The Community Code of Conduct (You In or Out?)

community code of conduct

My mission statement is crystal clear: I want to help a million people make a dent in the universe, live life on their own terms—while leveling up their fitness.

The art of fitness & life can be describe as “intelligent fitness with nuggets of wisdom in life, love, art, music, superheroes, and creativity all remixed together for an extraordinary experience.”

While I started this community, you’re the ones who are going to help me take this movement to another level. It’s not I, it’s US.

Our new take on fitness & life

We’re about achieving optimal health, challenging ourselves, striving for constant improvement (1% daily), and being confident—no matter the endeavor. We’re more than just a random fitness metric, a pretty face, and a sexy physique.

We’re all from different walks of life—but share a common bond for fitness and using it as our launching pad to making an impact on the world (no matter the size of the impact).

You landed here for a reason (whether you realize it or not).

That reason is because deep inside, you’ve felt an awakening (in Star Wars talk, you’ve felt a tremble in the force).

You want to be remarkable, influence those around you to be exceptional, live your life with intent & passion, make your mark in this world—while looking your best and being your most confident self.

Warning…before we go any further

Being remarkable, making our mark, and escaping mediocrity isn’t easy. Crossing over onto the realms of possibilities, accomplishing fitness goals, and being the best version of ourselves isn’t a overnight process or a formula that we can drink in a bottle.

You have to be willing to do the work. Me and others will be here to support you and give you a lift when you need to be picked up, but you have to make a promise to yourself to do your part.

If this sounds in alignment with what you stand for, then here is the code of conduct for the AFL community. These 18 principles provides the blueprint toward remarkability.

1. Live life on your own terms

“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”- Bob Marley

People are quick to tell us how to live our lives or how we should be doing something, but who says you have to live this specific way just because everyone else is living that way. Challenge yourself to think outside the box.

If you want to travel and roam the world—do it. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about what you desire to do with your life.

2. Strength training is our foundation

“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”- David Allan Coe

Strength training goes beyond just squatting and performing sets of push-ups for aesthetics.

Strength training enables our bodies to perform well, makes our bodies durable, and enhances our quality of life. Strength training increases our confidence and gives us the belief that we can conquer anything we put our minds too.

3. Embrace the journey

“All great achievements require time”.- Maya Angelou

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Michael Jordan wasn’t the greatest basketball player from day one. Prince wasn’t the amazingness that he is the first time he touched the mic and guitar. Michael Jackson didn’t wake up one morning and immediately moonwalk and sing across the living room.

Picasso wasn’t the painter we know him as when he took his first brush stroke. Hemingway didn’t write literary classics overnight. Arnold wasn’t the Terminator and Mr. Olympia straight out the gate.

Even I didn’t acquire my angelic songbird-esque voice and Usher-like moves over a course of days (ok..this one still isn’t true).

Nevertheless, the greatest creatives, artists, writers, athletes, scholars, and inventors didn’t happen overnight. Most likely, it didn’t happen in a week or a month. It instead took months and maybe years (depending on the goal) to make whatever the vision was a reality.

Neither will your fitness journey be instantaneous.

Be patient and embrace the journey as you go along the road of transforming your body, mind, soul, business, or whatever else you’re working on. Growth doesn’t happen by winning or reaching the finish line. Growth develops in the trenches of showing up each day and trudging along the process.

4. Change becomes a reality through our focus on habits & behaviors

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

To accomplish a fitness goal, creative goal, or relationship goal—it starts and ends with our approach. Anything can become a reality with enough time and effort. But, this ‘reality’ starts by taking one day at a time and striving to win that specific day.

You become what you repeatedly do.

5. Our self-worth isn’t dependent upon others opinion

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao-Tzu

As Eleanor Roosevelt beautifully states, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Our self-worth is ultimately in our hands. Our self-worth isn’t dependent upon how we look naked, how strong we are, what our job title is, how much money we have, or where we live.

6. Never stop seeking knowledge

“Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”- Unknown

always seek knowledge- code of conduct

No matter the stream or preference of distribution, we all should continually seek to educate ourselves through books, music, art, and learning from one another. Each and every day, life throws a new situation at us. These situations provide us opportunities to learn and grow from those experiences.

The day you decide to quit learning and seeking knowledge is the day that you also stop growing as a person and limit your potential. Never stop seeking a higher level of consciousness.

7. Value experiences over things

“Adventure is worthwhile.”- Aesop

One minute we’re here and the next we’ll be long gone. Our lives are finite. Each of our lives are a miracle and deserved to be lived to their utmost potential.

Gadgets, statuses, money, and other superficial metrics aren’t the meaning of a rich life. Life is about experiencing moments with the people you love, doing things you love, and trying whatever sparks your curiosity.

8. Everyone has creativity within them

“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.” – Paulo Coelho

Every single last one of us has a unique superpower to share with the world. Creativity isn’t just for the painters, writers, or musicians. Creativity runs through all our veins. Creativity is about expression, not just about a title.

Some of us have recognized our unique superpower, while others haven’t awaken their unique power yet. To all of those who have unleashed their superpower onto the world—never let the flame die.

To those who are still waiting for permission, scared, or just need an awakening—It’s time.

Your time is now. Someone in the world needs you and is waiting for your superpower.

9. There isn’t a one size fits all nutrition plan

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same”- Chinese Proverb

Just as each of our bodies have the essential components (brain, heart, lungs, liver, various arteries & vessels)—each of our bodies are coded slightly different thus making us unique.

Your nutrition is the same way. The fundamentals are there: eat whole nutrient dense foods and less processed foods. Some of us like breakfast, some us can do without. Some prefer jasmine rice, while others might prefer sweet potatoes (both are delicious and great selections). Some prefer to eat 5 meals a day and others prefer 3 meals.

All of us operate and have different needs and situations in life, thus it’s foolish to think that we could all ever fit under one giant umbrella of a generic nutrition template.

Take care of your fundamentals (90%) and work the other (10%) into your life as you deem appropriate. Always eat for you—not your friends plan, not my plan, your girlfriends, nor any celebrities plan.

10. Setbacks can be blessings in disguise

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

Often times, it’s from our greatest falls and bumps along the journey that teaches us our greatest lessons. Rather it’s fitness, our creative work, or relationships that went south—those experiences have valuable lessons designed to make us stronger in the long run.

Failure isn’t a thing unless you allow it to be. Failure only becomes your reality when you decide to wave the white flag and not pick yourself off the ground from the latest setback.

11. Excuses sound best to those who make them

“Excuses are like male nipples. They are completely useless”- Don Calame

Our fitness goals and life is 100% in our hands. We take responsibility for our own actions. We won’t blame our boss, neighbors, family, friends, significant other, or anyone else for our problems nor shortcomings.

12. Anything is possible with belief

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”- Martin Luther King Jr.

Before you think about jumping aboard that fat loss program, or writing that book, or starting a business, or putting yourself out there to be judged—you need to have some belief.

The impossible becomes the possible once you start to believe.

13. Life is the ultimate choose your own adventure

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”- Dr. Seuss

Life is meant to be one giant exploration of discovery and experiments. Keep an open mind as you go out to venture the world and you might find just what you need in the unlikeliest of places.

We possess the ability to mold our fitness, our work, and our relationships to our liking. You are in control of which path you’ll take and where the story is going to unfold next.

14. Unconditionally love yourself

“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself—no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are—completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit—not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”- Stacey Charter

Before you seek love in this world, or try to change this world, or try to lose bodyfat—you must love yourself unapologetically for who you are in this current moment.

Be in love with what you stand for, your dreams, your likes & dislikes, and don’t apologize for being you. No need to pretend.  Throw the mask away.

15. Fitness is mind, body, spirit, & emotion

“It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.”- Epictetus

I learned this one the hard way. I figured once I obtained a certain bodyfat % and strength number—the world and my problems would wash away.

I was wrong.

Fitness isn’t just about how much you lift, or how big your arms are, or how toned your legs are. That’s only one aspect of the equation. Besides the body component, fitness entails a mental, spiritual, and emotional aspect.

Challenge your brain daily with tasks such as reading, thinking over difficult problems, or learning a new skill.

Become spiritually healthy by giving gratitude each day for what you have, where you are, and the amazingness that is life.

Become emotionally healthy by surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, bring out the best version of you, and make you feel great about life. Avoid the energy vampires, the doom & gloom crowd, and anyone who makes you feel anxious or uneasy.

16. Be the superhero of your own journey

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee

Take off the mask and stop molding yourself into someone who you think people want you to be. No need to keep wasting energy toward work or anything in life that isn’t meaningful. No need to keep making yourself miserable eating according to someone else’s plan.

There’s no reason to live vicariously through other people’s fitness and daily lives.

You’re going to become the hero of your own tale. No more hero worship or telling yourself you can never be this person or do ‘this activity’. Screw that nonsense, that person can’t be you (even on their best day).

me as spiderman- code of conduct
It’s true…. I sometimes swing from buildings in addition to deadlifting, writing, & dancing awkwardly.

17. Dream big

“Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.”- Tupac Shakur

I’m a supreme optimist and dreamer, sometimes it’s annoying to my friends and confusing to those without a vision or hope. LL Cool J told us in ‘Hey Lover’ to, “keep the dream alive until the right time.”

Well…that time is now. There isn’t a better time than now to get to working on those dreams. Apologize to no one for your dreams.

Stay persistent and consistent with your daily efforts and those dreams will become your everyday life.

Keep your tunnel vision to what you want and you’ll have that fitness goal, creative goal, or whatever goal you’re going after.

18. Make a dent in the universe

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”- Robert F. Kennedy

No matter how small or large the impact or task, we all have a duty to make a mark in this world. We all will leave a legacy and make our impact felt.

Whatever keeps you up at night, or brings a strong passion out of you—use that to help steer you in the direction to making your mark.

Take that small, but crucial first step and lets make a dent in the universe!

Stay awesome,

Julian

P.S…With the help of my friend Michael Paradise, there’s a downloadable high-resolution poster with these 18 codes by clicking on the image. As a member of this remarkable community, this is my gift to you. Do whatever you want with it. Print it off, place it somewhere cool, hang it on the fridge, or share it with one person who you know will embrace these principles.

Code of Conduct Poster

The Seismic Effect of Establishing Fitness Rituals

To make real change, you have to be well anchored – not only in the belief that it can be done, but also in some pretty real ways about who you are and what you can do.- Twyla Tharp

fitness rituals

American dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life‘ states that “creativity is about establishing habits & rituals, not some god given ability that only a select few can have”. For years, she has used the same ritual to start her day and increase productivity.

 “I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours.

The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual”

Establishing rituals isn’t just limited to creatives. Your fitness ritual isn’t performing the sets of squats or walking into the gym—it’s the behavior of starting the entire process of going to the gym—the small, overlooked, but important action at the beginning.

What’s a ritual & why is it important?

A ritual is a habit that is triggered by a specific behavior you perform. Establishing a ritual eliminates the option of you deciding if you want to do this activity or not.

A ritual “is a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habitualizes it—it makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about” states Tharp.

Tharp states “It’s vital to establish some rituals—automatic but decisive patterns of behavior—at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.”

Just as creatives need a ritual to keep themselves align during their work sessions, it’s vital that you develop a ritual to ignite your exercise habit. There will be days where you don’t feel like working out nor cooking healthy meals.

As Tharp states “First steps are hard; it’s no one’s idea of fun to wake up in the dark every day and haul one’s tired body to the gym. Like everyone, I have days when I wake up, stare at the ceiling, and ask myself, Gee, do I feel like working out today? But the quasi-religious power I attach to this ritual keeps me from rolling over and going back to sleep.”

We know rituals are powerful, but how can we go about the process of establishing a ritual from scratch. Let’s take a step by step run through of establishing an initial ritual.

The process of establishing successful rituals

“The most productive artists I know have a plan in mind when they get down to work. They know what they want to accomplish, how to do it, and what to do if the process falls off track. But there’s a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work.”- Twyla Tharp

At the beginning, your main objective is to get going, no matter how ugly or awkward it might feel. Develop a simple plan and then go from there in terms of making adjustments. Something is better than nothing and starting is everything. Here’s the ‘Nuts’N’bolts‘ method to starting a ritual.

1. Start small and lower your expectations
The worse thing you can do is overload yourself with steps and expectations of an outcome.

Instead, make these beginning steps easy. These steps should almost feel effortless. Be easy on yourself for any slip ups. Decide where you are in life with your habits and start from there. Run away from the all or none mentality.

Aim for small day to day victories. Small actions add up to become large wins. These small actions build daily momentum, allowing you to carry momentum onto the next phase of your rituals. Confidence comes from doing.

fitness rituals
One step at a time.-Photo Credit: wecand via Compfight cc

2. Develop a process for your desired behavior
The tougher the barrier of entry, the less likely you are to stick with it for the long term. The tougher the barrier, the more reliance on willpower (a brief and fleeting asset).

Make the process of entry into your ritual simple and concise by limiting the process to 3-4 steps for activation.

3. Schedule and commit to your ritual to condition your behavior
Anything of importance to your life needs to be scheduled into your calendar. If you ‘play your goals by ear’, they’ll never become a priority and you’ll consistently land mediocre results. The high achievers in fitness, art, and music make their work a priority in their lives.

If you don’t make yourself a priority, don’t expect anyone else to make you one.

4. Know what’s your signal to trigger your ritual
When does your ritual begin? What’s the ignition to you getting into your activity?

For Twyla, the ritual was the cab itself—telling the driver where to go. For me, I set my timer, have a bottle of water, coffee or tea, & hit play on my playlist—now I automatically understand its time to write.

A ritual for waking up in the morning would be the ringing of your alarm clock. Deciding what your ritual for exercising, sleeping, reading, cooking, or anything else is going to be is entirely up to you.

5. Experiment with different methods of preparation until you find the magic combination
First and foremost, have fun with the process. There’ll be some bumps along the road at the beginning when establishing a ritual. You’ll only find the perfect steps by doing and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s take a look at some example rituals

I highly recommend that you experiment with your own methods to find the perfect combination.

Working out– The best way to set up an exercise ritual is to place it around a time with the least amount of resistances. Try setting up a fitness ritual first thing in the morning before any work related material is given attention. Alternatively, pack your gym clothes and exercise after work or during your lunch break. If you’re lifting in the afternoon or evening, place it on your schedule so nothing sneaks it’s way onto that specific time slot.

Sleeping– Start a preparation ritual 60-90 minutes out. Here are a couple ideas…
● Eliminate caffeine hours earlier (Ex. Zero consumption after 2pm)
● shut off the PC an minimum of 1 hour before bedtime. (I recommend this software(flux) for nights this isn’t possible)
● No tv or playing on the phone 60 minutes before bedtime
● Keep your room dark as possible
● Eliminate as many electronics from your room as possible
● Meditate for 10-15 minutes
● Have sex
● Invest in tinted shades if you have to use electronics at night

Waking up– Besides having the alarm clock, try these options.
● Have a morning wake up song (I wake up each morning and dance for 5-15 min before doing anything else. Here’s a couple favorites, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Skipworth & Turner (listen to extended play if you really want to wake up, Jamiroquai)
● Do a couple of pushups and squats to wake yourself up

Don’t overload yourself and attempt an overhaul on all facets of your life. Choose one area and focus on it for a bit until it becomes easy peasy.

What’s an area of your life that could benefit from establishing a ritual?

Welcome to The Art of Fitness & Life

welcome to afl intro pic

The ‘age of remarkabiity’ has arrived!.

After months of processing my thoughts and searching for myself, the end result is finally here.

For those of you who were with me from the 206 days—thank you for sticking around. For the new people, welcome. Make yourselves at home—it’s going to be an interesting ride.

I hope that each and everyone of you find something of value and join me on this adventure of life and mastery of our fitness.

Now, let’s do a quick summary of what’s going to be happening here.

First, what’s the AFL?

We’re a remarkable community that wants to make our marks felt in this world while being at our healthiest state and looking great with or without clothes on.

Ambitious? Maybe.

But, being remarkable isn’t for anyone who has a limited mindset and doesn’t want to push beyond their preconceived limits.

What to expect from the site

I plan to share 1-3 forms of content weekly. Through art, creativity, music, philosophy, psychology, love, superheroes, history, and self-discovery—we’ll learn valuable lessons to apply to our fitness and daily lives.

A brief breakdown of common topics & styles include:

Fitness & nutrition (well obviously)– A practical viewpoint in which there’s a focus on habits, behaviors, mindset, & the influence it has on other aspects of your life.

Creativity, art, & music– We all have creativity within us. Once we unlock our creativity, life has a way of blossoming into something we never thought was possible.

Lifestyle– Juggling life, fitness, and all other daily agendas on your plate can be overwhelming. I know this first hand. I’ll be sharing my many mistakes and successes that have worked for me and might work for you.

Essays & stories– Personal triumphs, failures and the in-between often serve as our best lessons.

The remarkability series– My favorite one (though I might change the name). A series about members of the community who have taken ownership of their own lives while making fitness a priority and are making their dent in the universe—size & scope doesn’t matter (impact is key)

A key theme in all these topics is exploration and experimentation to find what works best for you, and never stop learning.

A brief synopsis of the community

This community consists of many different faces, varying races, different backgrounds, different hobbies, and different career aspirations.

Though we all may be different from one another, we all have the same purpose and goals for our lives. We realize that taking care of ourselves is the 1st step towards remarkability. An emotionally weak person with a broken body, broken soul and fragile mind doesn’t change the world nor lives a life on their terms.

We all strive to live remarkable lives which entails us to live truthfully, pursue our dreams and passions—no matter how difficult or what the naysayers might tell us, making our dent in the universe—no matter how big or small the impact feels, and lastly striving to be our healthiest selves—which will have different meanings depending on the individual.

From the writer to the cubicle worker, to the ‘lost millennial’ to the musician, to the painter to the photographer, to the business worker to the college graduate who hasn’t figured it out yet, to the person who currently feels down & out about themselves—there’s a spot here for you.

If you are ready to leave your comfort zone, focus on your habits, become aware of your behaviors, take responsibility for your actions, and give yourself permission to go for anything you want—there’s a spot here for you.

I welcome you (with a huge Internet hug) to The Art of Fitness & Life.