Last week I discussed in brief detail on where we are going wrong, but that still doesn’t answer where we went wrong.
As you know, there is a TON of information out there. If you’re looking for answers, you can simply type something into Google and watch the auto-fill and links all start to pop up. A lot of those links will have different similar, but different information.
The entire fitness industry has been tainted because of this. Fitness professionals not only get a bad rep because one can attain a certification over a weekend course (or an online course) and then be considered a “fitness professional” to most, but the clever marketing schemes, incorrect information through false claims/theories, and poor overall awareness.
Last week I covered how we are going wrong with a majority of the focus on carbohydrates. This post will cover how we are going wrong and how protein can help assist with the problem.
During that same lecture I gave to the class of students that didn’t answer fruit and vegetables as a source of carbohydrates, they also stated that peanut is a type of protein. While peanuts have protein, peanuts are actually considered fats.
Here’s a list of protein:
- Red meat
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Beans, peas, tofu, legumes, etc. (some of these are also carbohydrate-dense)
- Protein supplements such as whey, casein, pea, hemp, rice, soy, etc.
Those are your proteins.
Now let’s see where we went wrong.
You don’t see these other foods in there that the market is trying to push our way. I see now they have Fiber One “Protein” Bars. Those “Protein” bars have 6 g of protein in them. That’s hardly enough to be considered a protein bar when they’re also packing 17 g of carbs (7 g of sugar) and 7 g of fat. So these “protein” bars actually contain higher counts of the other macronutrients than it actually does in protein alone.
Well done, General Mills, well done.
Special K bars fall in this same category.
If you want a GREAT protein bar, go for Quest Bar. Hands down the best protein bar on the market, plus it’s actually loaded with fiber (about 17 g depending on the bar) rather than the 5 g that are available in the Fiber One bars.
We went wrong because we think these bars that say they are “protein” bars are actually a great source of protein. We went wrong because a lot of feel peanuts are considered protein when they’re actually a fat.
We went wrong because we think eating a lot of protein will cause us to have problems such as cardiovascular disease(s), obesity, high cholesterol, etc.
What if I told you to eat between .75 and 1 g of protein for your body weight every day?
That means if you weigh 150 lbs, you should be eating between 113 and 150 g of protein each day.
Protein not only helps build lean muscle, but it also helps burn more calories because your body has to work a little harder to digest it AND it keeps you full longer.
Every heard my analogy between the donut and a chicken breast?
Here it is:
Obviously we notice the calorie counts right away, but did you notice the composition of each food? To make things easier, let’s just look at the carbs and protein totals.
The donut has 29 g of carbs and 2 g of protein while the chicken breast has 0 g of carbs and 29 g of protein. Just through those nutrients alone, the donut would have 124 calories coming from carbs and proteins and the chicken breast would have 116 calories coming from carbs and protein. So in that sense they are both almost equal in calories.
Moving on to the next paradox, think about how you eat a donut and a chicken breast. Do you ever get full from eating a donut? Do you get full from eating a chicken breast?
I don’t know about you, but I could crush a ½ dozen donuts lickitty split and still have room for more, but a ½ dozen chicken breasts is a whole new level. Like Joey Chestnut level.
So why is it that we get so full from eating just a couple chicken breasts when we can go ahead and eat donuts like we are a bottomless pit?
Here’s a hint: food composition.
Here’s the answer: protein.
It’s a clear as day example of how protein can help keep you full. Recall we already called the benefits of how protein helps build lean muscle and burns more calories because your body has to work harder during the digestion process.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to find quality protein during our on-the-go lifestyles, yet it’s incredibly easy to find carbohydrate sources (even good, whole food sources).
The trick is to prepare your proteins ahead of time.
I call it The Sunday Ritual and it consists of going grocery shopping and then cleaning, chopping, and prepping all your food for the week INCLUDING PROTEIN.
While you’re dicing up your veggies and fruit, have some chicken breasts in the oven or on the grill and you can brown a couple pounds of ground beef/ground turkey in less than 10 minutes. Store these proteins into containers and now you’re set for the week. They can be refrigerated or frozen if you want them for later on.
You can also do a mid-week ritual and cook some more proteins on Wednesday if it fits in your schedule.
You should also have a food scale at your house to, because if you’re not measuring you’re guessing. If you have to guess, females should consume a palm-sized portion of protein in every meal and males should consume two palm-sized portions.
Protein is hard to come by when we’re going through our daily routines. It’s no surprise that makes it more expensive and difficult to find quality protein sources so it’s best you prepare as much as you can ahead of time.
We went wrong because we settled for convenience and processed foods while also thinking these cheap Fiber One bars, other bars, and peanuts are all we need for our source of protein. We need quality proteins like the ones I showed above.
We went wrong because we think protein will cause diseases because some contain saturated fat and are high in cholesterol when it’s actually all of the fake food that’s out there that causes this stuff. All of these problems didn’t start happening to our society until all these synthetic foods starting making their way into our lives.
Fats are a whole other story, and I’ll cover that next week.
As some of you may already know, this month is Nutrition Awareness Month. The name itself says that we should create more awareness towards nutrition. That could go along the lines of just saying mindful eating.
In short, you need to be aware of food. You need to start with the basics and that means you need to know food is just energy. Seriously. Food is nothing more than fuel.
How are body processes this fuel is the next step in the awareness phase. First we can establish that some food can be processed (metabolized) in the body and some food cannot.
Of the foods that can be processed, we start with whole foods and label them into macronutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Carbohydrates (carbs) is most easily converted into energy. The best sources of carbs are fruits and vegetables followed by whole grains.
Earlier this week I was asked to give a presentation at a local high school. The first thing I did was ask the class what are macronutrients as I proceeded to write “Fats, Carbs, and Proteins” across the whiteboard in three separate tables. I then asked the class to name of examples of each macronutrient, starting with carbs.
I had answers like “Bread.” “Pasta.” “Rice.” “Sugar.”
Not one student said fruits or veggies. Not one. I drilled them on how our view of foods has been tainted and it starts well before we’re 35 when we suddenly realize we’re overweight and unhealthy.
Where did we go wrong? As a society, as a nation, as humans…what the hell happened?
I feel like there are so many answers to that question that it remains rhetorical.
The kids did a lot better with the protein table, although peanuts were mentioned as a protein, they are actually a fat. I went on a tangent and explained this to the kids saying that peanuts and other nuts are actually considered fats, but peanuts contain the most protein out of the nuts per weight.
Here we are in a nation that needs a Nutrition Awareness Month to literally create awareness on nutrition. We need this month because we have gone wrong as a society and we continue down that path.
Clever marketing techniques and synthetic food stuffs have made it almost impossible to not consume some sort of processed foods. A lot of these processed foods fall into the un-metabolized category. Our body doesn’t know what to do with them besides store them or convert them to sugar which in turn stores them anyway.
Not good, right?
This is just the first step. We’ll go through the next phase in creating awareness in next week’s Newsletter. During the last couple weeks of March I’ll also be sending out more information on creating awareness on nutrition.
We didn’t have it too bad when we were kids. We had cartoons, toys, and milk break. The hardest question we had to decide was, “Chocolate or White?” Well, for me it was anyways, and I almost always went with white milk (because I genuinely liked the taste of white milk, not because I was a weird kid or anything...), which then presented the question, “Skim or 2%.”
Yeah, back in the day…
Nowadays you head to the store and you’re no longer presented with that question. Instead, you’re not only offered different the option of different types chocolate and white dairy milk, you’re offered different types of chocolate and white milk altogether.
You can now choose from dairy, almond, goat, coconut, soy, rice, lactose-free, etc.
A few days ago I got an interesting question from my cousin when she asked me, “What's your take on almond milk or soy milk? I just saw a commercial for cashew milk - do they serve any nutritional purposes?”
I responded with a, “THEY HAVE CASHEW MILK NOW???”
I had no idea. She had seen it on a commercial and sure enough, two days later, my girlfriend saw the same commercial.
So what’s the difference between almond milk and dairy milk? Why did they make cashew milk? Is coconut milk real? How are almonds and cashews milked? Wait, do you milk them…
There’s a different process for all milk production. We know where we get dairy and goat milk. Almond and cashew milk is produced by soaking the nuts in water overnight and then blending the nuts into a solution which is then separated. You can add some other ingredients like dates, honey, or vanilla to add some sort of taste as desired.
Coconut milk is made by combining coconut and boiling water and then blending it. Other ingredients can be added to this too.
You can make your own almond, cashew, or coconut milk pretty easily. Wellnessmama.com seems to put out a lot of good, easy-to-follow recipes for making your own milk.
With all of the milks out there, there’s got to be a difference between them.
Here’s a quick reference chart:
Total Fat (g)
Almond, Unsweetened (Silk)
Almond, Vanilla (Silk)
Coconut, Unsweetened (Silk)
Coconut, Vanilla (Silk)
Soy, Unsweetened (Silk)
Cashew, Unsweetened (Silk)
Cashew, Original (Silk)
Rice, Original (Rice Dream)
Rice, Vanilla (Rice Dream)
Oat, Vanilla (Pacific)
Hemp, Unsweetened (Pacific)
Hemp, Vanilla (Pacific)
As you can see, there’s quite a difference in each type of milk. While dairy (cow) and goat milk share similar characteristics, the other milks hold different characteristics.
One thing to keep in mind is the nutritious value that some of the other non-animal milks contain.
The difference in calcium is just a mere example. The other milks contain different nutrients like Vitamin D, Phosphorous, and other healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-9. The same value you get out of almonds, cashews, coconuts, hemp, etc. are all present in their milks.
The calorie counts are quite lower as well, which makes for a prime selection for someone who is watching their weight. The unsweetened milks all contain less sugar than dairy milk too. The trouble is when you start looking into the sweetened flavors like vanilla and chocolate (not shown) and they start pouring in the sugar which not only brings up the sugar content, but calories as well.
Dairy milk is an excellent on-the-go choice for post-workout because of its protein. Protein is dairy milk’s best trait and something that it can hold over the other milks. Your muscles need to be replenished following a workout, which makes chocolate milk a great option because of the sugar content. It was not surprise to see a huge push in marketing towards consuming chocolate milk after workouts.
The biggest knocks in dairy milk doesn’t come with its high glycemic index rating, rather it is usually associated with a high allergy population (lactose intolerant) as well as being a product of another mammal (blood milk). A lot of the content in regards to blood milk is skeptical. How you view dairy milk depends on which side of the fence you fall on.
As Wisconsin being the dairy state, a majority of the population consumes and supports dairy milk. There is, however, a growing population towards the other milks and it is most noticeable in our grocery stores as the selection for the non-dairy milks grow larger and larger.
To go back and answer my cousin’s question on cashew milk, I can say cashew milk contains less calories and more calcium than dairy milk while also being free of lactose and Non-GMO (some dairy products are Non-GMO too). Cashews contain monounsaturated-fats which are essential for heart health.
The other nut milks follow suit as well. Hemp seeds are actually a polyunsaturated-fat (good for heart-health).
Unless you are lactose intolerant, hold a strong stance towards blood milk, or supporting the nation’s dairy farmers, the type of milk you consume is subjective. Each type has its own pros and cons, but it all depends on your views and what you’re looking for.
Someone who is trying to lose weight can cut back on some unneeded calories by consuming non-dairy milk, while a person trying to put on muscle can add on some calories pretty easily by consuming dairy milk.
Whatever it is, you’ve been informed. So have at ‘er!
I learned a lot in the first half of 2014, and then I bought a puppy. ..So how about that puppy?
Meet Maximus Decimus Meridius (I’ll save the rest).
Because you can’t have too many puppy pictures.
Maximus is definitely a handful. From what I understand, I think I learned that “Having a dog is a lot like having a kid.” Woooof-ta (pun intended).
As I continued to progress into Dean’s program Beta-High Tensile Strength, I began learning more about my body. I noticed that something felt off on my right side, particularly my right lat, but I also noticed that when I ran, I would curl my toes only on my right foot when I ran. Since I was all kinds of deep into the corrective exercise realm, I knew something was causing all of this. I also noticed some anatomical differences from my right side when compared to my left side that really came to life when my Before pictures were taken.
My mind started to wonder, and I referred back to a specific assessment (the butterfly/Z Sit/shin box) Dean had his participants do in the initial phase of the program. It was to check for hip external and internal rotation. I could easily fill into one side, but there was no way I could do it on the other. No effing way.
Here’s the exercise: shin box (I literally couldn’t do that exercise 8 months ago), give it a try!
After X-rays I found I had a hip hike and rotation on top of that. I remained optimistic throughout my visits with a chiropractor and started to see some improvements. My only restriction was to dial a back a notch on the intensity of the weights, which wasn’t too big of an issue at the time.
I came out just fine after a few months of adjustments and during the process I learned how to recognize when your body is telling you something and why the value of assessments are so damn important, not just for me, but for clients. It should be plain and simple, yet sometimes I find myself worrying about someone else so much that I would forget to pay attention to my own.
The last half of my year was filled with an unforgettable trip to California where I learned about business, people, business, people, business, and people.
Besides being a volunteer at IDEA World where I got the chance to meet a whole bunch of respectable, influential people and fitness lovers alike, I also got to spend an entire day with two of the other heads on my fitness Mt. Rushmore: Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove (please note, my Mt. Rushmore has 5 heads).
Alwyn and me.
As soon as I left the conference I texted this photo to my former training manager and mentor, telling him, “This man changed my life today.”
These two people changed my life because they changed and continue to change the way fitness is done. They are the best at what they do – plain and simple; and now they are helping other fitness professionals continue on achieving their dreams by showing them the way. I signed up for an online mentorship program (WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND FOR ANY FITNESS PROFESSIONAL TRYING TO MAKE THE LEAP) which included a day to meet with the team of Results Fitness. Luckily, this fell during the same time we were out in California for the IDEA World Event.
The Cosgroves and their team at Results Fitness taught me about business, fitness business, fitness programs, systems in fitness and in business, about my goals and dreams, and how to follow my passion. I could literally write a 100-page blog on how much they taught me and helped open my eyes and realize what is in front of me. They gave me the courage and confidence to take the leap forward into following my dreams. I knew when I had a private talk with Alwyn during our lunch break that I wasn’t going back to school and starting my own facility was what I wanted to do. It was quite an experience. I literally learned more from them in a few short months that I felt like I had in years of schooling.
The last quarter of 2014 left me with one objective: implementation. I had to start implementing all I had learned through the first 9 months of the 2014 into my training and into my life. Aside from the things I already pointed out, I learned a great deal more from the other books that I read and listened to. Books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System by Donald A. Neumann, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair and Amber Davies, Movement by Gray Cook, The High Performance Handbook by Eric Cressey, The Modern Women’s Guide to Strength Training and Good Nutrition by Molly Galbraith and the rest of the Girls Gone Strong team, The Pursuit of Perfect The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben-Shahar, Strength Training for Fat Loss by Nick Tumminello, Metabolic Flexibility by Mike T. Nelson, and countless of others.
My favorite book out of all of those is probably Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It taught me a lot about people and even more about myself. You can literally start applying the techniques you learn from the book right away. It’s fascinating how a book (along with Dale Carnegie’s) can be written so long ago yet still used to efficiently in today’s society.
I also learned that English bulldogs really do like skateboards.
Chillin’ like a villain.
I wanted to end this year by making sure I was implementing all that I had learned into everything I was doing as I felt like everything I had learned was directly related to everything that I wanted to do. My mindset shifted from just thinking like a trainer to start thinking more like a business owner who is following his life’s passion as a personal trainer and fitness coach. My programs shifted towards a new direction and they became better by becoming more results-oriented, and my thought process towards how I can train with more people shifted to semi-private training and online coaching. Everything was changing for me.
I also finished up Dean’s Beta High Tensile Strength Program and I saw some pretty incredible results. Although my bench press and deadlift PR’s went down (fat loss was my main goal), I became relatively stronger compared to my body weight. In that sense, my bench press and deadlifts actually increased. I was also able to squat again PAIN FREE and WITHOUT WRAPPING MY KNEES. The main goal of fat loss was also achieved as I hit below a 10% body fat by the time the program was done. I didn’t think I noticed that much of a difference in how I looked until I put the Before/After pics side-by-side:
Nothing too crazy, but noticeable results!
I thank Dean for allowing me to take part in his Beta program and learn from him. I also applied my knowledge gained from my Precision Nutrition Certification and people I have met and the books I had read to make all of this possible.
It was quite a year and quite a transition. I did a lot and learned even more. I can’t thank my mentors, fellow fit pros, family, clients, and my girlfriend Mandy for putting up with me over the year and as I transitioned into the man and trainer I want to be. That support keeps me going. At times I don’t need any more motivation, I find it through them and I can’t thank them enough.
2015 will bring new challenges and new possibilities. I’m not even close to being able to do what I want to do, but the wheel has definitely been turning and the ball is just about at the top of the hill ready to coast down. I still have a stack of books to read, people to talk to, things to learn, and problems to solve.
2015 is already starting out with a bang and I will be sure to let you know more when I can. If you’re interested in a Challenge, be sure to check out that new website of mine www.unityfitnesspro.com, especially around the end of February. Until then, keep taking care of business and make sure no one in the gym is working harder than you are!!
2014 was a really weird year for me. I would put most of the blame on transition. Yeah, I believe “transition” is the word that can sum up just about everything that happened to me in 2014.
Where do I start…
Well, if I start chronologically, I would have to go with the big ol’ knee surgery I had on January 17th. Talk about starting our ’14 with a bang! A bang full of doctor bills and recovery more like it. The surgery was a microscopic surgery on my right knee. The focus of the surgery was to remove a plica and to clean up the rest of my knee.
Here’s exactly what the doc did (the “cleaning up” is not included): plica removal.
It’s a very rare injury. If I remember correctly, the culprit (the plica) to my knee pain for over 2 years only showed up in a couple slices (slides) out of the thousands of slices taken from my knee during an MRI. I suspect that it came from too much jumping during my high school years as well as piss-poor squatting and lunging techniques for who knows how long.
The surgery was no problem. Easy in, easy out, and some unneeded painkillers to boot. The recovery, on the other hand, was a real joy. It was supposed to be an easy 4-6 week recovery time that consisted of some crutches and non-weight bearing activity, plus a list of daily rehab exercises. I knew I was going to be limited for a while and I stumbled across Dean “The Man” Somerset (I have nicknamed him that, by the way).
Side note: Dean has become the most influential trainer I have had the privilege to learn from and communicate with to date. He is indeed, The Man. There is nobody I trust more for insight on post-rehab exercises and corrective exercise.
His Post-Rehab Essentials 2.0 was my main focus during recovery, especially the first week or so when I was off work and lounging around a couch all day. It is still one of the best products I’ve ever seen and it put a lot of things in perspective for me.
Remember that 4-6 week recovery time? Yeah, that quickly turned into 4 months as I was the “exception” to the recovery process as my knee did not heal according to plan.
2 more months?!?! Now what the hell do I do??
Be patient was the answer.
I already thought I was a fairly patient person. Now I knew I had to be. I had already tried squatting during a strength training day and it was awful. Poor form, lots of pain, and it was next to no weight.
Patience is a virtue, and patience is what I had to be…
I was also told by the PA that, “I couldn’t squat, lunge, or run because they are bad for your knees.”
I said, “No, squatting, lunging, or running incorrectly and with bad form is bad for knees.”
Regardless of how I felt, I listened.
Great. So what do I do now?
I was down 15 pounds and felt like a slob. I looked thing and felt flabby, like that dreaded skinny fat feeling.
I was mis-er-a-ble.
Wait, he said I couldn’t squat, lunge, or run…that means I could deadlift, pull-ups, deadlift, bench press, deadlift, and deadlift.
My new, yet limited, program was set!
Once I started this program, though limited, I felt great coming into the gym. I built up and got the go ahead from the doc that I could do all of the above exercises. I decided to go with a 5-3-1 program after about a month of training form and working through the kinks.
During that time I discovered Jordan Syatt and Kelly Starrett. My mind had become blown by Jordan’s expertise in the field of powerlifting and technique not just for the power lifts, but for any exercise in ever. I read his blogs, watched his videos, and purchased some seminars. I soaked it all in, (im)patiently waiting for my chance to add all of this to my program.
Kelly is a physical therapist and CrossFit box owner and coach. I bought his book Becoming a Supple Leopard on how to make your body the best it can be. It helps you move better. He is also the owner/found of ww.mobilitywod.com which is still one of the coolest sites I have ever seen. I soaked all of it in; I had lots of time on my hands, after all.
So what did I learn from Dean, Jordan, and Kelly?
Programming, technique, mobility exercises, corrective exercises, how the body works to how the body is supposed to work, accessory exercises, core stability training, and more and more technique.
My training catapulted. My programming changed dramatically and I felt like my knowledge soared leaps and bounds. I had made a huge transition and all of my clients were aware of it as well. The best part is that all of this learning went into my continuing education folder, so it had multiple benefits and not just for me, but to my clients as well.
It is now mid-April. The first quarter of the year had flew by as I had (im)patiently waited for my recovery time to complete and the weather was getting warmer (kind of). I was pumped to start squatting again!
I had a doctor appointment to have a final look. I noted that I was still in knee pain and that I didn’t feel like the surgery did anything, possibly even made my knee feel worse. I was scared as hell. Luckily, the PA stated that I really couldn’t do anymore damage to my knee now that we gave it so much time to heal. He said that the pain I felt was scar tissue and I was open for full activity, but to work my way back into it.
So I did, and I went with the man I trusted the most: Dean Somerset. I had committed to a 6 month program with him to help him release a huge product which should be coming out sometime soon! I was back on the grind and I found that out during the first month of his program.
I learned that you can never work on enough stability. Ever.
It was one of the hardest months of training I had ever done. I had to work on complete and overall stability doing some planks, more planks, some other stability exercises, and them some side planks to polish it off.
“Here we go,” I thought. “Bring on the next 5 months.”
And the next 5 months came with more than just a program.
I had to make a decision on whether or not I was going to go back to school. A decision I tossed around several times an hour every day for the last year. I was at my deadline and it was time to make a choice. The next 5 months also came with some other surprises like having a hip hike/rotated pelvis and possibly buying a puppy that may or may not have been spur-of-the-moment.
Wait? Spur-of-the-moment? I thought I had just learned how to be more patient…
What did I learn from the second half of ’14?
A couple years ago I wrote a status on Facebook that went a little something like this:
New Year's Resolutions are a joke. You shouldn't need a new year to bring upon a better life for yourself or a better you in general. You should be living to the best of your ability each and every day. Whether it's being kinder, healthier, or more spontaneous, you should be doing these things at every moment. Be the best person you can be. Love what you do. A new year is not a new beginning. Be thankful for who you are and what you do and strive to be better at all times.
To no surprise, my status erupted with feedback, both positive and negative.
Well, here we go again.
We are moving into the New Year with those “resolutions” in the back of our mind and some of us are patiently waiting for that calendar to turn to January 1.
Well, here we go again…again.
I am here to tell you that resolutions are still a joke. While resolutions are GREAT for business, specifically the fitness business, they are not a solution to the problems at hand. This is because people think their resolutions are quick fixes. They believe a New Year starts with a New You. They don’t understand that their resolutions are too hard to commit to and/or they don’t seek any help for them.
It should come to no surprise, then, that 92% of people do not achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.
As for my business, it starts to boom at this time of year. People wanting the quick-fix-weight-loss-solution start piling through the door, hoarding the cardio machines, and acting like they’ve been going to the gym for years. They want to lose an insane amount of weight in a short amount of time. Very rarely does this ever work out for them.
Even some of these people that pick up training expect you to give them the answers to all of their weight loss problems once they come in for the first session. You can’t learn calculus in a day. It takes a full course to get through the book and cover all the material. You can’t simply hop in the middle of a calc course and expect to ace the next exam.
It’s the same damn thing with your health. You can’t just jump right in, expect to lose 10 pounds immediately and then believe you can keep the 10 pounds off when you revert back to where you started.
Speaking of weight loss, it appears that weight loss tops the list as the #1 Resolution of 2014 (business looks good).
Here’s a look at the rest of the list:
This chart and a ton of other rather fascinating statistics can also be found on this site.
To go back to my status from a couple years ago, people shouldn’t be waiting for a certain date to make a commitment towards weight loss or any resolution for that matter. These resolutions should be a part of your everyday life. You should always be improving yourself, whether it’s professionally, through health and fitness, financially, or self-improvement.
A lot of times we get so caught up in the rat race of life that we forget that the real journey is about being the best person we can be, about standing up to challenges day-in, and day-out.
We get caught up trying to make more money because we don’t have enough, only to nail that promotion and spend the extra income on other things to inevitably become stuck in the same path of making more and spending more.
We get caught up thinking we can lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks and become so discouraged by not seeing the scale move after all the effort you put in that you stop exercising when it may have been that very next week where you started to lose weight. Oh, you don’t know about the magic 4-6 week mark? Stick to your weight loss goals for a minimum 4-6 weeks to see any measureable results. That’s a fact, Jack.
Rather than trying to save money as a resolution, it might be time to have money start working for you. You need to become financially literate and maybe even look into investing.
Instead of trying to lose all that weight in a short amount of time, maybe it’s time you seriously look into a lifestyle change and make workout out part of your lifestyle.
I work with people every single day who are in the trenches, grinding it out, striving towards their health and fitness goals (with weight loss at the forefront). They know it’s not a short-term fix, it’s a long-term commitment.
It is a choice, it is a lifestyle.
When you gain 15 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, these same people who are grinding it out might only gain 2. They might even lose 2! It’s because they know what’s at stake.
A new year is not a new beginning. It’s just a change of the calendar.
If there’s something you want to change in your life, you do NOT need a date change to make it happen.
You can push for a change at any time!
The New Year will not make things any easier for you!
As I said before, Resolutions are good for business. There’s no surprise that most Challenges and Contests for weight loss occur in January when the membership at the gyms are highest. I’m even running a Transformation Challenge for Pete’s sakes (more details on that to come very, very soon)!
If you are committing to a resolution this year, there are a few things that I can try to help you with.
- Keep your resolutions as simple as possible
- Get some help form a professional (related to your Resolution)
- Get some help from a friend
- Be realistic
- Have a plan
In my line of work, there are those trainers who sucker you in to thinking you can achieve great success in for just 6 weeks out of the year. You can see some pretty outstanding results in 6 weeks, there’s no denying that, but imagine the results you could see in 90 days. How about 6 months? How about a year? How about in a lifetime?
My main goal for everyone coming into the gym for the New Year’s Resolutions is to convert them into “lifers”. I try to get people to start having fun going to the gym and realizing that this is a part of their everyday life.
There are very few quick fixes in life. Your health is definitely not one of them. While you may be excited to make a big push in the next coming weeks (as you should now that all of the holidays are out of the way) there shouldn’t be any new resolutions that pop up.
Stay focused and stay hungry. Keep grinding it out and pushing forward. And stay away from those resolutions - always keep becoming a better YOU!
Not too long ago, a fellow trainer and coach extraordinaire, Eric Cressey posted about “How Being an Optimist Will Help You in Strength and Conditioning”. I read the blog post and definitely agreed how Cressey relating strength and conditioning and being an optimalist will create a better overall environment. A better environment means more results.
So how did this whole topic come up in a post? Because of the book that Cressey referenced, The Pursuit of Perfection by Tal Ben-Shahar.
I immediately chose the book as my next audiobook I would be listening to and studying, I just had to finish up listening to How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. And who recommended this book, you ask? Well (drumroll please), the great Eric Cressey.
We all pick up certain parts of a book when we read (or listen) to them. A lot of times we pick up new concepts when we re-read the book. The same goes with the third time we read the book, and so on and so on. I picked up on the topic Cressey wrote about, but I also had my own “ah ha” moments. So rather than write about a similar topic to Mr. Cressey’s, I decided to write about how a perfectionist and an optimalist view the path towards reaching their goal(s).
Before I show you my fancy shmancy picture, I wanted to explain the two different types of people compared in the book.
An optimalist is viewed as the positive, happy person. They view things more realistically and learn from mistakes and failure). They often take risks knowing that there will be ups and downs and setbacks along the way. They are successful, but they have often failed several times beforehand. They know that the best result is the optimal result.
A perfectionist, the opposite of an optimist, is more of a negative, very uptight, all-or-none person. They have a hard time grasping reality and they don’t take failure well. At all. A lot of times these people are very successful people, however, succeeding at something often leads to trying to succeed at the next goal so they don’t appreciate success. They often perceive the end result as something that is actually unreachable, yet they do not know that.
So let’s begin the little drill that I took from the book. While I’m not quite done with listening to Perfection, I picked up on numerous key concepts that I am now implementing into my coaching techniques. One is the path to a goal, whatever it may be.
On my Facebook earlier this week, I asked the question:
What does the path to losing 15 pounds look like?
Is it a straight line, or something else?
I then posted this picture:
The path looks different to a perfectionist and an optimalist. A perfectionist views the path as a straight line.
Notice that the path is free of ups and downs, setbacks, and any deviation besides a direct path to the finish. This is how they view obstacles and they expect a path of least resistance. Additionally, when an obstacle occurs, this type of person usually goes through a bit of a panic which could lead to several more undesirable behaviors. This is especially true if the person is keen to results, like a perfectionist is.
Here’s how the path MAY actually look:
Rest assured this is not the only path - there is an infinite amount of variations. One of those infinite variations could look like the above path, yet very rarely does the path go in a straight line. The above picture is more likely how the optimalist views the path toward a goal. He/she knows that there will be obstacles, setbacks, ups, and downs that take place along the way. Sometimes these obstacles cause a bit of a deadline change, which is a setback in itself, obviously. There are also positive (ups) that occur during your journey towards a goal. For this example, maybe you lose a few extra pounds during one your weeks in between the deadline rather than the one pound you typically lose.
Certain checkpoints on the course to your goal could lead to you not reaching your goal by the deadline, or you may even reach it sooner! You being prepared for the journey towards your goal helps tremendously. As does being optimistic about your training/program, regardless of what happens.
The optimalist looks at each setback is an opportunity to learn while the perfectionist looks as each setback as an unacceptable failure.
This is a critical difference in the behaviors between the two types of people. The perfectionist will push harder and farther, often testing the limits of their mind and body. They will look for someone or something to blame. This continues far beyond a simple fitness goal, it goes into their everyday life as well. Instead of pushing through the setback without taking the time to study the situation, the optimalist will recollect and figure out what caused the setback in the first place and then learn what they have to do correct it.
For the fitness world, we can look at so much more than a weight loss goal. We can choose our goals to be
- a performance-based goal like for a sport
- adding 10 lbs to our 1 Rep Max squat
- add 10 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks
- recover from an injury by a certain time
Here’s how my path went while recovering from knee surgery this year:
(Look at that work of art. Thank goodness for the Paint program, huh?)
Notice the path filled with lots of ups and downs and go arounds. All notice that I never reached the finish. That’s because my knee did not fully recover as expected and 4-6 weeks recovery turned into 4 months. What a blasty blast. So my “finish” turned out to be 16 weeks rather than 4-6 weeks, but I made it. Want to know what I expected my path to look like for my initial recover time?
Yep. You bet. A straight damn line. As straight as a line could get as a matter of fact.
(I should quickly note that the path doesn't always have to be measured relative to time. You can also measure it as an outcome of a presentation or project based on performance. We need it for the goal-setting examples though.)
So what am I getting at here?
There is no cookie cutter approach to each goal you set.
Each of these goals can see tremendous benefits and devastating setbacks. You may have to commit to 3 extra hours of cardio each week compared to the person who only has to work out for 5 hours in a week to see weight loss. That’s what the value of a program and/or coach can help you with. That’s what determination can help you with. That’s what being realistic can help you with.
Setting your goals are crucial. You should set these goals using the SMART Goal System. I previously wrote about setting goals, so if you missed that article you can check it out here.
Ideally, the program you start or receive from a coach/trainer should lead you towards a path with minimal resistance. There are always roadblocks that come up along the way. Do not become overwhelmed by the fact that it could/is/did happen to you. It happens!
I’m not trying to convert a perfectionist to an optimist or an optimist to a perfectionist by sharing this post. I am simply staking the thought process and behaviors we have associated with our goals and lifestyle; however, some of my tips may go a long way for someone who is more of a perfectionist-type.
You can also be blend of an optimalist and perfectionist. The example in the book is that a parent might not care that they don’t live in the best house with the best furniture, yet they want their child to have the best upbringing as possible (best clothes, toys, house, etc.). There can be certain conflicts that we go through because we do cross certain behaviors of being both an optimalist and a perfectionist.
In the gym (strength and conditioning) world though, it is better to be an optimalist and it is better to be on a solid program. Simply going to the gym every day will only work for so long. You weight training should be programmed just like your cardio training (conditioning) should be programmed. Programs allow you and the trainers to manage the path and build from potential setbacks. We can actually see what works and what doesn’t.
The rectus abdominis is quite an extraordinary muscle. They are so nice to look at!! Sooo nice! The rectus abdominis is also known as the abs. Ah…now I’ve got your attention. I’ll refer the rectus abdominis to “abs” from here on out because that’s how the muscle is typically identified.
The abs are indeed a pretty damn cool looking muscle.
That’s Joe Donnelly of http://www.joedonnellyfitness.com/. He’s one of the most ripped guys out there and his high intensity interval trainings are insane. Check them out.
So while the abs are nice to look at when sculpted, their actual function in our body is to flex our lumbar spine, also known as “crunching”. They also have some influence on posture through pelvic alignment and assist with diaphragmatic breathing.
Woofta, who knew the abdominals did so much?
A lot of us know what they do, but a lot of don’t understand how to use them even though we spend days on days on DAYS of doing crunches and other abdominal exercises. How many times at the end of a session did you decide to go spend 10, 15, or 20 minutes on abs? I know I did. I went to the studio at the end of each session so I could get my abs a burnin’.
Well, what I am about to tell you might come as a bit of a shock. You need to stop wasting so much of your time spent in the gym “doing abs”.
I could think of thousands of other things that you could spend 10, 15, or even 5 minutes on that will help create more ab strength than simply doing some crunches, leg raises, and a froggie finisher. Take doing 3-5 hill sprint intervals for example.
I’m not saying you can’t spend time doing abs at all, but there are far too many people who spend way too much of their precious time in the gym by doing crunches. And it’s not just once or twice a week, it’s literally every day. People spend hours on ab exercises because they're trying to get that 6-pack. It's also a huge marketing tool by a bunch of fitness wannabees out there which ends up making you think that you should continue doing as much as abs as possible...
How them abs looking?
They might be getting a little toned, but are you getting those nice sculpted abs that you see in your magazine and on television? Maybe, but most likely not. There’s a lot more that goes into revealing the abs than doing crunches on crunches on stability sit-ups on bosu ball sit-ups on leg raises on side crunches.
We have to remember that spot reduction is not real. If you want to focus on losing fat in a specific area, you can't train that area over and over again expecting it to go away.
Get moving some weight and get your diet in check.
There’s the quote out there, “Abs are made in the kitchen.”
I’m more about the quote, “Abs are made in the gym and revealed in the kitchen.”
By being made in the gym I mean lifting some heavy weights, working through movements using core stability by means of isolation, rotation, flexion, extension, or anti-rotation and other anti-movements. Very rarely is there an ab exercise listed in the program. Unless you’re training for an event or doing some form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), the ab exercises should be left off the program. Body builders and physique competitors are the exception.
You can’t out-train a bad diet.
You should therefore get your diet (nutrition) in order. And get moving some more weights.
There’s a lot more than the rectus abdominis that is involved with ab exercises. There are all of the other core muscles like obliques, intercostals, transverse abdominis, etc., but you never hear someway say, “That’s a ripped core, bro!”
Strengthening the core is where it’s at. You might not feel like you’re “ab training”, yet you’ll be hitting plenty of abdominal muscles through squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, pull-ups, push-ups, planks, farmer/suitcase walks, shoulder presses, rollouts, and too many more to rattle off. So, you see, we get our ab work in every day as long as we’re training movements and hitting those complex exercises. Why do you think athletes tend to be in great shape? Because they spend a lot of their time doing abs? Not a chance.
Think about a gymnast. How many crunches do think a gymnast wastes his/her time on (all professional athletes for that matter), not many. A gymnast spends his time on bars and rings and mats, developing movements and focusing on strength training that supplements those movements. They are obviously unbelievably strong at a pound-per-pound measurement, and they possess some of the strongest lats (back muscles) out there from all of the gymnast-style training.
These super-duper strong lats actually help promote super-duper-duper ripped abs.
Gymnasts are some of the most ripped dudes in sports. Jason Maxwell wrote a really cool article about this about a year ago and even posted some training methods as to how one could mimic some gymnast-style training that he calls “Front Level Training”. Check the article out here.
Getting back to the point: these athletes don’t spend a lot of time working on specific ab exercises because they are too focused working on their movements or strength training for their movements. They also spend a lot of time on conditioning. The conditioning will help the athletes get into their sport-demanding shape. Conditioning not only helps their cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, it also improves body composition by means of fat loss. Again, this isn’t a standard session of steady-state cardio aka 40 minutes of elliptical work at a pace that you can have a conversation with your bestie. This is a high intensity interval type of training, which is tailored to their sport/event. It’s no walk in the park.
Oh yeah, and their nutrition is sound. They’re not working out so they can go eat a pizza, the athletes are working out to better themselves in their trade and their food is their fuel and recovery.
Let food be thy medicine.
You can directly train abs a few times a week. Some say you can train the abs 5 days/week. You can get ideas on how to train them through the exercises I just wrote about. Planks are phenomenal. So are ab roll outs and other anti-extension/flexion/rotation exercises. Leg raises can also be beneficial, and so can chops. Knock it off with this crunches, sit-ups, decline sit-up, and Roman chair. These exercises are only good for so long. And if you’re going to do a crunch, try a reverse crunch or a rope/cable crunch and add them into a big exercise so you can create a nasty superset.
The next time you have about 10-15 minutes left in your workout, and you’re getting to that level where you’re looking at the clock every few minutes because you’re ready to be done, and you’re thinking, “Yup, it’s abs time,” think again. Spend those 10 to 15 minutes working on perfecting a technique or movement rather than crunching your abs (and spine) away. Spend 10 to 15 minutes going through a HIIT or some other form of high intensity training. A lot of time you only need 5 minutes to accomplish such a task so you can spend the other time recovering. Spend the extra 10 to 15 minutes on mobility, not just through static stretching, but mobility exercises that may include some static stretching. Spend that extra time putting work in and burning the fat and pumping those muscles. Don’t just spend it on abs, but if you do, put it into your “Finisher” or HIIT to end things for the day.
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!