whole situation was self-inflicted. Those years of chewing ice with no apparent damage had just handed me a most distasteful verdict. I would need to save an extra $36,500 in the next two to three years before the time would run out, and I would be forced to get my veneers.
When I say forced, I mean that he would no longer have enough tooth surface to work with at some point, according to Dr. Griffin. I would then be forced to go with the implant option. That conversation took place in July of 2014. As I left Dr. Griffin’s office that day, I had no idea how I would save that much money so quickly. I had an excellent job in sales; however, I didn’t make that much money. Clearly, I needed a miracle.
Fortunately, I had a recruiter seek to connect with me via LinkedIn that same month. And that connection led to my miracle. The crazy thing is that I first told her no and that I wasn’t looking. Thank God she was persistent and insisted it would be worth a simple phone conversation. That phone call changed my life. In September of 2014, I went to work for Workrite Ergonomics. The base pay was more than double my previous job, allowing me to sock away a “chunk” of cash every paycheck to pay for my teeth.
Three years later, in June of 2017, I was able to pay cash for the needed procedure to get my veneers. Dr. Griffin told me I was his only patient to have a complete set. The prep work took almost seven hours. This included receiving temporaries that I wore for about one month. Then the actual process of having my veneers installed took another four hours. My mouth was sore for a week after both procedures; however, I felt incredibly grateful to have them done.
The Compound Effect
I first learned about Darren Hardy in 2011, and he has become one of my most influential mentors through his books, audio content, Darren Daily, and Darren Daily on Demand. He is a New York Times best-selling author, highly sought-after keynote speaker, and former Publisher of Success Magazine. His book, “The Compound Effect,” shares the simple yet profound concept of small daily steps leading to tremendous results. It was my first of Darren’s books to read, and it’s still impacting my life positively to this day.
Albert Einstein called compound interest the eighth wonder of the world, and it’s a classic example of the power of the compound effect. Oddly enough, this extraordinary power works for both good and bad. When wisely investing your money over time, the compound effect can work very much in your favor. In the case of my teeth, not so much.
Darren tells a story about the late great Tony Gwen, a heartbreaking example of the compound effect working for the negative.
According to Wikipedia, “Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014), nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” was an American professional baseballright fielder who played 20 seasons (1982–2001) in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres. The left-handed hitting Gwynn won eight batting titles in his career, tied for the most in National League (NL) history. He is considered one of baseball’s best and most consistent hitters. Gwynn had a .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season. He was a 15-time All-Star, recognized for his skills on offense and defense with seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. Gwynn was the rare player in his era who stayed with a single team his entire career and played in the only two World Series appearances in San Diego’s franchise history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.”
Tony died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer. He started chewing tobacco early in his career and continued to do so beyond retirement. All those years, the destruction was being done; however, he had no idea. Once the diagnosis was made, he would pass away only a few short years later.
The challenge with the compound effect is that it can fake you out. This includes both the positive and the negative. If your first cigarette instantly gave you lung cancer, you would never light your second one. If your first double meat cheeseburger with onion rings gave you heart disease, you would likely avoid eating other high-fat fried foods.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You can go for years or even decades like Tony with his tobacco or me with my ice with no perception of the damage being done. Then when the negative reality rears its ugly head, it may be too late.
There are different struggles regarding how something positive can trip you up. The instant gratification society we live in negatively influences our ability to delay gratification and our capacity for emotional discipline. The reality is that most people are not very emotionally disciplined. They want what they want when they want it and are typically unwilling to wait for any reasonable length of time. The credit card industry capitalizes on this simple fact.
Two other classic examples are losing weight and saving money. How many times have you heard of someone going on a diet only to give up a short time later due to not seeing any progress? Or when someone saving towards a more significant and more critical goal raids their savings account to satisfy their need for immediate gratification? The key is emotional disciple, and it’s sadly in short supply in today’s world.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
The late great Napoleon Hill, author of the all-time classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” used to teach that there’s a seed of equivalent benefit in every adversity. Between the wisdom Darren shares in his book, “The Compound Effect,” and my personal experience with my teeth, I now view life through a different lens with a more long-term perspective.
For example, I don’t consider a cup of coffee from Starbucks as a simple $2.75 expense. Since I love my two Venti-sized cups of morning coffee, a daily habit carved in stone, I see it as $5.50 per day, 365 days per year, over the next twenty years, totaling just over $40K. Now please don’t get me wrong. I love Starbucks; however, I prefer to buy it at the grocery store, ideally on sale, and brew my own, saving a chunk of money that can be invested in my future.
I encourage you to examine your life and look for any seemingly innocent behavior that may be working against you in the long run. Further, be patient when seeking to achieve anything of significance in your life. Small steps taken consistently over time can lead to tremendous results. And there are no shortcuts. Real and lasting success equals hard work every day.
I often share the story with my clients about the magic of compounding pennies. One penny doubled every day for thirty-one days equals just over $10 million. In thirty-eight days, it tips over $1 billion. And here’s the catch, the math never changes. It’s simple duplication every day with consistency that leads to tremendous results.
Finally, be very careful in rationalizing not pursuing a worthy goal because the price seems too high or the time to achieve it is too long. If it’s something you genuinely want that will add value to your life, figure out a way to pay the price. The time will pass regardless, and you can one day look back triumphant in your accomplishment or disgusted because you failed to try.
The first time I ever heard that question was from my long-time mentor Andy Andrews. He was speaking live at a large business convention and shared the story about how his mentor, Jones, asked him that very question. Andy was a young man then, and the answer would change his life.
The critical question is not about how you see yourself but how others see and view you. How you see yourself is crucial; however, how you show up to others can be drastically different despite your best intentions. Everyone has blind spots when it comes to how they see themselves, and unless you have the good fortune of having a trusted friend or family member reveal these to you, you could potentially come across much differently than you might think. And this is typically for the worst.
The answer to the question of how others see you may be uncomfortable. That was definitely the case for Andy, leaving him with a choice. He could ignore the wisdom of his mentor, Jones, and continue along his current path. Or, he could choose to accept 100% responsibility for his lot in life and make some changes that involved some severe upgrades to his skills in dealing with other people.
Fortunately for him, Andy made the responsible decision and rebuilt his character from the inside out. It wasn’t easy; however, his hard work would pay off quickly. He would become a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, advisor to college and professional sports teams, advisor to the US Military, and a New York Times best-selling author multiple times.
The first time I was challenged with how I was showing up was in 1997 while training at Brickhouse gym in Coppell, TX. I am a bit shy by nature and tend to be pretty reserved. Further, I take my gym time very seriously. Combine these traits with the fact that I was in the best physical shape of my life, and you get the following.
Her name was Jacklyn, and I often saw her at the gym. She was a tall and beautiful brunette and honestly a little intimidating to me. Therefore, we were around each other for some time before I spoke to her. When I finally said that first hello, we introduced ourselves, and we had a lot in common, as it turned out. In time, we became excellent friends, and she hired me as a vendor for her company.
During a meeting one day at her office, she commented on how surprising it was to her how things turned out between us based on her initial impression of me. Curious, I asked her to explain. She said that because of my overall demeanor in the gym, she figured I was arrogant and stuck on myself. And now I asked? She said her initial impression was completely wrong.
Wow! Jacklyn’s full explanation provided some relief, but ouch! Her comments were an eye-opener. I was grateful that once she got to know me, she didn’t think I was an egotistical jerk; however, her initial impression gave me serious cause for concern. I knew I was shy and tended to be more serious-minded; however, I had no idea that I was coming across as being an arrogant narcissist.
When I left her office that day, I knew I had some work to do. Fortunately, I’ve always been a sponge for learning, and I was more than willing to do the necessary work to build and polish my character and break out of my shell.
Fast forward about twenty-five years to Monday, April 18, 2022, when I celebrated my fourth anniversary as a fitness professional with Life Time Healthy Way of Life. Monday is my big leg day, including two of my favorite exercises, Trap Bar Deadlifts and Banded-Glute Ham Raises. I love my Monday routine, and on this particular morning, I was extra fired up due to my anniversary.
Towards the end of my workout. I ran into two of my longest-standing clients. Let’s call them Bob and Sue to protect their identity. They were just starting as I completed my last set, and I walked over to say hello. After a quick rundown of our respective weekends, I told them thank you. Looking puzzled, they asked why. I replied that it was my anniversary and their support over the past four years helped me reach my little milestone.
Bob and Sue expressed how much they appreciated me constantly checking on them in the mornings. They are the exception to the rule because they don’t train with me one-on-one. We met during my first few months on the job as we worked out at the same time in the early mornings. After some time, we developed enough of a relationship that they hired me to build their workout programs, and the rest is history.
Several other clients like Bob and Sue have hired me only to build their workout programs; however, I give them the same level of support as my regular one-on-one clients. As far as I’m concerned, once I walk in the front doors, whether I’m on the clock or not, I’m on stage and responsible for serving all of our members, especially my clients.
Customer feedback is invaluable, and I constantly ask my clients if there’s anything I can do to serve them more. Bob and Sue acknowledged this and said they also appreciated that I walked my talk with my personal training and nutrition. I see them and several other clients who also train in the early mornings five to six days a week, so they know I’m taking my own medicine.
As I stated above, when I’m in the club, whether in the dressing room, Life Café, or on the gym floor, I’m on stage and there to serve. While I have to carefully manage my time during my personal workouts, I strategically seek to connect with any of my clients who may be training and the rest of the club members. Years ago, I heard that the most influential person in the room is most actively involved in introducing themselves.
In my mind, the only way I’m going to help someone with their health is to gain some influence. Leadership expert John Maxwell often says, “You must touch someone’s heart before you can ask for their hand.” To me, that means proactively seeking to meet members every day.
Unfortunately, Sue said that not all trainers are as friendly as me. Her comment wasn’t directed at anyone in particular or LifeTime for that matter, as she has trained at numerous gyms over the years. It was just a general statement based on her personal feelings. I apologized and tried to downplay the whole scene. I further shared that twenty years in outside sales before becoming a fitness professional gives me an advantage in knowing how to engage and connect with people.
Afterward, as I was driving home, I reflected on Sue’s comments. The trainers at my club are excellent in their craft and have genuinely good hearts, and I consider them trusted friends. Further, trainers employed by LifeTime nationwide are held to extremely high standards and are generally top-notch in delivering exceptional client experiences. However, according to one of my best clients, who I also think to be of high moral character, we as trainers have an opportunity to improve.
While I can’t speak for the training industry, I will share the events that took me from being an apparent arrogant narcissist to where I am today. And please let me emphasize that while I’ve come a long way, the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know and how far I have to go. For example, there are numerous things regarding my people skills where I feel like I’m just starting.
In particular, I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. Because of this, I still sometimes struggle with crucial conversations with family, friends, and clients. This is an opportunity for me, and I’m actively working with several accountability partners to overcome this weakness.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
I have been following Andy Andrews since the mid-90s, and fortunately, I had already heard his story about his encounter with Jones before meeting Jacklyn. While the experience with her was disturbing, on the one hand, I quickly saw the parallel to Andy’s story and immediately went to work reinventing myself.
Looking back, I am so grateful for having met Jacklyn. It’s a simple yet profound phrase that you don’t know what you don’t know. No one had ever called me out the way she did, and the whole experience was a huge blessing.
If you’ve never had a Jones or Jacklyn in your life, you might consider asking a best friend or family member about how you’re showing up. For bonus points, you might consider talking with someone you spend a lot of time with, like a co-worker, but with whom you’re not close. Their insight into you will likely be more objective than friends and family. Ultimately, these may not be the most comfortable questions to ask; however, the feedback you receive may be life-changing if you take it to heart and do the work needed to polish your rough edges.
Your Work May Be Right in Front of You
John C. Maxwell is another long-time mentor I’ve been following since the 90s. Many consider him to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on leadership; however, he started out many years ago as a pastor. I once heard John tell a story about one of his top leaders. John was the senior pastor at the time at Skyline Church in San Diego, California, and to protect his name and integrity, let’s call his executive pastor Bill.
Bill entered their facility one morning and walked right past John, speaking with several other staff members without saying a word. Overall, the group didn’t pay attention to Bill’s lack of courtesy; however, John definitely noticed. And after wrapping up his conversation with the group, he headed straight to Bill’s office.
After exchanging good morning greetings, John cut straight to the point and challenged Bill for his massive oversight. He replied that he meant no harm and had a lot of work. John replied that his work was gathered back in the lobby and that he had missed an opportunity to engage and add value or simply offer an encouraging word.
Before joining Life Time, I heard that story when I worked as a manufacturer’s representative for Workrite Ergonomics. It had a positive impact then because of the broad responsibilities and the multiple levels of decision-makers and influencers I dealt with and served daily. However, now in my role as a fitness professional, I know that I’m on stage every second of every day from the moment I get out of my car in the parking lot. My members are watching, and that’s been proven to me many times through various conversations.
Therefore, my personal standard is to treat all my members like million-dollar customers and with no expectations of anything in return. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. And second, you never know who may actually become a paying client. Doing any less is a disservice to our members and Life Time.
I’m Still Shy
In 1995, I took the DISC Personality Profile for the first time. For those familiar with DISC, I tested as a high C and high S. For those unfamiliar, it means I’m very conservative and detail-oriented. My D and I barely showed up. This means I’m not the life of the party or the hard-charging, “It’s my way or the highway” sort of person. My profile didn’t precisely match up for a company looking to hire a sales rep. In fact, my soon-to-be sales manager coached me on how to retake the test to come across with much more D and I.
In 2017, I retook the DISC test to prepare for a sales training boot camp with Pici & Pici in Orlando, FL. Since my first experience back in 1995, I’ve studied personality types in-depth, and I can take pretty much any test in such a way as to manipulate the outcome. I shared this with Joe Pici in a phone conversation a few months before the event, and he encouraged me to take the test from my heart.
Want to take a guess at my results? In twenty-two years of growth in my personal development, I’m still shy, reasonably reserved, and detail-oriented in my thinking. However, I have learned to be outgoing and strategically courageous when it counts to excel in my career and in life. Am I saying it’s easy? The answer is definitely no; however, the “why” behind my personal mission to serve people through the vehicles of business and fitness is much bigger than my natural inclination to keep my mouth shut and not make any waves.
When I attended the boot camp taught by Joe and Dawn Pici, one section focused on mastering the DISC personality model. The training I received substantiated how my core traits are ingrained from birth; however, my adapted styles explain how I can adjust my behavior to cope with the requirements in a given environment. Your adapted profile demonstrates your conscious understanding of yourself and your behavior in a given situation.
For most, the environment makes all the difference. When I’m in the gym, training myself or a client, or with nutrition or life coaching, I’m in my strength zone and come across as very confident and strong. This includes public speaking, where I feel secure as long as I’ve had the opportunity to prepare. However, suppose you send me to a business after-hours networking event where I know no one. In that case, I will likely default to my natural state of being shy and stand in the corner waiting for the required time of attendance to pass.
You might consider doing so if you’ve never taken a personality test. DISC, Myers-Briggs, and Standout are all excellent choices. Your results, combined with the feedback from your family, friends, and coworkers, should arm you with all you need to work to maximize your strengths and shore up your weakness in dealing effectively with people.
Can You Be Courageous for 20 Seconds?
The scenario I shared in the last statement is accurate; however, I recently learned a simple strategy to overcome my natural inclinations. Can you be brave or courageous twenty seconds at a time? Fear is an allusion; the best way to overcome it is to run straight through it. So at the same networking event, let’s say I have a goal to meet five new quality contacts with whom I can potentially do consulting with their company. And let’s say I need to meet fifteen to get my five.
Now I don’t need to be brave for the entire two-hour event; I only need to be brave for the five minutes it takes to walk up and introduce myself to fifteen different people. The hardest part is the initial approach, and that’s the magic of the twenty-second burst of courage. Once you extend your hand and introduce yourself, it’s really not that big of a deal to meet new people.
You can apply this same strategy to basically anything where you’re procrastinating in taking action. The late great Zig Ziglar used to teach that fear is false evidence appearing real, and Andy Andrews teaches that fear is a misuse of your creative imagination. Both statements are factual; in either case, your best bet is to commit to the task and take action. The first step is the hardest part. Once you move into action, I promise the rest will be much easier.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
My purpose in writing this post is not to cast a shadow on the personal training industry or make myself look good. First, while I’ve made tremendous strides in my personal development over the years, I still have tons of work to do. And as I said above, my teammates locally and throughout our company are all highly skilled in their craft and loved by their clients and our membership. Unfortunately, the role of being a fitness professional is to always be on stage. You are always being watched by your members and should conduct yourself accordingly.
In the summer of 2017, my sales manager at the time sent an email in response to a question I had asked him earlier that afternoon. I had given a formal presentation to a large group of people, seeking his feedback. I thought it went well; however, I needed his word of approval.
His reply was positive enough regarding my presentation; however, he took the opportunity to share something that was shocking on a personal level. I was embarrassed more than I could ever explain, and it compelled me to make some immediate changes. For personal reasons, I choose not to reveal the details; however, I assure you it was a massive deal to me. The changes it drove me to make were quick and permanent.
In hindsight, while I was mortified then, I will be forever grateful for Robert sharing with me. I know it wasn’t easy, hence sharing it by email; however, he cared enough about me to share some tuff love under the circumstances.
My purpose in writing is always to serve others by offering a little perspective and an encouraging word. So whether you ask for objective feedback from your inner circle to improve yourself or to speak some needed truth into someone’s life, I wish you only the best in your efforts.
I am your constant companion. I am your most excellent helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am entirely at your command.
You might as well turn over half of the things you do to me, and I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed – you must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of great people and, alas, of all failures. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though; I work with the precision of a machine plus a person’s intelligence.
You may run me for profit or ruin – it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
I am habit. If you change your habits, you will change your life. Now, this statement is impartial. The more positive habits you build into your life, the better your life will be. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, and if you develop enough negative habits, you can literally destroy your life.
So, what percentage of your daily actions are based on habit? The answer is somewhere between roughly 40%-95%, depending on the person. Some of you are literally sleepwalking through your everyday life on autopilot.
Could you apply the same percentages to your choices in nutrition? Again, the answer is yes, for better or worse. So, would it help to build more positive habits surrounding your daily food? Would it help to take some emotion and decision-making out of eating? Again, the answer is yes.
In this post, I will share with you twelve habits that, if adopted, will change your life. The first nine are specifically regarding nutrition, and the last three are more on lifestyle management. My suggestion is to focus on each habit for two weeks before moving on to the next. Then, after six months, repeat the process.
If you take me seriously and work to implement these habits over the next year, your health and life will improve dramatically. However, without some structure to organize these habits, your success will fall short of what it could be.
What do I mean? Well, do you remember Driver’s Education? After going through the laborious process of watching video after video in a classroom setting, your big day arrived, and you faced the daunting challenge of your driver’s test. If you were fortunate enough to pass, you were then legal to drive. But, you were not a good driver. No one is in the beginning. You had to think about your hands at ten and two, remember to put on your seat belt, release the emergency brake, and check your mirrors and blind spots before passing. You had to think about everything, and in the beginning, it was hard.
And now? You can fly down the road at eighty-plus miles per hour with a Starbucks in one hand and your iPhone in the other (driving with your knee) and think nothing of it. How? Because driving has become a habit. You don’t have to think about it anymore.
Now, you may be one of the best drivers in the world in terms of your ingrained habits, and yet, if all the street signs, traffic signals, and the entire communication system for all the roads and highways were taken away, what would happen? It would result in sheer and utter chaos. Therefore, you need the structure of our road communication system to maximize your driving abilities.
It works much the same way when it comes to your daily nutrition. You may be excellent at eating protein and veggies; however, you will struggle to reach the success you are truly capable of without some structure and a daily and weekly game plan.
For the balance of this post, I will unpack the following twelve habits as promised. Then, in closing, I will share some thoughts on the structure needed to make these new habits a valuable and permanent part of your life. One word of caution. Please don’t write these habits off as too simple to make any difference. As a fitness professional and nutrition coach, I’ve never met anyone close to living these twelve habits. In fact, I personally struggle with several, and I teach these concepts.
1 – Take a Five-Minute Action 2 – Eat Slowly 3 – Eat Until 80% Full 4 – Eat Lean Protein 5 – Eat Colorful Veggies & Fruits 6 – Eat Healthy Fats 7 – Eat Smart Carbs 8 – Drink Mostly Calorie Free Beverages 9 – Plan & Prep Your Meals 10- Practice Destressing 11 – Create and Use a Sleep Ritual 12 – Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy
So what have do you have to lose? Take me at my word and give this your best effort. If you live with these habits for the next year, you will be a different person. I promise.
Habit #1 – Take a Five-Minute Action
The purpose of this habit is to spark action – any action at all. This contrasts with the person who suffers from paralysis by analysis.
Taking action helps you feel empowered, and only you can decide what action to take. No one will do this for you. The act must be simple, concrete, and completed in minutes. You will start accumulating daily successes immediately, and these wins will build your self-confidence. In time, you may grow to feel like you can conquer the world.
My best suggestion is to tie your five-minute action to an existing anchor habit. For example, let’s say you have a goal to take your multivitamins daily and you’re a coffee drinker. If you’re like me, the first thing you do in the morning is turn on your coffee maker. Then after firing up my computer for my bible study, I load up my supplements for the day in my little supplement organizer.
My coffee habit is carved in stone, and the time I spend waiting for my morning delight to brew is the perfect opportunity to prep my supplements. Once complete, my organizer goes into my lunch box, which I take to work each day. This simple step sets me up for success, and for what it’s worth, my consistency in taking my daily supplements is 100%. I simply don’t miss.
People will often question the value of something so simple that it can be completed in five minutes.
In my experience, people underestimate the importance of simplicity and the value of small chunks of time. I just completed my ninth fitness certification, and one of my co-workers asked me when I found the time. My reply was “in the cracks of my day.” I would read and study my coursework during breaks on my phone, tablet, and laptop. Five minutes here and ten minutes there repeated consistently adds up.
Pop quiz. What happens if you double a penny every day for thirty-one days? If you run the numbers, it totals just over $10 million. And here’s the catch. The math never changes from day one to day thirty-one. It’s simple duplication repeated every day, and the results are incredible. The key, however, to the magic of duplicating pennies is consistency. If you miss only one day, you won’t reach $10 million.
Once your first five-minute action becomes a habit. Move on to something new. This simple strategy is a powerful method for creating change in your life, one small step at a time.
Habit #2 – Eat Slowly
When you sit down to eat, regardless of the quality and quantity of your food, it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach and brain to synch up and for you to feel fullness or satiety. So, if you’re at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, you can do some severe damage in a short period. In contrast, you will inevitably eat less if you simply slow down.
Eating more slowly will lead to eating less. You will also feel more in control when eating because you will learn to sense true hunger and satisfaction or fullness. If people would only eat when they are physically hungry and stop when they are satisfied, the world would not be filled with people struggling with being overweight. But, unfortunately, people eat for many other reasons besides true hunger and often to excess.
Pro Tip: Whether using a fork or spoon, take one bite, and set your silverware down. Chew thoroughly and swallow. Then you may pick up your utensil and take the next bite. Bonus points will be awarded if you can sip on some water between bites. This simple little strategy will help you slow down your eating without obsessing about the process.
Habit #3 – Eat Until 80% Full
In short, eat until you are satisfied, not until you’re stuffed. Stuffed is easy. Stuffed is the feeling so many experiences after your typical Thanksgiving feast. Afterward, all you want to do is lose your belt and take a nap.
Eating until you’re satisfied is different. The best personal example I can offer is when two of my best friends and I used to play golf during the years shortly after graduating college. We would walk 18 holes in the morning and then stop for a quick lunch. I would have a couple of turkey or grilled chicken sandwiches and a large diet coke. Then it was off for a second 18 holes. And while we typically took golf carts in the afternoon, if we had had a Thanksgiving-styled feast for lunch, we would not have felt like another round of golf in the hot Texas sun.
Eating until you’re satisfied is an excellent strategy for being able to go all day. It is a simple method for eating less, and like Habit #2, Eating Slow, it builds appetite awareness and the ability to sense true hunger and fullness. Further, it teaches you to be in control regardless of the circumstances.
As I mentioned earlier, people eat for many other reasons outside of true hunger. For example, suppose you work in an office environment with a large staff. Between the potentially unhealthy snacks in your breakroom to regularly celebrating birthdays and other events, you could face many opportunities to eat when you’re simply not hungry.
Now, I’m not saying to never have a piece of cake for a friend or family member’s birthday, but at some point, depending on your goals, you need to consider whether it is really worth it. Of course, only you can answer this question. I just want you to analyze the situation and make the best decision for you rather than randomly following the herd. Following the herd often leads you on a path to nowhere and can sometimes lead to disaster. Instead, choose to be the exception.
Habit #4 – Eat Lean Protein
We need protein for almost every metabolic process in the body. Getting enough protein will help you preserve lean muscle mass, especially when you’re in a caloric deficit. To drop body fat, you must consume less than your body requires from daily calories. Your body is stubborn and must be coaxed into losing fat. It can’t be forced. Therefore overly restricting your calories can result in your body literally catabolizing muscle tissue to make up for the lack of daily nutrition.
One of the most critical steps to preserve muscle while dropping body fat is being patient and shooting for a 1-2 pound loss per week. Further, give your body a reason to hold on to the muscle it has by engaging in strength training two to three days per week. And finally, give your body enough protein. One gram per pound of lean body weight is a great start. Depending on your activity level and goals, you could need more. If your trying to build muscle, then taking in enough protein is all the more critical, and one gram per pound of lean body weight is still a great target.
Protein is the king of satisfying hunger when compared to carbs and fat. Fat is actually number two, and combing protein and fats can be a great way to provide satiety or lasting fullness. Please note that I did not throw carbs under the bus. They have their place, and I will be sharing their benefits soon enough. It’s just when it comes to satisfying hunger, carbs alone, regardless of the source, will not last very long. A balanced meal of protein, carbs, and fats is your best option.
Protein can come from a variety of sources, including the following:
1 – Poultry 2 – Beef 3 – Fish 4 – Pork 5 – Wild Game 6 – Eggs 7 – Dairy 8 – Protein supplements from milk, meat/poultry, and plant-based 9 – Nuts & Seeds 10 – Quinoa & Buckwheat 11 – Beans
Your hand can provide an excellent reference when it comes to portion control. The palm of your hand, not including your fingers, is a perfect example of a serving of protein. For lunch and dinner especially, 1-2 palms for both men and women is a great goal. Unfortunately, in my experience, most people don’t get enough protein, as it takes being educated and intentional. I will provide a sample day in the life of one of my clients at the end of this post.
Habit #5 – Eat Colorful Veggies & Fruits
Eat the rainbow – the more variety, the better for your health.
Adding veggies and fruits helps your nutrition by adding much-needed fiber for gut health. They also add micronutrients which are the real magic in terms of what they do in your body, including aiding in digestion. In particular, vitamins help with energy production, immune function, blood clotting, and other functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an essential role in growth, bone health, fluid balance, and other processes.
There’s another critical benefit to fibrous veggies, especially when trying to drop body fat and live in a caloric deficit. As I mentioned earlier, protein and fats are the two most important macronutrients for satiety. Veggies also play a critical role because they add much-needed fiber, which also aids in satisfying hunger. Further, they are volumizing in that they take up space in your tummy while only containing minimal calories.
So, beyond the fantastic health benefits, loading up on fibrous veggies can be a great strategy to offset the inevitable hunger from living below your daily caloric needs. If you’re not trying to drop body fat, you still need to focus on getting in your daily veggies. They are critical for your health and longevity.
As a nutrition coach, it’s common to see clients struggle with eating enough vegetables. They often claim that they simply don’t like them. In my experience, the underlying challenge can be a lack of cooking skills. To echo my buddy “Newman” from the hit series Seinfeld, raw broccoli, in my humble opinion, is a “VILE WEED!” However, when appropriately cooked, veggies of all kinds can taste amazing. If you’re struggling in the cooking department, I will share three excellent resources at the end of this post.
Consider your fist for veggies and your cupped hand for your fruit for portion control. While I’m grouping veggies and fruits together, fruits are typically higher in calories and should be considered carbohydrates. It really comes down to your body composition. If you’re relatively lean, you should be able to safely eat a larger quantity of fruit. If you’re watching your total intake to drop body fat, be more intentional with your fruit intake as they are higher in calories and carb content.
Habit #6 – Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are best found in whole, minimally processed foods. They help with hormone synthesis, recovery, and other vital metabolic tasks. In addition, as mentioned above, fats play a critical role in controlling appetite and providing satiety. And they just make food taste good. My personal favorites include the following:
1 – eggs Sunny-Side Up or in my homemade protein pancakes 2 – flax seed in my shakes and pancakes 3 – olive oil and avocado with my veggies 4 – walnuts or almonds in my shakes
You need a balance of healthy fat types to feel and function best. Two challenges people struggle with fats are portion control and understanding actual fat content. When it comes to fibrous veggies, you can eat all you want, which will not make any difference. For example, no one will ever put on body fat eating broccoli or spinach. Fats, on the other hand, are a different story.
I cringe when people comment about snacking on a “handful” of nuts. For clarity, one ounce of whole walnuts on a digital kitchen scale will cover a circle roughly 3-4″ wide. That’s two to three bites conservatively and equals 185 calories and 18 grams of fat. When it comes to fat intake, you need to be specific because fats are extremely calorically dense. For portion control, consider using your thumb.
The second challenge is not being fooled by the misleading marketing practices of the food industry. Poultry and meat manufacturers are among the worst offenders, and if you don’t understand how to read labels, you can make some bad choices. For example, one standard ground turkey breast package reads 93% Lean and 7% Fat. And in the countless nutrition consultations that I’ve done, this tends to be the product people purchase.
They see the word LEAN as a positive, and 7% Fat seems to be very little. The loophole being used is that the 7% Fat is in terms of scale weight. That’s not how we apply nutrition with calories, protein, carbs, and fat to foods, so this number is irrelevant to us as consumers.
The reality is that this product is 42.3% fat. Further, when you look at the ingredients, it simply lists turkey and seasoning. In this case, the turkey includes breast, thigh, and skin. So it’s basically everything but the bones and feathers, and consuming products like this and others that contain far more fat than what you’re led to believe can create a real problem in eating healthy.
For more information on successfully navigating the minefield of misleading marketing practices used by food manufacturers today, check out “Are Food Companies Lying to Us?“. A link is provided in the resource section at the end of this post.
Habit #7 – Eat Smart Carbs
Almost everyone will benefit from having some carbs in their daily nutrition.
Smart carbs are slower digesting due to their more complex nature. They’re also higher in fiber which is critical for gut health. And they’re nutrient-rich. In fact, according to Mother Google, “SmartCarbs refers to a specific group of carbohydrates that are nutrient-rich and lower on the Glycemic Index. These carbs are packed with fiber, digested more slowly, and help you feel fuller longer. Plus, they deliver vitamins, minerals,and other important nutrients your body needs.”
Whole grains, in particular, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Some of your best options for smart carbs include brown and wild rice, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, etc. Beans and legumes are also included, along with fruits and starchy veggies like bananas and potatoes.
Consider your cupped hand as one serving.
Habit #8 – Drink Mostly Calorie Free Beverages
It’s easy to take in a lot of unwanted calories from drinking.
Most drinks offer few nutrients or add value to our bodies. Alcoholic and sugary drinks, in particular, are not your friends, while mainly drinking calorie-free beverages (such as water) is one way to quickly cut out excess calories and improve your overall nutrition. Shoot to drink roughly half of your body weight in ounces a day. And while coffee and tea have their place, the more you can rely on plain clean water, the better it will be for your health.
Many are tripped up by the hidden calories in common beverages. It annoys me when beer manufacturers boast only a few grams of net carbs. Miller Lite, for example, claims only 96 calories with 3.2 grams of net carbs. So, where are the other calories coming from? Beer has little to no protein or fat, so where are the additional roughly 83 calories? Have you heard of sugar alcohol? It contains seven calories per gram, and they add up just like any other food source.
Further, the body doesn’t have to digest alcohol, so it hits your bloodstream straight through your stomach wall. So if there is a perfect storm of adverse activities, it’s consuming excess food and alcohol together. It is safe to say that alcohol consumption is diametrically opposed to your efforts to drop body fat, so be cautious with your intake.
Habit #9 – Plan and Prep Your Meals
Healthy, performance-boosting meals don’t happen by accident.
I published a blog back in early 2021 called “Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road,” where I shared a concept that I still teach almost daily. Good tasting healthy meals are not the challenge. If you had a private chef following you around each day, providing healthy, gourmet-quality food, your life would be much easier. That, unfortunately, is not the world most live in and, sadly, where people struggle the most.
For the most part, three steps have to take place for a healthy meal to appear.
Step one is to plan what you’re going to have for the next week. For most people, one week of planning is enough.
Step two is to go shopping, and your plan drives your shopping list. And whether you go to the store yourself or have your groceries delivered to your home, you ultimately have to make a purchase.
Step three is to prep or cook your meals.
Now, this may seem very simple and obvious, but I’m telling you, it’s not. If you do a poor job of planning, you will not get everything you need when you go the stoor. Then when you run out of healthy options mid-way through the week, many opt for the path of least resistance, which means eating out of ordering something to be delivered to their home.
The better you get at planning, shopping, and prepping/cooking your meals, the better off you will be. And for people who work from home, meal prepping is still an invaluable practice. During a crazy day at their home office, I have two clients who will rationalize ordering something to be delivered to their homes because they think they’re too busy to stop and cook from scratch. The simple solution is to have something prepped in advance, so all they have to do is take it from their fridge and warm it up or eat it as is.
Habit #10 – Practice Destressing
Having just completed a brand new certification on sleep, stress management, and recovery, the information I’m about to share has taken on a whole new meaning to me. Stress affects your entire physical health, including your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Regular de-stressing practices can improve your health, including your mindset, coping productively, and overall well-being.
Do you have one or more activities that you’re involved in that relieve stress? If your answer is no, I encourage you to add some downtime to your weekly schedule. If not addressed, chronic stress is a killer and will take a massive toll on your physical and emotional well-being.
Personally, I love to work out first thing in the morning. After my morning bible study, this sets me up for a great day. Further, I love to read, write, take long walks, and go to the movies. Finally, yoga is popular at my gym and a new activity for me. It’s a great way to unplug from the electronic grid and get in touch with your mind and body.
When it comes to stress and technology, people can be their own worst enemy. If this is you, please consider going without your devices for a least some part of each day. The frenetic energy associated with being constantly plugged into your phone, tablet, or computer will take a severe and damaging toll on your mental and physical health.
If going without your cell phone creates instant anxiety, you may be suffering from Nomophobia. This is a new term to describe the fear of going without your phone. Instead, you may consider starting small and building in some daily time unplugged from the electronic grid. Your mind and body will thank you.
Habit #11 – Create and Use a Sleep Ritual
A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors and a planned time before bed where you purposely relax and gear down.
“Control the controllables” is a phrase I often use with my clients. For example, the image below shows three different circles.
In the smallest circle, you have absolute control. For example, you can choose to brush and floss each night or not. In the second circle, you have some control. For example, you may own your company and dictate the standards by which your employees will operate; however, in the end, they can still choose to disobey your rules of operation. In the last circle, you have no control. The weather, economy, and politics are way beyond your control. As a believer, I choose to give these to God and not allow them to steal my joy.
This directly relates to your sleep in the following ways. First, you have absolutely no control over how you sleep once you turn out the lights and close your eyes. However, you do have control over what you do during the day, especially during the time shortly before going to bed. A sleep ritual gives you the best opportunity to maximize the quality of your sleep, and the following are the best suggestions I’ve learned and share with my clients.
1 – Turn off your electronic devices and unplug your mind from the electronic grid thirty to sixty minutes before bed. Also, be mindful of what you’re watching in the evenings. For example, a horror flic right before bed will probably leave your mind pretty wound up, and you may find it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
2 – Use the blue light filter on all your devices two hours before bed. Your body is very sensitive to light, and blue light, in particular, can trick your mind into thinking it’s still daytime. This can inhibit your production of melatonin which is your sleepy-time hormone. By diming your lights in general in the evenings and blocking blue light as much as possible, you will create a more favorable environment for your mind and body to wind down for sleep.
3 – If your devices don’t have a blue light blocking filter, you can download the F.LUX app for free.
4 – Wear blue-light-blocking glasses at night one to two hours before bed. I wear these with my computer and while watching TV.
5 – Be as consistent as possible with your go-to bed and wake-up times. Your body craves regularity and the more consistent you can be with your sleep pattern, the better the quality of your sleep. In contrast, if you’re all over the place with your go to bed and wake up times, you will likely struggle with the quality of your sleep.
6 – Do not check your phone in the middle of the night. Some of you may argue that you use your phone as your alarm. My reply is to order a simple alarm from Amazon, which you can pick up for less than $20 bucks. Then leave your phone charging in another room removing all temptation. Checking your phone during the night for email, news, or social media is the equivalent of plugging in the lights to your Christmas tree to your brain. Good luck going back to sleep under the circumstances.
7 – Consider using an over-the-counter sleep supplement. The most effective on the market are as follows:
You can purchase these supplements individually or in combinations through existing product blends. I will list the product I use in the resource section at the end of this post.
8 – The late great Zig Ziglar and Jim Rhon used to teach that when you’re at the office, be at the office. And when you’re home, be at home. Mixing the two is a recipe for disaster. So I have a simple solution for all of you who struggle with your mind racing at night with all you have to do the next day.
End your day by planning the next. Before you shut down at the end of the day, strategically plan out your top six priorities for the next. This is called the Ivy Lee Method, and it will work wonders in maximizing your productivity at work and allowing you to leave the office behind at night when you’re with your family.
9 – Use a gratitude journal. The second to the last step in my personal sleep ritual is to briefly journal the top few positive things that happened to me that day. The simple procedure has two benefits. First, it forces your thoughts to the positive even if you’ve had a hard day. If you’re willing to look for it, there’s always a silver lining. Further, if it was a particularly rough day, you might read back over the past few days’ entries to remind yourself of all the blessings you have in your life. I promise this will help.
10 – And finally, if you must, consider some light reading. There are no devices allowed at this point. I have several devotional books where I will read a few pages. My company magazine, Experience Life, is also a great source that I frequently turn to.
Habit #12 – Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy
Your body does get better, fitter, and or leaner during workouts. It gets better between workouts as it rebuilds and recovers. Recovery doesn’t happen by accident. In your busy and demanding life, you have to chase it.
Optimal recovery covers four major areas:
1 – Managing your weekly training loads 2 – Optimizing your nutrition, including hydration 3 – Getting enough quality sleep 4 – Managing stress
These are huge topics where you could go into incredible depth in each. I will offer an analogy that I often use with my clients. Your health is like a four-legged stool consisting of training, nutrition, rest & recovery, and stress management. If you compromise in any area, your stool (health) will be wobbly. And if you compromise enough, your stool will crash and burn. This resonates with my clients, and I hope it hits home with you. It’s a simple strategy, although not necessarily easy.
Unless you’re an elite athlete, 2-4 days of strength training per week plus 2-3 cardio sessions is enough. Add in some foam rolling, mobility work, and maybe a yoga session, and you’re done. A training program is only as good as your body’s ability to recover from it.
Optimize Your Nutrition
The more you focus on clean whole foods rather than fast food or highly processed foods, the better off you will be. Of course, supplements like a good multivitamin, fish oil, probiotics, and protein powder have their place; however, your foundation needs to come from real food. You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in a high-end sports or luxury car, and you should consider the same thing when it comes to your body and food. If you want to thrive with optimal health, you need to consume only as high-quality food as possible.
Get Quality Sleep
One of the things I regularly share with my clients is the value of quality sleep. Seven to eight hours a night is a great target, yet many fall short of this range. If you’ve never used a device that tracks your sleep like a Fitbit or Apple watch, you may be surprised at how much sleep you lose. Even if you don’t get up to use the bathroom, it is common to experience short periods of being awake that will be imperceptible without a sleep tracking device.
According to my Fitbit, I lose, on average, about thirty minutes per night due to a trip to the bathroom combined with tossing and turning the last hour of the night. I am a morning person and literally have to force myself to stay in bed. Since I’m shooting for seven hours per night, I allow myself seven and a half hours in bed, knowing the inevitable loss I typically experience.
A sleep tracker may be an excellent investment if you struggle with sleep. You may feel that your sleep is not the best; however, without an objective measurement from a sleep tracking device, you really have no basis for comparison in terms of improvement.
When it comes to managing stress, I defer back to the control the controllable concept I shared earlier.
If there is a source of stress in your life and you can solve the issue, then take action. In contrast, do your best not allow circumstances beyond your control to steal your joy. This may be easier said than done; however, I think it’s the best way to live. As a person of faith, if it’s beyond my control, I turn it over to the good Lord in Heaven. This gives me a tremendous sense of peace because I know He can handle it.
You may become excellent at slow eating, eating your protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats, and staying hydrated; however, without a daily game plan, I believe your success will fall short of what it could be.
Over the past three years, I’ve coached three men to lose thirty-five to forty-five pounds of body fat. All have nutrition plans based on their individual needs, schedules, and lifestyles. For example, Mark’s plan is based on four meals per day consisting of two shakes and two solid meals. Steve’s plan is based on five meals per day consisting of two shakes and three solid meals. And Jose’s plan is based on six meals per day consisting of one shake and five solid meals.
Mark’s work schedule allows him to train mid-afternoon. Further, he’s typically in bed by 11 PM because of his work schedule. Steve trains after work, and as a result, he doesn’t eat dinner until around 9 PM. Many would say that’s too late; however, Steve is a night owl and doesn’t go to bed until midnight. After dinner, this gives him plenty of time for his food to settle before bed. And then there’s Jose. He’s the early bird hitting the gym in the early mornings before conquering the world of real estate. He faithfully starts his sleep ritual each night at 10, and it’s lights out by 10:30.
Why the difference? Because cookie-cutter nutritional plans don’t work. I built their programs around their individual needs, including their work, family schedules, and personal preferences. Your plan needs to be tailored to your goals, schedule, and lifestyle. All three men crushed their initial goals, and they’re still working with me, striving to reach higher levels of achievement. They have sustainable plans based on skills they’ve learned and habits they’ve established that will serve them for the long term.
If you’re struggling with your nutrition, seek out the counsel of a good coach. Beyond sound nutrition, you need a daily and weekly game plan to follow. Once this plan is in place, it takes all the guesswork out of your decision-making, and I promise it will be much easier to stay on track with reaching your goals. Further, with your weekly structure in place, you will have the foundation to maximize the twelve habits I’ve shared.
While I gave some general guidelines on protein consumption, I did not go into counting calories or macros. It is far beyond the scope of this blog to cover such detailed topics due to the art and science involved. However, a good coach can help you develop a plan that works for you.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
If you take me seriously, I’ve given you a ton of information and six-twelve months of homework. Many will dismiss this as too simple to possibly make a difference. Others will be overwhelmed with the volume of information.
As I quoted from Jim Rohn at the beginning of this post, what is simple to do is also simple not to do. For example, eating the proverbial apple a day for good health is simple, but how many people do you know who actually do it. Also, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. In the compounding pennies example, going from $.01 to over $10 million in just thirty-one days is extraordinarily powerful.
And for those feeling overwhelmed with the volume of information, please remember that I asked you to take these habits one at a time. So go back to #1 and commit to your 5-Minute Action. And here’s a tip. Set up a visual accountability system like a big wall calendar.
Whether you’re a Seinfeld fan or not, you can’t argue with his success, and the calendar tip is something Jerry used to do many years ago when he was first starting his career. His goal was to write every day. Some days he wrote gold, and other days he wrote garbage. Either way, writing equaled a big red X for the day on his calendar. He said it became a game where there was no way he would miss writing just to get to X off the day. That daily discipline helped produce the gold that launched his career.
So, use your calendar to track your daily wins, and I promise it will help. People are driven by seeing the evidence of progress, and the more you see, the more determined you will be. As your determination increases, your disciple and your success will literally snowball. At some point, you will gain so much momentum that you will be unstoppable.
This past Monday morning, I was training one of my clients who admittedly needs to lose a good bit of weight. He is super-sharp in running his own company; however, one of his biggest struggles is not to allow his business to dominate his life. I have coached him over the past few months to build boundaries around his time with his family and devotion to his faith and health, yet the struggles remain. He has made significant progress; however, it’s a weekly fight not to give too much of himself to his business.
Our current focus is on nailing his weekly training frequency of three strength-training workouts plus two to three cardio sessions. Further, we are focusing on getting in all of his daily planned nutrition as he tends to skip meals in the face of the sometimes crushing demands of his business.
So, towards the end of his workout, he commented that he finds it challenging to stay on track after about 2-3 days of following his nutrition plan. He said flat out that it’s ‘hard” to stick with his plan. Now, as his coach, I immediately reminded him of the great strides he’s made and encouraged him to stay the course. He appreciated my verbal boost, and we pushed on with his training.
After our session ended, his words echoed in my ears as I was driving back home. “It’s hard to stay on track nutritionally.” And for some reason, his comment struck a chord and inspired the following:
Struggling to lose weight Your clothes do not fit well Struggling to find clothes in your size Hating seeing yourself in a mirror Lacking energy in general Lacking self-confidence because of your current level of fitness Not feeling confident in how you look to the opposite sex Getting winded going up a flight of stairs For parents, lacking the energy to play with their kids For parents, the fear of not living to see their grandkids grow up Taking meds for: High Cholesterol Type two diabetes High blood pressure Kidney disease Depression or chronic anxiety tied to your state of health
Extremely hard is:
Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes in early childhood Being born with a life-altering congenital disability that causes you to spend more time in the hospital by age five than most people will ever spend in five lifetimes Suffering from nerve damage in your feet resulting from a botched surgery that affects your ability to walk for the rest of your life Fighting cancer Losing a friend or family member to cancer or any other life-shortening illness Going through eight major back surgeries in less than ten years and still living in daily pain Going to dialysis three days a week with one barely functioning kidney while you’re prayerfully waiting on a donor to provide a life-extending transplant Being a single mom struggling financially to make ends meet while providing for your family
My mentor, a New York Times best-selling author, Andy Andrews, teaches that perspective is the crucial critical factor that can turn a negative situation into a positive one with a simple shift in outlook and attitude. The “hard” list above comprises feedback from members and clients at my gym over the past four years. The “extremely” hard list includes a handful of examples from my life with close friends and family.
So, from my perspective, eating protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats, drinking lots of water, getting 7+ hours of sleep per night, and managing stress are not hard. They’re easy. They’re a walk in the park.
I shared the latter with another member named David, who is considering working with me. He said he struggles to stay on track with his training and nutrition due to a lack of motivation. Using the motivation excuse with me is the ultimate softball pitch. If you live your life based on what you’re motivated to do, you won’t accomplish much.
Further, you will live your life on an emotional roller coaster ride. Successful people live their lives like a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat dictates its environment, while a thermometer is simply a reflection of it.
You all do things daily that you would rather not do. In some cases, you may, in fact, downright hate the given activity. Want to, or motivation has absolutely nothing to do with it. You do these things out of responsibility to your family and yourself, regardless of how you feel. Your “why” is much greater than the what. And that’s the secret. You must find your why.
I shared with David a simple little exercise called the 5 Whys. In the countless nutrition consultations I’ve done in my professional career, I’ve heard members expressing their desire to lose weight. This is David’s goal, and just like so many others, this is not enough. So I encouraged him to dig deeper than simply wanting to lose weight. After a short discussion, we came up with the following.
1 – David wants to lose weight 2 – Because losing weight equates to being more healthy 3 – And being more healthy equates to living a longer life 4 – And living a longer life means breaking his family legacy of dying early from heart disease 5 – And breaking his family legacy means he will be around to see his grandkids grow up
Another example might be as follows:
1 – A client wants to lose weight 2 – Because they want to look better in their clothes 3 – Because looking better in their clothes makes them feel more confident 4 – And having more confidence means they feel more comfortable speaking with the opposite sex 5 – Because speaking with the opposite sex is the first step in finding their soul mate, so they don’t have to live the rest of their life on their own
As you can see, the fifth layer in both cases carries much more significance than simply wanting to lose weight.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
If you’re struggling to reach a particular goal, I encourage you to do two simple things. First, you must find your “true” why. Go through the 5 Whys exercise and find the real reason you’re striving to achieve your goal. Once you determine your why, then use it as a guiding beacon to pull you to success. This can be a critical factor in helping you on the days when your lack of want is working against you.
The second step is to break your goal down to the smallest action needed to be taken daily. People set huge goals that, in some cases, require an extended period to accomplish. This is fine, and I encourage you to dream big and set audacious goals. The problem comes from focusing on the end, which may be months away to the point of causing you to freeze at the moment.
I love the story told by the late great Zig Ziglar when he first got into running for fitness. On his very first day, he ran around his block one time. The next time, he ran a block and a mailbox. Mailbox by mailbox or one small incremental step of improvement at a time, and he would eventually grow to run many miles at a time, multiple days per week.
So take your goal and chunk it down to what you have to do today. And then do it. And then do it again. Small steps taken consistently can lead to massive and life-changing results.
And remember, everything worth having in life is located uphill. It will take hard work to get there and trust me; there will be days when you don’t feel like doing the work. Secret? Do it anyway, regardless of how you feel, because your why is big enough, and it will be worth it.
Three feet from gold. That’s where I stood concerning Jose Espinosa from April 2018 until January 2021. Jose and his wife Susie are realtors and Life Time Healthy Way of Life members in North Dallas. As a fitness professional, I would see Jose almost daily in the early mornings. He and Susie would frequent the group fitness classes and do a good bit of extra cardio, and yet, I never saw them doing any traditional strength training, and they didn’t seem to be making any progress in losing weight.
While I wasn’t sure precisely what Jose did for work, he appeared to be one busy guy with his cell phone almost permanently attached to his ear. Between mostly Spanish and the occasional hint of English, I finally figured out that he was, in fact, a realtor. Soon afterward, we introduced ourselves one day in the Life Cafe, and the conversation quickly shifted to the topic of nutrition. Jose confessed to being lost. He and Susie slaved away in the gym almost daily, and yet they saw no results.
I shared that proper nutrition is the most critical factor regardless of building muscle or dropping body fat. You can kill yourself in the gym; however, you will never out-train a poor diet. From that simple conversation, I offered to give Jose a complimentary consultation. He accepted, and we agreed to meet the following week.
When I first looked at Jose’s nutrition, it was notpretty. Can you say taquitos for breakfast during the week from Quik Trip or pancakes from IHOP on the weekends? As busy real estate professionals, they worked 24/7 and ate out most meals. Jose started his day with coffee and water and then hit the gym doing group fitness classes, running on a treadmill, or pounding away on a stair master. Lunch and dinner were typically chicken and rice with a few veggies followed by cereal and milk before bed.
Jose tipped the scales at 203.8 lbs from day one with a BMI of 33.9 and a body fat percentage of 39.4%. I told him point-blank that his nutrition had to change if he wanted to see results. He said he was ready and would do whatever I suggested. Fast forward to the present, and Jose is now just under 160 lbs. His BMI is down 7.3 points to 26.6, and his body fat is down to 24.4%, almost half of where he started.
The fantastic thing is that he’s only lost 2 pounds of muscle while dropping over 40 lbs of body fat. Under the circumstances, we’re not worried about fractional muscle loss. Once Jose reaches his desired body fat percentage, and we’re getting close, we will build back the lost muscle and much, much more.
So, how did we do it? The secret is that we took it one small step at a time building in new and positive behaviors that are now primarily a habit. Jose is running on autopilot based on the programming I’ve shared with him over the past ten months, and the best is yet to come.
On January 22nd, we started his bi-weekly nutrition coaching sessions, and the results came quickly. Jose dropped 6.6 lbs in the first month, including a 2% drop in body fat and no loss of muscle. While he continued to attend group fitness classes almost daily, the positive changes in his nutrition kicked his body into gear.
Jose’s plan was based on roughly 35% protein, 35% carbs, and 30% fat for those interested in counting macros. It was simple and very effective.
Early Morning – coffee & water Workout – followed by a protein shake Mid-Morning – breakfast including protein & carbs Mid-Day – lunch including protein, veggies, and carbs Mid-Afternoon – 2 protein bars Evening – dinner including protein, veggies, and carbs Evening Snack – 1 protein bar
By the middle of March, I had gained Jose’s further trust, and he started training with me two days a week in addition to his nutrition coaching. He continued doing some group fitness; although, I encouraged him to scale back on the volume to allow his body to fully recover. By April 16th, he dipped just under 190 lbs with his muscle holding and his body fat down 4% from the start. He was down to 178 lbs by early July, with his body fat down another 3 %. That’s when we switched his training to working with me exclusively, leaving the group fitness behind.
Jose continued to train one-on-one with me two days per week; however, he also did three additional days a week based on the overall program I designed leveraging our virtual training app. He loved the change in training, and his body continued to respond. By mid-August, he hit 168 lbs, and then finally, on October 2nd, Jose dipped below 160 lbs. Our ultimate weight loss goal is to hit roughly 150-155 lbs. At that point, we will switch our focus to adding back quality muscle while minimizing any gains in fat.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and when we first talked, Jose was ready for a change. He knew he needed help, and thankfully, for his sake, he was willing to listen and then take action. I told him early on that if he could be successful as a realtor, he could learn to eat healthily. When we first started, he and Susie ate out most meals. Today, Jose meal preps weekly and eats mostly their food from home. That’s not to say that they never eat out, but it’s now with a completely different mindset and perspective which could be summed up as eating to live rather than living to eat.
A New Man!
Jose is a talented businessman and is exceptionally bright. He is blessed to have his wife, Susie, expecting their second child and their first daughter Sophia supporting his efforts. Jose has been a pleasure to coach over the past ten months, and I’m expecting only the very best as we continue to work together on his fitness journey.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
Jose is one of the most consistent and hard-working individuals that I’ve ever known. And while the program design I’ve given him is solid, the secret to his success has been his overall consistency in the gym and willingness to change his nutrition. Small steps add up to massive change for the positive, and that’s Jose’s journey in a nutshell.
If you’re looking to change your body composition, by all means, you need to do strength training and cardio. However, if you’re struggling with your food, be willing to get some help. Change can occur quickly with the proper plan in place. Life is too short to spin your wheels in frustration. Jose is a different man today because he was willing to change, and you can do the same.
Best of luck in your journey.
“Working with Kelly Amidon is by far the best investment I’ve ever made. I’m in my 40’s as a Texas Realtor and have stayed somewhat active in my adult life like most of us try to. I’ve had a consistent gym membership for years and thought I knew how to work out. I thought I knew enough about food and eating healthy to have a decent physique if I did both regularly, but we know the mirror doesn’t lie. I realized that if I wanted to make a change, I would need to work with a professional.
Kelly loves doing what he does, and it shows in his work. His passion for bringing the change to his clients’ lives, his dedication to his work, and his friendliness are only a small number of reasons you should choose him as your trainer. He helped me lose over 40 pounds in less time than I believed possible, and it changed my life completely.”
On the morning of September 25, 2020, it hit me out of the blue, and like a ton of bricks, that I hadn’t seen any recent posts from my friend and former client, Damon Taylor. And while the optimist in me said to check Facebook, my gut told me otherwise. With my gut winning out, I slowly typed Damon Taylor’s obituary into Mother Google, and my worst fears were instantly confirmed. My friend was gone, and I was 28 days too late.
Damon and I started working together in March of 2019. He had recently joined our club and had expressed interest in working with a trainer as he was trying to get back into shape after a traumatic event. Damon had gone to Oklahoma City to visit his daughter and her family where he was brutally attacked by a group of thugs and left for dead outside of a restaurant. This was back in early 2019 and the temperature that night was well below freezing. The result was frostbite in his left foot where he almost lost his toes. When we first met, he was still wearing a protective boot however thankfully on the road to recovery.
Damon had a unique background serving as a Marine from 1988 through 1995 fighting in both the Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom. Upon retiring from the military, he started his own financial planning business based in the North Dallas area. When we met for the first time he was super excited to get started with his training and further wanted my help with his nutrition.
While alcohol had been a part of his life during his time in the military, the experience in Oklahoma City pushed him to leave the bottle behind and further caused him to find his way back to God. There’s always a silver lining in every adversity and Damon lived that philosophy to the max. We agreed to train one day a week and he committed to doing 2-3 more workouts per week based on the program I created for him.
Beyond his training, we cleaned up his nutrition and added in the supplements needed to help his body recover and progress from his efforts. Damon was all in from day one and used to crack me up with his “pre-workout” drink. The product is literally called “Hyde” as in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was already one of the most high-strung individuals I had ever met and with the addition of the “Hyde” formula, he was hilarious to work with.
From March until early August, he made tremendous gains in strength and improvements in his body composition adding muscle mass and dropping body fat. I love working with clients who take their training seriously and Damon was in for the long term. That all changed on August 14th when he went to his eye doctor after struggling to read a simple bill at a restaurant.
His eye doctor directed him immediately to the emergency room where he reached out to me saying he would be missing his normal Saturday workout. This was a Friday evening and I was proactive in following up on Saturday. At that point, an MRI hadn’t shown anything and he was waiting for a CT Scan for further investigation. His last communication was a promise to let me know the results.
On Sunday morning, I received a text that literally took my breath away. It said terminal brain cancer…6-12 months. A few days later, he had emergency brain surgery to remove the major portion of the stage 4 Glioblastoma. While the surgery was successful, there were still tumors in four other areas of his brain where the cancer was impossible to remove.
After 11 days in the hospital, Damon and I met in the cafe at our club to catch up. His doctors from UT Southwestern and Duke University determined to attack the remaining areas with chemo and radiation. The prognosis from his collective doctors from the beginning was that he would not survive. Without treatment, his life expectancy was projected at 3-6 months. With treatment, the best he could hope for was maybe 12-15 months.
As Damon shared his story, I barely had words to communicate. Here was a man sharing not only what he had gone through but also what he planned to do with his remaining time…Lord willing. So often in life, we can empathize to some degree with someone going through an extreme trial. In Damon’s case, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he felt.
As a Christian, Damon shared that he had peace with God and that one of his final major priorities was to make amends with various people where relationships had been strained over the years. Further, he had already taken all the necessary steps to transition his company to his partners and to ensure that his family would be well provided for.
Because of his lengthy service record, Damon was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which qualified him for a 70% disability rating. This insured that he would be well taken care of in terms of medical expenses. He explained that just because you fight in a war, you do not automatically receive the tag of PTSD which would limit your disability rating.
For his friends who fought in only Desert Storm, who were subjected to all the same toxins that Damon was, because of the nature of their service, they in many cases did not receive the tag of PTSD. After leaving the service, it is standard procedure for the government to provide medical coverage for five years. However without the 70% disability rating, after five years, the coverage runs out. Unfortunately, there are many cases of veterans coming up with cases of cancer and other issues directly attributed to Desert Storm and yet they are left to take care of themselves with no support from our government.
In mid-November, Damon took his family to Washington including a tour of the White House to share with them a piece of American history that means so much to him. He was able to meet with Secretary of Defense, James Madison, to ask for help for his fellow veterans. Outside of time with family and friends, the effort to seek further help for all veterans struggling with their health would be Damon’s final and most important legacy.
When 2020 hit and the nation was put in quarantine, everything changed. Damon and I stayed connected via Facebook and phone however we stopped spending any time in person due to obvious reasons. While no one had any idea how last year was going to play out, I kept thinking things would get better and that I would be able to visit Damon again before the end.
To me, quarantine was like Groundhog Day and the time just seemed to creep. Then when our gym reopened in late May, it was as if someone hit the fast forward button on life. Working as a fitness professional during the pandemic was the most difficult time of my professional career and the summer months were really a struggle. I didn’t forget about Damon, however, I was in my own personal career survival mode and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t keep the most important things in life in their proper perspective.
This brings us back to the moment that I discovered that he has passed away. I thought back to the last time we were together. I certainly didn’t leave that meeting thinking it would be our last time to see each other.
Time is the most precious commodity in life. You can always make more money or replace material things, but the sands of time can never be regained. Leadership expert John Maxwell offers some unique insight into the value of time in the following:
“Given the choice, would you rather save time or money? Most people focus on dollars. But how you spend your time is much more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can often be corrected, but when you lose time, it’s gone forever. Your priorities determine how you spend your time, and time is precious.
The following statements may help you put time in perspective:
To know the value of one year… Ask the student who failed the final exam. To know the value of one month… Ask the mother of a premature baby. To know the value of one week… Ask the editor of a weekly news magazine. To know the value of one day… Ask the wage earner who has six children. To know the value of one hour… Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet. To know the value of one minute… Ask the person who missed the plane. To know the value of one second… Ask the person who survived the accident. To know the value of one millisecond… Ask the Olympic silver medalist.
Your time is priceless.”
As for my relationship with Damon, the 28 days that passed before I realized he had gone to be with the Lord might as well be an eternity because I can never get them back. However, as a fellow follower of Christ, I do believe with all my heart that I will see my friend again one day.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
Dream big dreams and by all means make plans for your future, however, at the same time, live each day as if it were your last. If you have relationships that need attention, I encourage you to act now. If not now, then when? We are not guaranteed the next five minutes so make the most of your time.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
God bless you Damon for your service to our country.
The golf bug bit me at age 11, and I’ve loved the game all my life. As a freshman in high school, I found myself on the golf team in desperate need of hitting the ball further. At 5’7″ and 130 lbs., I needed to put on some weight and get stronger for golf. Oddly enough, one of the seniors who had befriended me was in a similar position. While Bill was a bit taller, he was just as skinny as me and needed just as much help.
So one day, out of the blue, Bill hit me with a question that would lead to a decision that would ultimately shape and define my life. He asked, “Would you like to join the local gym to get stronger for golf?” Can you say hook, line, and sinker? I was all in and only in a huge way.
And that was my humble start with lifting weights. I still remember joining The Gym and our first time being shown around by Wayne, the owner. He was an old-time bodybuilder and was nice enough to give us a general demonstration in using mostly the machines. There were free weights as well and in time we would learn how to perform more advanced exercises as we carefully mimicked the experienced lifters who frequented the gym.
To say we were fired up would be the ultimate understatement. With visions of 300-yard drives dancing in our heads, we dutifully made our way to workout three days a week in addition to our golf practice. Unfortunately, the rest of our team was not so enthusiastic about our new strength training pursuits. “Don’t you know you’re going to ruin your golf swing” they would say.
And it didn’t stop there. One father was particularly negative. His son Greg, a senior, happened to be the best player on the team and was a natural athlete. He was stocky and powerful and built like a running back with lots of speed and had never touched weights in his life. Greg had been physically blessed which gave him an incredible advantage in golf. Unfortunately, Bill and I had to earn our extra distance with good old-fashioned persistence and hard work.
Soon after Bill and I started lifting, I had the good fortune to play at Crown Colony in Lufkin, TX. Over the years, Crown has been ranked among the best country club courses in Texas and is a true treasure located in the heart of The Pineywoods. The head pro, let’s call him “Joe”, had been there for many years and he was the consummate professional. His golf shop was immaculate, and he was known for being a great teacher and player.
Now being young and a little naïve, I thought surely he would be able to give me some good advice on the best way to exercise for golf. You see, in the late ’80s to early ’90s, the bulk of the training information was largely influenced by the bodybuilding community. And while there’s nothing wrong with the sport or its training methods, training to gain maximum muscle mass is not what’s needed to nail 300-yard drives.
So when the opportunity presented itself, I walked up to Joe and introduced myself. I then proceeded to ask my question about how to best exercise to support my game. Unfortunately, I also mentioned that I had been lifting weights and his response almost startled me. He said, “Son, lifting weights will ruin your golf swing! The only thing you should be doing is running to strengthen your legs and squeezing a tennis ball to strengthen your grip.”
At first, I allowed Joe’s negative comments to cause me to doubt my efforts in the gym. But after a few days, my gut told me otherwise. It just seemed to me that a stronger and faster athlete would be better able to excel in any sport including golf. And so I flushed the whole experience and never quit lifting.
In the months to follow, there emerged a tug of war between my two athletic pursuits. While performance in golf initially drove me to the gym, once I started to see my body change, the iron bug bit me as well. Unfortunately, as I grew to love the changes I saw in my body, my golf game suffered. Remember, I had the best of intentions, but my training was largely bodybuilder-based. And golf is an extremely jealous game, as the following quote from the late great Ben Hogan attests.
“If I miss one day’s practice, I notice it. If I miss two days’ practice, the critics notice it. If I miss three days’ practice, the world notices it.”
The moment I slacked off on my practice for the sake of getting in more time at the gym, my game started to deteriorate. From there it was a quick fall to disaster. I left the golf team after my sophomore year and poured all my heart into the gym. One year later in August of 1987, I entered my first bodybuilding contest and placed third in the teenage division. It was a great experience and I will cherish the memories tied to this event for the rest of my life.
As it turned out, the Lone Star Classic in Fort Worth was my one and only show. In the years to follow, with no particular plans to compete, my first priority was school and study followed by my part-time job at the country club. I still trained 4-5 days a week in the gym but my sticks sat in my closet gathering dust until my junior year in college. It was a long season of drought from playing or practicing but I never forgot my first love.
And then due to an odd sequence of events, I found myself after six years of working on the golf course now working inside the clubhouse as the head bartender. I already missed the game working on the course every day and moving inside only made it worse as I had the opportunity to mingle with the golfers. But it would take new hires, Mark and Kyle, who would go on to become two of my best friends in the world, to get me back playing the game. Once they discovered that I used to play on the high school team, they wouldn’t take no for an answer and we set out for our first round together at a little public course in Diboll, TX called Neches Pines.
I still to this day, after all these years, remember walking down the fairway together on the first hole. Needless to say, the golf bug took hold once again. Two years later, I graduated from college with a degree in business and joined the PGA of America’s apprentice program. That summer, I moved to The Woodlands and found myself working in the golf shop of the Tournament Players Course where at that time, they hosted the annual Houston Open.
It was one of the best times of my life. I lifted in the early mornings and spent my days at TPC either working in the golf shop or working on my game. Unfortunately, my training was still not suited to support my game and so I struggled back and forth between wanting to be a great player and wanting to excel with my bodybuilding.
Ultimately, and for all the wrong reasons, I left golf in 1995 to go into sales. I continued playing and practicing and lifting, but these pursuits were now more in the background of my life. Then in the early 2000s, my lower back started failing. It was so bad at times that I could barely walk. Finally, after an MRI, the doctor said I had a herniated disc between my L4 and L5. He said surgery was probably not necessary and recommended physical therapy.
While I only did PT for a few weeks, it helped tremendously. It opened my eyes to core training more for stabilization and nudged me in the direction of my future career path as a fitness professional. The one drawback of PT was that it was recommended that I give up golf for a period of time to help my back heal. You see, the rotational forces of the golf swing can put tremendous pressure on your lumbar spine. I further compounded this stress from my years of whaling away in the gym.
Given the extreme nature of my pain, I took their advice to heart and my sticks went back into the closet for the next thirteen years. And that’s when I found TPI. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. I had known about the Titleist Performance Institute because there was a TPI-certified instructor at one of the facilities where I used to practice. However, I never did any digging to see what they were all about.
They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Well, that’s where I found myself in early 2021. Starting with my back injury in the mid-2000s, I had managed to progressively tear my body apart all in the pursuit of muscle. To quickly recap, the following are my major injuries:
February 2010 – Torn left meniscus resulting in knee surgery
September 2014 – Torn left biceps which wasn’t repaired due to a lack of insurance as I was just starting a new job and my insurance had not kicked in
March 2016 – Right rotator cuff and biceps reattachment surgery
Fall 2016 – An MRI showed multiple tears in my left rotator cuff. After the painful surgery and lengthy recovery on my right shoulder, I made the decision to put off further surgery as long as possible
May 2020 through February 2021 – Increasing pain in my left shoulder and biceps due to the existing tears and the trauma I had experienced back in 2014
The great business philosopher, Jim Rohn, used to teach that you should embrace all of life’s experiences as you never know what you might learn. Well, the last spike of pain that shot through my left biceps and shoulder was the experience that pushed me towards change. It actually happened on a Monday during my leg workout. The pain wasn’t apparent while I was training, however it definitely kicked in later in the day.
It was so bad that I trained at home the rest of that week and most of the following using resistance bands and blending in some cardio at my apartment gym. I just didn’t feel like being in my normal gym environment and needed some quiet time at home. It was during that time that I started watching TPI videos on YouTube. I still can’t tell you the single thought that made me do a search for TPI, however, once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. The more I learned about what TPI offered the more intrigued I became.
After roughly two weeks of watching TPI videos, one thing was clear. They were the gold standard for fitness in professional golf as they had been working with the best players in the world for years. Seeing videos featuring the likes of Adam Scott, Roy Mcllroy, and John Rahm gave me a tremendous feeling of confidence. And so on March 7, 2021, I pulled the trigger on TPI’s Level 1 certification and was able to complete the course a few weeks later.
From the introduction of my studies, it was the story about TPI’s humble beginnings that gave me an overwhelming sense of peace about my decision. You see, when Dr. Greg Rose, co-founder of TPI, started his practice around working with golfers, his friends thought he was crazy. It reminded me of my beginnings with weight training so many years ago, and like me, despite his lack of support, he stayed the course, and time proved him right.
Timing is everything, and when Dr. Rose started his original practice in 1996, it was largely unnoticed by the general public. There was, however, one other event that occurred in 1996 that would turn the golfing world upside down…Tiger Woods turned pro and joined the PGA Tour. They say a rising tide raises all ships. Well, Tiger’s success and impact on the tour benefitted all the players as well as TPI which was later launched in 2003 by Dr. Rose and PGA teaching professional Dave Phillips.
From day one, Tiger stood out like a giant among his peers in terms of his ability. He walked onto the tour as an athlete, unlike anything the game of golf had ever seen. And in time, he would further push his body to the limits of his physical abilities as he strived to maximize his potential while systematically dismantling the record books.
Before Tiger, the “Triangle of Instruction” as described by Dr. Rose was made up of a swing coach, a mental coach, and an equipment representative. Well, Tiger changed that old paradigm completely. Today, players still work with a swing coach however they will often also work with a specialty coach for example with their short game or shot-making or course management.
As a singular sport, players will often still seek the help of a sports psychologist, and having a trusted equipment rep is vital. However, the one area where Tiger really changed the game is with the physical preparation. Today, every player on the PGA tour and other tours around the world works out regularly. The players are bigger, faster, stronger, and FAR MORE ATHLETIC than ever in the history of the sport. If you want to play on any professional tour today, paying your dues in the weight room is table stakes and the Titleist Performance Institute is the gold standard.
18 of the last 20Major Championships were won by players advised by a TPI Certified Expert
25 of the Top 30Players in the World according to the Official World Golf Rankings are advised by a TPI Certified Expert
47 of Golf Digest’s Top 50Golf Fitness Professionals are TPI Certified or TPI Advisory Board Members
TPI has given me a second chance to train both for longevity and performance and to share my new skill set with all my clients as well as our overall member base who play the great game of golf.
Today, I feel like a kid again with a new and powerful set of toys to serve my clients and take better care of myself. My favorite is the screening app TPI developed to test a player’s ability to efficiently swing the golf club. This is the same exact tool they use with tour players, and in fact, it was developed by studying the best players in the world. Essentially, they’ve identified fifteen micro moves the body needs to perform to efficiently and safely swing a golf club.
The whole process takes under an hour and the app produces a detailed report based on how the player scores. It gives a handicap where players can work to reduce their scores by applying corrective strength training and mobility exercises. The science that TPI has thrown at the game of golf over the past 18+ years is truly amazing and the impact has forever changed the way the game will be played.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
On Sunday, May 23rd, Phil Mickelson made history by becoming the oldest player at 50 to win a major championship. Phil’s 2021 PGA Championship victory eclipsed the previous best set by Julius Boros some 53 years earlier at the age of 48. When asked during his post-round press conference how he was able to pull this off, he attributed much of his success to long and hard work on his game made possible by better nutrition and time spent in the gym.
“There’s no reason why the game of golf can’t be a game for a lifetime. If you take care of your body and do it the right way, and now with the exercise and physiology and technology that’s out there, like with TPI, you can work out the right way to get your body to function right and play golf for a lifetime. I’m very appreciative of that.”
As I think back on my journey, it’s been an interesting trip with its fair share of ups and downs. And yet, as I reflect back, everything I’ve gone through has brought me to this present moment better prepared to serve my clients. The knowledge that I’ve gained from TPI has quite literally changed my life, and thanks to their overall success and influence in the world of golf, time has ultimately proved me right.
How are you shaping your path? You may have no idea what I’m referring to if you’ve not read the book, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. You see, you have two brains which the authors represent with the analogy of an elephant and a rider. The rider represents your logical “thinky” brain which typically runs the show and is responsible for most of your daily decisions. On the other hand, the elephant is your more powerful and primal emotional brain that will take over when the rider tires or is threatened.
I often share an example with my clients of an elephant and rider at the circus under the big top with thousands of fans watching in amazement and wonder. Under normal circumstances, the elephant dutifully follows the rider’s every instruction. However, if you set the tent on fire and the tigers escape from their cages, the elephant will cease following the rider and will be looking for the nearest exit in a state of sheer panic.
That’s how it can be to implement change in your life. Of course, you can have the best intentions, but if your environment is working against you, your logical brain will get lost in the chaos. So, what’s the solution? First, you must shape your path and control the influences that impact your life as much as possible.
The four areas of concern are as follows:
1 – Social environment – The people you spend the most time with both at work and at play.
2 – Cultural background – This is a tricky area because you may go up against beliefs that have been in place for many years and quite possibly your entire life.
3 – Intellectual environment – This is the information you take in from all sources including TV, social media, books & magazines, podcast, music, movies, and etc.
4 – Physical environment – This includes your homes, workplace, and places where you gather and socialize with others.
According to my mentor, Darren Hardy, these environments influence your life, yet they don’t shove you in a direction; they merely nudge you. And still, over some time of being just a little off daily, you can wake up one day and find your life completely out of control.
One of my favorite quotes from the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is as follows:
“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
Your mothers repeatedly told you to be careful in selecting your friends as children. Charlie and your Mothers were on the same page, and they got it right because your associations will make or break you. So, by all means, choose wisely.
To expand on the first half of his quote, the people you spend time with will influence your thinking, which drives your choices. Therefore, the association of the top 5-10 people you spend the most time with will essentially drive your results in life. To whatever degree this is true, I defer back to the Good Book:
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed!” Proverbs 13:20
Every experience in your life with other people will leave its mark for better or worse. So, be careful with your associations. You will find situations where you have little control over the people you’re surrounded by, such as at your place of work. However, you still have a choice in how you conduct yourself and how much you choose to interact beyond what is professionally required to excel with your job and career.
It will be highly beneficial for many to take a hard look at all your associations and evaluate whether these relationships align with your priorities and goals. You may have some difficult choices to make in either spending less time or potentially cutting ties with various people should you determine that they are not a good influence in your life.
On the flip side, you may determine that you need to add more quality associations with people who already have the knowledge, wisdom, and success that you’re seeking. These expanded associations can make a tremendous and positive impact on your life And with today’s technology and tools such as LinkedIn, building these expanded associations has never been easier.
For the influence of your native culture, I will tread very lightly. All cultures have unique attributes, and some can be challenging to achieve and maintain optimal health and body composition. For example, Italian cuisine is known for its pizza and pasta. In addition, cheese and wine make up a large portion of the cooking with many varieties. These are all calorically dense foods that could make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight without a substantial degree of restraint and self-discipline.
The staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bājra), rice, whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), and a variety of lentils, such as masoor (most often red lentils), tuer (pigeon peas), urad (black gram), and moong (mung beans). Most Indian meals (depending on whether your host is vegetarian or not) are comprised of rice, Chapati (flatbread), meat, vegetable and lentil dishes, salad, yogurt, and pickles.
I have worked with many clients who have followed numerous variations of a plant-based diet, and the most significant challenge always seems to be getting enough protein. Unfortunately, the more they go in the plant-based direction, restricting other foods, the more difficult it becomes in getting enough protein.
Now please, don’t blow up my post; all of you plant-based nutrition followers out there. Plant-based eating can be very healthy when done right. For example, my boss is 5′ 9″, 190 lbs, carries less than 10% body fat, and he’s built like a Mack truck. He gets plenty of protein following a primarily plant-based diet. And based on his impressive results, he is extremely healthy.
Brad Siegel, Senior PT Dpt Mgr Life Time Healthy Way of Life
My most significant point is that regardless of your culture and its particular traditions around food, you can maintain a very healthy body weight and composition if you know what you’re doing. Regardless of your heritage, eating healthy requires knowledge and discipline.
For your intellectual environment, I’m going to break it down into two parts, “feed” and “protect”.
Information from all sources will affect you for better or worse Every source of media you consume will influence your thinking which drives your decision-making and, ultimately, your life. My mentor Andy Andrews teaches that there’s no such thing as treading water. Every experience in your life moves you closer or takes you further from your goals, and the choice is yours as to how you spend your time.
Due to some early positive and wise influences in my life, I have been a student of personal development since my days in college. I’ve never been in the habit of watching the news any more than the bare minimum required to stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, and I’ve always been proactive in feeding my mind with positive growth-oriented information. In today’s world, that’s countercultural to the masses for the most part. By the way, if you want to be successful, look at what the majority is doing and go in the opposite direction.
Brian Tracy teaches a concept called the E to E ratio, which is the ratio of time you spend entertaining yourself versus educating yourself. For example, the highest achievers in the world intentionally invest time in furthering their growth, especially in the areas of their passions and strengths. In contrast, the average person spends far more time entertaining themself, and as a result, they stay a part of the masses achieving far less in life than they could if they only challenged themself to grow.
If you’re not currently investing in your personal growth, I encourage you to get started. Most people underestimate the value of small blocks of time. For example, if you commute 20 minutes to and from work every day, that small time investment equates to over four, forty-hour work weeks annually. Now, you can spend this time listening to music or sports talk radio which is bubblegum for your mind, or listening to an educational podcast or audiobook, which can quite literally change your life over some time. The choice is yours.
Look for the small spaces in your day where you can layer in listening to something positive while you’re doing another activity. For example, I listen to a couple of hours’ worth of growth-oriented audio every morning before and after the gym and while getting ready for my workday. My mentor, Darren Hardy, calls this “net time.” You’re already doing the other activity, so make the most of it by feeding your mind wherever it makes sense.
Hostile news media will beat a path to your door in our technologically hyper-connected world. The news machine is in an all-out battle to get and maintain your attention and trust me, it’s not by sharing messages of hope and inspiration, as these will go primarily unnoticed. You respond far more to shock and awe, and the news media knows this. They know you in some cases better than you know yourself, and they are maximizing this knowledge to monetize their message through advertising $’s.
You have to build a fortress to guard your heart and mind. And despite your best efforts, the negative news of the world will find its way in. That’s why it’s so critical to continue flushing your mind with positive information daily.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
Where do you do life? Beyond your homes, you work, play, travel, worship, and serve in many different environments. For most, your homes are the one place where you have total control, and I will come back to this in a moment. For the rest, consider the same suggestion I gave above regarding your associations. Be very careful with the different places you “do life.” You may determine that you need to make some changes if you identify an area where you frequent that’s ultimately a negative influence in your life.
And this includes your job Life is too short to spend the bulk of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t make you happy A career change is typically not easy and can seem daunting; however, if you’re not satisfied, be willing to seek a positive difference.
Leadership expert John Maxwell gives some great counsel on making a change in your career path. First, figure out what you want to do and what you need to do to get there. Even if it involves a process like getting further education, determine if the price is worth it and if it is, then getting to work paying the price. Be very careful to dismiss an opportunity because the process takes time. The time is going to pass regardless, and you can look back with a sense of accomplishment or with the dreadful feeling of regret for having been unwilling to change.
Now, once you’ve pruned your life of any harmful environments, you still need to have a game plan for how to thrive in what’s left. For example, if you work in an office where people routinely eat fast food for lunch or indulge in highly processed snacks, you have to be prepared with your own healthy choices. If you go to work each day unprepared, you are all the more likely to be influenced by your associates and join in with their unhealthy practices.
Your gold-standard solution is to meal prep on the weekends so you can always be prepared with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day as needed. If eating out is a part of your routine, then have a game plan for that as well. Your choice of restaurant is the first big decision that can make or break you. The better the restaurant, the easier it will be to make healthy choices. And better does not necessarily mean more expensive. Shoot for a place where you can get a good portion of clean protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats, and you will be good.
As I mentioned above, there is one environment where you have total control, and you must make the most of it. So, if your home is your castle, be sure to treat it as such. And this includes both the environment in your home and the things you bring into your home, namely food.
Please let me be clear; discipline is to be exhibited at the grocery store, not when you’re staring at the tub of Ben & Jerries in your freezer. Whatever your choice of indulgence, you will eventually eat it if you bring it home. The better your preferences when shopping for groceries, the easier it will be to stay on track once you’re back home.
And please don’t think I’m suggesting that you never have ice cream or any other kind of treat. Instead, I address the idea of treating yourself in depth in “No Cheat Meals Required.” Still, it would help if you were smart about the quality and quantity of “treat” foods you bring into your home. For example, if you struggle with occasionally losing control when eating ice cream, consider only bringing home a pint-sized container rather than a gallon. Another consideration is to opt for lower-calorie options such as Halo Top or make your healthy treats.
You have to understand that food manufacturers know how to combine sugar, fat, and salt in a way that makes some foods almost irresistible Ever taken a bite and found yourself wanting the rest of the tub? That’s how full-sugar and full-fat foods, in particular, impact your brain. So the old saying, “you can’t just eat one,” can be true. In contrast, you can make some amazingly good-tasting healthy treats that will not impact your brain in the same way. To me, this is a much better way to go where you can treat yourself regularly without running so much of a risk of overindulging.
Protein Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies
I have one more thought on your home not related to food. If you’re motivated by inspirational sayings and artwork, be sure to take advantage of this and decorate your home accordingly. I constantly teach my clients about the importance of identifying your “why” and then having examples of it strategically posted around your home. It could be as simple as post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, fridge, microwave, pantry, laptop, etc.
Your “why” should be your guiding beacon, and trust me, there will be days when you will need it to stay on track. Remember, if your “why” is big enough, the facts don’t matter. You will never always feel like doing the things necessary to be successful, and that doesn’t matter. Do them anyway because they’re the right things to do, and your “why” is worth it.
Closing thoughts for my readers:
In closing, I will ask my opening question again How are you shaping your path? After years of working with clients and doing countless consultations geared around helping people improve their physical and emotional health, the information I’ve shared in this post strikes at the heart of where and why people struggle.
If you’re not happy with where you are in life in any capacity, then be willing to change. You know the definition of insanity, don’t you? It’s doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results. So if you want something to be different in your life, you have to be willing to change.
An excellent method for goal achievement is to determine your ultimate destination, break it down to what you have to do each month, break it down to each week, and then down to what you need to do this very day.
And then act. A journey of a thousand miles truly starts with a single step.