Finding Your Program

“The best teachers are the ones that tell you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” — Alexandra K. Trenfor

So you want to make a change. Change your diet, change your body, change…well, you. You found your decision and you’re ready to find your time…but now you need to find your program.
In this article, I’m going to briefly go over specific types of fitness programs on how they affect your body and how it can help you achieve your goal. Spoiler alert, nearly every goal can be achieved through one specific type of training. More on that as we go further.

Programming is crucial. Why? With proper programming, you do complementary movements instead of opposing movements. Say for example Push-Pull program that packs a pushing and pulling movement into one workout. By doing one of each you cover more ground and don’t exhaust either movement so your form won’t degrade leading to either injury or over training. Moreover, by using proper programming you also make it easier to track your progress. That’s what we’re here for, after all, progress. If you did whatever you felt like, you would eventually lose track of how much or how heavy. So, what’s the right program?
For some time I did primarily in endurance training. Running specifically. I spent the better part of a year doing nothing but mastering my running form. The infamous forward lean, run with your butt, perfect cadence form. With the advice of some seasoned runners, my Hal Higdon progression program, and my Strava, I wouldn’t have known if I was getting better. The same goes for resistance training.
I’m not going to split hairs here, I’m just going to give you my opinion, you can run with it as you see fit. What I do know from experience, what fitness professionals will mostly tell you, if you are NEW to weight training, DO NOT DO A BRO SPLIT.
What is a bro split? It’s training one body part one time a week, usually adding up to six days of training. This method was made popular by Professional Bodybuilders who were juiced up on steroids and truly only needed to do just that. For the average, none genetically gifted such as myself, a Full Body 3 day per week program will do wonders. If you stay faithful and align your diet, 1 hour a day, 3 days a week will blow…your…mind. Resistance training combined with a clean diet shows most potential for long term success as well as plethora of health benefits:

• Increased bone density

• Better blood sugar regulation

• Better digestion

• Better fat metabolism

• Lower cholesterol

• Balanced hormones

• Better or repaired cognitive function

I’ve done them all: hypertrophy, PPL, PHUL, GVT, Strong Lifts, Madcow, even Sheiko (that was crazy) and the one thing that made the difference for me was hitting Compound Movements, Heavy with minimal accessory work. If I had to start someone off anywhere, I would say either Strong Lifts 5×5 or Starting Strength as it will lay a firm foundation, ignite your metabolism and replace fat with lean muscle. Once you go from rookie to novice to advanced novice to advanced novice you can get increasingly more complex splits as your body’s adaptation has begun to make it harder and harder to make gains. The same goes for running or cycling. You’ll want to start with shorter distances, focusing on form and cadence before you worry about logging long miles. Time laying groundwork will make the building way more stable. Regardless of your preferences, be aware, you want to focus on learning movements before worrying about progression. Just doing the work will add muscle and burn calories.

How to boost your metabolism along with the training? Let’s talk about food! Paleo, vegan, keto, vegetarian, carnivore. Which should you do to better assist you on your way? The studies are clear, everything listed had both positive and negative effects on your body.

For example; if you are on a standard American diet and suddenly went vegan, you would feel amazing. The nutrition you were missing with a highly-processed diet would fill in. The downside, studies show that long term vegan diets can lead to deficiencies as there are some nutrients that only come from meat sources. Does this mean veganism is bad? No. It’s just not long term sustainable. The same goes for carnivore diets. In fact, the closest long term sustainable diet is Paleo as it doesn’t exclude vegetables, nor proteins. However, it is very restrictive, can be overly dogmatic and since becoming a fad has itself become overly processed. Bummer, right?

So what to do. There is a simple solution to what seems like an overly complicated problem. Eat what’s in season.
Your body had a rhythm. Seasons have a rhythm. The foods grown in specific seasons are better suited for your body at that time. Just the breaking up the old chicken and rice constantly will be nice, the change in nutrients will be refreshing to your body. A better explanation is this: drink caffeine in excess and you lose your sensitivity. Stop for a while and you get it back. Same goes for protein, carbs, fats, etc. Even meats have seasons!

So let’s wrap it up.

• Strength train

• Train the movements first

• Balance in cardio.

• Eat seasonally not dogmatically.

Above all, keep it super simple. If it’s really hard to do, track or plan, move along. Keeping it simple makes it obtainable and more easily fits into your life. Change one thing at a time, make it a habit, then change another. Don’t overthink it. Use tools to help you along the way like My Fitness Pal or Fat secret to track your food. Strava for Map my Run for running/cycling or Personal Training Coach for weight lifting.

Remember change happens over time not overnight. Constantly be reinventing or remember you why and be flexible. Routines get interrupted but that doesn’t mean they get abandoned. Health & Wellness is a Lifestyle, not a fad.

That’s all for now. Please leave a comment and follow for more.

Finding Your Time

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” — Charles Buxton

Every day we make decisions that take up time. Time for family, time for work, time for this and time for that. In my previous post, I talked about making your decision. After you decide “I will be better, I will live better” you have to figure out, how does one place this new element in a life that is pretty dang well full? Interestingly it’s not too difficult. What is difficult is purging the time-consuming parts. So, what has to go, so we can get to getting? I guess that all depends on your goals.
Initially, a good place to start is with the foundation of all health. This requires some adjustments. The foundation, in this case, is your diet. This is where it starts and for many, where it ends.

Why is it so important? Why has it derailed and obliterated so many from achieving their simple desire of being healthier, fitter individuals? The short of it is, whether it’s fat loss, muscle gain, lower cholesterol, clearer skin; without a stable and clean diet, you will only get so far. Yes, it is a numbers game for the extreme; if you wanted to lose 10lbs and not care if after you gained it and then some back, just burn more than you eat. If you want to make lasting change, this is where you start. Begin with eating breakfast if you never do or doing intermittent fasting a few days a week to get the benefits of autophagy. There are too many methods and styles of eating to start in on. That is a whole article to itself. I will touch briefly on it in my next article in this series “Finding Your Program.”

Let’s say for the sake of argument you did this, you are on track with cleaning up your diet and want to add-in fitness, but you have 2 kids, a spouse and work full time. Well, the answer is super simple and might be slightly defeating at the same time. Please refer to the quote at the beginning of the article. “You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” The above scenario is me. Kids, work, etc. I get up at 5 am in the summer or 5:30 am in the fall/winter to do my training 3 to 4 times per week. Doing this I dedicate all my time after work to my family. I simply decided that getting up a little earlier than what I would otherwise do to achieve the best results I can and I find it works perfectly.

This obviously might not suit you and it’s obvious that it’s not a new revelation. Consider it a challenge. A call to arms, or abs, or whatever. The length of time differs based on what study you read but the average is 21 days. 21 days to make fitness a habit and by habit, I mean normal to you. What 21 days won’t do is get you up to shave off seconds from your 5k time or add 10lbs to your high bar squat. That’s the beast within you that you need to unleash, feed and keep kindled. You want it. Just like the bad habits you have now, it takes work. You have to in some cases reinvent yourself but it’s completely worth it. Your health will benefit, your relationships will benefit. Even the discipline that you use to get up daily to work out and meal prep spills into your personal and professional lives, leaving a positive mark on those around you.

If you want it, earn it. Take it. Most of all fall in love with the process.

The next article will discuss various programs to get you started!

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Finding Your Decision

Keeping Ideas Simple

We’ve all had that moment. That moment when we tell ourselves “it’s time to get healthy” and for most of us, that’s as far as it gets. The lure of the everyday routine we’ve built is too great, the disruption too much to deal with. What if though, you are a step passed that. Not all in but not ready to back out. Now it’s time to find your decision.

For some, it’s a more complicated decision than most. The time, money and commitment. It can seem daunting. I have work, kids, a husband or wife, school, hobbies, friends, etc. I don’t have time to fit this in. Yet we instinctively know it’s importance. Why? Your body is talking and for a long time you’ve been ignoring it, but now your paying attention. You might feel sluggish, constantly tired, overweight, overstressed, weak or just lacking.

My biggest hurdle when I started was the feeling of self-consciousness. Not that I was out of shape, which I was, but how I felt when I did a workout. It felt awkward and almost unnatural. I felt vain like it made my body look disproportionate. All these things were telling me to stop….so I did. Why do we tell ourselves this? In a way, we’ve made the fitness realm just that, it’s own side niche where only “those people” belong. It’s not a bad hobby to have but it’s not “normal” either.

Truth is, we were made to move. Made to lift, bend, stoop, carry, throw, jump and climb. The advent of better and better technology has crushed that natural tendency to the point that we have to seek out physical activity instead of it being a part of our day-to-day lives.

   Finding my decision happened when I had my first son. I knew right then that I wanted to be around as long as possible and be able to play with him as much as possible. So I started. First with running which then was a Segway into lifting. It was awkward but I found my reason to make the decision.

   If you are still on the fence, it’s time to do some soul-searching. If you are reading this, you are ready.
The anxiety of joining a gym, of telling the people your with of your decision or the amount of effort it will take on your part to fit it in and make it work does not compare to the feeling of accomplishment and sense of self-worth you will gain when you decide to quit waiting and get to work.

Wrapping it up: there are many reasons to start living a healthier Lifestyle. More than reasons not to. When you take yourself seriously people will take you and your decisions seriously. Once you begin you’ll see how amazing it is and how much better you feel about yourself right away. It doesn’t have to consume your life or completely derail your existence. It simply has to begin…and it begins with a decision, one that you have to find for yourself.

In my next two articles, I’m going to discuss finding your time: how to fit it all in and the motivation to do so as well as finding your program; what’s right for your goals as a beginner or someone with decent ability but isn’t quite sure where to start. We’ll keep it simple and as effective as possible.

Please feel free to contact me, leave a comment below and follow me for more content.