Putting a Price on Health part 2

Is it really worth it to spend money too be in better health? Let’s face it nothing in this world is free and gym memberships can be expensive. What about personal training, who can really afford that? Don’t even get me started about shopping at Whole Paycheck…I mean Whole Foods, grass-fed beef is how much? You “health nuts” are all crazy! Can’t you see it’s all a big scam, I mean working out is so 1980s. We are in the technology age, I don’t need muscles, machines do all the heavy lifting anyway. Who cares if I get sick, I got my flu shot, and if it gets really bad I am sure my doctor will prescribe me something stronger. Yeah, you can keep your gym memberships and your hippy food, I am going to take my chances, plus between my new car payment, boat payment, Xbox 360 online subscription, cable subscription, weekly happy hour, and weekend shopping sprees I really can’t afford it, plus who has time for that stuff anyway, it is so boring!

You Workout? You Eat Healthy? Sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me!

You workout and eat healthy? Why don’t your take your Communist ass back to Canada, Hippie!

Has anyone said something similar to you? I know I hear it all the time. Well if you know anything about me you know where I stand on the question, “is spending money towards health a good investment”? My answer, absolutely! I believe spending money towards your health is the best investment you will ever make. I also believe that not purchasing a gym membership will not only hurt your waist line it will also significantly hurt your lifetime earning potential. Don’t get it twisted, I am not some blind faith believer either, I have witness this investment payoff  time and time again. In fact, a month after I wrote part 1, like the plot of a Disney movie, I had a client lose a total 30-inches off her body in just 10-weeks, she gained a ton of confidence, had a lot more energy, increased her productivity and as a result landed a new job and a $20,000 per year pay raise!  So their is no better investment than your own health but just like there can be no good without evil, failing to take care of yourself will cost you dearly. Oh do I have a story for you…

Jessica (my wife) is currently an Officer in the US Navy. The Navy, like all branches of the military has certain fitness and health standards for which all Sailors must meet. Two times a year, Sailors are required to take a Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) and failure to pass this assessment four times can result in one being discharged from service. Well sadly, that’s exactly what happened to one of Jessica’s fellow shipmates. This Naval Officer was kicked out of the Navy after 17-years of service for failing to reach the bare minimum requirement on this assessment. Yes, you read that right, this Sailor, my wife’s former co-worker, was kicked out of the Navy, because he refused to invest in his health!  All I can say is, wow! Think that’s bad, well hold on because it’s about to get real!

Um...you are not even meeting the bare minimum.

Um…you are not even meeting the bare minimum.

For anyone that knows anything about military service, the key number is 20, at 20-years of service you are eligible to retire with all the benefits the military has to offer, and 50% of your base pay (that’s the minimum), and free health care coverage for the rest of your life! What do you get for serving 17-years? Nothing! That’s right Jessica’s former shipmate will not receive any base pay or health care coverage and all because he was “too busy” (or insert any other excuse he said here _______) to work out!

So what’s the price tag for giving-up? How much does it cost to get kicked out of the Navy 3-years shy of retirement? Well based on this mans rank, 0-3 with prior service, we are talking about him losing a minimum $40,000 dollars a year for the rest of his life (Military retirement benefit)! Not to mention the cost of now having to buy health insurance for his entire family. You would think that $40,000 per year plus family health care coverage would be enough motivation to eat right and workout consistently or at least workout hard enough to pass the PFA.

This is what happens when you give up!

This is what happens once you give up on yourself!

It is worth noting that just about every single military base has a gym, if fact most bases have really nice gyms, hell  more then a gym, most bases have complete fitness facilities with state of the art equipment, exercise classes, swimming pools, you name it they got it. What about when he was out to sea? Well there are gyms on most Naval Ships too and most even have Physical Fitness Leaders who’s job is to help Sailors get in shape. So it is safe to assume that not having access to a gym is not a valid excuse. Jessica has certainly figured it out. She has been in 9 years and made four deployments and she is in shape.

If it is important to you, you will find a way!

If it is important to you, you will find a way!

It is also worth noting that this Sailor was not a victim of some hardcore zero tolerance policy either, he had many chances to meet these fitness standards. Did you know that you can fail at least 3-times in a 4-year period before you get kicked out? That means you only have to pass 62% of the time (that’s less than average, people!). Did you also know that this Sailor, just like all navy personnel was given 3-hrs a week for Physical Training (every week) as part of his normal job duties? Unless you are in the Military there is a good chance you don’t know that all Sailors are given at least 10-weeks of notice before their PFA is conducted? How is it possible to fail a test given all this opportunity, especially when the stakes or so high?


Also I forgot to mention that if you do fail your PFA the Navy will enroll you into a Fitness Enhancement Program (FEP) which not only gives nutritional advice it requires sailors to have their physical training signed off by a fitness leader or trainer. I know that because that was one of my first fitness jobs,  I was a Civilian Fitness Trainer for the Air Force. In addition to other Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, civilians, I would have FIP (Air Force’s version of the FEP)  participants attend my spin classes and bootcamps. At the end of class they would run up to me and ask me sign their piece of paper saying they attended my class. The sad thing is many of these FIP participants would not participate, they would sit on the spin bike, and give me the stink eye for an entire hour, so I would refuse to sign their paper, once word got out and they stopped coming to my classes which eventually lead to me getting fired! That’s right I got fired for trying to help people meet fitness standards…

It's your choice!

It’s your choice!

But I really don’t care why I got fired, I care why people like my wife’s former co-worker choose to sabotage themselves? I am not just talking about the military either, I see people from all walks of life self-sabotage their health. Why do people choose their favorite football team over their own health? Why do people choose video games, sugary snacks, grains, reality shows, fancy coffee, cosmetics and/or stupid “cleanse diets”over their own quality of life? Are people really that afraid to challenge themselves? They must be! Why else would you give-up, especially when they are so close?!

The only person stopping you is yourself

The only person stopping you is yourself

We get one shot at this game (life), in this form, in this body, you get one chance to do something meaningful, to make a difference, to let your voice be heard, you get one chance! So stop wasting time, start taking care of yourself now, start investing in yourself now and don’t be afraid to succeed or fail! Something to think about – if you are not willing to invest in yourself, don’t expect anyone else to invest in you! Remember the healthier you are, the stronger you become, and the better you perform and the better you preform, the more shit gets done and the more shit gets done the better your life is!


What would you think if you met yourself?

Would you believe me if I told you that there is one person who is responsible for nearly all of your happiness, for nearly all of your success and all of your short comings? Sounds crazy, right? Well it’s true, this same person can be your greatest asset and your biggest supporter or this same person can be your worst enemy, it all depends on how well you know them. The more you learn about this person’s strengths, their weakness, and what makes them happy, the more they will support your dreams, and the more they will do everything in their power to ensure your happiness. Because this person has so much influence over the quality of your life you would think that it would be in your best interest to learn everything you possibility could about them, but for some reason, many of you don’t bother getting to know this person very well at all. So who is the mysterious person that holds all this power and influence over you? It is you, it is your true-self. That’s right, if you want to be successful and happy you need to learn everything you possibly can about yourself, you need to discover your passions, you need to discover your purpose and you need to discover your true identity.


The best way to get to know someone is to ask them questions (and listen to the answers) and that’s exactly what you should do, you should be asking yourself questions all the time. So to help you get started on this journey of self exploration let me give you a question that you should be asking yourself on a regular basisIf you met yourself, would you be impressed? How do you stand up to the standards you set for other people. I really want you to think about this question, are you all talk and no action or are you just about that action? Are you striving for continual self-improvement or are you satisfied being in your comfort zone? Would you consider yourself reliable, could you count on yourself when the going got tough, or would you discover that when the pressure is on, you crack, acting no better than all those “flaky” people you can’t stand? How would you stack-up against your own standards? Yes, this is a very in-depth question and finding the answer will be no easy task, hell, there is a very good chance that just the thought of trying to answer this question scares you to death! If it does (scare you) you are definitely not alone, but if you take this question seriously I guarantee you will not only learn a lot about yourself, the knowledge you gain will significantly improve your life!

HLE impressed

When it comes to knowing yourself, ignorance is definitely not bliss, so please don’t let the fear of what you might find stop you from asking yourself this question. However, if you are freaked out, it is most likely for 2 reasons:

  1. Because self-analysis is not really fun especially when there is a good chance you will receive some negative feedback
  2. Because you think that in order to be “impressive” you have to meet some really high and very unrealistic standards

But before I discuss those 2 reasons, we first have to discuss how this question/exercise works. To get the most out of this exercise you have to look deep inside and find your true-self, not the person you pretend to be. Let’s be honest people pretend to be someone they are not all the time, have you ever been to a night club? Every single person in a night club is pretending to be cooler than they really are, they are pretending to be more out going, more fun, and more laid back than they really are. So let’s say you meet someone in a bar, how long does it take before you realize they are not as cool or as fun, or even as successful as they pretended to be, how long before you realize that their night club persona was all an act?


How about another example of people “faking it, till they make it”–the job interview. Based on what I hear at job interviews, the world is full of highly motivated “go getters”, who’s only fault is they work too hard and care too much. But fast forward 3-months to 1-year, once the excitement of the “new” job has worn off, these same employees are showing up late, leaving early, calling in sick, and doing the absolute bare minimum that is required of them. In short, it becomes very apparent that all that “hype” they talked about in the job interview was them pretending to be someone they are not.

Asking yourself this question is important because you soon start to realize that you are not just trying to convince others of how cool you are or how awesome of an employee you will be you are also trying to convince yourself. People come into my gym talking about their fitness goals all the time, then ironically, in the same breath they manage to do a complete 180, and start spouting one excuse after another. When this happens it is not necessarily because they are trying to get out of “buying” something, instead they are actually trying to convince themselves that they don’t have time, or they don’t/can’t (insert favorite excuses here ____), because who they pretend to be and who they really are, is not the same person. They say they want to get in the best shape of their life, but their true-self doesn’t want to put in that much work because it is much easier to make excuses than it is to do the required work. It is easier to play the “victim” role than it is to take responsibility for your actions. Given the choice, what would your true-self choose, the easy way or the right way?

everythign you need hle

You are capable of greatness, but you are also capable of holding yourself back! It is up to you to decide.

So now that we know how to analyze our self and thus hopefully be able to answer the question truthfully, let’s discuss reason #1 why you may not like this exercise. This is a scary question to answer because what you find might be really negative. You might realize that you don’t work as hard as you thought, you might realize that you make a lot of excuses, you might realize that you are highly unreliable, and/or you might even realize that if you met your true-self that you would sadly be unimpressed. But here is the good news, you got feedback. Albeit negative feedback, valuable, how the world operates feedback.

I know. I harp on focusing on the positive and not dwelling on the negative. True- but sometime we need to be truthful with ourselves to make progress- a little tough love if you will. Believe it or not, negative feedback is used in a lot of everyday items, such as our navigation systems, cooling and heating, and even your toilet. The simplest way to think about how negative feedback works is to think about how the thermostat in your house works. You set the temperature to 69 degrees, as long as the temperature in your house is 69 degrees (the goal), no action is need, but if the temperature measures too high or too low (negative feedback) action is taken by either turning your heater off, or turning in on. Because of a negative feedback loop, you house will maintain a constant temperature. Negative feedback is used to keep you on track with the person you want to be, just like your GPS will use negative feedback to get you back on track (if you happen to take a wrong turn) to make sure you arrive at your desired destination. The overall goal is to use negative feedback to keep you on track so that the person you pretend to be and the person you really are, will finally become the same person. That is the definition of impressive. If you say you are a hard worker, work hard!, If you say, you are never late, stop being late. If you say you want to get in shape, work out and eat right on a consistent basis.

hle meme 3

Reason #2 – You standards are too high and unrealistic. Just because you don’t have the perfect body, the perfect job, and the perfect life with the perfect dog, does not mean that you are not impressive. Guess what? Nobody is perfect and we all have our faults and we all have areas that could use improvement. I personally am not impressed with how much money you have, your job title, or what car you drive, the only thing that is impressive in my “book”:  is a great work ethic, being reliable, doing what you say you will do, doing more than the bare minimum that is required of you, and most importantly striving for continual self improvement. Every champion was first a beginner, then they became a contender, and after many years of hard work, and continual self improvement they then finally a became a champion. So don’t worry about being perfect, or being the best, just worry about being better than you were yesterday–now that is impressive!

So you don’t have to be a millionaire or a superstar to be impressive but must discover your own personal “it” factor?  What is “it”? To sound like Justice Potter Stewart, I can’t describe “it”, but I know it when I see it 😉 . Every champion has “it”, every successful business man or women has “it”, and I would bet that anyone that has ever impressed you has “it”. “It” is that drive to never be satisfied, “it” is that passion to never give up, “it” is the ability to take pride in your work, “it” is taking responsibility for your actions, and “it” is doing more than what is asked.  So I highly encourage you to make sometime to answer this question, learn everything you can about yourself, use any of the negative feedback to get you back on track, and discover your own “it” factor. Remember be happy but never satisfied 😉

CINCO Saturday

Have you heard about this crazy thing in Seattle called the CINCO? If your answer happens to be no, once you learn about the CINCO, there is a very good chance you might wonder, “why would anyone do such a thing?

My answer is; why not? Why do people run marathons, do triathlons, do Tough Mudder, enter body building competitions, enter jiu jitsu competitions, and/or do (insert a challenge/competition here) _____? Because we humans love a good challenge, tells us we can’t and we will prove you wrong!  We love a good challenge because it forces us to be uncomfortable, which is a good thing, because as soon as you step outside of your comfort zone, you begin to learn a lot about yourself and the more you learn about yourself, the better your life becomes! So if you are looking for a life changing challenge, look no further than the CINCO challenge!

Oldest CINCO finisher Al Hemmen (69 years young) being "photo bombed"

Oldest CINCO finisher Al Hemmen (69 years young) being “photo bombed”

On February 8, 2014 history was made as 28 people not only took on, but conquered the first ever CINCO challenge! The CINCO challenge is the 6 hour, 5 class (in a row) cardio kickboxing equivalent to a half ironman (70.3) event. All 5 classes were 1-hr long and their was a 15-min break between each class.

5-classes, 1-day, 0-excuses

5-classes, 1-day, 0-excuses

Lets set the record straight now, all the classes for the CINCO were not in anyway, shape or form, “scaled” or “toned down” at all.  Each and every class was conducted at the same pace, and same intensity that one could expect to find at anyone of our regular classes. So completing the CINCO calls for much celebration, you are all warriors, inspirations, and 100% grade A, legit American bad-asses (Merica)!

So be proud of your accomplishment and don’t worry about any hater that will try to belittle your accomplishment. Don’t listen to any doubters that will say, “if you can do 5-classes than you were not going very hard”, because they have never been to our gym. They don’t understand that our members don’t know how to do “easy”, we (the gym) have established a culture of greatness and we are not willing to settle for average. I can honestly say that each and every person that completed the CINCO went as hard as they possibility could given their own circumstances.


The entire event was a compete success, the instructors were in tip top form, and the challengers were ready, willing and well prepared. No one, or at least nobody who is smart would ever dare show up to a half iron without any training, likewise, the CINCO challengers did more than just “show-up”, they not only trained but they trained very smart using a professional style periodization training plan.  These challengers planned, they trained, they prepared and they destroyed the CINCO.

Starting off strong!

Starting off strong!

It is also worth noting that these 28 CINCO destroyers are not professional athletes, they are not ex-professional athletes, or even former college level athletes (at least not all of them), these CINCO destroyers are everyday people with families and jobs, they come from all walks of life, they all have different fitness backgrounds and even fitness starting points, but they all took the challenge very seriously and gave it their all!

Easy is not an option!

Johnny Pate refusing to give up! (Merica)

Big thanks to all those helped me push through today. Incredible support, and even some laughs, enjoyed the heck out of it! Big props to all the fellow Cinco Saturday members and instructors, way to bring the passion!!! – Johnny Pate CINCO destroyer

I am very proud and even more impressed with the dedication, willpower, and work ethic that was on display on the 8th of Feburary 2014. If you finished, BE PROUD! And if you have yet to do one, BE INSPIRED, because their is nothing more beautiful then seeing someone create a goal, train for that goal, and then accomplish that goal!

Is Second Place Really the First Loser?

They tell you in order to succeed you need to surround yourself with people that will push you, challenge you, inspire you, and who want nothing but the absolute best for you. So that is what exactly what I am doing, surrounding myself with the best of the best, and I am starting with my wife. She may not know it, but she is a big source of my inspiration. Why? Because she really is a badass–she is smart, she is strong, she is highly motivated, and most importantly she is willing to go all out, and give 100% effort.


Jessica (my wife) looks amazing, she has always been beautiful, but over the last few months she has taken both her fitness and diet to the next level and as a results looks the best she ever has. She has become very strong, lean, has developed an ab or six and as a result, inspired me to go to that “next level”. Because of her recent success, I have been inspired to work harder, push harder, and become a better person. So I thank you for being awesome and inspirational.

Got me some abs

Got me some abs

Anyway, the other day, Jessica was talking to a member who was asking (Jessica) how she got her brand new six pack and great body. At first Jessica said a bunch of the usual “trainer speak” such as eating right, working out consistently, etc, but then she said something that I thought was amazing. She said,

“Oh, and I go as hard as I possibly can during each and every class I take”. — Jessica Renon

That statement said it all. Look it is no secret, showing up is great and all, but that may only get you a C or a D but if you want that A, if you want to be successful at whatever it is that you do, you have to do a lot more than just show-up, you have to give 100% of yourself, you have to be willing to work as hard as you possibility can! To get that “A” in life you have to consistently work as hard as you can every time you show up to the “classroom”!

But what does it actually mean to give 100% effort? It means giving everything you got towards a specific task, given the current circumstances.

Push yourself

But, you say, “I will be running a marathon this summer, surely, I can’t sprint the entire race, I will have to pace myself”.  Yes and no. Remember pace is dictated by circumstances, the world record for the 100-meter dash held by Usain Bolt of Jamica is 9.58 seconds and the world record for a marathon held by Wilson Kipsang of Kenya is 2:03:23. If Usain could maintain his record setting 100-meter pace for an entire marathon, he would finish in 1:07:37, nearly an entire hour quicker than the current world record. However, this is not possible, their are many different circumstances one of them being the marathon is 422 times longer than the 100-meter dash. But given the factors of each situation, each man ran the event as fast as possible.

Oh my gosh, I can fly?

I can fly! I can fly really fast!

So does that mean if you don’t win, you didn’t give 100%? No, it is possible for you to give 100% effort and not be the best in the world. When I raced triathlons, I never once was the overall race winner but that was based on many factors such as, intensity of training, volume of training, sport experience and even race experience. But given those factors and my own personal circumstances I was still able to show up, race, and give 100% of myself to that race. The objective of any race or challenge is to see how fast you finish or how well you can perform. Just because you weren’t the best at that specific challenge doesn’t mean you didn’t “win”, it doesn’t mean you didn’t give it your all, is doesn’t mean that you didn’t have a PR race (personal record). If you push yourself as hard as possible given the circumstances you conquered the event, you won your challenge. The purpose of any challenge is to not necessarily win or be the best but to make sure you continue to improve, so you can start to become the best version of yourself!

Only those who risk going too far can possibility find out how far one can go — T.S. Eliot

Just like Jessica challenged/inspired me to work harder, I am challenging you to challenge yourself, I challenging you to show up to each and every work out and go as hard as you possibility can, who knows, this work ethic might even spread to the rest of your life 😉 . Remember the sprinter runs his race, the marathoner run his race, just as the entrepreneur runs his “race”, you need to run your own race and go as hard as you possibility can!

Your biggest, baddest, opponent.

Your biggest, baddest, opponent.