More Exercise Doesn’t Mean More Results

Exercise, Physical Activity, Training, Working Out, Getting Your Fitness On….or whatever you like to call it is great for you. Here is what makes it so great:

Major benefits of exercise in general:

  • Improved heart/blood health
  • Improved mood
  • Improved coordination
  • Improved blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol

Direct major benefits of pure cardio exercise:

  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Improved resting heart rate
  • Improved performance in cardiovascular events/activities

Direct major benefits of strength training:

  • Improved muscle mass/”tone”
  • Improved strength
  • Improved bone mineral density
  • Improved insulin sensitivity

Notice none of those said “weight or fat loss”?

Relying solely on exercise to lose weight is a terrible idea. Is it part of the equation? Yes, but a much more minor part than most think.

If you constantly think you need more and more exercise, and to do this class, or go on this run, or up your miles, or start 2 a days you are setting yourself up for a major bummer.

If you feel the need to dreadfully add more and more exercise, then let me stop you. It is not going to get you anywhere besides spinning your wheels on the never-ending hamster wheel of mediocrity and semi-decent results – BUT you will miss out on your true potential. “Why?” You might ask…

From a physiological and thermodynamics level:

Heres some numbers to cheer you up:

  • A 185 pound person will burn about 266-378 calories per hour in a strength training class (a lighter person will burn less)
  • Most people will burn, on average, 100 calories per 1 mile traveled on foot. So if you run 5 miles, that’s about 500 calories.
  • Various numbers can be given for different exercises, and modalities – so the results can be very variable and unpredictable.
  • Calorie burn calculations from wearable tech can be off by up to 45% – thus making it nearly pointless to care about how many calories you burned at your latest 1000 burpee challenge Bootcamp.

How easy is it to eat 266 calories? That’s about a handful of mixed nuts, a bite of your kids’ mac n cheese, and a girl scout cookie after dinner. Pretty damn easy to “cancel” out that calorie burn from that workout – I guess it was pointless…

This is the problem with thinking of exercise purely as a calorie burn. Look back to the list at the top of all the benefits of exercise, cardio, and strength training. Those are some pretty awesome benefits. But when you only think of exercises as “how many calories can I burn”, you end up wrecking your relationship with it, and sometimes wrecking your body.

If you are always chasing the calorie burn from exercise, you start to sacrifice form for speed, you lift lighter than you should, you turn a boot camp into a marathon day of working out, you start to do stupid things in your workout just because they “burn more calories” or get your heart rate up (Burpee challenges are the worst thing I have ever heard of BTW).

From a hormonal level:

Exercise stresses your body.

Dieting stresses your body.

Life stresses your body.

Your body only recognizes this all as stress is stress is stress.

Exercising more and more, and eating less and less will work – for the short term.

Eventually somethings gotta give, and that something is usually your progress – and this leads to semi-satisfactory results. These are usually the folks who have that last 5-10 pounds of stubborn fat that they REALLY want to lose.

When we workout out over and over again with a goal to lose weight, we are constantly living in a stressed state, Couple that with most people not eating nearly enough, not eating consistently, not sleeping enough or getting enough nourishment to fuel this many workouts, and you are looking to stall out or even start falling backward.

Stress in all forms induces cortisol. Constantly elevated levels of cortisol can and will eventually slow your bodies metabolic furnace down, because we’ve got more important things to worry about than trying to burn fat. This will also greatly affect the production of sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen are natural fat burning hormones), slow down thyroid function and imbalanced blood sugar levels. Lastly, it makes it hard for your body to create those ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin.

And here is the WORST thing you can do when your body is under tons of stress from life, training, and dieting….eat low carb. (and what is the one diet most people gravitate towards these days?)

When your cortisol is already through the roof, your energy levels are zapped, yet you try and force yourself through more and more workouts – well, your body is just starving for carbs, but most people will deprive themselves of them – only putting your body into a crazier hormonal spiral.

Eating carbs increases your insulin response. Insulin works opposite of cortisol – sort of like a cortisol shut off valve. So when you eat carbs post workout, it’s not so much about the shuttling of nutrients to the muscles faster like old school bodybuilders used to think – but more so about spiking your insulin, shutting off your cortisol and letting your body get into recovery mode.

So if we should stop exercising to lose weight, what should we do?

Stop exercising with the mindset of having to earn your food, or burn your meal…exercise for the benefits listed at the start of this post.

You may have been able to ignore your diet at the start, but its time to get real and be honest with yourself. Nutrition is the key component for fat loss – but it also doesn’t have to be dreaded or miserable.

Instead of thinking you need more high-intensity training – see how many steps you get in a day. See how active you are OUTSIDE of working out. Think of the construction workers you see pounding 64 oz. sodas, burgers, fries, pizza, and yet they are still thin. It’s much more about your daily overall activity than your workouts…

Lastly, work to reduce your stress. Take a step back from crazy workouts, work on some breathing exercises, swap out a bootcamp for some yoga, and focus on improving your sleep and nutrition.

Exercise is great, but it should not be done out of guilt, or with a goal of just needing to burn more calories.

 

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The Best “Lent Approved” Lean Protein Sources

This could be titled: the best lean protein sources that are not poultry, red meat or pork…so I hope everyone reads it whether or not you practice the season of Lent.

But I had to represent for all my people out there who are struggling to know how they can keep their gains on Fridays.

Here’s the deal – Lent is 40 days long, so there are 5-6 Fridays that fall in that span. If you don’t quite hit your protein numbers for the day you will be totally fine.

HOWEVER, if you are like me and can’t miss an opportunity of your attempt to be packing on as much muscle as possible before beach season (2 week span in Wisconsin) we gotta get that protein in! 

Here are the best sources of protein based on the amount of protein per what I would consider a decent size serving (20-30 grams of protein).

1/2 cup Egg Whites + 1 whole egg

4 oz. of any white fish (tilapia, cod, walleye, perch)

  • **4 oz. is roughly the size of a deck of cards.**

4 oz. of salmon

5 oz. can of tuna or salmon 

4 oz. of pretty much ANY seafood, shellfish, fish, etc.

1 scoop of protein powder (do not try getting all your protein from powders)

1/2 cup dry oats + 1/2 cup fair life milk + 1/2 cup Oikos Triple ZERO Vanilla Greek Yogurt.

1 cup of cottage cheese

1 cup of Greek Yogurt

1 cup of FairLife Milk + 3/4 cup Special K Protein Cereal

1 cup of Kodiak Cake Pancake Mix (also contains 60 grams of carbs)

 

Notice I didn’t say stuff like beans, peanut butter, cheese sticks, nuts…

While it is true that all of these do have some protein in them, I would not consider them protein sources, rather fat or carb sources with some protein in them.

Thats not to say that they cannot be eaten, but just that I wouldn’t consider them high protein foods to base a meal around.

Best of luck this Lenten season, may your gains be blessed.

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The Process Must Match the Goal – Interview With Figure Pro Ariel M

“I want to look like ______”

The statement gets thrown around way too often and way to “irresponsibly”. I believe that having a goal is always a great idea, but it also much be realistic. Nothing is impossible, but it might take much more than you believe.

If you ask me what I would ideally look like, I would say the classic physique of Steve Reeves. Muscular, proportionate, and a full head of hair…

Will I get here? Maybe someday…but maybe not, and thats cool.

So when someone comes to me saying they want 6 pack abs, chiseled arms, and no flabby saggy skin…and they want it now, and they currently are training 1-2 times per week, and have no clue what they are eating plus weekends spent hungover, I know we have a lot of work to do…but it can be done!

Want to know what it takes?  Look no further than my friend Ariel M, who’s amazing achievements include:

OCB Figure PRO
WNBF Figure PRO
WNBF Fit Body PRO
Nationally qualified Bikini Competitor NPC 2014-2015

Here is her process for getting stage ready:

What made you want to start competing? I was an athlete growing up, and have always been a (friendly) competitive personality. A year into college, I was missing that feeling of challenge and personal motivation. My mother competed on and off for about 7 years which is how I was introduced to the bodybuilding industry. I knew how big of a feat it was to get your body ready for the stage and felt like I was in the right place to compete in a sport on this extreme level.

 

How far out from getting on stage do you start modifying your training/diet – if at all? Healthy eating and various forms of exercise have always been a part of my day to day routine, regardless of any sport. For competitions, I start following a more strict diet plan and dial in my weight lifting routine at around 20 weeks out. I used to start 16 weeks out but the longer prep time gives me more flexibility to make gradual changes as I go without being too aggressive right off the bat.

 

What does the average week look like when it comes to training for getting into such amazing aesthetic shape? How many days lifting? How many days cardio? What were your splits? How much time did you spend each day training? For me, 6 days per week lifting, 1 hour on average, sometimes more or less. I have switched up my lifting routine quite a bit over the last 6 years of competing. I have done opposition splits: bi/tri, chest/back, shoulder day, 2 leg days (1 glute and hamstring focused) and a cardio/ core/ total body day. Now I do 2 heavy strength days upper and lower body (10 reps or less) and 2 hypertrophy days (higher rep), 1 core/cardio day, and the last day I do whatever body part I feel like needs attention (usually shoulders, back or glutes). I do 1 day of short HIIT cardio, mostly sprints and stair runs for 15-30 min. When I teach cardio classes I’m doing 2-3 days of spin class, 45 min – 1 hour. Writing this out makes me realize how much time I really spend working out. I love working out, so when I’m in the gym, it feels timeless most days. I’m not usually watching the clock because I enjoy being there.

 

What was your diet like towards your peak physique? Whew. In the very beginning before I start counting macros or weighing food, I start eliminating processed foods from my diet. I begin drinking less alcohol (baby steps!). I pack all my food so I am sure I’m eating every 3 hours or so. After a few weeks of this, I’m in the mindset. I start following my macro plan (given to me by my coach Lisa Feran) and eating a set amount of proteins, carbs and fats (off my clean grocery list) at around a 15% caloric deficit. Week by week, as I feel like I am hitting a plateau, we change my diet, gradually eating less calories (usually less carbs). Nothing happens too fast though. I try to change as little as possible to see the results I need to see. I try to start as full as I can with the most calories and carbs as possible so that we have plenty of room to make changes. If I’m still progressing and losing body fat at a proper rate, then nothing needs to change! Towards the end I sometimes do a carb cycle with a few days low and one day higher carb. The final week to the show is extreme but keep in mind that I have been training toward this week for 19 weeks already, so it’s not that crazy when you think about it that way.  By the last few weeks I’m eating mostly chicken, fish, salmon, sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs/egg whites, tons of veggies and always plenty of water. Consistent diet, small changes week by week with each week leading into the next and being 90% consistent 100% of the time. 

 

How much time do you spend working on your nutrition, as far as prepping, weighing, measuring, etc.? (how much is involved). I spend about 2 hours on Sunday cooking, weighing and packing. This prep usually gets me though Wednesday or so. Then I spend around 20- 30 min each night  making sure I keep the rotation of food from the freezer to oven to tupperware. Crock pots help with cooking time. I have plenty of tupperware to make things easy and quick to pack. I go to the grocery store 2-3 days a week to make sure my produce is fresh. Having a good cooler that packs tupperware nicely is another huge help.

 

How did your diet make you feel, or how did you feel during your prep? Mood? Energy? Any noticeable changes, good or bad? In the very beginning before I start counting macros or weighing food, I start eliminating processed foods from my diet. I begin drinking less alcohol (baby steps!). I pack all my food so I am sure I’m eating every 3 hours or so. After a few weeks of this, I’m in the mindset. I start following my macro plan (given to me by my coach Lisa Feran) and eating a set amount of proteins, carbs and fats (off my clean grocery list) at around a 15% caloric deficit. Week by week, as I feel like I am hitting a plateau, we change my diet, gradually eating less calories (usually less carbs). Nothing happens too fast though. I try to change as little as possible to see the results I need to see. I try to start as full as I can with the most calories and carbs as possible so that we have plenty of room to make changes. If I’m still progressing and losing body fat at a proper rate, then nothing needs to change! Towards the end I sometimes do a carb cycle with a few days low and one day higher carb. The final week to the show is the most ‘extreme’ but keep in mind that I have been training toward this week for 19 weeks already, so it’s not that crazy when you think about it that way. Bodybuilders don’t eat like they do the final week all the time. There is no magic food I’m eating to get me lean. It’s all foods people eat almost every day: lean proteins, healthy fats like coconut oil and almonds, whole carbs like potatoes, oats and rice and a huge diversity of vegetables and plenty of water of course. Consistent diet, small changes week by week with each week leading into the next and being 90% consistent 100% of the time is the key. 

 

What did you like about competing? What did you not like? I have an amazing coach and team which makes competing fun and rewarding to be surrounded by others like me. Second to my team, the thing I love most about competing is the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of completion after a long prep process. Being on stage is a way I can express myself and present my art. I have molded my body through self determination and willpower and feel honored to preset my hard work in this way. I recognize that I am not my body, rather my body is just my shell in which I’ve been given to live. This personal embodiment and aesthetic side of the sport is what makes bodybuilding so unique.

 

Anything else you want to add for people who want to get into stage ready shape? Physical and mental health are of the utmost importance. Be sure to talk with a coach who has experience in the industry. Training for a bodybuilding competition is not like training for any other sport. The mental and emotional side are a different challenge than other types of extreme sports so it is important to have a qualified person whom you trust to help you navigate the journey both to the competition and the time following after!

Learn more about Ariel and give her a follow!

insta: @Fitness.By.Ariel

facebook: facebook.com/fitnessbyariel

website: fitnessbyariel.com & customfitnessspecialists.com

 

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STOP Exercising to Lose Weight

Major benefits of exercise in general:

  • Improved heart/blood health
  • Improved mood
  • Improved coordination
  • Improved blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol

Direct major benefits of pure cardio exercise:

  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Improved resting heart rate
  • Improved performance in cardiovascular events/activities

Direct major benefits of strength training:

  • Improved muscle mass/”tone”
  • Improved strength
  • Improved bone mineral density
  • Improved insulin sensitivity

Notice none of those said “weight or fat loss”?

Relying soley on exercise to lose weight is a terrible idea. Is it part of the equation? Yes, but a much more minor part than most think.

If you constantly think you need more and more exercise, and to do this class, or go on this run, or up your miles, or start 2 a days you are setting yourself up for a major bummer.

Sidenote: if you truly enjoy doing tons of exercise, running, biking, classes, etc. and you aren’t getting worn down, or feeling burnt out – then that is awesome, keep doing them! But you don’t NEED to do them…

If you feel the need to dreadfully add more and more exercise, it is not going to get you anywhere.

From a physiological and thermodynamics level:

Heres some numbers to cheer you up:

  • A 185 pound person will burn about 266-378 calories per hour in a strength training class (a lighter person will burn less)
  • Most people will burn, on average, 100 calories per 1 mile traveled on foot. So if you run 5 miles, thats about 500 calories.
  • Various numbers can be given for different exercises, and modalities – so the results can be very variable and unpredictable

How easy is it to eat 266 calories? That’s about a handful of mixed nuts, a bite of your kids mac n cheese, and a girl scout cookie after dinner. Pretty damn easy to “cancel” out that calorie burn from that workout – I guess it was pointless….

This is the problem with thinking of exercise purely as a calorie burn. Look back to the list at the top of all the benefits of exercise, cardio, and strength training. Those are some pretty awesome benefits. But when you only think of exercises as “how many calories can I burn”, you end up wrecking your relationship with it, and sometimes wrecking your body.

If you are always chasing the calorie burn from exercise, you start to sacrifice form for speed, you start to do stupid things in your workout just because they “burn more calories” or get your heart rate up (Burpee challenges are the worst thing I have ever heard of).

From a hormonal level:

Exercise stresses your body.

Dieting stresses your body.

Life stresses your body.

You body only recognizes this all as stress is stress is stress.

Exercising more and more, and eating less and less will work – for the short term.

Eventually somethings gotta give, and that something is usually your progress.

When we workout out over and over again with a goal to lose weight, we are constantly living in a stressed state, Couple that with most people not eating nearly enough or getting enough nourishment to fuel this many workouts, and you are looking to stall out or even start falling backwards.

Stress in all forms induces cortisol. Constantly elevated levels of cortisol can and will eventually shut your bodies metabolic furnace down, because we’ve got more important things to worry about than trying to burn fat. This will also greatly affect the production of sex hormones, slow down thyroid function and imbalance blood sugar levels. Lastly, it makes it hard for your body to create those ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin.

And here is the WORST thing you can do when your body is under tons of stress from life, training, and dieting….eat low carb. (and what is the one diet most people gravitate towards these days?)

When your cortisol is already through the roof, your energy levels are zapped, yet you try and force yourself through more and more workouts – well, you body is just starving for carbs, but most people will deprive themselves of them – only putting your body into a crazier hormonal spiral.

So if we should stop exercising to lose weight, what should we do?

Stop exercising with the mindset of having to earn your food, or burn your meal…exercise for the benefits listed at the start of this post.

You may have been able to ignore your diet at the start, but its time to get real and be honest with yourself. Nutrition is the key component for fat loss – but it also doesn’t have to be dreaded or miserable.

Lastly, work to reduce your stress. Take a step back from crazy workouts, work on some breathing exercises, swap out a bootcamp for some yoga, and focus on improving your sleep and nutrition.

Exercise is great, but it should not be done out of guilt, or with a goal of just needing to burn more calories.

 

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Can Happiness and Dieting Coexist?

If by “dieting” we mean – eating with a goal of losing body fat…then yes, it is possible.

Unfortunately the word “diet” is often associated with pain, suffering, deprivation, sadness, boringness, restriction, and many other negative choice words.

Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say “oh I’m on a diet and loving it!”?

Here’s the big thing – it doesn’t have to suck.

You don’t need to cut out entire food groups, cut out entire macronutrients, cut out your social life, cut out birthday cake, cut out Christmas cookies…you don’t NEED to do any of that!

So if I can eat birthday cake and not have to stop eating _______, how the heck is it still possible to lose weight?!?!

You are an adult. You choose what your eat and drink. Time to take responsibility for that.

That’s the other secret word – aside from my favorite secret word (consistency) – is responsibility. Food doesn’t decide to jump in your mouth and crawl down into the warmth of your stomach. You CHOOSE to eat it. You CHOOSE to drink it. So first things first is you have to own the F up and be cool with that.

Once you stop blaming food itself, the fast food companies, or the little cute cartoon characters that MADE you eat 3 Quarter Pounders with a large fry and a 24 oz coke…and realize that you are in 100% total and absolute control of what you put in your body, only then will you be able to start your journey towards losing weight healthfully AND being happy aka “dieting”.

Ok, I get it – I am in control. But now what? Don’t I need to stop eating all that is pleasurable?

No. You are in control, and now you have chosen to be a responsible adult.

As a responsible adult you know:

  1. Don’t eat a bunch of candy/sweets/treats/junk food all the time
  2. Don’t drink your calories as much as possible
  3. Eat as much whole, unprocessed foods as possible
  4. Load up on lean proteins, vegetables, fruits on a pretty unlimited basis
  5. Be active

Everyone knows this. So where do we go so wrong?

It’s when it comes to eating and drinking everything else that most people tend to adopt an all or nothing mindset.

NEVER eat carbs if you want to lose fat.

or

Well I don’t give a hoot about my body and dieting is hard, so I’m just going to keep pounding every carb in sight, from Twinkies, to break room bagels, and even Sandy’s nasty ass homemade brownies she brought in to work…

What ever happened to the idea of moderation and, that magic word again – responsibility?

You can eat carbs and still lose plenty of fat. You can eat processed carbs and still lose plenty of fat. But we need to be responsible and figure out what the appropriate dose is for YOU, and learn how to factor that into your life.

As with many things in life, the dose makes the poison.

So what do I do and how do I find this happiness within weight loss?!?

Thats a loaded and answer, which for some people may take some time to figure out, and peel back layers and layers of years and years of poor mindset, feelings of guilt, negative associations with all things food and life, etc.

The best advice I can give everyone – for free – here it is…

Figure out where you are starting. Figure out what you are currently eating on a day to day basis…then make one little change. Stick to that. Then make another, and another, and another…

It doesn’t have to be a brutal all or nothing approach, you just need to be responsible, be consistent, and take a little step in the right direction every single day.

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Short Term Pleasure; Long Term Pain…

Recently I was listening to a fantastic podcast from my friends at Relentless Dietetics –> http://relentless-show.libsyn.com/rss

In their most recent episode they were discussing higher level thinking – how as humans we can think and plan for long term, where as animals, live in the now and literally only react to what is currently happening, and don’t necessarily do things in the current time while thinking about how that will impact future.

Which brings up the point of “short term pleasure; long term pain” or vice versa “short term pain; long term pleasure”

The word ‘pain’ does not need to be actually PAINFUL, but it might be the thing you don’t really want to do, or the less desirable of two or three options…

When it comes to being fit, exercising or taking care of your body – its easy to choose short term pleasure by skipping the gym, sleeping in –  skipping the gym, and going out to the bars – even deciding to take the elevator; instead of the stairs…

You consistently choose the easier, more “pleasurable”, more compelling, more mainstream frankly, and more average choice – you are likely to find yourself in the long term “pain” bucket.

Pain in this case being – not happy with how you feel, not happy with how you look, not confident, always thinking that you are a failure – these may sound harsh, but they are all things that I have unfortunately heard.

How about short term “pain” for long term pleasure in regards to fitness/activity/etc?

Going to the gym consistently – not always what we want to do.

Tracking workouts and progress – not what we always want to do.

Taking the stairs – not what we always want to do.

Walking to the grocery store that is 4 blocks away – not what I always want to do 🙂

All things that in the short term might not be the easiest or most pleasurable choice…but they will lead to the long term pleasure of feeling good, being confident in how you look, and living a longer an healthier life.

How about when it comes to nutrition? This is where it gets a little harsh sounding…

Short term pleasure; eating whatever the hell you want. Drinking however the hell you want. Mindlessly eating and not being aware of what you put in your body day to day…etc…

If this is what you have always done, it will lead to what you have always had.

Am I saying that you need to start suffering and eating like a bodybuilder day after day? Nope. It’s really doesn’t have to be THAT painful. Same thing goes for fad diets. When you yo-yo from one extreme to another, you are usually getting SO much short term pain, with the shiny promise of long term pleasure, but is it really worth it? Does it REALLY work??

So what will constitute as reasonable short term pain for long term pleasure?

Learning about food and how much you are currently eating – not the most exciting…

Tracking your calories – but it takes time…

Passing on seconds after dinner because you know you are full, and you know that you are at your goal for the day – very hard

Doing these things might not be ideal in the moment, but what you will gain long term is much much greater than any short term option you can choose.

But here’s the deal – you don’t ALWAYS need to choose short term pain for long term pleasure – you just need to be aware of what you are choosing, and have realistic expectations about how you plan to feel afterwards.

This is where I cannot stress enough about how cool tracking your food is. This has essentially allowed myself and many clients to enjoy short term pleasure, for long term pleasure…ooooo,ahhhhhh…

How do you mean? More on this another time – but I have already touched on the topic before. –> https://mgfitlife.com/2017/02/16/how-to-eat-girl-scout-cookies-and-stay-on-track-with-your-goals/

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Is This Your Year?

 

Happy 2018! We made it!

Every year people come up with New Years resolutions, and every year, people give up or fail those resolutions fairly quickly.

So what will you do to be different? Will this be your year to make the changes you have been talking about for years? Or finally commit to something you have been thinking about for all of 2017, but never pulled the trigger on it?

Whatever your goals or resolutions may be; great, keep them – but if you say you’re going to do something, I hope you have enough respect for yourself to do it. Don’t lie to yourself about what you are going to do, and actually take some action this year.

So how can you make it easier on yourself?

Here’s the thing, people love easy. They want easy. Yet many resolutions they set are not easy. Losing weight that you have put on over the course of 20 years of self sabotage and neglectful bad habits and lifestyle choices…

That is a hard challenge! But it can be done.

However – it IS simple.

Simple doesn’t equal Easy

Instead of moaning about how hard it is, and how easy you wish it was – take a look at how complex and daunting you are making it, and simplify it down to simple, manageable, and small steps.

Think about the hardest math class you ever took (Calc 2?). Did you start in that class from day one of learning math? No. You learned the basics at a young age and built upon it over years and years of practice and learning.

Same goes with any big New Years goal. You have to start from the basics.

Right now with the New Year motivation being strong you might feel like you can tackle all these things at once, and get to the gym 7 days per week, and measure out every gram of rice and chicken you bulk prep over the weekend…but then once the shiny luster of the New Year wears away, and real life kicks you in the face…now what?

  1. Start simple.
  2. Pick one thing each day.
  3. Write it out.
  4. Cross it off when you accomplish it.
  5. Do it again the next day.
  6. And the next… until you have a chain of “x”s lining your paper or calendar…now don’t let that chain break! (this is what Jerry Seinfeld did with writing jokes, seriously – https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231023)

So pick your one thing, focus on it – build on it, and progress through 2018 like a boss!

 

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Why Everyone Should Train Their Arms Directly

 

Friday at the gym…it’s arm day. #FatArmFridays #ArmDay #BisandTrisForDayz

The above would describe my 4 years of high school, and most of my college years as well. Most guys who are into working out will agree with this statement to some extent. Fridays were always the day where your would hit every variation of biceps, and every variation of triceps exercise you could think of.

Fast forward to post-college. Reading articles, endlessly self studying, and digging deep into the training world through continuing education, and working with mostly “general fitness/weight loss” clients lead me to the close minded conclusion of:

Direct arm work isn’t “functional” nor does it demand a lot of effort (calorie burn), and as long as you do heavy rows and presses, you don’t need to train the arms directly.

Fast forward to now.

Here is what I know:

  1. If you want to train arms directly, go for it. It’s your choice, and there is something that science can never “prove” about the good ol feeling of a great arm pump.
  2. Physiologically and anatomically speaking – if you have shorter arms, and are of shorter stature, you can more likely get pretty solid arm development through rowing and pressing movements – but this is still dependent on tendon lengths.
  3. If you have longer arms and want to build your arms up, you probably need to focus a little more on direct arm work.
  4. Last, but not least, direct arm work is indeed VERY functional…

This last point is what I would like to focus on.

 

Let’s look deeper:

Image result for arm muscle

Triceps – Function – The triceps is an extensor muscle of the elbow joint and an antagonist of the biceps and brachialis muscles. It can also fixate the elbow joint when the forearm and hand are used for fine movements.

So even if your goal isn’t to develop some sexy horseshoe triceps, they help tremendously with extending at the elbow – any time you straighten your arm – OR – they work to help fixate the arm for fine motor skills with the wrist or hands – like while writing, knitting, typing, opening jars of pickles, etc.

In other words, pretty important.

Biceps – Function – The biceps has three primary functions. The most important of these functions is to supinate the forearm (rotate forearm to palm up position) and flex the elbow (pull the hand towards the shoulder). It also contributes slightly to flexion at the shoulder (raising the arm forward and overhead).

Again, even if you aren’t trying to build a solid set of 22″ pythons, the biceps are very important when it comes to lifting anything up, and overhead – along with rotating and performing fine motor skills of the arm.

So why can’t you just focus on heavy presses and rows or pulldowns/chin ups?

There are plenty of factors that could be named here, but the biggest one is some people just aren’t ready or physically able to row or press heavy without potentially hurting other parts of their body – in other word usually the shoulder health or their grip strength is limiting.

So train your arms directly.

1-3 times per week – for 6-12 total sets of each per week – 8-20 reps per set- and that should be the sweet spot that most people need to get the minimum effective dose for overall functional benefits.

On a final note: you don’t need to train the arms super heavy – but focus more on getting maximum contraction of the target muscle.

When performing tricep exercises, get full extension (straightening) at the elbow, and squeeze our triceps HARD, then try to keep tension while returning to a flexed position.

When performing biceps exercises, focus on controlling the weight, and squeezing HARD when the elbow joint is fully flexed (forearm close to your bicep) AND slightly flexing at the shoulder joint when at the top (think about driving your elbows up an inch or two at the top end of the curl). Control the weight down, and keep tension in the bicep the whole time.

There you have it, why the arms should be trained directly – whether or not you want them to look better – but really, who doesn’t?

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How To Actually Get Things Done

Ive been writing about goals and mindset a lot lately, mostly because after working in the industry for almost a decade now, I have found that to be the biggest challenge for most people.

Most people know they need to workout/be more active.

Most people know what to eat more of and what to eat less of.

Most people don’t know how to initiate action on either without; A) being totally depressed because they feel they can only eat broccoli and chicken, or B) starting 150% – and burning out rather quickly – a la the yo-yo dieter.

So what does one have to do to have the best chance at results, maintaining sanity, and staying motivated?

I give you – Goal Optimization Technique and Big F***ing Task Management System Pathway to Success – or GOTBFTMSPTS. ($5 to anyone who can come up with something that rolls off the tongue a little better…)

Where did I come up with this? Well – after reading, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and talking with other great minds, I kind of just threw this together be taking bits and pieces of things that I liked from my sources…

Step 1) Get out a piece of paper or even better a notebook.

Physically writing things out has been proven to be more effective than just saying them or thinking them. Write this stuff out if it’s really that important to you!

Step 2) Write your 3 goals – be specific and be realistic.

  1. Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks
  2. Retire at age 35
  3. Own 3 sports teams

Are all great, but lets be real here.

***If weight loss is a goal, then I recommend 1% weight loss every 2 weeks***

So lets look at hypothetical person A – Jane. 160 pounds, 40 years old, moderately active, looking to lose another 10 pounds. Thats a 6% weight loss – so about 12 weeks out. Her goals might be:

  1. Lose 10 pounds by Feb. 1st 2018.
  2. Start an online retail business for the widgets she makes by January 1.
  3. Go on a week vacation with her two kids for Spring Break.

So there are her three goals.

Step 3) WHY Are Your Goals Important?

Now is where we dive into the “why”. Why are those goals really important to you. I’ve written on that many times – so I won’t…BUT it is an important step to write out as well! Finding “WHY” your goals are important will get to the root motivational objectives – and will drive you to succeed much better than any motivational speaker or trainer can do.

For more info – read this if you haven’t – “Find Your Why” – Simon Sinek

Step 4) Come Up with Your BFT’s Every Single Day

This is where the money is made. Your BFT’s, or Big “frickin” tasks – are what will get you to your goals. So now that we wrote down the goals, and why they are important, we tuck those away and turn our focus to the TASKS that will get us there.

Write out 3-5 TASKS, not goals, everyday that will get you TO your goals.

They may not be BIG tasks to others, but to you, they are because they will move you towards your goals.

Jane’s could be:

  1. Workout at home for 45 minutes (Goal 1)
  2. Plan meals for the week (Goal 1)
  3. Schedule meeting with web designer (Goal 2)
  4. Put $5 in the vacation fund (Goal 3)

As she completes those tasks – she crosses them off. Physically crossing things off gives people a sense of accomplishment, and leads to winning the day.

Your BFT’s might stay the same day after day, and thats okay.Some will change, but some you might be writing down everyday – and thats what matters!

When you start winning the days, you start winning weeks, months and years – and that is where you find results.

Will you win every day? Heck no.

But you keep going forward.

If you had a task that you didn’t complete on Day 1, then put it first for Day 2, and don’t ditch it until you cross it off.

So if you have never done this before, and you are sitting here thinking – I don’t have time to do that, or that sounds like some stupid guru BS; I don’t need to write out my goals, and daily tasks…then good luck, thanks for visiting.

BUT, if you have never tried it, what is the harm in trying it? I promise that if you do this system, you will find yourself more productive, feeling more accomplished, and having more success than ever before!

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Set Goals That Fire You Up

“If your goals don’t scare you; they aren’t big enough”

I like the quote, but I also think that “scare” might not be the ideal word.

This is why I like “fire you up” instead – goals that get you excited, goals that make you want to start NOW, not tomorrow.

When it comes to setting goals, many people approach them so haphazardly, that they never really get anywhere. It’s great to SET the goal, but then what are you going to do about it? Other points that matter:

  • How are you going to reach it?
  • What are you going to do once you reach it?
  • How will it make you better?
  • Or will it even make you better?
  • When are you going to reach it?
  • Why is it important to you?

These are the things that you literally need to write down, and post on your fridge or at your desk, or on the bathroom mirror – or make the background of your phone – anywhere you will see them frequently and often.

I have done this for the past 2 years, and both times I have accomplished my “big goal”.

  1. 2016 – Start my business, and grow clientele by 10% while maintaining 90% retention rate – CHECK.
  2. 2017 – Get published on 3 other websites – CHECK
  3. 2018 – Present at a major fitness conference. 

This is MY goal for 2018, and I am writing it here so all of you can keep my accountable.

So lets dive deeper into my 2018 goal, and this same process can easily be applied to health/fat loss/muscle building/etc.

I have my end goal: presenting at a conference.

Now we need to break it down into PROCESS GOALS – these are the steps that will get me to my end goal. This is where the focus MUST be, not on the end goal.

With “i want to lose weight” as a goal, you cannot sit around and focus on that. You need to write out what are the pieces of the process that will get you there – and hit those HARD.

  1. Get to the gym 4 days per week.
  2. Measure out my portions.
  3. Get 7 hours of sleep each night.
  4. Eat 1 serving of protein 4 times per day.
  5. Eat 4 servings of veggies per day…

If you sit around and just focus on “why am I not losing weight?!” instead of the process goals, you will just keep spinning in place. Focus on the process, and the finish line will come to you.

So back to my goal.

Here are the process steps:

  1. Find 5-10 area conferences that I am interested in speaking at.
  2. Contact the appropriate people in charge.
  3. Have a plan put together on my topic that I wish to present on, and WHY it would be beneficial for them to have me present about it.
  4. Follow up, follow up, follow up!

Truth is, this idea came to me this weekend, and I already applied to 3 conferences in the area, and put together and outline on my ideal presentation and how it will benefit trainers/fitness professionals. I am fired up about it!

So you need to do the same – whatever your goals may be.

  1. Write it out.
  2. No seriously, get out paper right now and W.R.I.T.E.I.T.O.U.T!!!
  3. Write down 2-4 process goals that will help you get to your end goal.
  4. Set a timeline (when you want to accomplish it)
  5. Hit it hard, and stay the course.

If it is truly an important goal of yours, you will succeed. I’m not saying it will be easy, but if you put in the work, you will get there. I promise.

 

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