It had been two weeks
since I’d slept more than 3 hours a night. It felt like two years.
I was at a career crossroads. My full time job had ended and I was left with a handful of side-gigs and about a dozen “irons in the fire.”
I was in a good spot. I had options. Lots of them. I just needed to choose one, roll up my sleeves and get to work.
But I couldn’t decide. So instead I did nothing. Which only added to the insomnia.
My job options were all in fitness and training and writing. Stuff I’m experienced at. Stuff I’m supposedly good at. Yet none of them spoke to me, at least they said nothing positive. Just faint whispers like “oh man, not this job again.” And in the quiet of my mind at 3 am, those barely audible whispers were louder than a bullhorn.
I’m burnt out, I thought. The fitness industry, my passion for 20 years, had chewed me up and spit me out.
But my rational side was resistant. That couldn’t be. You don’t willfully dedicate your professional life to your passion, experience considerable success, and then just fold your tent and declare burnout at the first side of adversity.
I needed an intervention. Fortunately I have Jerry.
My friend Jerry loves hearing my problems. It’s because they’re trivial compared to what he’s used to hearing. He works with troubled inner-city youth, mainly aboriginal kids who were taken from broken homes and put into foster care.
These kids have no identity. No sense of self-worth. To fill the void many turn to gangs. And substance abuse; whatever they can get their hands on. A staggering number turn to suicide.
It’s Jerry’s job to get to them before they get that far. Usually he’s successful but not always. When he fails it means another modest grave is dug for someone just starting their life. That’s what makes his job incredibly important. That’s what makes Jerry special.
But Jerry is also a bit of an entrepreneur. He’d wore a number of hats in the school system and ran a few business before his gift for connecting led him to where he was now. It’s what led him to me.
The coffee shop where we met up was mercifully quiet. I paid for Jerry’s Americano and challenged him figure out what exactly my major malfunction was. I had opportunities in a field that I love doing stuff I’m good at. What’s the problem?
He started with a question. “In one word describe what’s most important to you about a job.”
About a dozen popped into my head. “Money. Challenge. Engagement. Helping. Interesting. Variety. Fun.”
“All good answers,” he said. “But not the right answer for you.”
“What’d I miss?” I asked.
If you work long enough in the fitness industry you’ll undoubtedly find yourself compromising your integrity to some degree.
As a trainer, you might slightly oversell your skill-set to a prospective client. Maybe you embellish just how many clients you’ve trained or the number of years you’ve been at it?
Perhaps you play up a certification that was really just a take home exam? Or fail to disclose that the pro football player you coached was really a high school buddy who worked out with you over the summer before he went to the NFL?
Maybe that smoking hot babe you “transformed” was already fit as a fiddle before she ever hired you, save for the new baby weight she needed to bounce off?
It’s just selling yourself, right? It’s not, you know, lying — and certainly not as bad as that clown down the road that says he trains half of Hollywood. Compared to him you’re a saint. And don’t get me started on those internet trainers.
Everybody does it, you tell yourself.
But it’s still dishonest.
My advice? Don’t be part of the problem.
It’s worse in the supplement industry.
The best people in it are the most fun and passionate people you’ll find. But it’s also chock full of snake charmers and former steroid dealers who’ve seen the light, namely a way to make lots of money while staying out of Camp Fed.
In my time in it I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to keep my conscience relatively clean.
Sure I’ve done some “aggressive marketing” and perhaps penned a few ads that crossed shamelessly into hyperbole. And there were those “diets” I used to write.
I’ve “massaged” articles to present a predetermined marketing agenda. So has every swinging dick that’s ever worked in marketing or advertising. That’s the job. That’s the business.
Still, the bullshit flies all around me.
Gain 27 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks. Lose 20 pounds of fat in 20 days. Magic fat burners and workout drinks and sawdust-tasting protein bars.
Crazy “peri-workout” carbohydrate recommendations from “the pros” marketed to young people that conveniently omit the insulin they inject with it. Dr. Oz and his covered wagon of TV miracle cures. And of course, ridiculous before and after photo shop campaigns.
You can say you don’t engage in that kind of nonsense and that may be true. What if an industry competitor does? Or even the company you work for? Choosing to remain a part of the industry but doing nothing to better it is choosing to remain part of the problem.
I couldn’t be part of it anymore. That’s why I couldn’t jump back in. And why I couldn’t sleep.
However, Jerry wasn’t buying it. “If this is your passion, then you have to seek out the integrity around you. Find it and associate with it. Do business with it. Be friends with it.”
And if I can’t find it?
“Then you have to be the integrity yourself. Because if it’s really your passion, it’s your responsibility to do so.”
That was enough of a mind blow for one day. I sprung for another round of coffees before Jerry had to leave, back to helping young people deal with issues far more debilitating than anything I’ve every faced.
As for me, I made a decision. I’m staying right here.
And I’ve never slept better.
Helpful Product Plug — Examine.com
The good news is that I’m not alone. There are people who feel the same way about what the supplement industry could be, who want to produce something positive and truthful and helpful.
One such group is the guys at Examine.com. They’re about to release their new supplement stack guides. Each stack is designed to address a specific need like Fat Loss, Muscle Gain & Exercise Performance, Bone Health, and Sleep Quality to name a few.
Of course, supplement stacks are the oldest trick in the supplement-marketing book. Bundle a bunch of your company’s sketchy supplements into “stacks” and then try to play them off like they somehow work synergistically or that they’re anabolic steroids.
Here’s the thing: Examine.com isn’t a supplement company. They don’t even sell supplements. They only sell information about supplements, based on the most recent, relevant research.
The guys on the advisory board are legit PhD’s and doctors, including a pharmD, psychiatric pharmD, PhD toxicologist, PhD nutrition, and more.
Most importantly, at least for me, is that I know them personally. They’re my friends. We share similar values and have similar goals in the industry; namely, to make it better.
Nothing like this exists — a trusted and actionable list on supplements. And while it isn’t free, it’ll likely save you money you may have spent on something useless.
If you’re interested in checking it out, and you should be, just click here. http://examine.com/referstack/bryank