Scrawny To Brawny

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Knowing Sucks. Start Doing.

A lesson on driving and the best way to actually gain muscle, make more money, or accomplish whatever goal you want.

Do you remember when you learned how to drive a car? I do.

That’s because memories of screeching tires, stalling out on hills, and inching precariously close to parked vehicles on neighborhood streets are permanently etched into my mind.

My dad — great man that he is — sat in the passenger seat and was patient and reassuring even though I’m sure he was scared shitless that his oldest son was on the verge of killing him and anyone else who was unfortunate enough to be within a 3-mile radius of our car.

Anyway, what I remember most about learning to drive was saying “I know” over and over in varying degrees of alarm or anger.

My dad would gently suggest something — “Make sure you watch out for that car over here on the right…” — and I’d cut him off by saying “I know!” while nearly decapitating the passenger-side mirror.

A variation of that exchange happened dozens of times.

“All right now, just ease it into first gear…” 

I know.

“OK, this time let’s try to park a few feet closer to the curb.”

I know.

“Let’s go apologize to that nice lady for scaring the holy hell out of her.”

I know, I know, I know.

Of course — and this should be no surprise — I didn’t know any of that stuff. I mean, yeah, I understood it. But I certainly wasn’t showing that I knew it. I wasn’t acting on my knowledge.

Becoming a decent driver took practice. Lots and lots of practice. (I won’t bore you with the details, so let’s just say my dad navigated me away from main streets and let me loose in an empty parking lot. Where I still managed to hit a shopping cart.)

But after a few weeks of practice, the “I knows” waned. Eventually, they stopped. Shortly after, I got my license and the story ends well. (I’ve caused zero fatalities so far. I think.)

Why Am I Telling You All This?

There’s a lesson here, one that I constantly have to remind myself of:

I’ve found that anything major I’ve accomplished in my life only happened when I stopped saying “I know” and started doing what I purported to know.

Making more money, having better relationships, improving my body — those only came when I outlined habits on a piece of paper, picked one, and followed it. 

In our muscle-building coaching program, guys join in various stages of “I know.”

They know they need to eat big healthy meals. They know they should train with weights. They know they need to get 8 hours of sleep. But most are only doing one of those things. And some guys aren’t doing any at all, even though they “know” what to do.

That’s why we always  introduce our clients to only one nutrition, training, or lifestyle habit at a time.

We take away their “I knows” and instead have them practice one thing, over and over, every day for two weeks.

And by the end of those two weeks, they really know. It’s evident. Why? Because they’ve put their knowledge into action.

The Takeaway

The takeaway here is that whenever you want to accomplish something new — with your body, your finances, your whatever —  try to stop saying “I know.”

Instead, take a piece of paper, write your goal at the top, and outline the habits you need to follow to get there.

And then pick one habit — just one — and do it every day, without fail.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. I think you’ll be surprised with how awesome it really is.

In the meantime, if you see me on the road, just give me a little wave. And don’t be scared.

Trust me. I know what I’m doing. 

Your Turn

What’s ONE thing you “know” but aren’t currently doing? Do you want to gain muscle?  Change careers? Ask out the hot bartender? Whatever it is, share it in the comments. Ask yourself this: What habits can I follow to get me there?

36 Responses to Knowing Sucks. Start Doing.

  1. Billy Taylor says:

    I’ve missed reading your blogs these past few months, Nate. Glad you’re back at it!

    I guess, ironically, I KNOW that I need to spend less time f*cking around on my laptop, so I’m going to adopt this new habit to ameliorate: unless I’m working on a specific task, I’m gonna keep the damn thing closed. No more procrastinating on YouTube or Facebook! (…S2B’s okay though.)

    • Rob "Sad2Bad" says:

      Thanks for the reminder Nate!  

      Information overload is definitely killing me too!  FB/tv has to be shut off, emails checked sparingly, and I need to really start throwing my clothes on my bed/preplanning meals and creating a new routine so I don’t have to waste any time in the morning and enjoy the fresh air outside.  Speaking of that…I’m out!

  2. Dan says:

    I know I should stop being afraid of failing.

  3. Wmcniff1 says:

    What hot Bartender?

  4. Lasse (From Denmark!) says:

    I Know… I should stop putting up motivational BB quotes to facebook – people are getting annoyed :D

  5. Risto Uuk says:

    But what if you really love knowledge and studying? For the benefit of being good at discussing topics, being able to give a lot of advice, sounding smart, or even for the sake of studying itself? Studying is one of those activities that you can pretty much always do. Doesn’t require calling someone, it doesn’t even require dressing yourself. Kinda cool activity in that sense.


  6. Jimmy Heim says:

    Missed your writing a lot Nate.  Good work. For one, I know I need to somehow buckle down my urge to get off my diet and limit it to a meal or 2 per week.

  7. Mshields0 says:

    Eating enough protein. I know ;) how much to get, but I hardly ever get enough. thanks to the Super Shakes I’m well on my way

  8. Claude Boulanger says:

    I know I have to eat better in order to lose the last bit of belly fat.  I don’t eat enough small meals with the right amounts of veggie or fruit and protein.  EXCUSES EXCUSES all the time!

  9. Brandon Cook says:

    Welcome back Nate and congrats on the new opportunity here with JB and S2B. You’re spot on with this post and I’ve definitely fallen into the info-overload trap the past decade. Book after book, audio after audio, program after program. I amassed a lot of knowledge over the years and even put some of it to good use… but no where near the scale of full application.

    In a time when information is practically assaulting us all and pulling us in many different and often contradictory directions your advice here becomes priceless! Knowledge is only “potential power” until it is applied and put to use. I believe it then becomes WISDOM!

  10. David_harper says:

    Missed you, Nate.  I know very little, and that’s why I look to guys like you to teach me.

    My wife and daughter give me the “I know” treatment all the time.  I look at them and tell them, “No, you don’t.  If you did, you’d do the thing you claim to know.”

    Looks simple, but isn’t so much.  Thanks for the reminder, Nate.

  11. Lukas Fisher says:

    How about the feeling you get when you just graduated college, and you’ve literally spent the last 21 years saying “I Know” about every aspect of your life? I guess my question is, where do you even start?

    • Nate Green says:

       I think you start by asking yourself: What do I want to do?

      Sure it’s a big question. So maybe it needs a little paring down into different categories:

      – What do I want my body to look like?

      – What kind of job do I want?

      – What’s my ideal dating situation?

      If you don’t ask yourself important questions then you’re just gonna spend your time replying to everyone else instead of deciding what you want.

  12. Justin says:

    It’s definitely easy to fall into the info over-load trap. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff out there and a lot of the time our curiosity can get the best of us. I love the one habit at a time approach. It can be so easy t get overwhelmed that this simplifies things.

    Often I write down the 1-3 most important things I can do for myself the following day. I make sure that they are the first 1-3 things that I do. No matter what. They are appointments I schedule with myself.

  13. Kevin Gibbs says:

    My ‘I know’ is sleep – I sleep about 6 h a night.

    • Nate Green says:

       Is 6 hours enough for you? If not, perhaps you could try following one new habit starting tonight.

      A few ideas:

      – Go to bed 10 minutes earlier tonight.
      – Sleep in 10 minutes later tomorrow.
      – Turn off your phone, computer, and TV 30 minutes before you want to go to bed.
      – Do 10 minutes of deep breathing or meditation before you get in bed.

      Pick one of those (or come up with one that resonates with you) and start doing it TONIGHT.

      Then keep doing it every night for the next two weeks. Don’t worry about completely changing your sleep schedule. Just do the one thing you picked.

      I think you’ll be surprised with what happens.

  14. Eric Smith says:

    Dude, that’s great advice.  It’s good to see that you’re back at the blog!  The way you’re introducing each habit in S2B, one at a time is really similar to the way Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is taught.  You learn and practice a move until it become second nature, before they throw anything else at you.  That way you aren’t confusing yourself, trying to do all these different sweeps or submissions.  When in reality, you really can’t even do one right!  Applying that to everyday life is just, well, damn brilliant.  You may already know that but I thought I’d throw it out there in case you didn’t!  

    For me it’s… I know I need to stick with a shut down process at night, to stay on a routine sleep schedule.

    • Nate Green says:

      Thanks for commenting, man. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is fantastic and it’s cool they use the one-habit approach. There’s a reason they produce awesome results. :)

  15. Jerome says:

    Great post, Nate.  So true – the learning curve is something I want to avoid, and yet getting right in there with the mess and doing something is the only way to get it

  16. Dwinter_2000 says:

    I know i have to eat copiously but don’t do it consistently. Focusing on the shakes. Scared I cant lift enough but f-ing want to do this!

  17. Jstewarttrain says:

    Great analogy Nate. Congrats on the new blog, look forward to reading.

  18. Conor says:

    I know I should be focusing more on writing for my blog than spending countless hours sifting through junk on the internet.

  19. Jay-C says:

    I know I need to stop changing programs…

  20. I know I need to do more foam rolling, stretching and mobility work. I use time as an excuse as I work long, unsociable hours, but I can make time if I choose to. If any of my clients used this as an excuse, I’d be all over them, so I know I need to be tougher on myself!

    Great to have you back blogging Nate.

    • trainer in the know says:

      are you sure you want to do that to your muscles , crushing them between bone and roller with all that force,you should respect your body more

    • Huh? I know there are some coaches who don’t like foam rolling (Poliquin, Mike Nelson, etc.), but there are just as many, if not more (Cressey, Robertson, Smitty, Joe DeFranco) who rate it highly?
      For what it’s worth, I feel better for doing it regularly, so will continue to do so. What’s your reasoning for saying this anyway – be interested to hear?

    • Holistictrainer says:

      Ok here is my issue with foam roller ( s) .Firstly I want to know the goal of the exercise,why are you doing it in the first place?Secondly its it painful,why is that, all the force pushing the muscle you need to use on a day to day basis into the bone, like squishing it,is that likely to damage the muscle or enhance performance? Thirdly is there an alternative way of achieving what you are trying to achieve apart from massage I don’t know of any exercise that directly crushes the muscle belly,I am sure you are aware that direct massage  on a muscle, like pre stretching reduces its force capability ( is that the goal of usage?) Fourthly people say it stretches fascia, if I am not mistaken fascia has the tensile strength of steel and you couldn’t “stretch” your IT band for example if you tried all day…I could go on but I look now at every exercise, whats the goal, is it ” mindless” or “mindful”…what you do to your body is down to you, but just because you “have always done it” or you see someone else doing it doesn’t mean its right for you.

  21. Spencer Cliff says:

    I want to run sub 20 5k and I “know” my tempo runs need to be more intense, but im not pushing hard enough in training

  22. joel says:

    I know I need to put the same effort into my eating as I do in my workouts.

  23. Loseyouwin says:

    I know Nate Green is awesome, and I just did something about it…I told him.