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!
The egg. The egg is way more than just a simple breakfast fix. It’s an anytime meal fix PACKED with vitamins and nutrients, particularly protein. Eggs go far beyond our typical breakfast food. According to some sources, eggs are placed as one of the top whole food protein choices. They are quite the item.
Precision Nutrition has eggs as the second best whole food protein source (grass-fed beef is numero uno). On the other hand, The Food Spectrum places the egg as the number one overall source of whole food protein. Other choices on the list include greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, salmon, etc.
So what makes the eggs so great? Personally, I just wanted to eat them every day like my Grandpa did. Who knew why, but I wanted to be like him so I just went with that…So let’s go a little more into detail as to why the egg is so good.
As I said before, eggs are loaded with vitamins and nutrients:
Vitamins D, B2, B5, B12, and E
Eggs also get a bad knock because they contain fat and cholesterol. Fat and cholesterol is located in the yolk of the egg and values are approximately 4 g fat (3 g saturated fat) and 170.0 mg of cholesterol. These numbers are based off of Eggland’s Best Large eggs. These are miniscule numbers in the grand scheme of things. If you follow a solid exercise program along with eating a well-balanced diet then you shouldn’t have too much trouble consuming a couple whole eggs a day. Egg whites are also an awesome choice to add to your meals and shakes.
Possibly more important, eggs are known as a complete protein. This means that an egg contains all of the essential amino acids so all internal body functions can be accomplished. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Essential amino acids are amino acids that cannot be produced within the body. Protein is crucial for certain functions, especially in building lean muscle mass. So you can see the value of not only eggs, but protein in general.
Finally, eggs can be mixed, matched, and made with just about anything. They are obviously good for breakfast, but they are also good for lunch (in salads or on a sandwich), as a snack (hard-boiled), and for dinner (who says you can’t have an omelet for dinner?). Eggs are also an excellent choice for a late night snack. Again, you can use egg whites from the eggs or egg whites from a carton to help boost your protein intake without adding in the fat and cholesterol.
Eggs are by far my favorite source of protein. At times I go through 6 dozen eggs a week. That’s 72 eggs, some whole and some just egg whites. That’s a lot of protein for a small cost. I recommend eggs to all of my clients and I go with 1 to 3 whole eggs a day (depending on goals and health) are a solid choice. In other words: eat your eggs!! They are incredible. They are edible. Eggs.
It’s not very often when you are working with a client to try and resolve another issue and you accidentally find a solution to a problem that you never knew existed. Huh? Are we talking about a sales pitch here? No, no, we’re still talking about results. For a client. That we found. Accidentally…
I’ve used corrective exercise before to help a client achieve a certain task or movement. Sometimes that exercise also transfers over into another exercise that we weren’t necessarily working on at that moment. This happens quite often in the corrective Ex world. Coincidentally this same procedure happened to a client of mine very recently when I asked him to go get some blood work done, specifically testing for testosterone levels in his blood.
The only reason I had him checking it in the first place is because he mentioned it to me several months ago during one of our first meetings. He thought it might have been a possibility because he’s notice some signs. More recently I read a case study from Dr. John Berardi in his textbook, Precision Nutrition. In the case study, he asked a client of his to go get some blood work done to test for testosterone levels. Dr. Berardi saw similar signs and asked his client to get it checked, in which this case he was correct. I asked mine to do the same.
Although the tests came back in normal range for testosterone, I did find out…scratch that, WE did find out some interesting information. My client suffers from sleep apnea and is now in line for surgery to help resolve the issue. How did I not pick up on this before? That’s the initial question that rang through my head. So I asked some questions and come to find out that my client thought his sleeping was perfectly normal because he’s been sleeping like that for YEARS. It was unreal. Not to mention a complete and total breakthrough with the client. It makes perfect sense with some of the signs I was noticing (appetite cues, hormone secretion (or lack thereof), severe DOMS, and sleep-crashes after our workouts).
Pretty crazy, right? Good thing the doctor was doing her exact job and asking a few more questions as well because something that she asked triggered my client to go into more detail and let this problem come to the forefront. I’m beyond happy for him. He’s worked unbelievably hard the better part of a year by doing everything that I’ve had down in our plan. Hopefully this will pay off after he goes in for a consultation within the next month.
Quite the moral of the story here: finding solutions for the problems we never knew existed – that I never knew existed. Last time I checked that was a sales strategy and a mighty fine one at that. Maybe that’s simply the job as a trainer, even though it was something out of my realm. I have to give credit to the Precision Nutiriton text along with Dr. Berardi for putting that case study in the reading for becoming a Level 1 Nutrition Coach. I dug and dug and my client worked and worked. He's been through quite a ride. When I had tried everything I could with him, I sent him in for some testing. I also give my client an enormous amount of credit for sticking with me through thick and thin and also for getting this done. The only regret I have is that I didn’t think to have him do it sooner.
Just wanted to blog really quick and address mobility and stability. Obviously both of these are major issues in our field. Unfortunately, the more I pay attention the more I see the lacking of both of these issues. Unfortunately, we also can't help everyone. As trainers, we need to make sure to address this immediately. First session. You can't hold off and assume it will eventually get better or the client will work his or herself out of it. Correctvie exercise is an absolute component to your repertoire. As I mentioned before, the trainers that really got me going on this matter (besides one that I worked with...Justin Soukup) are Dean Somerset and Eric Cressey. It's an amazing tool and you can almost see the results immediately. I'm not really sure who's going to read this, but make sure you remember you have to be stable before you can become mobile. This is another critical component. So stability training is usually a great place to start.
Here's my long two cents on X Day Supplement Challenges:
Although I've sponsored and supported several challenges, it's only through experience that I have seen the common denominator that links success: change. It's the change in the challenger's lifestyle. Not a certain fat-burner pill, not a fish oil, not a multivitamin, not a detox, and definitely not a replacement shake (more to come on that later). It's the person and their will power to go through the challenge. I don't care if it's a GNC Challenge, AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge, the Visalus 90 Day and Truestar 90 Day Challenges (both of which I've sponsored), or some other one - the people who get results are the people who change their lifestyles DURING the challenge.
They key is to notice how these people do after the challenge. Do they go back to living how they were? A relapse. Or do they continue to live a bit healthier by watching what they eat and sticking to a consistent exercise routine? A lifestyle change.
You can't tell me that by doing a challenge that you've stuck to the same lifestyle you were in pre-challenge and still managed to see great results. No. You stopped drinking so much alcohol. You get on a fitness routine. And instead of eating fast food for breakfast or lunch, you replace it with a meal replacement shake. It's what YOU do, or NOT do, that makes the results come to fruition.
Meal replacement shakes can be GREAT. They are awesome and full of endless flavors. You can make them in just about any flavor and pack them full of nutritious whole foods. You can adjust to macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) according to your goals; plus, they are all easily digested because it's in liquid form. BUT they also replace a meal that you would have normally grabbed that fast food meal like Subway (yes, even Subway is bad too) or heated up some processed garbage at home. This is a good thing, but people are giving too much credit to this replacement shake and not enough to their change in diet. Give credit to yourself! You can literally cut out over 1,000 calories by having one of these during a meal. Eating a 1,000 less calories PER DAY sounds like it good lead to some pretty stellar results to me, especially over a period of time...say 24 to 90 days? You don't need a challenge to do that.
SUPPLEMENT challenges are great to help people get on track and to get motivated, but they are not the end result. The real challenge is to be consistent with your healthy lifestyle each every day. Not just for a certain period of time.
Every day doesn't have to be a battle once you get in the habit of winning.
Learning how to exercise, getting educated on healthy eating, and balancing out everyday stress are crucial to better living. In a sense, that's what a personal trainer is for. So while I don't entirely support these type of challenges anymore, I still believe that change is your answer. If you would like a challenge to help get you there then by all means do so, but don't fall back into your same patterns once the challenge is over. Use it to move forward and take the next step.