26 Lessons from 26 Years

birthday dogs

Today I turn 26 years old. My girlfriend and I had an interesting conversation yesterday when she asked me if, when I was younger, I had any idea what I wanted to do by the time I was 26. Well, I loved dinosaurs when I was a toddler, so I wanted to be a paleontologist like Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park. In my teens, I started playing guitar and wanted to be James Hetfield from Metallica. In my early 20s, I fell in love with lifting and knew I wanted to be a strength coach. I still haven’t given up on dinosaurs or heavy metal, but I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons about lifting and life during my journey toward becoming a fitness professional.

So here we go – 26 off-the-cuff life lessons:

  • Taking a couple extra deep breaths a day can solve a lot of problems.
  • When learning a new exercise, sets of 5-8 reps are the sweet spot for 99 percent of all people.
  • I’ll take logic and faith together over science alone any day.
  • Rational thinking can be just as dangerous as radical thinking.
  • The stronger you get, the more you appreciate quality equipment (bars, racks, etc.). Which makes it even stranger that commercial gyms always have bright, shiny equipment.
  • With no added weight, widening someone’s squat stance will usually help them squat lower. With a bar on their back, it’s usually the opposite – feet closer to squat lower.
  • Nobody cares how busy you are.
  • For long term success, focus more on the process and less on the result.supple leopard IMG_2732
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that your practical experience doesn’t count as education.
  • Getting stronger should never drop below second or third on your fitness priority list, regardless of your goal.
  • Stop chasing “perfect” and start chasing “optimal”.
  • There’s no excuse for not learning how to cook.
  • Spend less time planning and more time doing.
  • Believe it or not, there are more lifting programs out there than Starting Strength, 5/3/1 and the Cube.
  • The day you stop competing is the day you start dying.
  • The mind will fail before the body. Train the mind just like any other weak body part.
  • The fastest way to make someone like you is to ask them (with genuine interest) about themselves.
  • The fastest way to make some not like you is to talk about yourself all the time.
  • All the effort you put into exercise, nutrition and recovery has to be for YOU first and foremost. Not for your spouse, not to get girls – just for YOU.
  • You need supplements more than you think, but probably not the ones you’re taking.
  • I don’t care what science says about organic vs. non-organic food, and neither should you. Do what you believe is right.
  • You can tell a lot about a person by how they feel about dogs.

tony and eddie 2

  • Here’s a good happiness test: The next time someone asks you “What do you do?”, answer as if they asked, “Who are you?” Strive to be happy with the honest answer.
  • You’ll never regret waking up too early.
  • You’re only as old as you feel 🙂

Time for cake – gotta bulk up so I can squat 315×27 next year.

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