Good

"Life doesn't happen to you. It happens for you."
- Tony Robbins


This article is an homage to Jocko Willink's both humbling and inspiring "Good" speech (which can be seen below). 

This is a conversation I would love to have had with myself during my college years.

Enjoy ....



Didn't get into the college you wanted to ...

I hung this on my wall until I was 30.
Good ...


Didn't get recruited by the college you got into ...

I hung this right the one above.
Good ...


When you get to school, they told you they don't take walk-ons ...


Good ...


They asked you to film practice instead ...


Good ...


They kicked you out of the varsity weight room ...


Good ...


They kicked you out of a practice* ...


Good ...


Didn't make the travel team ...


Good ...


Made the travel team but still have to play in JV games ...


Good ...


Every linebacker ahead of you was All-Ivy last year ...


Good ...


They told you every new recruit will play before you ...



Good ...

These things made me the man I am today. They are what inspire me to train any blue collar athlete who has the will to hang with our program.

They are all too small, too weak, and too slow to play college football.

Good ...

Pick Your Own Pain

"Who you are is defined by what you are willing to struggle for."
- Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ...

Someone recently asked me my prediction for their life.

This is how I responded ...



For those of you that didn't get that, the great Clubber Lang said "PAIN". 

In this age of entitlement and instant gratification, PAIN is the last thing that any normal person is willing to endure. 




Fortunately, in life, you get to pick your own PAIN.

Unfortunately, most people give up what they want most to avoid PAIN right now.

Don't believe me ...

How many of you have given up the PAIN of hunger only to have the PAIN of being embarrassed in a bathing suit?



How many of you have avoided the PAIN of waking up for the gym only to have the PAIN of no gains?


How many times have you avoided the PAIN of foam rolling before bed only to have the PAIN of being sore the next day? 



And how many kids do you know that avoid the PAIN of football practice only to have the PAIN of riding the bench?




Sadly, most people probably felt this blog post was too PAINful to read. They probably stopped reading it right after the Clubber Lang video.

For those of you that have made it this far, I commend you.

You chose the PAIN of actually staying focused on one thing for more than 6 seconds ... even if that thing wasn't telling you that you were awesome.

So where do you go from here?

Pick your next PAIN and embrace it.

If you are not sure what PAIN to pick, here are a few ideas.
  • Being sober while your buddies get hammered.
  • Putting down your cell phone 2 hours before bed so you can sleep
  • Not eating processed foods
  • Chewing slowly
  • Drinking apple cider vinegar
  • Taking a cold shower
  • Telling someone you were wrong
  • Restricting your eating time to under 12 hours a day
  • Drinking water instead of soft drinks
  • Not eating processed foods
  • Training before the sun comes up
  • Telling someone you are grateful for them
  • Wearing an ice vest
  • Reading all of my blog posts 100x (note the shameless plug)
I want to end this post with a picture that I think is oddly fitting. 

Not only is the quote something I tell guys when they chose the PAIN of softness over the PAIN of waking up early, it also references the analogy I give to make them realize that they don't want it that bad.



















Life Lessons From the Slow Carb Diet

"You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with"
-Jim Rohn

In this post, I interview a good friend of mine who lost over 20lbs while on the Slow Carb Diet.
This friend wishes to remain quasi anonymous, so I will only refer to him as "Tom" from this point on.

Tom is someone who has brought up my "average" over the last ten years. He is someone who has made me smarter, forced me to challenge what I know, and brought me some clever insights that I would never have developed on my own.


I am sharing his story with you so you can learn not only how to improve your weight issues, but any other thing you wish to improve in your life as well.

For those of you who are struggling to lose excessive body fat, this post will absolutely help you.

For those of you who already have a six-pack   ...




  1. I hate you
  2. I strongly encourage you to take note of the methods and mindset Tom uses to address problems.



Tom went from 207lbs to 185lbs and dropped 2 pant sizes during this journey.

He doesn't measure his body fat, but I could tell he shed a bunch of fat during our handshake when we met for lunch last week. It looked something like this ...



Okay ... it looked nothing like that.

It looked more like the obligatory man hug / handshake that 2 almost 40 year old guys give to each other to not feel completely awkward.


Regardless, his back felt pretty solid when I did the back pat thing indicating to me that his weight loss wasn't the result of losing 20lbs of muscle.

His transformation inspired me to interview him.

Enclosed are the details of the Q&A.




What diet did you follow to make the improvements in your body?

Over the past year, I’ve been following the Slow Carb Diet as explained in Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body.




GM Note: This is the same diet I follow and recommend to most people who struggle with weight management.

The Slow Carb Diet has 5 simple rules.

  1. Avoid White Carbohydrates
  2. Eat the Same Few Meals Over and Over Again
  3. Don't Drink Your Calories
  4. Don't Eat Fruit
  5. Cheat One Day Per Week


What diet did you follow BEFORE you made the improvements?

My weight management story is a long one.

I was a fat kid.

I was probably at my fattest as a Junior in high school. I started keeping a diet log in a little notepad and lost about 20-25 pounds.

I also did the Atkins diet pretty strict for a short time and probably lost another 10 pounds.

Then, I basically was doing calorie restriction.

I’ve found too many problems with calorie restriction on its own. First, there are too many choices. Limiting my choices just made it easier. Second, I found I was eating too many foods that weren’t keeping me full for long periods of time so I felt hungry almost all the time, which zaps my willpower.

After that I started the Slow Carb Diet, which led to a step change.


What training regiment did you follow before the improvements? Did that change during or after the improvements?

My level of exercise has been pretty consistent.

When I stopped playing organized sports, I took up running and have been doing that for the last 15 years or so at varying levels.


I probably run less now than I did a few years ago due to other responsibilities (mainly kids). I still get at least 2-3 runs in a week and use the elliptical a lot on off days

GM Note: For those of you who regularly read this blog, you are well aware that I am not a big advocate of long distance running. Having said that, one size does not fit all.

Having said that, I am still not an advocate of long distance running.

I’ve tried a lot of different strength training routines. I find them pretty boring overall (I know, it’s hard to believe I find running LESS boring)

GM Note: In the words of the great Stephen A. Smith ...




I really like basic body weight exercises (push-ups, sit ups, pull-ups). Mentally, it makes me feel stronger to lift my body on a pullup bar than to lift my body weight in bars/plates.

GM Note: You've won me back Tom ...




I’ve also been experimenting with kettlebells.

The basics are covered in the 4 Hour Body, but I recommend Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister if anyone is interested in checking them out.

Pavel’s philosophy is all about minimalism, which is great if you’re a busy person.

Also, similar to body-weight exercises, movements like the (Turkish) Get Up make me feel more accomplished than pushing plates or dumbbells.


I also think having equipment around the house makes it easier. Even though my gym is 3 miles away, it can be a 20 minute process between deciding I want to go, getting ready, driving, parking, putting my stuff in a locker, etc.

How are you sustaining your diet and training? Has it become a lifestyle habit or does it still take a great deal of effort and focus?

I’d say exercise is much easier to maintain because I enjoy it very much.
If I miss a day of exercise, I never feel as good that night.

Diet requires a lot of effort for me. I like to eat and I like to eat a lot.

The 4 Hour Body recommends eating as much as you want, which I did when I started, but toned down a little so I still watch calories somewhat.

I’m a firm believer in habits and habit formation as opposed to motivation or willpower.

I recommend reading Mini-Habits by Stephen Guise to anyone who wants to explore the basics of habit formation and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit when you want some more detail.

I also recommend reading up on decision fatigue. Understanding the concept can help you understand why limiting choices is a good idea when it comes to diet as well why you may tend to overeat at night.



What was the thing that triggered you to want to change?

This is a hard question to answer.

I’ve always had trouble with my weight and I think being a fat kid made it hard to lose/maintain weight as I got older.

I think one thing that triggered the change this time was I’ve made a conscious effort to become more open to experimentation.

Before this, I naively thought I should just follow the “experts.”

It seems, especially in the areas of health and weight loss, the experts know a lot less than we give them credit for and may not have your best interests in mind when they do their studies.

GM Note: In the 1960's, the sugar industry paid scientists to play down the link between sugar and heart disease. Check out the link Tom provided for this story HERE.



I've found some things that work and don't work for me, personally.

For example, I’m not a good snacker. I like to eat big meals. You can go online and find a ton of studies about people who “graze” all day tend to be healthier.

Just because 2 things are true doesn’t mean 1 causes the other, so be wary of advice like that. I also find that the foods on the Slow Carb Diet keep me full longer, which helps.

It's 2020 and you completely fell off the wagon, what sequence of events would have made that happen?


I don’t think one day I’ll decide I don’t care anymore and go straight downhill.

It would be a series of very small steps that led down the wrong path.

Good habits are hard to make and easy to break, bad habits are easy to make and hard to break.

What was the hardest part of the transformation?

The hardest part is the middle. 

If you don't get why I put this picture here I feel for you ...

When I start something new, I’m always excited and anxious to see results. After some time, I get bored and it makes it hard to stay with it. That’s why I’ve had to create habits around eating so it takes less effort.

Eating is one of the hardest things to manage because you HAVE to do it. Moderation is much harder to manage than complete restriction.

I wouldn’t suggest any specific habits to anyone else but I would suggest really paying attention to when/how/why you eat. Try to identify good and bad habits and manage them appropriately.


Did your weight fluctuate during the transformation?

Yes. Part of the Slow Carb Diet is a “cheat day” which leads to regular weight gains the following 1-3 days in my experience.

Mentally, the cheat day is extremely important for me. Whenever I’ve started a diet plan or refocused on diet, I usually would think “that’s it for pizza” or “no dessert…ever.” This can seem overwhelming and sad quite frankly.

I don’t want to be the guy that can never go out to dinner, never have a slice of pizza, cake, or a bowl of ice cream. I love all that stuff. With the cheat day, you get a release from restrictions, which is liberating. It’s easier to resist a slice of pizza on Tuesday, when you can allow yourself a whole pie on Saturday.



How often did you weigh yourself and did you do anything to ensure the data collection was consistent and / or accurate?

I weigh myself almost every day. I usually skip a day or 2 after cheat day to avoid the letdown of seeing the additional pounds. 

GM Note: On the flip side, I love to weigh myself the morning after cheat day. For no good reason I take a great deal of pride in seeing an extra 5 to 7 lbs on the scale.



I always weigh myself first thing in the morning on the same scale, after using the bathroom and wearing only underwear

If you had one piece of advice to give someone about to make a transformation, what would it be?

Experiment.

Don’t believe that there’s an answer that will work for you without testing it.  But ... do make sure you test it for long enough to get some real data.




In life, what is your definition of success and how does that definition relate to this transformation?



Success to me is continuous learning.

I once heard someone say, you should always look back at yourself 3 years ago and think you were totally clueless, meaning you should always be getting smarter and better.

As it applies to weight management and training, I try to educate by reading about health but always with a skeptical eye. When you’re managing your own body, it also offers up a new data set through experimentation.

If you could one thing on a billboard, what would it be? 



"It’s not all about you."

What was something you used to believe was true about diet and training but now realize is false?

The one that I as well as many others believed was around high sugar / low fat diets to manage weight and cholesterol. Turns out this was a myth created by the companies that make sugar.

GM Notes: See the story link HERE

There’s also a documentary on it that was pretty good, called “Sugar Coated.”


Sugar Coated Trailer from The Cutting Factory on Vimeo.

Wrap-Up

I hope you can see that this post was about much more than losing weight. To me, it was about using problem solving skills and managing behaviors to make major transformations.

In case you missed it, here are some common themes Tom mentions that I believe are applicable to any transformation.

  • Simplicity
  • Balance
  • Consistency
  • Research
  • Experimentation

How Many More Sets Ya Got?

"We're not selling jeans here."
- Billy Beane, Moneyball


Athlete X: "Coach, my sheet says I have pull-ups next, but that guy's been in the cable rack since we got here (which was about 45 minutes ago). How many more sets do you think he has left?"

Me: "A thousand..."



When you train in a public gym, you are at the mercy of the "general population". They can make or break your training session, especially if your gym has limited equipment that you want to use.

What makes matters worse is that there seems to be this new fad where people spend over an hour performing the same exercise.

This seems like an exaggeration, but it's not.

Like a biologist in the Serengeti, I have sat and watched people set up camp on a piece of equipment and not leave there for the entire length of our training session (which usually lasts an hour).



During my observations, I have also noticed where this occurs most often and who the main culprits are.

The Cable Rack

In most public gyms, the pull-up bar is situated right in the middle of the cable rack. 

Do you know what else is situated right in the middle of the cable rack?

Some guy doing 30 sets of cable cross-overs.




Sometimes you think you can get lucky when you see a guy on only one side of the rack doing tricep pulldowns. In your mind you think, "I can slip in there, right next to this narcissist."

Unfortunately, you forgot that the mandatory super-set to the tricep pulldown is the tricep extension ... which conveniently takes up the space right under the pull-up bar.

This scenario would be acceptable if the guy actually took a break between his 30 super-sets, but that never happens.

You just sit there wondering ... "How Many More Sets Ya Got?"

The Squat Rack

Public gyms don't have many squat racks.

If there is a legit one, the guys with the biggest squat are usually competing for it.

Unfortunately, combining big squats and 30 sets usually leads to a broken body.

And ... a broken body is usually accompanied by knee wraps.

And ... knee wraps are usually taken on and off between sets.


As you sit there watching this hobbled giant remove his knee wraps for the 30th time, all you can think is "How Many More Sets Ya Got?"

The Deadlift Platform

Public gyms seldom have places designated for the deadlift. You often have to find some floor space that isn't smack in the middle of a major thoroughfare. 

If your gym has a deadlift platform, consider yourself lucky.



If you plan on actually doing a deadlift, consider yourself unlucky.

This sacred platform is now being used for everything other than deadlifts by the people who couldn't get into the squat rack because of "knee-wrap" guy.

Over the past week I have seen barbell curls, bent over rows, military press and the clean and jerk.

If someone is actually doing a deadlift, they follow suit of their brethren and do about 30-sets. To make matters worse, they spend just as much time chalking-up and adjusting their weight belt as they do moving weight.

As you stand there baffled and frustrated, all you can wonder is "How many more sets ya got?"

Bench Press

As infatuated as American males are with the bench press, you would think public gyms would have more of them. 

This scarcity of bench press space becomes amplified, as most people are only comfortable benching off of one specific bench.

As with the other exercises, none of this would be an issue if people kept their sets to just under infinity.



As the guy with the giant bench press adjusts his wrist wraps for his 30th set, all you can wonder is "How Many Sets Ya Got Left?"

A Humbling Disclaimer

While we poke fun at these people, we do so humbly because the cable cross-over guy is probably more shredded than us and the bench, squat, and deadlift guys probably lift more than we do on those specific lifts.

If you are reading this blog, you most likely either were, are or want to be a skilled athlete.



For skilled athletes, almost everything we do in the gym is part of General Physical Preparedness (GPP). To keep it simple, it means we do a variety of movements to potentially make us better at our sport.

For professional powerlifters, bench, squat and deadlift are their sport.



Because of that, they can afford to have a much narrower exercise selection, and as a result, become much more proficient at them.

While we leverage this principle in the Holy Grail of Strength by benching and deadlifting every day, we minimize our volume to 2 sets of 5. We do this because strength in those movements is only part of our GPP.

To be a great athlete, you also need to work on things that will allow you to explode, stabilize, and change directions in many different ranges of motion. For that reason, we cannot afford to solely focus on being experts in a few ranges of motion and must expand our exercise selection.


This takes us back to exactly where we started with the quote at the beginning of this article.

"We are not selling jeans here"
- Billy Beane, Moneyball

In the movie Moneyball, Billy Beane said this quote to rationalize why he wasn't selecting players based on their physical appearance. He was looking for athletes that could get on base or throw strikes.

In our world, I am looking to develop better athletes. I am not looking to develop professional powerlifters or body builders.

If you want to be either of those things, you need to train somewhere else.

It's not for everybody ....




The Advanced Training Experience

"There is only one boss. The Customer. 
And he can fire everyone in the company, from the chairman on down, 
simply by spending his money somewhere else." - Sam Walton, Walmart


The sun is just beginning to set on a humid night in late July. I am standing on my porch, sweating profusely with blood trickling from my knuckles. Standing across from me is some poor 20 year old, with a look of absolute fear in his eyes.

Just a few seconds ago, he informed me he was going to go into my backyard to take my brand new lawn furniture.
I politely told him that he could go in my backyard, but he not would be leaving with anything. In fact, if he went on my property, he may not be leaving at all.

Was this 20 year old some crazed maniac who pulled off home invasions to satisfy his obsession with lawn furniture? 

No ...

He was a service delivery driver who got sent on an errand with an unexpected plot twist.

What he thought he was doing was picking up lawn furniture I no longer wanted.

What he didn't know was that I just spent the last 4 hours putting said lawn furniture together, only to find out that one of the chairs had 2 Left Arms and ZERO Right arms.

The blood on my knuckles was the collateral damage of trying to fasten a small army of bolts into areas with no clearance for your hand, let alone the miniature allen wrench they provide.



The sweat was the collateral damage of trying to do this on a humid night in July.

My frustration was the collateral damage of all of the above, plus an absurd argument with their customer service department. 

Rather than take back the extra left arm and send me the correct right arm, they wanted to take back the entire lawn furniture assembly and send me another one in 6-8 weeks ... just in time for me to cover it up in preparation for the winter.



For "The Haters" who are going to say, "Why didn't you check the parts BEFORE you started to assemble the lawn furniture?"

1. I did

2. I figured we could still use the other 95%, while we waited for one arm of one chair.

3. I never would have imagined that the answer to this simple problem was to exchange the entire set.

4. I already waited 6-8 weeks for the original set.



The bottom line, I will never deal with this company again.

I don't necessarily mind that they gave me 2 left arms. 

I mind that they gave me a Bad Customer Experience.

The "Customer Experience"




In Building Great Customer Experiences, Colin Shaw and John Ivens do an excellent job of explaining how great customer experiences are developed.

Essentially, the customer experience is not just based on the quality of the product you receive. It is also based on how you feel and what emotions were elicited.

Would you rather eat a sizzling bone-in ribeye at a Ruth's Chris where the waiter shames you for eating too much red meat or where the waiter applauds your genius for getting the best meal on the planet?


At the end of the day, you are still getting the same product ... a sizzling bone-in ribeye.

But ...  it's how you feel that makes all the difference.

The Advanced Training "Customer Experience"

I have always said that Advanced Training "sells" an experience, as opposed to a product.

The product is obviously a very solid training program, that should meet or exceed the expectations of athletes trying to get stronger, faster, leaner, and healthier.

This product can probably be duplicated by any above average trainer in the country.

What can't be duplicated is the Advanced Training Experience.




Who is the "Customer"?

To really explain this experience, we first have to take a step back and define who the Advanced Training "customer" really is?

To make it more tangible, let's give this "customer" the name Joe.* 
  • Joe stands anywhere from 5'8" to 5'11" and weighs somewhere between 185 to 205lbs.
  • Joe probably played high school football and is looking to earn his way onto a college football team.
  • While Joe does have some natural talent, he is not exceptionally gifted.
  • He is an over-achiever with a strong competitive edge and a healthy chip on his shoulder.
  • Every college either thinks he is too slow, too small, too weak, or all of the above.
  • Joe joins Advanced Training because he knows he needs to tap into every bit of potential he has just to even think about competing at the college level.
  • He doesn't like getting up at 5AM to train, but he is willing to do it to separate himself from the pack.
  • Joe prefers being strong and athletic over being jacked and tan.
  • Joe has a decent social life, but training is definitely a higher priority.
What is the "Experience"?

For Joe, we want to create an experience where he feels elite.

He needs to walk out of the gym knowing he did something no one else can do. 

While some guys in the gym will have bigger arms or a better bench than Joe, not one of them could compete in our Toughman Events or perform any form of overhead movement.

Coincidentally, here is a video of an athlete named Joe doing a reverse overhead chaos lunge.




To satisfy Joe's competitive side, we make sure that every training session has some form of a head to head contest against another highly competitive member of the group.

At Advanced Training, we call this "Challenge".



To make it even more competitive, the winner gets to carry around a Championship belt.




We also document his total strength and athleticism in our Power Point System and post it for all the world to see.


Lastly, we try to keep the membership exclusive, so Joe never feels like he is training with the general population. 

By exclusive, I don't mean that every athlete in the group has to run a 4.4 and bench 225 over 30 times.

I mean we create an environment where the pretenders will quickly weed themselves out and leave the program on their own. The only ones that remain are the overachievers with a healthy chip on their shoulders.



The Transformation

Until recently, I did not put the needs of the "customer" first.

The athletes would give me feedback and I would never listen, because I thought what I knew was more important than what they wanted.



It wasn't until I read Building Great Customer Experiences that I decided to actively seek and implement feedback from our athletes.

It is one of the reasons we upgraded to dry-fit training shirts and started to do more "arms".



While these things represent the physical side of the program, me listening to their recommendations helped make them feel that their ideas were appreciated.

This doesn't mean that we do everything they ask, but all ideas are certainly considered.

Except the ones that make them soft ...

Wrap-Up

When you take a step back, the Advanced Training "Customer" Experience links nicely to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  • The physiological needs are met with the training program, protein bars, shirts, etc.
  • The safety needs are met by enforcing clamps, spotters, good form, and not training to exhaustion.
  • The sense of belongingness is created by training in small groups, with guys pushing each other and competing every day.
  • The esteem needs are created by creating an experience that solicits a feeling of being "elite".
  • The self-actualization need is created by helping each athlete achieve their full potential in the gym, on the field, and hopefully, in life.



*Joe was in fact the most common name in Advanced Training History. Here are the actual top 5.
  • Joe (14)
  • Chris (6)
  • Nick (5)
  • Mike (5)
  • Ryan (5)