Life Is a Battle – Stay Strong and Prepared

If you haven’t seen Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe, put it on your list immediately.

When I talk about staying mentally strong, this is one movie I love to reference.

There is a fine line between being a positive person and preparing for adversity. James Braddock finds himself down on his luck after being a successful boxer and needs to fight through the hard times for his family.

This doesn’t require just physical endurance (he’s a boxer and also does physical labor on the docks), but mental endurance as well. To wake up every day, put on his outfit, and keep fighting for every single scrap he can get.

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This requires a different kind of endurance than just being able to put weights up and down.

On your journey to a better body, do not overlook developing your mental strength as well. There are a ton of people out there with rock-hard abs and zero ability to actually handle stress.

There will always be unforeseen circumstances that come your way, things that happen that you have no control over. Assuming that you’ll just “deal with it” when it comes is nonsense. You have to mentally prepare yourself for things around the corner that you don’t see coming.

Muscles grow with resistance, and the mind is no different.

There are tons of people who can’t handle an ounce of resistance. They crumble to the smallest amounts of adversity.

There will always be times in life where we must find that tough warrior within and battle our way through life. Something will happen to our families, our loved ones, or our own lives, and we must fight to pull ourselves out of the situation.

Instead of building the fundamental habits for a better life, people waste their time playing video games, smoking weed (I live in Denver, so this is incredibly common), scrolling through Facebook, drinking their savings away at bars, watching football,  watching reality TV… It’s all a waste of time, especially if you aren’t where you want to be in life.

If you aren’t making as much money as you want, don’t have your dream body, aren’t learning anything new, or progressing toward any goal you want, why would you waste a second flushing your time down the toilet instead of taking the action steps needed to move your life forward?

This is something I constantly battle, and so do most of the people I know. Time vampires are everywhere, waiting to suck the life out of you.

Of course, breaks are good, but at the sacrifice of your goals, any breaks should be destroyed.

Build your body. Build your mind.

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The Case for Becoming A Superhero

After seeing Captain America: Civil War, my love for superheroes has grown even more.

(Side note: Just so we’re clear I’m Team Cap from now until forever. If you’re interested, you can read these blogs and determine your stance: Team Cap vs. Team Iron Man.)

It isn’t even a nerd thing, okay it’s a little bit of a nerd thing, but it’s also a realization about all the attributes our world so desperately needs: honor, commitment, hard work, dedication to a cause, putting everything on the line for what’s right, and everything else we love about superheroes.

More than ever before, we need superhero virtues.

And yes, fitness plays a huge part in all of this.

Look, I understand this isn’t a “sexy” thing to talk about.

It’s easier to get some half-naked pictures and sell you on some superficial “magical” secret to get the abs you’ve always wanted.

Abs are great.
But an empty life is not.

I’ve seen the people who chase the bullshit, and I’ve seen the people who chase the real fulfillment.

The real deal is what this blog is for and what I’m going to talk about from now until forever.

There are a lot of people out there who think that fitness is a superficial endeavor. There are also quite a few people who think that fitness isn’t “deep” and it’s simply just exercise and nothing else.

However, after you’ve worked as a trainer and seen the joy in someone’s face when they realize they can walk up the stairs on their own after not being able to for years, you realize that health is so much deeper than just how you look.

Fitness is simply a tool for a better life.

Superheroes know they need to stay in shape so they can complete all their missions.

Of course, most of us aren’t out there doing daring missions every single day, but continuing to stay in shape for anything life throws at you is one decision you will not regret.

Stop being passive

I’ve met too many real-life villains and people that fell into what Hannah Ardent called The Banality of Evil. Basically, it means being passive in the face of evil and continuing to go along with the program. Actually, that’s an incredibly simplified version of it but roll with it.

I’ll bet you’ve met similar people. The kind of people who don’t care about anything but their own selfish gain. They pay no mind to their communities, families, the businesses they give their money to, or anything else.

Too many people are more invested in the Game of Thrones than in their own lives.

If you truly care about something, act like it.

The world already has enough people who don’t care about anything at all or only care about things at a superficial level.

You know what you care about. You know what matters to you. Stop pretending like it doesn’t matter.

Get your health in order

Few superheroes are out of shape. Of course, they are mostly perfected and enhanced versions of what humans look like, but that doesn’t matter.

Losers sit around and debate which superhero actors did or did not take steroids, but smart people realize those debates don’t matter.

What matters is the inspiration to reach for more.
To do better.
To be a better person.
To serve the world in a positive, helpful way.

Get in the gym, get on a program, don’t eat your way into an early grave, and stretch once in awhile (something I’m constantly working on).

Do it so you have the energy and vitality to accomplish all the goals you want in your life.

Find something to fight for

Although this was mentioned above, there is something to be said for not only acknowledging what matters to you, but also acting on it every single day.

I recently took some time off of work to really sit and think about what mattered to me.

During that time, I realized that the career I was working so hard toward didn’t matter to me any longer and that I wanted other things out of life now.

Once you know what matters, it’s essential to not only acknowledge it, but to work toward what matters every single day.

Every single superhero has a cause they believe in so hard that they’re willing to die for it at any moment.

I’m not saying you need to sacrifice your life for something, but you need to ignite that passion inside of you again.

That’s what I realized I lost over the last few years: that burning desire to continue to fight for the things I want day in and day out. Especially once you’re crystal clear on what those things are.

Embrace failure

Every superhero fails. You’ll also fail on any journey, but it’s worth every single second of failure because if you are relentlessly persistent, you’ll win.

There will be times that will test you, where it will all seem ridiculous and you’ll debate quitting, turning back, and never attempting this goal again. That’s when it is even more important to get back on the horse and get back to work.

Failure is a part of the struggle, and the sooner you embrace that the greater the chance of winning.

You’ll miss gym days, you’ll binge too hard on food, you’ll fail that test, you’ll get injured, you’ll feel like quitting… Every single champion has those moments, too.

It’s cheesy, I know, but it’s truly the getting back up that separates the winners and the whiners.

Suit up and get it done.

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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Changing Your Internal Identity

When it comes to getting fit, most people think that the hardest part is sticking to a routine, eating healthy, and lifting heavy weights.

Sure, those are hard.

BUT the hardest thing we encounter when it comes to getting fit is battling our own minds.

When I worked as a personal trainer, 99% of the failures happened because they mentally got in their own way.

Besides all of our own internal issues with self-worth, the most common way we sabotage ourselves is not personally identifying with the new person we are trying to create.

They don’t see themselves as an athlete, a fit person, a warrior.

These barriers are put in place by our own minds and by the people around us.

If you have always been the nerd, everyone around you wants to keep you in that box, including yourself.

If you saw yourself as an athlete/warrior, how would you change your daily routine? If you personally identified with those archetypes, what would you change?

Every time I found myself in a completely new environment surrounded by all new people, I saw the potential to create a new identity. New people have no idea who you are. You could be anyone you want to be.

This is why it is so important to not only find new friends, but to hang around them and see the choices they make. To bring these new characteristics into your own personality.

When I first started lifting heavy, I thought protein shakes were absolutely ridiculous. I thought they were really “bro” and obnoxious. I was an athlete in high school, but I had never gotten fully into weight lifting.

Then when I started to seriously weight train in college, it didn’t go so well. I knew how to be fast, but I didn’t know how to be strong. It wasn’t until I started working at a gym, surrounded by other trainers and weight lifters, that I learned how to bring this new identity into my personality. I saw the choices they made and I understood why they were important.

As I would spend more time with them, they started to see me as a weight lifter. We would lift together, we would eat our chicken and broccoli together, we would all foam roll between work shifts.

Look at your own life.

Are you trying to lose weight? Do you identify as a fit person? What mental barriers do you have about your life?

When you identify with the traits of the life you are trying to build, you will see different choices. Instead of fueling your body with fast food, you will know that your inner athlete needs real foods.

You can create a new life at any given moment.

You do not have to stay in the box you have created.

Life IS Resistance

Modern society teaches us to hide away from anything hard.

We order things online to avoid the long line in the store.
We play on our phones to avoid conversation with the people around us.
We drive across town because walking is apparently too difficult.
We use any kind of substance to avoid life and our own thoughts.

Sure, there are benefits to the advancements of technology, but far too many people don’t use it to create a better life, they use it to escape from life.

I don’t know how we have gotten into the mindset that life should be easy. That life is avoidance of pain.

Life is pain.

In the gym, you need resistance to grow your muscles. As you grow your muscles, you can handle more weight. You get stronger. You can’t start out at the heaviest weight think you can start lifting that right away.

Life is the exact same way although we don’t treat it that way.

The harder things are, the stronger you are becoming in life. The more resistance you are adding to your life, the more you can handle. This is how you create the life you have always dreamed of having.

Running from pain doesn’t make you stronger. In fact it creates the opposite. Life will not give you what you want if you can’t handle the simple things in life. If you can’t manage the money you make now, it won’t give you millions. If you can’t lift the light weights, you won’t ever be able to lift the heavy ones. If you can’t keep a relationship to last past a few months, you absolutely won’t last in a marriage.

Life is all about dominating the small things in life. Handling the small pain and building your resistance as you go.

Once you stop running from pain, you never stop running from pain. Then these are the people who 20 years down the line get divorced because they can’t function as an adult and deal with their problems. The kids, mortgage, car payments, work, and repressed dreams all build up until they simply run.

Rarely do we ever praise the people who hold it together, become stronger, and ultimately chase the path of becoming the best versions of themselves.

If you’re going through something hard, just embrace it.

Accept it.

Understand that staying standing on your two feet and meeting this challenge head on will bring a better life. You’ll be able to handle more. You’ll be able to grow.

Run from it and you will always be weak. You’ll be that adult who is still stuck in their teenage years mentally. Life won’t grant those people anything special, and if it does, they will ruin it immediately.

Be stronger than that. Go through life as a warrior. Welcome pain. Embrace it.

Like the quote goes: When life knocks you down, calmly get back up, smile, and politely say, “You hit like a bitch.”