Consistency Over Everything Will Yield Results

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Have you ever not gone to the gym because you didn’t have enough time to get your workout in?

Have you ever thrown out an entire day nutritionally because of one snack or one meal?

I am assuming that you have.

And I’m here to tell you that is not the best idea.

Are there plenty of legit reasons to skip the gym? Yes!

If you are sick, injured (some injuries can be worked around), have a special family event, etc. are all legit reasons to skip the gym…but…not having enough time is not one of them.

I find that guys are especially guilty of this.

“Back in my day I worked out for 2 hours per day, so what’s the point if I can’t do that anymore??”

A few things.

  1. You don’t need to workout 2 hours per day in the first place.
  2. There is so much you can do in 15-20 minutes.
  3. It’s likely your food that needs more work anyways.

When it comes to building a habit, the consistency and frequency of exposure are actually more important than the duration/intensity.

Going hard in the gym 2 days a week, but doing nothing the other 5 will not yield the results that most people want, nor help build a solid habit of being someone who exercises regularly.

But planning to do 5-10 minutes of planned physical activity, every day (assuming you are starting from ZERO) will help build the habit and the identity of someone who works out regularly.

It’s funny, people assume that trainers get to “work out all the time, and whenever they want”

It’s quite the opposite.

Personally, I lift 3-4 days per week for 30-45 minutes, do 1-2 cardio recovery/conditioning sessions that last 20-30 minutes, and that’s it.

I also work a job that routinely has me hitting 15,000 steps per day, and am aware of what I eat.

What do you think has a bigger impact on my health or my current physique? I would argue that lifting helps build the shape/look/strength of my body, but the daily movement and focus on diet is what controls the size/weight of the body.

So just because you are crunched for time, it doesn’t mean you need to skip the gym altogether. Even if you can’t get to the gym due to time – hit some bodyweight work. The possibilities are literally endless.

The same focus goes with nutrition.

Had a “bad” breakfast, so you just say the heck with it, and eat like crap the rest of the day?

Get a flat tire, and say the heck with it and slash the other 3?

It’s pretty much the same thing.

Those who are most successful with their relationship with food are those who practice true moderation, have at least some awareness of what they put in their bodies and are as consistent as possible.

True Moderation – enjoying a piece of birthday cake for your child’s birthday

Not Moderation – “only” eating 2 cookies every day, eating cake because it’s a stressful day at work, or having a nightcap to wind down from work (yes, daily drinking is not moderation, and will not help you with any physique goals.)

Awareness of Food – knowing what a high-calorie food is, and taking action to make an educated swap. Knowing that liquid calories are some of the easiest calories to cut – and doing it. Any many more basic examples.

No awareness of food – literally not knowing what is in what you eat. Or even worse is thinking you know and having no idea. 

Consistent as Possible – have a holiday or birthday? Sweet, enjoy it and get right back to schedule the next day.

Not consistent as possible – “well, it’s my birthday week so I might as well start eating like crap now”….” well, it was my birthday and that was on a Thursday, so I might as well just enjoy the whole rest of the week”

or

“I’m going on this hardcore diet of kale baths and lemon shots to lose 10 pounds before Spring Break”

– the same person struggles with that same 10 pounds up and down their whole life…

I talk about it often, “play the long game” when it comes to nutrition/diet/exercise. Keep chipping away at it…

BUT you have to actually be chipping away at it too, or the long game is the really long game…

Build simple, sustainable habits, and build more on top of them. Do it consistently, do it knowingly, and good things will happen. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour workout or kale and lemon enema cleanses…just do a little bit more or better than you are doing right now, and you will start to see changes.

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Stay healthy my friends,

The Most Overrated “Healthy” Meals, and How to Fix Them.

This might be something you have never heard a dietitian mutter before, but salads aren’t necessarily that good for you.

What?!?!? Salads?!? The FIRST thing people gravitate towards when it is time to lose weight? Yes, salads.

As soon as someone decides to lose weight they start eating salads. Loaded with healthy veggies, and minimal calories, salads are a sure fire way to drop some lbs…maybe.

A client sent me this accurate depiction of a classic dieter’s week yesterday:

Pretty accurate I must say.

So why am I hating on salads?

1) They can be more calories than you think.

Just because it’s mostly veggies, doesn’t make it the healthiest choice. Depending on what else is on it, the salad option can be one of the heaviest options at a restaurant.

Toppings that aren’t necessarily “bad”, but can lead to the calories adding up are:

  • The dressing
  • Cheeses
  • Type of meat
  • Nuts
  • Candied nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Avacado

Here are some examples of calorie levels of some hefty salads:

  • Applebees Asian Chicken Salad – 1440
  • Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Cesear – 720
  • California Pizza Kitchen Waldorf Chicken – 1310 (below)

(Looks pretty healthy, doesn’t it?)

Again, not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but being aware of the fact that JUST because something is a salad, doesn’t automatically make it a healthy option.

Also, most salads on the menu’s at fast food joints come in around 350-600 calories, but these calorie listings DO NOT include the dressing, so make sure you are aware of that, and aware of how much dressing you put on it.

2) They can be too little calories and not enough nourishment.

As seen in the week;y diet picture above, eating salad everyday lead to a weekend binge.

This can also be the case with salads. They don’t pack enough nutrition to really be considered a meal.

Veggies are great, yes. But, if it is mostly iceberg or romaine lettuce, then you really are just eating a bunch of semi-fibrous water. Not much nutrient quality to be found in those “veggies”

Sure, maybe the salad fills you up physically because it takes up a ton of volume in your stomach, but you might find yourself hungry an hour or 2 later because eating only vegetables is not a real meal.

Google “low-calorie salads” and you will see articles spewing the most ridiculous garbage about 200-300 calorie salads that they claim are excellent meals to help you lose weight.

Sorry, but if you consider 200-300 calories a meal…yikes…

Now, one “meal” a day in that range might work for you, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you like to have more food at dinner… but having 3 meals at that range is not a healthy approach to weight loss! You won’t just lose water weight and some fat, but also muscle mass and your mind! Not good!

Undereating through willpower can only get you so far, and eventually, your body will fight you back. So please please please, do not go around eating the 200 calorie salad and calling it a meal.

How to make salads work for you

Now that I have shredded and diced apart salads, I’m going to come back and make peace with the salad.

They can be fantastic meals.

After a weekend of eating crap, our go-to Sunday dinner is this amazing salad: http://makinloveinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2012/07/famous-chopped-chicken-salad.html

However, to make sure that they actually align with your goals you need to first be aware of a few things:

  • How many calories are in this salad?
  • Is their protein?
  • Does it align with my goals?

First, knowing the calories is key. Don’t just assume that it is low. If you make it at home, measure out the added ingredients like nuts, fruit, dressing, etc. These things can add up FAST and if you are just guesstimating them, your calculations can be WAY off. (for example, a Tbsp. of walnuts is about 2 walnut halves…you probably put more than 2 walnut halves on your salad)

Second, protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and you also need a certain amount of it to maintain muscle mass, and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This is the bodies process of building and maintaining muscle, and the threshold has been found to be about 30g of protein per feeding time to reach max MPS.  This isn’t just for meathead bros, but for anyone who wants to live a long, healthy and independent life…that should be all of us!

Look for salads with grilled, not breaded, chicken. These will usually be your best option – and ask for a double serving of protein.

Third, make sure it aligns with your goals. If you are trying to become a better athlete, a salad might not be the best option. Athletes need carbs, and they are usually pretty short when it comes to a salad. Also, if you train hard, and are just trying to maybe look more like an athlete, or a beach babe…you need carbs! I’m not saying Michael Phelps level carbs, but you need some to fuel your training, so you can get the most out of your time at the gym.

One of my online coaching clients went from 23 to 19% body fat as we INCREASED her carbs slowly (currently eating 270 grams per day)…and she’s still going! 

Salads aren’t always the best thing you can eat, but they definitely can be better than many options out there. Like anything else when it comes to nutrition, awareness and some education are KEY for making foods work for you, without having to stress so much about eating things that you don’t like.

Do you need to eat salads to lose weight? Nope, but you can if you want – just make sure you are salad-ing responsibly.

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Stay healthy my friends,

Think Yourself Fit

Going off last weeks post about loving yourself first., I wanted to bring up the power of the mind.

The mind is truly the strongest “muscle” we have when it comes to what we do with our body. Our mind can convince us to do crazy things, and it can convince us to avoid things that we KNOW we should be doing.

This is why I preach about “mindset” so much with my clients!

Until you finally “get it”, it sounds like a bunch of feel good, Jedi mind trick stuff. But once someone understands that they must be in the right mindset, I can see it. It is like a switch that has been flipped, and true progress begins.

Your subconscious is one of your worst friends if you have struggled to lose weight for while. You have likely stored a lot of negative thoughts about yourself. What is stored in your subconscious will often rear its head into your conscious thoughts and actions.

If you are constantly thinking things OR saying things like “I will always be fat” “I am fat” “I am weak” “I am _____” I will always be ____” “This is hard”…etc – you will continue to reflect these thoughts in your every day because you have engrained those associations into your subconscious self.

When you continue to think this way, it makes it easier for you to accept that this is how it is, this is the hand that you were dealt and there is nothing you can do about it.

Well, I’m screaming BULL$#!T

This is where your thoughts and actions need to change. Stop thinking of yourself as one way, and start viewing yourself as the person you want to become – before you even become that person. I know this sounds like imposter syndrome, but it’s not.

You need to start viewing and thinking about yourself in a positive light. Maybe you aren’t strong at the gym…but you know what? You are pushing yourself day in and day out there, so start thinking about yourself as a powerlifter, or a bodybuilder, or whatever you aspire to maybe be. This, in turn, will start reflecting in other parts of your life.

People who get stronger/more cut at the gym eat healthier…maybe I will start eating healthier…and so on and so on, the snowball rolls.

Maybe you have fat to lose. Instead of thinking “ugh this is hard” and playing the victim card (which makes it easier to accept your current situation), buck up, and tell yourself “I got myself here, and I am getting myself out”… notice, I didn’t put the word “trying” in there.

Then you must continue to visualize, act, and progress like the person you wish to become…day in and day out. Only positive, and motivating thoughts.

There is enough depressing crap in the world right now anyway, so stop bumming yourself out more and playing this “woe is me” card. Start thinking positive, start building your future…now!

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Stay healthy my friends,

Love Yourself First

“You cannot pour from an empty cup”

In other word’s, you can’t help others who need you if you aren’t taking care of yourself.

On this Valentine’s Day, I want you to focus on you. It’s not selfish. It’s mandatory. I am not suggesting that you forget about your loved ones, your spouse, your kids, etc… I am just reminding you to not forget about YOU!

Now here is the not so popular/politically correct version…you can love yourself, but still, want to change.

In today’s society, we hear about loving yourself and being accepting of what and who you are right now. But it ends there. Don’t get me wrong, I agree 1000% with that.

However, wanting to change – especially for the sake of health – is also something that you can do, and frankly, it is the best form of self-love that you can show for yourself.

Being unhealthy is disrespectful to you, and your body – and it is disrespectful to those who care about you.

Maybe you have loved ones, friends, or family, who continue down a path of self-destruction, through their habits, their lifestyle, and their overall choices. They continue to ignore the signs of their body screaming at them for help, they continue to ignore the fact that they are slowing down…

So why would you do this to yourself? Do you have people who depend on you? Do you have people who love you, people who care about you? I know you do.

One of the truly most SELFISH things you can do is accept your current unhealthy state and do nothing. That is NOT self-love. That is accepting SELF DESTRUCTION and SELF ABUSE, and if you don’t care enough about yourself, I bet there are others who do.

Maybe you don’t see yourself as unhealthy right now. Maybe you have time on your side. But look at those who are 20,30,40 years older…some of these situations don’t happen overnight, and the cost of them isn’t felt immediately.

However, we cannot deny the facts. Facts that point out the health risks of certain lifestyles, mortality and morbidity rates.

SO what to do? Choose to change. Choose to TRULY love yourself.

You didn’t get to where you are overnight, so don’t try to fix it overnight. Create a sustainable plan, that is slow and steady and focus on one thing at a time.

But you must commit to it. No wishy-washy “trying”.  You need to commit to change and take action now.

Chase progress, not perfection. Make one little improvement every single day, and you will be amazed at what you can do in a year.

As long as you stay committed, and stay in line with your mission, goals, and end result…you will get there, and you will feel a heck of a lot better about loving yourself AND seeing how much more you can show your love for others.

Happy Valentines Day xoxo

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Stay healthy my friends,

The Missing Link For Progress

Fat loss stalled.

Muscle gain stalled.

Looking softer, or guys…having issues staying “soft”?

Time to diet harder, workout harder, or take more pills…right?

Not so fast.

What about your sleep?

Sleep is a foundational component of overall healthy life. Studies have shown that with as little as only 4 days of sleep deprivation, young, healthy males started to show biomarkers of type 2 diabetes! More here: https://sciencelife.uchospitals.edu/2015/02/19/new-study-helps-explain-links-between-sleep-loss-and-diabetes/

When we sleep is when our body recharges, our brain recharges, and our muscles rebuild. Growth hormone levels peak and lipolysis (fat burning) peaks during sleeping hours.

So when we don’t get enough sleep, we cut these very important processes short and set ourselves up for trouble from a metabolic perspective for days after.

How much do we really need?

Nothing new here – 7 to 8 hours. However, more isn’t always better. Some studies have shown that getting more than 9 hours can increase SOME risks…but really, who needs to worry about getting 9 hours of sleep…

Also – the quality of sleep matters. Are you in bed for 8 hours, but tossing and turning? Or are you dreaming about happy stuff and drooling on your pillow?

How to get more:

First – minimize stimulants close to bed – this being caffeine  – and anything else that gets you amped up.  Try to not have any stimulants after 12 PM.

Also – minimizing alcohol close to bed. Even though it is a depressant, it doesn’t allow us to get quality, restful sleep.

Second, have a wind-down routine.

Get off your phone at least an hour before your planned bedtime. Sounds crazy I know, but you can read before bed…from this paper thing called a book. Keep your phone out of the bedroom completely.

Even turning down the lights, turning off the TV, etc. will help the brain wind down.

As far as food goes, people respond differently, so that’s something you need to observe. I personally sleep better if I have some carbs about an hour before sleeping. Some people sleep best on no food.

Lastly, room temp. Try to keep the room around 65 degrees for best sleep.

It’s not the easiest thing to do – but getting more sleep might be one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Prioritize it, work at it, and you will notice some awesome changes.

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Stay healthy my friends,

HELP! I Can’t Get to the Gym but I Need to Workout!

What do you do if you can’t get to the gym…because of weather, car issues, or something else – but you know you need to do something, you need to be active, or you need to blow off some steam.

Look no further than body weight exercises. The only equipment you need is you – so no excuses there!

Now, the first thing to ask yourself is, “how do I feel today?”

Have you been crushing it all week, and feeling pretty sore, tired, and beat up? Then you probably need a recovery workout.

Or are you feeling good, and ready to challenge yourself? Then you could do a simple bodyweight circuit – which will not only work your muscles from a strength standpoint but also get your heart rate up for some cardiovascular health.

Recovery Workout

The point of this workout is to mobilize, get the heart rate a little elevated, but most importantly spark some recovery so you can be ready to go for your next training session.

Complete 4-6 Rounds of the following, with 30-60 seconds rest between rounds:

  • 6 x  Hinge to Squat to Reach
  • 6 x Quadruped Rock Back
  • 12 x Forward/Backward Skips
  • 6 x Plank Knee Crosses
  • 6 x SLOW Dead Bugs

Active Workout

The point of this workout is to hit the full body with a little more challenge. Complete 4-6 rounds of the following, with 30-60 seconds rest between rounds:

  • Bridge to Reach x 8
  • Side Shuffle x 5 times down and back ~10 feet
  • Inchworm (add pushup at the bottom for more challenge) x 6
  • Squat to Front/Back Lunge Combo x 6 times per side
  • Side Plank Leg Raise x 8 per side
  • Wide Outs x 10

So there you have it, no excuses, no reason to not do SOMETHING!

 

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Stay healthy my friends,

Your Reaction is 100% Your Fault

Jan 22, 2019…..4AM

“Michael! Get up, I think we have water leaking in the basement!”, was the first thing I heard abruptly and totally unexpectedly. I sprinted downstairs, and as soon as I got to the landing at the bottom of the stairs, my heart sunk. Well, my feet also sunk because the carpet was sopping wet.

I turned the corner into the unfinished side of the basement only to see 2 inches of water consuming everything in the room. After screaming out a few obscenities, I ran to the main shut off valve and turned the water off. The bleeding stopped.

Long story short, a faulty PVC valve was to blame for this wake-up call. Full flood in our storage area, and partial flooding into the finished part of the basement.

At this point, the damage was done. So now what? Our water is off and we have a 13-month-old. I have to make some calls, emails and cancel some clients. Priorities. First thing – 5:35 AM drive to HyVee to get some gallon jugs of water. Grocery stores are interesting at this time of day, I highly recommend you check one out sometime.

After getting everything squared away with insurance,  and between getting the cleanup crew over, and the plumber to repair the pipe, it was a very sporadic and unplanned day. Which I hate.

But what can you do? How can you handle it? What can you do to keep pushing forward? 

In between talking with the cleanup crew, and the plumber, I worked on programming for clients, online posts, did some continuing education work and planned out the rest of my team training for the week.

I’m not making this point to show off, or say “look at how productive I am…” but just to use it as a real-world example.

There was no way I had control over that crappy valve bursting. But I had total control over how I let that affect my day and my mood.

Did I handle the situation perfectly? No. I had a minor freakout within the first 5 minutes (that’s understandable right?)…but after that I told myself, what’s done is done, time to solve this.

The same thing goes with life, and how you respond to stress, anger, sadness, happiness, tiredness, etc. I often talk with people about not using food to comfort them.

Food will never fix your problem unless your problem is hunger.

Sure, I could have sulked around all day, day drank bourbon and cried my feelings away into a pillow…but how would that help anything? That wouldn’t get my basement dry. It wouldn’t move my business forward. It wouldn’t bring back our wedding guestbook that was now soaked…It’s only stuff anyways.

It is an important reminder to tell yourself over and over – “food won’t fix this problem, only I can fix it, or at least I can control my response and what comes next.”

What if it’s too late? 

Maybe you already reached for the bag of chips and went to pound town. Ok. Did you realize what you were doing? Then stop.

Maybe you did but couldn’t stop. Once you calm down you need to refocus. So you ate a whole bag of _____. That doesn’t mean your day is ruined and you might as well eat everything else in the pantry. It’s like getting a flat tire and slashing the other 3…doesn’t make much sense.

Gather yourself in. Reassess what is going on, and why it is happening. Remind yourself that you are always in control of your reaction, and actions. 

Nobody else controls your emotions, your reactions, and your actions – take ownership of them, and continue to push forward, it is your only good option.

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Stay healthy my friends,

Food Scientists Want to Make Us Addicts!

Its been a long day at work. You have dealt with many people from your boss, your co workers, your family members, and your janitors. You are wiped out, maybe a little stressed, and ready to relax on the couch. You sit down, crack open a bag of chips and decide – okay, I will only eat a few. Maybe you even look to see what a serving is. You start eating, and before you know it, you have eaten half the bag! $#!T!!! 

After putting the bag away, you say no more. Then the thought and the taste of the chips keeps calling your name. Calling you to eat more, and more. NO! You opt for a “healthier” choice. Eat that, its better. 30 minutes later you find yourself with the chips, cookies and thinking about ice cream. How the heck did this happen?

One thought is the idea of “hyper-rewarding, hyper palatable foods”. These foods are created by food scientists that have one job. To keep you wanting more, and thus, buying more of their companies products. How do they make it so easy?

In nature, there are three nutrients that “reward” our brains into feeling good. Fat, sugar and salt. These three ingredients never occur naturally with one another. Steak has some fat, fruit has some sugar, and salt is salt – nothing is really naturally salty unless you drink the ocean (highly unrecommended).

In the food industry, these nutrients ARE commonly found together. Chips are salty, fatty and pretty basic when it comes to carbohydrate content. Ice cream is fatty, and super sugary. The list goes on and on, but the main point is these foods are created to give us a big reward in the form of a dopamine surge. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter in the brain that we get a release of anytime we do something pleasurable.  This is the same neurotransmitter that causes nicotine, cocaine and heroin addictions in people. Our brains get that rush, then dopamine levels drop below the norms – so we crave more. 

The same thing can happen with food. I know that when I buy chips, ice cream, or any other hyper rewarding foods, I tend to eat them very frequently while they are in the house. If they aren’t in the house, I tend to not even think about them and all is well. Keep this in mind when you feel like you have an addiction problem with fattening foods, because it very well may be that. The best advice here is the old adage of “out of site, out of mind”. Remove these trigger foods from you house, your office, and your life – and you may find that you CAN live without eaten them all the time, and then when it comes to having them once in a while, it is okay and you don’t need to buy the huge quantities that last you a week, or a few days – but rather appropriate portions for a once in a while treat.

Best of luck!