Scrawny To Brawny

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The S2B Manifesto: 7 Rules For Living A Bigger Life

A man shouldn’t be one-dimensional. That’s why building muscle is only half of what we do at S2B. The other half is focused on living a bigger, more remarkable life. Here are 7 lessons we teach in our coaching program.

The Scrawny To Brawny Manifesto

1. Feed your “ideal self” and starve your shadow.

John Berardi is a brawny guy who’s in control of his life.

John Berardi is a scrawny guy who has no clue what to do with his life.

One guy wants to go to the gym, eat steak and vegetables, do meaningful work, rock a tailored suit, and enjoy the fruits of his hard work.

The other wants to goof off, eat shitty food, hang out on Facebook all day, wear a Snuggie, and take the easy way out of everything.

Both versions of JB live together in his head. And they’re each competing to take over his life. You and I have the same two guys in our heads, too.

Let’s call one the “ideal self” and the other the “shadow self.”

Our ideal self is the kind of guy we want to be. He’s authentic and confident. He’s humble yet strong. Competitive yet relaxed. He’s like a less destructive version of Fight Club’s Tyler Durden.

“I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I’m free in all the ways that you are not.”

Tyler Durden in Fight Club

Our shadow self, on the other hand, is the guy we don’t like. He’s the guy we’re not proud of. The guy who says stupid shit, gives up when things get tough, and seems kinda like a loser. And he’s always there, lurking in our heads, ready to bust out and screw everything up or embarrass us.

Most guys run from their shadow or try to ignore him. But thinking about him constantly — or trying not to think about him — only makes him stronger.

That’s because whatever you feed, grows.

We’ve learned the only way to silence our shadow is to accept him. Because when you become aware of your shadow and all his baggage, you’re free to stop thinking about him. You take away all his power.

Remember: you have two guys living in your head. Your ideal and your shadow.

One wants to build a great body and have a remarkable life. Feed him.

The other one is actively pushing for you to be average. Acknowledge his existence.

Then starve that motherfucker.

2. Make your own rules.

Do you have a list of rules? You should.

Everything else in the world can crumble and fall apart, but your rules shouldn’t budge. Think of them as your moral compass. They comprise the code of conduct you follow and live by every day.

If “honesty” is on your list of rules, then damn it, you’re an honest guy. You strive for honesty. And even when you’re occasionally dishonest – which, since you’re human, is inevitable – you don’t try to cover it up, gloss over it, or forget.

You recognize where you went wrong, correct it, and move on with renewed motivation to be honest. Know why? Because “honesty” is on your list of rules.

In the S2B program, we ask our clients to make a list of their rules. And we start by asking this question:

“When someone else thinks of you, what adjectives do you want them to use to describe you?”

Honest? Confident? Motivated? Creative? Patient?

You get the idea.

From there, we ask them to think about how they feel in their best moments. The times where they really felt good. The times where their lives mattered.

How were they acting? What were they doing?

Did they:

  • Work their ass off on a project?
  • Take a moment to think before reacting to an argument?
  • Tried something that scared the hell out of them?
  • Own up and take responsibility for a mistake they made?
  • Speak up in a situation where no else would?
  • Walk around the room confidently, like they owned it?

From there, we have them write down their rules.

They end up with something that looks like this:

  • Take care of myself with good food, sleep, and exercise.
  • Be honest with everyone and don’t bullshit or tell white lies.
  • Treat my family and friends with respect and constantly connect with them.
  • If it’s not fun, don’t do it.
  • If it’s not fun but doing it will help me grow, then do it.

Whatever values that make you excited to live are what you should write down. Once you have them, print them out and put your list in a place you’ll see it often. Check back periodically to see how your current life stacks up.

These are your rules. Own them.

3. Plan your perfect day.

Ask a guy how he spends his day and chances are good you’ll get a recount of dull routines and yawn-inspiring habits.

The sad fact is most guys just aren’t that excited about their lives. They work a job they don’t like, they have fake friends, they waste hours on Facebook, and the only thing they live for is the weekend, a two-week vacation, or 5PM.

But there are a small fraction of guys who live on their own terms. If they’re employed, they enjoy their job because they’re good at it. They’re innovative. And if they’re self-employed they see every new day as a challenge and opportunity to create something.

As our friend Tim Ferriss says, they control the “W’s”. What they do, when they do it, where they do it, and why they do it.

They weren’t always like that, of course.

Most started by planning their perfect day. Just like you’re gonna do.

In the S2B program, we have our guys do a “perfect day” exercise where they write in the greatest detail possible what a perfect day in their life would look like. The kind of day they could live over and over again and never get tired of.

This exercise isn’t magic. You don’t write stuff down and have it happen instantaneously. This isn’t The Secret or any wishy-washy “power of attraction” shit.

But it should get you thinking. And it may get you motivated to start trying to do this stuff.

So we’ll pose the same question to you: If you could live however you wanted to live, what would you do? How would you spend your time?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Where in the world do you live?
  • Do you live in an apartment? House? Condo? Hotel?
  • Who are you with?
  • What time do you wake up?
  • What does your house look like?
  • What are you going to do this morning?
  • What do you do MOST mornings?
  • How do you earn money and make a living?
  • What’s your schedule today?
  • What kind of clothes are you wearing?
  • What kind of music are you listening to?
  • What are you working on today?
  • How much money are you making?
  • What are you doing for lunch? What about dinner?
  • Who are you meeting?
  • What’s your afternoon look like?
  • What’s your evening look like?
  • Any trips or fun things planned?

Spend 15 − 30 minutes writing all that down. Skip the questions that aren’t important to you. Add ones that resonate.

4. Live your perfect day.

If you wrote down your perfect day, the things you want to do and experience in life are right there in front of you.

So how about you go and live it? Like, right now. Why wait around?

Yeah, you can’t just magically put yourself in the details of your perfect day. It may be tough to make a million dollars or travel the world or get married tomorrow.

But that sure as hell doesn’t mean you can’t start.

In your perfect day are you:

  • Living in a nice house? Can you start saving for a down-payment right now?
  • Living some place sunny with lots of fresh air? Can you start planning the move right now by looking for a new job or apartment?
  • Working a job you love? Can you ditch your current job or at least start looking for something that sounds fun and fulfilling?
  • Writing your third best-selling novel? Can you start on the first right now?
  • Looking sharp, like a dude out of Esquire or GQ? Can you upgrade your wardrobe right now or get rid of stuff you never wear?
  • Hanging out with good friends over dinner and beers? Can you call ‘em up right now and go out to dinner?
  • Exploring the world? Can you research places to go and start saving for a trip right now?

You get the idea.

Whatever’s on your Perfect Day list can be lived starting right now. It’s just up to you to do something about it.

Because without action it’s just a piece of paper or words on a screen.

5. Do one thing at a time.

This may be the single-most important piece of non-workout advice we can give. In the S2B program we give our clients only one new habit to practice at a time. That’s because our brains are horrible at multi-tasking. They get overwhelmed too easily.

Multi-tasking involves “gear switching” in the brain as we go from task to task. Just like we need warmups before working out, our brains need “warmups” for thinking. It takes us several minutes to sink into a state of full focus and concentration.

So in order to do your best, you need to be fully immersed in one thing at a time.

You’ll have more focus and feel better. And whatever you’re doing will get done well. You’ll own it.

Remember: A mountain climber isn’t checking Facebook while he’s scaling Everest. A guitarist isn’t checking his text messages while he’s on stage.

In small stuff and in big stuff, try to do one thing at time. Like reading the rest of this article without checking your phone.

6. Surround yourself with positive people who give a shit.

Independence is a drive to “do it yourself”. Dependence is reliance on others.

In S2B, we have our clients strive for interdependence, a healthy blend of independence and dependence. When we’re interdependent, we recognize that we need other people to thrive. We don’t rely on them too much, nor do we isolate ourselves.

Instead, we gather strength from our connections and we help others as needed.

Having a good group of friends and mentors makes life better. They help motivate us when we need it. They keep us in check. They have the same kind of experiences that we have.

The guys in our coaching program not only have us — the coaches — to work with. They also have a group of like-minded guys who are doing the same thing as them: building muscle, changing their body, and living a bigger life.

They’re all in it on their own. But they’re also a part of the pack.

7. Pay it forward and help others do awesome stuff.

We believe that before you can take care or help other people you have to take care of yourself.

When you’re strong and motivated, you can help others become strong and motivated. When you’re capable of setting goals, following habits, and getting things done, you can help others do the same.

And you should help others. How? Well, it’s up to you.

The thing to remember is this: You’re awesome at something. Probably a lot of things. How can you use your experience — whatever it’s in — to help other people do awesome stuff?

That’s your mission.

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, that is.

“And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them, so I got rich and gave back. To me, that’s the win, win.”

Jay-Z, Moment of Clarity

8 Responses to The S2B Manifesto

  1. DanielAipa says:

    Great post! I’m going to start answering some of those questions right away.  Thanks for sharing this with everyone.  

  2. James says:

    Great article, I followed similar steps on the Nate Green experience from a few years ago. I just finished renovating my first house which I wanted from planning my perfect day. It was hard going but so worth it, I’m currently getting ready to take my professional qualification which I’ll need to start my own business. Also I just finished the hero workout programme –  that was quite tough too. The results have been good though. I’ve definitely seen a big difference. Thanks for the positive vibes inspiration, you really did help 

  3. Tom says:

    Great Article. I think, it´s very difficult for most people to not to be one dimensional, because when their life sucks and then when they make a strong commitment to have a great body or whatever they are so afraid of breaking these new rules they´ve just set up because making exceptions could lead to fall back into the old way of life. And in order to avoid this they become obsessed and unhealthy focused. T 

  4. Benmoring says:

    Great timing guys! I’m just in the process of figuring out a lot of this stuff right now so I have something to work towards rather than wasting my time. And i’m also reading Tim Ferriss’s books! Was actually planning on asking you guys what you thought of the ‘geek to freak’ section? (you can read it here if you haven’t  

  5. Jay-C says:

    Facebook and text messages… I always knew I had to get back control over those 2. I’ll stop feeding them for a while!

  6. David says:

    What’s your beef with snuggies?

  7. Raul Felix says:

    I love this no bull-shit attitude about being better about yourself. The Secret was bullshit. You don’t wait for life to come to you and just envision stuff. You make a plan, maybe even the wrong at first, but you do something, and go after it. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”~Abraham Lincoln. 

  8. Michael C Sanchez says:

    This is great for me now that I’m moving to a new place where no one knows me. This is my restart button I have been looking for I will you all this from here on out. Thank you all.

    Michael c Sanchez