Monday, October 7, 2013


Motivation must first come from within

In all my experiences in the fitness industry, the #1 reason people quit an exercise program is from a lack of motivation.  Starting the program is the easy part.  Staying with it over the long haul is hard work.  See the thing is, people look for quick results.  They expect to see results in their fitness program in a few weeks.  I am going to tell you right now, this is not how it works.  The first few weeks is just breaking the ice.  Don’t think 3 weeks; think 3 years.  The individuals who are the most successful with their fitness programs are the ones who decide to make it a lifestyle habit.  Yes, this person still must overcome obstacles, plateaus and lack of motivation but when it’s a habit, they continue with their program and bust through their discouragement. 

According to Wikipedia, motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal.  Motivation to wake up in the morning to prepare a healthy breakfast must come from within.  Motivation to get to the gym when you have “other” things to do must come from within.  Motivation to choose healthy options when out to eat, must come from within.  You cannot look for other people to motivate you when you do not have the inner drive to do it yourself first.  You must take the first step.  Once you have generated this motivation, I am telling you, the possibilities are endless.  You can now use others to spark that flame, give you inspiration and then many things become possible. 

Let me be upfront with you right now.  Obstacles are bound to happen.  Let downs will be in our path.  There will be a time when results will be halted and how you handle this will determine who you are as a person.  Successful people, who are fit, healthy and live with motivation, are able to overcome roadblocks and become stronger because of it.  They don’t look at it as a setback or something that cannot be handled.  They focus on the next positive thing they can do.  Maybe it’s a minor change to the workout design.  Maybe it’s dialing in the nutrition plan for a few weeks.  Maybe it’s finding a great fitness coach to guide and push them past their plateau.  Whatever the missing puzzle piece might be, you have to stay motivated to continue moving forward and going after your goals.  The worse thing you can do is quit, lie down and settle.  Don’t let this happen. 

How you do anything is how you do everything.  If you are motivated in your fitness routine, you will be more likely to find motivation to be a better business individual and this motivation will spread to your family and friends.  Your motivation will become contagious and others will be inspired to follow in your footsteps.  What do you do to find this motivation?  Well first, you must decide that you are going to consciously work on your inner drive.  You are going to ignore negative thoughts that enter your head.  You are going to construct a strong belief system in yourself and in other people.  You are going to push yourself past your comfort zone.  You are going to set ambitious goals.  You are going to surround yourself with other motivated and positive people.  You are going to create a game plan to be successful.  All of these tools will aide in your motivation.  You just have to be committed to working on them daily, weekly and yearly.  Honestly, do it the rest of your life.  Not the next 2 weeks, THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

Go write out some goals, create a few action steps for those goals and START!  Nothing starts without the first step.  I encourage you to get motivated and go after that dream.  Don’t stop until you get there, because when you get there, you are going to be motivated to keep going!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Building The Functional Runner

(On Saturday, June 15th, The Central Valley Running Seminar will be held in Visalia.  This workshop will be for runners, running coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists and anyone looking for cutting edge run training education.  Please call 334-8990 for more information.)  

Running is a primitive movement that many people can benefit from.  Unfortunately many people who enjoy running spend too much time recovering from injury and not enough time maximizing their performance.  Extrinsic factors that cause people to get injured and stop running might be improper shoes, increased volume too soon and random program design.  Intrinsic factors could be dysfunctional movement patterns, muscle imbalances, poor lifestyle habits, weight gain or poor running gait.  Running is a great activity to build aerobic capacity, stay lean and healthy and improve your mood.  But you shouldn’t just run to get fit.  Becoming the complete athlete will enable you to have longevity and excel in your running lifestyle.  If you are always injured, your training will be inconsistent.  When your training is inconsistent, progress will be halted.   To become a complete and functional runner, abide by the strategies below:

1.     Strengthen your core.  This is critical, as having a strong and stable core will create a more economical running stride.  Our core incorporates everything from our mid-thigh up to our rib cage.  Upper and lower body strength will be optimal when our core is strong.  When performing exercises for your core, don’t think sit-ups and twists.  These are old school movements that can actually harm your lower back.  Focus on stability movements like planks and side planks and carrying variations like farmer walks, suitcase walks and waiter walks.  Other core exercises like hip bridges, mini-band walks and birddogs will strengthen your hips and glutes to create this complete strength we are looking for.
Side Plank
Mini-band Walks

1-leg Hip Bridges

2.   Specific strength training.  Runners need single leg strength to improve balance, stability and proprioception.  Each foot strike during running sends 2-4 times your body weight worth of impact forces from your foot up through your body.  That is why it is so important to improve your lower body strength and stability so you can absorb these forces.  Single leg squats, single leg deadlifts, lunge variations and step-ups are all great strength movements to add to your routine.  Having adequate upper body strength will give you the ability to hold your form when running.  If your upper body breaks down, your technique will get sloppy, which then increases your chances of injury.  Simple bodyweight strength moves like push-ups, inverted rows and chin-ups can give you plenty of upper body strength that is needed for enhanced running.  

FE Split Squat
Single Led Deadlifts

3.     Think quality over quantity.  You need a base level of aerobic foundation to be a successful runner.  This takes months, sometimes years of consistent training to build.  But when you are constantly focused on running volume, overuse injury can quickly occur.  Instead, make your prime objective quality running miles and eliminate all junk mileage from your training program.  As an alternative, create a schedule where you have a goal every training session.  For example: Workout #1, 10 minute warm up, 15 minute tempo run, 5 minute race pace run, 10 minutes cool down.  Workout #2, 2 mile warm up, 6x400 yards on the track, 1 mile cool down.  Workout #3, 2 mile warm up, 8x1 minute pick ups at 5k race pace, 20 minutes endurance pace run.  This set up creates quality and focused running mileage, instead of just going out and slugging miles away.  Plus, it’s gives you more motivation knowing you have a plan of action every training session.  

      Example #1:
      50 minute LEVEL 2/3 run;
Start with easy (LEVEL 2) run the first 10-15 minutes. You will then perform 4x2 minute LEVEL 3 intervals/3 minute LEVEL 2 recover (remember LEVEL 3 is not all out; it's the pace right up from your long run race pace; HR is still controlled)
Finish with 10-15 minutes of endurance running

      Example #2:
      Treadmill workout; Start with 5-10 minutes of LEVEL 2 running; Then perform 5x30 second pick ups at 10k race pace to warm up
      Main set: 10x30 second at 5k race pace/30 second easy jog, 5x60 seconds at 5k race pace/30 second easy jog, 2x2 minutes at 5k race pace/30 seconds easy jog, 5x20 sprints/40 seconds walk; finish with 10 minute cool down jog

4.     Smart program design:  Random training might get you results in the short term but eventually this type of training will not be the solution to improved performance levels.  I see many recreational runners with no plan of action.  They wake up and say, “I feel like running 5 miles today”.  This unstructured plan will lead to frustration, as your performance will not improve.  Ideally you would want to build a long-term training plan that will progressively build your fitness as you prepare for your top race or event.  This structured plan will lie out specific training blocks during the weeks, months and even years of your preparation.  Along with this detailed plan, understanding proper volume loads will keep you moving forward.  You do not want to increase training volume (# of miles or # of hours) more than 10% each month of training.  For example, if month #1 you ran 50 miles, month #2 should be no more than 55 miles.  This is a conservative approach to building your mileage as your prepare for your big race.  Eventually your volume will reach its capacity so dropping mile volume and adding in intensity (speed work, hill training, etc) will give you more quality miles.  

(Notice this simple training template.  Volume slowly increases each week.)

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Stretch & 10x100 30' base run 20' tempo Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 40' long run
Stretch & 12x100 30' base run 4x30 sec. hills Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 45' long run
Stretch & 14x100 35' base run 25' tempo Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 55' long run
Stretch & 8x100 25' base run 5x30 sec. hills Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 35' long run
Stretch & 6x200 40'base run 30' tempo Rest 1 hour 10 long run Cross training
Stretch & 7x200 45' base run 6x30 sec. hills Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 1 hour 20 long run
Stretch & 8x200 50' base run 35' tempo Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 60' long run
Stretch & 8x100 30' base run 3x60 sec. hills Rest   Cross training
Strengthen 1 hour 15 long run
Stretch & 4x400 50' base run 40' tempo Rest 1 hour 30 long run, pushing the last 1/4 Cross training
Strengthen pushing last 1/4
Stretch & 5x400 55' base run 4x60 sec. hills Rest 1 hour long run, pushing the last 1/4 Cross training
Stretch & Strengthen 6x400 60' base run   Rest   OFF
  25' tempo 1 hour 20 long run, pushing last 1/4
Foam roll/stretch 4x200 OFF running drills, 15 min. easy run OFF 10-15 mins. of light running with some pick ups. Trail of 2 Cities       Half Marathon

5.     Specific nutrition:  Nutrition is a component that is tough for people to stay on track with.  But it’s also the piece to the performance puzzle that can tremendously affect your body composition, physiology, recovery, oxygen uptake and energy.   It's a myth to think endurance athletes should be eating unlimited amounts of pastas, breads and other starchy grains.  As fueling the muscles with adequate carbohydrates is very important, knowing what foods to be consuming during the week is crucial.  In my opinion, the most important foods for endurance athletes are going to be dark, leafy green vegetables (kale, broccoli, red leaf lettuce, spinach) and dark fruit like blueberries and blackberries due to their power packed nutrient content.  These foods literally aid our body’s ability to transport oxygen to the working muscles and decrease inflammation in the body.  This literally improves performance.  Just like my advice for general nutrition, creating a healthy lifestyle is imperative for endurance athletes.  Once you start executing a healthy and consistent plan, nothing new needs to be added as your big race approaches.  Stick to what you have been doing and execute!

      Try this Kale/Blueberry Smoothie:
      Add these ingredients to a blender...
      1 Cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
      1 cup of vanilla greek yogurt
      1 cup of Kale
      1/4 cup of flax seed
      1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
      4 oz. of whole milk
      1 cup of ice


6.     It’s all about recovery!  Rest.  This four-letter word is often ignored and many endurance athletes suffer overuse injury or burnout due to their lack of rest and recovery.  As you train, build fitness and improve as a runner, you are constantly pushing the envelope to reach your individual goals.  During training the body breaks down and micro tears occur in the muscles.  If there is minimal awareness to recovery, many negative affects can happen.  Overuse injury, burnout, lack of motivation, chronic pain, vitamin/nutrient deficiency or decline in performance can all happen.  Add these recovery strategies to create a smarter program: active recovery weeks, rest days, cold therapy after intense training sessions, soft tissue and flexibility work, light training days following hard training days, consistent sleep habits, proper nutritional principles (see above) and massage.  

Ice Massage Therapy

Soft Tissue work with a Foam Roll
      Adding the strategies above will not only make you a better and more complete runner but you will improve your overall strength and athletic performance.  Sounds good right?  

      Now, let's get to work!

      If you have any questions regarding this article, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Proactive Strategies when Pain Happens

Many people experience pain.  Whether it’s from bad postural habits, prolonged sitting, overuse, disuse, poor movement, or a previous injury, pain symptoms can halt your progress in a fitness program.  As a fitness professional, it is out of my realm to diagnosis injury.  Let’s leave that up to a medical professional like a physical therapist or an orthopedic doctor.  But it is within my scope of practice to assist people manage specific pain sites.  In a perfect world, no one would get hurt and experience pain but when you push your body physically and athletically, things happen.  When pain arises, I believe taking a proactive approach to managing the situation.    

What do you do when red flags are brought to your attention?  Red flags can be slight discomfort, inflammation, a burning sensation, affected walking or running gait, sharp pain, or dull and achy pain.  Pay attention to these red flags because completely ignoring them will put you down a path to a serious injury that takes you out and stops your efforts of progressing forward.

Strategy #1: Once this “red flag” is introduced, first stop the activity that caused the trauma.  If running initiated the issue, stop running.  If throwing a baseball was the initial movement, don’t throw a baseball.  This is an important first step.  Many people “work through pain”.  They change their mechanics based on their discomfort so they can continue their activity.  This is called compensation and will affect other areas of the body.   Be disciplined when pain first arises.  Quickly managing the issue in the beginning stages can get you back to full potential with minimal time off.  

Strategy #2: Be a detective.  Start by answering a few questions. 
When did the pain first surface?  (Knowing the first occurrence is important to managing pain.  If you say, “well it’s been about 3 months”, you have waited too long and now the pain has probably turned into an injury that affects your day-to-day activity.  Always pay attention to your body and how it feels.)
Did I have a previous injury that could be related?  (Previous injury can predict a new injury.  If you have had shoulder problems in the past, elbow pain can occur later in your life.)
What has my training program been like the past few weeks?  (Are you randomly training without attention to proper progressions and overload?  If you are not building in a smart manner, pain can quickly show up due to overuse.)

Strategy #3: If it hurts, don’t do it.  Plain and simple right?  But many people skip this concept.  If you continue to work through pain, worse things will happen.  Take shin splints for example.  If you continue to run through this issue, eventually a stress fracture will happen.  Then you are in a walking boot, debilitated and out of action.  Be smart and disciplined to stop if needed.  Read this article by Mike Boyle about this strategy:  

Strategy #4: Be proactive.  Again, don’t do the activity that is causing the pain.  But complete rest is not necessarily the answer either.  Our body is meant to move - blood flow is a good thing. Finding movements that can still strengthen the body without any pain is a remedy that can decrease your pain site and improve function and durability at the same time.  You will maintain fitness this way.  Example: If your knees hurt, you need to foam roll your quadriceps, IT band, hamstrings, calves and glutes.  You also need to strengthen your hips and the muscles of the glutes.  You can decrease inflammation by icing the affected areas.  Taking anti-inflammatory medications and complete rest might work in the short term but you didn’t handle the root of the problem, you just took away the symptom.  The pain will resurface.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Become an Optimistic Thinker

I am a big believer that when you create a positive outlook on life and yourself, you produce the ability to accomplish almost anything you desire to achieve.  This concept of optimistic thinking takes consistent mental conditioning.  Our brain is a powerful muscle and building a strong belief system in our daily life and ourselves is possible.  But just like we need weight training to build stronger muscles in the body, we need mind conditioning to build a strong and positive brain.  Below are strategies to work on daily to create optimism in your life. 

1.     Start your day with something positive.  The best thing you can do when you first wake up is to fill your brain with positivity.  In the morning, our mind is fresh and ready to take on the day.  The worse thing you can do is watch or read about everything negative happening in our world.  This is a mistake many people make.  I encourage you to find an inspirational story or video that will set you up for a successful day.  Filling your mind with optimism is the first step of reprogramming this thought process.  (try the video below)

2.     Be aware of your thoughts.  “Change your thoughts and you change your world”.  When I work with people on their nutritional habits, the first thing I have them do is write down all of their food.  This is such a critical component as it creates awareness for the individual of what and how much is going into their body.  It’s the same thing with our thoughts.  We must first be aware before we can make a change.  What is the first thought when you hit that alarm in the morning?  Is it, “Ugh, I just want to go back to sleep?”  Or  “Let’s take charge and create success today.”  What is the thought when you look in the mirror?  Is it, “I’m fat, I hate the way my body looks.” Or  “I am proud of the way my body looks.  I am working hard with my fitness and nutrition routine and I will continue to push myself.”  Get that thought in the head and quickly change it if it is a negative one.  You will see the benefit it will have on your day-to-day life.  

3.     Eat healthy and workout.  Your body and mind work together.  Optimizing the significance of each day runs parallel with taking care of your body.  That is why eating high quality foods and daily exercise are a must.  When you feel good physically you will feel even better mentally.  You will be more apt to battle through tough times and hard days when you are physically strong and resilient.  

4.     Surround yourself with optimism.  You have to take a close look at everything in your life.  Who do you surround yourself with?  What music do you listen to?  What type of TV shows do you watch?  What do you put into your body?  Trying your best to eliminate negativity will set you up to be successful.  This is easier said than done because of the society we live in.  Turn on the television right now and crime is happening, people are arguing over politics, TV shows are vulgar and offensive and it’s everywhere. This negativity can destroy any seed of hope that we may otherwise have in striving for our goals.  Do your best to put yourself in a position of consistent optimism.  Your mental state will become toxic if negativity is always in your life.  Exchanging negative thoughts and actions to positive ones will get you from being uninspired and de-motivated, to feeling uplifted and driven to greater self growth.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nutrition Principles to Live By

Nutrition seems to be the #1 reason people do not get their desired results in their fitness program.  Healthy nutrition does not mean, “dieting”.  And healthy nutrition does not mean you have to eat steamed broccoli with chicken everyday.  Healthy nutrition is about consistently following these ten nutrition principles to get your results. 

FYI, the definition of "principle" is: A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.  With that said, principles are not written in stone and do not have to be followed perfectly.  That is not the idea.  Principles are behaviors that are performed consistently to get a specific result.  When you instill healthy principles in your life, you will be a healthier person.  Pretty basic right?  But yet, it's something that our society has an issue with as 68% of America is overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  
Improving with the below principles will escalate your results in your fitness program. 

Principle #1: Eat vegetables and fruits.  These foods should be our main carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates will give us energy and brain function to have high-level days.  We need these quality “carbs” for improved performance.  Vegetables and fruits are nutrient and fiber dense and supply the body vitamins and nutrients so we can have energy, health and vitality.  A diet rich in fiber promotes heart health, normal bowel function and helps the body absorb nutrients and fluids from the foods we eat.  You can basically eat high quantities of vegetables.  In my opinion, the more the better.  

Principle #2: Eat lean, low fat proteins.  Eggs, chicken, turkey, lean red meat and fish can be options.  Lean proteins help us build lean muscle.  When we build lean muscle we increase our metabolism.  When we increase our metabolism we burn more calories throughout the day.  Whether you are looking for fat loss or muscle gain, eating adequate amounts of protein is critical for desired results.  For weight loss, aim for a minimum of 1/2 - 3/4 of your weight in grams of protein (example: 130 pound female looking for fat loss should eat 65-97 grams of protein each day) .  If you are looking for muscle growth, aim for ¾-1 gram of your weight in grams of protein (example: 200 pound male looking for muscle growth should eat 150-200 grams of protein each day).  

Principle #3: Limit the processed foods.  The majority of our food should be fresh choices.  After you have gone grocery shopping you should be stocking most of the food you bought in the fridge not your cupboards.  Processed foods have limited nutrients and should be consumed sparingly throughout the week.  Shop the perimeter of the grocery store as the majority of healthier foods lie there.  When looking at your food intake, processed foods should be 10-15% of your consumption.  Stick to this principle and not only will your results go in the right direction but your energy will increase, you will get less stomach issues, you will be forced to eat higher quality foods and performance will improve.  

Principle #4: Drink your water.  This principle needs to become a habit.  Don’t leave home without a water bottle.  When that water bottle is by your side you are more likely to drink so take it everywhere you go.  Substitutes like Crystal Light and Lipton Iced Tea do not count as water intake.  Do your best to stay away from liquid drinks with simple sugars and/or artificial sweetners.  To add flavor to your water, add some strawberries slices, a handful of blueberries or some cucumber.  

Principle #5: Food log.  Being aware of the food that goes into your mouth is very important.  When you know you can modify accordingly.  You do not need to food log all year long.  Whenever you have hit a plateau or are looking to jump start your results, food logging for 2-4 weeks can get you dialed in and refocused.  Pay attention to the big picture, not just one meal.  Look for consistency not perfection.  Find your calorie needs and do your best to hit the number. Things to look for when food logging: your processed food intake (is it too high; go back to the 10-15% rule discussed above), servings of vegetables and fruits (aim for 5-7 servings), your protein intake (look at Principle #2) and the consistency of your calorie intake throughout the week (you do not want big jumps from day to day; try your best to be consistent in your calorie consumption each day).  For an easy to use food logging resource, check out  They also have a phone app that is simple to use during the day.  

Principle #6: You need your healthy fats.  Many people think eating "fats" will make them fat but that is not the case.  Olive and coconut oils, raw nuts, almond or natural peanut butter, avocados, and fish can be great options.  Good fats, like omega 3 fatty acids can protect against memory loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, ease arthritis, joint pain and inflammation and can support a healthy pregnancy.  Having a serving of healthy fat post workout will assist the recovery process after tough training sessions.  Aim for 3-5 servings of healthy fats each day to support a heart healthy plan.  


Principle #7: Plan.  Get to the grocery store, plan a few dinners ahead of time, cut up your vegetables on Sunday night, and cook up some chicken breasts at the beginning of the week.  These planning strategies will set you up to be successful during the week.  If you do not have a plan, you end up running around without direction and this leads to poor food choices.  Most people that are successful, whether in their fitness programs, running a business or managing a professional sports team plan!  They set up success steps for them to achieve the desired goal.  The more organized you are and the better time management you have, the more successful you will be.  

Principle #8: Drop the empty calories.  Now when I mean "drop", please do not take it literally and assume you can never have any of these foods to get results.  But it is crucial to consume these foods very sparingly in order to see a change in your physicality.  Alcohol, cakes, pastries, candy and sodas are examples of empty calories.  These foods supply minimal nutrients to the body but are loaded with calories. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a few beers during the week (because let's face there's nothing like a cold beer at the end of the day) but the majority of my calorie intake will be nutrient dense and quality foods.  Pay attention to the big picture.  


Principle #9: Train to eat.  You have a party planned on Friday night.  You know there will be high calorie foods and drinks consumed.  The idea is to make sure you are in the gym, not skipping workouts the entire week.  Do a few extra minutes of cardio and hit a few extra repetitions in the gym.  Then enjoy yourself.  One day of poor eating will not hurt you.  The idea is to get right back on it the next day with a good workout and healthy eating habits.  

Principle #10: You are not looking for perfection.  Improvement is what we are after.  If you try to be perfect, you will fail and you will end up frustrated.  This is not what healthy living should be about.  If you are looking for results, then you need to get focused and do your best to eat nutritious foods and be consistent. 

Past writings