5 Things I’ve Learned This Month: October

This month has been an a roller coaster. But who doesn’t enjoy a roller coaster?? I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t, but I do. I’ve got a lot on my mind. Here’s what I’ve learned….

Discipline Provides Freedom

It took 8 years being in the profession for me to realize that waking up at 4am would be the best option for me to maximize my time training and to get things done. I’ve read plenty of literature that says the top 1%-ers “start the day at 4am”. As a result I’ve been able to open up my schedule to training clients earlier (5am) which allowed for more growth in income. With growth in income comes more freedom to do more things that I want to do. I’ve known this for quite sometime, but it didn’t really sink in until recently and I’ve been really grateful for this growth in efficiency. That and my dogs are getting good at using the bathroom outside of the house instead of on the floor/carpet. #Winning

Reading books along the way like Essentialism: The art of doing less, by Greg Mckeown and the all-time great- They Call Me Coach, by John Wooden, really propelled me to create my own S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) for my life.





I have to say it’s paying off when I feel stressed for time. I can always rely on my routine to get me out of it.

“ We don’t rise to the occasion. We fall to the level of our training. “

This is probably one of my favorite quotes recently. I believe this to be true in every aspect in life (I would even consider life experiences as training. That is if you learn from them).  I’m not one to believe in “luck”, though I get the sentiment behind wishing someone well. Rising to the occasion however has the same tone; that somehow your success is part preparation and part magic fairy dust. It really comes down to mindset/mental preparation.

This is probably the longest I’ve gone without entering a competition in Powerlifting. I’ve focused much of my work on understanding different programs and tools I can use to keep myself healthy for much of the year (that and working on mobility so I don’t have the mobility of the tin-man). As a result, I’ve developed a desire to compete again with a healthier mind and body.

The understanding that how hard you work and apply your training will most likely dictate the outcome. Thus focusing on the process and doing your best in training will boost confidence. Sure there are mitigating circumstances that can prevent certain success, yet those are the things that we can’t control. Focusing on what we can’t control disturbs our flow. So, play your game. No one else’s. If your game plan doesn’t workout- you’ll have an opportunity to learn from that situation and adjust. However, always follow through and never give up.

Giving clients autonomy is the best thing you can do for them

The majority of my clients have worked with me for over a year. My professional goal for them is to be able to have the knowledge to take care of themselves in and out of the gym. Many of them have begun training themselves and each other doing extra workouts on the side which is fantastic. I feel this should be the goal of every trainer out there.

Clients who have the freedom to do work they enjoy and believe in will yield better results every time. I’ve learned that the next level of being a personal trainer is that of a coach/mentor. The key is to always be a student in whatever you’re doing. I learn from other great coaches and my clients learn from me and so on. I can remember back in college I took classes that were very open to letting the students do their work anywhere they chose that wasn’t in the classroom. It was very trusting of the professor to let us do that, but I could remember really enjoying those classes and doing really great work. It was the autonomy that I had that made me own the work I was doing.

This was an important lesson given that I work with mainly women. I know and understand that having autonomy in an environment where there is nothing but iron, steel, rubber, turf, loud music and slamming of weights with a small (but increasing) female presence changes the perception of gym culture.

Finding something to commit to when things are bad is extremely powerful

In a world of shit and chaos, what does one do? Sit back and watch it burn? Walk with your head down and “just deal with it?” I’ve learned this the hard way.

Which honestly is the best way. For me anyhow.

After talking with Professor Kate Browne of Illinois Wesleyan University about her situation after surgery, she wasn’t able to temporarily lift heavy things like she once did. Naturally, this is hard to take in especially when training has such a huge benefit that goes beyond physiological benefits. For her- focusing on what she CAN do that was fun and exciting and new really shined a light on a seemingly dim situation. Success leaves patterns. So does happiness.

Kate Browne, Courtsey of “Ramp and Stair Exercise Club” Facebook group


Surrounding yourself with those that genuinely lift you up (and I don’t mean “kiss your ass”) by bring their positive energy into your world and wanting to find something good to focus on can really bring you out of a hole. Studies illustrated in this HuffPost article shows that “positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.”

Not sure how to go about creating a focal point? I do a few things:

1) Writing- I write in a journal 6-7 days a week about all the things I am/want to be, how I’m going to do it, and what I’m grateful for. It’s easy to dwell on all the shit going on in your life, but when you realize how awesome your life really is you’ll be able to recover a lot better.

2) Weight training- it’s not only been scientifically linked to have physiological benefits, but psychological as well. According to a study done by University of New Mexico– weight training is a “meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety” as well as “four studies have investigated the effect of resistance training with clinically diagnosed depressed adults. The results are unanimous; large reductions in depression from resistance training participation.”

3) Listen to Podcasts- We all know we spend most of the time in our cars. While we could listen to music or whatever talk radio, I find my time is most efficiently used when I’m learning. It took me several years to compile a list of podcasts that I enjoy for professional and personal development; often times I’m able to find good topics to blog about, ideas for training, answers to help with life situations and so on. Like music, you can find an episode and play it based on how you feel for that day or continue on the one you’re currently listening to if it appeals to you. Having this focus on always moving forward and improving in some aspect of your life will really take the edge off of experiencing the hard times. Plus, if you think about it you’re associating learning good-positive information with tough situations. You’re teaching your subconscious mind that “hey, when times are hard, I’m going to learn something to make my life better.”

Chicago professional sports are pretty damn good

As of this month, since I’ve been alive I have now seen 6 out of the 7 professional sports teams (excluding the Chicago Sky-WNBA team) win or go to their respective championship games.

And I might see another one win a championship 😉