Forgiveness, Friendship, and Fat

friendship forgiveness fat

With the weather starting to cooperate here in New England, it’s actually feeling like spring. To take advantage of this, I’ve been making it a habit to get out for a walk every day. 

On my walks, I tend to throw on a podcast that is somewhere between the topics fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Thursday morning was an active rest day, so I got up, grabbed my phone and earbuds, tied my sneakers, and set out on an hour walk. The Muscle Intelligence Podcast had come out with a new episode that I was eager to listen to.

This episode, Q&A: Talking Forgiveness, Friendship…and Fat, (hosted by Ben Pakulski and Ashleigh VanHouten) was simple, but packed with reality.

Forgiveness, Friendship, and Fat

The 3 F’s – Forgiveness, Friendship, and Fat are the topic that Ben and Ashleigh discuss in this episode. Ben touches on forgiveness towards himself and others, his standards surrounding friendships, and the ability and ease of gaining or losing fat for one’s goals.

Since the start of the pandemic and stay-at-home order, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and purging. Reflecting on my life – past, present, and future. What I’ve learned, what I’m doing, and where I’m going. Purging what I no longer need or no longer feel benefits/serves me – such as material things, relationships, thoughts/beliefs, etc. 

So, while listening to Ben and Ashleigh chat about life and then the 3 F’s….

It hit me.

I was in the midst of what Ben was talking about. I’ve been wading my way through the waters of forgiveness, friendships…and fat. 

Ben said, “you become who you need to be to achieve what you want”…which means putting value in certain areas of your life over others. 


To gain the life that you desire, you need to create a story.

A story around who you want to be OR who you don’t want to be.

In this episode, Ben states, “I became who I had to become to survive, to thrive, to achieve my goal.” 

Ben uses the example of his relationship with his father to prove his point. He fought with understanding why his father did or didn’t do something when he was a child, and how that crushed his expectations of what a father should be. 

This applies to a varying number of areas in one’s life. Like Ben, I had the same questions. Like Ben, I sat down and wrote out what my expectations are of my parents. Then, I followed up with the same for my friendships, my jobs, and everything that had a direct impact on my life. 

I may not agree (or 100% understand) why someone did something, reacted a certain way, or chose the path that they did. But in the end, they did what they had to do to survive. That I can respect. That I can work with and can forgive. 

This isn’t just about forgiveness towards others either. This is about forgiveness towards myself, towards ourselves. At some point change is needed, and in order for that to happen, forgiveness needs to come first – for yourself and those who have hurt you or crossed you in some way.

Being aware of past actions, accepting them, and improving upon them will inspire growth. It’s an experience to learn and build upon. It’s not a definition. It’s a chosen response and action that was necessary for survival at the time.


The 1st thing Ben says on the topic of friendship is: 

“I was ruthless with the people I surrounded myself with. If you weren’t holding yourself to the highest standard imaginable, I’m out…if we’re not keeping each other at our greatest, I’m out.” 

What Ben said didn’t become a high standard for me until recently, and I believe most struggle with this concept as well. We are human beings. We (as much as some don’t want to admit it) are pack animals. We want approval from the group and tribe. We don’t want to be the oddball out. 

In the past couple of years (and more so in the last few months), I’ve learned the importance of removing the anchors from my life that are holding me down.

I’ve learned and accepted that even though people say they have your best interests in mind, the second you try to change or improve yourself, they are there knocking you down.

I’ve come to accept that not everyone is on the same boat as me, or even in the same storm. What matters is the acknowledgement and acceptance that I’m trying to change and that not everyone in my life is going to be supportive, even family. 

And that is 100% OK. They don’t need to understand. They don’t need to be along for the journey. Let them float around you while you continue to move forward through the storm. They aren’t as strong as you, and the priorities that you’ve set for yourself and your life.

Let go of the tribe that no longer supports you. Let go of the beliefs that no longer support you. 

Find the tribe and beliefs that do support you. 

Surround yourself with them because they will ride through your storm with you and be your guiding light. As Ben says “If you’re going through your summer and someone is walking through their winter, support them.”

In addition, Ashleigh asks how to differentiate between friends who need/give support and ones who are toxic and take……and I LOVE Ben’s answer:

“Either you’re a victim or you’re not…..that’s it.” 

If someone is a victim, they’re in their own mind and they’re the only one who can change that. If they’re not a victim, then they empower themselves and take action. 

We all go through shitty times, but it’s how you come out of them that matters…at least to me. Those who empower themselves and take the necessary action, I will stand for them all day, every day. Those who victimize themselves, I’m sorry, but I’m out. I won’t stand for this because they ANCHOR.

As Ben puts it, “If you blame everything else but yourself, I f*cking run in the other direction.”

Regardless, I love people. But I’m  very selective about those I surround myself with. We may not agree on every aspect of life, but we respect each other. We take action on what we say we’re going to and we support each other. If I feel energy being drained from me, if I feel like I’m taking on another’s problems, I’m out. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care, but above all else,  I’m putting myself and my priorities first. 

DO NOT be afraid to walk away from someone in your life that is not on the same wavelength as you.


Everyone has fat. Some more than others, but everyone has it. It’s essential for us to survive, we can’t possibly have 0% body fat because at least 3% body fat is required for our organs to function properly and keep us alive. 

Ben presents the question of, “is it hard being at different body fat percentages or maintaining various ones at different times in your life?” 

His response: No, it’s not hard. 

When he was getting ready to step on stage for a bodybuilding competition, he was sitting at 4% body fat. Now he maintains 12% body fat. It’s not hard to adjust to either of those and maintain them if you have goals and a clear focus. This F really isn’t about fat…but focus.

If you believe it’s going to be hard, then it will be. He says that it’s not about effort, but your focus. Obviously effort is necessary with anything you do, and there will be struggles along the way. But your focus and your habits should be strong enough that those struggles don’t stop you from getting to where you want to be. 

Just because someone makes 100k a year vs another who makes 50k, one isn’t better than the other. They’re just doing things differently, different actions and steps, different habits that are getting them where they are and/or need to be. Each person will prioritize their goals — but some may not prioritize the right things. Thus, the difference between the 100k and 50k salary. 

At the end of the day, the goals and values that you hold yourself to are all that you need to drive you to the physique that you want. Or whatever goal you are seeking to achieve. 

Final Thoughts

How are the 3 F’s relevant to each other? 


Although they fit into very different categories in life, they still share this common theme. 

Priorities have become increasingly important in my life, specifically my own. I’m focusing on me and what I want. What drives me, what I enjoy, where I want to be in the next 6 months, year, 5 years. The priorities and values I set for myself today may change over time, BUT they’re setting me up for the future that I’m currently looking at. 

I’m learning that I value my priorities over others…that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them, but I’m not going to compromise mine for yours. 

I want to live a happy, fulfilled life that I can look back on and be proud of. Therefore, I am forgiving. This pandemic / stay-at-home order has been a blessing in disguise as it has allowed me the time and freedom to sit with myself and dive deep into my heart and mind. It has allowed me the chance to forgive so much in my life – towards others and towards myself

I keep few friends, and those that are in my circle, I keep close. Interacting with people has never been a problem for me, but it’s tiring and draining. So over the years I’ve become selective about who I let into my circle. We don’t have to have the same beliefs and values, but we need to respect each other. I won’t stand for being dragged down or pulled back because someone can’t keep up. I fully believe that people come into my life for a reason, whether they’re here for a short time or for the long haul. 

Every person in my life is a lesson and one that I can learn from and improve from. I’m grateful for everyone who has come into my life. Whether they’re just passing by or making camp next to mine.

Like the majority, I used to think it was hard to be something or attain a goal I set for myself. But I’ve failed and I’ve succeeded at various things in my life.

As Ben says, it’s not that hard to do…it’s about your focus. At the start of the year, I knew I wanted to drop some body fat that had been gained through the fall and holiday season. What did I do? I started off with Whole30 through January, that ignited my focus and drive. Then, I booked tickets to go to Ohio for the Arnold Fitness Expo, and continued to diet down for that because I had a goal in focus. One way or another, I was going to hit it. We’re now in May and 8+ weeks into a stay-at-home order. I hit my goal weight, and I’m happy with my body. So, how did I get there?


What are your priorities?
Are you living your life based on them OR are you putting them on the back burner?

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