Category Archives: Blog

Three Keys To Success You Must Master

Congratulations on taking an important step to bettering your life. If you’re here I can assume you’re like me and know that you have more potential for your health, personal achievement and impact on the world. I’m here because I want to help you overcome the obstacles that stand between you and your goals. I’m tired of listening to people who have given up on their own dreams. These same people who quit on themselves have the nerve to say we should slow down and play it safe. Take the safe route. Don’t push too hard because you might get disappointed when you fall short of your goals. Does that mindset sound familiar?

Listen, on your death bed would you rather feel unfulfilled knowing that you only did what was expected of you or would you rather die knowing that you took a leap and chased your real dreams, even when others said they are too risky? We have one shot at this life. There are no repeats. Do not make the mistake of living your life with regrets! I don’t care where you are in life. As long as you have just the DESIRE to become better then greatness is within your reach. I don’t care if you have a negative bank account. The fact you have within you a mind that can think and be inspired than you are never broke. If you feel that you are unhealthy or sick and that you can never obtain the body you want I have similar advice. As long as you’re not dead or then you can achieve a higher state of health and a body you are proud of.

That sounds nice, but how the hell do you get there?

First you need to stop listening to people who lower your standards. If someone’s lifestyle is not congruent with your goals than you need to be cautions of the advice you take. Seek out those who are living the life you want and emulate their actions. Unfortunately, it is sometimes our family members who offer the worst advice. It may even be necessary to distance yourself from those who aren’t living a life that is congruent with what you want. It may seem harsh, but you become like those you surround yourself with. Take a cold hard look at the people you spend the most time with. Chances are you’re finances and health are not too different. Find people who inspire you. Find people who are already where you want to be or are working to get there. I promise you’ll not only get there faster, but any alternative will virtually guarantee you will fail. Surround yourself with people succeeding and chasing their dreams. Start with books, videos and podcasts. Just because you can’t be mentored by someone in person doesn’t mean you can’t use them as a mentor. My rule is to spend time every day learning from those how have achieved the goals I want.

Write down your top five goals in the next ten years.

You should be writing your goals down every single day. I have goals from the month, the year and the next ten plus years. My goals can change from day to day. If you don’t have your goals laid out then you cannot possibly know where you are going and it makes it difficult to formulate a plan.

Income

Increase your income by X amount a month. I came to the conclusion that I will never become a millionaire if I can’t make a thousand dollars more a month. So I started working overtime. For some of you that may mean taking on a second job. Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Good. Than be unreasonable with how much you’re willing to work. Once you get to 4k a month continue producing, selling, taking on side work etc. until you get to 5k. Then Emulate what you’re doing and figure out how to multiply that to 6k and so on. My point is simple. Do not let big lofty goals distract you from the targets you must reach first to get there. Most people can make 4k a month if they are willing to work two jobs. It takes income to produce wealth and it takes wealth to become rich. If you cannot increase your income you will never become wealthy.

“Focus on increasing your income, then saving. You cannot save your way to wealth. You must increase your income.”

How similar this is to working out. You cannot diet your way to a ripped, chiseled physique. You must first increase your calories at some point to build muscle while simultaneously increasing your intensity in the gym to see continued progress.

If you’re only focused on how you can cut expenses then you’ve got your targets all wrong. There are set expenses to living in a free country that you cannot fix. And there are many expenses that you cannot predict and cannot budget for. It doesn’t mean to spend your extra money, it means to put 99% of your effort into increasing your income to a level that outpaces your expenses. Then continue doing it again, and again and again.

Health

If you could go back to 6 months ago and start working out consistently, how good would you feel now? If you’re even a complete novice towards fitness I’ve got good news. You are at the perfect position in your life to make more progress than you’ve ever made towards your fitness goals. You can put on muscle quicker, lose fat quicker and make more noticeable changes to your body than anyone else. The last six months may be gone, but the good news is you have the NEXT six months to make the changes you know you should have made. If you want to get motivated to workout than you need to commit to working hard until you see a result. Motivation is the reward for seeing a result. That’s it. Get deep with yourself. You need to get healthy because you’re an example for everyone else in your life. Stop being selfish. Think about the people you love and the people who rely on you. Don’t you want to be the best you can for them?

Mindset

Nothing is possible without the right mindset. Even with all the money and health a negative mindset makes it pointless. I want to be happy. I’m sure you do also. You have to stop making decisions based on emotions. Some people call this emotional intelligence. I call it disregarding emotions and using intelligence before you make a decision. Ask yourself if a thought will serve you. Stress, hate, gossip….negativity. None of those will help you. Practicing gratitude, smiling, being the positive one regardless of outside circumstances are characteristics of someone strong. The weak and untrained mind gives into feelings of jealousy and is ruled by negative mindsets while blaming external sources for their circumstances. The trained mind lifts others up. The trained mind is so busy focused on success they don’t have time to put others down. What side of success are you on?

Think Like an Achiever

There’s a reason why one person get’s up at 5am to read while someone else get’s up at 8am and rushes to prepare for their day. When you study top achievers you begin to see patterns in their behavior that differentiate them. My question; however, is how do achievers think? What is the thought process that would drive someone to wake up at 5am and start working before even going to their normal job?

What I’m about to share is very powerful. I recommend you write it down because it can change your life. It is a simple thought pattern that can help you implement any positive change into your life. You have to understand you have ultimate control over your thinking. Your thoughts ultimately become your reality. So be extremely careful what line of thoughts and excuses you make if you want to be successful. There’s a very high probability your excuses are not valid.

How do you know if an excuse is valid? Simply ask this:

Has anyone in your situation ever accomplished the goal you want to accomplish? If yes, then that excuse is no longer valid.

So let’s stop making excuses and get excited. Here’s how the top achievers think….

Motivation happens when you start to see results. It is a useless and fleeting concept for starting a new habit. Instead understand how to think like an achiever:

Philosophy → Values →  Action →  Results →  Feelings/Motivation

This is the order in which you should tackle a new goal.

Philosophy – Working out is something so beneficial it is ridiculous not to do it. I believe the most successful people make their physical health a priority. Physical health directly influences mental health and has a great impact on how you do anything in life.

Values – Above all else I value the feeling of being healthy and chose to sacrifice short term comforts for long term prosperity.

Actions – Regardless of how I feel I will take action. I chose to act based on my intelligence, not my emotions. I understand I have ultimate control over my actions and chose to be master of my body and mind.

Results – These are quantifiable consequences of the actions you take. Results never proceed action. The results you get directly follow the actions you take. And the actions you take are based on the values and philosophy you hold (your thoughts).

Feelings – Only after I have seen results will I ask myself how I feel. To do so any sooner means basing my actions on how I feel which could change at any time.

Motivation – Congratulations. You seen your hard work over the weeks turn into a results. Maybe you’ve lost weight, you’ve seen your strength go up, someone complimented you or you look better in the mirror. Regardless, motivation is simply the reward of working hard. It has little to do with the foundation of habit building. It is just a bonus. Some days you might not feel motivated. Always go back to your philosophy and values before you decide you should quit.

As you can see, true lasting motivation isn’t a process to accomplish a goal but a result of seeing progress towards that goal. Sometimes it’s fun to get a little boost of motivation. But that high can easily disappear so build a foundation on values.

Only when I valued becoming a greater person have I found the willpower to press through all the moments I don’t feel motivated. Those are the times that matter. They are the perfect opportunities to accelerate your actions into habits. The second you don’t feel like doing something take note of that but don’t act on that feeling. Instead write down the things you truly value and why working towards them is so valuable.

Lastly, remember this. In many years of working out I have never regretted going to the gym or doing that harder task first.

How will you change your philosophy to match the lifestyle you want to have?

How To Never Fear Death

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I love being alive. I don’t want to die. I want to live as long as possible, develop amazing relationships and maintain the highest level of health possible for as long as I’m alive. I want to explore life’s possibilities and become the best version of myself possible. I want to inspire and give my love to those around me. But maybe that’s just a dream. You know what makes me afraid and fills me with great sadness? I’ll paint the picture.

I imagine the moment I realize I’m dying and there’s no turning back. I have total mental clarity of my position. My life is flashing through my eyes. I see an awesome childhood, loving parents and great friends…and then I grow older. I go to school, get a job and do exactly what’s expected of me. I find a wife, maybe have children and work hard everyday for 40 years. I work to support someone’s dreams so I can get a paycheck in hopes of retiring when I’m old but still relatively healthy. I take a week of vacation every five years when I can afford it. Being able to save and retire with a pension is an old dream unlikely to happen for my generation. So I work part time even into my 70s. I retire when I’m simply too old to work. As I feel my body start to shut down a questions passes through my head. How much more fulfillment could I have got out of life….how many more people could I have helped…how many more lives could I have touched….had I sought each day to be my best instead of good enough?

Society sets low expectations of us. There exists little outward drive to spark the inner flame that powers a thirst for personal development. I’m talking the work that’s unexpected of us. That work which happens outside of traditional schooling or your job. Those who are most successful and achieve the biggest goals are those who do the work not expected of them. They go above and beyond what society asks of us. When one sets alight the flame on a quest to personal development it can lead to a volcano of accomplishments that were once not just unlikely but maybe impossible. This is a fact that can be quantified.

When you study the best of the best at anything you can see one striking trend: A person’s accomplishments rarely accede their level of personal development. I’ll repeat that because it’s the foundation for every future success you might have. A person’s accomplishments rarely accedes their level of personal development. Most real personal development must happen outside of school because school is designed to help you be average. It is designed to teach you how to gain entry into a job where you can do what’s expected of you. I’m not saying don’t go to school, but I’m saying be aware of what it is and isn’t. To me true education starts when you are hungry to become more and better yourself, not just learning what’s expected to pass a test. After high school I spent two years in college. I took a number of business classes along the way. Today I hardly remember any of the specifics just general ideas. School helps me gain perspective, but when it comes to deep diving into how to be successful and be my best it was completely lackluster.

Thankfully, I had the curiosity to read a few books on personal development at a young age. It was this quest for knowledge that led me to my first book on fitness. This was the spark that led me to spend hours every week studying fitness. I’ve built a decent body I’m proud of after training seriously for over three years. It is not chance, but the seven years worth of personal development through studying fitness, motivation and nutrition that made it possible. It is also why I am totally confident I will continue to take my body to new levels in the coming years. My level of success matches my level of ongoing personal development.

So you want to live an awesome life and have a great body? Then you need to seek those who are doing what you already want. It’s quite simple. The answers are already out there. You need to ask who has them. Sometimes you can’t meet a person in real life. That’s why there’s books. The best resource possible and the second best option to having a real life mentor. I love the idea that failure is a powerful tool to success. Even better is to cut your failures and learning curve in half by reaching out and emulating those more successful and living the lifestyle you want. Am I better off going to business school taught by a professor who has probably never run a business before or going out into my local community and seeking a mentor who currently runs a successful business? The first will help me get a degree. The second will likely give me the exact principles needed to become successful. The same thing goes with working out. Would you trust a trainer who has an average body or would you trust someone who has a lifestyle and body you want to emulate? Find the people doing what you want to be doing and cut your learning curve in half. Simple.

When you live a life designed to create your own destiny because you focused on personal development something funny happens. You become the best player at the game of life. When you stay consistent you will blow other people out of the water. Remember, the average person stops when the road become difficult or uncomfortable. When you stand strong in the face of adversity and realize it is your own intelligence that can get your through any challenge you can grow incredibly confident. And you learn to harness your own intelligence through personal development. By continually working towards your dreams you are not surviving but living.

Everyday I look around and I see survivors. People who give their dreams up to make ends meet instead of taking time to improve themselves and build a better, happier life. To me that is already being dead. When you not just admit but take action towards following greater potential can you start to live for yourself. A life spent pleasing the gate keepers or those who control our level of achievement and position in life is a life of missed potential. You must become the champion of your own life. You are your own hero. You are the one who can save you. The answers are out there, you just have to seek them. Continually improve and you can grow strong beyond measure. You can reinvent your own identity and be someone who others envy. The best service you can do to those around you is how you live your own life.

To be blunt, sometimes we die. On this road you may not make it as long as you hoped. But I will never fear death if I know I’ve made each day my own and enjoyed life to the fullest. And it all starts with personal development. Whatever happens, happens. In the mean time I will stand tall and cherish the possibilities each day brings until I am no longer standing. Someday I will die. I may not control that day but I control the time in between. I intend to make that time count. I refuse to life a life of regrets. That is how I will never fear death.

Finding Motivation To Workout

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The single hardest part of getting in shape is just showing up. You have to tell yourself I feel unmotivated and that’s ok. There is no such thing as a bad workout compared to doing nothing. If you put so much stress on yourself to always preform at your best, to always feel motivated, you will fail. It’s ok to not want to go to the gym. It’s ok to even hate it sometimes.

There is a difference between someone who works out each day, and someone who works out when feeling motivated. That difference is habit. If you plan to use motivation as the primary vehicle to fuel your resolution to get in shape, let me tell you from experience don’t rely on motivation! Motivation is fleeting and unpredictable. It can come and go in an instant. Life is unpredictable and events can inspire and destroy us. There is a better way to base the foundation of your gym lifestyle.

A habit is something we do without thinking. You don’t plan to get dressed in the morning. It is a natural motion of living day to day. I know this title is about motivation, but I urge you to stop caring about motivation. Start caring about your health and your future. Even those of us who love the gym and seem to never miss a workout experience intense times of feeling unmotivated. Due to the stress of life, lack of sleep or otherwise, I feel unmotivated to train sometimes multiple times a week. But I always do. This is because I understand the very truth that it is all in my head. Physically I am always capable of working out. The second I start to question if I should go to the gym do I experience the stress of forcing myself to go.

Instead I recommend a different approach. The gym needs to become a toothbrush and your body the teeth. I brush my teeth twice a day. So do most people I know regardless of their physical health. We understand the importance of cleaning our teeth. So it becomes a habit. I haven’t heard of anyone reading a book on finding motivation to brush your teeth. It’s something most of us just do. The gym should become the same way.

Whether tired, hungry, energetic…sad…happy…you need to set a routine time aside each day and go to the gym. It’s ok to hate the thought of it. No one always feels 100% in the gym. I don’t think I have ever in my life felt 100% during a workout. There is always some kind of muscle soreness, sleepiness, stress in my life or a long list of things that could make training harder. But I show up each day. Be it cloudy, rainy or snowy, high up beyond the earth’s influence the sun still shines. You need to be the sun. Show up every day regardless of the “weather” in your life or outside it.

A habit becomes a habit by doing it. Simply put, one day you will stop asking yourself if you should go to the gym. It will no longer be a question of if. It will be a question of when and for how long. Going to the gym routinely also makes working out itself easier and even fun! You will start to see increased positivity in your life. And that is motivating. And motivation is good, it certainly makes the journey less of a mental challenge. But never rely on it. Motivation comes and goes. Make fitness a habit by working out when you don’t feel like it. That is the perfect time to change. Repeat this phrase: “The best time to do something is when you don’t want to do it.” If you follow through I guarantee you the motivation will soon come. And it will be in abundance. Motivated people self generate motivation by daily habits and practices.

You are the master of your mind, and the master of your body. Do not be fooled. Refuse to accept defeat. When you walk out the door dreading your gym session walk with a smile because you are growing stronger just by the act of showing up.

 

How to Gain Muscle: The Top 2 Concepts That Changed The Game For Me

2.5 year Progress

There’s always a lot of opinions on how to put on muscle or “get big” as some would say. Through my own personal struggles to gain weight I have found a method that makes it incredibly easy. It is so straight forward that failure is almost inexcusable with a moderate amount of effort in the gym. Do these two things and over months of training you can add a very respectable amount of natural muscle.

When I started to train my progress was slow to non existent the first couple years. I learned I couldn’t just blindly hope I was eating enough. I had to actually write my food down each day and add up the calories. That led me to the conclusion I was underrating most days by anywhere from 500-1,000 calories. Wow. At 6’4 I needed to eat a lot of food! Being into “health food” and vegetarian, getting 3500-4000 calories a day is some work. I don’t want to spend all my free time preparing meals and eating. I want to maximize my time to do with as I please. Sitting around eating all day is not my idea of a good way to live.

By trial and error I discovered there was a better way to get in those calories. And that leads me to the first thing everyone who is struggling to put on muscle should try doing: tip #1 is drink your calories. What is one of the number one tips you hear when people talk about losing weight? Stop drinking your calories! There are crazy amounts of calories in flavored coffee creamers, pop and shakes from fast food restaurants to name a few examples. I don’t believe you should compromise your health with “dirty bulking.” This leads to a increase of fat gain which is absolutely not what anyone wants. Not to mention those foods are nutritionally deficient and will not serve you as well with training and recovery. But that’s not to say you cannot learn from them. Have you seen a very large person always drinking sugary pops? I know I have! Drinking your calories works. But you need to do it in the right way.

What should you do? I have personally made most of my progress taking a lean mass gainer protein shake 2x a day. It’s totally possible to make a healthy, high calorie shake out of ingredients at home like milk, oats and peanut butter. That being said, the balance of carbs, fat and protein in a mass gainer shake are ideal for putting on lean body mass. Optimum Nutrition’s Serious Mass has been my go to brand for a long time due to the lower price on amazon.com. Like most protein powders chocolate is the best tasting flavor in my opinion.

Here’s exactly how I have used a mass gainer to make the most progress of my life and hardly worry about my diet, saving so much time! I hardly worry about meal prep either as the time it takes me to eat is very minimal. And I want to be clear, I typically eat at least 4,000 calories a day. There’s no denying it takes a long time to eat upwards of 3,500 to 4,000 calories when we are talking about healthy, whole grain food. I don’t have the time or energy each night to eat half a box of pasta and when I do I simply would rather not.

In the morning when I wake up I put one scoop of Serious Mass in a blender bottle with about 2 cups of soy milk. You can use cow milk, almond milk, or even water if you prefer. However, remember there is very little nutritional value in almond milk as it is mostly water. Due to the thickness of soy milk I top it off with a little bit of water after I shake it up initially so it is thinner and easier to drink. This first “meal” of mine comes out to about 860 calories. It’s quick and easy to drink and I can drink it on my drive into work. Perfect.

During the morning I might eat another meal like 2 cinnamon raisin bagels with peanut butter. I do this out of convenience and lack of planning most days. I won’t lie. I simply find it easier to throw bagels and peanut butter in a bag if I haven’t prepared anything special. This way there are no excuses. And it has been working for me so far!

After my workout I make the shake that really counts. In my opinion, this is the single best way to put on mass if you struggle with eating:

2 cups soy milk (or whatever milk you prefer)

1 scoop of Serious Mass or your preferred mass gainer

1 frozen banana. I like this because it adds a bit of sweetness. By freezing the banana it helps make the shake taste like an ice cream shake. Delicious. I always pre-peel and cut my bananas then freeze them in bulk.

1/2 cup natural peanut butter. Here’s where you can really adjust depending on your other meals. If you want less calories use less peanut butter. When I am trying to diet down I sometimes use just a couple tablespoons. Peanut butter is your greatest ally to put on weight. This alone is over 700 calories. I would have a lot of trouble eating this. But in a shake it’s easy as cake.

1/2 to 1 cup of water. This is vital because if your shake is too thick it is much harder to drink. You might think this just means more to drink overall, but trust me. Play around with the amount of water because thinner shakes slide down nice and easy.

Blend everything for about 20 second. Make sure you scrape any excess peanut butter off the sides of the blender. Those are gains and they are precious.

Lastly, and this is totally optional, I like to add in 3-4 ice cubes. I then blend the shake for about 8 seconds on high. This improves the texture and taste by making it colder and reminds me more of an actual chocolate ice cream shake. I enjoy the feeling of the small ice crystals as I drink it. And this is a bigger shake. If you were to chug it you would probably throw up! I usually sip on it over the course of 1 hour, though sometimes more. That ice helps keep it cold too.

This shake is about 1,600 calories. Adding in the other shake you drink (either in the morning or at night) your total calories are already over 2,600. This is brain dead simple and leaves absolutely NO EXCUSES to reach your daily caloric goals. Adding in a another 1-2 meals and you easily can reach them. For some of you this may already be too many calories. In that case, cut down on the peanut butter or remove it depending on what else you plan to eat. On my rest day on Sunday I will often drink two mass gainer shakes, however, I will not use peanut butter as I am typically expending no calories in the gym. That leads me to my second point.

If you want to eat more food and keep putting on muscle you: tip #2 have to workout consistently! Nothing can stimulate your appetite better like a routine training schedule. I find it so easy to eat the way I do. Yet, when I get sick or experience a rare time when I’m not working out each day I find it much, much harder to eat food. My body simply doesn’t want it! Not to mention, if you keep eating this much food without working out you are wasting your time. Those excess calories will not go to build lean body mass because you’ve done nothing to make your body need to repair itself. Instead you will just get fat. Simple.

I want to reiterate that although you do need to eat a decent amount of food to put on size, you absolutely do not need to overeat and you probably need to eat even less than you imagine. The hard reality is that a good amount of weight to gain is only about 2 lbs a month. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you are gaining much more than .25 to .5 lbs a week I’d be willing to bet a good portion of that is water and fat. I know this because every time I diet down that is about the gains I’m left with (not to mention I’ve researched this question in depth).

The best strategy is to eat at a level where you are gaining a little weight at a time, but not too much. My recommendation is to never allow yourself to go above 10% body fat. It can be hard to see a difference between 10 and say 15% body fat especially if you are tall like me. This is why you have to really be mindful of gaining weight too fast if visually you can’t tell. The truth is, all that time spent losing the excess fat is only less time you can spend building muscle in the future. And going into a caloric deficit to lose fat (which you will have to do) increases the chances of losing muscle depending on how long you remain in a lowered caloric state. When in a caloric deficit I promise you are not going to gain much or any muscle unless you are coming from an obese state or a true beginner who has never lifted. In both cases, the muscle you put on will be limited at best.

Again: to be successful at gaining muscle you should 1. try drinking your calories with a mass gainer and 2. always workout consistently. Do those two things and you can see incredible results given decent amount of time.

Gym Progress Stalling? Here’s Why

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Being very tall and skinny the majority of my life I thought my body type simply didn’t support gaining weight. I put on ten pounds then never made it past that over the course of three years while training on and off! Eventually I lost it when I stopped training for a few months then gained a little back. It was a vicious cycle. I literally thought that the only way to get stronger was to lift heavier weights. Wrong! Let me spare you my past ignorance: I simply had to eat more.

If you want to get stronger you have to lean to eat! I was eating 2500 calories when I needed to be eating 3500. It wasn’t until I tracked my calories that I realized how little I was actually eating. I felt full at the time and felt like I was pushing myself. Sometimes we need a hard dose of reality. I was actually living well within my comfort zone. I had to redefine my limits. Spaced out properly eating a lot is not too difficult. I will write a post specifically addressing this, but suffice to say when you train hard the work you put into the gym helps immensely to stimulate your hunger.

That wasn’t my only problem. Growing up in track and then trying to gain weight I was so worried about gaining fat I would workout then go for a long run. Had I been eating enough it probably would not have made a big difference at the time. But my training intensity has probably quadrupled since than. I would hold myself back if I tried that today. Overdoing cardio is all too common….

“Why are you doing so much cardio?”

“I’m trying to cut. I need to keep carbs super low and do cardio for at least an hour after my heaving lifting session. I don’t want to get fat.”

This makes me want to scream! Guess what? By eating so little food, hitting the weights then hitting the cardio you are destroying your body’s ability to lose fat. Even if you find a level of success at losing fat you have seriously jeopardized the muscle you might have gained prior to cutting.

When you think about getting lean you need to think about your metabolism. Your body is built to survive. If you start training hard and adding in cardio while eating very little your body will work to compensate and keep you alive. As your metabolism slows down losing any weight takes way more effort, and you have to keep eating less and less. At this point there is no realistic possibility of maintaining this diet in the long run. Inevitably, you will increase your calories and that fat is going to come back. Only this time you have even less muscle. Having muscle is one of the best ways to keep a fast metabolism. Now you really screwed yourself. It’s too common to hear of women training for competition who have gone on severely low carb and fat diets that end up suffering permanent thyroid damage.  Do not sacrifice your health for some quick fat losses! The quickest route to success in fitness is long term sensible dieting and consistency.

In both cases there is one uniting concept that you need to be aware of if you want to maximize your progress in the gym. Eat more food!! Not only does eating more help build muscle–the number one best goal to have if you want to stay lean and burn the most calories outside of the gym–it also will help boost your metabolism. You need to look at training like this: train like an athlete and eat like an athlete. I promise you if you learn to eat more you will push past those plateaus that might have plagued you. Your lifts will go up and you will feel great.

I’m not saying you should be eating at a caloric surplus if you are trying to lose fat. What I am saying is you should be focusing on training hard so you don’t need to compromise your metabolism by dieting down to absurd levels. 1,000 calories a day is not enough to support your body if you are training on top of that! But let’s say you do want to lose fat. That’s awesome! With a sensible approach of eating a little under maintenance calories each day and training hard you can do it.

When dieting down as a beginner you can gain some muscle. But that will be limited. Eventually you will need to think about increasing your calories. Even if you are a man or women putting on lean body mass is one of the most important goals you can have. It doesn’t mean trying to look like a bodybuilder or figure competitor (though I certainly salute anyone who wants to). It just means utilizing one of nature’s greatest gifts. When you go through life in a trained state with a fit body everything changes. Pain goes away, your posture improves, you are not so tired and you crave nutritious food to name a few examples. Staying in shape is far easier than getting there. Just having that extra lean body mass will help keep your metabolism boosted and fat will be harder to come by. You literally burn more calories just by walking!

And the quickest way to accomplish all this is by eating enough calories!! Part of the problem is you can’t just eat more. You need to have the proper training load to make that extra food work for you. And food is your ally. It is not something to be avoided. I pretty much live on the concept that 80% of my diet is healthy and the extra 20% is whatever I want. Those occasional high calorie meals from junk food can actually help stimulate your metabolism. That being said, I might not eat junk food for two weeks. Then I might eat it for 4 days in a row. The point is I do not have an unhealthy attachment to my food. I allow myself freedom. When I eat something “bad” I am not thinking to myself how this is hurting my diet. I’m probably thinking about the texture and taste. I’m enjoying the moment!

On that thought have you every tried chocolate meditation? Everyone should try this. Take some good chocolate. Preferably not some cheap Hershey’s stuff (though that will work) and find a quiet place. Put it in your mouth and focus on nothing else in the world but that chocolate. Notice how it melts, how the texture changes. Absorb every ounce of sensory input from your mouth. If you’ve ever meditated or would like to try, this is a great place to start. Beginners at meditation are taught to clear their mind by focusing on the feeling of the air coming in and out of their nose. This is the same thing, only with chocolate. What could be better!?

You need to be training hard if you want your food to work for you, not against you. That has always been one of the main concepts I’ve implemented into my training lifestyle. It has helped me make more progress as a natural body builder in 2.5 years than many people make in their life of training. This is not to say I am on a path to get fat. In fact, you want to be gaining as little fat as possible. For most men starting out that is going to be about 3,000 or so calories and women more like 2,500 a day assuming your are training most days of the week. Personally, I made most of my progress eating 3,500-4,000 calories a day. But I am 6’4 so being taller I will need to eat a few hundred more calories a day. I will always cut down my calories if I feel like I am getting too fat. Why? Eventually I’m going to have to go into a small caloric deficit to lose that fat. The longer I spend losing fat the longer I could spend losing some amount of muscle as well! Not to mention, if I spend all my time trying to get rid of fat I’m certainly not spending that time maximizing my muscle gains.

Recently I spent 4 months eating 5,000-6,000 calories a day. During this entire time I never really went over 10% body fat. Were I to continue eating like this I would end up getting too fat. However, I did this because I know I had to really push my diet to break through some plateaus. The second I feel like I am gaining too much fat it is easy to simply eat less. Instead I put myself in an amazing position. By training so hard and eating so much I was gaining weight but not too quickly. Muscle is built over months while fat is far easier to obtain and can be gained in weeks. Now that I want to look a bit leaner I can still eat well over 3,000 calories a day and be losing weight! I managed to keep my metabolism running on full throttle by eating so much. And I’ve made some nice strength gains to top it off.

So what are you waiting for? Start thinking about your training as if you are an athlete. Then go refuel like one.

TL;DR Eat more.

 

One Thing You Are Doing to Sideline Your Goals

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I have failed on the majority of goals I have set in my life. You might as well stop reading because I have no idea what I am talking about, right? Bare with me for a moment. My resume of failures seems to grow each year. I remember reading an article about Abraham Lincoln. This was the first time I truly understood the power of failure. Abraham Lincoln has failed at more things in his life than most people I have ever read about. But look what he accomplished with his life in the end. President of the United States! I honestly thought I had failed at a lot. It’s so easy to look at those more successful than us and wonder how they got so lucky. I dare you to find someone who has created success for themselves and hasn’t had many monumental failures on the path to get there.

Failing is great. It’s part of the process of growing. Wield failure like a weapon. Use it to learn from your mistakes. Every failure is a life lesson, and you can turn a situation upside down by focusing on that truth. That being said, there is one major thing you can do today to help eliminate one of the primary reasons you might be failing to even attempt your goals.

From a young age I have been into read personal development type books. Having strong goals and seeing them through is predictably a key part of this genre of book. There is one thing that I have never read in any book. This is why I am so excited to be writing about it. This has changed my life. I consider it the single greatest predictor of if my goal will become a reality. I want to share it because I can almost guarantee everyone reading has made this one mistake. I have made it hundreds of times myself.

You know what feels awesome the second you decide to follow a goal? Telling the world. I want to jump up and down and scream my excitment. Hey, world! Look at me doing this amazing thing! But wait. I haven’t actually done anything. I probably haven’t even considered how to accomplish my goal. I just made up my mind I wanted to do it. Therein lies the problem. I’m experiencing a sense of accomplishment, and sharing how proud I am of myself without even lifting a finger. My goal is no closer to being accomplished then the day before I thought of it. But here I am feeling proud and wanting to show off.

This attitude fundamentally destroys motivation. I’ve already got a reward (the feeling of pride for telling people about my goal) so now why go through the extra effort of actually following it? But it doesn’t end here. When you try to tell people about a goal they will often tear it apart either consciously or unconsciously, hurting your chances of success. The truth is you can never know impossible into you follow through! Do not set yourself up to be unmotivated from the get go by letting others choose your fate. Do your research first. Become educated and actually start making your goal happen. Seek people who can give you constructive criticism along the way. But DO NOT look for validation in others before you even attempt your goal. That is the number one way to sideline your goal from the get go. 

Can’t is a word that you should never use again. Next time you imagine the place you want to be say I can. Say I will. Then wrote down ten different things you can do this week to help get you there. Chose one and do that today. Read a book on the topic, research online, seek a mentor… And while you are at it tell NO ONE about your goal. The second you rely on outside input for inspiration you have set yourself up to feel unmotivated when the naysayers and realists try to steal your fire and save you from failing. When you want to go against the grain people are forced to look at you and confront their own insecurities about their position in life. What if you do succeed at doing what you love? What does that say about the rest of us who are just doing what we thought was expected of us?

And even if you do fail at your goal no one will be the wiser because you kept your mouth shut! I find that telling people about a goal creates extra stress because now I have to admit my failures to others. Not everyone understands my opinions on failure. That’s ok, but I’d rather not explain them to the 20 people I told when I got my grand idea to better myself. Should have just kept my mouth shut. Then again, maybe you do succeed at one goal. At that point you might not even need to tell anyone. They will see your success and might become envious without you saying a word. They might go out of their way to compliment you. And that’s great. You deserve it! Now get back to work! I experienced this when I first put on about 20-30lbs my first year of training. EVERYONE I met complimented me or commented on my body. It felt good, but my recommendation is to be thankful while being forgetful. Never rely on the opinions of others for motivation. What if those same people were telling me I looked funny? Motivation must come from within.

I kept this conversation in the forefront of my mind when I built this website. This is not the first fitness website I have made. The first looked good but I never took it a step further and learned how to build in membership functionality. I never put the finishing touches and worked out the technical kinks that would have made my dream happen. But I did tell many people about my website. I told them how excited I was to start it. At that time all I had were a few pictures of myself and some free workout plans. Far from ready to tell anyone. I was stuck. I needed to build a membership website but I lacked the knowledge of how to do so. And I let it sit for over a year.

That was until do to a life event I felt I had to either sink or swim. I started from scratch. I built another website until I realized it lacked the functionality I wanted. So I deleted it and did more research. Finally I figured out exactly what I needed to do and here I am. Had I not sucked it up and put in the extra effort to go from idea to reality this website probably wouldn’t exist. Here is the kicker: I still am far from finished. I need to get the word out and let the world know I exist. Otherwise, I will once again be stuck with a pretty website and a full time job wiping old people’s asses as a CNA. No offense to anyone in this field you are a hero! But it’s not what I want to spend the next three years doing. This website will become one of the best fitness website on the Web. But I cannot tell anyone. Lie, make an excuse, but tell no one.

Those are lofty goals. Yea I probably should have kept that to myself. But I will be honest with you. If I were to tell my friends or family I planned to quit my job and live off a website I created most would try to convince me to do otherwise. And then I’d agree. I have an ok job and I can go back to college. That’s what people want to hear. I know this won’t make me happy. So I am left with this: silence is golden. Don’t tell them. Show them. 

Consistency – The Most Important Factor on Your Path to Success

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Our bodies are incredible and can do incredible things if the mind allows it. Luckily, the harder you push yourself the easier training hard becomes.  How many of us dread training legs? I certainly did at one point! I even admit there were a number of “missed leg days” because I was a runner and that was plenty, right? Hmmm not quite. I hardly saw any progress in my leg development until I started training them each week. And I still found it difficult to motivate myself at times on leg day. So what did I do?

I now train legs 2x per week. At first it was hard. But our bodies adapt quickly. The extra leg session each week compared to the occasional missed leg day was a game changer. Not only did my body adapt to leg training in a matter of weeks, the suffering and feelings of leg day dread totally stopped! I always look forward to leg day now and as a bonus my legs are far more developed. The point is this: the more days you skip out on training or make excuses the more days you will suffer when you eventually decide to train. The best way to love the gym is to dive in and give it everything you have. Consistency is your greatest ally.

How many people do you know who get inspired to workout then give up after a few weeks? *Raises hand* Yes this used to be me!! Hands down the most difficult part of getting in shape is the beginning. Your tolerance for training is at its lowest point. And that’s great because when you stick with it everything will get better! And chances are you will start to love the challenge, to love pushing yourself everyday. It will become a reward. It will become something you look forward to.

Despite this, inevitably many people do quit. Maybe for a few weeks, months or even longer. But no one can deny the importance of being healthy. Especially as our health starts to slip away. Time to go back to the gym! And the cycle repeats. My hope for you reading this is that you don’t fall into that trap. That you continue training each week and watch yourself progress. And progress is slow! You need to be in it for the long haul and it needs to be a lifestyle. Let me tell you this: three months, six months or even a year from now it is a decision you will not regret!!

If you take one thing from me remember this: be consistent. Even if you are not training optimally, even if you are not eating optimally, being in it for the long haul can still yield impressive results overtime. I hope, however, that by using my website and subscribing to my workout planner you can eliminate  most of the common training mistakes and misconceptions so prevalent  in the fitness world from the get go. This way once you make fitness a lifestyle nothing will hold you back from obtaining the body you deserve!