A story of Anger and Forgiveness

Nails in the Fence 

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.The-Nail-In-The-Fence-Story-When-You-Do-Not-Control-Your-Anger-You-Only-Do-Damage

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said, “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”

“Of course I can,” said the father.

 I don't remember where I got this story, but it rang true with me as I look back on my younger days. 

I think the lesson the young man in this story learns is such an important one and also is a lesson that unfortunately many of us learn much later in life.  When we are young, saying or doing mean or hurtful things out of anger or frustration to the ones we love (or even strangers for that matter) seems pretty easily remedied.  As children we are confident that the adults and people in our lives are more then capable to forgive and forget our offenses no matter what we would say or do.  It’s not until we reach adulthood that we realize the long term damage our words and actions can have on one another.  Suddenly as adults we look back on our own lives at the times when someone hurt us with their cruel words or actions and although we were able to forgive them, there are some things we discover were never able to truly forget.

The fact is there are some things that we may say or do that ultimately can never be taken back no matter how many times we apologize to the one’s we hurt.  Unfortunately we tend to realize the level of irreversible damage we caused only in hindsight and even more, the ones we tend to hurt the worst are the people we usually love the most.  As the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine,” which is true, we are human, we make mistakes, and sometimes we say or do things we don’t mean out of anger in times of great frustration or sadness.  Yet, every time we are in a dispute with a friend, disagreement with a loved one, or even just having a bad day,  it’s so important to remember to pause and take a moment to think about the possible permanent repercussions our actions and words could have on others.  It’s only natural that we will have times in the future where we will lose our tempers or be pushed to personal our limits.  However, when we find ourselves in those times of great frustration or anger, we must be sure that whatever we say or do in those moments won’t,  like the nails hammered in the fence, end up leaving permanent holes in the one’s we love and in relationships important to us that we will never be able never undo.

What is your “building” made of?

  Comedian Jim Gaffigan

Are you in an abusive relationship with food? Do you give it power over you? Do you allow it to ruin your body?

Have you ever thought of food as a person that can make you feel good or make you feel like crap? For example, one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, is famous for his bit on Hot Pockets.

He says, “I have never eaten a Hot Pocket then thought ‘I am really glad I ate that’- it’s more like: ‘I’m gonna die! Did I eat that or rub it on my face? My back hurts…

It’s the truth though! We are born with all the tools needed to be the best nutritionst in the world! When you have a stomach ache after eating, that is your body telling you either not to eat that or you didn’t listen earlier and now you have eaten too much! When you stand up after a meal and have to take it easy as you straighten up, don’t you dare say “that was good” because you just failed again at your diet! Who are you going to blame then?

Let’s be honest, though. It tastes good, right? Next time you are eating something you know I would slap out of your hand, ask yourself, “Is this so good that I want to wear it?” because the truth is WE ARE MADE OF WHAT WE EAT!

That last point falls on def ears often. Here is an illustration to prove my point:

Imagine building a building with shoddy material. Upon completion you ask, “Will this building last 80-100 years?” and then the builder says, “No, but the wood sure smelled good while we were building.”

What is your “building” made of? Is it time for a remodel?

A Primer on Goal Setting

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?""That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." "I don't much care where –" "Then it doesn't matter which way you go.” ― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

If you leave your life to chance, there is a good chance you won't be happy. There is no shortage of books written on goal setting, or of people who talk about how to set goals. I even gave a short presentation to a great company you can watch by clicking here. For you readers, let me try and simplify it:

What do you want? Why do you want it? When will you celebrate? How will you do it? That's it- the secret to setting a goal.

What do you want?

Start general, get specific. Saying you want to lose weight is a great place to start, but after a trip to the bathroom you just completed your goal. Get more specific. "I want to lose enough fat to fit into size 6 jeans" is a great goal to use as an example.

Why do you want it?

Attach some emotion to your goal. If you are disgusted, if your are fed up, if you can't stand to spend one more day of the madness, then you will change. Until you have the why, and it irks you to your core, you won't change a thing.

When will you celebrate it?

Set up milestones to hit, and stick to them. If you don't celebrate the wins along the way, you'll get to the end and have missed the journey. Set a goal for what it makes of you to achieve it. This is important because once you hit it, the only thing that has changed is you/ You still have negative co-workers. You still have stressful deadlines. However, the new you can handle them differently because of the person you turned into during the journey, during the struggle.

How will you do it?

You must answer the first 3 questions before you hit the last one. The how is easy. Why? Because if you want it bad enough you will find a way. If you want to lose weight but fail, and then quit, it was not because you didn't know how. It was the why- the why was not strong enough.

Your Cardio is Boring: Try Sprinting on a Treadmill

Cardio challenge: Dirty 30I am not a fan of cardio for the simple reason that an hour on any machine is enough to drive me crazy. So instead of slow steady-state cardio, I do sprints. In fact, I shaved 45 minutes off my 1/2 marathon time and never ran more than 3 miles in a training session.

Sprinting on a treadmill is a lot of fun, but you have to focus. Forget the television. You need 30 minutes of motivating music and water tip sip on throughout.

Here's how to do it: 1. Warm up on the elliptical for 5 minutes. 2. Jump on a treadmill and put the speed on anywhere between 7-10, depending on fitness level. (Amanda started at 7.5, I am at 9.5) 3. Wait until the treadmill says 0:30 and jump on (grab the handles and jump on running) 4. When the time hits 1:00 that is one, so grab the handles and jump off. 5. Repeat for 30 minutes.

An Eagle who Believed he was a Chicken

You can spend a whole life living below your potential, all because of your beliefs.

An eagle had 4 eggs, until one day an Earthquake shook the nest so hard that one of the eggs fell out. It rolled down the hill a great ways until finally it landed in a chicken coupe.
A few days later the eagle emerged from its shell and was immediately cared for by all the chickens. They taught him to eat like a chicken, talk like a chicken, even dance like a chicken. He was happy.
birdeagle2Then one day he saw a convocation of eagles circling high above. He felt his heart jump. He turned to his best chicken and says, “Look at that! I want to be like them, soaring through the air.” His friend laughs and says, “No, sorry buddy. You’re a chicken. Chickens don’t soar through the air like that.” Unhappy with that answer, the eagle looked for a second opinion. He finds another chicken and proclaims, “You see those eagles, one day, I’ll be up there with them, it is what I was born to do!” “Ha!” The chicken laughs. “Look, I know you are taller than every chicken here, your wing span is double any chicken I have ever known, and heck, you even kind of resemble an eagle. But you, friend, are no eagle. You are a chicken.
So the eagle gave up his dreams, and lived the rest of his days, a chicken.
The Moral of the story is that you become what you believe you will become. Guard your thoughts, guard your heart, and if you are an eagle, stop hanging out with chickens!


All of Life is Sales

All of life is sales. As the sales manager of a sales team at a fantastic company, I spend much of my day working with sales people who are working hard to hit their own personal goal. Some set higher personal goals than others, and many times, the ones with the higher standard of achievement end up on top. But you don't have to be in sales...to be in sales. Life is sales. Aren't we always selling our ideas to our friends and co-workers? Don't we constantly sell our image to strangers by how we dress, walk and act? Here is a fantastic poem I have set to memory. It reminds me to ask for more out of life.

Poem: "I bargained with Life for a Penny"

"I bargained with Life for a penny, And Life would pay no more, However I begged at evening When I counted my scanty store. "For Life is a just employer, He gives you what you ask, But once you have set the wages, Why, you must bear the task. "I worked for a menial's hire, Only to learn, dismayed, That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid."

AUTHOR: Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869–1948)

Dear Multiple Choice, We Are Not Friends.

I figured out this morning why "learning" has changed for me since being through with school. Teachers always advocated for reading and studying for the exam. But since leaving school, I have read and studied for understanding. These are very different. I can't take a test to save my life. In fact, I failed the NSCA personal training exam twice before passing, and that was after 8 years as a trainer. I knew the material. I have helped hundreds of people battle their minds and environment to help them overcome obesity and lose weight. But a multiple choice exam will take me down every time.

I wish I had been told to study for understanding when I was younger. Maybe I was, but I wasn't listening. If you are young, or old, stop studying for the test and instead study for understanding.

Straight A's don't make you successful, understanding the world around you will.

Should you wait to lose weight?

Wait until tomorrow. Wait until after vacation. Wait until you graduate or get that promotion. I spoke with a woman yesterday about weight loss and fitting into some new clothes for the summer. She told me her mom has been encouraging her to wait until things in her life  "slow down" then focus on eating better and exercising.

Really?!? That is horrible advice! What if in the time she waited she develop heart disease? What if she rolls her ankle and exercise gets REALLY tough? The amount of calories she will have to eventually burn is not going to stop accumulating just because somewhere in the distant future there will be some glorious plan set in place.

Listen: DO IT NOW! Don't let ANYONE tell you to stay overweight. Its your body, and the only one you will EVER get. Take care of it...not tomorrow, NOW!

Now let's go and sweat it out!


5 Things Every Workout Should Include

Every workout should include 5 things: warm up, cardio, resistance training, cool down, and flexibility training. So many people go to the gym without a plan and wonder why they are not seeing results. I have been a trainer foralmost 10 years now and never have I stepped into  he gym for a client or for myself Keep these 5 things in mind w in mind when planning out your session and you will see the results you are after. Warm up:

This one is obvious. However, there are studies that show warming up is not necessary for the body to start a workout. Even if that is true, a warm up gets your mind ready to push the body. After a day of sitting at a desk or a night of "okay" sleep, preparing the mind with a few minutes of gradually heart pumping walking, jogging, or cycling can really get you in the mood. Always start with a warm up even if you are going to be on the cardio machine for a while. Examples:

  • Treadmill jog, stationary bike, elliptical, row machine. 


Cardio is not a pseudonym for fat burn. It is a Greek term for "heart" and vascular means "related to blood vessels". So, when you do cardio, you are strengthening the heart and pushing blood through your vessels at a fast pace. This helps with circulation and allows the body to heal itself, aka grab fat and use it for energy! And you dont have to stay on this machine for an hour. Crank up the resistance, and crank up the speed. Examples:

  • Set the treadmill on 9.0 and sprint for 30 seconds, then step to the sides. Wait 30 seconds, and start sprinting again. DO this 10 times. BAM! Cardio done.

Resistance Training:

Women, please read carefully: YOU WILL NOT BULK UP IF YOU LIFT WEIGHTS! As much as every young boy wishes for the muscles women are so afraid of, that is not how muscles work. First of all, most women do not have enough testosterone for bulky muscles. Second, it takes years for men to build up huge muscles. Lifting weights, or any other resistance training, helps burn fat and put muscle where it belongs. That being said, every resistance session should include one of the following:

Pull (Chin up, seated row, hamstring curl)

Push (Chest press, shoulder press, leg press)

Rotation (woodchop, torso twist, seated twist with medicine ball)

Cool down:

A cool down is necessary to prevent blood from pooling. When this happens, you usually get dizzy and in some cases could faint. Be sure to go for a walk or do some light jogging/cycling to bring the heart rate down. Also, just like the warm up gets you psychologically ready for the workout, a cool down gets you psychologically ready to get back to your life. Examples:

  • Yoga, light cycling, light treadmill walking.

Flexibility training:

Don't skip this, even though I know you probably will. Studies have shown stretching after a workout is more likely to prevent injuries and sore muscles and opposed to stretching before. I always walk my clients through a stretch. A good stretch is like a great massage. If done properly, it can give you a real euphoric feeling. Also, helps with joint range of motion and has been shown to reduce the risk of injury.

Is there anything I missed? Leave it in the comments below.

Fat Kids.

Our kids are fat, and we think its cute.fat-kid

Its not cute when a 3 year old is given a cake at his birthday and devours it while everyone takes pictures and claps.

Its not fair to give in to the sugar addiction we gave our children.

Its not okay to steal away a childhood because we were too weak to lead by example.

Its not easy to let our child be the fattest kid on the playground when their friends are playing basketball.

Its not appropriate to fill our grocery cart full of junk food soour children can binge when they are bored.

Its not fun when our children cannot fit into the desk at school.

Its not our fault. Right. Let's keep telling ourselves that so we don't have to actually do anything about it.


Springtime Resolutions

I always thought New Years day was a horrible day to start a resolution. The timing is all wrong. The weather is cold and dark and no one wants to go outside. You are sick from an overeating binge that started on Thanksgiving that included office parties, Christmas party and then there is the headache from drinking on New Years Eve. Now you are suppose to create new goals and resolutions? Wrong. My proposal: First day of spring should be a day of resolutions! Here is why:

The first day of spring…

  • Farmers sow their crops.
  • Plants begin to grow after the long dormancy of winter.
  • Animals come out of hibernation and being nesting and reproducing.
  • Birds migrate and start breeding.

All this is going on, and we are suppose to look back three and a half months to see if we are hitting our goals. Nope, time to move forward. Start today. Start right now.  Make a commitment.

Here are some ideas to help you.

Starting today, this first day of spring I will…

  • De-clutter my life by de-cluttering my closet, my bedroom, and my workspace.
  • Commit to 3 days a week of working out for at least 60 minutes with no interruption.
  • Sign up for a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon and start training for it with reckless abandon.
  • Lose 10 pounds so I can look great in that bathing suit.
  • Eat only healthy food with less then 3 ingredients for the next week and stick with it, even when my body goes through toxic withdrawal.
  • Commit to my kids that mommy/daddy will lose x amount of weight and be playing with them soon.

It is springtime, America! Celebrate it by becoming healthy once again!

A New Identity?

I would like to suggest to you that the reason you cannot keep weight off is because then you would lose who you are. Let me try to explain.

When people who have spent most of their life overweight start losing weight, they start seeing uncharted area in the form of attention. Where before, that person had to be funny or angry or make people feel sorry for them to get attention, now they lose some pounds and people tart paying attention. This is scary or maybe better, uncomfortable. They don't know how to be the thin version of themselves, so they usually sabotage themselves, whether they are conscious about it or not.
Warning: what I am about to say is usually when people put up their walls and get defensive. So, before you do, think about it for a second.
If you are going to lose weight, you have to leave the identity of being "the fat one". Be honest with yourself. Who would you be if you left that identity? How would you act? Could you handle all the attention you would get for losing all that weight? Do you really want to be thin? Really? If you can't answer those questions right away, its okay. Most people in your shoes can't, either.
So, you lose a few pounds, people start noticing, and then you do one of two things.
  1. You get comfortable and take a "break" in the form of a cheat day that turns into a cheat week, or you stop exercising as much because it gets boring or hard.
  2. You aren't losing weight fast enough and you feel like a failure so you decide if you are going to fail, it will be on your terms so you mess up intentionally.
Whichever one you do, it doesn't matter. The point is, you need embrace what you will become instead of living in the shadow of what you have always been.
So, what do you want to be? Then, live the way that person would live. Need help with the details? No you dont. You know what to do. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz http://youtu.be/xvj85cOWD54, "You always had the power."Corny, I know, but its true.

What are you going to do?

Fat vs. Muscle-Mythbuster alert!

Contrary to popular belief, fat does not turn into muscle. You have fat cells and muscle fibers. Fat cells get filled with the energy you consume but fail to use, and muscles grow when they are strained beyond their usual capacity. Another thing I hear often is people say "Muscle weighs more than fat." Question: Which weighs more, a pound of metal or a pound of feathers?" They both weigh a pound, but the density of the two are very different.  Take for example, a mushball (fat) and a baseball (muscle). Both weigh about the same, but the density of the baseball is a lot higher and the mushball is a lot bigger. Also, as an added benefit to having muscle, you burn more calories because muscle requires more energy to function properly, as opposed to fat that uses little or no energy to simply exist.

Getting Serious About Your Life

This guy is amazing. I read his blog, I read his book, and I am a big fan of his philosophies. Check him out! Blog Written by: Todd Durkin Website: ToddDurkin.com Check out his book The IMPACT Body Plan (In full disclosure, I did not get permission to post this. I just thought it was awesome. Enjoy!) 

There’s no surprise in the fact that I spend time each and every day talking with people about their goals. After all, as a trainer and performance coach, that’s what I do. Normally, I love this part of my work. I like nothing better than to see my clients, teammates and friends succeed.

You might be wondering, “Where’s Todd going with this?” Well, there’s a problem that I want to take head-on: I’m frustrated with people just TALKING about their goals. Talk, talk, talk. I want action! ACTION is what will set you apart. We’re on a mission and people on a mission are serious. Are YOU serious? ARE YOU SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR GOALS?

If you are, I would love to see it. I want to see your seriousness in your CHOICES. I want to see your seriousness in your ACTIONS. I want to see your seriousness in your RESULTS. I’m on a “Get Serious” campaign. Join me. Let’s get serious, NOW.

You’re reading an article written by a personal trainer so you probably have at least one goal about your health, fitness and well-being. Great. It’s all you need to start – one goal and the commitment to follow the next few steps.

Start with a personal inventory. A personal inventory is a great way to be honest about how you feel right now. It doesn’t need to take long. In less than 20 minutes, you can sit down with a piece of paper and start to write about how you feel. I did it and so can you. I sat down a week ago and wrote a personal inventory and it was a big kick in the you-know-what. If you think about it, how can we expect to get serious about a goal when we hesitate to get serious about how we feel right now? We can all benefit from a little self-reflection.

Document reality. Yeah, this is the really painful part. This is the part where you take “before” pictures of yourself if you want to lose weight. This is the part where you take the IMPACT Fit Test if you want to increase your fitness level (see Chapter 7 of The IMPACT Body Plan). This is the part where you measure where you are right now . When we measure and document reality, we know how far we’ve come when we get to the finish line and we value the results even more. Serious people know they will succeed, so don’t be afraid to take the “before” picture. The “after” pictures will be that much sweeter. It’s time to face the music, my friend.

Understand the difference between babysitting a goal and achieving a goal. Yes, babysitting. Some of us have been carrying around the same goal for years. It’s been our constant companion. Maybe you want to lose body-fat and change your body composition. Maybe you want to be pain-free. Maybe you want to be a better role model for your children as they form their values about health and fitness. Maybe you want to start your own business. Whatever your goal is, I’m pretty confident that goals are meant to be accomplished, not carried around. So, take ACTION and get serious.

Address your weaknesses. About the time we’re teenagers, we start to see our personal tendencies. Some are strengths. Some are weaknesses. I’ll save the speech about turning weaknesses into strengths for another article. Right now, we need to make sure our weaknesses don’t get in the way of achieving results. Serious people recognize their weaknesses and address them before the damage is done. A friend of mine on the East Coast is a perfect example of this. He lives alone and says that without someone to hold him accountable, he never makes progress on his goals. He finally hired a personal coach. His coach holds him accountable. His coach is like a little bird sitting on his shoulder in a restaurant when he travels for business. And on the couch at home when he’s too tired to cook. And at the gym when he needs some motivation during his workout. Whatever your weaknesses are, deal with them NOW. Don’t let them do you in… again.

Do the work. It has to be said. None of this is easy because change is hard. But if you do the work, change will come. If you do the work and are disciplined, you will succeed. If your goal is to change your body – weight, percentage body fat, metabolism… your overall body composition – you must do the work. Showing up to the gym three or even four times a week by itself will not bring the change you desire. Training hard is only part of the formula. You’ve got to change your nutritional habits. You’ve got to learn how to recover better. You’ve got to get enough sleep. You’ve got to do the work. No more excuses.

Keep your eye on key indicators. Success won’t come overnight. It will arrive slowly, but it will arrive. Know the indicators of success. Watch for them. When you’re making progress, the indicators will tell you. When you get distracted, when you stop doing the work, when your weaknesses get the best of you; the indicators will tell you. Keep your eye on your energy level, your performance level and how you look and feel. These are the key indicators of success when your goal pertains to health, fitness and wellbeing. Watch them like a hawk, because they will keep you honest.

That’s it, my friend. Only six steps to “Get serious” and you can do it. It’s time to take that goal you keep talking about and get serious about achieving it. You can win the battle. You can beat the odds because you’re not alone. We’re in this together. I’m on a campaign to get serious and I invite you to join me. We will be serious together. We will face reality. We will conquer our weaknesses. We will do the work. We will succeed and then we will celebrate. Write to me – tell me what you commit to getting serious about. Tweet me, Facebook me, or just tell me when you see me. I’m serious.

Peace and love,