I want a six-pack of abs, a sub 6-minute mile and a 450 pound back squat in 10 weeks. Currently, I’m at 25% body fat, haven’t run in 2-years and have a 225 pound back squat.

If a client came to you with these goals, in this time frame, how would you lead the conversation?

I’m writing this because, more common than not, people ask me about how I’ve gotten to where I am in and outside the gym and expect the answer to be relatively straight-forward. They expect me to answer that I was born as a genetic mutant whose entire family has never eaten a carbohydrate and practices positive self-talk every hour on the hour while we are awake. The truth? It couldn’t be further from that.

My progression, just like most, hasn’t been linear. Looking back and connecting the dots, my path has been two steps forward with one step backward in each and every avenue.

If you’re interested in my story, check out my My Story page (linked here). However, we can do a brief recap. My journey in fitness started 10 years ago, when I worked to rehabilitate a torn labrum in my shoulder back to full strength. Although my shoulder improved, my health diminished. I was inundated with poor health and fitness information from the Internet, and found myself undereating and overtraining, and developing an eating disorder. I put myself in therapy to work through my unhealthy relationship with food to qualify for my first CrossFit Games Regional. At regionals, I tore my shoulder again, leading me to a 10 month long rehabilitation period. Once my shoulder was good to go, I qualified for and took 2nd at the 2015 CrossFit Games, only to come home with two bulging discs and a small spondylolisthesis. Along with other competition/training peaks and valleys came an uncertain career change, multiple moves, break-ups and financial instability; it has been a winding road to get to where I am today.

So, why am I telling you this? How does this relate to you? When chasing your goals in health and fitness, you have had two options. The first is go all in. Give up everything and go for it. You may end up with disorders and need months of counseling, but it’s an option. The second is to manage your expectations. Set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based goals. Once you achieve a goal, sit down and make another. As you do this over and over again, you will realize you aren’t as far from the goal as you thought. As you get closer and closer, you will finally get to your destination without ever realizing all the work you had to do to get there.

Take a step back, analyze your path and move forward. What does that mean? Maybe your goal is to have less than 10% body fat. Awesome. If that’s the case, this month, just cut out soda. If you were above 90% compliant, next month cut out potato chips. It doesn’t have to just be kale and boiled chicken. You can work your way there and one day you will look back and say to yourself “Man, I’m not even the same person as I was 5, 3, or 1-year ago.”

Here’s a picture of just 3 or 4 years into my fitness journey. I was still learning and evolving and challenging my habits along the way. I didn’t really become confident in my nutritional habits until about 3 or 4 years ago.

Playing a round of “dizzy bat” in Boston in 2011, roughly 3 years into making health and fitness a priority.

Here’s a photograph from a year ago. Slowing down has allowed me to align my purpose and passions with my own health and fitness. I would say that the person in each photograph are completely different people.

Meditating with a good friend and business partner.

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