Success In Fitness And Life: Where To Begin

This is an excellent, concise article in which Dave Tate a standout powerlifter turned tremendously successful business owner, outlines the thought process he used to develop his business. I find much wisdom in Tate’s writing and believe that we can all benefit from his message. PK

The Primary Aim

By Dave Tate

Since my first Under the Bar article and now after the release of the Under the Bar book I have been asked one question more than any other. This question is;

“Dave, I am looking to start my own gym (or personal training center). Where do I begin?”

Where do I begin?

This is the same question I ask myself when addressed with this question. Do I begin with the 7 main systems of business?

  • Lead Conversion Systems
  • Lead Generation Systems
  • Marketing Systems
  • Leadership Systems
  • Management Systems
  • Client Fulfillment Systems
  • Financial Systems

Do I start with the process of the business plan, marketing plan, employee development or one of the other specific aspects of business?

This question is much like being asked “How do you get strong?”

How do you get strong?

There is a great place to start. We all go into the weight room for a very specific reason, much like we start a business. The real question is not how do you get strong but why do you want to get strong in the first place? It is not about how you start a business but why do you want a business in the first place? What is the driving force behind why you want to do this? What are the real reasons for taking this huge step?

When I ask people this they don’t know what to think. They have not thought about why. They have not given thought to what their primary aim is. The primary aim is intensely personal. It is all about you. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. There is only what is true for you.

So how do you establish your primary aim? The best way I have found to do this is with a process I used while going through the E-Myth Mastery Program. First you determine what you do and do not want in your life. Then you prioritize and bust barriers followed by writing your own eulogy. When you finish these you will have clear vision to determine what your real aim in life is.

What you DO NOT want in life

The first thing that has to be determined is what you DO NOT want in your life. When you begin to look at those things you do not want you begin to see what you really do what in your life. You also begin to see and discover all the self imposed limitations you have placed on yourself up to this point. It is not about money, fame, power, possessions, winning or loosing. These are not the real reasons behind anything. Just as your max bench press or total is not the main reason you strength train. It is much deeper than this. This deeper place is where you need to look if you really want to have success in business, training, coaching or anything else in life. You primary aim is about the real world, not some made up make believe place we imagine the world to be.

By understanding your aim you begin to understand your essence for life. It gives you the power to live life on your terms. It gives you the ability to make things happen instead of having things happen to you. It helps you place real priorities in your life. Not priorities someone else thinks you should have, but real ones that will steer the direction of everything in your life. It gives you life purpose. It gives you the ability to better serve this purpose

So make a list of all the things you DO NOT want in your life. Make this a brain storming activity and write as many things as you can. Try to make a list of 50 different items. Go crazy with this. Try not to think about it, just write. Think about what things you value in life. Think about whom you do not like and why you do not like them. Think about what matters most to you and how you would like to feel on a day to day basis. Think about what you have done in your life that you wish never happened. Think of things you have said that you wish you never said. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

When you complete you list go back and circle those things you most what to not be a part of your life. Do not go crazy with this. Only circle those things you feel are the most important to avoid.

What do you want?

Just as you did with those things you do not want in your life, you will now make a list off all the things you do want in your life. Try to stay away from material things and money. They have very little to do with the development of your primary aim. They also come with success. If you live according to your primary aim you will always have more than you will even need.

Once again, go back and circle a few things you most feel should be a part of your life. No more than 5 items should be circled.


Go back to your two lists and pull all the circles items to a new list. Now look at these items and take some time to really think about each one. Think of why they are on your list and how they rank according to each other. Prioritize these items from most important to least important. When you look at each item think of what could stand in the way of accomplishing them to the degree you wish. What gets in the way now? What could get in the way later down the road? What barriers could keep you from each item? Make a list of these barriers and more importantly what you will do to overcome them. What are you self imposed limitations and how will you address them? What are your fears and how will you over come them? What habits do you need to break? What new habits do you need to create?

Write your eulogy

Sit back, relax and think of the day when you will no longer be with us. Think about all those people who are most important to you assembled at your memorial ceremony. You now have the chance to write your own eulogy. What would you like it to say? More importantly what do you what those in attendance to remember you for?

Will it be how much money you made? How much you dead lifted? How many touch downs you made? I don’t think so! What will it be?

What if you left us today? What would be said? Is it what you would write if you wrote your own? I call this the gap. We can’t control what would be said today BUT we can change and control what it would be later in life. The most important this to understand is you have 100% total control of how you would like to be remembered just as you have total control of your own life. The choice is yours to make.

Your Aim

You know have all you need to know to determine your primary aim. Try to write a single phrase or sentence that describes what you really what you life to be like.

You may be asking what does this have to do about business, training, or coaching. If this is the case then maybe you should pick up a pencil and do the work. If you really do the work you will never have to ask this question.


Daniel Coyle, Keith Richards And Cultivating Passion!

This an awesome post from one of the thoughtful writers in America; author ofThe Talent Code, Daniel Coyle. Here Coyle, upon reading Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards new biography Life, postulates how Richards passion for playing the guitar was cultivated. You will surprised at his loving uncle’s method. PK

How to Light a Fire: The Keith Richards Method


Passion is the nuclear reaction at the core of every talent. It’s the glowing, inexhaustible energy source. It’s also pretty darn mysterious.

Where does intense passion come from? How does it start, and how is it sustained?  How does someone fall wildly in love with math or music, stock trading or figure skating?

Most of us intuitively think of passion as uncontrollable — you have it or you don’t, period. In this way of thinking, passion is like a lightning strike, or a winning lottery ticket. It happens to the few, and the rest of us are out of luck.

But is that true?  Or are there smart ways to increase the odds?

We get some insight into that question from none other than Keith Richards, whose book Life just came out. My favorite part of the book (and that’s saying something) is the part where Keith tells how he fell in love with music, and specifically with the guitar. The process went like this:

Step one: Keith’s Grandpa Gus, who was a former musician and a bit of a rebel, noticed that Keith liked singing.

Step two: whenever young Keith would come over, Gus placed a guitar on on top of the the family piano. Keith noticed. Gus told him, when he was taller, he could give it a try.

Step three: one momentous and unforgettable day, Gus took the guitar down from the piano, and handed it to Keith. From that moment, Richards was hooked (his first addiction). He took the guitar everywhere he went.

As Richards writes:

“The guitar was totally out of reach. It was something you looked at, thought about, but never got your hands on. I’ll never forget the guitar on top of his upright piano every time I’d go and visit, starting maybe from the age of five. I thought that was where the thing lived. I thought it was always there. And I just kept looking at it, and he didn’t say anything, and a few years later I was still looking at it. “Hey, when you get tall enough, you can have a go at it,” he said. I didn’t find out until after he was dead that he only brought that out and put it up there when he knew I was coming to visit. So I was being teased in a way.”

Reading it, I couldn’t help but think that most parents and teachers — me included — do precisely the opposite. We don’t put things out of reach — in fact we put them within reach. We go fast, not slow. We try to identify passion, not to grow it. We don’t take the time to make the nuclear reaction happen on its own.

For me, the lessons are these:

  • Don’t treat passion like lightning. Treat it like a virus, one that’s transmitted on contact with people who already have it. Grandpa Gus loved music. He noticed Keith liked singing.
  • Create a space for private contact with a vast, magical world. The guitar was totally out of reach. It was something you looked at, thought about, but never got your hands on.
  • Give time for the ideas to grow. And I just kept looking at it, and he didn’t say anything, and a few years later I was still looking at it.
  • Know that it’s never about today, but rather about creating a vision of the future self. “When you get tall enough you can have a go at it.”

For parents and teachers, Gus provides a useful model. Because Gus didn’t hover. He didn’t push. He didn’t even try to teach, beyond some rudimentary chords. But he did something far more intelligent and powerful. He understood what makes kids care. He carefully put the elements in place, sent a few pointed signals at the right time, and let the forces of nature take their course.

Smart man, that Gus.

And I can’t help but wonder: are there other Gus stories out there that might be instructive? How do we take the Gus Method and apply it to schools, or sports, or math?

How Athletes Rock Their Abs!

Crunch’s are an over rated exercise that may be in fact be damaging your lumbar spine. Conversely ab wheel roll-outs are outstanding for both developing high performance athletic strength and a rocked-up look. The ‘standing’ technique shown in the video is advanced, so if this exercise is new to you, begin on your knees. The fact that this athlete is performing from a standing position and wearing a 80 pound weighted vest demonstrates an elite level of core strength. PK

The Seagull And Peak Physical Performance

“It’s not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters” ~Paul “Bear” Bryant

The seagull, that winged creature ubiquitous to those who have ever spent any time near the coastline, may offer insight into the connection between exercise, longevity and physical performance. For some time veterinary scientists have been interested in the life expectancy of this creature, yet most who tagged young specimens died (of age related diseases) before they were able to complete their experiments. Research observations of the seagull have determined that not only does it have a very long life expectancy (estimates range to 120 years) but also that they virtually never get sick, nor suffer a diminution of physical performance—ever. They live lives of chronic physical exertion in that they need to find and kill living prey every day for sustenance. Finally, after a century’s worth of high speed plunges into frigid ocean swells, the seagull simply takes a final plunge, leaving us humans with perhaps some insight into the connection of a strenuously physical lifestyle and longevity.


As the years press forward with the unyielding rhythm of a steam-powered locomotive, so do the changes to our physical selves. The ravages of gravity compress our skeletal system with forces mighty enough to weaken our bones and hunch us forward. Our bodies age internally beginning at the cellular level with a type of “corrosion” occurring within our cells that are the telltale indicator of the ageing process. The best available medical research, speculates that “anti-oxidants” are the answer to preserving cellular function and slowing the aging process. But this is a field of study that is still in its infancy. A cursory observation of human physical performance (professional athletics as a most convenient study) provides insight into when it is that we humans are at our physical peak. The answer, by and large is between 22 and 32. That will come as little surprise to anyone but it may present a sobering moment for those (myself included) that are chronologically, hence statistically past our peak, yet want to achieve or maintain peak physical performance.


Thus far I have provided a brief discourse on the seagull, and identified a universal concern in reduced human physical heath and performance as we age. The seagull is really a living metaphor for living a fully engaged physical life—really, a lifestyle. Over the course of many years, I have evaluated hundreds of regular folks who simply wanted to look and feel better. Usually as a last resort, or upon the advice of a physician do they finally enlist a strength and conditioning/fitness professional for advisement. With few exceptions, I identify grossly de-conditioned individuals, who are deficient in areas of strength, flexibility, power, coordination, mobility, balance and cardiovascular endurance. Additionally they carrying too much fat on their bodies both unsightly adipose (under the skin) and deadly visceral (trapped in the gut around internal organs). These are fine, upstanding citizens who, wouldn’t dream of going very long without servicing their car, getting their teeth cleaned, or checking their bank statement yet they do little or nothing about maintaining their greatest possession (with all due respect to the brain)—their own physical bodies! This by the way is a phenomena unique to modern western civilization, and it is in my estimation an indicator of an increasingly emotionally and spiritually sick society. More on that subject another day…


With the people that I evaluate, I first advise that they begin the vital habit of exercise by engaging in some form of earnest, reasonably challenging muscular-skeleton movement—every day. Important to note “everyday”. Their will be days were you absolutely, positively can not workout, that day and only that day is your day off. Ten or so a year—that’s right, a year, is all the rest you need. Did our frontiersmen ancestors who settled in the West and expanded our great nation (before electricity) get a day off–ever? The physical health effects of a day without exercise could fairly be compared with the effects a day without brushing your teeth might have on your oral health. Miss a day—not a problem. Disregard the practice altogether—big problem. Think how different, dreadful your life would be, with reduced appearance and function of your teeth and gums? Yep…regardless of one’s current level of fitness, the solution lies with the commitment to daily exercise. For those in the basement level of physical condition, walking, is the place to start but it must be understood that for the great majority, resistance training (barbells, dumbbells etc.) must be incorporated into a comprehensive program. For the majority of the population, strength training should be the centerpiece of a fitness program—especially for woman who are at a genetic/hormonal disadvantage when it comes to acquiring metabolism boosting, skeletal strengthening muscle tissue. Incidentally, the hormonal differential between men and woman shrinks over time as men produce less testosterone (ever notice how de-conditioned old men start looking like old women…?) Although the type of physical activity that one engages in will play a dramatic role in the specifics and magnitude of physical changes one may potentially obtain, the most important consideration is intense muscular-skeleton movement. Simply put-just move it! Whether it is sprinting, dumbbell training, martial arts, “boot camp” drills, or circuit training, make a commitment to do it with as much intensity as you can safely muster with a commitment to progressing your level of proficiency. The strength-training component of a comprehensive fitness program requires guidance, structure and knowledge. This is the domain of the qualified, experienced and accredited strength coach or personal trainer. An investment in training sessions is truly an investment in oneself and will likely pay for itself in reduced medical bills down the road. Remember, physical exercise is and must be a chronic behavior, no different than brushing your teeth.  The fact is we Homo sapiens, are designed to engage in physically exerting activity, every single day—just like the seagull. Imagine living a physically active life—120 years in duration. Believe in the possibility. Believe in daily exercise.


Funky Groove Friday

Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American soulrhythm and blues, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly. From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music.[1][2] He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitarbasspianosaxophone, and drums.


Study Put’s Focus On Total Calories

This study is small (n=1) yet relevant as it shines the fat loss spotlight back on counting calories. PK

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds

By Madison Park, CNN
November 8, 2010 8:40 a.m. EST
  • Nutrition professor’s “convenience store diet” helped him shed 27 pounds
  • Haub limited himself to 1,800 calories and two-thirds come from junk food
  • Haub said it’s too early to draw any conclusions about diet

(CNN) — Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most — not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his “convenience store diet,” he shed 27 pounds in two months.

For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub’s pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.

His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds.

But you might expect other indicators of health would have suffered. Not so.

Haub’s “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his “good” cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.

“That’s where the head scratching comes,” Haub said. “What does that mean? Does that mean I’m healthier? Or does it mean how we define health from a biology standpoint, that we’re missing something?”

Haub’s sample day

Espresso, Double: 6 calories; 0 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Centrum Advanced Formula From A To Zinc: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Little Debbie Star Crunch: 150 calories; 6 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Doritos Cool Ranch: 75 calories; 4 grams of fat

Kellogg’s Corn Pops: 220 calories; 0 grams of fat

whole milk: 150 calories; 8 grams of fat

baby carrots: 18 calories; 0 grams of fat

Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Chewy Fudge: 270 calories; 14 grams of fat

Little Debbie Zebra Cake: 160 calories; 8 grams of fat

Muscle Milk Protein Shake: 240 calories; 9 grams of fat 

Totals: 1,589 calories and 59 grams of fat

Despite his temporary success, Haub does not recommend replicating his snack-centric diet.

“I’m not geared to say this is a good thing to do,” he said. “I’m stuck in the middle. I guess that’s the frustrating part. I can’t give a concrete answer. There’s not enough information to do that.”

Two-thirds of his total intake came from junk food. He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks.

Families who live in food deserts have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so they often rely on the kind of food Haub was eating.

“These foods are consumed by lots of people,” he said. “It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it’s unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic.”

Haub’s body fat dropped from 33.4 to 24.9 percent. This posed the question: What matters more for weight loss, the quantity or quality of calories?

His success is probably a result of caloric reduction, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian based in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It’s a great reminder for weight loss that calories count,” she said. “Is that the bottom line to being healthy? That’s another story.”

Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said she’s not surprised to hear Haub’s health markers improved even when he loaded up on processed snack cakes.

Being overweight is the central problem that leads to complications like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, she said.

How well are you managing your diabetes?

“When you lose weight, regardless of how you’re doing it — even if it’s with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has improved,” she said.

Before jumping on the Ding Dong bandwagon, Blatner warned of health concerns.

“There are things we can’t measure,” said Blatner, questioning how the lack of fruits and vegetables could affect long-term health. “How much does that affect the risk for cancer? We can’t measure how diet changes affect our health.”

I was eating healthier, but I wasn’t healthy. I was eating too much.
–Professor Mark Haub
The ultimate Twinkie diet

On August 25, Haub, 41, started his cake diet focusing on portion control.

“I’m eating to the point of need and pushing the plate or wrapper away,” he said.

He intended the trial to last a month as a teaching tool for his class. As he lost weight, Haub continued the diet until he reached a normal body mass index.

Before his Twinkie diet, he tried to eat a healthy diet that included whole grains, dietary fiber, berries and bananas, vegetables and occasional treats like pizza.

“There seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy,” Haub said. “It may not be the same. I was eating healthier, but I wasn’t healthy. I was eating too much.”

He maintained the same level of moderate physical activity as before going on the diet. (Haub does not have any ties to the snack cake companies.)

To avoid setting a bad example for his kids, Haub ate vegetables in front of his family. Away from the dinner table, he usually unwrapped his meals.

Study: U.S. obesity rate will hit 42 percent

Haub monitored his body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, and updated his progress on his Facebook page,Professor Haub’s diet experiment.

To curb calories, he avoided meat, whole grains and fruits. Once he started adding meat into the diet four weeks ago, his cholesterol level increased.

Haub plans to add about 300 calories to his daily intake now that he’s done with the diet. But he’s not ditching snack cakes altogether. Despite his weight loss, Haub feels ambivalence.

“I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it’s healthy. I’m not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it’s irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.”


Nutrition Tip To Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder


Frances O’Neil, R.D., M.S.W., C.D.E.

Although many people enjoy the extra hour of sleep gained recently, for some it signals the start of winter time blues. Many people have difficulty with the shorter days  and longer nights and may experience depression, additional stress, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, difficulty concentrating, etc. There are many things we can do to minimize the effects of diminished daylight or making the most of the daylight we have: taking a short break/walk outside or at a window after the sun is up if work starts early, getting out for lunch opening the curtains or shades while the sun is out are a few.Certain foods can help as well by affecting the body’s serotonin level. Apricots contain the amino acid tryptophan which gradually raises the serotonin levels and keeps them elevated. Other fruits which may help include apples, plums, pears grapefruits and oranges.
For more simple changes or household remedies that may help with SAD, Click Here