“Are you going to have to get waxed?”

“Are you going to be wearing spandex?”

“Why are you doing this?”

Earlier this year, I committed to competing in a Men’s Physique Show. As people began to find out, these are a handful of the questions I got. For years, people saw me as a guy who worked out thanks to my daily “reps 4 Jesus” posts on my Instagram story. To many, I was a “pretty fit and disciplined” guy. I knew it was a facade.

Did I work out? Sure. Did I eat clean? Sometimes. Protein Shakes, Chicken, broccoli, eggs, and rice are my diet’s pillars. Those things, along with: pizza, ice cream, and Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches. My diet was what gym bro-scientists call a “See” Food diet. If I saw it, I ate it.

Ever since I was a young boy, I admired the sport of bodybuilding. My favorite superhero was The Incredible Hulk. The last sport I ever competed in was middle-school basketball and I sucked at it. Then I took a weight-lifting class my senior year of high school and I’ve been working out ever since. When I hired my coach in January of this year, he made a clear distinction. “You’ve been working out for 10 years. Now, you’re going to train.”

Working out is something you do because that’s what you’re supposed to. You know you’re supposed to work out to “be healthy” so you pay a monthly membership and show up whenever you feel like it. Training is what you do when you have a specific goal to achieve.

It’s the difference between being busy and being productive. Busy work is aimless, tiring, and unfulfilling. Being productive is particular, focused, and worthwhile. You do something to make yourself, others, and/or the world better.

For me, the goal was simple: showing up to compete. Crossing an item off my bucket-list in honor of my 30th birthday.

So why did I do all this training? Why did I limit my foods, caring about calories and macros for the first time ever? Why did I spend all this money on supplements, coaching, and the competition itself?

To answer the question that rests in every man’s heart. As John Eldredge puts its: “Do I have what it takes?”

Throughout my 20’s, I avoided doing several things because they were hard. Creative projects left unpublished. Home repairs remained broken. Books partway-finished. Sometimes it’s not even the individual tasks themselves that were hard. It’s the combination of everything happening all at once. How do I keep all the plates spinning? The work plate? The relationships one? The dreams dish?

Do I have what it takes to do hard things? Because after all, a story is only good if the main character struggles but overcomes. While I admired the sport for years, I always told myself, “I could never do that”. And as I approached my 30’s, I decided I didn’t want to live with this mindset anymore.

It On May 27th 2023 I was able to answer this question with an assuring “Yes, I do have what it takes.” Not because I won (even though I did get first in my category). And it wasn’t because I went professional. It was because I finished months of training for a specific goal. What made this goal pursuing process different than other things I’ve quit. Three things:

1. Coaching.
Luke Skywalker needed Yoda. For whatever goal you want to achieve, you need someone who has gone before you. By offering some form of value in return, you need to bring people into your life who can guide you toward the goal.

2. Accountability. We talk about this in Christian circles, particularly when it comes to “corn”. Someone once told me accountability is like communism. It’s great in theory but doesn’t work in the real world. For accountability to work, you need someone who knows all your secrets. Then when they tell you what you need to do to change: do it. Keep a record of your actions towards the goal. Be honest about it. And make your accountability’s suggested adjustments along the way.

3. Deadline. If you want to achieve a goal, set a due date. Begin with the finish line and work your way back. Create and follow daily steps to bring yourself to the end. Schedule the appointment. Budget the money. Stick to the plan.

Will you miss the mark at times? I can guarantee it Emergencies will steal your time. You’ll miss steps, shots, and appointments. In those moments, allow your coaching and accountability to speak life. Then make the necessary changes and continue the process.

By following these steps, you’ll learn this truth like I did. A truth I wish I would have learned in my 20’s but thankful I get to bring into my 30’s:

You can do hard things.

And it’s only by doing hard things that you can live a great story.

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11