Make a Plan to Shed the Holiday Pounds

If, when looking in the mirror after the holiday season, you see a few extra pounds, remember that with the extra weight you laughed a lot with co-workers, you got to see friends & family from out of town, you shared in the joy of the season with loved ones.

While you may have had a few extra holiday cookies, you have the memories too.

Now that the holidays are over we can reset our focus, take time and decide what is important to us in the new year, and make a plan to make the changes we want for our health and fitness.

Follow these 5 Steps to Create Your Personal Plan to Shed the Holiday Pounds:
1. Set Realistic Expectations
2. Set Process Goals to Achieve Your Desired Outcome
3. Recognize What Works For You (& What Doesn’t)
4. Enlist a Support System
5. Start With Your “Why”

Set Realistic Expectations
Life is messy & complicated. Jumping on a restrictive diet, or creating restrictive goals can lead to failure when the complications of life mess us up, throw us off track, and make it easy to quit working towards our goals.

When aiming to lose body fat, try aiming for a half pound of body fat loss per week. If you do this consistently, it will add up to a huge transformation in just a few months!

Try working on one behavior change at a time to reach your goals.

Pick one of the following: meal prep for the week on Sundays, add more protein to your breakfast, track what you eat (calories & macros) 5-6 days per week on MyFitness Pal, cut out alcohol. Once this goal is met consistently and becomes a habit it doesn’t require anymore mental energy. Then you can pick another behavior goal to work towards!

Set Process Goals to Achieve Your Desired Outcome
Process goals allow us to focus on the behaviors necessary to move us toward our desired end state.

• Add 30 grams of protein to your breakfast
• Eat Vegetables with at least 2 meals every day
• Workout 4 days each week
• Sleep 7+ Hours Each Night
• Journal every night before bed

When we achieve these small process goals each small victory spikes our dopamine as we experience the feeling of success. The more we succeed the more we want to continue hitting small victories which helps us to stay motivated until we reach our goals!

Think: What process goals do you need to implement to help you to reach your weight loss goals?

Recognize What Works for You (& What Doesn’t)
Chances are you have had routines that have worked for you in the past (meal prepping on Sundays, working out at 5am 3-4 days a week, carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day, etc.). Picking these habits back up are an easy way to get back on track since you already have the blueprint for these habits stowed away.

Recognize that the process goals that work for other people might not work for you. Just because someone else lost weight on diet XYZ doesn’t mean this process is going to work with your lifestyle or for your goals.

Recognize what behaviors or habits you currently do that don’t serve your goals and cut them out of your life. If a behavior isn’t serving your goals, you need to replace them with healthy behaviors that get you toward where you want to go and who you want to be. Example: If you are drinking wine 3 nights a week, is this behavior serving you and helping you to reach your goals or working against you?

Think: What has worked for you in the past? And why did this work?
Think: What behaviors are you doing right now that don’t serve your goals? Is there any true benefit to these behaviors that serve your health and lifestyle goals?—If not, replace them with behaviors that will help you to reach your goals!

Enlist a Support System
When we enlist a support system into our goals we add accountability to what we say we are going to do. We add a fresh pair of eyes to help us see what we can’t see ourselves. We add emotional support to pick us up when we are down.

Get on the buddy system, share your goals with your friends & family, join a group nutrition challenge, enlist the help of a nutrition coach, etc. These are all great ways to get the support we need to make a behavior stick, to get us past the sticky bits so we can reach our goals.

Start With Your “Why”
When your “why” is strong enough it can help you overcome obstacles to help you find your way.

Why do you want to lose weight, build muscle, be healthier/fitter?
How will making changes in the gym and to your nutrition help you to live a better life outside of the gym?
What effect will losing weight help you to improve your relationships?

Next Steps:
1. Write out your main fitness goal, and when you want to accomplish it by.
2. Know your why, write it down, share it with your support system.
3. Take consistent, imperfect, action every day until you reach your goal!

Reach Out For Help
If you have any questions, or need any help with shedding the holidays pounds, shoot me a message:

How to Create Your 2018 Blueprint

“New Year’s Resolution” Vs. Your Personal 2018 Blueprint

As we look back and reflect on the powerful moments that made 2017 special, it’s only natural to look forward with hope for the changes we want to make in 2018.

“New Year’s Resolutions” often fail for a couple of reasons. For one, they fail because they start with the end in mind.

It is easy to want to be a rockstar without also wanting: the years of living in a van with 5 other sweaty smelly dudes; traveling the country from shitty bar to shitty bar; all while making no money with little to no chance of ever achieving success. It is easy to want to lose 20 pounds, without: wanting to meal prep; wake up an hour earlier; all while giving up our comfort foods. It’s easy to want to run a marathon without: wanting to join run groups, stretch daily to stay healthy; all while keeping a consistent run schedule despite the problems that life throws at us.

It is easy to want the reward without also wanting the discipline and difficulty necessary to achieve it. It is easy to start with the end in mind without wanting to ask ourselves the difficult questions to make sure we are starting off the right way for the right reasons.

What if instead of picking restrictive resolutions for 2018 we create a blueprint for ourselves, an editable sketch of who we are and how we want our lives to play out in 2018?

Blueprints start by asking why?—You can’t sketch out a blueprint if you don’t know the purpose of the structure. Blueprints are responsible for shaping the direction of the build. Blueprints allow us to foreshadow the future intended design, but also allow us the freedom to make edits as necessary when we begin building.

Instead of making “New Year’s Resolutions” follow these 5 steps to create your personal 2018 Blueprint:

1. Lock Down Your Identity
2. Take Responsibility for Your Life
3. Create Your focus for 2018
4. Take Consistent, Imperfect, Action Toward Your goal
5. Start Now

1. Lock Down Your Identity
Who you are (your identity) will shape your values and give form to your character.
Your values & character will help you to determine your purpose.
Living into your purpose, over the course of your life, will create your legacy.

Take some time, even 5-10 minutes to jot down a personal “I am” statement, detailing who you are, what values, or virtuous character traits, are most important to you, and what your purpose is that will shape the course of your life.

2. Take Responsibility for Your Life
You may not be at fault for where you are at, for the circumstances of your life, but you are responsible for both:
1. How you interpret the story of your life.
2. What are you going to do about it?

You get to choose, and have the responsibility to choose, what you want to put your time and energy into in the new year.

• Where do you want to be in 5 years?
• What goal would you go after if you were 100% guaranteed success?
• What legacy do you want to leave behind after you are gone?

We also get to choose, and have the responsibility to choose, what success means to us. We get to determine the metrics by which we determine the standards of our success. This is wholly empowering when we embrace the concept.

Think: If we reframe success to be “taking action working towards our goal”, then any action (even actions that result in us backsliding) becomes a part of our success!

3. Create Your Focus For 2018
Ask Yourself:
1. To what purpose do I choose to give my time and energy to?
2. What goals are markers of my success? Meaning: what goals can I work towards that are proof that I am living into my purpose?
3. How do I need to grow in order to be successful? Meaning: What values do I need to develop in myself, what relationships do I need to build or mend, what knowledge do I need to obtain for me to reach my goals?

4. Take Consistent Imperfect Action Toward Your Goals

The best way to stay get and stay motivated is to take action.

We often think of the formula in reverse: first we need motivation, then we will act.

But we are more successful when we reverse the formula: action can create motivation.

Do not be dissuaded by failure—in order to fail we have to first take action. Remember, If our success is defined as “taking action working towards our goal”, then failure is a result of our success—even failure is a sign that we are working towards our goal.

Do not stop taking action. Your action will motivate you to continue to take action. Keep taking action.

5. Start Now.
(Use Your Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Voice While Reading “Do It, Do It Now!”)

What is the smallest action you can take to work toward your goal? Do it, do it now!

What is the smallest daily habit you can form to work toward your goal? Do it, do it now!

Do not wait for a time, or place, or event to occur before you start taking action. Love yourself so much that you do not wait a single day to start growing into your greatest potential. Do it, do it now!

Reach Out For Help
If you need help goal setting for the new year, reach out to me! Remember that personal training and having a personal nutrition coach are the fastest ways to reach your 2018 health & fitness goals. There is no substitute for coaching and accountability.

You’re still here? What are you waiting for… go live into your purpose. Take action today towards whatever it is that sets your soul on fire. Do it, do it now!

For Faster Results Part 3: Hydrate for Better Health

Water is essential for all of the processes of our body to work correctly.

Drinking enough water can help us to:

  • Lose Weight*
  • Burn more calories
  • Reduce our appetite
  • Maximize our physical performance
  • Boost energy levels and brain function!

How much water should we drink?
For the most part proper hydration is easy: drink when you are thirsty, and have beverages with meals. Simple!**

But if you struggle getting in enough water it can be helpful to set goals, and then adjust your water intake based on how you respond.

To start off:
1. Try to drink at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.
2. Drink more water if it is hot outside.
3. Drink more water if you are working out or doing other vigorous activity.

Drink water throughout the day:
Don’t wait until 7:00pm to realize you haven’t had any water! Set daily benchmarks to drink during the day. It can be helpful to get a large water bottle and mark off certain levels corresponding to the time of day: 12 ounces by 9:00am, 24 Ounces by noon, etc.

The cup we use can make a difference:
There are many ways to be successful getting enough water. A few tips to make it easy:
• Get a large cup, so it holds a lot of water.
• Get a cup you can see through, so you can see how much you have drank.
• Get a cup with a straw, so you don’t even have to open a lid to drink!
• Add a flavor to your water like zip fizz, or nuun tablet

An old rule of thumb:
The pee test can be a quick and useful way to know if you are well hydrated, or severely dehydrated depending on the color. In general, the clearer your pee the more hydrated you are!

Caution: More is not always better.
You can drink too much water, and die. (Apparantly Gatoraid did some pretty shady things to get people to purchase more Gatoraid, see here).

Replenish Your Electrolytes
Rather than focusing on drinking more water, drink smarter by replenishing your electrolytes (mainly salt).

You might be dehydrated because your body has lost essential electrolytes that help regulate the amount of water in our cells.

The main electrolyte we need to make sure we are staying hydrated is salt. Especially high quality, nutrient rich salt. Try a pinch or two of Himalayan sea salt in your water!

For even better hydration: Add a pinch or two of salt to orange juice. The carbs from the orange juice helps us to absorb the salt better!

What about coffee & tea?
Due to some bad science coffee in 1928 we used to think coffee was a diuretic (when we flush our more fluids than we retain). But with a recent study to develop the beverage hydration index we know that coffee and tea can help us to stay hydrated!

Are you hydrating enough to promote your health goals? Did you think coffee was a diuretic? Do you have any tips I missed for staying hydrated? If you have questions about hydration, send them my way!


Sleep Performance, Pt. 2

The #1 Anabolic tool we have is sleep.
You could take 3 mg of testosterone a day, yet if you don’t get enough sleep it’s not gonna make any difference. Sleep is the key. When we sleep enough we get bigger faster stronger, better looking, all the good stuff.

How much sleep is enough?
It depends on the quality of your sleep, and how much slow wave (deep sleep) sleep cycles you are getting. Dr. Parsley recommends a total of 8 hours in bed. 9 hours is cool too. If you need 9.5-10 hours there might be some issues.

What if I can only sleep 6 Hours?
Keep your total time in bed to around 8 hours. If you wake up after 6 hours, stay in bed, practice your breathing techniques, meditation, etc. whatever chills you out, and eventually you will sleep more and more. Pick a bed-time and stick with the bedtime, and pick a wake-up time and stick with that wake-up time.

What should my nap looks?
A 20 minute nap restores creativity pretty well. 30-45 minute nap restores executive function pretty well (cognitive brain function). A 90 minute nap (90-120 min) is a full sleep cycle and will help your whole body recover. Over 120 minutes is just sleep and can interfere with your nighttime sleep

How does working out affect my sleep?
While overtraining can spike your cortisol and negatively affect the quality of your sleep, getting the right amount of training can increase your sleep pressure, which is your drive to want to go to sleep. And the higher the sleep pressure, the more slow wave sleep cycles (better quality of sleep) you get. That’s when you produce testosterone and growth hormone.

How does Marijuana affect my sleep?
Marijuana might not be a great 1st choice as a sleep supplement (see the supplements below), but it is probably the best pharmaceutical intervention, according to Dr. Parsley.

How does alcohol affect my sleep?
Alcohol essentially spikes your cortisol, and, similar to taking a sleep drugs, you don’t enter into deep sleep and therefore lose all of the benefits and adaptations that happen during deep sleep.

How do I improve the quality of my sleep?
Turn off the TV and blue screen devices.
No electronics in bed.
Sleep in a comfortable, cool room.
Sleep in a completely blacked out room.

What supplements can aid my sleep quality?
ZMA, for your zinc source.
Natural Calm (magnesium, tryptophan)
If you are going to take melatonin, take super-super-super low dose (like .3 miligrams)

Supplementing these every night will make sure you are getting the deepest possible sleep that you can get.

Dr. Parsely even has his own combination of all of these supplements put together for you to order. You can grab a sample pack for free (+S&H) on his website:!

If we get the sleep we need, get our nutrition in tune, and get some good high intensity workouts throughout the week, our work performance increases, our workout performance (and adaptation increases),our health improves, and we improve the quality of our lives.

Sleep Performance, Pt. 1

Dr. Kirk Parsley, a former Navy Seal, who helped build the Tactical Athlete Program (Spots Medicine & Performance) for Navy Seals, has some advice for us on sleep:

There is a great correlation between total testosterone and total time in bed.
During deep sleep our bodies secrete testosterone, and growth hormone. These anabolic hormones allow us to recover, changes our cognition, affects our decision making abilities, memory consolidation, motor skills sink in, reduces inflammation (which can lead to chronic injuries).

The problem with sleep drugs is that we aren’t entering deep sleep and getting the benefit of the hormones and the adaptations.

Our Adrenals keep us alert in proportion to what is going on in our environment, in part by secreting cortisol; cortisol helps us to wake up and be alert. When we are in fight-or-flight scenarios, our adrenals kick into overtime and cortisol goes through the roof to make us the most alert we can be to survive.

When we are in deep sleep it is the opposite. We don’t need to respond to our environment. We can shut down our adrenal function, be in the opposite of our “fight-or-flight”, and our body can naturally repair itself and help us to perform optimally.

Dr. Parsley found that by improving sleep (through nutritional changes, sleep hygiene, and other ways described below) he could help guys increase their testosterone by 300%.

A problem for Firefighters, or for anyone that works during the night and sleeps during the day, is lack of sun exposure, which leads to lack of vitamin D3. We have to have adequate levels of vitamin D3 for our bodies to make 5-HTP into Serotonin—Serotonin becomes Melatonin, and melatonin helps turn off our adrenals so we can get good sleep!

When we are Vitamin D3 deficient, we are serotonin deficient (which makes us moody), we are melatonin deficient (which causes sleep issues), and now we are dealing with all of the problems associated with sleep issues.

Stay tuned for Pt. 2: Sleep is the key

What’s Your Why?

To be successful we need to know not only what our goal is, but also what is the “why” behind our goal.

It’s your “why” that will get you up in the morning, out of a cold bed, into the darkness of early day, and into the gym when its easier to stay in a warm bed and hit SNOOZE.

It’s your “why” that will keep you consistently meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon when wine and a good book, or beer and football sound more appealing.

It’s your “why” that will remind you to order the salmon (or chicken breast) and vegetables on a night out with friends when your initial desire is to order the deep dish pizza, and the pizookie.

5 Steps to a Solid “Why”

Step 1. Choose a Goal
Think: If you could accomplish any goal and know with 100% certainty you would succeed, what goal would you accomplish?

Step 2. Identify the Life Benefits of Your Goal
Why did you choose this goal? What qualities and character traits would striving after this goal help you to develop? How does this goal help you to build relationships?

Step 3. The Best Self Test
After identifying the benefits of the goal, will this goal help you to become your best self? If not, head back to step one!

Step 4. Virtuous Character Traits
Once you have a goal that you know will help you grow into your best self. Identify the top character traits that you will need to develop in order to accomplish this goal. In other words, how will this goal help you to grow your character, and what specific character traits (responsibility, dedication, compassion, humility, etc.)

Think: How will these character traits help to improve other aspects of your life?

Step 5. Relationships
How will this goal help you to further build into your current relationships? How will this goal help you to develop and nurture new relationships?

Our “Why” fuels our passion and the energy we need to put into achieving our goal.

Our “Why” shapes our behavior, and helps us to take action towards achieving our goal.

Our “Why” helps us to see any obstacles as problems to be solved, making us more resilient on the path to achieving our goal.

What is your goal that you are currently focusing on? How strong is your “Why”? Who will you become as a result of striving for this goal? If you need any help with goal setting, let me know!

For Faster Results Part 2: Sleep Better

Sleep is when our bodies repair and build. To progress faster, to stay healthy (and sane) make sure you are getting adequate sleep to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

When we are young we have a lengthy night-time system, a 2+ hour event that might look like: dinner, desert, bath-time, p.j.s, story-time, etc. then… sleep. This system worked great for us as kids. The night time routine trained our brain to wind down and shut off.

As adults, we’re great at waking up, downing a cup of joe and getting busy with our day. But we can’t expect to be going full throttle right until our head hits the pillow and instantly drop down to a mental state that helps us to reach a peaceful slumber.

We need to develop a night time routine to shut off our analytical brains, unwind from a stressful day, and prepare our minds for a much needed night of sleep.

3 Tips to Sleep Better:

1. Schedule Your Night Time Routine
Just as we schedule our workouts, work-meetings, and date nights, we need to plan ahead for our night time routine. If you don’t plan it out, how are you going to be successful?

Think: What time is ideal for you to be in bed heading off to slumberland? (Hint: shoot for at least 7 hours sleep, and work backwards from the time you need to be awake). Now, set an alarm an hour or two before that time, a reminder to start winding down, to turn off the t.v., blue screen devices, and start your best routine for rest.

2. Plan Your Routine
Give yourself a time-frame for your nightly routine, say an hour or two. How do you want to fill that hour or two before bed to start winding down? Maybe it is watching a show with your significant other, making a nighttime protein shake, practicing your daily mindfulness or prayer, etc. (Hint: add a smell like lavender to your night time routine to associate this smell with sleep).

Jot down a night-time routine itinerary you can stick to on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you will need to test it out and edit it as you go.

3. Add Mindfulness to Your Routine
Practice a nighttime mind dump to get rid of the mental residue of the daily grind by journaling, meditating, praying, etc.

It can be helpful to review the day and answer a few questions to your nighttime routine:
• What were the three conversations I had today that were the most meaningful?
• What are three things I am grateful for?
• What did I accomplish today?

Switching to a state of mind that entices us to rest isn’t always easy, but we can train ourselves to follow a night time routine that helps our brain to switch over.

Do you struggle with consistent sleep patterns? What does your nighttime routine look like?

Maximize your Muscle to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

If you want to live longer, lean muscle mass might just be your best measurement to make sure you have a long life.

A 2014 UCLA study studied over 3,600 participants made up of men who were 55 and older, and women who were 65 and older. They found that all-cause mortality was significantly lower in participants who had more muscle mass.

“In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, a professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School and the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

Though, a study of this nature cannot definitely establish a cause-and-effect relationship between muscle mass and longevity, it seems clear that if we want to live longer we need to focus on body composition.

A 2008 Study by Ruiz et al. (and others) looked at over 8000 participants to find out what affect strength and cardiorespiratory fitness has on healthy aging. They found (also correlative) that individuals who lacked strength were more likely to die of all causes and that there is even a correlative relationship to lack of strength and cancer.

A final key observation of this dataset was that regardless of strength, individuals with higher cardio-respiratory fitness had a greater life expectancy than low cardio-respiratory fitness counterparts.

This landmark study provided the first direct evidence that physical strength or the processes of developing strength is intrinsically linked to healthy aging.

If you didn’t previously have a reason to get strong, and build muscle—now you do!

How are your body composition goals going? Are you solely focused on losing weight to live a long healthy life, or are you also focusing on building muscle, strength, and cardio-respiratory fitness?

Shoot me a message if you have any questions!

For Faster Results Fuel Your Progress

Diet is the foundation of the theoretical hierarchy of fitness. Chances are, if you are working out and not seeing the results you want, your nutrition needs to get dialed in.

Are you eating for pleasure or purpose? Think of the food we eat as the fuel that drives our health and fitness goals. When we eat purposefully, to promote our fitness, we give our body the best fuel for success.

3 Steps to Dial in Your Diet:

1) Pay Attention to What you Eat
Tracking your daily macros (fat, carbs, protein) helps you to pay attention to what you eat. It gives your nutrition plan focus, and helps you to eat the right things in the right amounts. By focusing on the right things, at the right time, for the right reasons you will begin to see the positive changes, and faster progress that you are looking for.

2) Planning & Preparation
The more our daily routine gets dialed in, the easier it becomes to plan meals, meal prep ahead of time, and even to plan out our macros for the day with the knowledge of our daily macro goals.

With “flexible dieting” you can add in otherwise less ideal food choices in one meal, say a glass of wine with dinner, because you know how your daily macros add up to still meet your goals.

Planning out each meal lets you tweak one meal’s macros to account for what you want to eat in a different meal that day so your total daily macros add up to you staying on track.

3) Executing
Executing your nutrition plan is a game of trial and error—a kind of daily dance consisting of: trying new foods, new recipes, and a variety of combinations to hit your macro goals. Executing your plan means risking failure, and daring to make mistakes. It takes starting over each time you take a wrong step by refocusing on your goals (your “why”) and reaffirming your desire to take a new step tomorrow.

I have always enjoyed the line from the Scent of a Woman: “No mistakes in the tango, darling, not like life. It’s simple. That’s what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on.”

Is your nutrition fueling your progress? Learn to track your macros, to plan and prepare ahead of time, and to execute: put your plan into action.

The process of tracking your macros becomes easier and easier as it becomes a part of your daily routine. If you need help, just reach out to me.

The #1 Obstacle to Reaching Your Health & Fitness Goal: Time

Recently I asked the question, “What’s your #1 obstacle to reaching your health and fitness goal?”

And the most common answer (after “Donuts” hahaha) was “Time”.

Sometimes it is just a season of life where we need to sacrifice our workouts for our friends & families, our jobs, our homes, etc. But, if it is longer than a season, then it is usually a priority issue.

Most people agree that we need: physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual health. And that physical health is often a catalyst to improving the others. So why do we let our priorities stop us from improving our health and fitness?

On a plane flight, we’re instructed to put our oxygen mask on first, before we try to help others (children, family, friends, etc.) because at 35,000 ft. we have only seconds of useful consciousness before hypoxia sets. If we tried to help others to put on their mask before we put on our own we would begin to lose our ability to recognize faces, shapes, and perform even basic logic, until we pass out from lack of oxygen.

In our day to day life it’s not always so simple to see when we are giving so much of ourselves for others that we end up sacrificing our health in the process. When we de-prioritize our health and fitness for too long we are left an empty tank with nothing left to give to anyone else.

Make sure to schedule time for yourself! Imagine when you are your best self, full of energy, loaded with confidence, and stress free. How much would this help you with your relationships? How much more effective would you be at your job? How much less time would you spend worrying about life and instead focus on enjoying life?

Make a decision to re-prioritize your health and fitness to be a better parent, friend, boss, co-worker.

The people in your life need your help. Just be sure to put your oxygen mask on first.