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Going From Zero To Hero: Joe's Story
From "Average Joe" to "Above Average Joe": 5 Practical Tips For Those Caught In a Rut in Life
Without a doubt, I would say exercise and diet are the 2 most important tools to improve, not just the quality of your life, but you as a person, on the most holistic level.
Incorporating and fixing those habits in your life is enough for most people to improve their life as a whole due to their direct benefits + the other positive choices and actions these will lead to in your lifestyle.
That said, they are 2 of the most impactful and help the most, but often they are not the only factors that many truly need to realize their potential and become the best version of themselves they can become.
The reality is even with those 2 aspects completely dialed in, if we are making poor decisions in other places, then we will come up short. Coming up short here could mean struggling with life and even depression—which many people are unfortunately plagued with.
As mentioned in the last post, we talked about the things *to do* to optimize and improve your life on nearly every level—today the message is more about what to do and more specific solutions to pull yourself out of a rut if you, unfortunately, find yourself there.
This post is less fitness and health-oriented and more general life oriented, but important because all of these things DO in fact play a part in your health on the macro level, and allowing yourself to stay in a rut is directly hurting you on a mental level (which typically then affects the physical).
Let’s go into a pattern I commonly see when people come to me and complain about feeling in a rut and not getting the results or living the life they want:
(I’m truly not being too satirical or hyperbolic here, I get enough messages and observe enough people that I know this is normal for most of the general population)…
Average Joe’s Average Day
Joe Logan McAverage typically wakes up after a night of poor sleep to his alarm clock. Joe is extremely exhausted and knows that he can sneak 20-30 more minutes of sleep before he must leave home to get to work in the morning if he hurries and gets ready quickly, so he snoozes.
Because Mr. McAverage snoozed until the last possible moment, he doesn’t have time to really prepare for the day and definitely doesn’t have time to make some eggs or some other nutritious breakfast… so he’ll grab something on the way or just wait until lunch (fasting, right broh?).
Now Joe is rushing along so quickly he hasn’t even had time to even think or plan for the day, he feels stressed and really hopes traffic isn’t too bad so he’s not late, but oh shit, Joe forgot his bag at home and now has to turn around.
He’s gonna be late and is stressed because he doesn’t want to get in trouble at work and look bad because he really needs this job and without it can’t make his car payment or rent.
The traffic was clear so thankfully he makes it and he is feeling really lucky because some of his co-workers brought in breakfast—some bagels, donuts, and other delicious foods (all straight junk, no protein).
Mr. McAverage spends all morning at his desk, he has a few coffees because he’s still tired from the night before and spends his time switching between working and scrolling social media all day. He goes to the restroom a couple of times and the breakroom to watch some YouTube Shorts but other than that he got to relax in his chair—it’s a slow day.
Lunchtime comes and Joe decides to grab some food with some co-workers. They choose the little Mexican place around the corner because the unlimited chips and salsa are great and the food is cheap.
Joe is happy because Sarah from marketing is there and even though he’s only spoken to her 3 times in his life, he has a massive crush and thinks about asking her out all day (he almost did at the Holiday party after a few beers).
Joe gets back to work and gets some more coffee because his insulin resistance makes him lethargic from the smothered burrito and 2 baskets of chips he ate. He has to loosen his belt and pull his pants over his stomach to hide his gut, but it’s cool, no one can tell and he is “going to start” eating clean and lifting “when work slows down”.
Work is slow until 4:45 pm so he gets everything he needed to be done for the day then spends the rest of the time working on a project due in a week and scrolling Tik-Toks on clips of his favorite sports podcasts—“The Kecle Brothers are so funny bro and why do Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless hate each other so much lol”.
Joe finally gets the green light and goes home, he was going to lift after work but left his bag at home in his rush so he’ll go later. He finally gets home and is exhausted from the day so he’s gonna take a quick nap and then hit the gym.
While laying down, Joe gets stuck in a 45-minute rabbit hole of conspiracy videos on YouTube about UFOs from Dr. Greer. Finally, he sets his alarm for 30 minutes and gets to sleep.
Joe’s alarm goes off and he actually wakes up, unlike the 50% of the time he sleeps through for a few hours, nice. He has a text from his friends to hop on Call of Duty so he’ll play a couple before the gym.
He plays for 2 hours and it’s now 8:45 pm, he wants a good night's sleep so he’s just gonna hit the gym tomorrow because “it’s late” and he’s tired so the workout wouldn’t be worth it anyway. Joe is hungry but doesn’t feel like cooking so he orders some Uber Eats—Jimmy John’s, his favorite.
Joe waits for his food, scrolls Twitter, and gets really motivated to really hit the gym hard and start becoming the best version of himself because his favorite Twitter account posted a Tate motivational video and Joe won’t be a loser like everyone else—he’s much better than those “NPC’s”, “tomorrow is my day”.
His “Giant Beach Club” gets here and he eats it then decides to hop back on Xbox to see if the boys are still on. A couple are, so he plays a few more games then everyone gets off.
It’s now 10:30 pm so Joe looks for a Netflix show to watch before bed. He’s already seen almost everything on Netflix and Hulu kinda sucks and he can’t also afford Paramount+ so he decides to take a shower and then get ready for bed.
Joe thinks about Sarah earlier and how badly he wants to hook up with her, this triggers his male impulses so he pulls up his lucky trusty friend P*rnhub (“because it helps me sleep”) and proceeds to go on a date with “Jill” (If you look at your hand, the thumb and index make a J, middle finger an, and ring finger and pinkie 2 L’s—Jill). His “date” ends so Joe showers, then gets in bed.
He turns on his TV and see’s a free 30-day trial for Paramount+ so he hops right on the trial. He sees the show “SEAL Team” and binges over the first few episodes, thinking to himself “man these guys are so badass, I wish I could do something like that, I probably could’ve but I would’ve punched a drill sergeant if they got in my face”.
Joe had his alarm set for 8:00 am but pushes it back to 8:15 am because it’s 3 am and he’s finally now getting to sleep. Before drifting off, Joe thinks about how he just never seems to get ahead and life just seems so tough, if only he was rich and famous he’d be so much happier, “but whatever, one day man”.
8:15 am comes and Joe hits snooze…
This probably seems really funny to some of you because of how far-fetched it seems, but the secret is, it’s a much prettier picture than many, many people out there.
The reality is I could’ve thrown in a part where Joe takes his Prozac and/or Adderall before work to deal with his depression and/or ADHD.
I actually mentioned Joe does work out occasionally which is more than most people.
I could’ve added in that he went out or even stayed at home and drank to relax from the day.
This was mild.
Maybe your exact day doesn’t look verbatim like this, but can you see where you could subtract, swap, or add onesies and twosies here and there and it would look extremely similar?
You cannot expect to feel good, mentally and physically, or operate at any type of high level if your life looks anything like this.
In this fictitious example, we can see some things rather quickly that are the key points where this is a colossal failure and couldn’t possibly lead to a happy or productive life.
So let’s look at the most common points I see from people that are struggling and in a rut:
1. Owning Your Morning
If I’ve found anything to be true in life it is that your morning can be make or break on what type of day you’re going to have. A proper morning gets the momentum going and fuels your actions for the rest of the day.
Instead of waking up and having adequate time, Joe doesn’t and instead is rushed and in reaction mode. When you’re rushing in the morning you don’t have time to even think of anything beyond basic things you need to do.
You don’t have the mental capacity to relax, think about what you need to do for the day, form a plan of attack, and just generally be ready to own your day rather than your day owning you.
Something as simple as waking up 20-30 minutes earlier and going for a walk at sunrise is a perfect way to do this. Not only are there numerous health benefits, but mentally it allows you this time to truly set your day up for success and improve your mood and stress resilience.
Speaking of stress, as we know stress management is huge for health so actually being prepared and not rushed is going to alleviate a ton of stress from both not worrying about being late + not making mistakes like leaving stuff at home.
Beyond this, if the gym is something you struggle to be consistent with because things pop up during the day then this is the best time because there are no distractions and it’s already done. Yes, you need to get up even earlier but if that’s what it takes then it’s worth it 10/10 times.
Also, if you’re serious about your diet, you’re going to want to have food ready, this could be done here (though I’ll talk about where it might make more sense).
Unless you’re doing intermittent fasting, skipping a wholesome, healthy breakfast as simple as some eggs and fruit, and opting for grabbing fast food or whatever is at the office, is going to set your diet up for far less success. Do the opposite and take the eggs and fruit, leading you to far more success.
2. Choosing Others Over Yourself
Oftentimes you need to ask yourself if you’re living for yourself or if you’re living for others. This could be like the examples in the “day in the life” or really anything. If others are influencing you to make bad decisions, the only one losing is you.
Just because others bring food into work or ask you to go out for food, drinks, whatever, it doesn’t mean you have to or even should if it is going to hurt your goals. There is a fine line between occasionally going with the crowd and completely sabotaging yourself.
The reality is unless you’re only surrounded by studs, the average person’s life is completely miserable and mediocre, so if you allow them to influence your decisions then guess what? You will end up miserable and mediocre.
I see this a lot with the example I used up top, where co-workers or whoever brings in food and if you decline because you want to improve your body then you’re seen as the “weird one”. The same thing goes for going out to eat, and especially the BIG one—going out for drinks.
I can’t count how many people I see derail their progress weekly because they can’t say no to going out and end up getting drunk and eating the typical foods we eat when drunk… which usually is pretty damn unhealthy.
Like I said, if it’s not hurting your progress and goals then whatever, enjoy, but when it is, you’re really only hurting yourself because they don’t care about you ultimately, especially if they try to dissuade you or give you any type of shit for making better decisions.
This doesn’t mean be a selfish asshole who never thinks of anyone else, hell no, but rather a realistic view of whether you’re living for yourself or letting others pull you in the opposite direction.
3. Draining Your Dopamine
This is honestly the most underrated aspect of why so many people feel like crap, procrastinate all the time, and get bored way too easily.
If you’re constantly overwhelming your brain with dopamine from mindlessly scrolling social media, playing video games all the time, watching porn, and otherwise just chasing instant gratification then you’re going to pretty much rewire your brain to the point that is all it wants.
When you’re giving into the urges, you’re building a feedback loop within your brain that begins to get addicted to it. Suddenly, you don’t want to do actual work and lose ambition because your brain can just get a reward every few seconds from refreshing a screen. Your brain can’t really tell if you’re getting these reward feedbacks from accomplishing tangible things in the real world or just watching another Instagram Reel.
What happens is that whenever you want to work on something real and meaningful, your brain will procrastinate and reject it because the perceived effort it’s learned can feel great with literally zero effort. It’s extremely easy to feel awful when you’re not getting anything done in life because you’re addicted to a screen.
You must be aware of these influences and either allow yourself breaks from them or learn how to use them in some type of moderation. Either have set times throughout the day you don’t use them, or rather set times when you do use them is better; and/or have days, even weeks where you do some type of “dopamine fast” and avoid them.
Things like walks without your phone, meditation, and going out in nature can really help improve or even avoid getting addicted to instant gratification.
You want your brain to be associated and addicted to the dopamine feedback of actually accomplishing things, not scrolling or watching videos all day.
4. Use Your Nights To Set You Up For Success Tomorrow
Like point number 1 said, owning your morning sets you up for success for the day, but using your nights to set you up for an even more successful day is like every guru’s life hacks on steroids (strong stuff like tren, not anavar).
Obviously, the major thing here is getting a good night of high-quality sleep, rather obvious and I’ve been over this too many times to regurgitate (just read this post if you haven’t).
Instead, let’s talk more or less about actually doing things for future you the next day.
As a fitness bro, obviously, the big one is taking your nights to meal prep for the next, even the next few, days. Take an hour or so a couple of times a week and make healthy meals to eat and you’re going to be far more likely to be successful with all health and fitness goals. Dieting is literally 100x easier when you don’t have to make decisions and think about it, it’s already done for you, just reheat and go.
I like to recommend going as far as listing out what you need to do the next day in detail, setting out clothes and packing your gym bag, setting out supplements, and just other general things that allow you to think even less and remove chances for error.
Another piece of advice I give is to give yourself 30-60 minutes before bed to unplug (point 3) and read something, maybe stretch and foam roll, meditate, pray if you’re into that, really just anything that is quiet and really allows your mind to quiet down.
As I start relaxing, I like to think about all the things I’m grateful for. This is going to help you sleep, reduce stress, and significantly improve your outlook on life and happiness.
5. Build Your Day Around Your Priorities and Protect Your Time Ruthlessly
This somewhat ties everything together. As I pointed out in this post on Lifestyle Design, instead of just going with the flow and reacting all the time, go through your day with intent.
Going through the day with intent avoids falling into the traps above like sleeping in, letting others influence you, seeking instant gratification when you’re bored, and just not really having any true goals for your day other than “survive”.
You should very clearly have defined priorities and things you know are most important to get done to get ahead and plan your day around that.
Sure, maybe you have kids, work long or even unpredictable hours, and have numerous other obligations and responsibilities, but if you want to improve yourself, you have to find a way, a system, that allows you to get the things that bring you closer to your goals done.
A huge reason I see people fail here is that they don’t value their time enough, or really at all. They’ll spend 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, an hour here just kinda going through “transit” mode—aka no intent. 99% of the time these people are the same that will say “I just don’t have enough time”. Time isn’t the issue, time management is.
If you truly want to build yourself up, get out of a rut, and just level up in general then you must both have a clear picture of what you need to get done and execute that plan with urgency, protecting your time at all cost (time is your most important asset in life).
Above Average Joe’s Above Average Day
6:27 am Joe wakes up 3 minutes before his 6:30 am alarm. He’s feeling rested and ready to get after the day and pops right up (and pees of course).
Joe goes to the fridge, grabs his bottle of water, takes a few big chugs, eats his overnight protein oats for some fast-digesting pre-workout carbs and protein, takes a handful of supplements laid out in his pill organizer, goes to grab his clothes he has ready for the gym, and HE GO JIM.
Gym is quiet because it’s only old people on cardio machines and a handful of jacked dudes, so he gets through his Push 1 of BowTiedOx’s PPL Plan in 45 minutes without having to wait on anyone.
He gets home, makes a quick Centenarius Whey Protein Powder, Kefir, and Triple Berry smoothie, hops in the shower, brushes his teeth with NOBS, and puts a generous amount of hair gel in. He stares at himself in the mirror for a few minutes mirin’ his gains then grabs the clothes he had laid out for work.
It’s only 8:20 am so he has some time to check Twitter and shit-post some memes. Joe then grabs his meals for the day out of the fridge and heads out for work a few minutes early so he can avoid talking to everyone.
Joe gets to work, gets a nice parking spot, and grabs his stuff, and walks into work. His co-worker brought donuts but Joe is cutting for the summer and has salmon and potatoes for a mid-morning anabolic snack so he politely declines.
Dave from accounting comments how “stop being so obsessed with yourself and live a little, 1 donut won’t ruin your abs”. Joe then responds “Dave, you have 2 chins and can’t see your own dick, shut up”, okay not really, Joe thinks this to himself while making a little joke back.
Joe realizes the average person is kinda stupid so he knocks out his work early so he can continue to eat at his desk and randomly walk around during the day without anyone saying anything. He then spends his time playing office politics and appearing to be busy but not too busy or they’ll give him more work, oh and peeing, Joe knows how important hydration is.
At lunchtime, Sarah asks Joe if he wants to grab food, but Joe tells Sarah he’s gotta go do cardio and she can just come over after work for her own “cardio”. Sarah obliges.
Joe does 30 minutes of zone 2 cardio listening to various audiobooks at the gym next to his office, finishes, changes, and puts more hair gel in, and comes back to eat his chicken, rice, and broccoli—with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
Work is slow but Joe is almost done with his project for next week so he finishes and then kinda just disappears and goes home early but it’s okay because “He’s Joe, man, what a good guy”.
Joe gets home, checks his Twitter for a second to see his meme went viral, chuckles, then proceeds to change and text Sarah “Wyd?” she responds “changing then coming over”.
Joe starts cooking dinner—steak and scalloped potatoes—and calls his mom because Joe is a good son and he’s grateful for how great his mom was.
Sarah gets there, is amazed by Joe’s culinary skills, and proceeds to finish her food… and then Joe. Joe is a gentleman but he has a big day planned tomorrow so they watch an episode of some show and Sarah goes home.
Joe then cleans up, gets his stuff ready for tomorrow, and proceeds to open up his new book: How To Get Rich by Felix Dennis.
Right after he takes his magnesium and glycine, Joe thinks about how grateful he is for another beautiful day, and slowly drifts off into some wild, lucid glycine dreams.
Joe wakes up at 6:26 am before his alarm…
If you look at the difference between “Average Joe” and “Above Average Joe” what you will realize that at the core, only a handful of decisions separate their day but those decisions have a drastic impact on the results of the day.
Sure, both are fictional, but in reality, it’s much, much, much more common than you think. How do I know? I’ve been both.
Is this exactly how your life will play out if you’re in a rut? Probably not + it takes time and consistency to be committed to improving yourself to get from average to above average, but the reality is if you’re willing to make a handful of decisions a day with the intent, the key here is you are cognizant and intentionally working at it, that you can vastly improve your life to the point you become unrecognizable.
Trust me, I’ve been there when life just kinda seems to kick your ass, but when it does happen, I guarantee if you apply just those 5 tips, you’ll see massive improvement over time.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.