A work in progress

My first college advisor died after my freshman year.

My second advisor left the school.

By my senior year, I assumed the English department was drawing straws to see who got stuck with me next, given that I was prone to weekly existential crises about what to do with my life. Eventually I fell to former department chair Dr. Kelly, a kindly fellow who used long guttural “uhhhhhhs” to fill the silence while he searched for his next thought.

In my final meeting with him before graduating, he looked across his desk at me, touching his fingertips lightly together and his kind eyes smiled through his wire rim glasses.

“You Kim…uh……are a true….uh…..work in progress….”

I don’t know if I laughed awkwardly aloud, or just avoided eye contact as was often my style back then, but I thought the comment was spot on. If he’d said something like “you’re going to set the world on fire” or pretty much anything else, I would have shrugged it off as the kind of thing you say to any graduating college senior.

But in this case, I appreciated him complimenting me for who I really was. Someone who was working hard to understand herself, someone who was exploring her faith, trying to be a better writer, and mostly trying to find her place in this world.

I've thought of his comment a lot recently, in conversations with clients.

We are all works in progress, aren’t we?

But I think we often lose sight of our progress because we are so focused on the arrival. That because we did not “arrive” at our destination or our goal, we’ve come up short, didn’t work hard enough, or failed ourselves. I didn't enjoy my graduation from college for more than a hot minute before I was consumed with what came next.

Ok, ok. I basically had a panic attack the day after graduation…

At Spurling, we recently hosted an eight-week drop two jeans sizes challenge. Most clients have seen results - some more dramatic than others. But nothing was quite so shocking as sitting down with someone who lost 20 pounds and almost 7% body fat while gaining 5 pounds of muscle and hearing the disappointment in her voice.

But look at how far you’ve come, I said, imploring her to see what I was seeing.

You have made lifestyle changesnot been on some crazy diet that you can’t sustain. You will continue to see positive change.

She nodded, but quite frankly there were no words I was going to say that would have made a difference. Because it is so hard to suddenly un-do in 10 minutes what society has spent 50 years creating.

The constant perception that we're not good enough as we are. That we won't be good enough until....

I’m not going to just suddenly convince her in a 20 minute conversation to focus on how far she’s come. I can talk until my lips turn rubber and she’s not going to believe me. My words alone can’t suddenly change the belief.

My question as a coach - no - as a human being - is what's it going to take? What's it going to take to help each and every client understand that she is good enough as she is? Clients, students, partners, parents, friends - we need to change our language and our belief system to both/and.

You can be working towards progress AND celebrate your achievements.

As with kindness, as with civility, as with compassion, I can only think that it's going to take what it takes - a minute by minute, day by day effort from each and every one of us to help each other not only realize that we are all works in progress, but to love ourselves for the journey we're on, not the destination for which we search.

Be kind.

Do You Ever Listen To Your Own Voice?

Have you ever watched yourself on video or heard an audio recording of your voice and catch yourself saying “that’s not me.”

You’re caught off guard by how your voice sounds or some of the body language you had.

It can be strange to hear your own voice or to see yourself on video, and quite often you catch things that you don’t think are going on.

For example, that is how your voice actually sounds, you just listen to yourself all day everyday so you don’t think about it.

It’s a blind spot.

Or, yes, you do have that nervous tug of the t-shirt, or always frown your eyebrows when someone is giving you feedback, you just don’t realize it.

It’s a blind spot.

We all have them.

Blind spots.

We are trapped inside our own bodies.

We can’t see our own facial reactions, our body language, or even hear some of our tones that others are picking up on.

We think we sound this way, or we think we reacted this way, but in reality we sound a particular way, and our body language shows something different.

It’s a blind spot.

We have blind spots everywhere in life.

You think you’re being a good listener, yet you don’t realize that others don’t think that because you cut off all their ideas before they can even finish them.

It’s a blind spot.

You don’t know.

We don’t know we don’t know something until we know we don’t know it.

That’s a mouth full, but read it again.

We don’t know we don’t know something until we know we don’t know it.

As I mentioned life is full of blind spots.

In the personal development realm it’s all about finding out about your blind spots and trying to fix them as quickly as possible.

In fitness and nutrition we can have blind spots on how to exercise, portion control, and a slew of other things.

For example, you could think that your portions are dead on.

If someone were to ask you, “are you eating healthy?”, you would say “yeah, for sure.”

However, if we took those portions and compared them side-by-side to what a portion should be you could have a blind spot.

Until you see the side-by-side comparison you had no clue that your portions were way off and that could be the reason you haven’t been able to see much fat loss.

In regards to exercise, we could think we’re doing things properly, we could think that we’re doing things at the right intensity, but it takes someone from the outside to confirm if that’s a blind spot or not.

And there’s my last point.

It takes someone from the outside.

Remember, we’re trapped in our own bodies.

We can’t see from the outside in.

We can’t see that frown, we can’t see that body language, we can’t hear that tone, and we certainly can’t see if our knees are caving in on that squat.

It takes a coach.

The best singers in the world have a voice coach.

Is that coach a better singer than them?

Probably not.

But because of that, and because they’re outside, they can see and hear things that the singer would never be able to notice.

They remove blind spots.

Personal development in life, and in fitness, is about removing as many of our blind spots as possible.

And the scary thing is, if you have blind spots (we all do), you don’t know you have them.

That’s why you have a coach, that outside eye.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

What are you willing to struggle for?

I often listen to books when I'm making the hour drive to the gym, and recently, I heard this quote:

"Who you are is defined by what you are willing to struggle for." **

I re-wound (I still listen to books on "tape" in my mind) and listened to the quote again. Well, I thought, laughing to myself, then one thing is absolutely clear to me. 

I am a writer. 

As much as I enjoy writing, I struggle with it. But, putting my words down on metaphorical paper is important to me for a litany of reasons - it was how I found my voice over the years, and how I still find my voice. It’s how I coach and teach. It’s hopefully how I entertain sometimes. I’ve taken classes upon classes to try to perfect the craft, but the process is still a struggle, especially as I push myself to take more risks.

In 2017, I pitched an article to the website Girls Gone Strong, determined to try and publish outside of my little blog, and my pitch was accepted.

Then, I let the project slide through my hands. Even though I was pitching an article on a subject I know well, I kept writing and re-writing and bumping up against self-doubt. And I let the article fall through.

Until August of this year, when a good friend of mine who also contributes to the site brought it back up to me. And after a few months of struggle and lots of encouragement, the article was published last week. 

I get plenty of encouraging feedback about my writing - and chances are if you're reading this, it's because you have at some point enjoyed some of what I write. Thank you for that. 

And as much as I enjoyed the feeling of finishing the article and finally seeing a writing project through to completion, I think I enjoy the struggle as much, if not more, than the finish line.

We know that happiness doesn’t come after success. We aren’t suddenly happy if we hit our goal weight or land our dream job with our dream salary. If we are, the happiness is short lived. I enjoyed seeing my article published for a short period of time before I took a deep breath and thought well, what’s next?

It’s not that we shouldn’t savor the moments of success. We need to take a sacred pause and acknowledge our achievements. But if we can’t find some satisfaction in the struggle, well, maybe we need to pick something else for which we want to struggle.

Doug talked the other day about trading problems - I traded the problem of working 70 hours a week at a job I didn’t love for the problem of sitting down to my writing everyday. My work and personal life are structured so that I can have that struggle.

Some days writing feels harder than others - like tonight, at 10:51 when I’m trying to finish this post in a way that’s worthwhile and meaningful.

But I’m content, actually, I feel blessed, that this is my struggle.

Sweet Potato Rounds


  • 1 large sweet potatoes sliced into ¼-inch rounds

  • 1 tablespoon Grapeseed or olive oil

  • Ground cinnamon


  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 1-½ teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt or to taste


Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 4.42.41 PM.png


  1. Add all of the ingredients for the herbed ricotta to a small bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add the sweet potato slices to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with grapeseed or olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt and ground cinnamon over rounds. Use your hands to rub the oil and seasoning on both sides of the sweet potato rounds. Arrange rounds on a large baking sheet (or two if necessary). Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the rounds, then bake for another 17 to 20 minutes, or until rounds are cooked through and crispy on the edges

  3. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. 10 minutes before the potato rounds are finished cooking, place the walnuts in the oven to roast.

  4. Remove sweet potato rounds and walnuts from the oven. Place walnuts on a cutting board and chop.

  5. Place oven on high broil setting and move the oven wrack second to the top shelf. Place a dollop of herbed ricotta on each sweet potato round and place in the oven for 2 minutes, just until ricotta is melty and warm.

  6. Add chopped walnuts and dried cranberries to the rounds. Drizzle with honey and serve!

Source: https://www.theroastedroot.net/sweet-potato-rounds-with-herbed-ricotta-and-walnuts/

The Vicious Circle of Beliefs

Our beliefs shape everything.

Take a look at this simple circle.

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It starts with a belief that you have.

That belief causes you to take a certain action.

That action produces a certain result.

Because of that result you have a certain belief.

And the circle goes round and round.

As always, there are both fitness principles and life principles with this.

Let’s first look at two fitness examples, one negative, one positive.

Suzie has this belief that she can’t do anything at the gym, that she won’t be able to keep up, and that she’s going to get hurt.

That belief, causes an action.

That action is to not join a gym, to not workout.

That action produces a result, which happens to be weight gain.

That result then reinforces the belief that she can’t do anything, etc, etc.

Until Suzie changes her belief that circle is going to keep going around and around.

On the flip side, let’s say Suzie has a belief, a vision, that she is going to get 10 workouts in January.

She’s positive about, she’s knows it won’t be easy, but she believes she can do it.

That belief causes her to take action and show up to the gym once.

That action builds motivation for her to keep showing up.

Suzie now gets a great result, and her positive belief that she can get results, and it continues to reinforce the positive action.

The difference between the two scenarios?

A different belief.

If you want a different result, you need a different action, and if you want a different action you need a different belief.

Let’s look at a couple non-fitness examples.

Let’s say you have a grudge with a co-worker.

You have a belief that they are slacking and not pulling their weight.

That belief is going to cause you to have a different action towards them.

The action may be negative feedback, or it may just be ignoring the person.

Because you did that it will reinforce the result that they are not pulling their weight and doing their job because that’s all you can see.

That result reinforces your belief that they are not a good team player.

Instead, going into it with a positive belief that this person is doing great work and maybe they’re just having a bad day.

That belief then changes your action to get curious and see how things are going with the person, maybe you grab lunch with them.

That action produces a better result because you had the opportunity to understand each other better and you see that they are actually a great team member.

That result reinforces a belief, which continues to guide your actions towards them, which leads to a certain result.

You can role play this circle with relationships, parenting, your career, financials, or your fitness.

The important thing to remember is it all starts with your belief.

If you want to change the result you first need to change your belief.

Does that make sense?

Just reply if you have questions, and I’d love to hear how you use this circle of beliefs in your life.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Trading Problems...

As you reflect back on 2018 and begin to set some goals for 2019 I’d like you to take this into consideration…

If you're on a journey to a healthier and happier you, you know the road is not smooth. 

It's bumpy as heck. 

You start getting some momentum, lose focus for a little while, get busy, and the longer you're "off track" the harder it is to get back on. 

That's why we preach slow and steady consistency, not beating yourself up if you miss a week here and there, because, in the long-term, it's more about just showing up consistently. 

1% Better.

Ok, we get that. 

But, I'm on this road to a healthier and happier me, and I still have "problems."

And that's the problem!

We think that once we get going, once we hit a certain goal, once we accomplish something all our problems go away. 

In his book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK", Mark Manson talks about how life is all about trading problems for better problems, but it's also an understanding that we'll always have problems. 

Let's think about it...

When you first start a fitness journey you're scared, you're intimidated, and you're not in the shape you want to be in. 

That's a problem that you're looking to solve. 

So, let's assume things go great, you find a gym you're no longer scared of, you're into a routine, and you're getting results. 

And guess what?

A new problem emerges...

You now have to balance how do I fit these three hours at the gym into my hectic life. 

Who and what do I say no to at home or at work in order to take a priority of ME for a couple hours?

Still a problem, but a better problem. 

Let's keep rolling...

You're crushing it, you've found balance in your schedule and you're getting all kinds of results. 

Another problem emerges.

You may have to go buy an entirely new wardrobe, you may have a nonsupportive spouse or some jealous friends that make fun of you every time you try to eat healthy. 

Again, a better problem, but still a problem. 

The problems I solve today running a business with eight employees, hundreds of clients, a kid, a wife, and all the other factors that play into it are completely different (and better) than the problems I had to solve seven years ago when it was a one-man operation and I just started dating Megan. 

But there still problems...

This is a great reminder, and something Mark preaches in his book, that we will never eliminate problems in our life. If you set yourself up with that expectation you're going to fail. 

The goal is that you continue to grow and develop, in all aspects of life, so that you trade bad problems for better problems. 

But they'll always be problems....

And that's ok. 

That's what makes it fun. 

We're internally motivated to solve problems. 

As much as we dream of everything being perfect and going smoothly 110% of the time, we crave the ability to fix stuff that's broken, we crave problems. 

We just hope we're trading good problems for great problems. 

I'll end with my favorite quote from the book...

"There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond...

Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another....

Don’t hope for a life without problems. There’s no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems."

What problems do you want in 2019?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Christmas Salad


2 bunches Swiss chard, chopped (~6-7 cups)

2 oranges, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup pecans

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup blue cheese

1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1 large orange
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon orange zest

1. Over medium heat add brown sugar, 1-2 tablespoons of water, and pecans to a pan. Cook for a few minutes until sugar mixture is thick and pecans are toasted.
2. Combine all ingredients for dressing and whisk well.
3. On a plate, arrange Swiss chard. Top with oranges, pecans, blue cheese and pomegranate seeds. Top with dressing.

Source: https://www.nutritionistreviews.com/2015/11/christmas-salad.html

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You don't have to earn your holiday cookies

It’s the holidays.

Time for being dragged through some Christmas tree farm in upstate Maine for two and a half hours until you can no longer feel your toes and you’ve found the “perfect” tree. Even if you passed the perfect tree 17 times in the first half hour.  

Oh…that’s not how you started your season?

It’s also time for listening to Dean Martin’s “Marshmallow World In the Winter,” wrapping presents with duct tape, dressing your basset hound up like santa and….cookies.

Also watching Christmas Vacation for the 3,457th time.

And cookies. 

I’m not a huge fan of all cookies - my mother is a good baker, but she only ever used half a bag of chocolate chips when making three batches of chocolate chip cookies. Finding a chocolate chip was like finding the baby Jesus in a king cake.

But if you wag a peanut butter cookie with a Hershey's kiss in front of my face, you best set it down and walk away. Walk slowly, slowly, away.

People are making cookies. They are bringing them to work, giving them as gifts and hiding them from children so there will be some left for guests.

You should eat the cookies. 

No, don’t shove them all in your mouth at once like a holiday cookie chubby bunny contest. Moderation people. But you should eat them.

And you don’t have to earn them.

Let me repeat that.  

You don’t have to earn your cookies. You don’t have to do 10 burpees and 75 jumping jacks before you can have one. You don’t need to do walking lunges up and down the hallway after you eat one. You don’t have to punish yourself to enjoy a taste of the holidays. 

Exercise is not punishment. 

I know it can feel like punishment. But I hope you exercise because you feel good doing it. Because it feels good to work up a sweat and move your body. I hope you’ve already established an exercise plan that you follow on a weekly basis. Stay consistent with what you're doing, but don't give in to the pressure to feel like you have to do more because of food. 

If you want to go for a walk because your brother decided to bring up politics and that’s how you’ll relieve your stress - well….that’s a good reason to literally run for the hills. 

But don’t go for a walk because you had two of your co-worker’s famous bourbon balls and you feel you have to work off those calories. (Or a slight buzz. Easy on the bourbon next time Martha.)

You don't have to earn your food. And exercise is not punishment. Even pushing the sled. Really.

What Do You See?

Hello from Ann Arbor, Michigan!

I’m spending two days with a company that’s going to help rip apart, clarify, and reconstruct our vision.

What is your vision?

It's kind of a fluffy question, but important nonetheless. 

I’ll share my lessons learned in the next couple days but here are my current thoughts on visioning…

What's your purpose?

Why do you exist?

What gets you out of bed every morning?

We should be able to answer these questions about ourselves. 

One of the best questions I think about is...

What is going to be said at my funeral?

Do we really just want to go through the motions of life with no purpose, no clear vision of what we're chasing?

Of course not. 

So what the heck does this have to do with fitness?

Fitness is just a means to an end. 

Good fitness and nutrition just allow us to do certain things and feel certain ways. 

If part of our life vision is to be an impactful mentor to our kids, shouldn't we lead by example by eating healthy and exercising?

Not to mention, if we're doing those things we'll most likely be able to live a longer and stronger life to be around for them more. 

So keep that in mind as you go throughout this. 

Fitness and nutrition is really just a means to an end. 

They allow us to do more, have more energy, sleep better, recover better, feel better, live longer, live stronger, make more impact, and live our vision to its fullest potential.

So how do you know your vision?

The short answer...

Through a lot of self-awareness, discovery, and experience. 

Also, your vision is never set in stone. 

It's a moving target. 

I like to think of my vision as the north star. 

It's what keeps me motivated, it's what I chase every day, and it's why I exist. 

However, underneath that vision is a series of goals that I want to accomplish that will move me closer to that north star.

As you clarify your vision ask yourself these questions?

What do you want to be known for?

What kind of impact do you want to make?

What are the big scary things you want to accomplish in life?

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

What does your ideal day, ideal body, ideal mind, ideal ____ look like?

From there, I like to break things down to a 3 year picture. 

What does life look like 3 years from now?

Really try to picture it, visualize it. 

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What kind of money are you making?

What vacations are you going on?

What does life look like?

The three year picture is about as far out as I really try to get clear on, and even then, nothing is set in stone, things change. 

However, I at least want to be on the right track as I move closer and closer to my vision. 

From there, I'll take that 3-year picture and break it down into some one-year goals. 

These would be your 2019 goals. 

And finally, I would take all of my 2019 goals and break them down into 90 day chunks. 

So, if I wanted to lose 40lbs this year, that means 10lbs in the next 90 days. 

If I wanted to save $4,000 for my kids college fund, that's $1,000 in the next 90 days. 

You can do that for any of your goals. 

However, ultimately, the goal is a clear vision because the 3 year picture, one year goal, and 90 day goals are all just breakdowns of things that are moving you closer to your vision.

What's your vision?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

PS: Would you be interested in a Vision & Goal Setting Workshop next month to make 2019 your best year yet? Reply and let me know....

Greek Stuffed Chicken


3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. chopped dill, plus more for garnish

1 tbsp. chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

2 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

1 zucchini, halved and thinly sliced

2 medium tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, sliced into half moons

2 lemons, halved and thinly sliced

1 c. crumbled feta

1 c. shredded mozzarella

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.19.07 AM.png


  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place chicken on a cutting board and make 5 slits in each breast, being careful not to cut through completely. Transfer to a small baking sheet.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, dill, parsley, and garlic. Drizzle over chicken breasts, making sure olive oil mixture gets in the slits. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Stuff each chicken breast with zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, and lemons. Sprinkle crumbled feta and mozzarella on top.

  4. Bake until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 25 minutes. Garnish with more dill and parsley. Serve warm.

Source: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a57364/greek-stuffed-chicken-recipe/

Lights, Camera, Action

How are you held accountable?

I think we all need/want accountability but quite often we don’t know what holds us accountable.

Some people need regular check-ins, some people need to know that someone is counting on them.

For me, I thrive off of social accountability.

I know that there are a lot of eyes on me at all times.

Whether it’s eyes on a post like this, eyes on me when I’m at the gym, or eyes on the community that we’re curating.

That’s a good thing because it keeps me accountable.

But it got me thinking...

How would you act if you were being filmed 24/7?

The more you think about it, it's actually a great accountability mindset. 

There is no denying it, when the lights are on us, when we're on stage, and when the camera is rolling we probably act a little different, just like the folks on shows like the Bachelor do. 

So, why not use that to your advantage?

Imagine that you're being filmed...

Would you sleep in and hit the snooze button five times?

Would you eat a donut for breakfast after voicing a goal of losing fat?

Would you not go to the gym, but instead sit on the couch and watch TV?

One of my favorite lines is...

"The hardest thing to do is to work hard when no one is watching."

Well, what if everyone is watching?

I always remind my team that the gym floor is their stage, and we're always "on."

People are watching you, listening to you, reading your body language, and noticing things out of the corner of their eyes. 

We only have good days and great days, there are no bad days because this is our show. 

What about your life?

For some, this mindset tactic may not work, but for others, it could be a game changer. 

If you're on stage, spotlight on and camera rolling, you will make better decisions. 

It's easy to sit and eat a bag of chips on the couch when no one is around, but what if were you on camera?

Would you be meal prepping or working out instead?

If you want to have success you have to work hard when no one is watching, and that's not easy. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

4 Keys to Successful Committment

Committing to something. 

What does that actually mean?

Whether we're talking commitment in fitness, commitment to family, commitment to a relationship, or committing to being a better employee or spouse it comes down to four things. 

1. A strong desire. 

Without a compelling reason, it's really hard to commit to something. You'll need a clear and personal reason to commit to something. When things get difficult (which they will) you'll need a strong desire and compelling reason to stay committed, if you don't have that as your base, you won't stay committed. With a strong desire, a strong "why", you are capable of much more than you think you are and you'll have a strong commitment. 

2. Keystone actions.

Once you have a strong desire to accomplish something, you'll need to identify the core actions that are going to get you there, the keystone actions. Remember, it's what we do that counts, and there are numerous activities to accomplish a task. However, it's important to stay focused on the "big rocks" the keystone actions, the things that produce the greatest results. Remember the 80/20 rule. 20% of your actions produce 80% of your results. Focus on the big things that make the most impact. 

3. Count the costs. 

In any commitment, there are going to be costs associated. It may be actual money, but it also may be the costs like time, uncertainty, loss of comfort, etc. For example, if you have a strong desire to drop some body fat percentage, there's going to be costs associated with it. You're going to have to dedicate time away from other things to work out, you may have to say no to some social things to not put yourself in a poor nutritional setting, and of course, there is the cost of probably feeling a little scared or uncomfortable in the beginning. With any commitment comes some type of costs, and you have to ask yourself, are you willing to pay the price?

4. Act on commitments, not feelings.

There will be plenty of times when you don't feel like doing the critical activities required for the desired outcome. Things like waking up early, going to the gym after work instead of going home, or maybe going somewhere you really don't want to go but you know it will make your spouse happy. It's during these hard times we need to learn how to act on commitments, not on feelings. If not, you'll never build momentum, and learning to do things you know you need to do, regardless of how you feel, is a core principle of success.

There you have it. 

The 4 keys to successful commitment.

As always, I love how this applies to not only fitness but all other aspects of life as well.

I'll be back tomorrow to wrap up the week. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard and or used this expression. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps might be the most common phrase out there when it comes to managing depression. It’s the call to action that we all believe will get us through our days.

And quite often, it does. 

Last week, in writing a post about depression for another website, I decided to look up the original meaning of the phrase.  

As it turns out, bootstraps are literally the loops in the back of boots that help you put your boots on.

Mind blown. 

Originally, I was thinking that they were those weird things that you had to use in the olden days, before elastic, to keep your socks from falling down. Or your panty hose. Which sounds awful. I mean as if panty hose weren’t bad enough. 

Did I ever tell you that I was in a sorority in college and was rushed away one Sunday in the middle of the Steelers’ game and was PISSED that not only was I being torn from the game, but I had to put panty hose on for the ceremony? 

Ask me about leaving the sorority to join the convent later…

Anyway, bootstraps.

The other definition for the expression is to get oneself out of a situation using existing resources. 

I’ve often thought of the phrase as something that I had to do by myself - either by ignoring the way I really felt or trying to pretend that I was feeling better than I was. Either way, the onus was on me to just pull myself up by the bootstraps and grind out my day.

But what I love about that second definition, is the invitation to take advantage of the support around you to get out of a situation. It’s about tapping into your support network. 

One of the best parts about working at Spurling is watching the community grow and bond. Clients are constantly rallying around other clients in good times and bad - they’ve supported one another through the sudden loss of a gym member - through hip replacements and back surgeries, and through chemotherapy treatments.

We want our community to be a resource for you. We want to help you celebrate the big wins on your journey and support you during the tough times. 

Often, the hardest part about using an existing resource is trusting your vulnerability enough to ask. I think we can all appreciate how hard it can be to ask for help - to share that vulnerability with another person or people. 

But just remember that the next time you feel that you need to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” that you don’t have to do it alone. 

What Are Your Rules?

Let's imagine something for a minute...

Imagine if there were no rules. 

Imagine if it was okay to drive 100 mph on the highway

Imagine if you could jump from a skyscraper and not die. 

Speeding and gravity. 

They are rules. 

Rules that we have to follow. 

What are the rules in your own life? 

I consider productivity to be a strength of mine. 

However, just like anything else, it's a skill that must be practiced.

I think people forget that. 

You don't just wake up and instantly become productive. 

You must practice it, recognize the negative patterns, reinforce the positive behaviors, educate yourself on it, and continually implement it.  

It starts with your rules. 

Do you have a rule about what time you wake up?

Do you have a rule about what time you go to bed?

Do you have a rule about not checking e-mails until 10 am?

Do you have a rule that you must get at least 20 minutes of exercise every day?

How about a rule that you won't waste time on negative people or dwell about negative things?

Do you have a rule that you won't eat sweets more than once per week? 

You create your own rules. 

Think about the nutrition side. 

A vegan is someone who doesn't eat animal products. 

It's a rule. 

You can't eat steak three nights a week and be a vegan. 

Now, being vegan is a choice, but with that choice comes a set of rules we must follow. 

Being productive is a choice, but with that choice comes a set of rules you must follow. 

Just like being fit is a choice, but with that choice comes a set of rules you must follow.

I have a list of rules that I follow every day. 

You have to start with that. 

You have to put up some guardrails. 

I'll share a couple of my rules...

I get up at 4:30am.

I meditate for 10 minutes. 

I read for 30 minutes. 

I write for 30 minutes. 

I don't check social media or e-mail until those are done. 

I plan the next day the night before. 

Those are rules. 

They are non-negotiable. 

I think we sometimes forget that.

As much as we preach the “1% Better” life, and the slow and steady lifestyle, you have to realize something…

The bigger the transformation you want to make, in fitness or anything, the bigger the change you’re going to have to make.

We can’t sit back and just keep blaming it on things…

“I’m busy right now…”

“It was a short week…”

“It’s the holidays…”

The problem with that mindset is every week is going to bring up those obstacles.

Those problems are never going to stop.

We’ll always be busy, we’ll always have holidays and family obligations, and things will always come up.

That’s where your rules come in.

If it’s truly a rule you get it done no matter what.

This post comes to you everyday at noon time.

It doesn’t matter if I’m busy, sick, tired, or traveling, I never miss it.

It’s a rule.

Do I miss other things?

Of course.

But my rules are non-negotiable.

The people that follow their rules and get them done everyday no matter what obstacle presents itself are the ones that have the most success.

We’ll always have problems…those are not going anywhere.

However, are you going to be the person that just justifies with excuses every time you don’t do something, or are you going to make it a rule and get it done no matter what it takes?

Is it always easy?

Of course not. 


What are your rules?

You have to set boundaries. 

You have to set guardrails.

Don't let external forces control your productivity. 

That's this weeks challenge. 

Set three rules that you're now going to live by every single day. 

As you continue to get better at this, you'll tweak the rules you do have and begin to add some others. 


What are your rules?

I'd love to hear them. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium shallots — finely diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine — or substitute additional chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1 medium butternut squash — about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • Coarse sea salt

  • 3 1/2-4 cups vegetable broth — or reduced-sodium chicken broth*

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked short grain brown rice

  • 6 ounces loosely crumbled goat cheese — about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves — about 4 large leaves, plus additional for topping

Screenshot 2018-11-24 at 8.12.05 PM.png


  1. Lightly coat the bottom of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, salt, and pepper. Sautée until the shallot is soft and translucent but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.

  2. Transfer the shallot mixture to the slow cooker. Add the squash, 3 1/2 cups broth, and rice. Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or on low for 4 to 6 hours), until the rice is tender and creamy. Check the broth level towards the end of the cooking time to ensure the risotto doesn't dry out. If it seems too dry, stir in a bit more broth as needed.

  3. Stir, then taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired (I added a scant 1/2 teaspoon additional salt). Stir in the goat cheese and fresh sage. Serve immediately, topped with additional fresh sage as desired.

Source: https://www.wellplated.com/slow-cooker-risotto-butternut-squash/

A year later

The snow crunched under my feet as we hiked in towards the harbor.

I looked down at my boots, picking my way around tree roots and patches of ice as we hike our way towards the water. 

I remember, in that odd way that particular details stick in our minds, hiking this trail with you almost 10 years ago, wearing white nike sneakers and you laughed when I tried not to get them dirty. 

“We’re hiking,” you said. 

“Then I should have brought different shoes,” I grumbled. 

My mother n’ law and wife hike ahead of me, Mary carrying your ashes in a canvas bag, the two of them sharing memories of trips to Maine with you thirty years ago, and I lag behind, in disbelief that you’ve already been gone almost a year. 

You didn’t want a funeral, so we didn’t have one. You wanted a party, which no one has been able to throw just yet, and you wanted some of your ashes spread in Ship’s Harbor, so we’ve come to do that today. 

Grief is a weird animal, and one that I don’t fully understand. I miss you in different moments, at different and often unexpected times. I didn’t know you as long as the rest of your family, and it sometimes means that I feel less of a right to have much grief. As though grief is measured in moments spent together and not in the power of the connection felt. As though my love for you was predicated on me marrying into the family, and not on the way I could make you belly laugh. 

And I prided myself on getting a good belly laugh from you. 

When we get to the harbor, I stand back, letting Mary and Sheila have their moment together - trying to respect their reminiscing about coming here when Sheila was a kid and you still had 30 years of your life ahead of you. They each take a turn spreading your ashes, when Mary turns to me.

“Do you want to spread some?” She asks.

I nod, and she fills a cracked red solo cup with some ashes. 

I’m a bit startled by the red solo cup, it seems less than ceremonious, but then again, you were a frugal yankee and would probably appreciate the simplicity of simply using what was available to do the job. 

I scramble down the rocks to get closer to the water, determined to get you to the water that you loved so well and not accidentally spread you on the seaweed. I crouch to my knees as the waves lap the rocks in front of me. I’m not sure what to say as I hesitate to throw you in the water. Just that I miss you. That life is different without you. That I hope you know how much I loved you, because I can’t remember if I said it. 

And with that, I let you go, back to the water. 


Do you ever get a new vehicle thinking that you are the only one with that model or color, and then all of the sudden you start seeing the same one everywhere you go?


Reticular Activating System. 

It's the awesome computer in our brain that most of us never use on purpose. 

What we think defines who we are. 

It's not that there are more black trucks on the road than before, you're just now thinking of black trucks so you see more of them. 

But it's not just thoughts on vehicles, it's everything. 

Every day we have thousands of thoughts that seem to leap in and out of our minds. 

Those thoughts greatly define who we become and what we achieve. 

Think about the kinds of thoughts you've had today. 

People tend to dwell on what's not working, and our thoughts are dominated by problems and self-criticism.

The RAS is the attitude programming in the brain, and you can control it. 

So if you're telling yourself you can't do something, you won't be able to do it. 

Worrying has the same effect. 

Attitude is the only thing we can control in life, yet it's also the most powerful. 

A very efficient machine, the RAS zeros in one any area of interest. 

So if our attitude is negative, we're going to have negative outcomes. 

So, what does all of this mean for you?

If you're looking to achieve certain outcomes in life and in fitness, immerse yourself in positive thoughts about it. 

Any statement you make to yourself makes a thread in your brain and the more thoughts on that topic that stronger the thread. 

So why not make them positive thoughts?

It's the only way to get a positive outcome. 

That's why goal setting is so great. 

Goals focus your attention and force your brain to attract what you want. 

Most people spend more time planning a vacation than they do planning a life. 

Setting goals in every aspect of life, including fitness, puts your RAS to work. 

I know it can be challenging, but just like when you think about black vehicles you see black vehicles, when you think about positive success, you get positive success.

Mindset will always trump everything.

Hope this got some wheels turning.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Enjoy the snow! :)

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Why Is Spurling So Expensive?

A little different post today…

Last week I did a focus group at the gym that I called “Design The Future of Spurling.”

Basically I took feedback from about 40 members on what they like, what they want to see change, and what new ideas they have.

We’ll then use that feedback to design the future of Spurling and set out to make as many of the changes requested happen as possible.

One of the questions that I asked was…

“What do you tell your friends about Spurling?”

Almost everyone said…

“It’s expensive, but…..”

And listed the reasons why they see the value.

I have about 101 posts planned based on the feedback from the other night (like how we’re nothing like CrossFit, our expansion plans, and how we’re going to add more changing rooms), but today I thought we’d address the line…

“Why is Spurling so expensive?”

Here are my top six answers…

  1. Anything that is the best is never cheap. We are expensive because we are the best at what we do. Sorry, but it’s true. According to industry experts we are the healthiest gym under 10,000 square feet in the country. If you want a good hotel you don’t expect to pay $49/night. If you want a good restaurant you don’t expect a dollar menu. Best and cheap don’t exist.

  2. It’s a value exchange. I hope that people see it as an investment, not an expense. Would you rather change your life, live longer, not be on medications (which probably cost more than a membership), and invest in your health, or not take care of yourself and be unhealthy? It’s an investment that gives you a return.

  3. You have to value coaching, accountability, and community. Those are our three uniques, and it’s what we focus on. If you don’t value having a coach with you at every workout showing you what to do, how to do it, and keeping you safe it’s not the investment for you. If you don’t value being held accountable, and being a part of a place that doesn’t just take your money and never reach out if you don’t show up, we’re probably not the place for you. And finally, if you don’t value being a part of a community, a group of people who all know each other, who all support each other, and who are all here to get better, it’s probably not an investment you’ll find value in.

  4. Think of us as a hybrid of Personal Training and a traditional Health Club. Typically personal training costs between $60-$100/hour. Which means if you wanted to come 2-3x per week you’d be paying upwards of $1000/month. A typical health club costs between $10-$100/month, but you usually just get to use their equipment and don’t get much, if any, guidance. We’re in the middle. You’ll be here with other people, so we don’t need to charge you $100/hour, but you’re never left on your own like at a health club. Our average membership comes out to about ~$20-$25/session.

  5. We all pay for stuff that others don’t find value in. That’s totally okay. Some love the $5 fancy coffee drinks, and others will just make coffee at home. Some love a fancy car with a big price ticket, others are okay driving the 1989 Toyota Camry still. Some love a big house with lots of stuff, others want nothing. Some spend their money on travel, some don’t. Some have a $200+ cable bill, others laugh at that. Some buy the latest iPhone, others just want anything that can make a call. I can go on and on. It’s not that Spurling is expensive, it’s just right for those who find value to it.

  6. We can’t be cheap. Think about it. The cheaper we are, the more members we need. We decide to cap our membership to make it feel less like a health club. The cheaper we are, the less coaching staff we can have. We decide to have a full-time coaching staff that this is their career, not just a hobby. We decide to have a coach with you at every workout. The cheaper we are the less we can hold you accountable. We decide instead to have a full-time coaching staff that part of their 40 hours is “accountability” where they reach out to people outside of the gym to see how they’re doing. The cheaper we are the less community things we can do, the less we can donate to charity, and the less impact we can make.

Here’s reality…

We want to help as many people as we can, and we have future plans to create more offerings outside of Spurling Fitness that can help more people.

However, we are the Ferrari of fitness.

Our goal is to deliver 10x the value, but this is an investment for most people (~$200/month).

And unfortunately, if you see it an an “expense” and not an “investment” we’re probably not right for you at this time.

Finally, it’s okay if we’re not a good fit for you.

You have to do what is right for you, and only you know what you value.

McDonalds and Fleming’s both serve beef, and they both have happy customers.

We're not bashing the health club or any other fitness offering, they are right for some people.

Spurling exists to impact, empower, and change the lives of those who are intimidated by the typical gym environment through strong coaching, relentless accountability, a family-like community, and a desire to get 1% better each and every day.

If that resonates with you at some point, we’ll be here.

We’re stronger than ever and not going anywhere.

If it doesn’t resonate with you, that’s cool too.

We still love you :)

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Lemony Lentil Soup


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced

  • 2 medium carrots, diced

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over

  • 2/3 cup whole-kernel corn

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • (optional) pinch each of saffron and cayenne

  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon

  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper



  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.

  2. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder (plus saffron and cayenne, if using) until combined.  Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer.  Then cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are completely tender.

  3. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do this in batches if you’re using a traditional blender.  And always be careful, since hot liquids expand while blending. 

  4. Return the pureed soup to the pot, and stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with sea salt and black pepper as needed. 

  5. Serve warm.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/lemony-lentil-soup/

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Yesterday I talked about the 4 Pillars to Fitness Success with the first one being Mindset.

Under mindset I talked about Fixed vs Growth Mindset and had a few people ask me to go a little more in depth, so let’s talk about fixed vs growth mindset.

For those who are readers, I highly recommend the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.

Basically the book talks about how there are two mindsets; the fixed and growth mindset.

The Fixed Mindset

A fixed mindset is one where you believe your talents and abilities cannot be improved by any means,  that you are born with what you have and no part of you can be improved.

A person with a fixed mindset believes challenges and less than ideal outcomes are negative.

A person with a fixed mindset attaches themselves to outcomes, e.g You haven’t done a push-up in 20 years but you try a floor push-up and at that moment you can not perform one.

A person with a fixed mindset would believe they can’t do push-ups.

It’s important for you to understand that if you have a fixed mindset, its not your fault. It’s likely something from your past that molded your thinking without you knowing.

Here’s a typical scenario.

Meet Mary

  • Lets imagine an average American girl in todays world, her dolls and her tv shows all show skinny, girls/ladies.

  • Mary doesn’t take much interest in sports/exercise.

  • She was never taught fundamental fitness movements & kinesthetic awareness yet she was asked to perform sports in gym class. Since she had no proper training, she felt uncomfortable with exercise & sports so she never played any or learned to exercise.

  • Mary has decent genetics so she stayed slim through high school yet she is still self-conscious because everywhere she looks (tv & magazines) show skinny women.

  • She gains a few lbs through college but still not overweight. Fast forward five years, shes in her late 20’s, still has never learned to balance exercise in life but now is starting to gain weight.

  • Her hormones and metabolism are changing….she is not unable to eat + drink what she always has.

  •  Now Mary is overweight so she decides to run because that’s all she knows how to do.

  • She doesn’t think she is athletic enough for movement and is too self-conscious to try on her own or at a gym.

The Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is where you believe that all aspects of your life can be improved through embracing discomfort, hard work and persistence.

A person with a growth mindset does not attach themselves to outcomes, e.g You haven’t done a push-up in 20 years but you try a floor push-up and at that moment you can not perform one.

A person with a growth mindset would say, welp it has been 20 years, why would I expect to do a push-up? I need to work on these!

Bring Back Mary: Growth Mindset – Spurling version

  • Mary is 20 lbs overweight, barely uses her gym membership because its boring and she doesn’t feel comfortable.

  • Her friend begs her to come into try Spurling so she comes during a bring a friend week.

  • She has trouble with some of the exercises, but the coaches regress the movements and keep her going.

  • Although tired and out of breathe, Mary is proud of what she just accomplished.

  • She signs up for 12 month membership, and loses 15 lbs in the first 90 days.

  • Mary is now outgoing, move confident than ever and had the most successful year of her career.

How You Can Transition From a Fixed to Growth Mindset

It’s important for you to understand that you were born with a growth mindset…or otherwise you would of never learned to walk.

There are two important points I want you to know:

  1. You are not stuck with a fixed mindset

  2. Even if you have mostly a growth mindset, from time to time you will slip into the fixed way of thinking…this is normal and its okay.

Catch yourself!

Replace I can’t, with I can I just need to work at it. 

Trust me, you can do 99% of things you would ever want to do.

This is not to say you will be close to good at them without any practice but you can do whatever it is to some extent.

When you find yourself setting limitations or letting others set your limitations, snap out of it.

Remember, YOU are the greatest miracle…no computer or anything else has as much ability as you have.

Just realize to do those things you need to progress small steps forward each day and that it will be an adventure; unexpected things will happen, you will have to alter or maybe even change your entire course, there will be highs and lows – embrace it all.

And if you do something and it doesn’t workout the way you wanted it to, feel good about yourself because you just over came a challenge. Next, look at it, whether a push-up or a new job and think, what did I learn from this?

Remember that failure is an event, not a person. Zig Ziglar

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling