Friday, September 22, 2017

5 Biggest Myths in Fitness

Myth #1: Diets have to be perfect. What does “perfect eating” even mean?  I am not sure I can even tell you.  The diet world makes us believe that if we enjoy some ice cream or a bowl of pasta, that we have failed in a particular diet or we are “cheating”.  This is the farthest thing from the truth.  I think the key question regarding individual nutrition adherence is, “can I sustain what I am doing?”  According to an article on, 45 million Americans go on a diet each year.  Unfortunately nearly two-thirds of Americans are also considered overweight.  Many people go through this “yo-yo” dieting and it is unsuccessful in the long-term weight loss journey.  Whatever level you may be at, a solid nutrition plan should be sustainable for you to follow over a period of time and eventually stick as a lifestyle pattern.  Because let’s face it, that is how results are achieved.  If you despise being on the “diet” you are following, you will not continue.  “Perfect” and “Clean” dieting needs to be redefined.  How about sustainable, flexible, and consistent?  Nutrition should not feel like you are doing everything wrong.  I say master the basics: drink plenty of water, eat vegetables and fruits everyday, eat adequate amounts of protein, eat a smart amount of whole grains and limit your junk and processed foods.  Go from there.  If you want to improve your physique, sure, you need to improve your nutrition and become more detail oriented.  But you do not need some unrealistic and extreme plan to be successful.  What you need is consistency.  Consistently eating nutrient dense foods and paying attention to your calories most of the time will lead you to your results.  Don’t over think it. 

This is not "perfect" for everyone.  Find what works for you, then it will be sustainable.  That's what we want
Myth #2 Lifting weights make you “bulky”.  How you lift weights and what extent you take it to will dictate the changes you will see in your physique.  Proper nutrition adherence and a focused lifting program is what leads to increase muscle size and volume.  We want lean muscle on our frame.  Now, not everyone needs to compete in bodybuilding, but I do believe everyone can benefit from some sort of strength training.  In a study published in the journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine found a link between strength training and a longer life.  So in essence, consistent strength training may be the key component to slowing down the aging process.  In my opinion, everyone needs to strength train in some sort of fashion.  The frequency of workouts will depend on the goal of the individual.  For general fitness and strength, I recommend at least 2-3 days per week of hitting the weights.  The more definition and sculpting you want to see, the more you need to be “under the bar”.  Strength training done correctly, will improve your lean muscle definition, increase your total body strength, boost your metabolism, protect your bone and joint health, help you to keep your coordination and agility and plays a vital role in preventing certain diseases.  When lifting weights, focus on controlling the weight and perfecting your technique.  This will give you more return on investment.  Haphazard strength training can increase your chances of injury so it’s very important to learn how to lift weights correctly.  Invest in a qualified coach to teach you how to strength train in a safe and effective manner.  It can be simple, do something for the quads (squats or lunges), do something for the backside (single leg deadlifts or deadlift patterns), push something (push ups or bench press), pull something (inverted rows or chin ups) and hit your core (planks, side planks, or farmer walks).  Mix and match your sets and repetitions; one week complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  The next week perform 5 sets of 7 repetitions with a slightly heavier load with a change in the tempo of the lift.  There are multitudes of ways to create variety with the above basic patterns.  Strength train to move well and be strong.  

Myth #3: A workout should be grueling every time you train.  I don’t care if you are the fittest person in the world, training to your maximum, training to failure, and training at high intensities every training session is a recipe for bad things to happen.  If you train 2-3 times a week, you can add appropriate intensity into each of those training sessions.  Since you are only getting in a few workouts, you need to be efficient and keep the tempo of your sessions high and focused.  If you train more than 4 times per week, you need to balance in low, medium and high intensity training sessions appropriately.  It can be a simple design like a high/medium/low training split.  As you gain fitness and improve your performance, a smart and balanced program design becomes crucial to your success.  Adding in active recovery sessions that incorporate tissue work, mobility and flexibility drills and dynamic movements are highly beneficial for the longevity of your functional performance.  Smart and focused training leads to consistent results.  Hard and random training leads to injury and burnout.  Choose wisely. 

It's ok to work hard, and push yourself, just be smart about the overall game plan.

Myth #4: Carbohydrates are the enemy.  Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients us humans need for survival.  Fruits, vegetables, grains, breads, pasta, rice, and beans can all be healthy carbohydrate options.   Candy, soda, pastries, and other sweets are considered “unhealthy” carbohydrate foods.  How you choose and how much you consume, and how active you are, all play vital roles in energy breakdown.  If you have gained excessive weight over the past 5-10 years, you may have blamed carbohydrates because they are the easiest foods to over consume.  Then the mindset turns against this macronutrient and you think drastically limiting them in your diet will be the answer.  As that may work, you have to ask yourself, “is this sustainable to follow?”  Weight gain happens because you have been in a calorie surplus over the years.  Whether you have consumed too many carbohydrates, proteins, or fats, the key component is that you have been in a surplus.  Sure, lowering your late night chips and pizza can be a good starting place, but look at the big picture.  It’s not necessarily carbohydrates’ fault.  It’s consuming too much food.  Period.  Before you eliminate one of our important macronutrients, think about rearranging your approach.  Look at everything.  How much steak did you eat?  How much oil do you use when you cook?  How much peanut butter did you spread on your sandwich?  How many salted cashews did you eat?  How often do you go out to eat?  How much alcohol do you drink each week?  How much salad dressing did you use?  How many chips did you eat?  How many sodas are you drinking each week?  How much rice pilaf is on your plate?  It’s a big picture and blaming one macronutrient is poor logic.  Move and exercise more and be mindful of all of your calories and you will get leaner. 

Myth #5: That your journey is linear.  Going after your goals is more like a deranged roller coaster.  Up, down, sideways, crooked, back, forward… The journey to your best self is not a linear line to your goals.  It is a path of  overcoming obstacles and hardships.  The key is to be resilient, persevere, and learn from your mistakes.  Understand that there will be days when you may not feel like getting out of bed for your 5:30 am workout.  But you know you still have to do it.  It is not a sexy, “motivated all the time” mindset.  It is a strong mental attitude that you have created that is obsessed with the process.  You recognize that action is required to achieving your goals.  You do not allow discouragement to ruin your ambitions.  You must fight for the things you want to accomplish.  You must get back up when you have fallen.  You must never give up.  This type of mindset and philosophy will lead you to massive success. 

Appreciate you reading.  I am grateful. 

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My training log

I haven’t run in a race since February.  For about 12 weeks after that race, I lifted weights and ran less.  I actually gained about 15 pounds pretty quickly due to me running less mileage (burning less calories), eating more dense and protein rich foods and lifting weights basically everyday.  It was refreshing to take a break from competitive running and not have a race on the calendar.  I enjoyed getting “under the bar” and smashing out the weights in the gym.  But, running is my serenity and my medicine so I methodically made my way back.  My first few runs had no purpose or structure, but to simply stay in conversation pace and enjoy the moment.  This was my catalyst to regaining my running mojo. 

In mid-June, I really started to get back into a running schedule.  I committed to a weekly track workout with my buddies and started doing some “semi-structured” workouts.  This got me back into a routine.  I honestly haven’t missed a Tuesday “speed workout” since starting the habit. 
(FYI, that is the key to instilling a particular habit: DON’T MISS!)

Once July came around, I was now ready to start building back my weekly mileage.  I started off very conservatively with the first week in July (3rd-9th) being at 24 miles.  The 2nd week I hit 30.  It was a good preparation period to just getting back on my feet again.  I think this is where many runners go wrong and end up hurt; they start with too much volume.  Their body is not prepared for the pounding and injury happens.  I made sure to ease back into training.  

At the end of week 2, it was time to light a fire under me, I signed up for a race.  And I said “F it” and signed up for my first competitive marathon.  (For those that know a little about my career, I have raced everything from 5ks to Ironmans.  I have run self-supported marathons but not a true competitive marathon.)  My thinking: “Why not come back to something that will totally take me out of my comfort zone?”  Boom!  I registered. 

Now the sense of urgency was created….

I log all of my training on

Here’s how the next few weeks mileage looked like:

July 17th - 23rd: 47 miles
July 24th – 30th: 47 miles
July 31st – August 6th: 52 miles
August 7th – 13th: 47 miles
August 14th – 20th: 60 miles
August 21st – 27th: Recovery week 27 miles
August 28th – September 3rd: 44 miles 

7 weeks – 324 total miles, that is an average of about 6.6 miles/day.  Accept for one day that I was under the weather, I have not missed a scheduled workout. 

I am an advocate of a lower mileage plan.  As a “nonprofessional” runner who has many other tasks in life, I have to utilize the time I allow for my running lifestyle in the most efficient way.  So my workouts are created with the concept of “minimum dosage required”.  Why run more if I can attain the result I am looking for with less?  Quality miles are the key.  With that said, my plan is to build my mileage to peak out at 75-80 miles, two weeks before my main race.  Marathon training is different than half-marathon training in the fact that you just need more volume under your belt.  The workouts are similar, the quality is there, but literally, you just have to run more miles. 

With the scorching hot weather and poor air quality this summer, many of my runs have been on the treadmill.  I can get a quality session in without the demands of the hot weather/air quality.

Here was a treadmill workout I completed in late July:
20 minute warm up, starting off at an easy pace (8:30) and building pace (7:30 pace)
1 minute easy jog
6x2 min steady hill repeats, a pace that stays controlled
(90 seconds easy jog recover in between each set)
15 min steady pace (started at 7:30 and built to 7:00)
1 minute easy jog
8x2 minute tempo (wanted to do these at half marathon pace: 6:10-6:30)
10 minute steady (started off at 7:30 and built to 7:00)
*the goal of this workout was strength/endurance as you can see by the volume of hill repeats; I accumulated 12 miles in this workout.

Here is a track workout I completed in early August:
20 minute warm up
Dynamic warm up drills and striders to get loose
5 sets of this: (400/800/400), 200 easy jog in between each rep and 3 minute jog in between each set

1st set: 1:31, 3:02, 1:27
2nd set: 1:24, 2:56, 1:22
3rd set: 1:22, 2:54, 1:22
4th set: 1:24, 2:51, 1:19
5th set: 1:15, 2:43, 1:11

This is how I like speed sessions to go.  Start controlled and get faster as the workout progresses.  If you add this up, it accumulates 8000 yards of quality work.  This type of session is how you build your speed and stamina.  I accumulated 9 miles in this session.  

On August 22nd (happened to be my birthday), I wanted to test my fitness a bit so I scheduled a 10k hard tempo.  After coming off a few weeks of solid training, I wanted to do this 10k on tired legs to see what I could push out.  I ended up running at 39:22, which is an average of 6:21 pace.  I was satisfied with my progress up to that point.  See mile splits below.

In regards to strength work during the week, I spend 1 day doing an upper body lifting session, 1 day doing bodyweight exercises like push ups and inverted rows and 1-2 days doing mobility and core work.  These workouts keep my frame strong and honestly, I do not want to be the typical “skinny runner”.  I like having muscle and I feel it gives me a solid foundation for my running.  Since I am running everyday, my lifting sessions have decreased throughout the week. 

What’s next?  I will run a tune-up half marathon on October 15th, which is three weeks out from my marathon.  Since I haven’t raced since February, I wanted to tow the line before the marathon.  I will go into this race to compete but I will run smart knowing that the marathon is the priority. 

Last point, after seeing 155 lbs at one point on the scale in May, I am now back to my “fighting weight” of 140 pounds.  I fluctuate five pounds up and down from that number but usually stay right around that 140 mark.  I like this weight during the bulk of training.  If I am too light, I sacrifice power and risk sickness.  So I do my best to stay between 138-142 as my “racing weight”. 

Thank you for reading.  If I can answer any questions for you, please leave a comment. 
Appreciate you!

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Be willing to do what it takes

Most people walk into the gym with an expectation to get in shape, lose weight, improve their physique or gain strength.  The problem lies in the individual’s misinterpreted understanding of the process to attain the results.  Information is so prevalent today.  In fitness, this creates a wide range of methods and opinions.  As having diversity within our industry is a positive, it can completely confuse the general public.  My program is simple and no nonsense and all about mastering the basic principles in fitness.  Drink water, eat to support your goal, workout consistently and repeat.  Yet, this confuses people. 

Here’s my example:

Client asks: “What should my nutrition look like?”

My suggestion:  “Drink 8 x 8 oz. cups of water, eat 2 servings of vegetables everyday, eat a fist size of protein with every meal and limit your junk calories.”

Client asks: “Shouldn’t I watch my carbohydrate intake?”

My suggestion: “Don’t worry about that right now.  Focus on your water intake, eat your 2 servings of vegetables a day and a fist size of protein at every meal.  Then we will go from there.”

Client asks: “What about intermittent fasting?  Should I try that?”

My suggestion: “Not right now.”

Client asks: “Ok, so I just need to drink more water, eat vegetables everyday and be aware of my protein intake?”

My suggestion: “You got it!”

This is a frequent conversation in my office.  As I try my best to keep it very simple and specific for the individual that I am coaching, their perceptions are misconstrued and complex.  They have this expectation that a complete lifestyle overhaul needs to happen for them to be successful.  They have read about dieting and weight loss and have this hodgepodge idea of what it takes to achieve results.  And that is where the problem resonates.  Completely overhauling your life may work for a few weeks.  But sustaining this extreme lifestyle is very difficult to achieve if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to get there.  That is why I believe in the long-term process and building a lifestyle to support your goals, one day at a time. 

Here are a few things to think about:

·      What do you want?  And are you willing to do what it takes?  These are two vital questions to ask yourself.  Because you must be willing to do the work to attain the results.  This creates personal responsibility and in regards to achieving your goals (in fitness or any area of your life), personal accountability is the vessel to achievement. 
·      Be honest with yourself.  Are you logging all of your calories?  The nibbling or snacking that is going on throughout the day?  How about measuring out the wine you will drink tonight?  Is it really 7 ounces in each glass instead of 4?  Are you counting out your almonds you are eating?  Are you getting in your weekly workouts?  Success lies in the details. 
·      If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably really good marketing.  Listen, let’s not sugarcoat this, getting fit and in shape takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication.  This is a life long journey with no finish line.  Sure, I encourage setting specific goals throughout the year; give yourself a carrot to chase after.  But just understand that life will go on after the initial date has been set.  You need to create a lifestyle that will continue the process. 
·      Are you habitually following through on the basics?  Drinking adequate amounts of water, eating 3-4 servings of vegetables, consuming approximately half your weight in ounces of protein, 15% or less calories coming from “junk calories”, and consistently working out?  Master the above components before moving on to anything more complex.  Seriously, it could be this simple. 
·      It’s vital to getting into a habit of working out basically everyday. This will create a more efficient calorie burning machine. Work your butt off, eat the right foods MOST OF THE TIME and be consistent.  And indulge once in awhile.  Life is short.  Find a healthy balance. Life should not feel like you are on some extreme diet all the time. No fun there! Build the healthy habits and allow some flexibility.
·      Start small, act now and adjust as you go.  There is no need to overwhelm yourself by adding 23 new lifestyle hacks into your already busy life.  This is a recipe to quit.  Instead, choose two, no more than three things to focus your attention on.  Master what you are working on before you move to other habits.  Just make sure to act because action is required to achieving results.  Once the ball is rolling, you can adjust the plan at any given moment.  Evaluating and adjusting will keep you progressing in the direction of your goals. 

You can get lean and in great shape and still enjoy your indulgences once in awhile.  It’s looking at the big picture.  If 80% of your meals do not support your goal, then you probably are not getting the results you want.  Be honest with yourself, be willing to do what it takes and be consistent; this is the recipe to achieving your fitness and lifestyle goals.  Make it happen!

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The recipe to changing your physique in 16 weeks

Disclaimer: This is not a quick fix program.  You must put in a tremendous amount of work over the next 16 weeks.  The more compliant you can be with the below principles, the better results you will get. 

Principle #1: Workout Design

·       Perform 7-9 training sessions a week
·       One day completely off, so that means 1-3 days may have 2 workouts in that day. 
·       3-4 strength workouts (you can do traditional body part splits or upper/lower body splits; the key is to push yourself and move well during these sessions)
·       2 cardio workouts (lower intensity, 45-60 minutes: treadmill walk or run, bike, elliptical, swimming; conversation pace for these sessions)
·       2-3 high intensity interval/circuit workouts.  
            (bike sprints/running sprints/bodyweight circuits, etc; volume control is key here, too much and you risk injury)

Here is an example: 

·       Overtraining can happen when you are not recovering properly so pay attention to when the body is in a fatigued/stressed state; when you notice this fatigued state, decrease training session volume and intensity for a  few days so you can bounce back and continue training and high effort levels
·       Consistency with your workouts is a key component

Principle #2: Nutrition should support your goals

·       Main foods will be: lean proteins (chicken, lean steak or hamburger, ground turkey, fish, eggs) – approximately 1-2 g per pound of bodyweight; 3-4 servings of vegetables (all colors), 2-3 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of healthy fats (avocado, raw nuts, healthy oils and natural nut butters) – measure and know what 1 serving is as these calories can add up, 1-2 servings of lean dairy (milk, cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt) – one servings is 1 slice of cheese or 1 cup of milk; specific carbohydrates like small amounts (fist size) of brown rice/pasta/bread (1 serving a day) – carbohydrate consumption is dependent on training volume/performance goals
·       Know your basal metabolic rate (, this is the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. This matters when you are trying to get leaner. Put together a detailed food log periodically throughout the 16 weeks so you get an idea of the food coming in.  (I recommend starting on day 1 and food log for 7-10 straight days to get started)  
·       COUNT EVERYTHING that you eat. Any nibbling, snacking, all counts! Once we get this food log, we can adjust the calories/macronutrients to support your goals. 
·       If you eat 3 meals a day that equates to 21 meals a week; 18-19 of those meals should support your goal. That's 72-76 out of 80 meals in the month. The meals you decide to indulge on shouldn't be large portions because that can disrupt the rest of the week. For example, if you take the kids to pizza, enjoy 2 small slices and 2 big plates of salad with light dressing. So indulge a bit but don't shoot yourself in the foot. 
·       Limit alcohol intake to 4-6 drinks per week. (1 drink is 12 oz light beer/4 oz of wine/1 shot of hard liquor.) Though drinking is fun to do in a social environment, these calories can sabotage your fat loss goals, especially if the buzz you get leads you to late night munching, now we are in trouble.

Principle #3: Mindset

·       There will be days you may not feel like working out or food logging, and you must do it anyways.  These are the days that matter. 
·       Don’t give in to self-limiting thinking.  How you perceive working out and improving your nutrition will matter when it comes to being consistent over the next 16 weeks.  You just have to “clock in and do the work.” 
·       It's all about being honest with yourself. Are you counting all of your calories? Are you getting in your workouts? Are you taking the time to prep your food?  Look in the mirror, ask yourself, “how bad do I want it?”  It’s up to your consistent action to answer that question. 
·       Many people want results in fitness but aren't really understanding the work that it takes to achieve the goal, so then they think their 2 or 3 workouts a week and "OK" eating" should work. It takes time, effort and a complete mindset shift to get there.
·       Life will go on after the initial 16 weeks of when the goal was set.  You must create a longer term mindset and lifestyle in order for you to sustain the results you will get.  It’s not a type of thing where you will wake up one day and “arrive” and you stop doing all the action that it took for you to achieve your goal.  If you want to maintain the results that you earned, work still has to be done. 
·       During the process there will be ups and downs.  If you are consistently doing the work, no matter the circumstances in your life, you will reap huge benefits. 

*Please consult with your physician regarding your exercise protocols.
*Results are based on each individual’s compliance, genetics and overall desire to achieve their goals

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