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Q&A with Steve Miller


Steve Miller


We’re surrounded by self-proclaimed successful men. Take a look at just about any Instagram page, and you’ll see men from all walks selling us on their greatness. They have the cars; they have the big homes, they have the enthusiasm, but are they truly happy? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 113 men committed suicide every day in 2015. There’s no hiding from the fact that men are being overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and defeat.

Steve Miller is a man that’s trying to make a difference. He’s on a mission to build a legacy while inspiring his brethren to do the same. Steve is a thought leader; seasoned in his ability to unite men and form tribes. He’s a nonsense kind of person that seems to understand the primordial needs of a man and is masterful at expressing it.

Take a seat, grab a beer, and get inspired by this short discussion with one of the coolest fellows I’ve met in a while.

When and where were you born?

I was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 10, 1966.

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Determined to live a life of character while creating a wonderful life for my family.

How would you best describe your parents, and in what ways did they influence you?

Workaholics. They both had great hearts and pure intentions, but their priorities were out of alignment with what I would consider to be an important and meaningful life. They still managed to give me a good life but paid the ultimate price. I would have been happy with less material possessions in exchange for more quality time with them. I hate to say it, but they taught me how NOT to do it. I could have never learned this lesson any other way so I would not change a thing about them. It has provided me with a tremendous amount of awareness when it comes to how I am raising my two sons.

“Everyone should live in New York for at least one year in their life.”

What are some of your best childhood memories?

Growing up in New York. That alone is a cherished memory of mine. The seasons, the people, the energy … all gave me a perspective that has stayed with me all these years. Everyone should live in New York for at least one year in their life. Life is different there and should be experienced by all.

You created the well-received Facebook group; The Manly Club in March of 2017. What inspired this endeavor?

Most men get to a point in their lives where they feel a sense of accomplishment, not a final sense but a sense of having arrived at a good place. At that point, we start looking around for ways to further impact the world around us. The Manly Club is a manifestation of that.

The word: “masculinity” has become somewhat of a demonized term in recent times. Why do you think this is, and how can we change this declining cultural ethos of manhood in America and the rest of the world?

The world has deteriorated under our watch. We need to own that reality before anything else. Religion, politics and the male ego are a toxic recipe for disaster. We need to change the formula by bringing more women into power, letting go of our relentless pursuit of being right, strip religion and political correctness from our decision-making process and get back to basics.

“There was no plan, no course, and no meaning in my life … I simply drifted through the days.”

You’re a published author. Tell us a little about your journey as a writer.

My writing is a direct product of my desire to help other men find their way to becoming the man they know they are capable of being. I only write about self-betterment. I stick to that genre because it holds the most meaning for me. I can recall in vivid detail the years I spent on what I call “the drift.” Those years were spent in survival mode. There was no plan, no course, and no meaning in my life … I simply drifted through the days. That was wasted time—time I should have been spending building something of value and meaning. I don’t want others to suffer that same fate, so I write about ways to avoid it.

In what areas do you see young men struggling with the most, and what advice do you have that might help them to overcome these challenges?

Young men don’t spend enough time developing their self-awareness. They need to learn at an early age not only who they are and how their mind works but also their mission in life. Clarity of vision is power … a lot of young men simply lack vision. If they would spend more time and effort discovering themselves instead of chasing the next good time, they would craft a much better life for themselves.

“Too many men give up before they even reach mid-life.”

Moreover, in what areas do you see middle-aged men struggling with the most, and what advice do you have for them?

Too many men give up before they even reach mid-life. They stop reaching for more and settle for their limited existence. Fear is a dream killer. Most men that are stuck fear the uncertainty of risk, so they settle for safe. Many can reverse this by raising their risk tolerance through education and improving their tribe around them. Nothing will influence one’s ability more than understanding the meaning behind taking calculated risks along with a peer support group to encourage them as they take their journey.

How important is nutrition, and if we were to look at your eating habits, what would a typical day look like?

I have only recently learned the impact of nutrition on not only my body but my mental well being. It’s a major player but I never truly understood that. My focus, inspiration, energy, and vitality are determined in great part by the fuel I put in my body every day, so I make sure to load up on eggs, white meat, greens and plenty of water. I try to stay away from anything else other than almonds, cranberries, blueberries and dark chocolate. The final element of a clear and energetic mind is water … lot’s of water. I force-hydrate throughout the day. It makes all the difference in the world!

What are some daily habits or rituals you have that help you to stay motivated?

The three that serve me best are meditation, flow hacking, and goal anchoring. I start with a morning meditation so that I can start each day with a clean emotional slate.

During my morning meditation session, I focus on clearing out any and all residual thoughts and emotions from the previous day. This gives me a fresh and bright perspective and helps me move through my day with a calm sense of ease and confidence.

I use flow hacking to get myself into a flow in order to make my brief working sessions outrageously productive. I never work in long stretches. I break my day down into 20-minute bursts of work followed by 5 minutes breaks. I use a very simple timer. During the five minute breaks, I focus intently on goal anchoring. Goal anchoring is a process of visualizing and mentally engaging with specific goals in order to remain constantly anchored to them. When specific goals are kept in front of the mind’s eye, they provide all the inspiration and motivation I need to power through my day. Staying anchored to them all day has been critical to my long-term success.

“They were honest, sincere and incredibly fun and lighthearted … they possess all the qualities I strive for every day.”

Did you have any role models growing up? If so, what were some of their most memorable qualities?

My mentors were my role models. They were men of character, hard work, and complete devotion to their families. They took their legacy very seriously and lived their life accordingly. They scrutinized every moment and every action they took no matter how small in order to make sure they were living in accordance with their master plan. They were honest, sincere and incredibly fun and lighthearted … they possess all the qualities I strive for every day.

What do we need more (or less of) in the world?

More fathers and fewer dads. Specifically, more self-aware fathers that know how to keep their thoughts, emotions, and actions in alignment and can, therefore, teach this most important skill to their children.

“Embrace the suck.”

What are three maxims that will serve a man well throughout his life?
  1. Embrace the suck.
  2. You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.
  3. “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” -Confucius
What’s one of the best books you ever read, and what made it special?

The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

It was a life-changing book for me. It taught me that life not only has meaning and purpose but I am in control of far more of it than I ever imagined.

Another important book is A Guide To The Good Life – The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

This book provided me with a much-needed foundation that led me to craft a life philosophy around Stoicism. It’s a tremendous resource for anyone lacking direction in their life.

Business wise I would say that Rework by Jason Fried is the most important book any budding entrepreneur could read.

Lastly, what does a successful man look like to you?

A man that crafts his own definition of masculinity and success and then proceeds to live his life accordingly. Simple and without fanfare.

Final Thoughts

Bestselling author; Lewis Howes says that men aren’t broken—they’re trapped.

Many of us are following a script; one that prevents us from seeing what we’re really made of. Too many men are uninspired and jaded. We are losing the great battle of discovering our true masculine potential because we’ve bought into the modern ideologies of what real men are supposed to look like.

Men like Steve are choosing to live a life of substance and impact. He’s not trying to change anyone; he’s living by example. Steve is often the voice of reason and enthusiasm. He’s a “glass half full” kind of guy that is at his best when he’s serving others. I think this is a place where men shine the most. We were meant to be of service, and when we don’t fulfill this primal need, we wither.

I hope you enjoyed this Q&A with Steve Miller as much as I did. If you’re interested in joining The Manly Club, click here.

Be the man you were meant to be. Join the PUSHTHROUGH community.


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A Man On a Mission with Aaron Lahman

Aaron Lahman

Aaron Lahman


Aaron Lahman isn’t your average guy. His maxims are beautiful and intentional. He’s a powerful example of a man that’s allowing love, laughter, and grace to lead the way.

I hope that you maintain an open mind while reading through Aaron’s answers. Like all of us, he’s had his fair share of struggles, but Aaron’s approach to adversity and life is uniquely different than most people’s. He isn’t shy about his immense love for human beings and nature, and he’s relentless in his efforts to show the world that love conquers all.

When and where were you born?

I was born in Wabash, Indiana, on August 9th, 1981.

What is your best childhood memory?

Playing various sports with neighbor kids….frisbee, home-run derby, tennis, football in those sweet hutch uniforms from back in the day!

How would you best describe your parents, and in which ways did they influence you?

My dad is incredibly social, friendly, always ready to lend a hand to others, loves to recycle, and cares so much about the needs of the world. He gave me hundreds of foot massages when I was growing up!

“My parents taught me the art of listening.”

My mom is super warm, loving, a quiet, yet powerful leader, enjoys her alone time more than dad, she’s an incredibly successful entrepreneur and is all about family time!

My parents taught me the art of listening.

Both my parents were school counselors for 20 years. They offered all three of us kids lots of listening—to the point where we felt very safe to share all that was going on in our lives with them. We actually used to help my parents teach parenting classes in the Peoria School District, and would each take a section of the content–haha–so at ten years old, I was teaching parents (of all ages) tips that worked well in our home. It kind of gave me a noisy ego that I’ve had to quiet over the years. A skill that we taught that I believe was one of the most impactful was; SHARING TIME. As a family, we would set a timer for 2 minutes and take turns listening to one another share about our days. Everyone was silent, present, and listening.

Lastly, the piece that still inspires me about my parents is that they are both 64 years old and continue to read books to improve themselves, as well as to learn to love themselves (and others) better! They are also very open to learning from their children and their daughters-in-love.

I’m excited to see what they will create over the next 30 years!

Aaron and his Love

Did you enjoy school? What kind of student were you?

I did really like school! I mean, I had anxiety on Sunday evenings and before most tests, and I was made fun of a bit in high school, but 98% of school was great for me! I think since my parents were both in the public education system, they inspired all of us to get involved in our schools. We were active non-stop. We played sports, instruments, sang in the choir, joined Student Council, NHS, etc. I was also a gifted memorizer, and so I was able to have success in my classes. I took mostly honors classes and would work hard for my A’s. I’m not 100% sure what motivated me to have so much success as a leader on campus and in sports. I’m sure my church upbringing and friends had a lot to do with it.

I was working hard to get college scholarships. The “share times” with my family gave me a lot of self-confidence. I wanted to do as well or better than my two older siblings; Angela and Andy. My parents modeled kindness super well, and I did not enjoy disappointing them. I guess I would add that sports, Student Council, and my friendships inspired me a lot as well!

Did you have any role models growing up? What were some of their most memorable characteristics?

I was blessed with so many role models growing up! My parents definitely did an incredible job hanging out with inspiring human beings! And of course, my extended family is super loaded with loving people!

“I love my mom’s passion for learning, as well as her commitment to family.”

The first person that pops in my mind from my early days is Jean Zimmerman. She was my mom’s best friend the first six years of my life. Jean, and my mom used to take turns sharing about their lives for an hour or two. They would pass me back and forth between them as they shared their hearts, cried tears, laughed, and listened to one another. I remember when Jean died of cancer. I was 10 or so. I cried like a baby. She was so warm & loving!

My brother Andy, sister Ang(ela), and parents John & Deb, were who I spent most of my hours with. I learned to be playful and joyful from my Dad. I loved, (and still love) my mom’s passion for learning, as well as her commitment to family. Ang was strong, super fun, and an incredible leader! Andy [my brother] was my best friend, no doubt. I have always been inspired by his dedication to creating a successful life and was very grateful to have such a kind, loving older brother! For me, I have always found myself super drawn to humans who listen well, share honestly, who love others a lot, who like to learn, who Live Big, and who like to have lots of fun!

Lahman Love

How important is health to you, and what are some things you do on a daily/weekly basis to maintain good well-being?

“At 36 years old, I find myself working out six days a week”

I find health to be super important to me! My parents laid a lot of positive groundwork for all of us—teaching us a lot of techniques for our mental, emotional, and physical health. So, I remain very intentional about taking care of myself through means of listening to positive music, inspirational books and authors, asking for a listener for when I’m feeling a bit shaky, and enjoying nature. I believe that playing lots of different sports benefitted us greatly as well.

At 36 years old, I find myself working out six days a week, usually. I’ll either ride my bike along the coast, climb at our indoor rock gym, go on walks and jogs, do circuit workouts, and occasionally rock out some yoga.

I have chosen to be a vegetarian for the last 11 or so years, and it has worked out super well for my physical and mental health. I married another vegetarian; Sara. She is very passionate about body-mind-spirit health activities, so I feel like she and I both have gotten healthier during this last eight years! We eat lots of healthy, organic food, dreamy salads, avocados, smoothies, health veggie burgers, beans, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, etc. We love using essential oils since we are seeking to be as chemical-free as we can in our homes and lives. We even make our own bathroom sprays. I use lavender essential oil for my deodorant, other oils for my cologne, and immune system supporting oils daily.

I also love to get between 7-9 hours of sleep these days!

If we were to look at Aaron’s eating habits, what would a typical day look like?


Organic oatmeal with bananas, mangos, nuts, hempseed, ground flax, chia seeds, and some peanut butter. (OR) Organic smoothies with three bananas, probably a 1/3 lb of greens, hempseed, chia seeds, mangos, strawberries, unsweetened coconut milk, Ningxia Red, MultiGreens capsules emptied into it, and occasionally a spoonful of peanut butter or sunflower seed butter.


A big plate of greens, an avocado, sauerkraut, cashew cheese, kidney or garbanzo beans, fresh dill, some organic bbq tempeh (or a veggie burger), and occasional leftovers from the night before on top.


A big plate of greens, and then a rotation (or combination) of the following: rice pasta, homemade marinara, roasted veggies, coconut curry veggies on the stove top, rice and veggies, a veggie burger, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc. My dessert is usually almond, peanut, or sunflower seed butter with a piece of organic bread, or a banana … and if I’m lucky, we will have some 85% organic dark chocolate.

What qualities do you think would serve a man well throughout his life?


  1. Developing the ability to deeply listen to someone.
  2. Self-reflecting on one’s own and/or having deep conversations with other men and women about what’s really going on inside.
  3. Get out in nature as much as possible. To breathe, appreciate the beauty around, and remember our connection to everything and everyone on this Earth.
  4. Having a willingness to LEARN HUMBLY each day—from reading or listening to audiobooks, listening to other’s life experiences, reflecting upon our experiences, watching documentaries, and traveling and learning about other cultures.
  5. Developing a deep LOVE for ourselves. Appreciating our gifts, our learning, our mistakes, our peacefulness, our willingness to improve and heal ourselves, and in loving ourselves better. I believe that we will LOVE others and the Earth Better as well.

Do you have any regrets?

“Most of my mistakes have been related to allowing my ego to reign supreme.”

Aaron and Nature
On my healing journey, I’ve learned about the harmful effects of living a life with regrets, so while I have made mistakes on my journey thus far, I must live now, and seek to walk stronger and healthier each day that I have on this Earth. However, I will say that most of my mistakes have been related to allowing my EGO to reign supreme; causing me to forget my Loving and Magical nature. I have drunk too much on occasion. I have thought about sex too much. I have been self-critical too much. I have worked too much and forgotten to breathe. I have not listened well to others. I have forgotten to wish a happy birthday to people I care about. I have judged others harshly too much. I have gotten lost in perfectionism, often.

So, no regrets over here because I know that will only hurt my body-mind-spirit wellness—just below-excellent choices that I have learned from and I continue to learn from.

What inspires you?

Humans inspire me. People who make choices to evolve, to improve, to love, to help others, to heal themselves, to heal others, to breathe, and to be present.

Nature inspires me. Flowers, the ocean, hummingbirds, trees, stars, the moon, clouds, mountains, rain, gardens, plants, healthy food, essential oils.

What do we need more of in the world?

I believe we need more humility, more compassion, more life, happiness, and communication, more self-healing, diversity, and education.

  1. HUMILITY: My relationships are most effective when I humbly admit that I may have one perspective and not the answer for everyone. Listening to others, learning from others, and refraining from being angry at others when they have different opinions than I do. Understanding that people are where they are because that’s what they have learned thus far.
  2. COMPASSION: My life is full of joy when I’m living with compassion as my guide! I believe that the more we grow and share love with others, the better off the whole world will be. In order to love others well, we need to LOVE ourselves well! I think if compassion guided companies’ decision-making processes, guided our personal choices, and guided our government’s choices, it would create systems that would completely shift the way our world presently looks. People would have healthy food, people would feel safe, people would have access to top-notch wellness support, people would have access to a place to sleep, they would have access to education and learning, and people would see more advertisements and more media inspiring them to be Loving & Compassionate.
  3. EDUCATION: (Life/Happiness/Communication/Self-Healing/Diversity): I believe that our schools worldwide ought to be focused on inspiring all students to love themselves, love others, to communicate effectively, to dream big, to heal themselves, to meditate, to take care of themselves, to respect people with different belief systems, to make healthy decisions for themselves, to appreciate the present moment, to learn methods to be more relaxed and happy, and to make wise financial decisions.

    This education would be less about telling students how they must live, but more about providing wisdom from the ages that the students can take from and apply to their lives

If you had the chance to talk to the 18-year old version of yourself, would you say to him?

You are always loved! You do not need to rush! You are worthy of relaxation! Your worth doesn’t depend upon what you produce! You are here to love! You will find peace in the present moment by choosing gratitude for every small gift you enjoy! You are magical! You are 1 of billions who are helping to make the world a better place!

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be, and why?

My dream superpower: I wish that I could touch a person’s shoulder; causing them to love everyone on this planet.

“A real man takes care of himself and heals the areas of his life that need healing.”

What’s one of the best books you ever read, and what made it so memorable?

The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a powerful read. What I recall:

At the end of the day, True Power has nothing to do with Money, Success, Fame, Sex. True Power is about being LOVE day in and day out.

Lastly, what is your definition of a real man?

A real man does 4 things:

  1. He takes care of himself and heals the areas of his life that need healing.
  2. He desires to help others improve their lives.
  3. He learns to breathe, relax, listen, dream, and share love with others.
  4. He takes time to experience joy, shows gratitude, and soaks in precious moments.

Final Thoughts

Love Rules
There are many different types of men, and we can learn something from each and every one of them. George Washington said; “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation.”

We don’t have to be one-dimensional men. We can exemplify strength, confidence, courage, perseverance, and yes, even LOVE. Being a man carries great responsibility. Our young boys and men are watching closely. They need to understand that even a warrior needs to have compassion for others. They need to know that there’s more to life than just domination and defeat.

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Overcoming Adversity, Setting Goals, & Speaking Truth with Tom Terwilliger

Q&A with Mr. USA Tom Terwilliger

Tom Terwilliger


Tom Terwilliger is known as a former Mr. America, author, renown speaker, and entrepreneur, but as with most high-performers, he’s got a story. And his story wasn’t always pretty.

Tom is a testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve. At 58, he’s as passionate (and fit) as anyone I’ve ever met — projecting the kind of energy you’d expect to experience at a Tony Robbins event!

I couldn’t think of a more qualified and exciting individual to kickstart my interviewing journey. Tom is raw, real, and very active in the fitness industry. Although this is a Q&A, it almost feels like a mini autobiography, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the end of this interview you’ll have been inspired on some level.

Tom, can you give us some perspective as to the kind of childhood you had? Family life? Challenges? Interests?

I grew up the youngest of 6 kids, 3 sisters, and 2 brothers — one of them, my twin. My mom was well into her late 40s when she had my brother, Mike and I (the twins). So, you can imagine she and my dad were already pretty worn out. Nonetheless, they were loving, generous, and caring parents who taught me right from wrong.

For most of my childhood, we lived in a small, 3-bedroom, one-bathroom house in a quiet suburb of Long Island. Being kids, we never thought about it as small or tight… it just was what it was. Unlike some unfortunate kids who come into the world plagued with challenges, my challenges didn’t start until a few years later.

“By the 4th grade, I was diagnosed dyslexic, hyperactive “learning challenged,” and placed into a special ed class.”

I struggled in school early on. By the 4th grade I was diagnosed dyslexic, hyperactive “learning challenged” and placed into the special ed class. Yes, I was one of the kids in the “little yellow bus.”

By the time I reached junior High I had been fighting daily and had earned the nickname “Bully Killer.” High school was an alcohol, weed, and acid-induced blur with a few brief moments of normality and even some greatness shining through. My senior year I decided it was enough. Actually, (they) decided it was enough after I beat the crap out of a gym teacher! In my defense…he was a relentless bully and had it coming.

That same year I made an unprecedented business deal that would change my life for the next several years. I traded a case of beer (Schlitz) and $50 for a beat up old 1958 Harley Davidson. Over the next 3 months, I converted that old Harley into one bad ass little chopper.

For the next five years, I rode that misguided symbol of my rebellion with some of the most notorious, violent, and dangerous outlaw bikers in the country.

Tom Biker Days

You were a fairly successful teen bodybuilder but decided to drop out of high school and follow another path. Can you tell us a little about what happened?

The brief moments of greatness I mentioned earlier were the direct result of my teen bodybuilding endeavors.

I was a skinny 14-year-old kid the first time I found enough courage to walk into a real bodybuilding gym. I must have stood outside in the freezing cold for 20 minutes, trying to look through the steam on the windows before I could muster up the guts to open the door and step inside.

I had heard about Future Man — a gym that friends warned me not to go near. They said the guys inside were animals and would eat me alive, … but I wanted to be a bodybuilder.

“… I wanted to be strong and respected,
and this was how I was going to do it.”

Tom as Mr. AmericaAs I was contemplating entering, I remembered the first time I saw Arnold on the cover of Muscle Builder Magazine. I put two and two together … I wanted to be strong and respected, and this was how I was going to do it.

What immediately caught my attention as I opened the door and walked inside was the overwhelming pungent aroma. It almost burned my nostrils! I would later discover that it was a putrid combination of sweat, vomit, and Ben Gay.

The place was filled with futuristic looking machines, racks of heavy dumbbells, and barbells that outweighed me by hundreds of pounds. I didn’t have a clue what half the stuff was or did. My only experience with weights up to that point was an old Joe Weider barbell and dumbbell set I had inherited from my older brother.

I had never seen so many mirrors. Most of them were cracked and covered with spit and steam from the sweating bodies. But it was the huge muscular dudes and crazy fit women, huffing and puffing and rushing from one machine to another as if they were in some sort of hurry that mostly intimidated this cocky punk ass kid.

That and the screaming and yelling that seemed to be coming from every corner of the gym.

One monstrous-looking guy was standing behind another and screaming into his ear as loud as he could: “come on you pussy ass motherfucker! You better go to fucking failure on this set or don’t come back!!!” Then started chanting: “Go big or go home!” It was the very first time I had heard that phrase. I later found out that it was Mr. America, Steve Michalik being berated by his training partner.

Everyone in the place looked like they knew what the hell they were doing except me, and I proved it. My first workout at Future Man Gym was also my most humiliating. After reading about how Arnold used to down half a dozen or so hot dogs following his workout, I decided to reverse the process (because I knew better of course). In other words, I had half a dozen hot dogs before the workout. The resulting mess led to the owner handing me a bucket and mop and instructing me to clean it up.

Needless to say I wasn’t his favorite new member, but I would soon become his most committed.

After entering several Teen bodybuilding events and winning many of them, I was becoming a teen sensation in the sport. Magazine coverage, interviews, and even local TV spots all came with it. Then, like some dark unconscious force descending upon me, the thought of being a champion became too overwhelming and incongruent for my self-image to handle.

That’s when I invited the “Bully Killer” back in. For the next five years, he had me by the balls.

Tom's Bad Boy Days

You eventually decided to return to your passion of bodybuilding at the age of 23 and progressed to pro status. How much time did you take off, and how difficult was it to get back into a competitive mindset?

During those five years, I lived with complete reckless abandon and gave little time or thought to train. If I trained at all it was simply so I could stay big and strong enough to take on some bad ass mother fucker who might want my woman or my bike.

For at least three of those years I was acutely aware that I was living a life that was not in alignment with my moral self. I knew it was wrong and that it had to change. I knew deep down inside that I was better than who I was being, but I just couldn’t find the courage to change it.

“I was done … I walked away from my bro’s, the life, and what could have been a tragic ending.”

Until I had no choices left. Sometimes we have to be backed into a corner before we’re forced into making a choice. When that happened God stepped in and helped me find the strength to make the right choice.

I was done … I walked away from my bro’s, the life, and what could have been a tragic ending.

The first place I had to go to get back on my feet was the gym. The gym has always been my strength of will proving ground. Not only can it test your will but strengthen it at the same time. That’s what it did.

The feel of the cold hard steel in my hands and the heavy weight on my back (threatening to crush me), renewed my spirit and gave me the chemical hormone injection needed to start dreaming bigger … much bigger.

I almost immediately set my sights on the Mr. America title which I was told would take ten years to achieve. It would take me less than five.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is that if you want to immerse yourself in something and be great at it – fast, you must put yourself in the right environment.

Future Man gym with its rancid stench, unforgiving mirrors, and relentless steel bending bullies was just such an environment.

In that demanding atmosphere, it was easy to get back into the competitive mindset. That’s where the real competition took place. Prove yourself there and putting on a pair of speedo’s and stepping on stage in front of hundreds of people would be a cake walk.

Unfortunately for today’s bodybuilders, the Future Man Gyms of the world are a dying breed, if not already extinct.

It took me three attempts to win the Nationals (Mr. America). I was third my first shot at it. Second on my second attempt. Then captured the light heavyweight division on my third. It was a powerful lesson in perseverance and humility.

What’s one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about professional bodybuilders?

Tom Terwilliger-MentorWe’re brainless narcissists. Unfortunately, there are a few that help to validate that misconception. The vast majority, however, are nothing of the sort.

I believe it takes a high level of intelligence, along with a single-minded sense of focus, determination, and willingness to sacrifice almost all else to succeed as a bodybuilder. I mean, just think about the physical transformation that has to take place over a relatively short period of time.

This requires a superior level of practical knowledge in the areas of exercise physiology, anatomy, nutrition, sports psychology, injury prevention, and biochemistry. Not to mention a complete command over one’s own body.

“… Without discipline, all the roids in the world wouldn’t make a shred of difference.”

A “muscle-headed moron” simply could not excel on the competitive level.

The other stereotype or misconception is that all the muscles are simply the result of massive steroid abuse.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

With a knowledge of everything I listed above, along with an almost inhuman tolerance for pain, massive discipline, laser-like focus, and a willingness to sacrifice all else – all the roids in the world wouldn’t make a shred of difference.

You created your own bodybuilding TV show called: Muscle Sport USA, which ran for over 16 years on Fox Sports. How did a young man, still in his 20s, manage to pull this off?

During the time I was training to win the Nationals I had been working with a video production company. They were shooting clips here and there at different events for the NPC. Quite often, I would either host or do some behind the scenes interviews.

After winning the Nationals we sat down and talked about doing something together on a much bigger scale. That’s when the idea of Muscle Sport USA was born.

We were working with a guy named Steve Carol who had been a network TV producer. Steve packaged the idea and pitched it to MSG (Madison Square Gordan Network). After several months of negotiations, we got a shot at doing a pilot and 6 episodes.

Because there was an already existing audience with little to satisfy their thirst, the show quickly became a hit.

I, on the other hand, sucked as host and almost blew it for the show. I soon recognized my shortcomings and got to work — mastering my job as host. Another lesson in humility.

A few years later, the show was picked up by Fox Sports Net. Then, we had to take on a color commentator; Steve Stone. A new team was born. Steve knew his shit and made my job easy. He was a dedicated husband, coach, and champion bodybuilder. He passed away a few years ago, but he’ll never be forgotten by me or his fans.

You’ve opened and sold numerous athletic clubs in New York and Denver. How did you get into the startup business, and do you have any advice for entrepreneurs that want to open a gym or any business for that matter?

I initially wanted to open my own gym after Future Man closed. There wasn’t a lot of other places to train back in those days.

After winning the Nationals and doing the TV show I had a few bucks. I was still in hot pursuit of a pro bodybuilding career so opening my own gym seemed like a great place to invest some money.

But I had no business savvy whatsoever.

“… but I soon discovered that just because people sign up doesn’t mean you’re making money.”

I remember opening my first gym back in NY. Before we opened I spent all my time painstakingly selecting equipment and (believe it or not) physically building the front desk personally by hand.

I wanted the place to look amazing and it started with a bad ass front desk. It did look amazing once we opened and people signed up, … and signed up, … and signed up, but I soon discovered that just because people sign up doesn’t mean you’re making money or holding onto the money you are making. We lost our shirts and almost lost the business in the first 6 months. Why? Because I was too busy up front working on the product and not the business. By the time I discovered that there was more to operating a gym “business” then the product itself, it was almost too late. The ship had begun to sink.

Fortunately, I am a fast learner and someone who recognizes when it’s time to reach out for a life preserver.

The point is, it’s never too early to get busy on the business of “building a business” and not just having a great product.

In today’s fast moving technology-driven business world I don’t believe every startup needs to have a full-blown, 300-page business plan. But I also believe that it is critically important to at least have a flexible road map. This will help you navigate the terrain as well as identify and gather the resource you’ll need in the near future.

Don’t just build a front desk, figure out up front how you will get your market to step up to it.

You’ve trained in martial arts for most of your life, and are currently immersed in the studies of Jeet Kune Do (JKD). What’s even more impressive is the fact you’re studying with Dan Inosanto, who’s among only one of three men to be directly authorized by the late BRUCE LEE to carry on the teachings of his JKD System. How did this relationship come to be?

Tom, Inosanto, and Dawn

Before I started bodybuilding I had been studying Chinese Kung Fun Wu Su under Grand Master, Allen Lee and one of his instructor pupils who happen to be my older brother; Raymond. My twin brother, Mike and I were disciplined students from the time we were 8 years old until about 15. One of my “Bully Killer” assets to say the least.

I vowed that I would return to the martial arts after retiring from bodybuilding. After moving from NY to Denver, a bad mountain bike accident that broke several bones took me out of commission for almost a year and painfully forced me into retirement.

A few years later I developed a friendship with Sifu (teacher), Ray Khan who was a direct student of Guru Dan Inosanto. Having been a HUGE fan of the late Bruce Lee and curious about his JKD system I began studying under Sifu Khan. The art was very familiar and yet a radical departure from my traditional Kung Fu experience.

One year later Guru Inosanto was coming to Denver for a small JKD clinic. I had to attend. I was lost, humbled and frustrated, but I was motivated to learn. I was also inspired by Inosanto’s own humility as well as what he was capable of well into his 70s.

That was over ten years ago, and I still feel like a humble and clumsy student.

How does Jeet Kune Do differ from other martial art styles?

JKD the “Art of the Intercepting Fist” is as much a philosophy as it is a martial art.

Bruce believed that no one art is better or worse than another but rather the ability to adapt and flow like water from one to another is the key. Some have called it the first form of Mixed Martial Arts.

JKD encompasses several different and extremely effective systems.

  • Jun Fan – which is Bruce’s Gung Fu style boxing.
  • Filipino Kala – a stick and blade art
  • Indonesian Silat – a powerful form of stand up and ground grappling
  • Muay Thai kickboxing

In addition to other diverse martial arts influences.

“You just cannot predict what life will throw at you.”

It is extremely challenging because to master JKD you must master at least 4 different arts simultaneously. But this is what I love about it. It keeps you on your toes.

Moving fluidly from one art to the other based on the strengths of the opponent you’re facing mimics the same need for flexibility in life itself. You just cannot predict what life will throw at you. It could be a left hook, a kick to the groin, or it could try to grab you by the leg and drag you to the ground. You have to be prepared for anything and flexible enough to roll with the punches.

More than anything else, training JKD with Sifu Khan and Guru Insonato has taught me how to be patient and flexible in life.

High performers can experience burnout like anyone else. How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired when you start to feel physically and/or mentally fatigued?

I’ve been there more times than I can count. When it comes to not burning out there are three things I’ve learned as an athlete.

  1. Know your target.
  2. Know it’s end date and honor it.
  3. Take a physical, mental, and spiritual break after its accomplishment or a major milestone.

This is the danger of being an entrepreneur. You just don’t know when to take your nose off the grindstone until you have no nose left. Give yourself deadlines. Honor those deadlines by taking time (hours, days, or weeks) to recharge your batteries. The other thing that is critical is always to have a purpose-driven objective. It has to be more than just work for the sake of work or even work for the sake of money.

In your book, you provide 7 Rules that you believe are at the core of achieving any goal. If you had to pick one that is the most powerful, which one would it be, and why?

That’s actually a tougher question than one might think. I believe all seven are important. But if I had to choose one above the rest it would have to be the rule that goes to the heart of clarity. If you’re not absolutely 100% certain about what you want, there is little chance of achieving it. As one of my mentors, Jim Rohn has repeatedly said: “Most people never get what they want because they don’t know what they want.” If you don’t have clarity on that one piece, all the other rules won’t mean much.

Who are some of your biggest influencers, and what do you admire most about them?

Certainly, one of my early influences was my older brother, Raymond. He was NYC cop, Kung Fu instructor, and weightlifter. I idolized him and still do … he’s always been his own man. Today, I am influenced and inspired by several people including my dear friends Dave Lakhani, Chris Brogan, and Dr. James Rouse. Each of them has incredible work ethic, integrity, and vision.

“She’s a hell of a woman and a constant inspiration to me. I am extraordinarily fortunate.”

But in all honesty, I have to say it’s my wife, Dawn that influences me on a day to day basis more than anyone else. Not because she’s my wife and forces me to take out the trash every night, but rather her willingness to take on any challenges and overcome obstacles while dealing with my petty insecurities. She’s a hell of a woman and a constant inspiration for me. I am extraordinarily fortunate.

How significant of a role would you say nutrition plays (and continues to play) in your personal and professional life?

I don’t know how anyone could possibly take on the challenge of a startup, building a business, or even raising children on a crappy ass fast-food diet. I would be down and out within a week. Performance nutrition is one of the foundational legs of performance living. If you’re not performing at your best, then you’re just surviving. It’s too competitive out there to think you can perform at the top of your game without factoring in the fuel needed to sustain the effort. Most people are on an emotional and performance roller-coaster as a result of fluctuating blood glucose levels, poor oxygen circulation, and lack of energy. The times I have allowed my nutrition to take a distant back seat to “more important stuff” or didn’t have time to eat were also the times my ambition, focus, and drive sucked ass. Listen, most of us whine that there’s just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything we want. The truth is that there’s plenty of time, just not enough energy.

Performance nutrition is the key to adding hours to our day.

What does your eating routine look like? In other words, can you give us an example of the types of meals you would eat on any given day?

Although it varies here and there, on weekends, for example, I eat almost the same way every day. I train nearly every morning, so I start the day with what I know will help fuel my workout and get my metabolism up and going. I like a combination of healthy fats, simple carbs, and protein. And to add a few more calories with something to hold it all together…gluten free bread.

  • 6:00 am: My morning meal of choice is an Almond butter and jelly sandwich. It works.
  • 8:00 am: Post workout (two hours later), I have a very specialized recovery drink I blend up myself. It contains whey protein powder, glutamine, and a whole bunch of other stuff to maximize recovery and tissue repair. It’s my fountain of youth. You can find the full recipe in the (link) Max Mind Lean Body Nutrition Guide.
  • 11:00 am-12:00 noon: Two-three hours later I have between 4-6 organic whole eggs, scrambled with a bunch of veggies. With that, I usually have a large sweet potato and some fruit.
  • 3:00 pm: Mid-afternoon, I have a cup of mixed nuts (dry roasted or raw) along with a piece of fruit (pears, if in season or apple).
  • 6:00 pm: I’ll have either a grilled chicken breast, lean beef or fatty fish with either a large salad or a sizable portion of grilled or steamed veggies. And for desert, some dark chocolate.
  • 9:00 pm: Another anti-aging protein drink cocktail. It’s not as good as tequila, but there’s no hangover in the morning either.

The fitness industry is saturated with countless programs and fads, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy for a person to become intimidated, or even indecisive altogether. How will your program: “Max Mind Lean Body Over 40 Solution” differ from many of the other fitness programs out there?

I agree it seems like everyone and anyone who has ever lifted a weight, taken a class or did a downward dog pose while coming out with some kind of fitness or weight loss program. It can be pretty confusing.

I’ve been in the fitness and coaching space for well over 30 years, and I have only recently decided to share some of my anti-aging, weight loss, and muscle building strategies in a digital product. Once I turned 50, I began to see just how many maturing individuals are desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of youth and sexual energy and vigor. They don’t want to go down the same path as their parents, but it’s a real challenge for them.

“… diets fail all the time, but if you have the right strategy in place, even a mediocre diet can produce amazing results.”

Dawn and I are committed to helping people meet that challenge head on. I’m also a big believer in reaching and serving as many people as possible. My book, 7 Rules of Achievement and Max Mindset coaching has allowed me to do that in the business, entrepreneur, and leadership space, but my first love and passion have always been fitness.

Three key elements separate the Max Mind Lean Body Over 40 Solution from the rest:

  1. Its foundation is based on the 45 years of combined experience of my wife Dawn and I.
  2. It was developed for men and women over 40 by a man and woman well over 40, who successfully practice what they teach every single day.
  3. It combines the very best results-producing practices of western style bodybuilding with the age-defying philosophies and techniques of the ancient far east. It’s the overarching multi-point strategy of the Max Mind Lean Body System that makes it so powerful.

Listen, you and I both know that diets fail all the time, but if you have the right strategy in place, even a mediocre diet can produce amazing results. Back up a great nutrition plan, like the one laid out in the MMlb Method with a winning strategy and the results can be absolutely transnational.

Being extremely busy, ambitious, and over 40 ourselves, we recognize that stress is a big part of what is prematurely aging us and threatens to take us down after age 40. That’s why in the program we share how one simple, but extremely effective piece of the exercise matrix (that no one does) can immediately turn a 30-minute high-intensity workout into the exact needed balance of Chi energy to produce extraordinary body-rejuvenating results. Our solution is the closest thing you will ever find for balancing both sides of your Yin Yang energy systems while building new lean muscle tissue and losing the unwanted body fat.

Of all the online fitness (or nutrition) influencers, who would you say is the most legit when it comes to the kind of content and advice they share?

I’ll be honest; there are quite a few I admire. I love Jon Benson’s over 40 program. The guy is legit. Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence training is spot on. I love the stuff John Rowley delivers as well … Old School New Body is great. There’s also Tom Venuto, Shawn Phillips, John Spencer Ellis, and Rob Poulos to name a few. Also, I just finished a really cool joint venture with Kristi Frank (from the apprentice). She’s awesome. I would not have agreed to do a project together if I didn’t believe in what she is doing for women as well as men in the fitness and weight loss space. The product is called Metabolic Belly Makeover, and I’m pretty proud of what came out of the collaboration.

You always seem to be in amazing shape. In fact, I’ve never seen a single pic where you looked “soft.” What advice would you give a man or woman over the age of 40 that’s interested in building (and maintaining) the best physique of their lives?

Thanks, brother! Coming from you, that is quite a compliment. I was a huge fan of your dad. Man, talk about a guy who knew how to get (and stay) lean and in shape! He was a fantastic and inspiring bodybuilder.

“The key is to start NOW. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be …”

First, if you can avoid it don’t let yourself get too far out of shape. It’s just that much harder to get back to looking and feeling your best. Shy of that, don’t take on a fitness program just to create some sort of short term “transformation.” Commit to a program that creates a new and much more rewarding lifestyle. Being your best requires being fit. In fact, it demands it. Start on a program as a way of creating new habits and behaviors that will last the rest of your life … which will be significantly longer as a result. I stay in shape not just because I like the way it makes me look, but because of how it makes me feel and what, (at age 58) it allows me to do. I have no more limitations today then I did when I was 28. In fact, I have less.

The key is to start NOW. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be, and before you know it, that pre-programmed mindset will kick in, and you’ll start saying to yourself “Oh fuck it … I’m too old for this shit” and guess what, you will be. You need to end that (feeling old) bullshit now. It begins with your mindset, and your mindset is directly linked to your physiology.

Are there mentors that have helped you along the way? People that you would attribute much of your success to?

Oh hell yes. There are several people without whom I would be either broke, morally bankrupt, in jail, or all three. My dad was certainly at the top of the list. Although never a “success” in the traditional sense, it was his moral fiber and unparalleled work ethic that gave me a powerful model for finding the path to my own success.

My older brother Raymond who I mentioned earlier not only influenced my love for Martial Arts but turned me on to Body Building in my teens.

“Sometimes we’re motivated more by what not to do then what to do.”

There was also my first coach and mentor in the bodybuilding world; Tony Pandolfo. Tony walked the walk and had a tremendous influence on my life and career. He was a great champion himself, but I also respected him because he was one tough SOB. He owned Future Man Gym in Amityville which housed some of the top guys from around NY. At something like 5’5″, not even the biggest monsters in the gym could intimidate Tony.

Of course, later on, there were several people who I admired, respected, and learned from. Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, and Maxwell Maltz to name a few.

And of course, I owe as much to the real assholes and sociopaths I knew back in the biker days. Without them, I might not have figured it out in time. Sometimes we’re motivated more by what not to do then what to do.

What is still one of your biggest challenges, and what steps are you taking to overcome this challenge?

As I mentioned, my dad was a hard worker. He held down a job with the telephone company and supported 6 kids on what never amounted to more than $46,000 a year salary. I got my work ethic from him, but I also got my blueprint for money.

He never cared for money. I would often hear him say at the dinner table; “Money is the root of all evil” and “Money leads to corruption and sin.” My grandparents were wealthy, and we never saw a dime of it. I think my parents had some underlying resentment around all that, and it most certainly rubbed off on the kids, including me.

To this day I have to be very conscious about what my little inner voice is saying and the emotions that come up when negotiating a money deal. I want to give the farm away because I don’t feel worthy. After all, my dad never made more than $46K, and he was a lot better man than I could ever hope to be.

I have worked to change that blueprint and so far so good … but it still comes back to haunt me now and then.

What does success look like to you?

Man, that’s a freaking good question … not just for me, but for everyone. If you’re reading this, ask yourself that same question.

For me, it looks like freedom. The ability to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want (my wife of course), anytime I want. Much of that time would be spent helping others in some way. I receive a great deal of personal satisfaction helping other people. This why I love what I do.

Success is the ability to do what I already do on a much, much, much grander scale.

I guess if I’m 100% honest, freedom would also include a good deal of time seeing the world from the saddle of a finely-tuned custom Harley.

Was there ever a critical turning point in your life? A point in which you realized your purpose or mission?

Yes, as a matter of fact, there was. It didn’t so much help me realize my purpose, but rather that I must have one and that my current path would only lead me away from that purpose.

It was a Sunday night in mid-June, and New York City was as hot and muggy as it gets. I was beaten up, depressed, and badly hung-over from three days of binge-partying.

I even remember what I was wearing. My favorite pair of filthy oil-stained jeans, an unwashed t-shirt with a big bold “FTW” printed on the front, my cutoff leather vest, and a pair of badly beaten and weathered old engineer boot

I remember pulling up in front of the clubhouse and leaning my old Panhead chopper onto its kickstand alongside the 20 or 30 other choppers parked outside.

“I was disgusted at what I was allowing myself to become. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. It was at that moment that something deep inside me began to rise up.”

Inside, it was dark, dingy, filled with smoke, and smelled like cigarettes and stale beer. Although it barely supported itself, the rickety old plywood bar was literally holding me up as I found myself staring trance-like down at my boots. They were ragged, old, and worn out.

I could see my distorted reflection in the steel toes protruding through the once strong, intact, and shiny leather.

I was disgusted at what I was allowing myself to become. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. It was at that moment that something deep inside me began to rise up. That part of us that knows when we’ve had enough.

A voice in my head said loud and clear “You’re Done … Walk Away.” I heard it twice, and I didn’t hesitate. I turned for the door and was walking out forever … I was DONE! But just for a second I turned and looked back.

In that instant, something powerful and life-affirming happened that forever erased any doubt that I had made the right decision and would never look back again.

Behind the bar, resting on a very flimsy wooden shelf was a loaded, sawed-off, double barrel shotgun … cocked and ready to go. Someone (a BIG ass biker no doubt) must have shoved against the rickety old bar with enough force to knock the weapon of personal doom from its perch.

When it hit the ground, both barrels went off…blowing a massive exit hole through the thin green plywood in the exact spot I had been standing just moments before.

When the smoke cleared, and I finally found the courage to walked out the door, I made a vow to myself: Never again will I allow fear, doubt, or uncertainty about who I am and what I may or may not be capable of to influence the decisions and actions that shape my future.

Five years later I won the Nationals. I’ve allowed my heart to lead me to where I am and who I serve today.

You’ve been happily married for over 24 years. How important do you think it is for a spouse to have similar health goals as his/her partner?

It hasn’t hurt our relationship that we both have a passion for exercise and clean eating. Plus I’m 14 years Dawns senior, so the only way I am going to continue to keep up is by staying as fit as possible. She’s always pushing me to eat this or that or take this nutrient or that. I guess I’m very fortunate that she want’s me to stick around for a while. Either that or she’s trying to kill me slowly with Curcumin.

Is there a question that you wish more people would ask you?

“How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”

I happen to know the answer, but no one asks that question anymore.

Here comes the cliché question, but it’s a question that everyone wants to ask a person of interest: How do you want to be remembered?

Truthfully, I would rather people forget me. I am human and therefore flawed, imperfect and weak. I would rather be remembered for my books, training’s, and talks. There are some nuggets of wisdom in all of it. I’m just some guy who did the best he could with the resources he had. I’m no better and no worse then anyone else. On the other hand, I would be honored if I were remembered as Ray and Dottie Terwilliger’s youngest son and the amazing Dawn Terwilliger’s husband.

What’s next for Tom Terwilliger?

Dawn and I have been working side by side for over 20 years, and I have always been the front man. I’m thrilled to be sharing that role with her on our next project. Max Mind Lean Body is our first digital weight loss/fitness product.

Our goal is to inspire one million (over 40) men and women moving into in their 2nd half to rediscover their power. We know that the mind and body must work together if we are going to stay strong, ambitious and passionately energized after age 40. My mission, as always, is to rattle a few cages and throw Kerosene on an otherwise dimming fire. We’re going to do that with Max Mind Lean Body.

Before we conclude, is there anything that you’d like to share with us that very few people know about you?

I guess what you wouldn’t know about me after reading this is how grateful I am that you took the time. I may be unique in my own way, but like you, I’m no better or worse than any anyone else. I’m no more accomplished than the guy next door who holds down a 9-5 to support his family or the mom who spends most of her day driving her kids from one practice to another. I know you have a fascinating story … we all do. If you don’t like your story, change it. It’s not too late to make it unique — filled with inspiring moments of triumph. Like a great football team that may have taken a beating during the first half, you have an opportunity do it differently, better, and more impactful when you enter the field for the 2nd half. Decide like I did …


Then get busy being who you uniquely are. That’s the part of you that will shine and inspire others to do the same.

Tom Terwilliger

Final Thoughts

Throughout life, we meet countless people. Some of them leave an impression, and some really impact us. Although I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Tom in person, I feel like I know him. He has shared so much content over the years and has never held back. Most of his insight and logic is irrefutable. And he’s a man that has endured many obstacles and isn’t afraid to talk about it.

I’ve grown up around supercharged individuals like Tom, and they all seem to share one unifying quality. High-performers have a relentless desire to challenge themselves. To push beyond what many would define as their limit. We need people like Tom in our life to remind us that age is nothing but a number and that the only one holding us back, … is ourselves.

What I love most about Tom is his unquestionable respect for his wife, Dawn. We don’t see many successful men openly express such appreciation for their partners. That in itself is refreshing.

I look forward to seeing what Tom does next. One thing is for certain; he won’t stop moving forward.

Max Mind Lean BodyLearn more about Tom Terwilliger at www.tomterwilliger.com

Learn more about Tom and Dawn’s Max Mind Lean Body (over 40 solution) here.

Buy Tom’s book: “7 Rules of Achievement” here.

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