Blog Listing


05 March

4 Daily Rituals for a Happier Life

GREAT advice from Neuroscience:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter.
  • Just searching helps. Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

Full article from Business Insider Here.

The full article is really good because it goes into the science a bit as well as talks about specific examples.

Sometimes little things can make a huge impact.  But with today’s constantly ‘plugged in’, constant distraction, environment, we forget to take the time to stick to the simplest habits.

The action item at the end of the article is great too:

“So what’s the dead simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

Just send someone a thank you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier…”

So draft a message to say “Thank You” right now!  You’ll make yourself and the other person’s day that much better, and you may just start an upward spiral to more happiness.

Thrive on.


01 March

When SMART goals can be really DUMB

“Goals without a strategy are just wishes with a deadline. 

Strategies without routines are just theories without action.”


Goals without a strategy are just wishes with a deadline.  Strategies without routines are just theories without action. 

Basically it is good to have SMART goals, but the next step is to break them down into deeper purpose, prioritize each, then come up with time based checkpoints (micro goals), and break it down further to daily and weekly habits.

Purpose: Ask Why at least three times.

“Why do you want to do that?”… “And why is that?” … “AAAND why is that important to you?”

Goals without meaning will not be adhered to.  If someone wants to floss or get a muscle up, they had better WANT the results.  Asking why at least 3 times (5 is better), is a great way to get to the heart of the matter and help people focus on what the real reason is why they are doing it.

Have everyone write down their answers to the Why’s so that it is in black and white.

Prioritize: Which results are the most important to you?

There will be days and weeks where it will be hard to stay on track.  Listing your goals in order of priority will help you make better choices about which ones to put the limited amount of time or effort behind.

Micro Goals: Monthly or quarterly checkpoints.

After you have set your long term goals, determined why they are important, and prioritized them, you need to break them up into smaller chunks.  If you want to add 50lbs to your back squat in the next 6 months, that means you need to add 8-10lbs a month. Is that feasible for you?  What is the strategy that will get you to that goal?

Setting checkpoints (and putting them on your calendar with reminders), will make larger goals seem more manageable and also give you a reality check if you have too many checkpoints across too many goals.  It can be a time re-evaluate the timeline or results you are looking for.

This is also the section where goals should be broken down into their smaller steps/components.  Before doing a muscle up, the ring dip needs to be mastered.  Before doing 100 double-unders unbroken, 100 single-unders must be completed.

Habits: “You are what you repeatedly do.”

Ultimately this brings us to the most important part about goals (and back to the original quote above).  No goal will be achieved without routine and habits.  Once we know the smaller checkpoints and checklists to accomplish a monumental task, we can determine what weekly and daily habits can get us there.

That what we are doing in the gym every day.  We are making people do the little stuff every week that will make them stronger, fitter, healthier, better looking, and more awesome!

Now if they have a more specific goal of losing some pounds of fat, it will come down to the daily habits that will move them down that path.  Simply picking the goal of losing 15lbs in the next 3 months, and then scheduling the loss of 1-2lbs per week isn’t going to be very successful.

Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses regarding the goal, then picking out which habits will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’ will produce much greater results.  In the fat loss example, eating a protein and vegetable at breakfast every day, stopping all caloric drinks, and doing meal prep each week are habits that will get you to your micro goals.  If you don’t hit your micro goals, then it is time to do a course correction and introduce new habits, tighten up current ones, or even re-evaluate your timelines.

Goals for CrossFitters

We’ve always had great success breaking our athletes’ goals into three categories:

·        A gymnastics/bodyweight goal

·        A strength/weightlifting goal

·        A metabolic/monostructural goal

Gymnastics / Bodyweight

These goals include things like 20 unbroken pull ups, 1st muscle up, handstand walk 50’, etc.  These skills are usually very technical, require skill progressions, and are usually repetition based (not strength based, see below).

Strength / Weightlifting

These goals are things like a double bodyweight back squat, snatch 100 kilos, 1 strict full deficit handstand push up on paralletes, 1st pull up, etc. They aren’t confined to the barbell only.  They can include movements that are bodyweight, but demand a high level of strength.

Metabolic / Monostructural

These goals are things like 50 unbroken wall balls, a sub 6 min mile, a sub 4 Fran, 100 unbroken double unders, etc. These skills are generally higher rep, lower technical skill, but generally come down to a high level of efficiency.

Each athlete is responsible for coming up with one from each category, and then picking which one is the most important.  We have athletes write these down on a huge whiteboard in the gym and leave it up all year long.  When we do “Year End Goal” and Max Effort testing days, it is easy for the coach to walk over and call people out on their goals.  New athletes can add to it all throughout the year.  When someone finishes a goal, they get to ring a big bell and mark off their Y.E.G. on the whiteboard.

BONUS: An App That Gamifies Your Habits!

I have just started using this app and so far I love it.  Only time will tell if I can make it stick in my own routines, but I think it may become one of my favorite tools for staying productive and moving toward my goals.


I haven’t had the chance to join any “Quests” or really add too much to my avatar yet, but it is has been interesting setting up my daily habits and ranking them.  I started out with too much (which was an important realization in and of itself), and now I am approaching it a bit more slowly.

In the future, I could see many coaches and gyms using this as a fun tool to get clients to focus on their goals and hold each other accountable. Let me know if you guys start using and have any tips for how to use this to help people learn how to thrive!

And there you have it.  Here is the summary:

1.      Find the true purpose of the goal.  Ask “Why” three times at least.

2.      Prioritize.  Which goal is most important?  Make time to do the important stuff.

3.      Break it down.  Monthly and Quarterly checkpoints and checklists.  Use a calendar and have it ping you.

4.      Make it stick.  Create habits and routines that will carry you toward your goals on a daily and weekly basis.


I hope this helps you get your people on track and making great progress this year!

Thrive on.


27 February

The BIGGEST Thing Holding Back Your Progress.

There is a person inside of you that is always rewriting history. That is always comparing yourself to others. That is constantly worried about what other people think. That prevents you from learning because it tells you that ‘you already know this’. That is sabotaging your future self by trying to stay comfortable now.

This is your Ego, and it is your biggest enemy.


(Read Time: 4:30) TL;DR Notes:

  • Learn to tell you ego to f*** off.
  • Become a student in everything.
  • Document reality, not perceptions. Don’t let your ego rewrite history.

Before you step in the door

The first way your ego gets in the way is when you start ‘cherry picking’ workouts because you know you won’t do well. Your ego will give you a list of excuses for why you shouldn’t come in that day. Because you are sore. Because you are tired. Because you have a ton of stuff to do… The real reason is that your ego doesn’t want to be in the uncomfortable position of doing something you aren’t good at. It doesn’t want to be the last person in the class or the one scaling everything. It doesn’t want to lose to someone else, shattering the perception that you are ‘top dog’.

The next thing your ego does is stop you from learning. It tells you that ‘you already know this’ so there is no need to practice it more. It says that ‘you don’t need to learn that new skill’ because it isn’t important. Just like in the ‘cherry picking’ example, it is trying to avoid the discomfort of admitting that you aren’t as good as you could be. That you still have a long way to go. That you have to suck at something before you can become competent, and you have to be more than competent before you can really master it.

Then there are days where you feel you are pretty decent at what is scheduled for class. Your ego will start to look around the room at the other people and worry about what they think. It will say ‘they are judging me for not doing this well’ and ‘they are looking down at me because I am scaling’. Your ego will make you feel bad for using the right movement/progression, and try to get you to do more than you should.

In the middle of a metcon, your ego will say that everyone else is going faster than you. That maybe you miscounted and there is NO WAY you are that far behind ‘so-and-so’. It will tell you to stop the set you are on because you MUST be finished.

It will tell you that other people must be shorting reps occasionally too. It will try to get you to notice when someone else isn’t hitting full depth or full lockout. It will tell you that it is okay if you ‘miss’ a few reps because ‘everyone does it’.

After the workout, your ego will prevent you from posting your score until you see what everyone else has posted. It will prevent you from posting it if it is ‘too bad’. It will tell you that you mis-remembered your time/score and that you did better than you actually did.

Your ego will tell you that it is okay to have that treat and that you can eat better next week. It will say ‘you deserve this because you worked so hard in the gym’. It will tell you that you aren’t losing weight because of some issues out of your control and not because of your food.

The worst part is, your ego is trying to protect itself and it is harming YOUR progress. It makes you feel bad during the moments when you are doing the best thing for you. Over time, the ego will keep you from moving forward and make you look for scapegoats for why you aren’t progressing.

What to do about it (all out of f**** to give)

First, you must acknowledge that your ego will always be there. It will always seek out comfort and it will always be worried about what other people are doing and thinking. Start paying attention to that voice and telling it to ‘f*** off’.

Cultivating an attitude of ‘no fucks given’ with regards to your ego will help you look at things from a new perspective. It will help you observe things as they truly are and not taint your perception.

The reality is that the workout you want to avoid is probably the best thing for you. That the people in class aren’t really paying attention to the weights and progressions you are using (and if some are, who cares?! That is their own ego). The reality is that you really are on the rep you think you are, and that other people aren’t shorting reps or ‘adjusting’ their score.

The reality is that your performance that day, your ‘score’, is just a snapshot of where you are at today. It is not a measure of you as a person. It is only important to your future self to help you see progress over time.

After you have begun to hear your ego, and to see things as they truly are, you must foster an attitude of learning. Become the constant student.


Document. Document. Document. Keep a journal of your performances and lessons learned. Approach every day as a day to practice skills already started or learn new skills not attempted. If you observe others, it is to learn from them what works (and what doesn’t). Always push yourself to find the better way, the way that will make your future self more amazing.

Stop listening to ego’s voice in your head. Better yet, do the exact opposite.

Thrive on.

-Jeremy Jones

If you want to know more about ego and the growth mindset, check out this article.

(And you can pick up one of those nifty doormats here.)

12 February

Why goal-setting is an absolute MUST

Goal-setting is an absolute must for people who want to succeed, find their true purpose, and create joy in their lives. Without clear goals, you will not have a clear direction on where you’re heading in your life. When you know your life purpose, determine your vision, convert your desires into achievable goals and then act on them, you’re virtually guaranteed success.

Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish, what do you want to experience? What do you want to acquire? Who do you want to be?

Follow this simple acrostic, SMART,and you’ll be well on your way.

S- Specific: Be specific, answer questions instead of creating ones. Make sure the goal is very specific.

M- Measurable: Include specific dates and exact amounts in your goal. An example is, I’d like to have 50K in recurring revenue by July, 2018.

A- Attainable: Your goal must be achievable and I recommend some breakthrough goals to get you there as well. These goals will really push you to attain.

R- Realistic: Does your reveal who you really are, your true purpose? Is it in lines with the culture that you have created?

T- Time-Bound: Have deadlines and create target dates for motivation and accountability.
This week the Whole Life Challenge says, “Making strides toward your heartfelt goals or intentions is likely one of the most fulfilling things you can do with your life. The goal of this practice is that you can not only achieve what is important to you now, but that you can become better at simply identifying what actually is important for you to pursue.”

NOW is the time to set those goals.
Go get it!

– Coach Esther Stien

06 February

GOMAD- Weightlifting and My Results

Strength, the pinnacle and building block of Weightlifting. There is no special magic sauce (That is legal), shortcut or way around moving more kilos. You can do one of two things to make this happen, improve mechanics or get stronger!  Of course there are a ton of variables at play here to become a more successful lifter, but one thing is certain if you want to get stronger you have to get under the barbell and move weights several times a week. Another important thing to remember is that Olympic Lifting is a weight class sport, and sometimes the call to move up a weight class is needed to get stronger. Mass moves mass, so if you hit thresholds and want to bust through them then maybe it’s time to try gaining some weight.


In November of 2017 I made a personal decision to jump from the 94 kilo class to the 105 kilos class.  I was competing at 91-93 kilos consistently and felt pretty good actually.  But turning 44 years of age soon and competing as a Master Weightlifter I knew that at some point in the near future I was going to shelf out and my gains would really slow down.  I wanted to make an attempt to put on around 10-15 good lbs of muscle to help me bust through that next threshold.  I decided to give the GOMAD a try for 30 days in January of 2018. What I am going to share is my experience with GOMAD and also my results at the end of the 30 day period.


What is GOMAD?

GOMAD is an old school technique that stands for GALLON OF MILK A DAY.  It is a method used for hard gainers (Like me) to gain size and muscle over a 30 day cycle.  I will tell you from personal experience that if you hear people say that the GOMAD is easy or wasn’t that hard, they aren’t being completely honest with you.  Honestly, GOMAD works for gaining size and strength, but no it isn’t much fun. I will let you decide if this plan might be right for you.  Keep in mind for length of this blog post, I am going over the finer points of this plan, there are pages all over the net you can read additional benefits and how this all works too.  So, what are some of the additional benefits for doing GOMAD?

Here are some benefits you can expect from GOMAD:

  • You will gain weight
  • You will gain strength
  • Milk is a cheap, natural source of ~2400 calories (128g of fat, 176g of carbs and 128g of protein)
  • Your appetite will increase (I found it hard sometimes to eat)

For those of you reading this at home we are talking about Whole Milk too!  2% and 1% milk are not going to yield you the results, you need those saturated fats to help boost your testosterone and aid your muscle gain. Most of the negative press you hear about GOMAD I never experienced, but there are sources out there that discuss these. Now, the claim is that you can gain 25-30lbs of mass in a month using GOMAD.  Well, I didn’t yield those results, but I did gain 14 lbs and saw huge strength gains in the month of January.My starting weight was 209lbs and my ending weight was 223lbs.  Did I eat as much as I normally did before starting?  Yup, I ate just as much if not more.  It helps to have a wife who cooks very healthy meals so that I get good dinners in each day also But, I will say that eating was really hard for me because I always felt so full from drinking milk.  Believe me it isn’t easy carrying a ½ Gallon jug with you all day long while you work.  I tried to take down a half gallon each morning by noon, and then finish the second gallon before I went to bed.  I also drank coffee and water too.  Two things will happen if you attempt this: You will pee almost every 45min to an hour and you will also become very ahem…regular if you know what I mean.


My personal results over a one month duration:

We are finishing a very aggressive 6 week cycle in preparation for the American Open Series 1 and the US Masters Nationals in April.  When I started the cycle my best Snatch was 110 Kilos and my Clean and Jerk was 140 kilos at 93 kilos (209lbs). By the end of the month I was weighing in at 101 kilos and can now snatch 118 kilos (260lbs) and have increased my clean and jerk to 145 kilos (318lbs).  We are also doing a front squat cycle and when we started my front squat max was 161 kilos (355lbs) and now I can perform 2×2 at that weight in 3 min on the clock.  I would guess when we test it again I should finish around 170 kilos (375lbs).  Now, these are real gains.  I want to discuss what happens when you stop drinking one gallon of milk a day now.  As soon as I stopped, I dropped about 6 lbs almost instantly.  But my strength gains remained, which was the goal all along.

Now, for you Crossfitters and whole 30 people trying to lose body fat percentage, this is NOT going to be for you.  I am guessing most women are not going to go for this either, unless they are serious competitive lifters who can’t gain weight easily.  But for skinny guys who are difficult weight gainers, maybe this is an option for you to bust through to that next level. Also remember, you can get plenty of gains eating a balanced healthy diet and following good programming cycles.  But if you need that extra push, give GOMAD a try, you might just find BIG gains right around the corner!

JD Stien

Notch 8 Barbell

USAW-1 Sports Performance Coach


05 February

Squats for the Booty and the Brain

Have you ever wondered what exercise has to offer outside of the physical world? Have you ever asked yourself what exercise does for your brain? I’m sure we have all heard the quote from the famous, Legally Blonde herself, Elle Woods, saying “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” According to science, when we exercise, we are in fact increasing the levels of neurotransmitters, essentially increasing our moods and relieving stress. When we experience stress, that stress releases a chemical, cortisol, which is very harmful towards our muscles and our gainz.

The director of strategy and program at the Center for Brain Health Brain Performance Institute, Dianna Purvis Jaffin, quotes: “What benefits the body benefits the brain. You are not a separate brain walking around on top of a body.” In the article, How Workouts Give Your Brain A Boost by Kristen Domonell, they identify the three brain benefits of exercise, those being: boost your mental fitness, banish stress for good, and age with grace. Take a read and see what your brain has to think of these!

Test your brain here!

-Coach Tara Heck


05 February

Social Media in Bed

Many of us stay up way too late in bed scrolling through social media before we actually fall asleep at night, but few actually pay attention to the negative effects this really has. I have  noticed this personally, how much harder it is just for me to fall asleep on the nights that I stay up staring at my iPhone. It is very easy to do, especially when you hear the phone buzz right next to you. It is hard to resist the urge of checking that latest notification and a common unhealthy habit done by SO many. A simple trick that is odd getting used to is just turning your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode. You can also set up your phone to turn on to “Do Not Disturb” at the same time every night, that way you won’t have to remember to turn it on. Do this a few minutes before you actually begin to wind down for the night and I guarantee you WILL notice the difference. There has already been tons of research and scientific studies proving that late night social media scrolling and even late night television has a negative impact on our quality sleep at night.

Check out this article talking about some of the negative impacts these screens have at night: Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep

-Zeke Cutler


05 February

What water does for us

H2Oh… Really?! Yes, I went there.. Because today’s topic is all about the importance of staying hydrated. What does water actually do for us and why is it so important.. Keep reading to find out.

As human beings, we physically can NOT live without water. It is the most critical nutrient that we can provide ourselves. Take a few seconds to think about how you feel when you’ve gone all days or even hours on end without drinking water. Probably sluggish, exhausted, unmotivated and unable to focus, etc. So, what does water actually do for us?

  1. Forms saliva (which aids in our digestion).
  2. It is needed by our brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters- Our brain is actually composed of 95% water (which is why you might be having trouble focusing).
  3. Acts as a shock absorber for our brain and our spinal cord- (sounds pretty important if you ask me).
  4. Allows our body’s cells to grow, reproduce and survive.
  5. Regulates body temperature through sweating and respiration.
  6. Lubricates your joints.
  7. Flushes out body waste and toxins- (Keep track of how often you use the restroom throughout the day, you will notice a big change!)
  8. Helps deliver oxygen through our entire body.
  9. Essential in building muscle, strengthening, endurance, etc.


Let’s discuss number 9 briefly.. Water IS NECESSARY for building muscle, making your muscles stronger and increasing their endurance (aka how many reps you can do before fatigue!) Are muscles are made of mostly water so they NEED water to do the best they can do. Water helps transfer your nutrients and electrolytes to your muscles, keeps them full of energy and helps get rid of the toxins and wastes that your muscles might want to hold on to.. So drink that water and let’s recover together!

– Coach Samantha Jones


01 February

How exercise can change your life

How Exercise Can Change Your Life

What is exercise? According to, the true definition of exercise is: “bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health.” The improvement of health is what really catches my eye. I think for the general population, most people don’t look at exercise as an improvement of health, rather than just a physical activity that we all dread to take on. So what is it that makes exercise so unappealing? Is it the thought of having to break from your recently addictive netflix series or is it the fact that you’ll have to get all sweaty and add a little extra effort into your daily schedule? On another point, what makes exercise worthwhile? To me, exercise is more than just the physical perspective, it’s emotional. Exercise is one of my biggest stress relievers; and when life gets just a little too crazy to handle, I know there is always a bar there when I need it.

Now, most people look at me and assume I’ve always been involved with fitness in some way. This statement may be true, but what most don’t know, is the reason behind it all. I was a competitive gymnast for fourteen years and let me tell you, exercise played a major role during that time. In gymnastics, conditioning and exercise is practically a fifth event. However, I wasn’t the athlete that looked towards it, like most. It wasn’t until a shoulder injury, causing me to leave the sport I so graciously loved, that exercise was the only thing I had left to look forward to. It was a completely new road for me, because for the last fourteen years of my life, I ate, slept, and breathed gymnastics, and in one blink of an eye, just like that, it wasn’t. So, like I said, exercise is my emotional outlet. When I no longer had gymnastics to lean on, I leaned on the gym. Even though I lost a love in my life, I found one in fitness. Exercise brought many benefits into my life to void what I lost after gymnastics. Exercise was more than just keeping me in shape, it brought joy into days where I needed it most, and it taught me patience, perseverance, and hope. Exercise soon began to shape my life, and shape the person I am today.


There is so much more to exercise than most people realize, far beyond just the improvements of our well-being. I recently stumbled upon a New York Times Article explaining the seven surprising benefits of exercise, those being: Exercise is great for the brain, you might get happier, it might make you age slower, It’ll make your skin look better, amazing things can happen in just a few minutes, it can help you recover from a major illness, and your fat cells will shrink. Exercise does more for a person than just the physical aspects. Take a read and find out what exercise can do for you.

Read more here!

-Coach Tara Heck

01 February

Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Is anyone else feeling rushed in the morning? Like there’s not enough time to get it all done before the day even really starts? No matter how early that alarm clock goes off it should have been earlier? Does chaos reign supreme as you hustle to start your day? Do you get out the door feeling off balance, already behind schedule and discouraged?

People who know me won’t be surprised that my morning routine was disciplined: workout; shower; pets tended; kids fed, situated and out the door; and last but not least, getting out the door myself. Hectic? Yes. Effective? Maybe. I began to find that more often than not, when others were falling behind, my motivational tone of encouragement was yelling. I was anxious worrying about what was being missed or forgotten. I began to dread mornings. No matter how quickly I tried to accomplish my list, or how many corners I cut, it seemed like there were roadblocks turning up at every opportunity. Something seemed determined to derail my success and steal my joy. I LOVE being a mom but I discovered that I didn’t like the mom I’d become. My behavior didn’t reflect my values and beliefs of what love truly is….selfless, sacrificial, gracious, forgiving. This well crafted disciplined plan of mine, good though it was, needed to be re-evaluated.

While surveying my friends for better options, one shared that she started her days with 30 minutes of seclusion, unplugged from everyone and everything. My first impression? “She’s crazy! I can’t do that. It would never work!” Then I remembered that a change needed to be made for myself and those around me. What did I have to lose?

So, I set that alarm clock 15 minutes earlier to give myself that uninterrupted time. Baby steps. I started reading a brief devotional followed by a quiet time in prayer. I admit, at first it was difficult. It was hard to keep focused without the challenges of the upcoming day creeping in. It was awkward. I felt like I was doing it wrong. I guiltily felt like 15 minutes wasn’t long enough. I remained committed and continued to fight for that precious time. As this practice became more consistent, God honored that time I set aside to fellowship with Him. I saw a shift (for the better) in my reaction to people and situations. Unconsciously, I was applying what I was learning. I was starting my day reinforcing what was important to me. What once seemed impossible is something I now eagerly look forward to each morning. Now it would be difficult for me to imagine starting my day any other way.

Is every morning now perfect? Nope. But I’m making progress. Is your morning routine working for you? If so, carry on and disregard. Do you feel like it’s lacking? Missing something? Consider a change. Why not try a quiet time of…….yoga, journaling, exercise, meditation? Take the challenge. You will be better for it. Your day will be better for it and the people you encounter will be appreciative.

For you night owls reading this, a quiet time before bed will help you de stress and rest better. The time of day isn’t as important as the practice itself. It will end the day on a good note and give you a jumpstart on the next.

– Coach Esther Stein


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