A Dog & Their Bones...

There’s a good saying that goes something like this…

“The dog that tries to pick up two bones usually drops both.”

It’s a great line to remember we can’t be focusing on two things at the same time.

When a new client joins the gym, we know it can be overwhelming and daunting.

We aim to get them to focus on one thing…

Walk in this door 10 times.

That’s it.

Don’t try to change nutrition, don’t worry about fat loss or strength, don’t worry about anything else other than walking through the door ten times.

What we’re trying to do is build the habit of frequency.

We need frequency as the foundation before we change anything else.

If we try to set goals and go after multiple things like frequency, losing body fat percentage, getting stronger, changing nutrition, all at the same time, we have no focus and typically suffer.

Focus on one thing at time, make it a habit, and then, only then, stack another habit on top of it.

Nutrition is one people try to change in the beginning.

Where people typically fall is they are trying to pick up two bones so they drop both.

We like to separate nutrition.

It’s why we created the 90 Day “Clean & Lean” nutrition coaching that Trent runs.

He offers it 3-4 times a year, and only that often.

When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready to change, you can enroll in the next round.

When is it the right time to enroll?

You’ve been hitting your frequency…

You’re working hard…

But you just can’t seem to see many results.

There’s a strong chance it’s your nutrition.

If you’re exercising 10+ times a month with a goal of dropping body fat percentage, and you haven’t, the honest truth is it is probably your nutrition.

I’m guilty of this, as we all are at some point.

But, if you feel like you have a solid habit with your workouts and are ready to buckle down for the next 90 days on your nutrition I highly recommend you join Trent's coaching program.

I just checked with him yesterday and it looks like he has 5 of the 20 spots left before it starts next week.

We know that if we change too much at once we’re not hyperfocused and to keep my first example going, we “drop both bones.”

However, if you’re ready to make some significant change and really make nutrition a lasting habit here is your chance.

The 90 Day Clean & Lean is a nutrition coaching program run by our expert nutrition coach Trent.

As a group, you’ll meet each week, that way you have incredible accountability.

You’ll discuss what’s working, what you’re struggling with, and he’ll coach you up on a plan to follow for the next week until you meet again.

Throughout the week you have access to him, the other members, and daily accountability.

He also does some 1:1 meetings if you need them, and frequent InBody tests to make sure you’re actually hitting your results.

If you’re interested in this program just reply with “nutrition” and we’ll send you over the details.

Remember though, the program does start next week and he limits it to 20 people to give them the best experience possible, with only 5 of those spots left.

Regardless of if you do the nutrition program or not, remember the lesson…

“The dog that tries to pick up two bones usually drops both.”

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Our stuff tells our story

Shortly after I graduated college - my favorite professor - who had painted an orange trapezoid in the breakfast nook of her kitchen just because she could - looked out her window, sipping her coffee.

"Your stuff is your history," she'd said, turning her attention back to me.

I was probably lamenting to her that life didn’t work on a barter system. I was fresh off the heels of my Communications Degree, and was in my minimalist phase, wanting to own nothing more than my guitar and Birkenstocks. (Which I still have…) And I wasn’t motivated by money.

A Few months out of college, I wrote a proposed a salary of “just enough” on a job application. I proposed that I wanted just enough money to pay my bills and have some left over for dinner and a movie. I can imagine now the chuckles from the HR person who, seeing my college graduation date, must have laughed at my naivety.

I had just left the convent where the nuns, for the most part, owned relatively little. "Things" seemed evil to me - having too much stuff seemed greedy, and like it could distract you from the really important purpose of life.

Even now, despite my well known affinity for shoes, clothes, and technology, I could probably be satisfied with my laptop, guitar and a small collection of clothes.

But I've never forgotten what my professor said that day in her kitchen. Our stuff is our history.

Two weeks ago, we got a new pub table at the gym. I doubt anybody noticed - the new table was so similar that I wouldn’t have known had I not been present for the exchange. But as Josh removed the table, I made him stop.

"My life changed forever at this pub table," I said, and Chris nodded. I'd sat with Doug at that pub table for the first time on February 12th 2015. I'd just started a job at Bates College, and knew that's not where I wanted to be. I met Doug through an online network (my contact had a former intern who worked with Doug - his name is Trent Dubois). So on a snowy February evening, I sat with Doug and talked about my goals, my ambitions, and my dreams.

Many of you have sat at that pub table, and many of you are still thinking about it. Some of you have sat with Doug or Trent and you've tried to answer the same questions about yourself - what do you want? What are your goals? What do you need? How can we help?

In so many ways, that table is just a thing. A singular thing - a forgotten piece of furniture that, had I not been there to see it, would not have realized was even different. But that pub table held an important story for me - and I love stories.

But how how very, very, very right you were Dr. Marsters, that our stuff is our history.

That’s my #spurlingstory - what’s yours?

Two Traits...

I remember the fist time watching Kaden try to walk…

He looked like his legs were jello, stumbling all over the place.

I remember my first year as a business owner…

I was stumbling all over the place, mentally, physically, emotionally.

I remember the first time I stepped foot in a gym…

I had no clue what to do, how to use it, or anything.

We all have those memories of the early stages of something, when it was hard, when we had no confidence, and when we were trying something new.

But what happens?

How do we get past that?

When we’re looking to have a successful journey at something, anything, fitness or not, you can boil it to two traits that are required…


It seems obvious, but it’s why we preach it so much.

The perfect number of repetitions?

3 x 52.

3 Days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The fancy exercises, the quick-fixes, they never create any long-term success.

The only thing that does is being consistent.

Showing up when you don’t want to, prioritizing it over other “easier” things, etc.

Again, this is true for fitness, but also any area of life.

If you’re trying to build a relationship, you’re trying to have a better family.

It doesn’t matter if you have a great day, if the rest of the year you’re never around.

It’s about being consistent with your efforts.

Financial gains, same thing.

Contribute a small amount every month, consistently, and that always wins out over a big sprint, and then nothing for eons.

So the first trait you must have in any successful endeavor is consistency.

The second builds on it.


The ability to stick with it.

The grit to keep going when things get tough, or when an obstacle comes your way.

It’s that trait of perseverance that ultimately allows you to be consistent.

Remember, nothing worth having is easy.

In any journey that’s going to be life-changing, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, financially, or intellectually life changing, it’s not going to be easy.

Deep down we know that, but it’s these two traits that keep us going.



Whether you haven’t started out yet and are nervous to get going, or you’re 5 years into something, these traits still apply.

There are no exceptions to the traits.

We all need them.

If you’re 5 years in, you still need consistency, it doesn’t just stop being a requirement.

You still need to persevere, because if you remember from previous posts, growth just means better problems, not no problems.

Meaning, you’re still going to have problems you’ll need to persevere through.

No matter where you are on the journey, don’t get caught up in the detail, don’t keep looking for the shortcut or the “one thing” that’s going to turn things around or give you a dramatic result.

I’m afraid if you have that approach you’ll come up empty.

However, what you can do is continue to be consistent, and continue to persevere.

Continue to just keep getting better.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

My Personal Struggle & Story...

Over the weekend Coach Kim made a great post in our private members-only Facebook Group talking about part of her #SpurlingStory.

I loved it, and it made me think about my story.

I share this in hopes that you’ll share your #spurlingstory…

So, you read my posts, you check out the Spurling website, maybe you see the words “we change lives” in the lobby, and you might think “Yeah right, what do you know about changing lives?  You’re clearly young and in shape…

How could you possibly understand how hard it would be to change my life?”

Well, I kind of do understand. It hasn't always been the way you might think...

Believe it or not, there was a time where I’d never set foot in a gym and I hated exercise.  

I was too busy shoving cosmic brownies down my throat. 

If you’ve met me or seen my picture on our website or Facebook page, you can see I’m a big guy.  Well, I was always a big guy – I weighed nearly 11 pounds at birth – in a big family. I had genetics working against me from the start.   

I was born into a very unhealthy family.  A loving family, but an unhealthy one.

Of course I didn't know how unhealthy our lives were.  I just did what they did, which was sit around a lot, eat lots of pasta dishes (we’re part Italian) and watch a lot of TV. I don't remember any physical activity, no weekend hikes, no sledding in the winter, nothing that broke a sweat. 

It’s ok though, I can't be mad about it. In hindsight, it taught me many valuable lessons about what not to do and how not to live. 

I went into middle school tipping the scales at almost 300lbs. Yes, you read that right, middle school. I was the "big kid" that everybody wanted to be friends with, just in case they needed a sidekick in a recess fight, but not really anything outside of that. I was bullied, made fun of, and I didn’t feel good about myself.  So much for middle school fun, right?

Going into high school, not much changed. I was feeling depressed, never had a social life, and was living a life that I had no clue what to do with. I went through my first two years of high school weighing on the other side of 350lbs; I believe my heaviest was 378lbs.

Always the brunt of jokes, breaking chairs, and laughing to hide my embarrassment.

I don't blame anyone for my weight.  I certainly don’t blame my parents.  They raised me the best way they knew how.  My mom showed love by making sure there was food (and a lot of it) on the table and in the house. No one ever said “just one, you’ve had plenty”.

I don't even blame myself, because back then, I didn’t know any different. It’s what I saw around me, what I thought was “normal”. Wake up, eat, go to school, eat, come home, eat, watch TV, eat, go to bed and repeat. Life revolved around eating and no activity. 

At 14, I was able to get a work permit and a job.  Having my hard-working parents as role models, they instilled in me a very strong New England work ethic. Today, good or bad, I'll outwork anybody. In fact, it's something I'm trying to balance better today, telling myself that “no Doug, you don't need to work 18 hours a day, every day.”

My family was also not wealthy so there was much to be gained by getting a job.  But what kind of job could I get?  Other kids were all going to work at our local grocery store but I knew I wanted something different. 

I decided to write a letter to the local hospital to see if they had any openings. I was expecting one of two things to happen:

1. No response at all.

2. They'd stick me in the kitchen or laundry to do a bunch of not-so-fun work. 

You know how you can look back at life and there are a handful of moments where now, it’s so clear that if the road hadn’t taken you a certain direction, you have no idea where you’d be today? 

This was one of those moments.

I received an invitation to interview to be a "Physical Therapist Aide Trainee." I didn't know what a Physical Therapist was or how I’d be aiding them, but man, to a 14 year old, that job title sounded sweet!

I got the job, and began working there during my freshman year in high school. I would go to school from 7:00 am – 2:00 pm and then take the bus to the hospital to work 2:30 – 7:00 pm. 

I wish I’d stayed in touch with that group of people I worked with, as I’d love to be able to tell them now, 15 years later, how much they changed my life.

After I was trained, I worked along therapists, helping people walk for the first time in a long time, seeing people return to functionality from traumatic life-altering events, and gaining invaluable life experience. In fact, for the first time, the fact I was a big guy had some advantages.  I could help stabilize patients, help the PT’s transfer patients, etc. 

The experiences I gained in that job began to create the spark of the passion I have today, to change people’s lives.  I just didn’t know it yet.

Despite the fact I was bearing witness to other people’s life-changing events, none of it resonated yet as a reason to change myself.  I was only 14 after all.  

I went to a vocational high school, one of those schools where you can focus on a trade vs. academics and college prep. Most of the guys chose automotive, carpentry, electrical, etc. I chose health occupations. 

Life changer moment # 2...

Because of the course work, I was able to train and become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at age 16.

After receiving that certification, I left my job at the hospital and took a job in a nursing home.

Looking back at it, I'm 16, I had no clue. I was still just living in the moment. 

But that job changed my life. From sophomore year until the day I left for college, I worked in a nursing home taking care of Alzheimer's residents. I would go to school from 7:00 am – 2:00 pm and then drive over to the nursing home and work second shift, 3:00 – 11:00 pm, bathing, dressing and feeding someone’s wife, husband, mother, father, sister, or brother.

I had no idea at the time the effect this experience was having on me but today I can confidently say it was one of the top three things that changed my life. 

But still, I was pushing 400lbs. How could I be working in the health field and be so unhealthy myself?

Remember my physical therapy job? At the time I was leaving to go be a CNA, they had hired a new therapist, a woman who’d just graduated from this school up in Maine nobody heard of. The University of New England.  For some reason that stuck with me...

Senior year.  Graduation was looming.  I didn't know what I wanted to do.  I went back in my head to that physical therapy job, and thought to myself "I'd love to do that." 

So I applied to one school, the University of New England. Luckily, I got in, and was accepted into their pre-physical therapy program. 

That spark I’d started as a PT Aide was growing into a real flame of passion for changing people’s lives, but I realized if I was going to do anything with it, I needed to change my own life first. I woke up one morning and realized how could I possibly be preaching healthy habits to my patients when there I stood, the big fat kid?  What a hypocrite I was.

The summer after graduation, I got serious about making that change.   

Knowing what I know today, I would kill my old self for the way I went about it. I would never recommend this to anyone, but somehow I managed to make it work.

The entire summer, I lived off tuna fish sandwiches and bananas. That's it. A banana for breakfast, a tuna sandwich for lunch, and a tuna sandwich for dinner. 

I don't know how I did it. But it worked...

Going from eating 5000+ calories a day, to maybe 1000, the weight came off fast. 

When college started in the fall, I was less than 300 pounds, for the first time since I was 12. I lost 75 pounds in 3 months. 

Again, absolutely not the way I recommend anyone accomplish this but I was an 18 year old kid with no guidance of what the right way was. 

Banana and tuna sandwiches continued, I kept losing weight and I moved to Maine and started attending UNE. 

Another life changer...

I met my mentor and good friend, Heath. 

Heath was a part of the Exercise Science program. I don't know why, but he took me under his wing, and showed me all the great opportunities that exist in Exercise Science. 

I quickly developed a passion for exercise. Heath taught me everything he could about the field and it really fueled my fire for changing people’s lives. 

I switched majors in order to continue under his mentorship. 

Now, instead of just eating tuna and bananas, I gained some solid nutritional knowledge and learned to combine that with my newfound love of exercise. 

I noticed the profound effect exercise had on me not just physically, but mentally.  By my sophomore year at UNE, I was 260lbs, which was about 115 lbs less than my heaviest weight. 

All of the sudden, I started making friends, gaining confidence, hanging out with girls, you know, typical college stuff. And how crazy - it took exercise before any of this happened. 

Through all of this, the feeling of having a calling continued to grow stronger.  In addition to wanting to change other people’s lives, I was about to change my own.

My original plan of a career as a PT was sound but if you’ve ever gone to physical therapy, it’s pretty clear that many people being treated are there because they have to be, insurance makes them, or they can’t go back to work until they’ve gone, and so forth.  Often not in the best mood or mindset to hear advice about making life changes, I wasn’t sure it was the right long term career decision.

The nursing home experience totally changed my life. I got exposed to more by the time I was 18 than many people have seen in their entire life.

But I knew I couldn't work with that population every day for the rest of my life. I give extreme credit to those (including my wife, Megan) who choose to work in the medical field, especially those who are really "in the trenches" involved in meeting patients’ most basic needs such as bathing, feeding, and dressing. It is draining. 

When Heath told me one day that there were actually jobs where I could do what I dreamed of - change lives – every single day for the rest of my life - I just about fell over. 

Call it what you want: personal training, strength and conditioning, I call it changing lives for a living. 

I had changed my life. 

I had lost over 100lbs. 

I was on cloud 9...

I was all of age 20 and I thought I had it all. 

On a random Saturday in October, I drove home from UNE to have dinner with my parents. I walked into their house and a chill just came across my shoulders. I knew something was up. 

I sat down at the dining room table and my mom started crying. After fighting back the tears, she spit out...

"I have cancer."

The next six months were hell. I was trying to wrap up my degree at UNE, head down to Massachusetts to see her in the hospital, and do everything I could to help her, my dad and my younger brother.

Talk about another life changing point in life...

On June 14, 2010, in a hospice house, I held my mom’s hand and watched her take her last breath. 

At the age of 52, she had died from stage four lung cancer. 

I was 21 years old, and thought I had the world by the balls. 

Boy was I wrong...

As devastating as losing my mom was, it furthered my passion for changing people’s lives. 

I began to exercise even more. I knew too many people that used food as their stress reliever, and they reverted back to their old habits quickly. I used the gym as my stress reliever. 

Ironically, I was in the best shape of my life six months after my mom died. I had my own life experience that proved that through healthy eating, good exercise, and some accountability, people could change their lives.

Shortly after graduating, I used the urgency that was created by my moms passing, and knowing that life is short, to open what you now know as Spurling Fitness.

Since then it’s been a fun filled seven years with lots ups and a few downs…

The up of having double digit growth at Spurling every year since opening, and we’re changing lots of lives..

The down of losing my dad last year…

The up of becoming a leader to an incredible team that run the operations at Spurling Fitness and changes so many lives…

The down of having to move the business (turned out to be an up) and cycle through a few employees before finding the right ones…

The up of getting married, buying a house, having Kaden, and so many personal wins with Megan…

But it’s all good…

The ups and downs are what make life fun, and what make it such a fun story to tell.

At 29, I'm not here to tell you I've experienced everything.

I still have years to live, and hundreds of lessons to learn.

However, I am quite confident in saying I've been through some dramatic changes, negative and positive, and I live my life with one goal, to change the lives of as many people as possible. 

Spurling exists for one reason, and for one reason only, to change lives.

We get to now do that through multiple avenues including our fitness community that some call a gym, our charitable work where we’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars and donated our time to those in need, and through our business coaching where I get to help business owners scale their business and show them how to have a big impact on their customers while creating a life they love.

We’re just getting started, and you have not seen the last of the Spurling Community and all the ways we can help inspire positive change in YOU…

but it’s been quite the story already.

Everybody has a story.

Every person.

Every organization.

Everybody starts somewhere.

What’s your #spurlingstory?

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Quinoa Fruit Salad


  • 1 cup dry quinoa, pre-rinsed

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries

  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint leaves


  1. Over medium-high heat bring water and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat to a low-boil, cover and cook approximately 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed most of the water. Turn off the heat and leave the covered quinoa on the burner for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool then refrigerate until chilled.

  2. Combine the chilled quinoa with the fruit in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the olive oil, lime juice and honey in a jar with a lid and shake. Toss with the salad and sprinkle on the fresh mint leaves.

What Does The Stock Market Have To Do With Your Fitness?

I love the market. 

It's one of my side hobbies. 

Not sure what exactly I love about it, I think it's the interest of how other companies are performing. 

But it got me thinking...

Isn't our approach with investments the same as our approach to fitness?

It should be anyways...

Hear me out...

You wouldn't expect to have a million bucks in the bank by the time you retire without an action plan in place would you?

It's kind of like wanting to lose 50lbs but not having a clear action plan. 

We also don't expect to have a million dollars tomorrow, we know it's going to be a slow and steady process, just like losing the 50lbs. 

However, what we can do, is create a plan of action. 

If I'm 35 years old and I want to retire at 65, assuming an average return of X%, I need to save $X. 

It's simply reverse engineering it. 

Side note: I firmly believe one the biggest skills we can develop in any sector of life, fitness included, is the ability to reverse engineer something. Take the big goal that you want, and reverse engineer it all the way down to what do I have to do this week to keep me moving towards this goal.

Just like if I want to lose the 50lbs, I would reverse engineer from a timeline, and maybe it's 1-2lbs per week. 

Now, a couple more interesting things. 

You wouldn't expect to continue to grow your investments without contributing something each month, would you?

It's kind of like expecting the 50lbs to come off without contributing consistent sweat equity and healthy eating. 

But here's my favorite relation...

In the market, there are ups and downs. 

Some days are good, some days are bad. 

Some months are good, some months are bad. 

Some years are bad, some years are good. 

But you know, at the end of the day, if you just keep doing your contribution, and have a plan of action in place, you're probably going to win. 

Winning, in this case, is having more money in your accounts than what you started with. 

You don't stop "playing" just because the stock market had one bad day or one bad month. 

You may adjust your plan of action, but you don't stop playing. 

It's just like the fitness journey. 

There's going to be good days and bad days. 

There's going to be good months and bad months. 

There's going to be good years and bad years. 

You will "win" if you show up consistently, work hard, and have some fun doing it. 

You can't just stop "playing" if you gain a few pounds one month, or go through a rough spell. 

That's called life. 

Keep at the journey.

Keep contributing. 

It will all be worth it. 

1% Better. 

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

The Key Ingredient You Don't Realize To (Fitness) Success...

Good afternoon from sunny Orlando, Florida.

I’m down here for the week for some business meetings and before they start today, Megan, Kaden, and I came down a few days early to give Kaden his first experience at Disney (it was really for us).

A lot of people ask me how I always have something to write about since I make a post Monday-Friday.

To be honest, I’m just a firm believer in that there are lessons everywhere, so I’m just hyperaware of things going on, and 99% of my e-mails are either about conversations or observations that took place the day before, and today is no different.

Today, I want to talk to you about the one of the key ingredients to success, fitness included, but really any kind of success.

Any guesses as to what it is?



Your surroundings.

Let’s go through two scenarios…

As always, I like to use one gym related and one non-gym related.

When I travel, I have the joy of either working out at the hotel gym or a local commercial gym.

The last two days I was up at the gym by 530am, ready to go.

But the second I swiped my card to get in…I couldn’t wait to get out.


The environment.

Rows and rows of machines.

Everyone just has their head down like robots, nobody is smiling.

There are stock photos on the wall, and some elevator music playing in the background.

I walked past people and they didn’t want to say hi…

Just an overall stale environment.

It certainly didn’t motivate me, I got my workout done, and as soon as I could, I got out.

Just think of how that plays to success in fitness.

What if you had an environment (like Spurling) that you love?

The second you walk in you can feel the energy…

There’s someone greeting you right away (yay, Mel)…

Everyone knows each other, and they not only care about their journey, but they want you to succeed too…

There’s good music playing(most of the time), an energetic atmosphere, inspiring graphics on the wall, and a team of coaches by your side making the experience just that, an experience.

Do you get the feel for the different environments?

Which one do you think you’ll be more successful in?

The one you hate going to, and can’t wait to get out of…

Or the one that has motivation just bleeding through the walls?

Environment is a huge key to fitness success.

Let’s look at another example…


From the time you step foot on property it truly is magical.

They even make waiting in line interactive.

The cast members (employees) are always smiling and eager to help…

You essentially forget about anything else going on in your life and you’re just immersed in the magical world of Disney.

They make everything easy, they make everything fun, they think of every detail, and you don’t even realize/care you just paid $22 for that burger, on top of the $109 to get in the door, because it’s about the show, it’s about the experience, it’s about the…


I could go on for days…can you tell I love and study Disney like a fanatic?

You have different environments you are more productive in…

You have different environments you are more creative in…

You have different environments you are happier in…

It all matters.

Notice that.

And if you’re looking to nail down your fitness, we know most people hate gyms and hate exercise, because really, they hate the environment, and as you can probably tell by now, we hate regular gyms and regular exercise too, and have a totally different environment.

Take a look around, your missing ingredient to any success, fitness included, could be your environment.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Life is too short to drink black coffee

“I like cream in my coffee. And I like to sleep late on Sundays. And nobody knows me…”

While those things are both true, they’re also lines from a song – can you name it? 

About five years ago, when I hired my first coach to help me with both nutrition and exercise, I got pretty strict with my diet. I practiced intermittent fasting, (click here to understand more of what that is about), counted out my calories for every meal, and measured all of my macronutrients

It was the most time and effort I'd ever invested in my nutrition, and I learned a lot during those first few months. Tracking food intake, measuring portions and learning to measure those portions based on macronutrients changed the way I ate, and it helped me get myself back on track after being laid off from my full time job. 

It was also during that period that I started to drink black coffee. (And asking the kind people at Starbucks to put ice in my coffee so I could drink it the same day because nuclear).

I continued drinking black coffee for the next year or more, indulging in half n’half only on the occasional weekend or when I went home to visit my parents, because my mom makes the best coffee ever. It’s Maxwell House, she makes it with a Mr. Coffee pot that she bought for 50 cents at a yard sale and it’s the best. Coffee. Ever. 

Gradually, I started putting half n’ half in my coffee, not just on Sunday’s, but on Saturdays too. Then on Fridays. And then finally, I realized something:

My life is too short to drink black coffee. Black coffee is ok. And by ok I mean disgusting. Like eating coffee grounds. Probably. Not that I've eaten coffee grounds. Except that one time when I was desperate.

Have you ever read about natural highs? Waking up two hours before your alarm goes off and realizing you can nuzzle under the covers a bit longer, the feeling of brand new squishy socks, and for me, my first cup of coffee. With cream in it. 

After suffering through black coffee for a few years, I finally decided that cream in my coffee is my non-negotiable. 

Every day I have conversations with clients about nutrition, and I ask them to do the same things I listed above – track food – measure portions – and that information is often eye-opening. If you’re trying to stay at 1600 calories for the day and you’re putting 300 calories worth of sugar and cream in your coffee, then that is certainly something to pay attention to. But once you’ve educated yourself on where your calories are coming from – once you’ve begun to measure your salad dressing and servings of almonds and the tastes you take of everything while you’re cooking, it’s important to parse out what you truly enjoy.

I can forgo a second tablespoon of olive oil on my salad, I can be content with one small piece of dark chocolate - I'm willing to make other concessions. But not with my coffee.

Be honest with yourself about your quality of life - about the things that are important to you and that you truly enjoy - and, within reason, let yourself have it.

Because life is too short to drink black coffee.

No Change Yet?

We’re into a new month, and the January “sprint” is over.

How did January go for you?

I hope you’ve made some positive change so far, and are making progress towards your 2019 goals.

If not, don’t fret, but take a minute today and make sure you’re incorporating the 5 S’s to Sustainable Change.

Chances are, if you haven’t seen the results you’ve wanted, one or more of these are probably missing from your approach.

When we look at creating sustainable change it comes down to five things. 

The 5 S's. 

Now, before I share what those are there is one keyword I think you might have missed above. 



That's the goal with all of this. 

We're trying to make changes that will last, not a change that you can only do for a month and then bail on it. 

The 5 S's of Sustainable Change.

1. Simple

You've heard me say this before. 

Keep things very simple. 

Ask yourself this question...

"How confident are you that you can do this every day?"

If it's not at least an 8, it's not simple enough. 

Simple exercise routine.

Simple nutrition approach.

Always look to simplify because simple drives significant change.

2. Segmental

Break things down into smaller chunks. 

I've written about this in detail, although it's actually quite simple, not enough people do it. 

If your goal in 2019 is to lose 40lbs, what does that look like in 3 months?


What does that look like in 30 days?


What does that look like this week?


Segmental. Break it down. 

One pound a week sounds simple, but if you don’t break down your big goals and just stay focused on “winning the week” it become overwhelming.

3. Sequential

Start with "thing 1" before you move onto "thing 2", "thing 3", etc. 

Meaning, go back to that goal of 40lbs. 

What's the first thing I need to do?

Maybe it's writing the goal down. 

Then it's cleaning out the kitchen. 

Followed by making a weekly grocery list. 

Shop right...

Start moving a couple times a week. 

Get those things down before you get super fancy.

Snowball it. 

4. Strategic

Be strategic about things. 

Don't just "wing" it. 

If you're going out with friends on Saturday, adjust things during the week leading up to it. 

Plan and schedule you workouts.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 

5. Support

No one can do this alone. 

I repeat, no one. 

Our coaches need coaches. 

Everyone needs some form of accountability. 

Whether that's joining a support group, hiring a coach, or getting a buddy to join you in the journey. 

We all need a teacher, we all need a coach, and we all need support. 

It's too hard doing this alone. 

This is probably the one that has the biggest impact.

If you have a strong support network, and a “team” around you who want to see you succeed, your chances of not succeeding are slim to none.

So there's the 5 S's. 

Which one do you need to implement in the rest of 2019?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili


  • 1 lb ground turkey

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 bell peppers, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 1/2 T chili powder

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup tomato sauce (ideally no-sugar-added)

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until browned (About 3-4 mins).

  2. Add in onions and cook for 3 more minutes.

  3. Add in peppers, jalapeno and garlic and cook for another 2 mins.

  4. Add spices, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and sweet potato and bring mix to a boil.

  5. Once boiling lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes, uncovered or until desired consistency is reached.

Source: https://www.thehealthymaven.com/sweet-potato-turkey-chili

Rocks, Pebbles, & Sand...

The professor stood in front of the class with an empty jar.

In front of the jar, he had some big rocks, some smaller pebbles, and a pile of sand. 

The jar represented his life, and the big rocks, pebbles, and sand represented all the things he needed to get done. 

Some of you may know this story...

What happens when you put the sand in first?

You can sneak in the pebbles, but you can't fit in the big rocks. 

However, if you start by putting the big rocks in, followed by the pebbles, you can fit the sand in as it fills the cracks around the rocks. 

Your big rocks are things that most fulfill you in life.

Big rocks usually include time with friends and family, health, earning a living, and getting enough sleep. 

Pebbles add extra fun and satisfaction to your life but aren't necessities like big rocks are. 

Pebbles include things like hobbies, projects, being a competitive athlete, or excelling at work. 

Finally, sand. 

Your sand is bonus activities, they are enjoyable, but not crucial to survival or fulfillment. 

Sand includes things like watching TV or social media. 

So, if the jar represents life and the limited time we have, remember that you'll be able to fit a lot more in if you get your big rocks in first. 

That means taking care of your health, earning a living(work), and spending time with friends and family. 

Once those are done/scheduled, and only then, should you fit in your pebbles, things like your projects and hobbies. 

Finally, if time allows, dump in some sand, which includes watching TV, social media, and other mindless activities. 

Time is our most valuable asset, we only have so much of it, and no matter how much you want to, you can't get more of it. 

Your jar is one size, and it's up to you to fit in as much as you can. 

Where we trap ourselves is we fill it with sand and pebbles first, saving our big rocks like our health and family time until it's too late and there's no room in the jar. 

To give a specific example to health and fitness, you have a jar.

If your goal is to lose weight your two big rocks are things like workout frequency and a caloric deficit.

Nothing else matters if we’re not showing up at a decent frequency, and keeping our calories low.

Pebbles may be things like what exercises we do, and what foods we at.

And sand may be things like what type of equipment we use, or if we should eat broccoli or green beans, it’s quite often details that only matter if you have the rocks and pebbles in first.

Start filling your jar with the big rocks first, then and only then, you can fill in the cracks with pebbles and sand. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

The strength to be vulnerable

Two years ago, almost to the day, I had shoulder surgery. What was supposed to be a simple scope turned into a full on labrum repair and I was in a sling for the next six weeks.

Good times.

Fast forward two years, and I’m entering the end of January feeling good about my workouts and my health. I’m back on a fitness routine and while I’m not setting any power lifting records, I’m at least feeling good.

Until Monday night.

The details that play out from here don’t really matter.

What matters is that feeling that I know you’ve all had.

That feeling of your body betraying you. That feeling that you’ve finally set yourself on the right course or destination for healing and happiness, and then suddenly, you can’t have it because your body has other plans.

Suddenly, I go from kicking ass and taking names to sliding down the stairs on mu butt because I can’t put weight on my knee.

And it sucks.

But, last week was also what would have been the 70th birthday of my mentor, Father Drexler. He was a priest who mentored me while I was in college, and though he has been gone for over 20 years, I can still remember one of his greatest lessons, as he lay dying of cancer.

He allowed people to care for him.

And that’s hard.

It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. I think it takes comfort in your own skin. And yes, I think above all it takes strength.

Right now, my knee is messed up and it’s hard to do certain things, but I’m hell-bent on doing those things on my own. It’s my pride and ego that get in the way. I can do it and leave me alone.

But as Father Drexler eventually lay dying, he had this incredibly grace to let us do for him. He was only 54 years old at the time, but he let people read to him, bring him food, and pray over him. He gave us all the gift of allowing us to give to him.

And what a gift that was to me.

I've watched the Brene Brown talks on vulnerability. I've got a pretty solid intellectual understanding of what it means to be vulnerable. But living in that space?

That's a whole different animal altogether.

Father Drexler was keenly aware that students like myself wanted nothing more than to do something for him. We needed to feel useful. We just wanted to help. And he gave us the gift of allowing us to help him. That’s a gift I still feel two decades later.  

I’m sure you’ve been in a position before where you’ve seen a friend or family member go through a difficult time. And all you want to do is help. But if the situation is reversed you might find yourself shrugging everyone off.

Nah, I'm good. I got this.

Or find yourself frustrated.

I'm fine! Stop asking! I'm good!

Maybe, just maybe, there is more grace and kindness in allowing another to do for us, than resisting their helping hand.

Be kind,


When I put my foot to a gas pedal the more input (pressure) I give, the more output (speed) the car will produce. 

What happens if you press the pedal more?

The car goes faster.

Input = Output. 

Simply put, what you put into something you'll get an equal return out of it. 

In any facet of life, but especially fitness, if you're not happy with your output (results), then you need to change your input. 

I've always said, I think the reason why I enjoy all of this "stuff" is because it's all connected. 

Almost any principle you read from me always has a fitness or nutrition tie to it, but it can always be applied to any other facet of life whether that's family, friends, financial, career, etc. 

I like to use examples outside of the fitness world that way you can use that same principle to gain a better understanding. 

Input = Output. 

If I'm not happy with my relationship I potentially need to put more into it. 

Am I spending enough quality time with them?

Am I being empathetic, compassionate, and loving?

Chances are if I put more into it, I’ll get more out of it.

In financials...

If I want my savings to grow I need to have a certain input, the more I input, the more it will output. 

Our careers.

If I just go through the motions, and don’t really give much or try to develop myself, I can’t expect much of an output.

However, if I constantly look to get better, challenge myself, and grow, chances are I’ll have opportunities for my career to grow as well.

Now, let us dial it into fitness and nutrition. 

Nutrition is the simpler one to tie to this lesson. 

Removing all emotions (which plays a huge factor) fat loss is a simple math equation. 

If I consume less than I burn…I will lose weight. 

Whether it's the right weight (muscle, water, fat, etc) is another topic for another day, but the math is the math. 

If you're not happy with your output (results) just change your input. 

If you're not losing fat, decrease your input, and keep decreasing it until you like the output it's producing. 

In fitness...

The same principle applies. 

Input = Output. 

Inputs can be things like...

The type of workouts...

The frequency of workouts...

The intensity of workouts...

If you're not happy with the output, change the input. 

Maybe you need to bump up your frequency. 

If you change that input and it doesn't change the output maybe you need to look at the intensity of each workout. 

If I ramp up the intensity, that changes the input, and thus will change the output. 

Each day is a collection of choices. 

Those choices are your inputs. 

If you're not happy with the results, the output, you need to change an input. 

Again, for some this is a fitness lesson, for others, it's a life lesson. 

I'll end with one my favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar...

"Your input determines your outlook. Your outlook determines your output. And our output determines your future."

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Tex Mex Chicken & Zucchini


  • 1 tbsp avocado or coconut oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 medium bell peppers, chopped

  • 1 lb boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces

  • 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh

  • 2 large zucchini, diced

  • 14 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 tsp taco seasoning

  • 1 tbsp cumin, divided

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup Tex Mex or Colby Jack cheese, shredded

  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped

  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 4.09.10 PM.png


  1. Preheat large deep skillet on low – medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper; saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Move vegetables to the side of the skillet and add chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tsp cumin, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, taco seasoning and remaining cumin. Stir, cover and cook on low-medium for 10 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook for a few minutes or until cheese has melted. Top with green onion and cilantro. Serve hot, on its own or with brown rice or quinoa.

Source: https://ifoodreal.com/chicken-and-zucchini/

Building Bridges

Throughout life, we go through lots of barriers...

I remember the barrier of trying to find my first job at 14. 

The barrier of wanting to lose all that weight before going off to college. 

The barrier to finding my true passion. 

The barriers to business. 

I'm sure I could go on and on, and I know you have your own barriers. 

The barrier to fit into those dress pants. 

The barrier to finding a job that you love going to every day. 

We also have emotional barriers like not believing we can do something, anger, or a feeling of disempowerment. 

But what happens...

As you continue to try to get past these barriers, doing small things to chip away at them, 1% better, you don't realize what's going on underneath your feet. 

You're building your bridge to get over it. 

When a barrier comes up in life, you have two choices...

You can turn around and give up.

Or you can build a bridge and get over it. 

We all have barriers, but it's those who can build a bridge to get over them that have the most success. 

Do you remember when you first lost those first few pounds?

That was a barrier, and whatever you did, you built a bridge to get over it. 

That bridge took you on a journey until the next barrier. 

That bridge now has to go back under construction to get over the next barrier. 

Life is a relentless pursuit of building bridges to get over your barriers in the way. 

Attack you barriers, build your bridges, and you'll have massive breakthroughs. 

1% Better. 

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

One Play At A Time...

Recently in an interview, Tom Brady was asked…

“How do you do it?”

“How do you pull it off? How do you win so much? How are you still playing?”

His answer…

“One play at a time.”


Tom Brady is totally using our 1% Better motto :)

But seriously, that is a great analogy.

We love sports analogies in our organization.

If you think about it, sports and a business operation are very similar.

We have an owner, a head coach, and some position or department coaches…

We have “plays” we need to run or processes in place that we practice and are executed by the team…

We have a scoreboard that shows us how we’re performing and if we’re “winning or losing.”

But this “one play at a time” might be my favorite.

There’s a lot packed into that statement.

Staying present so you’re only focused on the task at hand…

Not getting overwhelmed with all that lies ahead, or everything you have still yet to accomplish, but just focusing on executing a really good play…

Success in life, in fitness, or on the football field is just about taking this one play, and giving it your all, doing your best.

In fitness, it’s about showing up.

Just show up today.

Don’t worry about how far you have to go, or how high the mountain is you need to climb, just show up.

In finance, just save anything today.




In parenting it’s about just being the best mom or dad you can be today, because you have no clue what the day is going to bring…

Whatever it is…

Just keep stacking those wins.

One play at a time.

I knew I loved Tom Brady :)

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

How Do You Treat A Goldfish?

As you read this I’ll be scrambling around to get a few things done before I head south.

I’ll be in Florida 15 of the next 20 days, broken up into two trips.

Some personal, some business, with Kaden’s first trip to Disney and home for the Super Bowl snuck in the middle there.

Part of the reason I love traveling so much is just the change in environment.

When I go and visit another gym across the country I get so many ideas, ideas I would have never thought of if I didn’t leave the state.

Some of my best ideas come as I’m cruising at 34,000 feet or as I sit a hotel room in Michigan with my journal open.

It’s not that I don’t love the environment back home, but you get in the habit of thinking and acting in similar ways, and the change in environment tends to ignite some new thoughts.

Think back to the days you had a goldfish (or maybe you still have one for your kids…or you…whatever)…

How do you care for a sick fish?

Change the water, right?

Change the environment.

I was talking with a client yesterday about how she was "off the wagon" for the last two weeks. 

She was busy with family stuff and tried to work out at home, and just could not muster up the motivation. 

She even eluded to having a gym at her work, and that she can never find the desire to use it because "it's work."

The environment will always make a difference. 

I empathized with her, letting her know, I too struggle with the same thing. 

I have a full gym in my garage, everything I need. 

I think I use it once a month, maybe.

Today is not about finding the motivation, or finding your why, it's a reminder of how important a strong environment is. 

We wish everyone the best of luck when they say they're going to work out on their own at home, but we usually find about 90% of people (us included), are unsuccessful at that attempt. 


It's your home. 

It's family time. 

It's where you cook breakfast, play with your kids, and watch TV. 

The walls don't bleed with motivation and encouragement to workout. 

I give all the credit to those that can muster the motivation to do so, but just know if it doesn't come naturally to you it's going to be a long uphill battle. 

The same goes for traditional health clubs or gyms.

Nothing against them, they are right for certain people, but with rows and rows of machines, everybody plugging along like a hamster on a wheel, it doesn't exactly feel like the most motivating atmosphere, nor do we even know what to do once we walk in. 

So what does make a strong workout environment?

In my opinion, here is a list of the top three (in no order) things that make a strong workout environment. 

1. Non-Traditional Space: Although intimidating at first, when you walk into Spurling it feels like a different space (hopefully). Different equipment, lots of open space, high ceilings, good music (most of the time), quotes on the walls, etc. We don't have rows and rows of machines, and when you walk in, you mentally already feel a little more motivated to get going.

2. Coaching: This is one of our three pillars (accountability and community are the other two). All clients have a coach at every single workout. So even if you don't quite have the motivation that day, the coach can usually get you to do more than what you would normally do on your own. 

3. Clients/Family: When you walk in, you see the same faces. You wave to them, they say hi to you. People know each other. You see people pushing themselves, going on their own journey, but you see them working hard, and that pushes you to work even harder, not in a competitive way, but in a motivating way. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and you surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed. Never under estimate the power of social connection as it relates to accountability and motivation.

So, whether you work with us, or elsewhere, these are the three things that make for a strong workout environment. 

Why is this so important?

Change is hard enough. 

Getting in the habit of working out on a consistent basis is not easy, and is usually seen as something that is a chore. 

By surrounding yourself with like-minded people in a strong environment, it just makes that change a little bit easier. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

How To Lose (Unlike the Patriots) At Fitness

I know some of you are moving a but slow today after an exciting win last night for the Patriots.

If you think of a traditional sport football, just showing up means nothing...

Yes, it's the bare minimum required to host a game, but you can still lose the game even if you showed up.

Clearly, that Patriots did more than just show up!

But I digress… 

The nice thing about fitness is showing up is the hardest part, but that's all you need to do to not lose. 

Just show up. 

We have a saying at Spurling, and it's now a sign on our front door...

"You just did the hard part. We'll take it from here."

Quite often, the only people that lose in fitness are the ones that don't show up. 

What do I mean by showing up?

I just mean walking through the doors and doing something, anything. 

Sure, we can debate the details about what type of fitness is better or what exercises are better, but the fact of the matter is all you have to do is show up. 

Just by walking through the door, putting your best effort in, and doing something allows you to not lose. 

You've won if you walked through the doors. 

Is it simple?


Is it easy?


To take it a step further...

After you showed up, how do you continue to not lose?

Change your mindset. 

If you have an "I'll just lose 20lbs and then I'll be good" mindset you lose...

If you have an "I'll just do this quick-fix as seen on TV gimmicky fad diet thing" mindset you lose...

If you have  "Fitness is something I have to do, not get to do" mindset you lose...

So how do you not lose?

Change your mindset.

Find something you enjoy doing, something that is just a part of your weekly routine, something that you love doing so much it's no longer a chore, and something that you can see yourself doing five years from now. 

When you can check those boxes, you've won. 

But let's first start with showing up.

It's the hardest part. 

Once you do that, we'll take it from there. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats with Apples and Cranberries


  • cooking spray

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats (*do not substitute quick-cooking steel cut or rolled oats)

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored, and diced

  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

  • 2 pinches of kosher salt

  • 4 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk, plus more for serving


  • chopped or julienned apple

  • almond slices/chopped almonds

  • dried cranberries

  • turbinado sugar/maple syrup

  • ground cinnamon

Screenshot 2019-01-20 at 5.57.27 PM.png


  1. Spray a 2-quart or 4-quart slow cooker insert lightly with cooking spray. If you are using a larger volume slow cooker, be sure to double the recipe quantity as this quantity will not cook properly in a 6-quart slow cooker. Slow cookers that run HOT might cause the cooking liquid to evaporate more quickly. This may result in slightly thicker skin or crust developing on the surface of the oats (see below) or sides of the insert. When in doubt, reduce the cook time and adjust as necessary.

  2. Combine the steel cut oats, diced apple, cranberries, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and almond milk. Stir to mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours (for firmer oats) to 8 hours (softer oats with the slightest chew), stirring once or twice if possible (if cooking overnight, you can skip this step). As the oats are cooking a thin, dark colored skin may form on top of the oats and they will look slightly dry at first glance. Don’t worry. Go ahead and stir the oats well until they are creamy and smooth, the skin will be absorbed and incorporated by stirring. If you prefer looser oats, stir in an additional half cup or so of almond milk. Serve hot and garnish with toppings as desired.

  3. Leftover oats can be stored in a container in the refrigerator. I always add a generous splash or milk or water before reheating – it loosens the oatmeal and improves the texture tremendously

Source: https://www.abeautifulplate.com/slow-cooker-steel-cut-oats/

Tactics vs Strategy

Watching a good chess player at work is all about strategy. 

The best team on the field or court very rarely wins because of one specific play, but because of the overall strategy, they came prepared with. 

Our lives, and especially fitness, are filled with tactics, but not enough strategy. 

"Use this belt, let it jiggle your fat, and it will magically make your waist smaller."

"Do this one specific exercise to tighten and tone your arms."

"Eat this superfood to boost your metabolism overnight."

Just like in business, tactics without strategy never works. 

The media does a great job at filling our minds with all different kinds of tactics to lose weight, tone up, boost your metabolism, and have more energy...

But what's the strategy?

Throw them all together and hope one of them sticks?

You get my point. 

There is not one specific exercise that is best...

There is not one specific food that is best...

There are just strategies that work.

For example...

My strategy is to workout 200 times this year through fun and engaging strength based workouts. 

I want to eat "clean" 80% of the time, but not let it cripple me to the point of not enjoying life. 

I practice daily meditation and gratitude to keep most of my thoughts positive and have a 1% Better approach to fitness and life, which is this...

We only have good days and great days, and as long as I gave it my all today I know I'm better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow. 

I can then fill that overall strategy in with specific tactics. 

I have a bookmark that I use for my daily reading, it has 200 boxes on it. 

I place an "X" after every workout, that holds me accountable to getting my 200 workouts in. 

I'm not saying tactics are not important. 

However, we don't want to stack a bunch of random tactics on top of a non-existent strategy. 

Have a strong strategy as your foundation, use that as your guardrails to keep you focused and on track, and don't get caught up in the fancy quick-fix tactics, you and I both know they never last. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling