| Another 42 Things I Have Learned

Author / John

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Another 42 Things I Have Learned

Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post called “The 42 Things I Have Learned Leading up to 2013.” Since then, I have learned a lot more than I care to admit, and much I would choose to forget. Having lost loved ones and gained many more, I realize that receipts for a life well-lived are not counted with the possessions we collect nor the shit we amass, but the influence we have on those around us. The stories of our lives are told on the hearts of those we hold close, and through the marks those individuals  leave on us. I like to believe I am a better person than when I sat down to pen that 42 things in 2013, as my goal each day is to grow and improve. I always feel the best version of myself is in the future, and I strive to meet him each day. 

Enjoy the follow up with another 42 Things I have Learned. 

1. Animal based protein is the foundation of any training plan that is looking to improve strength, body composition and health. 

When looking for trusted information sources,  consistency of messaging is important. I have been promoting a high protein diet since 2000, when Dr. Mauro Dipasquale put a diet plan together for me based on his Anabolic Diet. That initial exposure changed how I looked, felt, and performed,  and my stance on a high protein diet has not changed. From my early days teaching CrossFit Football, to what we do today with Power Athlete – a high protein diet of animal-based sources is the foundation of performance, strength and body composition. 

2. “Most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor who lived from 161 to 180 AD. His reflections and writings have stood the test of time, still influencing readers over 2,000 years later. Aurelius’ book Reflections heavily influenced me in college when I was first exposed to him during my second year studying Rhetoric. This quote being my favorite and something I ask myself countless times a day – Is this necessary?

3. If you don’t make time to get in shape, time will shape you into something you aren’t going to be happy with. 

When we think about something getting “into shape”, we have visions of jacked girls and guys lounging on a beach or around a pool. But there are many shapes in the world, and letting yourself fall into a pear or round shape is never advisable. Make time to get into shape – or time will shape you into something you are not happy with. Make the time now, before it’s taken from you later. 

4. Have a goal. Any goal. It can be a training goal to bench 300 pounds or conquer a Tough Mudder. It can be to travel to Rome to stand in the Colosseum. Or it can be a life adventure goal to travel to the Big Island of Hawaii, forge a knife & spear with world renown knife maker Neil Kamimura, then taking that new knife on a hunt to kill an Axis deer. After that, maybe it’s using the spear to kill the local boar, as our ancestors did, thendressing & preparing the pig to cook it that night in the ground with lava rocks and banana leaves in a traditional Hawaiian method. 

While this is on my bucket list, I want you to write down your dreams, adventures and things you want to accomplish. Every well laid plan starts with a single thought. 

5. Having a well-developed aerobic system is important for many reasons that go far beyond fitness influencers droning on about “Cardio.”

The aerobic system, also known as the oxidative phosphorylative pathway – is the energy system that uses oxygen to produce ATP. This system is capable of producing ATP for a much longer duration than the two anaerobic systems. The aerobic system allows the anaerobic systems to recharge, so they can produce ATP after they have been depleted from intense training. A well-developed aerobic system will aid in recovery, sleep and the ability to process macro nutrients. 

6. If you bang heavy weights with a clear, well-thought out plan that involves progressive overload and working close to (and occasionally at) failure,you eat a high protein diet while adhering to moderate caloric restriction, and you spend some time developing a large aerobic base, you are going to meet your goal…if that goal is to be jacked AF. 

These are foundations upon which Jacked Street is built. 

7. The greatest flex isn’t owning a Lamborghini. The greatest flex is being too tall and well-muscled to fit in a Lambo. Leave those POS cars to YouTubers, short kings and Beta bitches. 


8. The healthiest people can eat the most diverse diet. If the only food I can eat is red meat, we have bigger problems to address. Remember, ROYGBIV. 

Eat with variety and eat with purpose. 

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9. People tend to eat the same 8-10 foods. Live a little, add some new foods to this list. If this is confusing, reference #6 and stop being boring. 

Don’t be boring. Live a little. 

10. Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. 5-10g of creatine daily. 8-12 grams of salt daily. Sleep 8 hours a day. Lift weights 3-5 times a week.  Remember to take time daily to feel the sun on your face and the wind in your air. Then, rinse and repeat with the consistency of the speed of light. Side note, every time the speed of light is measured, it comes out at 299,792,458 meters per second, or 671 million miles per hour; the most consistent thing in the universe. 

Consistency is key. 

11. When injuries present themselves, find a way to pivot your training and add a new movement, implement, or piece of equipment into your arsenal. Had a consult with a 43-year-old dad with a recent hip replacement. Hip gets tired during squatting so we discussed going to a box squat or adding a leg press into the mix. Life throws you an audible, be flexible, side step it and keep working. We don’t stop. Ever. 

Keep your shoulder to the wind and keep pushing forward. 

12. Movement and technique matters. Nobody intentionally wants to move like shit. Some people just have greater attention to detail. Slow down. Accept nothing short of perfection. It matters. 

Be a performance whore. 

13. Never wear flip flops to a bar, unless that bar is on the sand or you can hear the waves while drinking a tropical drink with an umbrella. Always dress like you might have to fight your way out the door. Hard to fight in flip flops, and if you wear a hoodie throw it in the trash at the first sign of trouble. Hoodie is a liability in a bar fight. 

14. Know how to cook a steak. Invest in a nice cast iron pan. Master the reverse sear. Be able to cook a steak in a few different ways, to impress your friends who know how to cook a steak. We don’t cook bomb ass steaks for the ladies; we do it for our boys. Also, don’t show up to someone’s house for dinner or BBQ empty handed. Once you arrive, ask to help and be the type of guest that gets invited back. If someone is cooking, then you better be helping and offering to clean up. 

15. Confidence comes from having done the work. If you have done the work required to be the best, then the bravado you exhibit is honest. Nothing is worse than false bravado – it is disingenuous. If you want to play on the biggest stage, do the work required to be there. 

16. Be a fan of humanity. Be excited to see the best in the world step on stage against the best competition, and have their best performance. Root for it. Demand it. Nothing is better than being part of a legend. 

17. Have scars and tattoos. Each one tells a story. People with stories are interesting, captivating and memorable. 

18. Be able to tell a story. If you can’t tell a story, practice till you can. 

19. Avoid petty people and petty arguments. These people are a time suck; they are thirst traps designed solely for fake engagement. Be authentic. 

20. Be a craftsman. Whether that involves working with metal, wood, or the human mind and/or body. Craft something that inspires. I like to weld, build trucks and forge athletes. I love to work and improve upon my property; I am a steward of the land. I like to lift weights and be strong. I like to read, think, reflect and write. I like to work with athletes to help them craft their best self. I love to learn. That involves humbling yourself to being a student. Moving between master, journeyman and apprentice is a show of strength. I love being a father and seeing my children grow into the people I dream them to be. I view my tribe as my people; they give me strength and hope in a better future. 

What do you love and do you show it each day? What are you doing to honor those that have come before you and after?

21. I loved playing in the NFL. While I played I refused to admit that I loved it. I was too afraid that it would be taken away in a single breath and I would be heartbroken. So, I lived with a foot in the present and a foot in the future of what could be. This caused me to be antsy, since I was always looking to the future and not living in the moment. If I’ve learned one thing in this life, it is to live in the moment and enjoy the small things that make this life magical. 

22. Craft a saying. Have a mantra. Believe in something so fiercely that it inspires others to make shirts with it and paint it on a wall like a mural. 

“Training, and life, is like moving a large pile of dirt. Somedays you get a shovel, some days you get a spoon, but as long as I am moving dirt each day I am moving towards my goal. Move the dirt.”

23. If you are the sum of the small circle of people you hang out with, you better have an interesting circle. If the circle sucks, change it quick. 

24. “Don’t hold your fan club meetings in a phone booth.” – Bob Welbourn

25. Ultimately, we are on our own. Nobody is coming to save you. You have to learn how to make yourself content and find peace. Have the strength to lift yourself up when you are down. Expecting others to do this will leave you disappointed and bitter. 

This is what is known as “resilience.”

26. “Do not speak bad of yourself. For the warrior within hears your words and is lessened by them.” Japanese proverb

I tell my kids this daily. 

27. “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man” – Samuel Johnson

I have two thoughts on this statement. Through one lens – silly, outrageous actions like binge drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, binge watching Netflix and being a jerk allows one to desensitize from the pains of the everyday – it allows us to become nonchalant to what we see and do. Simply put, ignorance is bliss, distraction is a drug. An idiomatic phrase lending to human beings setting aside their humanity to pursue childlike aspirations and to escape from societal pressures. 

The second view has a more positive connotation when examining it through the lens of combat sports, martial arts and training for warfare. Sports like football, rugby, MMA, and grappling allow a person to focus on the execution of a task, making themselves more of a weapon than a person. During physical combat, it helps if one becomes something more beast, leaving humanity behind. Training to become efficient for warfare, and combative sports to some extent, requires one to make himself or herself a beast so the conscience of  man does not hinder them in moments when it’s time to take scalps or “split wigs”, as my good friend and Q Dog Bobby Williams used to say. 

28. “I don’t believe in the Gods’ existence. Man is the master of his own fate, not the gods. The gods are man’s creation to give answers that they are too afraid to give themselves.”  – Ragnar Lothbrok

Men that sail wooden ships into the most hostile storms just to shake their fists at the Gods have always fascinated me. I would have liked to have met Ragnar and seen his madness. 

29. “Don’t waste your time looking back, you are not going that way.” – Ragnar Lothbrok

My college training partner and good friend Drake Parker is from Hawaii. He played football for the Kamehameha Schools – their motto, IMUA means “forward.” When things get hard or feel tedious, I think to myself, “IMUA.”

30. “Never feel sorry for raising dragon slayers in a time when there are actual dragons.”

31. When you work a muscle to failure, you maximize muscle unit recruitment, including those high threshold units. Recruiting more muscle units is the path to strength and muscle. Remember: only the motor units that are fatigue are trained. 

32. Most people do not know how big a tree is until you cut it down. It is a human tendency not to value something until it is lost.

33.. “If you do not learn to read and write to the best of your ability, you will never learn to think.” Adrien Kragen (UC Berkeley Law Professor)

I was fortunate to meet Mr. Kragen on my recruiting trip to UC Berkeley. I told the coaches I wanted to speak to someone from the law school – they set up a meeting with the former dean of the law school (formally known as Bolt Hall). Mr. Kragen is the one that recommended I study Rhetoric, and started me down the path of learning to read and write to the best of my ability. 

34. When training, avoid the pitfall of junk volume. Garbage volume is what leads to injuries and overuse. I tend to fall into the Mike Metzner/Dorian Yates school of training and focus on intensity rather than junk volume. 

35. “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” – Greek Proverb

36. “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius

37. “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” – Voltaire

37. If you are cooking steaks in the evening, pull your steaks out and coat them with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and salt. One hour before cooking, pull them out of the fridge to bring to room temperature. Then right before the steaks go on the grill,  reapply a light dusting of salt. While the EVO enhances the taste, the antioxidants in the EVO will reduce the formation of carcinogens on the meat’s surface. 

38. Use Salt. Daily. I shoot for 3-5 grams between putting salt in my water and salting the hell out of my food. 

39. Compensatory Acceleration is still the greatest method for improving athletic performance. 

40. A Harvard University Grant Study tracked 268 healthy white males for 75 years trying to identify what factors predicted healthy aging. The one key factor in the predictor of longevity was their capacity for close relationships. As men age we become lone wolves; we stop nurturing our past and current relationships and lose the desire to make new friends. Best way to combat aging is to acknowledge it is happening and rail against it.  The key to making new friends is to be open to it, and ready to engage in new circles. I tell people repeatedly, if you want to make 25 new friends, join a jiu jitsu gym. You will make 25 new friends you never knew you needed. Be a part of a community, preferably one that is centered on physical activity, if you are able. 

41. Only take feedback from those who are playing the game; it is too easy to boo from the sidelines. 

42. And finally my cheat code – If you eat less, you will lose weight. If you eat less but eat plenty of protein, you lose body fat. If you eat less, eat plenty of protein and lift heavy weights, you will lose body fat and gain muscle. 

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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.

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