Best Supplements For Building Muscle

Building muscle is not a complicated procedure.  It's quite simple; break the muscles down with resistance training and recover with a good diet, active rest, and quality supplements.  

The best supplements for building muscle can make a huge difference but choosing them is difficult in the sea of junk.  If they seem scammy with grand promises, stay away. There's nothing magical in the market.  Like anything else, nothing will replace diet and hard work.  However, supplements can greatly change your appearance if you are taking the correct products along with consistent workouts and solid diet.  

Don't spend a fortune

You do not need buy every supplement available.  Keep them to a minimum. A good diet high in protein and vegetables combined with a few supplements will get you where you need to be.  Let's start with the basics.  

1) Whey Protein

Plenty of research has been done to prove whey as one of the highest quality sources of protein.  It's fast digestion makes it a must for building and repairing muscle tissue.  As long as you do not have an allergy to whey, this can't be recommended enough.  Whey is one of the highest qualities of protein.  Adding this to your diet will help speed recovery, which is the most important aspect of repairing and building muscle. 

2) Creatine

Research has shown creatine to have more benefits than just building muscle.  It has an impact on cognitive abilities as well.

There is no doubt, creatine increases horse power.  Your performance in the gym will go up big time.  By adding more creatine phosphate to your muscle cells, you will be able to lift heavier weights for longer periods of time.  The greater the performance in the gym, the bigger the gainz!

3) BCAAs

BCAAs fire a neurological pathway that speeds protein synthesis.  This is the physiological process for repairing and growing muscle tissue.  

It is important to know, BCAA's are not complete proteins.  This means you will only benefit from this when you have a sufficient supply of complete proteins such as whey.  

Optimize your diet to build muscle fast

With all the popular diets out their backed by pseudo experts, it's difficult to pick one.  Diets are like ideology.  People are as defensive of their diets as the are their political and religious beliefs.  It's crazy.  The truth is there is no one way to go about it.  The nutritional habits that work for you are the ones most appropriately.  If your energy and performance is high as well as you biomarkers, you doing fine.  Don't fix something that isn't broke.

Here are some universal practices that work for any diet.  I've had great success personally and for my clients.

  1. Meal prep.  This is the greatest dietary habit there is.  Do not use the excuse; I don't have time.  Make it happen.
  2. Time restrict. The more I read into it and practice it, the more I believe in its many benefits.  They include
    • Improving the body's ability to burn fat
    • Reduces the reliance on glucose (blood sugar) for energy
    • Improves sustainable energy and limits your midday crashes
  3. High protein. Protein is the building block for muscle.  Most people are not getting enough protein in their diet.  Without an adequate supply, good luck building any muscle.  This does not mean you need to go crazy.  A 'high protein diet' is around 33% - 40% of your macronutrients.  Or .5-1 gram per pound of body weight. 
  4.  Lots of water.  The source of life, don't let yourself get dehydrated.  Water has many essential functions for the body.  It helps your body process the energy you are putting in your body.  As a result, your metabolism runs higher, your protein does it's job better, and your brain functions better when you are hydrated.  The recommended amount varies depending on your energy output.  Usually 80-100oz will take care of you.
  5. Limit your sugar.  This does not mean eliminate, just keep it to a minimum. It's also important to clarify by I am referring to table sugar, simple sugars, and highly processed foods.  Keep it under 20 grams per day   

Hope you found this helpful

Like anything else, if you want something, you are going to have to work for it.  It is a simple process of overloading your muscles with progressive strength training, eating right, and taking quality supplements to enhance performance and recovery.  

If you want help making unbelievable changes with your body, check out one of my professional training programs.  

THE ULTIMATE 30 MINUTE WORKOUT

Life gets busy and too often the wrong things are sacrificed.  There are always things that will come up, so the idea of waiting for the right time or not having enough time is never a valid excuse.  We make time for what's most important to us.  

If time is limited, as it is for most of us, you need to do short and efficient workouts.  The main thing is being consistent and giving it your all. You can get amazing results with 20-30 minute workouts.  Spending hours in the gym is not necessary.  In most cases it's not feasible.  What will never get results is making excuses or waiting for the right time. 

The Workouts

These workouts will cover the entire body.  They are designed to be relatively intense, comprehensive, and time efficient.  Alternate these two workouts 3-4x per week.  Additionally, add 20-30 minutes of cardio on the other days. Consistency is key. 

The workouts will be comprehensive.  They strategically work all planes of motion and all muscle groups.  The focusses that make a good routine are as follows:

  • Push exercises in horizontal and vertical planes
  • Pull exercises in horizontal and vertical planes
  • Hip exercises with squats/lunges/deadlifts
  • Full body exercises

This focus insures we are working the body symmetrically, which is missing in most peoples workout routines.

These workouts incorporate both strength and cardio.  Your heart rate will be up and you will feel a pump.  

Workout A.

For both workouts; Perform 3 sets of each circuit. Your circuits will consist of the 3 exercises. Rest no more than :30 between exercises and no more than 1 minute between sets.  Make sure to have a timer.  *This workout is more Push dominate.  

3 rounds x 12 reps each 

3 rounds x 12 reps each 

  • Squats.  Depending on your experience, you can perform any squat you wish; back squat, front squat, goblet squat... 
  • DB bench press
  • DB step ups (12 each leg) - lose the weights if you are a beginner

3 rounds x 12 reps each (abs)

Workout B.

This workout is more Pull dominate.  

3 rounds x 12 reps each 

  • Dumbbell Bent over rows
  • Deadlifts (use heavier DBs or a barbell if you are experienced) - a tight core with no bend in the back is essential.   
  • Dumbell bent over flys

3 rounds x 12 reps each 

  • Pull-ups *modify with lat pull downs if you have access to cables or you can perform a modified pullup with a band.  
  • Split squats on the bench (6 each leg, add DBs to advance the movement.  This one is more push dominate but it works the glutes like nothing else!)
  • Standing DB hammer curls

3 rounds x 12 reps each 

  • Russian twists with any form of weight.  (24 total)
  • Leg raises with :03 count on the way down.   

Further instructions:

It might be the case this routine is more advanced than you are ready for.  No worries; all you need to do is set the 30 minute clock and reduce the SETS to 2 instead of 3.  When you are ready, increase it to 3.  

Trust me, you have the time.  You just need to prioritize it.  

Recommended Workout essentials

Amazing Transformation

Jason's Amazing Fitness Journey 

I can't speak highly enough for my client and friend Jason.  He is a prime example of what hard work and dedication can do not only for your body but your mind overall wellbeing too.  

With a full time job and business to run along with a wife and 4 kids, time is not abundant for him.  If he heard that excuse from anyone he might smack them.  Actually, that's unlikely, as he's a very nice guy in addition to be a dedicated person.  t 

He is currently down over 50 pounds and is in the best shape of his life doing things he could never do before.

There's nothing magical about his transformation.  It's just professional programming, coaching, and follow through on his end.    

Best Weight Loss Exercises – burn fat with just 2 moves!

The right exercises with the right amount of intensity makes all the difference in the world when it comes to making significant changes with your body.  People get bogged down by all the possibilities and get overwhelmed with not knowing what to do.  My advice is to keep it simple, learn the basics, and keep upping your intensity as your body acclimates to the stress.  We are going to cover the best weight loss exercises and how to burn fat with just 2 moves.  I also wrote 3 very simple but extremely effective workouts for you to try.

The best weight loss exercises have to fit the criteria; functional, compound, and high energy.

Watch the video and check out the workouts below for a highly efficient way to burn fat.

  1. Functional is a broad term thrown around in the fitness circle.  It means movement patterns that rely directly to ever day life, such as running, jumping, pushing, pulling, picking things up, etc.
  2. Compound just means using more than one joint.  Compound exercises have significantly more impact on metabolism, hormones, and muscle growth than isolation exercises.
  3. High energy out means you are expending a lot of calories!

In my experience the two best weight loss exercises are burpees and thrusters. 

If I had to reduce my strength and conditioning training to two exercises it would be burpees and thrusters.  Ugh, the thought of only doing those exercises forever is a nightmare but wow they are effective!  

These moves are highly functional, multi-compound, and high energy output exercises.  If you are familiar with them, you may hate them BUT they are well worth your efforts.  Embrace the suck and do these exercises once per week!

1. Thruster

The version of the thruster in the video is used with dumbbells.  Although I do love using the bars, I am huge advocate for dumbbells too.  They do an amazing job of building symmetry and stability of the muscles.  Here are a few points of performance:

  1. Position DBs on your delts with your elbows up
  2. Feet shoulder width apart
  3. Drive hips back and the knees outward as you squat to full depth maintaining a tall neutral spine with the triceps parallel to the ground.
  4.  Standup forcefully and punch your arms to full extension.  You should finish with your arms fully locked out by your ears.
  5. Breathing: in as you go down, out as you go up.

2. Burpee

The burpee is a high energy – full body exercise that works almost every muscle in your body.  It is one of the best conditioning exercises there is.  The burpee activates  arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.

  1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
  2. Put your hands on the floor and sprawl your legs back so you end up with your stomach and thighs on the floor.
  3. Then press yourself up and pull your feet under your hips.
  4. Stand up and finish with a little jump.

Workouts

These two moves are peanut butter and jelly.  They are meant to be together.  Here are a few workouts to try.

A.  (21-15-9) with little to no rest

21  thrusters

21 burpees

15 thrusters

15 burpees

9 thrusters

9 burpees

 

B. (chipper) with little to no rest

Run 1 mile

50 Thrusters

50 burpees

 

C. (Intervals)

10 rounds :30 work and :30 rest (thats 5 intervals each)

minute 1. Max burpees

minute 2. Max thrusters

Pick weights that challenge you but manageable.  If you are having to stop every couple of reps you went to heavy.  If you are flying through the workout you went to light.  


Try one of my killer ab routines!

If you ask 10 different trainers what the best exercises for weight loss are, you would likely get 10 different exercises.  While it is true, there are many that will help get the job done, they have to meet the 3 criteria mentioned above; Functional, Compound, and High Energy.  Nothing hits all three better than the thrusters and burpees.  If your goal is getting toned and dropping some pounds, why not do it as quickly and effectively as possible?

Thank you for reading! Try these workouts and let me know what you think.  Hope this was helpful for you!

Let me know what you think about these exercises in the comment section.

Killer Ab Routine!

Who doesn’t want well defined abs?  If you are wanting to develop these elusive muscles, here is a simple killer Ab routine that you need to start doing. It will hit all aspect of your midsection. These movements have been proven to be some of the most effective exercises for stimulating the abdominal muscles.

Disclaimer… You’ll have to get your diet in check before you see any results. These moves will significantly improve the look of your abs as you lean down with the proper nutritional habits. If your body fat is over 25% you can still do these moves with great benefit, but it doesn’t matter how developed they become, they will not make an appearance until you have peeled a few layers of fat.

1. Hanging knees raises.

Hanging knees raises. STRICT! Go slow and try to raise you knees to your chest.

2. Ab roll outs.

Maintain a flat back. STOP if your back begins to hyper extend. You should feel this in your abs and lays, not your back.

3. Scissor crunches.

Like the bicycles but with straight legs. Go slow and crunch up as high as you can towards the opposite knee.

 

Try this killer ab routine.

2 rounds

10 hanging knees raises

10 Ab roll outs

20 scissors.

Rest no more than :30 between exercises.

Click here for more ab workouts

Each set should take NO LESS than :30. You have to keep these muscles under tension for a long time. They are primarily ‘slow twitch’ muscle fibers. They hold a lot of oxygen and twitch slowly, meaning they have higher endurance compared to primarily ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers that do not hold much oxygen but twitch quickly.

BEFORE changing the routine, increase volume over a two-week span before. Work on proficiency and quality movements. If your back is hurting, that is the prime indicator you were not engaging you abs rendering the effort pointless.

Try this routine and let me know how it goes please!

If you are serious about transforming your body and gaining insane functional strength, consider following a calesthenics program.  Literally anyone can start this program and the potential is limitless.   Follow the link below to look into it.

Click here to build an insane body with little to no equipment

 

 

 

 

3 Keys To Mastering The Muscle-up!

The muscle-up is my favorite body weight exercise.  It requires a lot of strength, power, and skill to master.  Although, it is a highly difficult movement, everyone can work on the progressions to make improvements.

In the video, I discuss the 3 key elements to performing a muscle up with efficiency.

  1. False Grip.  This grip is tough for most people to master.  It feels unnatural and demands some strength of the forearm to stay activated.  The video does not go into detail on the false grip but I can’t stress it enough how important it is to get comfortable with this style of grip.
  2. Hip Extensions.  Like any other great high power output exercise, explosive hip extension is important for getting the body moving.  As you begin to pull towards the rings, powerfully thrust your hips straight up.  This will put you in a horizontal position and ready for the turnover.
  3. The Turnover.  This is the last step.  It comes right after you have extended your hips and pulled the rings to your armpits. At this point throw your torso forward while quickly bringing your elbows back and up.  You want to land on top of the rings in a sturdy position with the rings snug to your sides.

Then of course, just finish the movement with the dip.  Make sure to hangout there for a while and smile for the camera!

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It is without a doubt one of the most advanced exercises in CrossFit but there is nothing like getting your first muscle-up.  It’s an awesome feeling for the athlete and the coach as well.  It is an awesome milestone to reach and a big goal I have for everyone who walks into my gym regardless of current skill level.  It may be months or years, I want to see it happen.

Elizabeth’s 1st muscle-up on camera! So awesome!

Let me know how it goes!

 

 

Exercise For Anxiety – The Ultimate Medicine

Anxiety can destroy your life. It impacts every aspect. It can significantly affect habits, relationships, performance, and overall well being. We are going to talk about how exercise is the cure for anxiety.  Unfortunately people suffering from anxiety commonly choose harmful things to cope with the pain, such as alcohol, drugs, and junk food. They use anything that induces pleasure to escape from the stress of chronic worry.

Anxiety is a natural thing. It is an automatic response mechanism to stressful stimuli. Some anxiety is a good thing.

We are talking about daily chronic ‘impending doom’ type of worry. This kind of anxiety is a killer.

Psychological or Physiological problem?

Actually it is both. When we experience stress, our sympathetic nervous system gets stimulated and triggers the release of cortisal causing our blood pressure and blood sugar to rise. The fuel pumped into our blood stream gets us ready to move. Physically, our nervous system doesn’t decipher from the threat of a hungry lion or asking a girl out who is way out of your league. It only senses danger and wants you to respond in a way that will keep you alive or prevent you from embarrassment.

The mental side of things is all about perception. What do we think is dangerous? When you perceive a situation to be threatening that inherently isn’t, the physical response is the same.

Two people can have totally different perspectives. Both should probably take the lion serious. Remember, some anxiety is a good thing. Person A approaches the girl thinking, ‘what’s the worst that can happen? She says no? That’s cool, maybe her sister wants an awesome guy!’. Person B is terrified of being rejected and what it might do to his ego. No risk, no reward.

How to cope with anxiety

Chilling on the couch watching Netflix may offer some feeling of satisfaction temporarily. Drinking alcohol and eating poor quality food can make us feel better for a brief moment. But this approach just leads to further misery. Bad habits amplify the stress.

If you really want to beat anxiety you have to move. We were born to be active. Stress, as we mentioned, is not just mental, it is physical. When we get over stressed and we do not do anything to burn off the excess energy, major consequences kick in.

You can deal with anxiety in many ways but some are better than others.

  1. The negative approach. This one is easy.  Just pick a few temporal pleasures to help you escape your current state of mind and allow you to get through the day. This includes watching TV, drinking, using drugs, and other non-productive activities.
  2. The positive approach. Most people are not going this route because it is harder. It takes exertion and when anxiety has zapped your energy, expending more energy is not appealing. But, if you do it, the payout is amazing. This includes some form of physical exercising like running and a mental exercise like reading. Yoga may be the best answer. If you do not have a studio to attend or would prefer to get started on you own, there are great programs online to follow.  Check out Grokker.

Get Two Weeks of Free Yoga and Fitness Classes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The combo of running and reading is another high-powered weapon against anxiety AND learning! Studies prove that exercise lights up areas of the brain responsible for learning just as it does for calming anxiety. The physical activity helps circulate the blood, getting nutrients and hormones past the blood-brain barrier. One chemical in particular that exercise has a big impact on is Brain-derived Neurotropic Factor, BDNF. BDNF helps build stronger connections between neurons. When you learn a new word, the connection between neurons is weak but after enough repetition the connection strengthens and it gets deposited into your memory bank.

What if you could do something to speed the learning process up while reducing anxiety? The answer is simple; do yoga, run, jump, hike, or skip for 30 minutes before tackling a big task or reading. That may not sound like fun but it is definitely the best thing you can do. Don’t just take my word for it, hear it from people way smarter than me.

Do two things every day, run and read” ~ Will Smith

John Ratey, MD is a psychiatrist and author of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.He treats his patients with exercise. As an MD he also uses traditional medication but he believes if exercise were to be synthesized and made into a pill it would be the most powerful drug on the market. This is from years of research, studies, and experience. In his book Spark, he talks of a case study done at a school in Chicago where students ran every morning before first period. They wore heart rate monitors to ensure they were going at a necessary intensity. These students score significantly higher on standardized tests than students who did not exercise in the morning. Pretty cool stuff!

My anxiety

High anxiety is one of the reasons I chose the path I did. I’ve been a fitness professional for 11 years now. I went this route because I liked the way exercise made me feel and I saw what a lack of it could do to a person. My dad lived an unhealthy lifestyle. He drank hard liquor ever day, smoked over a pack of cigarettes per day, and worst of all did not exercise past the age of 30. Unfortunately his choices caught up to him.

I always thought alcohol was his problem. It was later that I realized, the real problems always lie underneath the habits. Bad habits are just the medicine. The real problem for my dad was his anxiety.  It was unbearable. He did not have any positive skills to combat the stress. It is sad knowing he was in pain and was trying to medicate himself. Had he known the right things to do, he’d be alive and well today.

I am fascinated with the power of simple lifestyle choices. It is incredible what a healthy diet and regular exercise can do for you. Working out, for me, is not about getting ripped and squatting heavy. It’s about how it makes me feel! I feel amazing after I workout.  I’m calmer, sharper, and I feel good about myself for a simple accomplishment. (OK, so it’s a little about looking good too…and lifting heavy..but mainly feeling good!)

Letting your anxiety go untreated

The consequences are not good. Here’s a list of some issues you can expect

  • Compromised immune system
  • Stomach problems
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Elevated heart rate
  • It can even cause a heart attack if not dealt with

What you can do right now to treat your anxiety

  1. First I recommend you make yourself, if you are not already, do some yoga, walk, or jog for half an hour every day. Start adding intensity each week. When you are feeling stressed and are about to reach for alcohol or sugar, try doing 20 squats instead. The result will amaze you. Just by moving your body a little, your mood changes.
  2. Meditation is simple and does not require much time. The benefits are immense. Mental clarity, enhanced self-awareness, focus, and many other remarkable side-effects. Reduce Stress, Sleep More Soundly, And Lead A More Successful Life With Guided Meditation Videos at a Grokker.com!
  3. Yoga is like the ultimate drug for treating anxiety. It is a mix of meditation and exercise. This exercise modality can change your life. Yoga is for everyone!.
  4. Changing your diet. It’s true, you are what you eat. Cleaning up your nutrition will improve your health in every capacity. Try it for a week and see if you agree with me. Get on a plan that has proven to work for others. One of the best plans to follow is the PaleoPlan.

The paleo plan gets you off harmful sugar. High sugar intake causes a lot of detrimental problems and can exacerbate your anxiety.

Get it going!

Don’t dwell on the consequences of anxiety; instead do something about it. Re-establish balance for your mind and body by doing some variation of exercise and reading every day.

The great thing about exercise and clean eating is that there are no negatives. It only yields positive results.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!

Sugar Is More Addictive Than Cocaine And You Are An Addict

People kid about being addicted to sugar but its no joke. I doubt you would think to compare sugar to cocaine but sugar is more addictive than cocaine. For the average person it is more addictive and more harmful (although you probably aren’t getting cuffed for eating too many Twinkies).

You may think this is hyperbole from a health nut trying to scare you into dropping the cookie tray, but it is a fact; the metabolizing of sugar lights up the brain similar to a line of coke. One difference is the accessibility. To get cocaine I’d first have to find a dealer (is there an app for that?) then I’d have to endure the awkwardness of asking for the product without sounding like a cop (there’s a certain vernacular for this exchange I’m sure). Whereas the other white powder; I don’t have to go far.

Sugars from fruits, vegetables, and some complex carbs like sweet potatoes are not the bad guys we are talking about. These foods have a lot of nutrient value. We’re talking primarily highly processed foods, sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup (really bad guys!)

How is sugar more addictive than cocaine?

Cocaine and sugar trigger the release of dopamine. This is the neurotransmitter that tells the brain we feel pleasure. The surge of dopamine is followed by a crash. Once we are bottomed out we naturally look to the source that got us high and want more.

The difference is we do not have any biological drive to snort things up our nose, whereas we have to eat in order to survive. Food provides us energy. Sugar is by far the fastest metabolizing source of energy there is. The body becomes accustomed to using sugar for energy and then craves more.

As we mentioned earlier, sugar is easier to access.

It is also socially acceptable. More than that, people push it on you…”oh live a little. You can have one. Life’s too short not to enjoy some desserts.” This happens a lot when people clean up their diets. Friends and family get weirdly self-conscious and say things like that to make them feel better.

Most people do not realize sugar is addictive. Nor are they aware of the bodily consequences of over consumption.

We can also note that things like brownies buried in my grandma’s ice cream taste AMAZING.  It’s hard to refuse.

 


 

The sugar cycle

Sugar is hard to kick because of its hormonal effect. The reason we are drawn to sugary foods when we are depressed is because of its instant hyperpalatable reward. But this doesn’t last. It’s an artificial pleasure that fades fast once the insulin is spiked. People are often stress eaters. This is a bad hole to fall into. The cycle goes:

  1. I’m stressed
  2. Give me sugar
  3. Damn that’s good!
  4. I’ll have just one more
  5. I need a nap
  6. I’m still hungry
  7. More sugar please

Stopping this cycle and cutting sugar out of your diet is the first step to improving your health dramatically. High sugar diets are the norm in America and they are literally killing us.

(Discover the easiest thing you can do to optimize your fat burning metabolism)

The good news is, it takes less time than you think to kick this habit. If you give it a few days, your cravings will decrease. Your taste buds will adapt. After this happens, sugary foods will taste too sweet. Every time you power through temptation, it gets a little easier.


How sugar has you fooled

  1. Excess sugar drives the pancreas to release insulin, the key to the cell doors that converts and stores sugar as fat.
  2. After the insulin has done its job, our brain doesn’t think we are full. The cravings are still there because the hormone (leptin) that tells us we are full never gets received.
  3. Sugar is now the most desired of all the nutrients because the brain has become addicted to the quick energy and pleasure it provides.

Sugar is a killer

We know that excess sugar leads to hazardous issues including obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and cancers. It feeds cancer cells and facilitates nearly every disease process.

The constant yoyo of insulin and blood sugar will result in insulin-sensitivity, at which point you are in real danger of Type II diabetes and other diseases.

It gets worse…

Not only does it have devastating consequences on the body, we are learning that processed and sugary foods have a terrible effect on the brain. David Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and a Prevention advisory board member stated, “There’s a compelling argument being made that Alzheimer’s disease is actually ‘type 3 diabetes,’ or insulin resistance of the brain”.

A 2009 study in Diabetes Care, researchers studied people with type 2 diabetes and other risks for cardiovascular disease and found diabetics are at greater risk of brain shrinkage and dementia. Furthermore, new studies suggest you do not have to be at a diabetic diagnosis sugar level to be at risk. Sugar levels at the higher end of the normal range can make you vulnerable.

If we know elevated blood sugar leads to these ailments, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume it causes or at least exacerbates other problems, such as depression and other mental illnesses. There are many assertions I will not include because I haven’t found scientific data but I think research in the near future will link high sugar diets to other problems.


Detoxing and replacing sugar in your diet.

It does not take long to detox from sugar. One thing you want to make sure of is that your diet is not too bland. Sugar addicts are accustomed to tasty – hyperpalatable foods. So, use plenty of spices and herbs to prepare your meals. You will want to up your protein intake as well as your vegetables to get that nutritional satisfaction. The fuller you are, the less tempted you will be to eat the sweets.

One of the best ways to make changes to your diet is to have a plan to follow.  There a lot of great resources you can follow to keep you on track.  One of my favorites is PaleoPlan

You will probably crave sugar for the first few days, but it will be worth it when you feel more energetic with a clearer head and a better mood.
Replace the sweets with the following:

    • Peanut butter. It’s delicious and it fills you up more than sugar. Get the natural kind with no preservatives.
    • Fruits. Eat 2-3 servings per day. Yes fruits are sugar but they are not hyperpalatble or processed. When have you ever binged on apples? Fruit is good for you.
    • Meat! Sorry vegans. Meat is highly satiating and the protein does a body good.
    • Whey protein shakes. The right kind is tasty. You can drink them plain or make a smoothie and mix it with greens and fruits. That will take care of your sweet cravings!


Be happier, live longer. You deserve it.

Is it really that big of a sacrifice to put down the plate of brownies in the scheme of things?

It would be highly hypocritical of me if I did not admit my own sugar cravings. I LOVE sugar! Chocolates, pies, brownies, candy bars,…. I love it all and if its around I am tempted to eat some (ok, a lot!). My discipline lies in knowing how tempting it is, so I do not buy it. If its not around, I don’t think about it.

It is also important for me share that I am a believer in enjoying things in moderation. If you’re having desserts on occasion, its not likely to be an issue. Eat a cupcake every once in a while. Just don’t have the whole plate.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope you found it useful. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way. Thanks!

How to get lower abs – 5 Exercises You Must Do

Shredding the lower belly takes more than crunches-n-bunches. You are going to have to show some commitment with these lower ab exercises and a few nutritional tips I’ll be covering. They take some work to shine but it’s well worth it! If you can stay consistent, you’ll see the results.  Let’s talk about how to get lower abs.

We will cover:

  • 5 of the best lower ab exercises
  • Nutritional tips you need to follow
  • a 4 week complete ab programs!

The wrong approach

Starving yourself + thousands of crunches = frustration. The other common mistake is neglecting the big exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. Don’t be that girl or guy! Get your squat on.


 

Exercises

Just as important as ‘what’ exercises to do is ‘how’ you do the exercises. If you perform these moves poorly you will not get the desired results. The abs require a lot of time under tension to change. This means slow and smooth reps.

Here are the exercises to start incorporating today.

1. Hanging Leg Raise

If I had to reduce my ab training to one or two moves, I’d pick variations of this or the Ab roll out. Scale to hanging knee raises or captains chair knee raises

2. GHD or decline sit ups.

If you are serious about a home gym or have your own, this is piece well worth the money.  It’s an incredible exercise. Start with short sets to get acclimated to the high demands of the movement. If you go blasto out of the gates without experience on this, you’ll be sorry.  Go slow on this exercise and make sure you are maintaining tension on your abs.  People often complain of low back pains from GHD sit-ups.  They are either not ready for the advanced exercise or they are not keeping tension on their abs.  No ab exercise should cause back pain.  Ever.

 

3. Ab wheel

The ab roll out is my favorite. Keep your abs engaged – don’t let your back arch. You’ll see this mistake often. Hyper extending the back means your abs are not firing, which can lead to injury. These are super cheep.  Ad this to your arsenal!

The next two are more oblique exercises but are vital to getting that complete cut.

4. Scissor Crunches

Trade the bicycle crunch for this exercise immediately. It is a big upgrade. It is the same motion as the bikes but with straight legs. Each rep should take to less than 1 second.

5. Shoulder taps from a plank position

Squeeze your core (quads, abs, glutes) and breathe steadily the whole time. If you are shaking, that’s good.  tap your hand to your shoulder WITHOUT raising your hips up.

*Bonus*

Another one to try is a pike on the stability ball.

Include lower back exercises

It is a big mistake to not work the opposite muscles. Add some stiff legged deadlifts and back extensions into the mix. Here’s an example routine

3 Rounds:

12 Stiff legged deadlifts

12 back or hip extensions


 

4 Week Ab routine

Perform each workout once per week.

A. 3 round circuit:

10 hanging leg raises. 30 scissor crunches. 10 ab roll outs.

Rest :15 between exercises and less than 1 minute between sets

B. 3 round circuit:

10 GHD sit ups. 20 spidermans. 10 Hanging leg raises

Rest: same as workout A.

Next week advance reps to 12 leg raises, 40 scissors, 12 ab roll outs. 12 GHDs, 30 shoulder taps, 12 Leg raises

Week 3 advance to 3 workouts using the same rep scheme. If you feel you need to

Week 4 advance to 14 Leg raises, 50 Scissors, 14 ab roll outs. 14 GHDs, 40 shoulder taps, 14 Leg raises


 

Keys to the workouts

1. Do the movements correctly

2. Do the movements slowly

3. Do not exceed the rest periods prescribed


 

Nutrition

Do not skip over this!!! It is commonly said, ‘abs are made in the kitchen’. Unfortunately , there’s a lot of truth to this. Sorry but the ab routine won’t work if you don’t fix the holes in your diet. Follow this and you’ll be solid.

Reduce your sugar intake. Sugar spikes insulin. Insulin converts sugar into fat, which usually gets stored as fat in the gut.

Eat fibrous foods. This is important for many health reasons but it relates to burning fat simply because it helps you feel full. You are less likely to over eat when you go to town on the greens.

Consume 1/2 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or up to 35% of your caloric intake. Any more than 35% and you are probably wasting the protein, as it gets stored or converted to sugar.

Drink 80oz of water every day. Some recommend more than this. The point is, drink a lot of water. The exact amount is really dependent on how active you are. I’ve found 80 to take care of most peoples’ needs. If you are constantly peeing, it is a sign your water intake is obnoxiously high. You do not have to put down a gallon jug every day.

Prepare your meals! By preparing your meals ahead of time you are canceling the risk of spur of the moment bad choices when you get hungry. There is no more Big Mack temptations when everything is ready for you. Please, don’t give me the ‘I don’t have time excuse’. If you use that, I can’t help you.

Eat within a 9-12 hour window.

This means fasting for 12-15 hours every day. This is the easiest thing no one is doing that has been shown to dramatically improve your health and speed the fat burn. Without even changing the content of your diet, this will help with fat loss and a slew of other health related things.

Dial in on your macro profile. This is a dicey thing to cover, as there is a library of battling literature for your reading pleasure. It deserves several more blogs but for now I’m just going to give you a standard I have found to work very well. Trainers and nutritionists will argue different things. This can be exhausting for people who just want to know ‘what the hell do I eat!’. The truth is there are several methods that have been proven to get you great results.

Here is a profile that Like. I’ve found it to be highly successful for myself and my clients. It is 30% carb 35% pro 35 % fat. If you are thinking ‘damn that’s a lot of lard!’, I understand your logic. I agree, it seems counterintuitive to eat a high fat diet to burn fat. But, that is exactly what will happen.

Contrary to what you may believe, you do NOT have to count calories to be successful! No one likes counting calories and it is NOT necessary. More on that later, but the gist of it is, eat in the restricted window mentioned above, cut sugar, eat healthy fats, and drink a lot of water. To track progress, all you have to do is look in the mirror and assess your performance. That will tell you if you need to cut the volume of your food down or not.

If you are dedicated to the ab mission, think about the ketogenic diet. Nothing will burn the fat faster. However, it takes a lot of sacrifice and a rough adjustment period. It’s not for everyone but research is pouring in that suggest there are benefits from lowering the risk of cancer to better moods, fat loss and improved cognitive function. It’s worth looking into. It is extremely effective for fat loss because it regulates insulin and forces the body to use fat for fuel.


 

Happy gains!

Abs don’t just show up. It will take the diet+exercise equation. If you can add this up, I guarantee you will love the results. Sacrifice the sweets and show your abs some love!

Also, – take before and after pictures and let me know how it goes!

I hope this was helpful! If you have any questions or would like to make a comment (good or bad) please do so! I’m happy to help any way I can. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is The Keto Diet Good For You? What You Need To Know

The keto diet is a hot item right now. I have no doubt at least one of your friends or family members are on it right now and just like your CrosssFit buddies, they won’t shut up about it. The popularity has snow balled because of its undeniable affect on weight loss. It will definitely shred the fat but is the keto diet good for you?

Lets dig in and find out what the pros and cons of the new cool diet.

What Is Ketosis?

The purpose of the keto diet is to put the body into Ketosis; a metabolic state causing the body to produce and use ketones for energy. In other words, you will burn fat instead of sugar. You achieve this state by eating a specific diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Eliminating nearly all carbohydrates from your diet will result in the depletion of glycogen. Glycogen is like a warehouse for glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy. Once these stores have been raided, the body goes in search of alternative fuel sources. It just so happens we have extra fuel close by in the form of fat. The breakdown of fat produces ketones and voila we have a brand new power source.

Learn more about the diet and how to implement it correctly.

Eating a diet high in fat seems counter intuitive. We have been programmed to believe fat is bad. The truth is, fat is bad for you only when you are consuming too many calories on a diet that is also high in carbohydrates. It goes without saying, your food choices are important too.​


Is It Safe?

I personally thought the keto diet was a terrible idea as it went against everything I was taught in school. New paradigms are hard to shift. I became interested in learning about it years later after seeing people not only lose weight but improve every biomarker imaginable, from blood pressure to resting heart rate.

Ketosis is nothing new. No one invented it. It is a natural state of the body. There will likely be side effects in the beginning as your body transitions from glucose to ketones but these will subside in a few weeks if you can hang in that long.


The Pros

I’ve had clients drop over 50 pounds in 3 months on the keto diet. That’s a little speedier than I recommend but its just easy to do once the fat burning process begins.

Shredding body fat is the least of the benefits.

First it regulates your blood sugar and insulin. Insulin is the hormone that keeps fat on our bodies. When insulin spikes, you will store fat rather than burn it. Regulation keeps everything in check, from appetite to energy swings.  Maintaining the hormonal balance improves mental focus once you are acclimated to ketosis.

Ketogenic diets may reduce the risk of cancer. Cancer cells are thought to feed off of sugar. Depriving them of their sugar can stop the growth of cancerous cells.


The Cons

The biggest drawback for me is the scientific fact, Carbs are tasty!!! You will have to accept the sacrifice. Life without beer, chocolate, or bread is a tough adjustment.

There will likely be several side effects as ketosis kicks in but these will go away over time.

  • You can count on being very tired the first few weeks.
  • Your brain will be foggy.
  • You will be hungry
  • You will crave carbs like an addict going through detox.
  • Your physical performance will fall off. Keep exercise light during this transition phase. No worries, you’ll get it back.
  • Your digestive system may get out of wack
  • You may experience dehydration. Glucose stores water.  The majority of your weight loss in the first few weeks may be water simply because your body will not be retaining as much.

How To Safely Implement The Diet

  • Start with a low carb diet to ease into it and test the waters. Do not attempt full keto off the bat
  • Have a plan to follow instead of winging it.
  • Drink a lot water
  • Eat fibrous vegetables
  • Scale your workouts back for a few weeks
  • Regular check ups with your doctor
  • Make sure you are getting enough sodium
  • Test your ketone levels

While there’s no denying the benefits, you have to decide if its worth it or not. Achieving ketosis is simple but it is far from easy. It’s a commitment. You have to endure a rough couple of weeks before your body acclimates. It takes 1 to 6 weeks depending on how long you have been running on sugar. Most people will give up in the first week.

If you are seriously going to follow a ketogenic diet, another drawback is you will likely have to buy a lot of new clothes!


Test Your Ketone Levels

This is easy to do and fairly inexpensive

You will want an accurate method of testing. The blood monitoring is the best route to go. Testing for ketone levels in your blood is more accurate than urine tests. It will tell you what you need to know in a few seconds.

 

You can us urine strips if you want. This is the most common form of checking ketones but they are far less accurate. The strips will indicate if your body is producing more ketones than you are burning but not an accurate sign of being in ketosis.


Tips

Follow a good plan. This is new to you and the body. Following a plan will help ensure success.  Here is the best plan on the market.

Test your keto levels often.

KETO-MOJO Blood Ketone and Glucose Testing Meter Kit, Monitor your ketogenic diet, 1 Lancet Device, 10 Lancets, 10 Ketone Test Strips, Carrying Case. Does NOT include Glucose Strips

See your doctor for a physical before you begin. Do a checkup every month for 3 months.

Take measurements and before and after pictures! You will not regret it.

If you are going to test this diet out, do it right.  Follow the tips I provided closely.  See your doctor, get on a plan and test your levels ​regularly.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please reach out if you have any questions on this subject. I am happy to help out anyway I can!

Best Way To Build Glutes

Having a nice backside comes with a lot of benefits.  Weak glutes can cause a bevy of issues with your low back, hips, and knees.  Your glutes are not just for cushion.  They are part of that ‘core’ everyone talks about.  Strong glutes stabalize your hips, keep your body in alignment, prevent injuries, and several other things.  Not to mention, they make you look great!  Let’s talk about how to build awesome glutes.  

Compound Exercises

Gym goers can get in the habit of doing too many smaller exercises specific to the glutes while neglecting the big moves.  This is a critical error.  Start your routine with the basic squats, deadlifts, weigthed lunges, or hip thrusters then move into a few smaller movements.  

It goes without saying, you have to make sure you are doing these exercises correctly.  If you’re not, you won’t see much payout. I’ve seen a lot of bad form in my day.  It makes me cringe and say ouch.  Bad form leads to low activation of the muscles, muscular imbalances, and possibly injury.  Not exactly what we’re looking for.

Perform lower volume sets (about 3-6 reps) at a relatively heavy load.  Once a quater go for either a 3 rep or 5 rep max to measure your progress.  You want other metrics than selfies in the mirror for instagram.  Recording your PRs has many benefits.  5×5 is the most popular prescription.  It works great but you will need to mix it up.  

You do not need to do several compound moves every leg day.  I suggest picking one or two. The deadlift and hip thruster is a killer combo for one leg day then back Squats and weighted lunges for the next.    

Once you have completed your compound movement(s), pick 2 specific exercises.  

Warm-up

Warming up is the most important component to any workout.  How well or crappy you start will impact your performance.  My standard warm-up goes as follows:

  • 5-10 minutes aerobic exercise.  This can include dynamic movements, joggin, biking, etc.
  • 1 minute pigeon stretch.  This is minimal.  You can pick a couple stretches. (many say not to hold static stretches in the beginning of the workout but that’s entire other blog)
  • 2-3 sets of an activation exercise.  My favorite is banded lateral walks.  10 steps one direction, 10 the other.  
  • Boom you’re ready

Pound The Protein

How you fuel your body will determine how well the engine runs.   Your progress in the gym falls on your diet.  Protein is the building block for muscle tissue.  It repairs and stimulates growth.  Whey protein shakes are a great way to supplement you diet to ensure you are getting the optimal dose.  I have found drinking a shake before and after workouts has produced the best results for me and my clients.  You will need other sources as well (hence the operative word ‘supplement’) but the whey protein shakes are by far the best source for quick recovery. Here is one of my favorites for the money. It’s a great product.   

The last thing you want to do is work your ass off with nothing to show for it aside from chonic soreness and an awkward limp up the stairs.  So, get your nutrition in check and make sure you are eating plenty of protein.  

My favorite exercises for building the glutes:

  1. Reverse lunges.  Perform 6 reps each leg.  Do not alternate your legs.  This will keep tension on the muscles and stimulates growth.  I do not have hard data to back it up, just my personal expereince, but I believe this to be the best of all the exercises for developing the glutes.  Dare I say better than back squats?  Yes, if we’re just talking glutes, much better!  My favorite wat to do this is with a barbell on my back.  Place the bar as you would a back squat.  Go as heavy as you can handle with proficiency.  If you want the ultimate core challenge, then do the the front rack position. This places an insane demand on the anteriror and posterior core muscles, while putting much less stress on the spine.  You can also hold heavy dumbbells or kettle bells to your side.  
  1. Deadlift.  The deadlift, in my mind is king of all exercises.  This move does amazing things for the entire posterior chain.  Learn to do it well.  
  2. Weighted walking lunges. These are not quite as brutal as the reverse lunges but are highly effective.  Do the same rep scheme as mentioned above.  
  3. Hip thrusters.  This move is easy to learn.  The form does not require a fraction of the time to master as the squats and deadlifts.  Still – find out how do it right and practice perfect form!  Concentrate on squeezing the glutes at the top, feeling them stretch at the bottom, and go at a slow tempo. :02 up, :03 hold, :02 down. 
  4. Back Squats.  The back squat is my favorite exercise to perform.  It does a body good.  They definitely have more affect on the quads than anything else.  Nonetheless, they are still great for the derrier.  They are also fantastic for core strength.  
  5. The hip abductor.  This is the only isolation exercise I will mention.  It works.  Do this exercise after the compound move you pick with high volume; 10-15 reps.  Each rep should take NO LESS than :05.  If you do not have an abductor machine, no problem.  You can use bands to get the same results.  Go slow and use the proper tension.  
  6. GHD hip or back extension.  These are amazing exercises.  They will tremendously improve your glute activation making the big moves more effective.  Furthermore, they build a resiliant posterior chain, which reduces injury.
  7. Sprinting.  Have you ever seen a sprinter with a flat ass?  Didn’t thinks so.  Enough said.  However, I warn you to ease into this!  If you are an armchair quaterback who hasn’t stepped foot on a track in 20 years, you are going to hurt yourself!  

Here a 2 example workouts guaranteed to build awesome glutes!

Workout Routines

Workout I

  • Banded lateral steps 3×10 each side
  • Back Squat 5×5 *heavy
  • Reverse lunges 3×6 each leg

Workout II

  • Deadlift 5×5 *heavy
  • Hip Thrusters 3×8
  • Hip extensions 3×15

*heavy as you can go while maintaining solid form

Key Notes

Remember this quote, ‘move well then move heavy’.  Take the time to get the form down on the big moves.  This may take a while but it is worth it.  Coaching is the most surefire way to go about it. Hiring a coach or trainer is a small price to pay for your health, safety, and performance.   There is nothing compared to learning hands on from someone who has years of experience in not only performing the training but educating people as well.   

Do leg workouts 2x per week.  If you do crossfit, you get plenty of leg work!   

One of my personal favorite brands of whey protein is Dymatize. It is high quality and inexpensive.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If you have any questions or need any help, please leave a comment below!  I am happy to help.  Thank you for reading!  

Build Awesome Abs in 3 Simple Steps

I can’t do the work for you but if you follow these guidelines you can build awesome abs. 

Hiding underneath the layer of potential energy wrapped around your waist lurks the 6-pack that everyone wants. They are one of the most difficult parts of the body to achieve (for most). To be honest, yes genetics do play a role, but stop with that excuse right now. Anyone can get them to shine. It is a matter of developing the muscle and trimming the fat. Let’s get to it!

I am going to give you the 3 main steps to take to get that sexy core and a workout you can start following now.

3. Do The Big Core Exercises

The most effective exercise for building a great core are probably not what you expect. Prioritize the big movements; squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. These movements pack tremendous value. If you are doing them correctly, they place an intense demand on the entire core. The front squat in particular is a killer ab exercise. Your core has to work hard to keep you in an upright position when you are load baring in front of your body. The deadlift, especially the Romanian deadlift, is my favorite for the posterior chain (the whole backside of the body). Working the posterior chain is mandatory. Train it often. Do each of these moves 1-2x every week.

2. Training Your abs The Right Way

You do not need to train your abs every day. 3-4 days per week is the most you need to do. Doing 1,000 crunches is not going to get you anywhere. Your ab specific routine should take no more than 10 minutes, so stop spending a whole workout on your belly. Specific ab training is to be done at the end of your workout session. Focus on the form of each exercise.  Your reps should be slow and controlled.  Your rest periods need to be short.

1. Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

And the number one step towards shred city is in the kitchen. You can not out work your bad diet. If you are rewarding yourself for a good workout with a Big Mac, those abs are going to stay in hibernation. To get that six-pack, you will have to drop somebody fat %. Here are a few keys to a good diet.

  1. 3 servings of vegetables
  2. Plenty of water. The exact amount depends on the person and the demands of their daily activities. 80-100 oz will be plenty for most of us
  3. Eat lots of protein. Supplement with a good whey protein.
  4. Eat healthy fats
  5. Follow a time restricted diet. This is the easiest thing you can implement that by itself will give you great results. Read up on it here.

Shred City workout

You can do this workout at home, on the road, or at the gym. One of the most important components of this workout is the amount of rest you take between sets. They are going to be short because the type of muscle fibers the abs are made of have a lot of endurance, which means you have to keep them under tension in order to make any changes.

Beginner

2-3 rounds:

  • :20 plank on your elbows – squeeze your abs, quads, and glutes as tight as possible. Remember to breathe. If you are shaking like a jack hammer, good!
  • 12 Leg raises. Go slow. Each rep should take :03-:05. Keep your back flat on the ground. For the love of God, do not let me catch you with your hands underneath your butt. Doing so will render the exercise ineffective.
  • 5 Side plank raises each side. Each rep should take :03-:05
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

Intermediate

3 rounds:

  • 12 Ab roll outs. The ab wheel is amazing. This is the best exercise I have found for developing the abs. Most people do not have the core strength to do this effectively, though they think they do. If it is hurting your back, that’s a good sign you are not ready for this movement. I do not advise this move for beginners but once you have worked up the core strength to do this move correctly, it is an absolute must.
  • 24 Windshield wipers. This is a diagonal leg raise that works both the rectus abdominous and the obliques. Each rep should take :03
  • 60 mountain climbers. Maintain flat back and draw your knee to your elbow. You should be able to touch your elbow.
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

Advanced

3 rounds:

  • 12 Strict toes to bar (slower the better. Scale to knees to chest once you can no longer achieve the toes to bar)
  • 12 Ab roll outs. At this point, you should be able to make full contact with the ground each rep.
  • :30 side plank each side
  • Rest periods no longer than :20 between exercises and :45 between rounds

*important complimentary exercises: supermans, back extensions, hip extensions, bird dogs

  • These are important to incorporate. Your workout routine should be balanced, so if you are working one muscle group or plane of motion, you need to work the other.

It takes a lot of work but the process is pretty straight forward. Anyone can build ridiculous abs!

Thank you for reading! I hope this article was helpful. If you have a question or need anything please comment below! I’m happy to help.

Health and Fitness Transformation – John

 “If I can do it, you can do it”, is the best adage there is for summoning the courage to get your ass in gear and make things happen.  When we see the proof; real people starting their personal fitness journeys and achieving great results, we learn we too can do it.  It shifts our paradigm from believing excuses to ‘hey maybe I can do this’.  There is no reason why you can’t have your own health and fitness transformation.  

Check out a piece of John’s story 

What got you started on your fitness journey?

Realization that I didn’t have to live with the pain that I was experiencing and that my years of living a sedentary lifestyle was not allowing me to be the man I wanted to be.

In what ways has your life changed since you made your fitness a priority?

Physically I feel the best that I have in a long time…..I was a sedentary kid that became a sedentary adult who was on roller coaster diets that weren’t sustainable for long-term weight management. The lack of strength in my upper body & lower back was creating back pain for basic things like driving; I was taking OTC pain meds (Advil) daily.

Mentally I am much more confident in my appearance and abilities.

What fitness accomplishments are you most proud of?

1. I’ve gone from a body fat level of almost 30% down to the 15% range (and I’m not done yet)….words can’t describe my feelings about this accomplishment – the ‘man boobs’ are gone and they’re never coming back!

2. The upper body strength to do pull-ups….I had mentally convinced myself at an early age that I could not do them and here I am at 45 finally doing them.

3. I’m less stressed mentally/emotionally…..nothing else in my life has changed – I have the same job, family responsibilities, etc but now that I feel better physically, I handle life’s stresses better – when I do find that I’m stressed and I can’t get it out of my head though, that’s a good time to take a walk, jump on a treadmill or go grab some dumbbells.

4. NO back pain.

What would you say to people with the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse?

You can’t view it as just another activity to add to your daily routine, you have to view it as a change in lifestyle that’s going to allow you to live a better life. If you get your head wrapped around feeling better, you’ll stick with it and make changes that are sustainable and not just short-term.

What are some of your current goals?

1. Continue to chip away at body fat especially in my mid-section…an overall 10-12% body fat level feels like the right number to continue to work towards.

2. Add muscle in my upper body especially in my arms and chest.

3. 50 pull-ups in a work out session.

4. Same level of proficiency with tricep push-ups as I have with regular push-ups.

What motivates you to keep going?

The progress that I’ve made so far….with how I feel and look after 8 months, I can’t wait to see where I am when I hit the 1 year mark, 18 months, etc.

The sign that you have posted in your gym….’When you think about quitting….remember why you started’….I have that burned into my mind.

What is one adversity you’ve had to overcome in your life (doesn’t have to be fitness) and how did you handle it?

Lack of self-confidence & that internal voice of doubt….constant work in process.

What would you say the biggest 3 keys have been to your success?

1. Desire to feel & look better.

2. Great coaching & guidance that I’ve received from you on diet, strength & conditioning….thanks for meeting me where I was but pushing me through the weekly plan.

3. Complete change in how I view food…specifically with how/what/when I eat.

What do you do with your free time?

I’m a proud dad to my two sons….keeping up with their activities and supporting them.

I enjoy working outside….with 6 acres to maintain, there’s always something to do.

KC sports….love watching and cheering for the hometown teams (Royals, Sporting KC & Chiefs)

Name one hidden talent you have.

I’m highly detailed & organized (some call it OCD)….I focus on looking out for things that can be problematic before they happen

Name one talent you wish you had.

Carpentry skills

What advice would you have for someone who is struggling to make the changes in their life that they want and need?

Be honest with yourself about why you aren’t making the changes on your own…..for me, I honestly didn’t know what to do even though I thought I did. I really didn’t know how to eat right or which exercises I needed to do – I also lacked patience to chip away at it on my own so I would get frustrated….it was easier to avoid it since that was the path of least resistance. Get a good coach to work with and keep you motivated. Remember, iron sharpens iron.

Be ok starting where you are….don’t judge yourself based on where others are, focus on where you want to be. If I can go from never doing a pull-up to now doing them – you can too.

I hope you have enjoyed this story.  Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or if I can help in any way, please let me know!  

Build Amazing Glutes With This Exercise

The reverse lunge is one of the top three overall lower body exercise there is!  It will build glutes like no other.  4 Reasons you have to have this in your routine.  Incorporate this move to:

  1. build killer legs
  2. correct muscular imbalance
  3. improve your power and olympic lifts
  4. prevent injury.

It is kind on the knees and puts a lot of load on the hips making it great for glute development.  There are varies ways to load this movement but my favorite is the front rack.  Placing the bar in the front rack demands a lot of core activation with less compression on the spine than the back rack.  A win-win.  The back rack is a fine option as well as it allows for a little more iron on the bar, which makes it a great strength move.  Get this movement in your routine!

When we only workout with bilateral moves, the dominant side will usually fire a little more which consequently creates muscular imbalances and those can lead to injury (if nothing else, they will hold us back).  Unilateral training is important to keep both sides of the body in symmetry.

Magic Weight Loss Pill, How To Shred Fat!

If you want to drop some Lbs and get in shape, read on to learn the best methods possible.

We all want the magic weight loss pill. We want the results ASAP. Our programming is not designed for instant gratification. Delayed rewards is difficult for us to process. For this reason, most people fail to make the changes they desire.

So, about that magic pill, it is still in production. It doesn’t exist and I am sorry for misleading you. But, my heart is in a good place because I know I can help. There are regiments that you can do that produce amazing results and require relatively small sacrifices. I want to share with you what I’ve learned as a personal trainer (primarily training weight loss clients) that really works.

It is not complicated. It is simple to follow. Be consistent with these guidelines. You will see changes before you know it. These changes will empower you. They will inspire you to keep going.

3 Steps to weight loss!

1. Start doing a time restricted diet. This is the easiest nutritional change you can make and has health benefits that reach far beyond weight loss. Even if this is the only thing you do, you will lose weight. It is simply eating in a 9-12 hour window then fasting for 12-15 hours. Check out my blog to learn more.

2. Stop sitting. This is killing you. Literally killing you. No bullshit. Sedentary lifestyles are the number 1 cause for preventable diseases. Medical schools used to teach that smoking was the biggest contributor to preventable deaths. Not anymore. Sitting is far worse.

Your metabolism plummets the longer you sit. You become more insulin resistant, which causes all kinds of problems, least of all is storing more fat.

3. Follow an exercise program. Winging it is going to halt your momentum. One of the main reasons for my clients’ success is having a routine they can follow. I’d like to think some of it is my charming personality and infectious inspiration. But the reality is knowing what to do goes a long way. Having a simple plan laid out for you keeps you on track and confident that you are doing the right thing.

These three steps will get you started. There are other things to implement in the future but I have found keeping it simple is the best route. You do not want to make too many changes at once. Let your mind and body adapt then add to your new lifestyle. Here are some things I’ll cover in future blogs.

*3 servings of vegetables *importance of hydration *types of exercise best for weight loss *macro nutrient profiles *supplements

5 Step Beginners’ Guide to getting in shape

Still in production

While the manufactured product doesn’t exist, the real one does and it is far more rewarding than a pill could ever be! When you work for something and you see results, it changes you on the inside. You start believing in yourself. Your confidence grows. You become inspired to see what else you can do. That is the real magic.

Like many cliches; the first step is the hardest one to take. Waiting around for the motivation to start will leave you as disappointed as waiting for that hot girl to come on to you (sorry ladies, I couldn’t come up with a clever analogy for you. You get the point though). You just have to man up and make the move.

I hope you found this article useful. Let me know if you have any questions. I’m here to help.

Happy Gains!!

Time Restricted Feeding, Burn Fat Fast

This will be the easiest change you can make to make significant health improvements including reduced body fat.
You have likely heard of intermittent fasting (IF). It is simply eating in a certain time window then fasting for the remaining 24 hours. The benefits go far beyond burning fat. It can regulate blood sugar, improve heart health, and has been suggested by research to help reduce the risk of cancer. The great thing about it is, it is easy to implement because it doesn’t require overhauling the content of your diet.
We are going to focus the time restricted Feeding (TRF) method. Its has tremendous health benefits and can help you burn fat fast.

TRF means taking in calories in a set amount of time, then fasting for the remainder of the day. It matches your circadian rhythm and metabolic clock. Eat within a 9-12 hour window and fast for the remaining 12-15 hours. For example, I typically rise around 5:30AM. I’ll wait until 8AM to take in my first calories. I will have my last meal before 8PM. You can set your schedule to whatever works best for you. On the weekends, I will do one longer fast, between 15-17 hours.

Benefits Of TRF

1. Shreds body Fat!

You can greatly increase the amount of fat you burn just by changing when you eat.
An increasing amount of research suggest TRF maintains lean muscle and burns fat. One reason for this is simply, if your eating time is restricted, it is much easier to achieve a calorie deficit (1). It also reduces hunger. That by itself can shed the pounds. Seriously, has McDonalds ever sounded appetizing when you were not starving? No, it’s the equivalent to the ‘walk of shame’; great idea when desperate with a lack of options.
TRF regulates your insulin. Insulin is the hormone released from your pancreas after you eat. This vital hormone regulates blood sugar. It decides if the sugar will be used or stored. Taking time off from eating keeps insulin low and shifts your body into fat burn gear.

2. Easy to do

As stated earlier, this is too easy not to do. We aren’t even talking about the ‘what’ in your diet yet. That is the hard part.
Decide on a schedule that works best for you and get started. Depending on your current feeding window, I recommend the 12:12 schedule. This may require you eat a later breakfast or earlier dinner but it is definitely doable. This may take a week or two to adjust to if you are accustomed to eating in a longer window of time. Just stick with it. It becomes automatic.
Even if TRF is the only thing you implement, you will lose fat because of the timing unless your diet is disastrous.

3. Live Longer

While your body is in a fasted state, it is biologically driven to find ways to keep you alive. But do not think of more as better. Keep it in that 8-12-hour feeding window.
TRF has a great impact on metabolism (2). According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick (leading expert in the field with a Ph.D in biomedical sciences), when we eat beyond a 12-hour window, our metabolism is compromised. We become more insulin resistant, our muscles can atrophy, and we stop processing nutrients the way they are intended. She says TRF gives your body a chance to recover so it can optimize the metabolic process.
Studies have shown reduced LDL (bad cholesterol) with TRF (2). All preventable diseases, including many cancers, can come down to problems with metabolism, which are brought on by lifestyle behaviors that can easily be changed.
Interesting studies conducted on mice have proven TRF has increases lifespan (3). Two groups of mice were fed the same amount and the same content. Group 1 ate withing a 10-hour window, while group 2 ate day and night. Group 2 2 was a mess! They gained weight. Group 1 actually gained muscle!
Implementing TRF is easy. It preserves muscle, burns the love handles, improves bio markers, adds years to your life. Sounds pretty good to me! It should be mentioned that this subject needs further research but the current data is promising.

Key Notes:
*Being consistent with TRF will motivate you to do more and tighten up your diet. This will snowball into big results!
*It is OK if you cheat here and there. 1x per week.
*Just because you did a fast, doesn’t mean you earned a gorge session.
*Strength training should be done in the feeding window. You will not get the full benefit of resistance training during a fast. You can do cardio in a fasted state, which has been reported to be beneficial but keep it light. High performance and output will require the necessary energy.
*Start with the 12-hour feeding window and then see if you can reduce it to 10 as you adapt.
*Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water!
*Anything that has any caloric value breaks your fast. Sugar in your coffee? Fast is over. Coffee is great because it helps reduce hunger but leave out the creamers.
*However, according to Dr. Rhonda, even black coffee breaks your fast because it has to be processed it by the liver. Research for yourself. I choose to drink coffee and have found great benefits. I’ll wait for empirical data before I stop drinking coffee during my fast!

Thank you for reading this post! I hope you found it useful. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way. Thanks!

5 Step Beginners’ Guide To Getting in Shape

If you’re reading this, I take it to mean you are ready to start exercising. That’s awesome! Hang with me for a little while. This could change your life . I am going to give you a 5 step beginners’ guide to getting in shape to get you rolling!

There is nothing as natural as exercise. We all need it. We were meant to move. It is a critical part of our health and human experience. Sedentary lives causes serious problems, not limited to the physical body. It zaps our mental performance and emotional well being. Scientifically proven, exercise is without a doubt the best thing there is for curing ailments and preventing them from ever occurring. If you could synthesize exercise, it would be the most powerful drug ever to hit the market.

These steps are simple. Most people to do not follow them and that is why most people give up on their fitness goals. They want instant gratification and when they do not get it, they just forget about it. Follow these and I promise there is nothing that will stop you.

1. Mindset

Do not skip over this. This is the most important step. Your success is determined by your mindset. Exercise is work, so you are going have to be mentally prepared to give it your all, to do the work when you don’t feel like it, to push past the pain and be consistent long enough to make it habit. Keys for the right mindset

  • Focus on making exercise a habit. Your progress will come if you adopt an exercise routine and stick with it. This is helpful because it keeps your mind on the big picture.
  • Trust the process. Once you have started, put faith in the process. Do not doubt it. Just do it.
  • Understand it takes time to see results. Its great to have big goals but I have seen countless people give up because they did not see the success in the time frame they wanted.
  • Remind yourself why you are doing this. What’s your motivation? Want to feel more alive with great energy? Want to live past 100? Want to be able to keep up with your kids? Are you going through a divorce and want to get yourself back on the market? Going on vacation and want to look your best? Do not forget why you wanted to start exercising. This will keep you going.

Get your mind right first, then get after it!

2. Set Goals

Goal setting goes along with the mindset and motivation. This gives us direction. Like traveling somewhere, you do not have a destination in mind or the directions to get there, you won’t get anywhere. Your do not magically fall into success. I suggest setting small goals. It feels amazing accomplishing these small tasks. Before you know it you’ll be hitting milestones.

After setting your goals. Try reverse engineering in it. This will break down every step you need to get to your end goal, while giving you the many benchmarks that keep you happy.

3. Plan

If you are not planning, there’s no chance of reaching your goals.  You know the old adage; ‘you don’t plan to fail, you fail to plan’. Your fitness plan will consist of:

When you workout. Scheduling your workouts makes them a priority.

How often you workout. If you are brand new, I recommend 5 days of light cardio, 20-30 minutes. This can be walking, hiking, biking, elliptical, etc. And 2-3 days of 25 minutes of resistance training.

Meal prep. Start cooking in bulk on Sundays for the week. Prepare your meals and put them in tuber ware. Of all the healthy dietary habits to have this is number one!!! I can’t stress the value of this enough. It prevents you from overeating and making bad choices. Pick a meat, 2 servings of vegetables (greens preferably) and a small serving of carbohydrates like 1/2 a sweet potato.

What are you going to do for your workout? People struggle to know what to do.  This causes paralyses by analyses. My advice is to not over think it. Do some research on full body resistant training workouts that include basic exercises like pushups, rows, squats and lunges. It does not have to be complicated.

There are several great programs like Hitch Fit you can find online to put all of this together.  Since planning is such a critical component, I recommend considering the investment.  Having proven and professional program to follow helps ensure success tremendously.

 

4. Take Measurement To Track Progress

Measuring your progress keeps you on track. It shows you were you are improving which always feels good. I suggest weighing yourself, take before pictures, body fat, circumference measurements. What I like even more is testing your fitness in different capacities. How fast can you run/walk a mile? Can you make it a mile? How many pushups can you do on day one. Can you do a pullup? All of these are fantastic measures. There’s nothing like being able to do something today that you couldn’t do tomorrow. If you are making progress you are going to make progress with your body. These measures and goals are far more engaging than ‘I want to lose x pounds’. Put your focus on the performance trackers and you will see the changes in the mirror!

5. Start Today

The biggest mistake people make is waiting for the right time to start. Your won’t find more time and you definitely won’t find a better time.

I hope you found this blog helpful. If you have any input or questions please leave them below! Thank you for reading.

Contact me at clay@clayhendersonfitness.com

 

Injury Free Fitness

While it is true that no sport is injury free; with proper training we can not only reduce the risk of injury, we can make our bodies more resistant to injury. Your fitness program should be keeping you as safe. I’m going to highlight the key elements that will make you more resilient and far more likely to be injury free!

Injury Prevention

Injuries put the brakes on our progress. Aside from that, they just plain suck. Preventing injury is first and foremost a mindset. My motto is ‘Move well, then move fast and heavy’. If you live by this, you are a thousand times more likely to go injury free and you will see more gains. Watch the elite crossfitters. Their rep 101 looks exactly like rep 1. This not an accident, nor is it just natural. This comes from extreme attention to detail and pride in how well they are doing things.

Greater potential is the other big factor in doing things the right way. Kobe Bryant was a remarkable athlete with ridiculous fade away shots (copied from MJ) and drives to the hoop. What you don’t see, is the thousands of hours he’s spent on the fundamentals, the 100s of free throws and layups he did every day, or the drills he did before games. Most elite athletes understand the importance of mastering the basics.

There is a term called ‘virtuosity’. It means, doing the common uncommonly well. Live by this in the gym and your results will come free of injury.

‘Move well, then move fast and heavy’

How Injuries Happen

If you want results, you better be working high intensities. But not before becoming proficient the exercises in your program.  Exercise takes time and effort to become proficient at. No one is good at these exercises on day one. Going blasto Hercules style off the bat is disastrous.

Fitness programs should – crossfit, bootcamps, body building, or endurance training – are scalable to EVERYONE regardless of ability. A lot of people who are just starting on a routine have not been exposed to the technical demands of the exercises.  Not having experience does not mean we can not learn and benefit from them but it does mean we need to be careful and patient. I think it is FUN to gain competency. I enjoy learning and getting better at things. It is rewarding. So, I highly recommend you be patient and just enjoy the process.

Two causes for injury:

  • Improper movement patterns at high intensity can cause harm. These bad movements are learned over time and cause problems throughout the body. Find your common faults and identify the troubles you have with certain exercises.  It is typical that we blame the exercise if we hurt ourselves but the truth is it is not the exercise.  It is our limitations and execution.  Find the faults then we gain an awareness that wasn’t there before allowing us a chance for the right training strategy to fix the kinks. Correcting these have far greater benefits than improving your performance in the gym. Moving better will keep the joints oiled for years to come! Improving movement patterns can cure pains throughout the body including back conditions, headaches, tightness and more. Crossfit is about intensity but understand that intensity is relative to ability and fitness levels. Slow it down and learn this stuff.
  • Limited mobility and range of motion. This goes along with improper movement patterns but is not the same. Lack of flexibility will make it difficult to get in optimal positions. This can lead to injury and deserves attention. Stretching and soft tissue work will help a lot. What helps even more, is practicing the movements and challenging yourself to get in the right positions.

Preventing Injuries Is Simple

Three things to keep the train rolling on its tracks:

  • Get coaching and listen to them. Get professional coaching.  A good coach will save you time and frustration.  if you want succeed, work with a professional.
  • Ask questions! Please ask your trainer questions if you are unsure of something. That is what they are there for.
  • Stretch. Before you leave, take 5-10 minutes to cool down with static stretches. This means holding a stretch for AT LEAST :30. Upwards of 2 minutes is better. Here are a few of my favorites
    • pigeon. This is awesome for the hips! When the glutes get tight they can cause problems with the lumbar and the sciatic nerve. Keep these muscles happy with this stretch daily.
    • Scorpion. This stretch is fantastic for the shoulders.
  • Warm-up. Warming up can make all the difference in the world of fitness performance. Get to your workout early enough to warm up to get the core temperature up and prep the body for higher demand.
  • Practice the movements that give you the most trouble. This may be the most important thing you can do. If you are doing them the right way with core engagement and alignment, injury is unlikely.
  • Listen to your body.  It is important that you are getting adequete rest between workouts to recover.  Without recovery you will see your fitness go backwards.

The ultimate goal is longevity! I’m not sure about you but I want to be going strong for as long as possible. I plan to be power cleaning in my nineties. Think I’m being hyperbolic. Nope. If I don’t choke on my fruity pebbles or get mauled by a bear (low risk in Liberty MO), I’ll still be at it.

 

My aim with my clients, is to keep them safe by challenging you to do things the right way, push you to get better, and give them a great fitness experience.

Thank you for reading! Please let me know if this was helpful and if you have any questions put them in the comment section. Happy to help any way I can.

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Bootcamps Are Amazing For Weight Loss

There is no secret to losing weight. Calories out must exceed calories in and voila, you are dropping the Lbs. It’s that simple. So, if you are looking for the magic cocktail, I can’t help you. But – If you are serious about getting lean, then read on, because I am going to share one of the best and most proven fitness programs that will get you there fast. 

Why Bootcamps Work Fast

Bootcamps are mixture of more functional movements done at a high intensity. The intensity is relative, so there shouldn’t be the excuse ‘I’m not in shape enough to do that’. Any good trainer will be able to modify the workouts for your ability. Here are five reasons Bootcamps are amazing for weight loss.

  1. There is a great variety. These workouts mix calisthenic exercise, with cardio, and strength movements. They are designed as full body workouts. A well programmed bootcamp will have a good balance of upper body and lower body work. This allows for greater intensity and that leads to burning a lot of calories! It isn’t just the calories you burn during the bootcamp. It is the calories you burn afterwards. These intense workouts increase you metabolism for hours after the session significantly.
  2. Strength! You want to get ‘tone’? Then you better work on getting stronger. I’ve heard the ‘I just want to get tone’. Well, that’s not happening on your elliptical. Tone won’t happen if you are not pushing it with strength training. (of course, the diet is a key factor, but that’s a different topic)
  3. They are fun. Bootcamps are high energy classes that should be led by qualified coaches. You will be in a group setting, which makes it more engaging. When you enjoy hard work, you are going to be more consistent and that is what gets you real results! (Consistency x Intensity = badass)
  4. Accountability. This goes along with the group dynamic. The group of peers you’re sweating with won’t let you slack off. In my experience, I have found that lack of support is the number one reason people fail with their fitness goals. I can’t stress how powerful it is to have people who hold you accountable.
  5. Coaching. Hopefully (you should) you are getting the coaching you deserve. Professional coaching is the difference maker. A great coach is not a cheerleader. Yes they are positive and encouraging but their job is to train you to do things as proficiently as possible. They are there to keep you safe first and then push you. What you can learn from a good coach in a week will exceed what you could learn from a lifetime of YouTube videos.

Exercise Variation

Bootcamp offers a much wider variety of exercises than what you will do in a traditional gym. In class, you will get to work with dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, and a lot of unique body weight exercises. All of which are highly functional. Functional exercises can be described in different ways. To keep it simple I’ll just say they mimic real life movement patterns and require a full body effort.

Who Are Bootcamps For?

Bootcamps are not for everyone. But current fitness levels, age, and weight are not disqualifies, so don’t think of using those as excuses. As long as you have a good coach, the workouts will be scaled down (or up) to your abilities. They can be intimidating for a lot of people at first but after your first session that will go away.

Serious Calorie Burn

These workouts burn a serious amount of calories. Most bootcamps will do a lot of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This is mix of bursts of very high intensity followed by a brief recovery period. This type of training is proven to be highly effective for maximizing your fat burn and overall fitness! It is also highly time efficient, as you do not have to spend hours in the gym if you are doing HIIT.

Do Your Research

I must caution you that not all bootcamps are created equal. A quality bootcamp will make you more resilient and resistant to injury by teaching you the correct form and holding you accountable to maintaining that form. However, there some that only know the intensity part. They do not understand proper progressions, scaling, and do not put enough emphasis on form.

Three basic things to ask for before attending a class:

  1. What are the coaches qualifications and how long have they been instructing?
  2. How many participants are there in each class?
  3. Can I watch a class

If the coach is not experienced, don’t think about. Having an unqualified person led a high intensity workout is asking for problems.

If there are more than 15 participants, it doesn’t matter how good the coach is, it is impossible to care for everyone. There are some exceptional coaches that can handle up to 20 but ideally it should be 12 or less unless there are multiple coaches.

I highly recommend watching a class to get a good idea of what they do and observe how well the coach interacts with their clients. You can tell if they are coaching or just cheer leading or even worse, playing on their phone not paying attention.

Also, make sure the coach is aware of any physical limitations.

bootcamps are an effective and fun way to get in shape and stay in shape!

Hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know in comments below if you have any questions! Thank you.

From over 300 pounds to marathon runner – How’d she do it?

Meet Allison – an inspiring success story who continues to push her own limits.  In the past few years she has gone from over 300 pounds to marathon runner, all while raising 3 kids and working a full time job!  Her motto is ‘if you want it bad enough, no excuse will stop you’.  She definitely lives by this!
What got you started on your fitness journey?
A friend suggested we run a 4 mile race together.  We had 8 months to train. I had never run a mile in my life previously.  Never.  I walked the mile in elementary school.  I took PE in 9th grade to avoid taking it in high school.  I needed every minute of those 8 months if I was going to make the 4 mile goal of running.
In what ways has your life changed since you made your fitness a priority?
On the surface, I have a new schedule, new routine, new goals…all the things you would expect.  Deeper down, I’m more fulfilled in my life, happier, healthier (physically & emotionally), more organized and can prioritize better (including emotionally, like what to worry about).
What fitness accomplishments are you most proud of?
Chicago Marathon 2017.  Ran it, made my goal, beat my husband, and didn’t eat Vasoline.
With 3 kids and a full time job, how are you able to maintain your fitness?
Get up early & get it done and have accountability (including a network of people that depend on me and goals to meet)
What would you say to people with the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse? 
Make time.  I used to not have time for fitness either before I had kids.  If you want it bad enough, you’ll make time.  Figure out the things that are important to you – if it’s beer drinking, then make time to go drink beer, but if it’s fitness, then replace beer drinking with fitness.  But, please don’t say you don’t have time.  You have the time, you just chose to use it for other activities.  Own it.
What are some of your current goals? 
Do a real pull-up. Beat my husband in Chicago 2018.
What motivates you to keep going?
Myself.  I’m in this for me.  I became successful when I stopped doing it for other people and did it for me.
What is one adversity you’ve had to overcome in your life (doesn’t have to be fitness) and how did you handle it?
I’ve had plenty of obstacles to overcome – none specific enough to share.  Everyone struggles, even the people that I admire and make it look easy.  I’ve learned this and that it isn’t worth complaining about because the person next to you likely has something just as terrible or even worse.  My struggles may seem terrible to me but when I put them next to friends that have lost children to suicide or tragic accidents leaving spouses disabled, my woes aren’t that bad.  It’s all perspective.  Being skinny or strong doesn’t make life any easier – that person just has what you want on the surface.  And, being skinny or strong doesn’t create happiness.  I used to think it did – it really doesn’t.
What would you say the biggest 3 keys have been to your success?
1. Planning 2. Accountability. 3. Support network of people
If you could put one message on a billboard, what would it be?
Invest in Yourself
What do you do with your free time?
I have 3 kids ranging 2-7 years old.  I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m pretty good at Candy Crush though when I’m in-between their activities.  Otherwise, I like to run early on Saturday mornings and then enjoy a 45 min nap in the afternoon.
Name one hidden talent you have. 
I’m pretty amazing at Ms Pac-Man – the old school one that used to be in Pizza Hut. I’ve only met 1 person that can beat me and I could probably smoke him now.
Name one talent you wish you had.
Sing.  I’m tone deaf according to my husband.
What advice would you have for someone who is struggling to make the changes in their life that they want and need?  
1. Make a plan and make yourself accountable.  If you want to lose weight, plan your calories for the day and only eat what you have planned.  If it isn’t written down, don’t eat it until you write it down.  If you want to get stronger, plan your exercises and have in mind what you’re going to do at the gym before you even get there.  If you don’t plan, you’re going to waffle in space and likely be unsuccessful in the long term.  2. Stop worrying about the future.  Your goals may be large, but they’re going to take awhile to get there.  Stop looking at it like you need to lose 50 or 100 lbs.  Look at the week ahead.  Make a plan for it.  Celebrate when you lose any weight that week. Stop worrying about how you’re going to manage your fitness during vacation that is weeks away.  Worry about today.  And then, when it’s time for vacation, make a plan.  I didn’t start out by running 4 miles at one time.  I ran 30 second intervals followed by 90 seconds of walking and thought I was going to die.  Literally die. I celebrated when I completed my plan for the day (thank you couch-to-5k) and had to stop thinking about the fact that I just struggled at 30 seconds and was going to have to make it to 45+ minutes of running.  I would have never made it otherwise. 3.  Give yourself 6 weeks. It takes about 6 weeks to form a habit.  Give it your honest effort for 6 weeks and then re-evaluate.  If you’ve tried it and you still hate it, then you know that you honestly tried.  I think so many of us half-ass things for a short period of time and then throw in the towel.  Stop putting forth half of your potential. 4. Be happy in whatever you’re doing.  If you’re not being successful at losing weight, then just be happy and accept yourself for you.  Stop wasting your days being overweight & unhappy.  Your weight does not define your happiness.  You do. We spend so many days thinking the glass is half empty when it’s all about our perception.  Find happiness in your life and your goals will find you.

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