Why Meal Plans Don’t Work, and What To Do…

I used to make meal plans. Hand them out. Expect results. Get puzzled. Repeat.

But…it never happened. And with speaking with multiple other nutrition coaches, and dietitians, they all said the same thing.

Meal plans sound great in theory. Just eat this EXACT plan and you will get results. If they are made properly and calculated correctly, they CAN totally work. But usually from a quick fix standpoint or something that is not truly sustainable.

The time and effort that can be put into a meal plan, only for it to break apart in one meal is unmatched.

“My meal plan says 4 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of broccoli…but I had to go out to eat for work! HELP!!!”

Meal plans are too rigid. They take away any actual learning about food that is involved, and they only work for people who are willing to eat the same twigs and sticks every single day.

Now – there is a difference between a meal plan and a sample day (which I use). A sample day is one single example of what a day at a certain calorie/macro level might look like. But, nobody is expected to follow this one day for weeks, months, or years.

It is only an example of what the day might look like. Why? Because people often underestimate how many calories they eat, and seeing it on paper, and maybe trying it for one day can be very eye-opening.

Showing an example of a day at a set calorie level is good, but teaching sustainable habits and how to be flexible with your diet is better.

What is flexible dieting? 

Let me use an example. Let’s say your current goals are to lose weight. After finding that you currently eat 3000 calories, I would start with a nice deficit of 300-500 cals. So your goal will be to eat 2500 calories.

After figuring out your macros (carbs, protein, fat) – let’s say your goal is this:

2500 calories – 220 grams Carbs (25-35 grams Fiber), 220 grams Protein, and 82 grams Fat (these are all hypothetical)

With flexible dieting, your goal is to hit these numbers every day, by any means possible***

Some people will think this means you can eat whatever you want…which yes, you can! However, as fun as that may sound, it might not be the best idea.

Let’s go back to that photo from above.

These both are 1470 calories. The meal on the left is what we call calorie dense. It means there are a ton of calories (1470) in a small volume of food. The meals on the right are more nutrient dense – more volume, less calories.

If you think you could eat these foods, and hit your macro targets, you are good….but that might be highly unlikely.

Most calorie dense foods are high in fat, and carbs, and LOW in protein and fiber. Think about things like donuts, greasy burgers, pizza…

These three foods account for 154 carbs, 89 fat, and 69 protein, with only 9g of fiber.

That leaves our hypothetical person with:

66 grams of carbs – 151 grams of protein – and NEGATIVE grams of fat…

So pretty much the rest of the day would have to be PURE protein, and some rice…not the healthiest day.

How can you “have your cake and eat it too”?

Once you have your macros set – and you know you want a donut, go ahead and plug it in.

Then work the rest of your day AROUND that choice, with nutritious, whole foods, and high nutrient dense options.

Yes, this involves a basic understanding of nutrition, how to track, and how to measure foods…but when you understand how this all works, and it does, and it is like “magic” every single time you eat those foods that make your friends say…

“I thought you were trying to lose weight?”

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Do I Need to Track Food Forever?

I get this question a lot. “You always talk about tracking food, do I need to do that forever?”

Short answer, NO.

I recommend everyone tracks their food at some point though. Not because it is the only way to see results, but because most people have NO clue what they eat, how much they eat and aren’t even aware of half the food they put in their body.

According to studies, people underestimate their calorie intake by about 50%.

More than 4,000 people tracked what they are for four days. Men reported consuming an average 2,065 calories a day, but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.

This brings up the often made point “I barely eat, and still can’t lose weight!”

It’s not that people are willfully lying about their food intake (maybe some do) – but most are just not truly aware.

Take my current standard breakfast for example:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whites
  • Veggies
  • 100g of carbs (varies by the day) – let’s say it was my 130 grams of Life Cereal I had this morning (that is 130g of WEIGHT = 100g of carbs, in this case)
  • 1 cup of Fairlife Skim Milk

If someone tracked this as is, I would say that is some pretty dang accurate tracking.

But, what about the oil I used for the eggs? Oops forgot to track that (5g coconut oil = 45 cals)

And the veggies – didn’t track them, but likely 50 calories or so.

Oh, then Adalynn didn’t finish her oatmeal, so I had a couple of bites of that (20 calories?)

So right there, even though they were all healthy calories, it still was 115 calories unaccounted for…at one meal. Project this over 2 more meals, and that could easily be a 300-400 calorie swing, which is enough to move you from a deficit (eating less than you burn) to a surplus (eating more than you burn)

This is why I highly encourage consistent tracking for at least a couple of weeks to get an idea of what you actually eat.

Once you educate yourself on this and become more aware, you can make some tweaks.

Once things start going in the right direction, and you get into a routine or have a vacation coming up, or something called life happens…this is where the lesson needs to be applied.

After tracking for a while, and seeing what your ideal intake actually looks like, you CAN take a little step away from tracking…BUT this doesn’t mean you need to go fully off the rails.

Try to keep meals consistent, and duplicate portions sizes, and keep in a solid routine when not tracking.

But still, you should be monitoring SOMETHING. Your weight, your measurements, your performance in the gym…and if it starts to go the wrong way, maybe it’s time to get back to tracking.

If you maintain your loss without tracking, then that’s great! The eventual goal IS to maintain! Maintenance “practice” while taking a break from tracking is a great challenge in itself, and something that with enough practice, can be done!

IT takes practice, and it takes time – but once you learn more about the foods you eat, and make adjustments, and LEARN from the process (this is why meal plans FAIL, they don’t teach you anything ACTIONABLE), you can APPLY what you learned and build on it, take breaks, and jump back in the game when you are ready to make more changes.

If you still are stumped with all this, let me know, and let’s jump on a call!

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All You Need to Get Killer Fat Burning and Muscle Building Workouts

In the world of SO many options for fitness equipment, machines, gadgets, gizmos, inflatable surfaces, banded contraptions, and thingamabobs…we forget about the OG’s, the original gainers, of the gym.

I’m talking about the iron.

More specifically, the dumbbell.

Because even the barbell has made a comeback of sorts – well, for hardcore gym goers it never left – but it is getting more mainstream attention thanks to CrossFit.

But the dumbbell, even its name hurts its own feelings. It is one of the most versatile and functional pieces of equipment, can be used for thousands of variations of lifts, yet we seem to have forgotten its glory. It has been beaten down and reduced to being a paperweight on a desk, a doorstop at the gym, or an anchor for our camera while we take awesome gym selfies.

Today I come to defend the dumbbell and return it to its rightful glory.

Why is it so great you might ask?

1 – Versatility

With one set, or even just one dumbbell and your body, you can create hundreds, if not thousands of functional movements. Remember, we can lump them all into several categories:

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Squat
  • HInge
  • Lunge
  • Carry

Take those movement patterns, a single dumbbell or two, and you can branch out to at least 10- 20 well-known exercises for each.

2 – Safety

If you are benching a barbell, and you cannot lift it off your chest…where does it go?

If you are benching 2 dumbbells and cannot lift them, where do they go?

You see, for training alone, dumbbells are a safer option. I’m not saying to never train alone with barbells, but if you are new to this game, or are just trying to avoid crushing your windpipe, dumbbells are safer.

They also are safer on the shoulder joints themselves because of the freeness of the dumbbells and the ability to rotate them to an optimal angle at the glenohumeral joint (shoulder), whereas a barbell is in a fixed position.

3 – More Challenge

Because dumbbells are two separate weights in each hand, they require more stability and neuron recruitment. This is a good thing because it forces the lifter to slow it down, and actually learn the movement instead of rushing through some ugly reps with a barbell or a machine which is on a fixed path.

When you are able to slow a lift down, and really feel the muscle fibers working – this is where the magic happens.

By training with dumbbells, you will not only expand your knowledge of exercise, but also improve your motor neuron connectivity, and become a more well rounded athlete/gym bro/gym brah.

By using dumbbells, you can create endless workouts – circuits for a metabolic fat burning effect, or straight sets to pack on slabs of muscle.

So before you jump into the latest fitness trend that promises you only need 4 minutes per day, remember this – the iron has been around for centuries, there is a reason that the fittest people in the gym spend most of the time lifting weights.

Hit the dumbbells, and put it some hard work!

Oh, by the way…

Are you looking for a way to use dumbbells to create your own workouts, that you can do from home? I’ve got the perfect cheat sheet for you!

I created it as a way to plug and play with exercises covering the whole body, so we don’t end up getting any muscle imbalances, or skipping leg day… Click HERE to get your copy.

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Consistency Over Everything Will Yield Results

This post was originally sent out via my insider’s email list…and I got a very big positive response to it, so I wanted to share it here. If you don’t already get the weekly insider emails (on Tuesdays) you are missing out! SUBSCRIBE HERE

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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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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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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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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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,