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Life Lessons From “That Guy Who Used To Be Fit”



I used to say, “If I ever own a gym, I’ll be in the best shape of my life!” I would think, “Dev, when you have your own place there is no excuse not to be one of the most fit people around?”

Seemed to make perfect sense…I have all the equipment and knowledge I need to be successful AND I can work out any time I want. This will be easy, right?

Let’s fast forward….

Year 1: What Just Happened?

After my first 9 months as a “gym owner” I could not believe my eyes. I was down 25lbs of lean mass, up 10lbs of fat mass, and seeing a team of people to help address a lower back injury that I sustained a week before Christmas (and still continue to rehab to this day!). I was in arguably the worst shape of my life; eating “on the fly”, addicted to caffeine, sleeping 3-4hrs/night, and trying my best to hold on to any ounce of exercise motivation I had left in the tank. I couldn’t have been much further from “fittest person around”.

A Blessing In Failure:

How could I have been so wrong? How could a guy who OWNS a gym be in the worst shape of his life? As always, there is a blessing in my failure. I realized three important keys to success:

  1. Priorities
  2. Plans
  3. Expectations

I want everyone reading this to quickly reflect on your day.

  • What are your priorities today?
  • What is your plan to accomplish these priorities?
  • What can you expect to get from carrying out this plan?

If you’re anything like me, you quickly formulated this list with associated answers in your head. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably fooling yourself…at least a little bit. I’d be willing to bet that there is a substantial discrepancy from what you believe your priorities to be and what your priorities actually are.

Please know, I am not here to set your priorities. I am not here to judge your priorities. I am simply here to help you recognize your true priorities. I want each and every one of you to be honest with yourself. Are you doing the things you’re supposed to do in order to make it happen?

Hidden Priorities, Real Examples:

You have come up with your behavior-focused goals and you are feeling pretty good.  The next step in the process is to set up a concrete game plan for how you will incorporate those behaviors into your week.

When we truly prioritize something, we tend to get it done. We prioritize every day without even realizing it.

Example: This morning, I had to wake up and come in to work. It is a priority. So, naturally, I planned ahead. I set my alarm, woke up on time, got myself ready and made it here on time. Worked like a charm…just like I expected it to.

Because waking up on time was a priority, I would not have gone to bed without setting an alarm. I would never expect to wake up on time without help. Could it happen…yes, it could. Would it happen consistently? No, not for me. I would be late….I would EXPECT to be late. That is why I set an alarm.

If waking up on time is an example of a true priority, why can’t we treat our health and fitness priorities the same way? Why is it so difficult? If exercise or eating healthy was truly a priority, wouldn’t we plan ahead for it?

Real Life, Tough Love, And A Dose of Reality:

I recently received a text message from an old friend that read, “Hey dude, I’m ready to get back into shape. I need to put on some muscle. What kind of price are we talking about?”

I called him up and had a nice conversation. Unfortunately for him, I was also doing a lot of “digging” to see if he actually recognized his true priorities. Here is what HE told me (I’ll give you the bullets):

  • Other than my kids, my biggest priority is to get in shape.
  • I don’t have a lot of time. I work a ton (50hrs/week) and am always tired after work.
  • With the kids, I cannot afford to eat super healthy food. That gets expensive.
  • I know I should work out every day but I really don’t have the time. It’s not motivation, it’s just time.

Here is what I found out through casual conversation and leading questions.

  • He has not exercised in over 2 years (because he hates it).
  • He does not start work until 9am and does not work weekends.
  • He spends at least 5-10hrs/week watching Sportcenter.
  • He spends another 4 hours/week watching some terrible TV shows or other sporting events.
  • He spends at least 4-8 hours every Saturday watching college football.
  • Another 4 hours on Sunday watching NFL Football.
  • He is eating fast food at least 5 times/week and usually goes to the bar for at least one sporting event weekly (which cost at least $80-$100/week).

“So how much time do you have to work out?” I asked.

“Probably only 2, maybe 3 hours/week….max.” He replied.

“But you do have 26 hours/week to watch TV?”

“Haha, no way!”

“But that’s what you just told me.” I started listing off his commonly watched shows and associated hours. “You’re also spending at least $80/week on fast food or at the bar. That could be $320/month in healthy food if you wanted it to be.”

He was silent.

I went on to say, “I’m not judging you for these choices. I have a lot of clients who paint a similar picture. I just wanted to point out where your priorities really lie. If you think you can watch 26 hours of TV, workout for 2 hours, ignore your current diet AND get fit…..your expectations are way off.”

Still, nothing but silence.

“Let me get back to you.” He said.

My Challenge To You:

This week I am challenging all of you just like I challenge my clients. Reflect on your priorities this week. What actually matters to you? Think about it. Spend some time with it and be honest with yourself. If your own health and fitness is still in your top 5 (it should be!), make a plan. Write it down. Get it on paper so it forces you to think about possible obstacles and accossiated solutions. Make a plan and stick to it. If it fails, revise the plan and try it again.

If you take any advice from this formerly fit (but on the mend), over-worked, sleep deprived, hunched back, owner of a gym, please, let it be this:

  • Prioritizing is essential to your success.
  • Being truthful with yourself is essential to your success.
  • Turning these priorities into reality takes real work and a real plan.

If you successfully filter your priorities and stay true to your plan, you can always expect to be right where you’re supposed to be.


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Devin Tarrant

Thanks for reading!

Devin Tarrant, Agent of Change, AFS-Plymouth

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