If you could live this day a second time…

By: Ben S. Fogel

If you were living today a second time, what would you do differently?

This was a question I was reminded about recently when working on some continuing education and reading Donald Miller’s “Business Made Simple” book.  He was referencing Viktor E. Frankl’s landmark book “Man’s Search For Meaning” and using this question above as a daily question to reflect on – which is part of the power of what Frankl coined as “Logotherapy.”  

Logotherapy is a school of psychology and a philosophy based on the idea that we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely (i.e. meaningfully) to life’s challenges.  Frankl used this reflective question in many ways, mainly to help people become fully aware of their own “responsibleness”  and here is a quote from the book:

“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!” 

He goes on to say, “It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man’s sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended.  Such a precept confronts him with life’s finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both his life and himself.”  

If you can, read that quote above again.  Let it sink in.  This simple, yet effective exercise can allow you to literally jump from the present to the past (in your own mind) and have the power to change the past by the conscious thoughts and awareness you bring into your life to each day.  Donald Miller uses this question every morning as a journaling exercise, and I started to use it over the past 30 days with some pretty amazing success and that is why I wanted to share it with you! 

So, let’s think about this.  If you were able to start your day in a position of reflection – actual reflection of the past that has not occurred yet – and then had the opportunity to “course correct” anything that you could already foresee occurring in that day ahead, wouldn’t you find that a pretty powerful exercise to do?  To literally jump into your subconscious mind and give it powerful instructions for how you will live your life differently today based on being your “best self.”  

This one exercise could literally be a game-changer for all of us!  It has already been for me, and I want to share an example from my own life below.  

Question: If I were living today a second time, what would I do differently?  

  • I would be more present with my family

  • I would stay focused on every task at hand, and be free of distractions

  • I would listen more deeply and reflect back more to the people I have conversations with

By merely writing the very first thing that comes to my mind, my subconscious kicks in and says “don’t make that mistake again, Ben. Be more present when you are helping your son get dressed in the morning.  Smile and hug and kiss him.  Let him know you love him, and you are so happy for this time with him.”  And that is what happens.  

I feel more connected to my kids and wife than ever, because that first thing I wrote down is something I have written down every morning for this exercise over the last 30 days, and I have felt a difference in my relationships with them.  

By making a promise to myself that I will “stay focused and distraction free”, I disrupted the past I created in my mind and made myself a promise that my future will look differently than what is had in past months being overwhelmed with distractions that seemed to be everywhere.  Over the past 30 days, I have been more productive because I tricked my subconscious to go back into the past and not make those mistakes.  The mistakes of endlessly scrolling on social media, or habitually checking my email 8 times a day.  I have given myself a new “standard” to live by just by writing down how I will live differently every morning.  

You get the idea. I love this quote:

“We cannot live in the past; it is gone.  Nor can we live in the future; it is forever beyond our grasp.  We can only live in the present.  If we are unaware of our present actions, we are condemned to repeating the mistakes of the past and can never succeed in attaining our dreams for the future.” 
– S.N Goenka

Living in the present is the only way we can live.  But also living in the present and being able to reflect on your day before it even starts, and how you could live it a second time even better will help you be even more fully “present.” That is what makes the difference.  

Give this exercise a try, and let me know how it goes!  

Come join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we can help guide you with creating your “perfect day” and help you gain more confidence in yourself in the next 21 days than you ever have in the past!  You can get all sorts of BONUSES for signing up by Monday, April 5th!  Check it out here:

 



Harnessing the Habit of Awareness

Harnessing the “Habit of Awareness”

What’s up, Rockstars! Ben here sharing a question that we got from one of our members in the first week of our New Year New You Challenge. Here was the question:
 
“What percentage of my diet should be protein, carbs and fat to lose fat and to gain muscle?”
 
This was a great question, and one we wanted to break down a little bit.
 

 
Instead of being hyperfocused on the macronutrients – grams of protein, carbs and fat – or even the amount of calories coming from those foods – we challenge our members to becoming more “aware” of what they are eating by merely tracking it daily in a journal or on a tracking app.
 
We call this “The Habit of Awareness.” This habit is a simple one, but not always easy to start. What we recommend is to start with one meal a day. You could even start with the time of day where you feel like you don’t have the most consistency or structure, and then by using the habit of writing down what you are eating, it will gently nudge you into having a little more structure in your day. Then, it will push you into the direction of being more aware of what you are eating during that time of day.
 
Come join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we will help you harness the habit of awareness, and gain more strength in the next 21 days than you ever have in the past!
 

3 Tips for a pain free Deadlift

3 Tips for a pain free Deadlift!

What’s up Epic Rockstars, Ben here. Today I wanted to go through 3 very simple and quick tips you can use right away to perfect your deadlift.
 

 
**TIP #1** Elevate your toes. By simply elevating your toes 1-2″, it forces you to automatically shift your weight back more, and allows you to maximally bend your hips and minimally bend your knees (the exact pattern of a hinge or a deadlift!).
 
**TIP #2** Use a dowel to ensure your back is not flexing (lower back or upper back) – Placing a dowel on your back will give you some great feedback as to whether you are keeping a nice, neutral spine during your deadlift pattern, or if you are indeed flexing your back. It will give you instant feedback, and is a great drill to use.
 
**TIP #3** Front Loaded Deadlifts. By grabbing a backpack, sandbag, or anything you can hug and squeeze, it teaches you to keep great posture during your deadlifts and to get your core muscles to actively stabilize your back and the rest of your body.
 
Give these 3 tips a try, and let us know how it goes!
 
Also, come join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we will help you deadlift pain free, and get stronger in the next 21 days than you ever have been in the past!
 

Making Front Planks Harder!

How to make your Front Plank “Harder!” 

What’s up! Ben here with 3 easy cues you can use today to make your planks turn into what we call “Hardstyle” front planks!

1. Squeeze your heels together – Narrowing your base of suppurt and actually focusing on “squeezing” inwards with your heels will promote more muscle activation, and make your planks a little more active

2. Squeeze your knees together – By squeezing your knees together, you are doing a lot of similar things as squeezing your heels together. You are also putting your pelvis and lower back in a great “tucked” position. We don’t want your back excessively arched or extented, and this one cue will help promote more of a neutral spine.

3. Pull your elbows towards your ribcage – This ONE cue is a gamechanger! It invites your upper body to the plank, and also invites more muscles to activate and “join the party!” Your whole body should actually move forward – if your head was 2-3″ away from a wall, then your head would bump into that wall when you performed this cue and when you pull yourself forward.

** A quick disclaimer – since we are now making your plank more challenging, the goal here is to hold these “hardstyle front planks” for a shorter period of time. Start with a goal of 3 holds for up to 10 seconds. That is one set. Try for 2-3 sets like that!

Would you like to have a coach and a team of experts write you a customized training plan, so you don’t have to do all of the guesswork anymore?  Good news!  We are only accepting 3 more people for our 21 Day Challenge!  Click the link below to learn more, sign up and save over 40% for a limited time!  

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Don’t Set Goals. Raise Your Standards

Don’t set goals.  Raise your standards

I was listening to a podcast recently with Ed Mylett where he talked about not always focusing on merely setting goals, but to raise the level of your standards.  Put in other words, the point he was making was if you want to raise your success levels in your life you need to raise your standards.  He went on to argue that the only thing that separates a successful person from a non-successful person is their standards.  

Think about that for a moment.  I had to hit pause on the podcast right there and realize a few things:

  1. In order to become the person I wanted to become, my standards needed to change.  
  2. My ultimate goal then is to have my identity (who I want to become) match up with my standards.  
  3. Ultimately, this might be something I chase for the rest of my life. As I catch up to a standard I will set a new one to chase. Then rinse and repeat…

Matthew McConoughey said it best in his 2014 Oscar winning speech:

“My hero, that is who I want to chase.  My hero is me in 10 years, and my hero is always 10 years away.  I am never going to be able to attain that, and that’s fine with me because he keeps me with something to keep on chasing.”  

You see, standards are meant to be chased, attained, and chased again.  I believe what McConoughey said that we are never going to reach or attain the “ultimate goal” of (fill in the blank) because in life, there is really never a finish line – there is no ceiling in our lives.  We should all look to raise our standards first, then set goals based on the new standards we are living in our lives.  

So, don’t merely set goals – set and raise your standards first

Answering the question “Who do I want to become in 10 years?” will help you start the process of setting some new standards in your life.  

I will start with an often used example in the gym with a client:

  • Clients goal:  “I want to lose 20 pounds to feel better and be able to play with my grandkids for the next 10 years.”
  • Clients standard:  “I will become a person who works out and moves intentionally every day.” 

Based on this new standard that is brought into their life of the “person they want to become” they are then able to define a new goal that will raise them up to that standard of living.  

  • New Goal: “I will workout and/or move intentionally 300 times this year.”

Now what happens to this person in a year?  Will they lose the 20 pounds?  If they raised their standard to move intentionally and workout almost every day over the course of a year, and track those 300 days, I would place a bet that the person they want to become (their identity) has shifted because of a new standard they set on themselves.

The ultimate goal is to have your identity of who you want to become match up as close as you can with your standard.  In using the same example from above, this person also wants to have the identity of a person who does not reach for the chocolate or sugary snack.  So, their standard now may be to drink a lot more water and eat foods that will be nutritious and help them reach their goal of 300 days of moving.  

I will give one more example in my own personal life.  About a month ago, my youngest son was asking me a question at the kitchen table, and I was so preoccupied with my phone that I completely missed his question.  He then asked me (as a curious 7 year old should), “Papa, what is so important on your phone that you are always on it?”  

Wow, now if that wasn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is.  This was my wake up call to change my standard for when I am home with my kids and setting standards with my phone around them.  Here is the new standard I have implemented since then:

My kids will not see me on my phone, ever.    

I know, a pretty high standard.  But here’s the deal.  My identity of who I want to become, the father I want to become is much too important – even more important than that phone.  I never want either of my boys to take second place to a phone, or my preoccupations with it.  A couple things I have already implemented for this to happen is:

  • I lock my phone in my vehicle when I get home – out of sight, out of mind. 
  • I turn my phone off in the morning when I am at home.

These two action steps have made the past few weeks so much better for me, and I know that some of the quality time I have had I would not have had with my kids if I didn’t set a new standard.  

Takeaway

Ready to set standards in your life?  Here are 3 steps to start:

  1. See an area in your life you recognize that you want to make better and want to improve
  2. What is the standard that you will need to improve/set in your life that will align with that person you want to become?
  3. Answer the question “What would stop me from (insert new standard)?“

Step number three is probably the most crucial step.  Take the time to write out all the things that will get in your way from achieving your new standard.  For the person that is going to ultimately lose 20 pounds by becoming a person that works out more, willpower will be the hardest.  They may say, “this morning’s drive to the gym will be 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back, then I have to shower, I might hit a red light…”  So, having an action plan ahead of time could help this person overcome this willpower issue.  

Having their workout clothes set out next to the bed, setting the coffee the night before, their gym bag ready – all of these things could help overcome the time objection that they place in their minds.  

Things that would get in the way of me reaching my new standard of my kids never seeing me on my phone would actually be having my phone on me!  That is why I hold it hostage when I get home and lock it in my car until they are in bed.  That is why I shut it off in the morning (this has also allowed me to get so much more deep work done than any other time in the past, and maybe will be a great topic for another article!).  

Remember, if you want to raise your levels of success, raise your standards.  Also, remember that as you set standards and reach them daily, you can also reflect on what you have been able to accomplish and then set new standards.  The cool thing about this exercise is that your standards will constantly change as you move forward in life.  

Remember that the question to ask yourself is, “Who do I want to become in 10 years?”  Then make sure your standards are set up in a way that you can chase that person 10 years from now. 

You will soon realize that person is your true hero…that person is you. 

Join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we will help you step by step raise your standards in your life to become the best possible version of yourself.  Act quickly, we have only 4 spots left! 
 
 



Should You Overhead Press?

 

Should I Overhead Press?

What’s up, Ben here with a couple quick assessments you can do from the comfort of your home to see if you should be overhead pressing, or if you should maybe start with a different pressing variation first – especially if you have any previous shoulder injuries or issues.

Assessment #1 – Overhead Reach – Keeping a straight, solid line with your body (including a neutral position with your back), reach over your head and draw a “Y” with your arms and thumbs driving back to the wall behind you.

Ideally you can do this with a mirror to your side, or with a person watching you. What you want to watch for is that your low back isn’t extending as you reach overhead. This is a big complensation pattern that can end up hurting your lower back over time. The second thing you want to be able to do here is to hide you ear with your arm and bicep. Doing this shows you have requisite shoulder mobility in flexion of the shoulder.

Assessment #2 – Grab Your Tag!  This second assessment is looking at shoulder flexion AND external rotation of the shoulder, and it is an even easier assessment than the first one.  Find your tag on your shirt, and then grab onto your tag! Yes, that is it! Literally hold onto your tag on the back of your shirt, and ask yourself if you are comfortable reaching into that position.

If you are, you have the requisite shoulder flexion and external rotation to press overhead. If it is really difficult for you to grab that tag (or you wish you had a longer tag!) you may not be ready to overhead press! 

Would you like to have a coach and a team of experts write you a customized training plan, so you don’t have to do all of the guesswork anymore?  Good news!  We are only accepting 3 more people for our 21 Day Challenge!  Click the link below to learn more, sign up and save over 40% for a limited time!  

Learn More about the 30 Day VIP Experience!  

 

Stronger Together – Chris G.

We are so excited to share Epic Fitness Rockstar member, Chris G’s story!  Chris has been a member for almost 5 years, and she is the wonderful example of someone who shows up every day for herself, and knows that her lifestyle and controlling her exercise is the best thing she can do as a cancer survivor.  

Check out her entire story below! 

Are you ready to take your health into your own hands?  We are only accepting 5 more people for our 21 Day Challenge!  Click the link below to learn more, sign up and save over 40% for a limited time!  

Learn More about the 30 Day VIP Experience!  

The Magic Pill is not Magic at all

The “Magic Pill” is not magic at all

  

As we have all dived into a new year, with it has come a ton of marketers that are promising quick results in “half the time” this year. There are so many businesses and companies out there that are spending millions and millions of dollars to buy your eyes and attention so you will purchase that next “quick fix” – the next “magic pill” that promises to get you to your health or wellness goals.
 
 
It almost sounds too good to be true… because it is.

The more money they spend on advertising the next pill, potion, supplement, or shot, the more money they make – AND the more people they lead down a path that is not sustainable.  After spending over 15 years in the health and fitness industry, and working with thousands of clients, I can confidently say there is NO magic pill.  There is no quick fix that will target that “stubborn belly fat” or that will magically improve your strength, endurance, sleep, or “fill-in-the-blank”.  What all of these amazing marketers are not telling you is that the real magic pill is having consistency over time and the discipline to stay the course.  

Actually, I have an equation for creating sustainable healthy change over the long term:

CONSISTENCY + DISCIPLINE + DESIRE = SUSTAINABLE RESULTS

My advice is this: stop throwing money away at the “next big thing” or some crazy supplement that your co-worker started to take and is telling you about.  Start investing in your daily healthy habits that will build consistency over time.  Have the discipline to do those few things every single day. 

Now, I will admit this equation above is simple, but not easy.  How do you start to build consistency?  By building small habits (Check out my article here all about how to make an “implementation intention” and to start to build consistency).  Small habits then start to lead to “routine” and this is really the secret sauce. 

The more unconscious we can make our habits then lead into a daily routine, the more success we will have.  The more habits we can “stack” upon each other, the more likely we will start to “run downhill” as I like to say (Check out the easiest way to “habit stack” here!).

Next in the equation is discipline.  Can you remember a time in your life when you had a specific goal that you were working towards, and you had to get a little uncomfortable to achieve that goal?  Maybe you had a goal to run a marathon and getting up every other morning to run a new distance got you a little uncomfortable, but you built the “discipline muscle” and did it every day because it was going to get you closer to your goal of running a marathon.  

Or maybe you were studying for an important final exam in school, and you knew you had to hit a certain grade to make the grade you wanted in that class.  So, what did you do?  You probably scheduled out time in your day (time you thought previously you didn’t even have) to study and work on the problems you knew were going to be on the test.  And then you succeeded.  

Discipline is a valuable character trait, and when combined with consistency, it can help you become unstoppable in accomplishing any goal you set in front of you.  

Lastly, but definitely not least is desire.  Desire is probably the strongest part of this equation.  If you don’t have a strong “Why” as we call it in the gym – a strong reason for WHY you are actually doing what you are doing, then it will be difficult to follow through with the consistency and discipline to get you there.  

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help lead you to your “Why”:  

  • Why is achieving this goal so important to me?

  • Why now?

  • What would happen in my life if I made this change, and achieved my goal?

  • What would be the consequence in my life if I did nothing, and made no change?

These questions will help you dig deeper, peel the onion and understand just why it is so important for you to make a change in your life.  It is usually because the consequence of staying the same and doing nothing at all is more harmful to you than making the change.  

Build up your “desire” muscle strong enough that even when you do fall off the wagon, you can quickly jump back on. 

So next time you pull out your phone and see some fancy ad for a new fat loss strategy, or a new pill that is guaranteed to melt fat off your body, think back to all of the things that you have control over.  You have control over your consistency (your daily habits), your discipline, and your desire.  Nobody can take those character traits away from you! 

Are you ready to take your health into your own hands?  We are only accepting 5 more people for our 21 Day Challenge!  Click the link below to learn more, sign up and save over 40% for a limited time!  

Learn More about the 30 Day VIP Experience!  

Habit Stacking

 

Habit Stacking

We are creatures of habit, this is true.  What else is true is the fact that we also create multiple “habit stacking” cycles during our days without even realizing it.  You decide what to do next in your day based on what you had just finished doing.  Here are a couple examples:

  • Going to the bathroom leads you to wash your hands
  • Washing your face at night leads you to brush your teeth, which leads you to flossing (hopefully!)

These are important habits that we all do every day.  It is also important to note that no behavior above happens in isolation.  Each action becomes a cue that triggers the next behavior.  This is the “secret sauce” behind habit stacking.  Using this connectedness of each behavior, it allows you to take advantage of what you already do and “stack” a new behavior on top of your current ones to help make them stick!  

The BEST way to do this is to identify a current habit you already do every day and then stack your new behavior on top.  This is what B.J. Fogg, author of “Tiny Habits” calls the “Tiny Habits recipe” which is essentially habit stacking.  

Habit stacking is a very special form of implementation intention (what we went over in part one of this blog, FOUND HERE!).  Instead of pairing your new habit with a time and location, you pair it with a current habit you already do every day.  

The habit stacking formula is: 

After [current habit] I will [new habit]

Here are a few examples:

  • Meditation – After I set my coffee to brew in the morning, I will meditate for one minute.
  • Exercise – After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes. 
  • Gratitude – After I sit down to dinner, I will share with my family one thing that I am grateful for that happened today in my life.

The real key here is to make sure you are attaching your new habit/behavior onto something you are already doing each day.  Once you get good at stacking one new behavior onto a current behavior, you can start to string together many small habits.  This may lead to a morning routine that looks like this: 

  1. After I set my coffee to brew in the morning, I will meditate for one minute. Then…
  2. After I meditate for one minute, I will write my to-do list for the day. Then…
  3. After I write my to-do list for the day, I will immediately begin my first and most important project for the day. 

See how stacking habits on top of what you already do (setting your coffee to brew) can actually turn into a positive new routines?!  

The best way to use this strategy is to select the right cue to kick things off in the right direction.  What is great about habit stacking is that it already has the time and location of the habit built in!  But when and where you choose to add a new behavior can make a big difference.  Let’s say, for the example above, that you add that you want to add meditation to your morning routine – but your kids are up then and your mornings can be chaotic – this would not be the best time to add this new habit.  

Don’t set yourself up for failure by asking yourself to add a new behavior when you are already occupied with something else during that time.  

Final Thoughts

The best way to figure out how to add a new behavior onto a current habit is to take note of all the things you do automatically and without fail.  Brainstorm all of these things and make a list.  Then from there, you can figure out the best place to layer in your new behavior.  

For example, if you know you brush your teeth twice a day without fail and you also want to journal in the morning and at night, you could habit stack that “after I brush my teeth, I will write one thing I am grateful for in my journal.”  

Like the saying goes, this may look “simple, but not easy.”  I challenge you to give this a shot by adding only ONE habit stack to your day.  What ONE behavior do you want to do on a daily basis that you may not be doing right now?  See how that goes for a couple of weeks – you might be surprised how  much the new habit “sticks!”  We can’t wait to hear how it goes!  

Ready to learn more about how we use the habit stacking with our members at Epic Fitness, and how to make this a part of your life?  You can apply NOW for one of 5 SPACES we have left for our New Year New You Challenge starting on Monday, January 25th!  Check it out below:

Learn More About The New Year New You Challenge!