Category Archives: blogging

10daysbetterblog 04

On day 4 of my blogging workshop, the instructions are simply to reflect. Kind of interesting because as I opened John’s post for the day, I was looking at my Desk app and the three blog posts I logged. They have the same name with different numbers (of course) at the end, so they looked bigger to me. They looked organized, part of a series, a project, a story. I had a feeling of purpose and direction which is a primary motivator for me as I take blogging to the next level. I need this consistency. I need challenge and this confidence.

Then interstingly enough as I sat in my chair for the fourth night in a row to write this blog, I thought about yesterday’s post and the importance of the physical space. I won’t always blog like this, but the idea that “it’s about 8:30pm, work is done and I need to check in with the workshop. I’ve got my glass of water and I’m ready to write…” That was kind of a cool feeling. Great writers show up to write, pretty much on a daily basis. It doens’t mean it will all get published. But the act of writing is a discipline. Boy, is it ever. I haven’t refined my discipline here yet. But that’s why I’m reflecting. 

In this short closing reflection, I conclude that no matter what the rest of the workshop topics may be, I will write my tenth post having established a game plan for the year. I will have a direction, storyline, and monthly goals. I have goals for family, fitness, faith. I need to have goals for my writing. Reflection done.


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10daysbetterblog 03

This is day 3 of a blogging workshop I’m doing with my friend John Saddington.

My optimal writing environment is a coffee shop. I have a local one (coffee mugs are pictured in the sidebar) two blocks away from my day job as a personal trainer. During sections of my day I scoot over there for my writing. I love window seats, but when I’m writing I usually need to bury myself a little deeper into the cafe so I don’t stare out the window. My drink of choice is either a red-eye or a half-full Americano.

After I get my drink and my table, I need a few minutes to clear my mind. A quick check of Twitter, a quick glance of my notebook of items to do for the day so that I can try to keep those things from creeping in as distractions to my writing. Headphones are a must. I love the buzz and chatter of a coffee shop but (depending on the topic) I typically need music where I don’t know the words, often instrumental music to zone into my writing.

As far as the content, I am pushing myself lately to produce an outline first rather than just writing on the fly. I go on tangents. I lose my direction. I confuse even myself, the writer. Not good. This sounds much more professional here than what usually happens. I’m working on a better workflow. I do light editing while I write but I have certainly found that if I can get a draft done, walk away for a few hours or even upwards of a day, then come back to it, I can edit a lot more and get the piece in a better place to publish. I guess this is all part of the deal of becoming a better writer.

As I said yesterday, I have all the tools to blog. I could write on any computer, I could write in TextEdit, Evernote, or the web version of WordPress. But thankfully my writing process is enhanced with my 2011 MacBook Air and Desk. My Mac is an absolute dream to pull out of my bag and open up. Desk is clean and fully functional for my workflow as a blogger. I appreciate how opening Desk is exactly what writers should be doing – sitting at their desk. For decades, writers have pulled a chair up to a physical desk, pulled out paper, a typewriter, then a computer to do their writing. Today we write in apps. And when I open my digital Desk, I’m a writer.

10daysbetterblog 02

I’m on day two of a writing workshop, technically a blogging workshop. Day one was about my goal for 2015. Today the question is this: Why do you write?

I write to collect and publish my thoughts

Well, first I write because it helps me collect my thoughts. I’m a writer, it just doesn’t always go public. I process life when I write it down, analyze it a bit, and try to make adjustments to my game plan moving forward. And adding to waht I talked about yesterday, it also helps me feel like I’m moving things forward; I’m contributing to society, not just consuming everybody else’s stuff. Writing helps me learn, grow, and (hopefully) help people. And that second part, helping people, is really the second part of why I write.

I write because people are dying

This will sound harsh: I write because I don’t want people to die. Strong words. Let me explain. I was having dinner with my friend Jon Swanson last winter when he and his wife were driving through Madison. We started talking about me growing my health and fitness business and he asked the “why” question. “Why are you starting this business?” My answer didn’t satisfy him. He offered this: “You don’t want people to die.” He’s right. 

People are dying for many reasons, but heart disease is the leading cause in the United States. As an exercise specialist, this is a huge opportunity to help. I won’t save anyone by writing a blog post and getting a few hundred people to read it. But if I can cast the vision for a healthy lifestyle and provide tips, support, and challenges for people to pursue that lifestyle, now I can start saving lives. Keeping people from dying is a negative spin on why I write. There’s a positive, too.

I write because health is something everyone wants

There is a story around health and fitness. If it were a pill, everyone would take it. But there isn’t a pill. It takes work. And this work is made easier (a) with some science to tell us what to do, and (b) a team to join us in the game. People can relate to fitness. Either they had a good or a bad experience. Either way, they want it and I can walk them down the road. I write because I want to bring people to an undertanding of the importance of their health and then I want to empower them to take ownership it.

I’m glad I wrote this out. I think about it all the time but I’ve never put it into words. Thanks for the challenge, John. And thank you, kind readers, for another few minutes of your day.

10daysbetterblog 01

As an exercise specialist, the new year is a big time for us. Resolutions are on many people’s minds. I don’t like resolutions. Personally, I don’t think resolutions work. In fact, Merlin Mann would suggest that you’re “building the habit of unrealistic expectations.” But goals? Goals have power. That’s where great things begin: with a goal. When I talk to my clients about goals, we get very concrete and we the conversation gets serious. I won’t let a client set a “weight goal” or even get away with “I want to lose 5-8 pounds.” No, you need to give me something more defined than that. I want a SMART goal. I resonate with goals in my own life and I work hard to develop the same habit with my clients. So you can imagine how refreshing it was when I met with Judy last week and before I could start the goals conversation, she asked me what my goals were for 2015. 

My answer: write more.

I have soaked up enough knowledge and experience to write a few books. No, that’s not a pat on the back. It’s an admission that I’m a really good collector and a really poor creator. When the words “write more” flowed out of my mouth, I didn’t even hestitate. It’s deep in me. I know that I need to write more, both for the good of my soul and for the good of my business.

I have all the tools. I love writing on my MacBook Air using Desk. While I’m at work (or at a coffee shop in “minimalist mode”) I love writing on my iPad with Editorial. I have plenty of expertise in wellness. I’ve been a certified trainer for almost a decade, coaching longer than that. I have a masters degree in kinesiology; in exercise science I’m well read. What’s next?


– John Saddinton

My writing coach says I need to publish. John probably isn’t the first one to coach writers and bloggers with this powerful word, but his promptings always reach me in very personal ways. And he’s right. I need to sit at my desk for about 30 minutes each day and write. So I’m committing to his 10 Days to a Better Blog writing workshop. One down, nine to go.

Thanks for reading. I’d love for you to join my team for the next ten days. Send me a message and ask me what I’m writing about. Leave a comment. Or jump in and join the challenge. I’d love to hear from you. But either way, thanks for lending me a few minutes of your day.

Year in Review: 2014

As I look through my blog from this year I see two themes. First, I recorded more of my family life than ever before. I imagine my Twitter feed would be even better. Second, I pushed a lot of other people’s stuff. Let me explain.

We all know the importance of family. I am so happy that I have pics published of my kids’ first day of kindergarten and 4K. I’m so glad I have pics of Hans Christian in his Elmo suit at Halloween climbing those big steps, trying his hardest to keep up with the big kids (he’ll run circles around them all in six years). Katie and I at Wine Harvest festival immediately brings me back to the streets of downtown Cedarburg. I captured a bunch but I still want to capture more. I want to be more consistent and I want to keep telling a better story.

What I’ve realized is that blogging about our family stuff keeps me better involved. I think ahead. I try to make it a little more fun. I try to be creative. I do it for me and I do it for others. I’m no better than any other dads, but I’ve certainly been inspired by some great ones. I think if dads can lead their families by creating and documenting great memories, our families will be very healthy.

I also spent a good portion of 2014 promoting other people’s stuff. What I mean by this is that I aligned myself with organizations, causes, even app developers and joined their stories. It feels really good to vouch for other people’s work – especially when it’s great work. That’s the theme. But upon further reflection, the lesson learned is this: great results require work, pruning, and reworking.

For example, I worked on the beta for Pressgram, a small iOS app that allowed a user to publish a picture right to his WordPress blog. I thought it was a fantastic app, so did many other people. But John Saddington, the developer, had to discontinue it to work on something greater. Personally, I think he either pulled the plug too early or was a few yeas ahead of his time, maybe both. Now that it’s gone, I really miss the simplicity of getting a photo to my blog. But I digress. Saddington pulled the plug because he needed all his resources to be focused on his full time job plus a project 10 years in the making: Desk.

When I take this lesson and apply it to my life, I see that certain projects, even certain jobs have lead me to where I am here at the end of 2014. I worked on a big website project last year that came to a sudden end. I worked at YMCA and learned some important lessons before was hired at Pinnacle. I figured out to transition from tree care to the health and fitness industry. Jobs, projects and responsibilities grew, developed, some died, others thrived, and the result is very satisfying to me. But only through my reflection process in the last seven days have I realized this, which highlights the importance of blogging, journaling, writing of some kind. The point of this blog post isn’t to review everything that happened, but instead realize that I grew things, cut things, added things, and can see my next pursuits in life. I also see that promoting other people’s successes, other people’s projects has inspired me to pursue my own great work. I have all the tools. I have the expertise. I’m doing a good job, but I can expand and do a great job. I can be at the top of my field. I realize this after watching and walking with other great workers in my life. I’m a sports guy. 2014 was the year I studied film and put together the game plan; 2015 will be game day.


Life is a series of adjustments. And if we can take the necessary time to capture moments, reflect on them, and make the necessary adjustments, we have the opportunity to set ourselves up for greatness. I believe that. Do you?

Get ready to look back

I’m not ready to look back. But I’m getting ready. Christmas was a whirlwind and now I’m on the back side of the weekend and in a groove at work. This time of year is great for reflection. As I’ve said before, forget the resolutions. Instead, sit back and reflect. Then sit up at your desk and set some great goals. The key word is great, so don’t over-extend yourself. My experience has been that I need a couple days prep before doing this kind of reflection and writing. Otherwise I sit down and try to revamp my entire life. I don’t think that’s effective. Give it a few different moments throughout your week. Goals for 2015 don’t have to be done my the time the Badgers kick off on Thursday. But get yourself ready. Think about two goals and start brainstorming what the game plan might be to make those happen.

Singing Other People’s Praises

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to write for myself. Lots on my mind and lots I’d like to unpack and share but don’t quite have the time or energy. Thankfully I have others in my life who have big things to celebrate. One of them is John Saddington and his fantastic indie app, Desk. I was part of the beta testing and so I know many of the struggles and roller coaster of emotions he experienced getting this thing to market. After it went live the drama continued. He was constantly wondering what kind of traction this app would get. I am curious, too. I like the app because I like John. But it’s pricey ($30). And it has decent competitors in the App Store. How does a guy get ahead?

Then last night happened. While John was flying from Austin to Atlanta he got word that his app was being featured in the App Store – instant publicity to 155 countries around the world. You don’t have to be a tech geek to appreciate this. Imagine your product, your team, your services, your business card being published world wide?! If you’re into sales at all, you can celebrate with us the wonderful opportunity John is experiencing.

Our social world is ironically very selfish. We have friends on Facebook and Twitter and all over the place but are we really connecting? Are in tune enough to celebrate when these friends experience big-time victories? Look around your world and find someone else to celebrate. I’ve never seen someone under appreciate a genuine congratulatory pat on the back.



November 1

Today I ran with my half marathon training class for our last long run before the Madison Half Marathon. We went 10 miles at 7am when it was 31 degrees and the sun hadn’t risen yet.

Our class was only eight weeks long. So it’s not hard to remember back when a 4-mile run was difficult for these ladies. And today they did ten miles with (seemingly) no problem! Coaching people, taking them through a training program is so fun to observe!


From Desk: Hello World

I’m excited to post for the first time from Desk, the writing app by the one and only John Saddington. I have been beta testing for a few months and I thank John for the opportunity to be a (small) part of that team. I have to say, it’s an interesting experience to be on the inside even though I didn’t test as hard as others, admittedly don’t know as much as other testers. But here it is.

This is how writing should be. No friction. Sit at the Desk, write, take notes, continue writing and craft a story. Or part of a story. Or share an image. Of course editing is critical if you want it to be good. But tonight I write raw, I write fast, I just need to get these thoughts out there. It’s day one of Desk. I couldn’t be happier for John.

John has changed the way I think about publishing. His first app, Pressgram, was for iOS. I was on the beta for that also. It will never leave my iPhone. Did you get a copy? Pressgram allowed me to take a pic, add a title and caption, and publish immediately to my blog. Now I own it. Then I could share a link to Facebook and Twitter so the image remained mine. I know it’s not a huge deal, but it matters. And John did it brilliantly. He took away the friction and reminded me that it’s important to keep my digital stuff mine. I’ll use Pressgram until it breaks. And now we have Desk. Again, it’s completely taken away the friction of publishing. I can write online or offline. And when I’m done, I can publish right to my WordPress blog – I’ve already entered my credentials. It’s that easy. Software doesn’t get between me and publishing. The only thing between me and publishing is me. I love that. desk-app-sticker-macbook-air

And remember, not all writing goes public. I can save files locally or on iCloud. Desk gives me the ability to write for the sake of writing. If you’re a writer, please check out Desk on the App Store.

Discipline Defined

I’m leading a book study for guys on Wednesday mornings. We meet at Barriques in Fitchburg and we’re reading Four Pillar of a Man’s Heart. A couple weeks ago we were talking about discipline and one of the guys said he has a negative feeling with the word, with the concept. Of course I went right to a sports analogy to demonstrate that discipline is good. In the Bible discipline is a good thing, but we were discussing it in the context of spiritual disciplines and the difference between legalism and authentically following the commands and laws of the Lord.

Discipline is a fundamental component to my blog: “In pursuit of a healthy and disciplined lifestyle.” I think especially in the church we shy way from “discipline” because we don’t want to be labeled as a legalist. But the world works on discipline. Sports teams are successful when they are disciplined in their practice and their execution. Jim Collins, in his classic business book Good to Great, talks about ruthless discipline as a distinguishing characteristic between business that fail and those that succeed. I think discipline is an essential quality that should be pursued by anyone who whats to make a difference in this world. In business, in your family, or in social services, discipline means having a plan and sticking with it. Sure, you can make changes but that only comes after disciplined thought and planning takes place.

And this is where the rubber meets the road for me right now. I’ve found that is critical for me to leave margin in my week, even in each day, to process my obligations, my contracts, my goals. I need room to work, I can’t jam-pack my schedule and still be agile enough to make these adjustments. I need to constantly challenge the process and reconsider what I’m doing and why. This disciplined thought is the only way for me to operate my family and my work – and I don’t always do this well. This isn’t the best post I’ve ever written but remember, sometimes I write this stuff more for me than for you (wink, wink). I’m writing this today to remind myself that discipline is important, we’re all in different places, but we all are looking for ways to move the ball down the field. I’m trying to simplify my week and only schedule the things I want to get done. And it’s been a successful exercise. I’ve thought of three other posts that can work off this one, and the whole thing has cleared my mind and empowered me to start the week off right.
How about you? Are you disciplined? If you became more disciplined in one area of life, how could you move the ball down the field?