Deadlift Your Way to Health

As most of you know, the (Romanian) Deadlift is my favorite exercise! Today I want to explore why that is the case and why EVERYONE should add it into their workout routines if it is not in it already.

Why is it my favorite exercise?

- SERIOUS WEIGHT (FUN)!
For most people, it is the lift that you can lift the most weight in (given your musculature is in line). More Weight --> More Work  --> Efficient Goal-achieving (whether that be fat loss or muscle gain) 

- BEAUTIFUL! 
While all movements can be simplified to basic biomechanics (though sometimes in 3D making it a little more complicated), the Deadlift makes me think of the simplest of movements. One goes from looking like this:
__   (Upper Body)
   |   (Lower Body)

To looking like this:

|   (Upper Body)
|   (Lower Body)

Simple. It's like the modern furniture of exercise. The Apple product of the technological world. The (craftily branded) startup to the conventional way of doing things (e.g. Lyft, Gyft, Square, Box. Scoot. Cookie (I wish)). Okay I'm done.

 

Why should EVERYONE be doing it?
(Aside from the fact that it is a heavy/fun and beautiful exercise)

- FUNCTIONAL (Movements that translate to real life)
I dare you to count how many times you bend over to pick something up during the day - Picking up a book; picking up your dog; picking up the weight I am making you pick up, picking up your buddy who has had one too many drinks. Picking things up safely is a good way to prevent back pain, among other things. Ergo, lifting heavy versions of things, makes those light things feel like nothing!

Btw here is a link to a Journal of Strength and Conditioning article (hopefully you can at least read the abstract) that describes how one might functionally benefit from doing DEADS. 

- POSTURE/POSTERIOR CHAIN! It fixes everything that Spin (I am looking at you SoulCycle/CycleBar), sitting in your car, sitting at your computer, and everything else that our world screws up. It makes blatantly clear, mobility/stability/strength issues for all of the most important muscle groups.
It also builds your butt when done right...and who doesn't appreciate a good butt (and I am not talking about the fake-out, terrible pelvic tilt 'big butt')?

- STRONG BONES! Like milk, but less bloating.
Heavy weights (even a bit more so in lifts where it is literally on your back - like squats), promote increases in bone density. Forget Life Alert, just work your DEADS and prevent the breakage (sort of joking)

- POWER!
Hip drive is among the most powerful movements we can create as humans. Training heavy deadlifts produces an increase in the force that you can create. Powerful hip drives can then be used for the most powerful (and safest) high-intensity movement: Swings. Talk about the most efficient way to burn fat - don't even get me started on heavy kettlebell swings. 
 

For your viewing pleasure I have uploaded a video of me pulling 325 to my YouTube page. 
Found here. (My apologies for the video quality).

So how does this all make me healthy?
- Functional movement creates a durable foundation for your daily activities. It will promote stronger bones and increases in balance and flexibility that you can feel in your daily life. In addition to the movement, it increases your core strength and burns some of the most Calories (when heavy or explosive). PLUS, it puts you in a state of recovery that rivals HIIT training that can last for days. 

Though we all love pancakes, let's commit to not letting that be the word that describes our butts. Get. Your. Deadlifts. In. 

*mic drop*


 


 

 

 

 

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Myofascial Release and Tensile Strength

Today I want to talk about (part of) why I make my clients sit on foam rollers, hard lacrosse balls/tennis balls/softballs and use ViPRs - all in one succinct-ish post.

The thing they all have in common? Fascia

Think about when you are pulling apart a chicken. Fascia is the thin, white layer that surrounds all of the meat. Fascia, like it is in chickens or any other animal, is one massive 'organ' of connective tissue that surrounds your entire musculature. It has this beautiful tendency to continuously regenerate and connect things...even if those things shouldn't be connected.

My favorite example of a pathology related to this is frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder is characterized by a stiffening of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. There is no actual problem with the muscles surrounding the shoulder, it just gets 'stuck' when you try to, for example, move your hands overhead into an overhead squat position. This is often extremely painful and uncomfortable. 

Anyway, how do you fix it?

Well, the best thing to do is prevent it. How? 

MOVE! 

I don't know how often I have to explain to people that the best medicine for most movement-related issues is to NOT STOP MOVING. The body is designed to move, and keep moving. Unfortunately for those that choose to slow down or stop, the body responds in a way that only makes it harder to move well. 

Side note reminiscent of past posts and why breaking down fascia is so important: if you can't reach a certain minimum ROM at every joint, then mobility NEEDS to become a priority. Maximum mobility => Maximum functionality => Maximum safe, allowable movements => Maximum possible energy output => Maximum possible results.

Due to the way our society works, however, the buildup of fascia that does not move well has become increasingly more prominent. There are ways to fight the locking down of your musculature!

Break down the fascia surrounding the joint systematically, whilst strengthening the malleability and flexibility of the fascia as new ranges of motion (ROM) are achieved.

To break it down, we use hard things; everything from foam rollers to golf balls. So, yes, this is why it is not the most comfortable thing in the world. GENERALLY, the harder the more effective. However, tolerance to this can build over time, so start out with soft stuff (foam rollers, tennis balls) and transition to the more intense stuff (Grid rollers and LAX balls) as you get used them. Also, important to consider, is that there are major nerves below the skin. Always make sure you are not putting so much pressure anywhere that causes a shooting pain anywhere, or numbness for that matter. 

To make fascia more malleable and tensile, we do functional movements that require strength at end-ROM. For example, holding a weight far away from your body while doing a lunge, is a great way to STRETCH that fascia WHILE making it more tensile. What better equipment to do this with than...ViPRs! They were designed to make it easier to hold weights at end-ROM (handles and holes all over the weighted tube). 

Covered a lot in less than a page! Please don't hesitate to have others sign up for the blog if you think they might find some of these topics valuable or ask questions by clicking on the post title.

"Only YOU can prevent BAD health and fitness information from becoming the industry standard!"
-Smokey the Bear

Happy Thursday!

 

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The Ultimate Question

All day long I get the wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact on a number of people's lives. Every single workout ideally pushes them in a direction closer to their fitness goals, helps them to relax and get away from their day-to-day (even if this means listening to my ridiculous stories), adds a bit of positivity and warmth to their day (if nothing more than literal heat). 

And all too often, I run into brick walls with overly tight muscles that seem to not smooth out in normal time; into clients unable to do their own outside work; into (a lack of) results that don't add up with the type of work being done (both nutritional work and physical work). I can usually attribute a lot of this to stress, a lack of motivation, or a combination thereof. It brings about a question I always want to ask:

"What is more important than your own health?"

I DO UNDERSTAND:
-that one has to work to say, live in San Francisco
-that without work, it would be hard to buy the things we want,
-that once you have a family, a life, that you can't just upend it and switch it around as you please,

The irony of this, though, is that we seem to work our body until it is physically breaking down, stressing it out so much that we can't actually push it as hard as we need to, to get the results we want. 

What is the point of working towards a life where we don't have to worry about anything, if we then have to worry about a health disorder because we weren't consistently working on our  health. 

Hell, lets put it bluntly, what's the point of working towards a worry-free living, if we aren't living?

So, what are some things that one can do to continuously make progress?
-MAKE time for your workouts
-MAKE time for your meditation
-MAKE time for your mobility work
-MAKE time to do the things that help you to relax
-MAKE time for YOU

Like many people I train, I often overworked myself and failed to make time for my mental health. This month has been revolutionary for me in that regard, and I must say, the results have followed!

Personally, something that has benefit me a lot, has been blocking out time from my schedule to workout. I frequently have clients/sessions booked from early morning to evening, so if I don't block out the time, my brain gets foggy, my mental health suffers, and eventually my business suffers.

Realistically, everyone around you (including you) benefits from your brain at full capacity - so fight for it to be there as frequently as possible. You won't regret it. :)

 

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The Relationship between Mobility, Stability, and Strength

Over three and a half years, I have had a number of clients, each with a variety of goals; everything from losing fat, to preparing for an athletic event, to simply building muscle. 

Though there are many differences in the preparation, diet, and results of each goal - there is a common thread among them all - efficient and pain-free movement,

"How do I lose weight (fat)?"
Well, once you move well, you move frequently - the faster the better - while focusing on decreasing calories.

"How do I gain weight (muscle)?"
Well, you move well, push heavier weights (because the body is moving efficiently) - while focusing on increasing calories.

"How do I get better on a bike?"
Well, make sure your body can move in every direction (that isn't what you normally use on a bike), and strengthen muscles used on a bike.

"How do I get rid of this low back pain?"
Well, make sure the muscles and joints around the low back are moving, then strengthen the ones that support the back so that it doesn't take the brunt of the work.

The list goes on...

So how do we move well?

I find the simplest way to break it down is to look at the relationship between Mobility, Stability, and Strength.

Mobility--precedes--Stability--precedes--Strength

Especially when I am working with clients initially, I run into an inability to lift heavier weights (weight loss clients, this still applies to you - heavy weights = more calorie burn). It has nothing to do with their lack of desire. Rather, an inability to get into a biomechanically favorable position to begin the lift, basically sets them up for failure. Oftentimes I even get an, "I've never been good at _______(insert lift here)."

Yeah, well no wonder, I wouldn't be good at ________ if all the work went right into my back or I was insanely uncomfortable at the bottom position!

So, it is important that you are mobile at the joints being used. Only once you are at a minimum level of mobility, can you then stabilize the joint at the level of mobility achieved. Finally, once you have stabilized the joint(s), you can strengthen the movements that require the joints, effectively. 

My favorite visual of how this works is with a simple overhead press (think military press or likewise). It is REALLY HARD to press heavy weights overhead if when you press "up" it is actually going forward a bit. The less mobile one is, the harder that lift becomes. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to make sure you are able to attain a minimum range of motion BEFORE building the stability and eventually the strength in a desired lift. 

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CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Along with the new monthly payment system, I hope to continue to provide incentives to STAY CONSISTENT. 

Why? Well, consistency is the key to success!

Besides the fact that the science behind the Supercompensation Theory is based on hitting muscles consistently; it truly comes down to being able to maintain healthy habits over a long period of time. 

Let me give you a personal example from just the last few months:

As many of you know, I had a photoshoot that I cut down heading into. What it was though, was an unsustainable cut that involved ridiculous classes up to 5x a week, on top of strength training, and on top of cardio. In terms of diet, I was intermittent fasting on top of a low carb diet with little to no alcohol intake. It worked...well...until the photoshoot. After that I was so exhausted from the cutting down that I packed on weight for the next month or so. 

In order to make a point - and not much else haha -I decided to take seriously the idea of intermittent fasting and apply it daily to see how much of an effect it would have on my body fat content and how that would compare to pre-photoshoot me when done strategically and less intensely over about the same period of time. 

What is interesting is that today, even after putting on some weight and without the crazy workout schedule, I have fallen into a pattern that has gotten me to a LOWER body fat percentage than I was even at the time of the shoot! My favorite part? I haven't been saying no to alcohol! Now, I am not saying go out and drink like a fish, BUT, what I am saying, is that the consistent dieting and consistent workout schedule result in BETTER long-term changes than crazy intense dieting and workout routines. 

Making healthy habits doesn't mean hating life! It means changing your perception of 'healthy' foods and adopting a strategy that lends itself to consistency so that you don't have to worry about anything. Just let the consistency do the work!

My daily ritual:
-Casein protein supplement for breakfast
-5 WHOLE eggs, a salad, AND some oatmeal or sweet potatoes for brunch
-Salad with typically low-ish fat content dressing - think vinaigrettes (but don't mistake this for the lack of good fats on the salad - like avocados and lean proteins) for lunch
-Vegetable and (low glycemic OR high benefit) fruit smoothie alongside chicken patties for dinner
-2-3 High protein/high fat snacks during the day (Kind + bars, nut mixes, flax snacks)
-Casein protein supplement for before bed.

 

 

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What it takes to lose/gain weight

I have been inspired by a client this week to talk a little more about what it takes to put on and lose weight. 

Let's talk numbers first:
Calories in a pound (lb) of fat = 3500
If FAT was purely FAT (it is made up of other stuff too), it would take 3500 Calories, or 500 Calories per day in a 7 day week to burn a single pound (of fat). 
Average BMR (daily Calories needed to survive) of US citizens:
--Men: 1,662 (eh, probably a little higher than the reports showed for the average male)
--Women: 1,492

To lose weight: Calories OUT must be GREATER than Calories IN
That means:
- (YOUR BMR + YOUR Activity, in Calories) MUST BE GREATER than (Calories you eat)

For example: Say my BMR is 2200 and I burn about 700 calories a day form working out. I have to eat less than 2900 calories a day to lose weight. 

THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD STARVE YOURSELF to lose weight. It means to take it like a staircase of calories. Start with cutting down 200 net Calories a week, then 200 Calories less the next week. This is how we prevent Yo-Yo dieting. 

The opposite is true for gaining weight.
(YOUR BMR + YOUR Activity, in Calories) MUST BE LESS than (Calories you eat)

SAME IDEA. Adding 200-400 calories to your daily regimen weekly is the best way to gain weight without getting fed up with overdoing it for a little bit and slingshotting back. Luckily, what I find happens when bulking however, is that your stomach is a good guide. Pushing a little past the point of satisfied is a good way to gauge if you're eating enough when starting to bulk. 

You might be able to tell that I am not huge on working around numbers as I find that it can be exhausting, time consuming, and due to poor measurement devices/Calorie reads, a bit imprecise anyway, but this is there for anyone that likes that type of guide. Personally, I am all about the small lifestyle changes that accumulate to weight loss and weight gain, but all ways are good! Whichever one works for you is the one that you should pursue!

Ah, that part is the (relatively) easy part. Calories in versus Calories out. Next, I want to explore the difference between eating junk food and eating healthy food when dieting/gaining weight. Additionally, exercise TYPE has a bit of a roll as well, which we have talked a little bit about, but will go into more to continue this discussion.

Fun Fact: If you are wondering why I keep capitalizing the C in Calories (not sure if I mentioned this in the past):
1 calorie = the amount of heat required at a pressure of 1 atmosphere of pressure to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degrees Celsius. 
In other words, it is a TINY amount of energy

1 Calorie = 1000 calories. We measure our food and energy consumption in the 1000s - saves a lot of zeros being written down and makes MATHS a little easier. 
 

:)

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Banana and Broccoli

Today I wanted to touch on two things I eat every single day. Naturally, I want to make sure I am making good choices in the supermarket.

Bananas:
Not much on the banana outside of the fact that there are little phytonutrients available in the Cavendish variety (the long, typically yellow variety we see most commonly in the supermarket).

Cavendish variety does have some fiber and a good amount of Potassium (K+). Store bananas in the refrigerator ONCE THEY HAVE RIPENED completely. 

Other (more nutritious) varieties that are available in larger supermarkets:
-Baby bananas-->More Vit C, Vit A, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, and Zinc
-Red (Red Finger) Bananas-->Higher in Vit C and Carotenoids (ready to eat when skin is dark magenta color w/ brown streaks)
-Burro (Let ripen until flesh is yellow for best flavor


Broccoli: Once harvested, begins losing its sugars and nutrients very quickly.
-Choosing the freshest heads in the supermarket is key to maximizing phytonutrient content: 
   -Whole heads are greater than florets
-Chill as soon as you bring it home and eat it raw or cook it ASAP
-If storing, use the pin-pricked, sealed bag in humidifier drawer method.
-Boiling or cooking in microwave kills many beneficial nutrients. Raw is the way to go!
  

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CALORIE CALCULATIONS!

Today we take a break from the fruits and veggies and talk about Calorie requirements. While I generally think of myself as more of a lifestyle coach than a physique coach, sometimes people want to up their results and the formulas below are a good GUIDE to doing so. I encourage you to plug in your own numbers and verify that what you are eating daily fits within your BMR and calorie expenditure calculations. 

These are not perfect, but are a good way to see ballpark numbers to shoot for. 

As always, it comes down to Calories in versus Calories out.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) - Basically, the Calories required to survive (your body's Caloric needs)

To calculate (Note the differences between men and women):

Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches ) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in year)

I'll throw in my numbers so you have an example:

BMR = 66 + (6.23 x 185lbs) + (12.7 x 73 in) - (6.8 x 26) = 1968.85 Calories

So, that is what my body requires on a daily basis, just based on my height, age, and weight (and now you might see where the 2,000 Calorie diet came from).

THEN you need to add in your activity requirements. So, you will simply multiply your Calories (from earlier) by whichever number fits your activity level best (yeah, I know, not the most scientific thing in the world...)

  • 1.200 = sedentary (little or no exercise)
  • 1.375 = lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week, approx. 590 Cal/day)
  • 1.550 = moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week, approx. 870 Cal/day)
  • 1.725 = very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week, approx. 1150 Cal/day)
  • 1.900 = extra active (very hard exercise/sports and physical job, approx. 1580 Cal/day)

I decided that I am 'very active'. I lift 5-6 days a week, usually pretty heavy (calculations to come in future posts), stand almost all day and walk/lift weights during sessions, and generally do my best to keep moving during the day. 

1968.85 x 1.725 = 3396.27 Calories

Does that make sense? It's a solid estimate. I would say it is a little high, but I would also say I am more in-between 'moderately active' and 'very active', so it would be right in the right area. 

I will continue the discussion of how to use this with weight loss/gain in another post - want to keep these as short and concise as possible. Have fun using MATHS again!

 

 

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Grapes (and their dry relatives)

I am continuing today with a fruit that many of my friends constantly eat, and that I myself have been known to eat regularly as well. Grapes are so delicious, but in my quest to find out more about their phytonutrient content, I learned some less-than-ideal things about this American staple. 

-Grapes do not continue to ripen once harvested - LIKE other berries, UNLIKE other fruits (to be discussed soon) - so the fact that they are being harvested before ripe to be shipped to supermarkets to be stored for weeks before purchase is unsettling. 

-Most raisins that we consume today are made from Thompson (green, light-colored) grapes - the least nutritious variety.

Rules to go by:
-Red, purple, or black grapes are the best for your health - with the largest proportion of anthocyanin (in disgustingly short - increases antioxidants)
-Search for the FRESHEST grapes; look for plump, firmly attached grapes. The stems should be bright green and flexible. The more loose fruit, the longer it has been stored at the market - avoid these to get more out of your grape purchases in terms of nutritional value
-Chill immediately. Use the sealed plastic, pin-pricked (about 20 pricks) bag inside the crisper drawer method for storage.
-Buy organic to decrease exposure to pesticides (there is a relatively large amount on grapes)
- Golden raisins have more nutritional benefits than other varieties (preserved with Sulfur dioxide)
-Eat more currants - they have a relatively high antioxidant value - even to golden raisins.

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Mo' Berries and Tomatoes

Here with some of our favorite berry go-to's and one of the most eaten vegetables in America (and let's not kid ourselves - probably Italy too).

-Tomatoes-
-RED, RED, RED Tomatoes FTW (have the greatest nutritional value) and are generally more nutritious than yellow, gold, or green tomatoes
- The smaller the tomato, the HIGHER its sugar and lycopene (potential antioxidant) content - use these for the most flavor and the most benefits
-Be wary of 'on-the-vine' and 'heirloom' tomatoes. Taste to justify whether it is worth the increase in price. No significant increase in phytonutrient benefits.
-Processed tomato products can be more flavorful and nutritious than fresh tomatoes. These are ripened in the field and processed shortly after being harvested. Canned tomato paste, for example, contains the highest concentration of lycopene.
-Cooking tomatoes converts lycopene into an easily absorbed form - as well as concentrating the flavor. 
-Use the skin, seeds, and juice of the tomato whenever possible as those are the most nutritious parts!

-Strawberries, Cranberries, and Raspberries-
Strawberries:
-Always pick the red, ripe berries that are uniform in color - the fresher the better (farmer's markets or U-pick farms the best). 
-Eat within a few days (storing them for a day on the counter before eating, increases their antioxidant value, however)
-Freeze as discussed with blueberries in a previous post (Vit. C/powdered pectin and microwave thaw)

Cranberries:
-Eat throughout the year - very high in antioxidants!!
-Dried are less nutritious than fresh
- Unsweetened juice (no cocktails or juice blends) has shown to be beneficial

Raspberries:
-High in Fiber and antioxidants!
-Look for DARK RED or BLACK varieties

Remember, feel free to click on the post titles and comment with any questions or if you are interested in anything more from this post of this blog. Thanks for reading!
 

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Blueberries and Blackberries - superstars

Hello again, and I apologize for the delay. Sifting through information to make sure that the information I am giving you continues to be concise, interesting and useful.

Today, we talk about the blueberries and blackberries.

Generally speaking, both have retained a relatively high amount of their nutritional highlights. 
Both are rich in anthocyanins, Vitamin C, low in glycemic load, and high in fiber. 

They have the potential and have been shown to slow brain aging, fight cancer, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease!

-So...eat more!! I have a medium sized handful in each one of my blended vegetable/fruit smoothies that I usually have for dinner. These also contain (raw) leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, sometimes bell peppers and sometimes bananas. 

-Buy the frozen kind! Available year round and are nearly as nutritious as the fresh kinds. Make sure to thaw them in the microwave though, as you should minimize the time they are exposed to stuff that devalues their nutrition. 

-Increase variety by shopping at farmers markets, specialty stores, or harvest berries at a U-pick farm.

-Eat them right away as they spoil within a few days - freeze them if you buy in excess. At that, sprinkle them with Vitamin C powder or a thin layer of granulated sugar to preserve some of their nutritional value before throwing them in the freezer.

-Cooking and canning of BLUEBERRIES CAN increase their phytonutrient value. Mmmmm to blueberry desserts and baked goods :)

 

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Are all fruits and vegetables created equal?

In short, 'No'.

Over the next few weeks I am going to do everything in my power to post about AT LEAST ONE fruit or vegetable family (or one of each) EVERY DAY. The reason? Because of the question posed above. 

Since we became an agricultural society (many, many years ago) we have done a  lot of damage to the nutrients we find in our fruits and vegetables. The result? A problem that seems to contradict everything we know about the healthiness of these wonderful foods. 

As the saying goes, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'

...umm not quite. The thing is, certain fruits and vegetables have lost some OR MOST of their nutritional value due to our way of modifying, growing, transporting, storing, or cooking our food. These next posts are meant to breakdown some of the findings regarding which fruits/vegetables have retained their beneficial properties; which variations of fruits and vegetables should be focused on at grocery stores/markets; and which storing/cooking methods should be used to maximize these nutrients. 

To keep the post short, today we will only talk about Leafy Greens

1) Look for the darker colored (more bitter) loose-leaf varieties of lettuce/greens (but when compared to bagged greens, heads of lettuce win in level of phytonutrients)

2) To preserve nutrient levels, preparation after purchase can change the game. Soak lettuce for ten minutes in very cold water - dry - store in pin-pricked sealed bag to maximize nutrients whilst stored. 

3) If using bags of mixed greens, look for most colorful combination of freshest leaves.

 

This information has been pulled from "Eating on the Wild Side" by Jo Robinson. An amazing resource to check out if you don't want to wait for posts. Hope you enjoyed!

 

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The High-Intensity and Clean Eating Paradox

There is a very interesting thing going on with all of the FAD workout routines and long-term "Low Carb" diets and such. It's fascinating because it is an aspect that people think they don't have to deal with, but it ends up kicking them in the butt. 

When done correctly, training programs should be built on the principles of specificity (work on what you want to be better at), overload (pushing the body physically), progression (increasing volume of training over time), and reversibility (if you don't use it, you lose it). 

I have a number of friends/instructors/clients that do classes like Barry's Bootcamp, SoulCycle, etc. that are built on intensity. This is all fine and good as it IS a very good workout and CAN stimulate change in your physique. In fact, I appreciate some of them very much as they can be great TOOLS to advance your physique/reach your fitness goals; I personally did a sequence of Barry's classes up to my photoshoot and it worked fantastically!

 My problem with them is that they have become the ONLY exercise that some people do. People are taking upwards of 5 classes a week because it IS such a good workout. 

What I find interesting though, is that the ones that are taking the most classes - and don't stimulate their body any other way- are starting to plateau. Some, are even getting less healthy looking. Is this overtraining? It could be. Especially for the HIIT classes. It is definitely a potential issue. However, the real problem is more likely due to the body's ability to "get used to" a certain diet strategy or workout. 

Another important principle in fitness is Variability. Constantly changing your workout is important!

The body gets used to running on low carbs, the body gets used to high intensity, the body IS AMAZING and will make due with what it has. It IS smarter than your diet plan! This is why it is so important to stimulate the opposite in your diet plan (controlled cheat days)! This is why it is important to stimulate the opposite in your exercise plan (doing a new class or turning up cardio a little bit or trying a new resistance training exercise)!

CHANGE IS A GREAT THING! 
 

Would love to hear your thoughts on this post - click on the header and it should take you to the comments section. Also, please follow me on IG, FB, Twitter! Links below! 

Thanks for reading!

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Cholesterol

This topic, and many like it, are the reason why I started this blog. Society has been bombarded with this word since (apparently) the 1950s. 

The myth I am so worried about:

High cholesterol foods produce high cholesterol levels in the blood, and can contribute to heart disease.

Where to begin:
Cholesterol is produced by our liver. We are talking like 75% of our blood cholesterol - not just some. 

Why? Because cholesterol is involved in regulating cell signaling pathways; important to the structure of cell membranes; is directly related to other cellular components; and up to 25% of it is found in the brain - that sort of important organ in our body. 

Therefore, diet has an affect on cholesterol, but not they way that we have been taught. In fact, the proportion of carbohydrates to fat and protein in your body can be more directly related to cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is just an indicator of what is going on. 

High visceral (stomach area) fat has been associated with heart disease. Cholesterol, being the indicator it is, got blamed, so they continue to use it as a scapegoat for a much bigger problem - carbohydrate miseducation. 

Public miseducation on carbohydrates and preservatives is the much bigger issue that I hope to attack soon, but for now, let's focus on cholesterol.

Here's what I see:
Public miseducation --> Decrease saturated fat foods --> (Because there's less to choose from) Eat more carbs --> Increase likelihood of constant insulin production, resulting in increased fat storage (visceral) --> Get checked out (Start cholesterol drugs that do little to help situation) --> Continue societal trend of increasing rate of heart disease. 

Here's what we should be doing:
Learn how to manage correctly --> INCREASE WHOLE FOODS, including foods relatively high in saturated fat (but do not cut out carbs) --> Lean out, gain muscle --> Decrease risk of heart disease --> :)

Final point:
Eat your yolks, eat your red meats. 

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Protein - the last Macromolecule

There are 3...Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. We need each one of them to live a happy healthy life. In addition, we need a smaller amount of micronutrients, but that to come later. 

What do enzymes, muscle cells, DNA, signaling pathways, and cellular structure have in common?

Besides being the literal building blocks of each of your cells (and therefore you); it is involved in most, if not all, cellular processes as well. To put it lightly, protein is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

Science Breakdown:

  • Protein is a chain of small amino acids, usually more than 20 amino acids long.
  • Protein broken down by Pepsin in the stomach, Trypsin and Chymotrypsin in the small intestine. 
  • Once broken down to the di-/tri-peptide level, the body can absorb it.
  • 20 Non-essential amino acids (the body can make these)
    • 9 Essential amino acids (you need to get these into your body) - Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine
  • Complete Proteins - Contain an amino acid profile similar to that needed by the body (meat, eggs, dairy, soybeans, blue green algae, hempseed, buckwheat, quinoa)
    • Incomplete Proteins - Plant proteins tend to be incomplete but when combined with other sources can be a complete source. For example, Beans AND Whole grains, Nuts AND Whole grains, or Beans AND Seeds or Nuts

How much do we need? 
I've heard a few answers to this question: The most scientific version I've gotten is 0.8g/kg of body weight per day for maintenance. 1.2g/kg of bodyweight per day to stimulate growth. 

Example for me:
I weigh 187lbs. This is about 85kg. 85 x (0.8-1.2) = 68-102g of protein per day for me depending on what I am going for. 

Instead of going into what happens when you overeat protein, just know that you can. Liver problems come to mind especially. Drink your water!

Using protein to your advantage:

  • If you are one to eat breakfast, try stimulating your metabolism with protein in the morning. It can act as a jumpstart to your system.
  • Similarly, use protein to keep you in a fat burning zone - just make sure whatever you are eating it with wouldn't be spiking your insulin levels and you should be good.
  • Diversify your protein (especially for vegan/vegetarian). This will help to make sure you are getting all sorts of good carbohydrates and fats that you might not find in just one source

Will post soon about the difference between Whey, Casein, etc, but wanted to cut this post off. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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FAT, FAT, FAT

What do you think about when you hear those words? 

I almost guarantee you, the average person in our society thinks negatively about fat. On the contrary, fat is quite important to you, AND it can dramatically affect weight loss (specifically fat loss) results. 

Watch me keep this post super short, but super informative!

What is fat?

  • Efficient energy storage (9kcal/g of energy in fat vs 4kcal/g in carbohydrates or protein)
  • Transported through the blood as fatty acids (3x Carbon-Hydrogen chains attached to 1x glycerol)
  • Essential to the human diet in the form of Omega-3s and Omega-6s
  • Needed for fat-soluble digestion of Vitamins A, D, E, K

    Types of Fat (based on structure and chemical response within the body)
  • Saturated (No double bonds in C-H chain, solid at room temperature; i.e. butter)
  • Unsaturated (At least 1 double bond in C-H chain, liquid at room temperature; i.e. oil)
  • Trans (Double bond gets hydrogenated and shaped like a saturated fat, solid at room temperature; i.e. Crisco) - Just stay away from these (you can tell if it is in the ingredients if it says anything related to 'partially hydrogenated ______ oil'

All good so far - mandatory science out of the way. How do we strategically use fat in our diet?This is why we talked about Insulin previously. Say you are trying to keep your body in a 'fat burning zone' and want to make sure you aren't stimulating your insulin response, thus maintaining your fat burning rather than fat storing systems. Well, what else would you eat to stave off hunger and get the job done? I hope you don't say "Well, I just wouldn't eat."

You've got it! FAT (and protein)!

On top of low glycemic veggies, fat and protein are your best friends when trimming fat off of your body.

This saying goes a long way in the fat burning world (because there is one?): 

"In the presence of protein, your body will opt for fat as an energy source"
-This is the case because your body prefers to use fat over protein for energy.
-So make sure you are getting your protein, and maintain a relatively low insulin response to get your body to do the fat loss work for you. 

Boom. 

No need to continue from here, but I am going to go into some of my favorite fats because it makes me happy AND they are a huge part of my diet (and therefore life).

  • The almighty Avocado (fun fact: Avvocato in Italian is 'lawyer').
    -I eat probably a whole avocado every day. True happiness right there.
  • Bacon and red meats.
    -Relatively fatty (saturated), but do not be afraid of these fats as they can still be used in your diet strategically
  • Eggs. 
    -THE ENTIRE EGG TOO. Cholesterol talk to come soon - let's just say that there is a lot of bad information out there. My cholesterol levels are great btw.
  • Nuts, nuts, nuts - especially the expensive ones! Mmmm cashews

    PLEASE don't hesitate to click on the title of this post and comment your faves! 

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Motivation

There is one major difference between clients that seem to coast through their sessions and clients that truly make changes in their physique/attain their fitness goals; that difference is found in their motivation. 

I don't remember exactly when or where I learned this, but the difference in effectiveness of intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation fascinates me. 

For those that may have not heard of this, or don't recall exactly what it means:
Intrinsic Motivation: Engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding (i.e. you do it for the sake of doing it, or because it makes you feel uplifted doing it).

Extrinsic Motivation: Engaging in an activity or behaving in a way because it rewards you externally (i.e. doing well on an assignment to get a good grade or not doing something in order to avoid punishment).

Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to work with a number of clients, ranging in their motivation from wedding fat loss to fit in a dress, to bulking up. Now, the interesting part is where the motivation is coming from. For example, while a wedding may be motivating, that motivation could come from deep down inside oneself, or externally. 

Quick story about a client I had a year ago: Client A had a wedding coming up in about 3 months. She, like many other clients I have had, decided it would be best to go with a 12-pack to get 2x a week in for 6 weeks, and then she would reconsider buying a package. In those six weeks, she flipped her life upside down - she stopped drinking, she did her homework (at least 1x a week extra), and truly invested herself. Why? It was about so much more than getting into a dress (extrinsic motivation) - she was determined to be the best version of herself on that wedding day. She lost 3.2% body fat and gained 6lbs of lean body mass...in 6 weeks!!! It was truly exceptional getting to work with someone so passionate and ready to do what she needed to do, to get to her goals.

Let's get to a point here:

FIND YOUR INTRINSIC MOTIVATOR! There were even studies done proving that intrinsic motivation plays a bigger role in success than extrinsic. It's that drive that keeps you going even when all you want to do is give up. It's that thing that pushes that sugary treat away because the ultimate goal is better than the short term reward. 

Here are is a question I would like to pose to help you find your intrinsic motivators:

  • Why?

Like a child might do, ask yourself this question repeatedly until you pinpoint why it is that you do what you do. If it doesn't boil down to something like, 'It makes me happy', or 'because I have to prove to myself...' (for example); you may not be intrinsically motivated to reach this goal, continue this job, be in this position, etc. This can often lead to compounding stress - which, as we know, can lead to all sorts of physical issues - and result in being defeated by oneself.

From there, make a plan.

Aaaaaand that is where I come in. I am here to make sure that you have something to work on at all times. This blog is meant to give you ideas of things that can ultimately change the way you live your life, in a positive way! Small, consistent, long term changes produce the best long-term results.

Will go into why FAD diets fail soon, I promise, but this post is getting lengthy. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, get your friends/family to subscribe to the blog. I am here to spread quality information to the masses! Free, high-quality information in your email (sorta-still working on the whole post-in-the-email thing). 

Also, if you've made it this far. IF YOU CLICK the post header, you can leave comments. I'd love to see what you guys are thinking about these so that I can expand or so that we can have discussions. 

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

 

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Breathing

-How important is breathing?

-Besides it being what keeps you alive?

Well, let me tell you.

In short, poor breathing technique can lead to a host of problems including but not limited to:
-Muscle impingement/poor movement mechanics
-Overactive muscles
-Stress injuries (there are so many we could count off that we run into regularly)

How could the lungs cause all of these problems?

Like all body-related things, they are very connected to everything else! The body is a movement SYSTEM that works like a machine. If one part of the machine is not working efficiently/correctly, negative effects will be seen everywhere else in the system. There is a theory by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook that discusses how a joint is designed to be either stable or mobile and if it is not continuously made to be so, can result in injury. More intense discussion here if you feel so inclined. Final point here being this: even though there might be pain in one place, it is often a problem stemming from a joint adjacent to it. 

Back to the lungs. The breathing machine (lungs, diaphragm, etc) are PHYSICALLY ATTACHED to the spine via the Crus (plural of crura). They can be found at the bottom of the picture below. 
 

Getting to the point. You breathe 22,000 times a day...22,000 times a day!!! Now imagine a diaphragm that is unequally doing work/pulling (which is what we have because we have things taking up space in our body that get in  the way of the diaphragm, i.e. heart, liver, etc.) on our spine 22,000 times a day. In short, this rotates our spine, results in us sitting into our right hip, resulting in a stress injuries because we are unable to get into the other hip. 

There ARE ways to correct this. It takes focused work on the Left Hamstring, the Left Adductor, the Right Tricep, the Right Low Trap, abdominal muscles, correct breathing, (and more). 

What I recommend: Learn how to breathe correctly.

Pick up a balloon and start there. Yes, a balloon or a coffee stirrer (not the wood ones). You need to teach yourself to breathe equally on both sides before ANYTHING. 

This is only the beginning of the breathing lessons. More to come soon.

PLEASE Subscribe/Reply or fill out the "Getting Started" section of the "About" tab above if you have any questions or would like exercises to do specifically in regards to strengthening the above. 

Thanks for reading!

Correction from last post: Forgot to finish the recommendation section with a phrase that changes the actual recommendation: EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES!!! DO NOT AVOID THEM!

 

 

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Insulin Part 2 - Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load

Hi there! Happy Sunday! 

Let's get back into the discussion about our buddy Insulin.

While everything I said previously is true, and a great starting point for losing weight (fat mostly), there is another fun aspect that is important to talk about - glycemic load.

Quick review of previous post: High Glycemic Index (HGI) Carbs are responsible for big spikes in insulin, our fat and sugar storage hormone. So, a good way to manage weight and increase weight loss is to manipulate the spikes in this hormone. Timing the spikes can result in large blocks of time in which your body prefers to burn fat (when protein is present). More on protein soon.

Glycemic Index (GI  <55 is Low) vs. Glycemic Load (GL <10 is low)
Glycemic Load is calculated by multiplying the Glycemic Index (GI) of a food by the number of Carbs present in an average portion of that food (or the amount we might eat). Certain foods are denser than others in that regard. 
Example 1, Carrots
Glycemic Index (GI) is sort of high: 71. Its glycemic load (GL), however, is 7.2 (in the low part of the scale)
Example 2, Corn Flakes.
GI is 84 (high). GL is 23 (high)

So...what exactly should I be avoiding then Austin? The answer is 'nothing'. You should never cut anything from your diet unless it physically causes a reaction. I put this here so that you can strategically plan your meals so as to effectively manipulate fat burning/fat storing zones.  Here is the bullet point version I have condensed for you of the confusing glycemic index/loads. 

  • Pretty much all fruits and vegetables. Yes, even pineapple, watermelon, pumpkin, carrots, corn (corn having one of the highest GL of vegetables in the medium glycemic response range) are GOOD FOR YOU.
  • Generally, potatoes are high on both, not ideal for cutting weight/fat, but can be used strategically. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic load than regular potatoes.
  • Milk, even the full fat versions are actually quite low on the glycemic index/load scales.
  • Even wheat breads are somewhat high in GI and moderate in GL, avoiding wheat and refined grains is generally for the better. Save for cheat meals or bulking.

Here is an international list of foods and their respective GI and GL. Kinda cool to check out, but again, look for trends, and plan your diet around what is convenient but fits in your plan to remain in a fat burning-as opposed to fat storing-zone for as long as possible. 

Please let me know if you have any questions! And please take a minute to follow me on Instagram/Twitter and like my page on Facebook. Buttons below!

Thanks!

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The Variable Nobody Wants to Talk About - STRESS

Quick story:

I have had multiple clients that have found that they are unable to continue making progress towards their fitness goals. As a trainer that hopes to have influence over multiple aspects of a clients' life, I often feel straight up at fault. It makes me want to dive into every aspect of their life and play around with all of the variables - because there must be a way...right?

Yes and No. Everyone should be able to continue making progress towards a fitness goal (sans something like birth control, for example, that can impede weight loss), but what we run into is a variable that few trainers even consider...stress. 

Biologically, the stress response found in animals is an amazing thing! It sets the body up to act in a moment's notice to an environmental stimulus that could potentially be deadly (i.e. getting chased by a bear). Unfortunately for our urban societies, however, this same response is triggered when we are psychologically stressed out from unpaid bills, an argument with a friend, busy times at work, planning a wedding, etc. 

Here's what I have run into as a trainer when I know that the client I am dealing with is stressed out:

  • Muscle tightness and pain that doesn't seem to go away despite being worked on
  • Inability to pay attention to the workouts - all sorts of anxiety and a constant need to check email
  • Eating and drinking stuff that they know is counterproductive to their goals (and not strategically)
  • Sleeping too little

I did a little bit of research to see what else happened when one is chronically stressed out:

  • Memory problems ensue
  • Poor Judgement
  • Constant Worrying
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelmed Feelings
  • Constantly getting sick
  • Reliance on alcohol/drugs to relax

Unfortunately, chronic stress is a side effect of living in our society today. Not only are we bombarded by stimuli environmentally, we are pushed to the emotional and psychological brink through work and interpersonal relationships. In this world, it is important to find...no, MAKE time to destress AND decompress. 

Everyone's stressors are different, so responding to them should be customized to your individual needs. Just because you are meditating or doing yoga, you need to look at what may be required to truly get away from what is causing the biggest problems. While a vacation from a stressful job would be ideal, I understand that this is the real world and maybe it needs to be thought of as a smaller, more regular effort at getting away from work. I find it fascinating that when clients go on vacations, their muscular problems tend to go away or lessen.  

Some ideas that have helped me or people I know get away from the stress:

  • Meditation (daily): They have great phone apps and such that are a great way to get yourself immersed in this now as the market for it increases every day. From there, seek out ways to do meditation in a less tech-oriented way to increase its effects. 
    • Side Plug: If you are interested in trying out a great combo class of exercise followed by meditation, check out Lifted in San Francisco. Website here. Know the owner, love his passion and his ideology.
  • Tech Redux: Stay away from your phone, computer, and TV (even though it may feel relaxing, news and shows can be tiring and stressful too). Find yourself getting into a book, game, or hobby that takes your mind off of your daily life stresses. 
    • One of my favorite things to do to get away from my phone is take a walk without it. We live in a beautiful city, filled with all sorts of stressors; but if you go out with a relaxed mind and no phone you will see just how beautiful it is. 
  • Vacation: This is a big one. I know that it is not exactly easy to just go on vacation, but try to plan one in the near future. It will help ease the stress and give you stuff to do when you need to get away from work for a little bit.
  • Deep breathing exercises (you can even do this one at work!): Like the ones found here.  As you may know, I am a huge fan of correct breathing as it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to functional movement. Bad breathing technique is directly correlated with tension in the body and is a good indication of how stressed out you are. The PRI breathing exercises are another example of focused breathing that can help you relax.

    I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to manage stress. Reply to the subscription email directly to contact me! 

     

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