The TRUTH About All Those “Eat Whatever You Want and Lose Weight” People

It’s true! You CAN eat pizza and lose weight. You CAN eat Big Mac’s and lose weight!

This is something that I see ads for, marketing for, and friends sharing posts about all the time. I myself even share the occasional “I eat ____ as part of my healthy diet”.

The disconnect is this – most people who eat this way don’t show, or talk about the other 90% of their diet. Because that wouldn’t appeal to the average person that wants a quick fix, minimal effort, life-changing plan.

There are some in the industry who do this very responsibly, and are very balanced about it and are very transparent about it. These people are my friends – I don’t associate with the other type – so if you are reading this I’m probably not talking about you 🙂 

Then there are those who have an unhealthy relationship with food. They post about eating 2 pizzas and still having abs, but they then go on to skip their next 4 meals and chug away on the treadmill for 2 hours.

They preach about “eat what you love, get results” – but this isn’t true – because all YOU see is the “bad food” that they indulge in.

Be wary of these people. Be wary of someone who tells you that you can eat WHATEVER you want and still lose weight. The next question you should ask should be, “what quantity of whatever can I eat 🙂 “?

Look, it all comes down to creating a calorie deficit if the goal is to lose weight. We get it. 

I could lose weight eating nothing but Ben and Jerry’s for 2 weeks.

Americone Dream (1 pint) – 1140 cals – 64 fat, 123 carbs, 17 protein

I could lose weight eating 2.5 pints of this per day. But that’s ALL I would get to eat.

How realistic is that?

I would give myself maybe 2 days before I –

  • A) crapped my pants so bad,
  • B) went insane and/or
  • C) Ate my own arm off.

Yes, you COULD do this and lose weight. But it’s not realistic, AND you would become so deficient in many vitamins, minerals, and protein that your weight would be the least of your worries.

Again – you CAN eat whatever you want, but likely not how much you want, and still lose weight.

This is called balance, moderation, or managing – whatever adult term we want to use.

There are many ways to do this, eyeballing things and making general assumptions to literally measuring everything out and tracking macros to a T.

So how can you REALLY eat WHATEVER (not HOW MUCH) you want, and still get results and NOT end up deficient in nutrients or malnourished?

The Most Accurate Way – TRACKING LIKE A BOSS. Become “scale guy” or “scale girl”. 

This works for some people – and I am super happy for them. But I also know many people who won’t do this, even though it damn near guarantees results.

After figuring out your goal intake, if you can hit 80% of your calories from nutrient-rich, balanced foods, you would be just fine hitting the other 20% from foods that you like to indulge in…but you probably can’t indulge in them.

Let’s say your calorie goal to lose weight is 1800 calories. 20% = 360 calories from “junk”. Well, you get a little over a half cup of Ben and Jerry’s. If you are like me, a half cup of ice cream is one spoonful.

But this is how it is done.

You make “adult decisions” earlier in the day if you plan on indulging later in the day. It’s really simple. You eat lower calorie, high protein, high nutrient-rich foods, then indulge later in the day on calorie-dense goodies. But everything is measured out perfectly.

The Eyeball Method

This might be less accurate, but it also still involves making responsible adult decisions.

If you KNOW you will be eating pizza and cake later, how can you “offset” those foods earlier?

Well, pizza and cake is mostly fat (cheese, pepperoni, butter) and carbs (the crust, sugar, flour) so maybe breakfast would be egg whites and veggies (high protein, low fat, low carb), snack 1 would be a protein shake, lunch would be a big ass salad with chicken, and snack two would be a Greek Yogurt and fruit.

It’s not as perfect as measuring and weighing, but it’s still making a conscientious decision to make changes earlier in the day, to enjoy later.

But here is where that approach can backfire…

Let’s say you eat 3 pieces of Little Cesar’s Cheese Pizza and 1 slice of Oreo Ice Cream Cake (1/12th of the cake…LOL, who only eats 1/12th of a cake!)

Well that little meal was 960 calories (122 carbs, 38 fat, 38 Protein)

So unless you offset by that much earlier in the day, you could STILL be in a calorie surplus aka weight gain zone.

This just shows how calorie-dense foods like pizza and ice cream cake and add up super fast! SUPER FAST!

These are usually cases where most people THINK they are “barely eating” and not losing weight.

I’m sorry to break it to you – but if if you don’t track something in your food journal or track it accurately – your body still will.

Whether you want to learn to use a food scale or just start eyeballing things, making a change for the positive is the right way to go.

The last bit of tough love for the day is this: people who say that diets void of treats, sweets, grease, and drinks every day are deprivation diets are full of you know what. How many years, decades, and centuries did people live just fine and healthy lives without junk food?

True moderation of these foods is much less than most people think.

True moderation is once a week, once a month, or “here and there” – not once per day, or even 3-4 times per week (depending on the food/drink).

While macros and calories matter, your quality of nutrition matters as well. It goes beyond the number on the scale. It is about internal health, blood health, gut health, heart health, skin health, and the true sustainability of a diet.

So yes, you can eat a little bit of what you want, and still lose weight, and feel batter – just probably not to the extent of what you might think.

 

Would you like more help on taking back your life, learning to love health and food again, figuring out how to find true balance, or just crush some goals and get the body of your dreams?  IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Things That Make the Scale Go Bump In The Night

The scale. Friend of few, the enemy of many.

The scale tells us one thing. Our current pull on gravity at the present moment – aka our weight. It tells us nothing else about ourselves. Not how fit we are, how nice we are, how bad we are…it only tells our weight.

The debate rages on about how to use the scale, or if to use the scale at all.

Like anything else in the fitness and diet world, it depends on the individual and their mindset.

If someone has had issues with the scale in the past, first I will look at what they were, how they handled them, and if it was a serious enough problem to avoid the scale – or if we just need to shift their mindset.

Personally – I recommend weighing daily and looking at the average of the 7 days. Or at least 4-5 days and the average of those.

I DO NOT like once per week weigh-ins. Why? Because it is a “doomsday”. The dreaded weigh-in day. And they can poorly represent what is actually happening.

Say you start at 210 pounds (on a Sunday), you would track your weight for a week like this:

Mon: 209 Tues: 209 Wed: 208 Thurs: 209  Fri:211  Sat: 209  Sun: 210

DAMN! Gained 1 pound! – this is what happens to many people. But with daily weighing…

Add up all the weights, and divide by 7 (or the number of days you weighed yourself if you didn’t do 7)

209+209+208+209+211+209+210 = 1465/7 = 209.3 (or a 0.7 lb weight loss)

THEN Ă  enter your WEEKLY AVERAGE (209.3) as your weigh in for the week! See examples here.

Why The Scale Fluctuates

Water.

Mostly water is the cause of the ups and downs day to day. Don’t believe me?

Step on the scale. Step off, drink 16 oz. of water. Step back on. You have now gained a pound (if you haven’t, buy a new scale).

Step on the scale before you have to pee or poop. Step off. Pee or poop. Now step back on. You have lost weight! Yay 😉

Water retention is a massive cause for the scale to frustrate us. What are other things that cause water retention?

Salt

Salt pulls water – I think we all know this. If you eat super salty all day, and you listen to your body’s thirst mechanism, you probably ended up drinking much more water than normal and holding on to it.

Carbs

Carbs are awesome. But they can also bring water with them. This is why when runners carb load before a marathon, I want them to gain 2-3 pounds. This means their glycogen stores are loaded up and they are ready to dominate. Also, this is why low carb crash diets make you lose weight super fast at the start – water weight!

Also, eating too many simple carbs (sugar) without proper activity to balance it out will cause insulin levels to remain high in the body, and prolonged elevated insulin levels increase renal (kidney) retention of sodium (salt).

However, some studies have shown this process can be prevented by consuming more potassium – fruits, veggies, and even potatoes (French Fries don’t count).

Food

More food in your GI tract, more water weight is coming with it. This is just simple logic, right? If you eat a huge meal before you step on the scale, you will weigh more.

This is why I recommend weighing in the first thing in the morning, after you use the bathroom, with no clothes on – to minimize the variables that can cause a flux in water weight.

Stress

The body doesn’t know whether your stress is from exercise, work, or your kids driving you nuts – it just all adds up. Increases in stress lead to increases in the hormone cortisol, and prolonged increases in cortisol lead altered fluxes in anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) – which yes, has an ANTI DIURETIC effect, meaning you retain water.

Inflammation 

Inflammation from injury, sickness, too much exercise all can contribute. This is where daily weighing really comes in handy – and being aware of food intake (calories). You can be in a calorie deficit, and still not lose weight. How? Water.

You can be losing body fat, but gaining water weight due to inflammation – so the scale reads a zero change. How frustrating! This is why sticking it out for the long haul is important. Most people give up when they hit this point.

They are under-eating and overexercising. They are so sore, but the scale just doesn’t move! Sleep patterns become worse – and when sleep gets worse, we are more likely to drop inhibition and reach for sugary/junk foods.

This is when it might be time to assess when you last took a break. Let your body recover, less exercise is okay. Also, take a good hard look at your diet. Was it really as “clean” or balanced as you thought.

Your Period

Sorry ladies, but you’ve got it rough when it comes to the scale and how frustrating it can be. This seems to be most common in the week leading up to your period, and can be upwards of a 5-10 pound swing depending on your size! Again, this is why managing food intake and trusting in the process can be so important. If you KNOW your diet hasn’t changed, but your weight shot up, it’s likely something besides fat that triggered it…

Listen to your body here, basal metabolic rate decreases at menstruation and falls to its lowest point approximately 1 week before ovulation, subsequently rising until the beginning of the next menstrual period.

This explains the random cravings for sweets or treats, or the loss of appetite…listen to your body, and honor your hunger and fullness.

A scale is a good tool. But only one tool.

This is why we need to focus on OTHER metrics to monitor progress. Measurements, internal health, well being, performance numbers, etc.

Maybe your body isn’t ready to lose weight, and you feel like crap. You make changes in your life, feel amazing, but haven’t lost a pound – but your mood, outlook, and energy are better. Are you still going to think that that was a failure?

Look beyond the scale – but also be aware of what changes on the scale can mean.

 

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Ladies! Get Your Lift On!

This one goes out to all the ladies in the room.

When was the last time you lifted weights that were heavier than 3 pounds? Or hell, lifted weights at all? Performed sets of 3-5 reps? Rested after a set for more than 1 minute?

Has it been a while? Or maybe never?

That’s okay! But maybe it’s time to give it a try. You see, you have been misled, and lied to. Magazines, fitness influencers, and other people and company just trying to play into your emotions and take your money have been lying to you.

Cardio only for fat loss – LIES

Light weight and high reps to tone – LIES

1200 calories to lose fat – DANGEROUS LIES

When MOST women I talk to about their goals describe the “look” that they are after and then tell me about what they have been doing to reach that goal, there is a disconnect.

Again – not your fault! You have been lied to that lifting heavy makes you turn into she-hulk, or eating more than 1200 calories will make you fat, or you need to spend hours on the step mill with a band around your knees to get that booty you are after (while wearing an ab trainer belt that the shady trainer at the gym conveniently sells out of the trunk of his car….)

Here is why lifting heav(ier) is what you might need, and how to do it…

1) Build Muscle – there is no toning of muscle. You are either build muscle or losing muscle. You are either adding body fat or losing body fat.

When you strength train – you build muscle. Having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate – which means you burn more calories throughout the rest of the day.

If you have never tried lifting heavier, try this.

Stay in the 5-8 rep range most of the time. Use big compound movements – squats, deadlifts, rows, presses. AND THEN…REST after a set!

Resting for 45-90 seconds will not kill your fat burning zone. It will allow your muscles to recharge so they can attack the weights even harder on the next set!

2) A Sense Of Badassery 

You already are a badass, and no you don’t need anything else to prove it…but lifting some heavy stuff can help with that.

I love seeing my female clients hit new lifting PR’s (personal records). Lifting 250 pounds off the floor, or pushing a 500-pound sled…Talk about empowering!

You are not a delicate little flower – start challenging your body to do what it was made to do!

3) Functional Strength

Besides looking like a goddess, lifting heavy has benefits for your everyday life and health.

Let’s say your kid weighs 40 pounds. And you can only lift 50 pounds off the floor.

When you go to lift your kid up, you are using 80% of your max working capacity. That’s pretty tough!

Now let’s say you get stronger by deadlifting weekly – and you can now lift 150 pounds off the floor no problem. Well, your 40-pound kid is now only 26.6% of your max lifting capacity! Easy peasy!

Kate Upton is a beast thanks to her trainer Ben Bruno! But she doesn’t look bulky, does she??

4) Bone Health

Unfortunately, women are much more prone to degeneration of their bones due to osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Heavy strength training (With proper nutrition) is one of THE best ways to make your bones more dense and stronger. Younger ladies, you might not be worried about this now, but don’t play with fire – bone loss starts around 30 years old.

Heavy squats and deadlifts are great for challenging your whole frame to grow stronger!

5) Follow a Structured Program

Don’t just use the IG video of the day, or do the lifts you know and enjoy.

Follow a structured program so you can actually monitor progress and know if you are getting stronger.

This is called progressive overload – and is the main principle behind muscle growth!

If you lifted 100 pounds for 3 reps one week, and 105 for 3 reps the next, you progressed! Awesome!

Don’t have a structured program to follow?

Check out my Ladies 3-Day Lean Lifting program! This will cover everything above, and then some! Spend only 45- 60 minutes at the gym, 3 days per week, AND get that lean, toned look that you have been after? Sounds like a win to me!

Ready to create a new you through lifting? Change for good, and find lasting results that allow you to enjoy the process?  Let’s chat —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

5 Keys To Sustainable Fat Loss Results

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

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

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

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

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

1) Regular Exercise

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

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

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

2) Willingness to Change

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

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

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

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

3) Consistent Monitoring of Something

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

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

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

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

4) Support

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

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

Get a new partner. Ok, maybe not.

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

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

5) Appreciation of the Long Game

My clients probably get sick of me saying this.

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

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

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

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

3 YEARS! <—- Read this again.

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

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

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

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What Are Macros Anyways?

My macros are 300 C, 80F, and 215P…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What contributes to these calories, is our macros.

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

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

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

Where they are right now:

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

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

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

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

Mostly Carbohydrates:

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

 Mostly Protein:

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

Mostly Fat:

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

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

Carbs/Protein:

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

Fat/Protein:

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

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

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

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

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

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Maybe You DON’T Need More Intensity In Your Life?

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

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

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

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

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

So what’s the problem? 

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

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

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

Let’s think about this:

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

Most of us have other stressors in our lives.

What also places stress on the body and the CNS?

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

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

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

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

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

So what do you do???

Am I saying stop doing HIIT all together? NO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improve Your Sleep

I cannot stress this enough! This is hands down the best thing you can do to increase fat loss, muscle building, and total overall health – and it’s 100% FREE!!

If you are not sleeping well, start with your pre-bed routine first.

Are you winding down? Or just plopping into bed and expecting to fall asleep. Think of bedtime like a very important meeting. A meeting with your recovery boss. You want to prepare. An hour before your goal bedtime, turn the lights down in the house, try to avoid electronics, or at least wear some sexy blue-blocking sunglasses. (The blue light from TV, phones, and computers stimulates the brain and blocks production of melatonin).

Make it a ritual, a habit. It won’t work instantly, and you won’t do it perfectly 100% of the time, but I promise that if you start spending just a little more time preparing for sleep, it will pay huge dividends.

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

If you struggle to self-monitor, I highly recommend the Oura Ring. I have been using it for 6 months now and it is amazing how much it helps. Being a former athlete, I ALWAYS want to go all out in the gym, and the Oura Ring helps reign me in and tell me to take it easy today, or you didn’t sleep enough last night, do this to improve it…

This doesn’t mean you need to take a full day of sitting on the couch (even this could be a good idea for us crazy gym junkies) – but turn the throttle down, and chillax for a bit. If you know you have gone hard at the gym 2 days in a row, racked up 20,000 steps and are sleeping like garbage, killing yourself at the gym is NOT going to get you to where you want to be…unless your goal is injured, burnt out, or sick.

My example of a lower intensity pump day this past week was:

(60 seconds rest between all sets, with the final set being 2 reps short of failure, slow and controlled tempo)

1) 3×12 Cable Incline Press

2) 3×12 Lat Pulldown

3) 3×12 Barbell Shrug

4) 3×15 DB Row

5a) 3×8 Hammer Curls

5b) 3×8 Barbell Close Grip Press

 

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

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

What would this include?

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

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

Build recovery focussed days into your plan. For every crazy intense session you do, match it with a recovery session, massage, outdoor hike, etc. This is where we balance the high-stress stuff with the low-stress stuff. You need to focus on finding a balance because a Ferrari can only redline it for so long before it overheats and explodes…and the same thing goes with your body…well, you might not explode.

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

If you need help improving your body through better recovery methods, you must not ignore diet as well. Check out my free ebook at SimpleNutrtitionBook.com for more tips!

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

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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Stay healthy my friends,

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,