Category Archives: Spirit

Rethinking the Rules….

When I started RoadWarriorFit 5 years ago, one of the very first posts I wrote was on Guardrails.  The rules that help to keep you on track and keep you from careening off of the road.

Over the years, my rules have continuously evolved.  I eat a lot less carbs now than I did when I wrote the original, portion control has become a big part of my routine and the workouts have become much more disciplined.  So since I have not posted in quite a while (Facebook Live has somewhat taken away the need for the traditional blog post) – I thought I would mark my return to the written word with a revisiting of the RoadWarriorFit rules for traveling while focusing on health.

Rule #1: The 5 P’s

This is the number one rule for a reason.  Go in to your travel with a plan.  Know when you have the time to fit your workout in.  Know if you are going out with clients and need to accommodate for that indulgence.  Plan for prioritizing your own health.  And if you are still wondering what the 5 P’s mean – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Rule #2:  Travel Like a 2 Year Old

Do you have toddlers?  Have you had toddlers?  Have you ever seen anyone travel with toddlers?  What is the one thing you would never have traveled without – a snack bag.  That magic bag that the parents could dive in to anytime anyone gets a bit fussy.  Think the same way.  Bring your own.  Pack healthy snacks, nut butters, dried fruit (in moderation), healthy bars, Shakeology.  You get the drill.

Rule #3:  Workout Before Wine

This was one of the originals and still holds true.  Alcohol is a quick way to get a whole bunch of quick calories that shuts down your liver processing (actually, it prioritizes it).  You better have pushed yourself before you start doing 6 oz curls.

Rule #4:  Eat Your Veggies Early

Since I started paying attention to both portion control and total portions, I realized that I never get all of my veggies in unless I have at least one serving during breakfast.   I live for the omelet bar that can load up my omelet with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and especially jalapenos.  Of course I also get it with a side of bacon so don’t fret for me missing out.

Rule #5:  Taste the Rainbow

So in my original rules, I had one that centered around not eating brown food.  Truth be told, I still avoid it but that’s really not enough.  You need to eat all kinds of colors, including brown (just not a lot of brown).  Load up on the greens, the yellows, reds are fantastic and purples are usually out of this world good.  Just make sure the colors are from your actual food and not a lab somewhere

Rule #6:  Never Let a Rest Day be a Cheat Day

Pretty simple but needs to be said.  You can take a day off from working out.  You can take a day off from being on top of your nutrition.  You should never take a day off from both simultaneously.  Yep, even on vacation.  One or the other.  Pick (and refer back to rule #1)

Rule #6:  Have an ‘Healthy’ Obsession

Ever heard the phrase – “Idle hands are the Devil’s playground”?  I found this to be true with myself.  Presented with a lot of time alone on the road and nothing to really focus on, it is easy to fill that void with food, drink and a litany of other unhealthy obsessions.  So make a preemptive strike and fill it with something ‘healthy’.  A hobby you can take with you, a desire to learn, a series of books to devour.  You need something to intentionally fill the time or the unintentional quickly will.

Rule #7:  Know When to Break the Rules

There are times when some of the rules should be broken.  If you have spent all day on an airplane crossing an ocean, take the day off.  Focus on getting adjusted to the new time.  If you have meetings all day after a plane flight and a client dinner after that – do your best but don’t kill yourself.  You can miss a day.  Even two but never let a third day go by before getting back to where you need to be.

So there you go.  The newest iteration of RoadWarriorFit’s rules for living a healthy life on the road.  Are there other guardrails I put in place?  You bet.   But I will save those for another post.

“Just tell your story.”

Over the course of the last couple of years, I have had several people tell me that they think Joy and I need to tour the country and speak to people.  Tell our story to the world.  Inspire others.

Well this morning I got the privilege of doing something I have always wanted to do, deliver a motivational speech to a group of folks who have no idea who I am.  Now, I am not in the public speaking business and don’t really have any intention of getting in it but I do know how to speak in front of people.  I do it all the time and I can assure you that unlike the majority of Americans, speaking in front of people is not my greatest fear.  In fact, I might be more comfortable with that type of conversation than a 1 on 1 with a new acquaintance.

So the question you should be asking right now is:

“How did this happen?  How did a group of sane individuals think of you to deliver a motivational message?” 

I know I have asked it a hundred times since I was first asked.

Well, from what I understand, it involved a lot of wine, someone who has an over inflated view of my ability to inspire, a low budget and the need to send some serious love to a group of leasing professional who have been working their tails off for the last year or so.

Enter:  Andrew Bowen – Motivational Speaker

So being dedicated to my craft, I was sure to have a couple of calls with the leaders of this group to find out what message they needed delivered to this team.   Through a lot of dialog that resembled a ping pong match:

Me:  “What message would you like me to deliver?”

Them: “I don’t know, what do you normally deliver?”

Me: “I normally deliver a sales pitch but I doubt that is the message you want.  I can put together anything for you.”

Them: “We just need them to be recharged.   Why don’t you just relate your story?”

And there it was….”your story”.

Those words came up time and time again over the course of the week or so we discussed the message we needed to delivery.  Just tell my story.

Do you have any idea how exposed you feel when the inspirational message is your own story?

What if they are not inspired?  Well it is your story so obviously you are un-inspirational.

What if they find no value in it?  Well obviously you are worthless.

What if they find it a waste of time?  That speaks for itself, you are a waste of time.

So for the last several weeks I have been going through “my story” in my head.  Rehashing it all over and over again so the delivery would be smooth this morning.   Rehashing it until I developed a theme.  “Life on the Line”

This morning came and I drove to the event, ready to share my story.

I shared stories about getting started in student housing

I shared stories about feeling overweight and listless

I shared about a black belt test gone wrong

I shared about breast cancer

I shared about learning from all of it and focusing our efforts on empowering others to live their healthiest lives

Was I inspirational?  I don’t know, you would have to ask the audience but I will say this, it felt great to own my own story.  So go ahead, go tell your story.

“Work Harder” – Gary Vanyerchuk

Have you ever heard a speaker, read a line in a book, listened to an interview or a podcast where someone said something that actually hit you square between the eyes?   Yeah, I figured you had.

This past weekend I got to hear Gary Vanyerchuk speak at conference for Beachbody Coaches.  If you don’t know who he is, Google him because his story is awesome but to summarize, he is on the cutting edge of social media branding.  The way he analyzes each platform for its strengths is right up my alley.

Once you know their strengths – play to their strengths.                              

In general his strategy is to make your content work as smart as possible.  It is not just about throwing content out there, it is throwing the right content that is designed to work on that specific platform.

Now with that background out there, what he said that punched me in the face had nothing to do with content, branding or social media.  His message could be boiled down to two words…….

Work Harder!!!!

C’mon??  Really??  I just finished reading 2 of your books and you are going to give me “Work Harder”!?!?.

Then he followed up those two words with this gem;

“It is actually against my best interest for each of you to succeed.  The more of you that put what I tell you into practice, the more expensive my ads become.  So why am I willing to tell you all my secrets?  Because 90% of you will never actually work harder!!”   – Gary Vanyerchuk

The thing is, he’s right.  The vast majority of the 25,000 or so people who heard that message will not put it into place.

“You don’t know how hard I work.  I already work really hard!!  How can I really work any harder?”

I lost track of how many times I heard this over the last 24 hours from conference attendees.

Honestly for me, I knew I could not push back against that line of reasoning.  I can work harder.  Harder on my relationships.  Harder on my fitness.  Harder on my diet.  Harder in my work.  Harder in my business.

I think what most people miss when they hear “Work Harder” is that the message is not necessarily “Work More”.  So what else can it mean?

Work Focused:

Be honest, how many times do you take out your phone to do something specific and end up perusing your Facebook news feed.  Or your Twitter feed?  Or Instagram?  There is a reason I put this one on the top of the list for me, I need to improve here.

Work Efficiently:

I want you to do something for me.  For the next week, keep track of how many times you are distracted from the task you are looking to accomplish and then track what is pulling you away?  Then ask some hard questions:

Am I setting myself up for this?

Is the environment conducive to getting stuff done or distracting?

Am I looking for distractions?

Am I trying to put tasks together that are polar opposites?

Mix it up:

Just like you may use Yoga as a way to practice active recovery on your “rest day” from working out, use things like personal development as a way to “take a break” from work.  I have been in the habit of doing my own personal development in the mornings.  I am going to experiment with splitting it and doing half in the afternoon/evening as a way to recharge.

Work with a sense of priority:

Here is something I am going to try in my daily life – just like I rank tasks A/B/C as to their priority in needing to get done, I am going to rank them in my desire for doing them.  I am not sure what it will look like just yet but my plan is to mix the tasks I like in with those I don’t so I can keep motivation going throughout the day.

So what does your “Work Harder” look like?  What area of your life would you change if you had a magic wand?   Guess what, you do.  It is called effort and it is the only thing you get to control in this life.

The Art of Aging Gracefully……Screw That!!!

I am going kicking and screaming all the way……just being real.

I agree with Tony Horton who recently proclaimed to CNBC that Aging is for Idiots .  I see no reason to allow Father Time to have his way without the fight of his life.

Now with that said, I have had some recent reminders that I am not the young guy I used to be anymore.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago I heard the following statement while visiting a BJJ gym in LA:

IMG_2457

“Yeah, you’ve got that ‘Old Man Strength’”

What!?!?!  Old Man Strength!?!??!!  How about just ‘strength’? Then I took a long hard look around the mat and realized, I was the oldest on the mat by at least 5 years (OK, maybe 10).  That lead to the realization that I could count on two hands how many folks I had rolled with this year that have me beat in age.  How did this happen?  How am I suddenly the ‘old guy’?

Oh, and then there is work……

family

“I can’t believe you have a child that is driving!”

Not quite sure how to react to this one.  Is it because you can’t believe I could be old enough to have a 16 year old child?  Or is it because you cannot believe that my gene pool would be able to produce an offspring with the mental capacity to control a motor vehicle effectively?  I really hope it is the prior although the later certainly is in question.

And then there is Facebook….

wife

“When I grow up I want to be like you and your wife!”

This coming from a thirty-something fitness enthusiast.  You see, Joy and were both presented with the opportunity to audition for the next Beachbody Infomercial for The 21 Day Fix Extreme program by Autumn Calabrese, an opportunity we both jumped at.  So just us and 11,000 other Beachbody super fans are a part of a Facebook group where we regularly post specific assignments and encouragement.   Looking at the feed in this group is inspiring, motivational and humbling as well as a gut check.  You see in this group, I am definitely raising the median age (my wife however is ageless so she is having no affect ).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while aging chronologically is inevitable, how you age physically is absolutely a choice.  Not much is within our control any more; politics, economics, job stability, Brexit and the thoughts of others affect us daily but we have zero control over them.  What do you have control over?

  • What you feed your body – are you giving it whole foods in the right portions?
  • What you feed your mind – are you reading regularly? Does the subject matter challenge you?
  • Moving your body – You know the First Law of motion…..a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Be in motion – whatever that looks like for you.
  • Effort – Are you giving it everything you can?
  • Consistency – see that whole First Law of Motion thing above

So yeah, we all grow older but how we grow older is a choice.  I choose to embrace Old Man Strength and to control what I can and not place undue worry on what I can’t.  Now if I can just find someone to help me with my old man wardrobe…….

How does your wife deal with it?

I get that question a lot.  Especially from women who learn how much I travel.  So today, on our 20th wedding anniversary, I am asking myself that same question:

How have we done it?  How have we made it work for 20 years when others haven’t?

Our marriage has not been the most conventional (no, not like that).  Since the time we were first married, we have spent significant amounts of it apart.  Even as far back as our first year of marriage, I was working in Los Angeles while she was down in San Diego.  And back then we did not even share the same days off.  We were constantly ships passing in the night as one of us was always driving up or down the California coast to spend time with each other.  Since then, I have basically spent the better part of 3 months each year in hotel rooms away from my family.

So as I have been thinking about what it takes to make a marriage successful among the crazy demands of business travel, I keep coming back to the same six things……..

Take time to understand their Love Language:

If you are not familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages, I suggest you stop reading this and immediately click here.  This was probably the most impactful self-development exercise I did when it comes to the impact on our marriage.  Understanding how Acts of Service speaks to Joy and literally says “I love you” to her changed the way I look at tasks around the house.  Which brings me to….

 Embrace the ‘Honey-do’ list:

Did you catch that Joy’s love language is Acts of Service?  That means that when I get stuff done around the house, she feels valued and loved.  So if there is a research project that needs done, I will do it on a plane.  I try and get stuff accomplished around the house on the weekends.  I love to check things off of lists and she loves to put things on lists.  It works for us.

When you are home – put them first:

I love to golf.  I don’t play golf.

I would train all day everyday on a martial arts mat.  I limit myself to only classes I do with my boys.

These are things that fuel and refresh me but THEY TAKE TIME!!!  I have pontificated on this before but when I am home, I vehemently protect that time.  I can train on the road.  I can work late on the road.  I can only spend time with my family, specifically my spouse, while I am at home.

Set them up for success:

Part of my weekly weekend ritual is to set my wife and kids up for success for the week.  That means getting meals planned out, buying the groceries, meal prepping, making sure laundry is done, projects are completed and ready to be turned in, schedules are clear for the next week, and so on, and so on and so on.  The weeks that are the most stressful on all of us are the ones where I fail to plan for the week.  My job is to provide and more than just a paycheck.

Hide all evidence of travel:

When I get home I tend to unpack right away.  Not because I am super diligent about processing my laundry but because if I leave my suitcase out all weekend it serves as a constant reminder that I have either been gone all week or will be gone all week.  Unpack quickly and pack at the last minute.

Communicate:

This one was the hardest one for me to learn.  Seems silly but for years I would wait till the last minute to let my wife know I was going to be traveling.  She would consistently get mad when I was leaving so if I left it to the very last minute, I got to enjoy a few more days of ‘happiness’.  This does not work.  Communicate early.  Communicate often.  Communicate regularly.  Call, text, email, skywriting……communicate.

Now please understand, developing these habits was a process.  There have been times when I have been incredibly selfish.  When I didn’t put her and the kids first and inevitably, our largest fights have been centered around those times.  Also, I think this list can be applied to any marriage and approaching what separates you.  For us, it happens to be literal distance.  For others, it may just be time.

So hopefully this list will help you and your spouse survive the pitfalls of business travel, whether you have a short season of travel or whether you become a salty veteran like me.

See you on the road!!

The difference between success and quitting is GRIT

Let’s face it, starting anything is easy.  A new workout plan,  a new meal plan, a new book.  We all want the *NEW* thing.  Think about it, anything new has a sense of excitement around it.  There is a sense of adventure and optimism.

A *NEW* iPhone

A *NEW* car

A *NEW*  job

A *NEW*  vacation

The possibilities of a *NEW*  workout plan

Just imagine the possibilities!!! 

This excitement around *NEW* is why:

  • 95% of diets fail over a period of 1-5 years
  • Over 50% of marriages end in divorce
  • Only 6% of Boy Scouts ever reach the rank of Eagle
  • Less than 1% of all those who start a martial art achieve the rank of Black Belt (my own observation on this stat in full disclosure)

The point I am trying to make is that with any endeavor worth doing, at some point the “new smell” is going to wear off and it is going to look a lot like (please forgive me for saying it)……..WORK!!  Nothing can stay *NEW* forever.  Every *NEW* car gets its first scratch.  Every *NEW* career becomes a job.  Every *NEW*  workout hits a plateau.

So if everything new becomes old (and all of it becomes new again), why is it that some are able to achieve great things in these endeavors while the vast majority allow themselves to fall by the wayside?  And more importantly, what can we all do to ensure we are a part of the minority vs. the majority?

The minority decide early they are not quitting:

I cannot over emphasize how important this differentiator is.  If you go into an endeavor with the attitude of “let’s see what happens”, you are giving yourself the out.  There are certainly times that would be appropriate but if you are serious about achieving anything, decide early that you will succeed and never think about it again.

The minority learn to embrace the grind:

This is a term that I stole from Martial Arts and Wrestling training.  Training for these endeavors can be physically and mentally brutal.  I also call it “suck training”.  Suck training is different for every endeavor but learn to make this your favorite training.  You progress more in those times than any other.

The minority identifies the little things but focus on the one big thing:

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins introduces us to the concept of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  A goal so big that it inspires your endure all the little things.  Envision the end goal when you are doing the smaller, seemingly tedious, tasks that need to be completed to get you there.

The minority celebrate the small victories along the way:

If I had waited to celebrate anything along my martial arts journey till I received my black belt, I would have been waiting for nearly a decade.  There were plenty of smaller celebrations, belt colors, tournaments, techniques achieved.  Set small goals that lead to the larger BHAG and celebrate those (just not a Big Mac and ice cream for hitting a weight loss goal)

So there you have it.  My plan for becoming a part of the minority and developing a steadfast resolve.  So what are you trying to accomplish?  What is your BHAG?

I’ll start…..I want to end the trend of obesity in the US.  How is that for a BHAG?

Have Gi – Will Travel: Kaizen BJJ in Detroit, MI

I cannot tell you how excited I am to write this review.  When I first decided to start this series, my biggest fear was that the first review was going to be of a program that was sub-par.  Nothing could be further from sub-par than the experience I had while visiting Kaizen BJJ in Plymouth, MI.  I truly could not have asked for a better experience as a visitor.

Let’s start with the Instructor:  

Ali

For me, the vast majority of whether an experience is going to be good or not lies in the hands of the instructor.  When I visited Kaizen, I took a beginner’s Gi class that was led by a Purple Belt, Ali Makhlouf.  He ran a well-organized class that smoothly went from basic drills, to position specific techniques to rolling with specific intent to sparring.  He was sure to move through the class (about 20 students) to give individual attention and instruction to each student.  Great experience.

Ryan

Now the school is owned and run by 4th Degree Black Belt Ryan Fiorenzi, who was at the gym while I was there but not rolling that evening.   He provided me with the experience that impressed me the most while I was at Kaizen.  At one point when we were working butterfly sweeps, he was invested enough in me (an outsider) to call me by name and give me specific feedback that I could apply immediately.  If he shows that much interest in an outsider, who is there for only one class, a class he was not teaching no less….I can only imagine how much he helps his own full time students.

Next – The attitude towards outsiders:

I was not on the mat for more than 2 minutes before I had people coming up and introducing themselves to me.  I have done back to back classes at schools where no one talks to me other than if we are drilling together.  I felt completely welcomed, didn’t sense any animosity at all and really felt like this group was there to get better.  Loved it.

Culture – What am I getting into?

If you look on the www.kaizenbjj.com website, they preach that they train “Leaving your ego at the door”.  I can tell you they practice what they preach.  Remember, I took a white belt class.  During that class I rolled with 2 Blue Belts, a Purple Belt and a Brown Belt.  As the higher belt ranks came in before open mat, they were quick to work with the White Belts.  Not destroy them….work with them.  It was awesome.

Additionally, Kaizen BJJ focuses on real world Jujitsu, not tournament Jujitsu.  Everything they did had a self-defense bent.  Nothing against tournament BJJ but I prefer the more self-defense oriented approach.

Facilities:

The mat was huge, in great shape and clean.  For those interested,  the facility is dual purpose with not only the mat but also a CrossFit gym next door.  The only thing I would improve if they had the opportunity is to have a locker room.  I arrived straight from the airport and changed in the restroom.  Really not a big thing but if I get a magic wand, I am adding a locker room.

Overall Experience:

From my initial contact with the owner Ryan over email, to my arrival, to the training everything was handled with professionalism and efficiency.  I can honestly say that if I was relocated to Detroit, I would make the commute to make this my home gym.

Thanks to Ryan and everyone at Kaizen BJJ for a wonderful experience.  If you are in the Detroit area, I highly recommend you make a trip out there.