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2016: A year in review

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The following piece will be an honest, frank and upfront reflection of my year in 2016 across pretty much all departments of my life. I know many people are doing reviews across the internet and I’m usually not one to follow the herd, but this just feels right and I want to do this for accountability. How different would next year’s review be to this one?

If anything, I’m a little sad I’ve not got one from 2015/16 to look back on and trawl over, finding any cracks and any points of missed celebration.

I might not have documented literature to verify my goals from this time last year……but I do have a very decent memory – one that will provide all the information necessary to see where I fell short and where I triumphed. Also, to see any bonuses I picked up on route.

It’s worth mentioning the differences between reviews and exclamations. Very often the internet – in particular the blogging world – is saturated with people listing 100 things they’re going to do in 2017. Most of these aspirations are shared with every other blogger; travel, get fit, cut out sugar, get a promotion or read X amount of books. And that’s fine……if you actually do it. But do they? Do you for that matter?

I see nothing wrong with those aspirations but they’re too broad. Too unspecific. Where do they even stem from? By casting our minds back to former years, we can see all the empty promises we made. How many diets we didn’t stick to. What weight we didn’t lose and what habits we didn’t eradicate/incorporate.

What’s wrong with taking a previously failed idea or notion and looking to rectify things this year? Doesn’t that make more sense? The exception being I suppose, someone no longer having the same aspiration. Usually though, the goals aren’t all that exclusive from year to year, as they’re continuously unachieved.

Just because you didn’t achieve something last year, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it this year.

My year in categories


What I achieved?

Keeping my priorities in check, we’ll start here. If there’s one area I’ve not really slacked at all, it’s fitness. I’ve always followed some kind of program from the start of the year to the end. Sometimes these have been self designed programs. More often than not though, they’ve been from someone else. I’m quite uncomfortable with self programming, despite having the resources to do so. We all, whether we know it or not, are biased towards ourselves. This is a bad thing. You want to be doing stuff you’d never make yourself do.


  • Added 3 reps to total pull up count
  • Increased strict muscle up reps
  • Improved handstand balance and push ups
  • Became able to do a back bridge


  • Still not able to do a full front lever
  • Didn’t get as many handstand push ups as I would have wanted
  • In the beginning of the year, I said I would get a 400 lbs+ deadlift for reps. This didn’t transpire.

Not too many failures but the front lever is one of particular disappointment. Although, I never actually put my heart and soul into achieving it and definitely underestimated the level of strength involved!

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                           ( – The FULL front lever

Moves such as these take years and are often embarked upon by people lacking in mastery of the basics. I could certainly be better with the basics and definitely have cracks in my foundation. I’ll be taking a step back from direct training for the move this year and instead, focus my energy into building proficiency in all walks of calisthenics.


This one is either black or red on the roulette wheel. You either nail it or you don’t. Historically I’ve always been solid with nutrition; I’ve always eaten well. I must confess this department hasn’t been as sound as always as of late. It’s the age old question: How do you balance a social life along with a super strict diet?

Not easy. But looking back, I’ve seen I’ve definitely been too anal with my eating in the past. I’d turn everything down and people would wonder why. Some would respect you, some would mock you – some would even not want to invite you out again. Even though I’ve eaten out at restaurants far more this year, my performance hasn’t suffered, nor has my cognition (that I can tell). And I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed my life more from doing so.

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                 Eating out isn’t always completely unhealthy

There is a balancing act to be conquered between clean eating and happy living. You can’t have too much of one without the other. This was a big realisation last year.


Career progress is often something that’s measured solely on current earnings versus past earnings, or whether your boss gave you a promotion or not. Conversely, I think there’s more to it. Particularly for me. The past year I’ve been developing my skills as a personal trainer and have continuously spent many hours of spare time reading and trying to broaden my knowledge base. I may not have risen up higher but I know I’m better.

At some point this year or next, I’d love to go self employed. I like the freedom and responsibility this entails. This area is one where many people are unsatisfied and feel they’re worth more than their current status, but the fruits of your labour aren’t always reaped once the work is being done. Often times it’s much later that you begin to see pay off for your efforts.

Consistency and discipline are needed to achieve career and business breakthroughs – and of course progression isn’t always possible in every career path.

Personal Life & Personal Development:

This area is one we can never really do enough in. There’s always ways to be better or do more. Not only that, but this area is also hard to judge or evaluate. My definition of personal life and personal development is a blend of the quality of your life outside of work and your relationship with others – maybe even the mark you’re leaving on this planet.

The biggest lesson I think I’ve learnt this year is: You’ll never be liked by everyone……no matter what you do or how hard you try, and that’s OK.

Sometimes no matter how many wrongs you write, you’ll still get tarred with whatever brush you may have been painted with in the past. Normally people react by feeling they’re still not good enough, when in reality it’s the fault of the others because they can’t accept change, forgive, and/or move on from things.

I’ve learnt to focus my energy on those that do like me; why not improve what you already have instead of trying to get something you don’t, and may never will?

Another area of big improvement this year was not letting others bring me down – particularly family. I spent so much wasted effort trying to get members of my family to change their negative habits and adopt a better lifestyle, and all it resulted in was me being more frustrated and feeling drained, while they remained the same.

The fix for situations like so?

Choose something positive you need to do and do that instead of worrying about their issues. In my case, all my family are adults. It’s different if we’re dealing with children. But for adults, they must be responsible for their change. You can support and encourage but you can’t do much more. It sucks. If you let it bring you down, then the said habit has claimed another victim……..

…….read a few pages of a book you need to every time something like that happens. Maybe do a set of push ups. Go for a walk. Do yoga. Put a song on. Run a bath or have a shower – anything to bulletproof yourself from the negative toxicity of that kind of thing.

One final disappointment in this category is not reading as many books as I would’ve liked. The reason for this is completely sloppy time management on my part. Simply not allocating the necessary time daily to get momentum going. Nobody to blame but me. I hope to rectify this this year; we could all manage our time better, if even by just a few minutes per day.

This year’s targets

We will round off this rather lengthy post in the right fashion: with a look toward the future and an outlining of aspirations for this coming year. I’ll categorise them in the same order I’ve reviewed them.

Fitness Goals

  • To be able to hold a V sit by the summer – for 5 seconds
  • To be able to hold one of the major levers in calisthenics (planche, human flag, back/front lever) – for 5 seconds with perfect form
  • And to improve my shoulder/lat mobility. This will help my bridge tremendously – also flexibility across the board


  • To calorie count for longer periods than I do at present. Simple.


  • I’ll keep this one simple: build a client base as a brand new strength coach and personal trainer

Personal Life & Personal Development

  • To be more present; not let past or future worries hinder ‘the now’
  • Read first thing every morning – if possible
  • To expand my historical knowledge – I’m already lining up books to help me with this

To some of you this may seem like a scant amount…..If anything, this is quite a small list and none too unachievable. While I was stewing these over I was often letting my thoughts run away; a client base became my own premises. The V sit became a V sit to press handstand. While audacious goals are essential to success, it’s important to be realistic and respect the time frames needed for such endeavours. Knowing the journey is long allows you to embrace the process more.

When I press the publish button, I make this there for everyone to see. Slightly scary, but definitely a positive. I fully intend to increase and improve my posting frequency in future, as writing this made me realise how much I miss just writing, regardless of whether anyone reads it or not.

Happy new year.



JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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