Can You Balance Fitness and A Fun Life?

Americans are obsessed with a “balanced” life.

Recently I was browsing through the new books section at my local bookstore and almost every single self-help title was along the lines of:

  • “Work-life balance for the busy professional”
  • “How to balance it all as a mom”
  • “Work hard and have fun”
  • “How to balance it all”

While work-life balance is a great goal, the problem is that most people feel incredibly guilty all the time for not balancing everything.

They feel bad they don’t have enough time to meditate in the morning, that they skip breakfast, that they missed a night out with their friends due to a project needing to be finished, or any other guilt that sits in the back of their minds.

Everyone is stressed out. Look at any single day time television show: it’s about balance and how stressed we all are.

Sure, it’s important to make time for what matters, but understand that we’re all simply doing the best we can at any given moment.

My 27th birthday was this past Friday and instead of feeling bad about not having some “exciting” night out, I decided to finally say: Fuck it.

For years I went out with friends, whether I was in the mood for it or not, because of some idealistic reality-TV-driven standard of go big or go home. Instead, I just read some books, watched some movies, and got in some quality family time. I ate an entire pizza and tub of ice cream because fuck. it.

I don’t have time to meditate right now (that can also be read as: It’s not a priority right now), and I’m going to stop feeling bad about that. I skip breakfast often and I’m not going to feel bad about that either.

I don’t have it all balanced, and I’m going to keep trying to instill better habits but the guilt has to go. I’m done with it.

I’ve decided to stop feeling bad about not being able to balance it all.

Life is a spectrum. Sometimes you’re 100% all-in and dedicated to a goal. Sometimes everything is thrown off balance. Sometimes you just need to put in 14+ hour days on a project to hit your deadline and you miss your workouts.

Fuck. It.

You’ll catch up later.

You’ll put in extra cardio next week.

To be honest, I don’t know anyone who has it all balanced.

Even celebrities with hired help still operate in different levels of the spectrum.

If you’re feeling guilt over not having everything perfectly balanced, please take a deep breath. Right now.

Keep trying to balance everything, but if you miss something, STOP FEELING BAD.

Sometimes I’ve forced myself into the idea of “balance” and hung out with friends but the whole time I’m thinking about the work I need to stay up all night to finish.

I’m in a period of my life where I need to work harder than I ever have before and I am simply not going to feel bad about it.

When I worked at my old gym, not balancing everything was the top guilt-inducing feeling.

When a client was clearly plagued with guilt about missing a workout, bingeing over the weekend, or thoughts about not spending enough time with their family: their workout suffered every single time.

They were slower, less enthusiastic, and wanted to be done way earlier than they should have.

People walk around with these feelings all the time.

Sometimes you don’t even realize how pervasive guilt is until you stop and realize how often you beat yourself up over it.

Take a deep breath, know you’re trying your best, decide on your top three priorities, and don’t feel guilty about anything outside of those priorities.

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Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Getting in shape doesn’t just happen.

No one wakes up one day and realizes all of their fat dropped off, they’re incredibly strong, and their body added muscle in all the right places.

It takes serious work, dedication, and planning.

It takes a lot of effort to go to the gym day after day after day. However, most people who do aren’t actually following a plan. They show up, throw some weights around, and call it a day. (Or even worse, they go, get on a treadmill, and think that’s good enough.)

Every time I fuck around in the gym, I rarely see any results. Sure, it feels good. Sure, it reduces stress, but anyone who wants results needs some kind of plan.

I have people ask me all the time, “How do I get abs / bigger arms / bigger booty?!” And I ask them what plan they’re following. Then they come back with, “I don’t know, I just go and do a few moves I saw on Instagram a few times a week.”

Well, that’s not a plan.

Today is Tuesday and I would bet most people have already thrown in the towel for the week. Their Monday was busier than planned so they swear, “NEXT WEEK!”

(Pro tip: Monday is always busy as shit. Prepare for this.)

Here’s how I plan my weeks for domination even though life is a never-ending shit-storm most of the time:

1. Look at your whole week.

Scripting my week has been one of the fundamental habits that changed my results in both the gym and in life.

Every Sunday, I sit down and put in what Stephen Covey calls, the big rocks.

The big rocks are essentially the MOST important thing to your life, not the little things that get in the way of your goals.

You need to own a planner of some kind, period. I prefer paper planners instead of digital planners, but do what works for you. Even if you use something as simple as a sheet of blank paper for your planning, it’s better than nothing.

2. Plan out your exercise schedule for the week.

Write out what days and at what times you are going to go to the gym.

I used to write down that I wanted to work out four or five times the week. Except days would tick by and I still didn’t stay consistent.

When I put in dates and times I will be in the gym, I rarely ever miss. Commit to a time and put it in your planner. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment. SHOW UP.

If you have a workout buddy, agree on a set schedule or time. If not, pretend you did. Pretend someone important to you is waiting at the gym and you need to show up.

3. Plan out meals and supplements.

This was really the game changer for results. It’s easy to forget your diet, when you’re supposed to eat, when you’re supposed to take your supplements… but if you have dedicated time to each one, you need to put it down.

I have a cork board right behind my computer with my supplement schedule clearly written out for each week. It’s the only way I could manage it all.

4. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

Cook meals ahead of time. Clean your gym clothes. Leave your workout shoes in your car. Make sure you have an extra pair of headphones in your car.

People who want to win at life are always prepared ahead of time. They don’t mess around because they want results.

When you have a plan, you know you’ll need to skip those cookies in the middle of the day because you already brought yourself a much healthier snack.

Preparing in advance ruins any excuses for failure. People love failure, they love excuses, they love to blame everything else but themselves for their problems.

“Oops, I forgot my workout shoes! I guess I’ll work out next month instead.”

You’re going to be better than that.

Don’t fall into the blame game, take responsibility for your success.

The path to success isn’t sexy. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard fucking work day in and day out and day in and day out.

Preparing your life in advance gives you all the room in the world to make your goals come true. When you’re prepared, you’re going to win. You think all the athletes who just played in the Super Bowl just fell into that situation? Hell no. They prepared and trained for years. They do the hard work without thinking about it.

Planning in advance removes all the stressful thoughts about, “What do I do now?” Instead, do the thinking ahead of time so you can move into autopilot mode.

Studies show time and time again that we only have so much willpower in any given day, when you reduce decisions, you increase the amount of willpower you have.

What do YOU do to plan and dominate the week?

The ONLY Key to Success

It’s easy to beat yourself up when you fall off the wagon.

You fail on that diet because pizza is delicious.
You skip the gym because it’s cold.
You declare “Next Monday!”

The answer must be within the newest, shiniest thing you want, right? Nope.

The best plans and gear in the world don’t count for anything if you can’t follow through.

The problem is, there’s no new plan or diet that will give you what you really need to succeed: Consistency.

Yes, excitement is important and doing something you actually enjoy doing is important. However, if you don’t stay consistent all the bells and whistles in the world won’t matter.

As of today, there are only 73 days left in the year.

Some people use that as an excuse to wait until 2016 to start working toward the things they want.

If you really want something, the time to start is now. 73 days is a long time. It’s enough to change your body, change your finances, change your career, or change your entire life. That’s 1,168 hours (assuming you sleep 8 hours every night) to work with.

The reason I preach so much about habit and character development is because I saw that my clients who simply showed up every single day were the ones to crush their goals.

One of the best things I was ever told is:

Only take advice from people who have what you want.

This is why I’ve been studying people who are successful in all the areas I want to have.

So what’s the one trait they all have?

They show up every single day, whether they feel like it or not.

That’s it. It isn’t the shoes, the cars, the money, or any other circumstance. They simply commit to doing the one thing that matters the most every single day.

I’m currently reading Ronda Rousey’s book, and quote hit home:

My mom always says that to be the best in the world, you have to be good enough to win on a bad day because you never know if the Olympics are going to fall on a bad day. (pg. 71)

Most of us will never compete in the Olympics, but the message still applies. Even on our worst days, we need to be able to get the important things done.

That’s what separates the winners from everyone else. That’s what puts people in the category from just dreaming about something to making it happen.

The only way to make sure you smash 2016 is to start to build the habits now so they’re automatic by the time the clock strikes midnight.

It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently. – Tony Robbins

Now is not the time to cry over 2015, to wish you had done something different, to quit before the year is over.

Plan for your bad days so you can smash through them.

That’s how you become a champion.

My Lifting Plan – End of 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 3.03.23 PM
I’m keeping the rest of my plan pretty simple for the rest of 2013.

All the sets will follow the same general drop sets/rest pause similar to Shortcut to Size. The main difference I’ll be adjusting is that I have to include my shoulder rehab into my program and also an extra cardio day.

(Week 1 is 12-15 reps, week 2 is 8-10 reps, week 3 is 6-8 reps and week 4 is 2-4, then start back at the beginning with week 5)

I also decided to split my leg day into two days because I want my little chicken nugget legs to grow.

Noted: My gym doesn’t have a barbell. It’s actually really small. So, this program is accommodating for that. For yourself, feel free to add in barbell exercises where it is appropriate.

Monday – Chest/Triceps/Shoulder rehab
Chest press 3×15
Rope pulldown 3×15
Dumbbell kickbacks 3×15
Shoulder rehab plan
Abs

Tuesday: Back/Hamstrings
Lat pulldown 3×15
Bent over rows 3×15
Face-pulls 3×15
Romanian lifts 3×15
Shoulder rehab
Abs

Wednesday: Cardio and abs
HIITs
Shoulder rehab
Abs

Thursday: Biceps/shoulders/shoulder rehab
Rope curl 3×15
Bent over dumbbell reverse fly 3×15
Dumbbell front raise 3×15
Hammer curls 3×15
Shoulder rehab
Abs

Friday: Quads/abs
Wide-leg squats 3×15
Narrow stance squats 3×15
Dumbbell Step-ups 3×15
Shoulder rehab
Abs

10 Things You Must Accept on Your Journey of Strength

1. You must dedicate yourself to your own journey.

For many of you, it will only be you on your path. Sure, it’s nice to have a friend along on your journey, but you can’t rely on other people to guarantee your success.

It’s hard to be alone, doing your own things, but understand you are the only one who wants their own dreams to come true. No one else wants it as bad as you do.

2. Consistency is more important than the details. People want to argue with me about protein and cardio but they haven’t even gone to the gym in the past two weeks.

Shut up and hustle. Then focus on the details, but never focus on the details before the hustle.

3. Getting your body in peak condition might make you hungry for other goals in your life.

Starting to change my body has made me aware of the other limitations I have in my head. It has forced me to set my goals even higher and in turn make me hungry for new horizons.

I don’t view it as a bad thing, but just be ready for possibly wanting to change your entire life once you realize what you are truly capable of.

4. You must trust in the process.

You can’t go from out of shape to ripped with abs in a weekend. There is a process that you must follow. Trust in this. Put in the work and show up, even if the results are slow.

You’re still lapping everyone on the couch.

5. Commit to the lifelong process.

This requires finding your deep “why”. What really gets you in the gym? Why do you really want this goal?

When I was going to the gym for aesthetic purposes, it never lasted long. A few weeks at best.

When I found myself at rock bottom, I realized that changing my body had more to do with creating a stronger foundation to rebuild the foundation for my entire life, well, I haven’t missed a gym day yet. Each rep now stood for a better future instead of just doing it because I felt like I “should”.

There will be times when the gym hurts. When you don’t want to be there. There will be times when you’re exhausted. What will keep you going back?

I want to find out what my body is truly capable of. I want to push it as far as it can go.

No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable” – Socrates

6. Setbacks are normal.

You only fail when you quit forever. If you keep starting again, you are never truly a failure. If you get injured, skip a week, cheat on your diet, who cares?

I know, I know, I just said consistency is important and to burn all the bridges on your way to your goal, but we are just humans. We will always have setbacks.

Just a few weeks ago, I was on a diet, but I allowed myself a girls night out and while I was only supposed to have a small meal and two drinks, I instead had all kinds of food and eight drinks.

It wasn’t in the plan, but the next day I just got back right on the horse with my diet and exercise. It was worth the break, and considering I only go big or go home a few times a year with my diet, why not?

I’m committed to the long-term process and know that this is a lifetime journey.

Always just get back on the horse.

7. Take advice from people who walk the walk.

There is a quote I heard a long time ago that I never forgot:

Only take advice from people who have what you want.

There are thousands of people out there who want to tell you what to do when it comes to diet and exercise. Only about 1% of them actually follow their own advice.

I follow programs from Jim Stoppani because he has his PhD in this and is ridiculously fit.
I absorb all the articles from Chad Howse because he’s walking the walk every day not just in fitness but in life. He just went on a spontaneous trip to Italy, a great reminder of how important it is to take action and to not just dream.
I follow Elliott Hulse (and his strengthcamp channel) because not only is he fit, but his blending of the body with psychology is exactly what I want in life.

“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

If I don’t have what you want, don’t listen to me. Find someone who is living a life you want and has the body you want.

8. Real food matters.

Learn how to cook a good meal. Cook all your meals on the weekend. Be prepared! Stop being weak to your food cravings. Sure, a cheat meal can be great for your mind and for a break, but if you find yourself having a cheat meal three or four times a week, you’re not preparing well.

Learn where your food comes from. Grow a garden if you can. Stop eating so much processed crap.

9. This journey is about who you become.

Fitness will build your character in ways you never expected. The commitment and dedication will pour into all areas of your life.

You are becoming a stronger person internally every time you go to the gym. Keep going.

10. It will hurt.

Sore muscles, exhaustion, that last rep that burns… None of it is easy.

This isn’t a fact that most people want to accept, but life is pain. Life is about being uncomfortable, but everyone is searching for comfort.

A couch is comfortable, but it won’t get you closer to your goals.

It’s uncomfortable to pitch a new client, to ask someone out, to ask for a raise, to get in shape, to try a new diet, to learn a new hobby… The best things in life are surrounded by pain and discomfort. You have to cut through it to get to the good part.

Embrace the pain and discomfort and you will have all those things you always wanted.

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