Posts Tagged ‘You do you’

Earlier this week, Facebook showed me a picture that I shared a few years ago. It happens to be one of my favorite pictures of myself in existence, and it’s awesome for three main reasons:

  1. First, it was taken at my grandmother’s old house; the place where I fell in love with the water.
  2. Second, I was jacked and I knew it. You can totally see me ‘mirin’ them gainz.
  3. Third, is in the moment that picture was taken, my biggest worry in life was what we’d be having for dinner.

At that age I mostly ate, played, slept, and smiled. How AMAZING does that sound right now?!


Unfortunately, most of us move away from that mindset as we get older. We’re less happy, more stressed, worry about what other people think, go into careers we don’t love, and we spend money on things we don’t need because we think they’ll make us happier. (News Flash: They usually don’t.) Wow, when I put it that way, adulthood doesn’t seem that fun. I have good news, though. It’s not too late for us to make simple changes that can make a profound impact on our overall quality of life!

Since I’m a visual person, I’ll share a quick list of things you can start doing today that will get you on your way to being happier more often:

  1. Identify 3 People that make you really happy
    • Make it your goal to interact with them at least once every two weeks. If they’re in the same city as you, schedule a lunch, dinner, or a walk on a weekend. If they’re not, schedule a time for a phone call of Facetime with them once every two weeks. Once a week becomes too hard to maintain for most of us, and once a month simply isn’t enough to connect with the people we love.
  2. Identify 3 Activities that make you really happy
    • Ideally, they’re activities that you can do with little preparation required. While SCUBA diving in the Maldives may have made you really happy, it’s unlikely that most people can just “up and go” to their favorite place. Instead, if being outside makes you happy, give yourself time to go for a walk or a hike every few weeks.
    • Do you like live music? It doesn’t need to cost you hundreds of dollars to travel across the country to see your favorite band. You don’t need to pay $50 for a ticket and then another $40 in service fees to go that big local venue, either. Most cities have free live music all over town, every night of the week. It just takes a little research and an open mind that’s excited to see new bands you’ve never seen before.
    •  Do you just like spending time with friends and unplugging for a few hours? That doesn’t need to look like a big expensive night out with a fancy dinner and cocktails. Have one of you pick one night per month where everyone gets together, brings one meal or side dish each, and you just sit around talking, playing games, and laughing together.
    • Pro Tip: To make this night even more special, try putting all cell phones in another room so everyone is more engaged. I’m working on getting better about this myself. Be. Present. More.
  3. Identify 3 Foods that make you really happy
    • As with the two sections above, this doesn’t need to be a seven-course steak dinner at Morton’s. Maybe you’re like me and love Macaroni and Cheese. Perhaps ice cream or raw cookie dough straight out of the fridge are treats that make you really happy. (Also me.) If you plan a meal that you really look forward to eating (maybe even cooking yourself), it can make the monotony of our “day to day” grind a bit more exciting.
    • For a lot of us, the foods that make us smile the most are the ones that we probably shouldn’t eat all the time. So, while I don’t want to call them “cheat meals” (since I think we should eat whatever we want, whenever we want, as long as we accept the outcome of those choices), I think indulging a little here and there is a required part of life!
    • Besides, if I ate tater tots and drank IPAs at every meal, they might not be as special for me all the time. They probably would be, but they might not!

By identifying these 9 simple things, I’m suggesting that you’ll live a happier life. The best part, is that every two or four or six months, you can reevaluate the list and change it up. You control how often you decide to go through this process!


For me, the key is to try and PLAN FOR and SCHEDULE these things. If there’s one thing I’m learning the older I get is that if I wait until I “have time” to do something, it’ll never happen. We lived in simpler times when we were kids. Now that we’re older, if you schedule your fun like you schedule that conference call for work next Tuesday, you might find that you just start making time for more fun!

What does being unpopular mean?

The thought of being unpopular used to be one of my biggest fears. It may come as a shock to you, but throughout my life I have struggled with feeling as though I should do whatever it takes to be liked by most people. This belief has allowed me to maintain friendships far longer than I should have, it’s encouraged me to give far more than I knew I’d ever get back from people, and it’s lead to me to being walked all over by others because I felt too awkward to stand up for myself. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve realized that most of those relationships have helped mold me into the man I am today. I’m proud that I’ve been able to learn and grow from many of those moments.

In the video posted below, Rethinking Unpopular: Erika Napoletano at TEDxBoulder 2012, Erika describes her difference between being “unpopular” and being “unlikeable.” Being unpopular, she explains, means making decisions based on honoring two groups of people: those who will love us for everything we are (and everything we aren’t), and ourselves. Being unlikeable, however, stems from the belief that everything revolves around us. When applying that distinction to my job as a personal trainer, it means although I may not always make the most popular decision in the gym, I’ll always make the one that has the best interest of my athletes at the forefront of my mind.

My goal in coaching the way I do is not to try to impress other people. In fact, the older I get, the less I try to impress others, and the less apologetic I am about my desire to add value. Relinquishing the need for validation of any kind has allowed me to truly give as much of myself as possible, simply to try and improve the lives of others.


If you watch the video, you’ll hear her hilarious story about the graphic above. For the purpose of MY post, let’s change the word “Swear” to the word “Care.” I can’t explain why I care so much about my athletes, but I do. When I lead a class, my style of music may not be the most popular, but I’ll rarely play songs with lyrics that offend an entire room. I often stop athletes from adding weight to their bar when form starts to break down, which may lead to some not wanting to take classes I lead. (I think that it also leads to fewer athletes getting injured on my watch, however.) I regularly suggest that the volume of a workout be reduced or movements scaled based on an athlete’s ability or experience. While this decision may bruise an ego here and there in the short term, it usually leads to those same people being able to come back the next day instead of being so sore they can barely move. They’re not always popular decisions, but they always ones that come from a place of caring, and a place that prioritizes safety over everything else.

To some, these choices are logical and expected by a coach. To others, they’re an attack on the abilities and character of an athlete. I’m not able to control how others react. When I lay my head on my pillow at night, though, I know that I tried to help every single person I came in contact with in the gym that day. Being so unapologetic in those decisions makes me feel really good about what I do.

Every day I hope that through my actions over time, I will build the trust of those around me and prove to them that I always have their back. For those who don’t feel that way, over time, they’ll slowly move on. While that scenario doesn’t always make me happy, that’s how it goes, and it’s alright to let those people out of my “blanket fort” of life.

Please take the time to watch the video below. Let it inspire you to reassess and remind yourself why it is that you do what you do. Today, I’m more comfortable with the thought of being unpopular than I ever have been, because I know the choices I make at work are made to try and help others.

Love me, hate me, just don’t be indifferent!” she says. I feel the same way!