The Best Birthday Gift Ever!

I’ve always believed that thin threads of circumstances bring people into our lives, and my introduction to Omar Orellana is no exception. I was working with another client who had lost a significant amount of weight over 2021 when Omar’s wife Erica approached. I recognized her from my gym; however, I had never met her. She smiled, apologized for the interruption, and just wanted to say how impressed she was with my client’s progress. We both thanked her, and after a brief conversation, we returned to our session.

This was not the first time one of our members had complimented this particular client. But, of course, when you drop forty-five pounds in ten months, it gets people’s attention. So, a few days later, Erica approached me at the member services desk, where I often worked on one of the computers. It puts me in a strategic position to greet members as they come into the club while taking care of miscellaneous administrative tasks tied to serving my clients.

Omar Orellana

I remembered her from earlier in the week, and we introduced ourselves after exchanging brief hellos. She was particularly interested in me helping her husband, Omar, who needed to lose a good bit of weight. This simple exchange led to Omar and I meeting to discuss his fitness goals, especially his nutrition. That was two years ago, and he has grown to become one of my best clients.

911 Turbo – My dream board

Fast forward to early December of 2022, and I shared with Omar, the dream board I had created using PowerPoint. One slide, in particular, showed my dream car, a Porsche 911 Turbo. Further, I shared with him a photo of a model 911 I had recently purchased for my desk as a constant daily reminder. He loved the idea of the dream board and the model car, and after a brief bit of further discussion, the conversation transitioned back to his training. I thought it was the end of the matter; however, little did I know the seed I had inadvertently planted in his mind that would lead to the absolute best birthday gift anyone has ever given me.

My model 911 Turbo

The week following Christmas, Omar and I met to train on a Thursday morning. Once he got into his workout, the topic of Christmas came up, and we shared our respective times with our families. He then mentioned that he had a special late Christmas / early birthday gift for me. So, he pulled out his phone and, after doing a quick search, showed me a photo of a 911 Carrera in an eerily similar Robin Blue to the model on my desk.

He said he had a lot going on with his company immediately following Christmas and that if I could wait until the latter part of January, he would rent the Carrera for 24 hours just for me. Wow! I was speechless and found it hard to believe what he had just said. I’ve had people do some nice things for my birthday over the years; however, Omar’s gift stood far above them.

By the first of January, we agreed to a date. Monday the 23rd was only a few days after my birthday on the 19th and the perfect day as I’m off on Sundays and Mondays for the most part. That morning, we agreed to meet after my workout and one client session and to drive up to Little Elm to pick up the Carrera. The weather was perfect for late January, with clear skies and cool temperatures in the upper forties. Oddly enough, the following day, the weather was cold and rainy, so the timing of our rental was perfect.

My gym is located close to my home in North Dallas. The address for the Carrera was in Little Elm; however, it turned out to be practically in Denton. So, we took the North Dallas Tollway north until it reached 380, where we headed west for another ten to fifteen minutes. The time on 380 turned out to be a blessing, as I will share in a moment.

Omar did not go through a rental company. An individual owned the Carrera, and he rented it via an app advertised online. The app handled the process, including Omar providing insurance and payment. The owner left the key in a special lock box on the driver’s front tire. That lock turned out to be tricky; however, we figured it out. When Omar started the car, it was nothing like I had ever heard. Can you say, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” It sounded like a race car when the 379-horsepower engine roared to life.

Once Omar completed the rental application via the app, we drove away. I took his truck, and he drove the Carrera down the street to a small convenience store where we exchanged vehicles. With only 42,000 miles, it was in perfect condition and like brand new. With the engine mounted in the rear, the “trunk” is located under the front hood. It barely held my briefcase and lunch bag, and the back seat was the same. It technically had a back seat; however, there was zero legroom. It is a two-seater designed strictly for speed and thrills, and in these categories, it excelled like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

While I didn’t share this initially with Omar, I was highly intimidated by the Carrera. I’ve never driven a $100,000 plus car, much less one with almost 400 horsepower. Thankfully, the stop-and-go traffic on 380 with speeds not much more than 55 allowed me to get used to the car before hitting the North Dallas tollway southbound for home.

I love driving on the tollway, and the Carrera handled like a dream. I never went faster than the traffic flow; however, 80 miles per hour was fast enough. While I was comfortable with the car when I arrived home, I was still very respectful of the value and remained extremely careful with my driving.

Fortunately, I was able to park in one of my usual spots in covered parking. Unfortunately, we don’t have assigned parking; however, I can usually park undercover. Once inside, I immediately called my property manager to tell her about my gift. Of course, the last thing I wanted was for it to be towed. Thankfully, she was fine with me having in on the property overnight without the proper parking permits residents must display.

After a quick lunch, I enjoyed my afternoon errands like never before, heading to Great Clips for a haircut and to Costco and Dick’s for a bit of birthday money shopping. I did have one training session back at the club at five, and the drive home in the dark was surreal. Because of the Carrera’s low profile, the way the lights illuminated the ground had a much different look and feel than my Ford SUV.

The following day, my final drive would be to my doctor’s office for my annual physical and then straight to the gym to hand the keys over to Omar so he could take it back to its owner. Trust me; I did not want to give up the car. It was one the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had and fueled my desire to have my own someday.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

I wrote about reconnecting with Jack Canfield a few months ago in “Do You Accept 100% Responsibility for Every Area of Your Life?” Through studying his book, The Success Principles, I was prompted to create a dream board starting November 1, 2022.  Oddly enough, Omar and Erica followed my lead and made their dream board, including images of starting a family soon.  I always feel grateful and humbled when my actions influence someone else positively. 

Omar & Erica Orellana

Further, I listened to a Jack Canfield video on YouTube where he interviewed a woman who had won a Porsche Cayenne in a sales contest with her company.  She did two things which I’ve adopted that you may find interesting. First, she bought a toy Cayenne, much like my model 911 Turbo, and took it wherever she went.  This affirmed my actions and made me feel like I was on the right track.   

Further, she wrote daily repeatedly, affirming winning the Cayenne.  This prompted me to add a new affirmation regarding my 911 Turbo to my nightly journaling about all the things I have to be grateful for that day.  And while I haven’t obtained my dream car yet, the whole experience with Omar would have never happened had I not shared my dream board and the photo of my little 911.

You might call this a coincidence. I choose to believe otherwise. There’s so much power in belief and expectancy, so I encourage you to harness these two forces to create the abundance you seek. The last time I checked, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is your one shot, so make the most of it. For me and Omar, we’re shooting for stars.

Best of luck with your efforts.

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3, 9, 42, and 76…Four Random Numbers, One Powerful Outcome

While this is only a few short weeks into 2023, this is not a post regarding New Year’s resolutions.  As a fitness professional, nutrition coach, and life coach, I work with my clients daily on the power of goal setting.  Therefore, the timing of this post with the New Year is only a coincidence, and my primary purpose is to share some information I’ve been working with for the past few months.

Want to up the odds of reaching your goals substantially? I will let you in on a little secret. Most people don’t have a written set of goals regarding any area of their life. In fact, the number is only 3%. Here’s another point for you to consider. On average, people with written goals make nine times more financially than those without. So, getting serious about writing out your goals is prudent because it pays really well.

So, what are the odds of hitting your goals by simply writing them down? The answer is 42%. That’s way better than wishful thinking, which is my definition of goals still spinning around in your head. Would you like to raise your odds of success to 76%? I have the solution, and it’s easy.

You need an accountability partner, and they don’t necessarily have to be knowledgeable about what you’re striving to accomplish. They just need to hold you accountable for the following steps.

1 – Write out your goals
2 – Share with your accountability partner your key action steps for the next week.
3 – Connect at the end of the week and share your progress
4 – Repeat until you’ve achieved your goal

It’s that simple, and it works incredibly well.  However, I have found that one weekly check-in is not enough for some.  I have several clients who I hold accountable daily for one small action.  It could be as simple as taking their supplements or drinking half their body weight in water.

And while I have no hard stats to back this up, the increased frequency helps.  In fact, one client just told me yesterday how much she appreciated my daily check-ins, as it allows her to be mindful of her choices.  She specifically said she enjoys how I only ask how she did rather than coming across as critical or judgmentally.  I am naturally an encourager, and being a coach “hard ass” is not my style.

So, start with the foundational steps listed above, and be open to testing the optimal number of check-ins required to help you reach your goals.  And this doesn’t have to be complicated.  For example, I send numerous clients a quick text throughout the week, and they reply with their accomplishments.  Since I see most of my clients at least once a week for a training session, the text we exchange in between seems to help them stay on track with their goal achievement.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

How often do you hear people say, “I know what I should be doing…but?” and then follows some excuse.  People will say this simple little phrase so casually; it’s as if it were as easy as flipping on a light switch to stop the behavior tied to their excuse and start executing the needed behaviors to reach their goals.

The only problem with this is that if they’re missing either of the following key elements, the distance from where they are to where they want to go maybe insurmountable without some help.

1 – The needed knowledge or skills
2 – Emotional discipline

When it comes to improving your health through fitness and nutrition, there’s so much conflicting information today that many people throw up their hands in frustration because they don’t know who to believe or which path to follow.  This can make number one listed above challenging.

A good coach with a track record of successfully helping their clients reach their goals can be a great resource in cutting through the mountain of often conflicting information.  This is valid in the health and fitness arena or any other area of your life where you’re seeking to make a change.

Harvey Mackay is an excellent example of someone who has achieved great success in his career and has always utilized the wisdom of coaching.  His book, “How to Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” was the first personal development I ever read.  My aunt and uncle gave it to me as a Christmas gift in my junior year in college.  The book became a New York Times bestseller and was an early success in what would become an extraordinary life of achievement.

According to Wikipedia, Harvey Mackay is “An American businessman, author, and syndicated columnist. His weekly column gives career and inspirational advice and is featured in over 100 newspapers. In addition, Mackay has authored seven New York Times bestselling books, including three number one bestsellers.”

His accolades extend far beyond the short paragraph above, and I have followed him for over thirty years.  The interesting thing to me is that despite Harvey’s overwhelming success, he continues to work with a team of coaches in a variety of areas in his life, including:

1 – Life
2 – Golf
3 – Speaking
4 – Memory
5 – Business
6 – Language
7 – And on and on.

According to Harvey, “Coaches can help people in any field improve their game.”  From my perspective, a good coach can point out your blind spots; trust me, we all have them.  Further, if you’re not getting better, in today’s world with advancing technology changing everything at breakneck speed, you will be left in the dust.  So, regardless of what you’re seeking to accomplish, any extraordinary success in life will have a better chance of achievement through the efforts of a team, and an accountability partner and professional coach can be invaluable members.

Best of luck in your journey.

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Little Miss Sunshine

If you should ever be blessed with the opportunity to meet Wendi Leigh Schneider, you will readily agree that she is delightful. She is the ultimate morning person, and when she walks in the front doors of Life Time North Dallas, the energy in the gym immediately shifts to a higher level. Wendi will routinely chat briefly with the front desk staff and the operations team en route to the women’s dressing room, lifting everyone she touches with her infectious smile and charming personality.

Wendi checking in with Staci Davis,
one of our morning rock stars.

I first noticed her back at the beginning of this year as we trained at the same time in the early mornings. While I typically don’t start working with clients until 8 AM, I intentionally connect and support our members, even during my workouts. In my mind, I have a responsibility to support all of our members, so I introduced myself to her when the opportunity seemed right.

Our initial conversation was short; however, it led to numerous chats over the next few weeks. I often questioned members about their goals, and Wendi shared that she was seeking to lose weight. As the head nutrition coach on our team, I offered her a complimentary consultation. She readily agreed, and we committed to a time the following week.

While I have written several blogs as tributes to my clients who have achieved phenomenal success, I never interviewed any of those clients before telling their stories. In an odd twist of events, the following impromptu question and answer session occurred early on December 11, 2022, shortly after completing my workout. I hope you enjoy Wendi’s honesty in sharing about her fitness journey.

Kelly: When we first met back in April of 2022, you were working to lose weight. Please share the events that led you to that point in your life.

Wendi: “All my life, I have struggled with my weight, and I’ve always been heavy. I was never pleased with the way I looked. This impacted me in many ways, including being bullied by other people or being left out of different social activities. Further, because of the shame I felt for my body and for not looking like other people, I purposely avoided a lot of social events. This left me feeling very alone.”

“One of the biggest things that led me to work so hard in the gym after graduating from college in 2019 was learning the reality surrounding certain false beliefs I had regarding losing weight and getting in better shape. I used to think cardio was king and that I had to starve myself to make any real progress.  In time, I started to educate myself on weight training and proper nutrition and set the goal to do something every day to move forward in my fitness journey.”

Before we starting working together.

“Fast forward three years, and I had established the habit of consistently getting in the gym and eating better; however, I was still struggling with doubts about my nutrition. Further, in terms of exercise, I was overdoing it and not allowing my body the needed time to recover. So, when you came up to me that first Saturday morning, it was the right time because I needed help and was tired of pursuing my fitness goals all on my own.”

Kelly: What are some of the biggest things you’ve learned since we started working together?

Wendi: “When we started, you were only helping me with my nutrition, as I was still following a program from an online trainer. Since then, I’ve had such a huge mental and physical shift because of you, and I have a much better relationship with food and myself.  Further, I now have a much more positive overall perspective as you’ve given me the needed tools to help me reach my goals.”

“Please let me emphasize that I have a better relationship with food which I could never say in the past. I better understand proper proportions and feel good after eating. Further, I don’t have the same sort of dependency on food that I did before. While I never had an eating disorder, from what you’ve taught me, I struggled with occasions of disordered eating, which created incredible stress and strain in my life.”

“I now see food as fuel and have a newfound love and appreciation for food without the previous feelings of attachment. I can now eat and truly enjoy myself without fear, guilt, shame, or remorse, thanks to how you’ve taught me to look at food. It’s been a process that has taken time, and I’m a different person today than I was eight months ago.”

Kelly: Please share how you’ve done with the concept I taught you early in our relationship about controlling the controllables and giving the rest to God.

Wendi: “I love that you bring that up because it takes me back to our first meeting, which was life-changing. What I mean is that I still think back to that day, and now when I find myself in a stressful situation, I take a step back, focus on what I can control, and try my best to let the rest go. You’ve taught me to be more solution-oriented rather than stuck on the problem.”

Kelly: Talk to me about making progress in your fitness journey without being bound by the idea that you must always be perfect with your training, nutrition, and recovery.

Wendi: “At the beginning of my efforts to get into better shape and lose weight, I did think perfection in every respect was the only way to make progress. Thanks to what you’ve taught me, I realize that you don’t have to be perfect to win. I remember you shared about a football team behind their opponent the entire game, yet they finally pulled out the victory. This simple example helped me shift my perspective to striving for consistent performance more than always having to be perfect.”

“You taught me that there’s room to enjoy myself with food and that having an occasional treat is good and essential in maintaining optimal emotional health. Whether it’s a piece of dark chocolate or simply having lunch with friends, I’ve learned to let go and not feel restricted to following my nutrition plan to the letter 100% every day. You’ve helped me let go of the guilt and shameful feelings I used to inflict upon myself, and it’s such a more joyful and peaceful way to live.”

Kelly: How do you feel after losing over thirty pounds since we started together back in April?

Wendi: “I love this question because since I was very young, I thought if I looked a certain way, it would make all the difference in the world in terms of how I would feel about myself and the friends I would have. I felt life would be perfect if I only looked a certain way. It’s like those people who feel that everything will be great when they find the right person, get that new promotion, or whatever external accomplishment they are striving for and equate those things as the key to happiness.”

“I’ve learned that no accomplishment or destination will ever bring you happiness if you’re not already happy with yourself. I’ve learned that losing thirty pounds doesn’t make me feel like I thought it would.  Now I know for certain that you have to be happy with who you are and that no money, fame, or accomplishments will ever bring fulfillment beyond how you feel about yourself in your heart of hearts.”

“The mental shift I’ve gone through with you since last April has been the best part of this process and is the key to my success in changing my body. The consistent hard work I’ve put in has paid off big-time; however, it all starts in your mind.”

Kelly: Where do you see yourself in the future based on what you’ve accomplished so far?

Wendi: “I feel like my future is brighter than ever. There was a time in my life right after college when I was unsure about where I wanted to go. I’ve always had a plan for how my life would turn out; it was not working according to that plan after college. A big part of my struggle was due to my health and the emotional baggage surrounding my body. Fortunately, I took control and made significant strides before meeting you, which took me to a different level.”

Kelly: Is there anything more you want to share?

Wendi: “In the past, I’ve worked with several dieticians and trainers and collectively had awful experiences that emotionally took a toll on me. So, when you walked up that Saturday morning and offered a complimentary session to meet and discuss my nutrition, training, and goals, I said yes, and I’m so glad I did. I had become a little jaded regarding seeking further professional help; however, I knew I needed the support, and I’m so thankful for giving you a chance.”

Wendi mentioned that at the beginning of our working relationship, she only did nutrition coaching with me.  This changed after a few months due to an injury she sustained in her right elbow.  After looking over her routine, I noticed a lack of balance in the program design and excessive volume for her level of performance.  She was struggling to recover fully, and the inflammation and pain in her elbow demanded a change in her program. 

As a solution, I offered to build her a new program using our virtual training platform, and she readily agreed.  My strategy was to eliminate as much stress as possible on her elbow, including direct arm work.  She was worried about not working her arms, and I assured her that her arms would be fine and that it would be worth it to heal her elbow.  For the positive, her elbow pain was gone in a few short weeks, and she was thrilled.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because Wendi had committed to Life Time’s Fall 60-Day Challenge, and we needed her full strength to survive the challenging training program she was about to undertake.  The 60-Day Challenge is a transformation contest Life Time runs several times yearly.  It’s not necessarily a weight loss contest; however, most participants tend to be in the weight loss category.  It’s a fantastic event, and the results people achieve are extraordinary.

For the contest’s first month, her program was based on a push, pull, and leg split done in tri-sets.  She would perform back-to-back compound exercises followed by 30-60 seconds of metabolic conditioning like a sled push, rowing ergo, or med ball slams.  The program was among the most difficult I’ve ever created, and Wendi crushed it.

Ball slams with vengeance!

My fifth anniversary is coming up this spring, and when considering all the clients I’ve trained, Wendi has been the most consistent with her nutrition and training.  She never fell off track with her food; her only deviation from her plan was the occasional meal out with friends.  Even then, she consistently made intelligent and healthy choices, and her hard work paid off. 

December 2022

Also, for the record, there is one exercise where Wendi BURIES all of my male clients.  I have a treadmill-based sled push programmed into her leg days, and she’s using a LOT more weight than any of my men.  Even after my needling over the past few weeks, no one has stepped up to match her.  It’s incredible, and I couldn’t be prouder of her efforts.

She honestly kicks my butt on this exercise,
as well as all my other clients.

For the second month of the contest, I used the same template as the first, with all new exercises and a different set and rep scheme.  Further, we cut back on her total nutritional intake just a touch.  It was only a slight change; however, I wanted to keep her slowly losing body fat each week.  In the end, she sprinted hard to the finish line.

So proud of her!

Wendi’s daily nutrition was simple and as follows:

Early morning:  shake following her training
Mid-morning:  eggs scrambled with light cheese and veggies w/ toast
Lunch:  protein, veggies, complex carbs, and healthy fats
Afternoon snack:  Greek yogurt, fruit, nuts, and a touch of chocolate chips or a protein shake
Dinner:  protein, veggies, complex carbs, and healthy fats

I gave her structure while allowing for lots of variety.  She was good to go as long as she stuck to the recommended portions.  For the record, she never deviated, which explains her tremendous success.  I often tell my clients that if your “why” is big enough, the facts don’t count.  This could have been Wendi’s mantra, as she was virtually unstoppable in her quest to reach her goals.

Our club had over one hundred participants in the 60-Day Challenge.  Wendi came in as the first runner-up, and I was thrilled about her accomplishment and recognition.  As her coach, I’m biased and think she should have been first; however, I’m much more grateful for her progress and the belief, confidence, and skills she now possesses to carry on for the rest of her life.

For December, I transitioned Wendi to a maintenance phase where she’s simply eating to cover her daily activity.  We’re not trying to lose any weight over the holidays to give her mind and body a rest.  After the first of the year, we will reengage and move on to reach her ultimate goals.

I tell Wendi that her best is yet to come.  While she has made tremendous progress, we’re not done, as she still wants to lose about 5-10 more pounds.  Based on the commitment I’ve seen this past year, I do not doubt that she will reach her goals in early 2023.

The following is a summary of her progress from last April of 2022 to the present:

Starting weight – 216 lbs
Starting bodyfat – 38% – 39%
Total weight loss – 36 lbs
Weight loss from April to the start of the 60-Day Challenge – 24 lbs
Weight loss during the contest – 12 lbs and 5% body fat
Total body fat loss – 10% down and holding at approximately 29% and 180 lbs

Closing thoughts for my readers:

I arrived at the gym on Friday, December 16th, before Wendi, and was warming up for my leg day when she approached me.  She was smiling big as ever and carrying a small bag with her gym stuff in one hand and, in the other, a 3-ring binder.  I was puzzled until she greeted me and noticed the birthday card on top of the binder she used as a writing surface.  She had “everyone” sign the card for our beloved Staci, who opens the club faithfully every morning at 5 AM, Monday through Friday.

Wendi getting one more signature for Staci’s birthday card from one of our favorites, Bill.

Friday is technically an off day for Wendi from lifting; however, as a recovery day, she will always come and do foam rolling, light stretching, and a bit of cardio.  It was the perfect day for her to have the extra time to walk the floor, asking everyone willing to sign Staci’s card.  As she walked away from me, the thought flashed in my mind that her efforts were the perfect example of why I call her “Little Miss Sunshine.”  I was so proud of her selfless act of doing something so kind for someone else.

Wendi Elf – December 21, 2022
Note: This was not staged, and I had no idea what she was up to beyond Staci’s birthday card. This is just Wendi being Wendi.

If Wendi were writing this closing paragraph, she would say to keep showing up and that you don’t have to be perfect to win.  This is a concept I’ve worked on drilling into her over the past eight months as she has experienced the roller coaster ride that is called life.  Life will always throw curve balls and occasionally a hard ball that may knock the wind out of your sails.  Regardless, you always have a choice in how you respond.  Stay solution-oriented and by all means, keep moving forward.  Small steps taken daily can lead to massive success.

Best of luck in your journey.

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You’re Probably Not Rain Man

Do you remember the movie Rain Man from 1988? Tom Cruise played Charlie Babbitt, a used car salesman, and gambler, and Dustin Hoffman played his brother, Raymond. The film was excellent, and the critics and moviegoers gave it high marks. My reason for bringing it up is because of a unique little gift that Raymond possessed.

You see, he was Autistic and lived in an assisted living facility, unable to function in normal society. He was also a walking calculator able to solve virtually any math question instantly. I will not spoil the plot for those who haven’t seen the movie; however, Charlie, the gambler, and Raymond, the mathematical genius, experienced some exciting adventures. It’s an oldie but a goodie with a storyline that will touch your heart.

According to Mother Google, the Paradox of Dieting is as follows:

Dieting creates a perfect storm of restrictive eating patterns that cannot be maintained, along with feelings of shame and guilt. Eventually, most dieters fall off the wagon, which leads to weight gain.

How often have you heard someone say they need to get back on track with their nutrition or back on a diet? As a fitness professional and nutrition coach, I’ve often listened to these comments from my clients and members. My natural inclination is to encourage them to persist in their efforts and to be proud of their accomplishments rather than beating themselves up for their shortcomings. And yet, many people continue to struggle with their nutrition. Why?

I’ve asked myself this question countless times, which recently led to a significant ah-ha. So, consider the following scenario. If a parent and one of their children have an argument and aren’t on the best of terms for a few days, does the parent cease to be the parent? What about a husband and wife? What if he forgets their wedding anniversary, which hurts his wife’s feelings and leaves him sleeping on the couch for the night? Do they cease to be married? Obviously, the answer is no in both cases.

So why is it different with food? Why do so many people go on diets, and if they fall from that diet, they tend to go off the rails completely? It’s just food. Why do they treat food differently from virtually any other relationship in their life where for the most part, regardless of what happens, good and bad, the relationship is constant?

One reason is that people often have false expectations regarding what it takes to change their body composition. They fall victim to an “all or nothing mindset,” thinking they must be perfect in their nutrition to make real progress. The truth is that perfection is not required, and seeking perfection can lead to a poor or even dangerous relationship with food.

I learned about the Psychology of Deprivation from my long-time mentor, Nutritionist Keith Klein, over thirty years ago. If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods long enough, regardless of the significance of your goals, you will hit a wall and give in at some point. This can develop into a vicious cycle of restriction, binging, and purging, leading down a dark path of developing disordered eating or a full-blown eating disorder.

In most cases, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your favorite foods while improving your body composition and your overall health. It’s simply a matter of portion control and frequency. The late great Zig Ziglar went from weighing well over 200 pounds to a healthy weight of 175 pounds in his forties by changing his nutrition and incorporating exercise. And he did this all the while enjoying his favorite ice cream once a week as a treat for his hard work.

There is one exception to the last paragraph, which concerns trigger foods. An alcoholic can not safely have an occasional drink just for fun. Their devastating past relationship with liquor demands a clear-cut black-and-white requirement of total abstinence. In the same way, if you determine that a particular food consistently causes you to overindulge, you may have a hard choice to make.

For me, it was sugar, and in my early forties, I decided to completely abstain from sweets from the grocery store or restaurants. While it would seem logical with all my nutrition knowledge that I could enjoy the occasional serving of ice cream, cheesecake, or cookies, my track record decisively proves otherwise. By the way, the sweets above are my absolute kryptonite, and eliminating them from my life was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you’re facing a similar scenario, be willing the make the hard choice. Life is too short to be a slave to certain foods.

A Personal Confession

I’m highly structured in my thinking and how I do things. Ask my mother, clients, any of our members, or my teammates, and they will confirm my admission. Back in college, on my first day of cost accounting, the professor said, this course will either be a breeze, or you’ll struggle. Thanks to my gift of structured thinking, I aced the class.

Given my natural inclination towards structure, it’s not a far stretch to consider that I love Excel spreadsheets. I’ve been tracking my goals, nutrition, and finances for years. Excel is a tool I personally and professionally use multiple times per day. Before the technology that allowed you to build and track workout programs on your phone or tablet, I used Excel. And considering the tools we have today, those old workout sheets seem antiquated.

Since I had been tracking my personal nutrition for years, it seemed logical to me to give my clients the same type of plan tailored to their needs. This was my thinking almost five years ago when I went full-time as a fitness professional and nutrition coach. And while I’ve constantly sharpened my skills as a coach through continuing education and trial by fire, it’s always puzzled me why a few of my clients have done great with the nutrition plan I created for them while most still seemed to struggle.

This ongoing frustration led me to the question shared at the beginning of this post. Further, it led me to reach out to my coach after going through Precision Nutrition’s Level II Master Class. The program lasts one year and is structured like an online college course. Every student is assigned a coach; mine was Toni Bauer, based in Chicago. She was a lifesaver, especially considering that I went through the program during the heart of the pandemic. It was a blessing to have Toni to connect with via Zoom regularly.

Since I completed the course, Toni and I have stayed in touch, and I recently sent her a meeting request to do a short Zoom call. She was happy to oblige, and our call was set. I had one big question, and I knew in my gut what her answer would be. Precision Nutrition is an education company; however, they are also a coaching company. The largest nutrition coaching company in the world, in fact. Their program is year-long and is based on introducing a new habit every two weeks. Habit layered upon habit creates a success rate with clients that is high by industry nutrition coaching standards.

After briefly catching up regarding our work and families, I asked how PN’s nutrition coaches integrated nutrition plans into their habit-based approach. Her reply, which I pretty much expected, was that they sold their program based on implementing a year’s worth of habits, not by offering a simple nutrition plan. She said they figured out what I had experienced with my clients long ago and that meal plans alone don’t work for most people long-term. That’s why it’s so common to repeatedly hear about people going on and falling off diets.

So what about my clients who have achieved great success? We discussed it and agreed they are similar to me in their highly structured and detail-oriented personality style. Further, they all worked on their nutrition with me long-term rather than simply purchasing a meal plan and going on their own. For the rest of the population, a habit-based approach works much better.

So, just how powerful are habits? Consider the following:

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 a 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 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, 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.

After my conversation with Toni, I have revamped my nutrition coaching style to model how Precision Nutrition works with its clients. You might question why I didn’t come to this conclusion sooner. The answer is a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. I used to coach my clients in the way I would want to be coached, emphasizing their nutrition plans more so than building long-term and sustainable habits to support their nutrition and overall well-being. Moving forward, I am coaching in a way that serves and benefits the masses, which is a significant shift for the positive.

Core Foundational Habits:

1 – Eat Slowly
2 – Stop eating at 80% full
3 – Eat lean protein
4 – Eat fibrous veggies and fruits
5 – Eat smart carbs
6 – Eat healthy fats
7 – Drink enough water
8 – Get 7+ hours of sleep per night
9 – Manage stress & overall recovery
10 – Have regular doctor check-ups, including blood work and other needed tests as appropriate by age, to monitor internal health

You might think the list above looks too simple to make a significant difference, and you would be wrong. In almost five years of coaching professionally, I’ve never met a member of my club who nails these suggested habits 100%. Further, if you took a random sample of the population in general, the odds are probably worse because at least my members are working out. According to Mother Google, less than 25% of the population works out regularly, so it would be safe to say the other 75% are likely less compliant with the habits above.

While I now use PN’s list of habits as my foundation, I’m still careful to craft my coaching around my client’s needs. There’s a lot to be said about what a client is ready, willing, and able to do consistently. And depending on the client, the first thing they’re ready, willing, and able to do may not be on my standard list of habits. And that’s okay. As long as we agree on an area for improvement, I will hold them accountable, and it will be a great place to start. Remember, small steps of progress lead to massive change.

Adding Structure

What if I could help you to become super consistent with the ten simple habits mentioned above? You would be living in rare air because, as I’ve explained, very few come anywhere close. Yet, you will likely struggle without some simple daily structure, and I have a great analogy to illustrate my point.

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 could legally 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 only be able to reach the success you are truly capable of with some structure and a daily and weekly game plan. So what kind of structure? It could be as simple as committing to having breakfast, lunch, afternoon mini-meal, and dinner based on your daily schedule and needs.

Once your foundation is built, then you can start adding habits. And how many habits do you work on at a time? I will answer the question with a question. How do you build a puzzle? Some will say you start with the edges, which may be accurate; however, the answer I’m looking for is that you build one piece at a time.

But you might say you want to go faster and work on multiple habits simultaneously. Before I share the actual statistics, please let me remind you that you’re probably not like Rain Man. What our beloved Raymond could do with numbers is herculean beyond what your average person can do when adopting new habits.

Statistically, if you shoot to add one new habit over a few weeks, the odds are roughly 87% that you will be successful. If you shoot to add two new habits, your odds of success drop to less than 50%. And if you try for three, you’re off in a ditch at less than 15%. So the moral of the story is to focus on one habit at a time.

So how long do you work on one habit before introducing the next? It all depends on you and the complexity of the habit. You may be 100% compliant in as little as a week for something as simple as adding a daily multivitamin. Becoming a master at planning, shopping, and meal prepping when you’ve never cooked in your life may take a little longer. And that’s okay.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Thomas Edison famously “learned” 10,000 ways not to create an electric light bulb before coming up with the correct solution. Thank God I came to the above conclusions before going through 10,000 clients. Now, it’s not like I’ve wasted my client’s time having them spinning their wheels with no progress. I’ve helped a lot of members over the past five years make significant improvements in their health. However, to echo the words of the late great Steve Jobs, “There’s got to be a better way,” and I want all my clients to crush their goals.

The Power of Accountability

Want to up the odds of reaching your goals substantially? I will let you in on a little secret. Most people don’t have a written set of goals regarding any area of their life. In fact, the number is only 3%. Here’s another point for you to consider. On average, people with written goals make nine times more financially than those without. So, getting serious about writing out your goals is prudent because it pays really well.

So, what are the odds of hitting your goals by simply writing them down? The answer is 42%. That’s way better than wishful thinking, which is my definition of goals still spinning around in your head. Would you like to raise your odds of success to 76%? I have the solution, and it’s easy.

You need an accountability partner, and they don’t necessarily have to be knowledgeable about what you’re striving to accomplish. They just need to hold you accountable.

1 – Write out your goals
2 – Share with your accountability partner your key action steps for the next week.
3 – Connect at the end of the week and share your progress
4 – Repeat until you’ve achieved your goal

It’s that simple, and it works really well.

Best of luck with your efforts.

Posted in Diet, fat loss, goal setting, Health & Fitness, learning from mistakes, Nutrition, personal development, personality styles, seeking wisdom, self talk, spiritual gifts, success, Uncategorized, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Accept 100% Responsibility for Every Area of Your Life?

This principle has been drummed into my consciousness for over twenty years by my long-time mentors, Andy Andrews and the late Jim Rohn. In the spirit of President Harry Truman, Andy says, “The buck stops with you.” And Jim said it best in the following:

It’s really very simple. You are where you are in life because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made. If you don’t like where you are, make different choices. You are not a slave to your past, or as Jim used to say, “You’re not a tree; you can change.” When you blame outside circumstances on your current situation, you give away your power to create positive change in your life.

Given the considerable time I’ve spent studying the wisdom of Andy and Jim, I’ve always thought I had a good understanding of and practiced the 100% responsibility principle. In fact, I will rarely blame outside circumstances for any situation I find myself in because I know that, ultimately, my choices put me there.

Further, as a fitness professional and life coach, I’ve taught on many occasions the concept of accepting 100% responsibility to my club members regarding their health. They always seem to resonate with the idea, and I feel good about passing on the wisdom I’ve gained from Andy and Jim.

Have you ever heard the statement that the teacher will appear when the student is ready? I’ve been a student of personal development since my junior year in college, which recently drove me to search for Jack Canfield’s content on YouTube. I was looking specifically for his Success Principles audiobook and was rewarded for my efforts. It was readily available, along with a goldmine of other content that Jack has produced over the years.

Oddly enough, I purchased his Success Principles about seven years ago. And while the content was excellent, I wasn’t ready to receive the message during that season of my life. In fact, I loaned the CDs to a friend and ultimately forgot about them altogether.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jack Canfield by name, you’ve probably heard of his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Jack and his coauthor Mark Victor Hanson published the original Chicken Soup over twenty-five years ago, and the series contains 276 titles to date, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide. Needless to say, Jack and Mark have done very well financially thanks to their efforts.

After listening to the introduction, I came to the first chapter, Accepting 100% Responsibility for Your Life. As I heard the words, my mind immediately went to my understanding based on what I had learned from Andy and Jim. And then I heard Jack’s definition, which raised the bar to a much higher level than what I was accustomed to. According to Jack, accepting 100% responsibility includes No Complaining, No Blaming, and No Excuses.

Wow! As I stated above, you rarely hear me blame outside circumstances or make excuses. However, when it comes to complaining, I am guilty as charged. Jack’s piercing words hit me like a brick upside my head and opened my eyes to my tendency to complain and generally have a critical spirit towards people and things I disagree with.

Now you might think, what’s the big deal about complaining, blaming, and making excuses? Well, for starters, you will repel people right and left. If there is an opposite theme to the essence of what Dale Carnegie taught in his classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” it would be to complain, blame, make excuses, and have a critical spirit.

Second, there’s no escaping the law of sowing and reaping. If you sew positivity into the world, positive things will come back to you multiplied many times. If you sew negatively, it works just the same. Further, whatever you give your time, focus, and energy to, will manifest in your life. Complaining, blaming, making excuses, and being critical are all negative and directly oppose the mindset of being thankful for the good and positive things you have.

The bottom line is that if you spend most of your time focused on what’s wrong, lacking, or any other negative in your life, you’re going to invite more of the same. If you spend your time focused on the abundance in your life and for all that you have to be thankful for, you will also attract more of the same. The choice is yours.

By the way, this is counter-cultural thinking. The masses don’t think this way, yet I hope you don’t compare yourself to the masses. It’s been said many times that if you want to be successful in any area of your life, look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite.

What about when something terrible happens, like getting into an auto accident when it clearly wasn’t your fault? Or what about something more serious, like being diagnosed with severe disease? Fortunately, Jack has an answer for this as well. He describes the concept as E + R = O or Event + Response = Outcome.

Life is hard, and it throws curve balls daily. Occasionally it throws hard balls, and sometimes you get hit. These “events” or extreme challenges can flat take the wind out of your sails, yet you always have a choice in how you respond. And that’s the secret. Bad things will always happen at some point in your life; however, you always have a choice in how you respond. History is filled with endless stories of men and women who have suffered horrific events, and yet they used their struggles as the needed fuel to drive them to the pinnacles of success.

Image by Whole Life Christian Bookstore

Closing thoughts for my readers:

I’ve written about blind spots before, and everyone has them. Unless you are fortunate enough to have someone share how you may be sabotaging some area of your life, you could spend the better portion of your time shooting yourself in the foot with your repeated words and behaviors and have no idea regarding the damage your doing.

One of my early mentors, celebrated PGA teaching professional Kevin Kirk, used to say that I was a sponge for information. And this has remained true all my life. I’m just thankful for Jack Canfield and his words of wisdom that have given me yet another thing to polish about my character.

Given my natural tendency towards complaining, Jack teaches one strategy that is helping me and may benefit you. First, determine whether there’s anything you can do to change the situation. If there is, take the necessary action. If there’s nothing you can do, then simply let it go. As a believer, I choose to give these to God. Don’t allow things beyond your control to steal your joy. This may be easier said than done; however, it’s a powerful strategy to live a more peaceful and joyful life.

Also, when dealing with difficult people, for example, a coworker with whom you have to spend time together regularly, you might consider the 101% Principle from leadership expert John C. Maxwell. If you can only find one thing where you agree with an individual, give it your 100% attention and focus and let the rest go. This is a far better strategy than daily harboring bitterness towards them. As I said above, what you give out is what you will receive in return.

And finally, consider keeping a daily gratitude journal to help build a mindset of abundance and gratitude. I’ve heard about this little strategy from numerous people over the years, including Oprah; however, Jack’s prompting from his Success Principles pushed me into action. And now, after several weeks of incorporating it into my evening sleep ritual, it is bearing fruit.

One of my favorite quotes from Andy Andrews is as follows.

Keeping a gratitude journal is the living embodiment of Andy’s words and is a great habit to develop. And it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just pick up a simple little journal and spend a few minutes at the end of the day. It’s especially beneficial at the end of an otherwise challenging day because it will shift your mind and perspective back to the positive, and this is a great place to be when you turn out the lights to go to sleep.

If this short little post resonates with you, do the work needed. Remember, this is not a dress rehearsal. This is your life. And if you’re unhappy with any aspect of it, the responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders to change your circumstances for the positive.

Best of luck in your journey.

Posted in Andy Andrews, attitude, better mood, better sleep, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Win – Tiger Woods’s Dominance at the 1997 Masters

Winning and losing is a part of life and apart from attitude.
Jeffrey Gitomer

On Thursday, April 10, 1997, Tiger Woods teed off at 12:44 PM in his first professional appearance at the Masters. He had turned pro the previous fall, winning the Las Vegas Invitational and the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic in October. He captured the Mercedes Championship in January and rolled into Augusta, GA, with a ton of momentum.

And yet, despite his early and massive success, the elders of the tour said Woods would have to wait on his first Master’s victory. He had missed the cut as an amateur the previous year and placed 41st the year before. Augusta National is one of the most challenging courses on tour, and almost all of the top players over the past fifty years, including Faldo, Nicklaus, and Palmer, did not win in their first few attempts. It often took five or more tries to finally seal the deal.

While Tiger is known for being a student of the game, he clearly wasn’t paying any attention to the pundits as their predictions made absolutely zero difference to him. As I’ve heard him say many times over his career, he never entered a tournament he didn’t expect to win. He was paired with Nick Faldo in his opening round, and neither played very well on the front nine. Faldo was a six-time major winner, so maybe he received some slack from the media; however, many were already writing off Woods as being in over his head. And then came the second nine.

Woods and Faldo during Thursday’s round.
(Photo by

Tiger shot +4 on the front nine with four bogeys and no birdies. He shot -6 on the back nine with four birdies and an eagle leaving him 3 shots behind the leader, John Houston. He was one of only a few players in the field to break par due to the challenging course conditions, and the way he did it made his score all the more impressive. His calm demeanor during his post-round press conference must have been unnerving to the rest of the competitors. Woods took the open nine entirely in stride and made up for his sloppy play on the back nine. Everyone knew he was good, but no one saw this coming.

The best athletes in the world have an uncanny knack for staying in the present moment and having a selective memory. The best professional golfers play each shot one at a time. The bad shots are quickly erased from their memory banks, and the great shots are saved to leverage for future reference. Clearly, Tiger and other high achievers think differently than the average person.

On Friday, Tiger was paired with PGA Champion and accomplished tour veteran Paul Azinger. Azinger had never played with Tiger and said after the round that his shots were hit with such integrity and authority, and the other players definitely noticed. He said his tee shots, especially the driver seemed to stay in the air forever.

Woods and Azinger during Friday’s round
(Photo by Sports Illustrated)

“I can still see that white ball framed against the dark trees in the distance, then the blue sky, and then the green fairway — it was a bullet that seemed to never stop.”
Paul Azinger

After a -2 under performance on the front nine, Tiger was inching closer to the lead. With pars on the first two holes of Amen Corner, he stepped on the 13th tee box only one shot back. Three shots later, his triumphant eagle gave him the lead for the first time, and it was a lead he would never relinquish.
With his wisdom and intuition, CBS anchor Jim Nance quietly stated, “Let the record show that a little after 5:30 on this Friday, April the 11th, Tiger takes the lead for the very first time at the Masters.”

On Saturday, Tiger was paired with Colin Montgomery, who was very well respected as an established player at the top of his game. Montgomery, full of self-confidence, made the mistake of calling Tiger out before their round. He said that, given his greater experience, he liked his chances against the 21-year-old rookie. That statement was the equivalent of waving a red flag in the face of a charging bull.

Woods and Montgomery during Saturday’s round.
(Photo by Augusta National/Getty Images)

Before Saturday’s round, Tiger’s swing coach, Butch Harmon, came over and stood next to his star pupil. He said, “Let’s go show Colin Montgomerie who you really are.” Woods responded, “Oh, don’t worry.” And that’s exactly what Tiger did. He buried Montgomery by 9 shots, carding a 65 versus Monty’s 74. Afterward, in his post-round press conference, Colin took back his earlier comments and stated emphatically that there was no way Tiger would lose the next day.

On Sunday, Tiger played his final round with Costantino Rocco, finishing a record-breaking 12 shots in front of the field. The round was not error-free, with two bogeys on the front nine; however, combined with five birdies and eleven pars, it would be enough to shatter the record books. Further, it demolished racial barriers that had existed for years about a person of color being able to win golf’s most tradition-bound event. Tiger was the youngest ever to wear the green jacket, and his win set a new standard of excellence that the rest of the tour would struggle to match for years to come.

Woods on cruise control.
Image by LiveAbout

Unlike professional baseball, there is no perfect game in golf. In the history of major league baseball, there have been 23 perfect games. The closest thing to that in golf is the sub-60 round; there have only been 12. Eleven men have shot 59s; Jim Furyk holds the record for the lone 58. Oddly enough, there have been approximately 4,000 people climbing Mt. Everest. It’s interesting to think that 333 times as many people have climbed the tallest mountain on the planet compared to the rare dozen from the PGA tour who have shot below 60.

Mt. Everest
(Photo by

As an odd side note, Tiger shot a 59 with his good buddy, Mark O’Meara, at Isleworth, their home course in Windermere, Fl., the week before his Master’s victory. Woods said it was the easiest 59 ever as he pared two of the par 5s. It could have definitely been lower. O’Meara said he knew something was wrong when he glanced at the scorecard after the front nine and saw that he was down by a considerable margin.

While Tiger’s 59 didn’t count in the record books, it set him up for a needed pep talk the following week at Augusta. On the 15th tee Thursday afternoon, there was a bit of a wait, and O’Meara found Woods sitting on a bench looking reasonably dejected. He quickly reminded him of the beating he had dished out the week before. O’Meara said, “Dude, what’s going on, man? You never play like this when you play with me at home. All you need to do is pretend like you’re playing against me. You shoot 59, you make birdies, you make holes-in-one. I mean, gimme a break.”

Woods and O’Meara
(Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)

Apparently, O’Meara’s timely jab spurred Tiger on, and he went on to shoot -6 on the back and come within striking distance of the lead he would eventually take the next day. And at that point, it was game over.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Dr. Bob Rotella wrote the book, Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, which is a perfect metaphor for life. All professional sports, including golf and life, are about managing mistakes. By all means, strive for excellence; however, be very careful not to become overly caught up in the pursuit of perfection. With the rare exception of the perfect game in baseball, there are very few examples of the perfect performance in sports and life.

In fact, it’s been said that one of the fastest ways to accelerate success is to fail. Leadership expert John Maxwell wrote the book, Failing Forward many years ago, where he teaches that one of the single most significant factors in determining success is your response to failure. Because failure is inevitable regardless of your pursuit.

The critical element is your mindset and perception of failure. Zig Ziglar said, “A failure is an event, not a person.” And Thomas J. Watson may have said it best with the following:

“You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes, make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success – on the far side of failure.”

A Win for the Ages!
(Photo by

Tiger could have played his way right out of the tournament after his opening front nine score of 40; however, he knew that professional golf majors, especially the Masters, are marathons and not sprints. He stayed calm and made the needed adjustments at the turn, which yielded completely different results on the back nine. This is in stark contrast to the all-or-nothing thinking exemplified by the average person, where one significant setback can cause them to go off the rails completely. The secret is maintaining a long-term perspective while staying in the present moment. This can be easier said than done; however, it’s a skill that all top performers possess and one that can definitely be learned with persistent effort.

Best of luck in your journey.

Posted in attitude, Climbing Mt. Everest, goal setting, Health & Fitness, John Maxwell, learning from mistakes, living your dream, success, The Masters, The perfect game in baseball, Tiger Woods, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Foodie & the Athlete

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.

A Beautiful & Fit Couple

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.

International Cuisine

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.

International Cuisine

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.

Grinding it out!

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.

He’s come a long way. 95-pound one-arm rows are impressive!


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.

Proud of Them!

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.

The Little Czech Bakery

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.

Posted in attitude, better sleep, cardio training, Diet, fat loss, Foodie, goal setting, Health & Fitness, increased focus, learning from mistakes, life path, Nutrition, nutrition for better sleep, personal development, seeking wisdom, sleeping problems, strength gain, success, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Until You Have all the Facts…

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.

Photo by Jonas on Unsplash

“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.

Photo by Chain Store Age

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.

Best of luck in your journey.

Posted in Cancer, Christian, diet dr. pepper, Faith, forgiveness, Health & Fitness, learning from mistakes, love, personal development, pork rinds, seeking wisdom, servant's heart, success, The Golden Rule, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Would You Pay $36,500 for a Diet Coke?

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.

Great memories!

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.

The great Tony Gwynn in 1998.

According to Wikipedia, “Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014), nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” was an American professional baseball right 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.

Best of luck in your journey.


Posted in Albert Einstein, Darren Hardy, dental hygiene, diet coke, diet dr. pepper, gland cancer, Health & Fitness, Jim Rohn, learning from mistakes, Napoleon Hill, Nutrition, piney woods country club, sales, seeking wisdom, soft drinks, Starbucks, success, Tony Gwen, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices, Workrite Ergonomics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Are You Showing Up?

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.

Skyline Church, San Diego, CA

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.

Joe & Dawn Pici
Sales Training & Keynote Speaking

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.

Zig Ziglar

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.

Posted in Andy Andrews, attitude, boot camp, Brickhouse Gym, communication, customer loyalty, Dawn Pici, ergonomics, Health & Fitness, Joe Pici, John Maxwell, leadership, learning from mistakes, life path, Nutrition, personal development, personality styles, seeking wisdom, success, Uncategorized, weight training, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment