Goal setting 101


A recent study stated that 73% of gym joiners in January have a weight loss goal and over a 365 day period only 14% of those will succeed. Let’s talk about how to up the success rate. Without a doubt, setting the right goal is the most important part of your fitness journey. Read any piece about success; what it takes to get there, who did what & how. All will come back to some version of, “Start with the end in mind.” This makes overcoming obstacles along the way easier especially the more desirable the end result is.

Change is difficult. Very difficult. People make the decision to change when their current situation is more uncomfortable than their perception of the change. Since 2001 as a Fitness Professional, when I ask people any variation of, “What are your goals?” or “What are you training for?” The standard reply is…”Lose weight & tone up.” (LW&TU). If this is your goal I have one request; DO NOT join a gym. Let me explain why. Someone with a LW&TU goal wants their life to change, but they haven’t yet decided to change their life. If that last sentence didn’t click, read it again. I’ll wait.

So let’s look at something most can relate to; Consider two people who want financial success. One wants to, “Be rich”. The other wants a successful career in Law. The first commits to buying at least one lottery ticket every week and checking in on the numbers. The latter knows he is not where he wants to be and sets forth on a journey to find the missing links. He will meet new people, see and experience things he never imagined. He may also make missteps along the way but hopefully knows that is not just the cost of taking steps but a lesson in and of itself. The former will become entrenched in a community of shortsightedness and selfishness. Each ticket they buy moves them further into a position of entitled victimization that becomes harder and harder to return from.

It doesn’t mean they can’t be coaxed.

The fact is many will bring me the LW&TU goal over the next few weeks. To which I will reply, “Why?” This usually spirals into a cycle of generic answers vs. quick Why replies… like, “Because my doctor told me I have to lose weight” Or “So I can run a 5K.” Or “Because I want a six pack like (favorite celeb).” or any of the defensive BS that people put up, until I hear a little bit of truth. Something like, “Because I want to feel better!”

JACKPOT!!! Understand that this isn’t the total answer that I’m looking for. But it is the crack in the built up wall that can lead us to the truth. As soon as I hear anything along these lines, The tempo of the conversation changes. Instead of the sharp Why!?! replies, I let their statement sink in. I’ll then ask, “Can you tell me more about that?” “When is the last time you felt really good?” Or one of my favorites, “Paint me the picture of you feeling GREAT.” This is where they tell me about time playing with kids, activities with friends and experiencing LIFE! The life they want back! NOW, we can come back to their current positions and start building daily tasks to get from here to there. Now we build their plan.

This is where it gets really interesting. This is where they come back to me with “next level” goals. I’ve had people bring me, ‘Climb Kilimanjaro’,’Be a competitive Fencer’ or my personal favorite; ‘compete and place in Ballroom Dancing competitions’. This was a woman who had never taken an athletic venture in her life. 5 months after joining the gym she placed 2nd in her category. How many times in those 5 months did she step on a scale? 0. She felt better, she looked better, she had more confidence; so who gives a shit what the scale says. By the way, when she finally did step on a scale, the BMI charts scored her as over weight. But the beautiful part was she no longer cared. She was too busy becoming what she wanted to be. I should also note that her Doctor was amazed at the up turn in all her health markers.

Now, to come back to your goal for this year; close your eyes, picture 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Who do you want to be? Get that crystal clear picture. Then start your plan.

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Is Less Really More?


I keep hearing, “Less is more” and WANT to agree with this statement but kept feeling like there’s more to it (ironic, I know). Left to just, “Less is more” most would have more questions. I know I did.

So today I was reading an article on “11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader” and saw the epiphany inducing quote by Milton Glasser… “Less isn’t more, just enough is more.” The concept of less being more allows people to continue to believe that starving themselves is making them healthier or that they need to give up a happy life for a healthy one; when any sane healthy person knows that getting more out of life is THE driving force behind health and fitness.

So I wanted to come up with a concept that would help people make better decisions as they look to get healthier. And I had this idea in my head that makes SO MUCH SENSE… to me. But, as I’ve passed the advise on it’s taken as a clichéd note. So I wanted to define it as clearly as I can, word by word:

Living Lean Helps You Live Lean.

Living – Life. The day to day. Day in and day out of the same thing. This patterned monotony often drives us to “retail therapy”. A quick fix to make us feel like we’ve accomplished something. What we are really doing is just filling a void. A void that is rooted in depravity and truly healed setting a goal that you are committed to. Something that, maybe scares you a bit but also stirs a passion in you.

Lean – Minimalism. You don’t go without, you hack away the unessentials to life. You rid yourself of the deadweight in life that slows you down. You don’t hunger for consumptive possession. You look to create something; an experience of a homemade meal that the whole family is part of, a project that you and your daughter work on that becomes her first car, and the goal you set doesn’t take away from the important parts of your life (career, family, social, etc) but fits within them and possibly connects them even more.

Helps – Teaches. These choices put you in positions where you build experience. Where you learn exactly what you are truly capable of. You learn that when all else fails, you won’t.

You – This one should be the easiest, right? Maybe. You at your core. I heard John Wooden say that, “Your reputation is who you are perceived to be, your character is who you really are.” ‘You’ is your character.

Live – Thrive. This is not “maintaining life”. This is L-I-V-I-N, LIVIN’!!! When you go to work on Monday, the rest of the office can’t wait to ask you, “What did you do this weekend?” ‘cuz you’re the guy who always has the amazing answers.

Lean – Healthy. Mind, body and soul. We’ve all felt one or more of these parts of our life cluttered at one point or another. Lean is not cluttered. Lean is functioning at full capacity and loving every minute of it.

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Are You Overtraining? Here’s How to Tell:

Overtraining. 10 years ago it was the buzzword that kept a lot of people from seeing results. Now it’s almost a goal for some. As if their effort is the payoff in gym regardless of results (I’ve seen plenty of people bragging about injuries from “going so hard”) Others state that there are only a few people in the world that are capable of overtraining. If you think this is the case, then start squatting now and don’t stop until I personally tell you to… like face to face.

So, are you overtraining? Here’s how to tell: Does your exercise program make your life more difficult? If yes, then you are overtraining.

This does not mean that being sore is overtraining. If you are looking to compete in a bodybuilding or figure competition then you have accepted what comes with it… ALL that come with it (the muscle stiffness that comes from hypertrophy) and you will have some rough days. But you’re an adult and that is your choice. If you have decided to train for athletic competitions, Crossfit style or OCR then you can expect some bumps and bruises, because that’s what comes with these competitions. These are a sport and just like any other and again, being an adult, you need to take ownership of that.

Now, if your goal is to increase longevity and quality of life because you want more energy and to spend time with your family, but you can’t walk for 3 days after you workout, then you may not be getting what you want from exercise. So make sure you’re putting the right effort and resources into it. You should feel that there is change happening in your body and you should be progressing but ultimately health and fitness is about getting more out of life.

Put in work. Eat for fuel and recovery. Learn something new. Have some fun. Get some sleep. Repeat that 90% of the time and you are a fit and healthy person.

Likes Become Things. Are You Stuck in a Social Media Victim Cycle?

Lately, I keep hearing people say they are quitting social media because there’s too much negativity on their feed. Hopefully you read that and thought the same thing I did: “You know you control what’s on your feed, right?” Now bear with me as I am not saying that everyone needs facebook, twitter and the like. It’s your world do as you wish, but it serves to at least ask the question; If you quit this medium all together with the aim of creating more positivity in your life, how are you going to make sure you don’t cultivate the same negativity in the rest of your life?


It’s been said that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. So if you find a constant chain of doom and gloom flooding your screen when you log on, why not try changing your feed? Why not set yourself up to be in a better mood? Scrub your friends list of the naysayers and Debbie Downers. Go through your ‘page like’ selections and purge the pages that don’t give you an instant “warm ‘n’ fuzzy” when you see them. Now you have created some space. Next, attract some good by liking some pages that promote education, growth and health (mental and physical). Look for community pages that share local events and take part. What I’m saying is use social media for what I believe is its intended purpose: To make your life better. In that name, there is a next step that is very important. Batch your time for e-mail, posting, sharing and scrolling. There is a big world out there and if you want as awesome an experience as possible, I suggest using social media platforms as resources. Set times during the day when you can log on. Other than that, be out and engage with the world!

I have had the good fortune to travel and live several different places and through it all I have met some amazing people. These sites have allowed me to keep in touch with them in a way that was not possible for previous generations. I also love what social media has done for information sharing but again, I am cognizant of what fills my feed. I do make an effort to read something opposed to my views once a month. I feel it’s a good practice for staying informed about what is out there without being over run.

If you’re considering wiping the slate clean of all platforms, I applaud the intent but ask you to consider changing the way you use them. Look to other avenues to actively bring more good into your world. (Check out Jonthan De La Garza’s Positive Pin) If you want your world to change, you have to be the one to change.


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Fire All Your Clients


Now Hiring: Partners
Throughout my fifteen years as a fitness professional, colleagues have complimented my work by commenting on the work ethic and results of my trainees. My trainees have complimented my work by keeping my book full and giving me the results that my colleagues notice. So how do I get the results? How do I keep a full book of high achieving, focused, and dedicated trainees?

I pre-qualify who I work with.

Let me be clear… I don’t care if it’s a Benz in the lot, I care if it was on time for our appointment (or fifteen minutes early); I don’t look for a Rolex, I listen for determination and a hunger to grow when goals are spoken; I’m seeking partners.

I’m not interested in taking any more clients… ever. Clients are consumers. They want to pay for my time, put their faith in me, and hope that I’ll change their life or, (it hurts to say this) some just look to talk about my services as a status symbol. I, like many other trainers, have been credited with changing many lives. Let’s be clear: neither I, nor any other trainer, is in the business or capable of changing anyone else’s life. I provide options and direction. I offer education and motivation. Clients set their goal and if they take what I offer, they will reach that goal. Many make progress, but when they leave their comfort zone, they quit. They choose to remain a client, consuming my time like a commodity, but never investing to change their self. I’ve had many trainees meet their goal and still remain a client. Once the goal is met, even before, I advise that we set the next goal to continue progress and continue their investment and truly make it a lifestyle. They meet the goal and want to ‘maintain.’ Maintenance is boring, so they wander, lose focus, and come back into me months or years later wanting to push the reset button on the goal we set way back when. They never invested in changing themselves. They PAID for my time and knowledge to meet a goal, but they didn’t INVEST in change.

Partners invest. They bring a goal, conviction to achieve that goal, and an understanding that the next goal will be waiting when we get there. Partners want to learn. They want to use me as a resource, but know that I’m not their guru. I’ll give them my professional opinion, provide them additional resources that I approve, and consult them on any outside opinions they bring to me. Additionally, I like to recommend that some of my trainees get a good PT certification. Some trainers worry that this will devalue their service – I offer them an exit to the profession. Like I said, I’m no one’s savior, but I’m not taking hostages here, either. I want my partners to have a better understanding of the knowledge behind the effort. My partners won’t always be training with me, but I will always be a resource for them. In turn they will be a resource for me – teaching me, enriching my professional and personal life, and filling my book with referrals.
That’s how I fill my book with driven, goal oriented, knowledgeable success stories. I seek driven, goal oriented people, cultivate knowledge, and we partner up on the story.

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Defining Moments

How did you read that title? Was it, ‘a moment that defines you’ or ‘taking the opportunity to define the moment’? I prefer the latter but I feel most would hear/feel the former. This question came into my head during a workout earlier this week.

I was set for 5 sets of 400×2 on deadlifts. I’ve been spending too much time in bad positions (driving, sitting at a desk and the like) and wasn’t feeling good in my warm ups so I asked a guy I know to watch my pull and give me pointers.

Me: “I’m not sure I’m keeping a good position. Can you watch and give me your feedback?”

His response: “There’s only 315 on the bar.” (Even thought I try to keep it in check, my ego kicked in here and I felt the need to defend my workout. It happens)

Me: “Yeah. I’m scheduled for 5 doubles of 400 today”

Him: “You can’t lift 400?”

About 2 weeks before I read a post from Brett Contreras. If you don’t follow him, you should. He spoke about how he was set to pull 500 lbs for the first time. He was very excited, did all his prep work the week before, slept, stretched and ate as he was supposed to, but on the day he was set to hit his deadlift PR, he hit a “different PR” as he referred to it. He walked away from the bar after his warm up because something felt off on his back. Choosing health over ego, knowing that 500 lbs will be there next week and there is no competition in training. I loved this and even replied with, “I hope I can show the same restraint when the time comes.”

Me: “Pretty sure I can but want to be safe about it. Do you have the time?”

He watched and gave me a “Looks fine.” wave off.

I’ve known this guy for a while and he has the reputation of being a dick. Mostly because plenty of people have stories of “defining moments” like this. I’ve even had conversations with people where it’s been said, “It’s a shame because he is a great trainer, he’s just a shitty person.”

But we all have moments where we lose focus. I know there are plenty of people out there that are more than justified to call me an a-hole. That is why I regularly practice revisiting my mission and purpose. So when the time comes I can put my ego aside and define the moment and not let it define me.

BTW, I hit 400×2 on all except my 3rd set where my grip gave out on the 2nd rep. I tried to hurry and didn’t set up well. I felt the pang of ego kick in as I wanted to add more to the bar and show what I could do, but I chose to follow the program I had set. All in all it was heavy and easy… the way strength training should be.


5 Dirty Little Fitness Secrets

1.) Be as naked as possible as often as possible in the sun. Getting skin exposure to natural light helps with increased VitaminKBSPool D production (which is tied to a litany of health markers moving in the right direction) improved serotonin levels (helps increase your mood) and a recent study showed being in natural light for just an hour lowered the blood pressure in all 34 participants. So get outside and get some time by the pool, walking in the park or chilling on your back deck.

2.) Masticate more! (Chew your food) Proper digestion starts with fully chewing your food. If food is not properly ground down by the teeth then all following digestive steps will be less effective. This means that less micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals) get in to your system. Without these your body’s metabolism can’t fully function and that can not only stifle fat loss but cause weight gain. Luckily the chewing processes the most enjoyable part because you taste the food so most are happy to adhere to this. If someone is a habitually fast eater, I will have them chew each bite 30 times. This usually builds the habit in a week.

3.) Bend over, to the side, and really every direction. As our daily lives become more and more static in a seated forward hunched position, new medical conditions are appearing. Desk postureText neck” is the latest and is easily avoidable. If you work in a desk job find out what it takes to get a stand up desk. Worst case scenario is you need a doctor’s note. If you have a doctor that won’t write one you seriously need a new doctor. Next, set an alarm every 15 minutes. When it goes off, check your posture. Chances are you’re slouching. To correct it lift the crown of your head tall, reach your hands out to the sides palms up and pull your shoulders back and down away from your ears. While maintaining torso and shoulder position, bring your hands in to the keyboard. Now, every 3-4 alarms go for a 5 minute walk and stretch a bit. This can help, but you should allot time after every workout and in the evening to mobility work.

4.) Sleep around… 7-8 hours. So many people love to brag about how little sleep they need. And while there may be exceptions to the rule, chances are it’s not you. EVERYTHING functions better when you are fully rested. You think clearer and faster, you’ll be happier, hell you’ll even be stronger. Setting yourself up for quality sleep is key. No phones, tablets, computer or TV the last hour (or 2) before bed. The light wave coming off of these screens suppresses melatonin telling. This is your body responding the same way your ancestors did from the morning sunrise. “Time to get up and go to work” is not the message you want to be sending just before hitting the hay.

5.) But seriously… bang. As if you needed more reasons to have sex regularly, here’s a few:550px-Censored_rubber_stamp_svg lowers blood pressure, decreases pain sensitivity, has been shown to lower chances of heart attack and certain types of cancer. On top of all this it helps balance testosterone/estrogen levels in men and women which aides in improving sleep, handling stress and keeping a lower bodyfat percent. Yeah teamwork! You can even count it as a workout!


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Crock Pots Save Lives.


“It’s just so hard to eat well! I’ve got 4 kids and managing their activities makes it impossible!” Marcia is my client and this was her reply to the question, “What did you have to eat today?”

I can’t relate. My wife and I have no kids. (Yet… I know. Please don’t email me about the joy that kids bring. We’ll get there on our own time and it’s not the point of this post, thank you.) But countless people in Marcia’s situation have done it before so “impossible” is simply not true. And I know that if I can help Marcia figure out how to get better fueling through out her day, EVERYTHING will get better for her. Energy levels, strength…hell, she’ll even get better QT with her kids and more production at work from the cognitive benefits that come from eating clean.

EVERYTHING. But I can’t tell her that. So what do I say?

“Crockpots save lives!” I don’t know where it came from but it stopped her (and me) dead in our tracks.

The look on her face told me that she got it before she said anything. “I could put it together in the morning and have dinner ready when I get home… Complete with leftovers for lunch the next day!”

But what else can a crockpot save?

Time? Stress? If you’ve got your lunch already packed, you can use the travel time to the restaurant to make your lunch break more enjoyable. More time sitting out side, reading, whatever it is that you are trying to find time for, there it is.

Money? Do you really need me to explain this one? Maybe you don’t but let’s run through it anyway; The average meal out is $12.75/person. Let’s play devils advocate and make it $10. The average in home meal ranges from $2 to $4/ person. Let’s be aggressive here and call it $4/person. You’re saving $6/person/meal. Do this for 4 meals a week and that’s $24. $1248/year. Per person. A family of 4? That’s $4992/year.

And remember that we were conservative on the estimates. Go to the other extreme (comparing $12.75/meal out to $2/ meal at home) it becomes $8944.00 a year. Compare that to the equivalent bump in pay (after factoring in taxes) it’s getting a $12,000-$15,000/ year raise!

And remember the original point here, you’re eating better, which means you’re feeling better.

So what now? Spend $40-$50 and get a decent crockpot if you don’t have one. At least 2 times a week, throw some meat, veggies and the spices of your choice in. Look up new recipe and find a new favorite each month. Print them and keep the collection. I give it 3 months until you’re known a wizard with your magic cauldron.

The Top 3 Things You Need to Get into Shape.

P90xgymThere are a few questions that Fitness Pros get consistently that are bitter sweet. Sweet because people are expressing interest in bettering themselves, bitter because they are a reminder of how far most people are pulled away from the truth. One of the ones that I love/hate is, “What do I need to get into shape?”

If you’ve ever asked this, you are in luck… Let me tell you about a REVOLUTIONARY NEW PRODUCT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER!!!

No no no… Nope… It’s much simpler than that.

Here is your list of priority needs:

  1. You need to make a decision that you will change before anything else will change.
  2. You need to start learning about nutrition.
  3. You need to start learning how to use the most important piece of equipment you have: Your body.

That’s it. That is all you NEED. Look, there are tons (literally) of things you can add after that. Truth told you probably will gain some fitness toys (as most new hobbies carry with them) but none of them are ‘needs’. IF I were to add additional equipment, it would be ‘Get some Kettlebells or a suspension trainer’, but it would still be number 4. But with each new piece of equipment you will have more to learn so DON’T be in a hurry to fill your life with more things.

Main point, make the decision. Beyond that, you need to seek knowledge.

More to come.

Keep being you.

The Principles of Success

The Principles of Success:
Years ago I developed the belief that the principles of success are the same no matter what the goal. It’s the TASKS that will change but the principles will remain the same. When this statement has come up, I’ve always jumped right into the tasks, until recently when someone asked, “Well, what are the principles?” Having understood the concepts as I believed them to be, I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t the forethought to put it into words.

So here we go… Conviction, condition and community.


1.) Conviction: You have to convince yourself before anyone else that you will be successful. Having a fixed belief that the goal will be accomplished is difficult for most because they don’t clearly define their success. So start there. Paint a clear picture of what you want. I cannot stress the importance of clear details here. This will not only build your conviction, but will also refine your goal and shape the next two principles. From a health and fitness standpoint this isn’t about setting a weight goal, its setting an empowering goal. What do you want to be able to do or do better? A goal like this is important for two reasons; A.) You can feel more energy, greater abilities and the greater confidence that comes from both and B.) This truly initiates a life style change. Think about it this way; weight will rise and fall as your body changes which can be disheartening if that is all you focus on, and THEN once you achieve a weight loss goal you may eventually ask, ‘Now what?’ The easy answer is maintain but that’s boring and rarely lasts. Lose more? Sounds dumb, but we all know people who could say they are ‘weight losers’ as a hobby because they are stuck in a yo-yo weight loss/gain cycle. Where achieving an empowering goal will give you a reason to celebrate, builds self confidence and makes you excited to ask the question, ‘Whats next?’ If you enter a 5K, you’re a runner; get in the ring, you’re a fighter; enter any athletic league, you’re an athlete. For a Life goal, I will ask, “What type of old person do you want to be? Conviction is the ability to tell a story vividly. As though it has already happened. Get a firm conviction and you’re half way there. But only halfway…

Condition2.) Condition: Now comes the hard part and please understand, this does not mean that you wait for the right conditions. The world will NEVER give you the perfect time. This means that you must create the right conditions… Starting within you. If you spent enough time on ‘painting the picture’ in step one, then as I said earlier some of the changes needed will be apparent. You’ll have things you need to do, learn or be ready for. Look at any fighter getting ready for a bout. They set a date and go to training camp for at least 8 weeks with a detailed plan to peak on fight night. They spar, train, stretch and run to prepare for the match. They eat to fuel performance and repair over night from the prior day’s training. They do research on their opponent watching videos to know what they’ll be up against all the while consulting with coaches, trusted friends and family (More on that in step three) Literally creating their own success or failure. Condition is what you have to become. The skills you have to develop, the tools you’ll need to learn how to use and the subjects you’ll need to either become an expert in or partner with someone on. Which segues perfectly into…

 TaraPiggy&I3.) Community: It has often been said that the best way to achieve a goal is to surround your self with like-minded people. There’s a saying that’s been passed down in my family for at least the last 4 generations: ‘Show me who you hang around with and I’ll show you who you are.’ When looking to achieve a goal, you must cut out the people that are telling you it can’t happen. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have conflict. There is a distinct difference between someone telling you, ‘You can’t do that!’ Vs. ‘You should do that a different way!’ The first one needs to go. The second could be considered.

This counts for all the people around you; Family, friends, coworkers even your boss. If a family member or friend is constantly putting you down, they probably deserve a second chance in the form of a, ‘I really could use your support…’ speech but if they don’t take the hint… Look, every successful person can tell you at least one story of a relationship lost. (Not that it can’t be mended in the future). But community is more than the people you choose to be around. It includes the environments that you spend time in. Is that environment polluted? Excess tv, video games, time robbing websites and anything else that you consider noise needs to be cut out of your world.

You may have noticed the trend of a deep internal beginning that grows through you mentally, then physically and eventually reaches out to the world. These are the principles of success. Be it the seed of a redwood finding the Earth hundreds of years ago that now towers over all around it, or the frightened-to-the-point-of-shaking-kid in his first practice that can see his hands raised in victory as he hears his coach and parents telling him, ‘You can do this!’ He already has all 3 doesn’t he? Good for him! Just understand that your age and the timing won’t matter. Start painting the picture and keep moving forward.


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