September 21. 2016

Deciding What's Best For You

Are you on the right path?

This is a question that pounds inside of my head on a daily basis. A question that has me analyze my approach and determine what I believe to be best or better for me. 

Recently I've had a bit of difficulty staying mentally motivated. I have been battling an injury for six months now and it has taken a great toll on me emotionally and mentally. Being injured can cause you to lose hope for lack of a better phrase. 

There have been so many days where I've fought and lost and it gets to be quite taxing on a person. Now I see however that my thought process was being lead in a way that was not healthy for me and I have been fighting daily to improve it. 

I've said this before and I've heard it before. Life is a marathon, not a race. This is true for almost all aspects of life and has been a constant thing I've had to tell myself when I try to reach the finish line too fast. 

When I was depressed about my injury, I felt hopeless, but finally we have found the root of the the issue and it's not even something I would have guessed or come close to thinking of. My biceps in my right arm is compressing the nerves that lead all the way up for the base of my neck. What a trip? It almost doesn't make any sense. 

Just last week I had some therapy done, and at that time I thought "this will never get better". My therapist aggressively manipulated my biceps in my right arm and I thought I was going to cry. I never realized how tight and locked up they were. After he did this, I had zero pain for an entire week for the first time in six months!!! What an amazing feeling and relief.

Then the pain started to come back, just two days ago. I had the same treatment yesterday and the pain is starting to subside again. My nerves are being impinged by muscle. That is not something I would have ever thought of or even guessed was possible. 

So going through this has taught me a number of things.  

Practice what you preach is above all the most important. I can diet and exercise with the best of them, but then I forget to stretch. I used to stretch constantly, and I've allowed myself to skip it for almost every work out for about a year now. That is just ridiculous. Stretching is an absolute must for all people, and if you don't believe so, try it and tell me you don't feel better. I've always been a exerciser who stretch after a workout. I just got so busy with getting in and out, that I wasn't allotting myself the time to do this. 

So what I've been given is a chance to learn from what I've gone through. For me this has happened a lot through out my life and each time I'm grateful for it. Yes, I'm saying I'm grateful for my injury because without it, I would not have learned. Learning to me is the most valuable tool we have and we must constantly thrive to learn more and more. I want to improve each day, each week, month, year in one way or another. That's why I'm always learning. 

What's has been best for me is taking a step back from who I was and deciding who I wanted to be. I want to be the best me, and it's funny, I was already and just didn't know it. I had simply allowed myself to be fooled into not believe it. I am how I want to be. I'm not perfect in any way shape or form, but I am a good man with a great life and a wonderful family. Everything else in immaterial to me. I am blessed beyond belief. 

We can do anything in life, all we have to do is not give up and push through even when it's hard. Even when we think it's impossible. Don't listen to the people who tell you otherwise because even if they are right and you can't accomplish that goal, there is a great deal of self worth and value to be earned in attempting it. We can't all be super models or doctors or millionaires or whatever you've aspired to be. So what! We can still try to do what we've thought impossible and sometimes we will accomplish it. When we don't, we simply have to learn from it and move on. 

So what's best for me is to be who I am. I am a man who is determined and I will never give up. 

Thank you for listening to my thoughts today. Remember to enjoy who you are and to love those around you as well as yourself. 

Adam Hartley

Partner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting

September 15. 2016

One Day At A Time

Hello friends, happy Friday! It is actually Thursday night for me and boy what a week it has been! Between work, school, working out, and just living life I have been going nonstop. Right now I am just lying in bed writing you guys and it’s the best feeling finally being off my feet. I like being productive and busy but I do like my lazy Sundays where I usually don’t leave home!

Today though at work I had a gentleman that wanted to discuss my lifestyle. I talked about what competing and bodybuilding is for me and the others around me. He asked me “so you think girls should have muscles?” I have had many people talk to me about their opinions towards bodybuilding so I wasn’t as phased as I have been in the past when he didn’t agree with my response. What I said was “if anyone (not just a woman) puts in time, effort, and discipline, then I give my respect to that individual and I think it honestly is a beautiful thing”.

I try to relate on all topics. I know and see many people’s thoughts thrive off the idea of money. I am not one of those people. Sure I want to be financially secure and be successful in life but I don’t have the desire to be in an executive position. So I don’t think poorly of those who do want to bring in those dollars! That’s what they enjoy doing, go do it!

Lately, I have been enjoying a relaxed life with food and drinks which has hindered my progress towards my goals. Do I regret it… ummmmm. Yes and no. I feel like the last few months I lost some of myself and my vision towards life (not just bodybuilding) became a little foggy. Does that mean I give up? I’m still passionate as ever. Maybe sometimes it takes loosing yourself to really find out who you are. Yes, I do regret it, not because of the weight—I mean yea being fluffy isn’t all peaches, more like ice cream and cookies—but because of the feeling afterward. When you wake up hungover or you ate too much and feel sick. Verses being at the gym sure, I don’t always want to be there (most of the time I do), but the feeling after is always worth it. Rarely do I leave the gym upset.

I never want to sound repetitive in my talks to you guys but at the end of the day enjoy what you do. Work for growth in anything your heart desires and find beauty in others around you. Maybe it’s something different, but hey is different always bad?

I hope most answered no!

Have a great weekend friends,


September 14. 2016

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

Good morning. 

A thought occurred to me today and it's something that bugs me quite often. As a guy who spends a lot of time in the gym and around people who are into fitness, I hear a lot of negativity quite frequently. One of the biggest things I hear come out of people's mouths is "I'm fat" or "I shouldn't be doing this" or some variation of saying I'm out of shape. It's pretty disturbing especially when you take into account that the person who is saying it is usually someone that is more fit than 90% of the population. 

I look at myself in the mirror from time to time and think the exact same thing as I'm speaking about. Why? Well I've allowed my perception of reality to become completely skewed and base my self worth on an ideal that doesn't even matter. We are not perfect and we never will be. I'll repeat that for good measure. WE NEVER WILL BE. 

So why try right? Wrong. We try because we want to improve who we are as a whole, not because we want to be perfect. If that is the case, then I hate to inform you you're doing it wrong. You are only going to disappoint yourself and be depressed because there is no such thing as perfection. Now you can be the best at something, there's no doubt about that. Look at all those amazing athlete's out there that prove that on a daily basis. They still are not perfect and I guarantee you they still have these thoughts about themselves from time to time.

As human beings we are inherently programmed to always want more. More time, more money, more success (yes those last two can be different), more friends, more, more, more, more. It kind of messes with your head when you realize that even though the sky is the limit, there is a limit and you have to find some sense of acceptance in it.

When you think to yourself "I'm fat" or "I'm not good enough". Ask yourself what would make you good enough. It's not always an easy question to answer because most of the time we are having these thoughts, we are simply being self loathing and unreasonable. Sure having nice things, a better job, being in better shape...etc. will make us feel better, but it will not complete us and keep us fulfilled. Fitness is not just about your body being fit. It's about you being of sound body, mind  and spirit. 

There's been many times I've said that I thought I wasn't good enough and guess what? I was wrong. I am a success and I am good enough. What I had to do to determine this was to sit back and think about all that I've accomplished. Make a list of things I am grateful for and realize how blessed I am. 

I'm not trying to say that there aren't those of you out there who are not in the best place, because I don't know that for a fact and it of course can be the case. What I'm trying to get across is realizing your situation and embracing it. Trying to see the good out of the bad and taking life for what it is. Imperfect and challenging. 

Stop being so hard on yourself and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Only you can control your emotions, but you cannot control the world around you. In order to be a true success there is a certain level of embracing that needs to occur. You have to roll with the punches sometimes and throw your own at others. 

Every single one of us out there can be a success or is a success in our own way. We just have to take stock in ourselves and realize it. 

So the next time you think about calling yourself something you are not, think about why you are saying it. Try to analyze that emotional response and see if you can conquer it. It takes time to do this and it's something I'm always working on myself.

We are perfectly flawed and beautiful human beings and I wouldn't change that for that world.

Take care and love yourself.


Adam Hartley

Co-Owner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting

Email me at for exercise and nutrition programs 
September 9. 2016


Hello friends, welcome back. Hope you had a great week and if not so great well then the weekend is finally here! So you get to relax and prepare to have another week. The cycle of our life. Days just fly by! So here is some news if you guys don’t know me but this Saturday is my birthday. As a child, birthdays are looked forward to because of presents! In my adult life, nearing my birthday I always find myself reflecting on the last year. What I have accomplished and what I want to focus on for the upcoming year.

I will be turning the lovely 22! Honestly, I feel so much older but at the same time I feel like I blinked! I swear yesterday I was in high school and everything was so much easier. Although things weren’t easier when I was younger, my stress was just different. You change and adapt over time. If you told me I would be where I am today, you would have shocked me. I thought I would be worried about school, partying, and dating but instead its bodybuilding, school, work, and my dear friends.

I think back on the hardships of my adult life. I know guys, I’m still young and things get harder but I can’t help but to feel grateful for those struggles. Sure, I wish my ass didn’t hurt so much, that I wasn’t so exhausted, or I had some extra time and money but this is who it has made me today. My decisions and actions lead me to what I am and what I am to become.

I look in the mirror and this is me. This is Cassandra Dean Ross, or Sassy Cassie whenever I am tired hungry or just being a spaz. I love bodybuilding and dreaming. These things are what make me… ME! You have heard me complaining and being upset, being a baby ever since my show. From struggles with life and making excuses for myself.

Today, I look at myself and I see the choices I have made and am not ashamed but proud. I am proud that I surround myself with good people, I am happy I struggle, and even (I can guarantee that you will hear me change my mind about this later) but I’m glad I gained that weight after my show. I say that because even though that is a HUGE thing that bothered me and still some days bothers me it gives me the chance to learn from my decisions I made.

My drive, passion, fire is ablaze! My focus is 100% where I WANT to be. It’s not where I need to be. My choice and my decisions. Thank you guys for following me on this bumpy windy path of my life and the continued support. I can’t tell you how much it means to me! In my best Arnold impersonation voice “I’ll be back!”

Love you guys,



September 7. 2016

Mental Gains

Good morning everyone.

I'd like to talk today about something that may be a bit of an uncomfortable subject to some and a welcome topic to others. That something is mental health. 

As a boy growing up, I learned from a very young age what it means to have issues or presumed issues in the category of mental health. I was told that I had a bit of ADD and later told I had some depression to go with it. Now as a child, I didn't really understand what that meant. Even as a teen I didn't. What I did understand was that I had some issues and at the time I thought I was the only one. 

For years I struggled with this thing called mental health. It felt as if I was walking without purpose or that I just had no guide to follow and was doomed to be on a path of endless torment. A bit dramatic right? It is, and as a teen I felt like that, which I now realize is silly and work daily on ensuring my own kids don't feel like this. 

Depression, anxiety, ocd, add, bipolar, all these words seem a bit much to swallow and so doom and gloom. They are labels that define a person if they let them. I have known many, many people who are down right controlled by some mental affliction and do not know how to get out of this struggle or they are resigned to it. 

I say here and now, you do not have to resign to it. You can indeed flex those brain muscles of yours and work them out as well and improve your quality of life. 

My entire life I have struggled in one way or another. Be it mentally, physically, or spiritually. Does that make me unique? No. In fact it makes me kind of normal. Almost everyone I've met in life has had their own person struggles, and if not, they may not be owning up to them or are able to suppress them. I embrace them as I do all struggles in life now.

Over my years of living I have learned that life can improve if you allow it to. If you believe in what you do and in yourself, you will flourish. It's not always as easy done as it is said, but there are many ways you can move forward instead of backwards.

Each day I have a routine. It's not even a routine that's specific to improving a certain part of me, but just having a routine in general helps me. It gives you purpose. So while my routine may seem silly to some, it's extremely important to me. 

There are several other things I do on a regular basis to improve and continue to improve my mental state.

I go to the gym, if not daily at least five to six times a week. It is well known that exercise releases chemicals in the brain that improve your quality of life, so I do this to improve mine. 

I eat healthy. Not every meal of everyday, but overall. This ensures that my brain is getting the proper nutrients to work the most efficiently. 

I play bass guitar, listen to music, read, talk to my friends, enjoy my family and my time with them, love my wife and tell her so, run errands, keep myself busy, cherish what I have...etc.

It all works together. 

I am not the definition of mental health by any means, but I am constantly a work in progress. Moving forward to gain more. To add more value, insight, intelligence, happiness and spirituality.

Being a work in progress is what I believe we all want to be. We don't ever want to be done, then there would no longer be a point. We want to constantly improve or work on improving. It's not an overnight thing, it takes time.

My life has changed many times over and regardless of how I may have felt at the time, it's always been for the better. There were hardships and times of sadness, but there was also times of joy and feelings of awesomeness that are unparalleled. 

Life is truly good and it is a constantly changing beast that cannot be contained. However, my life can be better everyday if I work at it and stay active in it. I want to always improve my health, wellness and general well being. By doing so, I will be the best me I can be. 

So what I learned as a young man is that I had issues. What I didn't know is that if you don't have issues, you probably are not human. There is not a person alive on this planet that does not have a struggle. Together though, we can make this struggle better. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and in each other. 

Depression, anxiety, anguish...these are just words that we do not have to let run our lives and the way you control it is by having dignity in oneself and working to maintain that dignity no matter what. 

A challenge to those of you out there reading today. Ask yourself this. Am I happy and do I accept who I am? 

If you can say yes to these two questions, you are on the path of self improvement and in a great place. If you say no, then ask yourself this. What can I do to get to this place? Really think about it. Meditate on it and let it really sink in. Don't brush it aside. We have to do this in order to improve and be the best we can be. 

There are many things that matter in life, and we must remember that we are one of those things. Love yourself, and if you can't, figure out what you can do to start doing so. You are worth it. 

Live today for today. Take this day head on. Don't shy away, embrace it. 

I hope everyone has a great week. 

Thanks so much,

Adam Hartley

Co-Owner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting

September 2. 2016

The Most Important Thing

Have fun, enjoy the work you put in! Going to work, studying for a test, the journey of life.


Hey guys, it is August 30, 2016 and have been thinking about this topic a lot recently. But a lot of time we are just go, go, go and forget to enjoy the things around us. My example is myself, obviously. This week I worked, went to school, hit the gym, and am babysitting. If I wasn’t busy enough let’s throw a little human into it. I enjoy helping friends. Also, at the end of the day when I ask him what he would like to do and he looks at me and says “I want to spend time with you” it melts my heart! Someone appreciates me!


Recently instead of looking at competition photos and being sad that I rebounded (gaining the weight back) I have been looking back at the picture at the beginning of my journey. This time last year I was just beginning my journey to really enjoying this life change. Along the way I have had some bumps in the road but I know there is always still hope. Even on the days where I skip the gym, eat something I do, fail a test, or call in sick to work.


So last week I did what I wanted. Worked out how I wanted and it was great. It gave me time to reset and adjust my mind, being at peace. So when I’m ready to start doing what my coach tells me I will do just that. Before I said follow a plan but really I need to do what I’m told and not give my two cents or second guess myself. You hire a coach for a reason. To do the thinking and worrying for you! Duh!


These next few months my goals are to continue living my life to the absolute fullest and enjoying being myself. What I wish to work on is my confidence and lowering my body fat over a period of time, enjoying every step I take. Not dreading putting in work or the diet. So when my coach says it’s time to pick a show or start prepping again I will be ready and will be able to compete. I drink out of a gallon jug, I “try” to lift the heavy weight, I eat out of Tupperware. That’s me and what I enjoy.


Have a great weekend friends and go enjoy some pumpkin spice flavored foods for me. They are my favorites for fall.


Till next time,



August 31. 2016

Working Towards Health

Good morning everyone! It's a beautiful day out and I'm ready to rock today. 

There are many reason to exercise. Some folks exercise to get ready for a bodybuilding show, some exercise to offset (or at least they think) the food they eat, some exercise to just keep moving, some do it because it's the thing to do and they don't really understand why they do it. 

I've thought about it a lot and analyzed myself and others around me to try and come to one conclusion of why we do this everyday or every other day or however often you do exercise. There is no definitive reason for every person, but there ought to be. It's something that gets skewed and dissociated with the path because of egos, and plain lack of a purpose. 

Day in and day out, I'll watch people lift the heaviest weight they can, often times with poor form, and wonder to myself if they know why they are doing it. I myself used to do just this but at some point in my life became conscious of that fact and started working towards a different goal. 

So what do I believe is the main purpose of exercise? Well, it's really quite simple if you break it down. The main purpose or idea is to improve or continue to maintain ones health and wellness. Exercise has numerous benefits and the greatest of those is it's ability to prolong ones lifespan. I would think to most this would be the single most important thing in life.

I won't lie, it feels good to take your shirt off and have a nice six pack set of abs or see striations in your musculature during a bodybuilding prep. However, a lot of folks, myself included on occasion, allow these superficial thought processes to guide our every move and forget the true meaning and purpose of why we do what we do. 

There is a lot to live for in my opinion and I know that in my life, I want to make it the best I can and live as long as I can. Why not? I have children, and a loving wife and want to watch them all flourish for many, many years. So I exercise. I eat healthy, I don't smoke or drink or do drugs. I watch my blood pressure, my cholesterol...etc. I take care of myself. Why? Well because I love myself and I love my family and I want to be apart of their lives as long as possible. 

Does this mean that exercising to look good in the mirror is wrong? No! Absolutely not. If you're doing that, then you're still working towards a healthy you. By lowering your body fat and increasing muscle density, you will be working on all those other vital organs and prolonging your life as well. It's just a good thing to have health in your mind as well as simply looking good. Keep that long term goal there but don't be afraid to cease the day as well! I'm not telling you not to drink occasionally or have a good time, I'm telling you what I have to do to be happy and healthy. Every person is different, yet we are more similar than we would like to admit. 

My ultimate goal with health and wellness is to be as strong and as fit as I am right now for the rest of my life. It's a big goal believe it or not. To maintain is so much harder than to push to lose weight or gain weight. To remain the same in some ways but constantly improve as a whole. 

Be strong folks and continue to do the best that you can. If you need help, ask for it. Don't be afraid, we all have to ask for help sometimes. 

Until next time friends!!!


Adam Hartley

Co-Owner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting

Contact me at for meal plans/exercise 

August 26. 2016

Mind, Body, Soul

Hey guys, welcome back! So I started school this week and I am really excited for all my classes. I must admit though on Wednesday I missed two of my classes! The jist of the situation is that I wasn’t organized and now I need to get the hang of my new schedule. Oh well live and learn right?

I have had some thought about today’s topic all week long. If you have been following me for a while I have been experiencing some bumps in the road. I may try to fix the situation but wasn’t getting to the root of the problem. These three things, mind, body, and soul are what I believe are key components to an individual’s success.

Let’s start off with the soul. If you have passion that can really determine your drive to completing your goal. The love and courage it takes to go after a dream takes being vulnerable to the hardships you may face and that is where the confidence you have in yourself and willpower you have to never give up.

The body. Many people today suffer from illness or injury where their body limits them to go after what they want. To the people that have a capable body and take care of it. Don’t abuse that privilege because it doesn’t always last. Things can be temporary.

The mind, this is what we know lately I have been suffering lack of. My mentally game use to be so strong where nothing would get in my way or phase me from what I wanted. I was a go getter. Was is the key word. But I can and will be again. Every day is a challenge, but every day I face it head on. Some days are better than others yes. I know with time I will be back and being stronger than ever. Time, patience, and persistence!

You can have one, two, or all three of these things. Understand your weakness and work to make it your strength! Once you have all three, I guarantee that nothing will stop you from where you want to be. Dreams do come true. We wouldn’t have all these stories about them if they were not things that are attainable. Don’t ever let someone say you aren’t good enough or that what you want isn’t “realistic”! You work your butt off and you go out and take it! No Fear!

I hope this gave some inspirations to someone out there struggling just like me. If you aren’t failing then you are not trying hard enough. Keep learning and growing! Have a great weekend guys.

Till next time,


August 24. 2016

Adjusting to Change

Today is a new day and with that comes more challenges and more goals to accomplish. I've decided it's time to make a change, which I have not wanted to do for a long time because, well, I don't like change to be honest. 

My change is going to be to my exercise routine, which is something I've come quite accustomed to. Every time I work out, I have the same basic routine, which is great for hypertrophy or leaning out for a show. It isn't however helping me in regards to my injury that I sustained from doing who knows what. So it's put me in the potion that it's time to mix it up. Which is not a bad thing! 

Over the years, I've preached about explosive exercise and how much better I feel when performing it. Plyometrics specifically are probably my single favorite form of exercise, which I've neglected for a long time now. I didn't neglect it for the lack of benefit but because I didn't think I need it. Now I'm rethinking my entire process. 

I've decided that I'm going to start doing yoga again, which I know for whatever reason a lot males are against, but I assure you it is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise there is. I also am going to start doing more fast paced and endurance based exercises. This isn't something I'm going to do forever, just something to mix up my routine and work on areas of my body that have been partially neglecting. I want to be a well rounded athlete. 

What's right for me, may be what's right for you, but it also could be not right for you. I've had many, many years in the gym and experienced all kinds of different exercises and thought processes. Almost all of them have their own benefits or downfalls. Nothing is perfect in this world and that is why we must constantly work at making things closer to what's right for us. 

As much as I despise change and again I do, I am kind of excited about the premise of mixing it up. It will be a breathe of fresh air. 

If you get stagnant in your own workout routine or feel bored, often times you just need to fight that feeling, but sometimes you do need a change. You just don't need to change constantly. It's a mistake a lot of folks make in the gym. If you are constantly changing, you're never really progressing in one way or another. So consistency is key. I on the other hand am so in tune with my body now, I can tell when I need this. 

I need it. 

Today, push through folks and don't give up. If you feel like you need a break, try something new, but don't stray from the path of what's important. Being healthy and happy.

Thanks so much

Adam Hartley

Co-Owner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting

August 19. 2016


Hey friends! Its Friday again so I’m back. Cassie here, and I wanted to touch on a topic today that we have discussed prior but I am not for sure we really dived into. If you read the title, then yes it’s about anxiety!

1.      distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune

2.      a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.

In the first definition of anxiety above, I want to focus on the key words like DISTRESS and FEAR. Both of these terms are something we can agree we don’t like, right? Most people do not enjoy being stressed or in constant fear. Now look at the second definition, the phrase “psychic tension” or “mental disorder”. A disorder I personally usually associate as a problem. Everyone interprets things differently but from these examples above everything is screaming bad!

When you make it more specific topic like towards food, the weight scale, cardio, bills, relationships with others, etc. to name a few of mine. That negative thought is transferred over and now you associate that subject with those feelings. Soon this can be a habit and we all know habits are hard to break.

These past few months my anxiety I have mainly had is towards finances, food, and my weight gain. I don’t want these things to always be something I have a problem with so I must cope.

I need to nick the night time eating in the butt for one. I have no idea why this is a problem. I wake up at midnight and 2 o clock and always eat more food, bad Cassie! This is why my weight is where it is and this also can affect my finances because let’s be honest groceries are expensive plus being a bodybuilder while being in college viola! Recipe for more problems. I know if I break my habit that will be the first step to being back on my road.

Otherwise guys, I train hard and follow my plan but it is the one struggle I haven’t cracked yet. Which caused me an enormous amount of anxiety. That little problem I had multiplied by other areas. I WILL nip this problem in the butt. I WILL compete again. It is my decision and responsibility to take care of myself and that means working on my goals and dreams!

This weekend friends, enjoy time to relax and if you are feeling stressed acknowledge the feeling but don’t let it ruin your day or mood. This time is temporary and we do make it through in the end. I start school next week so here is to working on being a better adult. 3 weeks till I turn 22!!!!

See you around,




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