What’s Your Mindset?

Posted by John Leyva,

Sometimes on this journey of life we really care about the way we look and feel. Yet, how successful you are at making the changes to the way you look and feel are determined by the mindset you take on. How much responsibility you take and then how easily you can accept yourself with where you’re at, who you are and what’s truly important to you matters immensely.

Mindset quote 300x300 Whats Your Mindset?

Responsibility and the ability to accept where you’re at are synergistic aspects that, if you can do both, give you the opportunity to both have a body that looks good and is healthy, while enjoying your journey.?

The rest of this post, is about 3 mindsets I see people take on when it comes to their eating and working out (amongst other aspects of life).

The hope is that in knowing where you’re currently at, you can make the leap to a more beneficial place.

You can read

Level of Acceptance/Responsibility

A – Suffering

A lot of people will start in a place of “suffering.” They have a pain point where they’re not happy with themselves, their life or an aspect of their life. Not everyone necessarily starts in suffering, but for those that do, the difference is whether or not, you choose to stay in it.

I call this phase suffering only when you are abdicating responsibility for parts, or the totality, of your life to other things. This is the person who is in pain, but refuses to do what’s necessary to get out of pain.

This is the person who will blame circumstances, their past, other people, their job, where they live, and nearly any and every other thing they can in order to continue complaining, yet never taking the necessary steps to change the situation at hand.

If you’re in suffering, the most powerful thing you can do is start something that gives you back the power of personal responsibility.

Take action, sure. But own those actions.

Here’s the thing though, you can’t expect to change overnight or for the results you’re looking for to happen overnight. You have to make changes, and keep at it, without a deadline on your results.

If you can do that, then you’re onto the next phase.

B – Power

This phase is characterized by the phrase, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

If someone starts in suffering (not everyone does), then their next move is to the Power phase. This is where the person will become gung ho about change.

These are the “converts” to a specific methodology. If they didn’t feel great before, but started doing CrossFit and feel good, they typically will only recognize CrossFit as their rightful savior.

I’m not saying anything is wrong about being passionate about something you care for. In fact, you should be. But when you think you’re special because you do something and someone else doesn’t, then it might be an issue. Not everyone has the same priorities as you and that’s ok.

This phase can feel intoxicating and many people tend to stay here because of that intoxicating feeling. If you look on Instagram and Facebook and see a lot of inspirational quotes, you’ll typically see a lot of “Power” quotes and mindsets. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but half the time, they do sound judgmental.

So if you find something that works for you, recognize that you found something that works, for you. If a friend asks you what you did, tell them, but maybe qualify it with, “I know this worked for me. I’m not sure how it will work for you.” Try not to spread the gospel as the only thing that is and will ever work.

Funny how religion and fitness/nutrition, tend to have the same issues here.

The biggest issue with power is that your actions are inextricably linked with your self-worth. So, unless you’re taking specific actions (for example, working out hard or “eating clean” or running, etc), all the time, then you might not be as content with your life as you think you are.

If you’re in the power phase and you like your life, stay there. It’s fun and intoxicating. Enjoy it.

If you’re here though and have a gnawing sense that there is more out there while recognizing that you don’t have to be perfect, all the time, then you might be ready for the final phase.

C – Partnership/Acceptance

Acceptance quote 300x300 Whats Your Mindset?

This last phase is a bit tricky to define, but basically, this phase is characterized by those who have moved past the suffering phase, know that they have the power to change circumstances, but also know that they are not going to be perfect. And here’s the thing. They don’t need to be perfect in order to be happy.

They can eat delicious food, not beat themselves up for it, and still workout like they would have done normally.

They can go out to eat with friends, have a drink and order something healthy and not feel weird about it.

In other words, this is the phase where someone is healthy, they have a body they’re content with, work for a better body, but not out of a place of suffering or fear, but out of a place of acceptance. They believe they can do better and since they can, they will. Not because they need to in order to feel better about themselves, but because, you know, “It’s cool.”

This place is radically different than when someone changes because they are suffering (Suffering) or they work harder because they feel like less of a person if they don’t (Power). This is where someone is healthy and wants to do and be better – but if they don’t, it doesn’t affect their self-worth. They are already whole and whatever they choose, is to enhance their life, not make their life.

Where are You Starting From?

So the question is, where are you starting from?

Are you in “Suffering” when it comes to eating, but “Power” when it comes to working out? Or vice versa?

Are you one of the enlightened bunch where you can accept yourself and others?

What do you want from your life, in terms of health and fitness? Do you want the best body, EVER???

Are you seeking self-worth from your workout pursuits?

And more importantly, why?

There is no right or wrong answer, but knowing where you’re at and what is motivating you to change can be highly empowering.

Once you have your starting point, the question becomes, what do you want to do next?


5 Ways to Fake Discipline

Posted by John Leyva,

I know I lack discipline…Do You?

Here are two quick examples:

1 – “Oh, it’s late. I shouldn’t go out, because I have to be up early tomorrow. Ok – I’ll be down in 5 minutes!” – Literal, story of my life.

2 – “Oh, I’m already a little full. I just ate. What, you want to get burgers? Ok – I’ll get a double bacon cheese burger!” – Literal, story of my life, part II.

What is this discipline you speak of?

As you can see, I’m not very good at saying no to things I like.

All I’ve done over the years is learn how to incorporate the best bad decisions into my life and into NOT listening to the “weakest part of me, at my weakest time.”

Beyond that, I suck at discipline.

To me, you can get away by not being as disciplined, as you think you need to be, if you set yourself up for success a majority of the time.

To do that, all you need to own are small moments of weakness. You own those 3-5 small moments per day, set up systems to support you otherwise, and you can make drastically good changes to your life.

For example, if you want to workout more, here’s an idea. This is seriously, super simple.

Simple works complex fails 300x300 5 Ways to Fake Discipline

Go to the gym…



You don’t have to work out every day, but you have to show up. Go there and change.

If you’re tired and feel like crap. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes.  If you still don’t feel like it. Leave.

Next day, you’re still tired. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes. If you feel like doing 5 minutes. Do 5 minutes and leave.

Next day, you have a ton of energy, it’s nice out and you want to grab a drink with friends. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes. Do 10 minutes and then go meet with friends.

Next day, you only have 10 minutes, but want to work out. Go to the gym and change. Do 5 minutes.

This isn’t discipline so much as setting yourself up for success.

And I bet, if you did that for 60 days, you would work out a ton more.

Simply show up!

As often as possible, show up.

Most success and what people confuse with discipline is simply showing up and being prepared. With that said, here are my 5 top strategies for “Faking Discipline.”

5 Ways to Increase “Fake Discipline”

1 – Learn to Have Fun

Hate working out? Then find workouts you enjoy and show up.

Go with friends. Use it as a time to yourself.

Just find a way to make it more enjoyable.

If it’s more enjoyable, you don’t need “discipline” for it.

Hate eating healthy? Find meals you can enjoy that are still congruent with your goals. Again, if you like a food, then it doesn’t require “discipline” to eat it.

2 – Find a Deeper Reason

Hate all types of working out? Then find ways that working out enhances your life.

Do you have more energy and feel better afterwards? Do you feel like a super-hero afterwards?

Use those reasons and show up.

The problem is most people rely on motivation, which feels good and people think they need motivation to make a change. You don’t.

If you did, most of you wouldn’t have shown up to work today. I doubt most of you were like, “YES! I’m going to work today…I’m so motivated.”

And sure, getting paid is nice, but that’s not motivation. That’s a reason.

Motivations are fickle and based on how you feel, whereas reasons are more stable and logical.

So find a reason to workout and show up. Again, you don’t think about going to work, because you have a reason to. Use that same logic with working out.

3 – Try a different strategy

I used to want to write more, but if I try to write at home, I would sleep or watch TV or read a book, or cook and then sleep. In other words, I did everything but write at home.

Guess what? I stopped trying to write at home.

I didn’t beat myself up for being lazy or not writing. I just changed the strategy and problem solved.

Dog Discipline 225x300 5 Ways to Fake Discipline

Yet, I see clients doing this all the time.

They hate chicken and broccoli and yet they try and eat chicken and broccoli every day.

Then they wonder why they want sweets and consciously decide to eat all these other foods that don’t help with their goals.

Want to know the solution? Stop eating chicken and broccoli.

Try nearly any other protein and vegetable combination (even starchy vegetables). You can have turkey, beef, salmon, tilapia, pork, eggs, protein powder, tuna, bison, mixed with any other vegetable including sweet potatoes. It’s ok, you’ll live and still see results.

??Sometimes, all you need is to stop doing something you hate and replace it with something you can tolerate.

4 – Don’t listen to your weakest self

When’s the weakest point in the day for you?

In the last example, I said, I used to want to write more, but couldn’t at home. So I switched it up.

My next issue I had was working 14+ hour days when I wasn’t going to be home. This meant lugging a laptop for 14+ hours, where I was only going to use it for less than an hour.

Knowing this was a mental struggle, especially in the morning, when I could find any excuse to not carry my laptop with me.

What did I do?

I always had my laptop packed in my bookbag and there was only one rule in the morning: I had to take my bookbag. I couldn’t listen to that weakest self say, “You’re running late and the bookbag will slow you down. Leave it (in a sinister voice).”

Those few times I did leave the bookbag, I always regretted it. Every time.

What about you?

What’s your weakest self, when it comes to eating healthy?

Is it late at night when your weakest self comes out?

If so, find a different strategy. At night, instead of going for more sweets, eat a large, healthy dinner with a lot of protein, veggies and some carbs. Get rid of the physiological urge to eat and then aim to go to bed earlier. Urges magically disappear when you’re sleeping.

Or does your weakest self come out when you’re out with friends on the weekends?

If this is the case, make whatever you eat worth it.

Want that piece of cake? Make sure it’s delicious enough to justify eating. Want all that alcohol? Eat healthy the rest of the week. Make sure you ate beforehand and don’t eat a lot of bad foods after you drink – I know, much easier said than done.

And if you do, simply pick yourself back up and eat healthy afterwards.  Don’t let it become a cycle.

What about when it comes to working out?

When do you skip planned workouts?

Is it when you’re busy at work? Is it when you’ve gotten bad sleep? Is it because you’re tired overall, or tired in that moment? Is there something you can do to change it and simply show up?

Remember, the key is to NOT listen to that weakest self. It’s a liar and a seductress. You don’t need that person in your life. So don’t listen to it.

Remember, show up and change. That’s all.

5 – Know your triggers

What are your triggers?

Are their certain foods, you have no self-control around? If so, don’t put yourself in situations where you need to exert lots of discipline. Here are my two biggest triggers.

Trigger # 1 – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

I can’t stop eating Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups – it’s an obsession and full on binging whenever they’re around. When they’ve been given to me as gifts, I’ve either ate them all or ended up throwing them out, because I know I can’t stop. CAN’T…..

So I throw them out.

Trigger #2 – Being Exhausted

If I’m exhausted, I have no desire to go to the gym.

No matter, when I’m there, trying to move heavy ass weight.

You know what I do though?

And this may come as a surprise for you…but I show up.

And then do something that’s mentally, much easier. I foam roll and do something I enjoy. If I don’t gain any energy, I leave. Most of the time, by that point, I feel a bit better and do other things that I enjoy doing that day.

Aka, I learn to have fun on the days I feel miserable.

Bottom Line

Showing up will always be more effective than lying to yourself and saying you’ll start tomorrow.

Changing strategies to either find deeper reasons for something that adds to your life or just stop doing things you don’t like, makes it look like you have a lot of discipline, when all you have are good strategies.

Therefore, if you do show up, do something you enjoy, so that you have a reason to show up the next day. Don’t do something you hate on a day when you’re already winning by showing up.

The 5 strategies above will make it look like you have more discipline than you actually do.

Steal them and use them to do the same…and learn to have more fun with it.

Because seriously, what’s the point if you’re not going to have fun with it?


Broadway and 3 Body Transformation Lessons

Posted by John Leyva,

My personality tends to do things in bunches and so I usually try to limit myself when I get into new things, otherwise I become obssessed. This is why I don’t allow myself to play video games or start watching new TV shows. Every once in a while though, I allow myself to dive into something new and get fully immersed.

My latest kick are Broadway shows. Despite growing up in Weehawken and being ten minutes from Broadway my whole life, I had watched only three shows before last year. In the past 3 months, I’ve seen over 15 shows.

What does this have to do with you?

Well, there are commonalities when it comes to making changes to any part of your life – from adding a hobby such as Broadway to you transforming your body. As such, below are 3 lessons you can pull from my Broadway kick to you achieving your fitness goals.

3 Body Transformation Lessons from My Broadway Kick

1 – Know Why You Started Isn’t Why You’ll Continue

Often times why we start something, is not why we choose to continue it.

I had started to watch shows with one particular person, but when we stopped going together, I started to watch more at a higher rate and ended up enjoying them more.  For the past couple of months, really since the inaugaration, I’ve needed some more “uplifting” distractions and they have served that purpose amazingly (especially Come From Away).

 Broadway and 3 Body Transformation Lessons

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Start Asking Better Questions

Posted by John Leyva,

During this time of year, I usually send an email discussing habits that you can do to minimize the effects of over-indulging during the holidays (You can read that here).  This year though, I want you to start asking slightly different questions.

I work with a lot of people and there are underlying themes to the issues they are having trouble with.  Here are some common complaints:

A – I know I shouldn’t drink that much…
B – I know I shouldn’t eat that food…
C – It’s not what I eat, but I should eat less…
D – I know I should workout more often…
E – I go to the gym consistently, but I’m not sure what to do when I’m there…
F – I should drink more water…
G – I should get more sleep…

If everyone didn’t drink alcohol, ate all the healthy foods in good portions, worked out consistently and with enough intensity, while drinking enough water and getting enough sleep, I wouldn’t have a job.

But what do you think of a person who does all of those things?

Honestly, if someone didn’t drink, ate all healthy foods in good portions, while working out consistently and with enough intensity, and drank lots of water and slept enough, what would you think of that person?

Most people think, “God, that must suck!”

Celery is not Pizza 300x300 Start Asking Better Questions

Most people don’t want to be that person. 

They consider a person like this to be:

“Too uptight.”
“Not fun.”
“Someone who doesn’t know how to enjoy life.”

In other words, if you think these thoughts, you are actively trying to change behaviors to be like someone who you dislike.  You are literally, fighting against yourself.

But here’s the thing, these images of this “healthy person” are not necessarily true…but they are pervasive.

Have you ever tried to not drink around friends who were used to drinking around you?  They look at you like you committed a mortal sin against them.

Or what about ordering something healthy when you’re out with friends?  Again, they look at you like you have two heads.

Most of the fears we have are usually based on the reactions of those around us, but not really on the action itself.

So this holiday season, I want you to start asking yourself new questions, because questions, more than anything, helps you shift your focus.

Start Asking Better Questions

ask better questions 300x98 Start Asking Better QuestionsBy shifting your focus and thinking just a little differently, you will generally start to find that making drastic changes to your actions happens with much more ease.

So this holiday season, start asking yourself different questions. Here’s where to start:

1 – When it comes to alcohol consumption, if you’re drinking more than 4 or 5 drinks per week and want to lose weight, ask yourself:

Why am I drinking?
Is it because I want the alcohol?
Is it because I’m bored? Or is the alcohol helping me overcome anxiety?  Or is it peer pressure?

No matter the answer, you will have a starting point in knowing how to start drinking less if you want to.

2 – When it comes to eating, if you’re eating too much or foods that you know aren’t good and that you don’t really enjoy, ask yourself:

Do I have to finish everything on my plate?  Why? Is that an old habit?
Am I really that hungry?
Why am I eating this food?
Does it satisfy me and if so, would a little satisfy me or do I really need a huge piece?
Do I think eating healthy foods is boring?  Do I consider healthy foods “disgusting?”

Eating and hunger are complicated.  It took me years to master being able to listen to my appetite, and most people should not listen to only their appetite at the beginning, because appetite can lie to you, especially if you’ve trained it poorly.  The first step though is at observing yourself and why you’re eating certain foods.

The more you can simply chew your foods and enjoy each bite, the better the odds of eventually controlling your appetite.

3 – When it comes to working out, ask:

Is it true that I have NO time to workout?  (*There are two 6-minute routines at the bottom)Do you think that you need a lot of time to workout, for it to be effective?

What is holding you back from working out?
Do you need to know what to do when in the gym?
Do you feel like you need more instruction?
Do you need someone to hold you accountable?
Do you think your workouts are boring?

What are your beliefs holding you back from working out either consistently or effectively?

4 – When it comes to drinking water, ask:

What systems can I add to drink more water?
Do I need more flavor? If so, can adding cucumber or limes help?
Is it “too boring?” If so, switch to club soda.

5 – When it comes to sleeping, ask:   

Is it a problem falling asleep?  How can you change your bed-time habits?
Is it a problem staying asleep?  What is it that stirs you awake?  Is it just a certain time, going to the bathroom, etc?
Is it a problem with staying up too late because you’re doing other things?  If so, what’s the belief you hold that’s holding you back from going to bed early?

So this holiday season, enjoy time with your friends and family, enjoy the foods you will generally, only eat at this time of year, but also start asking yourself some new questions.

Remember, thinking just a little differently, can cause huge changes in results. 


*Two 6-Minute Routines

If you’re looking to put on muscle, here’s a quick 6-minute routine to help. Do the following:

A – 1 Minute of Push-ups (don’t stop for the whole minute at all)
B – Split Squat – 1 minute without stopping on the left leg (keep the weight in the front leg),
C – Split Squat – 1 minute without stopping on the right leg
D – Repeat for a second round.
Six minutes and if you did nothing else, for the day, that would be better than having done nothing.

If you’re looking to lose weight, here’s a 6-minute routine for you:

A – 1 minute of burpees without stopping (should get at least 12 reps in)
B – 30 seconds of In and out jumping squats (between 15 and 25 reps)
C – 30 seconds of Mountain Climbers
D – 30 seconds of Jumping Jacks
E – 30 second plank
F – Repeat for a second round.

Again, 6 minutes and you can start to Banish Your “No Time” Excuse.

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