My Non-Negotiables

My Non-Negotiables

The best way to ensure success (or progress, at the very least) in any field is to create strong habits. With all of the chaos that life throws at us on a daily basis, having some semblance of a routine is essential.

My life has drastically changed over the past couple years, but there are a few things I continue to do every day without fail. Here are my daily non-negotiables:

1. TRAIN

Surprise, surprise. Yep, I “workout” every day. I put that in quotations because not everyday is a fully programmed training session (6/7 days for me, right now), but I make sure to move my body in some way. Even if it’s just a long walk, I believe some type of physical activity needs to be a daily practice.

2. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

I started doing daily personal development about 3 years ago, and it completely changed the way I look at business, relationships, and life in general. 90% of the time this is listening to podcasts, although I’ll occasionally jump into a good audiobook or some informative YouTube videos. If you’re not spending the majority of your commute listening to something mentally stimulating, you’re wasting your time!

3. POWER LIST

A power list (originally coined by @andyfrisella) is essentially a daily to-do list comprised of 5 tasks. Not goals, tasks. Most people keep a running list of 50 things, which just results in them getting overwhelmed and not doing any of them. I whittle every day down to 5 tasks, no matter how small, and try to knock them all out.

4. FAMILY TIME

At some point in the day, it’s so important that I put everything away and completely focus on my wife and kids. Admittedly, this is harder than it should be because I’m on my phone almost all day. But just one meaningful conversation with Brittany, or 15 minutes of silliness with Gavin and Aubrey have the ability to change my entire day and my perspective on whatever I’m going through.

That’s it! Just 4 things.
These are my essentials.

One Bad Meal Won't Break You

Shipley's Donuts

One bad meal won’t break you, just like one good meal won’t make you.

Ditch the “all or nothing” mentality.

The mentality that if you have one donut at the office on Tuesday morning you’ll say, “Welp, I messed up. Guess I’ll enjoy the rest of this week and start again next Monday.”

Or, “I already ate bad this morning, I’ll just make this my cheat day and get back to it tomorrow.”

No! Nutrition, and any other aspects of fitness, are NOT all or nothing. Conditions will never be perfect.

You’ll get invited to that midweek birthday dinner. You’ll run out of your prepped meals on a Wednesday. You’ll have a few too many Oreos when you get that late night craving.

The key is to not let those little slip ups set you down a long, recurring path to mediocrity. Instead, build strong nutritional habits so when those slip ups inevitably happen, you can jump right back into your routine and keep making progress.

Here are a few habits that help me avoid the “all or nothing” mentality:

Track Your Intake

Set calorie and macro targets and use MyFitnessPal to track your food. You’ll realize that one donut will not ruin the entire day. You also may realize that some of the “healthy” food you’ve been eating isn’t so great after all (or you’re just eating too much of it).

Meal Prep

You can get by without doing your own cooking, but when you have to go out to eat for every meal, temptation is at every corner. Prepping your meals ensures that you’re conveniently stocked up on healthy choices.

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re going out for drinks and dinner that night, eat a bit lighter during the day. If you’ve got a barbecue planned for the weekend, stay tight to your diet throughout the week so you can enjoy yourself like a normal person. If you’re going out of town, look for some spots nearby where you can grab a healthy meal.

Talk About Stuff (It Helps)

Talk About Stuff

Last night, Brittany and I talked on the phone for well over an hour (she’s traveling for work). It reminded me of how we started our relationship. Back when I was a freshman at UT and she was still a senior in high school, we would talk on the phone for hours every single night. It was the foundation for everything.

Now, those conversations don’t happen nearly as often. Between the kids, our businesses, and everything else we have going on, we rarely have time to just talk uninterrupted. But last night reminded me just how valuable that time is.

Like most people on social media, we probably seem like we have all of our stuff together at all times. Like most people on social media, we don’t.

I have my doubts and insecurities. One of the toughest parts of my situation now is that I spend the vast majority of every day alone, running from place to place. Usually, that means I don’t really talk to anybody all day. Certainly not about anything serious.

That’s why these talks with Brittany are so important. Without them, I sit on negative thoughts for too long. When I can get those thoughts out and get a different perspective, I feel fresh. Ready to face my challenges rather than cower away from them.

If you have someone close to you, talk to them. Don’t let the negativity consume your thoughts. Get it out, get feedback, and get moving.

Thanks, babe.

Try This Exercise: Hammer Strength Single-Arm Low Row with Iso Hold

As my clients and people on #10weekstobeach know, I’m a big fan of iso holds for all row variations. Not only does it add time under tension, but it really helps find that proper mind-muscle connection. If muscles other than those you intend to target begin to fatigue before your back (like your biceps or shoulders), it’s a good indicator that you need to fix your form! My mid back was on fire here from performing an isometric hold on one side while repping out the other.

Hammer Strength Single-Arm Low Row with Iso Hold

Try This Exercise: 28 Method EZ Bar Curl

These are a @corygfitness classic.

7 regular reps, 7 super slow reps (3 sec. up and down), 7 top half reps, 7 bottom half reps.

This makes your standard 21’s look like child’s play. Use a weight that you can control through the entire set, and maintain form from beginning to end.

IMG_3009.JPG

Try This Exercise: Big Back Superset

  • Cable Straight Arm Pulldowns
  • Cable Face Pull

Use this superset as either a warm-up or finisher on your upper body days. Whether it’s a push or a pull day (or even legs), it’s always a good idea to throw in some extra lat and upper back work.

On pulldowns, I like to start in a hinged position with my arms fully stretched, and then bring my hips forward as I contract my lats. On face pulls, I’m fully protracting my shoulders and extending my arms, then retracting and squeezing to hit all the muscles of the upper back.

Big Back Superset

Recipe: Protein Brownies

Protein Brownies

These protein brownies are perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth while on a healthy diet. They have no added sugars, no artificial ingredients, and (best of all) they're kid-approved!

Ingredients:

  • 6 Bananas
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa
  • 2 Spoonfuls Honey
  • 3 Scoops Whey Protein (preferably chocolate)
  • 3 BIG Spoonfuls Peanut Butter

Instructions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender (or bowl) and mix until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into a baking pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Recipe: 3 Ingredient Protein Pancakes

3 Ingredient Protein Pancakes

Looking for a low carb and healthy alternative to everybody's favorite breakfast food? You've come to the right place. Skip the trip to IHOP and make these pancakes at home with just 3 simple ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Bananas
  • 2 Scoops Whey Protein (preferably vanilla)

Instructions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender (or bowl) and mix until smooth.
  2. Pour a moderate amount of the mixture on a pan.
  3. Cook on LOW heat for approximately 3-5 minutes per side (or until golden brown).
  4. Top with peanut butter and honey.

Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken

Bacon Wrapped Guacamole Stuffed Chicken

Give that bland chicken a little kick by adding a couple foods that are universally loved: bacon and guacamole!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 8 Bacon Slices
  • 4 Avocados
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Limes
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

Instructions:

  1. Slice the chicken breasts in half, cover in olive oil, and season with sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Bake the chicken on 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until fully cooked).
  3. Chop the onion and tomato into small pieces and, in a bowl, combine with the avocados. Squeeze the juice from the limes into the bowl, and mix.
  4. Spread the guacamole on the cooked chicken breasts and wrap in bacon (two slices per chicken breast).
  5. Place the chicken on a pan on medium heat and fry until the bacon is crispy.

Recipe: Protein Pudding

Protein Pudding

I discovered this by throwing together a bunch of stuff that I had in the kitchen. It's great by itself or as a dip for fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scoop Whey Protein (shown with vanilla, but any flavor will work)
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 BIG Spoonfuls Peanut Butter
  • 1 Spoonful Honey
  • 1 Spoonful Cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Just mix everything together and enjoy!

Recipe: High Protein Oatmeal Raisin Protein Cookies

High Protein Oatmeal Raisin Protein Cookies

These cookies are quick, easy, and perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth while keeping your diet in check. No added sugars or crazy ingredients. Great for kids, too!

Ingredients

  • 3 Bananas
  • 1 Cup Oats*
  • 1/4 Cup Raisins
  • 2 Scoops Whey Protein (preferably vanilla)
  • 1 Tsp. Cinnamon

*Add more oats as necessary to get a clumpy consistency

Instructions

  1. Mash bananas in a bowl, then add all other ingredients and mix well.
  2. Place 8-10 medium-sized scoops of the mixture on a non-stick baking sheet (or foil or parchment paper).
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (or until golden brown).

Recipe: High Protein Crock-Pot Chili

High Protein Crock-Pot Chili

It's winter time, and there's no better way to stay warm than with a big bowl of chili. Most chili recipes you'll see floating around the internet are extremely oily and loaded with salt, leaving you feeling greasy and bloated. My take on this classic, however, is low in sodium, high in protein, and bursting with flavor. Grab a bowl, for winter is coming!

Ingredients

  • 4 lb. lean ground beef or turkey (85% lean or better)
  • 1 onion
  • 5- 10 oz. cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles (No salt added)
  • 3- 15 oz. cans black beans (reduced sodium)
  • 1- 15 oz. can kidney beans
  • Mrs. Dash Chili Seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Put the ground turkey/beef in a skillet or pot on medium heat to cook until browned.
  2. While cooking, lightly season the ground turkey/beef with garlic powder and black pepper.
  3. While cooking, add diced onion to ground turkey/beef.
  4. When fully cooked, drain all excess oil from the skillet/pot and put ground turkey/beef in the crock pot.
  5. Add all other ingredients (beans, tomatoes, chili seasoning) to the crock pot, thoroughly mix, and cover.
  6. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Recipe: Healthy Almond Crusted Chicken Strips

Healthy Almond Crusted Chicken Strips

Chicken breasts are a staple of any healthy diet. They're low calorie, high protein, and extremely affordable. Unfortunately, eating plain chicken week after week gets boring. REALLY boring. Spice things up with these juicy, all-natural, breaded strips. Great for kids, too!

Ingredients

  • 6 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Fine-ground almond flour
  • 4 tbsp. Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend*
  • 4 tbsp. Mrs. Dash Chicken Grilling Blend
  • Olive oil

*For kids, go light on the Extra Spicy Blend and double up on the Chicken Grilling Blend (or use another Mrs. Dash seasoning).

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wash the chicken breasts, dry with a paper towel, and slice into halves.
  3. On a baking sheet, coat the chicken strips in olive oil (I prefer to use the spray).
  4. In a bowl, mix almond flour and Mrs. Dash seasonings.
  5. One at a time, put each chicken strip into the bowl and roll around until completely covered with the flour/seasoning mixture. Use additional flour and seasoning if necessary.
  6. Place chicken strips back on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown).

Macros*

Calories = 260

Fat = 11 g

Carbs = 4 g

Protein = 38 g

*Each serving is two strips. Recipe makes approximately 6 servings.

Recipe: Low Carb Spaghetti With Ground Beef

Low Carb Spaghetti With Ground Beef

Spaghetti squash is a delicious, "real food" alternative to calorie-dense pasta. This versatile vegetable is cheap, easy to cook, and great for meal prep. Here is one of my favorite low carb, high protein recipes using spaghetti squash:

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (85% or better)
  • Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning Blend
  • Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend
  • 8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
  • 6 oz. spinach
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce (ideally low sugar and low sodium)
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Face up on a baking sheet, coat the spaghetti squash in olive oil (I like to use the spray) and season with Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb.
  4. Cook the spaghetti squash, face down, for 45 minutes-1 hour.
  5. Cook the ground beef in a skillet or pot on medium heat until browned.
  6. While cooking, lightly season the beef with Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy.
  7. In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in olive oil on medium heat.
  8. After about 5 minutes, add spinach to the mushrooms and saute for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  9. When the ground beef is fully cooked, drain the oil, and add the pasta sauce and sauteed spinach and mushrooms.
  10. Let the spaghetti squash cool for approx. 5 minutes after fully cooked, and then use a spoon to scoop out the "spaghetti".

Macros*

Calories = 318

Fat = 12 g

Carbs = 17 g

Protein = 35 g

*Recipe makes approximately 6 servings.

Recipe: Ground Turkey & Mixed Veggies

Ground Turkey & Mixed Veggies

Ground turkey with sautéed spinach, onions, and bell peppers is one of my go-to meal prep recipes. It's easy, cheap, and super versatile. I pair it with an avocado when I'm on a low carb kick, rice and black beans when I'm trying to carb up, or even fry it up with a few eggs to make a big omelet. Can't go wrong with this one!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. lean ground turkey (85% or leaner)
  • 6-10 oz. spinach
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • Coconut oil
  • Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend

Instructions

  1. Cook the ground turkey in a skillet or pot on medium heat until browned.
  2. While cooking, lightly season the beef with Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle.
  3. Cut onion and peppers into thin slices and place on a separate skillet.
  4. In the skillet, saute peppers and onion in coconut oil on medium heat.
  5. After about 5 minutes, add spinach to the peppers and onion and saute for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. When the ground turkey is fully cooked, drain the oil, and add the sauteed onion, peppers, and spinach.

Macros*

Calories = 360

Fat = 16 g

Carbs = 9 g

Protein = 47 g

*Recipe makes approximately 4 servings.

Recipe: The Perfect Bulking Breakfast

The Perfect Bulking Breakfast

Perfect for breakfast, or, well, anytime really.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of chopped peppers & onions
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 6 oz. of potatoes (pre-cooked)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of egg whites
  • Topped with Frank's Red Hot

Instructions

  1. Simply throw all of this stuff in a skillet (in the order above) and let it cook.

Macros

Calories = 650

Fat = 30 g

Carbs = 45 g

Protein = 50 g

Training to Failure

There is a common thought among most people that the “harder” a workout is, the better is. Often, people consider it a good workout only if:

  • They sweat through their shirt
  • They come close to throwing up
  • They are so sore they can’t move
  • Their Apple Watch tells them they burned a bunch of calories

Truth is, that stuff doesn’t really matter much.

Since day one, I’ve been fighting an uphill battle with my athletes (whether they know it or not), that training to complete failure every session is NOT the best approach. Any jack wagon off the street can write you a workout plan that will make you throw up. It’s easy.

What’s not easy is creating a workout program that will actually make you BETTER. One that will make you stronger, leaner, and healthier over time. One that will teach you proper technique and emphasize progressive overload. One that will keep you coming back for more.

Every session you have with me will not leave you completely wrecked, nor should it. My workouts are hard, sure, but not life threatening. Because tired DOES NOT equal better.

THAT BEING SAID...

I do think there is still a place for pushing limits. A place for testing what you’re made of, both physically and mentally. My athletes know I refer to this as “The Dark Place”.

We don’t go there often, but when we do, it’s rough.

Don't Forget Intensity

We always discuss the “perfect” training program.

What’s the best split?

How much volume?

Machines or free weights?

Morning or night?

Often, these variables get in the way of the most important thing- intensity.

A “so-so” plan done with 100% intent and focus ALWAYS trumps a “perfect” plan done with so-so effort. Don’t get so busy contemplating the minutia that you forget to do the work.

My Number One Fan

You know that feeling when you would meet somebody in class for the first time and suddenly you start seeing them everywhere?

Or when you buy some shoes and the next day you notice like 10 more people who have the same pair?

Or when you get a new car and randomly see the same make and model at every single stop light?

Well, losing someone to cancer is kind of like that.

You more than likely know someone who has been effected by cancer, but you don’t really recognize or understand it until it happens to you.

Since my mom’s passing one year ago, I’ve had conversations with dozens of people who have also lost someone to cancer. It’s not a group that you want to be a part of, nor that you want to add any new members, but it’s one that you’re happy exists. Because while any and all sympathy is appreciated, it’s tough to truly resonate with someone who hasn’t experienced loss themselves.

I’m thankful for the friends that have helped me through this year, and I empathize with those who are experiencing something similar. I’m thankful for my wife, who has been patient and understanding with me. And I’m thankful for my dad, because despite everything that he’s gone through, he remains strong.

A lot of times, it still frustrates me to think about what happened. It all was so sudden that I didn’t really have time to process or “deal with” it. To be honest, I probably still haven’t.

While I don’t know if there’s any “right” way to handle it, I do know that my mom would be proud of me. Much of her still lives on through the way that I treat people, the way that I love my kids, and the way that I go after what I want.

She was always my “number one fan”, and I know that she still is.

Microdose Your Mobility

If you’re neglecting mobility exercises, you probably have tight muscles, poor lifting technique, and even worse posture.

If you’re spending the first 30 minutes at the gym every day laying on the floor stretching, you’re probably not spending enough time actually working out.

The solution?
Microdose your mobility.

The most effective way to get your mobility work in is by breaking it up into short, 2-3 minute segments throughout the day. Just focus on one or two exercises at a time, then get back to whatever you were doing.

If you work a desk job, this is a game changer. Getting up every 30 minutes or hour and mobilizing for just a couple minutes will have a significant impact over time.

When you get to the gym, just focus on stretching and activating the key areas that you’ll be working that day rather than meticulously going over every inch of your body. An effective warm-up shouldn’t last more than 10 minutes.

Some areas to focus:

  • Ankles
  • Glutes
  • Hips
  • Thoracic Spine
  • Upper Back/Shoulders
  • Lats
  • Pecs

There are a ton of exercises that will target each of these areas. Find a few that you feel working (and that you enjoy), and practice them routinely. A few minutes a day goes a long way.