The Whole 9 Yards – A Motivation Blog


“Give them the whole 9 yards.”

A phrase used by American military combat helicopter pilots.

Pilot’s I’ve had the pleasure of serving with in Afghanistan.

What does it mean?

It means, throw everything you have left at them. When you’re in a situation that you may not get out of, where the odds are against you, when you have nothing to lose. Now is the time to throw everything you have it because if you don’t, we all know the end result.

“The whole 9 yards” is a reference to the belt of ammunition that feeds the door gunners machine gun, when he hears that, he knows to give it everything he has.

But how can we learn to apply this attitude in life?

An attitude that says, when things are against me, I am going to do whatever I must to get through it and come out victorious.

We all know life isn’t straightforward.
It isn’t simple.
Things go wrong; sometimes the odds are stacked firmly against us, often its things completely out of our control.

Meaning our goals can often feel totally unreachable.

It’s those times, where quitting becomes easy.
Where you can throw in the towel and just decide that this lifestyle isn’t for you.

It’s those hard times that are testing you and defining the character you have.

Making the right decisions around food is easy when things are going well for you.
When training is going smoothly, you have a good routine and life just seems to be going quite nicely.
But then something happens to change that.
A new stress, a new change. Something disrupts the patterns we follow or our way of thinking. Just like getting ambushed in the deserts of Afghanistan, you are forced to think differently and act fast. During these times, we often start to reach for higher fat and higher sugar foods [1]. But it’s then, that we really need to focus. To realign our goals and take the time to think clearly again. Or as the combat pilots would say, “It’s time to give them the whole 9 yards.”

What’s funny is that sometimes we are creating this stress ourselves.
In my experience, it’s because people don’t see the results they want immediately.
In a world where instant gratification is everywhere around us, from our online shopping, to our social media accounts. We can get opinions from millions of people from the click of a button.

But fitness and health isn’t social media.
It takes time, it takes sacrifice and it often may take longer than you expect.

It’s at these points when people can get themselves stressed.
When you step on the scales or check in your progress and discover it hasn’t gone exactly as you hoped, you freak out and get frustrated.

But let’s put that into another context.

You’re on your way to a store to purchase something important. An item for a loved one’s birthday maybe.
On your journey, you come across some road works, which mean there is a diversion.
This diversion means it is going to take you 5 minutes longer to get to the store.
Does that mean you turn around and give up?


Because you need the item and regardless of the diversion, you will still reach your destination, so long as you keep moving forwards.

We must learn to practice that same mind-set when our fitness and health doesn’t go according to plan. We MUST keep moving forwards.

Only you can take control of your life and your decisions.

We often control the direction that our lives can take through our own decision-making. The problem is, that often scares the hell out of us as humans.
It’s much easier to blame an external factor when things go wrong, than it is to sit back and realise that you control your decisions, one way or another.

“I’m too busy at work”
“The kids have things to do”
“My partner doesn’t support me”

I’ve heard every reason or excuse under the sun, from people from all walks of life.

But I have one reply to every single one of them.
“If that is the hand you are dealt, then you have to learn how to play it.”
Decide what you are going to do to allow you to make the right decisions.
Connect with your goals regularly, daily in fact!
Understand your ‘why’ for taking on and maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Allow yourself to imagine how you are going to feel when you achieve your goals.
That feeling of success is addictive.

Most importantly, believe in yourself and have self-determination above everything else.
Self-belief and self-determination have been shown to play a key role in the outcome of a healthy lifestyle or nutrition plan [2]. So don’t neglect your own needs to set yourself goals and maintain a resilient determination.

I am challenging you, to hold yourself accountable to what you want to achieve.
Then go out and achieve it.

Best of luck my friend!


  1. Oliver G, Wardle J, Gibson L. Stress and Food Choice: A laboratory study. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2000. November; 62(6):853-865.
  2. Verstuyf J , Patrick H, Vansteenkiste M et al. Motivational dynamics of eating regulation: a self-determination theory perspective. Int J Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2012. March.

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