On October 17th, I attempted my biggest challenge to date. And while I failed to succeed, I wouldn’t trade the experience of dedicating a year of my athletic career to this event for anything.

Training for GORUCK Selection, “The Toughest Endurance Event in the World”, took a toll on my body. It forced me to spend a lot of time doing long, slow conditioning work. Something I have never done a lot of.

I was fortunate in that my method of choice was rucking. This helped me preserve quite a lot of muscle mass. But two to three hours of endurance work every day, no matter what modality, is going to make you smaller.

My bodyweight went down as anticipated. Through, what I feel was an intelligent training plan, my strength actually remained stable. In fact, I actually increased a couple of lifts.

I was pleasantly surprised by that.

It’s been three weeks now since Selection, and recovery has been going well. Being med dropped at the 18-hour mark likely prevented me from doing too much damage to my body. But I’m still dealing with a few issues.

My left shoulder has seen better days. I’m still missing skin on my back and thigh. My hip has been tight. And I’m literally a much smaller person than I was just two months ago.

None of my clothes fit right now. T-shirts I used to fill out are now baggy, and my pants are falling off. I feel like I’m in elementary school all over again.

I weighed 90 pounds soaking wet until I was 14. Through a lot of hard work in the gym, I was able to “bulk up” to 110 pounds by wrestling season of grade nine. At the time this was a big feat, but I kept working hard.

Years later, I would weigh over 220 pounds. Doubling my “bulky” ninth-grade self.

These days, 180 – 185 pounds is where I feel most at home. At this weight, I’m strong, fast, athletic, and generally feel good. This is about what I weighed this past summer.

As of right now, though, I’m under 174 pounds. And it’s time to change that.

My goal is to be back up around 185 pounds by the new year. That gives me about eight weeks to gain about ten pounds.

Doable. But not easy.

The biggest issue (and I know this is dumb) is that I don’t plan to stop rucking.

Typically when gaining mass we would want to cut back dramatically on any kind of conditioning work. But I’ve come to value the mental benefits of rucking too much to set it aside, even for just a few weeks. My family deserves me at my best, and that means rucking needs to be a part of my routine.

So I’ll still be doing almost daily, heavy rucks during my bulk.

To reach my goal, I’ll need to change my diet significantly. Eating enough calories can be a struggle for me at the best of times. Going into these next eight weeks, I realize that I am going to have to make eating a priority.

In anticipation of the non-stop eating I’m about to undergo, I have spent the past ten days strictly following a 16/8 Intermittent Fasting protocol. Sixteen hours of fasting followed by an eight-hour feeding window each and every day. My body is primed and ready to grow.

With the Christmas season fast approaching, my timing couldn’t be much better. Food will be everywhere, and for the first time in over a decade, I need to eat it.

I’m looking forward to the change of pace. Looking forward to a lot more lifting and getting back to my roots. And I’m looking forward to having clothes that fit again.

If you’re interested in following along, I’ll be logging my progress right here in the blog. Stay tuned for what will hopefully a bigger, stronger, me.

Werewolves, Peter Pan, and Neverland. Or, How To Stay Young Forever

Every Sunday for the past decade, my family and I have gone over to my parent’s house for supper. We’ve missed the odd week here or there for vacations or kid’s activities, but we’re pretty consistent.

It’s a great way to see everyone, relax, and catch up on what went on in our lives the past week. As enjoyable as it is, though, I try to make sure we are out the door as close to 7 pm as possible.

You see, my kids are werewolves.

At the stroke of 7 each night, they begin to change from daytime kids (humans) to bedtime kids (savage wolves). I’m sure most parents can relate.

If we can have the kids in bed – pajamas on, teeth brushed, stories read – by 8:00, the wolves can be contained.

If not… we’re in trouble.

Not unlike the savage transformation from human to wolf, there’s a lot of howling involved.

A couple of weeks back, I was hustling everyone out the door as bedtime neared. We said our good-byes, hugged and kissed Grandma and Grandpa, and rushed into the van.

The countdown was on.

I gave the kids their pep talk, “Ok, as soon as we get home – wash your hands, brush your teeth, pajamas on…” and hoped for the best.

About halfway home (it’s only a five-minute drive, so I really need to get the pep talk out in a hurry), that Lost Boy song came on the radio. You know, the one about Peter Pan, playing in the woods, and being free.

And I started thinking…

Here’s the thing – On paper, I am a married man with a beautiful wife and four great kids (so long as it’s not past bedtime). I am a business owner who needs to make payroll and file taxes. My hair is turning grey and I need glasses to see straight.

And I cook, clean, drive, pay bills, volunteer in my community, and generally do a lot of “adult things”.

In my head, though, I’m none of this. In my head, I’m just a twelve-year-old boy who wants to run around, play in the woods, and never grow up.

In my head, I’m Peter Pan.

As I sat there giving orders in the van that evening, I couldn’t help but notice this dichotomy between the person I am and the person I think I am. Or, rather, the person I am and the person I want to be.

Peter Pan wouldn’t give pre-bedtime pep talks.

Don’t get me wrong. I take my adult responsibilities very seriously. I need to provide for my family and I need to be my kids’ father, not their best buddy. But at the same time, I don’t see any harm in having a little Peter Pan in me.

Let me rephrase that… I don’t see any harm in having a part of me that “never grows up”. That’s better.

Thankfully, I have fitness to keep me young. By lifting weights, swinging kettlebells, dragging tires, and sprinting up hills, I’ve been able to keep from “growing up”. I realized this during our short van ride home.

And then it really hit me – What I do for a living is actually pretty damn important!

Conviction Fitness isn’t about looking good in a swimsuit, being a great powerlifter, or setting a land speed record. I mean, we win a lot of races, and I regularly have pretty solid showings in the Tactical Strength Challenge, but that’s not the point.

Our goal is to get the most out of our lives. Our goal is to be able to go out on adventures. Our goal is to be strong, fast, mobile, and fit enough to LIVE.

Our goal, in a way, is to never grow up.

I couldn’t imagine how “old and grumpy” I would be if I wasn’t able to let my inner 12-year-old run-around and have fun. I’m so grateful that I get to unleash that version of myself – and help others do so, too, every day.

When you’re truly fit, i.e. strong, fast, and mobile, you can do pretty much anything. You have the opportunity to unleash your inner child and be physically free.

While you’ll still have bills to pay and adult responsibilities, you don’t really have to “grow up”.

And that’s why I’m changing the name of our gym to Neverland!

Ok, not really. But can you see what I’m saying?

The gym – when used appropriately – is the fountain of youth!

I’ve coached 40-year-olds who can run circles around 22-year-olds. And I’ve met 40-year-olds who struggle to bend down and tie their shoes. They’re the same age, but the fit, energetic 40-year-olds are the ones who live in Neverland – at least for an hour or so each day.

The fit residents of Neverland run, lift, and stretch. They eat vegetables and drink water. And, heck, they look and feel great because of it!

Being able to run, hike, swim, bike, and play with your kids at the drop of a hat is freeing. Taking the dog for a long walk without worrying about stiffness, pain, or loss of breath is the way it should be!

If you can’t do these things, I’m afraid you’re missing out. You may be alive, but you aren’t truly living.

Sure, if you’re 90-years-old, I’ll give you a break. But otherwise, we should all be running around and having fun.

And before you start listing all of the reasons why you’re the exception to the rule, I beg of you – try to find just one reason as to why you can, and should, take your health and fitness seriously.

Find a reason to feel young again. I’m telling you, it’s worth it.

Find a reason to let that inner child free.

Find a reason to seek Neverland!

Want to learn how to “find Neverland” and never grow-up? I’m currently working on a short guide on how to do just that. Sign-up for my email list below and I’ll send it to you when it’s ready!

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Do You Want to Be Challenged, or Do You Want to Succeed? Why Consistency Will Always Trump Intensity.

I started training people online about four years ago. Our Spartan Race training group was having great results and I was getting inquiries in regards to distance coaching. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but figured I’d try to help.

After my first few clients saw great progress, I decided this was a good way to help more people reach their goals.

And I started taking it seriously.

I enrolled in the Online Trainer Academy. I became a Certified Online Trainer and have continued to grow my roster of online athletes ever since.

It’s been a great journey, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

And while there has been a heck of a lot more “ups” than “downs”, I had to fire my first client this week.

We could get into all the details, but what it came down to was this – my workouts weren’t challenging enough.

Now, I completely understand wanting to be challenged. I thrive off challenges! I’ve quit jobs in the past simply because they weren’t challenging.

But I’ve also come to learn that “success” is more important than “challenging”. And we simply can’t “challenge” ourselves every workout.

I’ve done workout programs that left me breathless and unable to walk. They were challenging, and I felt accomplished. But my training journals prove that I wasn’t making progress.

According to my training journals, my clients and I have made the most progress when we’ve trained “reasonably”. We always see better results when we are more worried about tomorrow’s workout than today’s.

It took me nearly twenty years of training to realize this, but it’s true – progress comes from consistent, reasonable workouts.

Back to the client…

This individual came to me hoping to be pushed and beaten down. They wanted military boot camp. And five years ago I would have been all over that! But, that’s no longer my style.

Yes, my athletes and I have some fun and challenge ourselves once in a while. Challenges are an important part of training and life! But more often than not, our workouts are pretty reasonable.

If you take a look at my Instagram story, it’s far from exciting. You’ll see me rucking, lifting weights (reasonably), and carrying heavy stuff. You’ll also see pictures of the book I’m reading and maybe a shot of my kids.

I don’t post this stuff because it looks cool.

I post it because it’s my recipe for success.

If I ruck often, I will get good at it. If I front squat a few times a week with a reasonable load, I will get stronger. If I read daily, I will get smarter. And if I play with my kids often, our relationship will blossom.

And this is exactly what I try to get across with my clients. Consistency will always trump intensity.

It doesn’t make for the most exciting social media, but contrary to the norm these days, I try to post the truth.

Everyone knows that social media is full of lies. Most of what gets posted is for show. The crazy stunts and ridiculous techniques aren’t how athletes actually train.

When a workout on Instagram makes you jump out of your seat and yell “Whoa!”… that was the point.

That “workout” wasn’t about getting better. It was about showing off.

Coach Martin Rooney put it perfectly in an old T-nation article:
“Think about it – if I’m training Jim Miller for a fight in two months, when the cameras arrive do I show how we really train, or do I try to psyche out my opponent’s camp by having Jim swim in shark infested waters while I shoot flaming arrows at him?”

Remember – the videos look cool. But they’re more action film than documentary.

So, here I was in this difficult situation. I had a client who wanted brutal, Instagram worthy workouts. Ten thousand burpees. Nine thousand push-ups. Eight thousand kettlebell swings…

The workouts I was programming were reasonable. But they wanted “more”.

I could have easily thrown some gut-wrenching workouts their way and watched my bank account grow. But that’s not who I am.

Over 370 years ago, Miyamoto Musashi told us that “Too much is the same as not enough.” This is a lesson I have learned over and over again through my career. And now, as a coach, it is my responsibility to prevent others from making the same mistake.

Giving this individual “more” – both in intensity and volume – would have gone against everything I believe in.

I tried to explain my philosophy and point of view. I shared my experiences and where I’ve gone wrong in my career. But, at the end of the day, I couldn’t change this individual’s mind.

They wanted to be pushed. I was unwilling to do so.

So we had to break up.

It’s tough for me. I know I could have changed this person’s life. With their history of repeated injuries and setbacks, it was so clear to me what the issue was. But, as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

We left on good terms and I sincerely wish this individual nothing but the best. Perhaps we’ll cross paths again and I’ll have a second opportunity to help.

In the meantime, though, I’m going to keep programming reasonable workouts and sticking to my principles.

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