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The Drunken Monkey and His 6 Patterns of Destruction

Are you listening to the Drunken Monkey?

I know you are probably thinking “What the hell is she talking about?” What or who is a Drunken Monkey?

A Drunken Monkey is that voice sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear. That voice tells you frequently what you can blow off doing. He or she would rather you take the easy road, instead of staying on the path to reaching your goals.

The Drunken Monkey tells you to only do 20 minutes on that stair climber instead of the planned 40, or better yet just wait and do it tomorrow. He tells you to skip the gym today, tomorrow, or even the whole week. That sinister little voice in your ear tells you to drink that bottle of wine tonight; it’s just one cheat, right?

The Drunken Monkey sometimes has a really loud voice, drowning out all discipline, and killing all results. There are reasons people fail. Of course, the voice you hear is really just YOU creating excuses and reasons to never pull yourself together, and stay on a plan.

We all do it at times. How much you listen determines your success and failure. I’ll get flack for this, but there are reasons people stay fat and claim going to the gym, diets, and everything else just didn’t work for them.

6 Patterns of Destruction

I’ve witnessed many patterns of destruction over the years. I’ll go over a few that come to mind.

“Won and Done”

Weightlifting for weight management, body transformation, and fitness is a lifestyle pursuit. It is not an on and off thing. I’ve had many people that will go gung-ho for 12-16 weeks, get in great shape, then stop for months only to return to their previous condition or worse.

I had one client go from over 30% bodyfat to around 13% for a body transformation contest. Once the contest was over, she spent a week or so binging on every food imaginable. 2 weeks later she looked like she had never worked out and her bodyfat was nearly back to the starting point. She didn’t understand.

I told her the truth. There is a reason she was fat before. The same things that made her fat before will still make her fat now. The same things that make her fat, make me fat, and everyone else fat. When you get in shape it is not a “won and done” situation. You won the game by sticking with a plan, so now you go back to the old habits? What happens? You go back to the old you.

I am amazed at how many people don’t understand this simple concept. They think once you get in great shape it is something that just remains with no effort. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me “You don’t have to work out; you’re in great shape.” What???

You would think people would know better than this, but they don’t.

The Gym Yo-Yo

The same scenario applies to the people that work out with the long-term goal of having the physique of a seasoned bodybuilding athlete. They want to put that same short-term effort into a specified time, maybe 16 weeks, to build muscle and lean out at the same time. They will put that initial push into the short haul, leaning out a bit, maybe adding a little muscle. But, once the initial “program” is over they disappear for months.

No long-term gains, or accumulative gains are made this way. It becomes a yo-yo pattern, of gaining a little muscle losing a little fat…disappear… lose all progress…start all over. No one will ever reach their goal of muscle mass accumulation this way. It just doesn’t happen! Muscle mass is gained in small increments with constant time under tension. You will never build up significant mass. It just becomes a repetitive cycle never moving forward.

No Effort Fallacy

Another destructive pattern I see is making excuses why your progress is not better. I overheard a guy the other day who I see in the gym frequently. He was bemoaning his lack of progress to gain muscle, and wanted information from a fellow gym rat how steroids would help him. Because in his mind, that was the reason he wasn’t getting progress.

Well, I watched him work out. His workout consisted of about 5 sets of bench press, maybe 10 minutes between each set. He did the same number of sets on a pec fly machine, in the same manner. Then he did a few sets of leg press. Both his workouts and his diet suck.

This guy is not unique. I see it every day. People complain about lack of results and instead of looking at their subpar training, they think the answer is drugs.

The Hater’s Excuse

The same pattern of thinking is used when they see someone else who is in really great shape. They start spouting off that obviously they are all juiced up, and that’s why the other person looks better than they do. There are definitely a lot of drugs in any sport. But this rationalization is just wrong and often very untrue.

You see this kind of mentality from haters on social media. A super fit 60-something woman posted photos of herself on social media recently. The photos went viral, and the haters came out of the woodwork. Obviously, in their minds, the only way to look this good was to be drugged out on steroids. The gorgeous woman DID NOT look like that in the least bit. It just showed the ignorance, and the excuses people make as to why they fail to look the same way.

It not only disrespects and short-changes the person they are blasting, disregarding all their many years of consistent hard work and discipline, but it also short-changes the hater who believes such fallacies. The hater is just listening to that Drunken Monkey telling them that success isn’t possible and creating a validation as to why. It is all lies.

Take off the Blinders!

The same rationalization is used in the gym. You’ve got people who put in the hours every day and reap the results. Then you have the ones that may put in some hours, but with workouts that are little more than a waste of time. Well, all movement is beneficial in some way. But it is a waste of time as it pertains to reaching significant body transformation goals. The person failing at achieving results listens to that Drunken Monkey who rationalizes for them the reasons. It must be because everyone who looks good is a drug head, right? It couldn’t be possibly a problem with how they are training or eating. Or could it? Take off the blinders! Most often, the Drunken Monkey lies.


The gym can be an intimidating thing for many. Let’s face it, we are not all secure and confident people. In fact, I think most of us are not, even those who profess to be and seem to have the least to be insecure about.

Another path of destruction that comes to mind is when you listen to the Drunken Monkey tell you that you don’t belong in the gym. He plays on your insecurities telling you that you don’t look good enough to be there, or everyone is looking at you, or making fun of you. Those again are lies!

I’ve never experienced a more supportive atmosphere than the gym, where people truly cheer for your success. It is the total opposite from outside life, where “friends” will often try to sabotage you, because your failure makes them feel better about themselves.

Gym people who are in great shape, normally are NOT criticizing and mocking other people. They understand the road is hard to get there and are usually willing to help those that come in ready to work, drop the attitude, and be part of the family. More often than not, the mockers are those that are envious of the people who are in great shape, and let their attitudes and insecurities get the best of them.

In Summary:

So, what plan of action do I suggest? Do a deep dive into your psyche and see if you exhibit any of these patterns of destruction. Knock that Drunken Monkey off your shoulder and take a good long look at what you want, and how much effort you are willing to put out to get there. Set realistic goals, work hard, and be consistent. Everyone can achieve their goals if they do what it takes.

I asked my old friend Rich Piana, RIP, what the 5% stood for in his 5% Nutrition company. He explained to me that everyone wants something, but only 5% of the people are willing to do what it takes to get there. I say, this is very true. You don’t have to go to the extremes that Rich did, because his goals were extreme. But you can still set realistic safe goals and be one of the 5%!

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