Eating on Cruise Control

I am your constant companion. I am your most excellent helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am entirely at your command.

You might as well turn over half of the things you do to me, and I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed – you must be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of great people and, alas, of all failures. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though; I work with the precision of a machine plus a person’s intelligence.

You may run me for profit or ruin – it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I am habit. If you change your habits, you will change your life. Now, this statement is impartial. The more positive habits you build into your life, the better your life will be. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, and if you develop enough negative habits, you can literally destroy your life.

So, what percentage of your daily actions are based on habit? The answer is somewhere between roughly 40%-95%, depending on the person. Some of you are literally sleepwalking through your everyday life on autopilot.

Could you apply the same percentages to your choices in nutrition? Again, the answer is yes, for better or worse. So, would it help to build more positive habits surrounding your daily food? Would it help to take some emotion and decision-making out of eating? Again, the answer is yes.

In this post, I will share with you twelve habits that, if adopted, will change your life. The first nine are specifically regarding nutrition, and the last three are more on lifestyle management. My suggestion is to focus on each habit for two weeks before moving on to the next. Then, after six months, repeat the process.

If you take me seriously and work to implement these habits over the next year, your health and life will improve dramatically. However, without some structure to organize these habits, your success will fall short of what it could be.

What do I mean? Well, do you remember Driver’s Education? After going through the laborious process of watching video after video in a classroom setting, your big day arrived, and you faced the daunting challenge of your driver’s test. If you were fortunate enough to pass, you were then legal to drive. But, you were not a good driver. No one is in the beginning. You had to think about your hands at ten and two, remember to put on your seat belt, release the emergency brake, and check your mirrors and blind spots before passing. You had to think about everything, and in the beginning, it was hard.

And now? You can fly down the road at eighty-plus miles per hour with a Starbucks in one hand and your iPhone in the other (driving with your knee) and think nothing of it. How? Because driving has become a habit. You don’t have to think about it anymore.

Now, you may be one of the best drivers in the world in terms of your ingrained habits, and yet, if all the street signs, traffic signals, and the entire communication system for all the roads and highways were taken away, what would happen? It would result in sheer and utter chaos. Therefore, you need the structure of our road communication system to maximize your driving abilities.

It works much the same way when it comes to your daily nutrition. You may be excellent at eating protein and veggies; however, you will struggle to reach the success you are truly capable of without some structure and a daily and weekly game plan.

For the balance of this post, I will unpack the following twelve habits as promised. Then, in closing, I will share some thoughts on the structure needed to make these new habits a valuable and permanent part of your life. One word of caution. Please don’t write these habits off as too simple to make any difference. As a fitness professional and nutrition coach, I’ve never met anyone close to living these twelve habits. In fact, I personally struggle with several, and I teach these concepts.

1 – Take a Five-Minute Action
2 – Eat Slowly
3 – Eat Until 80% Full
4 – Eat Lean Protein
5 – Eat Colorful Veggies & Fruits
6 – Eat Healthy Fats
7 – Eat Smart Carbs
8 – Drink Mostly Calorie Free Beverages
9 – Plan & Prep Your Meals
10- Practice Destressing
11 – Create and Use a Sleep Ritual
12 – Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy

So what have do you have to lose? Take me at my word and give this your best effort. If you live with these habits for the next year, you will be a different person. I promise.

Habit #1 – Take a Five-Minute Action

The purpose of this habit is to spark action – any action at all. This contrasts with the person who suffers from paralysis by analysis.

Taking action helps you feel empowered, and only you can decide what action to take. No one will do this for you. The act must be simple, concrete, and completed in minutes. You will start accumulating daily successes immediately, and these wins will build your self-confidence. In time, you may grow to feel like you can conquer the world.

My best suggestion is to tie your five-minute action to an existing anchor habit. For example, let’s say you have a goal to take your multivitamins daily and you’re a coffee drinker. If you’re like me, the first thing you do in the morning is turn on your coffee maker. Then after firing up my computer for my bible study, I load up my supplements for the day in my little supplement organizer.

My coffee habit is carved in stone, and the time I spend waiting for my morning delight to brew is the perfect opportunity to prep my supplements. Once complete, my organizer goes into my lunch box, which I take to work each day. This simple step sets me up for success, and for what it’s worth, my consistency in taking my daily supplements is 100%.
I simply don’t miss.

People will often question the value of something so simple that it can be completed in five minutes.

In my experience, people underestimate the importance of simplicity and the value of small chunks of time. I just completed my ninth fitness certification, and one of my co-workers asked me when I found the time. My reply was “in the cracks of my day.” I would read and study my coursework during breaks on my phone, tablet, and laptop. Five minutes here and ten minutes there repeated consistently adds up.

Pop quiz. What happens if you double a penny every day for thirty-one days? If you run the numbers, it totals just over $10 million. And here’s the catch. The math never changes from day one to day thirty-one. It’s simple duplication repeated every day, and the results are incredible. The key, however, to the magic of duplicating pennies is consistency. If you miss only one day, you won’t reach $10 million.

Once your first five-minute action becomes a habit. Move on to something new. This simple strategy is a powerful method for creating change in your life, one small step at a time.

Habit #2 – Eat Slowly

When you sit down to eat, regardless of the quality and quantity of your food, it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach and brain to synch up and for you to feel fullness or satiety. So, if you’re at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, you can do some severe damage in a short period. In contrast, you will inevitably eat less if you simply slow down.

Eating more slowly will lead to eating less. You will also feel more in control when eating because you will learn to sense true hunger and satisfaction or fullness. If people would only eat when they are physically hungry and stop when they are satisfied, the world would not be filled with people struggling with being overweight. But, unfortunately, people eat for many other reasons besides true hunger and often to excess.

Pro Tip: Whether using a fork or spoon, take one bite, and set your silverware down. Chew thoroughly and swallow. Then you may pick up your utensil and take the next bite. Bonus points will be awarded if you can sip on some water between bites. This simple little strategy will help you slow down your eating without obsessing about the process.

Habit #3 – Eat Until 80% Full

In short, eat until you are satisfied, not until you’re stuffed. Stuffed is easy. Stuffed is the feeling so many experiences after your typical Thanksgiving feast. Afterward, all you want to do is lose your belt and take a nap.

Eating until you’re satisfied is different. The best personal example I can offer is when two of my best friends and I used to play golf during the years shortly after graduating college. We would walk 18 holes in the morning and then stop for a quick lunch. I would have a couple of turkey or grilled chicken sandwiches and a large diet coke. Then it was off for a second 18 holes. And while we typically took golf carts in the afternoon, if we had had a Thanksgiving-styled feast for lunch, we would not have felt like another round of golf in the hot Texas sun.

Eating until you’re satisfied is an excellent strategy for being able to go all day. It is a simple method for eating less, and like Habit #2, Eating Slow, it builds appetite awareness and the ability to sense true hunger and fullness. Further, it teaches you to be in control regardless of the circumstances.

As I mentioned earlier, people eat for many other reasons outside of true hunger. For example, suppose you work in an office environment with a large staff. Between the potentially unhealthy snacks in your breakroom to regularly celebrating birthdays and other events, you could face many opportunities to eat when you’re simply not hungry.

Now, I’m not saying to never have a piece of cake for a friend or family member’s birthday, but at some point, depending on your goals, you need to consider whether it is really worth it. Of course, only you can answer this question. I just want you to analyze the situation and make the best decision for you rather than randomly following the herd. Following the herd often leads you on a path to nowhere and can sometimes lead to disaster. Instead, choose to be the exception.

Habit #4 – Eat Lean Protein

We need protein for almost every metabolic process in the body. Getting enough protein will help you preserve lean muscle mass, especially when you’re in a caloric deficit. To drop body fat, you must consume less than your body requires from daily calories. Your body is stubborn and must be coaxed into losing fat. It can’t be forced. Therefore overly restricting your calories can result in your body literally catabolizing muscle tissue to make up for the lack of daily nutrition.

One of the most critical steps to preserve muscle while dropping body fat is being patient and shooting for a 1-2 pound loss per week. Further, give your body a reason to hold on to the muscle it has by engaging in strength training two to three days per week. And finally, give your body enough protein. One gram per pound of lean body weight is a great start. Depending on your activity level and goals, you could need more. If your trying to build muscle, then taking in enough protein is all the more critical, and one gram per pound of lean body weight is still a great target.

Protein is the king of satisfying hunger when compared to carbs and fat. Fat is actually number two, and combing protein and fats can be a great way to provide satiety or lasting fullness. Please note that I did not throw carbs under the bus. They have their place, and I will be sharing their benefits soon enough. It’s just when it comes to satisfying hunger, carbs alone, regardless of the source, will not last very long. A balanced meal of protein, carbs, and fats is your best option.

Protein can come from a variety of sources, including the following:

1 – Poultry
2 – Beef
3 – Fish
4 – Pork
5 – Wild Game
6 – Eggs
7 – Dairy
8 – Protein supplements from milk, meat/poultry, and plant-based
9 – Nuts & Seeds
10 – Quinoa & Buckwheat
11 – Beans

Your hand can provide an excellent reference when it comes to portion control. The palm of your hand, not including your fingers, is a perfect example of a serving of protein. For lunch and dinner especially, 1-2 palms for both men and women is a great goal. Unfortunately, in my experience, most people don’t get enough protein, as it takes being educated and intentional. I will provide a sample day in the life of one of my clients at the end of this post.

Habit #5 – Eat Colorful Veggies & Fruits

Eat the rainbow – the more variety, the better for your health.

Adding veggies and fruits helps your nutrition by adding much-needed fiber for gut health. They also add micronutrients which are the real magic in terms of what they do in your body, including aiding in digestion. In particular, vitamins help with energy production, immune function, blood clotting, and other functions. Meanwhile, minerals play an essential role in growth, bone health, fluid balance, and other processes.

There’s another critical benefit to fibrous veggies, especially when trying to drop body fat and live in a caloric deficit. As I mentioned earlier, protein and fats are the two most important macronutrients for satiety. Veggies also play a critical role because they add much-needed fiber, which also aids in satisfying hunger. Further, they are volumizing in that they take up space in your tummy while only containing minimal calories.

So, beyond the fantastic health benefits, loading up on fibrous veggies can be a great strategy to offset the inevitable hunger from living below your daily caloric needs. If you’re not trying to drop body fat, you still need to focus on getting in your daily veggies. They are critical for your health and longevity.

As a nutrition coach, it’s common to see clients struggle with eating enough vegetables. They often claim that they simply don’t like them. In my experience, the underlying challenge can be a lack of cooking skills. To echo my buddy “Newman” from the hit series Seinfeld, raw broccoli, in my humble opinion, is a “VILE WEED!” However, when appropriately cooked, veggies of all kinds can taste amazing. If you’re struggling in the cooking department, I will share three excellent resources at the end of this post.

Consider your fist for veggies and your cupped hand for your fruit for portion control. While I’m grouping veggies and fruits together, fruits are typically higher in calories and should be considered carbohydrates. It really comes down to your body composition. If you’re relatively lean, you should be able to safely eat a larger quantity of fruit. If you’re watching your total intake to drop body fat, be more intentional with your fruit intake as they are higher in calories and carb content.

Habit #6 – Eat Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are best found in whole, minimally processed foods. They help with hormone synthesis, recovery, and other vital metabolic tasks. In addition, as mentioned above, fats play a critical role in controlling appetite and providing satiety. And they just make food taste good. My personal favorites include the following:

1 – eggs Sunny-Side Up or in my homemade protein pancakes
2 – flax seed in my shakes and pancakes
3 – olive oil and avocado with my veggies
4 – walnuts or almonds in my shakes

You need a balance of healthy fat types to feel and function best. Two challenges people struggle with fats are portion control and understanding actual fat content. When it comes to fibrous veggies, you can eat all you want, which will not make any difference. For example, no one will ever put on body fat eating broccoli or spinach. Fats, on the other hand, are a different story.

I cringe when people comment about snacking on a “handful” of nuts. For clarity, one ounce of whole walnuts on a digital kitchen scale will cover a circle roughly 3-4″ wide. That’s two to three bites conservatively and equals 185 calories and 18 grams of fat. When it comes to fat intake, you need to be specific because fats are extremely calorically dense. For portion control, consider using your thumb.

The second challenge is not being fooled by the misleading marketing practices of the food industry. Poultry and meat manufacturers are among the worst offenders, and if you don’t understand how to read labels, you can make some bad choices. For example, one standard ground turkey breast package reads 93% Lean and 7% Fat. And in the countless nutrition consultations that I’ve done, this tends to be the product people purchase.

They see the word LEAN as a positive, and 7% Fat seems to be very little. The loophole being used is that the 7% Fat is in terms of scale weight. That’s not how we apply nutrition with calories, protein, carbs, and fat to foods, so this number is irrelevant to us as consumers.

The reality is that this product is 42.3% fat. Further, when you look at the ingredients, it simply lists turkey and seasoning. In this case, the turkey includes breast, thigh, and skin. So it’s basically everything but the bones and feathers, and consuming products like this and others that contain far more fat than what you’re led to believe can create a real problem in eating healthy.

For more information on successfully navigating the minefield of misleading marketing practices used by food manufacturers today, check out “Are Food Companies Lying to Us?“. A link is provided in the resource section at the end of this post.

Habit #7 – Eat Smart Carbs

Almost everyone will benefit from having some carbs in their daily nutrition.

Smart carbs are slower digesting due to their more complex nature. They’re also higher in fiber which is critical for gut health. And they’re nutrient-rich. In fact, according to Mother Google, “SmartCarbs refers to a specific group of carbohydrates that are nutrient-rich and lower on the Glycemic Index. These carbs are packed with fiber, digested more slowly, and help you feel fuller longer. Plus, they deliver vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients your body needs.”

Whole grains, in particular, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Some of your best options for smart carbs include brown and wild rice, oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, etc. Beans and legumes are also included, along with fruits and starchy veggies like bananas and potatoes.

Consider your cupped hand as one serving.

Habit #8 – Drink Mostly Calorie Free Beverages

It’s easy to take in a lot of unwanted calories from drinking.

Most drinks offer few nutrients or add value to our bodies. Alcoholic and sugary drinks, in particular, are not your friends, while mainly drinking calorie-free beverages (such as water) is one way to quickly cut out excess calories and improve your overall nutrition. Shoot to drink roughly half of your body weight in ounces a day. And while coffee and tea have their place, the more you can rely on plain clean water, the better it will be for your health.

Many are tripped up by the hidden calories in common beverages. It annoys me when beer manufacturers boast only a few grams of net carbs. Miller Lite, for example, claims only 96 calories with 3.2 grams of net carbs. So, where are the other calories coming from? Beer has little to no protein or fat, so where are the additional roughly 83 calories? Have you heard of sugar alcohol? It contains seven calories per gram, and they add up just like any other food source.

Further, the body doesn’t have to digest alcohol, so it hits your bloodstream straight through your stomach wall. So if there is a perfect storm of adverse activities, it’s consuming excess food and alcohol together. It is safe to say that alcohol consumption is diametrically opposed to your efforts to drop body fat, so be cautious with your intake.

Habit #9 – Plan and Prep Your Meals

Healthy, performance-boosting meals don’t happen by accident.

I published a blog back in early 2021 called “Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road,” where I shared a concept that I still teach almost daily. Good tasting healthy meals are not the challenge. If you had a private chef following you around each day, providing healthy, gourmet-quality food, your life would be much easier. That, unfortunately, is not the world most live in and, sadly, where people struggle the most.

For the most part, three steps have to take place for a healthy meal to appear.

Step one is to plan what you’re going to have for the next week. For most people, one week of planning is enough.

Step two is to go shopping, and your plan drives your shopping list. And whether you go to the store yourself or have your groceries delivered to your home, you ultimately have to make a purchase.

Step three is to prep or cook your meals.

Now, this may seem very simple and obvious, but I’m telling you, it’s not. If you do a poor job of planning, you will not get everything you need when you go the stoor. Then when you run out of healthy options mid-way through the week, many opt for the path of least resistance, which means eating out of ordering something to be delivered to their home.

Salmon & steamed veggies.
One of my personal favorites.

The better you get at planning, shopping, and prepping/cooking your meals, the better off you will be. And for people who work from home, meal prepping is still an invaluable practice. During a crazy day at their home office, I have two clients who will rationalize ordering something to be delivered to their homes because they think they’re too busy to stop and cook from scratch. The simple solution is to have something prepped in advance, so all they have to do is take it from their fridge and warm it up or eat it as is.

Habit #10 – Practice Destressing

Having just completed a brand new certification on sleep, stress management, and recovery, the information I’m about to share has taken on a whole new meaning to me. Stress affects your entire physical health, including your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Regular de-stressing practices can improve your health, including your mindset, coping productively, and overall well-being.

Do you have one or more activities that you’re involved in that relieve stress? If your answer is no, I encourage you to add some downtime to your weekly schedule. If not addressed, chronic stress is a killer and will take a massive toll on your physical and emotional well-being.

Personally, I love to work out first thing in the morning. After my morning bible study, this sets me up for a great day. Further, I love to read, write, take long walks, and go to the movies. Finally, yoga is popular at my gym and a new activity for me. It’s a great way to unplug from the electronic grid and get in touch with your mind and body.

When it comes to stress and technology, people can be their own worst enemy. If this is you, please consider going without your devices for a least some part of each day. The frenetic energy associated with being constantly plugged into your phone, tablet, or computer will take a severe and damaging toll on your mental and physical health.

If going without your cell phone creates instant anxiety, you may be suffering from Nomophobia. This is a new term to describe the fear of going without your phone. Instead, you may consider starting small and building in some daily time unplugged from the electronic grid. Your mind and body will thank you.

Habit #11 – Create and Use a Sleep Ritual

A sleep ritual is a set of behaviors and a planned time before bed where you purposely relax and gear down.

“Control the controllables” is a phrase I often use with my clients. For example, the image below shows three different circles.

In the smallest circle, you have absolute control. For example, you can choose to brush and floss each night or not. In the second circle, you have some control. For example, you may own your company and dictate the standards by which your employees will operate; however, in the end, they can still choose to disobey your rules of operation. In the last circle, you have no control. The weather, economy, and politics are way beyond your control. As a believer, I choose to give these to God and not allow them to steal my joy.

This directly relates to your sleep in the following ways. First, you have absolutely no control over how you sleep once you turn out the lights and close your eyes. However, you do have control over what you do during the day, especially during the time shortly before going to bed. A sleep ritual gives you the best opportunity to maximize the quality of your sleep, and the following are the best suggestions I’ve learned and share with my clients.

1 – Turn off your electronic devices and unplug your mind from the electronic grid thirty to sixty minutes before bed. Also, be mindful of what you’re watching in the evenings. For example, a horror flic right before bed will probably leave your mind pretty wound up, and you may find it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

2 – Use the blue light filter on all your devices two hours before bed. Your body is very sensitive to light, and blue light, in particular, can trick your mind into thinking it’s still daytime. This can inhibit your production of melatonin which is your sleepy-time hormone. By diming your lights in general in the evenings and blocking blue light as much as possible, you will create a more favorable environment for your mind and body to wind down for sleep.

3 – If your devices don’t have a blue light blocking filter, you can download the F.LUX app for free.

4 – Wear blue-light-blocking glasses at night one to two hours before bed. I wear these with my computer and while watching TV.

5 – Be as consistent as possible with your go-to bed and wake-up times. Your body craves regularity and the more consistent you can be with your sleep pattern, the better the quality of your sleep. In contrast, if you’re all over the place with your go to bed and wake up times, you will likely struggle with the quality of your sleep.

6 – Do not check your phone in the middle of the night. Some of you may argue that you use your phone as your alarm. My reply is to order a simple alarm from Amazon, which you can pick up for less than $20 bucks. Then leave your phone charging in another room removing all temptation. Checking your phone during the night for email, news, or social media is the equivalent of plugging in the lights to your Christmas tree to your brain. Good luck going back to sleep under the circumstances.

7 – Consider using an over-the-counter sleep supplement. The most effective on the market are as follows:

– Magnesium
– Melatonin
– Tryptophan
– 5-HTP
– Glycine
– L-theanine
– Valerian
– GABA
– Relora

You can purchase these supplements individually or in combinations through existing product blends. I will list the product I use in the resource section at the end of this post.

8 – The late great Zig Ziglar and Jim Rhon used to teach that when you’re at the office, be at the office. And when you’re home, be at home. Mixing the two is a recipe for disaster. So I have a simple solution for all of you who struggle with your mind racing at night with all you have to do the next day.

End your day by planning the next. Before you shut down at the end of the day, strategically plan out your top six priorities for the next. This is called the Ivy Lee Method, and it will work wonders in maximizing your productivity at work and allowing you to leave the office behind at night when you’re with your family.

9 – Use a gratitude journal. The second to the last step in my personal sleep ritual is to briefly journal the top few positive things that happened to me that day. The simple procedure has two benefits. First, it forces your thoughts to the positive even if you’ve had a hard day. If you’re willing to look for it, there’s always a silver lining. Further, if it was a particularly rough day, you might read back over the past few days’ entries to remind yourself of all the blessings you have in your life. I promise this will help.

10 – And finally, if you must, consider some light reading. There are no devices allowed at this point. I have several devotional books where I will read a few pages. My company magazine, Experience Life, is also a great source that I frequently turn to.

Habit #12 – Use a Targeted Recovery Strategy

Your body does get better, fitter, and or leaner during workouts. It gets better between workouts as it rebuilds and recovers. Recovery doesn’t happen by accident. In your busy and demanding life, you have to chase it.

Optimal recovery covers four major areas:

1 – Managing your weekly training loads
2 – Optimizing your nutrition, including hydration
3 – Getting enough quality sleep
4 – Managing stress

These are huge topics where you could go into incredible depth in each. I will offer an analogy that I often use with my clients. Your health is like a four-legged stool consisting of training, nutrition, rest & recovery, and stress management. If you compromise in any area, your stool (health) will be wobbly. And if you compromise enough, your stool will crash and burn. This resonates with my clients, and I hope it hits home with you. It’s a simple strategy, although not necessarily easy.

Training Loads

Unless you’re an elite athlete, 2-4 days of strength training per week plus 2-3 cardio sessions is enough. Add in some foam rolling, mobility work, and maybe a yoga session, and you’re done. A training program is only as good as your body’s ability to recover from it.

Optimize Your Nutrition

The more you focus on clean whole foods rather than fast food or highly processed foods, the better off you will be. Of course, supplements like a good multivitamin, fish oil, probiotics, and protein powder have their place; however, your foundation needs to come from real food. You wouldn’t put cheap fuel in a high-end sports or luxury car, and you should consider the same thing when it comes to your body and food. If you want to thrive with optimal health, you need to consume only as high-quality food as possible.

Get Quality Sleep

One of the things I regularly share with my clients is the value of quality sleep. Seven to eight hours a night is a great target, yet many fall short of this range. If you’ve never used a device that tracks your sleep like a Fitbit or Apple watch, you may be surprised at how much sleep you lose. Even if you don’t get up to use the bathroom, it is common to experience short periods of being awake that will be imperceptible without a sleep tracking device.

According to my Fitbit, I lose, on average, about thirty minutes per night due to a trip to the bathroom combined with tossing and turning the last hour of the night. I am a morning person and literally have to force myself to stay in bed. Since I’m shooting for seven hours per night, I allow myself seven and a half hours in bed, knowing the inevitable loss I typically experience.

A sleep tracker may be an excellent investment if you struggle with sleep. You may feel that your sleep is not the best; however, without an objective measurement from a sleep tracking device, you really have no basis for comparison in terms of improvement.

Manage Stress

When it comes to managing stress, I defer back to the control the controllable concept I shared earlier.

If there is a source of stress in your life and you can solve the issue, then take action. In contrast, do your best not allow circumstances beyond your control to steal your joy. This may be easier said than done; however, I think it’s the best way to live. As a person of faith, if it’s beyond my control, I turn it over to the good Lord in Heaven. This gives me a tremendous sense of peace because I know He can handle it.


Adding Structure

You may become excellent at slow eating, eating your protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats, and staying hydrated; however, without a daily game plan, I believe your success will fall short of what it could be.

Over the past three years, I’ve coached three men to lose thirty-five to forty-five pounds of body fat. All have nutrition plans based on their individual needs, schedules, and lifestyles. For example, Mark’s plan is based on four meals per day consisting of two shakes and two solid meals. Steve’s plan is based on five meals per day consisting of two shakes and three solid meals. And Jose’s plan is based on six meals per day consisting of one shake and five solid meals.

Mark’s work schedule allows him to train mid-afternoon. Further, he’s typically in bed by 11 PM because of his work schedule. Steve trains after work, and as a result, he doesn’t eat dinner until around 9 PM. Many would say that’s too late; however, Steve is a night owl and doesn’t go to bed until midnight. After dinner, this gives him plenty of time for his food to settle before bed. And then there’s Jose. He’s the early bird hitting the gym in the early mornings before conquering the world of real estate. He faithfully starts his sleep ritual each night at 10, and it’s lights out by 10:30.

Why the difference? Because cookie-cutter nutritional plans don’t work. I built their programs around their individual needs, including their work, family schedules, and personal preferences. Your plan needs to be tailored to your goals, schedule, and lifestyle. All three men crushed their initial goals, and they’re still working with me, striving to reach higher levels of achievement. They have sustainable plans based on skills they’ve learned and habits they’ve established that will serve them for the long term.

If you’re struggling with your nutrition, seek out the counsel of a good coach. Beyond sound nutrition, you need a daily and weekly game plan to follow. Once this plan is in place, it takes all the guesswork out of your decision-making, and I promise it will be much easier to stay on track with reaching your goals. Further, with your weekly structure in place, you will have the foundation to maximize the twelve habits I’ve shared.

While I gave some general guidelines on protein consumption, I did not go into counting calories or macros. It is far beyond the scope of this blog to cover such detailed topics due to the art and science involved. However, a good coach can help you develop a plan that works for you.

A sample day of quality and sound nutrition from one of my best clients
including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus afternoon and evening snacks.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

If you take me seriously, I’ve given you a ton of information and six-twelve months of homework.  Many will dismiss this as too simple to possibly make a difference. Others will be overwhelmed with the volume of information.

As I quoted from Jim Rohn at the beginning of this post, what is simple to do is also simple not to do. For example, eating the proverbial apple a day for good health is simple, but how many people do you know who actually do it. Also, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. In the compounding pennies example, going from $.01 to over $10 million in just thirty-one days is extraordinarily powerful.

And for those feeling overwhelmed with the volume of information, please remember that I asked you to take these habits one at a time. So go back to #1 and commit to your 5-Minute Action.  And here’s a tip. Set up a visual accountability system like a big wall calendar.

Whether you’re a Seinfeld fan or not, you can’t argue with his success, and the calendar tip is something Jerry used to do many years ago when he was first starting his career. His goal was to write every day. Some days he wrote gold, and other days he wrote garbage. Either way, writing equaled a big red X for the day on his calendar. He said it became a game where there was no way he would miss writing just to get to X off the day. That daily discipline helped produce the gold that launched his career.

“Unstoppable!”

So, use your calendar to track your daily wins, and I promise it will help. People are driven by seeing the evidence of progress, and the more you see, the more determined you will be. As your determination increases, your disciple and your success will literally snowball. At some point, you will gain so much momentum that you will be unstoppable.

You can do this, and I believe in you.

Best of luck in your journey.


Resources:

For cooking/recipes – Experience Life

For cooking/recipes – Precision Nutrition

For cooking/recipes – Eating For Life

Are Food Companies Lying to Us?

Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road

Sleep Supplement – Relax

Productivity – Ivy Lee Method

Posted in appetite suprression, attitude, better digestion, better mood, better sleep, blue light risk factors, cardio training, Christian, Diet, Faith, fat loss, food labels, goal setting, Health & Fitness, increased focus, Jim Rohn, late night snacking, Nutrition, nutrition for better sleep, personal development, personality styles, seeking wisdom, self talk, sleeping problems, strength gain, success, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hard Compared to What?

This past Monday morning, I was training one of my clients who admittedly needs to lose a good bit of weight.  He is super-sharp in running his own company; however, one of his biggest struggles is not to allow his business to dominate his life.  I have coached him over the past few months to build boundaries around his time with his family and devotion to his faith and health, yet the struggles remain.  He has made significant progress; however, it’s a weekly fight not to give too much of himself to his business.

Image compliments of Oberlo.com

Our current focus is on nailing his weekly training frequency of three strength-training workouts plus two to three cardio sessions.  Further, we are focusing on getting in all of his daily planned nutrition as he tends to skip meals in the face of the sometimes crushing demands of his business.

Weekly Meal Prep

So, towards the end of his workout, he commented that he finds it challenging to stay on track after about 2-3 days of following his nutrition plan.  He said flat out that it’s ‘hard” to stick with his plan. Now, as his coach, I immediately reminded him of the great strides he’s made and encouraged him to stay the course. He appreciated my verbal boost, and we pushed on with his training.

After our session ended, his words echoed in my ears as I was driving back home. “It’s hard to stay on track nutritionally.”  And for some reason, his comment struck a chord and inspired the following:

Hard is:

Struggling to lose weight
Your clothes do not fit well
Struggling to find clothes in your size 
Hating seeing yourself in a mirror
Lacking energy in general
Lacking self-confidence because of your current level of fitness
Not feeling confident in how you look to the opposite sex
Getting winded going up a flight of stairs
For parents, lacking the energy to play with their kids
For parents, the fear of not living to see their grandkids grow up
Taking meds for:
High Cholesterol
Type two diabetes
High blood pressure
Kidney disease
Depression or chronic anxiety tied to your state of health

Image compliments of Men’s Health

Extremely hard is:

Being diagnosed with Type I diabetes in early childhood
Being born with a life-altering congenital disability that causes you to spend more time in the hospital by age five than most people will ever spend in five lifetimes
Suffering from nerve damage in your feet resulting from a botched surgery that affects your ability to walk for the rest of your life
Fighting cancer
Losing a friend or family member to cancer or any other life-shortening illness
Going through eight major back surgeries in less than ten years and still living in daily pain
Going to dialysis three days a week with one barely functioning kidney while you’re prayerfully waiting on a donor to provide a life-extending transplant
Being a single mom struggling financially to make ends meet while providing for your family

My mentor, a New York Times best-selling author, Andy Andrews, teaches that perspective is the crucial critical factor that can turn a negative situation into a positive one with a simple shift in outlook and attitude. The “hard” list above comprises feedback from members and clients at my gym over the past four years. The “extremely” hard list includes a handful of examples from my life with close friends and family.

So, from my perspective, eating protein, veggies, smart carbs, healthy fats, drinking lots of water, getting 7+ hours of sleep per night, and managing stress are not hard.  They’re easy.  They’re a walk in the park.  

I shared the latter with another member named David, who is considering working with me. He said he struggles to stay on track with his training and nutrition due to a lack of motivation. Using the motivation excuse with me is the ultimate softball pitch. If you live your life based on what you’re motivated to do, you won’t accomplish much.

Further, you will live your life on an emotional roller coaster ride.  Successful people live their lives like a thermostat rather than a thermometer.  A thermostat dictates its environment, while a thermometer is simply a reflection of it.

Image compliments of Quotefancy

You all do things daily that you would rather not do.  In some cases, you may, in fact, downright hate the given activity.  Want to, or motivation has absolutely nothing to do with it.  You do these things out of responsibility to your family and yourself, regardless of how you feel. Your “why” is much greater than the what.  And that’s the secret.  You must find your why.

I shared with David a simple little exercise called the 5 Whys.  In the countless nutrition consultations I’ve done in my professional career, I’ve heard members expressing their desire to lose weight. This is David’s goal, and just like so many others, this is not enough. So I encouraged him to dig deeper than simply wanting to lose weight.  After a short discussion, we came up with the following.

1 – David wants to lose weight
2 – Because losing weight equates to being more healthy
3 – And being more healthy equates to living a longer life
4 – And living a longer life means breaking his family legacy of dying early from heart disease
5 – And breaking his family legacy means he will be around to see his grandkids grow up

Another example might be as follows:

1 – A client wants to lose weight
2 – Because they want to look better in their clothes
3 – Because looking better in their clothes makes them feel more confident
4 – And having more confidence means they feel more comfortable speaking with the opposite sex
5 – Because speaking with the opposite sex is the first step in finding their soul mate, so they don’t have to live the rest of their life on their own

As you can see, the fifth layer in both cases carries much more significance than simply wanting to lose weight.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

If you’re struggling to reach a particular goal, I encourage you to do two simple things.  First, you must find your “true” why.  Go through the 5 Whys exercise and find the real reason you’re striving to achieve your goal.  Once you determine your why, then use it as a guiding beacon to pull you to success.  This can be a critical factor in helping you on the days when your lack of want is working against you.  

The second step is to break your goal down to the smallest action needed to be taken daily.  People set huge goals that, in some cases, require an extended period to accomplish.  This is fine, and I encourage you to dream big and set audacious goals.  The problem comes from focusing on the end, which may be months away to the point of causing you to freeze at the moment.

I love the story told by the late great Zig Ziglar when he first got into running for fitness.  On his very first day, he ran around his block one time.  The next time, he ran a block and a mailbox.  Mailbox by mailbox or one small incremental step of improvement at a time, and he would eventually grow to run many miles at a time, multiple days per week.

Image compliments of Porch.com

So take your goal and chunk it down to what you have to do today.  And then do it.  And then do it again.  Small steps taken consistently can lead to massive and life-changing results.

And remember, everything worth having in life is located uphill. It will take hard work to get there and trust me; there will be days when you don’t feel like doing the work. Secret? Do it anyway, regardless of how you feel, because your why is big enough, and it will be worth it.

Best of luck in your journey.  

Posted in Andy Andrews, attitude, Faith, Follower of Christ, goal setting, Health & Fitness, leadership, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, love, personal development, seeking wisdom, self talk, spiritual gifts, success, the power of associations, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, wise choices, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Macho Man!!

Three feet from gold.  That’s where I stood concerning Jose Espinosa from April 2018 until January 2021.  Jose and his wife Susie are realtors and Life Time Healthy Way of Life members in North Dallas.  As a fitness professional, I would see Jose almost daily in the early mornings.  He and Susie would frequent the group fitness classes and do a good bit of extra cardio, and yet, I never saw them doing any traditional strength training, and they didn’t seem to be making any progress in losing weight.
 

January 2021

 

While I wasn’t sure precisely what Jose did for work, he appeared to be one busy guy with his cell phone almost permanently attached to his ear.  Between mostly Spanish and the occasional hint of English, I finally figured out that he was, in fact, a realtor.  Soon afterward, we introduced ourselves one day in the Life Cafe, and the conversation quickly shifted to the topic of nutrition.  Jose confessed to being lost.  He and Susie slaved away in the gym almost daily, and yet they saw no results.

January 2021

I shared that proper nutrition is the most critical factor regardless of building muscle or dropping body fat.  You can kill yourself in the gym; however, you will never out-train a poor diet.  From that simple conversation, I offered to give Jose a complimentary consultation.  He accepted, and we agreed to meet the following week.

When I first looked at Jose’s nutrition, it was not pretty.  Can you say taquitos for breakfast during the week from Quik Trip or pancakes from IHOP on the weekends?  As busy real estate professionals, they worked 24/7 and ate out most meals.  Jose started his day with coffee and water and then hit the gym doing group fitness classes, running on a treadmill, or pounding away on a stair master.  Lunch and dinner were typically chicken and rice with a few veggies followed by cereal and milk before bed. 

November 2021

Jose tipped the scales at 203.8 lbs from day one with a BMI of 33.9 and a body fat percentage of 39.4%.  I told him point-blank that his nutrition had to change if he wanted to see results.  He said he was ready and would do whatever I suggested.  Fast forward to the present, and Jose is now just under 160 lbs.  His BMI is down 7.3 points to 26.6, and his body fat is down to 24.4%, almost half of where he started.

November 2021

The fantastic thing is that he’s only lost 2 pounds of muscle while dropping over 40 lbs of body fat.  Under the circumstances, we’re not worried about fractional muscle loss.  Once Jose reaches his desired body fat percentage, and we’re getting close, we will build back the lost muscle and much, much more.

November 2021

So, how did we do it?  The secret is that we took it one small step at a time building in new and positive behaviors that are now primarily a habit.  Jose is running on autopilot based on the programming I’ve shared with him over the past ten months, and the best is yet to come. 

November 2021

On January 22nd, we started his bi-weekly nutrition coaching sessions, and the results came quickly.  Jose dropped 6.6 lbs in the first month, including a 2% drop in body fat and no loss of muscle.  While he continued to attend group fitness classes almost daily, the positive changes in his nutrition kicked his body into gear.

Jose’s plan was based on roughly 35% protein, 35% carbs, and 30% fat for those interested in counting macros.  It was simple and very effective.  

Early Morning – coffee & water
Workout – followed by a protein shake
Mid-Morning – breakfast including protein & carbs
Mid-Day – lunch including protein, veggies, and carbs
Mid-Afternoon – 2 protein bars
Evening – dinner including protein, veggies, and carbs
Evening Snack – 1 protein bar

By the middle of March, I had gained Jose’s further trust, and he started training with me two days a week in addition to his nutrition coaching.  He continued doing some group fitness; although, I encouraged him to scale back on the volume to allow his body to fully recover.  By April 16th, he dipped just under 190 lbs with his muscle holding and his body fat down 4% from the start.  He was down to 178 lbs by early July, with his body fat down another 3 %.  That’s when we switched his training to working with me exclusively, leaving the group fitness behind.

October 2021

Jose continued to train one-on-one with me two days per week; however, he also did three additional days a week based on the overall program I designed leveraging our virtual training app.  He loved the change in training, and his body continued to respond.  By mid-August, he hit 168 lbs, and then finally, on October 2nd, Jose dipped below 160 lbs.  Our ultimate weight loss goal is to hit roughly 150-155 lbs.  At that point, we will switch our focus to adding back quality muscle while minimizing any gains in fat.  

October 2021

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and when we first talked, Jose was ready for a change.  He knew he needed help, and thankfully, for his sake, he was willing to listen and then take action.  I told him early on that if he could be successful as a realtor, he could learn to eat healthily.  When we first started, he and Susie ate out most meals.  Today, Jose meal preps weekly and eats mostly their food from home.  That’s not to say that they never eat out, but it’s now with a completely different mindset and perspective which could be summed up as eating to live rather than living to eat.

A New Man!

Jose is a talented businessman and is exceptionally bright.  He is blessed to have his wife, Susie, expecting their second child and their first daughter Sophia supporting his efforts.  Jose has been a pleasure to coach over the past ten months, and I’m expecting only the very best as we continue to work together on his fitness journey.  

​Closing thoughts for my readers:

Jose is one of the most consistent and hard-working individuals that I’ve ever known.  And while the program design I’ve given him is solid, the secret to his success has been his overall consistency in the gym and willingness to change his nutrition.  Small steps add up to massive change for the positive, and that’s Jose’s journey in a nutshell.

If you’re looking to change your body composition, by all means, you need to do strength training and cardio.  However, if you’re struggling with your food, be willing to get some help.  Change can occur quickly with the proper plan in place.  Life is too short to spin your wheels in frustration.  Jose is a different man today because he was willing to change, and you can do the same.

Best of luck in your journey.

“Working with Kelly Amidon is by far the best investment I’ve ever made.  I’m in my 40’s as a Texas Realtor and have stayed somewhat active in my adult life like most of us try to.  I’ve had a consistent gym membership for years and thought I knew how to work out.  I thought I knew enough about food and eating healthy to have a decent physique if I did both regularly, but we know the mirror doesn’t lie.  I realized that if I wanted to make a change, I would need to work with a professional.

Kelly loves doing what he does, and it shows in his work.  His passion for bringing the change to his clients’ lives, his dedication to his work, and his friendliness are only a small number of reasons you should choose him as your trainer.  He helped me lose over 40 pounds in less time than I believed possible, and it changed my life completely.”

Jose Espinosa

Posted in cardio training, Circuit Training, customer loyalty, Diet, Entrepreneur, fat loss, goal setting, Health & Fitness, increased focus, late night snacking, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, muscle preservation, Nutrition, personal development, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

28 Days Too Late…

On the morning of September 25, 2020, it hit me out of the blue, and like a ton of bricks, that I hadn’t seen any recent posts from my friend and former client, Damon Taylor.  And while the optimist in me said to check Facebook, my gut told me otherwise.  With my gut winning out, I slowly typed Damon Taylor’s obituary into Mother Google, and my worst fears were instantly confirmed.  My friend was gone, and I was 28 days too late.

Damon and I started working together in March of 2019. He had recently joined our club and had expressed interest in working with a trainer as he was trying to get back into shape after a traumatic event. Damon had gone to Oklahoma City to visit his daughter and her family where he was brutally attacked by a group of thugs and left for dead outside of a restaurant. This was back in early 2019 and the temperature that night was well below freezing. The result was frostbite in his left foot where he almost lost his toes. When we first met, he was still wearing a protective boot however thankfully on the road to recovery.

Damon had a unique background serving as a Marine from 1988 through 1995 fighting in both the Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom. Upon retiring from the military, he started his own financial planning business based in the North Dallas area. When we met for the first time he was super excited to get started with his training and further wanted my help with his nutrition.

While alcohol had been a part of his life during his time in the military, the experience in Oklahoma City pushed him to leave the bottle behind and further caused him to find his way back to God. There’s always a silver lining in every adversity and Damon lived that philosophy to the max. We agreed to train one day a week and he committed to doing 2-3 more workouts per week based on the program I created for him.

Beyond his training, we cleaned up his nutrition and added in the supplements needed to help his body recover and progress from his efforts. Damon was all in from day one and used to crack me up with his “pre-workout” drink. The product is literally called “Hyde” as in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He was already one of the most high-strung individuals I had ever met and with the addition of the “Hyde” formula, he was hilarious to work with.

From March until early August, he made tremendous gains in strength and improvements in his body composition adding muscle mass and dropping body fat. I love working with clients who take their training seriously and Damon was in for the long term. That all changed on August 14th when he went to his eye doctor after struggling to read a simple bill at a restaurant.

His eye doctor directed him immediately to the emergency room where he reached out to me saying he would be missing his normal Saturday workout. This was a Friday evening and I was proactive in following up on Saturday. At that point, an MRI hadn’t shown anything and he was waiting for a CT Scan for further investigation. His last communication was a promise to let me know the results.

On Sunday morning, I received a text that literally took my breath away. It said terminal brain cancer…6-12 months. A few days later, he had emergency brain surgery to remove the major portion of the stage 4 Glioblastoma. While the surgery was successful, there were still tumors in four other areas of his brain where the cancer was impossible to remove.

After 11 days in the hospital, Damon and I met in the cafe at our club to catch up. His doctors from UT Southwestern and Duke University determined to attack the remaining areas with chemo and radiation. The prognosis from his collective doctors from the beginning was that he would not survive. Without treatment, his life expectancy was projected at 3-6 months. With treatment, the best he could hope for was maybe 12-15 months.

As Damon shared his story, I barely had words to communicate. Here was a man sharing not only what he had gone through but also what he planned to do with his remaining time…Lord willing. So often in life, we can empathize to some degree with someone going through an extreme trial. In Damon’s case, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how he felt.

As a Christian, Damon shared that he had peace with God and that one of his final major priorities was to make amends with various people where relationships had been strained over the years. Further, he had already taken all the necessary steps to transition his company to his partners and to ensure that his family would be well provided for.

Because of his lengthy service record, Damon was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which qualified him for a 70% disability rating. This insured that he would be well taken care of in terms of medical expenses. He explained that just because you fight in a war, you do not automatically receive the tag of PTSD which would limit your disability rating.

For his friends who fought in only Desert Storm, who were subjected to all the same toxins that Damon was, because of the nature of their service, they in many cases did not receive the tag of PTSD. After leaving the service, it is standard procedure for the government to provide medical coverage for five years. However without the 70% disability rating, after five years, the coverage runs out. Unfortunately, there are many cases of veterans coming up with cases of cancer and other issues directly attributed to Desert Storm and yet they are left to take care of themselves with no support from our government.

In mid-November, Damon took his family to Washington including a tour of the White House to share with them a piece of American history that means so much to him. He was able to meet with Secretary of Defense, James Madison, to ask for help for his fellow veterans. Outside of time with family and friends, the effort to seek further help for all veterans struggling with their health would be Damon’s final and most important legacy.

When 2020 hit and the nation was put in quarantine, everything changed.  Damon and I stayed connected via Facebook and phone however we stopped spending any time in person due to obvious reasons.  While no one had any idea how last year was going to play out, I kept thinking things would get better and that I would be able to visit Damon again before the end.

To me, quarantine was like Groundhog Day and the time just seemed to creep.  Then when our gym reopened in late May, it was as if someone hit the fast forward button on life.  Working as a fitness professional during the pandemic was the most difficult time of my professional career and the summer months were really a struggle.  I didn’t forget about Damon, however, I was in my own personal career survival mode and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t keep the most important things in life in their proper perspective.

This brings us back to the moment that I discovered that he has passed away.  I thought back to the last time we were together.  I certainly didn’t leave that meeting thinking it would be our last time to see each other. 

Time is the most precious commodity in life. You can always make more money or replace material things, but the sands of time can never be regained. Leadership expert John Maxwell offers some unique insight into the value of time in the following:

“Given the choice, would you rather save time or money?  Most people focus on dollars. But how you spend your time is much more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can often be corrected, but when you lose time, it’s gone forever.  Your priorities determine how you spend your time, and time is precious.  

The following statements may help you put time in perspective:

To know the value of one year… Ask the student who failed the final exam.
To know the value of one month… Ask the mother of a premature baby.
To know the value of one week… Ask the editor of a weekly news magazine.
To know the value of one day… Ask the wage earner who has six children.
To know the value of one hour… Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To know the value of one minute… Ask the person who missed the plane.
To know the value of one second… Ask the person who survived the accident.
To know the value of one millisecond… Ask the Olympic silver medalist.

Your time is priceless.”

As for my relationship with Damon, the 28 days that passed before I realized he had gone to be with the Lord might as well be an eternity because I can never get them back. However, as a fellow follower of Christ, I do believe with all my heart that I will see my friend again one day.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Dream big dreams and by all means make plans for your future, however, at the same time, live each day as if it were your last. If you have relationships that need attention, I encourage you to act now. If not now, then when? We are not guaranteed the next five minutes so make the most of your time.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

God bless you Damon for your service to our country.

Posted in Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, forgiveness, Health & Fitness, Heaven, John Maxwell, learning from mistakes, life path, love, Nutrition, personality styles, recovery from injury, Salvation in Christ, success, the power of associations, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Proved Me Right

The golf bug bit me at age 11, and I’ve loved the game all my life. As a freshman in high school, I found myself on the golf team in desperate need of hitting the ball further. At 5’7″ and 130 lbs., I needed to put on some weight and get stronger for golf. Oddly enough, one of the seniors who had befriended me was in a similar position. While Bill was a bit taller, he was just as skinny as me and needed just as much help.

So one day, out of the blue, Bill hit me with a question that would lead to a decision that would ultimately shape and define my life. He asked, “Would you like to join the local gym to get stronger for golf?” Can you say hook, line, and sinker? I was all in and only in a huge way.

And that was my humble start with lifting weights. I still remember joining The Gym and our first time being shown around by Wayne, the owner. He was an old-time bodybuilder and was nice enough to give us a general demonstration in using mostly the machines. There were free weights as well and in time we would learn how to perform more advanced exercises as we carefully mimicked the experienced lifters who frequented the gym.

To say we were fired up would be the ultimate understatement. With visions of 300-yard drives dancing in our heads, we dutifully made our way to workout three days a week in addition to our golf practice. Unfortunately, the rest of our team was not so enthusiastic about our new strength training pursuits. “Don’t you know you’re going to ruin your golf swing” they would say.

And it didn’t stop there. One father was particularly negative. His son Greg, a senior, happened to be the best player on the team and was a natural athlete. He was stocky and powerful and built like a running back with lots of speed and had never touched weights in his life. Greg had been physically blessed which gave him an incredible advantage in golf. Unfortunately, Bill and I had to earn our extra distance with good old-fashioned persistence and hard work.

Soon after Bill and I started lifting, I had the good fortune to play at Crown Colony in Lufkin, TX. Over the years, Crown has been ranked among the best country club courses in Texas and is a true treasure located in the heart of The Pineywoods. The head pro, let’s call him “Joe”, had been there for many years and he was the consummate professional. His golf shop was immaculate, and he was known for being a great teacher and player.

Now being young and a little naïve, I thought surely he would be able to give me some good advice on the best way to exercise for golf. You see, in the late ’80s to early ’90s, the bulk of the training information was largely influenced by the bodybuilding community. And while there’s nothing wrong with the sport or its training methods, training to gain maximum muscle mass is not what’s needed to nail 300-yard drives.

Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin, TX

So when the opportunity presented itself, I walked up to Joe and introduced myself.
I then proceeded to ask my question about how to best exercise to support my game. Unfortunately, I also mentioned that I had been lifting weights and his response almost startled me. He said, “Son, lifting weights will ruin your golf swing! The only thing you should be doing is running to strengthen your legs and squeezing a tennis ball to strengthen your grip.”

At first, I allowed Joe’s negative comments to cause me to doubt my efforts in the gym. But after a few days, my gut told me otherwise. It just seemed to me that a stronger and faster athlete would be better able to excel in any sport including golf. And so I flushed the whole experience and never quit lifting.

In the months to follow, there emerged a tug of war between my two athletic pursuits. While performance in golf initially drove me to the gym, once I started to see my body change, the iron bug bit me as well. Unfortunately, as I grew to love the changes I saw in my body, my golf game suffered. Remember, I had the best of intentions, but my training was largely bodybuilder-based. And golf is an extremely jealous game, as the following quote from the late great Ben Hogan attests.

“If I miss one day’s practice, I notice it. If I miss two days’ practice, the critics notice it.
If I miss three days’ practice, the world notices it.”

Ben Hogan

The moment I slacked off on my practice for the sake of getting in more time at the gym, my game started to deteriorate. From there it was a quick fall to disaster. I left the golf team after my sophomore year and poured all my heart into the gym. One year later in August of 1987, I entered my first bodybuilding contest and placed third in the teenage division. It was a great experience and I will cherish the memories tied to this event for the rest of my life.

As it turned out, the Lone Star Classic in Fort Worth was my one and only show. In the years to follow, with no particular plans to compete, my first priority was school and study followed by my part-time job at the country club. I still trained 4-5 days a week in the gym but my sticks sat in my closet gathering dust until my junior year in college. It was a long season of drought from playing or practicing but I never forgot my first love.

1987 Lone Star Classic

And then due to an odd sequence of events, I found myself after six years of working on the golf course now working inside the clubhouse as the head bartender. I already missed the game working on the course every day and moving inside only made it worse as I had the opportunity to mingle with the golfers. But it would take new hires, Mark and Kyle, who would go on to become two of my best friends in the world, to get me back playing the game. Once they discovered that I used to play on the high school team, they wouldn’t take no for an answer and we set out for our first round together at a little public course in Diboll, TX called Neches Pines.

1990 Neches Pines Diboll, TX

I still to this day, after all these years, remember walking down the fairway together on the first hole. Needless to say, the golf bug took hold once again. Two years later, I graduated from college with a degree in business and joined the PGA of America’s apprentice program. That summer, I moved to The Woodlands and found myself working in the golf shop of the Tournament Players Course where at that time, they hosted the annual Houston Open.

18th Hole – TPC The Woodlands

It was one of the best times of my life. I lifted in the early mornings and spent my days at TPC either working in the golf shop or working on my game. Unfortunately, my training was still not suited to support my game and so I struggled back and forth between wanting to be a great player and wanting to excel with my bodybuilding.

Ultimately, and for all the wrong reasons, I left golf in 1995 to go into sales. I continued playing and practicing and lifting, but these pursuits were now more in the background of my life. Then in the early 2000s, my lower back started failing. It was so bad at times that I could barely walk. Finally, after an MRI, the doctor said I had a herniated disc between my L4 and L5. He said surgery was probably not necessary and recommended physical therapy.

While I only did PT for a few weeks, it helped tremendously. It opened my eyes to core training more for stabilization and nudged me in the direction of my future career path as a fitness professional. The one drawback of PT was that it was recommended that I give up golf for a period of time to help my back heal. You see, the rotational forces of the golf swing can put tremendous pressure on your lumbar spine. I further compounded this stress from my years of whaling away in the gym.

Given the extreme nature of my pain, I took their advice to heart and my sticks went back into the closet for the next thirteen years. And that’s when I found TPI. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. I had known about the Titleist Performance Institute because there was a TPI-certified instructor at one of the facilities where I used to practice. However, I never did any digging to see what they were all about.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Well, that’s where I found myself in early 2021. Starting with my back injury in the mid-2000s, I had managed to progressively tear my body apart all in the pursuit of muscle. To quickly recap, the following are my major injuries:

February 2010 – Torn left meniscus resulting in knee surgery

September 2014 – Torn left biceps which wasn’t repaired due to a lack of insurance as I was just starting a new job and my insurance had not kicked in

March 2016 – Right rotator cuff and biceps reattachment surgery

Fall 2016 – An MRI showed multiple tears in my left rotator cuff. After the painful surgery and lengthy recovery on my right shoulder, I made the decision to put off further surgery as long as possible

May 2020 through February 2021 – Increasing pain in my left shoulder and biceps due to the existing tears and the trauma I had experienced back in 2014

The great business philosopher, Jim Rohn, used to teach that you should embrace all of life’s experiences as you never know what you might learn. Well, the last spike of pain that shot through my left biceps and shoulder was the experience that pushed me towards change. It actually happened on a Monday during my leg workout. The pain wasn’t apparent while I was training, however it definitely kicked in later in the day.

It was so bad that I trained at home the rest of that week and most of the following using resistance bands and blending in some cardio at my apartment gym. I just didn’t feel like being in my normal gym environment and needed some quiet time at home. It was during that time that I started watching TPI videos on YouTube. I still can’t tell you the single thought that made me do a search for TPI, however, once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. The more I learned about what TPI offered the more intrigued I became.

After roughly two weeks of watching TPI videos, one thing was clear. They were the gold standard for fitness in professional golf as they had been working with the best players in the world for years. Seeing videos featuring the likes of Adam Scott, Roy Mcllroy, and John Rahm gave me a tremendous feeling of confidence. And so on March 7, 2021, I pulled the trigger on TPI’s Level 1 certification and was able to complete the course a few weeks later.

From the introduction of my studies, it was the story about TPI’s humble beginnings that gave me an overwhelming sense of peace about my decision. You see, when Dr. Greg Rose, co-founder of TPI, started his practice around working with golfers, his friends thought he was crazy. It reminded me of my beginnings with weight training so many years ago, and like me, despite his lack of support, he stayed the course, and time proved him right.

Timing is everything, and when Dr. Rose started his original practice in 1996, it was largely unnoticed by the general public. There was, however, one other event that occurred in 1996 that would turn the golfing world upside down…Tiger Woods turned pro and joined the PGA Tour. They say a rising tide raises all ships. Well, Tiger’s success and impact on the tour benefitted all the players as well as TPI which was later launched in 2003 by Dr. Rose and PGA teaching professional Dave Phillips.

From day one, Tiger stood out like a giant among his peers in terms of his ability. He walked onto the tour as an athlete, unlike anything the game of golf had ever seen. And in time, he would further push his body to the limits of his physical abilities as he strived to maximize his potential while systematically dismantling the record books.

Tiger Woods, 1996 Las Vegas Invitational

Before Tiger, the “Triangle of Instruction” as described by Dr. Rose was made up of a swing coach, a mental coach, and an equipment representative. Well, Tiger changed that old paradigm completely. Today, players still work with a swing coach however they will often also work with a specialty coach for example with their short game or shot-making or course management.

As a singular sport, players will often still seek the help of a sports psychologist, and having a trusted equipment rep is vital. However, the one area where Tiger really changed the game is with the physical preparation. Today, every player on the PGA tour and other tours around the world works out regularly. The players are bigger, faster, stronger, and FAR MORE ATHLETIC than ever in the history of the sport. If you want to play on any professional tour today, paying your dues in the weight room is table stakes and the Titleist Performance Institute is the gold standard.

18 of the last 20 Major Championships were won by players advised by a TPI Certified Expert

25 of the Top 30 Players in the World according to the Official World Golf Rankings are advised by a TPI Certified Expert

47 of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Golf Fitness Professionals are TPI Certified or TPI Advisory Board Members

TPI Golf Performance Center

TPI has given me a second chance to train both for longevity and performance and to share my new skill set with all my clients as well as our overall member base who play the great game of golf.

Today, I feel like a kid again with a new and powerful set of toys to serve my clients and take better care of myself. My favorite is the screening app TPI developed to test a player’s ability to efficiently swing the golf club. This is the same exact tool they use with tour players, and in fact, it was developed by studying the best players in the world. Essentially, they’ve identified fifteen micro moves the body needs to perform to efficiently and safely swing a golf club.

Golf Performance Screen

The whole process takes under an hour and the app produces a detailed report based on how the player scores. It gives a handicap where players can work to reduce their scores by applying corrective strength training and mobility exercises. The science that TPI has thrown at the game of golf over the past 18+ years is truly amazing and the impact has forever changed the way the game will be played.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

On Sunday, May 23rd, Phil Mickelson made history by becoming the oldest player at 50 to win a major championship. Phil’s 2021 PGA Championship victory eclipsed the previous best set by Julius Boros some 53 years earlier at the age of 48. When asked during his post-round press conference how he was able to pull this off, he attributed much of his success to long and hard work on his game made possible by better nutrition and time spent in the gym.

Phil Michelson 2021 PGA Championship

“There’s no reason why the game of golf can’t be a game for a lifetime. If you take care of your body and do it the right way, and now with the exercise and physiology and technology that’s out there, like with TPI, you can work out the right way to get your body to function right and play golf for a lifetime. I’m very appreciative of that.”

Phil Michelson

A proud champion

As I think back on my journey, it’s been an interesting trip with its fair share of ups and downs. And yet, as I reflect back, everything I’ve gone through has brought me to this present moment better prepared to serve my clients. The knowledge that I’ve gained from TPI has quite literally changed my life, and thanks to their overall success and influence in the world of golf, time has ultimately proved me right.


Posted in Ben Hogan, Golf fitness, Health & Fitness, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, personal development, Phil Mickelson, recovery from injury, rotator cuff injury, seeking wisdom, shoulder injury, Tiger Woods, Titleist Performance Institute, torn bicep tendon, TPC The Woodlands, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Are You Shaping Your Path?

How are you shaping your path?  You may have no idea what I’m referring to if you’ve not read the book, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  You see, you have two brains which the authors represent with the analogy of an elephant and a rider.  The rider represents your logical “thinky” brain which typically runs the show and is responsible for most of your daily decisions.  On the other hand, the elephant is your more powerful and primal emotional brain that will take over when the rider tires or is threatened.

I often share an example with my clients of an elephant and rider at the circus under the big top with thousands of fans watching in amazement and wonder.  Under normal circumstances, the elephant dutifully follows the rider’s every instruction.  However, if you set the tent on fire and the tigers escape from their cages, the elephant will cease following the rider and will be looking for the nearest exit in a state of sheer panic.

That’s how it can be to implement change in your life.  Of course, you can have the best intentions, but if your environment is working against you, your logical brain will get lost in the chaos.  So, what’s the solution?  First, you must shape your path and control the influences that impact your life as much as possible.

The four areas of concern are as follows:

1 – Social environment – The people you spend the most time with both at work and at play.

2 – Cultural background – This is a tricky area because you may go up against beliefs that have been in place for many years and quite possibly your entire life.

3 – Intellectual environment – This is the information you take in from all sources including TV, social media, books & magazines, podcast, music, movies, and etc.

4 – Physical environment – This includes your homes, workplace, and places where you gather and socialize with others.

According to my mentor, Darren Hardy, these environments influence your life, yet they don’t shove you in a direction; they merely nudge you.  And still, over some time of being just a little off daily, you can wake up one day and find your life completely out of control.

Social Environment

One of my favorite quotes from the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is as follows:

“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Your mothers repeatedly told you to be careful in selecting your friends as children.  Charlie and your Mothers were on the same page, and they got it right because your associations will make or break you.  So, by all means, choose wisely.

To expand on the first half of his quote, the people you spend time with will influence your thinking, which drives your choices.   Therefore, the association of the top 5-10 people you spend the most time with will essentially drive your results in life.  To whatever degree this is true, I defer back to the Good Book: 

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed!”
Proverbs 13:20

Every experience in your life with other people will leave its mark for better or worse.  So, be careful with your associations.  You will find situations where you have little control over the people you’re surrounded by, such as at your place of work.  However, you still have a choice in how you conduct yourself and how much you choose to interact beyond what is professionally required to excel with your job and career.

It will be highly beneficial for many to take a hard look at all your associations and evaluate whether these relationships align with your priorities and goals.  You may have some difficult choices to make in either spending less time or potentially cutting ties with various people should you determine that they are not a good influence in your life.

On the flip side, you may determine that you need to add more quality associations with people who already have the knowledge, wisdom, and success that you’re seeking.  These expanded associations can make a tremendous and positive impact on your life   And with today’s technology and tools such as LinkedIn, building these expanded associations has never been easier.

Cultural Environment

For the influence of your native culture, I will tread very lightly.  All cultures have unique attributes, and some can be challenging to achieve and maintain optimal health and body composition.  For example, Italian cuisine is known for its pizza and pasta.  In addition, cheese and wine make up a large portion of the cooking with many varieties.  These are all calorically dense foods that could make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight without a substantial degree of restraint and self-discipline.

The staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bājra), rice, whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), and a variety of lentils, such as masoor (most often red lentils), tuer (pigeon peas), urad (black gram), and moong (mung beans).  Most Indian meals (depending on whether your host is vegetarian or not) are comprised of rice, Chapati (flatbread), meat, vegetable and lentil dishes, salad, yogurt, and pickles.

I have worked with many clients who have followed numerous variations of a plant-based diet, and the most significant challenge always seems to be getting enough protein.  Unfortunately, the more they go in the plant-based direction, restricting other foods, the more difficult it becomes in getting enough protein. 

Now please, don’t blow up my post; all of you plant-based nutrition followers out there.  Plant-based eating can be very healthy when done right.  For example, my boss is 5′ 9″, 190 lbs, carries less than 10% body fat, and he’s built like a Mack truck.  He gets plenty of protein following a primarily plant-based diet.  And based on his impressive resultshe is extremely healthy.

Brad Siegel, Senior PT Dpt Mgr Life Time Healthy Way of Life

My most significant point is that regardless of your culture and its particular traditions around food, you can maintain a very healthy body weight and composition if you know what you’re doing.  Regardless of your heritage, eating healthy requires knowledge and discipline.

Intellectual Environment

For your intellectual environment, I’m going to break it down into two parts, “feed” and “protect”.

Feed

Information from all sources will affect you for better or worse   Every source of media you consume will influence your thinking which drives your decision-making and, ultimately, your life.  My mentor Andy Andrews teaches that there’s no such thing as treading water.  Every experience in your life moves you closer or takes you further from your goals, and the choice is yours as to how you spend your time.   

Due to some early positive and wise influences in my life, I have been a student of personal development since my days in college.  I’ve never been in the habit of watching the news any more than the bare minimum required to stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, and I’ve always been proactive in feeding my mind with positive growth-oriented information.  In today’s world, that’s countercultural to the masses for the most part.  By the way, if you want to be successful, look at what the majority is doing and go in the opposite direction. 

Brian Tracy teaches a concept called the E to E ratio, which is the ratio of time you spend entertaining yourself versus educating yourself.  For example, the highest achievers in the world intentionally invest time in furthering their growth, especially in the areas of their passions and strengths.  In contrast, the average person spends far more time entertaining themself, and as a result, they stay a part of the masses achieving far less in life than they could if they only challenged themself to grow.

If you’re not currently investing in your personal growth, I encourage you to get started.  Most people underestimate the value of small blocks of time.  For example, if you commute 20 minutes to and from work every day, that small time investment equates to over four, forty-hour work weeks annually.  Now, you can spend this time listening to music or sports talk radio which is bubblegum for your mind, or listening to an educational podcast or audiobook, which can quite literally change your life over some time.  The choice is yours.

Look for the small spaces in your day where you can layer in listening to something positive while you’re doing another activity.  For example, I listen to a couple of hours’ worth of growth-oriented audio every morning before and after the gym and while getting ready for my workday.  My mentor, Darren Hardy, calls this “net time.” You’re already doing the other activity, so make the most of it by feeding your mind wherever it makes sense.

Protect

Hostile news media will beat a path to your door in our technologically hyper-connected world.  The news machine is in an all-out battle to get and maintain your attention and trust me, it’s not by sharing messages of hope and inspiration, as these will go primarily unnoticed.  You respond far more to shock and awe, and the news media knows this.  They know you in some cases better than you know yourself, and they are maximizing this knowledge to monetize their message through advertising $’s. 

You have to build a fortress to guard your heart and mind.  And despite your best efforts, the negative news of the world will find its way in.  That’s why it’s so critical to continue flushing your mind with positive information daily.     

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Physical environment

Where do you do life?  Beyond your homes, you work, play, travel, worship, and serve in many different environments.  For most, your homes are the one place where you have total control, and I will come back to this in a moment.  For the rest, consider the same suggestion I gave above regarding your associations.  Be very careful with the different places you “do life.”  You may determine that you need to make some changes if you identify an area where you frequent that’s ultimately a negative influence in your life.

And this includes your job   Life is too short to spend the bulk of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t make you happy   A career change is typically not easy and can seem daunting; however, if you’re not satisfied, be willing to seek a positive difference.

Leadership expert John Maxwell gives some great counsel on making a change in your career path.  First, figure out what you want to do and what you need to do to get there.  Even if it involves a process like getting further education, determine if the price is worth it and if it is, then getting to work paying the price.  Be very careful to dismiss an opportunity because the process takes time.  The time is going to pass regardless, and you can look back with a sense of accomplishment or with the dreadful feeling of regret for having been unwilling to change.

Now, once you’ve pruned your life of any harmful environments, you still need to have a game plan for how to thrive in what’s left.  For example, if you work in an office where people routinely eat fast food for lunch or indulge in highly processed snacks, you have to be prepared with your own healthy choices.  If you go to work each day unprepared, you are all the more likely to be influenced by your associates and join in with their unhealthy practices.

Your gold-standard solution is to meal prep on the weekends so you can always be prepared with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day as needed.  If eating out is a part of your routine, then have a game plan for that as well.  Your choice of restaurant is the first big decision that can make or break you.  The better the restaurant, the easier it will be to make healthy choices.  And better does not necessarily mean more expensive.  Shoot for a place where you can get a good portion of clean protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats, and you will be good.

As I mentioned above, there is one environment where you have total control, and you must make the most of it.  So, if your home is your castle, be sure to treat it as such.  And this includes both the environment in your home and the things you bring into your home, namely food.

Please let me be clear; discipline is to be exhibited at the grocery store, not when you’re staring at the tub of Ben & Jerries in your freezer.  Whatever your choice of indulgence, you will eventually eat it if you bring it home.  The better your preferences when shopping for groceries, the easier it will be to stay on track once you’re back home.

And please don’t think I’m suggesting that you never have ice cream or any other kind of treat.  Instead, I address the idea of treating yourself in depth in “No Cheat Meals Required.”  Still, it would help if you were smart about the quality and quantity of “treat” foods you bring into your home.  For example, if you struggle with occasionally losing control when eating ice cream, consider only bringing home a pint-sized container rather than a gallon.  Another consideration is to opt for lower-calorie options such as Halo Top or make your healthy treats. 

You have to understand that food manufacturers know how to combine sugar, fat, and salt in a way that makes some foods almost irresistible   Ever taken a bite and found yourself wanting the rest of the tub?  That’s how full-sugar and full-fat foods, in particular, impact your brain.  So the old saying, “you can’t just eat one,” can be true.  In contrast, you can make some amazingly good-tasting healthy treats that will not impact your brain in the same way.  To me, this is a much better way to go where you can treat yourself regularly without running so much of a risk of overindulging.

Protein Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

I have one more thought on your home not related to food.  If you’re motivated by inspirational sayings and artwork, be sure to take advantage of this and decorate your home accordingly.  I constantly teach my clients about the importance of identifying your “why” and then having examples of it strategically posted around your home.  It could be as simple as post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, fridge, microwave, pantry, laptop, etc.

Your “why” should be your guiding beacon, and trust me, there will be days when you will need it to stay on track.  Remember, if your “why” is big enough, the facts don’t matter.  You will never always feel like doing the things necessary to be successful, and that doesn’t matter.  Do them anyway because they’re the right things to do, and your “why” is worth it.

Closing thoughts for my readers: 

In closing, I will ask my opening question again   How are you shaping your path?  After years of working with clients and doing countless consultations geared around helping people improve their physical and emotional health, the information I’ve shared in this post strikes at the heart of where and why people struggle.  

If you’re not happy with where you are in life in any capacity, then be willing to change.  You know the definition of insanity, don’t you?  It’s doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.  So if you want something to be different in your life, you have to be willing to change.

An excellent method for goal achievement is to determine your ultimate destination, break it down to what you have to do each month, break it down to each week, and then down to what you need to do this very day.

And then act.  A journey of a thousand miles truly starts with a single step.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

 

Posted in Andy Andrews, Brian Tracy, career change, Christian, Darren Hardy, Diet, Faith, goal setting, Health & Fitness, John Maxwell, life path, living your dream, Nutrition, personal development, success, the power of associations, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road

Name your diet.  I don’t care whether it’s Keto, South Beach, Atkins, Whole 30, or any other program.  Unless you’re willing to follow the simple steps below, you will struggle to achieve success.

What do I mean?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  Three steps have to take place to have a healthy meal or snack during the day, not including eating out or purchasing a pre-made product like an Icon meal.

1 – You have to plan what you’re going to eat for the next week.  For most people, one week at a time is enough.

2Your plan will drive your shopping list, and then you actually have to purchase the food.  With grocery pick-up and delivery services in today’s world, this has never been easier.

3And finally, some combination of meal prepping and cooking will be required.  A strategic meal prepping routine will generally make things easier once you get into your workweek, where time can be precious and life schedules crazy.  Then it can be as simple as warming up one of your prepped meals, and you’re good to go.  There are endless strategies that can be utilized.  The bottom line is that you’re not starting each meal from scratch.

4Enjoy!

Now, these steps might seem totally obvious, and yet this is where I see people struggle the most.  It doesn’t matter what nutrition plan you’re following; if you’re unwilling to do the last steps and become proficient at them, you will find consistently eating healthy challenging.  A classic example is poor planning, which results in not purchasing enough food for the week.  Then later in the week, when the healthy food runs out, many will take the path of least resistance and head for McDonald’s or whatever their quick fix preference may be.

Don’t believe me?  The two biggest excuses I get from my clients are that they ran out of food or didn’t have time to cook.  Running out of food should not happen if you carefully plan for the week ahead.  And running out of time is a poor excuse.  The truth is that they failed to prioritize the time for meal prep which streamlines the cooking process significantly.  Seriously, if you have the time to run through a fast-food drive-through window on your way home, you have the time to warm up a prepped meal that should be waiting in your fridge.

For example, I cook all my lunch and dinner protein portions on the weekend, which saves me a ton of time during the workweek when the bullets are flying.  Then day by day, I simply steam my veggies and starchy carbs by microwave.  Then after warming a portion of protein, I have a hot, great-tasting meal.

The Continuum – Home Cooked Meals Versus Eating Out

Above, I mentioned not eating out or using pre-made meals.  Eating out socially and professionally is a normal part of life, so please don’t think I’m suggesting that you never eat out.  And pre-made meals can be an excellent source of clean nutrition whether you’re on the go or using them regularly as a part of your weekly game plan.

The Challenges with Eating Out That Can Be Problematic

1 – Quick and Easy:  When you’re looking for something quick and easy, it generally means fast food.  While you can make healthy choices, the unhealthy landmines you must dodge can often take you out in a fleeting moment of rationalization.  For example, justifying ordering the French fries because it’s been a long and hard day at work.

2 – Peer Pressure:  When you’re out with a group who’s not into eating healthy, you being the odd one out can be difficult.  And unless your discipline is extraordinary, peer pressure can often cause you to rationalize choices you shouldn’t be making.

3 – Too Many Choices:  Restaurants today like The Cheesecake Factory or its equally impressive sibling, Grand Lux, have menus like old-fashioned encyclopedias.  And while you can successfully navigate the abundance of indulgent options to make healthy choices, your willpower had better be fully charged.

Unfortunately, many people stumble into these restaurants unprepared, lose their minds, and, as my Dad used to say, end up with eyes bigger than their stomachs and ultimately eat way too much.  And you know, there’s nothing wrong with that occasionally; however, if you’re trying to make a significant change in your body composition and you’re hitting your favorite spot regularly, the odds are stacked against you.

My Client Gio

When I first shared the “plan, shop, meal prep/cook” concept above with my long-time client Gio, he replied, “Kelly, there’s no way I can rely solely on eating my own food from home.”  Further, he said, “I have to take clients to lunch almost every day of the week as that’s the nature of my business.”

Now I never intended to make him feel like he had to eat only his own home-cooked meals, yet that’s how he took it.  That was an ah-ha moment for me, and now I always share my little concept, carefully explaining that eating out and utilizing pre-made meals can undoubtedly be a part of anyone’s success plan.  That’s also why I don’t do “cookie-cutter” programs.  I always design my client’s nutrition plans around their individual needs, including their lifestyle.

That was a relief to Gio, who used to eat out practically every meal, and he was not always making healthy choices.  Our custom plan is to cook his own breakfast, eat out for lunch most days of the week (making healthy choices), have his own shake in the afternoon, and hit about 50/50 on eating out or cooking at home for dinner.  Gio’s plan is working because he believes in what he’s doing and because it’s a sound strategy where I hold him accountable weekly.

My Client Mark  

Mark walked into our club in May of 2020.  He said he was looking for a trainer who was knowledgeable about nutrition, and my boss pointed him to me.  Mark, from day one, did zero cooking.  He had a shake for breakfast, ate out for lunch, a shake post-workout in the afternoon, and ate out for dinner.

Since he was not ready to start cooking, I encouraged him that we would make the best of his eating out.  I did give him guidance for portion control and tweaked his shakes to maximize his nutrition.  When we started working together, Mark weighed about 208 lbs.  His muscle mass and strength consistently increased throughout the summer while his body fat trended down.  His body changed, and he definitely looked better, yet he still weighed a little over 200 lbs.

When September hit, he was emotionally ready to embrace the shift to start cooking at home.  We didn’t go 100%. However, he made a strong move in that direction, cutting his restaurant meals dramatically.  By the first of November, Mark was down to 192 lbs. which lined up perfectly with LifeTime’s Holiday 60 Day Challenge.  I encouraged Mark to enter, and he did.

Two grueling months later, Mark finished the contest at 174 lbs. and placed in the top 20 finalists for the nation.  I was thrilled for him, considering how far he had come, especially with the struggles he had endured in his personal life in the years before our meeting.  He had gone through numerous trials that no one his age should ever have to endure.  And yet, he survived and ultimately thrived to become the man he is today.

To me, both Gio and Mark are successful with their respective plans.  For Gio’s current lifestyle and goals, his blended cooking approach at home and eating out is working well.  He doesn’t have the same goals as Mark, who had to push the continuum much further towards relying on home-cooked meals to reach his goals.  And now, he’s pushing the envelope even further as we prepare for him to enter his first physique competition in early 2022.

I share these stories to show what success looks like to two completely unrelated clients.  And let me be clear, neither is following a plan superior to the other.  Gio is a much better representation of the average fitness enthusiast, and he is making progress.  Mark is pursuing a goal that few ever consider, and there will be a higher price for the leanness and overall condition that he seeks.  The important thing is that each has a plan for achieving his goals, and both include the plan, shop, meal prep/cook concept that I’ve shared.

For Mark’s goals, eating out has become more of a luxury and a treat to reward himself for his hard work and discipline.  For Gio, eating out is much more a part of his daily life, and it works.  In either case, when they do eat out, they have a plan for portion control.  Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a total control freak and allow all my clients to enjoy themselves when it comes to food.  In fact, one of the first blogs I ever published is titled “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect.”  Life is too short to live on grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and dry baked potato.  You can have your proverbial “cake” and eat it too.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Last October of 2020, I wrapped up Precision Nutrition’s Level II Certification.  It was a year-long course that completely changed how I approach nutrition coaching.  It was towards the end of the program that I had the clarity of thoughts regarding the process I spelled out above, and I’ve shared it with countless people over the past few months.

My message always resonates, and they agree that eating good-tasting healthy meals is not a challenge.  It’s doing the work to plan, shop, and prep/cook that produces the healthy meals where people struggle.  If you had the good fortune of having a professional chef running around behind you every day providing gourmet-level healthy meals designed for your specific needs, achieving optimal health would be easier.  Unfortunately, most do not have that luxury.

I teach my clients and encourage them to take things one step at a time.  With few exceptions, any positive new behavior is going to yield results.  So depending on where you fall on the continuum of eating out versus eating home-cooked meals, figure out what works best for you and then stick to your plan.  And then, for the meals that you’re cooking at home, consider implementing what I’ve shared.  It may be intimidating at first; however, it will get easier and easier with time.  And I promise that the better you get at planning, shopping, and meal prepping, the easier your life will be to reach and maintain optimal health.

Best of luck in your journey.

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Robyn…My Complex Client

After a lengthy conversation with her parents, I now sat face to face with 18-year-old Robyn in what seemed like a stare off deathmatch.  It had only been a few minutes since Robyn took her seat in my office and yet it seemed like an eternity.  Beyond her acknowledging my initial greeting, she had not spoken a word.  I needed an ice breaker and I needed one fast.

Photo from alamy.com

Robyn’s Mom had called the prior week and gave me some interesting background information on her daughter’s emotional struggles.  From that conversation, it sounded like Robyn could be suffering from a mild case of Alexithymia.  All things considered, working with a teenage female athlete with eating & emotional issues would be a challenging case.  I hoped my past struggles with food combined with my education and competitive background would be just the right combo to bridge the age gap and help me connect with Robyn.

“So, Robyn, how are you?”  “Fine” was her only reply followed by more silence.  Undeterred, I asked my next question.  “So, your parents tell me you’re a long-distance runner on your high school team.  Can you tell me a little bit more about your running?”  “Crickets” was the overwhelming response.  Clearly, I had my work cut out for me.

From Robyn’s client folder, I pulled out several newspaper clippings and gently slid them across my desk for her to see.  They were all from Robyn’s younger days when she first started running in junior high.  She slowly reached out and picked up one of the articles.  Then she took the second and finally the third.  She didn’t say a word however I could see the tears start to well up in her eyes and begin falling down her cheeks.

I slowly placed a box of Kleenex within her reach and she took several.  After a minute or so of quiet tears, she composed herself and commented: “These articles are from my first three victories back in 7th grade.  How did you find them?”  “Well, I just did a simple search on Google.  So, how does seeing them make you feel?”  “Sad” was her immediate response as she wiped her eyes again.

“Can you tell me why?”  Robyn paused for a moment and then replied, “These articles are from a time when my life made sense…before things started falling apart.”  I had obviously touched a nerve and decided to go in a different direction with my questioning for fear of Robyn emotionally crumbling again.

“So, Robyn, can you tell me how you got started with your running?”  “Well, as a child growing up, we lived out in the country with no neighbors for several miles.  I was shy, lacked confidence, never had many friends, and was always considered a nerd by my classmates because I got straight A’s.”  “So, when did you start running?”  “Well, my parents have always been runners, and one day during my 5th-grade year, I asked if I could join them.  We only went a couple of miles but I enjoyed it and started running with them several days a week.”

Photo from Depositphotos

“Soon I began to run on my own and ultimately fell in love with the adrenaline rush as the distances mounted.  When I started junior high, my school had a running team that my parents encouraged me to join.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever done because it finally gave me a social outlet, some much-needed friends, and recognition that helped with my lack of confidence.  After my three wins in 7th grade, I went on to win a number of races in 8th grade and on into high school.  Ultimately, I wanted to be an elite marathoner and compete at the highest levels…before everything changed.”

“So what happened?  What do you mean, everything changed?”  Robyn paused for a  moment and I could see we were moving back into dangerous territory.  “While I grew taller from junior high to early high school, my body didn’t start filling out until the summer after my sophomore year.  I went from being tall, long, and lanky to quite full-figured.  I didn’t get fat…I just got curves…and lot’s of them.  Unfortunately, the more my body changed, the harder it became for me to run.” 

Photo from sugarsports.com

“How did this make you feel?”  “It was devastating” replied Robyn.  “All my hard work seemed like it was for nothing.  While I ran in my junior year, I didn’t win anything and it became increasingly difficult to run anything more than 3-4 miles.  It wasn’t that I lost my endurance.  It was just uncomfortable to run for extended distances with “these” (as she pointed to her breasts).  Then to make matters worse, I wasn’t used to being ogled over by boys in regular clothes…much less in my running outfit.  It was so humiliating to run with “these” (again pointing to her breasts).  I grew up idolizing athletes…not fashion models.”

“Robyn, I’m proud of you for sharing about your running.  I know that it brings up many raw emotions.  Now can I have your permission to ask a more personal question?”  Robyn paused before replying, “Well, I guess it depends.  Go ahead and ask your question, and I will do my best.”  “Fair enough.  Robyn, your parents are concerned about your eating habits.  Can you share with me why they might be worried?”

Robyn’s response was immediate silence followed by more tears.  I couldn’t turn back now because her eating had to be addressed.  I just hoped she would maintain her composure and be willing to share.  After taking a moment to gather herself again, Robyn replied, “My parents have always been healthy eaters and I simply followed their example.  When I started running and eventually competing, I became more intentional with my nutrition but it was never an issue.”

“So when did things change?”  Robyn took a deep breath before replying, “When my body started really filling out, I tried to fight the changes by restricting my food intake.  At first, it wasn’t a big deal, but as my body continued to grow and change, I became increasingly obsessive and compulsive in restricting my intake…and then it happened.”

Photo from Getty Images

“What happened?” I gently asked.  “I had my first binge” was her soft reply.  “I was getting so hungry and one day Mom brought home some cookies and ice cream for an upcoming party at her office.  I was just going to have a little ice cream and a couple of cookies and the next thing I knew, I had knocked out a dozen or so cookies and about half of the gallon of ice cream.  I just couldn’t stop.”

“And then what happened?”  Robyn took in another deep breath and then replied, “I was so ashamed and embarrassed and vowed to never do anything like that again.  I felt sick for a couple of days and then the discomfort finally wore off.  Then it was back to restricting again and after a couple of weeks, it happened again.  This time I purposefully bought some cookies and ice cream on my way home from school and ate them in the car…to hide it from my parents.”

“After that, the cycle continued where I would restrict for a week or so only to fall again.  The harder I tried to restrict my eating, the more I lost control.  It was easy enough to hide physically as I would often eat in my car but I knew my parents and my Mom especially was picking up on the change in my mood.  The more I binged, the more out of control I felt, and the more ashamed I became.  Any time I binged, I would withdraw socially and just want to hide in my room.  I didn’t and don’t know how to stop and that’s why my parents reached out to you.” 

“Robyn, can I tell you a little story?”  She slowly nodded her head as she wiped the fresh tears from her eyes.  “Robyn, there was a young boy who grew up “pudgy” and like you, he had few friends and was very selfconscious about his weight.  In 8th grade, because he was such a strong swimmer, he had the great fortune to join his high school swim team.  In a very short period of time, the boy was pudgy no more.  Swimming five days a week at an average of 5,000 yards a day stripped the fat off his body.”

“Further, his swim coach had the team lift weights to get stronger and that changed the boy’s life.  He only swam competitively for one year, however, the “iron bug” firmly took hold.  He competed in his first bodybuilding show at 17 and placed third.  At that point, his potential seemed great and yet it would be years before his next and final show.”  “What happened to him?” Robyn asked.  “Well, despite how hard he trained, he simply didn’t have the genetics to put on the size required to compete at any level beyond his one and only teenage show.”

That’s “me” on the right

“Unfortunately, in his quest to achieve physical excellence, his obsession caused him to lose control of his eating.  For reasons similar to yours, he too fell prey to cycles of binging and purging through extra training and restricting his food.  While he did compete again one time many years after his first show, the damage he suffered from failed relationships as a result of his eating was devastating.”

My last show…

“So what happened to him?”  “Well, I would like to say he learned his lesson and changed his ways sooner however it took “me” suffering left knee surgery, a torn left bicep, right shoulder surgery, and a failed marriage to wake me up from my delusions.”  Robyn paused and then asked, “So the boy is you?”  “Yes, he is and that’s why I’m sharing this story.  Robyn, I see so much of me in you and it’s my hope that we can work together and cut your further suffering off as soon as possible.”

“What do you suggest?”  “Robyn, as much as it hurts, God simply did not give you the genetics to be a distance runner at the highest levels.  That doesn’t mean you can’t go on enjoying running recreationally for the joy and health benefits.  You shared how much you struggled last year and you’re facing your senior year of high school.  There’s no reason why you have to continue punishing yourself.  You just need to find it in your heart to walk away from competitive running.”

Robyn sat silent and then finally asked, “Do you really think I can be happy just running for fun?”  “Robyn, you haven’t been happy running for sport in over a year.  What do you have to lose?  By the way, your Mom mentioned that you want to go to medical school.  Is that right?”  “Yes, I do however my grades really slipped last year falling to a B average as I struggled with my running.”

“Robyn, the way I see it, your future is still very bright.  You’ve been gifted with an intellect few have and you have your entire senior year to pull your grades back up to your normal standards.  Running can always be a part of your life.  You just need to make a little shift and then continue moving forward on the road to medical school.”  

Photo from iStockphoto.com

“So what about my binging?”  “Robyn, your binging is a simple result of you overly depriving yourself in an attempt to fight your God-given body.  It’s a common response for someone dealing with your circumstances so I want you to give yourself a break.  I can help you get back to eating for health and to properly fuel your body for daily life…minus the obsessive-compulsive nature you’ve been struggling with.  Further, your immune system will strengthen protecting you from getting sick so often.”  “Is it really that easy?”  “It can be if you’re willing to trust me.”

“So what’s our first step?” Robyn eagerly asked.  “Well, I definitely have some thoughts, but first let me ask, are you really emotionally prepared to let go of your running team?”
“Honestly, I struggled all of last year and really don’t know how I held on.  From what we’ve talked about, it makes all the sense in the world to walk away.  It won’t be easy, however, it’s the right thing to do…and I know my parents will be pleased.”

“Robyn, I’m so proud of you!  So, moving forward, when will you do your personal running?”  Robyn was quick to reply that she loves running in the early mornings before the world wakes up.  “Great.  Well, as I said, your binging is a result of being overly restrictive with your food.  What do you think about focusing for the next two weeks on having a healthy breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner?”

Photo from Another Mother Runner

“That sounds simple enough” replied Robyn.  “Exactly.  I will never ask you to do anything complicated.  I want you with high emotional buy-in to feel confident that you can accomplish any task, we agree for you to work on.  Now, you know what healthy eating is so at this point, I don’t want you concerning yourself with counting anything.  Simply have your three meals plus your afternoon snack and be mindful to eat healthy foods and we will meet again in two weeks.”

“Also, for the sake of daily accountability, would you be open to using a tool that I’ve shared with many of my clients?  It’s called the ATE app and you simply take a photo of each meal.  At the end of the day, I can go in as your “friend” and take a peek at your daily meals.  I promise that you knowing that I will be looking at your daily efforts will help you make better choices.  So, what do you think?”  “That sounds pretty cool!  I’m definitely willing to give it a shot.”

“Okay, then pull out your phone, and let’s have you download the app.  I will make sure you’re good to go and then we can schedule your next session.  Robyn, I’m proud of your efforts today.  I know our conversation wasn’t easy and I promise you can do this.”        

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Robyn is actually not one of my clients.  In fact, she’s completely made up and was the topic of a recent case study I submitted for my Precision Nutrition Level 2 certification.  And while not real, I see both women and men struggling daily with circumstances just like her.  After eight months of Pn2 course work and many case studies submitted, there was something about Robyn’s story that resonated with me to the point that I wanted to share. 

Best of luck in your journey.

 

Posted in Diet, eating disorders, Health & Fitness, life path, living your dream, Nutrition, success, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 2

This post is part two of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy. The following is the second half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster”:

6 – Habituating to Fear

One of my favorite stories is from Darren’s early days of playing baseball and learning to bat from his Dad.  His challenge was staying in the batter’s box due to a fear of being hit by the ball.  The further challenge was that Darren’s Dad was a hardcore,  man’s man football coach, who could have doubled for Gunnery Sergent Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”.  So, for Darren to be afraid of being hit by the ball was completely unacceptable. 

The solution to conquering his fear was to remove the need for fear in the first place.  Darren’s Dad started their batting practice with Wiffle balls to help him learn to stay in the batter’s box.  Initially, Mr. Hardy threw right at Darren over and over teaching him not to flinch at the sight of the approaching ball.  Being hit by a Wiffle ball was essentially painless, and yet the repetition of the drill taught him to stay rock-solid versus jumping out of the way.

Gradually Mr. Hardy started throwing over the plate so Darren could actually swing at the ball.  Occasionally, he would still beam Darren just to remind him that being hit was okay.  Once he conquered Wiffle balls, they moved up to tennis balls repeating the same process.
Now being hit by the tennis balls did sting a little, however, with his strengthened resolve, they moved on to actual baseballs.

Now Mr. Hardy was not going to intentionally hit Darren with a baseball and yet the potential for being accidentally hit was still intimidating.  To sweeten the deal, the agreement was that if he was hit three times, he earned a trip to get pizza.  Now Darren LOVED pizza, and while the baseballs did hurt a bit, he quickly learned that a few moments of pain were well worth the payoff of a large pepperoni & sausage.  

Ultimately Darren’s weakness became a tremendous strength as he became quite accomplished at getting on base because he learned to conquer his fear.  And you can do the same with whatever fear is holding you back.  Simply break it down to the smallest possible step…and then take the step.  If appropriate, build in a reward system like Darren’s trip to the local pizza parlor.  One small step at a time with the right mindset will allow you to conquer any fear you may have.

Image from darrenhardy.com

7 – Failing Your Way to Success 

Michael Jordan ranks in the all-time top ten for the most shots missed and yet he is arguably considered the greatest player in NBA history.  Thomas J. Watson of IBM had a philosophy of embracing failure.  In fact, he believed that ultimate success was found on the far side of failure.  And Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com has burned 100’s of millions of dollars in the process of building the most successful company on the planet.  Amazon has built a culture of failure that drives their universe denting success.  

Darren learned this valuable lesson during his early days of selling real estate.  In a down market, where most of the veterans in his office waited for the phone to ring, Darren forced success by stacking up failures.  He would go door to door approaching homes listed as For Sale By Owner and then spent hours on the phone in the evenings calling on expired listings.  He went from being the rookie to the top agent in his office by pushing the pendulum so far to the side of failure, that it catapulted him to the extreme opposite side of success.  

It was a numbers game much like a lesson I learned from my first sales manager.  In a deck of cards, you have 52 cards with 12 face cards.  With the deck face down, drawing one card at a time, it is impossible to not eventually draw a face card.  You know they’re in there…you just have to trust the process and run the numbers until the numbers prove you right.  When applied to life, the challenge is to simply have the intestinal fortitude to go through the struggles needed to ultimately reach success.       

From Darren’s digital program, “Insane Productivity:

8 – Digital Addiction 

The single biggest threat to our productivity in today’s world is distractions.  Between our phones, tablets, computers, social media, and the seemingly endless number of apps, our attention is constantly being pulled into a multitude of different directions.  And the problem is that for the most part, we’ve done it to ourselves…and we love it. 

I say we love it because according to Healthline.com, “For many people, social interaction stimulates the release of dopamine. Because so many people use their phones as tools of social interaction, they become accustomed to constantly checking them for that hit of dopamine that’s released when they connect with others on social media or some other app.”  So, digital addiction is a real thing and it can be extremely hard to break.

Image from Kern Valley Sun

The challenge with phones has become so pervasive that to see someone in public, alone, without their face in their phone is almost an anomaly.  In the gym environment where I earn my living, it is rare to see someone training without their phone.  The challenge is that more and more, people tie up equipment between sets with their faces buried in their phones…texting, emailing, surfing, or whatever.  The bottom line is that it’s becoming a nuisance.    

And for all the warnings about not using your phone while driving, you still see people every day with one hand on the wheel and their phone in the other.  It’s time to stop the insanity.  Thankfully Darren made me aware of my personal challenge and with awareness, there comes the possibility of change.

Image from Safewise

My particular struggle is not so much with social media or staying connected with the news.  My kryptonite is email & text messages and they’re the monsters I’m still working to tame.  The problem is that they’re the primary tools that I use to communicate with my clients.  And being a people person who loves to serve, I feel compelled to constantly check my phone for the sake of running my business.  The solution was simple enough and now I only check for messages at specific times of the day.  This keeps me in control and has reduced my stress level substantially.

My favorite strategy from Darren, especially concerning not using your phone while driving, is to leave it out of reach in the backseat…or if needed in your trunk.  Now, if the very thought of not having your phone “handy” in the car gives you the shakes, you may have a problem.  And it’s not just confined to your car.

Nomophobia—an abbreviation of “no-mobilephone-phobia”—is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include: Experiencing anxiety or panic over losing your phone. Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails, and texts.

Sound familiar?  In Darren’s “Insane Productivity” course, he provides a “Digital Addiction Assessment” to determine your true level of digital struggle.  Once you take the test, your roadmap for change will be clearly spelled out and with one step at a time, you can take back your life.

9 – No Multi-tasking Required 

So how many of you know someone who prides themself on being good at multitasking?
You do understand that there’s no such thing as multitasking.  Right?  It’s impossible to run two cognitive processes in your brain at the same time.  What you’re doing is actually switching and switching makes you dumber than if you were smoking dope.  When you’re smoking dope, your IQ drops by about five points.  When you’re switching between two different and yet like cognitive tasks, it drops by about ten.

One thing at a time is best.

Look, you can walk on a treadmill, chew gum, and watch a video on your phone, all at the same time and do great because you’re using different parts of your brain.  But when you’re driving with your phone, you’re either driving or you’re looking at your phone.  You can’t do both at the same time which is why driving while using your phone is so incredibly dangerous.  Add a cup of coffee to the mix and you’re a wreck waiting to happen.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Count from 1-10 as fast as you can.  Now name the letters of the alphabet from A-J as fast as you can.  No sweat, right?  Now try 1A, 2B, 3C…all the way to 10J and see how you do.  I bet you slowed down quite a bit.  And why?  Because you’re running two like cognitive tasks in switching back and forth between the numbers and letters which comes close to locking up your brain.

This one was hard for me to accept however I promise you will get far more done doing one thing at a time.  And remember, it’s not a matter of getting it all done anyway.  You will never get it all done.  Your inbox will never be empty and your to-do list will never end.  The key to high productivity is to get the right things done.  Focus on priority management, not time management.  You will never control time, but you can maximize it by focusing on your highest producing activities.

10 – Design Your Life…Then Your Business

Many people get this backward.  They choose a job without careful consideration for the life that career path will give them.  How do you define success?  How do you want to live your life when you’re not working?  Do you want a long commute or a short one?  Or none?  Do you want to travel?  Do you want to have your nights and weekends free?
These questions could go on and on and they should.  

Some people spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning for their life.  The key is to design the life you want to live in the most vivid detail and then select the career path that supports your dreams.  Or if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, build a business to support the life of your dreams.  This concept is not complicated and yet again, many people get it backward.  These are some of the same people who live for the weekend, and life is too short to live for only two days out of seven.      

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Outside of his Dad, Jim Rohn was Darren’s most significant mentor.  Personally, I discovered Mr. Rohn back in the ’90s and I’ve studied his teachings over the years as well.  Jim was simply brilliant and considered America’s Foremost Business Philosopher.  He touched the hearts of people literally around the world and he certainly touched mine. 

Image from nextlevelgents.com

To wrap up, I want to share the two dominant principles that are burned in my mind compliments of Jim:

1 – Leave the world better than you find it.
2 – If a book or song or movie or any experience touches your heart and life, you have a responsibility to share it with others.

It is in the spirit of Jim that I’ve shared Darren’s impact on my life.  

Best of luck in your journey.

For more information on the resources Darren offers, go to darrenhardy.com.

 

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The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 1

This post is part one of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy.  The following is the first half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Compound Effect”:

1 – Long-term Perspective & Consistency:

The compound effect is a powerful force in your life for positive or negative and many people fail to realize it.  Do you know what happens when you double a penny every day for 31 days?  You start with $.01 on day one, and then $.02 on day two, and then $.04, $.08, $.16, $.32, $.64, $1.28, $2.56 and so on.

After nine days and a total of $2.56, there’s not much to be excited about.  And yet, when you jump ahead to day thirty, you have $5,368,709.12 and on day thirty-one, you have $10,737,418.24.  Now here’s the catch.  The math never changes from day one to day thirty-one.  It’s just simple duplication.  The power is in the consistency.  Miss any one day and you don’t get anywhere near the same total.

Image from LIBQUOTES.COM

This simple concept has taught me to have a long-term perspective while maintaining absolute consistency in the present moment.  Many are tripped up in two ways.  With negative habits, you don’t see the damage being done at the moment.  And yet, like in the penny example above, a negative habit compounded over time can destroy your health, relationships, career, and ultimately your life.  For this reason, you have to remain vigilant and aware of every area of your life.

Image by JAROFQUOTES.COM

Even when trying to build in new and positive habits, it can work the same way.  People don’t see the benefits in the short run because the positive effects are too small to be noticed.  Exercise, nutrition, and weight loss are great examples where people try again and again to change, only to give up too soon because of a lack of apparent results.  The key is to be patient in the short run and to trust the process until the power of the compound effect kicks in.  Then the positive results will be so compelling that there’s no way you will stop.

2 – Taking Responsibility

This is a big one, and while I have to give credit to Darren’s mentor, the great Jim Rohn, for first sharing this concept with me, it’s been Darren in recent years who has hammered this principal deep into my consciousness.  It’s really simple…accept 100% responsibility for every area of your life.  This means the good and the bad.  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.

Image by Heather Parady

Now you might say, that it’s not your fault that you’re dealing with a certain negative situation.  And that may be true and yet you always have a choice in how you respond to any situation.  When you place blame on outside circumstances, you give away your power to create change for the positive in your life.  So regardless of what happens to you, choose to respond in a positive way.  Be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented and your life will be all the better for it.

Image from INVESTIVATE.COM

3 – Associations

Your associations in life will make or break you so choose wisely.  It’s been said that you’re the combined average of the people you spend the most time with.  This principle is nothing new as you’ve heard it all your life…starting most likely with your mother.  The challenge is that it’s not easy.  

I encourage you to take a serious inventory of your life including faith, family & friends, finances, and fitness.  Now, look at the people you spend time with and consider how they’re doing in these areas.  Depending on what you find, you may have some hard choices to make.  Life is too short to allow negative people to drag you down.  And remember, there’s no such thing as treading water…you’re either growing for the positive or you’re slipping back for the negative.

Image from darrenhardy.com

And for an added emphasis, it’s not just people that you have to be careful with.  News in any format, social media, television, movies, and music all carry a message and it’s either positive or negative.  You seriously have to guard your heart and mind daily because, in our over-tech-stimulated world, you are being bombarded day and night.  To paraphrase Darren, you have to be hyper-vigilant in feeding your mind with the positive and in shielding your mind from the negative because trust me…the negative will beat a path to your door.

4 – Momentum

Momentum is an awesome force.  When properly harnessed, it can propel you to the pinnacle of success, regardless of your pursuit.  According to Darren, a train traveling 55 mph on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel.

Image from YouTube

The trick then is to get momentum working for you so that like the train above, you become essentially unstoppable.  The biggest secret I’ve learned from Darren regarding momentum is that it takes time and patience to build.  A great example is Apple’s introduction of the iPod.  For the record, Apple was the eighth company to introduce an MP3 player…four years behind the original from South Korea’s SaeHan Information Systems. 

In 2000, Apple’s revenue growth was 30%.  In 2001, the year they launched the iPod, their revenue growth dropped to – 33%.  In 2002, it improved to only -2%.  In 2003, it improved to 18%, and in 2004, they hit 33%.  From there, Apple skyrocketed up to controlling over 70% of the MP3 player market.  And today, according to Mother Google, Apple as a brand is worth in excess of $100 billion dollars.

Image from Wikipedia.org

This story has always been such an encouragement to me.  Remember, the iPod entered the MP3 race four years behind the leaders with a technically inferior product, and yet due to Steve Job’s dogged persistence and brilliant marketing mind, Apple caught momentum and rode the wave all the way to market dominance.  

5 – Thanks Giving Journal

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from Darren over the years, my favorite is on the power of gratitude.  His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving where he puts more emphasis on showing his love and affection for the special people in his life versus any other time of the year.   

One year, in particular, Darren gave his wife Georgia a very special gift…a Thanks Giving journal.  For the entire previous year, Darren journaled daily one positive thought regarding his wife.  It could be anything from the way she styled her hair to the meal she prepared for dinner or the way she cared for their dogs.

Image from theittteam.com

This is a classic case of manifesting what you give focus and attention to, and Darren will say that one year of constantly looking for the good in his wife dramatically impacted their relationship for the positive.  The benefit he discovered was that by proactively focusing on the positive in Georgia, he found himself compelled to show up differently and ultimately to love her all the more.  Needless to say, she loved the journal expressing that it was the best gift he had ever given her.

Stay tuned for part 2…

 

 

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, Entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, personal development, seeking wisdom, social media, the power of associations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments