What Others Are Saying...

  • " Not only is Sean a great nutritionist, but he's an excellent strength coach. I've coached athletes with him on multiple occasions. The most impressive attributes I've seen in him is his integrity, work ethic, ability to work with athletes and desire to be the best coach possible...."

-Luke Richesson. Head NFL Strength & Conditioning Coach for Denver Broncos


I'm a Lifer... Are You?

Are you willing to follow the long road of a Lifer?1

I got a nice laugh last night checking out at the grocery store. I went to the local Food4Less to get myself and the family some meat for a few days (10 lbs of chicken and 7 lbs of pork roast), some natural peanut butter and a few other essentials as is usual on my Tuesday evening. As I go through the checkout line, I noticed the guy bagging groceries sizing me up. I’ll be the first to admit I’m sexy as ever, even though sadly my weight is down a bit. My current weight is around 255 and I’m pretty shredded for a man this size. Furthermore, I am sporting a nice full beard, my lifts are up and I’m getting plenty lot of 2nd looks from the female crowd (Of course, I say this with the utmost humility!). That being said, I still couldn’t help but wonder what the heck was on this guy’s mind? I was not expecting what was to come, me crushing another young man’s false dreams fed to him by our instant gratification, need it now media driven society.

Then his mouth opened and the diarrhea just began to pour, slow at first but quickly the flow increased into a raging river of liquid fecal matter. The following conversation ensued…

Him: “Dude do you play football?”

Me: “No I wish.” (Thinking to myself, “Yeah, if I did that I’d actually make money. There isn’t a dime to be made in strongman, powerlifting and Highland games… where did I go wrong?” Now I’m pissed at the kid for reminding me)

At this point in the conversation, the guy attempts to flex skin and bone, puffs out his puny looking chest and slides my 10 lbs of chicken across the checkout counter, BEEP!

Him: “Yeah I’ve been hitting the gym to build up a look like you real quick.”

Me: “Great keep it up, just takes time”

Him: “Time huh? How long have you been at it?”

Me: “I’ve been competing in powerlifting, strongman and highland games for about 5 years.”

Him: “Yea, but how long did it take you to look like that?”

Me: “Years… Longer than I’ve been competing by far”

He nearly drops my glorious 7 pound pork roast, the last in the store, on the floor as a look of sadness comes over his face. Beep

Him: “Damn, You mean I can’t hit the gym a few days a week and look like you in say… 3 months!?!?”

I grin and shake my head. I must be getting slow in my old age as I should have seen this coming.

Me: “Three months is a start bud. Get in there, train hard, eat a lot, and be consistent and you can make a great transformation in 90 days”

I pack my bags in the cart and start to head out.

Him: “Yeah and I bet you got to eat all good and stuff, huh? My problem is when I get to drinking I lose my appetite.”

Me: As I keep going to the exit I say, “Just eat a lot. You see this 17 lbs of meat? That’s for me and a 135lb woman and will last us maybe 3 – 4 days. Eat and train hard. Good luck buddy.

I hear him grovel and grumble a bit disheartened as I walk away.

Him: “Oh man…. But I heard 6 weeks on that…..and read about an 8 week… food I eat a lot already……”

I smile and move on; my legs still aching and sweaty from an earlier Highland games training session…

I’m a Lifer…

Sadly, this type of interaction has been an almost daily occurrence for me for some time now. This particular conversation refreshed some wise words I heard Jim Wendler say 3 months back at Mark Rippetoe’s coaches round table conference. To paraphrase Jim, it was something along the lines of; “6 weeks to this, 8 weeks to that, 30 days to these results… f*** that, I’m a lifer. I’m in this for life, not 8 weeks.”

Damn right Jim! I, along with anyone who has ever achieved sustainable physical changes, are F’ing lifers as well. If you expect more than average results with respect to physique changes or improvements in your athletic sport of choice you HAVE to be one. You MUST be one. This can’t be a part time hobby. It can’t be some BS gimmick quick fix change that you implement for 6-8 weeks and then go back to your way of life, it has to be a COMMITMENT, a PASSION, a DAILY part of your life, a TRUE piece of enjoyment in you.

Being a lifer is a tough pill to swallow for most individuals who have grown up in our news flash, 30 seconds of attention span, pill driven, quick fix society. When making goals, I ask you to sit down and be honest with yourself. Realize the results you want are going to take time; even years if you actually have the balls to strive to become something greater than average. Being a lifer will mean you have the patience and maturity to commit months, maybe even years, to fixing a weakness or adding 5 more lbs on the bar. It means that you know there is going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way.

You must accept this challenge and look forward to it. You must also recognize the negatives that come with any great achievement. Namely, you’ll have to give up many of your current comforts to reach your goals. However, the truth be told, these very same pains and negatives you accept are the same that will bring the good times, laughs, and years tossing iron with your fellow lifers. As Sean Casey says, “Reaching goals is like an ADDICTION. Upon reaching each goal you’ll find yourself NEEDING to achieve a higher one.” You’ll never be content; find joy in this fact. Perfection is a false construct, for if you ever reached it there would be nothing more to go after. I have said it before, strive for perfection but relish in the fact you’ll never ever reach it, there is always more that you can accomplish. Understand and enjoy the fact you will be married to the physical and nutritional culture till death do you part. It is a habit, and maturity, that comes in time.

It is a level on the “gym goers” evolutionary ladder that many of your counterparts can’t, and won’t take. If they would then we’d all be elite. It takes a special kind of person, much like it takes a special person to be a quantum physics instructor. It is when we reach this stage of acceptance maturity that one truly begins to make progress.

Are you a lifer, really, are you?

Once you’ve had a chance to digest this article, check out Evolution of a Gym Goer: Lifer vs Poser.


1 Image taken by Nepenthes. Accessed October 17th, 2010 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Desert_road_UAE.JPG

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Written on October 20, 2010 by Phil Stevens
Last Updated: October 28, 2012

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Coach Phil Stevens is an accomplished strength athlete with considerable experience in Powerlifting, strongman competition, and highland games. Phil is the 2007 APA World Champion in the 242-pound class (total). He has held the APF 275-pound class raw National bench, squat, deadlift, and total records. Phil’s marquis lift was his 725-pound raw beltless deadlift, performed on February, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been ranked in the “Top 10” in the deadlift across all national powerlifting federations. In addition, Phil has in a few short months moved to the A class in highland games with the goal of going Pro. His coaching services are avalable by clicking on the Strength Sport Consultation tab.
Professional Commitments:In addition to his coaching duties, he also serves as the California State Chair for the North American Highlander Association, as well as the founder of Lift For Hope an annual strength competition with proceeds donated to charity. He also runs his own printing business (business cards to t-shirts with everything in between) that can be found at www.bingcolorprint.com.