I started my journey into the world of fitness about 6 years ago now.  It has been a REALLY crazy ride.  I went from being your average,  suburbanite, beer bellied, Corporate job working Dad to an Ultra Marathon running, 400+ lb deadlifting, CrossFit gym owner, running coach, and entrepreneur that has never been fitter or happier in my entire life.  Ok, so it’s possible that I MIGHT have been happier when I was 12 and didn’t have anything to do but play Super Mario Bros. all day long, or maybe when I was 18 months old like my daughter eating ice cream in this picture.  She looks pretty darn happy!


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I got here.  What turned things around for me?  Every day there are probably thousands upon thousands of other Dads that get up off the couch and swear they are going to go to the gym, lose weight, fix their diet, cut back on whatever they feel is holding them back from losing weight, enjoying their life and living longer to see their kids and grandkids grow up.  We all know what happens the majority of the time though, right?  Gung Ho for a few weeks or a few months, and then you fall off the wagon and pretty soon you are right back on the couch lamenting about being overweight and swearing you’ll get back to the gym starting next week!  Rinse and repeat.

So why did it work out so well for me?  I can honestly say that if I were standing in a room with the version of myself from 6 years ago, he may not recognize me.  I am a completely different person inside and out.  So when so many people in my exact situation continue to try to make a change in their life and fail miserably, why did it work out for me? Three things come immediately to mind when I ask myself this question, and I’d like to share them with you.

Stop drinking so much beer and eating so much pizza!

Ok, so obviously I like beer and pizza, but really this is about your diet not just beer and pizza.  Before anything else, you have to set your sites on your diet and get that on track.  You can’t out train a shitty diet so without fixing that first you’re probably going to have little success joining a gym.  Before I found the CrossFit gym I started training at years ago, my day would start with me drinking as much coffee as I could drink with as much sugar as I could put into it until about 9 or 10am.  Then at Lunch I would eat as much McDonalds or other fast food chain I could eat in an hour.  Dinner?  Pizza! You get my point.  I wasn’t eating anywhere close to real food.  So how do you break this cycle?

I won’t lie, it’s tough.  However, there are ways to set yourself up for success.  One thing I found that worked really well for me was to regularly set  and achieve small goals.  I like to use the example of my morning coffee.  I am ashamed of the amount of sugar I use to put into my coffee.  Seriously, it’s embarrassing.  I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.  I distinctly remember my coach at the time saying to me, “Von, see if you can stop putting sugar in your coffee for one week.  Don’t worry about anything else but that for the next week.”  I had my mission and I completed it.  Since I made it that week with no sugar in my coffee almost six years ago, I have not put anything in my coffee since except when I have bulletproof coffee but that is a topic for another blog.  So the tip here is to pick out things in your life that are holding you back, and make short term goals to cut those things out.   Those small victories add up and will go a long way in your journey to getting yourself in shape.  Next?

Surround yourself with awesome people!

You’ve likely heard the quote from a guy named Jim Rohn that says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  I heard this quote a long time ago now, and I’ve been thinking about it almost every day since.  This can be a tough one, but you should spend some time seriously thinking about it.  Do you have negative people around you?  Do you have people around you that don’t motivate you to be a better person?  Get rid of ’em!  I was VERY fortunate to have wandered into Faction Strength and Conditioning (CrossFit Memphis) back then.  At the time I didn’t realize it, but I would end up with the best possible coaches, friends, mentors, coworkers,  fellow CrossFitters, and community  that anyone could find.  Being around encouraging and inspiring people every day when I trained helped me stay motivated to reach my goals.  Even today, being part of the Barbell Shrugged team continues to keep me motivated not only to be the best athlete I can be, but inspires me to be the best human being I can be.  I know this is going to sound corny (and I know I am biased), but the easiest way to find awesome people to be around  (aside from getting a job at Barbell Shrugged) is to go join a CrossFit gym.  Take my gym for example.  Olive Branch CrossFit has been opened a very short time, and already we’ve built an awesome community of athletes that motivate and encourage each other every day.  So, the advice here?  Go find awesome people that motivate and encourage you and spend as much time with them as possible.  Want a shortcut?  Go join a good CrossFit gym with good coaches.  Number 3?

You are an athlete!  Train and compete like one!

It may sound silly to you if you are like I was six years ago (beer bellied couch potato), but I was always treated like an athlete from day one by my coaches.  I wasn’t working out, I was training.  What was I training for?  Life, races, or my favorite:  to not be an easy target.  For me it was always important to be training for an event.  It didn’t matter if it was a 5k, an adventure race, a Marathon or a 50 miler.  Today I still always make sure I am registered for an event so that I stay motivated to train.  For professional athletes, training is mandatory.  They have to do it or else they’ll suffer on the court or on the field.  You probably aren’t  a professional athlete and neither am I.  However, training should be just as high a priority for us as it is them.  It should be part of our life and something that takes a back seat to very few things.  For me it helps to be training for an event, but you might think of training as a way to be a better father, husband, or friend.  Sitting on the couch and being fat isn’t helping anyone.  So this tip? Always make time to drop everything and train (#deat)!

There you have it.  Just a few things that I feel have helped me greatly in my journey.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.  If you found this article helpful, click one of the buttons below and share it with your friends!