5 Ways To Make Grilling Season Healthy…AND Still Tasty.

Grilling season is upon us here in Wisconsin and you need to be ready to dominate without blowing up your waistline.

And no, you don’t need to be bland and boring either. You should know by now that I’m not that guy, I want you to enjoy your food to the fullest, but also not lose track of your goals.

Hell, grilling is already healthier than our other favorite method of cooking – deep frying. However, just because something is grilled – doesn’t make it your best option. Nor does it usually consist of the entire meal.

Time to cover the 5 ways that you can master the grilling season, and still rock your bikini/mankini this summer.

1 – Veggies Always 

This is a no brainer for any meal, but if you focus on filling half your plate with veggies, you will be filling half your gut with very lower calorie nutrient goodness. You can’t go wrong there.

My favorite grilling veggies? Zucchini and Asparagus.

Give them a drizzle in olive oil, throw some pink salt and garlic powder on them, and grill to perfection.

2 – Lean Meats

I love brats. However, the high amount of saturated fat found in a brat doesn’t love us back. Look for leaner sources of protein to grill when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck this grilling season.

How do you know what good lean options are?

A great rule of thumb is if the grams of protein is at least 2x the grams of fat, it is a decent protein source. IF the grams of protein is closer to 3x or 4x, then you have a real winner.

Here is a brat compared to some good alternatives:

Do you see how the brat has 7 MORE grams of fat than protein? This would be considered a VERY fatty protein source, and frankly a pretty crappy one at that.

3) Watch the Carb Overload

If you have been reading my other posts, you should know that I love carbs.

However, there is no need to go overboard on them, especially if this a low activity weekend we are talking about.

If you are eating something with a bun, don’t forget that these count as carbs, so maybe your side dishes should be lower carb options.

Or if you want the higher carb sides – potatoes, corn, mac n cheese… then maybe skip the bun. It’s your choice, but make it quick before you have an “ah screw it” moment.

HIgh carb side dishes also can pack a lot of extra calories from fat – so be aware of that as well!

 

4) Go To Town With Seasonings

You don’t need your food to be boring and bland to be healthy. Seasonings are a fantastic way to add tons of flavor with minimal extra calories.

Staples to always have on hand are:

  • Garlic powder
  • Pink salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Any BBQ dry rub
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Need ideas for pairing these up? I got you covered from SpicesInc.com

(Click the photo to make it bigger)

5) Don’t Forget the Real Reason You Are Grilling

Here is one that can apply to any social situation.

Keep the focus on the occasion itself, and not the idea of blindly stuffing your face with food and drinks. You can celebrate a beautiful day without pigging out, or drinking 12 crispy boys with your bros. Yes, this is actually possible.

Are you grilling to celebrate a great baseball game? Awesome! Enjoy the game. Nothing anywhere says that you will enjoy it more if you eat 4 brats and pound 12 beers…you CAN enjoy things without this!

Many times we gravitate towards eating mindlessly or drinking in social situations that we might not feel 100% comfortable. Rather than stuffing your face or drinking the liquid courage, why not practice being social? Stuffing your face won’t help you improve your social skills, and drinking might end up making a fool out of you and making you REALLY socially awkward.

Stick to these 5 tips this grilling season (and year round) and you will be feeling better, and enjoying more warm days with fewer clothes on 🙂

Would you like more help on controlling your food choices, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Getting Swole While Fasting, Is It Possible?

Fasting seems to be all the rage these days. Intermittent fasting more specifically. The benefits are touted as being superior to non-fasting protocols, from boosting growth hormone to preventing aging…

While these claims are a bit silly, one thing that is for sure is that fasting is nothing new.

Fasting has been a worldwide principle since the dawn of time, particularly for religious purposes.

A friend recently reached out to ask how to structure nutrition during Ramadan, with a goal of maintaining or even gaining some solid muscle during this period.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is observed worldwide by Muslims by fasting during the times when the sun is up for 29-30 days. 

While this is a tricky time to gain muscle for those looking to observe this period and get jacked, it is still possible.

1) Prioritize Your Eating Windows

With any fasting protocol, you need to plan out your opportunities to eat a little bit more than the average person. Since you are restricted to a specific time, you must be planning in advance to make sure all your bases are covered – especially if your goal is gain muscle, you will need to be in a slight surplus of calories.

If it is for Ramadan, you will need to split your eating windows in two, and base each one on when you are training, to maximize your peri-workout nutrition as well.

If possible, I would recommend training in the morning and eating a solid pre-workout meal 2 hours before training, ideally this would happen upon waking, and training could happen anytime 2-3 hours after (while the sun is up)

  • Wake up: 4:30 AM – Eat 50% of daily goal
  • Sunrise: 5:48AM
  • Train: 7:00AM

If you cannot train during the AM hours, and need to train in the PM, I would try and get in a smaller high easy digestible carb shake on the way to hit the gym, then eat a larger meal after.

  • Sunset: 7:58PM
  • Drink 30-40g carb + 10g protein
  • Train
  • Eat meal by 9PM

The PM option is tougher, because you are eating later, and potentially limiting sleep, which is key for recovery and muscle growth.

2) Prioritize Calorie Dense Foods (Carefully!)

This doesn’t mean you should live off of ice cream and donuts during your eating window, but if your goal is to gain or at least maintain muscle, you need to be at maintenance or a slight surplus.

Choosing slightly fattier cuts of meat, having handfuls of nuts, or using higher fat versions of any foods might be needed to hit a calorie target.

If you are used to being on the lower end of fat intake, this might throw you for a bit, but if calories are controlled, you may have to drop your carb intake slightly and bump up your fat intake slightly.

I would keep carbs as close to training as possible, whether it be before or after.

Carbs will not only provide fuel for intense training, but they also provide a “switch” to turn off the sympathetic nervous state that is heightened during training and shift our body into a parasympathetic state of recovery.

If you train in the morning, and cannot eat carbs post workout because the sun is up – no worries, prioritize your recovery breathing, chillax a bit, and wind down from your workout.

Remember – total daily intake is what matters most!

3) Get Enough Protein

This should go without saying, but to maintain or build muscle mass you NEED to be getting at least .6-1g/lb of protein. (if calories are sufficient, the .6 will work, not ideal, but it will work) Because your eating windows might be shorter, this can be tough, and lead to some gassy results.

Try to split the feedings up as much as possible, but if you can get 3 feedings in that should be the minimum goal.

Now, if you are a bigger person, getting 250 grams of protein in 3 meals might not be possible. Truth is if you are getting enough calories, and getting at least .6g/lb you should have no issues losing your gains over the 29-30 day period.

So what might this all look like for a split day fast like Ramadan? Let’s use my friend as an example:

Current Intake: 310g C/55g F/170g P – 24-30g/fiber ( 2415 calories )

  • 4:30AM – Wakeup – Eat 40-50% of daily intake carbs, 20% fat, 40g pro (130g C, 11g F, 40g Pro)
  • Train
  • Sunrise – FAST
  • Sunset – END FAST
  • Eat 25-30% carbs, 30-40% of fat, and another 40-50g protein.
  • Then cap off the rest in another meal before bed.

Now, this would be ideal…but life isn’t always ideal! If this person wanted to still maintain muscle but wasn’t able to eat all this food what can we do? This is where tweaking the macros could be an option. Now I wouldn’t do this overnight, but a slow transition to lower carb, higher fat would be the way to go…

Reminder – carbs are 4 cal/gram and ft is 9 cal/gram – so for every 2ish grams of carbs we drop, we can add 1 gram-ish of fat. I would keep adjustments around 10-20g/carbs per day per week while balancing out with added fats.

So maybe the macros look like this:

250g C/ 82g F/ 170g P – 24-30g fiber (still 2415 calories)

Then the distributions might be easier, because you are getting more calories, with less volume of food.

Lastly, what if training at night?

I would try and train before the sun goes down, and be ready to feast as soon as you finish training. HOWEVER – don’t do this RIGHT away, because your body is in a super sympathetic state and may not be ready to digest a feast. So cool down, hit a protein and simple carb shake, then feast 1 hour later.

In this situation, I would still try and get 50-60% of calories in before the sun comes up but would shift to a little bit more fat dominant, and save more carbs for after sundown.

I hope this helps some of my swole bro’s out there who are partaking in this fasting period – hats’ off to you guys because I don’t think I would make it!

 

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5 Keys To Sustainable Fat Loss Results

Losing weight isn’t the hard part. Losing weight and keeping it off is.

Maybe you or someone you know lost a ton of weight once, and now they have since gained it back, and then some, and seem to struggle mightily to lose it again.

If you know more about this person, think about how they did it. Maybe they went on some crazy hardcore diet for a couple of months, spent 3 hours a day at the gym, or took questionable supplements that cost over $2000/month…

The person who loses and regains all usually lost via some extreme fashion.

So how do we avoid this? How do we make progress that lasts, and seems as effortless as possible? These are not in order of importance.

1) Regular Exercise

You may be wondering, “I thought diet was most important for fat loss!” and you would be right. BUT, maintaining fat loss is a different story. Regular exercise that challenges the body is key to maintaining results long-term. Yes, walking is great and getting 10k steps per day is awesome – but our bodies are meant to be physical, strong and challenged once in a while.

You don’t need to spend hours per day, but even 4-5 days per week of 30 minutes of vigorous activity will be enough.

While I don’t advise people to count their calories burned from exercise into their food intake (earning food is a bad mindset) – you cannot deny that regular exercise does increase your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

2) Willingness to Change

This should seem like a no brainer, but you need to be willing to change some things in your life for good. You cannot expect to make a ton of changes for 12 weeks, get results, then revert back to all your old habits and maintain your progress.

Obviously, we want to change as little as possible to make this as easy as possible.

However, the number of people who say they want to change, yet continue to live 3-4 days a week like they are in college still cracks me up.

You need to be okay with changing your ways if you want to see a change in your waist…….that was awful 🙁

3) Consistent Monitoring of Something

Whether it be your food, your weight, or your lifts in the gym – you have to monitor something to maintain your own sort of self-accountability.

If you weigh yourself daily, you shouldn’t worry about your day-to-day weights, but rather your general trends over the course of time. Try the Happy Scale App for this.

Tracking food is one of the best tools when it comes to improving your nutrition knowledge. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, “once I started tracking, I was SHOCKED at how many calories were in XYZ”

Tracking your progress at the gym is a great idea for everyone, even if you don’t necessarily care about being super strong. It will help you track overall progress, because if you are slowly getting stronger, you are slowly building more muscle, and thus likely improving your body comp (muscle to fat ratio).

4) Support

Going at things alone is never a good idea. I don’t care what people say, nobody is truly self-made successful.

If you are trying to improve your health by eating healthier and being more active, it doesn’t help if your partner keeps bringing home fast food, and sweets and encouraging you to skip the gym and watch late night TV instead.

Get a new partner. Ok, maybe not.

BUT – have that discussion with them, explain why this is important to you, and what they could do to show love and support.

Join a weight lifting group, a running club, or any group of like-minded people who maybe have the same goals and hobbies as you. In a world where we are so overly connected via the internet, we are less socially connected more than ever. Having your “tribe” or coach to guide and keep you accountable is key.

5) Appreciation of the Long Game

My clients probably get sick of me saying this.

But you have to be willing to go with the ebbs and flows of life and play the long game.

Think about the person who puts all their eggs in one basket, pushes all their chips into the pot, and goes hog-wild for 12 weeks of exercise and extreme dieting. Let’s say they lose 20 pounds. Then they regain. They then repeat next year, because it worked for the last year… maybe this time they lose 18 pounds in 12 weeks. Then regain…this pattern continues for 3-4 years.

Then the other person comes in. They focus on sustainable results, and work at it, but also live life, and enjoy the process. They “only” lose 6 pounds in a year. That’s .5 pounds per month…or roughly 0.125 pounds per week… “nothing” to most people…

3 years later, they are 18 pounds lighter, leaner, and healthier and hardly noticed the struggle.

3 YEARS! <—- Read this again.

Think back 3 years ago. If I came to you and said – “hey, you will be 18-25 pounds leaner 3 years from now, and the process will be almost effortless compared to crash diets and crazy workouts, you in?”

3 years isn’t really that long of a time, especially if you are 100% more likely to KEEP that 18-25 pounds off for the rest of your life because you learned so many positive habits and skills along the way.

Ready to make the lifetime commitment? Change for good, and find lasting results that allow you to enjoy the process?  Let’s chat —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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What Are Macros Anyways?

My macros are 300 C, 80F, and 215P…

If you are totally lost as to what that means, you are not alone!

Without any messing around, let’s just dive right in.

Macronutrients – or Macros for short – are the energy-containing compounds in our diets that make up the calories (energy) in our diet. We also consume micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals, and while these are essential, they do not contain any energy.

The three macros are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Alcohol is also sometimes included because it does contain energy. I use the word “contain” lightly because the energy/calories (used synonymously here) application is actually the amount of energy it takes to burn these nutrients. Confused yet?

  • 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
  • 1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories

When it comes to fat loss or weight gain (this includes muscle) – it comes down to the number of calories we consume, and the source to some extent.

For simplicity sake, let’s say you burn 2500 calories per day – all things included your metabolism, exercise, thermic effect of food (the calories you burn digesting food) and your general movement, or NEAT.

If you eat 3000 calories per day, you will gain weight. (A surplus)

If you eat 2500 calories per day, you will maintain your weight. (Maintenence)

If you eat 2000 calories per day, you will lose weight. (A deficit)

What contributes to these calories, is our macros.

What if you ate PURE sugar, 100% carb goodness and nothing else? Remember, carbs are 4 cals per gram. So if we want to lose weight on PURE sugar, you could eat – 2000/4 = 500 grams of carbs per day. BUT nothing else.

Obviously, this is highly unsafe, and not realistic, but the math is there to prove a point.

So back to my macros, which I have adjusted almost every 2 weeks, based on my personal goals, etc.

Where they are right now:

  • 300 grams of carbs x 4 cals per gram = 1200 calories from carbs
  • 215 grams of protein x 4 cals per gram = 860 calories from protein
  • 80 grams of fat x 9 cals per gram = 720 calories from fat

Those macros make up 2780 calories. Which for me, is a slight deficit. (I was cutting down a bit for vacation – you know, beach bod ready 🙂 

So what are sources of carbs, protein, and fats?

Glad you asked! Here is a pretty solid list of what contributes to what.

Mostly Carbohydrates:

  • Bread
  • English muffins
  • Tortillas
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Bran
  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Popcorn
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Bananas
  • Frozen berries
  • Seasonal veggies
  • Jello or pudding
  • All non-starchy veggies don’t really count for carbs (green and other colored veggies)

 Mostly Protein:

  • Egg whites
  • Chicken breast (or sliced from the deli)
  • Turkey (breast, patties, or bacon)
  • White fish
  • Lean ground beef
  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Non-fat cottage cheese
  • Non or low-fat cheese
  • Whey protein

Mostly Fat:

  • Egg yolks
  • Avocado
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts
  • Oils
  • Olives

These are examples of foods that are made of MOSTLY one macronutrient. There are few grey areas to cover though…

Carbs/Protein:

  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Quinoa
  • Nonfat sweetened Greek yogurt
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Fair Life skim milk
  • Peas
  • Protein bars (most have around 7g fat)

Fat/Protein:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Steak
  • Tofu
  • Whole fat milk
  • Whole fat yogurt
  • Full fat cheese
  • Chia seeds

Fat/Carbs (These are mostly things that you should eat as little of as possible)

  • Donuts or other breakfast desserts
  • Fancy coffee drinks
  • Pizza/other heavy dishes
  • Most mixed dishes at restaurants
  • Anything deep fried
  • Desserts
  • Most things that come in vending machines

These lists are not exhaustive but should give you a general idea of what contributes to what when it comes to figuring out where you macros are or should be coming from.

Are you still confused or want to know more about macros, how much YOU need, what ratios or gram intakes are optimal? Check out the link below for online coaching and take yourself out of the driver’s seat.

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Maybe You DON’T Need More Intensity?

High-Intensity Training; it’s all the rage.

Bootcamps, Crossfit, HIIT Class, Orange Theory, F45, etc. Everyone is promoting HIIT workouts as the holy grail of fitness. Burn more fat in less time, they say. Increase your post-exercise calorie burn significantly they say…

There is nothing inherently wrong with it, rather the approach may be the biggest problem.

Even powerlifting type workouts can be prone to too much high intensity. When you hit the gym day after day, working at high intensity super heavy sets that you have to crank up the Metallica to 11 for, slap your chest and huff and puff – (this used to be me) – day after day…

What about endurance athletes? Some might say – that’s not high intensity! –  While it may not be high intensity in the form of an all-out sprint, I would argue that it still is because of the duration of the activity, and especially if it is used ina competitive sport.

So what’s the problem? 

You spend all your time doing HIIT, or balls to the wall workouts – because that burns fat faster, right? Not always.

Truth is; the body has a finite amount of intensity that it can endure until somethings gotta give.

The graph on the left is what we THINK happens – more physical activity will always lead to more total energy expenditure aka calories burned. However, the true story is the graph on the right. At some point, the body will start preserving energy in other forms to counteract the “over intensity-ness”. This cannot be good, and especially at a deeper level of HOW the body will do this.

Let’s think about this:

High Intensity not only places stress on the physical musculature of the body but also the central nervous system. Your CNS is composed of your brain and spinal cord, but most importantly your HPA Axis (Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal). When we put the body through high-stress training, this system is stimulated. It is a cascade of hormonal triggers that flow downward to eventually release the hormone cortisol. This is a NORMAL response to stress (like high-intensity training).

Most of us have other stressors in our lives.

What also places stress on the body and the CNS?

  • Work
  • Life
  • Sickness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor nutrition
  • Dieting
  • Watching the news
  • Frequent travel

So how many of you High Intensity 7x per week go-getters are perfect in all of the above categories? Probably not many.

How many are taking time to do the opposite, and recover or do something that is LOW intensity?

In that overstressed, high octane, environment, your body releases chronically high levels of cortisol, which in excess can cause:

  • Muscle aches
  • Joint aches
  • Fat and water retention
  • Sleep issues
  • Food cravings
  • Low mojo in the bedroom

So what do you do???

Am I saying stop doing HIIT all together? NO

Think of it as one of those seesaw scales that big fancy city lawyers have.

One side is where you put your high-stress things, and one side is where you put your low-stress things. Is your scale balanced?

Another way to think of your day is being + or – towards your stress/health.

  • Got 8 hours of sleep +1
  • Ate donuts and Starbucks for breakfast -1
  • Got stuck with extra work -1
  • Skipped lunch -1
  • Got my backup protein shake +1

So at this point, you are in the negative…so what can you do to get positive, or balance out your scale?

Here are a few ways how to keep yourself in check:

Be aware of your training volume. If you aren’t sleeping well and you are eating like crap, doing HIIT stuff won’t help you 5 times per week – it will probably do the opposite. Get your diet in check and try to sleep more, and limit your high-intensity training to 1-2 times per week.

Self-monitor. Here’s a novel idea – listen to your body. If you are dragging and feeling extra bloated and weak, it’s probably not the best idea to go all out crazy at the gym. Reflect on why you are feeling this way, fix that problem, and then dial it back for the day and do some lower intensity pump work, foam rolling, or a nice hike outside.

Work to Recover. When we talk recovery from training, it’s usually in the form of eating better, sleeping better, and do your foam rolling and stretching. How many of us do that?

If you can’t sleep more and don’t want to change your nutrition habits, then you can at least make an effort to do a solid recovery session 1-2x per week.

What would this include?

  • Breathing exercises
  • Mobility drills
  • Soft tissue work
  • Range of motion work – light activation
  • Light/low-stress cardio – incline walk, light sled dragging…

Essentially 30 minutes dedicated to leaving the gym feeling better than when you got there.

Build recovery focussed days into your plan. For every crazy intense session you do, match it with a recovery session, massage, outdoor hike, etc.

By focussing just a little bit on recovery, listening to your body, and dialing back a bit on the crazy 100 burpee challenges, you can actually improve your bodies ability to burn fat, grow muscle, and feel a whole heck of a lot better.

 

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Something Over Everything

We want it all. We want it now. We want to do mega change right now…

Some people can handle this, but most people will crumble, and quit. Think about anything big, and life-changing.

This time 3 years ago I was just under one month out from my wedding. I may be a bit biased, but it was the best wedding, ever. Everything went smoothly, most everyone had fun (there was ONE incident that I won’t name names…but it definitely has turned out for the better 🙂 and it was a wonderful night.

We spent almost 10 months planning that wedding. Working on a little bit at a time, even 30 minutes of doing something when we could, chipping away at our checklist, and our bank account.

Anyone else who has planned a wedding would tell you it would be crazy to try and plan a successful day and night in a few short weeks or days.

A few months ago, we bought a house. We had been saving for YEARS to be able to make a substantial down payment. Putting a little bit aside each week, and increasing this amount by even $5 if we could.

We got the house, and we reached our goal of being able to put a great amount down.

Now we are tackling being parents. We learn something nearly every day, and we build off of that. Luckily, Adalynn only grows one day at a time, so that kind of regulates how much new stuff can pop up overnight.

We will be learning through this process as we go, rights and wrongs, ups and downs, all along this wild ride that is life.

Enough analogies – when someone is looking to reverse years and years of no self-care, self-sabotage, and not taking care of their health…they want it to happen NOW.

They sign up for a 5 day per week workout, (even though they haven’t worked a muscle in years) an intense and often radical diet program, throw away everything in their cupboards, because it’s time for a cleansing. Well, what often comes of that? Burnout, disappointment, and regression. The ol’ hampster wheel of progress…

So this is where I encourage you, if you are doing nothing right now for your health – just do SOMETHING. Pick one thing. Walk 10 minutes on a Monday. Eat one vegetable at dinner. Do one pushup each morning. Eat one less bon-bon per week. Drink one less soda per day…pick any of those things, and do it. Again, and again, and again…

Then build on it. Ask yourself, “okay, what can I add now?” Another walk? Another pushup? One less soda?

Just like chipping away at loans, building up a savings account, or planning a huge overpriced event (worth it 🙂 – it will take time, and little steps along the way to avoid overload and burn out.

It won’t always be easy, you will have little slip-ups, but it will be totally worth it in the end.

 

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This ONE Food May Be Holding Your Fat Loss Back

Recent groundbreaking studies have been released just this past week showing some very convincing evidence that one food and one food alone needs to be cut out of your diet immediately if you really want to lose fat for good.

Researchers and experts have all claimed that this research is truly groundbreaking, and think it will lead to the reversal of the obesity epidemic in our country. What is this ONE food that is holding us all back from reaching out true goals?

It’s the ONE food that YOU have no self-control over. Yes, I made all that previous stuff up.

Because there is no ONE food or food group that is to blame for everyone’s struggles with weight. For some, it’s not even necessarily food!

I’m sick of seeing these type of clickbait style articles on the interwebs and social media, blaming one food or food group. Of course, anyone can find a study these days to back up their opinion – it’s called cherry-picking the data in your favor.

Or, you can find studies that have been done on nematodes, and just assume that the same outcome will happen in humans and the same dosages per pound/kg…not the best strategy.

Everyone has that food, or food group, or several foods that once you start, it’s hard to stop. Like the following (*the first two are my own*):

  • Mom’s Chex Mix – I think the 3rd ingredient is crack, so this makes more sense.
  • Tortilla chips and salsa – because salt, fat, AND carbs in one food make my brain happy
  • Beer at a sporting event – because everyone else does it…
  • Sweet’s in the breakroom – because that’s all that is there to eat, and I’m stressed
  • Treats after dinner – because I have that sweet tooth and need my fix after dinner
  • Snacks during the football game – because everyone else does it, so we can Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Whatever your uncontrollable food, time, or situation might be…that is likely where you need to start looking to change.

Many of these situations or foods are examples of what we feel is the norm, or what society shows us to do.

Commercials, advertisements, and our friends – all tailgating, drinking beers, with a smorgasbord of food at our disposal to enjoy.

Rough day? Ice cream after dinner will make it better – even though you are full.

You’re planning on ordering the loaded enchiladas? You should probably eat this whole basket of chips and guac before you do that – because it’s there on the table, so why waste it?

How many opportunities are do you have to say yes or no at a restaurant, game, bar, or even at home?

  • Can I get you more ______?
  • Would you like another ______?
  • Would you like _____ with that?

And most of the time we say sure, yes, or hell to the yes (depending on how many beers deep we are)

But here’s the newsflash – it’s okay to say no. Break the norm. Say no thank you. Pass on the extras or the side of _____. Have a water, because deep down inside you know how that one more drink will make you feel tomorrow, and that you do really care about your goals…

It’s not one food that is keeping America fat. It’s our relationship with food, our glorification of the “normal”, and our overall portion sizes and quanity of what we truly eat – without even being aware – it’s all normal to society.

Screw normal. What is normal in this country clearly isn’t helping. Break the mold, and be different. Your health will thank you.

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One Step At A Time Will Lead to Many Leaps Forward

“That’s IT! I’m getting healthy…on Monday.”  – anyone who has decided to try their hand at a diet/exercise routine.

The problem is that most people who decide to finally do something about their health go at it like a guy trying to ride a unicycle, blindfolded while juggling up a flight of stairs…instead of just walking up that first step.

They throw away all the “bad” foods, sign up for a 5 day per week high-intensity workout program, buy the latest activity tracker, load up supplements and swear off of bread forever.

Well just like the unicycle juggler, eventually something’s gotta give, and a fall is going to hurt way more than the person just stepping up the stair one foot at a time.

Trying to make too many huge life changes at once CAN be done, but most of the time it is too much to handle and leads to total failure and “I’ll try again next week” syndrome.

So why do people not want to do the simple, step by step, one thing at a time thing? Because it’s not sexy. It’s not on the cover of magazines. It’s not talked about on TV. It’s not sold by MLM’s trying to get you to lose 30 pounds in 10 days…it’s TOO simple!

What would you rather have:

A – Lose 52 pounds over the course of a year, slow and steady, and have a good chance at keeping it off?

B) Lose 52 pounds in 3 months, while living at the gym, starving yourself, being a social hermit ALL with a good chance of gaining it all back (and then some)?

52-pound weight loss is 52 pounds – why should it matter that it takes 3 months or 12 months? Especially when the 12-month process is more likely to succeed, less stressful, and in the grand scheme of things isn’t that long anyway.

So before you decide to jump on the latest diet trend next Monday, answer these two questions and start here, today…

What foods/drinks do you eat too much of right now? – Eat half of them.

How many days per week do you exercise? – Keep that number the same

WAIT! You don’t want people to exercise MORE??

No, not yet if they decide to focus on diet – which most people should. Again – simple is effective. Why try to fix diet and exercise habits at once, when one or the other might be big enough change?

Once a dietary habit or lifestyle change has been made, THEN maybe we consider adding in some exercise, even one day per week – but here’s the secret…you gotta keep up the dietary habit AND be consistent with the workout day.

After this becomes the norm, then we add another step, and another, and another…until before you know it you have lost significant fat, feel better, and hardly noticed that you were “dieting” or “working out” the whole time.

***UPDATE***

A few weeks ago I wrote about training one of my client’s grandsons who were in town. I found out yesterday that one of the boys decided to sign up for the school running club because I told him he would be good at it. This literally made me so happy, I had a little proud papa tear in my eye. This is why I do what I do. #Blessed

 

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The Problem With Absolutes In Fitness Marketing…[Breaking it down…]

***These embarrassing photos were taken 2 seconds apart plus some quick filter work***

This is the problem with the digital world and marketing – who knows what is real, and what is fake anymore? With so many fitness gurus out there caliming that “their secret method will get you ripped in 20 days…” what is right and what is wrong?

A client of mine asked me about a Facebook ad he saw the other day from a fitness guru. The title was ” the 6 WORST things you can do if you want to ignite your body’s own fat-burning furnace and get lean, strong & totally ripped in less time”

First thing is that the worst thing you can do is not even on the list – doing nothing at all. Second, everything is relative to the goal, and the process – so I’ll break down this guys list…

1) Doing Isolates Exercises – Doing isolated exercises like bicep curls and tricep kick-backs will NOT get you any significant results. These one-muscle-at-a-time moves simply don’t stimulate enough muscle fibers to build lean muscle or expend enough energy to maximize your calorie burn.

He is totally right. From an energy expenditure standpoint, isolation exercises are terrible. However, if someone wants their arms to look better, or be stronger, doing some form of isolation work can help.

Compound movements ARE much better for hitting multiple muscles and getting the most bang or your buck – squats, deadlifts, presses, rows – are the big 4 compound lift varieties.

If you ONLY do isolation exercises and expect the fat to come melting off, well, you will be waiting a while.

2) Working Out With Machines – Machines alter the way your body naturally moves and restrict your range of motion. This severely limits your ability to fully activate all of your muscles fibers — that means less fat burning and less muscle definition. Worse yet, machines can cause excessive strain on your joints, leading to nagging injuries down the road.

Again, this is true – in the right context. But some people only have access to machines or don’t have the stabilizer muscles to use a barbell or dumbbells quite yet… and cable machines don’t really count as machines because rows, pulldowns, and other single cable exercises are great.

Also, the whole “less fat burning and less muscle definition” is total BS – doesn’t matter what your workout is if your diet sucks, you won’t have any muscle definition.

3) Doing Long Bouts of Cardio – If you’ve been pounding the pavement or the treadmill with nothing to show for it (except sore joints and a pair of stinky worn out sneakers), you already know it takes a lot of effort to get minimal results.

I probably agree with him the most on this one. Traditional cardio is not necessary to lose fat, but it still put on a pedestal when it comes to “being healthy”. You don’t get in shape by running, you need to be in shape to earn the right to run long distances – or you might pay for it later.

BUT – if you enjoy long runs, AND they do no harm to your body – go for it!

He argues for the shorter duration, high-intensity work – which I tend to side with as well, for convenience and time sake (however, to get the max effect from high intensity work, it needs to be at high intensity, not so-so intensity, which I also see a lot of) Again, if you like the long steady stuff, and it doesn’t harm you, go for it!

4) Doing crunches or situps to get a six pack – If you want washboard abs, doing traditional ab exercises like crunches and sit-ups WILL NOT get you a six-pack. In fact, doing any exercises that target your abs won’t get you a six pack either! These so-called “ab” exercises are a complete waste of time. They don’t make your abs get any more defined and they definitely don’t burn any fat.

Correct again – to burn away fat we need a caloric deficit. Crunches and situps are not ideal for training the abs. However, completely ignoring to train the core is a big NO NO. It’s not about targeting the fat, but about building up a strong core which helps prevent back problems and is also often the weak link on many exercises.

The funniest part about this post is the line “I’ll show you how to burn away the “ab flab” while stimulating all 6 of your abdominal muscles at the same time so you can finally carve out your six-pack abs.”

This had me laughing because he is still full of ****. Making it sound like you can isolate each one of the six-pack muscles…we all have a six-pack, it’s the fat that covers it that must be burned away.

5) Repeating the Same Workouts Over and Over – your body has an amazing ability to adapt quickly and when it does, that’s when you hit the dreaded plateau and you stop making progress. 

This is sort of true. You can do the same workouts over and over and still get results – as long as you are progressing in some way, shape or form. Adding weight, adding reps, reducing rest, are all ways to still progress with the same exercises.

For cardio, changing up the modality CAN help, as our bodies can adapt to running, biking, etc. and become more efficient (burn fewer cals). So this is where I would agree with him and say if using cardio (high intensity especially) – change it up after about 4-5 weeks.

6) Doing Looooong Workouts – you don’t need to spend countless hours working out.

True. If you are using your time wisely, you should be able to get an efficient workout in and out of the gym in 45-60 minutes.

Again – diet is very important here as well. You can lose weight without any exercise at all. However, exercise is all about what we build, sculpt and shape on our bodies. This is why lifting weights is so important – yes you burn calories from lifting – but it’s more about challenging your muscles to change them, and create a lean, strong physique.

So while he makes many valid points – they aren’t absolutes, and actually aren’t anything “secret” or “fancy” – just basic physiology and the principle of progressive overload.

These click-bait links are meant to hit you in the emotions, and get your money fast – but this is the point, and that is all. Once you dig more into this “secret method” it’s nothing secret, or unique.

Do the work, challenge yourself, and make sure your nutrition matches your goals. Simple – but not easy.

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Stay healthy my friends,

What Exercise Did For Me, And Why it Matters

I recently had the chance to work with one of my clients grandkids. They were visiting town for a couple of weeks and I told her to bring them to her sessions.

The boys came in the gym for the first time and sat on the bench with their heads down, quiet, and probably a bit nervous. I asked what music they wanted to listen to and I didn’t get much out of them.

We started the work out and they were still quite quiet and reserved. Now, both of these boys are not really into sports, and enjoy playing the latest video game more than sports – right now…

The workout was going okay, until we got to the finisher of some sled pushes. It’s like it brought out a totally different kid from each of them. They both got energized, and very competitive. By the end of the week, the boys were pushing 250 pounds on the sled, and asking for more!

I don’t know if the few trips to the gym will change anything in their paths, but I hope it does. Why? Because this is my goal, my mission, my “manifesto” as to why I love fitness – because of what it did for my life.

I used to be a quiet, more reserved and introverted kid. I had friends, but was afraid to go out of that group. I played sports, but was pretty soft and not the most “hardcore” athlete. I also was (still am) a huge Star Wars “nerd”, comic book “geek”, and into playing “nerdy” video games like Starcraft and Diablo.

I started lifting my freshman year of high school for football. Besides how it felt when it started physically changing my body – more importantly was how it mentally changed me. The challenges of the workouts, and always trying to push myself to improve, and wanting to do more created a drive in me that I could relate to my sports AND my video games. Like leveling up your character in a game to unlock a new superpower, I was leveling up my strength on bench presses and squats.

Building up muscles like the superheroes in the movies and comics was obviously a physical boost, but the entire process changed my confidence, personality and overall demeanor for the best.

I still love Star Wars, I still love Superhero movies, I frankly don’t have time for video games, but I also love weight training, challenging my body, and pushing some heavy sleds around.

This is why I love training, and why my mission is to get people to find something in the gym that they enjoy, that will change them physically and mentally, and improve their lives for the best.

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Stay healthy my friends,