When It Comes To Workouts, Stop Chasing a Feeling


I, and many others in the industry have said it before, ANYONE can make you super sweaty and feel like puking during a workout.

It’s really not hard.

Run 50 sprints, do 100 burpees then jump up and down on a box 50 times (PLEASE DONT ACTUALLY DO THIS) – and you will probably want to die…

Does that mean it was a good workout? Far from it.

That type of training and mentality needs to change.

Chasing an arbitrary “calorie burn” on your heart rate monitor is really just marketing BS. “Burn 1000 calories a workout!” sells much more than “feel great, get stronger, and lean up over the next 6 months to a year”.

First, the “calories burn” of a workout is really just a function of you age, gender, and heart rate during a workout – as created by whatever HR monitor you use. It can be a good indication of effort put into a workout, but still, it’s not the tell tail proof needed of calling a workout good or bad.

This type of justification was popularized by certain TV shows that did lots of unhealthy things to get people to lose weight super fast…and we all know where most of those people are now…

What is your goal? Want to get stronger? Then monitor your weights used over time and see if you get stronger. Here’s a “secret” – if you are getting stronger, you are likely creating more muscle and muscle burns calories when you are just sitting around better than fat does…so do that.

Want to lose inches? Take measurements and track your food. If you lose inches and maintain muscle – chances are you are doing things right. (No clue where to start? Send me a message!)

Instead of chasing the feeling of being completely exhausted and weak after a workout, chase the results over time.

This may be hard for some to swallow, but if you have only been chasing a feeling or a calorie burn and haven’t seen the results you are after – maybe you need to change it up?

While diet plays a HUGE role in any type of compositional change – your workouts also matter. Train for strength and mange your diet accordingly is really the best way to go about things.

I have been seeing some amazing results with a lot of my female clients especially who have “bought in” to the idea of strength training, and frankly – training more like bodybuilders – for muscular hypertrophy. They aren’t getting bulky, or manly looking as many will still tell you – but are getting strong and tight in all the right places, and losing body fat at a great rate.

Here’s the caveat, they leave the gym feeling GOOD. Not crawling out like a puddle of a person, and sometimes they hardly break a sweat (there is always some by the end, but not the dripping, puddle forming, holy crap I might puke kind of sweat)

While this may sound like I am ain’t bootcamp or high intensity training – it is not quite that simple.

I have nothing wrong with these types of workouts, and still offer them to many – BUT this has to be done appropriately and accordingly.

If all you do is plyometrics, jumping, running, and explosive work – your body can become worn down, joints brutalized, and central nervous system fatigued out. Especially if you are on an extreme caloric deficit.

You have to take some time to STRENGTHEN your muscles, joints and connective tissues to withstand that kind of beating if that is what you are into.

This brings me to my next point – when you are supposed to be lifting weights for strength – do just that. Strength training is for strength, cardio is for cardio – keep it that way (most of the time)

Don’t rush through a set of squats or bench presses because you “have to keep your heart rate up” – those are meant to create strength and essentially cause a little micro trauma to the muscles. Thats how we get stronger. Focus on the INTENT of the exercise and FEEL the muscles working. Slow down the tempo, feel each rep, and squeeze the hell out of the muscle that is being worked. Here is an example for hamstring curls:

Yes things like dumbbell complexes, and kettlebell work is a little of both, and thats fine. But you will get so much more out of a lift when you FOCUS on the intent within the muscle, rather than trying to fly through your reps.

While this got a little ranty, the one thing I want everyone to take from it is this:

Rather than chasing a feeling; chase a result. Have a plan, know what you are going to do when you set foot into the gym, do it right.

Lift your weights with intent, go fast when you are supposed to sprint, and control what you are supposed to control.



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Stay healthy my friends,


So…You Already FAILED at Your New Years Resolutions?

If that title resonated with you, then we already know your problem – your mindset.

Its only a few weeks into the New Year, no matter what you have or have not done, you definitely haven’t failed.

Your mindset is EVERYTHING, and it takes work but you can easily switch it around.

Self talk, motivation, positive thoughts, etc. can all get you back to moving in the right direction. You ultimately decide how things affect you.

Example: A client was all set to start of her New Year with a great workout, and she had to cancel last minute for a work meeting. She texted me and said “It literally ruined my day”.

I get it, she was excited to get back to the gym in the New Year, but ruined your day?

I responded with “Bummer! But you have two options here: let it ruin your day, and sit around and mope on the couch, or say ‘it is what it is’ and get in a great walk or bodyweight workout later that evening”

Mindset is everything – you can talk yourself in and out of things much easier than you think!

Maybe you decided to cut out all sweets from your life as a resolution. But then a beautiful cookie magically appears on your desk at work…

You decide to eat it because heaven forbid it goes to waste, it probably cost someone about 5 cents to make…

Then what? Two paths that will most commonly be taken here:

1. Well I already failed and had sweets, maybe I’ll try next year (continues to eat more and more)

2. Okay, that wasn’t part of my resolution to myself, but time to get back on track right now.

The difference here is person one is expecting perfection, and thinking in an all or nothing mindset. This rarely works for people, especially with sweets, treats, booze, and other “junk” because parties, weddings, social events, sports all happen.

Person two is striving for consistency, but not perfection. Maybe week one consistency is having a sweet treat only on days of the week that end in “day” 😉

Maybe week two is consistently only having treats on 3 days per week of your own choosing – or only having treats when you really want them and think mindfully about it.

Maybe week three is consistently having a sweet food only if you are out and about, but not having any more in your house.

Maybe by week 4 you are consistently not even thinking about treats unless you are at a friends wedding, and damn that cake looks good so you will have a piece there, and then get right back to consistently not really eating them at all.

See the difference?

Strive for consistency with goals, not perfection – take baby steps as needed.

Whatever you set your goals to be, give them TIME and EFFORT. Without one or the other you are bound to be upset in the end. If you give it ALL your effort, but no time – you are likely to burn out and not see results fast enough and give up.

If you give it ALL your time, and little effort, well, frankly you won’t get anywhere.

Find the balance: MINDSET + time and effort (and consistency) = RESULTS

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Stay healthy my friends,

Beware Of These Superlatives When It Comes to Exercise/Nutrition Advice


Ok, slow down with the School House Rock terminology for just one second…

What I mean is, be weary of words like “always” or “never” or phrases like “you must”, “the best”, the “worst” when it comes to fitness and nutrition advice.

I have seen it all over, and frankly, I’m sick of it. Trainers telling clients that they must always do this, never do that, always eat this, never eat that. This is all bogus advice.

Every single human is different, and every single human will respond differently to different food and different exercises. Some of the most commonly quoted phrases by fitness and nutrition “professionals” can be some of the most damning phrases that might just add more stress to your life.

1) Need to lose more fat? You NEED to start doing more cardio!

100% bull. If you need to lose more fat, you need to make sure you are creating a caloric deficit. There are plenty of people, myself included, who have lost lot’s of fat without doing “cardio”. Do you enjoy going for jogs, and this is how you choose to try to create your deficit? Great! Go for it!

However, this is not something that you HAVE to do. Often times people will use the line “I just need to do more cardio” as a band-aid of sorts, to cover up nutrition or lifestyle choices that maybe need to be addressed first.Image result for tired runner

Sometimes the honest truth hurts, but you might just need to audit yourself first and explore what else might be going on.

Cardio is fine, but it is not the holy grail of losing more fat.

If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy running, or traditional cardio, what should you do?

  1. Look at you TOTAL daily activity. How many steps do you take? Try figuring out your daily average over the course of a week and increase it by 10-20%. Change nothing else, and you may be shocked. When I entered my dietetic internship, I went from being on my feet all day as a trainer (averaging 12,000 steps) to mostly sitting (4000 steps) and gained 10 pounds, without changing anything else. Once I made the conscious effort to get back up to a step level that the rest of my lifestyle (workouts and diet) agreed with, the weight came back off.
  2. Audit your diet. Do you know how much you are truly consuming in a day? It is always helpful to track and measure, but especially if you are hitting a plateau of sorts. Don’t go TOO low however, as your body will not be able to sustain your current workouts and may actually stall out more. Find the sweet spot that keeps you energized for workouts, but also leads to the body you desire.

2) You don’t EVER need cardio, you can get your results from lifting and diet alone.

“What?? Didn’t YOU just say this above?” Yes, but I put “cardio” in quotes – as I was referring to slugging away on a treadmill, or heaven forbid the elliptical.

What I mean by this is: cardiovascular training in an aerobic state is very important for heart health, and this is something that cannot be ignored. It is crucial to a healthy internal system and life.

However, I do feel that everyone should do some form of resistance, because having a strong body helps maintain a level of independence into our old age, and that is the ultimate goal of staying strong. Do you need to train like a powerlifter, bodybuilder, athlete? NO! Image result for fun workout

Find what you enjoy, and give it your all.

Same thing goes for cardio.

However, you don’t need to necessarily do the traditional, boring cardio that we all think of to get these benefits.

  1. Try hiking, or biking. These are two great ways to get fresh air, explore the world we live in, and get your heart rate up a little. Plan out a hike on the weekend, so for a bike ride.
  2. If you live in a climate like Wisconsin, you know that this cannot be done year round* – snowshoeing is a great alternative. Take to the gym and do some circuits, or mix up your workouts with some timed sets, or join a group fitness class that keeps your heart rate elevated. Anything that gets you breathing a little heavier and sweating is a great option.
  3. One of my favorite options is a dumbbell complex. Take an upper body, lower body, and a weighted carry and do them circuit style for a few rounds. This can be anything, but keep rest to a minimum.Try:
    1. 10 Dumbbell Shoulder Press
    2. 15 Dumbbell Squats
    3. 1 minute farmer carry
      1. Repeat 5 times, minimal rest between.

3) Never eat _____, Always eat _____ (especially if there is time involved)…

“Never eat carbs after 3 pm”

“Always slam a protein shake within 30 minutes of your workout”

Here’s the deal. You can fit ANY food you want into you eating plan. It all depends on your goals, and how quickly you want to reach them.Image result for boring diet

Want to eat ice cream once in a while? Do it – just make it work within your calorie and macronutrient goals.

Want to eat carbs after 3pm, and you are afraid? Non-sense. The little insulin fairy won’t appear out of nowhere and automatically send all your carbs to fat storage. What matters more is your overall, daily intake – not your nutrient timing (for most people).

If you are SO concerned about getting a protein shake in right after your workout, but are only consuming shakes, and getting 50 grams of protein a day, your timing of your shake is not your biggest issue that you need to enforce.

Here’s what matters more:

  1. Focus on mostly quality nutrition. Nutrient dense foods are good for you – that’s pretty hard to argue with. Get your veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and quality carbs at most meals of the day and you well generally be on the right track.
  2. Kids baseball team going out for ice cream? Join them. Family matters, and it’s important that you are there for your kids, and you don’t make a big fuss about the “morality” of good and bad foods. Foods don’t come with morals (even though we are constantly taught that). Just be mindful. Do you want a little ice cream? Have you followed tip #1 all day? Do you still have some calories to spare? Okay, then get a small cone – this doesn’t been you need to go gangbusters and get the large chocolate soaked 4 scoop sundae.You can make food like this work, if you are on top of tracking, and know your calorie and macro goals.
  3. There is no one food that makes us fat, or no one food that we must consume to be fit. If you absolutely don’t like a food, then find a substitute.
  4. Remember that you are also ultimately in control. You decide what you use your own hand to move food from a plate into your own mouth. The freedom to choose is yours, embrace it, and enjoy it.

Find what works for you, give it your all, and don’t look back. You will find it freeing, and much more fun than following what the gurus tell you that you must/cannot do.

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Stay healthy my friends,


Ladies, Don’t Let Aunt Flo Hold You Back

While this might be one of the more obscure posts I write, it may also be one of the most important. The female menstrual cycle is a very serious thing, and in fact, can have a huge effect on women’s bodies, their minds, and their overall well being.

You might be saying right about now, “Mike, what do you know about it? You have never experienced it firsthand!” – that would be correct. But I have also learned about it from a nutrition standpoint and from a human physiological standpoint throughout my years of education, and continuing education. So there’s that.

The female menstrual cycle can be a very daunting experience for many women, often crippling them around the time of their period, and making it tempting to eat anything and everything in sight.

My goal of this article is to help explain why certain things happen, and what you can do to stay on track, and make the most of that often miserable time. Guys, tune this one out – or not – listening to the science here might help you better understand what she’s going through, and maybe you can score some bonus points 😉

The menstrual cycle is purely controlled by hormone fluctuations and cascades, and can essentially be broken down into two phases: the follicular phase (Day 1 of menses, ending at ovulation) and the luteal phase (ovulation to the first day of menses).

So from a hormonal approach, what happens?

  • The follicular phase (Day one of a woman’s period) – rising to high estrogen, low progesterone
  • The luteal phase – high estrogen and HIGHER progesterone
  • The premenstrual period (late luteal aka “leave me the hell alone phase”) and menses – rapid drop in both hormones

By looking at the effects on the two sex hormones, this really doesn’t help explain much in regards to how they affect the body composition, and especially fat storage or loss. We need to look deeper into the hormone effects on our main anabolic (building) hormones.

  • Estrogen makes women more insulin sensitive (less insulin needed to store glucose)
  • Progesterone make women more insulin resistant (more insulin needed to store same amount of glucose)
  • Both and anti-cortisol (anti stress)

So what do these mean for muscle building, fat loss, and over all well being?

  1. Follicular phase has higher estrogen, therefore more insulin sensitive, meaning less fat storage, some fat burning and is primed for muscle gain.
  2. Beginning luteal phase is for less muscle building, but good fat burning – as we see a 2.5-11% RISE in metabolism
  3. Later luteal phase is a more catabolic time (burning fat and muscle).
  4. In the later luteal phase, ie. premenstrual phase, the steep drop off in both estrogen and progesterone cause increases in stress, and drops in positive neurotransmitters (thus leading to PMS and sweet/carb cravings)

How to tailor your workouts and diet… (what you have all been waiting for!)

Starting off, I want to say that not all women are exactly alike, and by no means are these blanket statements that cover everyone – but they should be helpful in understanding your body better, and how you could potentially adapt your training plan around your phases.

First, don’t weigh yourself around your period. The bloat from water retention can be very unsettling, and can really mess with your head. It’s not uncommon for women to gain 5-10 pounds around their period.

  • Avoid salty foods
  • Drink more water (yes, that seems counter intuitive)
  • Sip herbal teas

Second, looking at how the sex hormones affect insulin sensitivity, there may be some recommendations to be made based off of carbohydrate intake. While carbs alone don’t cause weight gain (excess calories do) they can lead to greater water retention and thus lead to a lower psychological well being based off of weight (remember DON’T weigh yourself) or even appearance (belly bloat).

Remember, estrogen makes a woman more insulin sensitive, and estrogen and progesterone are both anti-stress hormones, so most women can better handle carbs in the follicular phase and be less tolerant in the luteal phase, mostly in the late luteal phase.

For exercise purposes, one of the most hormonally stressful forms of exercise is long duration, medium intensity cardio (your daily jogs).

Because of the anti stress properties of both sex hormones, long steady state cardio may be best when performed during the follicular phase, and early luteal phase (when both hormones are higher) – and estrogen will help maintain muscle, especially during the follicular phase.

Think of the follicular phase as a time to focus on muscle building, and the late luteal to premenstrual as a time to tighten up your diet and really focus on getting the most out of your fat burning hormones.

Breaking up your cycle may look like this:

Follicular Phase –

  • Weight training focus 3-4 days per week, and long duration cardio 2-3 times per week (as it will be better tolerated)
  • Keep diet the same as you have been doing, with normal or even slightly higher carb intake around workout days.

Luteal Phase – 

  • Weight training 2-3 days per week, and shorter duration – higher intensity cardio, with plenty of rest – 2-3 days per week
  • Focus on adding on some VERY low intensity, relaxing exercise – walking, yoga, meditation
  • Keep diet roughly the same, but be more aware of cravings and overall carb intake (first and foremost, maintain a caloric deficit if fat loss is goal)

In dealing with cramps (late luteal):

  • If you know you react more to carbs, AND have bad cramps, focus on limiting sugars and white breads leading up to your period, as these can contribute to worse cramps.
  • Also, if menstrual cramps are bad, try supplementing with Vitamin D3 – 2000 IU – year round (helps with inflammation), not just during your period!

If anything, I hope this post helps women better understand what is happening in their bodies, and how they can make the most of certain times during their monthly cycle.

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Stay healthy my friends,

The 5 Stages of Sustainable Fat Loss


The Stages to the Path of Sustainable Fat Loss:

  1. Counting Calories
  2. Counting Macros
  3. Creating a positive relationship with food
  4. Eliminating food as an emotional comfort
  5. Intuitive Eating

The path to long term, sustainable fat loss, and health can be a long and winding road. There are many stops, detours, and speed bumps along the way. For some, we drive a speedy European sports car to our destination, and for others it is more of a smart car approach. Either vehicle can get you there, however, one might be a better option than the other depending on the person.

The vehicle you choose may depend on your current relationship with food, and how many detours, and speed bumps are along your path. For some, it may be a simple fact of realizing that you are just eating too much, and for others, it may seem like you are doing everything right and just spinning your wheels in place.

No matter where you start, I feel that there is a definite path that all must take in order to truly master the long-term challenge that lies with fat loss and maintaining those results.

  1. Counting Calories/Overall Quantity Control

Most nutrition and health professionals with a true background in nutrition will agree; when it comes to fat loss, calories are king. To lose weight, you MUST be in a caloric deficit. Ignoring these simple physics is a mistake that many still make.

The first step to fat loss is figuring out if you are in a true caloric deficit through food and activity. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. If you consume more than you burn, you will gain.

Use this site to figure out your calorie needs: http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

Figuring out your intake starts with tracking. You must be aware of how much you consume regularly, and take the appropriate steps towards creating a deficit. I recommend a 300-400 calorie deficit.

  1. Counting Macro Intake/Overall Quality Control

Once you figure out your caloric goals for fat loss, I recommend finding a healthy balance of macronutrients to fuel your body appropriately. What does this look like? It depends. I am not a fan of any diets that cut out a huge chunk of one or two macros (super low carb, super low fat, super low protein – why you even think about super low protein??)

However, it is important to find a balance of nutrients, especially if you consume a huge amount of one of them currently. Most people who struggle with weight loss consume too much of their calories from carbs or fat (think junk food).

How should you structure your nutrients? For starting out, I recommend:

First set you protein around .8-1 gram of protein per body weight. (1 gram of protein = 4 calories)

Second, try to get 25-30% of your CALORIES from fat. (1 gram of fat = 9 calories)

Lastly, fill in the rest of your calories with carbs. (1 gram of carb = 4 calories)

For example: my current fat loss “diet” that I am shooting for is at 2600 calories. I am targeting 200 grams of protein per day (800 calories. Then, 30% of 2600 is 780 calories, or 87 grams of fat. This leaves me with 1020 calories, divided by 4, which is 255 grams of carbs.

  1. Create a Positive Relationship With Food

This is where we get more into the mental side of eating.

Do you feel like some foods are good foods and others are bad? Do you punish yourself or feel guilty if you eat a “bad” food? This is where you need to focus on your relationship with what you eat.

If you look at food as strictly good or bad, and continue to feel guilty when you eat out, or have a treat, you will always be slipping into the diet cycle of doom.

You try to eat super healthy, you slip up, you feel guilty, you say screw it, and start over where you began.

Rather than looking at foods as good or bad, look at them as optimal or sub optimal. Choose mostly foods that are optimal for your calorie and macro goals, but don’t beat yourself up over a few cookies once in awhile, or a small ice cream treat. By learning the calorie and macro content of sub-optimal foods, you can still fit them into your diet, eat them on occasion, and guilt free.

How do you do this?

If your dinner goal is to consume 40 grams of carbs, but you really want a few cookies, (say each cookie is 10 grams of carbs) then make those carbs fit. Maybe skip the normal half cup of rice with dinner, and have the cookies after dinner instead.

Not an approach to follow every meal, or daily, but on occasion this can help you reduce stress with food, and not sabotage your diet.

  1. Eliminate Foods as an Emotional Comfort

You have mastered your calories, figured out your macros, and have stopped punishing yourself for eating “bad” foods. Now we really need to look at why we eat.

Do you eat because you are hungry? Or do you eat because you are stressed, sad, bored, tired, etc.?

One of my all time favorite lines is, “Food won’t fix it”.

It is important to always be thinking about why we are eating, or why are we feeling hungry. If it is because you haven’t eaten in 6 hours, then you probably should eat something. If you just ate, but are dealing with a brutal assignment/co-worker/family member and are all of a sudden craving ice cream – then you probably aren’t actually hungry.

Creating awareness of your emotional eating is step one. Figuring out how to combat it, is a much harder step two.

First, you need to realize what is making you want _______ (food), then how can you actually address this issue without food, and rather to help clear it up. Some suggestions are:

  • If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, watch a comedy.
  • If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, taking a brisk walk or destroying some heavy iron at the gym!
  • If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
  • If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a good TV show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).
  • If you’re tired, go to bed! (simplest fix)

This is an ongoing struggle for many, but the harder you work at it, the more it can become automated and healthy.

  1. Intuitive Eating

Once you become fully aware of you intake, your quality of food choices, create a healthy relationship with food, and stop using food as an emotional support; you have truly mastered intuitive eating and are on your way to long term success.

True intuitive eating involves knowing your foods, knowing your intakes, and listening to your body. This means that you eat until you are satisfied, but not stuffed. This means you allow yourself to have the occasional treat, because you know how to make it work with your goals. This means you don’t feel guilt when you enjoy a weekend with friends because you are still listening to your body and not gorging on food beyond your comfort levels.

Eating intuitively is a skill that can be mastered, and sustained for a lifetime. It may take a while to get there, but once you do, you will be completely on autopilot and able to succeed when it comes to eating.

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Stay healthy my friends,

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Stay healthy my friends,

Hopping and Hoping…Why They Will Get You Nowhere.

*No, I’m not talking about physically hopping up and down like a bunny.

I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my wife, and some of my closest friends watching one abysmal baseball team (my Minnesota Twins), and one extremely dominant team (the Chicago Cubs).

On Sunday, we weren’t in too much of a hurry to get back to Madison, and we decided to grab a late breakfast at an awesome restaurant we found (check out Kanela Breakfast Club if you are in town, I highly recommend it!).

A group of people sat down at the table next to us, and from the minute they sat down, one of the girls in the group started talking about working out. Now, we weren’t trying to listen in, she just gave us no choice. She proceeded to talk very loudly – THE ENTIRE MEAL – about all the different workout modalities that she has tried. She truly may have listed off every single workout program/facility (to name a few; Crossfit, Orange Theory, yoga, pilates, barre, P90x, Insanity, spinning, running, bootcamps, abs classes…) you could ever think of.

After naming each one of them, she went on to explain how she didn’t get results from any of them, or she was too sore from one, or one wasn’t hard enough, or one was too boring, and on and on.

While some of these options may not be the best for everyone, most of them all have their benefits in their own unique way if done correctly.

In my head, I wanted to tell her, “maybe you should just try sticking to one program for longer than 3 days, and then give it a fair assessment” – but I just kept sipping my coffee, because it was really none of my business.

When it comes to exercise and nutrition, this is an all too common problem. Hopping from program to program, diet to diet, and hoping for these miraculous results.

If you are truly just looking to mix it up, and try new things for fun, or stress relief, or for general fitness, this isn’t the worst thing you could do.

However, if you are truly looking for the results that most programs advertise, you need to see them out. Just like the now dominant Chicago Cubs, they stuck with their farm system (and a few free agents here and there), and are now on pace to set some season records in the MLB.

The same goes with diet hopping.


There are so many fad diets out there that promise amazing results. However, the first thing I always caution with my clients is that it must be something you can stick to for the long term to maintain those results you initially get. Sure, any diet that restricts calories by cutting out a huge chunk of food (carbs, fat, meat, gluten foods, etc.) will get you to lose weight. But can you stick to that diet for the long run?

So what should you do?

1. Pick Your Goals, and Find the Right Program for YOU

If your goals are to look like an NFL linebacker, you need to train like one and eat like one. If you want to look like a fitness model, you need to train like one and eat like one.

What if you just want to get a little healthier, and lose a few pounds in the process?

Find a well balanced program that focusses on strength, cardio, flexibility, or whatever your goals may be – but just stick to it!


2. Find a Program That You Enjoy, and Track Progress

You have to enjoy what you do, or you will burn out, get bored, and want to quit pretty quick. This goes for diet as well. The holy grail of workouts and diets will not help you if you don’t enjoy it, and stick to it.

When it comes to tracking progress, this is something a lot of people don’t do enough of. Invest in a $5 notebook, and track everything you do in your workout. This way, you can look back and see if you are progressing. Depending on your abilities, age, and overall goals, there are many ways to progress.

  • Lifting heavier
  • Lifting for more reps
  • Running/biking/cardio-ing further
  • Running/biking/cardio-ing faster
  • Increasing time of work/time under tension

Now, we can’t always go heavier and heavier, especially as we age. But by tracking different progress, such as reps or time, you can still progress.

The key is that you are always increasing SOMETHING, over time. This could look something like this:

  • Week 1 – Squatted 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Week 2 – Squatted 100 pounds for 1 set of 12 reps, and 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Week 3 – Squatted 100 pounds for 2 sets of 12 reps, and one set of 10 reps
  • Week 4 – Squatted 100 pounds for 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Week 5 – (deload – or go lighter for recovery purposes – don’t forget recovery!)
  • Week 6 – Squatted 105 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Week 7 – Squatted 105 pounds for 1 set of 12 reps, and 2 sets of 10 reps

You get the idea. While this may not be fast enough for some, this is still true progression!


Same thing goes with diet.

Track your bodyweight (weekly), track your waist circumference, track your body fat %, take weekly progress pictures in your underwear, anything that you want to track.

If you aren’t seeing a long term change happening, then maybe you need to work on adherence.This could be because you decided to do a crazy crash diet cleanse program that is not sustainable for the long term, or maybe you just didn’t stick to a well rounded program. Whatever it may be, you need to be honest with yourself, and assess what went right, and what went wrong.

3. Stick It Out, and Give it Your All

Once you decide on your goals, and once you find a program that has shown results that match your goals, hit it hard, and with everything you’ve got.

Whether it’s 12 weeks, 6 months, or a full year planned out, you need to keep it up. Just like getting out of shape doesn’t happen over night, getting the results you want for the long term doesn’t happen overnight either.


You need to give things time and effort to see change. I still remember my first day ever lifting weights. I could barely bench press an empty 45 pound bar for 10 reps. I remember seeing the high school seniors putting up 225 like it was no big deal. Did I expect to be able to do that over night, or even by the end of freshman year? No.

I worked, and worked, and worked, and by junior year I hit the 225 mark, and went far beyond it by my senior year in college when I put up a personal best of 350. Yes, that was 8 years! It took time, consistency, and effort.


Anything worth accomplishing will take work, sweat, and time. If you keep giving it your all, doing what you love, and tracking your progress, you will get there!


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Stay healthy my friends,

Why Quick Fixes Suck…For Long Term Results

(Sorry for the abrasive language.)

Lose 10 pounds in 5 days! Take inches of your waist in ONE week! 4 minutes to Six-Pack!

All things we see on the cover of magazines, infomercials, and other popular media outlets.

Do these methods really work? Can you lose the weight in a matter of days? Yes*

Do these methods last for a lifetime? Do they replace a solid foundation of health? Do they lead to never ending happiness? Are they as “easy” as they claim? Hell No.

This past week I ran a simple self experiment. I came across an article on T-Nation “Shredded in 6 Days” that laid out the ground work that many fitness models, bodybuilders, and cover models use to get ready for a show or photo shoot, and decided to give it a try. (I condensed it to 5 days, and didn’t do the supplements they recommend)

***Let me say again, this is a method used by people looking to get cut as **** for one moment in time. This is not a fad diet you see in magazines, BUT it does use alot of the underlying principles from those popular fad diets***

You can read the details in the article, and how it works, but the main points are:

  1. You must already be relatively lean to get the true effects from this method.
  2. It is extremely strict in many ways.
  3. The first few days you cut out all starchy carbs, and try to keep your total carbs as low as possible, while drinking un Godly amounts of water (3 gallons per day)
  4. Then, you flip the two, eat a high amount of carbs, and drink as little water as possible.

This works by essentially flushing out water from your body, from under your skin, to make your muscles “pop” out more. These are some of the same underlying principles that people use for to weight loss, detoxing your body and soul, etc.


Starting weight on day 1 – 208.2 @ 15.9% fat (33.1 pounds of fat)

Weight at day 4 – 201.8 @ 14.8% fat (29.8 pounds of fat)

This is only a 3.3 pound difference in body fat! What did the other 3.1 pounds come from? Muscle? Probably not? Water and glycogen? – probably. Now these measurements are from a basic bioelectrical impedance scale, so I highly doubt I even lost 3.3 pounds of fat, and most of this was from pure glycogen and water depletion. Woop dee do!

What I Learned:

Drinking 3 gallons of water per day, and having very little carbs sucks.

Cutting water out after 3 days sucks even more.

I lost about 6 pounds in those 4 days, and gained 2 back as soon as I reintroduced carbs into my diet.


***Weight and “bodyfat” after one carb heavy meal on day 4***

I was miserable by day 2, and excited to eat the forbidden carbs by day 4.



My workouts were low energy by day 3, not fun, and unmotivated.

And by Sunday afternoon, I was right back up to the same body weight I was at when I started this little trial. I wasn’t upset, this is what I expected. 

Why This Is a Terrible Idea…For General Fat Loss

This type of weight loss is all artificial, can be demotivating for people who are seriously looking to lose body fat (if you only read the scale, a weight fluctuation can be depressing), and it definitely does not represent a real world diet that works for most people.

For most people looking to lose pounds, they are not looking to get cover model ready. Maybe just to drop a few sizes, or feel more confident, but not to look like they are ready for the next Muscle Mag Cover.

As I noted above, I expected these results, so I was not put off by them.

So Why Did I Do It?

For one thing, once I set my mind to something, I plan on doing it – 110% committed. Like I said, by day 2 I was starting to reconsider. Yes, it was cool to see how the body water can be manipulated to make you look more “shredded”, but that was about it.

Once I went back to my standard diet, nothing crazy like this, I felt better, had more energy, and was just fine with everything.

Real results take effort, but not crazy drastic effort like this. They take longer, but they last longer – even a lifetime.

I have lost over 50 pounds since college, and maintained that weight for over 6 years. I still go out, I still enjoy sweets, I still live my life. It is all about finding TRUE moderation with what you eat, and finding times to enjoy the less healthy foods in life.

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I like cake, I got married, you bet I ate some damn cake at my wedding…and every other wedding I go to…


It has been a process, but once you make healthy choices into long term habits it really becomes automated.

The four principles I still stand by to this day for long term fat loss success are:

  1. Be mindful of eating. Stop when you are satisfied, not bulging at the belly (still do this on occasion)
  2. Move everyday, as much as possible. This is not exercise – it is just moving. Luckily I have a job that keeps me on my feet most of the day, so this comes naturally.
  3. Move with intent most days of the week – this is exercise. When working out, don’t just go through the motions. Have a plan, know why you are doing what you are doing, and attack it with 100% commitment. Enjoy it!
  4. Allow yourself to enjoy certain foods, have the occasional drink, but still practice moderation (see step 1 – and I still struggle with this once in a while)

Find a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU, and work at one thing at a time. If you get pretty lean, and want to look good for the beach or a photoshoot – sure give this a try (and props to those who have done anything like this before!) to a but don’t expect to walk around looking like this for long if this isn’t the lifestyle you enjoy.

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Stay healthy my friends,

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Habits, Change Your LIFE

I will start tomorrow. I will start next week. I will start after I finish this project…

All things that we all mutter at some point when it comes to placing our own health ahead of other parts of our life.

Why wait until next week? Why wait until next month? Why wait? That tells me that you don’t prioritize your health and YOUR life.

You put in the hours to help your family, feed your kids, to help others, or to go out of your way for everyone around you. Yet, you put YOURSELF on the back burner, and have forgotten to give yourself the time and health you deserve.

Are you setting the best example for the ones you care so much about? Your kids, spouse, friends and family?

Not next week, next month, but now. NOW is the time to give yourself the time and chance to take care of yourself. You cannot truly love or help others until you love and help yourself.



If you are reading this, I want you to stop, get out a pen and paper.

Write down three things:

  1. Where do you want to be in 90, 120, and 365 days from now? Physically, mentally, and emotionally?
  2. Why are you not there RIGHT NOW? What is holding you back?
  3. What do you think YOU deserve, and how will that get you to where you want to be in your answers from question 1?

These are the foundations of goal setting, and overcoming barriers. Setting goals is one thing, but without addressing your barriers, you will keep making excuses as to why you aren’t meeting your goals.


Once you address your barriers, you need to figure out how to overcome them. Yes, I know you can’t just quit your job, forget about your kids, or stop seeing your friends.

What you can do is wake up an hour earlier, pass on a few weeknights out, or take an extra hour of a few days and commit it to YOU.

Now, think really hard, and be honest with yourself. Can you find 3 hours in the week to commit to you? These three hours are 1.7% of your entire week. (Ok, factoring out 7 hours per day for sleep, those 3 hours are 2.5% of your week).

What 3 hours can you cut out of your week, and commit to yourself? You can do it. Find the hours, find the ways to shift around your life, and commit to yourself. Not next week, not next month, but NOW!

Are you ready to commit to your health, fitness, and well being? I can help you. I have some upcoming exclusive opportunities for a select few dedicated people who are ready to commit to themselves, and join a group of likeminded individuals with the same types of goals.

Want to work with me in one of my exclusive semi-private training groups? Know someone who would like to change their life through health and fitness?

Click HERE or send them this LINK! (http://goo.gl/forms/OzmKsT3HKV)

Stay healthy my friends,

So Your Doctor Told You…You Have High Cholesterol

“Your cholesterol numbers are high, you need to go on this drug to bring them down.”

Thanks doc. However, there may be ways that you can bring your numbers down before having to opt for a statin, or other cholesterol fighting drug.

Before I go on, I do want to say that there are SOME cases in which drugs should be used, and it is up to your doctor to let you know if this is your only option – however, I feel it’s only fair that everyone gets a chance to lower their numbers without drugs.

First, what are the normal ranges for your cholesterol?

Based off of this chart, your LDL should be under 130, ideally under 100, and your HDL should be above 45, ideally above 65.

While these numbers provide a general guideline, more recently, it has been found that the actual particle size plays a much bigger role. As stated in The Great Cholesterol Myth,

Although LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol, the fact is that it comes in several shapes and sizes, as does HDL cholesterol, the so-called “good” kind.  These different subtypes of cholesterol behave very differently.  Seen under a microscope, some LDL particles are big, fluffy, and harmless.  Some are small, dense, and “angry,” and much more likely to become oxidized, slipping through  the cells that line the walls of arteries and beginning the inflammatory cascade that leads to heart disease.

The particle size test should be available at your doctor, or they should know where you can get the test done. What it comes down to is your ratio of large particle LDL to small particle. If your LDL is mostly large, fluffy, you might be alright.

Now, back to the original LDL is bad argument. This is a good starting point because if your overall LDL is high, you likely have elevated levels of small particle, and thus have more of the ApoB carrier protein – which is actually what causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Cholesterol is slimy and slippery – think of oil in water. It’s not the actual cholesterol that damages your body – it’s the increase in carrier proteins (apoB) that ram into your artery walls and cause log jams in your Panama Canals of life.

All that being said, in most cases, if you have high LDL, and low HDL, it would be helpful to fix those.

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Trainer Mike Says:

  1. Start exercising regularly. You don’t need to become a fitness junkie, or marathon runner, but by just increasing exercise to 30 minutes per day, you can lower your LDL numbers by 10-15 points. However, it is also crucial that your 30 minutes of exercise is slightly challenging. You don’t need to feel nauseous after your 30 minutes, but you should have worked up a little sweat and increased heart rate. Even if it’s 30 minutes of walking, it should be a brisk walk, not a casual stroll.
  2. You can split up your exercise. If your goal is to get 30-60 minutes per day, it doesn’t have to come in one session. Studies have shown that even breaking it up into 4, 15 minute sessions, will have the same effect of a straight 60 minute session.
  3. Hit the weights. Seems that I am always pushing weights on everyone, because I am. Weight training the large muscle groups can have so many positive effects on the body. Same as you walks, you need to be slightly challenging your muscles with the weights you choose. Always remember, perfect form is key – but using 3 pound weights on your squats is probably not challenging you body. Studies have shown than weight training 3 times per week can especially help increase your HDL (“good”) by 3-8 points.                                  
  4. Don’t forget overall heart health. While we are focussing on cholesterol here, it is important to not forget WHY you are trying to lower cholesterol – for heart health. Allowing your body to relax, and de-stress will help with overall heart health. Try meditation, yoga, or any form of exercise that helps you relax.


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Dietitian Mike Says:

  1. Cut out the Trans Fats. Everyone can agree that trans fats are bad. End of story. Trans fats are found in processed fatty foods, dessert, fried foods, etc. Trans fats are a double whammy on your cholesterol numbers. They raise LDL, and lower your HDL. Start avoiding them right now and you can see some good changes in your cholesterol numbers.
  2. Increase your fiber intake. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal (2/3 cups dry) provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit (1/2 cup berries are great) you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber. To mix it up a little, try steel-cut oatmeal or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran.
  3. Replace your saturated fats with monounsaturated fats. Saturated fat is not inherently bad when it comes to cholesterol, the negative effects is found in the dosage. Try replacing some of your saturated fats (animal fats, butter) with some heart health monounsaturated fats (olive oil, macadamia nuts, avocados, almonds). As with all fats, you need to still watch the total quantity, as all fats are higher in calories, and if you are eating too many calories, you will gain weight.
  4. Eat a caloric deficit to lose weight.  Fat loss can greatly improve your cholesterol numbers. By losing even just 5-10% of your body weight, you can lower your bad cholesterol numbers pretty significantly. Read more here to lower your body fat.

I hope these basic tips can help you lower your cholesterol, and get you started on the path to health! As always, let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments!

*This article is not to replace the advice of your doctor or provide specific treatment for issues. Always consult your physician for personal recommendations regarding your health*

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Stay healthy my friends,

So Your Doctor Told You…You Are Pregnant!

Welcome to another installment of “So Your Doctor Told You”. Maybe you don’t need a doctor to tell you that you are pregnant, but in this post I tend to tackle some of the common questions surrounding fitness and nutrition during pregnancy.

Guys, I know this post may not pertain to you, but you may find it useful for your wife, or someone you know, so feel free to share the knowledge.

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Trainer Mike Says:

  1. Get clearance from your OBGYN. This first step is crucial to your health and your babies health. If you had been working out prior to your pregnancy, and have had no previous issues with pregnancy or childbirth, you should be cleared to continue doing whatever you were doing prior to becoming pregnant – with a few minor tweaks.
  2. Monitor your rate of perceived exertion (RPE). For a long time, the main factor to be aware of during pregnancy training was your heart rate. Many schools of thought recommended not letting your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute. However, the latest research shows that this may be okay in some women, as long as you are not working out to exhaustion, or breathlessness. Make sure you are taking it a little slower, and monitoring your stress levels during your workouts. If you are having trouble carrying a conversation, take a break until you get your breath back. Also, avoid hot classes, any of those classes where they crank up the heat. You want to keep your body temperature close to normal, and be sure to stay hydrated through out your workout.  Nothing wrong with some sub-max deadlifts – courtesy of Tony Gentilcore – http://tonygentilcore.com/2013/02/what-to-expect-in-the-gym-when-youre-expecting/
  3. Avoid exercises on your back after the first trimester. Once you are into your 2nd trimester, you want to avoid laying on your back and doing exercises as this can reduce blood flow to your baby. For abdominal exercises, try standing anti-rotation exercises like the Pallof Press (video courtesy of John Rusin @ http://www.drjohnsusin.com) or planking facedown.
  4. Avoid over-stretching. When you are pregnant, you get higher levels of the hormone elastin which can make you hypermobile – or able to stretch further than you normally could. While stretching is VERY important to reduce discomfort during pregnancy, you don’t want to OVER STRETCH or go further than you normally could. Also, try using some foam rolling or other self myofacial release techniques for tight muscles. Massages work great for this (take not gentlemen).
  5. Avoid heavy, overhead lifting. Now is not the time to try and get new personal bests in the one rep hang clean. You can still train relatively heavy, just don’t be pushing yourself past your comfort zone, or putting yourself and your baby in any potentially dangerous positions where you could drop a weight on yourself or fall over.

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Dietitian Mike Says:

  1. You are NOT eating for two. Even though you do need to be eating a little bit more, you are not eating for two full grown people. You need to be in a 300-400 calorie surplus for optimal child development, and appropriate weight gain. If you are starting out at an appropriate weight for you, you should gain 1-2 pounds in the first trimester, and 1-2 pounds per week after that. 

2. Be sure to get your Folate.

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. The synthetic form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods is known as folic acid. Folic acid supplementation has been shown to decrease the risk of preterm delivery.

How much you need: 800 micrograms of folate or folic acid a day before conception and throughout pregnancy

Good sources: Fortified cereals are great sources of folic acid. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas are good sources of naturally occurring folate.

It is also recommended that you take a pre-natal vitamin to make sure you are getting optimal doses of all your vitamins and minerals.

3. Protein for you and your baby. Make sure you are getting enough protein (.7-1 grams per pound of body weight). This is crucial for total body development, and optimal growth of the child after birth.

4.  Nausea, heartburn, and constipation are not biased! They will afflict women regardless of healthy living. However, women who regularly eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and avoid excess sugar and fat may significantly reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.

5. During pregnancy, some foods can cause harm to a developing baby. Be sure that all meats are thoroughly cooked to avoid exposure totoxoplasmosis, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria. Eliminate tobacco smoke, drug use, and alcohol consumption from your diet.

Reduce or eliminate caffeinated beverages (soda, coffee) from your daily intake.

For more interesting info on caffeine and coffee during your pregnancy, check out this article from my friend Helen –  https://www.healthambition.com/negative-effects-of-coffee/

***By no means am I claiming I can cure these issues, replace certain medications, or an entire medical team. My intent is to provide you with some quick nutrition and fitness based, actionable steps, that can help you or someone you know. As always, let me know if you have any questions, concerns or comments!***

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Stay healthy my friends,