These past few years have been trying. The hospital visits, the medicine, and the overall feeling I have daily is challenging, to say the very least. After each of my three open-heart surgeries, my very first stop was directly to work, also known as Tanks Training Facility.  My job, one that I love and have been doing for 10 years, is different at this stage of my life. There is a lot of sitting instead of moving around and being active. About a year ago, I shifted a few very important but very basic things around my life and daily schedule, which has helped tremendously. Before you look at these three things, please don’t laugh, as they all seem very basic and have the “DUH” feel. These all are things you should have been doing since fifth grade or sooner but you might have forgotten how valuable they are.


This to almost everyone is a common-sense thing to do. I used to stay up late and have no sleeping pattern. While training heavily, this definitely took away some progress and possible gains I could have had. I have learned to shut off all electronics and “un-wire” myself. With no phone or TV on my mind, I can rest. After a few minutes, I fall asleep pretty hard. This actually took some getting used to. A great read I received from my friend Ross (head strength and condition coach at Wisconsin), Relax and Win, was a great and easy read to help me to fall asleep quick. I highly recommend this read!

RECENT: Training, Open-Heart Surgery, and the Rehabilitation Process

For me, as long as I get six to seven hours of sleep, I feel okay in the morning. If you are waking up during the middle of the night a lot, or if your significant other is consistently complaining about your snoring, you might want to get a sleep study done to see if you have sleep apnea. For years, I woke up a lot and snored like a Klondike bear. After these couple of things and my heart issues, I sucked it up and did the sleep study and sure enough, had sleep apnea. After getting the continuous positive airway pressure mask, it was game over. I slept like a baby and actually felt recovered in the morning.
This gets me to the second habit.


 Photo credit: Wissam Santina ©

Cold Brew Coffee and Espresso Shots

Let me tell you up front, I have always hated coffee. The smell and taste have never been appealing to me. I used to smash pre-workout drinks and highly caffeinated products to get going prior to my heart transplants. After talking with my cardiologist, we both agreed that pre-workouts are out the rest of my life. He informed me of the number of deaths in the US a couple years ago from healthy people and the relation to pre-workouts. He then said coffee was okay if used sparingly. This is about the same time one of my clients offered me a Starbucks cold brew pre-made coffee while at his house during a 1:1 training session. To my surprise, it actually wasn’t that bad despite my “hating” coffee at the time. My energy levels felt great after drinking it. All of the medication I am on really makes me tired and fatigued. I started making my own cold brew following directions on the internet and actually had a great recipe. My energy levels are great now. Recently, TTF became partners with Invader Coffee out of Austin, Texas, and since then, I have been drinking its cold brew pods. I don’t add any sugars, sweeteners, or add-ins, just plain coffee. So, after a great night’s sleep and waking up to some cold brew coffee, I am ready to handle the day. This leads to my third key to success.

Write a Schedule

Schedule your day, week, and month by writing it down. This seems very elementary, but I am telling you that scheduling yourself is huge. Nightly, I write on my dry erase board the next day’s schedule. I include hour-by-hour plans as well as stuff to do for the day. I never did this before, but seeing this when waking up and throughout the day while stopping at home for lunch helps me to stay focused. It also lets Amy, my wife, and children see what the day looks like for me. For the month, I have a monthly calendar on my pantry door. At the beginning of each month, I write down plans we might have, our kids’ schedules, when certain bills are due, and other events we might have planned. This allows me to stay on top of everything going on in my life.

I know that most of you reading this are probably saying, “This is all very basic stuff, and most of it can be done on your phone.” For me, it has worked better than using my phone. This is a weird time in my life waiting for a heart transplant while trying to maintain a normal functioning life. However, these three basic things have helped me tremendously in my everyday routine. Give these a try if you haven’t already.

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