"I want to lose this belly fat," I have heard this statement quite a bit lately, especially with my new clients. Body fat can be put into two categories. Essential body fat and adipose tissue. The body needs a specific amount of fat for insulation, hormone production, and body temperature regulation. It also needs fat for cushioning vital organs and body maintenance functions. This type of body fat is called essential body fat. Women need 10%-13% of essential body fat and men need 2% to 5%. Women need significantly more body fat for reproduction purposes. Adipose tissue is any additional fat that is stored in the body for later energy use. When people talk about losing body fat, they are really talking about adipose tissue. So all they have to do is use the fat that is around their abdominals as energy via abdominal exercises right? Wrong. Adipose tissue be targeted because fat deposits are genetically predetermined and adipose tissue will come off in the reverse order it was put on.
Genetics play a major role in our physical make up. There is a reason why obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases are common in families. It is because they are hereditary. The same is true about where your body stores adipose tissue. If your father and grandfather have a lot of fat around their abdominals, chances are that you will too. If you put on excess fat, it will come off in reverse order as it was put on. Let's say Jan put on a little bit of extra fat. The fat was first stored in her abdominals and then her face. Jan then starts exercising and eating better. Assuming that she is burning more calories than she is consuming, then she will lose the excess fat first in her face and then in her abdominals. No matter how many crunches Jan , the fat will not come off of her abdominals first, it always comes off in reverse order. NOW, she will build significant muscle strength and size in her abdominal region, but there is no way to target the adipose tissue in that region.
Fat loss is a difficult task. It took me a long time to figure out how to burn through my own fat deposits, and it may take a little bit of experimentation for you as well, do not get frustrated. Embrace the challenge, be patient, and grow from the experience.
The need to grow is a human instinct. I do not mean just physically, I mean mentally and spiritually as well. As long as there is breath in our bodies, we all feel the need to accomplish more or improve upon something. Some of us even feel the need to chase a dream. That is how we keep evolving. I would like to use my own life as a reference point in this passage.
I remember back in high school I decided I wanted to play college football. So I dedicated all of my free time to the field and weight room. Getting stronger, faster, and more familiar with the game of football. It was more than a hobby, it was my life. Through this dedication I learned how to fight through adversity and think through problems. I did not just wake up one day and look like this. I spent hours upon hours working through plateaus and experimenting what techniques work for me and which ones do not. I developed a mindset that refused to be stopped. I HAD to get stronger and faster. I had to be patient and let my body develop. I eventually ended up surpassing many of my peers and finding my way to Washington State where I lived out my dream. Here is where growth comes in. I had achieved my goal. Was I just supposed to be happy with where I was? What is next?
While completing my studies I found a love for art. Videography to be exact. I loved messing around with cameras and editing different types of video. I eventually switched my major from communications to Digital Technology to pursue videography as a degree. After graduating and exploring my options in the NFL, I decided to pursue a career as a videographer. I experienced success immediately. I not only had freelance projects booked months ahead, but I also landed a corporate gig. I was emotionally happy and comfortable financially. End of story right? No. I soon found myself growing again. I wondered what else is next? Some of the same feelings I had while playing ball before I found art. I was not just hungry, I was growing. I had set my mind on a goal and I accomplished my goal. It is in our blood as humans, I swear. We are conquerors. Once we conqueror one thing, we move on to the next one. It is our need to grow. I believe we are all looking for something. When we find what that is, we will know it.
Soon after feeling the need to grow I found myself training harder than ever and training those close to me. Then I found myself going through certification through the American Council of Exercise to receive my personal training license. Next I am traveling from Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas so I can gain even more experience training others. I went from training teammates and friends, to creating full blown regiments and nutrition outlines for companies and various individuals. I have trained premier high school athletes and women who are 65. I have trained EVERYONE! I even have a virtual training system now that helps me manage 10 people currently. I have clients in California, Kansas, and Massachusetts that I have never met personally, but I am changing their lives for the better; AND I LOVE IT. I do not know if this is the end of my growth, but I know that I am still working towards an end goal. I will know when I get there. The reason I reference my own journey, is because everyone is doing the same thing too, and I know that many people can navigate their journey successfully through physical fitness.
My people may not be on a life journey, but they are on a physical journey and they need help getting to their initial goal. I say initial because what happens 90% of time is a lot of GROWTH. I have had clients who came to me because they wanted to lose 20 lbs. and feel better. We accomplish their goal in two months and then they look to me and say, I want to lose fat now and look like "such and such". So then we modify the plan and they accomplish their new goal. Next they look at me and they want to do something else. It is all apart of growth. Much of my growth pillar is based in my yoga studies; and to truly understand this pillar you need a little background on yoga.
Yoga is much more than deep stretching (it actually is quite different than that, but that is a conversation for another day). Yoga is defined as connecting. Connecting the mind to the body and the body to the spirit and the spirit to the universe. I am not trying to get my people to take their physical fitness to that level. I am, however, trying to get them to think like a yogi. I want the to think like a yogi because through yoga, you are taught how to think through controversy and how to remain calm through that adversity. Patience. Patience is also a major emphasis in yoga. Do you think most people can just do a headstand fresh out the gate? No it took time and patience to reach that level. Everything that is taught through yoga, I want to bring into my teachings in physical fitness. I want my people to learn how to push their limits safely. I want my people to have patience while working towards their goals. I want my people to learn how to handle their frustrations with clarity and embrace the battle. A lot of success that I have had in life is because I had a certain mindset. A mindset that is very yoga-like. I say it all the time, but I really wish I had started studying yoga while in college. I would have bridged a lot of gaps in my life a lot easier (but everything is easier to judge in hindsight right). A lot of goals that my people have are quite lofty. They will need to master all three of these pillars in order to get there a lot of the time. Embrace, patience, and growth. All of my pillars can be found in yoga in some way, but I want to clarify! I am not a yoga teacher (yet)! I am a health and wellness coach who has taken his experiences and knowledge from many different disciplines and applied it to a system that will change the lives of those who embrace it. Yoga just happens to influence a lot of things I do, even if my people do not know that.
Growth is not only physical. Through physical fitness I have seen people change not only their bodies, but their mindset. I quite literally have seen women who did not believe they could do a push up, go on to complete tough mudders. They took that same attitude with them into life and left relationships that were not good for them and found someone who was better for them. Growing physically does not mean physically getting bigger. It means expanding your education on how YOUR body works and how you can improve upon it, based on your needs. If you can figure out how your body works, why can't you figure out how your mind works? Growth is in our nature. Do not limit yourself. Plant your roots and flourish. Flourish and bloom beautiful flowers that produce seeds and spread throughout the Earth.
Patience is such an outdated word for the times we live in. We are so used to having everything ready to go at a moments notice. So whenever we are forced to wait on anything, it seems excruciating. Patience is an art that I had to relearn through my journey with yoga. Patience is needed in life. I am a big believer in easy come, easy go. If it came easily, it can slip away easily. I once heard a great man say you can lose it twice as fast as you got it (Big Sean). This is completely true regarding the human body.
If you spend a month lifting weights and building muscle, and then take two weeks off, you will actually lose that months' worth of work over those two weeks. Scary right. I am big on having my people show consistency for this reason. Do not work your ass off for a month or two or three, and then take extended time off. We are trying to change lives and build healthy habits. Do not slip back into a sedentary lifestyle. Referring back to the embrace pillar for successs, this is why I encourage experimentation between my people and I. I want to find activities that they truly enjoy so they incorporate it into their life willingly. I want them to enjoy exercising as much as I do. Until they get to that level I want them to be patient until we find something that works for them. Everyone's patience is going to be tested not only multiple times, but in multiple ways.
Another scenario that I commonly see that tests patience is controversy. Most commonly I will see a new bee or a returning client jump into the workouts and feel/see results in a short amount of time and then plateau. Do not get deterred if after working out for a while, that you hit a plateau. IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE! There is a multitude of things that could be happening. Most commonly, your body has adapted to your lifestyle and needs a change to take it to the next level. This is a good thing. It means you have gotten closer to your goal. If you are not at your goal yet, then it is time to kick it up a notch and experiment with a few different techniques to push you even further. All in all it is going to take time to figure that out. So have patience.
Maybe they have not plateaued' , but their progress has slowed drastically. This is another example of how their patience is being tested. Slow progress is better than no progress. This is also where my train smarter not harder mantra begins to kick in really. Are you timing everything right? Are you eating what and when you are supposed to? Are you cheat days stretching over into cheat weekends? It all counts. Another point I really wanted to make in this passage is that, we all have to answer for the decisions we make with our bodies. What I mean by that is, let's say I have a new client named Jane. Jane has been eating fast food regularly and has not exercised in any way, shape, or form since high school. Jane is also an avid drinker. Jane is now 36. Jane is going to have to work through 18 years of fast food and alcohol! 18 years is a long time to neglect yourself. So in return it is going to take a long time for her to recondition herself. I am going to give my people the blueprint to a healthier BETTER them. They just have to follow it and be patient. This is a true journey.
Patience in large ties back into embracing. Embracing your new lifestyle can not be a sometimes thing. It has to be an all the time thing. That is why we use words like lifestyle and routine, and not diet and sessions anymore. People hear these words and they automatically assume it is all temporary. NO! I want everything that we do to stick forever. Long after I am done training my people, I want them to put everything I have taught them into effect daily. I want them to feel like they are 22 even though they may be 62. We may have started out on the goal of looking good by summer, but in reality it is much bigger than that. It is about feeling good, and a lot of your own feelings are mental not physical. This is what takes us into growth.
I have heard a lot of great leaders and coaches say that you have to, "buy in to the system" in order to be successful. Believe it or not they are not wrong. Believing in something has been proven to have positive effects on the believer. The problem today is that there are too many so called "leaders" "managers" and "coaches" using this term to coax individuals into performing tasks that are only beneficial to the leader and not the individual. Leaving the individual feeling that they have been manipulated and used for someone else's profit.
A woman can go work for a company for 25 years and put in her best effort, but she will always be limited in her returns because her superior decides her worth (or pay in this instance). For example, Jane can work as an account representative for a major cable company and make them two million dollars over one year. Jane's superiors know how much money she brought in, but they will only pay her 40,000$ because that is what THEY feel she is worth. Jane spent 40 hours a week over the last year making other people money and making their dreams come true while she only receives two percent. Jane put in a two million dollar effort and only saw a return of 40K. I personally do not think that is right. That is the main reason why I do not use the term "buying in" instead I like to use embrace.
When it comes to physical fitness, embracing a lifestyle can not leave an individual feeling used. I want to repeat that. Embracing a program can not leave an individual feeling USED. The reason I love the human body is because it is a true reflection of effort and time put in. Whatever the individual puts in to their body, they will receive back. If Jane ate a well balanced diet and exercised daily over the past year, she is going to receive 100% compensation back, not two percent! The same holds true if Jane ate fast food 7 days a week and did not exercise daily; she would reap 100% of those benefits as well!
Everyone has 100% control over their bodies and how they are treated. Whatever body or level of fitness anyone wants to achieve, they have to EMBRACE the lifestyle it takes to shape and mold that body. Do not be afraid to embrace a change of this magnitude, because I promise that the benefits will come in time. This is when patience is going to take over.
So over the next couple weeks I am going to discuss the three pillars of success to any of my programs. Embrace, patience, and growth. There is a lot of meaning behind these words, and I feel they need a bit of clarification. So in this first post I want to give a brief overview about what each of them mean to me in reference to my programs.
Embrace can be defined as acceptance or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically. So when I use the word embrace, I really want my people to embrace their bodies AND the process. I need them to accept their starting point. Everyone has to be 100% honest about where they are starting from and love it. They should love it for two reasons. One, this is your body and you only get one in this lifetime so love it! Second, love it because the journey they are getting ready to embark on is going to transform them not only physically, but mentally. Embracing is critical because they need to believe in themselves and the process in order to get to the last pillar of growth. Before anyone can grow they must learn to master patience.
Patience can be defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Everyone I have ever trained (including myself) has struggled mightily with this pillar. Change does not happen overnight and it is often a slow and PAINFUL process. I do not mean physically painful, I mean emotionally painful. Refer back to the first pillar. EMBRACE the process and believe that you will get to where you want to be. Have patience and keep working towards your goal every day. It took me years of trial and error to get to where I have gotten to today. I never gave up. Everyone I know that has been successful at ANYTHING has never given up! I just started working harder AND more importantly SMARTER. I believed that I would get to where I wanted to be one day and before I knew it, I DID. Once you have embraced the process and mastered patience, growth is inevitable.
Growth is defined as the process of increasing in physical size, or something that has grown or is growing. There are a lot of ways that I measure growth for all my clients. I have clients who physically want to get bigger. Great. I have clients who want to learn how to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle. Great. That is a different type of growth (and in my mind, a type of growth that we all need to master at one point in our lives). We can grow more than our muscles, we can grow our minds as well. That is why I no longer call myself a physical trainer, I am a true wellness coach. I am here to help people through the means of physical fitness, YES, but it always leads to me changing their mindsets. How do they view challenges? How do they endure adversity? How do they attack challenges? How do they handle success? How do they handle failures? I am here to help guide everyone through it all. That is what has evolved into, and I wait to fill in the gaps of the pillars in the upcoming weeks.
It's a new year which means new year resolutions and a new "you" attitude are running rampant throughout gyms across America. The problem with most new year resolutions is they lack planning. You are guaranteed to fail if you lack proper direction. That is usually where trainers like myself come in. We tell you where you are and how you can get to where you want to go.
Planning is the most important aspect of my job. Almost everyone knows how to lift weight and run, but do they know why they are doing it? Do they know why they are running for that certain amount of time? Do they know why they are lifting a certain amount of weight for a certain amount of reps? Your body is a science that must be studied and experimented with in order to produce the right reaction. By no means am I saying that we are scientist, but your body is a science that we have studied and mastered.
So when it comes to planning for success make sure that you do your research so that you can get the results you want. If you don't even know where to start, make sure you contact an experienced trainer like myself and gain a basic understanding of your body and why certain methods must be taken to get to where you want to be.
We are going to take a step back in this week's post and focus back up. Literally focus up. With the election winding down a lot of people are finding themselves drained emotionally. I've especially noticed it this week with my evening clients. They have checked out mentally. Your mental state is crucial to your workout performance.
There is something in the fitness world we like to call mind-muscle connection (MMC). I'm not going to get into the physiological side of things by talking about neurotransmitters, synapse, and acetylcholine. What you need to know is the more that you focus on stressing your target muscle group, the more muscle fibers you will recruit. I will use the bench press as an example. There is a primary mover (Pectoralis major) and secondary movers (deltoids, triceps, biceps). By focusing more on your pectoralis major mentally, you can target your primary mover and recruit more muscle fibers to improve your lift.
When you come into your workout mentally unprepared, you risk going through the motions. We are all guilty of it. I was guilty of it for years. Just years of wasted reps. Instead of focusing on the isolation of primary movers, you are letting your mind drift to work, kids, girlfriends, etc. I do not want this. I want you focused on the lift, really feeling the change in your body. I want you to visualize your muscles growing stronger and you compete. Enjoy this time of personal growth. This is your self-improvement time. Do not let work or any other bullshit interfere with your peace of mind. This place is truly sacred.
Here are a few tips I have for focusing up and getting better MMC.
Music- Get pumped up, whatever it is that you like, put it in your and crank that motherfucker loud and get your blood going.
Meditation- If I have had a particularly rough day I will actually sit in my truck for a good 10 minutes and clear my mind. I will just think about all of my issues and then push them to the back of my mind. Then I focus on what muscle group I'm working that day and imagine myself demolishing the sets.
Extended warm-up- If you are warming up and you notice that you are lacking focus, KEEP GOING. Extend your warm up for another 5 minutes until your mind is ready. Do not waste the day.
Turn your phone off- Turn the phone off, put it on do not disturb mode, plane mode, WHATEVER. Tell the world to fuck off because you're getting ready to lay the smackdown in the weight room.
Whatever's troubling you, I want you to remember this; everyone has something going on in their lives. We all have our own set of problems, and we all handle them in time. You are not going to solve those problems right now though. So push them to the back of your mind, enjoy your session, and dominate.
So if you haven't figured it out yet, I am big on timing. Timing truly is everything; from your protein intake to when you are eating your six meals a day. It took me a long time, almost 8 years to be exact, to figure out why I was not seeing the results that I wanted. I was eating clean, getting my recommended amount of protein, and eight hours of sleep. I was thoroughly confused until I finally asked an experienced bodybuilder what he was doing to get a more defined look. He diagnosed my problem very quickly. It was because my timing was off. I was not only eating at the wrong times, but I was also performing certain exercises at the wrong times as well. For everyone who is interested in burning fat specifically, lock in, today's blog post was made for you.
It is common knowledge that cardio is king when it comes to fat loss. I am not going to get into the physiological side of things, but what you need to know is that exercises that fall within the range of aerobic ATP production (cardio) are the ones that primarily burn fat from your body. Sustained physical activities that produce an elevated heart rate for at least 10 minutes or more will lead to your fat stores being used primarily as energy. I want you to remember that we are talking about fat loss not total weight loss here. There are two other systems as well. There is the phosphagen ATP production system which is primarily used for shorter more intense activities, such as sprinting or weight lifting. There is also the anaerobic ATP production system. This system is similar to the Phosphagen system in that it's ATP production is limited, just not as limited. We will dive into these two systems at a later time.
The best time that I have found to perform cardio is right after weight lifting. Why? The reason why is because after a good lifting session your anaerobic and phosphagen ATP production systems are sure to be exhausted and not a viable source of energy for your body. Thus your body will have to rely even more on its aerobic system to provide the energy needed to lets say run on an elliptical for 45 minutes. Work smarter not harder. We all work hard enough. Switching something as simple as when you perform your cardio can make a world of difference.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is NOT defined as false evidence appearing real (No Pain No Gain joke). For many people, there is a real fear of getting into shape. They are afraid that exercise will cause them pain. They are afraid to go their local gym because they think they are being judged. Emotionally they may be scarred by events of the past. Most likely failed attempts to get into shape. Do not become your own worst enemy. Your mental barriers are keeping you from reaching your potential and we need to break them.
Many people try to get into better shape daily, but many give up on themselves because of bad experiences in the past. You cannot let your past dictate your future. Learn to use your past experiences as learning opportunities. What worked for you? What did not work for you? Why did you give up? Did you really give it your all? Did you ask for help? These are some basic questions that can really help you be successful the next time you want to start exercising. When you are finally ready to throw your hat back in the ring come with a Positive Attitude and an iron work ethic.
I often run into people who tell me that they are quite terrified of going into the gym because they feel that everyone is judging them. They feel that everyone is watching them perform exercises and judging their technique. This is a form of social anxiety that has manifested because of a defeatist attitude. One way to begin conquering this fear is to simply go to the gym and not workout at first. Just go to your local gym and people watch. Watch others the way you think they are watching you. Soon you will realize that everyone is so engulfed in their own workout, that they are actually pretty clueless to what is going on around them. Another step you can take after this is going to the gym and performing basic exercises. Get a light sweat going and get acclimated to your settings. Soon you will feel right at home. If you are still feeling a little anxious try joining a group class. There is strength in numbers. Group training classes are filled with a variety of people in terms of physical fitness. and you are all generally suffering. Misery loves company. Suffering with others provides a level of comfort. Knowing that you are not the only one who is getting their butt kicked is pretty soothing. Even I will attend other fitness instructors classes from time to time just to get that feeling. Do not feel intimidated about exercising, because we all had to start somewhere and we all understand what you are going through.