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The Alpo Diet

The following may be the very best advice I have ever read regarding diet and motivation to succeed when it comes to your fitness and life goals.


It comes from the book Never Let Go by the one and only Dan John, a legend in the field of fitness and performance training.


And you know what? Not one thing I’ve written so far matters at all because to be truly great, you’ve got to make your goals a must. And that, my friends, is the key to success in sports and training.


The single best piece of diet advice I ever heard came from (don’t laugh) peak-performance consultant Anthony Robbins. Robbins got his advice from one of his clients. It’s called the Alpo Diet. Invite a dozen friends over to your house. Tell them by the end of the month you’re going to lose ten pounds. Tell them if you don’t, you’ll eat a can of Alpo in front of them.





Well, as long as it has gravy.


For the next week, every time you feel the urge to take a piece of chocolate from the cubicle next to you, reread the contents of the Alpo can. If someone offers you something smothered in goo, open the Alpo can and take a deep sniff.


You see, this is the crux of goal setting: Rarely do people improve because of the pleasure of the goal; rather it’s pain that sets them toward a goal.


Robbins developed a simple solution to understanding this years ago. I use a four – square chart for my athletes. I ask them to fill in the four boxes; the easy part are the first two questions


  • What pleasure will you get if you do get your goals?
  • What pain will you get if you don’t get your goals?


The Goal Pain Pleasure










You know, those are the obvious two, but it’s these two questions that make the difference:


  • What pain will you get if you do get your goals?
  • What pleasure will you get if you don’t get your goals?


I’ve worked with dozens of athletes with this simple chart and the remarkable thing about all of this work is few athletes have much to say about the pleasure of getting their goals.


“It would be nice to be an Olympian” certainly doesn’t have stir the imagination as much as “I’ll have to eat a can of dog food if I fail.”


Pain drives most goals! A woman might say, “I can’t run a mile.” If I tell her her child is roped to the railroad tracks a mile away and she had to get there in less than 10 minutes, she might run that mile. …


Dan John goes on in his book to describe not only does pain typically drive goals, but also how even achieving goals can prescribed temporary pain.


But the point he’s making is that in order to be successful, not just in fitness, but in life, is that you have to turn achieving your goals into a MUST… not a “I hope to….”


Dan John goes on to say:


How then do we make something a “must?”


A couple of ideas:


First, put it out there: tell people what you want to do and enlist their help. Talk to people who’ve done what you’re attempting. Let them know what you want to do.


Second, grab the Alpo or whatever will stimulate you to do or not do what you have to do or not do: what in your life would bring you enormous pain? Here’s an idea: if you don’t lose those ten pounds, your brother sends in your application, signed and sealed, to join the Marine Corps or French Foreign Legion. Those ten pounds will come off in boot camp.


Or how about this: post your “Before” photo on an internet forum. Tell everyone when you’re going to post your “After.” Tell them if you don’t, they should keep bumping the shameful before shot until you come through with the “After.”


Next, and this is the odd one, start acting like you’ve already achieved the goal. Hit the beach like you lost those ten pounds or buy new clothes with the goal in mind. The brain is easy to fool; just go to Disneyland and look at what people wear. Start acting like you’ve accomplished something and, often before you know it, you’ve accomplished it.


When you succeed or fail, it comes back to the question that’s plagued actors for a century: What’s my motivation? Sniff some dog food and get back to the squat rack!


That last line: Sniff some dog food and get back to the squat rack is my absolute favorite.


Obviously a bit eccentric, but you cannot deny the success Dan John has experienced with his chosen craft. I challenge you to look at your goals and try to fill out the box above. Take some time really think through and it and find your motivation. Or, better said, find your “Why?” The rest will fall into place.



Every Day is Different

leo lifter


Every Day is Different


Every day is different. There are days when you will be weak and days when you will be strong. Some days the weight will feel impossible, and other days that same weight will move as though it is part of your body, as though it is meant to be.


Some days your feet and your breath will work together and you will run as though you had been born to do it. Some days every step will feel as if your legs were made of lead. Some days you will be the fastest. Some days you will finish last.


It’s worth asking why?… sleep and food and stress and form all matter. But sometimes it just is what it is, and then comes the hard part: LETTING GO.


So it wasn’t a PR. So you didn’t reach your goal. So it was harder than last time, or harder than you thought it would be. So it wasn’t better than everyone else in the studio, or better than your previous time. Sometimes you can evaluate your performance and find a reason for it—you ate poorly, you slept poorly, your heart wasn’t in it. Some days, there’s no reason at all. You at poorly, slept poorly, and you rocked out a new PR. Or you ate well, slept well, and moved like a turtle swimming in syrup. It’s a mystery.


So what?


There are days like that. There are days when things are amazing. There are days when things go horribly wrong. But they’re just days. They pass, they’re over, and a new comes along. And here’s the real miracle: with that new day comes a whole new opportunity. Maybe it will be the same, maybe it will be worse, and maybe it will be better. But no matter which it is, you take it as it comes, you learn from it, and then, most importantly, you move on, grateful that there will be another chance, another day, and another opportunity to be great!

How I lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks…

How I lost 20 lbs in 6 weeks…

So, just like everyone else, sometimes, even as a “professional trainer,” I have to look at the face in the mirror and ask him, “are you happy?… are you achieving your fitness goals?… are you achieving your goals in general?”


Or more importantly, “are you doing all you can to achieve those goals?”



Now, I don’t want to get off on too much of a tangent. I do want to try my best to keep this relevant to the topic at hand which is fitness… but I have to touch on my “other goals” too simply because they do play a part to where I was at the time of this conversation with the man in the mirror.


You see, we have “things” in our life that seem to take maybe too much of our allotted time. Some are good “things,” some are not, and some are “good” but still begin to consume us and therefore could be classified almost as “bad.”


One of my “things” is that I tend to consume myself with work. I don’t feel that I put aside my family or my friends, but I love what I do, and with the crazy hours that come with being a personal trainer, there is always a constant struggle to balance the hours in the day between all my different roles.


I’m sure you can relate. Just think about it… how many roles do you have in a typical day? I bet there’s even more than you think…


For instance, on any given day, I get to play the part of:

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Brother
  • Son
  • Trainer
  • Employer
  • Friend
  • Mentor
  • Marketer
  • CPA
  • Sales manager
  • Writer
  • Grandson
  • Son-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Cousin
  • And so on and so forth…


I truly believe if we all sat down and listed out the different roles we each play in a given day, that the list could fill up a book.


The issue isn’t playing different roles in your life, the issue is finding the balance and beginning to prioritize what roles are important enough to demand so much of your time and which roles can be let go or at least put to the bottom of the list for a given time.


For me, roles relating to my family and my clients have always been most important. So, these are still “good” roles to have and to appreciate, no?


But… I the conversation with the man in the mirror made me realize that if I let my roles promised to others dominate my life, that there will be no time to focus on one role that was left off the above list… the role of “Self.”


I realized that I was more often putting the needs of others in front of my own personal goals and was justifying that because that’s what a good husband, father, trainer, employer is supposed to do… not that is totally wrong, but do you not agree that I would definitely be able to do all my roles more efficiently and with more energy if in fact I was also taking time for “self.”


I learned that I was tending to put my workouts off to “finish the next Facebook post” or taking work home with me when I should be devoting that time exclusively to wrestling with B and Mars at the house. And even, something I’m not too proud of, I would put items that Mikah asked me to do on the bottom of my to do list because  of all the other items I still “had” to get done.


Now, please don’t go thinking that I was a dead beat dad or that I didn’t appreciate my wife… far from the truth… but I didn’t feel that I was able to give them or anyone for that matter 100% because I was stretched too thin.


Hopefully that makes sense and gives you a back story as to why it’s important to where we’re going next here…


With all that said, I decided to take action. Starting with my family time at home… no more working late every night and definitely no more constantly checking email or text messages once I hit the door…. BOOM! I can do that… now what?


Well, the next thing was my fitness… where was I and where did I want to be?


Here’s something that will shock you… I didn’t have a goal written down! I was literally going through the motions and just “working out.”


As much as I preach to you guys about getting goals and staying focused… I fell short. I was more focused on helping others achieve their goals that I was literally just going through the motions in my own sporadic workouts.


Sure I would get in a few sessions per week… but they had no direction. They had no life of their own. And I typically spent most of the session thinking about what else I needed to get done that day and not focusing on the training session itself.


Once I realized this, needless to say I was beyond pissed off!


The man in the mirror looked right into my eyes and said, “Watkins, quit feeling sorry for yourself and pull your shit together!”


And that’s what I did!


And that’s the start of how I’ve lost 20 lbs over these past 6 weeks.


Let’s break it down…


First thing I did, I knew I needed a quick jump start… something that had worked for me in the past and gotten the ball rolling on some good results.


Enter the 24 Day Advocare Challenge!


Now, results have been mixed with this challenge, but the first time I did it prior to our trip to Mexico in February I was able to drop 14 lbs! So, Mikah and set up a new challenge and got back strict on the carb cycling.


You see, my diet was not way off… I mean, I was eating “healthy” but I have to admit that I was slacking a bit in my meal prep Sundays and was eating out way too much.


On the Challenge, using the provided supplements, and meal created Mikah and I created, I was successfully able to drop 17 lbs in 24 days!… Not too shabby…


Of course the Challenge itself ended the weekend of July 4th, and with that came our 4th of July Bash, Andolini’s Pizza, and a trip to the lake!


BOOM!… Just like that my new net weigh loss was like 12 lbs or so… I successfully gaind 5 or 6 lbs over one flipping weekend…


But wasn’t just the diet that was off… I still was just going through the motions in my workouts… in fact, I didn’t even workout for the last 10 days or so of the Challenge as we prepped for the 4th of July Bash (another role collision).


So again, I had to tighten back up my nutrition and get a training program together ASAP! No more BS, time to get on it!


For my nutrition, the biggest differences I quickly installed were:

  1. Sunday Meal Prep was back and badder than ever. And
  2. I started weighing my foods again as I prepped my meals! This strict portion control has been the biggest difference for me and my success thus far!


Next, I had to get a training program together. But I wanted something new. I needed a fresh pair of eyes to look at me and my goals and help me develop something “new and improved” for Trainer Mike here… in essence… I needed a trainer!


I sat down with one of my bodybuilding buddies and went to work.


NOTE: I’m not, let me repeat, NOT training for a bodybuilding show! But I had not done that high volume style lifting personally in quite a while so I was interested to see what he had in mind.


Fast forward, I haven’t missed a session since we came up with this new program and I’m absolutely LOVING how I’m looking and feeling!


This is fun, and kinda embarrassing, to say but I’m back in the 240’s now for the first time in a while. I typically hover around 250-255 lbs and at my biggest I got upwards of 267 lbs and justified it as I was big and strong and carried a lot of muscle… and that’s not entirely false…


But I was BIG and STRONG for sure… but I was kinda just BIG… no definition, not really sporting the hard, muscular look I once had and I was sick of just being the BIG and STRONG guy… time to be the BIG, STRONG and RIPPED guy I used to be!


It’s funny, when my buddy asked me as we were coming up with this new program what my goal was, I almost immediately responded, “I want to look like the Rock and still be able to swing a golf club!”… he gave me a weird look when I said swing a golf club, but I’m ok with that.


But, now, I just weighed in and I’m almost 21 pounds down from my initial starting weight when we began the Challenge  almost 6 weeks ago.


I feel better about me and where I’m going more so than I have in years.


I’m having to buy XL shirts instead of XXL shirts for the first time since like high school.


I’m more confident and committed to my nutrition and training program than I have been since college.


And the best part is that I truly feel that because of my new found success and overall well being and devotion to “Self” that I’m a better husband, a better father, a better trainer, a better friend, a better mentor and a better anything else I need to be!


I still want to help people meet their goals. I still want to be the best trainer in Tulsa. I just feel more apt to be able to do that now.


True Story…


So, the take home from all this is:

  • Figure out where you’re falling short when it comes to the different roles you play.
  • Begin to prioritize your different roles and the time you devote to each
  • BUT don’t neglect the role of “self.”


And as far as getting great results from your program, I challenge you to:

  • Look at your nutrition and tighten up.
  • Take meal prepping seriously and invest in a scale to weigh out your portions
  • Drink ½ your body weight in water every day! (I forgot to mention this earlier, but I drink a gallon of water every day now!)
  • Look at your workouts… are you just showing up? Or are you showing up to kick ass and consistently improve at least 1% each and every session? Don’t just go through the motions. If that’s the case, drop the workouts and devote that time to a different role in your life. It’s all about balance!
  • Stay focused and keep track of where you are in relation to your goals via food logs, training logs, weigh ins, how your clothes are fitting or whatever you need to use to make sure you’re continuing to stay the course.
  • Reach out to me and the team at FT! We’re here to help you see it through and change your life.


Undoubtedly, this post may make some of you think different of dear old Trainer Mike here. But, now that it’s out there, I’m positive even more of you can relate to the struggles I illustrated and now can see that despite the sometimes inadvertent obstacles that are sure to arise from day to day… results can and will happen. All you have to so is look in the mirror and tell that person to pull it together and let’s dominate this life together!


Oh and just to close it out… I’ve included Mikah’s favorite Michael Jackson song here for your viewing and listening pleasure… I think it goes well with the topic at hand.






einstein ego


There is a difference between pride and ego.


Pride pushes you to be your best. Ego is anxiety and weakness that demands you look or perform better than anyone else.


Pride is what you feel when you celebrate a new PR. Ego is the jealousy you feel when someone else’s new PR is faster or heavier than yours.


Pride drives you to finish when you are tired. Ego ignores your body’s signals and pushes you past your limits into injury.


Pride is internal. Ego is external, constantly looking at the performance of others and judging yourself to be the loser every time.


This is why, when you enter the studio, you are told to leave your ego at the door. Taking your ego into a workout is dangerous, both to your body and your mind. Your ego leaves you with a disappointed heart and damaged muscles.


Egos are sticky, tricky things. You think you’ve left it behind, and then is sneaks up in the middle of a lift, whispering, “Look at how much heavier her bar is; what’s wrong with you?” or “Form isn’t so important- time is what matters, and look at how slow you are.” When you are tired and focused on getting it done, and that voice is so much louder than the reason of your muscles and your tendons and your breath, it is so easy to fall under its spell.


It takes practice, ignoring the voice of your ego. But it’s worth it in the end. Because the promises of your ego are lies. When you sacrifice form for time, there is no pride in the score. When you injure yourself because you have moved too fast or lifted too heavy, there is no pride in the pain.


And pride is what you are after. Pride is what you want – that limitless, happy feeling when you have done the very best you could, and done it right, and done it honestly. That’s why you’re here.

What Do We Train For?

We train to run across the street before the light changes.

We train to carry our children up the stairs to bed.

We train to catch our elderly parents and grandparents before they fall.

We train to carry our groceries in from the car.

We train to bend and lift and reach and pull our way through the day.

This is fitness for the things that matter.

We train for life.

train for life

You’ve Changed Things, Forever



OK… Kinda creepy picture, I know, but now that I have your attention…


What you do in the gym makes a difference in your life. All of this? The sweat and the iron and the ropes and the bruises? They have changed who you are.


Fear and anxiety have a way of making us forget our strengths. So remember this: You are no longer afraid of a barbell, a pull-up rack, a sled, or a kettlebell, so why would you still be afraid of your boss, your family, a bully, a neighbor?


You make incredible things happen in the gym. But you need to carry those lessons outside the studio.


When you think you can’t possibly chase your dream, you must remind yourself that you can run.


When you feel afraid to speak in front of a crowd, you must remind yourself that you have lifted heavier weights than your anxiety.


When you think a step outside your comfort zone- asking for a raise, standing up to your siblings, starting your own business- is too big, remember there was once a time when you thought you couldn’t do a box jump.




In every workout, you push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of. You must allow yourself to do the same outside the studio. The lessons you learn inside these four walls matter. They haven’t made you a better athlete. They have made you a different person.


The people you workout with have seen you at your best. Cast off your fear and let the rest of the world se you that way, too.


Be Strong & Do the Work,


Ready, FIRE, Aim!

A couple of years ago, I was able to meet, train with, and listen to an amazing keynote address from Todd Durkin (middle man in the pic below). Todd is an internationally recognized performance-enhancement coach and founder of Fitness Quest 10 (widely regarded as one of the most prolific training studios in the world) in San Diego, CA. To put it into perspective, Todd trains dozens of NFL and MLB athletes including Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees, Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers, former NFL star LaDanian Tomlinson as well as many other pro athletes, Olympic Gold Medalists, Heisman Trophy Winners and thousands of other elite and amateur athletes as well as fitness enthusiasts.


Here’s Me, Todd, and my FT colleague Seth Humphrey of FT Yukon, OK in Florida a few years ago:

















Needless to say, upon meeting Todd and listening to his story, he immediately became someone I study and look up to in our industry. In fact, he has become one of my mentors from afar over the years.


One part of his speech that day that really stood out to me and has stuck with me since is the line: “Ready, FIRE, Aim!”


Yes, you read that right…


You see, many times, whether it’s during a workout, at work, at home, or wherever the case may be, we tend to over think things and let our emotions begin to take over and cloud our vision and/or actions.  Unfortunately, if you don’t keep them in check and you let your emotions, or fears, take over completely, the result can be no action at all. Leading to self doubt and interrupting progress towards your goals. Sometimes, it’s best to just FIRE before clouding your vision and mind by AIMING.


Take this for example, I attended an open house event at BIA Training Solutions in Jenks about a month ago. The owner, Clint Dooley, was putting on a 5 minute demonstration on proper firearm techniques. One of the lessons I learned there was that your decision whether to fire or not to fire the gun is made well before you ever raise your arm to aim at your intended target. If, you choose to raise your firearm before assessing the situation and have decided to commit to firing once your sites are locked in, what happens?


You stand there with your arm extended, pistol aimed at your target, contemplating whether or not you’re going to fire, and then what?…


You begin to doubt yourself and what you’ve been taught.


Unbeknownst to you, your arm begins to circle and sway back and forth moving it away from your target.


Now, you have a much higher percentage of missing your intended target… what if that target was an attacker?


Ready, FIRE, aim.


Now, please note, the above example is an extreme one, no doubt. But it does illustrate how your mind can control your actions if you let it. Sometime, not all the time, it’s best to just FIRE and see what happens. In life, some of the greatest “mistakes” lead to the greatest of successes. I challenge you this month, when an opportunity presents itself and you’re having even the slightest hesitation to just “Ready. FIRE! Aim.” and see what happens.


Be Strong and Do the Work,