Wednesday, 16 May 2012

From 60 to 30: A letter to my younger self

- A guest post by Terence Mitchell

Dear Terence

At the time of reading this you will be 29 years old and in the process of building your business and establishing yourself as a strength coach and your gym , Mitchell Strength.  As you well know your 20's have not been easy, there have been many , many personal setbacks, foolish choices, irrational decisions and you have paid the price for all of these.  However the point of this letter is not for looking back into your past but for looking forward into your future, by handing you advice that is going to carry you through for the next 30 years.  Use this letter as a road map , a kind of manifesto for life that will pull you through the tough times and set you up for the better times.


After years of training and following various programmes which were not necessarily all bad, you now know what needs to be done.  For as long as you have trained you have always known that it is the basics that get real results in the gym.  You have never shyed away from good old fashioned hard work, over the many years you have squatted, dead lifted, paid your dues with pull ups and chin ups, heavy rows and presses.  You have had to overcome injuries and set backs which have derailed you, but that is life and the same thing has happened many times to many lifters far stronger than yourself. 

However this did not stop them and will never stop you.
I would like to impart more advice just to make sure you stay the course and walk the path less travelled.

Stick with your basic 5/3/1 template for your 4 big lifts and have faith in the long term process.  You are getting stronger week by week, yes, that does not mean that you hit one rep max PRs by the month, you know very well that in the real world things don't work like that.  It becomes a game of inches, 3 steps forward 2 steps back, another kg here, another rep there.  You need to continue doing the things that other people fear, hate or just don't have the mental or physical resolve to stick with.  You are different and this is what will set you apart from the crowd.

There is something I also want to share with you that I want you to always remember especially when it comes to training.  When it gets boring its working! 

Remember Terence you are living in a soft, weak metrosexual age were people always want the next best miracle program,  celebrity diet, supplement or fancy piece of 'advanced' equipment, you need to fight this and love and respect what is 'boring' .  Boring works every time in the gym and in life, especially when the going gets tough.  For example: Squats, deads, heavy sand bags walks, farmers walks and hill sprints are considered boring by 99% of people but these great exercises WILL ALWAYS work and they will always build brute raw strength , incredible conditioning and a dangerously strong mind.  Fall in love and commit to what is boring and simple.  Do this for the rest of your life and you will not be sorry.

Now that I have made sure to keep you on the right path as far as strength training goes I need to remind you how important it is to be conditioned.  Here once again you know the deal, you have never been one to skimp on real conditioning work.  All through your time at high school training for rugby and after school training in the Royal Marines you knew what needed to be done.  You sprinted hills, you sprinted hard and your sprinted often, you were always the last one standing at the end, wanting to do that extra hill just to make sure you were truly done.  You never cheated when the coach or PTI turned his back as you always knew you were only going to cheat yourself. This kind of attitude has given and will continue to give you the greatest gift of all.  The gift of self respect.

Remember Terence people will not understand your obsession with hard conditioning, you don't need to do it because you plan on sprinting in a race,  you sprint because the hill is a metaphor for everything life will throw at you. The hill is long, steep and uncomfortable, you will be breathing hard, your lungs will be burning, your legs will be aching but you will finish what you set out to do. You will continue to sprint hills for no other earthly reason than the fact that you can!  You will view all obstacles and set backs in your life the same way you view a long steep hill that needs to be sprinted: With a never relenting self belief, loads of aggression and plenty attitude!


Terence the world is obsessed with material things that only create disorder, confusion and clutter. People will literally sell their souls in order to live somebody else's dreams.  People you know will blow through money that they did not have to earn, people will try and maintain outrageous lifestyles while the global economies literally crumble and consumer debt sky rockets.  But you are not going to fall into this trap because you know better.  You need to understand right now that money without sacrifice and work is a very dangerous thing.  You see it all the time with people you know very well.  Easy come easy go.  Always remember that real people are attracted to real confidence and self-reliance not flashy material things that mean nothing.  Remember that looking cool and trendy is for insecure little boys with precious egos to protect. 

Save 20% of your income.  This goes without saying.  Live within your means and If you want something that you cannot afford right now remember that you don't need to have it RIGHT NOW, instead save up for it.  I advise you to always pay for things with cash you actually have instead of using or owning a credit card.  Your goal is to be fully debt free and OWN everything you own!


By the time you reach your mid 30's you will sadly see the effects of ill health in many people that you know.  It is a sad reality, but you always knew that people have a choice.  Alcohol and smoking will ruin the lives of many people, however what is more concerning is how poor nutritional habits will continue to increase despite all the warnings.

You know this well but I will nevertheless remind you.

1. Eat as much natural, free range, organic fruit and veg as you can.
2. Always buy hormone free or organic chicken, grass fed free range beef and lamb, organic eggs.
3. NEVER eat sugar, wheat, soy, corn, beans, processed dairy.
4. Don't waste your money on protein shakes.  Always opt for real food.  It wins hands down every time.
5. Drink filtered water.
6. Drink very high quality coffee ground from the bean, organic cocoa and rooibos tea.
7. Eat grains in moderation and when you do always opt for whole grain rice's and quinoa.
You are on the right path so just keep going.


Here I am not talking about formal education.  I want to remind you of your responsibility to always be educating yourself.  Terence education never ends.  You will never know it all and you will never know enough!  You need to read as much as you possibly can, here 2 books per month is really a minimum.  When you have free time on the net use it wisely, follow up on what the worlds top coaches and nutritionists have to say.  Also there is more to life that your world i.e.: training and nutrition.  Educate yourself on things you might not like or understand.  Arts, culture, religion, philosophy.  There is no excuse in your day and age to be an ignorant fool.  Get out there and expand your mind.  A lifetime of information is literally at your finger tips so please I implore you to consider everything in this regard.


You have travelled quite a bit but you need to travel more.  When they ask people on their death beds what is one of their biggest regrets the answer often is that they did not travel more and see more of the world and learn more about its people.

Think about how much you learnt and gained from your few travels.  Learning just how different yet how similar people really are.  I know travelling is expensive and that is never going to change but you need to do what ever it takes to see and experience more of this world.

Attitude: Love, Life & Loss

Terence, my friend, life is not for the weak or the feint of heart.  You will lose people you love, special people will come into your life and they will leave.  Not all the people you are going to meet and spend time with are going to be with you forever.  This is the truth, as heart breaking as it is you need to accept it for what it is.

You will love many women and you will lose many women.  You will get your heart broken and you may very well break someones heart.

You will lose close friends, by distance or death.

But you need to understand it and be a man about it and strive on.

I cannot promise you that things are going to get easier, that your life is going to be obstacle and pain free.  But your attitude can determine so much.  You, as you are right now, as you read these words, have the choices and the tools to deal with anything life can throw at you.

Terence you know what needs to be done, now go and do it.

Your older self

* Inspired by Jim Wendlers Letters to my younger self