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Enemies of Consistency: Overwhelm – How to Start Off on the Right Foot

One of the biggest culprits of causing overwhelm is simply starting from the wrong place, and assuming you are better at things than you are (which is a very common human condition by the way – it’s not just you). This leads to taking on more than you’re actually capable of changing in a long-term way.

Most diets and quick fixes focus on higher level strategies, while ignoring the underlying fundamentals that help create sustainable change (I’m thinking of things like carb or calorie cycling, or even individualizing macros).

When I’m working with clients I try to cut through the noise and simplify it right away. I do this by exploring their existing skills and habits with them, and putting their goals in the context of those skills.

It’s sort of like triage. I’m essentially checking their skills and goals against three different “levels” of complexity.

As I’m working through this process I follow a pretty basic rule: don’t level someone up until the fundamentals are consistent.

Big Hint #1: almost everyone, even serious amateur athletes, are a level 1 (myself included).

Here are some (not all) level 1 criteria I work through with clients. Feel free to use it for yourself. Do you struggle with:

– Food choices like eating too many processed foods, drinking too much alcohol or sugar-sweetened drinks, or not eating enough nutritious whole foods?
– Eating behaviors like eating too quickly while distracted, recognizing your hunger cues, or using food to manage your feelings?
– Exercise and activity, such as getting in enough regular exercise, or the flip-side, overtraining?
– Recovery, such as getting enough sleep, and incorporating recovery activities like yoga and massage?
– Life skills like basic food prep skills, shopping and reading labels, or avoiding impulse choices due to being “too busy” or “too rushed”?
– Mindset and psychology issues such as all-or-nothing thinking, a fixed mindset, or busyness and stress?
– Environment issues such as an environment that requires too much “willpower” and mental strength to stay on track, or an unsupportive social network (family, friends, coworkers, etc.)?

Those are all level 1 problems (and that’s just some of them). If you’re checking all the boxes here and are at least 75-80% consistent, then you may be ready to jump up a level, but even that may be temporary.

The complexity, extra work, and physical demands of higher levels often make it a shorter-term strategy geared around a specific event or competition.

In really general terms, I break it down like this:

Level 1: General health, wellness, and performance. The fundamentals that really drive health and wellbeing.
Level 2: High level recreational and amateur athletes who want to improve body composition and athletic performance beyond what level 1 approaches can do.
Level 3: Elite/professional athletes and physique competitors who really need to alter body composition in specific, and seasonal ways.

Like I said, 95% of people are level 1 and will be fine just staying there.

Big hint #2 – if you have at some point felt overwhelmed by the changes you’re trying to make, you’re probably trying to do too much, too soon. You’re reaching past where you’re at, and need to get back to the basics.

It’s not flashy. Starting small and moving slowly can even feel a bit boring at times, but…

The fundamentals drive the results and give you a place to fall back to when life gets crazy.

Admittedly “fundamentals” have never been a super sexy thing which is why they don’t get talked about much. No one likes practicing simple, practical skills. But I’ll tell you what, even NBA all-stars started out doing simple drills. They didn’t get there overnight…it took them years!

So here’s the deal (and the challenge). Take a solid 30-60 minutes and critically evaluate where you’re at. Level this up by bringing in a trusted friend or spouse who truly knows you well. What level are you at? What areas do you struggle with most?

Then, take a good look at what may be your biggest limiters may be and work towards finding a small, behavioral solution that you can start with and grow as you go.

Example: taking at least 20 minutes to eat slowly, and mindfully at one meal each day (so you can dial into your hunger cues and adjust your total caloric intake).

You can then work that up to two meals or more as you feel more confident and competent.

If you do this, I’d love to hear how you shake out in the comments below!

Interested in Learning More About Our Coaching?

We’ve got two great options for you. You can either jump right in with a free, 30-60 minute consultation, or try us out for two weeks at no cost (or obligation) to you. Either option is a great way to dive in, learn more, and see if our coaching is a good fit for you.

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The Secret to Success is Failure

The Secret to Success is Failure

Are you ready for some backwards advice from me today?

To succeed, fail. To succeed more, fail more.

It almost feels weird to write that. I’m sure it feels a little strange to read.

Typically, I despise those articles that position themselves as the magic formula for success (or this or that) because they are so very often too simplistic and completely miss the point, but if ever I were to credit one defining attribute to success, it would be the ability to fail and fail often.

Despite being a young buck, I have been fortunate enough to work with and learn from many very successful people. If there is one key thing that I have taken away from them it is this: they have all failed more times than most people care to even try.

You see, success is a long and windy road. It is not linear. Despite what TV and newspapers may make you feel, very few people are just immediately successful. And hardly ever is it one steady win after another until you someday reach “ultimate success.”

No. Success is born of victories and failures; of learning from both and getting back out there.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

It’s not fun. It’s not pleasant. And it’s not really what you want to hear of think about but it is a reality.

For example, think of a salesperson. He reaches out to lead after lead, working hard to close deals. To some degree his success is based on his ability to persuade others to buy. To a different degree it is reliant on how many times he is willing to reach out to leads and be turned down. Regardless, the more time he spends putting himself out there, the better he will get at closing and the more chances he will have to successfully make sales. In short, the more a salesperson is willing to fail, the more opportunities he allows himself for success.

So, to succeed more, be willing to experiment and fail more often. Mistakes and failed attempts are only negative if we fail to learn and improve from them. Your mindset is 100% yours to control. You can choose to empower yourself or demean yourself. Your move.

Before I go I just want to leave you with some tangible thoughts on how to apply this right away in your life:

1) Define success for yourself. Success looks different for each of us. To some it may mean advancing their career to a certain level. To others it may simply mean having highly fulfilling relationships. Success is yours to define. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. And freeing.

2) Once you define success, be relentless and pursue it with objectivity. The key to learning and improving depends on your ability to see your mistakes and change course accordingly. If you don’t have some idea where you went wrong, you will spend a lot more time stabbing at things in the dark. Make your pursuits as objective and measurable as possible and help yourself see as steady of improvement as possible.

Relentless Attitude + Objectivity = Steady Improvement

3) Reframe it. Thoughts shape action. Just a simple reshaping of a thought can do a world of good for you. For example, instead of calling things mistakes or failures, call them lessons. Lessons empower and embolden you rather than break you down. Go for the win.

So there you have it folks, my attempt at a “secrets to success” rant. If you want to taste sweet success, fail first and fail often.

Dedicated to Your Success,


P.S. If you are curious as to how this all looks in relation to a building a healthy lifestyle or improving your sports performance, drop me a line.

Interested in Learning More About Our Coaching?

We’ve got two great options for you. You can either jump right in with a free, 30-60 minute consultation, or try us out for two weeks at no cost (or obligation) to you. Either option is a great way to dive in, learn more, and see if our coaching is a good fit for you.

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Addition by Subtraction – My Year of Saying No

NO. Such a simple word, really. Just two letters long, yet it has been such a difficult word to master.

N. O.

Why is that so hard to say sometimes?

Some days I look at my two year old niece and am just astonished by how quickly she learned the word no. It’s incredible, really. She’s good at it – uses it without hesitation.


It’s simplicity is beautiful. She’s not trying to please anyone. She’s just stating how she feels and what she wants in that moment. Is it lacking a little tact? Yes, but that’s to be expected of a 2 year old.

No is a powerful word, capable of shaping the very direction of your life, yet saying no can be such a chore. It comes loaded with a certain amount of fear that no two letter word should possess – fears of offending or disappointing others, of missing an opportunity, or of being improperly judged as being selfish or self-centered.

Continue reading “Addition by Subtraction – My Year of Saying No”

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Run in Crappy Weather – An Ode to Mental Toughness

It’s 5 am. Your obnoxious alarm is going off. It’s 15°F out and snowing. What person in their right mind wants to get out of bed to go exercise in that mess?

I mean, honestly, it’s so cozy and warm in bed. This HAS to be a poor life choice.

But you do it. You peel yourself out of bed, layer up and get it done.


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There Is No Try: Believe in Yourself

Do or do not. There is no try. It’s cliché, and yes, Yoda said it, but if you remember anything I ever tell you, remember that. Better yet, don’t just remember it. Believe it.

In my time as a coach, I have picked up on many behavioral patterns. The most interesting are those that make or break people as they pursue their goals. The pattern I want to discuss today is belief.

Beliefs Are Powerful

Beliefs are extremely powerful and hold the potential to shape outcomes. For example, I believe humans are incredibly capable beings. I believe we all have potential to learn and adapt to just about anything if we put our minds to it. These beliefs shape how I act and how I treat my clients. When you treat people as remarkably capable, they tend to become that, sometimes despite themselves.

In this game called life, our outcomes are largely shaped by what goes on between our ears. The most successful among us are those who have mastered their minds. What we choose to believe is such a vital part of that mastery, but it often starts on an almost imperceptible level. Let me get more specific.

Self-Talk Is Poppycock

We constantly talk to ourselves, often without realizing it. There are a hundred different names for it: self-talk, hidden scripts, inner monologue, etc. Whatever you call it, it happens, and it shapes what you believe, how you act, and what you accomplish.

“I believe we all have potential to learn and adapt to just about anything if we put our minds to it.”

All too often I overhear phrases that start with “I can’t do this…” or “I’m no good at that.” To be fair, sometimes it is 100 percent true. But most of the time it is total poppycock.

Continue reading “There Is No Try: Believe in Yourself”

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Supertip #1: How to Nail Your Daily Hydration

Proper, consistent hydration is crucial to successful weight loss and performing at your best. Today’s video covers a quick tip to help you make sure you nail it on the daily. For those of you who would rather read, here is the run down:

1) Grab your go-to water bottle. Anything works. Carry it with you as often as possible. This helps remove any hurdles, both mental and physical that may be holding you back.

2) Measure. If you don’t already know how much it holds, measure it using a pyrex container or anything else that is graduated in ounces.

3) Do some math. Take your daily intake goal (lets say it’s 80 ounces) and divide your the volume of your container into that amount (let’s assume 20 ounces for a result of 4).

4) Grab some rubber bands (4 in this example) and stick them at the bottom of the bottle. Whenever you finish a bottle, move a band up to indicate your progress. These rubber bands will serve both as a visual and physical reminder of your progress throughout the day.

5) Establish a time each day to check in on progress. I usually do this around midday and try to be half way to my goal. If I’m not, I take action right away to get back on track. Don’t wait to take action.

Need help figuring out how much you should be drinking on a daily basis?

Rules of thumb are okay, but to really dial it in to your body type, activity level and environment, reach out to us and we can assist you in setting the right goals for your hydration.

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Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

The Thanks Giving Habit


As the holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving tomorrow, many of our lives are about to get a whole lot crazier as we juggle all sorts of obligations and traveling. 2015 will be here before we know it! In the midst of the coming whirlwind of activity, I encourage you to try out the habit of pausing throughout the day. It will change you if you let it.

Tomorrow, when you wake up, pause for a few moments. Push away any negative thoughts, worries or checklists for just a minute or two and really ask yourself what you’re thankful for. What makes your life awesome? Write it down.

Later, as you are about to tackle your big Thanksgiving meal(s), pause. Tune in to how your body feels. Slow down and thoroughly enjoy what you are eating. Pay attention to how full you are feeling. I bet you you’ll eat less if you really take time to savor all the incredible dishes in front of you.

As you get ready to drift off to sleep, pause one more time. Reflect on the day and all the good that it held. Cherish these memories. They are precious.

Why pause? When life gets hectic, it provides just enough time to bring yourself back into the moment and reframe what is in front of you. It can be so easy to get caught up in a to-do list, what lies in the future or on a string of worries. When you’re on autopilot like this your entire perspective can shift without much conscious thought.

In fact, I found myself in just this situation this morning when my body decided it was time to be awake well before my alarm. Before I knew it my brain took off like a rocket on a multitude of thoughts about the day and the future. I caught myself in a very negative frame of mind before I put my boots on the ground. No good!

Thankfully, in situations like this you can fight back and improve the quality of your thoughts and, in turn your quality of living. All you need to get started is to pause and be grateful. Reframe yourself in the moment and get back to the day in a much more positive light. It can be hard to make the shift at times, but stick it out. There is so much good in this life if you take the time to look for it.

So friends, with that, I want to start off the holiday season here by saying that I am so very thankful for who you are, imperfections and all. You make the world a better place by being here and giving your best to this one precious life you have. I have learned and grown so much from getting to know you. Thank you!

If you care to read more about adopting the habit of gratitude, I encourage you to check out these two excellent articles from Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.

The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

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Bathroom Scale

A Day in the Life: Why You Shouldn’t Look at the Scale Every Day

A Day in the Life is a series of real, honest sneak peaks into the lives of our coaches and athletes as they wrestle with the same type of things you do.

It’s common advice that you will hear across the health industry: don’t look at the scale every day. Let me tell you something – I’m pretty bad at following that piece of advice. Recently I started several of my clients on a zig-zag approach to managing their caloric intake. I decided I’d dial up the discipline a notch and join them, especially since I’d like to train and race at a lighter weight for next year. It’s been awhile! I can’t remember being consistently this hungry for a long time. Then again I can’t remember the last time my weight really fluctuated very much, either. Hmmm. Funny how that works. Needless to say, I am jumping-out-of-my-skin excited for my re-feed day tomorrow.

A few things I’ve noticed so far (it’s day 3):

1) Our bodies are excellent at maintaining their set points (normal weight). For me that is right around 180-185 pounds. When I don’t make a conscious decision to establish some discipline with my diet, my body finds a way to get back to energy balance and maintain that weight. Consciously choosing to be disciplined and to have a plan are huge.

2) Along those lines, I recently wrote about establishing an abundance mentality instead of a scarcity mentality and how powerful that can be. When paired with having a plan, that saved me from pounding a package of Oreos during those tough parts of the day. I was able to think about my re-feed day (tomorrow, day 4) and push through the afternoon/evening gnawing in my stomach without faltering. Choose an abundant mindset – positive thoughts are powerful thoughts.

3) I recently decided I have nerd problems. My Garmin 910XT decided to end its life last week so I had to give Garmin a call. As usual their customer service was excellent and they kindly issued an RMA and replaced it for me out of warranty (thank you). But, I don’t get the replacement until they receive my old watch and then they send out the new one so I’ve been without my trusty device for about a week now (Garmin addicts are gasping, I know). I’ve discovered how much of a data-head I am and how much it ticks me off to not have it! I’ve had to relearn how to train without numbers always in front of me. Turns out I can hit run splits pretty consistently without a watch. Unplug every once in awhile. It’s not so bad.



4) Along those lines, I am also pretty bad at following my own advice of not looking at the scale daily. Today was a solid reminder of why. Typically I make the weight checking routine as standardized as possible: right after I wake up, take care of bodily business, and before any food or water. I’m always wearing the same amount of clothing. There is very little variance. Today, however, I got my butt out of bed early for a nice run with friends. I ate a small breakfast, drank some Powerboat Perform and had a good chunk of water after the run. I came back expecting to jump on the scale and see the rewards of my discipline (read: constant state of being hungry) only to find a number higher than yesterdays. That sucks. I was bummed, angry and in disbelief all at the same. I was sure the scale was broken. Until I cross-referrence another scale and found out it wasn’t. Drat! After a few minutes I came to and realized that between the additional food and water, I probably had an additional 2-3 pounds on me that I don’t usually have when I weigh in. Two lessons: weigh yourself the same way every time and do not obsess over it and check every day otherwise you will see weird fluctuations and get bummed out.

5) Even though I unplugged, I am super pumped about the new Garmin 920XT and will be like this when I can grab it at my local shop.

Jack Sparrow Garmin Meme


That’s all for today. See you all on the flipside!

-Coach Shawn

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Guilt is a Terrible Thing

Overcoming Guilt and Becoming Awesome

Overcoming Guilt and Becoming Awesome

Guilt Painted on Trashcans

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with a friend and caught yourself thinking “man, I really should do that” when the topic shifts to something that is typically guilt-inducing like putting money in your retirement accounts or eating better? Think back to one of those moments with me for a second and tell me this: did you actually end up doing anything with that thought? Did your behavior in that area actually change?

Let’s be Real. Guilt Stinks, Period.

I don’t know about you, but for me, feelings of guilt can become serious mental roadblocks if allowed. Typically I’ll come to that “I really should do X, Y or Z” moment, feel terrible for a second, but then I’ll move on to the next thing. Classical avoidance (ugh – anyone else feel guilty just thinking about it?). I really should take that moment to make a small plan for some behavior change, BUT I hardly ever do…

Sadly, it’s something many of us struggle with.

Here is what is really bad about guilt: you think that it would motivate change. It doesn’t. It inhibits it. It holds us back from accomplishing so many things, health-related or not.

Now, go back to that feeling we pulled up a moment ago. How did it feel? Like another thing on your plate? An extra load to bear so to speak? Maybe even a little bit heavy and defeating? Not a fun feeling to experience when it all boils down, right?

It gets worse. Guilt can lead to some really untrue self-talk like “I could do X, but I’m just too lazy” or “I’m just way too busy” (more on that one in a bit). That self-talk in turn shapes how we view ourself – our self-concept. Often what you think to yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you continually bash yourself, and tell yourself that you’re too lazy to do something you’ll most likely end up being lazy and not doing that thing. Funny how that works, huh!

So how do you take an inhibitory feeling like guilt and turn it in your favor?

1) Sit back and acknowledge the feeling. When you feel guilt (or any emotion for that matter), much like in meditation, try to view the emotion from an outside, and non-judgmental perspective. Say to yourself, “oh man, there it is again, that guilty feeling. No harm in that, but why am I feeling that?” BUT, don’t stop there. Examine it, much the way a scientist would in an experiment. Start asking some more questions.

2) Ask why until you get to the root of the problem. Let’s use an example to bring this one to light. Let’s say you stumble across a delicious looking recipe online and think to yourself, “I really should try to cook more.”

Why haven’t you cooked more already? This is the turning point. You might try to come back with “I’m just too lazy so it never happens” or some other reason, but really ask yourself why. 

Oh! What’s that? You bought that “Cooking for Newbies” book and meant to get started by reading it. But why didn’t you get started?

And then it comes to you. You put it in a box when you moved to your new place and now it’s buried and hard to get to. Got it!

3) Write it down. Once you are here, at this point of realization, just write it down. Just in the small action of writing it down you are more likely to take action and change your behavior.

**Side note: now, I know, if you’re in the middle of a conversation with a friend these first three steps can be more difficult. If you catch yourself in that situation, try to make a good mental note for later, or go out on a limb and mention it to your friend. He could be a good sounding board for the whole process. And then it would be totally less weird to just whip out a pen and paper and start writing something down in the middle of conversation.**

4) Come back later. This one will seem a little counterintuitive, but once you have sifted through all the whys and written some things down, set it aside and come back to it. While I wish it weren’t the case, we have a very finite amount of willpower and mental energy that we need to manage wisely. Just getting yourself through the process of slowing down and asking yourself the hard why question is enough for starters.

5) Make it manageable. While it might not seem like much, when you come back to your note ready for action, take a few seconds to break it down. Keep cutting the initial task “in half” until the first step is small enough to be super actionable. Even simpler examples like the cooking book in the buried box can become much more actionable just by breaking it into small pieces such as:

What first? Okay – walk to the basement where all the leftover moving boxes are stored.

Next – Move the boxes in front of and on top of the “extra books” box without making a huge mess. I’ll organize the moved boxes into two piles so it stays tidy.

Then – Get your book out of the buried box.

Finally – Put stuff back and start reading.

It’s a simple example, but you get the point. If an action seems overwhelming it’s very easy to dismiss that task and tuck away that overwhelming feeling for later. Then, when something triggers some guilt later, we have some misattribution of emotion going on because not only do we feel bad about not doing whatever it is we “should” be doing, but we also have these underlying feelings of being overwhelmed by the task that creep back into our consciousness, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Getting to your book under that HUGE pile of boxes feels like a much bigger and heavier task to our limited will-power if we don’t break it down, so often times we just skip it and move on.

6) Get out of your own way. Finally, don’t be your worst enemy. Too often we get in our own ways, often without realizing it. Much like packing your gym clothes the night before so you can just get up and go in the morning, try and have the book readily accessible and visible so you have lots of visual reminders through the day. But don’t stop there, make the choice to make time for it in your day. Write it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.

7) Establish an abundance mindset. This is a small mental technique that can make life a whole lot more easier and fun. Let’s use dieting as an example. A scarcity mindset would be what you find for those who are on strict diets with no cheat days. They are always thinking “I can’t have deep fried chocolate covered bacon for a long, LONG time” and they will probably be counting the days for the diet to be over.Scarcity mindsets shift our focus to the negative which is a hard place to stay and achieve success.

The abundance mindset flips that on its head. An example of achieving an abundant mindset is establishing 1-2 cheat or “re-feed” days in your diet plan in which you are allowed to have whatever food(s) you swore off of for the majority of the diet. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have and counting the days until the diet is over so you can eat your bacon, you will be looking forward to that 1-2 days each week where you can splurge a little bit. Your focus will stay in the positive and more importantly, the whole behavior change will become much more manageable and sustainable. Winning!

One last thing…

Okay, last thing that goes back to a couple things I’ve said along the way so far. I want you to remember something, my friends:

Being busy is a choice.

It is so common to be “crazy busy” and be proud of it. Busyness, believe it or not, is not a virtue regardless of how much our culture wants you to think so. Entertain me for a minute. If you find yourself using the line “I’m just too busy to do X.” please do me the favor of stopping for a second and rewording it to be “I’m choosing to not make X a priority and am making other tasks or people a priority in it’s place.” That’s the utter reality. Changing our language reminds us that how we use our time is ultimately a choice. We often make time for what we want to make time for, just like we tend to have money for the things we like to spend money on. In the vast majority of cases it’s a choice. You have say in what happens in your life – take ownership of it and be awesome.

Carry on my friends. And remember:

Guilt is a Terrible Thing


Don’t Go it Alone

Want help overcoming the mental roadblocks keeping you from reaching your goals? Contact us today to partner with a coach and get started down the path to becoming awesome.

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