Hello Everyone,

Welcome to this month’s edition of ‘LIFE’ INGREDIENTS WITH ROBERT IRVINE, a monthly series that gives recipes, workouts, and a dose of motivation that will help you live better.

Before I get into the workout and recipe, I want to point out this month’s motivation. September is Suicide Awareness Month and I’ve made sure to share some of my thoughts that I really think you’ll find useful. And remember, healthy eating and consistent fitness will strengthen the body, mind, and spirit.


The question I’m asked most often about fitness is also the silliest one: What is the best workout? I say it’s a silly question because it has no answer. This is a question that has sent millions of men and women down the rabbit hole of looking up celebrity and pro athlete workouts—regimens that are incredibly time-consuming on their own, never mind the amount of time it takes to recover—a process that necessitates pinpoint nutrition, optimal sleep, and additional mobility work, not to mention a good massage.

Look, I read these things, too. There’s nothing wrong with being curious! And my own workouts have been the subject of dozens of magazine profiles. But these celebrity workouts—which seem to take up the lion’s share of fitness information published on the internet—disregard another crucial element: the fact that you work, probably at least eight hours a day, probably have a lengthy commute, as well as time commitments to get to your kids’ Little League games, and whatever else you have on your plate.

So I think it’s a fine academic pursuit—studying the “best” workout—but in my experience, the best workout is merely this:

The one you have time for.

The one you enjoy and look forward to.

The one you will stick with long-term.

That’s it. Truly. Even when you assume every training program in existence works just as advertised, it’s also true that nothing works for long if you dread it, because you’ll eventually get fed up and find a reason to stop.

So in the spirit of demystifying fitness even further, I bring you this month’s workout, in which you will design your own workout, adhering only to a few simple parameters, the things I believe every good, total-body workout ought to have.



All abdominal exercises fit into this category, from basic sit-ups and crunches to leg raises, Russian twists, planks, side planks, and cable rotations.



Designing your own workout from these choices is a simple matter of balance. For every rep of pushing, there needs to be an equal amount of pulling. Add a comparable amount of squatting and enough core work to make it challenging and you’ve got yourself a workout. Keep machine work to a minimum. Free weights are superior.

Here’s an example of how to do it. Set a timer for 30 minutes and work as quickly as you can while maintaining proper form. Perform this as a circuit with one minute of rest at the end of each round and no rest between exercises.



Goblet Squat (while clutching a dumbbell or kettlebell to your chest) x 15

Bench Press x 10

Barbell Row x 10

Squat Jump x 10

Decline Pushup x 12

Dumbbell Row x 10 (each side)

Plank x 60 seconds

If you had more time, say an hour, you could lose the circuit setup and perform straight sets, completing all sets and reps for each exercise before moving on, like so:



Barbell Squat 4 x 12

Deadlift 4 x 8-10

Pullup 4 x 10

Bench Press 4 x 10

Incline DB Bench 4 x 8-10

Russian Twist 2 x 50

Leg Raise 3 x 10

Cable Twist 3 x 10 (each side)

BEFORE YOU GO: Designing your own workout is going to take some trial-and-error as you figure out exactly how much volume makes it effective for you. The nice thing about doing it yourself, however, is that you can add reps on the fly—or merely pick up the pace—if you think it’s too easy.

Likewise, you can do a little subtraction or slow down if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Whatever the case, don’t get caught up in the science of it and start worrying that your program wasn’t designed by an expert or performed by a movie star. Exercise science is somewhat inexact and can’t always account for individual effort. As long as you’re being honest with yourself about how hard you’re working, you’ll get a positive effect from your training. Move briskly, but put proper form above all.


When I think of fall and the perfect recipes to go with that, I think hearty and rich—and of course, cinnamon and nutmeg. This spiced beef short rib is truly the ultimate comfort food, with a ton of protein to fuel your workouts. Enjoy!



Much like this month’s workout, my motivational advice is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure. Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting and staying motivated to achieve your goals. And working towards goals is, I believe, one of the most important aspects of mental health.

Speaking for myself, I know that during those rare times in my life when I have been a man without a mission, I tend to pick myself apart. I have what’s been described as boundless energy, but that energy turns nervous when I haven’t got a big goal to focus the energy on.

The same thing can happen to you, too, if you aren’t careful. Without something, anything, to work toward, our mental health can begin to flag. It can start with some garden-variety cynicism about the state of the world, but over time that can morph into depression and helplessness.


Invariably, having a circle of people who can keep you motivated will ward off feelings of hopelessness and despair. And those who can stay motivated to achieve—both personally and professionally—are usually able to avoid this, and live happier, more fulfilled lives. For decades, our culture told stories that prized the strong, silent type or equated independence or isolation with freedom and strength. In my experience, there is no valor in going it alone. There’s only so much that any of us can do when we’re doing it alone. When we work together, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. When we resolve to support each other, listen to each other, and are committed to being there in our friends’ and family members’ hour of need, the most vulnerable among us are elevated, and those feelings of hopelessness—which can lead us down the darkest of roads—are vanquished.

So, in addition to resolving to support those in need and to ask for support when you need it, my advice to you this month is to stay motivated, and you’re going to do that in two ways: First, I want you to do one thing you loved doing as a kid that you haven’t done since you were a kid. Maybe that’s painting or drawing, or playing a musical instrument or a board game or riding a bike. One thing. Doesn’t matter what it is, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Second, I want you to take one step toward your big dream, whatever that may look like for you. If, in your wildest dreams, you want to: own a bakery, write a novel, run a marathon, act in a play—you’re going to take one step toward that goal. That could be a practical step like signing up for a class or finding a trainer, or it could be as simple as writing down the reasons why you want to achieve that goal and the next steps you will take to achieve it. The simple act of writing down the steps can make this “wild” dream start to feel real.

Which brings me back to step one. Why did I want you to do something you haven’t done since you were a kid? Because when we’re kids, that’s the one time in our lives where absolutely anything seems possible, and we have the ability to approach everything without fear of failure. I want to reignite in you that reckless abandonment. Life has a way of beating that fearlessness out of us, making us tentative, and robbing us of our optimism. By getting back in touch with your inner child, you can reignite a sense of wonder, of hope, and of pure possibility.

And you already know what I think of the possibilities when you put your mind to it.

Nothing is Impossible.

Until next time,