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Refuse To Fail

Just two weeks ago, someone asked me (for the umpteenth time) if I ever get mad. I responded to the question in my opening letter for our Fitness Quest 10 Insider telling about a particularly chaotic evening when our three young children clearly outnumbered me, and my wife, Melanie. I was totally frustrated that night. But in hindsight, it was nothing compared to how I felt on a recent flight between Providence, RI and Tampa, FL where I was headed to participate in an Under Armour Combine360 event.

Before I tell you what happened on the flight, I need to be clear about a few things. Every fitness professional works with people of all shapes and sizes. I have clients who are some of the strongest and most fit men and women I’ve ever known. And on the other hand, my team and I work with a number of individuals who struggle with their weight. I’ve had clients at Fitness Quest 10 who were a hundred pounds or more over weight. These brave individuals fight everyday to break bad habits and replace them with healthy, life-altering choices – chief of which is the choice to get their you-know-what into the gym three or more times a week. I couldn’t admire them more and I thank God they are on a path toward health and wellness.

Here’s my story. On Sunday, I was seated on the plane next to an obese 30-something year old young woman. She was at least 150 lbs overweight and practically took up two seats. In the course of our two-hour flight, she consumed one can of Mountain Dew, one can of Diet Coke, one full-size can of Pringles, and a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  But who’s counting?

I sat and wondered, “Is this really happening right in front of me?” The woman’s headphones, in place for the entire flight, sent a clear message about any potential conversation between us. So I sat wondering about her particular story and the stories of so many others who are obese. I’ve heard a lot of stories and I’ve heard a lot of excuses: thyroid, hormones, medication, bad parenting, poor role models, stress, depression, poverty… the list goes on. I’m not sure why, but Sunday felt like the “last straw” for me. Even though this woman and I never spoke, I left the plane with a new sense of clarity and resolve… I’m done with excuses.

Right here, right now, I’m calling it like I see it. For adults, no matter where or why a weight problem starts, it ends in the same place. My friends, you’ve got to have the willpower to make good choices. We are a nation addicted to food. And most of it is junk. No one force-feeds you. No one stops you from buying fruits and vegetables and lean protein. No one chains you to the couch. No one bars you from your neighborhood gym or stops you at the door when you want to take a walk. There is no one to blame but the guy or gal in the mirror. We are suffering from an epidemic of bad choices and I’ve had enough. Do you or do you not have the will power?

More than ever before, we are well informed about exercise, nutrition and health. Yet, despite this increased awareness, the incidence of disease linked to poor lifestyle is on a rampant rise. Our waistlines continue to expand and our health continues to deteriorate. I have to own this. Each one of us has to own this.

Once home, I contacted my friend Thomas Plummer, a respected fitness industry professional and author of numerous industry books, for some quick facts. With Thomas’ help and a little Internet research ( and, I’ve got some eye-opening stats:

  • Approximately 72.5 million adults in the United States are obese
  • Obese adults are at increased risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and premature death
  • Childhood obesity more than tripled in the past 30 years
  • Obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008
  • Obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1% in 2008
  • 16% of the American population belongs to a health club
  • Of that 16%, only 10% exercise 1 or more times per week
  • Less than 2% of the overall population of the US exercises regularly (3 times per week or more)

Read the facts or just look around – you can see the problem for yourself. Pay attention this summer when you visit any theme park, county fair, airport or restaurant with super sized portions. I sat on that flight this past Sunday and watched a real-time demonstration of this epidemic of bad choices. I took it personally. I felt like I’m failing in my life’s work. Folks, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Enough is enough. I’m taking action right now, and I’m going to need your help. Together, we can form a groundswell and create “MASSIVE ACTION” to fight this epidemic. Here’s how:

Step One is YOU. I want to hear how YOU are going to GET SERIOUS with your own health, fitness, and conditioning. What are you going to commit to doing? What areas of your life are you going to GET SERIOUS about? And you do NOT have to be obese or overweight to step up your game.

Step Two. Then, I want to know how you will share this with others. Will you invite a friend on a walk or a run? Maybe a trip to the gym to join you for a workout? Hire a coach? Will you step up and be a role model in your own family for planning, shopping for and cooking healthy meals? Will you be brave enough to clean out the frig and pantry? Will you be a leader and toss out all that junk? That would be IMPACT!

I can’t do it alone. Together, we can make a real difference. Together, we can create “MASSIVE ACTION” toward change. Together, we must ‘Refuse to Fail.’ I really do want to know what you will do. So, make your plan, write it down and share it with me. Reach out – Tweet me, Facebook me and tell me. If we are going to create MASSIVE ACTION, we need to work together. The time is NOW!

Peace and love,


Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, is an internationally recognized performance coach, personal trainer and massage therapist who motivates, educates and inspires people worldwide.  He is the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA, where his wonderful team of 35 focuses on personal training, massage therapy, Pilates, yoga, sports performance training and nutrition to help transform the bodies, minds and spirits of a broad clientele.  Todd trains dozens of NFL and MLB athletes, including 2010 Super Bowl XLIV Champion and MVP Drew Brees.  He is the head of the Under Armour Performance Training Council, serves on the Gatorade G-Fit Team, and is a featured presenter on the Perform Better educational circuit.  He is a two-time Trainer of the Year (IDEA & ACE).  Additionally, Todd provides motivational talks and programs to companies and conferences worldwide.

Men’s Health recently named his gym, Fitness Quest 10, one of the Top 10 Gyms in the US.  Todd has appeared on 60 Minutes, ESPN, NFL Network and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Business Week, Prevention, ESPN the Magazine, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Journal, Stack Magazine, Self, Shape, Fitness, the NY Times and Washington Post.  Todd has authored 35 DVDs on strength and conditioning, functional fitness, massage/bodywork and business/personal growth.

His new book, The IMPACT! Body Plan, which debuted in September 2010 and is a 10 Week program designed to create world-class fitness and life performance.  You can sign up for Todd’s FREE award-winning Ezine newsletter, the TD TIMES, at or

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