I wasn’t born with the world’s greatest genetics. If I sit around for long enough, I get soft. If I indulge too many days in a row, it shows in my waistline. I gain a disproportionate amount of fat in my face. I have to work - I mean work - to build my booty. My dietary adherence has to be spot on to see any kind of progress. I always, always have to pay attention to what I put into my mouth.

And I consider myself damn lucky for it.

Sure, sometimes it sucks to be so meticulous with your diet and abstain from wolfing down a dozen donuts because you know you’ll be paying for it tomorrow. And yes, you have to think thrice before you decide to skimp on a training session. Your body is unforgiving in that way. You’re nothing special; you’re not extraordinary. You’re just an average joe working your tail off to look good and stay healthy. But where would you be if your genetics weren’t average? The people who can eat whatever they want and stay rail thin - the ones who can lift once in a blue moon and bulk up overnight - those who do nothing to sculpt their glorious glutes - there’s no need to envy them. Yeah, they may have it easier, but when did anything good come from having things easy? How can you grasp the value of success if it’s been plopped into your lap?

I’ve compensated for my average genetics by developing a work ethic that is unrivaled. I’ve set high standards for myself and haven’t accepted anything less than my best. Once I started caring about my fitness all those years ago, my life took a complete 180-degree turn. The discipline that I directed toward my health and aesthetic endeavors inevitably leaked out into other areas of my life. I stopped sleeping in and wasting my hours in front of the TV. I actually put effort into my school assignments and my grades gradually improved. As I began to witness the rewards of hard work, I knew that it was worth it.

At some point, I became good at what I did. And then I became great. And finally - finally, I became one of the best. A fire was lit under my ass with the realization that mediocre efforts would produce mediocre results, yet exceptional effort would take me beyond anything I could imagine.

In 11th grade, I took AP English and wrote what I thought was an A-calibre paper for my first assignment. I got a B. Not good enough. After that, I spent my nights poring over every word that I wrote down, writing and rewriting, attacking my paragraphs from every angle. In my next assignment I got a solid A, and I haven’t received anything less on a paper since then. If I hadn’t started out as an average writer, I would have never been motivated to try harder to succeed. I can now say that writing has become one of my greatest assets.

From getting into my dream school to steadily building up my strength in the gym, I own every ounce of personal achievement. I. Own it. I’m here where I am now because of how hard I’ve worked, because of how ferociously I’ve battled what God gave me, because I wanted it badly enough. [Tweet " You want respect? Then demand it."] I’m not going to look up to those who brag about how little they work to get the body they have. There’s nothing to admire about somebody who prances around all day and - oops! - accidentally gains muscle. The attitude that life is a joyride and you should do only what you feel like doing is going to get you to Nowhereland. If you want people to listen to you, then earn that right.

Quit whining. You never get away with anything, but so what? Know that each time you get yourself to the gym when you’d rather be lying around, you’re adding one more brick to your wall of discipline. You’re not only building muscle - you’re building character. And that, my friends, will take you very, very, far.

Be damn proud of your average genetics. Victory tastes that much sweeter.