The 4 Agreements of Fitness And Life

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.

Why Type A People & High Performers Struggle to Transform Their Body

Why Type A People & High Performers Struggle to Transform Their Body

There are numerous successful and smart busy men and women who are highly frustrated with their lack of success when it comes to their fitness.

A high percentage of these same successful and smart busy individuals are high performers with a Type A personality who pride themselves on discipline, willpower and getting results. When things don’t work out, feelings of shame start to creep in which leads to a downward slope.

As a high performer with fitness goals, it’s a rocky slope when it comes to your approach. As a high performer, you want things to be black and white. Unfortunately, life (and especially fitness) isn’t this way.

Why high performers struggle to transform their body

You pride yourself on discipline, willpower,  following the given set of rules, and getting results at all costs.

But when it comes to fitness, rigidly following a set of rules isn’t going to cut it. Often times, you’re following something that is mainstream and built for the one-size-fits-all crowd.

Instead of blaming yourself along with questioning your capabilities due to the shortcomings, it could be the program that’s a failure because it’s not suited to your specific personality and lifestyle needs.

High achievers run into numerous problems with their fitness and struggle to lose fat compared to the everyday person because:

  • They’re exhausted from handling so many things
  • Their emotions are not managed
  • Their stress isn’t being controlled
  • They’re avoiding and procrastinating in one area while overcompensating in another area
  • They’re crazy busy and aren’t effectively recharging

These are legit problems that when left unaddressed will swiftly send you into frustration and far from your goal. Working harder isn’t going to do it.

Instead of letting your personality self-sabotage your fitness, understand yourself and how you operate so you can effectively handle situations.

With that said, here are 3 key areas why high performers struggle to transform their body. Besides merely diagnosing these 3 key areas, here’s how you can effectively reverse them into an actionable solution that propels you forward with your fitness goals.

Area #1— The all or none mentality

Back in college, I was at the point that if I for some reason went off my nutrition plan at lunch, I would equate the rest of the day a failure and also bad talk myself. I would eat crappy for the rest of the day and “reset” tomorrow.

Luckily, I learned the concept of there being four quarters to the day as I mentioned in my book ‘Body Architect which means that I could still win the day despite a minor hiccup in the plan.

With this type of persona, you’re either all in, or you’re all out. Feeling terribly sick? Oh well, you’re still going to workout because the program says to exercise today. This type of personality is super competitive with themselves and others.

On a strict diet, you’ll avoid anything that deviates from the plan by even a fraction. While this seems great on the surface, peel back a few layers and there’s a lot of potential downfalls to this type of persona.

When you’re overly-restrictive with yourself, this leads to a higher probability that you’re going to go overboard the moment you give yourself some leniency. With that said, the biggest problem here is the tendency to be a perfectionist. This pattern leads you to feel like you “blew it” should you make one poor choice or decision during the day.

Solution to the all or none approach — Strive for perfection but plan for imperfection

Don’t ditch your program entirely, but realize that perfection is only a myth and one or two small hiccups in the process isn’t going to ruin your progress.

For example, following a workout plan for an extended time and you’re not seeing results, don’t be afraid to let it go. You’re not a quitter. This is far from being shameful. In fact, this is smart because pivots are inevitable.

With that said, develop flexibility within your process and strategy. Be rigid and adamant about where you want to go (i.e. your desired outcome), but be flexible in the details of how you get there. There are multiple avenues that all lead to your desired results, but one path will ideal for your specific lifestyle.

strategy—why high performers struggle to transform their body
Don't be afraid to pivot in your strategy.

Even if you fall off track in the morning, you can immediately get back momentum by making the next decision something that empowers you and your goals.

Area #2— Trying to just “work harder”

We’ve heard the saying that “hard work” solves everything and that isn’t true. In fact, believing this is only going to waste your time, lead to frustration, and make you inefficient.

When I’m talking with a client for the first time, I’m getting information on their background and previous experiences with health and fitness. More often than not, they’re doing activities because they think they’re supposed to do them and when it’s not delivering results, they don’t pivot—they double down and try harder.

A classic example is dieting. If they’re not losing fat, inches, nor feeling better, they’ll keep lowering calories (which is a big no-no) while doing the same workouts.

Solution — Learn to pivot and be open to new ideas

It’s important to let go of any attachments when it comes to solving your fitness goals. When you pivot, it’s nothing against your capabilities. In fact, pivoting is the smartest thing you can do because you’re going to get to the same desired destination faster and without the unnecessary frustration.

You have enough on your plate, don’t make your fitness goals any more complicated than they should be.

If you’re having trouble losing fat, don’t always assume you need to lower calories or exercise more. Look into your sleep, hormones, stress, and quality of foods being eaten.

Area #3— Poor relationship with yourself

Pushing yourself harder will only make the hamster wheel that you’re on go faster. Results won’t come quicker. You can hate yourself into a new body. There’s a reason why you aren’t hitting your goals and it’s not because you aren’t capable.

Taking extreme ownership of the situation is one thing, but ruminating in negativity because you haven’t seen your desired results or because you ate too much is pointless.

No solution is coming out of this. Only frustration and a guarantee to stay at your current level.

Solution — Act with compassion and thoughtfully investigate

When you feel stuck and not able to breakthrough, it’s not a lack of capability. Often times, it’s a lack of a proper mindset and understanding of your own psychology that needs addressing.

While it’s important to take ownership of the situation, it’s also important to learn to move and navigate through the frustration and self-blame so you extract the wisdom hidden in the mess. Once you do this, you can start asking questions that lead to breakthroughs.

Example: Why did food have so much power over me this week? Why did I not feel like exercising this week? What was going on in my life when I binged and overate? What was going on in my life that prevented me from getting the sleep I needed?

By acting with compassion and thoughtfully investigating, you’re going to have a better understanding of your hidden hunger triggers, stressors, situations, emotions, and issues that led to behaviors that aren’t moving you forward with your health goals.

Let go of the self-infliction and instead ask “why”.

The situation already happened. Get some positives from it by seeking to understand why it happened. Evolve and grow at a fast rate is the name of the game so you don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

Being a high performer with a type A personality is beneficial and can be a gift because you’ll be quicker to embrace the structure needed for success. But don’t forget to allow room for flexibility.

Laws Of Success: 12 Laws That Lead to Mastery In Health and Nutrition

“Order and simplification are the first steps towards mastery of a subject” — Thomas Mann

Laws Of Success: 12 Laws That Lead to Mastery In Health & Nutrition

We all are striving for mastery in health and nutrition. However, what usually follows is anything but mastery. Not because there's a lack of talent or desire. But often times due to the strategy.

Throughout the years, I’ve faced a variety of issues ranging from mild depression, body image issues, creating boundaries, and obsessive food behaviors.

Unfortunately, I let fitness become my ruler and I was its servant willing to do any and everything for results. This worshipping of fitness at all costs may bring results for a short period of time. But in the long run, isn’t something that is sustainable to living a good and healthy life.

Over the years, there have been a handful of laws that have helped me navigate the balance of integrating fitness into a busy life that also meshes with my desired lifestyle. Here are the 12 laws of success that can lead you to mastery in health and nutrition.

1. Review your “why” daily to stay motivated about your goals

It’s important to get to the core root of why you want a particular goal.

Are you doing it for someone else (kids, family, partner, etc) so you can lead by example? Is it to prove a point to yourself that you're capable of much more than people have given you credit for? Are you doing this because you need a personal spark in your life to change the paradigms of your everyday life?

Whatever it is, search deeper than just relying on looking great naked. That's important, but transformations take time and you need all the ammunition possible to stay consistent and motivated while pursuing your goals.

If you’re searching for deeper meaning, start with asking yourself why three times about a desire for a particular goal.

2. Never resort to deprivation nor any other extreme measures just to lose weight

I tried a 28-day liquid diet in college where I had nothing but shakes. I lost 15 pounds at the end of it (mostly water).

However, on day 29, I ate nearly 100 pieces of sushi at the buffet and then got sick over the next few days.

Besides being sick, I had a supporting cast which consisted of extreme waves of mood swings, achy joints which made me feel 79 (not 19), and a reunion with my 15 pounds as soon as I started eating whole foods again.

Besides not going on an extended liquid diet, the moral of this story is to never sacrifice your long-term health for short-term gratifications.

3. Make fitness fit into your preferred lifestyle, not the other way around

Life is meant to have rich experiences. Fitness is a key component of being able to do those things, but it doesn't have to become your ruler.

Lifestyle first, and then find the workout routine and nutritional method that suits your personality and preferences.

4. Seek improvements in your health and fitness out of love, not out of hate

I started working out weighing 165 pounds and became an athletic and muscular 200 pounds.

I should be happy, right?

Not exactly.

The problem was my mindset never changed. I was exercising and putting on muscle at times out of hate and not feeling enough as a man—not for health or enjoyment.

You can’t hate your way to losing weight and improving your self-esteem. If you don’t address your inner world, those perceived deficiencies will still be there.

5. Make sustainability and longevity the priority when making health decisions

Make decisions about your fitness and nutrition that lead to long-term success, not just a season of success.

6. Address your 4 pillars of fitness daily (physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual)

Looking at Instagram and browsing the various magazines on newsstands and you'll notice that the only messaging is concerning the physical aspect of ourselves.

mastery in health and nutrition
Be mindful of your consumption.

But, there is more to us than just a physical body.

There’s a mental, emotional, and spiritual side of fitness that needs to be accounted for our overall well-being.

Challenge your mental world by improving your brain through reading and other cognitive tasks. When it comes to your emotional fitness, assess your relationships and the environments you find yourself in. And lastly for your spiritual world, look into meditation or some type of habit that allows for a space of inner reflection.

7. Place a premium on sleep

I know, maybe you’re tired of seeing this on every health article, but it’s important.

Weight loss, productivity at work, better (and healthier) relationships along with your mood improve when you're getting optimum amounts of sleep on a nightly basis.

Try meditating at night, cutting off electronics 60-90 minutes before bed, having an orgasm (hello Oxytocin), or reading a hardcover book to help yourself fall asleep.

8. Commit to finding a team to support you and keep you accountable

Maintaining a fitness regimen while juggling work and your personal life can become overwhelming. Therefore, it’s important to find some accountability in the form of a gym partner, someone to check in with, or an online community to hold you to a high standard.

9. Establish personal boundaries in your life so you can show up as your best version

What good are you to the world if you’re burnt out, overweight, moody, lethargic, and sleep-deprived?

Not addressing this is short-changing your potential impact on the world because the best version of you isn't showing up.

Block out time for exercising, a quiet bath, meditating, or whatever else is needed to allow you to show up as the best version of yourself.

10. Remember that your food choices, not the specific type of diet are most important for long-term success

Paleo, Whole 30, Intermittent Fasting, Atkins, and the Ketogenic diet all work. At the basic foundation, if there’s a caloric deficit, then you’ll lose weight. If there's a surplus, extra weight will arrive.

The key factor for nutritional mastery is making good food choices along with establishing a plan that suits your goals and specific lifestyle.

11. Recognize that consistency and commitment are more important than “tactics” & “life hacks”

It’s better to workout for 20 minutes a day than to overcommitment to 60 minutes and only workout one day per week. Set realistic goals and realize that repetition, time, and consistency are the true ingredients to long-term success.

12. Prioritize a way of eating that includes a plethora of micronutrients

Micronutrients (from your fruits and vegetables) contain a plethora of minerals and vitamins that boost your metabolism, fights against chronic illnesses, and helps your mental state operate at a high level.

Here's a printable infographic with the 12 laws for you to save and refer to.

Laws of Success: 12 Laws That Lead to Mastery In Health & Nutrition