Pay no Attention to The Sideline Critics (A Polite Note From Those of us Trying to Level up Our Lives)

pay no attention to the sideline critics-sideline criticsOn any given Youtube video, Facebook post, Instagram share, or conversation with peers at work—you’ll hear someone share their criticism over a specific matter.

Criticism, in the correct context, serves as a great tool to help us grow as individuals and reach our desired goals. This type of criticism is deemed constructive, which is always a valuable metric.

However, the majority of criticism that we encounter is the polar opposite of constructive criticism. Today’s criticism is basically messages of hate, insecurity, and jealously.

The Sideline Critics DNA

There are two types of critics. One type criticizes and takes action toward the issue (succeed or fail, this person at least tried). The other type criticizes and sits on the sideline—offering no value besides creating extra noise. This type of critic is lazy and runs their mouth just for the sake of talking.

The sideline critic is the type of person who comments on Youtube with hateful comments such as “his music sucks, he should quit”, or “she’s fat, but I guess her singing is ok”.

The sideline critic appears in the fitness space with comments such as “why is he working out like that”, or “why does she eat this way, when there’s a better way to eat”.

The sideline critic has balls of steel behind the pc screen and talks behind people’s back.

Why you should pay the sideline critics no attention

It’s easy for the sideline critic to criticize someone who is trying to make a change in this world because they only give lip service about making a difference. It’s easy for them to call people’s clothes ugly when they only wear what society tells them is cool.

It’s easy to criticize someone for following their dreams when they are only making excuses for why they aren’t following theirs. It’s easy to criticize someones fitness decisions when they’re doing nothing besides going to work, then heading home to watch the latest TV shows.

It’s easy to criticize someones creativity when they don’t attempt to do anything creative.

It’s easy to make fun of someone’s diet or efforts toward living a healthier lifestyle when they don’t attempt to try themselves (deep down, they want to try, but are afraid of being vulnerable and risking failure).

It’s easy to be a critic about people’s relationships when the strongest ones they have is with a television and a gaming system. It’s easy to criticize someone else’s music when they’re not creating any themselves. It’s easy for them to turn into the next Roger Ebert when they’re not making movies.

everyone thinks they're a critic- sideline critics
Everyone wants to be a critic- Photo Credit: MikePfunn via Compfight cc

It’s easy for the sideline critic to call someone crazy and delusional when they stay safe and warm inside their bubbly comfort zone. It’s easy for them to label someone a subpar guitar player when the only guitar playing they attempted was from a gaming system.

It’s easy to laugh at someone at the gym, when they only pretend to workout and half ass everything. It’s easy for them to laugh at their co-workers for falling for the latest snake oil fitness product when they don’t attempt to give fitness a chance (at least those people were trying).

It’s easy to say this guy gives awful advice when they’re a complete mute about the topic on hand.

It’s easy to criticize from above when you aren’t getting your hands dirty and actually trying to make a change.

In their eyes, their books, workouts, advice, music ,and ideas are perfect.


Because they’re still in their head. Their ideas are vacationing in fantasy land (the only place where perfectionism exist).

A challenge for you to rise above the critics

There’s a lot of criticism being dished out, but what the hell are they doing to help the situation?

Will you let their noise stop you? Or will you continue to roll your sleeves up, get some dirt under your nails, and keep moving forward with your goals.

 Think about the courage it takes to walk into the gym and feel lost, yet continue to workout. Think about the courage it takes to venture into uncharted territories with your work, yet continue towards building your dream career. Think about the courage it takes to chase after a goal, when everyone is in the other corner shouting for you to quit.

Don’t let the sideline critics stop you from making your dent in the universe and building the body you want.

Here’s a message you can tell the sideline critics

Dear sideline critics & all others who like to criticize but take no action,

While we may at times make the wrong decisions or the unpopular choice, we’re nevertheless still sticking our necks out there, taking chances, striving to become the healthiest versions of ourselves, and trying to make our dent in the universe.

So, if you don’t mind, we are asking politely ‘that you stop your complaining’.

Keep your hateful comments to yourself if you don’t have a better idea—we don’t need your insecure manifestations. Keep your opinions to yourself if you’re not willing to attempt anything.

If you’re not going to say anything of value, or contribute positively, or share a solution, or criticize in a objective manner—then ‘stop your complaining’.

Start a revolution. Start working out. Start making healthier food decisions. Start writing that book. Start playing the guitar. Start writing. Start painting. Start going after the things you want, instead of only settling & making excuses.

Once you start to do this, you’ll understand that it takes hard work, courage, vulnerability, and lots of gusto to put yourself out there for the whole world to see and judge you.

Until you start to do this—please keep your mouth shut. Some of us have work to do.


A person trying to level up their fitness and make their unique dent in the universe.

P.S. If you’re currently being affected by the sideline critics, I challenge you to immediately make a declaration of “no more”. No more of letting critics hold you back from your fitness goals or any other goals in life. Your goals deserve your full attention—not the sideline critics.

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,


P.S…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

8 Dietary Sinkholes That You Need to be Mindful of

8 Dietary Sinkholes That You Need to be Mindful of- dietary sinkholes
Photo Credit: karen nicolas via Compfight cc

Sinkholes form by erosion, due to frequent exposure to water.

Sinkholes typically develop as bedrock, which is slowly whittled away by water turned acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide and interacting with plants.

From a cover-collapse sinkhole (think sudden sinkhole that swallows cars, houses, and people) to a cover-subsidence sinkhole (only a few feet across and shallow, normally becomes small ponds)—sinkholes can affect our lives in various formats.

Science rules! (As Bill Nye would tell us)

Ok, let’s leave the science classroom and put our fitness hats on.

What do sinkholes and fitness have in common

Just as sinkholes will cause an inconvenience in our lives and provide roadblocks—dietary sinkholes can swallow us into a black hole of frustration.

You could be doing everything right, but if you aren’t careful, you can fall into a sinkhole and watch your progress come to a screeching halt or worse, witness your progress moonwalk backwards.

However, in an effort to prevent dietary sinkholes from sabotaging your fitness goals, be mindful of these 8 sinkholes.

1. Having an on again off again relationship with your diet

One minute you’re in love and can’t keep your hands off each other. The next minute, you can’t stand each other, and you rather be anywhere else other than in the same room with this person.

Just as relationships that are hot and cold never materialize into anything of worth—treating your dietary relationships in spurts isn’t going to lead you to your desired results.

Most people see their diets as something with a start date and a specific end date. We as a society have a tendency to want things immediately and with as little effort and struggle as possible.

We’ll try to cut carbs for 6 weeks in an effort to lose inches as fast as possible. We’ll opt for a 30 day shred plan or 90 day transformation if it promises us all fitness woes will be solved.

Those methods serve little long term benefit in terms of learning proper healthy habits.

Instead of approaching your health in a cyclic approach, experiment until you find an approach that works year round. View your dieting as a lifestyle change, not just a brief period of changes.

Slow, steady, and consistent always trumps fast and erratic.

2. Being seduced by healthy buzzwords

Fat free. Sugar free. Organic. Free range. Natural. Reduced sodium. Extra Antioxidants. Feel free to add the other hundreds of buzzwords that go along here.

While eating from sources that aren’t loaded with chemical additives is optimal.

The most important tool you need first and foremost is awareness. No matter if it’s sugar free, fat free, or any other free—they still have calories in them. At the end of the day, fat loss comes down to a calories game.

Are you burning more calories than you’re consuming?

Just because the foods have trendy ‘healthy buzzwords’ included, doesn’t give you ‘license to eat everything’.

Fruit is still fruit. Sauces are still sauces. Cookies are still cookies. Chicken is still chicken. Bacon is still bacon. Cereal is still cereal. Calories are calories, no matter what the label states.

3. Fearing specific macronutrients

One camp is demonizing fats. The other camp is treating carbs like the bubonic plague. The other camp is telling us protein is bad and will pummel our kidneys into submission.

One specific macronutrient isn’t the cause of peoples struggles with weight. Each macronutrient plays a pivotal role with our bodies functioning properly.

Fats are essential for optimal hormone functioning, satiation, and transporting fat soluble vitamins throughout our bodies.

Carbs are essential for performing well in the gym, recovery, and optimal brain functioning. Most importantly, carbs are freaking delicious.

Protein is one of the essential building blocks of life. From our nails, skin, muscle tissue repair, and cells—protein does a body good. Protein gets a bad rep because people equate protein consumption to the amounts that bodybuilders eat (don’t worry, none of us are on the juice, so we don’t need nor can handle close to those amounts).

Instead of singling out a nutrient, take a balance approach with all 3 macronutrients and worry more about total caloric intake.

4. Not paying attention to dietary silent assassins

From calorie loaded condiments, dressings, and other additions we add to foods, these silent assassins can slash our progress unknowingly.

dietary sinkholes- ninjas
Be mindful of these dietary ninjas- Photo Credit: A2 Roolvink via Compfight cc

While creams, dressings, and other items aren’t evil, you need to take into account that they still count towards your daily intake.

Often times, salads at restaurants are upwards of 500-700 calories, which is huge for a salad.

Sometimes it’s the little things that are stopping the engine from running on all cylinders. Be aware of the small calorie assassins going into your foods.

5. Using external appearances to determine your progress

You’re bloating. You feel a little fluffy today.

Must be you gained fat. Therefore, it’s time to cut the carbs out and eat less.

Bad idea. Often times, we let the appearance of how we look on a specific day influence the way we eat. This is a tricky predicament that plays games with your heart and mind.

Just because you’re an extra pound or two up on the scale doesn’t mean you failed and its time to abandon ship.

Factors such as sleep, stress levels, and certain types of foods will cause some temporary weight gain and bloating. Both of these cases aren’t fat, but instead is water weight.

6. Giving food the cold shoulder (aka not eating enough)

“If I eat less food, then I’ll lose weight quicker.”

Unfortunately, your body doesn’t operate this way.

Your body eventually catches on and thus starts to conserve energy. This leads to a slew of negative metabolic changes within the body. A couple of metabolic changes within the body are…

Thyroid production slowing down– Our thyroid is responsible for the metabolism of protein, fats, and carbs among a slew of other things. Our bodies will slow down thyroid output if the body isn’t getting enough energy. This step is taken in order to maintain an energy balance.

Decrease muscle mass– To maintain muscle takes calories. When your body isn’t getting enough nutrients, your body starts to break down muscle tissue for energy.

Our bodies crave fat, our bodies need fat for survival (especially our organs), therefore when worst comes to worst, muscle is the first one to get sacrificed.

Decrease leptin levels– Am I hungry or not?

This is the role that leptin plays as our main hunger hormone, which signals whether we should eat or not. Levels high in leptin relays to us that it’s okay to stop eating. Levels on the low end, signal us to eat more since energy is needed.

In a calorie restricted environment, leptin levels decrease.

Testosterone levels plummeth– Testosterone is absolutely crucial to a properly functioning body for both men and women.

Extreme calorie restriction lowers your test levels, decreases sex drive, and makes building muscle next to impossible.

Lower energy levels– From lack of motivation to a foggy brain to a sluggish body—a lack of calories will have your body whispering to take it easy and slow down.

When trying to lose fat, eat as much as you can, while steadily making progress. Only lower your calories a little once progress has stagnated for a bit.

7. Letting your weekend be all hands off deck

Monday through Friday, you’re the perfect fitness soldier, but then the weekend comes and all hell breaks loose. From social gatherings to other various temptations, the weekends are dangerous to those who aren’t mindful of their actions.

While it’s okay to indulge with zero guilts given a couple times each week. It’s not okay to totally relax every weekend and eat whatever you want and then start back fresh on Monday. This approach is a great way to stay in neutral with your progress.

The weekends count just as much as the week does. Develop an eating plan that allows your favorite indulgences.

Moderation is key.

8. Letting your diet stealthily start to rule your life

Are you more and more declining invitations or hangouts with friends due to worrying about your diet? Are you thinking about food 24/7?

If every decision you think about comes along with “how will this effect my diet”, then you need to reel the situation back to a more moderate position.

Allowing your diet to rule eventually causes resentment toward fitness.

Question for you?

● Whats a dietary sinkhole that you need to be more mindful of?
● What do you plan to do in order to not let this sinkhole continually cause chaos in your life or become too big of a burden?