How Your Brain Is Ruining Your Happiness (And What To Do About It)

Let me know if this has ever happened to you…

 

You just got home from a long day of work.

 

Your body is tired.

 

Your brain is fried.

 

Your soul may or may not be totally crushed from a full shift of being a grown up, out in the real world.

 

You walk in the house, sit down, and all of a sudden it starts calling your name.

 

And god no, I am not referring to satan’s clown-baby from the Stephen King movie. But the it  I am referring to is something much, MUCH more frightening.

#true

 

It can be an ice cream sandwich or a bag of chips.

 

It can be a cigarette or a device for smoking marijuana (Meet The Parents reference right there).

 

It can be the urge to text that toxic person in your life who you know you shouldn’t text.

 

It can be choosing to watch that new Netflix show instead of searching for a better job role.

 

It can be mindlessly shopping on Amazon Prime, sucking the life out of your bank account $19 dollars at a time (I buy cheap stuff).

 

Everyone’s it is different, but everyone has some addiction, vice or aspect of their life that they are trying to change.

 

And even though we can agree that your goals are noble and you want to create positive change in your life, it always seems that creating actual lasting breakthrough and improvement is really. damn. hard.

 

Whatever it is, it seems to have a pretty tight hold on you that you can’t explain.

 

WHYYYYY

 

Have you ever thought why this happens so often?

 

Why you declare once and for all that you are going to get healthy, but find yourself binge-eating queso like 3 days later?

 

Why you declare that you are going to start the process of transitioning into the career of your dreams, but find yourself wasting time in the same ways that you always did?

 

Why you make the decision to pay closer attention to your spending so that you can save for something important, but end up falling into the same old spending habits as before?

 

Is it because you’re weak?

 

Is it because you lack discipline?

 

Is it because some people were just born with more willpower and organizational skills and you got totally screwed by genetics?

 

What if I told you that the one REAL thing holding you back wasn’t a lack of commitment or mental fortitude, but was a deeply ingrained (and super outdated) survival mechanism that was designed to keep you safe from death and destruction?

 

What if I told you that it was your brain, that super-computer located between your ears, that was actually sabotaging you at a subconscious level, without you even noticing?

 

Your Brain Is Like…Your Grandma?

 

You see, the mind is this insanely powerful too that, when used properly, has incredible problem-solving abilities. But at it’s core, it’s main purpose is to help you survive.

 

And since our brains developed in the caveman days, when danger was EVERYWHERE, our brains became overly sensitive to fear and overly cautious to keep us alive.

 

Obviously, our brains are just trying to protect us.

 

But in our modern age, when real danger to your well-being isn’t lurking around every corner, the overly cautious brain is actually doing more harm than good.

 

Think of your brain as your over-protective grandma who follows you everywhere, warning you about every single decision, forcing you to overthink everything.

#alsotruth

 

God bless her heart, your grandma means well, but she is SUFFOCATING you and clouding your judgement.

 

So you need to free yourself from the clutches of your overly-protective grandma (aka your brain)!

 

And Here’s The MAIN Reason Why…

 

Your brain craves safety, comfort and predictability over all things. Because in your mind, those things equate with survival. And survival is your brain’s number one priority.

 

So your brain, thinking it’s doing you a favor, would rather have you settle for unfulfilled, unhappy and predictable, instead of letting you stand up and fight for an incredible life that you love the heck out of.

 

You and I can both agree that growth, progress and transformation don’t live in the realm of safe, comfortable and predictable.

 

The incredible life you want lies beyond those things.

 

In the uncharted waters of potential that are just waiting for you to journey through and claim all of the amazing life and experience that is yours to create.

 

You have to venture out into the unknown, outside of the predictability of your comfort zone, in order to design the life you know you deserve.

 

Obviously, your over-protective mind is going to be resistant toward this. It equates the unknown with danger and death.

 

It’s just trying to keep you safe, but like we said, it’s doing more harm than good because there is no real threat that it has to protect you from.

 

And in fact, the actual threat is staying the same.

 

The real danger is settling for a mediocre life.

 

The real tragedy is leaving all of your unfulfilled potential trapped inside of you.

 

But your brain doesn’t know this. And it will try its hardest to prevent you from journeying outside of your comfort zone in order to protect you.

 

So on your journey, you will feel negative emotions as you grow and develop.

 

You will feel doubt, you will feel frustration, you will feel unnerved.

 

You may even feel isolated, anxious and uncertain.

 

You will feel a plethora of negative emotions.

 

And being able to recognize (and expect) these as your brain’s attempts to pull you back to a life of predictability and mediocrity is going to be the difference maker for your progress.

 

Tools For Growth

 

One of the first things I work on with my Transformational Breakthrough clients is how to level up their awareness so that they can start to pick up on when their brain is trying to sabotage their growth.

 

Taking yourself off of autopilot is crucial for freeing yourself from the fears that the brain creates, and to take yourself off of autopilot, you have to be able to recognize WHEN you are no longer in the driver’s seat.

 

The simple action of questioning your fears and negative emotions the second you find yourself being overcome by them will help you shed light on whether or not you are being sabotaged.

 

Question the fear, and see if the feeling is serving you or not.

 

For instance, if you are about to turn down a dark alley at 3am in a bad neighborhood and you start to feel fear and anxiety, question it!

 

Is this feeling of unease and cautiousness serving you? Yup, so listen to it and get the hell out of there!

when you SHOULD listen to fear….

 

In another instance, let’s say you are about to end things in a mediocre relationship or  go workout in a new gym full of strangers, and again, you start to feel that fear and tightness in your chest.

 

Is this feeling of unease and cautiousness serving you? Is there any life-threatening danger in ending a stale relationship that isn’t right for you? Does death and dismay really await you in the gym?

 

Not really.

 

But because our brains don’t associate control and predictability with breaking up or heading into a new gym, they create feelings of fear and unease to try to pull us back into safe and predictable (and sometimes destructive) habits.

 

And if you can recognize this fear and see it for what it is, and ultimately use your grown-up logic to declare that no serious danger awaits, then you regain the control to take the action that is right for you, your growth, and your overall happiness.

 

When you can practice this awareness on a consistent basis, and continue to take positive action when you recognize when these false-fears are present, then there is literally no limit to the amazingness that you can create in your life.

 

So yes, your brain is trying to do you a favor by keeping you safe, predictable and comfortable.

 

But as badass grown ups who want to best life possible, take yourself off of autopilot, decline your brain’s invitation to settle for mediocre, and take action on your own behalf.


How To Rise Above Your Depression

My alarm would go off.

 

And before I even had time to hit the snooze button, that suffocating feeling had already wrapped itself around my chest and stomach so tightly that the thought of getting out of bed totally crushed my soul.

 

I couldn’t verbalize exactly what the feeling was, but it was painful.

 

And it was dark.

 

And it stripped me of all of the amazing things I knew I was.

 

It left me feeling like an empty vessel. Like I was simply a body who was assigned the impossible burden of carrying on a life that wasn’t meant for me.

 

The simplest of tasks required all of my intent. I had to summon every ounce of gumption just to do the routine things that the former me would breeze through on a daily basis.

 

I felt guilty for not being able to enjoy the world around me.

 

I felt hopeless because I knew I wanted a different life, but I had no idea where to start in building it.

 

I felt anxious because I was uncertain about the future and whether I had the power to change it.

 

And I felt victimized by everything that happened to me.

 

DEPRESSION (insert sad-face emoji)

 

If you hadn’t guessed it yet by my sexy depiction of my life during this time, I was depressed.

 

My life was dictated by the brutal combination of longing for a better life and the constant fear that I was not good enough to create it.

 

I was merely existing each day, surviving through work and my commute til I could get home and numb my brain with the comforting distractions of tv. Then i’d fall asleep, wake up, and trudge through it all over again.

 

I wanted to find out what was wrong with me, so I did what anyone would do and went to the doctor. They diagnosed me with depression, gave me some pills, and told me everything would be alright.

 

Except it wasn’t.

 

Although the pain subsided a bit from pills, I still could feel that underlying sensation that something was off. I knew deep down that there was more action for me to take in order to feel like my true self again.

 

I knew i had to do something, but here’s the problem….I didn’t know what that something was.

 

I had no damn clue what to do….until I did it.

 

And as crazy as that above remark sounds, in it lies the key to overcoming the feelings of depression that were deeply affecting my life.

 

*Please note I am going to share with you how I personally overcame/still deal with my depression and moved my life forward. I am in no way saying that if you are currently battling depression that what I am going to share is the perfect route for you to take. I am simply sharing my insights in hopes of encouraging you to view whatever negative emotions you are dealing with in a new, empowering light.

 

YOU ARE NOT A DISEASE

 

Unlike Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, you are not a disease.

 

But we all want certainty. We all want to be able to make sense of the world within us and around us.

 

So yeah, it makes sense that when dealing with this terrible feeling that we can’t understand or make go away, it’s convenient to label it as a sickness (depression) and medicate it (anti-depressants).

 

But what if you could understand it?

 

What if instead of viewing your depression as a sickness, or a weak attribute of your character that you were born with, what if you could change the lens through which you look at your depression, and actually extract value from it that moves your life forward?

 

I know this may sound crazy and i’m just some A-hole typing stuff on the internet, but follow me for a second.

 

Could it be possible that instead of trying to punish us for no reason, our bodies are actually creating the sensation of depression to let us know that part of our life is out of whack?

 

Is it possible that deep, deep down in our heart and our soul, our true-self knows that there are pieces of our lives that we are fundamentally unhappy with, but we are refusing to deal with?

 

I am not saying I am right or wrong, but I am saying that once I personally made this shift on how I viewed my depression, every single aspect of my life changed.

 

When I shifted my mindset and started to approach my depression as a valuable signal that my soul was desperately trying to send me, as opposed to some disease I was supposed to tolerate forever, the right doors started opening that moved my life forward.

 

When I consciously made the choice to be aware of how I was feeling, instead of becoming and embodying that feeling, I felt the biggest weight ever lifted off of me, and I was never the same again.

 

DON’T BE A BROKE-ASS HOE (i’ll explain in a second)

 

So how does feeling depressed guide you in the right direction? That’s a great question, you good-looking SOB!

 

Whether you can admit it or not, your inner-self/gut/intuition knows exactly what you want in life.

 

It knows the amazing life that you deserve to live, and along your journey, your soul will try to nudge you in the right direction so you can put the pieces in place to experience that life.  

 

If you completely disregard your inner-self’s helpful guidance, your body will politely try to let you know you are veering off course.

 

It will give you an idea or a flash of brilliance to try to get your ass moving. You’ll start to picture the life you truly want and the goals you’d like to accomplish, and visualizing it seems incredible.

 

But you don’t act on it.

 

Following through on new ideas and taking risks is scary, uncertain and probably requires hard work.

 

Gross! Who wants that, right?

 

So we ignore the initial signals and keep on living our normal life, doing what is safe, predictable and comfortable.

 

Overtime, our gut and intuition will continue to try to nudge us back in the right direction.

 

And if we keep ignoring it over and over, and keep traveling further and further down the path of comfort and safety, we get further and further away from the true brilliance we were meant to embrace.  As we get further and further away from the life our true-self wants, we get more signals from our true-self that we are off course.

 

And we begin to feel ‘off’.

 

We get a bit anxious, a bit sad, a bit moody.

 

No big deal, we can easily drown those feelings out with distractions.

 

Scrolling thru instagram, binging Netflix, poorly managing a Fantasy Football team (why do all my QB’s keep getting concussions?), going to happy hour, shopping, hitting the town, cray brunches with your bff, planning vacations to look forward to so we can escape work…..there is literally an endless supply of stimulus we can use to keep ourselves from ever having to be alone with our true-self.

 

But sooner or later, your true-self will stop all the polite nudges and suggestions.

 

Being subtle clearly isn’t moving you to action, so what does your body and soul do?

 

Like Miss New York from Flavor of Love, it marches right up to you, pulls your hair, spits on your face, and calls you out for being a broke-ass hoe (hence the headline of this section).

 

And what I mean by that is, your body will send you an undeniable signal that you have gotten so far away from the true amazingness you were born to pursue, and you need to change directions ASAP.

 

Your true-self will send you a sign that you simply cannot overlook or ignore any longer. And this is what you experience as depression.

 

It’s an intentionally painful sensation because your heart and soul NEED you to take notice that you are settling into a life that is pulling you further and further from the true greatness you were destined to create.

 

Once I decided to view my depression in this way, everything changed.

 

Instead of putting my hopes in distractions and medications, I decided to finally listen to the fact that my soul was screaming out to me.

I finally paid attention to the fact that my feelings of depression were not a permanent piece of my personality, but were in fact messages trying to nudge me to take action.

 

So yeah, it’s kind of a dick-move that your heart and soul would create such a painful emotion for you to experience, but deep down, your true-self is just looking out for you and trying to help you move forward in creating the badass destiny you were put on earth to experience.

 

TRUTH AND DARE

 

Okay, so if you’re following along, you know that I’m a regular person, just like you, who was experiencing mental distress and negative emotions. I was diagnosed with depression, and for a little while, I accepted my diagnosis and began to walk, talk, think and act all things depressed.

 

Once I consciously decided to shift how I viewed my depression, however, everything changed.

 

I no longer wore depression like a bulky, heavy jacket that I could never take off.

 

Instead, I stepped back and observed it.

 

I saw it as a message my soul was trying to send me, to urge me to take action and pursue the life I truly knew I wanted all along.

 

And now that I knew my temporary feelings of depression were a message from my true-self trying to get me on track to building an amazing life, my next task was finding out exactly what the message was that my true-self was trying to send me.

 

So I looked at a part of my life I was fundamentally unhappy with; my job.

 

My job was sucking my soul, and it was time that I addressed this area of life.

 

And to start the process of moving forward, I literally played a game of truth AND dare with myself.

 

It went a little something like this:

 

TRUTH: What is something creative that makes me fulfilled, that while i’m doing it, I lose track of time and joyfully get lost in it?

 

And

 

DARE: Do one thing that will allow the creative activity to play a larger role in my life

 

Obviously this is different for everyone. Everyone has their own unique gifts, passions, experiences and expertise. So your journey may look nothing like mine.

 

But for me,  I realized that fitness was that creative activity I loved to get lost in.

 

And one way to allow fitness to play a larger role in in my life was to get a personal training certification so that I could more effectively share my passion with other people.

 

So I listened to my intuition, signed up for a personal training certification program, and every night when I got home from my sales job that I didn’t like, I studied for an hour. I did this every week for 20 weeks.

 

And I shit you not, by just knowing I was taking steps in the direction that my true-self was guiding me toward, a large majority of the depressing feelings I used to experience had subsided.

 

I’m not saying I instantly went from sad and hopeless to joyous and self-assured, but I felt significantly better physically and emotionally by simply taking action and moving forward little by little.

 

Playing this game of truth and dare with myself gave me the clarity I needed to re-connect with my true-self again. It was the catalyst that allowed me to begin translating the message my depression was trying to communicate to me so that I could step in the right direction.

 

YOU WON’T FIGURE IT ALL OUT

 

I will be honest with you. I did not have some grand master plan when I decided to begin studying for that personal trainer exam. I just knew it felt right and made me feel fulfilled, so I took the first step.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

If I HAD tried to plot out the entire journey, I would have failed. I would have overanalyzed things to the point where I would have been too afraid or intimidated to take action.

 

So I just moved forward one step at a time. And let my intuition be the guide.

 

And things have unfolded in an amazing way.

 

I studied for the certification exam and passed.

 

I started working as a personal trainer.

 

Then I earned the role director of fitness for one of the most elite training facilities in the Mid-Atlantic.

 

Then I started a fitness blog.

 

And then I became an entrepreneur when I created and ran my online fitness coaching business.

 

And now I am a transformational breakthrough coach who uses the badass combination of fitness and mindset development to help others become fearless action takers so that they can build the body and life of their dreams.

 

There is no way I could possibly have planned out every step of this journey back when I decided to start studying for that exam.

 

And I am glad I didn’t, because I would never have possibly known how high I can possibly reach.

 

As I grow, so does my potential. So trying to plan every little detail would limit myself.

 

The most important thing I did was just start and listen to my intuition along the way.

 

The path won’t look entirely clear, and that’s okay. Embrace that, and make your first move!

 

THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST! (Mean Girls references alll dayyyyy)

 

So once I deciphered the message that my depression was trying to relay to me, I took action and got the ball rolling.

 

And it felt incredible.

 

And in order to truly build the life you want and accomplish the amazing things you know you deserve, you need to keep the ball rolling forward so you can create badass momentum.

 

And the way I keep my momentum going forward is by stepping into fear. By continually taking action even when my brain tries to talk me out of it.

 

Because whether you know it or not, our brains are literally wired to keep us safe, fat and comfortable. They are wired to help us merely survive. So naturally we will feel reluctant to try things that are unfamiliar and new. Things that are challenging and scary. Things outside our comfort zone.

 

But you were put on this earth to thrive, not just scrape by.

 

So just know you are going to feel fear along the way with your journey. You are going to feel doubt. You are going to feel judgement. You are going to feel discomfort.

 

But don’t let it dictate who you are and how you respond. Just know it’s your overly cautious brain suggesting that you  settle for safe, comfortable and mediocre.

 

Say ‘hell no’ to that suggestion and take action anyway.

 

The more you can do this, the stronger your action-taking muscle gets. And the stronger this muscle gets, the weaker the fear gets.

 

And when you can adopt this type of mindset, when you can feel fear, acknowledge it as a temporary suggestion to settle and play it safe, and then decide to take action that moves your body and life forward, then you become unstoppable.

 

You remove the limits on your life, and you can accomplish any damn thing you want.

 

RECIPE FOR THE BADASS HAPPINESS THAT YOU DESERVE

 

So if you were to sum up the steps I took to overcome my depression, it would go a little something like this:

 

  1. Acknowledging if you feel ‘off’. This feeling sucks, and you know you deserve to be filled with fulfillment and joy, not sadness.

 

  1. Shifting the lense with which you analyse these sad feelings. Know you are not broken, damaged or doomed. You may be experiencing sensations of depression, but know this is not your identity. You are just receiving a message.

 

  1. Decipher the message. These feelings are a sign that something in your life is out of whack, and you have not addressed it. What could that be? You can either use the Truth And Dare exercise I did, or you can simply sit alone with yourself, and write down the ONE big thing you’ve wanted to change for a long time but you’ve been too afraid to tackle. Hint- if there is any area of your life that you feel you are settling or selling yourself short, start there.

 

  1. Take action on the change you want to make. Start moving forward, letting your gut and intuition be the guide. Remember, you don’t have to have the journey mapped out perfectly. You just need that first step.

 

  1. ALWAYS REMEMBER: Fear is just a suggestion to settle for safe and comfortable. You will experience it a bunch throughout this journey, and that’s totally cool. To be fearless doesn’t mean you are immune to fear or don’t feel it. Being fearless means you can acknowledge fear, decline its invitation to give up, and still maintain your ability to CHOOSE to take action that keeps moving you toward your goals.

 

Whether it’s depression, anxiety, fear of failure, fear or judgement, self-doubt or any other negative emotion holding you back from building the amazing life and body that you deserve, please know that these feelings are temporary suggestions.

 

They are not permanent. They are not your personality. They are not you.

 

The more you can begin to acknowledge these feelings without getting completely lost within them, the more you can move your life forward.

 

The more you can feel fear, doubt, judgement and discomfort and still CHOOSE to act in a way that gets you closer to your goals, that’s when you become fulfilled and unstoppable.

 

That’s when you become fearless.

 

PLEASE READ

 

As i mentioned earlier in this article, I am not proclaiming to have found a ‘cure’ for depression.

 

I am simply sharing with you the insights and breakthroughs I have discovered on my journey of growth and fulfillment.

 

Everyone’s journey is different, and what works for me may not work for you.

 

But if what I am saying is really resonating with you, and you’re thinking “holy shit, this random guy gets me!” then I encourage you to take action.

 

Do something to keep this momentum going.

 

Sign up for my newsletter.

 

Apply for a free assessment so we can chat and see if 1-on-1 coaching is right for you.

 

Follow me on instagram.

 

Just do something while you feel this spark, or else you’ll miss out on a chance to start building the amazing life and body that you deserve.

 

DO THIS OR CRUSH MY SOULLLLL

I’ll be honest.

A lot of this is hard for me to write.

But I write it because I know this is a message that needs to be heard.

I write to inspire and motivate others to live their best lives. To show them that there is always hope. There is always a chance to make things better.

So it would mean the world to me if you could share this article on allll the social media’s.

Just click the little share buttons below.

Go to town.

Click one.

Click em all!

Just help me spread the goodness that the world needs to hear.

Kbye.


WE ALL FIGHT: Cancer, Depression, The Gym? and Redemption

The Morning After

I rolled over in my bed. As I did, the light shining through my window hit my eyes and pulled me out of a sleep that I had reluctantly fallen into. I opened my eyes and tried my best not to feel anything.

 

My head hurt. Probably a combination of the 5th of vodka I had consumed the night before mixed with the hours of screaming ferociously with my head buried into a pillow in an attempt to conceal my current state of emotions from my distraught family.

 

I was disoriented. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t identify the source of my unease. It was as if my brain was purposefully preventing me from recollecting the actuality that the one thing I had feared most for the past 14 months had finally swept through my life, leaving wreckage and uncertainty and sorrow.

 

As I always did when I was overcome by fear, I immediately grabbed my cell phone and dialed my mom’s number.

 

As it rang once, I thought about what I was going to say when she picked up. How was I going to voice my distress?

 

As it rang twice, I realized that my mom was not going to pick up.

 

As it rang a third time, I realized that I was never going to speak to my mom again.

 

By the fourth ring, it had finally set in that one day prior, my mother had lost her battle with breast cancer and I was going to have to start living life without the person who had taught me how to passionately live it.

 

“Welp, I’m fucked” I thought to myself. “My mom is gone.”

 

“What do I do now? What’s next?”

 

Natural Reaction

I don’t know why, but I grabbed some shorts and a T-shirt and drove to the gym. I didn’t try to ask myself why. I simply let my body carry me where it thought I should go. So off I went.

Not to sound like a meathead, but during this time in my life, the gym was the one thing that made sense. It was the one place where I didn’t have to confront anything besides gravity. Resistance came in the form of physical weight, which was a welcomed vacation from the constant barrage of emotional resistance that awaited me anytime I was alone.

During the weeks following the loss of my mother, I gravitated toward the gym because my house was no longer my

The least intimidating woman with a gun ever? Perhaps <3

The least intimidating woman with a gun ever? Perhaps <3

home. Home was a hollow shell of everything that I had once bled passion for; pictures and trophies and cards. Reminders of how blessed I was to have love on every side of me became the object of my scrutiny. Pain radiated from things that used to embody love. It drove me crazy.

My family is great, but my mom was the glue. She was the thing that reminded me that the world is beautiful and that life is an adventure that will always turn out awesome if you stay fuckin’ tough and hang on to the people that care about you.

 

Gotta Stick To What Works

When she died, my house became a tomb to all of that goodness that she embodied. When she left, she took it with her. She left me with the blueprint and the structure and the walls and roof. But with her, she took the light and the warmth and the certainty that I was okay no matter where I went or what I did. I was left with fear and doubt and frustration. And I hated it. I hated being home. So I went to the gym.

I went to the gym every day in the weeks following my mom’s death. When your only options are 1: wale in sadness 2: help plan the funeral of the person you love most 3: go workout for an hour, suddenly going to the gym seems like a tropical vacation.

The gym was a constant reminder that I still had control over certain things. Knowing I had the ability to make myself stronger was reassuring during a time when I did not know much. I always knew what awaited me at the gym; Sports on the TV, a little small talk with the workout regulars, and a chance for me to remind myself that I am stronger than I thought.

Working out salvaged my sanity during this time of my life in the weeks immediately following the loss. But I had no idea of the impossibly difficult trials that awaited me as I attempted to live on and move forward through grief once the funeral was over and the friendly condolences had stopped.

 

This Next Step Was A Bitch…

After the funeral, I stuck around home for a couple weeks. I stayed for Christmas and then headed back to where I was currently residing, Washington DC, to try to work a job that I had recently started.

Starting a new job in a new city, away from family and friends is hard enough. But trying to do that in addition to grieving the loss of your dear sweet mother? I was not ready for that shit. It took everything, like literally every piece of whatever it is that makes me a person, to get up every day and go to work.

 

Ever work a job as a phone salesman? Talking to strangers that don’t want to buy anything from you is hard. Talking to strangers that don’t want to buy anything from you while suffering from depression and grieving the loss of your mom is even harder. I loved the people I worked with and the place I worked at, but getting on the phone and calling 40 strangers every day is about the worst thing I can think of when the only thing you want to do is press pause on the world and mourn the loss of the one person you loved most.

 

I am not sure if the amount of pain you go through after losing someone has a direct correlation to how much you loved them while they were still alive, but I am going to tell you this. I loved the shit out of my mom. I told her I loved her every single day since I was old enough to know what those 3 words meant. Most people speak highly of the deceased out of respect, but ask anyone who knew my mom and you’ll know I am not speaking an ounce of bull shit here. She was an indescribably loving, compassionate and wholesome person and it was and will be the greatest privilege of my life getting to be her son. And for this reason, I experienced a tremendous amount of pain trying to make sense of her early death and trying to get used to life without her in it.

 

Depression (AKA When Things Got REALLY Shitty)

I was diagnosed with depression 3 months after my mom had died. Big deal, right? Millions of people soldier through depression every day.

Even with no hair, she was still ahhhhhmazingly beautiful.

Even with no hair, she was still ahhhhhmazingly beautiful.

But when you find yourself suddenly battling YOUR own personal depression and mix that with unexperienced grief, and then find yourself living hundreds of miles from your loved ones, your perspective completely changes. You no longer see where light shines. You only see where darkness takes over. You don’t hear music. You only hear noise that reminds of you a happiness that you’re certain will never be felt again. You don’t laugh. You force smiles. You are trapped in your body, weighed down by fear of the future and jealousy of the past.  A death that rattles the foundation of what you built your life upon has a way of dislodging any happiness, confidence and faith that you once thought you had. And because of this, I had an extremely hard time fighting through each day.

During this time, waking up was nearly impossible. It was as if the first breath I took in the morning was immediately suffocated by a wave of anxiety and pain. I thought it was so unfair. Life didn’t even give me a chance to get my bearings before it deflated me and buried me in fear and doubt.

Against odds I saw insurmountable, I forced myself to get up and go to the gym. I never skipped it. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why I refused to stay in bed, but something inside me forced me to get up and get moving. After the gym, I soldiered on to work. And through my best effort to remain numb, I made it through the work day.

I would take the train home, and then emotionally implode upon walking through the door of my empty studio apartment. I would cling to pictures and articles of clothing that were once hers as I grasped for air between intense bouts of crying. I had never cried that hard in my life, but the good news is is that it’s exhausting. So after an hour or so I would pass out and sleep until my alarm went off the following morning, starting the whole process again.

It was hard. I know people go through tough shit every single day, but I had a hard time dealing with the tough shit going on in my world. It was exhausting and maddening and lonely and the one person in my life that was good at supporting me through times like these was now gone.

But here’s the thing. I did it. I got through it. I persevered because a piece of me deep inside knew full-well that all hope was not, and never would be, lost. A small piece of me, heavily influenced by the mother I lost and loved and continue to love, was completely certain that life would be awesome if I stayed fuckin’ tough and hung on to the people that cared about me.

Read The Scoreboard A Little More Closely

I firmly believe that somewhere deep inside, I relentlessly attended the gym every morning because I was embodying the fundamental life lessons that my mom had instilled in me from a young age, and getting my ass up each morning during this tough time was a way to keep my mom as close as possible at a time when I thought I had forever lost her. I had no idea at the time, but my inability to say “no” to the gym was symbolic of a greater inability to give up. Something my mom had taught me.

My mom may not have won her battle with cancer in the literal sense. Yes she was subjected to harsh and painful treatments that drained the life out of her. Yes she had allergic reactions to certain chemicals that caused her skin to feel as if it were literally burning off. Yes she lost her hair. Yes she lost her breasts. Yes she lost her ability to walk. Yes she lost her life.

But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that she won gloriously imperfect victories during her fight that will continue to empower and inspire as the true amazingness of her feats of spiritual strength become known and realized.

She never let cancer prevent her from being an amazing mother who made sure all her loved ones were taken care of. She never let cancer break her desire to improve the lives of people she came into contact with every day. She never let cancer take away her appreciation for spending time with loved ones. She never let cancer make her selfish. She never let cancer make her cruel. She never let cancer create feelings of doubt and regret. She never let cancer take away her light. Even at her sickest, she still radiated an indescribable amount of life and love and passion and hope and strength and goodness that I am sure will remain unmatched for the rest of my life.

 

Rise, And Rise Again…

My mom in October, 12 months after her initial dianosis

My mom in October 2012, 12 months after her initial diagnosis

She fought intensely. She let herself be afraid, she let herself rely on the help of the ones she loved, she let herself fall. But she refused to stay down. She would always rise back up and meet whatever challenge confronted her, and she gave it everything she had, even when it appeared she had nothing left at all. Over and over and over again, she would rise back up. It was incredible. She rose and fought until her spirit to fight could no longer be matched by her body’s ability to press on. To die fighting ferociously and valiantly for the things that you love and believe in most is the bravest thing one can do. My mom did that. And a son never forgets that. A son embodies that. A son continues that tradition.

So looking back, it makes sense why some part of me, deep inside, refused to stay in bed. Something inside forced me to rise up and try my best to meet each day with strength and passion. Something inside refused to forget what my mom had taught me and continues to teach me.

 

What To Make Of It All

So, there’s my story. It’s October, so I thought it would be appropriate to share what breast cancer had done to my mom and my family. But why am I really writing this? To tell you that if you are suffering emotionally that you should find refuge in the gym? Not really (but it’s been scientifically shown to help)

To brag about how awesome my mom was? Well, partially.

But the real reason I am writing this is to remind you to embody the pure things that you experience while you pursue what is truly important. Sometimes it is best to put distractions down so that you can passionately experience the company of love and compassion and friendship. These are the experiences that will shape you and determine how you respond to things.

Good and bad, these experiences will manifest themselves in your fighting spirit, and you’ll respond like a bad ass without really knowing where your courage or reluctancy to surrender comes from. During tough times, let yourself listen to the little voices, feel the gentle nudges, and acknowledge the subtle nuances that your mind and heart bring to your attention. They are trying to tell you something. Don’t stop fighting. Fearlessly be yourself, get help from the amazing people in your life if you need it, and soldier on.

My mom would kill me if I the last picture I showed you was a sad one. So here is a happy one of her and baby me! She's pretty

My mom would kill me if the last picture I showed you was a sad one. So here is a happy one of her and baby me! She’s pretty

If you have a loved one currently battling cancer, honor their battle by embracing their strength and applying it your life. Talk about nice memories. Tell them you love them. Go out and kick ass. Get out of your comfort zone and stay there for a while and see all the cool shit that happens. Learn from their fight and apply what you see to your life, regardless of the outcome.

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, don’t let hard times defeat your outlook on forever. Grief is tough but has a purpose. Having someone amazing in your life and then losing them leaves your soul vulnerable, and grief, along with the lessons you have learned through life, will help you learn how to live with purpose and passion again.

Cling to whatever feelings your heart decides that you should feel. You never know, you might look back one day and realize that certain actions and behaviors were really the person you missed most trying to impart on you the amazing lessons that they had taught you during their life and passing.

Why?

My mom taught me to leave this world a better place than when you found it, which is why I created this site. I do not have too many talents (i’m an injured meathead that can write okay), but I was blessed with the ability to relate to people and to also improve their lives and bodies through fitness . Life is short and I want to improve as many people’s lives as possible using what means I have. I have fitness knowledge and the ability to communicate it in a way that makes it readable, so it is my sincere hope that this site provides you with information that will allow you to build a better, happier and healthier body that enriches all other aspects of you life.

Last thing

This was hard for me to write, so thank you for reading. Please share if you think anyone will find this article enriching or inspiring.

And if you take anything away from this article, I hope it is the simple lesson that my mom taught me…

Stay fuckin’ tough and hang on to the people that care about you. 

 

In honor of Christie Rosen 12-25-56 to 12-7-2012

In Honor of My Mom, Christie Rosen

And Women Battling Breast Cancer Everywhere


5 Reasons Why Every Woman (in the corporate world) Should Lift Weights

 

Why Aren’t You Closer To Your Goals?

Spin class does a great job of burning calories, but building lean muscle is another story

Spin class does a great job of burning calories, but building lean muscle is another story

As a woman, what are your fitness goals? Do they include losing fat and developing lean muscle tone? Maybe you want to accentuate your curves and slim your waist?

Now, what have you tried to achieve these goals? Cardio, spin class, yoga? Have these gotten you to exactly where you want to be, or is there still some progress left to be desired?

While all of these exercise methods can play a role in shaping your body, the one thing you are missing from your routine is resistance training, aka weight lifting, aka pumping iron, aka meathead stuff.

If You Work At A Desk, PAY ATTENTION

cat pants

LASER CATS

We all can agree that exercise is good.

It makes you look better, feel better and gives you an excuse to buy kick-ass yoga pants that have dangerously bold designs on them (rarrrrr). But not all exercise methods are created equally, and some are actually more beneficial than others, especially if you work behind a desk.

If you’re a boss lady who is busy all day snapping necks and cashing checks, odds are you spend a fair amount of your time seated at your desk or in meetings. This is great. Continue to kill it!

The human body, however, was not created to be stuck in a seated position for most of the day, and this type of lifestyle takes its toll on your posture and your hind-side (talkin about ya butt).

The good news is that lifting weights can counteract the negative effects of sitting all day, and in time reverse any damage that has already been done.

Fact: The World Needs More Lady Lifters

Now I can hear some of you gasping already.

“He wants me to lift weights!? Won’t I get bulky?”

Well, ladies, the answer is no. Actually, the answer is HELL no.

Lifting weights is one of THEE best exercise methods to promote fat loss and overall body transformation, and it comes with a whole slew of additional benefits when it is performed correctly.

Listen, I know at most gyms there is an invisible barrier that separates the place into two sections. On one end, you have the “cardio” section, frequented by a plethora of yoga pants and pony tails (mostly ladies).

On the other end, the “weightlifting” section is dominated by loud grunts and sleeveless shirts (mostly dudes, sweaty dudes). I am urging you to break that barrier. Many women have already, and their results alone should give you that nudge to make the voyage.

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It can be intimidating to cross that barrier and immerse yourself in a world that is unfamiliar, but the following facts should provide you with enough inspiration to walk across that line, grab yourself a pair of dumbbells and claim your own space in front of the mirror.

 

Reason #1: Lifting Weights Forces Your Body To Adapt 

Sometimes it is tempting to consider all types of working out as a “good workout”. After all, when you do cardio or a tough spin class, you leave feeling like you’ve gotten your butt kicked (I suck at spinning, so hats off to you!).

But just because you feel like you got your butt kicked does not necessarily mean you did a ton in terms of REALLY changing your body.

Cardio and interval workouts are great for burning calories. And yes, the more calories you burn, the better your chances are at losing some fat.

But the thing about steady-state cardio (elliptical, treadmill, stair-climber) or high-intensity interval cardio (spin class) is that they lack a significant amount of resistance for your body to overcome.

Yes, the act of exercising may be taxing on your heart and lungs, and you may feel a burn in your legs, but your body will only adapt and develop lean muscle if you give it a reason to.

You need to expose your body to heavier resistances in order for your brain to trigger a significant amount of protein synthesis (muscle building) to occur.

This is how lean muscle is formed. Why is lean muscle important? I’ll explain in a second.

And please get that image out of your head of manly looking lady body builders (stella from Napoleon Dynamite). They do not train to look lean and toned. They use hormones to look fuggin’ JACKED. This will not happen to you.

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I am also going to arm you with some kick-ass (pun INtended) exercises to do so you look like a seasoned pro as you train.

Reason #2: Lean Muscle Burns Fat, ALL DAMN DAY

Why is developing lean muscle important for transforming your body? Well, the more lean muscle mass that you have on your body, the more calories you will burn all throughout the day. And these calories come from fat.

That means you will burn more calories while you sit, stand, eat, sleep and work out.

Your body has to burn more fuel in order to sustain your newly added muscle, meaning your metabolism must remain at a more elevated state all of the time.

This means that the more lean muscle you put on, the more your body turns into a fat burning machine, day and night.

If you work behind a desk and your job requires you to remain immobile for the majority of the day, it directly benefits you and your fat loss goals if your body is burning more calories while you work. Adding lean muscle to your frame will do just that.

 

Reason #3: Lifting Weights Improves Your Posture

We as a society spend too much time slouched over, sporting the posture of that chick from Mean Girls that has too many feelings to share at one time (SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE).

image

Posture affects the way we look AND feel. Numerous studies have been done linking poor posture to a whole list of problems, ranging from back pain to digestive issues all the way to depression.

Think of all the time you spend with your shoulders and head slumped forward.

Looking at your computer (this time it’s okay because this article is blowin’ ya mind, hopefully), looking at your phone, watching TV, driving a car. The time we spend in poor posture usually is greater than the time we spend in good posture.

Lifting weights can fix this! Doing exercises that strengthen the muscles of the shoulders and mid back have a profound effect on pulling our shoulder blades back, which results in far better posture.

Hey, looking at my upper butt cheeks

Hey, quit looking at my upper butt cheeks

Also, any type of rowing exercise is great for strengthening the back of the shoulder as well, which helps improve posture almost immediately.

 

Here are a few examples:

Exercise 1: Prone DB Lateral Raises

This exercise targets your mid/lower trapezius as well as your rear delts. These muscles give your shoulders that nice shapely rounded look, and strengthening them will improve your posture.

How To:

– Simply lay chest down on an incline bench with a pair of dumbbells. Start light, por favor.

– Retract your shoulder blades (squeeze them back and together, do not shrug them up to your head)

– While keeping your arms straight, raise both arms up laterally until you make a T with your body. Lower slowly.

– Perform 3 sets of 15 reps

 

Exercise 2: Modified 1-Arm Dumbbell Row

This exercise also targets the muscles of the mid back and back of the shoulder, but it also incorporates the lats as well (see picture above if you have no clue what the hell a lat is). Again, activating these muscles that do not get a lot of stimulation if you spend a lot of time at your desk, will improve how you look and feel.

How To:

– Place 1 hand on a bench and lean on it until your back is flat.

– The leg that is on the same side as the arm that is rowing should be back 2-3 feet

– While keeping your arm straight, retract your shoulder blade (squeeze it back, not up towards your head)

– Row the weight by pulling your elbow to the rear of your rip cage

– Lower slowly

– Perform 3 sets of 10 reps, each arm

Not trying to get all sciency here, but when you sit for most of the day, your hip flexors stay in a flexed position which deactivates your glutes (glutes are that sweet muscle that makes up ya buttt).

When any muscle spends a lot of time deactivated, it experiences atrophy (if you don’t use it, you lose it) and that muscle begins to lose its size and definition. Don’t let this happen to your butt. It’s the only one you have!

40-yr-old-300x199

Lifting weights gives you the power to turn your glutes back on to build an ass that kicks ass. Below are examples of exercises that will jump start your glutes and help develop a better butt, thus making the world a better place.

Exercise 1: Goblet Squats

Squats are an incredible leg and butt builder. Goblet squats are great because you do not have to carry an awkward and heavy bar across your back. All you need is a dumbbell.

How To:

– Grab a dumbbell and hold it vertically against your chest

– Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart

– Simultaneously sit your butt back and lightly push your knees out, and lower your butt until your thighs are at or below parallel with the ground

– As you stand up, make the conscientious effort to squeeze your butt, and stand tall at the end of the rep

– Throughout the entire movement, keep your chest up. Slouching or rounding your back will make you look and feel like an Ogre (not Shrek tho, his posture is actually pretty good for a swamp dweller)

shrek-300x150

– Perform 4 sets of 10-12 reps. Good form is ALWAYS more beneficial than more weight.

 

Exercise 2: Weighted Glute Bridges

Glute bridges, aka hip thrusters aka air humpers are literally one of the best exercises for glute development. A super smart dude named Brett Contreras did a scientific study to see what exercises work the butt the most using heat-sensing technology, and the clear winner was the weighted glute bridge.

You’re welcome, butts.

How To:

– Grab a dumbbell

– Lay your shoulders across a bench

– Walk your feet out until your heels are directly under your knees

– Place weight on your hips and let them sag down til your butt almost hits the floor

– Raise your hips to the ceiling by purposely squeezing the hell out of your butt cheeks. Pause for a second and lower slowly

– Perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

 

 

Exercise 3: Rear Elevated Foot Split Squats

Another great leg and butt builder, this exercise requires a little balance. Feel free to try it without weights before progressing to using dumbbells.

How To:

– Place your back foot up on a bench, with the top of your foot facing down and flat on the bench

– Your front foot should be 2-3 feet away from the bench depending on your leg length and personal preference. Feel free to play around with the positioning until you find what is comfortable for you

– Once in position, lower your hips straight to the floor (don’t lunge forward) until your rear knee hits or almost hits the ground. Note in the video: my butt actually moves back towards the bench as I lower, and comes forward as a rise. DO THIS

– As you stand back up, drive through the center of your foot (not the front) until your front knee is completely straight

– Perform 3 sets of 8 reps each leg

 

Reason #5: Lifting Weights Releases Your “I’m A Bigger Boss Than Beyonce and All Of The Housewives of Hotlanta Put Together” Chemicals

housewives

When you lift weights, your body releases endorphins and other neurotransmitters that act as a reward mechanism for your body.

These chemicals act on the brain by reducing stress and increasing a feeling of glorious euphoria. These chemicals improve your energy levels, your ability to focus and your overall sense of well-being. It’s like cappuccino and mimosas had a baby.

Getting a daily dose of endorphins is extremely important when you’re working a stressful job that involves deadlines and co-workers that suck.

Lifting weights can help keep your sanity and encourage you to enjoy life everyday, so why not start?

 

Let’s Recap Why You Should Go Grab  a Pair Of Dumbbells, Right MEOWWW

– First and foremost, gender norms are dumb (i’m a sociology major, so had to throw that in). Women should never be dissuaded from lifting weights because they are afraid of how others will view them.

– Taking exercise classes and doing cardio are great, but if your goals are to add lean muscle mass and burn fat (remember muscle burns fat 24/7), then you need to provide your body with a reason to adapt and develop lean muscle- lifting weights will do this.

– If you spend the majority of your time at your desk, your posture and your butt and your metabolism will most likely hate you if you do not do anything to correct the problem. Lifting weights allows you to fix all 3 problems. This alone should get you excited to hit the gym!

– Lifting weights make you feel good. Science says so. So do it!


3 (scientifically proven) Ways To Make Your Life More Amazing

If the sound of your alarm going off in the morning elicits a greater amount of dread and disdain in your soul than the sound of tornado sirens and crying babies, then your life may need a little remodeling.

The good news is, you are not alone in your desire to experience more happiness, joy and fulfillment on a daily basis.

And for decades, people have been trying to crack the code on how to make life more amazing so that you can spend more time enjoying yourself and less time using ‘unlikely animal friendship’ videos to make the day go by faster.

 

I do see how this is tempting though…

And in doing so, researchers have come up with some pretty nifty ways to quickly improve the human condition. So read on, and find out the 3 scientifically proven tricks to level up your life so that you can start experiencing more awesomeness each and every day.

Number 1: Express Gratitude And Self-Love (*insert masturbation joke here*) On A Daily Basis

 

Let’s face it.

Our lives get so damn busy that sometimes we neglect the basics.

You got a lot on your plate, and I get that.

You’re being a total boss at work, getting shit done. You got a totally-cray social life that needs to be attended to.

You have relationships with friends and family that need to be maintained through copious amounts of texting and face-timing.

You got sports to watch. TV shows to binge. Social media to scroll through.

But if you don’t carve out some time throughout the day to simply acknowledge the good things in your life AND remember how awesome of a person you are, you are robbing yourself of the happiness, energy and the drive that you deserve.

Science Says So…

Just google “gratitude + happiness + science” and see what pops up.

Turns out, people have been researching the science of joy for quite some time.

And the verdict is out: the easiest way to increase happiness is to express gratitude for the things you already have.

Study after study has concluded that the simple act of writing down 3–5 things you are thankful for is a sure-fire way to be happier and healthier.

Those nerds at Harvard even agree that stepping up your gratitude-game will step up your happiness-game, so you know it’s gotta be true (they’re, like, so smart).

And if you think about it, the logic totally checks out.

It’s pretty much impossible to be grateful and sad in the same moment. It’s like trying to frown while petting a puppy or eating a slice of pizza.

 

Good luck petting this guy without smiling….

Can’t be done.

Real-Life Says So…

Also, take it from a guy who has tangled with deeeep dark depression.

Gratitude is a total game-changer

At one of the lowest times in my life, the simple exercise of being thankful gave me the strength I needed to soldier onward toward greater things.

When I lost my mom to breast-cancer and was working at a job I didn’t care about, things were quite the shit-storm for me mentally.

BUT every single day I found 3 things, big or small, to be thankful for.

Whether it was the fact I had a comfy bed to sleep in, or the fact I had friends that I could talk to, or the fact that the lady at Chipotle forgot to charge me for extra chicken (CHA-CHINGGGG), there was always somethingI could genuinely appreciate.

Expressing daily gratitude has gotten me through some pretty tough times, and even though I am in a much better place now, I continue with this habit.

Why?

Because being happy is amazing.

Life is ALOT more fun when you remind yourself of the good things you got going for ya because it allows you to live in a state of joy and appreciation. (plus it only takes 5 minutes)

Do This Today

I don’t care how busy you are, take 3–5 minutes every day, either in the morning or before bed, to express gratitude for life and appreciation for YOU.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a google-doc on your computer, a file on your phone, or a bedazzled dream-journal covered in glittery unicorn stickers….

 

i’m not judging….

Just write down 3 things that you are genuinely grateful for in your life.

Don’t overthink it.

It can literally be anything, big or small.

Your family. Your dog. Your cat (if you’re a weird cat-person).

Your hair. Your shiny-dome (if you have no hair like me).

The cup of coffee you had today.

The fact your car started. Access to clean drinking water.

Eyes that see. Comfy sweatpants.

The fact that you can get chicken parmesan delivered to your house whenever you want.

Just write it down!

And then write down 3 things you love about you.

I know this is tough for some people, but trust me. This isn’t being conceited or self-obsessed. This is simply listing the things you appreciate about yourself.

It could be anything.

Your kindness to strangers. Your smile.

Your work-ethic. Your biceps.

Your cooking skills. Your driving skills.

How well you read. How great you look in your favorite shirt.

Simply ANYTHING you like about you.

Just write it down.

So take it from me (and those science-people at Harvard), doing this exercise on a daily basis will skyrocket your happiness and energy.

Life’s too short to be stressed and miserable. Take 5 minutes and do this, and see the amazing things that happen.


Number 2: Own YOUR Fitness Journey

The second way to start making your life exponentially more awesome is to start owning your fitness journey.

Please note I’m not simply saying to go workout or hit the gym.

Or stock up on sick tank-tops that allow your epic triceps to shine in all their rightful glory (okay, you can do this, but keep listening).

What i’m saying is start relentlessly pursuing the path of creating YOUR best physical self.

Far too often, people exercise because they aspire to be like the hyper-fit individuals they see in the gym, or on instagram or on TV.

Do not do this.

Comparing yourself to the top .1% of fit people in the world is a recipe for disaster.

For starters, a lot of these people are chemically enhanced, photoshopped, or simply genetic lottery winners with a crazy advantage, so comparing your journey to their highlight reel will leave you feeling sad and frustrated.

What I am saying to do is get out a piece of paper, write down what YOUR best body looks like (aka what would make you smile to see staring back at you in the mirror) and then commit to taking one step toward that goal, each and every day.

Taking this approach will keep your mind focused on what is truly important, which is maximizing your health and happiness.

Instead of getting distracted or discouraged by what others are doing or achieving, you will be too busy concentrating on steady and consistent progress toward your best body.

This is also crucial because when you are consistently striving for a goal that is important to you (aka looking and feeling incredible), you will ignite inner strength and inner badassery like never before, and this will carry over into all aspects of your life (you’ll also get leaner, stronger, and healthier, which is good too).

Science Says So…

Ready for your mind to be blown?

Besides all the known benefits of exercise (like increases in lean muscle, reductions in body-fat and wayyy tighter butt-cheeks) studies have shown that working out makes you more ambitious and outgoing.

In an article for the HARVARD Business Review, DOCTOR Richard Friedman discusses the undeniable correlation between exercise and mental performance (anytime the words ‘Harvard’ and ‘Doctor’ are mentioned in the same sentence, you should probably pay attention).

He states that regular exercise improves your mood, your motivation, your productivity, and your ability to concentrate.

So not only does exercise make you more fit, but consistently improving and working toward your best body will have you feeling happier, more motivated and more productive on a daily basis.

 

aka feel like this guy

So pretty much, owning your fitness journey will not only make you more fit, but it will also help you unleash more of the inner-strength and passion needed to level up your life.

Do This Today

Right now, you need to make an agreement with yourself.

Write down what YOUR best body looks like. Not a body that pleases anyone else, but the exact body that you want to see in the mirror every day.

Once you’ve done that, write a promise to yourself.

Promise that you will commit to taking small and consistent steps to achieving that body on a daily and weekly basis.

Declare that you will not let yourself get distracted or discouraged by what other people are doing in the gym or online. You will focus on you and your progress only.

Then sign it and keep it somewhere you will see it regularly.

Once that’s done, simply find a workout program that aligns with your goals, and attack it.

Ferociously stick to your plan and only worry about you. Focus about getting a little better each and every week.

If you do this, you cannot fail.

PS- I happen to be a fitness coach who is ABSURDLY passionate about helping people achieve badass bodies, so if you need a little help in the planning department, click below to find out more and we can team up.


Number 3: Be More Selfless (and reap all the selfish benefits)

I’m sure you’re reading the above statement and thinking to yourself “that doesn’t make sense, maybe this guy was drunk when he wrote this” (I wasn’t…..was I?).

How can putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own illicit a plethora (my word of the day) of personal gains?

Well it turns out serving a purpose greater than your own can make you happier, healthier and wealthier.

So before you go accusing me of being a preachy idealist who thinks everyone should sit in a happy circle and sing ‘Kumbaya’, read on to see how helping others can be the very best thing for your health, your mindset and your bank account.

Science Says So…

I am a HUGE believer that helping other people and serving a purpose greater than yourself simply lights your soul on fire and creates amazing momentum in your life. But hey, i’m just some guy on the internet who probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about, right?

Well turns out a bunch of fancy-pants scientists and researchers also agree with the amazing benefits that come along with serving others (so HA!).

For starters, serving other people will make you healthier and happier.

A combined study by researchers at UCLA and UNC found that eudaemonic (someone driven by a purpose greater than their own) individuals were not only happier, but were less prone to anxiety, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and had stronger immune systems to fight off infections and viruses when compared to their hedonic (someone driven by personal gain and pleasure) counterparts.

But beyond the health benefits, it turns out that trying to help other people will also make you more successful.

A nine-year study by The Journal of Research In Personality found that purpose-driven individuals had accumulated more wealth overtime and earned higher yearly incomes than their self-centered counterparts.

So if you are looking to increase your happiness, your healthiness AND your collection of sweet dolla bills, you should start taking action with the well-being of others in mind.

Do This Today

There is no one right way to increase the amount of purpose that drives your life.

Sometimes it is a matter of adjusting your mindset and sometimes it is a matter of adjusting your actions. But whatever your current situation is, you can find some purpose to rally around.

One way to do this is to take a deeper look at what you do on a daily basis, and try to look at it through the lens of helping others.

Are you simply in sales? Or do you help people with problems find much needed solutions?

Are you simply a personal trainer? Or are you showing people how to re-discover their inner-strength so that they can flourish?

Are you simply an account manager? Or do you ensure that hard-working people get the highest level of service and quality they need to grow their businesses?

Whatever you do, odds are you can discover at least one way that your actions positively impact someone besides yourself.

one of my favorite quotes of all time

And you can use that discovery as fuel to incorporate more passion and meaning into each day.
This will generate more happiness, which will improve the way you treat yourself and others, and will ultimately increase the amount of good circulating through the world.

Another way to increase the purpose that drives your life is to take action.

This can be any action, big or small, that allows you to use your time, energy and gifts to improve the lives of others.

It can be as small as volunteering one weekend a month for a cause you care about (feeding the homeless, working at an animal shelter, tutoring kids, hanging out with old people, etc).

Or it can be as big as ditching a job you don’t care about so that you can devote yourself to a non-profit who’s purpose really resonates with you.

Hell, you can even start your own business/blog/movement centered around a message you want the world to hear.

But taking action with the intention of improving peoples’ lives will undoubtedly increase the amount of purpose in your life.


You Need The Secret Ingredient

Want to know the most crucial element to making your life more amazing?

It’s something so important that without it, none of these three suggestions I am making will be worth a damn.

The special sauce that brings everything together to help you unleash your potential and passion like never before is…..action.

as insane as he is, he’s kinda right

You have to follow through.

You have to gather the courage to wholeheartedly try each of these methods, even if you are not entirely convinced they can change your state.

Because whether you believe it or not, science (and real-life experience) has proven that these three strategies will help you live a happier, healthier and more badass life.

Incorporate these three things into your life on a daily basis, and watch all of the amazingness unfold.

DON’T BE A LAZY PIECE OF CRAP!!

Sorry to get so fired up, I just get REALLY passionately about throwing heaping amounts of positivity out into the world.

Because there’s too much negative nancy shit out there, and it’s time to remind people how good life really is.

So please, if you enjoyed any of the insights of this article, or just liked the Shia Lebouf (spelling?? ahh who cares) meme, please share this article. One little tap of that button down there and BOOM – instant positivity bomb sent right out into the universe.


5 Amazing Things My Dad Has Taught Me (since my mom died)

Using These Lessons Will Make Father’s Day (and every day) AMAHHHHZING

 

So here is a little follow-up piece to the article I wrote for Mother’s day.

 

Because although my mom continues to teach me amazing new lessons about enjoying life and fearlessly pursuing my passion even when conventional logic says not to, my Dad has also experienced a profound amount of growth and badass development since my mom passed away.

 

And this growth has had a huge impact on me as a person in guiding me toward living a happier, more fulfilled life. And I continue to learn from him every day.

 

And these lessons my dad has taught me in the years since my mom died will instantaneously have a positive impact on how you approach each day as well.

 

So now i’m passing them on to you.

 

PS- my dad and I have always loved each other deeply, but we have never been too great at ‘expressing it’.

 

(this kinda sums it up)

So bare with me as this is my first real crack at letting him know I awesome I think he is.

 

 

LESSON 1- YOU CAN BE VULNERABLE WHILE STILL BEING UNBREAKABLE

 

I have quietly watched from afar as my dad has done battle with some SERIOUS demons.

 

He probably hates that i’m here putting his business in the street, but on numerous occasions I have seen him go toe-to-toe with pure darkness, and emerge on the other side a stronger human being.

 

I have seen him lose his job.

 

I have seen him incapacitated by depression.

 

I have seen him crying on a hospital floor after facing the realization that he only had 1 more chance to say goodbye to his wife.

 

I have seen him bend.

 

I have seen him battered.

 

I have seen him get broken down and scarred.

 

But I have NEVER seen him break.

 

I have never seen him lose hope and lose sight of the light that makes life intensely purposeful and amazing.

 

Each time life has thrown some nasty shit his way, he has taken it on the chin and finds a way to ferociously march forward, refusing to surrender and lose the spark that makes him who he is.

 

So thanks for showing me it’s okay to bend a bit when life gets tough.

 

It’s okay to get knocked down and get scared for a while.

 

But whatever happens, you can’t break. You can’t lose touch of that thing inside that makes you a human being who was engineered to live a life you love.

 

LESSON 2- BE YOU (and screw anyone who isn’t down with that)

 

 

My dad likes to live his life LOUD. And he really doesn’t care what you think about it.

 

He likes to FaceTime in public and scream into his phone in crowded restaurants because he’d rather see his kids when he calls them.

 

He likes to make his opinion known if he thinks that a certain food sucks or a beer taste like crap.

 

He likes to have a few drinks and let his rowdy humor offend whatever poor soul is within earshot of hearing it.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

My dad is too busy living life and enjoying each moment to possibly give a shit about what you or I think of him.

 

My dad is too busy seizing moments and being comfortable in his own skin to worry about being judged.

 

Because my dad has fully embraced that the only way to be happy is to truly and unapologetically be yourself.

 

So thank you dad, for showing me to fearlessly be myself and enjoy every minute of it.

 

 

LESSON 3- IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE YOUR COURSE

 

My dad has always been a loving and supportive father.

 

But he and I can both agree, for my first 23 years on this earth we sucked at expressing our appreciation for one another.

 

During conversations, we kept it light and surfacey.

 

We talked sports, or he yelled at me for not being serious about my future.

 

When it came to Christmas and birthdays, my mom wrote the heartfelt cards. Then my dad would swoop in for a quick hug…..and then yell at me for not being serious about my future.

 

I know he busted his ass to give me access to a great education and amazing opportunities, and we always had this unspoken acknowledgement that I was indebted to him for letting me financially mooch off of him  until I finished college.

 

But we never took the time to let the other know how we felt. That just wasn’t our style.

 

But that all changed when my mom died.

 

During a time when my family needed it most, my dad transformed.

 

He softened up.

 

He opened up.

 

And he let us know how he felt.

 

And because of it, he has brought my family closer together than ever.

 

And  even though things were one way for 23 years, my dad was able to grow and evolve and shed his past behaviors.

 

So thank you dad, for showing me that you can always adopt a better way of doing things to make life better for those you care about.

 

 

LESSON 4- FEARLESSLY WORK YOUR ASS OFF

 

Now this one seems like a cliche, right?

 

“Work hard if you want to succeed in life”.

 

Duh, everyone knows that.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

Most of us have the completely wrong intention when we go about completing our ‘hard work’.

 

We play it safe.

 

We work hard as long as we’re playing by the rules and coloring within the lines.

 

We work hard in the conventional sense to perpetuate our safety and self-interpreted status quo.

 

We find ways to keep ourselves busy to the point of exhaustion, but are actually marching forward with our work and doing something that’s worthwhile?

 

My dad has taught me that it’s not enough just to bust your ass.

 

You need to work hard AND have direction and purpose.

 

If you want to build something great and accomplish something amazing and impactful, you need to be willing to relentlessly pursue a goal even if there are no guaranteed pay-offs.

 

You need to claw forward with power and persistence even if you don’t know what reward (if any) awaits you.

 

So thank you dad, for showing me that hard work fueled by faith and purpose is the only work worth doing.

 

 

LESSON 5- MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

When my mom died, a light went off in my dad’s head.

 

I could see he was beginning to change the way he thought about life.

 

I could tell he began to perceive the world differently.

 

And in a very short time, it became clear that my dad had one purpose- leave this world a better place than when he found it.

 

Instead of letting the loss of his wife sideline him for the rest of his days, my dad has bounced back with a benevolent vengeance.

 

He has selflessly immersed himself into noble pursuits as he works tirelessly to lift others up and spread joy.

 

He volunteers time.

 

He donates money.

 

He gets down in the trenches and fights alongside those who are battling terrible diseases.

 

He provides encouragement and support and love and light.

 

And as he does all of this, he doesn’t expect a goddamn thing in return.

 

He does it because it’s now part of him.

 

He does it because he fearlessly embraces life’s ups and downs, and he grows as a person every time he gives of himself.

 

So thank you dad, for showing me that significance  outweighs success any day of the week.

 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

 

So to my dad, this is my way of saying ‘Happy Father’s Day’ to you (so don’t be expecting a gift…this gets me off the hook).

 

And for everyone else, let the father in your life know how much he means to you, and don’t forget to utilize some of the badass lessons he has taught you.

 

Keep kicking ass and enjoying life 🙂

 

OH AND ONE LAST (IMPORTANT) THING

If this brightened your day, odds are it’s going to brighten someone else’s too!

So hit the little ‘share’ button right below this to spread some love and positivity into the world!

 

 


5 Things My Mom Has Taught Me Since She Died

5 Mother’s Days Without A Mom…

 

My mom passed away 1618 days ago (but who’s counting, right!? LOL), and this upcoming Sunday will be my 5th Mother’s Day without her.

 

And typically I hate getting all the emails from flowers.com and edible arrangements reminding me to send my mom something special on Sunday.

 

Seeing those emails used to stomp on my soul and make me angry and sad that I couldn’t spend Mother’s Day with my amazing mom.

 

But as I have grown through the grief of losing the person I love most, I have learned that my amazing mom still finds ways to teach me and make my life more awesome.

 

And I want to share these quick and awesome lessons with you.

 

Because they will without a doubt make your life better too.

 

1. Inner-Strength Doesn’t Always Roar Like A Lion

 

In the months following the loss of my mom, I was a total wreck.

 

And at the time, I wouldn’t have considered myself strong or heroic. In fact, I felt as if I was extremely weak and vulnerable on a daily basis.

 

Everything scared me.

 

Small, insignificant things stressed me out.

 

The task of getting out of bed every day was as overwhelming as doing battle with a dark and scary demon who always seemed to have the upper hand. I was timid and anxious and barely surviving.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

Every damn day, I got up and moved forward.

 

I got dressed.

 

I walked out into the world and tried as hard as I could on that day to be myself.

 

To smile at strangers. To be productive. To crack jokes and yell ‘that’s what she said’ when a co-worker would try to fit an over-sized tub of trailmix into her desk drawer saying ‘it’s just too big to fit’.

 

To simply experience life as best I could.

 

At the time I couldn’t see it, but looking back now it’s abundantly clear.

 

In the months and years following the death of my amazing mom, I was the strongest I had ever been.

 

And it wasn’t that loud and proud strength that we have come to expect from sports stars or public leaders voicing a protest. It wasn’t that flash of heroic brilliance we see in movies or hear about from great leaders throughout history. My inner strength wasn’t roaring like a lion on display for all to see.

 

My strength was quiet and consistent.

 

My strength was beautiful and understated.

 

My strength was the immovable foundation that held me in place when the winds of grief and depression violently shook me to my core.

 

So looking back, I can now see that I am way stronger than I thought. Even if it’s not flashy or ferocious, my mom has showed me that I have a badass reserve of inner-strength that I can draw from at any time throughout life.

 

So thank you mom, for helping me reveal layers of inner strength I didn’t even know were possible. You are always finding ways to move me forward. You freakin rock 🙂

 

2. There Is Beauty In Everythanggg

 

When my mom died, I became blind (wait, really?). 

 

Okay, not actually blind. But I become blind to beauty.

 

I was quick to notice pain. I was quick to notice anxiety. I was quick to notice when things were going wrong.

 

But the natural beauty of a puffy cloud in the sky? The beautiful sentiment of a friend shooting me a text or a cousin sending me a package of goodies to show that I was not alone? The amazingness of a hug from a person who genuinely cared about me?

 

Nope.

 

I couldn’t notice any of that.

 

Yes I could acknowledge that they were there and that they were happening, but I couldn’t recognize the beauty. I couldn’t recognize the true awesomeness that was occurring right before me. I couldn’t see all the good because it was being overshadowed by my grief.

 

And then one day on my walk home from work, I noticed a flower hanging on a tree.

 

And by ‘noticed’ I mean I was walking with my head down, staring at something stupid on my phone, when I ran into the flower and it literally hit me in the face.

 

For the first time in forever, I saw this flower. I saw the beauty.  I noticed how amazing it smelled. How it was the perfect blend of bright purple and pink. How it was exactly in full-bloom the moment i saw it.

 

I know for a fact my mom hit me in the face with that flower (in a loving way, duh).

 

I know she was right there reminding me that beauty was literally everywhere, all around me.

 

The natural beauty of the sky and the trees I walked by every day.

 

The beauty of the hustle and bussle of the neighborhood I was living in.

 

The beauty of the sincere care and concern of friends, family and co-workers.

 

The beauty that I woke up that day. The beauty that I could breath and smell and walk and talk and eat chipotle.

 

I started to notice it more and more. Beauty was everywhere.

 

Even during the months when my depression was seriously scary, I could look at the pain and appreciate it knowing that I knew it served a purpose.

 

It played a beautiful role in my grief and my journey and in guiding me to a better place. I knew this temporary hardship was just a step, a necessary (and sometimes shitty) piece of the puzzle.

 

And this piece fit beautifully into the grand scheme of things to come.

 

So thank you mom, for showing me that beauty is all around me. All the time. And thanks for hitting me in the face with that flower. That was awesome 🙂

 

3. Fulfillment And Courage Are Waiting For You On The OTHER Side Of Action

 

When my mom died, I used to base my whole day on how I felt when I woke up (which was usually shitty).

 

I would wake up, feel sad or anxious, and then say “oh well, this his how I feel today so this is how today is going to be”. It sucked.

 

Every so often, like once every 90 days, i’d wake up feeling normal. Feeling good.

 

Sometimes I even woke up feeling courageous and excited for the day ahead.

 

“This is awesome!”  I would think to myself.

 

But this awesome feeling was short lived as the next day I would wake up, and that initial experience of sadness of anxiety would pre-determine how the rest of the day went.

 

Why couldn’t I just wake up every day with that excited, ready-to-go mentality? Shit, life would be SOOO much better if I could just summon it on command, you know?

 

Well I soon realized, it can’t be summoned, but it can be activated.

 

More often than not, I would wake up sad or gloomy or scared. But once I took action, then the awesome, ready-to-go feeling would kick in.

 

Once I completed something I was dreading, or overcame an obstacle (like a tough workout, or an intimidating sales call) I found myself in that awesome, courageous mindset.

 

I learned that just because you wake up feeling a certain way does not mean that is the feeling you have to carry with you for the rest of the day/week/year/life.

 

You can change it, you can activate your courage and readiness and passion whenever you want.

 

But what I learned is, you have to take the action FIRST.

 

Then the feeling will come.

 

And this is a littler easier said than done. Because the action you complete isn’t always comfortable. A tough workout, complimenting a stranger, tackling a big task at work…these aren’t easy, lazy tasks.

 

But you need to look at them as the ‘on-swtich’.

 

And once you do these actions, the switch is flipped and you get to experience the more awesome emotions and energy levels that life has to offer.

 

Once I figured this out, I would practice flipping the switch as often as I could.

 

Especially on days where I felt really shitty, I made it a priority to take action, knowing that the switch would flip and the feeling would follow.

 

And 100% of the time it did. So have faith in this process, it’s truly amazing.

 

So thank you mom, for showing me that taking action is the sure-fire way to experience the courage, fulfillment and passion that make each day awesome 🙂

 

4. Listen To Your Intuition And Trust Your Gut

 

Now this was a TOUGH lesson to learn.

 

Growing up, I had an amazing mom. Whenever I was faced with a tough decision, I would run everything by her. She was incredible at giving advice and being supportive and making everything okay.  

 

So in a way, she was my intuition. She was that guiding force.

 

And when she died, I was lost.

 

I had no guiding force, so instead of taking action and making decisions, I would simply respond to fear.

 

I lived my life avoiding fear and discomfort and tried to create as much safety and stability as I could.

 

I thought that once I was comfortable enough, then the pain would stop. The anxiety would stop. The depression would stop.

 

But it didn’t.

 

It actually made things worse.

 

The more I tried to pursue traditional means of safety and comfort (a steady job, financial security, nice ‘things’ like a tv, phone, computer and other gadgets society said i needed to be happy) the worse I felt.

 

I would constantly feel this crushing pressure right in my sternum, right in my solar-plexus.

 

And the more I tried to make my life comfortable in the traditional sense, the worse this pain got.

 

And I would try to distract myself until I no longer noticed the feeling.

 

I would get lost in tv shows, I would dive completely into my job, I would plan fun drinking excursions each weekend to look forward to. I would do all sorts of things to try to drown out this feeling.

 

But nothing worked.

 

Until one day, I stopped running.

 

I sat, alone, in silence, and spent time with this feeling.

 

And it was uncomfortable at first, but eventually I realized what this was.

 

It was my gut. It was my intuition.

 

It was every fiber of my potential screaming to me to stop the bull shit.

 

Stop pursuing things that really didn’t matter to me just because society says they will make me comfortable and stable.

 

My mom was my guiding light for so long that I really didn’t know how to listen to this voice yet.

 

But once I did, amazing things happened with my life.

 

I pursued a career that I am insanely passionate about and I wake up every day with purpose.

 

I am in an amazing relationship.

 

I go on incredible adventures and jump off waterfalls (that are way bigger than they look on camera…that’s what she said) even though it scares the shit out of me.

 

There are countless ways I have grown and experienced the things I have always wanted because I have listened to my gut and intuition.

 

And as crazy as it sounds, I would have never developed this skill if my mom had never passed away. But I also know that my mom’s love and guidance and influence are a part of my intuition. She is still right there, guiding me.

 

I just have to listen and act.

 

So thank you mom, for helping me listen to my gut instinct more often. You always know how to help me do the right things at the right time 🙂

 

5. Every Single Thing Happens FOR You, Not To You

 

Now this last thing is a big one.

 

And it kinda echoes the sentiment of the first 4 things that my mom has taught me.

 

But if there is one overarching theme to this, one big concept that my mom has instilled in me since she passed away, is that life happens FOR you, not to you.

 

In the 23 years leading up to my mom’s death, I had experienced some minor hardships.

 

Soul-crushing sports injuries, loss of grandparents, witnessing family and friends battle dark demons like drug addiction and severe depression.

 

But it all paled in comparison to losing her.

 

She was MY person.

 

She was the thing in life I looked forward to most.

 

She was indescribably bright and generous and loving. She was the foundation that I had everything built upon.

 

So when she died, that was it for me. I was screwed.

 

Watching her get broken down by harsh cancer treatments was bad, but reading old notes and listening to old voicemails knowing I could never see her or touch her or text her again, now that was a painful darkness I never knew existed.

 

When she died, I let it define me.

 

I was no longer Julian.

 

I was the kid whose mom died.

 

I was a victim and life was the culprit.

 

I walked around thinking that life had wronged me.

 

For 23 years I had a good thing going, and life just swooped right in and fucked it all up.

 

Thanks a lot, life (ya dick).

 

This was my mindset for years following the loss of my mom. I walked around sad, pissed off, confused and scared.

 

It was no way to live.

 

And I can’t say exactly when, but this all started to change when I changed my mindset. I know it was right around the time I started to listen to my intuition more, and something profound changed.

 

For the first EVER, I looked back on a few of the good things in my life that were happening, and I admitted to myself “this 100% happened as a result of my mom dying”.

 

I know that sounds cruel, so let me explain.

 

When my mom died, that feeling in my sternum/solar-plexus area intensified almost immediately.

 

It became so severe that I started listening to it.

 

As a results of listening to it, I pursued the path of starting a business and making a career out of my true passion.

 

That decision has allowed me to live an awesome life, where I can travel and have great experiences while using my expertise to help make people’s lives better.

 

So looking back, the loss of my mom was a catalyst that sparked amazing changes in my life.

 

Yes I miss her and yes I would give anything to chill in the same room with her and hug her for 5 minutes. And that will never change.

 

But that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize the good that came out of the situation.

 

And once I realized this, I started to look back on all the things in my life that I originally thought were bad and had happened TO me, and each one I could trace back at least one awesome thing that came out of the experience.

 

This has led to view the entire world differently.

 

Now small things that used to piss me off don’t bother me as much. They are there for a reason.

 

Now setbacks with my business don’t stress me out as much. They are simply indicators of adjustments I need to make.

 

Now days where I wake up feeling sad or anxious don’t affect my overall outlook as severely. They are just days my body/soul/mind need to slow it down a bit.

 

Learning to embrace that things happen FOR me changed my outlook forever, so thank you mom. For showing me that even losing someone as remarkably loving and caring and amazing as you can create some good in my life 🙂

 

To Sum It All Up

 

I guess I am writing this for two reasons.

 

One: to publicly thank my amazing mom, who is so damn amazing that even though she died 1618 days ago, is still finding ways to help make my life better and better all the time.

 

Two: to let you know that nothing in your life is stuck or broken. At any point you can completely change any aspect of your life that you don’t like or that you want to make better. And if you run into hardship on that road to change, just know it is a guiding occurrence that is happening FOR you, not TO you.

 

So don’t be afraid. Don’t be anxious. Don’t feel doomed.

 

Even the darkest things in your life have a way of sparking new growth that will take you to amazing places.

 

But do yourself a favor and take these lessons my mom has taught me and apply them to your journey as well.

 

And use these lessons confidently knowing that they were taught by the most caring, loving, courageous and badass women that I have ever known.

 

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I miss you every damn day I’m alive.

 

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, past and present, who have helped shape us and guide us into better human beings!

 

And Most Importantly (don’t skip this part!)

Please share the love.

 

I poured my heart and soul into writing this article in order to spread positivity and courage throughout an internet that is filled with negative and gloomy garbage.

 

So it would mean the world to me if you could share this article and help me grow my mission of making people’s lives, bodies and mindsets happier, stronger and more awesome!

 

It only takes a second the click that “share this” button at the bottom of the page, but I know the more people that read this, the more people that need this supportive and encouraging message are going to see it at exactly the time when they need it most. Which is amazing.

 

So thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. You’re strong, awesome and badass, and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to me brag about my mom 🙂

 

 


The Only Fat Loss Article You’ll Ever Need

His Body Was Nuts!

Last week I was watching the movie ‘Deadpool’.

Although the quality was a bit shaky because I had purchased it from a shady bootlegger in the alleyway behind a pizza place in Baltimore (not kidding), the movie itself  was great.

I was in the middle of enjoying Ryan Reynolds’ snarky sarcasm and impeccable bone structure (straight men can appreciate the God-given handsomeness of other men, FYI), when all of a sudden, the guy takes his shirt off.

 

“Holy shit that guy is shredded” I thought to myself.  How did he get in THAT good of shape?

Good Lord, Dude.

Good Lord, Dude.

I am a seasoned strength and conditioning professional with a firm understanding of the scientific principles behind building muscle and burning fat, yet I found myself rushing to my iphone to search for what Ryan Reynolds did to prepare himself physically for the role in this movie.

 

I was hoping to see that he did something completely out of the ordinary.

 

That he participated in this crazy new workout regimen that I had never heard of that produced crazy-ripped bodies in a matter of weeks.

 

I was hoping there was some incredible fitness gamechanger that I had overlooked.

 

When I searched the training program that he followed to get his body in shape for ‘Deadpool’, I found exactly what I had expected to see.

 

His program was a classic, by-the-book approach to strength training.

 

There were no fancy frills or celebrity secrets. The training program adhered to the exact same principles that I have learned and utilized to help 100’s of clients build better bodies.

 

But why did I find myself anxiously searching to see if he had found some overnight miracle training program when I already had a firm understanding of the proven principles for effective fat-loss?

 

Because the fitness industry, in all of its salesmen-like wisdom, constantly bombards us with unrealistic fat-loss solutions that propose to be the answer to all of our prayers.

silly workout pic

 

So instead of relying on fat-burning methods that have proven time and time again to effectively build strong, lean bodies, we search around for something fancy and new.

 

New pills. New workouts. New pieces of equipment.

 

Well ‘new’ doesn’t always mean better. And ‘new’ doesn’t always mean NEW.

 

Let Me Ask You This

 

If any of the crap that you see on TV or on the cover of magazines actually worked as well as they said it did, then WHY would they constantly have to come up with new stuff that claims to be more effective than the stuff that came before it?

 

Try this to see what I mean.

 

Do a google image search for the last 12 covers of Men’s Health (or any popular health magazine for men or women).

 

Every single one advertises a grand workout plan that is going to get you a strong, lean body and a nice set of abs.

 

But wait.

 

If the Men’s Health from 2 months ago finally cracked the code on how to get an awesome body, why is the Men’s Health from this month claiming to have figured it out AGAIN?

Decisions, Decisions...

Those sound oddly familiar….

Are the geniuses over there making scientific discoveries every 4 weeks?

 

Probably not.

 

In reality, they are taking what we already know and repackaging it so that you give them money.

 

Those dicks!

 

And why am I going on this tangent and having you look up magazine covers?

 

Is it because I hate Men’s Health? No way. Those magazines have great articles and reading them gives you a good excuse not to talk to the weirdo next to you on a plane.

 

I am having you search the magazine covers because I want you to realize that we have already found the solution to achieving amazing results when it comes to improving the way you look and feel.

 

We already know how to build muscle. We already know how to burn fat.

 

 

But these days, information is presented in a way that has us feeling as if we are constantly missing that special ingredient that is going to get us the body of our dreams.

 

It can happen to any of us.

 

It happened to me (although I probably shouldn’t admit it) and I do this stuff for a living!

 

So, how does me looking up how Ryan Reynolds got his body to look so awesome in ‘Deadpool’ affect you in any way?

 

Easy.

 

It made me realize that anyone can fall victim to the ineffective lies of the fitness industry, and it is my responsibility to dispel some of the most common fat-loss myths out there so we can all stop wasting our time doing stuff that doesn’t work and instead all start looking like chiselled superheros.

 

Stop The Lies!

 

If we want to stop wasting our time on stuff that doesn’t work, we need to identify the lies out there that we are constantly believing.

 

The following are the 3 most common fat-loss misconceptions that I find people falling victim to, so it’s time to shed some light on these lies to expose them for the filthy time-wasting frauds that they are.

 

Stop making these 3 mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to burning fat and building muscle without wasting time.

 

Fat-Loss Lie #1: Cardio Will Make You Sexy

 

Why This Lie Sucks: It has the opposite effect (fat gain)

cardio girl

 

How come when you walk into most gyms and ask the best thing to do to burn fat, people say ‘cardio’? (cardio meaning a steady-state activity you do at a low-to-moderate intensity for 20-60 minutes)

 

On paper, it makes sense. Cardio burns calories, and burning more calories means losing more fat.

 

Right?

 

Sort of.

 

Yes, cardio temporarily burns calories, but in the grand scheme of things you are actually doing yourself a disservice if you are relying on cardio for fat loss.

 

Here’s why:

 

Reason 1: The calories burned from cardio aren’t all from fat

Although we hate fat, the body sees it as a necessary energy source for survival and it is not very willing to let it go.

 

This means that during cardio, the calories that you burn are coming primarily from muscle tissue, not fat.

 

Breaking down muscle tissue instead of fat tissue is EXTREMELY problematic.

 

To burn fat, you want to have as much lean muscle mass as possible. Lean muscle significantly increases your metabolism all day, which means it helps you burn fat all the time.

 

By doing cardio and causing your body to break down muscle, you are actually lowering your metabolism and your bodies ability to burn fat, which will lead to more fat gain.

 

So even if the scale says you losing pounds, note that the weight lost is mostly from muscle, which means that although your weight might have decreased, you have just gotten weaker and softer, not leaner.

 

Reason 2: Cardio increases your appetite

Cardio is a metabolically fatiguing activity, which means it will cause an increase in appetite later on. This leads many exercisers to eat back all, if not more, of the calories that they just worked to burn off.

hungry cat

 

Reason 3: Cardio Takes Up Time That Could Be Spent Doing Better Stuff

Making changes and improving the way you look and feel takes effort. Since this is the case, you want to invest your effort in methods that are going to produce the best results, right?

 

As I mentioned before, the body will only adapt and change (aka results) if you give it a reason to. Well, cardio does not give the body a reason to change and adapt.

 

Simply performing cardio over and over again will not lead to significant muscle growth (more muscle means more fat burned!) and therefore will not produce significant results (even if your only goal is fat-loss, muscle development is crucial).

 

In fact, the body is great at adapting, so the more cardio you do, the more efficient your body gets at performing cardio, which means you will burn less and less calories from the same type of workout.

 

The Cold Hard Truth: Resistance training (lifting weights) gives your body a reason to change and adapt, meaning it is a much better use of your time if your goal is to burn fat. Cardio, however, can also play a role in effective fat loss if utilized correctly. Brief bouts of intense cardio (aka conditioning) are a great fat-loss tool and should be used a few times per week if you are looking to amplify your fat loss efforts.

 

Fat-Loss Lie #2: Restrictive Dieting Will Make You Ripped

 

Why This Lie Sucks: Restrictive diets make you fat and sad

 

Dieting for weight-loss is unpleasant.

 

Just ask anyone who ever had to interact with me in high school while I was cutting weight for wrestling. I sucked to be around.

 

Depriving yourself of calories and nutrients makes your body upset. And when your body is sad, your mood shifts from normal human being to hangry hellion, and no one wants to hang out with you. Your energy levels plummet, and life is all around miserable.

 

Besides making your friends want to avoid you, dieting can also sabotage your fat-loss efforts in the following ways:

 

Reason 1: By Throwing Off Your Body

Severely cutting out calories or entire groups of foods from your diet (aka cutting out ALL carbs, cutting out ALL fats, cutting out all ‘XYZ’) throws your digestive and hormonal levels out of whack, ultimately leading to weight-gain

 

Reason 2: Creating A Pattern Of Sadness

Depriving yourself of calories too drastically shifts your body into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism and exaggerates sensations of hunger. This makes it easier to gain fat and also leads to a binge-eating pattern (aka taking out your frustrations on a poor pint of Ben & Jerry’s) that leaves you feeling guilty and  mentally defeated.

 

Reason 3: Science Says So (and those guys are smart and stuff)

Studies have shown that even in instances when restrictive dieting produced initial weight-loss, the majority of individuals ended up gaining back the weight, and putting even more on, as a result of the mental and physiological side-effects of restrictive dieting

 

Cold Hard Truth: Instead of messing with your mind and metabolism by dieting to achieve short-term weight loss that is mostly muscle-loss, you will achieve way better results by making a few nutritional adjustments that will promote long term leanness.  

 

 

Fat-Loss Lie # 3: Lifting Weights Is For Meatheads

 

Why This Lie Sucks: Strength training is the most effective exercise method to promote fat loss, and is for ANYONE who wants to look and feel better

 

Please please please know, if there is one thing that I want you to get from this article, it is that lifting weights will not turn you into an over-bloated muscle-ball (this goes for guys AND girls).

 

Like I mentioned earlier, your body is an incredible adapting machine….but it will only adapt and change if you give it a reason to.

 

Lifting weights provides your body with the stimulus it needs to grow new lean muscle mass.

 

Adding lean muscle mass is important because the more muscle that you have on your body, the more calories that your body burns on a daily basis (aka your metabolism gets a boost). And the calories that your muscles use come from fat.

 

Bingo Baby!

 

Lifting weights is also a double-edged sword when it comes to fat-loss because it works in two ways.

  1. You burn calories WHILE you are training, which burns fat
  2. You develop new lean muscle, which increases your metabolism, which burns fat

 

So please know that when you see images of gargantuan freaks pumpin iron and grunting around in their muscle tanks, those individuals train in a very, VERY particular way (and use shady eastern european supplements that are banned everywhere except uzbekistan) to end up looking like that.

"How come no one want to hang out wiff me?"

“How come no one want to hang out wiff me?”

So rest easy, and train in peace knowing that lifting weights will make you look strong, lean and awesome, not awful.

 

Cold Hard Truth:  Lifting weights will turn you into a majestically lean piece of eyecandy, not an overbloated meathead. Strength training 2-4x a week will drastically increase your ability to burn fat and stay lean for the long-haul.

 

Let’s Get You Lean

 

It would be a real dick-move for me to shed light on these 3 fitness fat-loss lies, and then leave you without any actionable plan to follow that utilizes all of the sweet knowledge I have revealed to you in this article.

 

And since I am not a dick (unless I am stuck in traffic and haven’t eaten for more than 3 hours),  I am going to tell you exactly how to burn fat the right way.

 

Strength Train Properly

 

I sound like a broken record, but strength training is the best way to lose body fat. I realize, however, that this fact does you absolutely no good if you do not know how to strength train properly.

 

Here are some helpful pointers to assist you in creating an effective strength training session that will build muscle and burn fat:

 

  • Train 2-4x a week to ensure you are getting enough workouts in while also allowing days for recovery

 

  • Prioritize compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. These exercises work the most muscles, and therefore have the potential to build the most muscle (which will burn the most fat)
    • Think squats, deadlift variations, push ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, pull ups, row variations, lunges

 

  • Find an appropriate training split (aka schedule) that allows for adequate muscle recovery
    • Hammering away at the same muscle group day after day will not allow for recovery so you will not see results. Instead, alternate your training days so that you can focus on certain muscles while allowing other muscles to rest and recover
    • Example: alternating between upper body and lower body days, or doing full-body workout routines with a full day of rest in between

 

  • Stay within the 8-12 rep range for the big muscle groups. For smaller muscles like your biceps and delts and calves, you can up the reps to 14-18

 

  • Keep track of what you do and make progress when you can

 

 

Condition Properly

 

Remember when I said that cardio can play a role in fat-loss if it is utilized correctly? Well, conditioning is cardio’s way of helping you burn fat.

 

Conditioning is a brief but intense bout of cardio that will burn calories like crazy. Just make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Muscles are like engines and calories are like fuel. How do you burn as much fuel as possible? You work as many engines as you can as hard as you can.
  • This means that your conditioning should involve multiple muscles, and you should work those muscles hard
  • Since you are working your muscles hard, conditioning sessions should last no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Conditioning after strength training is an effective way to burn fat since your muscle’s energy stores will be depleted and your body will use fat as its energy source

 

Good examples of conditioning

Ever see a fat sprinter? Me neither.

Ever see a fat sprinter? Me neither.

  • Metabolic Resistance Training
    • Perform rounds of weight lifting exercises in a circuit-like fashion, so you work multiple muscle groups in a short amount of time without getting much rest
  • Incline or hill sprints
  • High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Tabata
    • Simply perform a compound exercise for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Perform anywhere from 5-10 rounds
    • Examples of exercises include kettlebell swings, burpees, squat jumps, push ups, jumping jacks, jump rope, etc.

 

Nutritional Adjustments That Won’t Ruin Your Life

 

Dieting sucks. We already established that.

 

It makes you sad and fat. So we know we do not want to do that.

 

Then how do we adjust our nutritional habits to promote fat loss while still allowing us to eat the amount that a human being should?

 

Follow these tips:

 

  • Prioritize Protein
    • Protein is the single-most important nutrient for fat loss. In addition to helping you feel full and satisfied, your body has to work hard to break down protein, which means you burn a lot of calories while digesting it. Protein also helps you build new muscle mass, and as we know, new muscle mass burns calories like crazy.

 

    • Good sources of protein include: chicken (breast or ground), beef (90% or leaner), steak, turkey (breast or ground), wild caught fish, ham, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whey protein supplement, quinoa, beans

 

  • Stay away from processed carbohydrates
    • These are stripped of all nutritional value and are filled with sugar and other artificial crap that will slowly kill you.

 

    • They are literally engineered to release reward-mechanism-chemicals in your brain (like crack cocaine) so that you over-consume them. No good!

 

    • They also raise insulin levels like crazy, which promotes fat storage

organic stuff

  • Eat more vegetables
    • Similar to protein, veggies help keep you full and require a lot of work for your body to break them down, meaning you burn a lot of calories while digesting them. They also are filled with vital nutrients that will help you in everything from powering intense workouts to promoting critical brain function
    • If you spend more time eating these, you’ll have less time and less room in your belly to eat crap. It’s science!

 

  • Be prepared
    • Eating healthy is hard when it is not convenient. Unfortunately, the unhealthy stuff is usually the stuff that is the easiest to get. So do not make yourself susceptible to taking the easy way out when hungry.

 

    • Shop and cook regularly, and keep whole, minimally processed foods around your house so you’re not tempted to massacre the keebler elves when a late-night craving strikes

 

 


3 Ways To Booze Without Getting Fat

A Tribute To Booze

Oh alcohol. How we love you.

From our high-school days (or middle school if you’re a real bad-ass) of stealing you from our parents’ liquor cabinets to our grown up days of adding you to orange juice so that we don’t feel as bad about ourselves when we start drinking at 9 am, we have always found a way to utilize you to amplify our ability to have a good time.

But why, alcohol, do you have to be such a buzz-kill when it comes to making us fat?

Why must you be filled with empty calories?

Why do you make us crave child-sized pizza slices (not child-size as in small, but child-size as in the size of a freakin’ child) at 3:00am?

Why do you try to undo all of the hard work that we put in at the gym all week?

If only there were a way to still enjoy your liquory goodness without completely sabotaging our quest to burn fat, build muscle and get sweet, rockin’ bods….

Oh wait, there is!

Alcohol And Getting Fat

In order to know how to avoid the fat-gaining tendencies of alcohol consumption, we must first identify why alcohol consumption can be counter-productive for our fat-loss goals.

fat gerbil

Goal: To not end up like that gerbil

 1. Alcohol Temporarily Prevents Your Body From Burning Fat

Alcohol is an ethanol, which is toxic to your body. For this reason, when you consume alcohol, your body will give priority to metabolizing it as quickly as possible because your body wants it out of your system as quickly as possible.

This means that your body will shut down its own fat burning efforts since it wants to digest and use the calories from the alcohol ASAP.

This means that the food in your stomach, and any foods that you consume during a drinking-session, will most likely be stored as body-fat, especially dietary fats that you consume right before and while you drink.

As if this did not suck enough, alcoholic drinks usually contain quick-digesting carbohydrates, which raise insulin levels drastically. High insulin levels also contribute to fat-storing within the body.

It’s a double whammy of fat-packing power.

No bueno.

2. Alcohol Negatively Affects Your Eating Habits

This will come as no surprise to you, but there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and the food choices that we make.

It typically goes like this: The more booze you drink, the more crap you eat.

Numerous studies have been conducted by smart people ( The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition and The American Dietetic Association) that have found a direct connection between alcohol consumption and weight-gain caused by poor food choices and/or over-eating.

The study found that the more drinks someone consumed per week, the more body-fat they tended to have. These high body-fat percentages were linked to poor food choices and/or over-eating.

This is no surprise to me.

I can’t recall a time when I was drinking with friends and suddenly suggested we order up a couple of salad platters.

Instead, I get hangry and demand copious amounts of chicken fingers accompanied by a cornucopia of dipping sauces (honey mustard, you complete me).

Most doctors credit this urge to consume unhealthy foods to the fact that alcohol raises your blood sugar. Subsequently, as your blood sugar falls, your body craves a quick-fix of calories, which is why you desire calorie-dense foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats.

Some people can't help but make bad food choices....

Some people can’t help but make bad food choices….

In addition to craving unhealthy food, alcohol loosens our inhibitions, which makes it harder for us to know when we’ve consumed enough food or drinks, meaning we then over-consume even more unhealthy foods and more booze, amplifying the fat-storing effect of alcohol.

As you can see, alcohol can be a potential nightmare when it comes to putting on unwanted fat.

Luckily for you, I have come up with a few ways to minimize the non-awesome effects of alcohol so that you can enjoy a booze-filled bonanza every now and then without getting fat and/or hating yourself the next day.

3 Ways To Booze And Not Get Fat

1. Work Out

I am not trying to be condescending when I say this.

Obviously you know that working out helps build muscle and burn fat.

But working out really intensely primes your body to absorb nutrients, and when you are in that post-workout state, you can have a couple drinks without having to worry about a ton of fat storage.

You don't have to be in a michelob ultra commercial to workout before drinking

You don’t have to be in a michelob ultra commercial to workout before drinking

When you workout hard (weightlifting, high-intensity-interval-training, sprinting, spin class, bootcamp, fighting a bear) you deplete your body’s glycogen levels, which is what your muscles use for energy. When your glycogen levels are low, your body is eager to replenish them.

That means that if you have alcohol following a tough workout (ideally within 1-2 hours), the carbohydrates found in those drinks will be utilized to help replenish glycogen levels. And if they are being used to replenish glycogen, there is little to no chance that they will be stored as body-fat!

What That Means For You

If you know you are going out for drinks, try to get a good workout in before you start boozing. Again, the closer you can time your workout to your drinking session (ideally 1-2 hours), the better.

Make sure that the workout you do is intense enough to deplete your body’s glycogen stores so that your body will be in the perfect state to utilize the carbs you consume when you start drinking.

 

2. Plan Ahead

Going to a big party tonight?

Heading to happy hour after work?

Going to a Donald Trump rally and need to get drunk enough to punch some protesters?

Maybe Trump is just drunk, like, all the time

Maybe Trump is just drunk, like, all the time

If you know you will be going to social event based around drinking, it will be important to plan your nutrition ahead of time.

As I mentioned, consuming alcohol tells your body to stop using calories you have consumed earlier that day since your body will want to metabolize the alcohol as quickly as possible to get it out of your system.

This means that anything you eat before you start drinking (within 1-2 hours) and anything you eat during drinking will most likely get stored as fat since it will not be used as energy.

This means you do not want to eat fatty or carby foods before or during drinking.

Going out at night?

Get your carbs and fats in in the morning (omelets, toast, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, etc) and then stick with lean protein and vegetables for the rest of the day.

Going to a social event that will be serving foods?

Eat a protein-rich snack before you head out so you won’t get slammed by cravings later on. If you are still hungry, seek out lean proteins and snack on those while you drink.

Protein is your best bet while drinking since it will not drastically elevate your blood sugar. This means it will lead to minimal (or none at all) fat gain if you consume it while drinking.

3. Know Your Options

Social drinking is a part of life.

To tell you to completely avoid it would be unrealistic, which is why I am giving you these tips to help minimize the potential fat-gaining effects of a night out on the town.

In addition to working out intensely and being smart about the foods you eat before and during a drinking session, one of the best ways to avoid adding on body-fat from drinking is to make better beverage options while you booze.

booze whatever

Choose This, Not That

Choose Red Wine, Not White Wine: It has less carbohydrates and less sugars

Choose Sugar-Free Mixers, Not Sodas And Juices: When choosing mixed-drinks, go with diet-sodas (I call it pop, shoutout Ohio) or carbonated water. Again, you want to stay away from sugary drinks that are filled with carbohydrates

Choose Lighter (not always lite) Beers, Not Heavy Ones: When choosing a beer, stay away from the calorie-dense ones that pack a ton of carbohydrates. Obviously, the ‘lite’ beers are going to be a safe bet, but there are tons of non-lite beers out there that aren’t as calorie dense. Use your phone and research the calorie content of a potential beer, and look for ones that have below 150 calories. You’d be surprised to see that a lot of pilsners and lagers don’t contain a ton of calories

*Also: When you order a beer, drink it slowly and appreciate it. Don’t mindlessly slam beer-after-beer. This is one way to consume a boat-load of calories without even knowing it, which will speed up the development of a nice little beer-gut.

Choose Liquor, Not Liqueur: If you’re going to drink some hard alcohol, stick with your classics like vodka, gin and whiskey, and stay away from sugary liqueurs that are filled with calories. This may break your heart if you’re a frat-bro, but a shot of Fireball literally has more sugar in it than alcohol. Liqueurs typically contain the most calories and sugars per volume than any other alcohol, so avoid these at all costs (unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day, in which case you have my blessing to do 20 Irish Car Bombs)

st pattys baby

Choose Water, Periodically: I know this isn’t an alcohol choice, but water should always be on your radar while you are drinking. Mix in a glass of water every 2-3 drinks. This will help you stabilize your blood sugar, will help your body metabolize alcohol, and will contribute to an over-all feeling of satiation, which will prevent over-eating and over-drinking.

 

And Most Importantly

Making the adjustments that I mentioned will greatly decrease the potential damage that a drinking session can do to your physique.

If you bust your ass in the gym all week, you owe it to yourself not to undo all of your hard work with a wild night on the town.

Actually implement the suggestions that I give you in this article so that you can continue to build muscle and burn fat while also enjoying a normal social life.

One thing I want to point out is that adhering to these suggestions does take a bit of work and discipline. As with anything that is worthwhile, you have to make some adjustments and sacrifices if you honestly want to accomplish a goal.

If your goal is change the way you look and feel, then you have to change some of the habits that got you to where you are in the first place.

If you think that over-indulging when you drink is preventing you from achieving results, then I hope this article is the first step in helping you re-adjust those habits so that you can make the progress that you want.

You already have everything it takes to make a impactful change in your life, but you need to be aware that it is going to require some work and dedication. Once you make peace with that fact, you are ready to go forth and kick-ass.

Also, outside influences greatly impact our behaviors when we are in social settings.

If you really want to be as successful as possible in making beneficial changes to your drinking habits, it is best to surround yourself with people who are going to support and/or participate in those changes as well.

Share this article with your closest-drinking buddies so that they can join and/or support your effort to build muscle and burn fat while still enjoying a normal social life. Let them know that making a change is truly important to you, and if they are your ride-or-die bestie, they will support you.


The Most Important Lesson You Forgot From Mean Girls (Yes, The Movie)

We All Love The Movie Mean Girls

she doesnt go here

We all love the chubby endearing Damian (who turns out is actually gay, and is functioning like a total badass)

We all love the that chick with the heavy flow and wide-set vagina ( her name is Bethany, BTW).

We all love the endless supply of typical high-school personas and hilarious one-liners that Tina Fey strung together like the comical genius she is.

But in addition to all of the lovable characters (and being able to enjoy Lindsay Lohan before she went f’ing nuts), this movie actually contains depictions of accurate and applicable truths that have the capacity to enrich the way that we live our lives.

Yeah, Mean Girls has a lot more to it than you one would think.

That got deep pretty quickly, huh?

Well, read on to see what I mean!

Cady Heron’s ‘Ah-hah’ Moment

Talk about pressure.

It’s the final round of the Illinois High School Mathletes State Championship, and believe it or not, North Shore finds themselves deadlocked in a tie with those nerds from Marymount Prep.

Cady, who has been studying the back of Aaron Samuel’s head all year instead of her calculus books, gets chosen to answer the tie-breaking question. Sudden death can be real S.O.B!

In the sudden-death round, Cady has to face some troll-looking girl named Caroline Krafft (who is actually one hot-potato in real life) who, by society’s standards, ain’t the spiciest senorita at the cantina.

Shit's about to get REAL

Shit’s about to get REAL

Nonetheless, the scene progresses as a nervous Cady sizes up her competition as she approaches the podium to solve the final math question.

Then it hits her. Cady has her ‘ah-hah’ moment.

As Caroline approaches her respective podium, Cady begins tearing into her physical appearance.

You can tell in the way that she describes her that Cady is attaching emotional judgement to the attributes she notices on Miss Krafft. Initially, Cady is under the impression that the way Caroline looks has a direct correlation to her inherent worth as a person.

Cady finally catches herself and reverses her way of thinking/judging, and finally realizes that Caroline’s appearance means nothing when compared to the overall importance of the situation, and pretty much life in general.

I don’t know about you, but I was damn proud of Cady for taking the high road. You’re lying if you said you didn’t  silently threw Cady an air-fist of approval when she righted her wrongs.

yes gif

 

It’s More Than A Cliche

So now I know what you’re thinking. It’s that tired old cliche, you can’t judge a book by its cover, right?

WRONG.

It is so much more than that.

When looked at on a deeper level, you will see that using what was realized in that scene of Mean Girls can enrich an infinite amount of moments that you encounter in everyday life.

I’ll show you what I mean with a real example from your’s truly.

 

This Is Awful To Admit

I was driving down the highway after work.

I had just got done working 13 hours straight at the gym, and I was exhausted.

I had gotten surgery on my shoulder a few months earlier and was still in a ton of pain, so on top of being exhausted, I was also really uncomfortable. Needless to stay, I was not in the mood for any bull shit.

As I was nearing my exit, I was cut off, and I had to slam on my breaks (which felt horrendous on my shoulder). I immediately flipped on my sassy-switch, so I changed lanes and sped up.

“I’m gonna get a look at this piece of crap” I thought to myself as I drove up next to him, trying to get him to acknowledge the dirty look that I was radiating directly toward his stupid face hole.

Once I was able to peer into his car and eye him up, I let the mental degradation begin.

He was driving a beat up, rusted white pick up truck, and he just fit the mold for someone we would consider ‘trashy’.

Okay, he wasn't THIS extreme. But you get the idea.

Okay, he wasn’t THIS extreme. But you get the idea.

I immediately began to devalue him based on his looks.

I instantly came to the conclusion that he must have been stupid, poor, irresponsible, ignorant and uneducated. Yup, I concluded all of this in about 45 seconds. Because I’m a genius, and my guess is usually almost always right (right?).

And you know what? The more I judged him, the angrier I got.

Then we got off the high-way and went different directions. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Nope. Even after his truck had disappeared from sight, this guy was still deeply implanted in my head. I started cursing him out and wishing him physical harm. I was even breathing heavily. It was gross.

And then it hit me so hard that I legitimately had to pull over and stop.

I was overcome with TWO harsh realizations:

  1. I had just wasted an immeasurable amount of physical and emotional energy judging the worth and character of another human-being I had never actually met.

 2.  Life is made up of a finite amount of fleetingly precious moments, and the moments that I wasted making assumptions about that person are ones that I will never get back.

Whoa, right?

That shit is deep. But think about it.

If we changed the way we approached people and moments, we could be a lot happier overall, just like how Cady was happy when she stopped judging Caroline and started solving limits that didn’t exist.

Be Happier: People

happy dog

Yes. One day you can be as happy as this dog in socks.

We live in a world ruled by quick.

Next-day shipping beats 5-7 business days. Binge-streaming shows beats waiting for the release of weekly episodes. On-demand anything beats not-on-demand anything (you get the idea).

I have started to think that we have adopted this ‘on-demand’ approach to assigning judgement to other people simply because it is quick and convenient.

Why get to know somebody when I can quickly disregard them based on a few visual assessments in a matter of seconds?

As scary as it is to admit, this type of thinking is robbing us of potentially awesome encounters that could bring about significantly more happiness. Life is short, so why not fill it with as much enriching awesomeness as possible, right?

Think about my example from above.

I got one look at that guy and automatically made judgements about his socio-economic status (yes, I’m a sociology major who uses words like socio-economic…here’s the definition if you’re still not sure what it means from context).

Then I went a step further, and let my judgements on his socio-economic status dictate my thoughts on his inherent worth as a human being. Pretty disgusting when you think about it.

But I was so caught up in me (MY long work day, MY sore shoulder, MY ride home that was disrupted by another car) that I jumped to the most convenient conclusion in order to further perpetuate the pity-party that I was throwing for myself.

Immediately assigning judgement to a situation blinded me of the potential goodness of someone, which is a waste of finite time.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that truly matters is someone’s inherent goodness and their ability to be a compassionate and kind human being. That’s it. Seriously. -Me

Did that guy mean to cut me off? Who knows, but he definitely did not deserve to be devalued as a human because he made my drive home momentarily inconvenient.

Would me and that guy have become the best of friends had we met under different circumstances and I approached the situation with an open mind and an appreciation for the present? Maybe, maybe not.

But by jumping to conclusions about that individual that weren’t even true, I wasted a moment of my life that I could have spent embracing the actuality of that place in time.

I could have relished in the fact that I stopped in time and DID NOT smash into the back of his car.

I could have acknowledged that although I had a long day, I was on my way home from  a job that I truly loved.

I could have acknowledged the fact that I was now sitting, which felt good on my tired feet after an active day of training.

By focusing on what was actually true and present without assigning judgement, I could have salvaged that moment in time, which is important due to the fact that life is pretty short. (Ever since I lost my mom to cancer, presently embracing as many moments as possible has become a pretty big deal for me)

My Bad…

Maybe that guy drives a beat up truck because he donates most of his money to charity. Maybe that guy cut me off because he was late for a volunteering event he had committed to. Maybe he actually was a jerk.

I’ll never really know, because I disregarded him in a moment’s notice.

I screwed up, but if I had adopted the mindset of Cady from Mean Girls, I may have been able to salvage some beauty and presence from that situation. Now it is disregarded and gone forever.

What can you learn from my mistake?

Try to be present when you encounter another human being.

Try not to assign judgement based on visual cues, but instead, own the encounter by embracing its actuality and finding its inherent goodness. Appreciate the encounter for what it is, a unique opportunity to interact with another human being. This opens the door to so much in life.

So, as cheesy as it sounds, be like Cady Heron and throw the visual evidence out of the window when meeting new people or trying new things. Don’t let pre-concieved notions rob you of potential awesomeness.

Appreciate the moment for what it is; a beautifully unique chance to experience and discover something new.

Be Happier: Moments

Taking things a step further, you can also adopt this approach when it comes to encountering moments.

Don’t immediately assign value to a moment based on its appearance. Need an example?

Say it’s Monday morning. Your alarm goes off. It’s early. You’re tired. You don’t want to start another work week. You automatically dread the daily to-do list that awaits you.

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

And why?

Because it’s Monday morning, and you’ve seen Monday mornings before, and you’ve developed a judgement toward Monday mornings, so now all Monday mornings are destined to be the same.

But why?

Just because one moment happened once one way doesn’t mean that the subsequent moments following that one are doomed to repeat it, even if they do appear the same on the surface.

Let’s go back to the Monday example and approach the moment without assigning judgement.

Your alarm goes off. It’s Monday morning, but just because you have experienced a Monday morning before does not mean you have experienced THIS Monday morning before.

You appreciate the moment for its undeniable actuality (things about that moment that are universally true and real). Regardless of what you may have to do that day, there is no denying that the current moment you are in has things to be appreciated and acknowledged.

You are breathing (off to a good start!).

You look around because you have the gift of sight (you lucky duck!).

You hear birds chirping or the water running, because you were blessed with the gift of hearing (cha-ching!).

Unless you woke up and immediately began getting mauled by a tiger (didn’t that happen in Jumanji?) you have absolutely no reason to automatically disregard the day or moment as shitty simply because it is a Monday. At it’s core, all that Monday morning is is another moment filled with things to notice and appreciate, followed by subsequent moments to do exactly the same.

So, hopefully now you can see that making a distinction between how something appears and how something actually is can go a long way in helping you appreciate moments more truly.

Being present without being clouded by pre-concieved notions can help you enjoy moments more passionately because you can finally acknowledge them for their inherent goodness instead of their perceived value.  (Read that last sentence again, because it’s pretty powerful and it makes me feel smart about myself that I came up with it)

In addition to moments, this way of appreciating the actuality of something can be applied to people, places and things. Pretty much anything you encounter can be appreciated more deeply when you request yourself to actually be present when encountering it.

 

Why Talk About This On A Fitness Site?

Well, internet, i’m glad you asked that question!

If you read the About Me section (highly recommended…), you’ll see that this whole site is dedicated to giving hard-working people information that can enhance their ability to enjoy life.

Yes, utilizing fitness to your bust your ass in order to earn a body that you will love will undoubtedly amplify the amount that you enrich your life.

Part of this will come from looking better (I think everyone deserves to be their best self every damn day), but I think the true value of training hard stems from the fact that it allows you to deepen the connection that you have with yourself.

When you embark on a journey to improve the way you look and feel, you really have to dig in and summon all of your inner-fortitude that makes you so unique and awesome. You have to embrace your inner-strength and your inner-resiliency and your inner-badass while simultaneously silencing your inner-doubt and your inner-wuss.

This allows you to further sync up your body with your mind. Which makes awesome things happen.

Forget lightly stepping out of your comfort zone.

Real growth, real progress, real self-actualization comes when you fuckin’ LEAP out of your comfort zone and embrace the newness and the uncomfortability of what you encounter. That’s really when you start to learn what you are inherently made out of.

Odds are, inside you’re already a total badass with the ability to conquer new things in order to embrace all of the potential awesomeness that they can bring to your life. But if you never get the chance to release your inner-badass onto the world, you are robbing yourself of so much of the stuff that makes life so zesty and fun and passionate.

I am a firm believer that progressing the way you look and feel by trying new things and busting your ass will help you strengthen the deep bond that you have with yourself. And being in sync with yourself will increase your ability to stand firmly and knowingly in place and time.

When your bond with yourself is strong and you are comfortable in your own-skin (EVEN when you are physically or socially uncomfortable) you are able to embrace and enjoy moments more thoroughly without assigning external judgement to them. And since life is only made up of moments just waiting to be acknowledged and enjoyed, you are able to waste less of your life and enjoy the inherent goodness of your day on a deeper and consistent level.

Oh, AND…..

Also, please share this article with the world, because I want as many people as possible to hear this message (the Share buttons are one click away ↓↓).

So, if you find yourself taking the words from this article to heart and discover you are embracing and enjoying moments more thoroughly without letting pre-concieved judgements ruin your ability to be present, do not thank me.

Thank Cady Heron, the brave little African red-head from Northshore High School who won all of our hearts by bringing peace and acceptance to a small town in suburban Chicago.