You're Not Off Track

Let us take a ride on a train today..

There's a really common saying in our industry...

"I'm off track" or "I need to get back on track."

We all catch ourselves using it, coaches and clients alike, especially this time of year with school ending and summer hindering a lot of our attempts at staying consistent.

But think about it...

When you say you’re off track, that means you're not moving. 

If a train is "off track" it has most likely crashed and is off the side of the tracks. 

It's not moving. 

Fitness and life are not like that. 

We're always moving, it's very fluid. 

Now, we may not be moving in the direction we want to ultimately be going, but we're always moving. 

So I'm challenging you (and me) to stop thinking of it as "off track" but instead as just a bit off the beaten path. 

The train (our lives) are still moving. 

We may have taken the wrong turn, gone down a dead-end track, had to back up and find the right direction, but we're not off track, the train is always moving. 

And just like a train, we have to be fueled properly, we have to have clear directions on where we want to go(vision and goals), and oh, it's got precious cargo (people or things) it has to take care of along the way. 

You see, life, and fitness is just like a train :)

I bet you've never thought of it like that.

But let us take a stand...

We're not "off track."

We may just need to adjust the plans, clarify our direction, or refuel. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

The Hardest Thing To Do...

It's actually quite easy to write this e-mail every morning at this point. 

It has become a habit over the last few years, and I have thousands of people waiting to read it at noon time everyday.

You are my accountability. 

Which makes it easy because I know I have to show up to you, you're counting on me. 

You know what the hardest thing to do is?

Work hard when no one is watching. 

Think about it it any facet of life...

It's easy to work hard when you have eyes on you, or people counting on you. 

Whether that's in work, family, or fitness, if someone is watching you, or counting on you to get something done, it's easy to work hard. 

Most of us are decent human beings and we don't want to disappoint others. 

It's why the simple things like having to book your sessions and showing up to a coach greeting you every single day is so important to your accountability at Spurling. 

But...

Working hard when no one is watching is the hardest thing to do. 

However, it's those that have this discipline that can quickly pull away from the pack and see some great results, in any facet of life. 

Let's look at a work situation...

You're in the office, you have things you could be doing, but there is nothing super urgent, and no one is watching you. 

What do you do?

Do you putter around, checking social media, and just kill time?

That's the default because it's hard to work hard when no one is watching. 

When it comes to fitness...

Do you get up before the kids get up and get a workout in?

Do you say no to the sweets at 9pm, even if no one will know but you that you ate it?

Do you honestly track what you eat?

The hardest thing to do is work hard when no one is watching, but it's in those moments, if optimized, you can make the biggest strides in your progress. 

I challenge you to look at one opportunity where you can be honest with yourself and change your efforts towards a time where you know you're currently not working hard because you know no one is watching. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

You are bathing suit ready

It’s getting to be bathing suit season, and so there is a lot of talk about getting bathing suit ready. Presumably, in our culture, “bathing suit ready” means endless squats, lunges, push ups, ab work, spin classes, bootcamp classes, running and generally beating the sh*t out of our bodies.

Hey, exercise is great for improving your overall physical (and mental) healthy - and there is nothing wrong with any of the activities listed above. With the exception of spinning (I’ve never taken a class if you can believe it), I enjoy them all.

But I don’t think more exercise is what you need to do to get “swimsuit ready.” (The phrase swimsuit ready came from a reader when I was surveying for potential blog topics.)

Regardless of what swimsuit you wear, resist the urge to bring back acid washed joggers. Please. For me.

I believe the number one action you can work on to get prepared for a season that invites shorts and tank tops is….drum roll please……

Develop a positive relationship with your body. 

Yup. No big thing, right?*****

Most of us would find wrestling an alligator more natural than being kind towards our bodies.

If we met in person, you might describe me as fit - and with a lot of help from genetics and some weekly effort on my part - I hold my own. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with my own body.

On the outside of my right knee is a pale white scar from a teenage, neighborhood game of hide and seek. On the inside of my right leg is a small spiderweb of varicose veins that seems to puff up closer to the surface with each passing year. Sometimes you can’t really see them, and other times that’s all I see when I glance down at my legs. I have them on both legs, in several different places, and at times I am reminded of my grandmother, who rarely wore shorts, but I caught glimpses of her varicose veins when she wore dresses to church. 

These veins bother me in a way that I’d like to deny. But if I’m going to preach a positive relationship with our bodies, then you should know that I struggle in my efforts too. Those varicose veins makes me feel my age in a way that’s uncomfortable.

And so I’ve been joking that I won’t wear shorts at all this summer - because I’ve become embarrassed of my legs.

I’m not proud of that, but hey interwebz - I’m telling you anyway. So I’m working on that positive body image.

The thing is, my legs have taken me many places. They’ve hiked over 200 miles of Rocky Mountain National Park. They’ve run thousands of miles in all parts of the country, from New Mexico to Colorado to Oklahoma and more. They’ve worked 12 hour days on cement floors doing retail, walked through the farm fields of Western Pennsylvania to interview farmers, and stood in the dugout wells of minor league baseball teams, shifting from side to side to stay warm. They barked and complained when I did last year’s Tough Mudder, and they still don’t take very kindly to deep squats or lunges. 

But my legs, like the rest of my body, carry my story. 

And this summer, maybe more than any summer in the past, I find myself having to work very hard to be kind to my body. To be appreciative of my body. To be gentle with my body. To trust and appreciate that I am the best version of me that I know how to be right now, and that is all I can ask of myself.  

For the record, no I don’t think varicose veins are the end of the world, and yes, I know you can have them removed when they start causing pain. For right now, I’m just being vain about my veins. 

Yes, I did that. 

It’s not easy to avoid self-deprecating comments about your appearance and your body. We punch holes in all kinds of compliments that people pay us. 

You look great!

You’re lying!

I love your glasses!

They hide my fat face!

Those responses are reflexive - much like our apologies - and those are the comments that we need to corral.

As we get ready to head into summer on this Memorial Day weekend, and even those of us in Maine will experience warm weather, I want you to take this reminder and put it on your refrigerator and your bathroom mirror and your phone and maybe even a post-it note on your co-worker’s forehead:

You are bathing suit ready, just as you are.



What's The Minimum?

As we get closer and closer to summer, the opportunities for not so good nutrition choices are endless. 

Let me be very clear before I get into today's lesson...

That's totally okay! 

Enjoy your time, enjoy the BBQ, hang out with friends on the beach, etc.

Just like one workout won't make a difference, one or two poor choices won't make a difference. 

I know you've heard that from us a lot this year but I think it's important. 

Most people stress about the 15 days a year that they have a special occasion (holidays, birthdays, reunions, etc) and instead should focus on just making the other 350 days really good. 

Mic drop. 

Okay onto today's lesson... 

My message today is simple. 

What's your minimum?

When we set goals for anything (fitness, finances, family, etc) I like to set three goals for the topic. 

The stretch goal. 

This is the goal that is shooting for the stars. 

Everything would have to aline, you'd have to work your tail off, and your dreams would have to come true for this to happen. 

Then there's the actual goal. 

Finally, there's the floor goal. 

The minimum goal. 

You will do everything possible to hit this no matter what it takes. 

Let's roll with an example both fitness and non-fitness. 

Let's say your goal is to get 8 glasses of water a day. 

That's your actual goal. 

Your stretch goal may be 12 glasses. 

Then your minimum, your floor, may be 6 glasses. 

So, the goal is 8, but you're not going to bed until you get 6 glasses of water in at minimum. 

I don't care if you have to sit on the edge of your bed to drink 3 glasses because you only drank 3 throughout the day. 

You do what it takes to hit the minimum, the floor goal. 

A non-fitness example could be with your finances. 

Let's say you want to contribute $10,000 to your savings or retirement. 

A stretch goal may be $20,000, and the floor goal, the minimum, may be $5,000. 

As the deadline gets closer, if you're not on track to hit at least the $5,000 you may need to walk to work, eat ramen noodles, and cancel your cable, but you'll do whatever it takes to hit the floor goal, the minimum. 

In goal setting, and especially this time of year, the floor goal is actually what drives you. 

What's your minimum? 

So maybe it's the 6 glasses of water. 

Maybe it's 3 servings of vegetables. 

Maybe it's 2 workouts in the week. 

Focus on at least getting the minimums, do whatever it takes, and then you can enjoy yourself.

Final note: It’s always important to keep moving forward, 1% Better, to always do something, but we don’t want to compare our “summer self” with our “new year-locked in” self.

Sound good?

I hope that helps. 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling


Blowing up your life

I dragged myself out of bed and shuffled down the short hallway to my kitchen. 

I followed the mindless routine of making coffee through sleepy eyes, stretching and yawning as I finished the task. I leaned both hands against the counter and watched the coffee perk and drip. 

I sighed, wondering how many more mornings I was going to stare at the coffee maker thinking that I needed to make a change. Because the thing is, I needed to do more than make a change. 

I needed to blow up my life and start over again. I mean I needed to chuck an M80 into the pot and stop trying to jam the wrong puzzle piece into the wrong spot. 

You know what I mean. The piece almost fits. It’s close. So if you just hammer your fist down hard enough, you can make it fit.

Except it never really does.

If I’m being honest, that’s what I’d been trying to do for at least a year if not more. I’d been trying to settle for good enough, for jamming a puzzle piece into the wrong spot.

But the reality was, my situation wasn’t good enough. 

I needed to end a long-time relationship that hadn’t been working for over a year - which in and of itself was daunting. We’d been together over five years, and our lives were intertwined the way that happens with relationships. We shared the house and cars and finances and family. I mean you don’t just break up with the person do you? You break up with the family.

But then it wasn’t just changing the relationship. I didn’t want to live in Western Pennsylvania any more. I didn’t want to keep working at a camera shop. I wanted a career. I wanted a Master’s Degree. I wanted more out of my life, and yet everyday, I got up and lived a life that didn’t even seem like it was mine anymore. 

I drank my coffee and thought what will it take? 

The answer to that was brutal honesty.

If I was brutally, painfully honest with myself I didn’t want to salvage the relationship, despite really caring for and loving my partner. I didn’t want to find myself staring at my coffee pot five years from that moment having the same conversation in my head. 

I needed the courage to admit to myself, really, truly admit that my entire life situation at that point in my life (I was 28 years old) wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t what I needed. 

Once I came to terms and started to really own the fact that I needed to blow things up, my mindset shifted. My thought process was no longer if I made a change to how  and when I was going to make it happen. 

I know, that sounds so simple doesn’t it? Maybe for some people it is - I don’t know. For me it started with an honest conversation with my therapist  - saying some things out loud. Then it was an honest conversation with my partner. Then it was choosing a new city. I chose between Seattle, Denver and Boston. (I chose Boston, which is how I ended up in Main). 

That’s when the law of attraction kicked in. I put out my intentions to the universe, and slowly, gradually, I found ways to make the changes I needed to make. Then one day I packed up my parents pick up truck like a cliche country song, moved all of my stuff to Boston, and started living my life on my terns. 

Sometimes when you’re creating something, you have to abandon the original sketch or story outline and start over again. Sometimes trying to rearrange the pieces and stitch them together isn’t enough.

Sometimes you just have to blow up your life for it to come together again. 

And if that’s what you need to do, I know it takes courage, it takes honesty, it takes support from friends - but what I also know - and many of you out there also know - it can be done. It really can.

I Was Wrong...

As many of you know I am a productivity nerd.

I am a weird individual and like to study time management, productivity, efficiency, etc.

But here’s the thing…

I was wrong.

For most (myself included), it’s not usually about getting more done.

You see, when we think productivity we think getting more done in a day…

How can we be more efficient, manage our time better, to get more things done in the day?

But, that’s only one way to look at productivity…

And I’m going to say that it’s the wrong way for most people.

We believe that productivity is the secret sauce to getting more done, it’s the thing that’s going to allow us to fit that workout in, finally have some “me” time, or be a more efficient team member.

But what if I could change your mind?

What if the answer is…

No.

You read that right.

No.

I think for most people, most organizations, the answer is not more productivity “hacks,” but instead, saying "no” more often.

Or at least…not right now.

Doing less.

Most of us live our lives as firefighters.

Not the real hero fire fighters, but fire fighters for our own lives.

We go around, reacting to anything that is put in front of our face, putting out fires, and letting the day control us, not us controlling the day.

So, more productivity tips…I’m not sure that’s going to help.

Fitting more in the day is not the goal, because then that just means we’re putting out more fires.

The goal instead is to say “no” to more things.

That includes both externally and internally.

The goal, I know it sounds crazy, but maybe the goal is….do less.

Meaning, I’m going to say no to anything that distracts me, anything that can wait.

I’m going to say no to people and things in my life more, and I’m going to say no to myself.

I don’t see the world getting any quieter, I don’t see it slowing down any.

We live in a “go-go” society where we are looked at negatively if we’re not “productive.”

However, as of today, I believe the answer might be to starting saying no to more things…

Whether that’s saying no to the television show at night and instead getting a workout in, or just saying no to putting anything on the calendar on a Sunday so you can sleep in and sip coffee.

More is not better, better is better.

So, maybe the answer to fitting that workout in or having some “me” time, is not saying how can I do this other stuff faster, but instead asking, what can I say no to so I can say yes to that.

Anyways, hopefully that came out the right way.

It’s what I contemplated outside at 5:30 this morning as I swung in my hammock, drinking coffee, watching the sunrise.

What can I say no to?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

What Do You Really Want? (Save This)

Toned.

Healthy.

Feel better. 

These are all great goals, right?

Yes. 

Those and similar lines are commonly what we hear from people on day one when we ask them what their goals are. 

Although that's a great starting point, and we can work our magic, dig a little deeper, and find out the actual goals, it's important to have a clear understanding of what you actually want. 

In order to have motivation to show up when you don’t want to (which will happen…a lot), you need to know your true purpose, your true “why.”

We often just go through the motions, try to exercise on a regular basis, eat healthier, but never have a specific target that we’re working towards.

Now...

There's no right answer as to what that target is, but it's really hard to achieve something if you don't know what you want to achieve.

So here are a few things that help...

There's the "fluffy" side of it, and then there's the analytical side of it.

Let's start with the "fluffy" side of it. The mental side.

The stuff that can't be measured, or it can't be plugged into a formula.

I call this exercise the 5, 6, 7. 

I suggest you spend some time in the next day or two to complete this exercise. 

Here goes...

What is your goal? 

(1. ANSWER)

Why is that important to you?

(2. ANSWER)

Now, why is that important to you?

(3. ANSWER)

And, why is that important to you?

(4. ANSWER)

Why is that important to you?

(5. ANSWER)

Almost done, why is that important to you?

(6. ANSWER)

And finally, what would it mean to you when that happens?

(7. ANSWER)

The exercise is called 5, 6, 7 because the answers that you wrote for 5, 6, & 7 is actually what you want. 

You may think you want to lose 20lbs, but after you go through this exercise, you realize your 5, 6, 7 is that you want to be able to run in the backyard with your kids, be healthy and active when they're older, and create more happy memories together. 

The 20lbs is just a step that has to happen in order for that dream to come true.

So...that's the "fluffy" stuff. 

The stuff that you just skim past, don't think is important, but then wonder why you don't have motivation to change. 

If you really know your 5, 6, 7 you'll be forever motivated. 

Now, for the analytical stuff...

This is a process I like to call reverse engineering. 

And frankly, most people just never spend the time to do it. 

Now, let me preface by saying, I think this stuff is irrelevant if you don't know your WHY, or your 5, 6, 7. 

It's like money. 

We all want more of it. 

Why?

Why $100,000?

Why not $90,000 or $110,000?

Quite often it's just some random number that sounds good. 

Just like fat loss. 

20lbs. 

Why 20lbs?

That's the 5, 6, 7. 

So now let's say you have two goals. 

1. I want to lose 20lbs. 

2. I want to be able to do 10 push-ups. 

The first question you have to ask yourself is...

Is it specific?

Yes. 

Stronger is not specific. Being able to do 10 push-ups is specific. 

Is it measurable? 

Yes. 

I can't measure "I want to be able to do push-ups."

I can measure "I want to be able to do 10 push-ups."

What's the deadline?

This is where a lot of people drop the ball. 

Put a deadline on EVERYTHING. 

Parkinson's law: work expands as to fill the time available

In short, whatever time you give yourself to do something, it will take you that long. 

That's why a goal without a deadline very rarely gets achieved because the work will always keep expanding (you'll keep procrastinating). 

So you have a deadline. 

I want to be able to do 10 push-ups and lose 20lbs  in 6 months. 

Great...now the easy part. 

Just reverse engineer that down. 

20lbs in six months is 3.33 pounds per month. 

You know if you lose 3.3 pounds in the first month you're still on track. 

That's just under 1 pound (.82) per week. 

You know if you lose 1 pound per week you're on track. 

So now, all of the sudden, it seems more manageable. 

20lbs seems daunting. 

1 pound a week seems doable. 

That's just reverse engineering. 

You want to save $100,000 in 10 years. 

That's $10,000 a year. 

That's $833 a month. 

That's $27 per day. 

$100,000 seems daunting. 

$27 seems doable. 

Reverse engineer all of your goals down to manageable chunks, daily, weekly, and monthly. 

Then, it's just a matter of putting in the consistent work.

But at least now you know exactly what the target is, and why you're hitting that target. 

And...once that target has been hit...rinse and repeat the process for a new target. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Can You Wait?

Our daily lives are filled with instant gratification. 

Think about simple things like Facebook. 

How excited do you get when someone "likes" your post and the red dot pops up?

In the kitchen, you press a button and your food can be heated up in under two minutes. 

The microwave. 

Fitness is filled with instant gratification promises. 

Six pack abs in six weeks. 

Ten pounds in ten days. 

Our society is filled, and in some ways, craves instant gratification. 

But is that what makes us happy?

As much as we want quick fixes and instant gratification, it's not what actually makes us most happy. 

If you don't have to work for something, if you don't have to power through something, go on the journey, overcome obstacles, and find your grit to accomplish the goal, it's not that rewarding. 

Losing 10 pounds sounds great, but if all you had to do was press a button, it's not actually that satisfying or rewarding. 

However, losing those 10 pounds after months, if not years, of struggles, pushing through challenging times, and finally crossing the line, that's what is rewarding. 

Climbing Mount Everest is rewarding because of how challenging it is. 

If you could take an elevator to the top, or if it was just a stroll in the park to get there, it wouldn't nearly involve as much reward and pleasure as it does. 

Delayed gratification. 

It's one of the hardest skills to develop in all facets of life. 

If you can pass up the short term win now, put your head down and enjoy the journey, I promise the long-term wins will be much more gratifying. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Apology not accepted

Yesterday, my afternoon started with two back to back strategy sessions with clients. 

Who both greeted me with an apology. 

Not hi or hello. They walked through the door tripping over themselves to apologize.

I’m not new to the apology game. In fact, I may have created it. I was no more than 10 years old, hanging out with my best friend Teri when she told me to stop apologizing. I can’t imagine what I was sorry for at that prepubescent age, but in any case, her casual chiding of me prompted an endless loop of graveling on my part.

Stop saying you’re sorry.

Yes, right, sorry.

I said stop saying sorry.

Ugh, yes! Sorry!

And on it went.

I was reminded of this moment in my youth when a client shared a piece of writing with me over the weekend. In it, she spoke of her own relationship with the word sorry.   


“For thirty-six hours I had been in a constant stage of apology. Sorry I’m late. (Times ten.) Sorry I forgot to text you. Sorry I forgot the water bottle. Sorry you are wet. Sorry your team lost. Sorry I have no dinner plan. Sorry I drank too much wine and fell asleep on the couch at 9:00 PM. Sorry I’m (still) tired. Sorry about the dog (acting like a dog). Sorry about the injustice of your whole situation. Sorry I cannot fix it. Sorry you are losing your mind. Sorry I must be losing my mind!”

I think my favorite line is “sorry about the dog acting like a dog.” 

This is what so many of us do, and I get it. I apologize for the weather - for your headache - for your neck pain - for your job situation. It can be a way of empathizing. People will say “it’s not your fault my boss is a tool,” and I’ll say no, but I’m sorry that you’re going through it. That’s the empathy.

But I’m often apologizing for so many other things - not just what I did or didn’t do - of course I’ll apologize if I’m running late - if I missed a deadline - if I forgot something. 

But it’s that other side of apologizing - the apology you probably don’t even know you ‘re giving, not for what you’ve done or haven’t done, but for who you are. 

That’s the one that I won’t accept. 

Acknowledge when you’re in the wrong, yes. But don’t assume that everything about you is wrong.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’m often a sh*t show when I’m walking out the door. That’s not my favorite quality about myself. Yes, I’m working to be more efficient.

But it doesn’t make you wrong. You are not wrong for being you - for worrying so much about others that you lose track of your own needs - for trying to be so helpful to others that you forget your own schedule - you are not wrong for being so empathetic that you express your compassion with an acknowledgement of another’s suffering.

So next time you are running five minutes late to a session - the next time you have to change your schedule because life happened - don’t apologize to me.

Apology not accepted.

Ok?

Ok.; 

The Most Popular...

Two months ago I published my first book, One Percent Better.

Every day I get e-mails and in person messages thanking me for the positive life changing lessons.

But do you know the clear winner, the most popular lesson so far?

The big 3.

So simple, but so actionable.

How is it that some people seem to have time to get all things done, and other can't even seem to get out of their own way?

I'm a productivity nerd, but it can really be summed up with one quote...

"Most of us overestimate what we can get done in a day and underestimate what we can get done in a year."

Think about it...

If I want to lose 50lbs in a year, that's just a pound a week.

Totally doable, right?

We could do that in a year. 

But today?

Workout. 

Meal prep. 

Work. 

Take the kids to school and after-school activities. 

Social media notifications. 

E-mail. 

You get it. 

In the grand scheme of things, losing a pound a week over the course of the year is not that bad, we underestimate that, but we think we can get 100 things done in a day, overestimating what is possible in 24 hours. 

What ends up happening?

Checking social media, being reactive to every stimulus that comes in front of us, and never actually getting anything done. 

So, what can you do?

Do less. 

The Big 3. 

Another favorite line of productivity that I constantly remind myself of is...

Discipline = Freedom

You have to create rules, you have to build in daily disciplines of what you're going to say yes to and what you're going to say no to. 

I'm challenging you to have the discipline to only focus on the big three each day. 

What are the three things you're going to get done that will move you forward?

Most of us have 101 things on our to-do list, and what happens?

We get none of them done because we get so overwhelmed, we pick at all of them, allow distractions to come in, and never actually make substantial progress on anything. 

Limit yourself to three things. 

For example, my three today are:

1. Write this e-mail

2. Coaching calls with my consulting clients

3. Workout

Will I get more than that done today?

Probably. 

In total, all three of those will probably only take me 4-5 hours. 

However, it allows me to focus on the three most important things. 

Once those are done, then I can move onto anything else if I have time, but I'm not going to allow distractions until those three are done. 

It also allows you to feel like you accomplished something today. 

Too often the list is so big, we never make any substantial progress on it every day, so every day feels like there is so much more to do. 

Make the list smaller. 

Being productive does not mean you're busy. 

It means you actually produced things that moved the needle, made progress. 

We all can be busy checking social media and responding to e-mails, but that doesn't result in any progress made. 

Being productive is a skill.

Just like any other skill, it takes practice and it must be developed. 

To practice, begin by writing down your big three for the day. 

Oh, and if a healthier life is important to you, a workout will be on the big three. 

If it's not on the big three, that's okay, but that's a clear indicator that it's not a priority right now so you can't expect results as you will constantly find other things to distract you or say yes to. 

What are the three things you're going to get done today?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Why Am I Not Seeing Results?

It's probably the most common question in the industry.

You feel like you're trying hard but you just can't seem to see the results you're looking for. 

I get it.

Heck, I have my own health goals that I'm working on and find myself in a bit of a rut right now. 

It happens to all of us. 

I think there are two sides to the answer of why are you not seeing results...

1. What are you doing?

2. What are "results" to you?

I was doing my normal morning reading before diving into writing this e-mail and I came across a great line...

"More of the same usually gives you more of the same."

Another one I like...

"If you do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got."

This is just a continual reminder to be self-aware of what you are actually doing. 

Not what you want to do or think you should do, but what are you actually doing.

Execution.  

Is it that much different?

Is your nutrition different?

Is your sleep different?

Is your exercise different?

You can't expect different results if you keep doing the same thing. 

So the first question I always ask someone (and myself) when they tell us that they're not getting results is...

What are you doing differently that you weren't doing before?

Clearly, if you haven't received results in the past, what you were doing in those moments is not going to produce the results you're now looking for. 

The second part of the answer is...

What are "results" to you?

So let's assume that you are doing different stuff...

You're increasing the frequency of exercise...

You're changing nutrition habits...

You're sleeping better...

All good, right?

Well, what is the result you're after?

Results can mean a lot of things. 

We, of course, we have the popular one...

The scale.

Is it moving?

We know that can be a frustrating thing, and it's not the only thing that justifies results.

Are you eating better? Do you feel full more? 

That's results. 

Do you have more energy? Are you not as tired?

That's results. 

Are you sleeping better?

That's results.

Your clothes fit a little better. 

You're stronger.

You're in a better mood. 

You feel like you could sustain what you're doing as a lifestyle. 

All results. 

It's up to you to quantify what is a result to you, but know that this is just as much of a mental game as it is a physical game. 

It's easy to get frustrated with the scale not budging, but if you're doing things differently, chances are you're seeing results, you just have to look at it through a different lens. 

So to recap...

If you're not getting results...

What are you doing differently to expect a different outcome?

What are results to you?

Ponder on those questions and hopefully, that helped. 

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

The procrastination of self care

A few years ago, a client suggested a blog title for me. 

The procrastination of self-care.

I filed the title away, and picked at it a few times. We all have a tendency to put off our self-care, whether it’s placing other’s needs before our own or keeping too busy to acknowledge our own needs. But every time I returned to the title, I had little success in creating a substantial post.

Until last week.

Last Monday, I was hit straight in the nose by my own procrastination of self-care. I was driving in to the gym Monday afternoon, and found myself growing increasingly sad. 

The details don’t really matter - but I was coming off of a stretch of some long hours and negotiating the loss of another family member. I’d been keeping my head above water, but I can’t really say I was in a practice of taking care of myself very well. 

And to be perfectly honest with you, I was doing okay. Not great, but okay. 

Until the drive from Bowdoinham to Kennebunk last Monday. Somewhere on that drive, I got sadder and sadder, and by the time I pulled in to the parking lot of the gym, I was completely overwhelmed by my emotions. I dragged my bags out of the car and tried to get my emotions together. 

But it just wasn’t happening. 

I was literally crying as I walked in to the gym.

I nodded to my co-workers when I walked through the doors and immediately put on my giant noise canceling headphones. There was no music playing, but it was the clear sign that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. 

And I didn’t. I couldn’t.

For the next 90 minutes, I kept the headphones on and did the most mindless workout I could think of. I deadlifted for 15 minutes straight.

My throat was burning and the tears were flowing, but methodically, every 15 seconds, I lifted the bar. At the end of 15 minutes I collapsed on the floor, breathless, staring at the ceiling, trying to pull myself together. I took a shower, got ready to coach, and got on with my day. 

And by the time I started coaching, I was ready to go. But later that night on the drive home I realized something. 

I had been forced in to the self-care that I was neglecting.

On this day, it played out in the form of uncontrollable emotions. I was sad, and I hadn’t given myself the space to be sad. I said I had, but that wasn’t true. I’d kept myself busy and moving and doing, which meant that I hadn’t given myself an opportunity to actually feel my feelings.  

So myself created that space for me. 

Yeah, that’s an awkward sentence. But it’s absolutely true. If we aren’t purposeful and thoughtful about our own self-care, it will get forced upon us.

Ever gotten sick at the end of a long stretch of stress? Or even a short stretch? Ever found yourself balling your eyes out during an Adele song after a breakup? Gotten a massive headache? Pulled a muscle? Anything physical or emotional? After neglecting yourself by eating poorly, and never sleeping or resting?

Yeah - here’s the thing - you can procrastinate your self-care all you want. You can kick that can down the road a ways - but I can assure you that if you procrastinate taking care of yourself, of really looking after your own needs - then yourself, your body, your emotions, your spirit - will eventually come to collect. And it might be in ways that you cannot dictate.

So as hard as it might be, my challenge to you is this - what can you do today, tomorrow or the next day, to take care of yourself?

And do you need someone to help keep you accountable to that self-care?

Because I do. I’ve recruited friends, my spouse and my co-workers to help me out. Because self-care is harder than it sounds.

But stop procrastinating your self-care.

How Do You Treat A Goldfish?

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 can count on one hand the number of times I've used it in 2019.

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. 

Why?

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 after it. 

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. 

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

This goes for any change too.

Do you ever notice if you work from home, popping into a coffee shop, you instantly feel more productive.

You changed the environment.

You changed your water.

Removing yourself from a toxic relationship, a toxic work culture, you’re changing your water.

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. 

Just like your pet goldfish, make sure all the “water” in your life is fresh and clean.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling


This Might Be....

This might be the most common trait needed to long-term success.

In fitness, and in life in general, we know we default to looking for the quick fix.

We also know that it can be very easy to get caught up in the weeds…

Should I eat organic or not?

How many servings of vegetables should I have?

Which exercises are best for me?

Should I do strength training, circuit training, or yoga?

I’ve talked in past writings about the two key drivers to success in health…

Frequency & Nutrition.

That may seem obvious, but you do have to show up in order to get results :)

We also know that you can’t outwork a bad diet.

I wish you could, trust me, but we can’t.

I’m a perfect example of that right now, I can’t expect results until I clean up my nutrition.

But, I was thinking, it goes further than that.

I think the most common behavior for long-term success is…

The ability to stick with it, stick with it when things get tough, and stick with it in the long-term.

Seriously, the amount of people that stop something because one thing goes awry is mind boggling.

This is true not just in fitness, but in life in general.

We often quit something too soon.

The moment we’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before something great is going to happen.

The ability to stick with it, when things are tough, when you don’t feel like it, might be the biggest key to success.

We had a client in the gym, doing what she could, getting modifications from the coaches, after fracturing her pelvis!

Do you have any injury?

You typically have three other limbs and a core we can work around.

Are you feeling tired, stressed, and no energy?

Working out is the greatest tool for that.

Health and fitness is not something that ever ends.

That might be scary to hear, but hopefully that excites you.

There is always something to get better at, there is always something to celebrate, there is always a win to be had.

The ability to stick with it, when you’re busy, when you don’t feel like it, when you have 10,000 other things going on in life, that might be the biggest key to long-term success.

We just created a “Visits Club” at the gym.

350 lifetime visits, 750 visits, 1000 visits, etc.

There is one person in the 1000 visits club (yay, Lynette).

Getting your name under the 1000 visits club is a great goal for everyone.

After that?

2500, 5000, …10,000?

My point is, sticking with it might be the biggest key to success.

We’re focused on fitness here, but apply to this to any area of your life.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

You Know...

A short and simple message today on this spring Friday…

A question to ponder about, a question to drink a cup of coffee over…

Are you really giving it your best?

Seriously?

Are you really giving it your best?

Only you can answer that.

Somedays, regardless of the outcome, the answer is yes.

Somedays, if you reflect back, the answer is no.

You know, we’re all self-aware enough that we know, in the moment, whether we’re giving it our best or not.

Giving it your best doesn’t always have to equal getting more done, or losing more weight, or checking more off your list, but it does mean that when you close your eyes at night, you can confidently say you did your best.

The world needs you, more than ever, to give your best.

Your family needs you to give your best.

You need to give your best.

Yes we can have technology and other human beings to tell us when we’re lagging, or to give us a kick in the butt sometimes, but you know when you’re not giving your best.

You know when you’re throwing in the towel early, you know when you’re dragging when you could be moving a little faster, only you know if you’re not giving it your best.

Again, depending on the day, giving it your best doesn’t always mean the same thing, but if you want results in life, fitness or otherwise, you need to give it your best….

Every. Single. Day.

Are you giving it your best?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

A gust of wind

In the book “Tattoos on the Heart,” Father Gregory Boyle tells the story of a young man battling a heroin addiction.

In counseling the boy, he says “you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.”

To which the boy replies with tears in his eyes, “But I know I can fly. I just need a gust of wind.”

The little gust of wind for my cape here came from a fan. But you never know where that gust is going to come from that's going to help you fly. 

I was listening to the book on my drive down to the gym yesterday and paused it after he told this story. I couldn't listen to anything else.

It was one of those lines that landed on my heart. 

I know I can fly. I just need a gust of wind.

We all want to run before we can walk.

Restraint is so difficult.

We know in the world of health and fitness that adopting a restrictive diet or trying to work out five days a week, in the beginning, is often the recipe for failure. We decide to run a 5k and bust out 20 miles in a week and then our bodies break down and we find ourselves battling injuries because we didn't have the patience to pace ourselves.

We adopt a no carb diet only to find ourselves gorging on a piece of cake seven days in to the 30 day plan. 

We know that in order for behavioral change to stick, we have to start slow, and stack one block at a time. 

We have to crawl before we can walk. 

We know this.

But it's that last line from the boy that pulls so hard at me. Crawl before we can walk, yes. Stacking the blocks one at a time, yes.

"But I know I can fly." 

What this boy is speaking to, is potential. 

The definition of potential is "latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness." I believe we all have it within us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. It's up to us to determine what that means. 

And yet..

"I just need a gust of wind."

I think we sometimes beat ourselves up over our own potential. Do you know the number one comment I hear from clients whenever I ask what we can do to help support them in the process?

"Nothing. It's not you. It's me. I just need to do a better job. I know what I need to do, I just need to do it."

To those clients I'd say no.

Stop being so hard on yourself. 

Yes you have the potential. You know you can fly. I know you can fly. 

Sometimes you just need a little gust of wind. 

Let someone else be that gust of wind for you.

A Different Look...

"How often should I workout?"

It’s a common question we get on day one when we meet with new people, and it happened again last night.

"I'd like to come 3-4x per week."

That's the common response for beginners and experienced folks alike. 

What's the problem with that?

It's not that 3-4x per week is right or wrong.

In fact, let me comment on that for a quick second. 

How often do you work out now?

If the answer is zero, even once a month is going be better than nothing. 

And in fact, sometimes setting the bar high, like the above example of 3-4x per week, although it sounds good on paper, may set the bar too high. 

I'd rather set the bar lower and constantly feel the accomplishment of going over it than set the bar too high and have the disappointment of feeling like I can never reach it. 

So, even if you want to workout 3x per week I'm going to challenge you to look at it differently. 

What's 3 x 50 (let's plan on two weeks off or vacation)?

150.

Why don't we say I want to workout 150 times this year?

Isn't it really the same thing?

I like to think of goals on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. 

150 workouts in a year...

40 workouts in a quarter (90 days) ..

10-12 workouts a month...

10 workouts in May!  

That doesn't sound so bad, right?

In reality, it's the same answer as 2-4x per week, but the bar is instantly more attainable.

Now, more than most, I’m not one for lowering the bar.

I don’t want you to think this mindset shift (that’s all it is), is lowering the more.

It’s still going to be work, we can still raise it, we’re just looking at it differently.

To summarize in online line, think of frequency on a monthly basis not a weekly basis.

Why?

You have a much higher chance of achieving it. 

Something will come up this week. 

Kids will get sick.

You'll get stuck at work. 

Some life event will get in the way. 

So if you're hell-bent on getting 3 workouts in this week, it instantly sets you up for failure. 

However, if you know that you have three more weeks to get in your 10 workouts you simply adjust and execute. 

Same thing with the yearly goal of 150 workouts.

If you didn't hit your 3x this week it no longer feels like a failure because you have the other 49 weeks to get in your 150. 

Now, you can't be crazy and think you're going to get 150 in 100 days, but it builds in life's way of always putting up hurdles. 

So my question to you...

We're just about to wrap up April.

That means eight more months in 2019.

How many workouts are you going to get the rest of the year? 

Reply and let me know...

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

This Is So Underestimated

I was chatting with a client last week about their results and frequency, and I reminded her of one of my favorite lessons....

We overestimate what we can get done in a day or a week, but we underestimate what we can get done in a year. 

Read that again for me...

We overestimate what we can get done in a day or a week, but we underestimate what we can get done in a year. 

Think about that. 

Quite often we have goals like...

" I want to go to the gym 4-5x per week." 

Or...

"I want to lose 20lbs before the summer."

Well, what happens?

We try to go gung-ho, try to cram so much into a day or week, end up puttering at everything, getting frustrated that we might have set that bar too high, and then wake up a year later and neither of those goals have happened. 

I don't like to "lower standards" because I do think that most people underestimate how hard it is to actually see change, especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition. 

However, I do think we overestimate what we can get done in a day or a week. 

We have this glorious goal that we're going to come to the gym 4-5x per week, all while working full-time, taking care of the family, etc. 

The reality is, although that's great when that can happen, I think if that's your mindset you're setting yourself up for failure.

There is going to be a week or weeks where that is not possible, and now you have failure in your mind. 

So, now that you have failure in your mind because you set the bar too high, you go into hibernation mode, and say "screw it". 

That means not working out for weeks or months, making poor nutrition choices, and having a hard time getting back on track. 

Our most successful clients come 120-150 times a year.

We have a board at the gym called the "Frequent Sweaters Club."

In order to get on the board, you just have to come ten times that month. 

Sounds easy, right?

That's just 2-3 times per week. 

You'd be surprised how hard it is. 

I will tell you, for most people, that should be their goal every month with fitness. 

Get on the Frequent Sweaters board. 

Our most successful clients are not coming 4-5x per week, they just get on the Frequent Sweaters board every single month, 12 months a year. 

To stay on track with my original line of underestimating and overestimating...

I'm all for setting big lofty goals, trust me.

But when you set the bar too high each day or each week, thinking that you're going to get all this stuff done, you end up never moving the needle forward. 

You wake up a year later and no progress is made. 

But instead, if you take better action on less, consistent smaller action, you become thoroughly surprised what can get accomplished in a year. 

It's what makes 1% Better so important. 

Show up. 

Take small actions. 

Don't set a bar so high you can never reach it. 

And over the next 100 days you'll be 100% better :)

Right?

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Which Path?

Which path do you take?

As humans, we're naturally wired to take that path of least resistance.

In fact, everything is designed to take the path of least resistance.

Whether it's water, electricity, or our brains, it will always default to what is easiest, what is the shortest, quickest, or least challenging way.

Did you know wolves evolved to domesticated dogs because it was easier to scavenge on human trash than track down prey?

The path of least resistance.

So what's the solution?

Awareness is always number one.

Whether it's in fitness, nutrition, work, or life, we're always going to default to the easiest way of doing it (or not doing it all because that's actually the easiest).

So you have to consciously be aware of that, and continually remind yourself that the path of least resistance is not always the best way.

The people that have success, in any area of life, fitness included, are the ones that don't take the easiest path...

Getting up at 430am is not easy...

Showing up every single day, writing every single day (like this), for over 1000 straight weekdays is not easy...

Thinking that a 14-16 hour work day is normal is not easy...

But I know those three things, amongst a handful of others, are my personal competitive advantages.

I simply know, because it's not easy, most people won't do it.

Because it's a harder path to take, they'll be fewer people on the path, and I'll be farther ahead than most on that path.

Now that's a personal or business example, but you can relate that to any one thing...

Showing up to the gym when you have "better" things to do is not easy...

Meal prepping is not easy...

Journaling your food is not easy...

Saying no to takeout and instead making a healthy choice is not easy...

And it's why most people won't do it, so if you're looking for results, those are the things you need to do.

Go against the grain, go against what is normal or status quo, and do what others just are not willing to do.

With all that being said...

You can also use this to your advantage.

Since we know our brains are naturally going to go with the path of least resistance, we can do things that play to that.

For example...

Putting the alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed to shut it off...

Preparing your gym bag the night before and putting it by the door...

Hiding (or not buying) some of those food goodies (there's actually a company that sells food storage that locks for a certain amount of time)...

Have healthy foods on the counter that is quicker to access...

You get it.

As you may know by now, this change stuff (fitness, nutrition, or other) is hard, and it's mostly a mental game.

Just remember, our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance, so you need to use that to your advantage in some circumstances and go against it in others.

1% Better.

Dedicated to Your Success,

Doug Spurling

Three tips to manage your time better

In the past few weeks I’ve started to track how I spend my time. Not to the minute, but every hour or so during the day, I jot down what I’ve done during the past 60 minutes. Like many of us, I’d like to be more productive, so I thought a time tracker might be a good place to start.

I feel like I’ve learned some important lessons during this process and I want to share those with you today.

You’re welcome in advance (and I apologize for the implied profanity. But poop show doesn’t sound the same…)

1. TRY NOT TO BE A SH*T SHOW

I’m not sure if sh*t show is a technically a personality trait, but if so, that’s my strongest one, behind introversion.

Anyone who has ever witnessed me trying to leave the gym at the end of the night has seen this in person, with my five bags, one coffee mug, one blender bottle, and keys? Where are my keys?

This morning, it took me an hour to get ready for work. I work at a gym, don’t fix my hair, and I’m not really required to do anything but smell better than a sweaty gym sock. Reflecting on the hour it took me to actually get pants on (sweat pants, yes), this is what happened:

*I spent ten minutes in the shower trying to get the pump to work on the new giant bottle of shampoo. That was after I got in the shower, realized the old bottle was empty, and then got out of the shower to get the new bottle. Eventually, I gave up on getting the new pump to work and took the whole damn lid off. That’s when a quarter of the new bottle fell out into the shower. I rubbed my hands in the glob of shampoo on the floor of the tub and lathered what I could manage into my hair.

Then I reached for the razor that conveniently hangs on the shower wall, because Sheila (who is not a sh*t show). The razor fell out of my hands, still slippery from the shampoo excursion, and came apart. My hands pruned as I tried to get the razor blade back on to the razor handle, and then it fell off three more times before I finally cut myself shaving my legs.

Because of course I did.

And I still missed the spot on the back of my legs that I always miss and I now have a Rapunzel like growth of leg hair.

You’re welcome for the image.

*I plucked a gray chin hair and then freaked out because it was A GRAY CHIN HAIR.

So tip number one - don’t be like me.

At all.

2. KEEP YOUR LIDS WITH THE COFFEE MUGS

I spent another 15 minutes trying to find the lid to my Yeti mug. Yes, I have 7 other mugs in the cabinet and I could find lids to go with them. But IT HAD TO BE THE YETI MUG BECAUSE YETI.

This tip also applies to Tupperware and storage containers for food. Matching lids to containers is the bane of my existence.

Side note - when I was a kid, my mom used Country Crock bowls as Tupperware and finding the butter was a sh*t show. Maybe I learned to be a sh*t show from my mom. If you’re reading this mom, I’m sorry I said sh*t…

3. MAYBE TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OUT OF THE DRIER BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO FIND THEM.

After my 45 minute adventure in the shower, I had to find clothes. Which I’d washed. On Sunday. And put in the drier. And that was as far as I got because my laundry cycle includes putting clothes into the washer and then into the drier and then onto my person. 

Which, if you’re curious, is how I finally got pants on.

So I think my advice here is to also not be like me. Put your clothes in a drawer. Maybe fold them too.

Nah….just put them in a drawer.

BONUS TIP

Have bacon and a hair dryer ready to get your 11-year old basset hound out of the yard where he’s been eating dirt and grass in the pouring rain and is pretending that he doesn’t know his name for 25 minutes while you also periodically come out and stand in the pouring rain yelling at him.

Those are just a couple of tips that are not really tips but things you should never, ever do if you’d like to be more productive with your life.

And if you’re tempted to have me watch some Marie Kondo Netflix show, I’d offer this in all honesty:

I wrote this post so that you, reading it, will know that you’re not alone. If you walked out the door with your pants on backwards (I did this Saturday night), forgot to pack socks in your gym bag (at least once a week) or spent 20 minutes looking for the pants that you had in your hand five minutes ago (that was last Thursday for me), it’s ok.

Chances are, if organization isn’t your strong suit, there are so many other things you bring to the table. Creativity, the ability to adapt to any situation, and you probably have a lot of empathy for other people. It’s easy to feel like if we are not more organized we are wrong. That if we don’t plan more, we’re wrong. That if we don’t do things the way we are supposed to, we are wrong.

Well, as I like to tell clients who ask me if they are doing exercises wrong in my classes, my answer is the same.

You’re not doing it wrong.

Just different.