Little Miss Sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before we starting working together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly: Is there anything more you want to share?

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

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

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

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

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

Ball slams with vengeance!

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

December 2022

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

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

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

So proud of her!

Wendi’s daily nutrition was simple and as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing thoughts for my readers:

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

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

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

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

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

Best of luck in your journey.

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You’re Probably Not Rain Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Personal Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who am I?

I am habit.

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

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

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

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

Core Foundational Habits:

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

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

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

Adding Structure

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

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

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

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

It works much the same way when it comes to your daily nutrition. You may be excellent at eating protein and veggies; however, you will only be able to reach the success you are truly capable of with some structure and a daily and weekly game plan. So what kind of structure? It could be as simple as committing to having breakfast, lunch, afternoon mini-meal, and dinner based on your daily schedule and needs.

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

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

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

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

Closing thoughts for my readers:

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

The Power of Accountability

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

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

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

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

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

Best of luck with your efforts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Whole Life Christian Bookstore

Closing thoughts for my readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of luck in your journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woods on cruise control.
Image by LiveAbout

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

Mt. Everest
(Photo by

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

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

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

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

Closing thoughts for my readers:

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

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

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

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

A Win for the Ages!
(Photo by

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

Best of luck in your journey.

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

The Foodie & the Athlete

According to Wikipedia, “A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food, and who eats food not only out of hunger but also as a hobby.”

The first time I met Steve Mansir, I was working on a busy Saturday morning at Life Time North Dallas. As I walked past the row of leg equipment, a guy I had never seen before flagged me down, extended his hand, and introduced himself as Steve Mansir. The name seemed familiar, and then it clicked that one of my very best clients had mentioned how he had been promoting me to one of his good friends. That friend was Steve, and he and his wife Mari had just joined our gym along with their precious little boys, Stephen and Parker.

We spoke only for a moment as I was with a client; however, Steve expressed interest in meeting to discuss how I might help him and his wife get into better shape. And that was the humble beginning of a relationship that has spanned ten months. Steve and Mari have made significant progress in that time, and I’m so proud of them for the sweat equity they’ve poured into their health and fitness journey. They walked into the gym from day one, training harder than most, and now they clearly stand out as two of the hardest training members at North Dallas.


Steve was a wrestler in high school and hit his peak condition at a competition weight of 174 lbs. After school, with his wrestling days behind him, Steve’s weight would slowly creep up over the years to the mid-240s. Fitness was not a part of his life as he poured energy into his career in the wine industry. And while he achieved high levels of success financially and personally, deep down, he was not happy with his appearance or physical health.

The short answer is that Steve allowed life to get in the way; unfortunately, his health was not a priority. While lucrative, his career didn’t do him any favors as he is regularly tasked with entertaining clients at 5-star restaurants. Frequent travel, including some international, further compounds his challenge in eating healthy and exercising regularly.

When we first met on August 16, 2021, Steve weighed 205 lbs at 22.6% body fat. He carried 91 lbs of muscle mass and desired to add more while cutting his body fat in half with the ultimate goal to see his “abs.” From his peak weight in the 240s, he had lost a good bit on his own; however, he felt stuck and sought help to take his fitness journey to the next level. Ten months later, on June 18, 2022, Steve weighed 188 lbs at 12-13% body fat. He also managed to put on a good bit of quality muscle and gain considerable strength, which is quite the accomplishment considering the body fat he dropped.

I knew Steve was a worker when we sat down to talk that first night. He has a strong Type A personality which means he’s highly driven, task-oriented, and extremely competitive. He just needed someone to tell him what to do and then stand back. My initial assessment was most accurate, and Steve didn’t disappoint. With his wife Mari by his side, they tackled their first training program with a vengeance, and I promise that it was no “cakewalk.”


I don’t give my clients diet plans. In fact, the word diet is seldom used in my vocabulary. Instead, I teach my clients how to eat a healthy balance of proteins, veggies & fruits, smart carbs, and healthy fats. I also don’t do cookie-cutter programs. Each of my clients has a custom plan tailored to their individual needs, goals, and lifestyles.

Steve is a busy executive whose work and family schedule dictates that he trains in the late afternoon after work, and the following is his primary nutrition plan:

Meal 1 – Early morning breakfast shake
Meal 2 – Mid-morning consisting of, for example, a homemade egg, chicken, and cheese taquito
Meal 3 – Lunch consisting of protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats
Meal 4 – Afternoon snack consisting of a protein shake or protein bars
Meal 5 – Dinner consisting of protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats

From our first meeting, Steve and Mari asked me how often they could enjoy a “cheat” meal. One of my favorite posts ever, “No Cheat Meal Required,” is based on wisdom I gained from now-retired nutritionist Keith Klein from Houston, TX. The essence of what Keith taught me over thirty years ago and that I now pass on to my clients today is that you don’t have to eat perfectly to make dramatic changes in your body. However, I prefer to use the term “treat” versus cheat.

A Beautiful & Fit Couple

To me, the word cheat has a negative connotation. The word treat is positive, and I believe it’s much more appropriate when referring to a reward you earn because of your hard work. Regarding compliance, I told Steve and Mari to shoot for ninety percent, leaving ten percent for treat meals. When you’re eating five meals a day like Steve, this equates to several meals a week that can be off-plan, yet you can still make significant progress.

International Cuisine

Given the nature of Steve’s job and their very social lifestyle, this was very positive news. Since we’ve worked together, Steve’s travels have included trips to Napa Valley in Northern California and overseas to Portugal and Barcelona. And it is a testament to his discipline and character that he’s conducted himself appropriately with clients, vendors, and coworkers while not shooting himself in the foot with his health and fitness goals.

International Cuisine

Back home, they routinely go to some excellent restaurants with friends. And yet, given Steve’s adherence to my 90/10 rule, he has crushed his goals and has dramatically changed his body. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a weekly ritual for him to share his treat meals, whether for work or play, and yet his body composition has continued to improve. Further, he has told some great stories about the jaw-dropping reaction he gets from family, friends, coworkers, and clients who haven’t seen him until recently. Their reaction is generally a mix of shock, disbelief, and a little envy.


Steve and Mari lift on average four days per week, with a fifth devoted to the core, cardio, and metabolic conditioning work. I change their workouts every six weeks and strategically and incrementally increase the overall challenge with each new program. In contrast, while I push them hard in the gym, I’m equally adamant in encouraging them to chase full and proper recovery.

Grinding it out!

When I say chase, I mean to make recovery a priority. In today’s modern society, most people don’t get enough sleep, consistently and effectively manage stress, or fully recover from life’s heavy demands. I constantly ask my clients about sleep and stress management. It’s easy to take for granted, yet a lack of full recovery will leave you sluggish at best in pursuing your life’s significant priorities. You will also be more likely to end up with a compromised immune system which leaves your body more vulnerable to breaking down and getting sick.

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


Steve is a “Foodie” in every sense of the definition provided at the beginning of this post. He and Mari love great food and alcohol and frequent some of the best restaurants in the world. They have been married for 6.5 years and live a life full of family activities centered around their boys and frequent evenings out with friends.

Proud of Them!

As a result of having a load of responsibilities between work and family that sometimes spills over their respective plates, Steve and Mari don’t always get enough sleep. Whether simply due to a late-night with work or friends or the inevitable interruptions from two young boys, their sleep quality is not always the best. I tell them as I share with all my clients to do their best with their current circumstances. In essence, control the controllables, and leave the rest to God.

The Little Czech Bakery

From the first night we met to the present, Steve and Mari’s mindset has changed completely. While they still enjoy their culinary indulgences, their total nutrition is much cleaner today than in our early months of working together. In fact, one of Steve’s associates just recently offered to bring him kolaches from The Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas. West is considered the kolache capital of Texas, and Steve LOVES kolaches. He said in the past, he would have asked for a dozen or more, which he would “graze” on for days. On this occasion, he politely said, “No, thank you. I’m good.”

I often share with my clients that good nutrition drives hard work in the gym, and hard work drives good nutrition. For some, one may be a more decisive influence than the other; however, bottom line, there’s clearly a positive cycle between training hard, eating well, and then getting the proper rest. Steve continuously validates this concept as he has said many times over the past ten months how good he feels physically and emotionally.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

You don’t have to be perfect to win. This is the best summation of Steve’s story. If his success in completely transforming his body from couch potato to athlete was tied to always eating perfectly, always getting enough sleep, and always managing stress, he would have failed miserably.

However, that’s not the case. Steve and Mari have lived the ordinary, everyday life of two hard-working parents who chose to be the exception and to make their health a priority. It’s not been perfect, but it’s been enough, and I believe the sky is the limit for them. I have been blessed to have them as my clients, and I think the best is yet to come.

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

Until You Have all the Facts…

Have you ever jumped to a hasty conclusion only to regret your initial assumptions? I once heard a story about a father riding on a subway with his two young sons. The boys were swinging from the rafters, so to speak, and it seemed as if the father was utterly oblivious to their behavior. Obviously, the boys were disrupting the peace of the other passengers, and so finally, one gentleman spoke up.

Photo by Jonas on Unsplash

“Excuse me, Sir. Your boys are being pretty loud and rambunctious. Do you think you could get them to calm down”? The young father looked up with what could only be described as a lost look of desperation and said, “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for not doing a better job of managing my sons. We just left the hospital downtown where their mother died earlier today from cancer, and I’m not really thinking straight.”

The boy’s behavior was still unacceptable; however, when you know all the facts, you have to give them and their recently widowed father a break. The older I become, the more I realize the importance of having the proper perspective. It seems when I make my worst decisions, in hindsight, it’s when I was way off in my view regarding a given situation.

I heard another story two weeks ago at church that made me feel like a jerk and then brought me tears. One of our ministers recently took a bike ride with his young daughter to a 7-11 located close to their home to get a couple of Slurpee’s. As they were waiting to pay, a scene was developing in front of them at the checkout counter.

Photo by Chain Store Age

David and his daughter were standing right behind an obviously disheveled middle-aged woman, so he couldn’t help but hear the exchange between her and the clerk. She had loose change scattered over the counter and was trying to come up with the needed amount to purchase a bag of pork rinds and a 20 oz Dr. Pepper. The clerk was trying to be patient, yet the store line was slowly growing, and the situation was getting increasingly awkward.

As David told this story, my first thought about this woman wasn’t positive. I didn’t throw her entirely under the bus; however, I’m embarrassed to say that my mindset towards her wasn’t the best. Was she someone living on the streets trying to get something for nothing? She wasn’t dressed poorly; however, judging someone solely based on their wardrobe can be difficult. It’s common in the North Dallas area to see panhandlers’ at the major traffic intersections asking for money. They’re typically not dressed well; however, you will occasionally see someone looking somewhat out of place because they are relatively well dressed, yet they’re still asking for money.

Fortunately, David didn’t think like me. Obviously, the woman was having difficulty paying, and that’s when he stepped forward and politely asked, “Ma’am, would you be willing to let me and my daughter include your things with ours?” With David’s question, the whole place went silent. You could have heard a pin drop.

Then after what seemed like forever, the woman replied in tears, “Thank you so much for your kind gesture and my apologies for not having my act more together. I just left the hospital where my husband is dying from cancer. His two favorite things are pork rinds and Dr. Pepper, and I’m just trying to make him happy in his final days.” After her reply, the rest of the patrons in the store stood in silence, with several having tears welling up in their eyes.

David asked the woman if he could pray for her and her husband. Her answer was, of course, yes, and David proceeded with a short and audible prayer. No one said a word as if the whole store was now pulling for this woman and her family. At this point in David’s story, I had tears running down my face. How could I go from thinking poorly of her to crying about her struggle with her husband’s failing health?

The answer is attaining all the needed facts and achieving the proper perspective. It seems a common fault of human nature to assume the negative about someone in a given situation. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been guilty of this countless times in my life; however, with the second story above now burned in my mind and heart, I have pledged to do better.

There’s something to be said for giving others the benefit of the doubt until they give you a valid reason to think otherwise. The Golden Rule teaches us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. It’s simple to say and much more challenging to live; however, I think it’s a high standard worthy of our best efforts.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The plight of the lady at the 7-11 clearly had an impact on me. While I had heard the story about the man on the subway and his two sons years ago, David’s encounter inspired this post. And after writing the bulk of this the first night, I was eager to share it with one of my most favored clients the following day at work.

Tay is one of my seniors, and I’ve been working with him and his wife for almost two years. He is a giant of a man at 6’5″; however, he has a heart of gold and is nothing more than a big old teddy bear. Halfway through his session, I brought up the subject of this new post and shared the first story above. While extremely sad, it did not trigger a physical response on my part.

As I transitioned to the second story, I acknowledged that I might not get through it without getting a little emotional. It was more difficult than I expected because the tears flowed, my voice noticeably cracked, and it took several pauses to regain my composure long enough to finish. I’ve always worn my feelings on my sleeve; however, I’m not sure what it is about this poor lady and her dying husband that hits me so hard. However, based on my actions with Tay, it clearly does.

In my four years of working as a fitness professional, I’ve lost two clients to cancer, and I’ve had numerous clients and two of my best friends lose parents or close family members for various health reasons as recently as last week. In all my years in sales, I never forged the relationships I have as a coach, highlighting two essential lessons for me.

The first is that life is short, and we should make the most of it every day. Plan your days and protect your health like you’re going to live forever, and then live each day like it’s your last. It kills me when people blow off the value of a given day. The late great Zig Ziglar used to say, “Every day is a good day, and if you don’t believe me, just try missing one of them.”

If you have a family member or friend where the relationship is strained or not the best, I encourage you to do whatever you need to do to make it right. As the great philosopher Apollo Creed said in Rocky III, “There is no tomorrow!” These are wise words to live by because none of us is guaranteed the next five minutes, much less tomorrow.

The second is that everyone is deserving of your mercy and grace. You don’t know someone’s story unless you know it. Regardless of someone’s level of success, everyone is struggling with some part of their life, and I believe everyone needs an encouraging word.

Last week at my gym, I passed a young lady heading to the women’s dressing room in the hallway around 5:45 AM. I had noticed her a few times on the fitness floor and was pretty sure she was a new member. As I started to say hello, she yawned big time. So instead of saying hello, I smiled and asked if she had a late night. She smiled and said she was still getting used to early morning workouts.

I asked if she was a new member, and she replied yes and that her name was Kimberly. She further shared that she is a single mom and the early mornings are the best time for her to train. I encouraged her to hang in with her new training schedule and that she would get used to it soon enough.

In parting, I told Kimberly how proud I was of her efforts to care for herself. She thanked me, and we went our separate ways. Now, I don’t know the first thing about this woman other than this, being a single mom is the most demanding job on the planet. Further, the gym environment can be terrifying to newbies, and you can 10X that terror if the newbie is a young, plus-sized woman.

Fast-forward to the next week, I saw Kimberly on the exercise floor. She was walking on a treadmill, so I stopped to say hello en route to the free weight area. She smiled as I approached, and after exchanging good mornings, I asked how her training was progressing. She said it was getting better, which was great to hear. Then to my surprise, she thanked me for noticing her the week before. She also thanked me for encouraging her and saying I was proud of her.

Wow! As I’ve shared with many other members and clients, I encouraged her to “persist” in her efforts, and good things will happen. Then as I was walking away, feeling very humbled, I reflected back to the week before when we first met. It started with a simple “yawn,” which was my “in” for saying hello. I still know very little about Kimberly; however, I promise you it is my mission to learn more because she clearly needs the support.

Best of luck in your journey.

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

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

I know that question sounds crazy; however, I did and actually much, much more.  My story starts with the freedom of getting my driver’s license as a sixteen-year-old.  I was already hooked on diet soft drinks, so whenever I stopped to buy gas for my car, I would treat myself to an extra-large Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper.

While soft drinks, in general, are not healthy for you, how I was consuming them turned out to be the problem.  You see, I loved chewing ice, and I would chew every piece out of every cup purchased.  Now that may not seem like a big deal; however, when you multiply my seemingly innocent little habit over the years, it would lead to disaster.

In my junior year of college, I took a job tending bar at Piney Woods Country Club in my hometown of Nacogdoches, TX.  I worked lunch on Tuesday, and the mid-afternoon to evening shift on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had regarding the people I served and the lifelong friends I forged.  Unfortunately, it also fed my addiction to diet soft drinks and chewing ice as I had free access to as much as I wanted with every shift.

Great memories!

By the time I graduated college in 1991, I was totally hooked. My daily habit consisted of two to three 32 oz or 44 oz sized drinks from 7-11 or in later years once I moved to Dallas, RaceTrac, or QuikTrip. Day in and day out, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, my habit continued until the age of forty, when my dentist noticed something disturbing about my teeth.

I started going to Paul Griffin, who retired just last year when I first moved to Dallas in 1993. And it was during a routine cleaning, which I’ve always done twice a year, that he noticed my problem. For some reason, my teeth were wearing away. Fast forward six months to my next cleaning, and the erosion was clearly worse. Dr. Griffin said he had never seen anything like it and was deeply concerned.

I had never eaten hard candy or any other hard food ever in my life. Further, because we had determined years before that I tended to grind my teeth at night, he had fitted me with a custom mouth guard I used virtually every night. Then it hit me. My ice chewing was the one constant activity in my life that we had never considered. In fact, he had no idea about my insidious little habit and quickly stated, after my confession, that it was the likely culprit.

Remember, the Grand Canyon was created from water. In fact, according to Mother Google, “This natural landmark formed over five to six million years as erosion from the Colorado River cut a deep channel through layers of rock. The Grand Canyon contains some of the oldest exposed rocks on Earth. The mile-high walls reveal a cross-section of Earth’s crust going back nearly two billion years.”

So, in comparison, it would seem feasible that me chewing two to three large cups of ice for about 25 years would ultimately damage my teeth. My ice chewing stopped immediately, and fortunately, the erosion wasn’t too bad at that point. I walked out of Dr. Griffin’s office that day thinking we had dodged a bullet and didn’t give my teeth another thought. Until my next cleaning.

Six months later, when the hygienist greeted me, she said it was time for x-rays. Once the process was complete and she had the opportunity to view my films, she quickly pointed out that the erosion we identified over the past year had continued. In disbelief, I asked how that could be possible since I had quit chewing ice cold turkey. In discussing it further with Dr. Griffin, he suggested that the damage done over the years had apparently set in motion a process that may continue even though I had stopped chewing ice.

To what end, I asked? He said at some point, unless the erosion stopped, I would have to consider implants or veneers. Both procedures are costly; however, he strongly suggested the veneers, the more expensive of the two. Implants are much more invasive concerning the structure of your mouth. Veneers or “crowns” are common enough, with approximately four out of ten people having at least one.

In my case, I would need a complete set for all my teeth, which is extremely expensive. When I asked how expensive, Dr. Griffin reframed from giving an answer and had his front office work up a formal quote. The total was $36,500. Gulp!

My heart pounded, and my mind raced as I processed the astronomical figure in my hand. This was further compounded as I faced the reality that the whole situation was self-inflicted. Those years of chewing ice with no apparent damage had just handed me a most distasteful verdict. I would need to save an extra $36,500 in the next two to three years before the time would run out, and I would be forced to get my veneers.

When I say forced, I mean that he would no longer have enough tooth surface to work with at some point, according to Dr. Griffin. I would then be forced to go with the implant option. That conversation took place in July of 2014. As I left Dr. Griffin’s office that day, I had no idea how I would save that much money so quickly. I had an excellent job in sales; however, I didn’t make that much money. Clearly, I needed a miracle.

Fortunately, I had a recruiter seek to connect with me via LinkedIn that same month. And that connection led to my miracle. The crazy thing is that I first told her no and that I wasn’t looking. Thank God she was persistent and insisted it would be worth a simple phone conversation. That phone call changed my life. In September of 2014, I went to work for Workrite Ergonomics. The base pay was more than double my previous job, allowing me to sock away a “chunk” of cash every paycheck to pay for my teeth.

Three years later, in June of 2017, I was able to pay cash for the needed procedure to get my veneers. Dr. Griffin told me I was his only patient to have a complete set. The prep work took almost seven hours. This included receiving temporaries that I wore for about one month. Then the actual process of having my veneers installed took another four hours. My mouth was sore for a week after both procedures; however, I felt incredibly grateful to have them done.

The Compound Effect

I first learned about Darren Hardy in 2011, and he has become one of my most influential mentors through his books, audio content, Darren Daily, and Darren Daily on Demand. He is a New York Times best-selling author, highly sought-after keynote speaker, and former Publisher of Success Magazine. His book, “The Compound Effect,” shares the simple yet profound concept of small daily steps leading to tremendous results. It was my first of Darren’s books to read, and it’s still impacting my life positively to this day.

Albert Einstein called compound interest the eighth wonder of the world, and it’s a classic example of the power of the compound effect. Oddly enough, this extraordinary power works for both good and bad. When wisely investing your money over time, the compound effect can work very much in your favor. In the case of my teeth, not so much.

Darren tells a story about the late great Tony Gwen, a heartbreaking example of the compound effect working for the negative.

The great Tony Gwynn in 1998.

According to Wikipedia, “Anthony Keith Gwynn Sr. (May 9, 1960 – June 16, 2014), nicknamed “Mr. Padre,” was an American professional baseball right fielder who played 20 seasons (1982–2001) in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Diego Padres. The left-handed hitting Gwynn won eight batting titles in his career, tied for the most in National League (NL) history. He is considered one of baseball’s best and most consistent hitters. Gwynn had a .338 career batting average, never hitting below .309 in any full season. He was a 15-time All-Star, recognized for his skills on offense and defense with seven Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Glove Awards. Gwynn was the rare player in his era who stayed with a single team his entire career and played in the only two World Series appearances in San Diego’s franchise history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.”

Tony died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer. He started chewing tobacco early in his career and continued to do so beyond retirement. All those years, the destruction was being done; however, he had no idea. Once the diagnosis was made, he would pass away only a few short years later.

The challenge with the compound effect is that it can fake you out. This includes both the positive and the negative. If your first cigarette instantly gave you lung cancer, you would never light your second one. If your first double meat cheeseburger with onion rings gave you heart disease, you would likely avoid eating other high-fat fried foods.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You can go for years or even decades like Tony with his tobacco or me with my ice with no perception of the damage being done. Then when the negative reality rears its ugly head, it may be too late.

There are different struggles regarding how something positive can trip you up. The instant gratification society we live in negatively influences our ability to delay gratification and our capacity for emotional discipline. The reality is that most people are not very emotionally disciplined. They want what they want when they want it and are typically unwilling to wait for any reasonable length of time. The credit card industry capitalizes on this simple fact.

Two other classic examples are losing weight and saving money. How many times have you heard of someone going on a diet only to give up a short time later due to not seeing any progress? Or when someone saving towards a more significant and more critical goal raids their savings account to satisfy their need for immediate gratification? The key is emotional disciple, and it’s sadly in short supply in today’s world.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

The late great Napoleon Hill, author of the all-time classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” used to teach that there’s a seed of equivalent benefit in every adversity. Between the wisdom Darren shares in his book, “The Compound Effect,” and my personal experience with my teeth, I now view life through a different lens with a more long-term perspective.

For example, I don’t consider a cup of coffee from Starbucks as a simple $2.75 expense. Since I love my two Venti-sized cups of morning coffee, a daily habit carved in stone, I see it as $5.50 per day, 365 days per year, over the next twenty years, totaling just over $40K. Now please don’t get me wrong. I love Starbucks; however, I prefer to buy it at the grocery store, ideally on sale, and brew my own, saving a chunk of money that can be invested in my future.

I encourage you to examine your life and look for any seemingly innocent behavior that may be working against you in the long run. Further, be patient when seeking to achieve anything of significance in your life. Small steps taken consistently over time can lead to tremendous results. And there are no shortcuts. Real and lasting success equals hard work every day.

I often share the story with my clients about the magic of compounding pennies. One penny doubled every day for thirty-one days equals just over $10 million. In thirty-eight days, it tips over $1 billion. And here’s the catch, the math never changes. It’s simple duplication every day with consistency that leads to tremendous results.

Finally, be very careful in rationalizing not pursuing a worthy goal because the price seems too high or the time to achieve it is too long. If it’s something you genuinely want that will add value to your life, figure out a way to pay the price. The time will pass regardless, and you can one day look back triumphant in your accomplishment or disgusted because you failed to try.

Best of luck in your journey.


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

How Are You Showing Up?

The first time I ever heard that question was from my long-time mentor Andy Andrews. He was speaking live at a large business convention and shared the story about how his mentor, Jones, asked him that very question. Andy was a young man then, and the answer would change his life.

The critical question is not about how you see yourself but how others see and view you. How you see yourself is crucial; however, how you show up to others can be drastically different despite your best intentions. Everyone has blind spots when it comes to how they see themselves, and unless you have the good fortune of having a trusted friend or family member reveal these to you, you could potentially come across much differently than you might think. And this is typically for the worst.

The answer to the question of how others see you may be uncomfortable. That was definitely the case for Andy, leaving him with a choice. He could ignore the wisdom of his mentor, Jones, and continue along his current path. Or, he could choose to accept 100% responsibility for his lot in life and make some changes that involved some severe upgrades to his skills in dealing with other people.

Fortunately for him, Andy made the responsible decision and rebuilt his character from the inside out. It wasn’t easy; however, his hard work would pay off quickly. He would become a highly acclaimed keynote speaker, advisor to college and professional sports teams, advisor to the US Military, and a New York Times best-selling author multiple times.

The first time I was challenged with how I was showing up was in 1997 while training at Brickhouse gym in Coppell, TX. I am a bit shy by nature and tend to be pretty reserved. Further, I take my gym time very seriously. Combine these traits with the fact that I was in the best physical shape of my life, and you get the following.

Her name was Jacklyn, and I often saw her at the gym. She was a tall and beautiful brunette and honestly a little intimidating to me. Therefore, we were around each other for some time before I spoke to her. When I finally said that first hello, we introduced ourselves, and we had a lot in common, as it turned out. In time, we became excellent friends, and she hired me as a vendor for her company.

During a meeting one day at her office, she commented on how surprising it was to her how things turned out between us based on her initial impression of me. Curious, I asked her to explain. She said that because of my overall demeanor in the gym, she figured I was arrogant and stuck on myself. And now I asked? She said her initial impression was completely wrong.

Wow! Jacklyn’s full explanation provided some relief, but ouch! Her comments were an eye-opener. I was grateful that once she got to know me, she didn’t think I was an egotistical jerk; however, her initial impression gave me serious cause for concern. I knew I was shy and tended to be more serious-minded; however, I had no idea that I was coming across as being an arrogant narcissist.

When I left her office that day, I knew I had some work to do. Fortunately, I’ve always been a sponge for learning, and I was more than willing to do the necessary work to build and polish my character and break out of my shell.

Fast forward about twenty-five years to Monday, April 18, 2022, when I celebrated my fourth anniversary as a fitness professional with Life Time Healthy Way of Life. Monday is my big leg day,
including two of my favorite exercises, Trap Bar Deadlifts and Banded-Glute Ham Raises. I love my Monday routine, and on this particular morning, I was extra fired up due to my anniversary.

Towards the end of my workout. I ran into two of my longest-standing clients. Let’s call them Bob and Sue to protect their identity. They were just starting as I completed my last set, and I walked over to say hello. After a quick rundown of our respective weekends, I told them thank you. Looking puzzled, they asked why. I replied that it was my anniversary and their support over the past four years helped me reach my little milestone.

Bob and Sue expressed how much they appreciated me constantly checking on them in the mornings. They are the exception to the rule because they don’t train with me one-on-one. We met during my first few months on the job as we worked out at the same time in the early mornings. After some time, we developed enough of a relationship that they hired me to build their workout programs, and the rest is history.

Several other clients like Bob and Sue have hired me only to build their workout programs; however, I give them the same level of support as my regular one-on-one clients. As far as I’m concerned, once I walk in the front doors, whether I’m on the clock or not, I’m on stage and responsible for serving all of our members, especially my clients.

Customer feedback is invaluable, and I constantly ask my clients if there’s anything I can do to serve them more. Bob and Sue acknowledged this and said they also appreciated that I walked my talk with my personal training and nutrition. I see them and several other clients who also train in the early mornings five to six days a week, so they know I’m taking my own medicine.

As I stated above, when I’m in the club, whether in the dressing room, Life Café, or on the gym floor, I’m on stage and there to serve. While I have to carefully manage my time during my personal workouts, I strategically seek to connect with any of my clients who may be training and the rest of the club members. Years ago, I heard that the most influential person in the room is most actively involved in introducing themselves.

In my mind, the only way I’m going to help someone with their health is to gain some influence. Leadership expert John Maxwell often says, “You must touch someone’s heart before you can ask for their hand.” To me, that means proactively seeking to meet members every day.

Unfortunately, Sue said that not all trainers are as friendly as me. Her comment wasn’t directed at anyone in particular or LifeTime for that matter, as she has trained at numerous gyms over the years. It was just a general statement based on her personal feelings. I apologized and tried to downplay the whole scene. I further shared that twenty years in outside sales before becoming a fitness professional gives me an advantage in knowing how to engage and connect with people.

Afterward, as I was driving home, I reflected on Sue’s comments. The trainers at my club are excellent in their craft and have genuinely good hearts, and I consider them trusted friends. Further, trainers employed by LifeTime nationwide are held to extremely high standards and are generally top-notch in delivering exceptional client experiences. However, according to one of my best clients, who I also think to be of high moral character, we as trainers have an opportunity to improve.

While I can’t speak for the training industry, I will share the events that took me from being an apparent arrogant narcissist to where I am today. And please let me emphasize that while I’ve come a long way, the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know and how far I have to go. For example, there are numerous things regarding my people skills where I feel like I’m just starting.

In particular, I hate conflict and avoid it at all costs. Because of this, I still sometimes struggle with crucial conversations with family, friends, and clients. This is an opportunity for me, and I’m actively working with several accountability partners to overcome this weakness.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I have been following Andy Andrews since the mid-90s, and fortunately, I had already heard his story about his encounter with Jones before meeting Jacklyn. While the experience with her was disturbing, on the one hand, I quickly saw the parallel to Andy’s story and immediately went to work reinventing myself.

Looking back, I am so grateful for having met Jacklyn. It’s a simple yet profound phrase that you don’t know what you don’t know. No one had ever called me out the way she did, and the whole experience was a huge blessing.

If you’ve never had a Jones or Jacklyn in your life, you might consider asking a best friend or family member about how you’re showing up. For bonus points, you might consider talking with someone you spend a lot of time with, like a co-worker, but with whom you’re not close. Their insight into you will likely be more objective than friends and family. Ultimately, these may not be the most comfortable questions to ask; however, the feedback you receive may be life-changing if you take it to heart and do the work needed to polish your rough edges.

Your Work May Be Right in Front of You

John C. Maxwell is another long-time mentor I’ve been following since the 90s. Many consider him to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on leadership; however, he started out many years ago as a pastor. I once heard John tell a story about one of his top leaders. John was the senior pastor at the time at Skyline Church in San Diego, California, and to protect his name and integrity, let’s call his executive pastor Bill.

Skyline Church, San Diego, CA

Bill entered their facility one morning and walked right past John, speaking with several other staff members without saying a word. Overall, the group didn’t pay attention to Bill’s lack of courtesy; however, John definitely noticed. And after wrapping up his conversation with the group, he headed straight to Bill’s office. 

After exchanging good morning greetings, John cut straight to the point and challenged Bill for his massive oversight. He replied that he meant no harm and had a lot of work. John replied that his work was gathered back in the lobby and that he had missed an opportunity to engage and add value or simply offer an encouraging word. 

Before joining Life Time, I heard that story when I worked as a manufacturer’s representative for Workrite Ergonomics. It had a positive impact then because of the broad responsibilities and the multiple levels of decision-makers and influencers I dealt with and served daily. However, now in my role as a fitness professional, I know that I’m on stage every second of every day from the moment I get out of my car in the parking lot. My members are watching, and that’s been proven to me many times through various conversations.

Therefore, my personal standard is to treat all my members like million-dollar customers and with no expectations of anything in return. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. And second, you never know who may actually become a paying client. Doing any less is a disservice to our members and Life Time.

I’m Still Shy

In 1995, I took the DISC Personality Profile for the first time. For those familiar with DISC, I tested as a high C and high S. For those unfamiliar, it means I’m very conservative and detail-oriented. My D and I barely showed up. This means I’m not the life of the party or the hard-charging, “It’s my way or the highway” sort of person. My profile didn’t precisely match up for a company looking to hire a sales rep. In fact, my soon-to-be sales manager coached me on how to retake the test to come across with much more D and I.

In 2017, I retook the DISC test to prepare for a sales training boot camp with Pici & Pici in Orlando, FL. Since my first experience back in 1995, I’ve studied personality types in-depth, and I can take pretty much any test in such a way as to manipulate the outcome. I shared this with Joe Pici in a phone conversation a few months before the event, and he encouraged me to take the test from my heart.

Joe & Dawn Pici
Sales Training & Keynote Speaking

Want to take a guess at my results? In twenty-two years of growth in my personal development, I’m still shy, reasonably reserved, and detail-oriented in my thinking. However, I have learned to be outgoing and strategically courageous when it counts to excel in my career and in life. Am I saying it’s easy? The answer is definitely no; however, the “why” behind my personal mission to serve people through the vehicles of business and fitness is much bigger than my natural inclination to keep my mouth shut and not make any waves.

When I attended the boot camp taught by Joe and Dawn Pici, one section focused on mastering the DISC personality model. The training I received substantiated how my core traits are ingrained from birth; however, my adapted styles explain how I can adjust my behavior to cope with the requirements in a given environment. Your adapted profile demonstrates your conscious understanding of yourself and your behavior in a given situation.

For most, the environment makes all the difference. When I’m in the gym, training myself or a client, or with nutrition or life coaching, I’m in my strength zone and come across as very confident and strong. This includes public speaking, where I feel secure as long as I’ve had the opportunity to prepare. However, suppose you send me to a business after-hours networking event where I know no one. In that case, I will likely default to my natural state of being shy and stand in the corner waiting for the required time of attendance to pass.

You might consider doing so if you’ve never taken a personality test. DISC, Myers-Briggs, and Standout are all excellent choices. Your results, combined with the feedback from your family, friends, and coworkers, should arm you with all you need to work to maximize your strengths and shore up your weakness in dealing effectively with people.

Can You Be Courageous for 20 Seconds?

The scenario I shared in the last statement is accurate; however, I recently learned a simple strategy to overcome my natural inclinations.  Can you be brave or courageous twenty seconds at a time? Fear is an allusion; the best way to overcome it is to run straight through it. So at the same networking event, let’s say I have a goal to meet five new quality contacts with whom I can potentially do consulting with their company.  And let’s say I need to meet fifteen to get my five.

Now I don’t need to be brave for the entire two-hour event; I only need to be brave for the five minutes it takes to walk up and introduce myself to fifteen different people. The hardest part is the initial approach, and that’s the magic of the twenty-second burst of courage. Once you extend your hand and introduce yourself, it’s really not that big of a deal to meet new people.

Zig Ziglar

You can apply this same strategy to basically anything where you’re procrastinating in taking action. The late great Zig Ziglar used to teach that fear is false evidence appearing real, and Andy Andrews teaches that fear is a misuse of your creative imagination. Both statements are factual; in either case, your best bet is to commit to the task and take action. The first step is the hardest part. Once you move into action, I promise the rest will be much easier.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

My purpose in writing this post is not to cast a shadow on the personal training industry or make myself look good. First, while I’ve made tremendous strides in my personal development over the years, I still have tons of work to do. And as I said above, my teammates locally and throughout our company are all highly skilled in their craft and loved by their clients and our membership. Unfortunately, the role of being a fitness professional is to always be on stage. You are always being watched by your members and should conduct yourself accordingly.

In the summer of 2017, my sales manager at the time sent an email in response to a question I had asked him earlier that afternoon. I had given a formal presentation to a large group of people, seeking his feedback. I thought it went well; however, I needed his word of approval.

His reply was positive enough regarding my presentation; however, he took the opportunity to share something that was shocking on a personal level. I was embarrassed more than I could ever explain, and it compelled me to make some immediate changes. For personal reasons, I choose not to reveal the details; however, I assure you it was a massive deal to me. The changes it drove me to make were quick and permanent.

In hindsight, while I was mortified then, I will be forever grateful for Robert sharing with me. I know it wasn’t easy, hence sharing it by email; however, he cared enough about me to share some tuff love under the circumstances.

My purpose in writing is always to serve others by offering a little perspective and an encouraging word. So whether you ask for objective feedback from your inner circle to improve yourself or to speak some needed truth into someone’s life, I wish you only the best in your efforts.

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

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
– 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.


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.


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

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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

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 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 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 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 several 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 instead 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; just like 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 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

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