Yes, You Can

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Do you want to lose weight?

You can lose weight.

Do you want to earn more money?

You can earn more money.

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life is within your ability of doing so. You can travel the world. You can get season tickets to your favorite team’s games. You can quit your job and start that business you have been dreaming of. You can sell your house and scale down if that is what you want.

Whatever you want.. you can do, get, see, and live.

There is only one thing stopping you from achieving your wildest dreams and that is your own fear while not having a positive belief in yourself. Many people struggle with overcoming their fear. Napoleon Hill, author of the world’s most successful and highest selling self help book ever Think and Grow Rich, never published Outwitting the Devil while he was alive. He was afraid of criticism and thought he would get a negative response and ruin himself. It’s one of my favorite books.

In High School, I never tried to join the wrestling team. I wanted to, my friends wanted me to, and I enjoyed watching it. My fear of failure, fear of effort, fear of hard work, and fear of people laughing at me prevented me from ever trying. Today I practice Jiu Jitsu and had I wrestled, I’d be much better.

Our minds are our best friends and our greatest enemies. Our mind is capable of conceiving dreams, ideas, goals, solutions, and more. It is also capable of breeding in fear in reasons of why those dreams are stupid, why those ideas will never work, why those goals are outlandish, and how those solutions will result in failure.

But, you can make the right choice, every time. As a coach I have met my share of angry and bitter people. You can smell the anger and bitterness when they walk in the door. Each time I try to engage in positive and encouraging conversation, but those people are hard to crack. They’re stuck in their ways, stuck in their beliefs, and have something deep inside that is bothering them. They’re choosing to keep it in. Instead of accepting whatever trouble it may be, they stoke it with wood and feed their fire. They’re choosing to let it burn. I see this in people throughout life. Instead of choosing to find a solution and doing the work to overcome whatever roadblocks they face, they sit and dwell in fear and negative attitudes.

Most of the time, they don’t believe they can change, they don’t believe they can be happy, they don’t believe their life can be better. And so, they stay stuck and hold it in. Eventually this will manifest as dis-ease, wrinkles, grey hair, weight gain, depression, divorce, loneliness, and more. All because they think they can’t. The truth is, you can.

Ask for help, seek advice from a friend, a family member, or a professional. Notice what troubles your mind and then run towards that trouble and fix it. Accept the past for what it is and concentrate on making today better. Do your workout, write your story, eat your healthy food, go see that friend, make the changes you need to and don’t worry about failure or criticism or change. You can live your best life and you can live the activated life. Do it now.

Discipline

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What wakes you up early in the morning to get your workout in? What helps you stop at the gym on your way home from work instead of going home? What gives you the strength to drive straight past your favorite fast food restaurant and go home where you have healthier food? This power we all have inside of our will is one of the greatest strengths we have as human beings. The power of discipline is one of the strongest tools you have in your toolbox for success.

However, we struggle with building, using, and maintaining discipline in our lives. There are many things in life we should do and many we do that we shouldn’t. The lack of discipline in our lives allows weakness to creep in. A man or woman who is undisciplined with his or her health for years on end will have issues requiring medical attention. If you neglect your body, it will break down and you will get sick. If you neglect using your mind, growing your mind, and exercising your mind, it too will get sick and need medical attention.

Discipline is the path we must follow to create change and success in our life. If you are a religious person, it suits you well to be disciplined in attending service every week. If you want to be successful in finances, it suits you well to be disciplined in personal growth. There are many areas of life in which you’ll need to grow and the only way for that to occur, is disciplined effort.

Nothing will come to us easy and many people can’t accept that. Instead of doing the hard work, they quit. Inside they don’t want to, but they’re afraid and it’s easier to quit. We must work on developing discipline. It is hard but it’s a must. When I began my workout program to lose weight, I was sixty pounds overweight. I worked all day at a job that didn’t keep me awake and at the end of the day I just wanted to go home, but I knew that losing sixty pounds meant more to me than sitting on the couch for an extra hour. I drove straight to the gym right after instead of heading home. The gym was in the complete opposite direction and over twenty minutes away.

What it takes is a very personal look within your heart to see what makes you tick. If you truly do not care about life and longevity, exercise will not be a value to you no matter what you do. All of the effort to making change will do no good. This goes for everything in life. If you don’t value your children, you won’t be disciplined in making the time for them. If you don’t value your relationships, you won’t be disciplined in making time for your loved one.

If you want to lose twenty pounds but can’t find the reason for your lack of discipline, it’s time to go back to the planning book and figure out why you want to achieve those results. That reason, when valued strong enough, is all the fuel your efforts will need to be juiced up with discipline.

 

Why You Fail

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When someone fails at my gym, it’s a dagger to the heart. They might not know that I care but I want everyone to be a success. When somebody has a hard time, I want to help. However, we don’t ask for help. There is a silent struggle among us all. People are struggling with many different things in life behind closed doors and nobody ever knows, because we don’t ask for help.

A big part of why you fail is not asking for help. Either we assume we know the answers or we try to find the answers ourselves. Part of my problem is I don’t like to bother people. Asking someone for help, to me, is like asking someone to drop everything and attend to my needs. I can’t do this easily. Why should they help me when they have their own life, their own journey, their own struggle?

But not asking for help will bring failure. We can’t do everything alone. When we’re sick and our efforts to rest and take medicine do not work, we ask our doctor for something stronger, or we ask “what’s wrong?” We get the help we need to feel better. When our cars break down and we can’t figure out why, we get it towed to the service center. We ask them “What’s wrong?” and they help us. When our plumbing breaks and we can’t fix it ourselves, we call a plumber and have them come out. We ask them “What’s wrong?”.

It’s different though when it’s us that needs fixing. We can’t just ask our friends or family “what’s wrong with me?”. But the truth is, we should. We need to. It’s important to ask. We won’t solve our problems or get answers to our important questions if we keep them to ourselves.

Failure is an effort that comes up short, and like I said the other day, it’s not failure if we don’t stop trying. Most of the time, trying again is going to require we ask somebody for help. Why can’t I get my website to work the way I want it to? We ask google. Why not ask your brother or sister who works in the IT department at a major corporation? Why can’t I lose weight? We ask google and get a billion responses. Why not ask your brother or sister or friend who is a personal trainer, a doctor, or a nutritionist?

If you want to succeed you’re going to need to ask people you know for help. You’ll have to spend money with a coach or a service of some sort. You’ll need to invest in yourself. You’ll need to spend time with other people who are there helping you, and then not feel bad about it. Like in the Godfather, Bonasera asks for a favor. He needs help. He goes to his friend and asks for it. He doesn’t care that it’s the Don’s daughters wedding day. He asks. And Bonasera gets his help and the Don knows that one day, the favor will be returned. That is how you succeed. You help someone, and they help you. When you ask.

You can’t do it alone. Stop trying and ask.

Fear

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Last night after a long evening at the gym I headed to the Jiu Jitsu school. Class started at seven thirty in the evening and it would be my first taste of a different type of class, a combat Jiu Jitsu class. Instead of the traditional drilling and rolling class based on the ground game, I’d be learning more self-defense with takedowns and striking. Training for a real life scenario if ever needed. When I arrived it was late and the usual crowd was gone for the evening. There were a few guys rolling and it was quiet. It seemed like nobody was going to stay and I didn’t want the instructor to have to stay for just me.

From the moment I walked in to the moment we started class I was overcome with a sense of fear, much like the first time I had gone to see what Jiu Jitsu was about. I was feeling fear because I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I got there I didn’t know any of the guys finishing up their workout. Were they going to stay? What’s the striking part of the class all about? Did I need my gloves? The questions rolled through my mind and the fear kept getting stronger.

As I sat there I consciously felt the fear and told myself to stop acting silly. It wasn’t my first time at the school and I knew I could handle anything that was thrown my way last night. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was just experiencing a natural thing. Our body is programmed to feel fear. Feeling fear has been one of the most important things to keep the human race alive through our evolution. It was only natural.

I know many men and women who come to my gym filled with fear. You can see it in their eyes. You can sense it coming from their pores and the energy is definitely what many describe as a thin sheet of ice. Several women I’ve met have never returned because their visible fear must have gotten to their mindset. It happens. We all have that fear of the unknown. Men and women alike, when it comes to the gym, are afraid they can’t handle working out. Millions of Americans do not exercise because they’re afraid of what effort it’s going to take and they don’t want to experience failure, again.

Fear will take a strong hold around your neck when you over hype it. When you experience fear and continue to think about it over and over, you make it larger than it actually is. While being afraid of the gym is okay, the truth is there is nothing inside of it that is going to harm you. People are nicer than you know. They won’t laugh at you, they won’t bite you, and you won’t bother them by being a beginner either.

Fear is vital to your survival, yet the way you use fear can be under YOUR control. If you feel that your fears control your life, they will control your life. If you notice the fear, accept it, and begin to consciously handle it, that fear will not prevent you from achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. Stand tall in the face of fear and scream into it with the courage you have within your mind, heart and soul.

Failure

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As a coach I see people fail all the time. I see people fail to stay on track with their goals. I see people fail to seek the support of those around them who are willing to help. I see people fail to give it time. I see people join my gym with the goals and dreams of getting in shape. They sign up for a twenty one day program and they come once. They fail to return.

I see people join in transformation challenges who start with a bang, only to fizzle out within a week or two, or when something throws them off schedule. I see motivation in their eyes and willingness to try, but something stops them dead in their tracks and they never (or at least from what I see and know) get into the shape they wanted when they started.

But is this really failure? In my opinion, failure consists of quitting your efforts to try. If you get a result that isn’t what you expected it’s not failure but rather a lesson that we must use to help us change something that didn’t work. In business and personal endeavors unrelated to my gym I have gotten poor results many times and failed.

In the past few years I self-published five books. My first book Becoming Awake and Alive sold one copy on Amazon. My second book The Essential Essays of Activate Fitness sold zero. My third book On Living Your Best Life sold one copy on Lulu or Amazon, I can’t remember. My fourth book The 15 Principles of Fat Loss Success has sold zero on Amazon. The latest of my five, Your Life Activated has also sold zero on Amazon or any other on-line store it is in.

At my gym and with friends and family, I probably sold ten books total. I took this to mean I failed. What happened since is that I stopped marketing them. I stopped writing about them, talking about them, and mentioning them. I accepted defeat (AKA I quit).

A few years ago I started a new training program for small groups of three or four people. These groups were strictly off limits to others not a part of the group. It started off okay and I filled my slots of three people. As time went on, it didn’t work. People went into my normal groups or they quit and then I stopped trying. I accepted defeat. I quit.

Quitting is the only way we can fail. Had I not given up trying to sell my books, I might have sold the stock I have in my possession. Had I not given up trying to sell spots in my small group private training classes, they would probably be booked. But I let my emotions and feelings get the best of me and accepted failure.

When people fail in the gym, it’s not because they can’t do it. It’s because they accept not trying again. When you don’t lose weight there is probably only one or two things that went wrong that can easily be changed. The problem is, most people accept quitting as an option and therefore, they experience failure.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the power inside to keep trying. We have the resources available all around us to get the help we deserve and to make it work this time. You have the desire for success. You have the desire to live activated. You have the desire to feel the best you have ever felt. You have the strength to face poor results and learn from them and fight back. The question is, will you do it?

“The easiest thing to do for most people when facing an obstacle is to quit. With this mentality most people die without ever reaching their full potential in any aspect of life.

You must understand your worth, and your desire to succeed must remain strong even on your toughest of days.

Keep showing up, celebrate your small goals achieved along the way, and stay dedicated when motivation fails.

It’s worth it.”

- Tom Deblass

5 Ways To Boost Your Confidence

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I remember the three or four months at the end of last year where I was getting crushed in my Jiu Jitsu training. I went those four months without tapping anyone out. I was getting put into submission after submission and I was always on my back. Not a good place to be when rolling and it began to discourage me. I would see guys that started the same time as me getting taps and they looked confident.

Those same guys would run through me like a hot knife in butter and no matter what I did, I was still losing. Going for a few months without any “little wins” was very hard and in my time as a personal trainer, many people who go that long without a little win end up quitting. They lose confidence in their ability and they don’t want to fail anymore.

Instead of quitting I enjoyed the process. I knew that as a white belt and a “newbie” it was part of my journey to get crushed and destroyed. So what did I do? I listened to every piece of advice my coaches gave me and I put them into action. Ninety percent of the time my efforts in doing what they told were curtailed by my training partner, but nonetheless, I kept at it.

One day, I won. I got a beautifully executed rear naked choke against a training partner with high energy and a lot of skill. My confidence shot through the roof.

Sometimes though, our confidence doesn’t go up and despite our efforts it seems we stay stuck. The truth is, we can change our state and our confidence in a split second when we consciously choose to. Below I give you five tips to help you boost your confidence. I use these five tips still to this day. Boosting confidence is something we must do daily because staying “up” doesn’t happen effortlessly.

1. Use Affirmations for your Greatness

If you’ve ever read any books or listened to any tapes from Louise Hay you’ll know some powerful affirmations. I have on my iPhone six audios from Louise Hay and listen to them daily. Her affirmations are some of the best I ever read. You can quickly google them and see thousands of pictures of powerful affirmations she teaches and uses. But you can’t expect to say them once or twice and be good. They need to be repeated thousands of times and if you don’t believe you are or have what the affirmation says, keep saying it anyway.

2. Do an extra workout

Feeling down? Feel discouraged? Jump up and down and get your body moving. When we feel a lack of confidence, a quick ten or twenty minute workout can change a lot of things for your mindset. Exercise is powerful in helping your emotions and feelings. Often when someone is discouraged due to the lack of their results in weight loss, an extra workout can change the game for them. Even though you feel discouraged and feel like quitting, do one more before you make a rash decision.

3. Write a Journal about Your Greatness

Grab a notebook and write all of the awesome things about you. Write about your dreams, your goals, what you see for yourself in the future and what you wish you can do today. Write your fantasies and write your problems. Write about your lack of confidence. Write a story about how you’re a badass warrior forced to face your confidence villain in an ultimate battle of control. Write about the weapon your warrior is going to use to slay the confidence villain and then kick the shit out of your doubts.

4. Read A War Story

I started listening to the Jocko Podcast and during the episodes he often reads from a book written by a solider about war. The epic stories of loss, devastation, crippling effects, and effort are so powerful they make all of your problems and doubts look tiny. There is no better way to put your life in perspective then by hearing the stories of men and women losing friends and fellow soldiers in battle. The hardships they faced in the trenches and being able to survive can motivate you to look at weight loss or whatever it is you face as a tiny matter that you’ll easily win.

5. Treat Yourself to YOU Time

For me, Jiu Jitsu is me time. It’s my time to forget about being a father, a husband, and fitness coach. It’s my time to forget about bills, to forget about cutting the grass, to forget about my problems with writer’s block, to forget about my problems with my strength workouts, and to forget about being someone people look to for answers. It’s my time to overcome my demons and train my mind to be better. Find yourself time to do something for yourself. That could flotation, meditation, yoga, a shopping trip, a trip to your favorite bar, a bite to eat at your favorite diner. Whatever it is, treat yourself to it and tell yourself that not only do you deserve it but that you earned it and by doing it you’ll become better. When you understand that treating yourself to you time is deserved and earned, being present in those moments will help you become more confident to face your daily life.

One more for good luck and if all else fails in boosting your confidence..

Throw a party at your house and invite the people you love. You don’t need a reason, just say it’s to come hang out and relax. Once you throw your party, look at who is there. Those people care about you. They came to be with YOU. If that doesn’t boost your confidence then you’re not allowing yourself to see your true greatness and you’re not being open to the awesome things that make YOU who YOU are.

The Limits We Set

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Have you ever looked at some task in front of you and thought, there’s no way I can make this work? Yes, you have and so have I. Have you ever set a goal and then erased it because you felt like there was no way you’d ever be able to achieve it? Yes, you have and so have I. This is us setting limits on what we believe is possible and impossible. Some people look at the schedule of my gym and say there is no way they can do five o’clock in the morning. I agree. If they say that it means they think it and if they think it and say it, they’ll most likely believe it and when that happens, they’re right.

Setting limits is nothing new. We used to set limits when we were kids. One of my biggest limitations as a kid was my belief that I couldn’t ride my bike with no hands. I would try and fail. Try and fail. One day I tried and I failed. I landed chin first onto a curb and split my chin open. I walked home crying and bleeding. The cut required a few stitches. From that moment forward I never tried to ride my bike with no hands again. I set a limiting belief that riding with no hands on my bike would result in smashing the ground. The same thing happens to us in every area of life.

One example I see clearly is the limiting belief that “I can’t lose weight.” I see people begin a fitness routine and everything goes well until they step on a scale. Their weight doesn’t drop by five or ten pounds and they get discouraged. Immediately they believe that they can’t lose weight. I even hear them utter those words. Well, when you say it and believe it, it’s probably going to happen. Instead of believing you can’t lose weight and saying so, you need to ask better questions and seek better answers. A question like “What didn’t I do that I can do better?” is a perfect example of a growth oriented question. Asking that question will show you where you need to improve and in doing so, you’ll eliminate the limiting belief.

We often set limits on what we can do based on fear or laziness. When someone tells me they can’t lose weight and they end up quitting because of discouragement it’s because they’re afraid of failing. There may have been numerous times in their life where they tried very hard to get results but something was off and therefore they failed. That failure hurts and to experience it again can be devastating. This is why many people quit. They don’t want to feel the sadness of failing. Setting a limit on what’s possible in your mind can keep you trapped for a very long time. I know people who have spent many years stuck in the same routine of life because of the limits they set, never getting anywhere beyond “the same old same old.”

If you want to live your best life, a life fully activated and in control, you must work on crushing the limits you consciously and subconsciously set in your mind. Limiting beliefs will keep your ship anchored in the same bay it’s been in and the only way to sail the seas is to release that anchor of limit and become the captain of your life.

The Examined Life

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It started back in 2011 when I truly began to examine my life. I opened a brand new book called The Secret and dove in. Immediately I was enthralled by the book and devoured every word in less than a few days. This moment would open a new world to me and little did I know that learning, reading, and self-examination would become a huge part of my life. Each day there are a few things I must do and learning is one of them. Whether I watch a video, read some of a book, or get my hands dirty, learning is at the forefront of who I am.

The examined life is a life where we do not settle for what is told to us, instead we seek the truth for ourselves. For a few years I spent a lot of time seeking for the truth from things such as mastermind groups, books, videos, movies, and more. What I failed to see is that the examined life starts and ends within. Mostly everything we need to know can be discovered from ourselves, in our mind. While books and groups are an invaluable way to learn and discover, the truth will come from within. I wonder if this is why meditation is a huge part of life for many people? In meditation you focus on nothing, try to at least, but what often happens (to me) is the examination of thought, emotion, and feeling.

For me, self-examination is a way to consciously realize who I am and why I am the way I am. I wonder what makes my mind tick. I’m fulfilled when I can sit quietly and seek answers through what my mind is telling me. I also enjoy looking into the actions I take and figuring out how I can get better. How can I become a better husband? A better father? How can I increase my endurance for Jiu-Jitsu and my energy levels for everyday life activities? What makes my mind focus on the past problems instead of enjoying the present moment?

Seek and ye shall find. Ask and it will be shown or given to you. The only way to truly discover who we are is to examine the little things that make up our large days. What kind of worker are you? What kind of lover? What kind of father or mother, sister or brother are you? What makes you angry and how can you overcome that? What do I want for my life, my family’s life, in the next five years?

The best thing we can do to understand this is… write. If you go through many of my blog posts you’ll discover a sort of journal. Every post I write is a reminder to myself. Eat better, sleep more, train harder, be a better father, find out why I get angry and why I cycle through emotions, and more. Writing down our thoughts, feelings, and emotions for different situations in our life is the best way to improve our actions and understand what makes us act the way we do.

“The life unexamined life is not worth living” according to Socrates and in my opinion, I agree.

 

Jiu Jitsu

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Last summer, in late July or early August, I embarked on a new journey. I entered into a brand new world to me but a world with a storied and celebrated history. I enter a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school for the first time. Nervously I sat waiting in my car, afraid of what I was getting into. As a gym owner, I thought I knew how people felt when they first came to our gym. The nerves, the anxiety, the fear. Problem was, I had no clue how they felt, until I put myself in their shoes. As I sat in the parking lot I anxiously went over all possible scenarios of what I believed was going to occur.

Jiu-Jitsu is at the root of it, a self-defense martial art. For a long time it has also been used in combat sports and in tournaments of it’s own kind. Millions of people throughout the world are participating daily in Jiu-Jitsu practice. The sport, the art, was popularized by the historic Gracie family in Brazil. Hence the reason it is vastly known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, there are other types (Jujutsu) and it originated in Japan from the basics of Judo ground fighting. Jujutsu itself is said to have been created in Japan as an art in close combat against an armed person when one is unarmed.

Throughout the world you can find Jiu Jitsu schools where men and women and even children of all types are practicing daily. Some come to learn, some come to sweat, some to lose weight, while others come to fight. For me, the reason I chose to start Jiu Jitsu was to find an outlet for my primal energy and a way to silence, or in the least tame, my monkey mind. Being an owner of a gym, in which I train the majority of the members, is hard on my energy outlet. People come every day to learn and to exercise so they can feel better. However, this left me drained. Add into it the fact that I am a stay at home father to two very young children, my mind felt like mud and I needed some valuable me time. After talking to a few people I knew about the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there was no question I had to try.

Since that first day I have fallen in love with the martial art. It is hard. It is physical and it takes a lot of patience. One reason I fell quickly in love with the art is the fact that it is a lifelong adventure. There is no black belt in a few years. For me, it will take closer to fifteen or twenty until I get there. The person I have become after only one year of training is a light year away from where I was when I started. My mindset has improved. I am stronger. I am in better shape and my skills have increased greatly. Jiu Jitsu has given me a way to see that I am not at my best and the journey to living my best life and being fully activated will continue until I pass from this lifetime. There will always be room for improvement, whether it’s on the mat, in my business, as a husband or as a father. As the great Tony Robbins would say, “we either grow, or die”. I chose this journey to grow.

In the Gym With The Little Ones

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I love watching my kids at the gym. Today as I was working on my Sumo Deadlifts I glanced at my daughter as she set up a few two and a half pound plates, perfectly in line on the mat she chose to lay on. She began lifting them up and down, much like I would do a floor press with dumbbells. Most likely she picked this up by watching either me or the members at the gym. My son was running around touching everything. Climbing up the elliptical and hanging off of the TRX straps. He walked over to the kettlebell section and tried, unsuccessfully, to lift the fifteen pound kettlebell. He does however usually walk around with the ten.

At the gym, when it’s just me doing my thing, my kids run free and explore this awesome place in their eyes. In one corner there are tires, a one of them is the car tire from my wife’s old car. She got a flat and instead of letting the repair shop keep it and throw it away, I kept it and my daughter flips it. The other corner has medicine balls that my kids pretend at times are Atlas stones. If you ever watched the World’s Strongest Man contest on ESPN, the atlas stones are those big concrete balls that the lifters pick up and place on a platform. Some days the medicine balls are used as soccer balls.

My kids are always watching me when I am working out. They see me do pull-ups and they laugh hysterically. I wonder what they think is funny. Exercising in front of the kids will hopefully develop in their minds the desire for them to exercise, to live a healthy lifestyle. They see Daddy do. There’s no talking about some day, one day, maybe, or I wish.. it’s action and they see it.

There is a lot of things a young child can do to start to develop fitness. One thing parents can do too, which is very hard to accept, is to allow their children to crawl as long as possible and NOT push for them to become walkers fast. It’s not a sign of baby genius or being advanced. Crawling is important for core strength and the strength children develop crawling will carry over into the rest of their adult life.

My daughter is four. She lifts medicine balls, pulls sleds, lifts kettlebells, does bear crawling and crab walks, and carries two to five pound weights around the gym. She does everything we should be doing. The basics. And she loves it.

Most important is the fact that my children see me working on improving my strength and my body and my mind. They see me not settling for easy or excuses. They see things getting done, as they should, and the lessons will continue as they grow and my only hope is they learn to love the fitness lifestyle and adapt training into their lives.