The 4 Agreements of Fitness And Life


The year is 1997 and I was a naive eleven-year-old with a serious affinity for superheroes, sports, video games, music, and red vines.

Michael Jordan was on his way out of the NBA. Allen Iverson (who was the reason why I wore number 3 in high school basketball) was beginning his massive impact on the sports world. 90’s R&B was a force even though I had no idea what these people were singing about—it sounded good.

Also in 1997, a man by the name of Don Miguel Ruiz published a small book that went on to become a massive best-seller and influence many people with ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Wisdom’.

In only 153 pages, Ruiz shares “ancient Toltec wisdom” that is broken down into four concise principles for life.

These four principles can help you achieve freedom and happiness in life. But aren’t those the same things we want when it comes to our well-being?

Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to our relationship with food? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to our relationship with our bodies? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to the way we talk to ourselves (I know I could)? Couldn’t we use a little more freedom and happiness when it comes to the way we move our bodies?

Residing in guilt and fear when making choices about your health isn’t an ideal way to live.

With all of this said, this book played a huge role in helping me get to where I currently am along with where I’m rapidly moving towards. Here are the 4 agreements of fitness and life.

1st Agreement: Be impeccable with your word

“When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Being impeccable with your word isn’t using your word for self-infliction which leads to guilt, shame, and halts progression.

Instead, your word is your promises and commitments that you make to yourself. Here’s the other important tidbit, only commit to actions you intend to follow through on because each time you promise yourself something and don’t follow through, you lose confidence and respect for yourself.

With that said, on a day-to-day basis, how is the language that you use toward yourself? What kind of words do you use to describe your reality? Do you say things about yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend?

Not using empowering language toward yourself is a discreet form of self-sabotaging. Taking control of your emotional and mental world is the first pillar to transforming yourself.

Health, learning, growing and evolving at a fast pace, dancing, impacting people, and writing is important to me. Therefore my commitments need to reflect what’s important to me while empowering me to grow each day into the best version of myself. Here are some examples of language I use for my identity.

  • I desire to have great health so I can live to my highest self while looking and feeling great naked. Therefore “I’m the type of person that consistently goes to the gym and exercises 30-60 minutes and eats a variety of vegetables and nutritious foods to fuel my body and brain”.
  • I desire to have abundant energy so I can make my highest impact felt in the world. Therefore “I’m the type of person who prioritizes my sleep with no room for negotiating”.
  • I desire to live in Portugal for spurts of time and need to communicate effectively. Therefore, “I’m the type of person that consistently practices and studies my 2nd language daily”.
  •  I desire to have supreme confidence to ask any girl at the salsa club to dance with me. Therefore, “I’m the type of person that consistently heads out to salsa clubs to improve my skill level”.
  • I desire to have a best selling book that is translated into multiple languages that are at bookstores and helps millions. Therefore, “I’m the type of person who deliberately writes 1000 words a day to become better”.
  • I desire to help and inspire a million people in the next decade. Therefore, “I’m the type of person who publishes weekly, consistently seeks speaking engagements, and reaches out to at least 1 person daily so I can impact people the best I can”.

Notice on all of those that the commitment is the action itself, not the specific result because I can’t fully control when it arrives.

I can’t control when I’ll get back down to around 10 percent body fat. I can’t control when I’ll be fluent. I can’t control when I’ll be a salsa Jedi. I can’t control if my next book will be a best seller or even if I’ll get a book deal. I can’t control if my next article goes viral or if the next person I meet changes their life due to something I said.

But I can put myself in the best position for those things to happen through my intentional actions and being impeccable with my word (i.e. my commitments).

Take some time today and write out a handful of commitments to yourself so your brain can start working towards things that you really want.

2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

“When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear, and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don’t take things personally.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Whether it’s in professional settings, relationships, or judgment from your friends—you’ll inevitably experience opinions about something you do.

When I first began to workout, I experienced chatter from friends due to me passing on Friday night college parties so I could be refreshed for my Saturday workout and studying. A handful of friends and family called me “crazy” when I left the pursuit of medicine (first big internet article and more about my decision to leave in case you’re curious) behind to pursue my current endeavors.

I have a one-star review on Amazon which could shoot my confidence if I didn’t equip myself with the right perspective (I actually laughed because I’m weird like that).

Odds are, someone has most likely called you crazy, dumb, or something else of similarity—probably this week. However, we must remember that it’s not about us in these situations.

What others say and do to us is nothing more than a projection of their own reality. What they choose to do and say is never about us.

When you become immune to the opinions and actions of others, their negativity and words will deflect off of you just as bullets deflect from Captain America’s shield.

shield— 4-agreements-of-fitness-and-life
With a shield made out of vibranium, nothing can hurt you.

With that said, you’ll consistently be tempted around every corner as you attempt to grow and evolve.

“It’s the holidays, why are you eating only one plate.” “Why don’t you have some more drinks?” “You can relax and give it a break, why are you getting the grilled fish?” You don’t have to eat healthy all the time? Just indulge and get the burger and beer.” “Why do you want it all, just be happy with the simple things.”

When you’re trying to make healthy choices and grow, your circle will sometimes give you a hard time because you’re breaking free from the norm and familiarity. Sometimes they’re joking. And if not, still don’t take it personally. Instead, treat them with even more compassion. Remember, they don’t see the world the same as you and that’s okay.

Don’t take criticism, your friends opinion, and especially the “Facebook expert” who seems to know every subject personally. Keep your head down, stay positive, choose the good type of pain, and ruthlessly focus on where you’re going.

3rd agreement: Don’t make assumptions

“We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking—we take it personally—then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why when we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

Assumptions leave a lot up to the imagination which leads to worse case scenario thinking. When you’re thinking about your well being, assumptions are dangerous because this can lead to dogmatic thinking when you’re approaching potential solutions for your fitness.

Perhaps you’re making assumptions about which diet will and won’t work for you. Perhaps you’re making assumptions about particular training programs and strategies not working for you. All of these assumptions are creating limiting beliefs.

With all of this said, there’s an easy solution to stop letting assumptions guide you and that is to start asking questions.

Have the courage to ask questions about whatever the situation is in front of you. This diet doesn’t work? This type of workout program doesn’t work? And the excuses can go on forever.

But why? Investigate because these type of moments are when you can extract gold from the situation which leads to growing and evolving at a faster rate.

4th agreement: Always do your best

“It’s the one that allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. The fourth agreement is about the action of the first three: Always do your best.” “Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.” — Don Miguel Ruiz

We can’t always control the outcome to situations, but we can control our daily actions.

Abiding by a rule of one percent daily improvement is a great way to keep your sanity while attempting to do your best. Focus on continuous improvement which is achieved through consistent small steps that eventually become monumental feats.

What I’ve noticed over the years with myself and clients is that those who take the consistent but small steps are more successful long-term compared to the ones who attempt large and monumental action because they can’t sustain it long term. Slow and steady always wins.

turtle — 4 agreements of fitness and life
Don’t forget the turtle always wins the race.

When you take small but important actions, the resistance isn’t as likely to stop you because while it’s out of your comfort zone, it’s not so far out that you’re feeling highly anxious and fearful.

At the end of the day, it’s a daily battle to abide by the 4 agreements of fitness and life. They are conceptually simple, but difficult in execution once you immerse yourself in the day-to-day world where temptations are abundant.

Stop With The Excuses and Start Taking Extreme Ownership of Your Health

extreme ownership of your health


It’s easy to blame the other person for being a bad partner. It’s easy to blame the job for your stress.

It’s easy to blame others for you not being where you want to be in life. It’s easy to blame your environment for your current woes. It’s easy to blame your diet.

But excuses don’t move your life forward. The only place you’re heading is to the losers mentality.

When it comes to destroying excuses, one of the best groups of people to look to for modeling a behavior and mindset is Navy Seals. Navy Seals are some of the highest performers in the world. Their high level of excellence is due to the commitment of extreme ownership.

What’s extreme ownership

Extreme Ownership is principles developed by co-authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin of the book ‘Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win’.

Jocko Willink was the commander of Task Unit Bruiser and the most decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. Leif Babin was one of his platoon commanders.

While these principles are explained through the context of war and teams, they are effective and highly applicable to your business, life, and health.

Extreme Ownership of your health is where you can’t blame products, your boss, your ex, your economy, your gym, your peers, your family, your social media environments, your physical environments, nor anything else for not taking action towards the things that are “important” to you.

You’re accountable for your success in health and fitness, along with everything else in life. While you can’t control the exact outcomes and timetables, you can control the process and actions that give you the best chance for success.

A true leader owns the outcome to the best of their extent. Things go wrong, you forget to do something, go off your plan, miss a workout, or go off your diet— then you take full ownership of it with no excuses.

As they explained in the book, Extreme Ownership is “on any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rest with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failure, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”

You’re the leader of your own life, business, and well being.

Here are 7 key principles to taking extreme ownership with your health.

1. Your attitude sets the tone

“The leader sets the tone for the entire team” — Leif Babin

While you’re not leading a team out to the battlefield, you’re leading yourself to the battlefield of life and maneuvering the various obstacles that life throws your way. Your attitude sets the tone for how you operate throughout the day.

Is it a setback that you fell short with your diet and fitness goals? Or is it merely feedback to help you get better and grow more as a person?

Someone with an extreme ownership attitude doesn’t leave something up to chance to change if they have the capability to change it. It’s not about what you preach, tell others, or share on social media. But instead, it’s about what you tolerate in your life.

What type of standards are you setting for your life? Are you accepting decent enough and moving on? Are you accepting partners that are alright and don’t light you up? But at least you aren’t alone—right?

If you approach life with a “decent enough mentality”, then you’ll get decent results. In other words, you’re going to be average.

In Bud’s class and seal qualification training, they dubbed a phrase “tortured genius”. No matter how obvious his or her failing, or how valid the criticism, the tortured genius accepts zero responsibility for mistakes, makes excuses, and blames everyone else for their failings and shortcomings.

Don’t be this person. Accept ownership and responsibility.

2. Check your ego

“Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism.” “When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.” — Jocko Willink

Ego can serve as your anchor to not achieving your business and health goals.

For example: Steve wants to lose weight and has tried numerous workouts from fitness magazines and the internet. He’s never stayed consistent and his metabolism has slowed down because of the various fad diets, detoxes, and workouts he’s tried.

Instead of taking extreme ownership of his health, he blames his weight gain on his stress, job, and lack of time. He says he knows how to get into shape, but he hasn’t actually ever done it. He’s not taking extreme ownership with his fitness because he refuses to take responsibility and continues to deflect blame. He’ll continue to be stuck and spin his wheels in neutral until he sets his ego aside and seeks out help.

This same type of thing happens to the girl who claims there are no good men and she continues to only find douchebags. She’s not taking extreme ownership that a big portion of her dating faults is because of herself and that she needs to work on herself and figure out why she’s attracting these types of guys.

finger pointing — extreme ownership of your health
The only finger pointing allowed is directed at yourself.

When it comes to ego, Ryan Holiday reminds us that:

“If you want to be more than a flash in the pan, you must be prepared to focus on the long term. We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.”

This is applicable to your health because if you want to shift the paradigm of your health for the long term, you have to focus on taking action, finding proper education, and doing the little (but essential) things on a daily basis which means letting go of the ego and preconceived notions.

Steve could take extreme ownership by signing up for a session with a trainer at his gym to learn about effective workouts, meet with a nutrition coach to learn about healthy eating, ask friends who have successfully lost weight, or decide to join my 1-on-1 comprehensive lifestyle coaching program.

Place your ego on the bench. Think about the next step required for changing your health and start taking extreme ownership of your health.

3. Cover and move

“In the seal teams, we taught teams to act decisively, my default setting should be aggressive. Proactive rather than reactive. Instead of the situation dictating our decisions, we dictated the situation. Departments and groups within the team must work together, depend on each there and understand who depends on them. Cover and move equal team work.” – Leif Babin

Wait and see doesn’t cut it. There is no try, only doing. The picture and journey will never be smooth sailing, there will always be risks and tough choices. Do your best to assess the situation (and cover the big risks) and move forward. Have a bias for action.

In fitness, front load your work and prepare ahead of time for potential difficulties and temptations.

Don’t try to control everything, only fixate on the big dominoes. This allows you to have room to live life with less stress and have more mental space to make the big decisions that truly move life forward.

4. The simpler, the sexier

Complexity equates to more risks and often unnecessary ones. Complexity is your enemy. The more complex, the more unknowns and variables which lead to higher likelihoods of quitting.

When it’s more difficulty, it’s harder to understand and not as easy to execute, which leads to higher percentages of quitting.

With your health and wellness, your nutrition should be as simple as possible, but yet highly effective. Think Pareto’s principle here (80/20). What are the big dominoes in your healthy eating plan that will yield the most in return?

A couple could be eating adequate amounts of protein with each meal, have 2-3 servings of vegetables with each meal, and eat 3-4 times per day. With exercise, it could be having a workout plan that consists mainly of the big compound lifts due to them using multiple muscle groups and causing more of a metabolic load/stress on the body. And thus leading to more calories burned in a shorter amount of time.

Lastly, another big domino to focus on is getting the proper amounts of sleep that are also high-quality sleep.

5. Set strict priorities and ruthlessly execute

“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail to each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest propriety task and execute. Prioritize and execute.

On the battlefield, there will inevitably come a time when problems arise that have a snowball effect. These present themselves as a complex entity of their own. It’s in this type of high-stakes situation that it’s important to relax, look around and then make a decision.” — Leif Babin

The principles remain the same for your life, business, and well-being.

Do your best to stay a step or two ahead of the potential problem. But, when faced with multiple challenges in your life, identify the highest priorities and tackle those problems one at a time.

implement & action — extreme ownership of your health
Action…action…And more action is the name of the game.

Here’s a quick way to take extreme ownership of your health and set up a chain of priorities and execute:

  1. Evaluate/recognize the problem/issue causing the most issues or one that could be the biggest barrier to your goal
  2. Lay out a simple, clear, and concise plan in terms of the highest priority
  3. Develop and determine your solutions (don’t forget to seek help if needed—remember the ego)
  4. Focus all efforts and resources on that issue
  5. Move on once it’s resolved

6. Be decisive and steady regardless of the scenario

Not taking a choice nor making a move is a choice in itself and that’s called inaction (the worse of them all).

It’s important to be comfortable amid the chaos and act decisively amid the uncertainty around you. While not in a battlefield, you’ll encounter many variable factors on a daily basis that could cause disruption to your flow.

Don’t be wishy washy and flip flop back and forth with what you decide to do. Choose and move on regardless.

Pick a nutrition and workout plan and then execute ruthlessly. Stay the course and trust the process. Don’t go chasing shiny new objects or program hop each week, that’s how you stay stuck in mediocrity.

7. Discipline equals freedom

“Instead of making us more rigid and unable to improvise, this discipline actually made us more flexible, more adaptable, and more efficient. It allowed us to be creative. When we wanted to change plans midstream on an operation we didn’t have to recreate an entire plan. We had the freedom to work within the framework of our discipline procedures.”

Jocko Willink

Most people think of discipline as being strict, regimented, and for control freaks. At first glance, this might seem accurate, but in fact, it’s the opposite.

Discipline is the gateway to freedom, success, and the body that you desire. Discipline catapults you from good to great. You won’t become more rigid with discipline, but instead, more flexible.

This happens because you’re creating systems and processes that allow you to execute without having to reinvent the wheel or think of the basic tasks to do each and every day—you’re becoming more efficient.

Your systems created through discipline cover this and now your mind is free to focus on other important matters.

Ask yourself how can I use more discipline to create more freedom in my life. Is it creating systems with your nutrition, working out, groceries, cooking, business, or other facets?

Take Back Control: Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work - vanity metrics

From creatives to artist to writers to business people to everyday fitness people—we have this undeniably fatal flaw in ourselves to seek validation for our efforts and work.

From painting something from the heart to pouring our emotions over the keyboards, to giving it our all in the gym—the opinions of others has the potential to sink our self worth faster than a rock plummets to the depths of the ocean.

Some of us might quit working out because others aren’t noticing the hours and buckets of sweat we put in weekly. We might start to give a half-ass effort at our jobs because the appreciation isn’t being showed.

Our momentum for sharing our words, our music, our drawings, and our compassion might wither due to no one seemingly caring for our efforts.

If anyone knows how letting metrics, status updates, and compliments run someones life—I’m your expert.

Letting the outside world determine your self-worth

For a period of time, if I quit receiving validation for my fitness efforts, I felt my fitness game has slipped. Maybe I needed to work harder and get stronger. Maybe I needed to get leaner.

Not too long ago, I would let the number of likes, shares, re-tweets, comments, and open rates dictate my mood for that given day. If I published an article and heard crickets (aka not much social activity), I would let myself think that the article sucked—leading me to question my ability.

I forgot who said this, but when the topic of showing up each day and putting the work in without a reception, he described as playing a game of Marco Polo and you’re constantly chanting “Marco, Marco, Marco”…but no one shouts “Polo”.

At the beginning of a journey (especially fitness), it’s tempting to compare our current selves against our external environments and peers.

It’s easy to lose track of reality and get down on ourselves since it seems that everyone is seemingly perfect and has everything put together—besides ourselves.

Expectations & behind the scenes

Unrealistic expectations can ruin your fitness due to you chasing the ghost of perfection. The ghost of perfection has a perfectly symmetrical body and is one that everyone ogles over.

Good luck chasing this down.

Despite what we see in magazines and over the internet, these perfectly proportion, chiseled chest, shredded six-pack abs, and cellulite sans free bodies are 9 out of 10 times an illusion.

Thanks to photoshop and air brushing, we can easily create a pretty illusion and pretend that these perfect bodies exist in abundance.

Thanks to social media serving as our very own Sportscenter, we can share the highlights of our lives.

We don’t have to display the entire game for the world to see, we only have to show off the slam dunks and impressive touchdowns of our lives. You’ll never see the interceptions, the missed dunks, the turnovers, or rough moments of our games.

You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get to the gym. You won’t see the struggles of staring at a blank canvas or blank document. You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get out of bed some mornings to face the day ahead.

Why it’s imperative you gain control & 3 key reminders

Without taking back control of how you let external influences sway your emotions, you’ll never experience happiness and satisfaction in your work or physique. Without controlling this issue; “I need to do more”, “I need to write better”, “I need to play better”, “I need to workout more”, “I need to be leaner”—will be your life 24/7.

Striving to improve yourself by 1% daily is great, however, never giving yourself credit and appreciating your current accomplishments isn’t encouraged.

If you have this problem of letting the outside forces determine if you’re lean enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough—try out some of the strategies below to counter this problem.

1. Remember why you are ultimately doing this in the first place- At the beginning, enthusiasm filled with tanks of adrenaline propelled you.

As the weeks and months pass by, adrenaline wans and this work becomes routine and mundane.

At beginning, the idea and fantasy of the transformation excited you.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reality busted through the door and showed you this journey wasn’t going to be as smooth as initially thought. Maybe you thought, in 8 weeks, you would have your new body and everyone would shower you with compliments.

Instead, you haven’t reached your target weight and everyone isn’t bombarding you with compliments.

When you’re feeling lost, think about what first made you interested in pursuing whatever you’re pursuing.

When I was in a low moment and was beginning to think what all this meant, I remembered my initial feelings and thoughts the night I decided to quit my higher educational pursuits.

I wanted to be able to positively influence others, share my failures and mistakes, help others level up their fitness, and unleash their inner superhero.

It’s not going to be easy, but if you come into the story with a strong ‘why’ that’s internally driven—then any superficial or external metric isn’t going to be strong enough to stop you.

You’re on a mission and nothing or no one can stop that unless you give them permission to do so.

2. Look at the small things- Maybe your goal was to lose 20 pounds, but instead have only lost 10. Perhaps you wanted to self-publish a book in 3 months, but instead it will take 6 months.

Maybe you wanted to pursue a passion project and turn it into your job, but instead, you’re stuck at a job you hate.

No matter the goal at hand, something is better than zero (as Gary V would say). I have a tendency to fixate on the end goal and not relish the moment nor celebrate past accomplishments.

Maintaining a fresh and positive perspective is worth the weight of gold. Most goals take time. We all have a tendency to overestimate what we can do on a given day or week, but underestimate what we can do over months and a year.

Maybe the book isn’t ready in 3 months, but at least you have a quality book coming out in 6 months. At least you have 10 pounds to show for your efforts. At least you’re working towards your passion project and not settling.

3. Don’t hand over your power so easily- The only way people can affect your emotions is if you grant them the power to do so. If someone calls you an idiot, critiques your fitness, tells you that your work is no good, or does anything else to you—so what.

That’s their opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, but just because they’re entitled to an opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree or listen to what they say.

Opinions are just what they sound like. They’re just a grouping of words that someone has put together. One important thing is that they’re not a fact.

It’s not a fact that you’re not good at fitness just because no one compliments your progress or you’re not the strongest nor leanest.

It’s not a fact that your work isn’t good because your social media account isn’t blowing up. It’s not a fact that you aren’t smart or good looking if your Instagram isn’t bombarded with compliments and weird comments from strangers.

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work -your value is more than a smartphone
You’re value is worth more than any number a smart phone shows you.

Remember at the end of the day, the metrics that we allow ourselves to obsess over are opinions—not facts.

Van Gogh wasn’t immensely popular nor the person we know him as throughout his life. His work became popular after his death. But, that didn’t deter him, he kept working and showing up each day because of his love for the craft.

How much do you love your craft? How bad do you want to conquer that seemingly ‘forbidden fitness goal’? How passionate are you about making a dent in the universe?

If it’s a resoundingly strong love that boils over—then the opinions of others or any vanity metrics won’t stop you.