I’ve been “working out” since I was in seventh grade. That’s when I started playing football. It’s also when I was first introduced to the weight room.

Thank goodness for that! Exercise transformed me from a pudgy, self-conscious pre-teen into a college athlete. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, I was laying the foundation for what would one day become my career – being a personal trainer and gym owner, turned writer and fitness entrepreneur.

It’s been about 10 years since I took my first job in a gym. In the time since, I think I’ve tried everything to get in shape. I wasted so much time and money. It’s really sad. Pathetic actually. It’s not just the dollar figure or all the time I’ll never get back, either. The worst part was my attitude and approach.

The easy way

I wanted to be hunky, not healthy. I was focused on my outward appearance. Which isn’t all bad. It’s perfectly okay to want to look good naked. But, I was doing it because I thought it would make me happy or popular or something. I was searching for myself in all the wrong places. Letting some fitness magazine tell me what I should look like. Not good. Still not the worst part.

In hindsight, the saddest, most disappointing part was my mentality. My approach. My attitude.

I wasn’t just trying to lose fat or gain muscle. I was searching for the easiest and fastest way to transform myself into a bodybuilder or fitness model or pro athlete. Instead of investing in myself. Taking ownership of my actions. Learning. Doing what was best for me. I bought into any and every quick fix out there. The gurus. The marketers. Supplements. I didn’t want to work for anything. I wanted shortcuts and secrets.

The right way

Thankfully, somewhere along the line I came to my senses. I realized no one, I repeat NO ONE has all of the answers. But, lots of people have bits and pieces of useful information. Most of which is free. All of which we can take. Absorb, dissect, and discard as needed. This, in an effort to create a solution that works for us.

My new approach. The mentality I embraced. The attitude I eventually arrived at was one of trial and error. Learning and evolution. Now, I take things at face value. As they are. Then apply them to my life. In this way, I’m able to create what I need, as opposed to accepting what I’m given. Or, worse, purchasing the cookie-cutter solution being sold.

I have a secret – 4 of them, actually

1. You’ll never be perfect, neither will your workout

That’s a fact. Better if you just accept it now. Stop trying to be perfect. Keep trying to get better. That goes for your life and your workout. This exercise stuff isn’t all that hard.

Start moving. Keep moving. Don’t ever stop. How you go about it, the specific exercises and equipment you use, aren’t the most important factors. They are not the end-all be-all. It’s your attitude, your mentality that matters most.

So secret number one, the one I said was most important, can be thought of this way: process not perfection. Commit to the process of getting fit. Everything else will come.

2. Forget everything you *know* about fitness

I’m going to try and let you down easy. You probably don’t know anything about fitness. Even if you do, pretend you don’t. It’s easier that way. Besides, this isn’t really about fitness in terms of performance. Concern yourself with your health. Exercising in less time, with less equipment. It’s about you and your life. Every part of it. So forget everything you think you know about fitness. Blank slate. Right now.

3. Get real about your goals.

 I want to be happy and healthy. Don’t you? Thought so. Then why are you exercising like a bodybuilder or pro athlete or marathon runner? The guys on the magazines, the girls on television, that’s their life. They want to be a bodybuilder, a model or a pro athlete. It’s how they make money. It makes sense for them to sacrifice every other aspect of their life. To follow their dreams or passion or a paycheck.

If you can get paid to workout, or play a game, you’re awesome. Workout 24 hours a day. Keep track of every ounce of food you eat. Turn your body into a machine. Good luck!

But, if you’re anything like me, you don’t live to play a sport. We don’t get paid to workout. You’re a mom or dad. An employee or a business owner. I’m a writer. I run a startup. I want to be better at those things. I want to be healthy. That’s why I exercise.

Instead of using the same old tired fitness goals – lose fat, gain muscle, improve endurance. Try creating your own goals. Don’t base them on your workout. Think about what you want to do with your life. Once you do, you can fit fitness into your REAL life. In a way that coincides with your big picture goals. The two will never be at odds. You won’t have to sacrifice one for the other. They’ll both be essential to your success.

4. Keep it simple, do the work

I realize this could be two points, but in an effort to heed my own advice, I’ll try to simplify things.

You don’t need more supplements, equipment, advice or DVDs. What you NEED to do is work harder. Work smarter. Be more efficient. Notice, I did not say work more. Exercising too much is as bad as not exercising at all. It will lead to all sorts of problems.


No matter what you do, put in the work. Show up. Be consistent and accountable. Once you’re in the habit of showing up, you can start to pick up the pace. To harder. To do more intense workouts. Faster. Intervals. A heavier kettlebell. More rounds of a workout in less time.

 But, don’t get ahead of yourself. None of this stuff will matter until you forget about perfection and embrace the process. It’s THE secret. The most important one. The one that will help you get fit. It will help you change your life. It helped me change mine.

A life worth living

I hope you have a better grasp on creating a workout plan that will work for you. Most of the “fitness” stuff out there is just noise. Tune it out. Turn yourself up. What you want. How you’ll get it. Because you can get it.

I learned how to engineer my own workouts by taking the best of what’s around and making it work for me. Hereagain, unbeknownst to me, I actually got more than I bargained for. While I was learning how to engineer my exercise routine, I was also learning how to engineer my life.

Decide what I want. The things I couldn’t live without. Tune out the noise. Forget about winning the lottery. The idea of an overnight success. Seek out the people, resources, and knowledge I need to grow. Take the best of what’s around. Little bits and pieces from everyone and everything. Create my own answer. Solve my own problem. Work at it. Consistently. Today. Tomorrow. Every day after.

See. It does work. Get fit, be happy, work hard. It’s the same as Health, Happiness and Hustle. How you engineer your workouts and how you engineer your life.

1. Process not perfection.

2. Forget everything you think you know.

3. Get real about your goals

4. Keep it simple and do the work

Last, but not least, have it all!