5 Things I’ve Learned This Month: September

Adding more content to my website, I’m looking to make these posts monthly as I find reflecting to be very important in personal growth. So, without further ado here are 5 things I’ve taken away from this month from personal, professional, social, and all things random. Let’s have fun with this.

Whatever you feed will grow

When you feed certain things –your time, energy and focus– understand those things are going to be the priority in your life even if you didn’t intend it to be. Whether it be in conversations, training, at work or personal time, you will find yourself not as present in the moment. That or someone will call you out on it. It’s not a bad thing, but it is important to be aware of that. When you intend to get a lift in that day but your mind wanders to what you have to do afterwards or thinking about what transpired before, it’s hard to get shit done. My work schedule has taken a nose dive over the past couple weeks and I can honestly say I haven’t really been giving it my all when I’m there. As a result, clients have been cancelling or rescheduling sessions. Some are taking a “break”. For me this was a big wake-up call for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in my life and see what areas are getting too much attention and areas that aren’t getting enough. Once I’ve been able to recognize the issue, I create an action plan to fix it. Balance is key, whatever that looks like for you it’s important to work on that. Now, I’ve gotten some clients back that haven’t been around for various reasons. I’m reaching out to those I haven’t heard from in a while and doing more reading and writing with the extra free time that I have. And working on communicating more/better with those that are important pieces in my life in making it work functioning better.

Recognize the different components in your life and make sure they’re all fed “property” to make your life better. I promise, you’ll have better relationships with others (and yourself), better training sessions, more productive at work (and enjoying it), and a happier life(style).

Sushi is LOADED with sodium

I’ve only been eating sushi for a few years and I’m glad I took the leap (the thought of raw fish for years wasn’t appealing. I decided to become an adult and try it. Even drink coffee!). However, it became apparent that sushi was high in sodium when I went to get a massage last week. I had sushi with the wife for lunch and went right to get a massage afterwards. Once I was done, Erica goes “did you have sushi earlier?? Your skin soaked up 2x more lotion than it normally does!” My jaw dropped. I had no idea it would make that big of a difference that fast. After looking it up, the sushi (rice) alone is 500mg of sodium…in a half cup which is the normal amount used in making 1 roll.

I had to have probably about 1 1/2 rolls =). Muahahahaha!!!!!

Why am I talking about this? Well for one I knew NFL Combine athletes would eat a ton of sushi before the combine so they could drink enough water and soak it into their muscles to keep them hydrated and therefore increase their work capacity. The opposite can be done when you don’t drink enough and can cramp up. In my profession, this was an important finding because I work with people that want to lose weight and look better naked. Well, they all know how important hydration is for not only athletic performance, but in how your body looks and how much water you’re going to hold when you consume a lot of it. Now I don’t know how many of you eat sushi that much on a regular basis, but the point is when it comes to body weight, sodium is a huge contributing factor in weight retention. HOWEVER…do not mistake sodium as a bad thing. Remember what I said earlier about how sodium helps keeps and draw in water into the muscle? Well, if you’re wanting to improve body composition, have better athletic performance/training sessions, you have to train harder and sometimes for longer periods of time to elicit muscle mass and strength gains. How much is too much? Well that’s different for everyone. What’s a lot for you might not be enough for me, etc.

Fat loss is about persistence and consistency

Since I’ve been training all summer to get my competition strength back I’ve changed my focus to gaining more muscle AND reducing body fat. You see, gaining muscle and losing fat aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. With that being said putting on muscle is not easy and neither is fat loss (espeically when with the more experience you have) which means both are going to take some time and and consistency to achieve this goal. Because there are so many factors in achieving fat loss (nutrition, exercise, sleeping habits, water intake, and stress management to name a few) the persistence of achieving lower body fat levels is the utmost important element.

 

Today at the end of a relatively light #okaybenchday sessh at the hub. After flirting with 300 on the bar last week, the body wanted a break. Went the bodybuilding route for the workout routine and felt really good. No more than 5 movements and a minimum of 6 reps for each set. #### Not going off of a strict program has really allowed me to feel my best and ultimately look my best. At 213 now (up 5 from the previous weeks) it’s been at least 3 years since I’ve been this shredded. No strict crazy diet. In fact, I was up north visiting my buddy Cabbage Patch Kevin in Naperthrill enjoying some drinks til 1:30 in the am after a hefty Italian dinner I enjoyed with his family. Part of getting great results is simply enjoying life and having some fun once in a while. I’m bout ready to get back on the platform though…in due time. #shredded #success #fitspo #consistency #livelife #havingfun #trainhard #trainsmart #eatwellmostofthetime #powerlifting #power #powerbuilding #bodybuilding #powerlifter #thick #gym #afathlete #selfconfidence #appreciatethejourney #dowork #hylete #hyletenation #trainhylete

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

Conversely, it takes no time to increase your body fat levels when you neglect just about any of the previously mentioned factors OR if the method you chose is contraindicated or not helpful. Take running for instance. I love running for what it does for people: Improved athletic performance, general performance enhancement and heart health benefits, stress relief (endorphins/”runner’s high”), and a genuine love of running and competing. However, long-duration cardio such as running doesn’t build muscle. Building muscle is what raises your resting metabolism (how much energy you burn at rest) which is key for fat loss. So, while cardio isn’t a bad thing in general, it isn’t ideal for fat loss goals. It goes to show there IS a specific approach to fat loss and while you may need little tweaks here and there to individualize that approach, it’s paramount to be persistent in training to get stronger and building muscle. To make the best of your training, get outside and enjoy life Earlier this month I visited the St. Louis Children’s (City) Museum with my family. It’s always a great time there because it really makes me feel like a little kid crawling and climbing around that place. I also have a profound respect for the creativity and architecture. Check it in out this video!

 

It was pretty empty when we got there since they opened up an hour early and we were probably one of 5 cars in the lot. Once I got there and did some crawling around and running up and down the stairs, I had to pause for a moment and appreciate all the things I can do because of my persistence and consistency (there are those words again) to my training and mobility work. Some of the places at the museum are clearly made for kids. Not going to lie there are some situations where I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic….#someonepleasecall911 secall911

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

At times like this it helps me to understand what all my hard work and focus in the gym can do besides help me make cool videos to put on instagram. For the past several years I’ve had clients tell me stories about all the times they’ve done something in the real world that can attribute their success to their training. Take my client Adriane for example. For years, she couldn’t ride her road bike without serious back pain. Goal number 1 was to get her able and functioning. This is an important step because when you have more function, you can do more things. Case in point, any fat loss or weight loss goals you have to be able to perform physically to achieve those goals. Bike riding is great for weight loss and since she enjoys it- it makes sense to get her healthy enough to make that happen and accomplish both getting back on the bike and improve body composition.

 

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“Kim Kardashian doesn’t provide much value and asks for a lot of money, why can’t I when I provide more value to people?”

I heard this knowledge bomb on the “Barbell Business” podcast this week and it totally caught my attention. It’s not easy asking folks for money knowing how hard times are for most people. Early in my career it was painful asking people to pay me for the service I provide. It still is at times. But then your bills don’t get paid and when you do charge people it ends up being overdue and therefore pressuring people in a way you didn’t want them to be in the first place. Reading that out loud it doesn’t make sense, right? I’m sure some of you out there feel the same way. It’s an honest and genuine feeling. I know if I won the lottery, I’d still use my skill and talents to help people become a better version of themselves. Perhaps it’s natural to think this way when you truly love what you do.

Though this quote really woke my ass up. I mean really…why should I feel guilty for placing a monetary value on a service I provide that could help thousands (maybe millions one day) of people in my lifetime when there are folks asking to be paid for being themselves on television? It’s crazy.

For me, the takeaway is this: get really fucking good at what you do and provide a service people will want. If they’re not interested in paying then perhaps they’re not ready and that’s okay. Problem is I want to help as many people as I can. But this year, my most successful year ever, those that are willing to invest in themselves are the best clients and get the best results and stick around the longest. Especially because they pay a premium price for training. Keeping that in mind forces me to continue to elevate my game for these people.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Look for next month’s edition!

Trainer Thought of The Day: September 16, 2016

When it comes to results, you have to have the physical capabilities to make that happen.

If you look around social media, you’ll see testimonials about the results people get from some nutrition program or training program they’ve done for X amount of time. Naturally, you get inspired by these people and what they’ve accomplish and decide you want something similar. What most folks DON’T see is the hard work that’s being put in. Often once they do….they ain’t about that lyyyfe.

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Granted, when the bright lights start to dim, we realize we don’t actually want the same things that we might marvel at, like having a body like Ronnie Coleman. Say what you will, like it or not, not many will have the dedication or the time to commit to such a feat. And I think that’s where most people get caught up.

While most of the results you want comes from how well put together your nutrition plan is, there is still the physical work that is a huge variable. Want bigger/stronger legs? You’ll going to need to get lots of lower body work, whether it’s some squat variation, machine work or sled work. Want to get more efficient at running? You’re going to have to put in the miles and technique work to become a better runner. Want to have a better looking upper body? You have to be able to do enough pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, presses and pulls to attain such goals.

It’s important to look deep within ourselves and ask what are we actually willing to do. It’s hard to know this sometimes until we actually get up and start doing. Though it might seem like a waste, if you’re diving into new waters and realize what you want isn’t for you, it’s better to know it then and learn something about yourself you didn’t know before. Which is always a good thing.

Testimonial No.11: Gemma Billings

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I was never an athlete.  I still don’t call myself one.  But I do train for a better life, and that’s what I got from training with Donovan.

 

In mid-2013 I had constant, debilitating back pain.  Trips were cut short, housework got ignored.  Most doctors said “Exercise.  Take ibuprofen.  Stretch.”  Okay.  But the light bulb went up when my friend Marisa mentioned that she had a personal trainer and the three magic words: “No back pain.”  Well, sign me up.

 

I have skipped some days.  I have whined plenty, especially on days that were hot.  I have whined that I was too weak to lift a kettle bell.  But I still went and lifted.  Donovan Muldrow does not belittle you or yell at you.  He learns how you move and how you learn, he writes your workout programs, and most importantly, he teaches you what your body is capable of and how to do it right.  And despite my protests before (okay, and some during), I never, ever leave a workout feeling bad.  I am elated, and sweaty, and accomplished, and that is the mark of a most excellent trainer.

 

The back pain is gone.  Granted, it got replaced with a little soreness after leg day, but that reminds you that you worked on something and that something is developing.  I have biceps and quads now.  I move better.  I feel more comfortable in my own skin.  What you get out of training with Donovan is a new sense of self-respect, better understanding of the wonders that your mind and body are capable of, a strong desire to test and push beyond your boundaries, and you get the friendship of one of the best men you will ever meet.

 

As a side note, I noticed while writing this that I had a lot of difficulty finding a “before” picture, because I hated having my picture taken.  There’s a lot more recent ones now to use as “afters.”  That should tell you something.

Trainer Thought of The Day: September 2, 2016

It’s the time of the year when people are going on work/vacation trips, getting sick, or getting injured with the weather changing. There is a lot of concern that the progress you’ve made in the gym in the weeks prior will deteriorate due to a lack of training.

This is can be true or false.

Depending upon the amount of time that you spend recovering you will still be able to maintain your strength and potentially your body composition. However a lot of that depends on your level of activity and most definitely your nutrition.

When it comes to injuries – your nutrition is going to be the utmost importance especially if it means that you will not be able to train for a while. Having an understanding that how you train has a correlation with how you eat in reference to your goals. In other words, the general idea that you have a higher training frequency you also need to have a higher amount of calories to supply the energy for the demands of the workload.

When you don’t have a high workload, of course you’re going to want to decrease the amount of calories coming in to the body.

When you are on travel or vacation, the same principle applies. However, it depends on your level of activity or dedication to training when you are away. It is also important to note that when you are away on a vacation, you are also away from a lot of stresses that you must factor in into your training.

In other words, you may benefit more from your training when you are on vacation and still get away with eating not so “clean” because being away from the hardcore lifting you’re doing is helping your body recover. Simply be more aware of the work you’re doing and the places you’re going to make the best of your situation. Life is going to happen whether you like it or not. It’s important to be prepared mentally and emotionally for the changes that are bound to come.

Trainer Thought of The Day: 8/29/2016

If you’re new to the industry and you want to be a trainer/coach, but not sure where. Whether it be at a collegiate level, commercial level, or in the private sector, it’s important that you not only have your resume in check, but to make sure you have a “clean” image.

Go to google real quick and google your name. What pops up??

I just did and this is what showed up.
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Even the photos are professional photos taken of me or my lifting. Some are of my clients progress photos over the past couple of years.

 

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These days before they even look at your resume,  they’ll want to know who you REALLY are and how you’ll portray the business you plan to work for or the people who want to give you theirs.

End of the day, when you decide who you want to become the interwebs will take notice. In this industry you are your own business card. Be the business you’d want to be associated with.

Trainer thought of the day: August 23, 2016

Do yourself a favor and take a look around at your house. If you’re not at home, do this when you get back. It won’t take long. I promise.

I want you to count how many books/Audiobooks that you have on your bookshelf, night stand or electrical devices.

Then I want you to recall how many days a week currently you are going to the gym. Whether it is by yourself/with a gym partner/personal trainer.

Got it?? Cool.

So now that you have done all of that, and I appreciate you taking the time to do so, add all those things up. Does the number (i.e.  30 books/audiobooks/training sessions per week) exceed the number of inches your television is?

The point I’m making here is making yourself aware of the amount of time you may be sitting down and watching what’s on your big screen TV than the amount of time that you put into self improvement not only mentally, but physically. Where do your priorities lie?

Big screen TV’s are far more expensive than books/audiobooks. Even most podcasts are free. Gym memberships are cheaper than ever and while training can seem costly the average cost of a 60″ TV is just over $450 (according to a quick google search I did that listed 4 of the popular 60″ TVs out there. Not completely scientific). That’s still enough for at least a month of sessions with a trainer, and with the right one you could learn a lifetime of tools and tips to improve yourself worth and boost your confidence.

Search inward and really think about what you want in life; the goals you have for now and for the future. Are you setting yourself up for success? If not, hopefully this read will help you realize where you might have failed in this area. Which is a good thing! Because now, you ARE aware and if you want to change that, you’re in a better position to succeed.

The Moving Target: The Complexities of Nutrition

Without a doubt, exercise/training is the easiest way to improve ones health and athleticism. You get up out of bed. You get dressed. Get yourself to the training facility. Show up where your trainer will be waiting for you and execute the workout as planned. With nutrition, it’s not as simple. First, you have to know what you want to eat for (i.e. goals): Lose weight? Gain weight? Fat loss? Get ready for a competition? Knowing that first will give us an idea of foods to add/avoid in order to succeed. But then your goals changed because you wanted to run a 5k that your friend talked you into and…..yeah.

                                                                                                                                             Nutrition is constantly a moving target. 

missile on target

 

 

Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and set goals that aren’t in line with our lifestyle. THIS is why changing up your lifestyle for your goals first can have it’s benefits to make the most of a new training program or nutrition plan, but more likely than not most people aren’t willing to go that far. As you can imagine, it’s my job to get people results in the gym and beyond. The key is giving folks the tools they can use right away that will allow them to live their lives and get results. The hard part is tearing down those old habits and replacing them with new ones.

Think about it… all those dozens of new habits you’ve spent weeks or months building can be easily nullified by the one or two bad habits that have been stored in your subconscious for nearly your entire life. This is where professionals get caught up in promising people results without looking at the real issue as to why they’re in the position they’re in-in the first place. But in the meantime, we need to give them tools to keep the “thirst at bay”. Here are some tips that I give clients to focus on when their  nutrition seems to be all over the place:

1) Know thy self

I get it. It’s been a long day and you’re probably hungry as fuuuuuh and you don’t really care why you’re eating what you’re eating and you’re gonna because STONE COLD SAID SO!!!!! Then you’ll wake up the next morning with a soaked pillow because you’ve cried yourself to sleep with “Friends” on in the background playing the one where Ross takes a break from Rachel (what an idiot). My thing is this- choose a “go to food” when it gets to be one of those days. That way you know what it’s for. It’s familiar. It’s comforting. Your eating can be controlled and help keep in mind what the overall goal is. Wait…does that mean I can “choose” a whole pizza? The answer to that is it depends (I love that answer), however I wouldn’t say to eat the whole damn pizza. If you don’t trust yourself to eat a slice or two from a whole or frozen pizza, go somewhere where they do sell them in slices. You know you. You’ll be less likely to order 8 individual slices and have the clerk tilt their head and go “awwww, bless yer heart” (and you know what they mean by that…).

2) Eat with a friend….and no I’m not talking about your cat

Specifically, eat with a friend who has your goals in mind and will help you out. You want to test your friendship? Tell them you’re trying to lose some inches for an event next weekend while you’re at a restaurant and see if they’ll let you order a triple chocolate chewy fudge brownie à la mode. You know if they let that happen they’ll have to hear about you being sad that you ate it and how you didn’t reach your goal and blame them for not being supportive. Sitting down and eating is a great opportunity to socialize. Food is what brings people together right? Confiding in someone what your goals are and reaching out to help you stay on track is very significant. Having that social support goes a long way and can really strengthen relationship bonds.

3) Look for the good in a bad situation 

You’re out and about with the family or at a work function where you’re subjected to whatever is brought to the table. Take a step back. Breathe and become aware of what’s around you and literally think about what you’re going to do. More likely than not, you’ll run into a scenario where there ain’t a damn thing available that’s on par with what you’re trying to do. But you have to eat. If it comes down to this you want to think about calorie intake since quality has gone out the window. I’m not huge on calorie counting, but that’s just me. However, if you are and you can look up the calories on a myfitnesspal app, it may give you some piece of mind.

4) It’s okay to just say “fuck it” every now and then

Did you know “that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, accounting for up to 20 percent of the body’s total haul. Until now, most scientists believed that it used the bulk of that energy to fuel electrical impulses that neurons employ to communicate with one another.”? Remember all those long drawn out days where you come home and just grab whatever? Well, deciding what to do about dinner is also energy consuming. Of course this only happens when you don’t already have your meal prepped ;). Which brings me to my last tip.

5) Just prep your damn meals already

Seriously. I’ve heard it all, “oh I don’t have time”…”I don’t know how to cook”… “I don’t know what to buy”… “I’m single and so I don’t really cook a whole lot”. Stop it. Just. Stop it.

 

stop it

If you truly don’t have the time to make meals (there’s 168 hours in a week ya know), then you don’t really give a shit about your health. Your goals mean nothing to you and you just want them to want them. I know that might be a little harsh, but your actions to match up with your goals. I mean, even the POTUS and FLOTUS find time to work out…even if it’s at 4am. I’ll tell ya what, it’s not so much that you don’t have the time. It’s that you don’t know how to manage your time. But that’s obvious at this point. So you’re gonna need some tools.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                             Introducing…the Instant Pot

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You guys have no idea how crazy awesome this thing has been for me and my family. It’s a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker–Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. So far we’ve done a whole pack of chicken breasts cooked in 12 minutes…4 uncooked cups of rice done in 12 minutes. Pasta done in 7…people. We literally made a weeks worth of food in less than 3 hours. And if you need to make more?? Shouldn’t take any more than They have the technology there. They’re literally trying to make our lives better and more time efficient. This wasn’t exactly cheap…but we got rid of our  other crock-pot. We got ours on Amazon Prime on Prime day. You can pick it up at Wally World, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond…anywhere you’d find your mom shopping. We only have one other crock-pot to cook with for larger parties. And even then, we used the crock-pot all the time. The idea of putting the food in and letting it cook all day and then come to a home smelling amazing!? All you have to do is put the shit it in there and let it go!! Sorry…I’m a bit hangry at the moment.

 

Point is, nutrition is forever changing and so is your body. Just when you think you want to lose weight, you really want to fit better into your clothes…but we know it’s  not all one in the same. And when you’re on vacation, you’re not always going to have your prepped meals on hand. The whole point of vacation/taking breaks is to relax your mind and body and just do whatever you feel. As I pointed out earlier, your mind takes up quite a bit of the body’s energy. Not having to think can really be distressing and recharge those batteries. SO if living the life of counting calories and macros and how many almonds you need at a given time, focus on the what it is you’re eating and ask yourself “why?”. Awareness is extremely empowering. Having a plan is liberating. Stick to the plan that you have and only change what isn’t working for you. With time and consistency, soon you’ll become a master at hitting moving targets.

Testimonial No. 9: Tami Hill Dean

When did you start training with Donovan?

 

I first met with Donovan to talk about training and do a trial session at the end of September 2015.

 

 

What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?

 

I had not been happy with my fitness level for awhile when I came to first meet with Donovan. I felt like the person in the mirror wasn’t the person I had known most of my life. I had tried other diets and exercise choices in the past and due to “life” I had to quit what I was doing. It had been some months since I had done any regular exercise. I missed the feeling I got from working out and feeling good. It was something I did for myself and I missed it. When I started on this journey, I had not ever tried a personal trainer before, but I thought that it was worth a shot to see what I could get out of it. I sought out Donovan because some other people I know were always writing positive things about him and their workouts on my Facebook feed. After our initial meeting where Donovan listened to me talk about what my goals were, my thoughts about my body and exercise etc., I felt like this was the next step in my exercise journey. I left feeling like this was about my whole self and not just a weight or exercise routine.

 

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What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?

 

Sacrifice seems like a negative word to me. I would rather say that I have purposefully chosen what is important to me. I firmly believe people find or make the time or money for people, things and/or experiences that are important to them. This is true in all aspects of life. I have chosen to make myself a priority; I have made financial decisions/choices to make training a priority. I could look at less shopping or eating out, etc. as a sacrifice, I suppose, but I have chosen to attempt to be as positive as I can in all areas of my life. Training is important to me because of how it makes me feel about me. I feel strong and happy. It has helped me come back to my true self in my life journey. I had honestly lost me for awhile, but now that I’m back I don’t see training leaving my life as a priority. I recently had someone ask me about my training and the cost. I answered, it is so important to me I am willing to forgo other luxuries in my life to make it happen. I can’t imagine training not being a part of my life.

 

 

Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?

 

I had not worked directly with a trainer before Donovan, so I don’t have anything to compare my current experiences. However, I will say that Donovan pays attention to me and has gotten to know me as a person. He can tell when I’m tired. He seems to know just when to push and add some weight. He will have you do things you didn’t even think were possible. Sometimes life sucks; when I need to use my workout to lose some steam, he accommodates that. I would say that I miss my sessions if I have cant come to one. I try not to miss at all; that is how positive my time with Donovan has been. Another important positive experience from this is that my kids get to see how important this is to me and I can model healthy body image and care.

 

 

How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?

 

I feel amazing! I can see and notice the changes in my body and abilities. I can tell that I am more fit. I always think the most interesting thing to me is when I notice something that used to be difficult at the beginning, I now can do with ease. Overall, I am sleeping and eating better. I am a happier person. All of these things connect back to getting in my training sessions. I can say when I first started I was probably weighing myself more than I should. And while I was always wanting to be strong, the scale would still come to try to tell me a different story. As I’ve been on this journey I now focus on how my clothes fit and how I feel now rather than the number on the scale. I actually put my scale away. I haven’t weighed myself for 6 weeks. I have no desire to anymore. I have had a lot of people comment on “how much weight I’ve lost”. I’ve honestly lost around 2lbs. It isn’t about the weight. I don’t even have a weight goal anymore. It is about the leanness of my body and how I feel. I’ve dropped a pant size and am close to the next size. At the end of the day, I feel great about what I’m doing and myself. And, I’m totally in love with my new shoulders. 🙂

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Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?

 

I have and will continue to recommend Donovan to anyone because he is fantastic at what he does. He builds you up and you don’t even know it. There is always a method to his “madness”! At the end of the day, when you come to training and are consistent, you will see improvement.

 

 

What do you look forward to in the future with your training?

 

I look forward to continuing to build my strength and push myself in ways I hadn’t even thought of doing before. I’ve only been on this journey for 6 months. I can’t wait to see where I am another 6 months from now.

 

Why “Following Your Passion” Is Misleading

“All you have to do is follow your passion and you’ll find happiness.”

 

You’ve probably heard me say this and others who are happy in their lives doing what they’re doing. If you’re annoyed every time you hear this shit, it’s for good reason.

 

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION WITHOUT ANY IDEA HOW OR WHY IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

 

I’m not here to discourage you, but rather give you a much more informative approach as to HOW to follow your passion based on my experience.

 

Like most millennials, I grew up not knowing for sure what I wanted to be. Sure I had dreams. We all did. One might argue that growing up killed our dreams of becoming something cool like a secret agent or play sports professionally or be a unicorn. Words like “unsafe”, “unsustainable”, and “un-realistic” killed those dreams. I mean if you look at those words they start with “un” as if people try to “un”encourage you to think that way. Well if your passion is to be a unicorn, you be the best damn unicorn you can be damn it.

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Sometimes we have to do what we need in order to survive.My first ever job was freshman year at ISU as the burger guy at Manchester/Hewitt Halls in Summer of ‘06. Everyone wants a life they can be comfortable with. The economy wasn’t all that great. Having money is better than no money. No argument there. But man It was a hot summer. I took 5-10 minute breaks when it wasn’t as busy standing in the freezer. One distinct memory I had was when there was a national cheerleading camp and all these little girls came in.

One girl in particular couldn’t of been more than 8 years old asking for a “cheeseburger with no cheese please….I have to lose weight.” It was funny because she asked for a cheeseburger without cheese instead of a…umm…hamburger, but I was also a little discussed with that whole situation because someone told her she needed to lose weight. This might of subconsciously sparked the idea that I should be a personal trainer and empower women to become stronger and not hate their bodies…but who knows.

 

It wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do let alone become as I’m almost half way through college. It was pointed out to me that the rec center was hiring for personal trainers. I never in my life wanted to be a personal trainer, but it made sense at the time. I LOVED working out. I was an athlete and I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I figured being a personal trainer allowed me to workout all the time and get paid for it. Basically, following the path of “Do what you Love. Profit.” Right?! Well, turns out this is the first step in how to “Following Your Passion”:

 

No 1. FIND A PASSION. THEN USE THAT PASSION TO HELP SEARCH THE WORK IT APPLIES.

 

I didn’t start as a trainer. When I applied for the position, the seniors hadn’t graduated yet and so spots weren’t open at the time. So, I decided to work at the rec center as a rec assistant. That meant keeping the gym looking nice, washing towels, making smoothies, checking in people at the front desk. Then, I quickly got promoted to CSR (customer service rep) making sales and filing papers.


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Not long after that I got one of the open personal trainer spots. Almost at the same time I also became a fitness instructor. Unbeknownst to me I also became ISU’s first fitness instructor (which I’m very proud of). The more time I spent working all these different positions, the more I fell in love with what I was doing. After I graduated, I stayed in the fitness biz and moved onto training/teaching at a commercial gym. About a year or so after being there I thought I might apply to be the head trainer there. As it turns out, my experience with running a fitness facility, knowing point of sale and customer service got me the job in late ‘09. 2 years in and I’m already the head trainer of a gym with a staff of 8 and a member base of over 20,000. So all this experience laid the groundwork for my success early on. I learn best in the field and realizing that was key (Note: Understand which learning process works best for you). Which leads to the next point when getting advice from folks about how to make your passion work for you….



No.2 Ask About The Process….not HOW



Things were pretty easy. I thought I had this  on lock…until 3 years later I lost my job. I had found my passion and I couldn’t let it go, so I applied to other gyms in the area, but it was taking too long. I only had 2 weeks or so until my last check came through until I was going to be broke AND jobless. It was the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. Which leads me to point number 3 of why just “Follow Your Passion” is terrible advice:



No.3- Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was.

 

I’ll never forget how that felt. It was the drive I needed to push forward and grind harder (and smarter) everyday. Starting your own training business without any business knowledge as far as pricing or business structure goes is extremely difficult. Almost scary. Too scary for most. It’s no wonder the statistics show that at least 80% of all trainers fail within 3-5 years for a number of reasons: certifications were too expensive, wasn’t good enough to make ends meet, getting up too early. Though, if it is truly your passion, you’ll find a way to make it work.

 

It was obvious the only way to survive in this industry is to follow two golden rules: 1) Become really fucking good at what you do, and 2) Make sure everyone knows about it.

 

 

No.4- It Takes Hard Work

 

 

When you have your own business or “following your passion” you have to put in the work. Having passion is the minimal requirement. You have to sacrifice the very things that will make you better in the long run: The amount of sleep you have will decrease, but not at the expense of quality. The amount of time spent with friends and family will take a hit, but always make time for them because you’ll need the support to keep you going. Remember, you’re doing this because you love it, but don’t let it consume you.

 

 

No.5- Putting The Energies in The Right Places

 

The downfall of following your passion is that it takes so much of your energy. All of the coaches here at CFBN/AF work full time as coaches. We’re here as early as 5am to as late as 8:30pm 6 days a week putting energy into coaching, programming, making your meals and of course you have to get your own workout in. Then you have your personal life with a family, dogs, and of course ME TIME!! Navigating all that has it’s own energy expenditure that most aren’t really ready for. So you’ll have to set boundaries and cut yourself off so you can have time, energy and a life to look forward to at the end of the day.

But if there’s one thing that most passionate people don’t talk about, it’s having the ability to reflect.

 


No.6- Reflect

 

I’m only 9 years into the fitness biz. I’m a deep thinker. Reflecting is something I do often, but for some it’s a skill and needs to be practiced. Journaling, having conversation, meditating or blogging, are great ways to reflect on what you’ve learned. If you can do that everyday, that’d be even better. And If you’re getting better on a daily basis, you’re doing something right.

 

Some say “keep going and never look back”, but that’s because they’re looking back at the wrong things. The past is a trail that leaves clues to where you’ve been and could help remind you of the path you’re on. So make sure what you reflect on is with good intentions.

 

So, following your passion as you now understand it to be from my point of view, isn’t as cut and dry others may lead you to believe. To sum it up:

 

1) Find a passion first and foremost and find a way to make a living from it. For me, I eventually found my passion but it took a while for it to work for me. There is a strategy to make it work. Make a plan. See what that looks like. You’ll get knocked off course somewhere down the line, but the goal is to always keep the goal as the goal.

2) Ask about the process, not how. The key to learning is about asking the right questions. Learning the fundamentals about business in my case; maintain quality of equipment, learning about writing programs, customer service, technical experience, etc. are just some of the processes needed to make my business work for me in the long run.

 

3) Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was. Understand that following your passion is a road less traveled. It’s about making something your own and not being given by someone else. It will be hard at times, but those hard times are what’s going to make you better. Mistakes are obstacles that can be made into opportunities. It’s a big risk and there are going to be setbacks. If you haven’t experienced setbacks early on, image how difficult it’s going to be later. Take them as they come and move forward.

 

4) It takes hard work. What I mean by hard work is putting in the time. A lot of time. To get really good at what you do also means sacrificing things like energy, money, sleep, even relationships to make your passion work for you.

 

5) Putting the energies in the right places. Being passionate about something is a phenomenal feeling and can subsequently suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. You’ll have to be wise about where your energy goes and how much. Like currency, these things need to be traded wisely to get the “most bang for your buck”. Having priorities and setting boundaries is going to help you from running your head into the wall.


6) Reflect. I can’t stress enough how important reflecting is. Evaluating what you’ve learned along the way about the process is what’s going to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes reflecting can even help point out to you that perhaps what you’re doing may not end up being what you’re passionate about. Writing, talking, and meditating about it every day is a great way to keep you in check and moving forward.

Now you’re ready to “FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.” Work hard. Enjoy the journey. Be great.