Sean (my brother that wouldn't help me forge a document) pictured top left and me on the top right

When I was growing up I kind of got in trouble- a lot.  Not big trouble, but I definitely pushed the envelope quite often.  For instance, in the first grade I got in trouble in class for something I don’t even remember.  But, I do remember that the punishment was to take a letter from my teacher to my parents and have them read it, sign it, and bring it back the following day.  Well, obviously I was smarter than this teacher.

I had an older brother that knew cursive… surely he would sign it with my dad’s name and I’d win.  Only, he said no.


Okay, okay, well- this teacher had no idea what my dad’s handwriting looked like.  Maybe, for all she knew, he didn’t even know cursive.  Maybe, just maaaaaaaybe he wrote in giant block letter print.  With a crayon.  I mean, how would she know any better?

So I busted out a crayon, printed that name better than anyone could imagine.  My teacher would surely be impressed.

So, I turned it in the next day.  She looked at the letter with a crayon name, looked at me, looked at the letter, looked at me.  “Did your dad sign this letter?” she asked.


“Okay, okay- but I asked your parents to both sign the letter- why didn’t your mom sign it?”

I could have said so many things here, but I kept it cool.  “She was at work.”

She bought it.  Boom.  I strolled back to my seat knowing that I had won.

So I got home that afternoon and my dad was waiting for me in the living room.  “Didn’t you have a letter for me to sign?” he asked.

Apparently my teacher called to confirm that my dad signed the letter.  In crayon.  In block letter print.

“Well, I hope it was worth it.”

I don’t remember what my punishment was, but I’m certain it wasn’t worth it (outside of having a great story).

It sure didn’t fit my goal of not being grounded.

I’m not just telling this story for the hell of it.  There’s a point.


I ran in the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder this past Sunday in West Virginia.  I don’t know if you saw the news (because somehow this one has kind of stayed under the radar), but someone drowned on Saturday in the race.

Here are two links to the stories:

Was it worth it?

I signed up and blasted it all over the gym, our social media, and heckled my clients to sign up.  ALL of my clients declined to sign up for various reasons:

  • It doesn’t fit my goal.
  • Why would I pay to do that crap?

At first I was annoyed, but I got over it and I ended up running the course with Jess (my girlfriend), my buddy Sean (co-owner of BSP NOVA) and his girlfriend, Andrea.

But now that it’s all said and done, I think my clients won on this one.  You see, I have hammered them with the “what’s your goal” question every time they ask me if they can/should do x, y, or z.  But for some reason I thought that the camaraderie involved in this challenge was worth the risk.

But it wasn’t worth it.  I mean, I had fun and all, but it definitely trashed my training for a few days after the race, I tweaked my shoulder pretty badly.

I am hoping to do a powerlifting meet with Todd this August, but I honestly don’t know if my shoulder will be okay to train in time.

And someone died.

It wasn’t worth it.

No one should die from an event like this.

I feel horrible for his family and friends that they have to say goodbye to a loved one over such an aimless event.

Before you yell at me and tell me that it benefits the Wounded Warrior Project- I know.  It builds camaraderie- I know.  But there are a lot of ways to raise money for such an awesome cause.  There are plenty of physical challenges that you can take part in to build camaraderie.

All I got was a shirt, headband, and this badge:

I’m not bashing the Tough Mudder.  I really did have fun, I really support the idea of it, but I just don’t quite get trashing yourself for the sake of a “challenge.”  Please don’t send me hate mail haha. 


Look back at our last couple of blog posts:

What’s your goal?

  • Cut the crap (remove the negative, whatever that may be).
  • Big rocks first (the most important pieces- your foundation).
  • Pebbles next (things that complement the foundation, help drive the goal).
  • Fill the gaps with sand (sand neither helps or hinders the goal neccessarily).
  • There’s still a little room for water (cheats).

If my goal is to get ready for a powerlifting meet, where did the Tough Mudder fit in?  I would say that it was water that overflowed the bucket.

Build your goals through habits.

  • Recognize that reaching goals depends on creating automated habits.
  • Habits are accumulated and automated over time. Change only one thing at a time and give it time to cement. A period of a few weeks usually does the trick.
  • Be consistent. When creating an automated habit, work it daily. This consistency is necessary. Days become weeks, and eventually months, and your habit exists on its own–absent of cognition.

Great points by Todd here.  One of my habits is to get my lifts in regularly.  I’m going to add to Todd’s takeaways:

  • Don’t partake in dumb crap that potentially removes your ability to continue your habits.

Today I’d like to add the simple question used throughout this blog post.

  • Was/Is it worth it?

Always weigh the pros and cons.  I’m not telling you to live in a bubble and take no risks.  Screw that.  I quit my job and went without pay for a year to get Beyond Strength Performance NOVA going.  I know about taking risks.  That risk has been worth it more than words could ever explain.

But in your daily life there are plenty of opportunities to make choices.  As mundane as they may be, these choices add up.  At the end of the day you can always look back and ask yourself if it was worth it.

  • Skipping meals to save time at the risk of not packing on lean muscle?
  • Speeding to get somewhere and save a few minutes at the risk of paying a speeding ticket and being later than you would have been in the first place?
  • Forgeing a signature on a letter sent home by your teacher to be signed by your parents?

You get the point.

Don’t be like the 6-year-old Chris and look back to ask if it WAS worth it.  Ask beforehand:

  • Does this negatively impact my goal in any way?
  • Does it help?
  • Where does it fall (big rocks, pebbles, sand, water)?
  • Will this screw up my habits?

So, was is it worth it?


Progression Through Perseverance


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Chris Merritt
Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA
Chris Merritt
About the author

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA
7 Responses
    1. Ismael

      So BSP NOVA (Crossfit) vs. CrossFit HUM!!!!
      Game on 🙂 Tire flips?

      I know that that I might have a few pounds on you. So to make it fair we can add the weight vest so you will be just as heavy as me…

      Just saying!

      1. Chris Merritt

        We did this when you were EIGHTY POUNDS heavier and called a truce… I did every flip that you did. Got bored with that game. I call a deadlift contest instead. Maximum x bodyweight. I’ll pull just under 3x bodyweight, which for you would be just under 690#. Cool?

        1. Ismael

          Deal!!! But we will add BP/ keg press and sled drag 🙂 Suck fest 🙂 Have a great weekend. Don’t be surprised if I call you on Sat with something for the facility (if its still in C-ville)

  1. Brittany @ Proteinandpumps

    I love this! Recently had to admit to myself that 5 days of hot yoga a week, despite how much I loved it, wasn’t worth the time or money because it was interfering with my current “priority” goals.

    1. Chris Merritt

      Thanks! Exactly my point. I’m not saying the Tough Mudder is bad and nobody should do it… it’s just this: what’s your goal? And where does something like the Tough Mudder fit in? It probably doesn’t, unless you’re just going to the gym for general fitness and this is THE goal- to compete in the Tough Mudder.

      Just like hot yoga probably doesn’t fit your goal of gaining muscle for competition- unless you had a NEED for the yoga. If you reallllllly loved it and wanted to keep doing it in small doses, that’s no problem as long as it doesn’t negatively alter the goal.

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