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525: The Habit Factor: How to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success with Martin Grunburg

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525: The Habit Factor: How to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success with Martin Grunburg

There’s a lot of literature about how often you need to do something before it becomes a habit. Some experts measure it on days in a row, others talk about weeks, and many others think it is about the iterations and quality.

Still, nobody seems to contemplate what happens the day you miss, forget, or simply don’t feel like doing the thing. Or even more important than that, nobody talks about the driving force that made you decide to incorporate that habit. Spoiler alert: it is the same driving force that will help you sustain that habit in the long run.

So, what is the best way to build habits? Is there a way to convince ourselves to repeat simple tasks with the potential of changing our lives? Let’s find out.

In today’s episode, Ted interviews the father of the modern habit-tracking movement, an author, coach, TEDx speaker, and one of coaching’s OGs, Martin Grunburg.

Martin reveals the number one reason most people fail at forming habits and the three things you need to get right to create long-lasting habits. Martin shares some simple yet powerful tools, like the PARR method and the tracking sheet, and explains why it is detrimental to track your progress.

Plus, Martin teaches how to deal with excuses, the role the stories in our heads play in forming new habits, why we shouldn’t pay too much attention to emotions, and so much more. Listen now!

Today’s Guest 

Martin Grunburg

Martin Grunburg is the creator of The Habit Factor® app as well as the author of the international bestselling book sharing the same name. He’s widely recognized as the father of the modern habit tracking movement for goal achievement.

Martin was invited to present these revolutionary insights about habit and goal achievement at TEDx in the United Arab Emirates, and his work has been featured in the world’s most popular productivity blogs such as and as well as New York Times, C|Net and OpenForum.

He’s been identified by Success Magazine as one of today’s most inspirational, creative and respected thought-leaders in the multibillion-dollar personal-development arena.


Connect to Martin Grunburg  

Habits 2 Goals: The Habit Factor® Podcast with Martin Grunburg 





The Habit Factor®: An Innovative Method to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success 

The Pressure Paradox™: Your Path to Maximum Productivity, Performance & Peace of Mind 

EVERYTHING Is a F*cking STORY: Recognize & Rewrite the Stories that Steer Your Life 


You’ll learn:

  • Why you should focus more on core habits than on to-do lists 
  • What made Martin decide to start focusing on life-changing habits 
  • What are habit alignment and habit strength, and how to achieve them 
  • What is the PARR method, and how it helps you build habits? 
  • What are three elements you must get right to develop a habit? 
  • What is the difference CHOICE can make in habit building, and what is self-advocacy 
  • What can we learn from Ryan Hall’s story? 
  • And much more… 


Related Episodes:  

523: 3 Habits I Used to Achieve 10% Body Fat without Giving Up My Favorite Foods 

Ted Talk 151: 3 Simple (But Effective) Habits That Will Help You Lose Fat Without Restrictive Diets Or Time-Consuming Workouts 

Hack Your Day: 15 Daily Habits That Highly Successful People Do To Perform Better In Life 


Links Mentioned: 

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Podcast Transcription: The Habit Factor: How to Align Habits with Goals to Achieve Success with Martin Grunburg

Ted Ryce: Hey, Martin, thanks so much for coming on the show today. Really excited to speak to you, man.  

Martin Grunburg: It’s an honor and a privilege, Ted Ryce. I’m a huge fan.  

Ted Ryce: Thanks so much, and you had me on your show. But the reality is, you’re an OG rock star in the coaching world. And you have this book about habits that came out way before James Clear’s, Atomic Habits book. So, for the people… There you go, that habit factor. We can talk about some of this. But what I want to get into first is I’d love to hear a little bit about your journey. Like, tell us a little bit about who you are what you do.  

Martin Grunburg: Absolutely. And I was chuckling at the OG reference, because I guess I have to go with it. I’ve heard that. The day before I was up at USC presenting on this stuff. And this, Professor Glenn Fox introduced me the same way to all his, like 150 students, and pretty much said the exact same thing. So, the origin story, I think you know some of it, and I recounted in the habit factor. And there are some parallels now when I think about it, and your story and really the genesis of change, it has to do with negative emotions.  

And there’s a lot in the coaching world about, you know, like, either avoid or get rid of, or ignore the negative emotions. And I think in hindsight, through experience, I’ve learned that there’s tremendous value in that, and we’ll circle back to that. But in that state, I was 35. And from the outside looking in, I mean, I was probably married five years, I had a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old daughter. 

So married five years, I’m 35 years old, the business is doing two-ish million. I got 23 employees, and I’m miserable, dude, I’m like, I’m truly... And I can’t put my finger on it. It sounds ridiculous. It’s almost like a midlife crisis, premature midlife crisis. So, 35, depressed. And I went through, and I feel like I’ve told you this, but I went through a Tony Robbins, you know, the rocking chair exercise. You pretend you’re at 80/85. And you’re reflecting on a great life, because I was so depressed in the moment, and I didn’t know where to go which way.  

So I go through this exercise, and I ratcheted it up, kind of organically or naturally. And what I mean by that is, I went from 85 reflecting on a great life to “I have died tomorrow and what do I most regret not doing or achieving?” And, and so it became this bucket list exercise. So this is almost 20 years ago.  

And the crazy part of it is something came to the top of the list, which surprised me. It’s called the Catalina Classic. It’s a paddleboarding event. You paddle 32 miles with your arms, laying on a board, from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach. And I was shocked that’s at the top of the list. And I’m like how, you know, this is so weird.  

So from 17 years old to 35, 18 years, this was a suppressed ambition or goal. And yet, here I was there 18 years later, hadn’t done it. So, I challenged myself. And I’ll wrapped up. I challenged myself, “You’re either signing up now…” And by the way, I didn’t have a paddle board. I never paddled one mile. And I said, “You’re either signing up now or forget about it forever.” 

And next thing I knew literally, I’m like flying downstairs. It’s kind of the early days of the web, but I’m looking for a way to sign up. I pay 200 bucks ish. I think a little more. And then I’m signed up, and then I panic because I’m like, “Holy shit. What did I just do? I’m committed to a 32-mile paddle. I don’t even have a paddleboard. I’ve never paddled.”  

So insane pressure. And that’s another topic we can get into. But that started my journey. Because from that, I had to figure out how am I going to achieve this goal? And it came down to the rhythm of the week, identifying core supportive habits…The best practices of the time, if you really want to talk OG school is, best practices were SMART goals.  

And they still kind of are, which is a little disappointing. Problem with the SMART goal is you get a to-do list and you could have, is it 100 items? Is it 200 items? When does it stop? And so the habit factor, which would become the habit factor says, it’s less about a to do list and it’s more about core recurring behaviors and habits. 

So anyways, I ended up identifying what I’m going to do over the rhythm of the week. And it’s not that I have to do it every day. So I’m like, I need to paddle 20 minutes, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for instance. I need to run six miles a week to get conditioning, I need to eat better.  

And then I just started tracking this on this ugly tracking sheet, which still exists today. It’s been downloaded 100,000 plus times. The app? A quarter million times. But it all started from that. And that’s why I’m saying there’s value in – it sounds crazy a bit, probably poor choice of language, but to find the value in the depression, in the frustration, in the anger. There’s something there with some reflection. So, I’ll leave it at that. That’s where it started. 

Ted Ryce: Man, yeah. And please, what we love here is to expand on this story, right? So don’t hold the juicy details back at all, please. People can get your book and get into it, for sure if they want to talk strategy. And we’ll get into that, too, Martin, but you have such a fascinating story. And so, it was this Catalina Classic 32-mile open ocean race, and you’ve done it four times. So total four times, right? 

Martin Grunburg: Yeah, that first year, I gave myself… So, it happened to be my 35th  birthday when I’m going through this angst, and nobody really knows, my wife doesn’t know, the kids don’t know, but I’m just upstairs and I’m meditating and I’m just like, “What the? The trajectory I was on, it didn’t feel right.  

And so you know, there’s a classic. If you’re a fan of old, old school, Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits. Well, the second one is “Begin with the end in mind.” And so for me, if beginning with the end in mind is important, and it is, the ultimate end in mind is your obituary exercise, right?  

That is the place I think everybody should begin. And it’s interesting that I say that because the gal who wrote the… I think she’s on the cover. No, she’s not. Her name is Ross Savage. So she writes the foreword. As I’m writing the book, she blogs about the app, how she’s using it, I’m like, “I need to look up this woman.”  

Turns out, this woman has rode solo across the Atlantic, the Pacific, you know, in a rowboat solo, in the Indian Oceans at the time, it was just—I can’t believe I’m saying just—it was just the Atlantic.  

And so once we became fast friends, I invited her to write the foreword. And the reason I’m sharing that story is when you read the foreword, she had the same sort of epiphany. She was a management consultant, she felt like it was a soulless experience. And she just abandoned, essentially a marriage, a career and jumped in a boat to be an eco activist. Now, I’m not saying everybody should do something like that. But what I am saying is we share a parallel experience with our obituary exercises, if that makes sense.  

Ted Ryce: Yeah. And Martin, I’m curious, like, we’ll focus on you, of course, because Ross is in here. But why do you think…? So, you’re in a business, you’re making millions a year, you got 23 employees, if I remember the number correctly. From the outside in, you’re crushing it. So in this is 20 years ago, so especially making millions in that time? Wow!  

Why do you think it was a paddle? Like, why do you think that came up and that was the catalyst to everything? I mean, I get you signed up for this event and you got to develop the habits to compete and not have people come and fish you out of the ocean or helicopter rescue. But why do you think it was something like a race and something physical? Was there something else that you can share about that?  

Martin Grunburg: Yeah, there is. There’s two angles and I hope I remember both of them. One is, you know, I grew up in La, I surf Malibu all the time, so I was part of this surf culture. And I’m looking at these magazines. And every year, I get the magazine and they’re like the Catalina Classic. And you see the happiest dudes. It was mostly guys back then, I can’t remember. They’re just glowing and they just paddled 32 miles. 

And anyway, you’re seeing these images year over year, over year, and you’re immersed in that culture. And every year I said, “Someday, I’m going to do that. Someday I’m going to do that. Someday I’m going to do that.” And then obviously that faded away and next thing I know, I’m 35 and I’m like, “What the F?” Like, “What happened in my life?”  

So, it was always a someday aisle, which Brian Tracy likes to say, someday aisle is an island nobody wants to be on, right? Someday aisle. The other aspect is, I guess maybe because I had been somewhat competitive and athletic. I think it just fits, and this was the other angle, Ted, and I think you’ll appreciate it.  

Now, when we coach, we go through the four core pillars of wellness. When I look back, this is really the answer. The big answer is... So, the four core pillars, as you probably know: mind, body, social and spiritual. And what was really lacking was the body component. Like I was learning relative to the mind, I was doing a lot of learning, I was part of a great...  

Ted Ryce: You’re meditating.  

Martin Grunburg: Exactly. And I was part of a great social network and entrepreneur network, but the body aspect was missing. And I think looking back, I can see that now. My body was weak, my body was not strong. And then, I can only see that now when I’m talking to you, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written that anywhere, but that’s the assessment I do when we coach. It’s the four core pillars. And just knowing which one needs attention helps lead you toward the habits that will bolster those aspect of wellness. Does that make sense?  

Ted Ryce: Yeah, Martin. And I’m curious. You said you were surfing, and you were immersed in surfing culture. Had you gotten out of shape while running your business? Why do you say that you were weak?  

Martin Grunburg: So, just to give you an example, I sensed it. Like I was in surfing condition, but I would say... 

Ted Ryce: I’m not a surfer, so maybe it doesn’t take that much energy. 

Martin Grunburg: No, no, it does, but you can be conditioned to one thing and not another. So, for instance, I’d go out on a run saying, I’m going to run a marathon someday. And then I’d go out and run six miles and then I couldn’t walk for like a week. And so, I didn’t understand that there was a real process to developing. 

So, what the habit factor’s all about in a couple words or terms is habit alignment is one, and habit strength is how you build automaticity. So, between those two, to go out and have a burst of energy, to go run six miles is foolish if you’ve never run before.  

So, anyways, going back to that tracking sheet is a process to up the ante. You track for four weeks and then you raise the bar, and that’s how you develop habit strength. So yes, I was in surfing condition, but I wasn’t in great condition, and I certainly wasn’t challenging myself. The other angle or answer probably is I was comfortable.  

So, by committing to a ridiculous event like that, without owning a board and saying, giving myself six months to figure it out, I got uncomfortable very quick, and then, you know, just want to talk about the gory details when I bought a board on Craigslist, 14-foot paddle board. I’m so excited.  

I live right next to the Bay in San Diego. I bring it down to the bay, and I get…The things are this wide, barely, I mean, my shoulders hang off of them. So, they’re this wide, a surfboard is like this, you know?  

So anyways, I get on this thing. I just bought it, I’ve committed, and I take one stroke and I fall off. And then, I feel so bad, I get back on, I take another stroke, I fall... The point is, these things are such precise machines, you have to be so balanced.  

So, paddling a surfboard, paddling a paddle board is ,totally different. I didn’t know that. So, adding to all the pressure, all of a sudden, I’ve paid, I’ve put down the deposit, I’m trying to train, and I can’t even paddle 10 feet without falling off, and I’m committed to a 32-mile event.  

It’s ludicrous. I wanted to cry, truly cry right there that first day. And it took a week before I could paddle 20 minutes without falling off the board. So, it’s just there’s a few different angles to look at this thing from. 

Ted Ryce: So, you talked about habit alignment and habit strength. Can you talk first about habit alignment? I think I know what you mean by that, but just so I’m clear and everyone listening is clear, what does that mean? 

Martin Grunburg: What it means is, it’s a bit beginning with the end in mind. So, if my goal is to write a book, and by the way, I never wanted to write a book, I never knew I was going to write three book. 

You begin with the end in mind, and frankly, the end, if it’s a book, the question is what habits are going to be supportive of the goal? And obviously the first one is writing. Now I said, “I’m not a writer, I’ve never written, how am I going to do this?” Habit alignment is simply identifying the core supportive behaviors, the habits that will help you get there. 

And then, it’s about tracking them, following this OG process called PARR: Plan, Act, Record, and Reassess. And then, there are various elements within that, so you can stop me if I’m getting too annoyed. But for instance, when I’m beginning to write, and I’ve never written, it would be foolish to say, I’m going to write two hours a day, every day. I would be setting myself up for absolute failure.  

Fortunately, and I’m not sure how I was aware of this, but I was like, “I’m only going to write 20 minutes three times a week, and by setting the target low... So, this tracking sheet, Ted, has a couple core ingredients. One is the T. I don’t know where that... 

There’s a T-column, it’s the white column and then the A column. So, the point is, you’re just using ones and zeros and you have a 20 minutes Monday. And then if you achieve it, you add a one, if you don’t, you put a zero, and it’s just very binary tracking system.  

Today a lot of habit trackers, honestly, I think make a huge mistake. They just have writing and then there’s an X or a check. The question is, are you supposed to be writing every day? Are you supposed to be writing for 20 minutes, for 40 minutes? Is it six pages? Is it eight pages? In other words, what’s the minimum success criteria? Do I do five pushups? Or do I do 50 pushups? 

So, there’s two core elements. One’s the rhythm of the week or the frequency per week when it comes to PARR, and then the other is the minimum success criteria. Is it 10 pushups or is it 50 pushups?  

And by setting the bar low in your initial four weeks of track, you have success. And then, you elevate the bar the next four weeks. So, instead of 20 minutes of writing, it’s now 30, and instead of three days, it’s four days. 

And then when you get through four weeks, if you’re 85% or better, right? That’s kind of the criteria we’ve figured out over decade, plus 85% or better, you raise the bar. If you have not hit your targets, you do not raise them, and if you’re grossly missing, you have to check some core things. You either lower the bar or you check desire. Usually, desire is lacking.  

Ted Ryce: I want to dive into this. This is fascinating and it’s so simple. One of the things that about Atomic Habits from James Clear. I love James as a writer, I just couldn’t get into the book though, even though it’s got a ton of great ideas. Forgive me if you’re listening right now, and that’s your favorite book, but I couldn’t get into it, you know? Even though I like James, we’d love to have him on the show, etc. 

But what I love about you is, I don’t think James, and I could be wrong about this, is a coach, and he may not work with people, but what I hear you saying, like, “Man, I do some of what he’s talking about right now, with my clients.” And I know James has actually talked about some of this stuff, but it’s just you have a tangible sort of like, “Oh, man, how do we figure this out for people?” I really like it. 

So, I want to talk a little bit about this because what most people do is they try to do too much, and then, you know, I get high performers. I work with founders, entrepreneurs, busy professionals, and I’m like, “Hey,” I always ask them, how many times a week do you want to work out? “Oh yeah, let’s do, I think five or six,” and I’m like, “Cool.”  

How confident are you on a scale one to 10 that you’re going to be able to do that for every week in this program? For as long as we’re working together? Let’s say four or six months, one year, whatever. And they’re like, “Well, maybe like a seven,” and I’m like, “Okay. And let me ask you this, when you miss one of those workouts, how are you going to feel? Are you going to be cool with it?” Like, “No, I’m going to feel like a total loser.” And I’m like, “Then why are you setting yourself up for fail...?” 

And these are smarter people than me, more successful people than me, right? But we do this stuff. And you said something fascinating. You don’t raise the bar unless you’re 85% nailing it, because why are you going to ask yourself to do more?  

Martin Grunburg: Right.  

Ted Ryce: And then, you said something else fascinating. And I want to hear your wisdom about this because you’ve been a coach for longer than me. You said desire. If someone’s not hitting, It’s desire. Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by that? And then... 

Martin Grunburg: Absolutely.  

Ted Ryce: ...Maybe we can explore how to help someone find the desire, how you help someone find the desire.  

Martin Grunburg: Well, so I’m going to quickly scribble some things and I don’t know if it’s going to work. Do you see that? That’s the three circles.  

Ted Ryce: I should have said this, man. Most of the people are going to listen to this on audio and not consider video. 

Martin Grunburg: Okay my bad. So, I’m looking at us on video. So, imagine three circles intersecting, right? And there are three criteria that are—It’s like, do not pass… go, if you think you’re going to develop a habit and the desire is lacking. So, that’s criteria number one, desire. That means different things to different people, you know, commitment, etc. But really, there has to be sincere desire to cultivate.  

So, for instance, the other day somebody said, “When should I give up? It’s like, I’ve been tracking and it’s not working, when should I give up?” I’m like, “Is there desire?” We just talked about this. So, desire is one, and it’s do not pass Go. That’s number one.  

Now, to be fair to everybody, people think all the time, the desire is there, Ted, until the rubber meets the road. That’s why tracking is so important. As soon as somebody begins tracking and you get data, and the data doesn’t reflect the desire, the desire’s missing. So, we’ll come back to that.  

The next one is knowledge. So, if the habit is brushing my teeth, do I have the desire to brush my teeth, yes or no? If it’s a yes, great, do I have the knowledge? Yes. Now, then... 

Ted Ryce: They are really similar.  

Martin Grunburg: …The third one is been mistaken, even by the great Stephen Covey. He says it’s skill. Now there’s a slight twist to that because skills and habits are really the same, and I’ll come around to that. It’s capacity to perform the behavior, that’s the third one, capacity…  

So, that just means, can I hold the toothbrush, and can I move it around my mouth? It’s not a skill, it’s the capacity to perform the behavior. So, it’s: desire, knowledge, and capacity to perform the behavior. But desire is el numero uno, do not pass Go if the desire is not there.  

Ted Ryce: I want to talk more about this because this is something, so something I deal with a lot. I help people, I help entrepreneurs specifically, founders, busy professionals, transform their body. And these are people who have a strong desire, at least they believe to do it. And one of the reasons I hop on a call with people to make sure they’re right for the program, is to assess that. Because it’s work, right? You got to work out, you got to... 

Martin Grunburg: It’s a waste of everybody’s... 

Ted Ryce: Exactly. And I’ve even had people pay me money and disappear after a while. And while that felt good in my 20’s, you know, now I feel like a failure when that happens, like what I do isn’t good. And so, how can someone assess their desire? How do they really know they want to do something?  

Martin Grunburg: So, the honest answer—And by the way, you’re never a failure if somebody’s checking out on you, you know that, but that’s on them. The honest answer is you don’t know, nobody knows. You’re doing the right thing, in my estimation, by qualifying them as best you can, but nobody knows until the rubber meets the road and they’re producing tracking data because that comes... guess how quickly that comes? One day at a time, just like success. Never comes quicker to anybody than one day at a time, right?  

Ted Ryce: Yeah. Makes sense.  

Martin Grunburg: So, desire, we’re going to…it’s almost like it’s a validator. Every day, you show up. Now, and by when I say every day, I just mean on your target days. There are so many myths about habits, it’s overwhelming for people. The fact they think they got to do something every day, they think it takes 14 days or 21 days, or 66 days, I mean, I hate to say it, but it’s garbage, right? You can skip days.  

And so, when the PARR method came out, Ted, it came out 12-ish years ago. There were no studies really that backed so much of what I was proposing, and it was all intuitive through my experience. And today, I’m happy to say there are now studies backing the PARR method and the principles and ideas behind it.  

So, the idea that you can use intention to cultivate habit. A lot of the science is based on this habit loop, you know, Cue-Routine-Reward or cue craving. That’s cute and it’s nice, but it’s not you. You are not a rodent; I am not a rodent. We have choice, we have intention, and we have reflection, and that’s where PARR comes in: Plan, Act, Record, Reassess. That’s a human habit building technique.  

Ted Ryce: I love that. Right, with some of the—I forget his name, Charles Duhigg wrote this book, and it was very well written and really confusing. It’s like, “Okay, how do we take this science and really make it work for people?” 

Martin Grunburg: Exactly. Thank you. And his book came out two years after The Habit Factor approximately. 

Ted Ryce: Let me ask you about what you said then. So, the PARR, the Plan, Act, Record and Reassess, that makes so much sense. But you talk about the other things as well. You listed three things; can you mention them again? The... 

Martin Grunburg: Absolutely. Desire, knowledge and capacity to perform the behavior. 

Ted Ryce: I got that, and I think that’s fairly easy to understand. But you said we’re not rodents, we have these other things. 

Martin Grunburg: Yep. Oh God, my apologies. Choice, you can choose. So, animals, so the habit loop, if you’re not familiar, it really originated. They were putting a mice or a mouse or a rat in a maze, Ted, and then they would cheese at the other end. And they’re like, well, the first time it took him 10 minutes to find the cheese. The second time it took him seven minutes. The third time he got it in two minutes and they’re like, “Oh, that’s how habits are built.” 

Ted Ryce: Got you. Interesting. 

Martin Grunburg: My point is that the rodent doesn’t sit in the maze you know. 

Ted Ryce: Some of us don’t like cheese.  

Martin Grunburg: Well, no, it’s a good point. And there’s a few aspects there. The question is, if I go run six miles, I don’t need to eat a piece of cake. I don’t need to eat cheese. The self-efficacy, are you familiar with that term, self-efficacy? It just means the ability to produce a desired result. 

My contention for 12 plus years is you want the real piece of cheese. It’s when you check off this and you’re like, “F yeah, because I said I was going to do 20 pushups on Monday and I did it, and then I was going to drink six glass of water and I did it,” and then you write in the comments, I killed it today. 

That’s your cheese, that’s your cake, that’s self-efficacy. Now it works against you if you set the bar too high and you don’t follow through, and then we can get into mindset, etc. But that’s the huge difference. We are human. Animals aren’t crafting habits at will aligned to their goals, they have instincts that’s aligned to basically two goals: procreate and survive.  

Ted Ryce: And survive.  

Martin Grunburg: That’s it. Well and eat, but that’s part of survival.  

Ted Ryce: Martin, do you have a story you could tell about a client who maybe was struggling because the bar was set too high, and what you did to help them through that challenge? 

Martin Grunburg: Yeah, I mean, in a general sense. So, this one person, I won’t reveal sex, was a PhD, absolutely brilliant and had terrifically high expectations. And when the rubber met the road, the tracking data was inconsistent. 

And really, what we realize, and hopefully we’ll get to the three circles at some point, was that the environment was not conducive, meaning she had out of state, whoops! She, he, she, he had out of state HOA issues and this sort of thing. 

So, that’s just an example of something I get into. The Habit Factor was the first book, but then my baby that I love so much, which is left to the site, is the Pressure Paradox, which is the second book, really an investigation into the environment and how pressure influences our productivity, performance and peace of mind. 

And then the third book, of course, is everything. It’s about our thinking in terms of stories, so. But that’s an example where it proves that when we’re trying to achieve things, we need harmony, congruence, alignment across not just—here’s a bit of a soundbite. So, it’s mindset, skill set and environment. These three... 

Ted Ryce: Those are the three circles you were talking about. 

Martin Grunburg: That’s right. And any client that struggles with just one of them, just one of them, and the tracking data isn’t going to the—hopefully, what happens is change, as you know, is actuated in the habits and skills arena, which is that middle concentric circle. So, change is actuated there. If it’s not happening, then it means we need to either look at our thinking or our environment to determine or desire. Is that clear?  

Ted Ryce: Sure. Mindset, skillset, environment. You can have the desire, you can have the... like, “Hey, I can do things, I’m successful,” you can learn the skills and develop them. 

Martin Grunburg: Right.  

Ted Ryce: I mean, I’m thinking of clients right now who their environment keeps sabotaging them because they’re in a relationship that is let’s for—without going and sharing details, it’s out of congruence with what they’re trying to achieve in terms of their body transformation. People are bringing home alcohol and food and… right? Kids are bringing home...  

Martin Grunburg: That’s right, potato chips all over the place.  

Ted Ryce: And then, even if you have the skills, know what to do, you have the right mindset, how long can anyone say no to chocolate cookies sitting on the counter? You can say no maybe 99 days out of a hundred, but you’re going to give in eventually. 

Martin Grunburg: Yep. And so, it’s just a reminder that as a coach to always be helping the client realize that it’s a three-pronged attack.  

Now, you could throw in the fourth with the feelings and emotions, but what I posit in this new book is that because feelings and emotions are ephemeral, they’re both incredibly important, and over the long haul, they’re not significant. 

I mean, over a five-year span of losing weight, is it really going to matter if I was sad or depressed, or... Now, it could if I mean, from one moment to the next, emotions and feelings can change the trajectory of our life in a second. We could have road rage, and that emotion ruined your life because you pulled out a gun and shot somebody, or they shot you, right? 

So, but over a five-year transformation. And are you familiar with a guy? You should have him on your show, if he’ll do it. He’s kind of low key, but his name’s Ryan Hall, have you heard of him? 

Ted Ryce: No. I know a Brazilian jui-jitsu champ named that, but I don’t think that’s who you’re talking about. 

Martin Grunburg: So, you would love this guy, dude. I mean, first of all, this story is ridiculous, it’s all over my book, and he and I chat or exchange emails. So, he was the United States’ fastest marathoner. So, he weighed 129 pounds, and he ran a two hour and four-minute marathon, which I’m not sure I can run a half marathon in two hours, right? 

Ted Ryce: Incredible.  

Martin Grunburg: Just fathom that. He’s the fastest at the half marathon as well. And 59 minutes or something insane. Is that rare? 59 minutes. 59 minutes, so less than an hour, 13 miles. So, here’s where I’m going with this. Follow me, he’s 129 pounds, he stops running at like 34, professionally. He decides that he wants to look like Ted Ryce, he wants to bulk up. 

So, 129 pounds. He has a goal of benching 300 pounds, he’s now benching 330 pounds. So, if you just Google Ryan Hall Men’s Journal, you’ll see it, it’s just mind boggling. So, I break this down in detail in the book. 

The reason I share that is that’s a five-year transformation. He didn’t go from 129 pounds to 190 pounds of muscle benching 330 pounds, it didn’t happen overnight. Did he have bad days? Did he have injuries? Was he depressed? Was he upset? Was he angry? Was he human? The answer is yes, but feelings and emotions are ephemeral. 

So, what I’m taking a long time to say is that the three-pronged approach is truly the most important, right? Mindset, skillset, which is habits too, right? And so, habits, stories and environment, and then, the emotions and feelings are important, but just not as important over five years. And so, Ryan Hall is my proof for that. 

Ted Ryce: I love that story. 

Martin Grunburg: And you’re my proof. You’re my proof for that.  

Ted Ryce: Oh, nice. I appreciate that. In what sense? In what aspect? 

Martin Grunburg: So, you’ve gone through your own personal transformation mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and it didn’t happen overnight. It was a many, many year process. And then, of course, what one tends to want to do is share that and teach that as part of your journey. So, it makes sense.  

Ted Ryce: That’s so true when you put it that way. I mean, to get here, probably most of the time I didn’t feel good or didn’t feel like doing what I needed to do to get to where I am now. 

Probably most of the time, especially after those, you know, the tragedies that I’ve talked about. That’s such a good, important point. And what would you say about people who have the excuse where—I know this is the name of your book, Everything’s An Effing Story, but just to get into it.  

Martin Grunburg: Can I show the title? 

Ted Ryce: Yeah, sure, man. For those of people who are watching it on YouTube, they can see it, but Everything Is A Fucking Story. But the US asterisks out effing story. Everything Is An Effing Story. So, what about those people who do have that story about why I don’t feel good, and that’s why I’m not where I want to be. 

Martin Grunburg: Well, I believe you said it on my podcast, and I still use it. It’s beautiful. It’s this idea of immersion and you even posted about it the other day too. It’s hard to be depressed, sad, angry, frustrated, when you’re jumping out of a plane. Now, not that everybody has to do that, or you’re scuba diving, or you’re learning to kite surf, or you’re doing pushups or you’re doing sit-ups. The answer is it’s simple to be caught up and it’s no judgment. 

I’ve been there. The power of habit, as you know, operates at every level. It operates at the mindset level; our thinking, our stories. So, those stories just keep running on repeat mode over and over, and over, and over, and over. Using the environment to break that cycle is what you’ve been proposing. 

The scuba diving analogy is awesome because it’s true immersion in water, right? But here’s an example. So, at this SC event, a few people came up after, and this one girl, she was clearly super intelligent and she, I’m presuming, had a tinge of depression and angst.  

And so, she’s looking square at me and she goes, “Well, you said about story. I just want you to know, a boy told me last week that I need to drop all my effing stories.” And she’s telling me this, like it’s a revelation that I’m sitting here teaching that we think in terms of story. 

But then she goes on to say something like, and this was sad. She goes, “But, everything is meaningless anyways.” And I was like, “Oh,” like my heart sunk. And then, I just looked at her and her eyes lit up and she goes, “That’s a story, isn’t it?” And I was like. 

Ted Ryce: That’s a story, too.  

Martin Grunburg: Yes.  

Ted Ryce: Amazing.  

Martin Grunburg: She caught that at that moment until it was like a light bulb went off, she was caught up in this, you know, and then I’m like, “Look, you’re absolutely right. 500 years this moment may have zero impact on anything relative to 500 years from now, but right now, we can choose where meaning comes from by our thought process and the stories we craft.” 

So, in those influence, our skills and behaviors, they set up the parameters for our achievement. So, it’s real important, and that’s understatement to get our stories correct. And so, part of this book is if everything is a story and it is, what are the most important stories? 

And I’m not going to put you on the hook for that, but that’s something to meditate on. If everything’s a story—by the way, here’s a quick example. Have you... And you probably haven’t, and it’s okay, but reflect on the definition of story. So, if I was an alien, and I mean an alien from space, and I came down and I said, “Ted, I keep hearing this word ‘story,’ explain that to me,” what do you say?  

Ted Ryce: I would say it’s a… wow, it’s a construct, it’s a bunch of words describing a situation through personal experience or designed it. It’s not easy. What is a story?  

Martin Grunburg: No, I’ll make it easy. I’ll make it easy for you. You’re very, very close and you’re right. This is the craziest part about the definition. If I witness an accident, I’m giving you a factual account. This is the story, right? So, this by definition, it’s fact, it’s also by definition fiction. I could be spinning BS, and that’s a story too. Now, I want you to realize, please, how nonsensical that is. There are only so many words that are their own opposite, very few. 

Ted Ryce: I’m not following Martin, what do you mean exactly here? 

Martin Grunburg: So, the definition of story is fact and it’s fiction, it’s its own opposite. That would be like me…Let me give you an example. Here’s my refrigerator, Ted, it’s also an oven. There are so few words where something is its own opposite, and in English, they’re known as a Janus word, an auto-antonym or contranym.  

All this means is, it’s nonsensical to say that a story is fact. Oh, by the way, it’s total BS, it’s fiction. What I’m trying to get at here, Ted, is this is proof that everything is a story, if it’s fact and fiction, you follow?  

Ted Ryce: For sure. Well, I think that for example, there was an auto accident. The BMW got hit from behind by the truck, right? We could say fact, but are you saying that then, we tell a story about, “Oh, it was horrible and there was someone was—their leg was hurt, and they were bleeding. It was so traumatic,” right? Is that what you mean? So, there’s the facts and then there’s the fiction, or you’re saying it’s all just made, all fiction?  

Martin Grunburg: No, no, it’s fact and fiction. If you go to Merriam-Webster right now and you look up the definition of story, it’s fact. It’s a factual account and it’s a fictional account. My point is, it’s a word that represents its own opposite. It’s mind boggling. We accept this, we don’t think about it much or at all, and it’s absurd. It’s totally absurd and nobody catches it.  

Ted Ryce: I can’t say I’m wrapping my head around that a hundred percent, but what I would say that I am taken away from this is that we need to be extremely aware of the specifics, what you might call the facts, the accounting of the incidents. For example, I sat on the chair and opened my computer versus I was excited to interview you today, or I was, you know what I mean?  

Martin Grunburg: Here’s another example. If I say, give me a definition of everything, you can do that, right? Just the word, everything. What’s everything?  

Ted Ryce: It’s everything.  

Martin Grunburg: So, you’re not also saying it’s nothing.  

Ted Ryce: Right, but nothing is part of everything, right? 

Martin Grunburg: Well, we can get into philosophy, but if you look up the definition… 

Ted Ryce:  I’m not a philosopher.  

Martin Grunburg: I love philosophy, but there’s no doubt nothing is the source of everything. But that’s not what I’m asking. I’m saying what’s the definition, the word everything, and it’s basically, it’s what you said, It’s everything. So you could not say on Merriam-Webster, it’s not going to say nothing. Are you following now? So, it says it’s fact and fiction. Merriam-Webster—I think you’re following me now. 

Ted Ryce: It’s something, it’s worth considering. So yeah. Wow, we’ve covered so much. And one thing I’ll tell you, Martin, I love this simple approach. It got a little confusing for me at the end there, but this simple approach that you’ve taken kind of intuitively from your observations of coaching people the four areas that you work with people on. 

The PARR: the Plan, Act, Record, Reassess, and then the three circles: the mindset, skillset, environment. I love that because it’s the most simple framework for understanding what we’re trying to achieve, why we may not be achieving it, and what to change, if anything, to move forward. And certainly, this story is a big part of that as well. 

Martin Grunburg: I appreciate that. I appreciate that very much. For those of you who can see this, sorry, that’s kind of what it looks like, Story is at the heart. And the conduits, Ted, the membranes are the feelings and emotions, and then the habits and skills and behaviors are in the center. 

So, those concentric circles, if one cannot get those in harmony, incongruence, they’re going To struggle going from point A to point B. You’re spot on.  

Ted Ryce: Martin, such a pleasure to talk with you today and I have so much—I knew you were good, obviously, I’ve seen who you’ve worked with and some of your clients, and some of your coaches are really high-level people as well. 

For those who want to hear more about what Martin is up to, or more specifically read his book, you can go to  or  So, that’s, all one word, .com. So, it’s amazing. And if you had to give one parting piece of advice to the listeners today about what we’ve talked about, what would you say? 

Martin Grunburg: There’s so many different ways to go. Everybody knows kind of what… they know a few things, if they reflect. One of my favorite quotes, Ted, is “Wisdom is equal measure, experience plus reflection.” Wisdom is equal measure, experience plus reflection, I believe that’s Aristotle. Wisdom comes from experience and reflecting. So, the advice is to reflect, and reflect and get clear.  

Brian Tracy loves to say that 80% of success is just having clarity. And if one is unclear, that leads to all sorts of challenges. So, the path to clarity—I’m hitting you with a bunch of quote. Muddied waters left to stand, become clear. So, meditate, get still, find clarity. And then, the other thing they sometimes fight is tracking. Some people think life is for living, it’s not for tracking. The truth is it’s not in either or, you can live. Some of the most successful people I know are living the greatest lives and they track every day, something.  

So, my point is, get clear and track, that’s it. Follow PARR. If you go to, you download—I believe it’s You get this tracking sheet and that will teach you the PARR method.  

The other thing is, I don’t know when this is airing. If it happens to be in the very near future, everything is launching right now, everything, the new book. So, we’re doing bonus gifts relative to coaching groups and support, and just an insane ton of gifts and bonuses if they buy early.  

So, those will be at the website, if it’s still during launch week.  

Ted Ryce: We’ll get this up in time for that. It launches on October. Today is October 6th, we’ll get up on October. We’ll get it up ASAP for you. 

Martin Grunburg: October 11th is launch week begins, right? 

Ted Ryce: Got you. So, we’ll see what we can do. Well, listen Martin, it’s been an absolute pleasure with you talking about habits, talking about your frameworks that you’ve developed over decades of doing this. Thank you so much, and man, let’s definitely do this again soon. 

Martin Grunburg: That’d be great, Ted. As I said, I’m a fan of you and your work, and you continue to inspire millions or at least hundreds of thousands. So, stay after it, buddy.  

Ted Ryce: Thanks so much. 

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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