Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stop Making Resolutions and Start Getting Results

So, it’s the first week of March. Remember that New Years Resolution you made about two months ago? What are the steps that you have taken to finally reach your fitness goals in 2010? This is the year! Right? This is the year that you are going to transform your body, lose that 5, 10, 20 or 50 pounds, gain 10 pounds of muscle, eat better, get rid of the muffin top. Do you even remember what it was you were going to step up and do this year? Odds are that you haven’t thought about your resolution in a while. Its time to stop talking about it and start doing it!

First of all... What is a resolution? A resolution is a decision to change your behavior, but it does not imply any action on that decision. So why don’t we set some ground rules for a successful New Years Resolution? Even if it is a few months off. Its never too late to make the decision to lead a healthier life. Summer time is right around the corner… 3 months to be exact. 3 months until Memorial Day. 12 weeks to get your butt in shape for the beach. 92 days to dedicate yourself to reaching your fitness goals. 2,208… you get the point.

Here are the steps you should take to set, accomplish and then surpass your fitness goals:

Find out exactly what it is you want to accomplish.

“I want to lose some weight” is just not enough if you really want to succeed in changing your habits. You really have to dig deep and see what it is that you truly want and are willing to work for. When dealing with weight loss, looking at the numbers on the scale just doesn’t cut it. You really have to look at what your weight consists of. Your body composition is the key. Body composition is much more important than just looking at weight compared to height or Body Mass Index (BMI). For instance, a person that is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds is considered overweight, when that person can be either 10% fat or 30% fat. If you know your body composition you can then calculate how much fat mass and how much fat free mass your body is composed of. So, a female who is 160 pounds with a body fat composition of 27% has 43.2 pounds of fat mass and 116.8 pounds of fat free mass. This person’s goal will be to increase her muscle or fat free mass by about 5 pounds and decrease her fat mass by roughly 10-15 pounds. If you find your true body fat composition then you can start setting some realistic goals.

Body Composition Averages:

Females- Minimal Fat: 10-12%, Athletes: 14-20%, Average: 21-24%, Acceptable: 25-31% Obese: 32%+

Males- Minimal Fat: 2-4%, Athletes: 6-13%, Average: 14-17%, Acceptable: 18-25%, Obese: 25%+

You should be able to get your body composition done at your gym or your doctor's office, by either calipers, hand held analyzers or a body fat scale. The calipers are the most accurate if used correctly, but the others are usually close (probably +/- 1-3%) and there are also some calculators online you can use with certain girth measurements.

Set measurable and realistic goals.

We can only manage what we measure. One way to measure progress is to take a before picture before you start your program. It's is always easier to show your progress with pictures. It's also very important to write down your measurements on the first day. Arms, chest, waist, hip and thighs are the most important girth measurements when concerning weight loss. If you are looking to gain size, then you should measure a flexed arm, forearm, and calves as well. Obviously you want to include your weight and your body composition if possible. From these measurements, you should compare yourself to the average numbers and see where you fall and then where you would like to be.

Oh, and make sure the measuring tape is facing the right direction... I dont think she has an 80 inch waist.

Common knowledge leads us to believe that losing 2 pounds a week is the only healthy way to lose weight. I think that statement is very limiting. Yes, if you follow a good diet and do not work out, then you will probably lose about 2 pounds per week. Also, if you follow a good workout plan and do not change your eating habits, you will probably lose about 2 pounds per week. But if you combine a good diet with a good workout plan, then you’re on to something. In this case, 2+2 does not equal 4. Instead, when these are combined and adhered to correctly, you can lose 5 to 10 pounds per week and maybe even more. This is a result of synergy and will jumpstart your metabolism and greatly changes body composition at a faster rate.

Set a timeline

So now that you know what you are able to accomplish, it is time to set up a timeline. I like to set goals one month at a time and check my weight once a week to see how I am progressing. You must always keep in mind that there are many reasons your weight will fluctuate from day to day. This is why you should check your weight once a week on the same day and same time (on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning.) Also, remember that the scale doesn’t tell us body composition, so 2 pounds lost on may be 2 pounds of muscle gained and 4 pounds of fat lost.

Get motivated!

Now is the time to get all your educated goals and write them down. You have your beginning numbers, your before pictures and your timeline. Write yourself a contract and tell everyone about your new fitness goals. Whatever it takes to get a fire under your tail! What’s your motivation? You can achieve it. Its time to put your plan to action!

Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.

So stop “trying” and start doing and be sure to check back soon for more fitness tips and how I transformed my body through great nutrition and tough training in just 11 weeks.


In Strength and Health,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snack Your Way to a Six Pack

If you are anything like me and love food, you know that it is difficult to maintain a good diet, especially when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is on TV. Instead of jumping on the next train to Philly for a Cheese Steak, it's time to tame that insatiable appetite with something a little healthier and its time to start getting closer to your fitness goals. There are many ways that you can increase your metabolism through diet and exercise. One of them, believe it or not, is to eat more often. This does not mean that you'll be taking in more calories, but spreading your caloric intake throughout the day. The process of digestion requires energy, so the more time you are digesting food, the longer you are expending energy and burning calories. The key is to keep your snacking calories clean and healthy. That Cheese Steak does look pretty good though…

I’ve never heard anyone say that they want the physique of Guy… Theres some Cheese Wiz on your goatee…

Here are six of my favorite snacks that will help you reach your goal of a six pack (or maybe just a slimmer waist):

1. Almonds

Almonds may be my favorite snack idea for many reasons. Not only are they jam packed with healthy fats (including Omega-3s), protein and fiber that help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease, but they are convenient, filling and tasty. A recent study concluded eating 2-3 ounces of almonds per day will decrease the amount of fat absorbed in the body. This leads to more weight loss and slimmer waists. In a way, almonds are nature’s little weight loss pill. So, find a way to add almonds to your diet. I carry them around in a zip-lock bag as an emergency snack when I’m feeling hungry. You can add them to your salads, your protein shake (in the form of almond-butter) and now even your coffee (almond “milk”).

2. Apples

Apples are another great snack for people on the run. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? You may know that some fruits like bananas are high in sugar and some nutritionist do not recommend them for people trying to lose weight. One medium apple contains about 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber. Fiber helps move food along the digestive tract as well as filling us up. With energy boosting fructose, apples are a great snack for a pick-me-up either in the morning or midday. Trying to minimize the amount of coffee in a day? (Which you probably should) Try to replace that second cup of coffee with a shiny McIntosh.

3. Protein shake

Protein shakes have many benefits and are a great way to increase your protein intake from a good source. Diets high in protein have proven to promote a more favorable body composition. Protein requires more energy to break down than the other macronutrients (fat and carbohydrates) so this boosts your metabolism. It is very important that you are conscious of the type of shake you are putting into your body. As for many supplements on the market, there are many products on the market that may not have the quality that you should look for. I recommend the IsaLean shake from Isagenix. The IsaLean shake has protein made with all natural products. It also has an unmatched amino acid profile which helps repair muscle after training. Some days I have my shake first thing in the morning and I always have one following a strength training session. Because the protein is in liquid form, it is delivered to the muscle much easier. I usually add some peanut or almond butter along with Isagenix IsaFruits or Greens to my shake to make it the ultimate meal or snack.

4. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is something that I have just recently discovered and I love everything about it. Not only does it have 20g of protein per serving but it is thick, creamy and very versatile. This is my late night snack, and if I add chocolate protein powder and frozen fruit to it I can fool myself into thinking that I’m eating ice cream. You can also replace mayonnaise and sour cream with yogurt, and who doesn’t like tzatziki sauce? There are whole, 2% and skim versions of Greek yogurt; I suggest either the skim or 2%. One serving of the skim or 0% version has zero grams of fat and only 9g of carbs along with the 20g of protein.

5. Hard boiled egg

Eggs… the forbidden food. Eggs have really been through the ringer when it comes to late night news facts. “Eggs are good, eggs are bad, don’t eat the yolks, don’t eat the whites!” What should we do!?! Eggs have gotten such a bad rap these days and I don’t think they should take it any more. But since they can’t stand up for themselves I will. Eggs are a great form of protein, fats and amino acids. There are so many ways to eat them, but for snacking purposes I like them hard boiled. The main reason that some have become egg-phobic is the amount of cholesterol and the saturated fat. Although I would not recommend eating a dozen whole eggs at a time, in moderation they can be the best part of your diet. I suggest 1-2 full eggs or 4 egg whites. The best eggs to eat when eating them whole are the ones that are high in omega-3s (around 150-200 mg) which actually help to lower cholesterol levels. Try Nutritionist Mike Roussell’s “un-deviled eggs” and fill the egg whites with hummus. Yum!

6. Dark chocolate

Yes, everyone’s favorite: chocolate. Once again… in moderation. There is nothing that will cure your craving for chocolate other than chocolate. Thankfully, new research has shown that small amounts of dark chocolate can calm your cravings while boosting feel good chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, GABA and dopamine. One or two pieces of chocolate may curb you cravings for sugar and junk food. Try IsaDelights from Isagenix which has amino acids and many different vitamins for added energy.

I hope these suggestions help you make healthier choices and get closer to your fitness goals. Snack your way to that slimmer waist you’ve always wanted and continue to be conscious of what you are putting into your body. And stop watching Food Network… its bad for your health!


In Strength and Health,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Perfect Warm-up: Part I

For most people, a few minutes on the treadmill or a few reps of a lighter weight before hitting bench is enough of a warm-up to satisfy them. If you are looking to get the most out of your workout, a more comprehensive approach should be considered. A proper warm-up will prepare your body for the work it is about to do along with limiting the incidence of injury. It is necessary to lengthen, activate and strengthen certain parts of your body before training. A good warm-up will take anywhere from 10-25 minutes, depending on your goals and the type of training you are about to engage in. There are a few different things you are looking to accomplish when preparing you body to train:

1. Regeneration
2. Flexibility/ ROM
3. Mobility
4. Activation


Everyone that strength trains knows what its like to have muscle soreness and tightness. This first step of the warm-up is the often overlooked muscular regeneration. This is the portion that will set the foundation for the rest of the warm-up itself. Whenever you train you are actually breaking down muscle in your body. Micro-traumas occur in the tendon and muscle fibers which will heal over time with proper recovery. When the body heals itself, the tendons and muscles grow back stronger. Sometimes, when the muscle grows back, the fibers will grow back with tiny knots or trigger points along them. This will make the muscles feel tight and will cause some discomfort and limit the range of motion in that joint.
The problem is that if you just stretch the tight muscles you will not lengthen the entire muscle. The stretch will happen on the path of least resistance on either side of the trigger point. The solution: massage. So, you’re not a professional athlete or can’t afford a massage before every training session? Well, there’s another solution that’s just as good and will become your new favorite piece of equipment: the foam roller. Yeah, that Styrofoam log that’s probably collecting dust in the corner of the gym.

Self Myofascial Release techniques with the foam roller should be the first step in your daily routine. The foam roller is truly a great tool to massage the knots and sore spots from head to toe and allow for adequate muscle function for the training ahead. If you spend 3-5 minutes a day on the foam roller your muscle tightness and soreness will significantly decrease. Have a big deadlift or squat session the day before? Odds are your glutes and hamstrings are on fire today. Simply grab the foam roller, sit on it and massage from your butt to the back of your knees. You will come across some points that are really sore and painful… Good! This is the only time that I will tell you to work through the pain. Not like this guy:

No pain no gain huh? This guy needs some serious help with his form...

Yes, it may hurt for the moment but that is your sensory nervous system overloading the muscle with pain so that the trigger point will release and relax. You ever get those knots up and down your spine in between your shoulder blades? Lay flat on the foam roller and give yourself a big hug. Then roll side to side while stretching your back and massage. Sometimes you can’t get deep enough into the muscle, so you can use a tennis ball. No matter where your soreness is, there is a way to massage it out with the foam roller from shin splints to a sore chest. You can spend anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute on each spot depending on your soreness. And yes, spend longer time on the places that are most sore. Here’s a great video from Strength and Performance Coach Eric Cressey’s site on the foam roller series that he has his athletes perform before every session: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8caF1Keg2XU
If you train at home or your gym doesn’t have a foam roller you can use a piece or pvc pipe, a tennis ball, or you can buy your own. They are relatively inexpensive and you can buy one at http://www.performbetter.com/. Of course, I have one of my own because I’m a training nerd like that.

Come back soon for Part II of The Perfect Warm-up series: Flexibility and ROM


In Strength and Health,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Welcome and thank you for visiting my site. My goal is to deliver quality and up-to-date information and advice reguarding fitness, performance and general health. I invite you to question and comment on any topics I may touch upon. I would also urge you to email me at any time for questions or topics you would like me to cover in the future. As a sports performance and strength coach, I work with a wide variety of individuals from the professional athlete to the weekend warrior.

My background in sports medicine, health and biology has prepared me to help many people reach their goals, whether it is cutting tenths of seconds off their 40-year dash time, increasing their strength or improving their body composition and overall health and wellness. As a former collegiate athlete, I know about the hard work it takes to succeed both on and off the field. I also have experienced with my own weight struggles after graduating college and continuing to eat like a collegiate football player. Needless to say, I have made many mistakes of my own until I furthered my eduation of fitness and health.

As a Strength and Performance Coach, I pride myself on my continuing education in the fitness and health industry. I am committed to staying on the cutting edge of the industry and surrounding myself with like-minded strength and performance coaches. Following the teachings of industry leaders such as Alwyn Cosgrove, Stu McGill, Todd Durkin, Martin Rooney and Dana Cavalea to name a few, I am able to take advantage of the great new information that is out there. The industry of health and fitness is ever-changing and I am thankful that it is moving in the right direction. With individuals from all types of health professions coming together and sharing ideas, the information available is endless.

Although my training philosophy is continually evolving as I further my education, there are a few absolutes that apply to any type of training:

-Results do not happen by accident, rather by design and focused dedication.
-Every form of training can be broken down into the most basic movements: squat, lunge, push, pull. (and no, crunch is not one of the movements)
-You must first set educated and realistic goals before you can set the foundation to attain and surpass them.

So, no matter what your goals are and however lofty they may be, I would love to help you in some way and I truly look forward to see how this site will evolve. Please send me your questions, comments, or topics of interest so that I can gauge what you are looking for. And of course, remember that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Thank you again and please pass on this information to anyone you know who may be interested and continue to check back as I will be updating the site often with your questions in hopes of promoting health, wellness, strength and performance as well as motivating you to reach your goals, both large and small.