A few weeks ago the local newspaper, The La Crosse Tribune, shared an article about gym etiquette. The article covered several major points to keep in my while at the gym, mostly the ones you think of right away like wear gym clothes, clean up equipment after yourself, smile, and share equipment. As those stand as major “rules” to keep in mind, there are several more that I feel belong on the list. These rules don’t necessary trump any other rule as all of the rules should be treated equally.
I’ve acquired some of my points after being at the gym for +50 hours a week every week for the last 3 years. I like to think of it like golf etiquette: you know some stuff right away, but once you get around to playing more and with other people, you learn the game of golf and the etiquette that follows.
Here are my big points on gym etiquette:
- Change into your gym shoes at the door.
Too many people do this far too often.They come in from just mowing the lawn or working outdoors and track their grassy, muddy shoes throughout the gym.Since we were graced with a few beautiful inches of snow in mid-November this year, the gym now has to start dealing with people that feel like they don’t need to change their shoes after coming in from outside.The worst.And now we get an extra-long season of sloppiness this year.Yaaaaaaaaaaay!
- Do NOT do certain types of circuit training during peak hours.
By certain types, I mean don’t grab a barbell, a bench, two sets of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a medicine ball, and mat during the 5 pm after work crowd.It’s rude to take all of that equipment AND SPACE from other members at the gym.There are other ways to circuit train rather than using 27 pieces of equipment. Give me a single kettlebell, or even your body weight and we’ll get through the workout via circuit training just fine.Unfortunately, a lot of this is done by clients who learned it from a trainer.It is up to the trainer to let their clients know about this little rule ahead of time.
- “If you’re sending more texts than doing sets, then you’re doing it wrong.”
I love this quote.I see too many people sending texts between sets WHILE SITTING ON A BENCH AKA NOT SHARING EQUIPMENT (which I’ll get to later).People can only change their songs so many times…You’re at the gym to work out, the text to your bae can wait until later.
- Grunt if you need to, not because you’re supposed to.
Letting a grunt out during some heavy lifting has actually been proven to help with the exercise.For real!However, there’s a big difference when someone grunts because they’re lifting hundreds and hundreds of pounds in a single rep and grunting when you’re curling 15 pounds at an incline on a bench.Get it right, gals and guys.The only other grunting allowed is when you are working on SMR with a foam roller or la crosse ball .Speaking of grunting while doing curls…
- Curl with a bar that is NOT in the squat rack UNLESS the gym is fairly empty.
I realize not all gyms have a smorgasbord of bars/curling bars for you to get your biceps pump on, but people need to realize when to and not to curl in the squat rack, which is usually never.I feel that curls in the squat rack should only be done when the gym isn’t that busy, that way you’re not taking away a bar to complete your back-breaking 65 lb curls when someone could be working on their 315 squat.If you curl in the squat rack in front of the wrong person, stuff like this happens:
Now where ya gonna curl, bro?
Speaking of doing curls….
- DO NOT CURL OR LAT RAISE OR SHOULDER PRESS OR ROW OR SQUAT OR ANYTHING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DUMBBELL RACK!!
You may be asking, “Well where are we supposed to do it then?”You can do all of these exercises so you can still see your muscles standing 7 feet away from the mirror just as well as you can standing 7 inches away.Trust me on this.When you curl 7 inches away from the dumbbell rack you end up blocking everyone else from getting to their weights that they want to use.This happens all the time and no matter how many times I ask people to politely step back, they seem to migrate right back to that mirror like a moth to a flame.
- Clean up after yourself.
This goes for weights, mats, towels, bands, and sweat.Clean it up.It’s not that hard.It’s like dealing with 5 year olds some days.
- Wear clean clothes (and deodorant).
I see people every day at the gym, just like they see me.They probably see me wearing my Snap polo almost every day.That doesn’t mean I should see you wearing your same gym get-up every day because I know you don’t wash it every day.Maybe you do have 5 of the same shirts and shorts, but when you walk by and I pucker up like I just ate a Warhead for the first time, you better check again.This goes the same for deodorant.Guys and gals need to do this.Ain’t nobody need that pit-stank.
- If you train with a group, be courteous of your surrounds…actually just being common-sense courteous in general.
Too many of us aren’t aware of others because we’re too focused on the task at hand or on ourselves.It’s easy to get into your zone when working out-I do it all the time.Sometimes I miss things too, yet I am always on the “look-out” to make sure I’m not interfering with someone else’s workout.If you come in a group of 2 or 3 or 4 people, you don’t need to sit around and chat about life in between sets.You should be on a rotation.The first one benches while one spots while the other might be doing a lift that is super-setted with your bench.You don’t need to hold each other’s hands while moving from one exercise to the next.Being courteous not only in the gym, but in general, will get your pretty damn far in life.Being courteous in the gym wins your friends and respect.Remember that.
I could find another 9 points to cover if I really wanted to. Another simple rule would be to wear gym clothes to the gym, not jeans or boots, or working out half naked with a swimsuit or just spandex on. Really? In shape or not, we don’t need that. Another one would be not to interrupt someone during a set. An interruption could be trying to talk to them, standing next to them, or heaven forbid you WOULD WALK IN FRONT OF THEM. You wouldn’t do that, right?
Again, gym etiquette goes a long way. Gym staff and trainers should be on top of this with each new member. They are simple fixes if people know what’s going on. Again, like the game of golf, how do I know that walking away while you’re in the middle of your back swing is part of the game? How do I know that walking in your line during a putt is rude? Some of these things need to be covered, some should be common sense. As long as you’re smart about it, a lot of these issues should take care of themselves.
We’re just a couple weeks away until we get to enjoy the company of family and friends for Thanksgiving. Even better is the fact that most of us have multiple families to go visit, which means we have multiple meals to feast on. It’s the best when everyone in the family brings their A-game to the table to make some sort of dish or desert. THE BEST!
So how do you get to enjoy these dishes guilt-free?
You have to make something healthy, of course…
Last year I whipped up some sweet potato crock pot dish with some cranberry sauce and sweet chili peppers. It turned out alright, but the show was stolen by my cousin’s veggie tray.
But seriously, it was a hit. It was enough of a hit that I did have her bring another one during Christmas as well.
It was stolen by the plethora of pies, cookies, and other deserts that my family brought. This year, I’m going that route and I’m seriously considering making a peanut butter cheesecake pie. Yup, I’m pretty sure I just decided that.
Wait, a peanut butter cheesecake pie isn’t healthy. I’m going to use all-natural peanut butter though, so I guess that makes it healthy, right?
Sheeesh! It’s like if something is gluten-free it’s the best thing for you. Check out this article from Nerd Fitness to figure out more about gluten: What the Hell is Gluten?
Before I get too sidetracked here, I better get back to the point.
First and foremost, do NOT be the “guy or gal that brings broccoli and tilapia to a wedding (holiday, in this case)”. I have loved that line since Joe Donnelly used it in one of his posts awhile back. There’s no reason to be that person unless you are in the midst of an extreme competition of somewhat. That may be the only exception.
So I’ll ask again: How do you enjoy these holiday meals guilt-free?
I already covered some basics behind the alcohol consumption that takes place over the holidays. If you missed that post, make sure to check it out here.
We can consider it like a Holiday Survival Guide of sorts.
To enjoy holiday meals guilt-free is to plan ahead.
Yep! It’s that simple. You have to plan ahead.
These are my points for planning ahead:
- Make sure you work out that day. Hard. There’s a reason why this is my first point. Hit all your muscle groups by training total body with maybe some extra emphasis on the lower body muscles. The bigger the lifts the better, but don’t overdo it. If you’re program consists of split or body building routines, make this day your heavy lower day or leg day, respectively. This workout should be done as close as possible to the meal or MEALS that you’ll be having on that day. For most people, this is usually done in the morning because there is plenty of travel and preparation going on throughout the day. I would love to say that I see a ton of people in the gym on these mornings, but that is not the case. There are usually just a couple of people in there. Too many people consider this a “free” day, like so many seem to do on the weekends.
- If you are dieting, make this day your re-feed day. I’m not going to go into much detail on what re-feed days are. Let’s say if you are dieting or going through an extreme fat loss phase in your program, you need certain days to exceed your typical caloric intake by 2-3x. These days should happen every 10 days or so. By planning ahead, you can make the holiday your re-feed day. Oh, and you have to work out this day too J.
- Have a whey protein shake about 45 minutes before the meal. Consuming a protein shake of about 25 g for females and 40 g for males before a meal will help with satiety. It will literally make you feel full. If you are full, you will eat less (about 99% of the time, anyway). You can thank the hormone “ghrelin” for this.
- Eat veggies and protein first, and eat plenty of them. Eating your veggies will also help make you feel full because of all the fiber and slow digesting carbs. As I said in 3), protein will also help with this, but now you are eating whole-food protein which will help even more. Additionally, drink more water to help boost the satiety even more.
- Have a little bit of everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. We want to try all the good stuff that’s on the table. So instead of having plate after plate after plate, with each trip consisting of you loading full helpings of each food, make the portion smaller and enjoy it all.
- Be happy and ENJOY the feast. I have plenty of clients who feel terrible after the holidays because of all the food and alcohol they have consumed. A lot of them act like it’s the only day out of the year that they’ve done such a thing…Without going on any further, enjoy the football, enjoy the family and friends, and enjoy the food. In other words: Enjoy the FF&FandF.
Alright. There you have it. It’s a holiday survival guide. Use these tips to help get you through the holiday feasts and to help the pursuit in accomplishing your goals!
The weather outside is…getting colder. I feel that Fall doesn’t truly hit home with me until after Daylight Saving Time ends and it just so happens that Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, Nov. 2nd. That means we are getting ready for the holiday/winter grind, and that means more time spent with family and friends and more time spent with alcohol.
A lot of people are more active in the summer (especially in the northern part of the great U.S. of A.), however they fall trap to the over-indulged phenomenon I refer to as the “BBB’s of Summer”: Beer, Burgers, and Barbecue. Parties, weddings, baseball games, camping, you name it. It’s all part of the summer months. Gym membership might grow once our daily light is shortened, but that doesn’t mean they will be safe for the Winter.
Yes, I HAD to put this in here. It’s one of the BEST shows on television and I can’t get enough of Dean Somerset's posts with something from GOT in it. And if you don’t know what GOT is, well, then shame, shame, shame on you.
While holidays can bring one many laughs and good times, it also brings alcohol. It all starts with Halloween. I’ve already heard of several drinking games that people handing out candy will be playing come Trick-or-Treating. One game is to take a shot/drink every time you see a child dressed in an Elsa costume from the movie Frozen. Woofta, I have a feeling that could get out of control pretty quickly. A big part of Halloween for young adults is going out on the town and trying to win some prizes like a free ¼ barrel party and gift cards to other bars/restaurants. All alcohol-related. For years I’ve heard several friends talking about Halloween in Madison and how it’s the best thing ever. I’m sure it’s fine and dandy, but it’s not my thing, and no I have never partaken, but I have had my fair share of nights out for Halloween right here in La Crosse!
Like when I went as Dexter and ran into my friends Mark (another Dexter) and fiancée Samantha:
Or a 80’s hair band drummer:
So why am I ranting about alcohol? Well, we pretty much know all of the negative effects alcohol has on you, like how it hampers muscle building, metabolism, mental processes, dehydration, testosterone, performance, energy levels, digestion….ok I’ll stop. Oh and read this article too in case you need any other info.
I want to go into a couple more effects of alcohol though. I want to talk about the decisions involved while consuming alcohol, more specifically food choices (I’ll leave the one-night-stand comments out of this article). There’s also the calorie and “liquid” intake of alcohol.
It’s not just bad to drink past your limit of 2 drinks a day on a regular basis, but this decision is usually followed by an even worse decision involving food. Your conscious abilities aren’t as strong during alcohol consumption and the more your drink the worse they become. Heavy drinking is often followed by poor food consumption. All of a sudden that McDonald’s, pizza, cookies, and ice cream sound that much better. Psh, screw that! I don’t even need alcohol and that stuff sounds good! Well, except for McDonald’s. Unfortunately we all have victim to this and it happens all too often. I’ve been there plenty of times myself.
Sorry, I thought a picture of vegetables would be better than a picture of cookies and help take that craving away. Truth is, we don’t crave veggies after consuming alcohol. Try leaving a veggie tray out during a holiday party. It just doesn’t get eaten. I made my cousin Stacy bring a veggie tray last year to not only Thanksgiving, but Christmas as well. She probably still hates me for it J. We (I) enjoyed them, but once we were full, the veggies weren’t getting attacked anymore, but the pie and cookies sure were. The way alcohol is metabolized in our bodies causes a lot of our craving issues to go along with all those other “attributes”. Read this other OUTSTANDING article on alcohol to learn more about how alcohol is metabolized as well as some other info on muscle building properties related to alcohol.
So once we drink enough alcohol to lower our decision-making skills, we tend to start saying and doing things we normally wouldn’t do when we are sober. We act differently, talk differently, and eat differently when we drink too much. Now let’s top this off by adding in hundreds, if not thousands of extra calories on top of the hundreds, if not thousands of calories we already consumed through alcohol by eating pizza, cookies, and other sweets.
Worst. Combination. Ever.
You just created a diabolic fat storing machine. Nice work. Not to mention that you’re more than likely going to be a complete pile the following day or two. Let me know how that workout on Monday goes for ya.
Let me clarify once again by saying, I know how it is, because I’ve been there just as much as I’ve witnessed it first-hand. It isn’t hard to tell (or smell) when someone went out a little too hard the night before.
So, when alcohol is around, is it a treat? Or trick?
There’s no doubt that alcohol can be considered a treat. We should all try to look at it that way a little more often, rather than look at it as a solution for some other things. Treating yourself to a quality beer or cocktail every so often is not a bad thing. In fact, used in moderation, this could go a long way within your lifestyle and keep the big picture under wrap.
A big idea is to look at what alcohol is associated with. No I’m not talking about bars. Of course you’re going to have a drink if you go to a bar. Wait, did I just associate alcohol to a bar? I sure did. Who says I can’t have a glass of water or coffee at a bar?
But let’s take a look at some other associations. Think of the Green Bay Packers. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Aaron Rodgers? Cheese? Football?
I think he just scored another touchdown against the Bears. Rodgers, and the Packers, are the King of the North, after all.
What do we associate with watching the Packers? Or by going to a game? Alcohol. It’s like the same way we associate crackers in my chili or chicken noodle soup. Or how we associate burgers have to come with fries. Sour cream with baked potatoes. Or how half of the population associates ranch dressing with anything. And these are just food associations! We’re just getting started!
You have to recognize these associations at some point. They make it easier to register what is going which in turn makes it easier to make a change.
All this association talk has brought me to the point that alcohol, usually consumed in copious amounts, is associated with holidays. Not just our fall and winter holidays, but every stinkin’ holiday. I would be a hypocrite if I told you I didn’t indulge, but I also look at it in moderation and I prepare myself mentally and physically for the day, or should I say holiday.
We need to be careful of this association as it has a drastically negative effect towards our goals. This association is usually paired with food, some good, but most bad. There’s your alcohol and candy for Halloween, then we have the Thanksgiving turkey and all the cranberry sauce, pies, and deserts one could fill their stomachs on while watching the NFL, and of course our scrumdiddlyumptious Christmas meals that again are paired with alcohol. Oh, and New Year’s Eve.
If you missed that article earlier in this post, let’s just take a quick peak an how many calories are in a beer:
1-12 oz light beer = ~ 110 calories.
That means 6 beers = ~ 660 calories (that’s a good meal right there).
6 beers also = 72 oz of fluid. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO GET SOME PEOPLE TO CONSUME 72 OZ OF WATER IN A DAY?!?!? But then they have no problem doing it with a beer or drinks.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Let’s look at a weekly example:
2-12 oz light beer = ~220 calories.
Now let’s say you do this 4 nights/week (Mon-Thurs.) and you limit yourself to 2 drinks because that’s the recommended max intake of alcohol.
Well 4 x 220 = 880 calories, plus you’re still left with the weekend consumption of food/drinks. You just added 880 calories to your weekly total. This is why alcohol is so detrimental to fat loss results. Soda and juices have similar effects.
Anywho, adding food to the mix can just make the alcohol seem like it has a less of an effect, which in turn will make you eat more and probably drink more during certain situations.
So let’s go back to the question: Is alcohol a treat, or a trick?
The answer is that it should be both and it should be treated as both. There are times when you get away with a night out and have no worries, but here are more times when you should truly realize what you’re doing to your body. I absolutely take part in both accounts. If your fitness and health goals are that important to you, then this paradigm should be at the forefront of your decision-making.
Better decisions = better results. Let’s not forget what we’re still trying to accomplish here!
As part of a coaching series of posts, the next few posts will be on “How to get through the holidays down 10 pounds of fat” and “Eating for Fat Loss on Thanksgiving and Christmas”. Keep an eye out!
Happy Sunday morning! Gonna be a great Sunday and it's already started with some football. The Lions and Falcons are playing RIGHT NOW because they are over in England. It is literally a full day of football.
With it being a full day of football, there will be a lot of people that are sitting on their butts all day aka in full hip, knee, and most likely ankle flexion. Some also decide to lie down and watch football, which puts you in a nearly fully extended position. Sometimes your knees are bent a little or your back sags a little in the cushions.
Regardless of your chosen position, your back could take a brutal blow.
In order to prevent your back from becoming sore from inactivity, you need to make sure you are standing up at least once every hour. It doesn't matter if you are standing or lying, you need to stand up. Standing up (all the way) helps correct and position your spine.
You can't reset your spine once you are already sitting/lying down because you have already set your spine in a compromised position. We’ll compare it to trying to shift your body during a heavy bench press AFTER the bar is already un-racked (I know, it’s a bit of a stretch). Yeah, you might be able to get away with a change of position, but you’re already compromised. Just re-rack the bar (stand up), and then re-assume the position. Shifting your legs around, moving your butt a little bit, crossing your legs, bending your knees, etc. may feel like a relieving position, but the fact you ARE SHIFTING means that your body is trying to change position.
JUST STAND UP!
Stand up and maybe even get a little stretch in. Have you ever felt that awesome feeling from standing up after sitting for a long period of time? Exactly. Also make sure you make it a complete "standing up". Don't just it a 2 second thing. Enjoy it. Do it a little dance or something. Or maybe you work a little bit on a mobility exercise. The crucifix stretch, or any of these stretches from Bret Contreras for that matter, would be an excellent choice in this case. Going through a quick braced position, which is from Dr. Kelly Starrett’s Becoming A Supple Leopard , is another outstanding choice.
Either way, don’t sit or lie down too long. It’s not that hard to just stand up. Your body will thank you for it later, I guarantee that. The same goes for people that sit all day at work. On the other hand, someone who is on their feet most of the day should actually sit down for a brief period of time every hour or so. For more on people who stand all day, check out Eric Cressey’s article.
Now you have plenty to do today during all the games. You’ll see this article included with all the links to the other great articles and your halftime shows will be filled with knowledge. Enjoy the games, enjoy your Sunday. For those of you in the Midwest, try to make it outside to enjoy some of this awesome weather while it’s still here!
In part 1 of this two-part post, I went over everything you need to know about goals. I went over why you need goals, how to establish them, what to do with them, and how to achieve them. In this installment of my Goals and Just Plain and Simply How to Get Shit Done series, I will go over how to get all the other stuff outside of your goals DONE. I’ve seen plenty of trainers that I look up to write similar articles on getting stuff done and time management, but I wanted to offer my tips on the subject in hopes to help my readers in their daily lives.
Time management can be interpreted in a couple different ways. The first is what you do with your time. The second is how effective you are at accomplishing tasks in a certain amount of time. In a sense, I always think of this similar to an “efficiency rating” you sometimes see in sports. The higher the rating, the more efficient you are at a task or tasks. An example of this would be the often looked-over Sunday Ritual. I can cook a couple pounds of hamburger, several chicken breasts, portion fruit and veggies, and cook/prepare other food items to help me get ready for my week. I have become very effective at this, plus I get to watch all the football I want while I do this. Sometimes I’ll even turn on my Audible App on my phone or iPad so I can listen to a book I’m currently reading. That’s using some time wisely.
I guess both of those views of time management can seem like the same thing, but I view them as two separate components because I could have poor time management skills and still get a lot done in a day. I could train 8 clients in a day and then come home, prepare a meal, watch some football, and play video games for 2 hours while leaving myself with only 5 hours of sleep, for instance. I did not use my time effectively because I didn’t get the next day’s workouts done AND I left myself with 5 hours of sleep. Instead, I could have listened to the football game while writing workouts for my clients and even got an hour of video games in if I really wanted (OR I could substitute that hour of video games with 30 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of writing that I try to do every day).
If you struggle to prioritize certain tasks/components in your life, you need to make a priority-effectiveness list (a little trick I learned while spending a day with the great Alwyn Cosgrove). You need to make a list of things that you want to do that day and combine the things you need to do that day. Now rank them from highest to lowest with the higher the ranking being more of a benefit for you. Whether it’s for your well-being, job, family, or whatever – you need to make a priority list. Essentially this turns into a daily goal list. Now start accomplishing those tasks, starting from the top. This is where “30 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of writing” makes its way on my list and it is ALWAYS above “Maximum 60 minutes of video games”. This is how I can get those books read and blog posts wrote that I feel make me a better trainer, and a better person for that matter, on a 15 hour work day.
Another trick I always tell myself is, “Hey, the video game isn’t going anywhere,” or, “The movie/show will still be available to watch tomorrow.” Here’s the side story: I started viewing things like this when I was going through a tough dilemma in college when I was attending grad school as an “Independent Major” in the Fall of 2011. I was trying to build my résumé by adding in graduate-level classes in hopes to apply to physical therapy school later that semester. I also was studying for my personal trainer certification. Unfortunately, the classes really got to me and I had a horrific start to the semester. I was put into panic mode. If I decided to leave school before a certain deadline, I only had to pay a small portion of my tuition. For those that don’t know, if you are classified as an “Independent Major” you do not qualify for financial aid; therefore, all of my classes were paid for out-of-pocket. Anyway, when I was deciding whether to leave or not, I had a conversation with my bio-chem professor about the situation and he asked, “How old are you?” I replied, “23.” He said, “You’re young, you have a lot to look forward to. School may not be your answer right now, but these classes and PT school aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be there for you when you’re ready.” Boom. I still remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
I ended up finishing the semester and kicking my class’ asses. I also got my personal trainer certification. Even more, I stumbled upon an opening for a personal trainer position at Snap Fitness that I conveniently started in January 2012 and I am still there today. Things worked out pretty well and I still use that philosophy gained from my professor for getting stuff done.
Ok, ok, back to the post!
Another awesome tip is to get up early EVERY day. Yes, even the weekends. The whole reason I decided to write this two-part post is because I woke up at 6 am a couple Sundays ago. You will literally be getting shit done before most people are even out of bed. Getting up early is absolutely critical to getting shit done. Ab. So. Lutely. Critical.
How many times did get reach the end of your day saying, “Ugh, I wish I had more time.” Well, you can give yourself more time if you get up early. For those of you that already get up early, maybe this tip isn’t so much for you, but then again, maybe it is. I get up early often, usually before 5 am and there are PLENTY of days when I thought I could have used more time. Bottom line, get up a little earlier than usual.
Another great tip is to make a daily goal list. I touched base on this earlier when I mentioned creating a priority-effectiveness list. While your p-e list doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as your goal list, it can definitely blend together. I make a goal list each morning in the Notes App on my iPhone. Sometimes I’ll even create the goal list the night before so I know what my day ahead entails. I’ll put things down like get a workout in, write workouts, respond to certain emails, pay bills, call clients, etc. It’s nice to see yourself accomplishing your daily goals, even better when you get to erase them from the list and your goal list gets smaller and smaller. You don’t have to stop at daily goals, either. You can make weekly goals, monthly goals, quarterly goals, annual goals, and lifetime goals.
I’m amazed at how often people do NOT look ahead. I’ve trained with plenty of people aging from 16 years old to 82 years old, and believe me when I say adults tend to not look ahead just as much as our high-schoolers don’t. This trick alone could play an enormous role in your life. I am always looking ahead (it helps to that I have my schedule in the Calendar App in my phone). To me, I know if I’m going to be around the upcoming weekend. If I am, I know I can probably get a workout in, but if I’m not, I have to plan on getting my workouts in during the week. Speaking of which, I always know the day before when I am going to work out the next day. Always. You can put yourself into a similar situation if you simply look ahead into your schedule. You can also plan around other things by looking ahead. Trust me, this one works.
Being proactive is another huge asset to add to your lifestyle (character). It will not only make you successful, but you will also get a lot done! Successful people are usually go-getters-they are doers. There’s a reason why they are so successful. I don’t want to talk a lot on being proactive because the context of this topic could be a whole post on its own. Personally, I feel like we can all become more and more proactive every day. It should be a habit. If you want to learn more on how to be proactive, read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey.
Finally, I wanted to touch base on being organized. Organization will help you get stuff done time and time again. I’m not saying you have to nice and tidy at every moment, but the more organized you are, the more efficient you become. I see fellow trainers who are organized and I can tell you how much more effective their sessions are by means of the workout, preparation, and client-appreciation. Of course, I see the other side of the spectrum as well. Disorganized trainers are usually preparing workouts minutes before the session, forgetting things (A LOT), missing items, and dishing out poor sessions. Being organized as a trainer has helped me accomplish trainer goals, but also daily goals. You being organized will help get your day done right too!
Woofta. I know this post was long as hell, so let me summarize how to get shit done:
- Time Management
- Priority-effectiveness list
- Remember the “It will be there later” philosophy
- Wake up early EVERY day
- Make a goal list
- Daily, Weekly, Monthly, etc.
- Look ahead (plan ahead)
- Be proactive
- Make sure you are organized
I’m not perfect and my tips for helping you get shit done aren’t perfect either. There are plenty of more tips out there, but these are the ones that help me the most and I hope they help you out as well. Thanks for reading this beast of a post. Now go get stuff done!
In Part 1 of this article I touched on metabolic flexibility to be something more like our ability to stay ahead of our body’s ever-persistent battle with homeostasis. While part of that statement is true, metabolic flexibility actually focuses on our body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle at certain times. In other words, our body is flexible in the sense that it can burn fat when we’re away from the gym carrying on with our daily lives as we rest/recover from our workouts, while our body builds muscle when we are at the gym.
Metabolic flexibility is one of those new key terms that is making its way around the fitness community. More than just a term, metabolic flexibility is a concept based on science (so you KNOW it’s good!). A trainer that I really look up to and will have the pleasure to call my mentor is Alwyn Cosgrove. In his book series (New Rules of Lifting (NROL)) he mentions metabolic flexibility as your body’s ability to burn fat during and after the workout as it recovers. In NROL for Life he writes, “The easier your body can switch from burning fat to carbs and back again, the more metabolically flexible you are, and the easier it will be for you to train hard and to enjoy the results of training.”
Metabolic flexibility is our body’s ability to switch from fat and carbs as a fuel source.
As I stated earlier, you want our body to burn fat during your workouts, but more importantly, you should want your body to burn fat AFTER our workouts. Revving up your metabolism will help the body do just that and you can only rev up your metabolism by WORKOUT OUT! And sometimes you have to work out at a high intensity to accomplish such goals. As you increase your intensity during the workouts, your body will shift from fat to carbs as the primary fuel source. This is the opportune time to build some muscle. As your body adapts to your workouts, they need to become more challenging and, dare I say it, more INTENSE.
Here’s what a graph would look like for exercise intensity and fuel source:
As you increase you exercise intensity (based on % of VO2 max) you fuel sources should shift from fats to carbs. The red line represents fat contribution to total energy. You can see that as exercise intensity becomes more intense, fat contribution decreases. Around 60% of max intensity, the body shifts to carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel. This shift is represented by the intersection on the graph. Don’t be scared of intensity though. You adapt right along with your body. This means that something that might have been really intense for you at one point won’t be as intense for you if stay consistent with your program. Consistency is key, just like adaptation.
For the sake of this post, I don’t want to write about diseases (like type 2 diabetes) that play a role in how the body uses fuel, but I do want to talk about a hormone that is well known in the diabetic world: insulin. Insulin is the trigger to what your body uses as fuel. During insulin release (high insulin levels in the body), the body shifts towards a carbohydrate metabolism. This is what you want during exercise so you can increase performance. Therefore, when insulin is low in the body, the body will shift towards the fat-burning mode we all desire. Food is the result of insulin release, so insulin levels are higher after you consume food. Remember that some foods, like ones with a high glycemic-index, result in a larger insulin release. This means that you would ultimately like to consume foods with a low glycemic for all your meals that are not around your workouts. Conversely, you would want to consume foods with a higher glycemic index around your workouts, specifically after.
To see the glycemic index of foods, click here.
Metabolic flexibility doesn’t have to be complicated. Mike T. Nelson loved the concept so much that he made it the focus of his dissertation for his PhD. Then he did something even cooler and summed it up in an easy to read book called (wait for it) Metabolic Flexibility. It’s short and also comes with a membership to Eat to Perform. You get access to unlimited webinars, their private Science Lab Forum where you can ask all the questions you want, recipe books, and a bunch of other goodies. If you are more interested on this subject, it’s definitely worth your time reading.
To wrap things up, it’s important to remember how you can achieve metabolic flexibility. You have to mean business when you head to the gym by revving up your metabolism and building muscle, all while burning fat. Eating whole foods also plays an important role as you can keep insulin secretion lower than what it would be if you were to eat processed foods. Foods with a low glycemic index should be a staple in your diet, especially in meals that are NOT around your workouts. High glycemic foods should be consumed around your workouts so you can increase your performance and build muscle, especially after your workouts. If you follow these steps your metabolism will become flexible and you will achieve your goals-just give it some time (about 90 days). It may seem like a long time, yet it is worth it in the end! Make sure to establish your goals to help keep you focused on the prize. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your body!!
Alright, alright, I know. You can give me all the hell you want for starting another blog post that consists of multiple parts before I finished the second part of my “Metabolic Flexibility” post. Sorry!! Just be glad I’m writing blogs this consistently, will ya?...
Last Sunday morning I set my alarm for 6 am. Yes, you read that correctly, I said 6 am on a Sunday. I had to get up at 6 am to administer medication to my puppy’s eyes. The medication requires application every 8 hours and since he was on a routine that followed my weekly schedule I had to get up at 6 am on a Sunday just to do that. Believe me when I say setting my alarm for 6 am on a Sunday while it is still Saturday night was not the best feeling in the world-it’s hard enough to set an alarm that early (or earlier) during the week! Well, upon waking up I realized I wasn’t tired so I knew I would struggle falling back asleep. So instead of turning my being awake into a negative thing, I decided to think positively and make the most out of my morning. It is the second week of Football Sunday, after all.
So what did I get done? Actually, just about everything I needed to. Before I knew it my dreaded list I had made in my head from the night before was done and it was all before noon so I could watch the kickoffs to the first round of NFL games.
What was on my list (after I gave Maximus his meds and brewed a cup of coffee)?
To take from an exact quote off of my Facebook account:
3 loads of laundry, a trip to two grocery stores, a take-out order from Hackberry's for breakfast, apartment cleaning, training work, fantasy football line-up changes (you better believe that might be the most important one), and fixing a computer problem that almost had me s****ing a brick later, I feel pretty damn accomplished.
Without boring you any longer on MY Sunday, I’ll get to the point of the article: Goals, and just plain and simply how to get shit done.
While it might seem a bit off-pudding for me to write about goals, I would argue that a statement like that couldn’t be further from the truth. See goals are critically important to ANYTHING you want to accomplish. ANYTHING! It’s been noted that the difference between and good coach/trainer and a great coach/trainer is goal assessment. We need goals to be successful. We need goals to get results. Without goals you’re just working towards no end.
So take a second and ask yourself, “What are your goals?”
What do goals consist of?
Well, first you have to write your goals down. Seriously, write them down somewhere (this obviously comes after the establishment of your goals) and continue to review those goals. Goals often represent dreams so don’t you think that looking at a list of your dreams each day will boost your motivation? Absolutely.
You also have to keep in mind that your goals have to be specific, realistic, measureable, and have a deadline. Goals need to be specific to allow them to be more than a vague notion. Having a goal of, “I want to lose weight” is not that specific, while “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat” is. Realistic goals create a sense of attainability and understanding. For example, saying that I would like to lose 10 pounds of fat by tomorrow is absurd, but saying that you would like to lose 10 pounds of fat in 10 weeks is not. Keep in mind this is just an example. It would not be realistic for a 110 pound person to lose 10 pounds of fat. Goals need to measureable so you can measure your progress. They also need to be measurable so you have the ability to test and retest results (data) acquired from working towards your goals. Measurements would include data such as body analysis measurements/readings, a performance test like a bench press, or something else based on your goals. Finally, goals need to have a deadline. In other words, goals need to be time sensitive. If you don’t create a deadline, goals will never become real. Our example works fairly well here (10 pounds of fat in 10 weeks) assuming this person is at a weight where he/she can afford to lose this weight safely.
There are some things that most people don’t understand, however. One important factor is that you need to tie in some deep, emotional significance to these goals. This will increase adherence and help goals take shape. This step is extremely important. To dig deep, ask yourself, “Why?” I do it for my clients. Sometimes they don’t understand why I asked why, but it makes them think and dig deep. It gives goals a true meaning.
Another misunderstood concept of setting goals is that there are actually two types of goals: outcome goals and behavior goals. Outcome goals are the main objectives or outcomes. They are exactly what you want. You cannot directly control the accomplishment of these goals. Again, for our example, an outcome goal would be I want to lose 10 pounds of fat in 10 weeks. Behavior goals are the steps that you accomplish in order to succeed at your outcome goal. You have direct control over behavior goals. So if your outcome goal was losing 10 pounds of fat in 10 weeks, a behavioral goal would be “I am going to work out 5x/week for the next 10 weeks” or, “I am not going to go out on Friday and Saturday nights for the next 10 weeks.”
I just dropped a ton of knowledge on you and I owe it all to my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach certification.
Before you read any further, if you need help on establishing goals or setting up goals please message me right away!
Now stay tuned for the second part of this article aka the “Just getting shit done part.”
More often than not, people are searching for fat loss. That is their goal. Sometimes the word “fat” can be a little harsh to some. Thomas Cox, the founder of MealFit, says, “The worst thing we’ve done as a society is label someone as a macronutrient. We literally call people fat.” Fat is a harsh term because of what we have made it to be. Now people prefer the term “weight” as in a goal of weight loss. Weight can be a number of things. Fat is fat. So we need to distinguish our goals as fat loss OR muscle building OR performance/event-based goals…I don’t want to veer too far off topic, so let me bring it back to a simple question: how do we lose fat?
It’s really a simple equation: calories in have to be less than calories out. Right? This will cause a negative energy balance in our body, which will result in fat loss. Now there are other components to this equation like getting on a whole-foods based nourishment plan and adding exercise to your daily routine. Exercise should come in the form of strength AND cardiovascular training. Not one or the other. Both. Both at least for some of the program…so what happens when our body “catches up” to what we’re trying to do?
Kelly Starrett says that we have access to the best piece of software in the world. Our brain. And we have access to the best hardware in the world as well. Our body. This means that our body is always working and the brain is always computing. A biological mechanism that can transform into something fascinating like a professional athlete or something much more devastating like developing poor muscle and movement patterns from sitting too much (students and desk workers).
So let’s say you take a stand and you won’t let genetics or your poor eating habits get in your way. You start eating better by consuming more fruits and veggies and eating more whole foods in general. Heck, you also joined a gym and started exercising by doing some cardio training and getting some rounds in on the machines that are at the gym. And after 2 months you decided to step back on the scale and weight yourself again. Down 5 pounds.
DOWN 5 POUNDS!!!
5 pounds is 5 pounds.
In my mind I’m screaming, “That’s a huge bass!!! I would love to catch another 5-pounder one of these days!!!”
But what the hell? You did everything right. You ate better, you started exercising…Yeah, you might have gained muscle and your clothes fit a little better…But you expected more…So you work harder and lose another 10 pounds after 3 months. Hell yeah!!! But you want more! So we work harder and you weight yourself 2 months after that to see 0 pounds lost.
Wait, what? What’s going on? You ate less. You worked harder. You stopped going out on Friday and Saturday. You even said no to cake at you best friend’s wedding. Remember what I said earlier about our bodies being a biological mechanism. I should have said a well-designed biological machine. That’s what I meant to say, anyways.
Our body is always at work and it is always trying to find BALANCE in our daily lives. In fact, it works so hard and so efficiently that it even has a name: homeostasis.
A simple and relevant example of homeostasis would be if you sit too much, your body will adapt to your sedentary lifestyle. The same goes on the other end of the spectrum, so if you start eating better and exercising more, your body will adapt (fat loss). Your body will do what it is supposed to. Your body will do what it has been doing all along. Your body will do what it does best: adapt.
Adaptation is a crucial part of any fitness journey. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. My good friend and fellow trainer recently got a tattoo saying “Complacency Kills”. Definitely agree with that. I’ve always gone by the phrase “Never settle”. In a sense, it’s pretty much the same thing. Our body also becomes complacent and it becomes complacent because it has ADAPTED to our lifestyle. It has adapted to the positive or negative lifestyles that we currently live. Our body will ALWAYS try to be one step ahead. ALWAYS. And more often than not, it usually does a pretty damn good job of it.
The key is to find out how your body has adapted and then make the appropriate change(s) to get your engine (in this case, metabolism) revving again. Sometimes the variable is nutrition (actually, it’s almost always nutrition), sometimes it’s your exercise routine, sometimes it’s external factors (stress, work, school, etc.), and sometimes it’s internal factors (blood work, etc.), and sometimes it’s a combination of factors.
We want our bodies to be flexible, in particular, we want our metabolism to be flexible. In order to have flexibility in our metabolism we need to stay ahead of our body. We need to use our software to program our hardware. Fitness professionals call this metabolic flexibility. So what is it?
Find out in Part 2 of this article!
Meat sweats. What are the “meat sweats”? Well, in college, my buddy Vons was the first person I heard who used the term. I chuckled, and then asked, “What the hell are the meat sweats?”
Turns out that meat sweats are a true thing. Although my friend referred to it as “When you start sweating because you’re eating so much meat,” there is also a scientific terminology of this tasty event. It is called the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF) and it is literally the increase in energy required from your body to breakdown the food. Even though this amount of energy is rather small compared to what we use when exercising it is no joke that your body works harder to break down certain foods, specifically protein aka MEAT.
The equation: Eating + protein = + TEF = + energy (metabolism) = +heat (aka meat sweats). If there is an increase in energy then there is an increase in heat. There’s some thermodynamics for you right there. Thanks U-WL, I knew I’d put that Physics degree to good use some day ;).
Now back to TEF.
Each macronutrient (carbs, fats, and proteins) has a different TEF. Proteins have the highest thermic response while fats have the lowest. What does this mean? That your body works harder to break down protein compared to the other macronutrients. For every 100 calories (25 g) of protein ingested your body burns off 25 calories (approx. 6 g) says Precision Nutrition. The text also states that in the grand scheme of things, the TEF accounts for about 10% of your daily energy expenditure.
So do you think eating more protein will help you achieve your fat loss goals? Yes, but to an extent. We burn way more calories by EXERCISING and BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE so eating more protein shouldn’t be the only step you take. However, it’s no wonder why so many trainers and health professionals alike prescribe a high protein diet for their clients! We’ve just discussed the TEF and I haven’t even touched based on the other great effects from consuming protein (BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE and FEELING FULL just to name a few).
“So eating more protein will help me burn more calories and it helps me build more lean muscle while keeping me full?”
You got it. That’s protein in a nutshell.
Now before you go and spend $55.00 at GNC on your favorite whey protein, remember this: protein supplements are just that. SUPPLEMENTS. They are used to help supplement your protein count in your diet. These powders also have a lower TEF which means you don’t quite get the same internal effect as you do when eating whole food protein (no surprise there). Whey protein is the most common type of protein supplement and it is specifically used before, during, and after workouts because it is more EASILY DIGESTED by the body. Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest whey.
You can have a small protein shake in the morning to help get your metabolism started and maybe another small one before bed (the bed one is dependent on your goals). If you choose to use your whey protein for a meal, then you need to combine other whole foods to create a well-balanced meal and also to help slow the digestion process. Combining whole food macronutrients creates a different TEF; therefore, adding in peanut butter, berries, spinach, almond milk, and flax seed can stunt the TEF and help keep you full. Simply adding Greek yogurt, berries, and walnuts will do the trick as well.
As you can see, adding more protein to your diet has several benefits. I’ve written about the benefits of eating more protein before and yet it can’t be said enough. EAT MORE PROTEIN. BURN MORE. MEAT SWEATS, AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!
The NBA Finals are in full force this year. In light of Game 1’s review, the world got to see its best basketball player unable to move during the deciding 4th quarter. We later realized that LeBron James was suffering from leg cramps. James has been plagued by cramps his whole career and you could see they were coming out to play during the third quarter of Game 1. James was CRUSHED after the game by all of the haters. As I sat and read all the Facebook posts, all the Tweets, and listened to all the podcasts I wondered if all of these haters even knew what a muscle cramp was. I’d also be willing to bet that a majority of these same people have never had a muscle cramp before, an exercise-associated muscle cramp (EAMC) in particular. For the sake of this article, I’m going to use LeBron James as the prime example. Like most of my friends know, I am a huge LeBron fan. There’s your full disclosure, but don’t worry, I won’t let my being biased affect this article too much ;).
So what is a muscle cramp? A muscle cramp is the spontaneous, uncontrollable, and painful contraction of muscles. These are often catalyzed by certain situations. Although the true physiology behind a muscle cramp is still up for debate, there have been several theories as to why they occur: 1) Inherited abnormalities, 2) Dehydration, 3) Electrolyte imbalances, and 4) Extreme environmental conditions of heat or cold (Schwellnus et al. 1997). **Note that these are not all of the theories.** Now stop a moment and think about what would happen when exercise is involved. One, if not every theory could be noted as the result.
Let’s dive into some specifics.
The inherited abnormalities could involve certain metabolic traits. Without going too far in depth on this subject, as it is way more scientific than this article needs to be, I want you to consider LeBron James’ body type. Muscular. Elite. One-in-six-billion. I think I said it all. The way his body functions is different than anybody else’s in the world-all of our bodies function individually for that matter. But look at him! Do you see the striations of muscle throughout his body?! Watch as he moves around the court. Is there an ounce of fat on him? …He is a specimen... We can’t begin to imagine how his body works. His body may develop energy differently and more efficiently than anyone else. Therefore, his body will require a different nutrient intake to create optimal function to produce energy, perform, etc.
(Without starting a huge argument, let me quickly say that I’m not forgetting about the other athletes that were enduring the harsh conditions of Game 1. I realize that there were several other players who tallied more minutes than LeBron and didn’t suffer from muscle cramps. I get that, but for the sake of this article, let’s stick with the example at hand.)
Let’s combine dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and extreme environments all into one big paragraph. These theories are all similar so it will be easier to talk as a whole. Let’s put LeBron in Game 1’s setting: a Thursday night game in San Antonio at an arena with NO air conditioning. That should get the brain waves a-hummin’. It was 90o F on the court (there’s your extreme environmental condition of heat). Now add the fact that he was playing an NBA Finals game no less. The activity was high, his energy expenditure was high, and so was the temperature. James was likely sweating more than usual during this game which meant that he was losing water and electrolytes. Water is needed in the body for daily functions, obviously. Electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, and chloride, are also needed in the body to promote functionality. Again, for this article’s sake, I don’t want to bore you with a ton of writing, so click on this link to see how the sodium-potassium ion channel works: NA-K pump.
Now that you’ve watched that video, I can say that sodium and potassium are present in the cells to help create actions potentials. These action potentials help send and deliver nerve signals. Action potentials also serve as the first step in muscle contractions in muscle cells. Muscle cells also use chloride to help restore balance. The signals require some energy to make which comes in the form of ATP. ATP needs certain resources (nutrients) to also be available, specifically glycogen. Thus, if one is short of glycogen in the body, one is short of ATP, which could interfere with action potentials for different systems throughout the body.
Recall James’ body’s “recommendations” to expend energy. As the world was watching LeBron start to grimace on the court one could tell that there was something off internally. This is not the case where a simple static stretch takes care of business. LeBron’s body needed to be fed. So what does he need to be fed? Enter Gatorade (or in LeBron’s case, Powerade) to the rescue. These sports drink supplements are specifically formulated to replenish the body with lost electrolytes, sugar (for energy), and other nutrients. I’m sure LeBron was slamming Powerade as the game continued, but I didn’t see much. I saw an ice pack on his neck to help cool him down. The ice pack placed on his neck will help his nervous system cool down as it was most likely on the fritz; however, the ice pack does not solve of an electrolyte or energy imbalance. It just helps his body cool down.
My mind was already racing with the possibilities as to what was wrong with James. I noticed a lot of other professional doctors and therapists also came to their conclusions via posts and tweets. A lot, not all, of these posts were outrageous. Some were not. My friend Daniel Back, who is strength and conditioning coach, tweeted:
LeBron needs glycogen. Should be drinking Gatorade. Simple solution guys. Know your physiology.
I definitely agreed with Back on this tweet. LeBron’s muscles were tired and water wasn’t enough. They needed glycogen aka sugar after it’s converted by the body. A study conducted in 2005 compared the influence of water and a sugary electrolyte supplement on incidence and time of EAMC (Jung et al. 2005). The experiment found that even though individuals experienced cramps while taking the carbohydrate-electrolyte supplement, their duration of activity more than doubled when compared to when the cramps occurred while consuming just water. So I guess we could say that muscle cramps are inevitable in some cases.
There are also plenty of other theories like a depletion of sodium and potassium after severe sweating. James’ nervous system was also under a heavy workload so certain receptors/signals to and from the muscles and brain were not functioning optimally. Another study has shown abnormal reflex activity of the muscle spindle (increased activity) and the Golgi tendon organ (decreased activity) were found in fatigued muscles ((Schwellnus et al. 1997). I’m not going to go into all the science on that one…
You can see that there could be numerous possibilities as to how one can develop muscle cramps. If you’ve never had them, trust me, you never want them. They are truly debilitating. Body type, metabolism, activity, environment, and nutrition can all be factors as to why muscle cramps occur. Studies are still being done to this day, although there may never be a crystal clear answer because of individualization. You need to do what works best for you. In LeBron’s case, normal routine and yoga are his remedies. Oh, and multiple bags of saline being pumped into his system the night after the game. The best advice I could give you is to be prepared as much as possible, especially if you are one who suffers from muscle cramps.
Enjoy the rest of the Finals!