First off… IT’S OK!!!!!
There are lots of misconceptions in life. We all have them. When I was a child, three of mine were: 1. To be beautiful you must look like Pamela Anderson. 2. You’re not truly in shape unless you look like Arnold Shwarzenegger. 3. If you get pregnant, you get fat. (I don’t know where I came up with that one considering the fact that my mom didn’t gain any excess weight with my baby sister!) Obviously I was just a kid then and maturity and education have taught me that none of these misconceptions are true; they were likely picked up from watching TV and listening to other media outlets that we’re all subjected to. But with the pregnancy misconception in mind, I have outlined three essential tips to staying fit while pregnant.
Core strength is paramount for a pregnant woman. Pregnant woman are prone to lower back pain due to the simple fact that they are carrying anywhere from 20-80 extra pounds focused directly in their midsection. To build core strength in the first trimester you can do everything from sit-ups and planking to fire hydrants and lower back raises. Planking is the first thing I would recommend because it is a support-based exercise that can strengthen not just the abs but the core as a whole. When designing your workouts, be sure you’re focusing on stabilizing. This will help in strengthening both the accessory muscles and posterior core. Don’t forget that the push-up is the best “plank!”
Don’t shy away from the things you like. There are many fallacies about fitness training during pregnancy. Most people think they need to drastically alter their program, or even completely cut it out when honestly, unless you have complications, there is not one good reason to stop. There are, however, two guidelines to follow when pregnant and working out: 1. Listen to your body. How does my body feel? If lying on your back makes you dizzy, don’t do it. I have worked with women who have been able to lie on their backs and who have been able to do bridges through their entire term. Others found they couldn’t do it past the first trimester. So again I’ll stress that you need to listen to your body. 2. Stick to what you know. If you were dead lifting and using a TRX before you were pregnant and are proficient at it feel free to keep doing it. There are many women who continue to do compound exercises into their third trimester. But I will also emphasize that pregnancy is NOT the time to try new things. If you’re questioning whether a move is good for you or not, just ask yourself; how does my body feel?
Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Diet plans aren’t necessary if you just make good choices. Keep in mind the old adage: “you are what you eat.” It only became an old adage because it is 100% correct. What you put into your body gets broken down and is used to sustain your life and the life of your baby. Nutrition is crucial to giving your baby a head start in the world and to keeping you alert and healthy. And let’s face it, nutrition isn’t rocket science! Stick to basic foods: green leafy veggies, lean meats, healthy fats like nuts and avocados, and certain fruits like tomatoes. Stay as organic as you can to get away from neuro-toxins and added hormones (aka stuff you don’t recognize in the ingredients list).
I know I promised 3 tips but here’s a bonus for you: Sleep! There is no excuse for a lack of sleep, especially during pregnancy. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. 168 hours in the week. Sacrifice your TV shows if you have to but please be sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night. Also, really focus on your self-discipline. It’s bothersome to me when I hear about how pregnant women are eating whatever they want due to “cravings”. I certainly understand that hormones and changes in your body give you a different perception of food, but stick to your guns and stay healthy. Being pregnant should not be an excuse to fill up on junk food and things that are not only not good for you, but also not good for your unborn child. Stay focused on the long term goals and don’t give in to instant gratification.
I know the steps above will provide a strong foundation for a healthy pregnancy. It will also provide a great jumping off point to getting back in shape after the baby is born. So live healthy, eat healthy and sleep healthy. Your body will thank you and so will your baby!
When I was younger I would often stare into space. I had no goals, no drive, just empty thoughts. Looking at people I know who have jobs they aren’t too crazy about I see them doing the same thing. They work hard, sure but there is emptiness, boredom. We will trounce the day’s humdrumedness by opening the doors of perception. Today’s tale is of the path one takes on the road to triumph. The more I read and the more I attend seminars and listen to experts talk, the more I see that you don’t need me to get on here and tell you the 3 best ways to workout. You don’t need me to talk about how much protein per pound of body weight you need, Nutrition isn’t that complicated. It’s called the warrior 20! Read Warrior Cardio and you are all set. What is complicated is getting yourself into the right mental state to commit to change. What is interesting is that when you read or listen to any of the top experts in any field their first step to becoming successful is the same as everyone else’s: You have to get your head right. Our mantras at TFW don’t revolve around the 4 best ways to speed up your metabolism, we try to inspire your mind first and then we do the fitness part. In every person’s life there comes a time when you fall into a “rut.” I have come to call these eras: NO MAN’S LAND. This term is traditionally used to describe the land between two armies that has not yet been claimed. When one falls into a rut, you have basically dug two trenches. In one trench there is your home life (kids, spouse, chores, work) In the other trench there is hope/desires, education, and self-confidence. Unfortunately, these armies come to a standstill. Your brain stops creating new goals, it stops receiving new inspiration. You are left with a vast surplus of unused ambition and potential. Unused potential becomes an oddity filled with TV, partying, chores, etc. That oddity is what will lose you no man’s land. It is mental real-estate that is not yet claimed! Television, going out too much, and chores are a subpar opponent that win battles by default. They aren’t sustainable armies. The allied armies of education, desires, and diligence need to step in and claim back no man’s land!
I am going to lead with education and I know the first thing some of you are thinking: “I went to college” who is this guy to question my intelligence? I assure you, that is not my intent. I am however, questioning your continuing education. Not on what you majored in 20 years ago, on what you are passionate about now? What have you read or listened to that is making you better now? I can tell you that deconstructing Macbeth isn’t making me better anymore. Our formal education is a critical base to stand on but it isn’t the most important layer of who we are. The most important layer of education is who we continue to strive to be. Step 1: GO BACK TO SCHOOL. It is as expensive as buying an audio book or subscribing to a journal. It is as time consuming as reading 30 minutes a day. Leonidas defeated thousands of Persians with only 300 men because the Spartans were more advanced. They thought about how to be the best fighters, they were constantly moving towards that goal. They were constantly educating themselves in warfare. The Persians adapted the fighting style that had been used for hundreds of years. Which army are you? The educated one or the one that continues to educate?
Desires. You cannot have goals with desires. You cannot have promises without goals. One of the stories that scares the living daylights out of me is called Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I talk about it a lot. In the story, there is a man with a boring, dead end job. He wakes up one day as an insect. Instead of attending to his problem he goes back to sleep. In a nutshell, he continues to hide from life and his problems and isolates his family. He actually grew to be comfortable with his new insect body. At the end of the story the man (or insect) finally grew to be inspired by music but it was too late. He was forced back into his room by his family who hated him by this point. The room, which became his prison is where he died. I don’t want you all to become slaves to the “rut.” The man in Kafka’s story let his life become his prison. Instead of setting new goals and getting excited he let his current state take over and become his downfall. Always set new goals. If you have never set goals before it can be intimidating that is why I called this section desires. Let us start with writing down very simply, what you want. That’s it! After you figure out what you want then you can create a road map to get there.
The last piece to our army is diligence. I don’t mean at work. You have to work hard on you. We get caught up on working hard at work and on our families and we forget to work on ourselves. If you have written down your desires and started educating yourself on what you want then you are knocking on the door to victory. The last thing is the attack. Remember, knowledge without action gets you nothing. However, we don’t want to attack and fail… Oh no! Uhhhhhhh, yes! We do. You are going to fail. War is not won by one battle. You will fight many battles. Some will be victories and some will be losses. Great leaders learn from their losses and attack again and again until the war is won. Loss is only another opportunity at a greater victory.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said “I hope that you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Look fondly on the past but don’t let it consume you. Look adamantly towards the future but don’t let it scare you. Work hard for what you want and don’t let ANYTHING stop you.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who only dream by night.”
– Edgar Allen Poe
As children we are taught to have an imagination but only to a certain point. There is a cap to it. When you push past that cap we are reeled in with a swift command to “stop daydreaming.” Edgar Allen Poe would have you continue to dream. Albert Einstein would have you only dream. For it is in our dreams that we really live. If we keep dreaming we inevitably turn our life into our dreams and attain what is considered by most unattainable. For the vast majority, the unattainable is as such because they remain in a sedated state. They are, as Poe puts it, only dreaming at night.
What is the unattainable? It is a state of higher awareness. A place where elation and pain are motivators towards the same end game. A place where you aren’t inhibited by the strains of others’ projections. Let me impart to you what I was taught when I was a kid. Marcel Proust put it simple: “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
There are too many instances where I hear people tell me what they want and then in the same sentence take t back like it is an ancient gem that doesn’t really exist. I want all of you to take out a pen or tablet, anything to write on. I want you to let yourself dream. Write down 1-3 things you want that you never thought you could have. Whatever it is. More money? A great love affair? A dangerous adventure into the depths of the Congo? WHATEVER. Write it down. It can even be closer to your heart. I know a lot of you struggle with your self-image. Are you middle-aged and want to be 17% body fat but your over 30%???? I have heard people say “it’s impossible.” I want to answer that by saying to you:
Dream more, dream again. Only then will you push yourself to the edge. In this state of flaunting desire we will unleash your true potential.
There is no mysticism to dreaming. I am not talking about the hoaky “build it they will come” stuff. All dreaming really is is allowing yourself to fill up with visions of what you want. Once you come to terms with what you want you have to figure out how to make it happen.
Einstein’s theories were a little harder to make happen. In fact, everyone thought he was crazy and a overzealous hack. Turns out he was a genius. If he listened to everyone and stopped dreaming we wouldn’t be where we are as a society. If Poe stopped dreaming we would be without his genius which inspires young dreamers across the world. It is because Poe reached the unattainable that I am even writing this to you. No body wants to just get a 9-5 job, put on some weight, and repeat the grind day in and day out. I challenge all of you to seek out what you really want?
Then GO GET IT.
How does one deal with the pale truth that we are all insignificant? The arduous task of fighting an uphill battle can be overwhelming and most give up. Only the defiant ones rise above, captivating our imaginations and igniting a fire inside. These heroes present to us in the form of movie stars, musicians, athletes, writers, artists, and great innovators. What is the real difference between them and us? What is the causality of their success and our mediocrity? Can we chalk it up to talent? Luck? Sure… a little. BUT talent can take a back seat to diligence and luck only happens when opportunity meets preparation. Our heroes shine bright in dark days because they are wiling to meet the storm head on. They refuse to take no for an answer.
I recently went back and looked at all the students I have had that left. The data was very interesting, especially when I compared it to the data from students I have had for 2 years. Most of the people that left had good results in short spans and had no results over long spans of absence. Their attendance fluctuated and thus, so did their results. My highly successful students had smaller results that compounded over a long period of continuity and thus led them to see truly amazing things happen and their lives changed. Continuity is such a simple concept but seems to be the thing that separates us from greatness. Think about all the new year’s resolutions that were attempted. All the hobbies you started but never finished. All the dreams that flutter by like a child chasing a butterfly, we just can’t seem to grasp them! The funny thing is, I can catch butterflies as an adult. I bet we all can. If you really want something you have to put in work to get it. Not 6 months, not even a year, YEARS!
In order to accomplish these things you have to surrender to the sublime. Conjure a dream, a goal that means the world to you and persist! Let your goal seep into your heart. Let it be the most annoying pest to ever enter your thoughts and then work for it! Just like when you were a kid chasing that butterfly. The more you chased those things, the harder you reached, it still took years to achieve that victory.
I have a tale for you today. Not a tale of conspiracy, merriment, or woe; but a tale of slumber. A common symptom of depression is feeling fatigued or tired all the time. Most people who are depressed do not experience anything worth remembering during their time of disconnect. As I pondered this scenario I started to think about the uninspired. There was a movie called OFFICE SPACE a while back and it chronicled a man who worked at a 9-5 job he hated, people with this condition are referred to as the uninspired. During the movie he was suddenly inspired and his life became very exciting. Fictional and over the top was the movie but the message was 100% true. The fact is… a lot of us are slumbering.
Washington Irving’s short story: Rip Van Winkle illustrates how one can fall asleep for your entire adult life and awaken well into your elderly years to realize the world has changed and you can barely recognize yourself. Irving wrote his story in the early 1800’s. The movie Office Space was made in the 90’s. That tells me that this phenomena isn’t based on technology or your job per se; it is a human, or at least a Western civilization, characteristic.
How can we recognize that we are slumbering? I would start with asking myself 3 questions.
1. Am I happy? This is the most obvious but the HARDEST to answer honestly. We spend lifetimes, waste entire eras convincing ourselves that we are happy. If you can muster up the courage to answer this question and the answer is “no” then you have to figure out why? You see, a person may be content in life but not happy.
2. Do I LOVE my job? We spend 40 hours a week at our jobs (Average). That is a lot of time to spend doing something you hate. It isn’t hard to understand why we overeat, or get depressed as a nation when 70% of us hate our jobs.
3. Do I feel inspired? This is another one that takes courage to answer. Anything that requires us to reflect inward is challenging. As I write this post I feel a fire inside of me that you can only relate to if you have been inspired. I want all of you to experience this feeling daily.
Now we have our questions answered. What do we do?
1. I am not trying to tell you all to up and redirect your entire life in order to be happy. In fact, it may a very slight change that makes the biggest difference. When I first got into the fitness industry I did not have the fire I have now. I liked my job and I was good but I coasted through life. When I found TFW I was challenged. I felt like Martin issued a direct challenge to me to figure out what I wanted to accomplish in life. I could have just slid in obscurity and continued to slumber but I told the truth and it fired me up! Maybe you don’t hate your job, maybe you do but being honest with yourself about your life is the first step to figuring it out.
2. Answer the scratch, as we say at TFW. Now that you have the knowledge about why you are unhappy or why you aren’t happy at work you have to do something about it. I want you think back to yesterday in detail. What did you do? What experiences did you have? Now… imagine you could time travel back to yesterday morning. What would you do differently? If you would change anything then do it! Live every day that way. Knowledge minus action gets you NOTHING. You may know you are unhappy but if you don’t act to change it then you will always be unhappy.
3. Keep pushing forward. People who get excited about obstacles always find more obstacles because they are always trying to improve. People who are slumbering are scared of obstacles and will always struggle to overcome just the one. If you find yourself coasting through life never getting better then set some new goals and get moving!
Ella Fitzgerald said: “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” I want to leave you guys with this… don’t live life to get through it. Live life to get from it. Always strive to get better and you will always be filled with inspiration.
Everyone is looking for the secret. The fast and easy way to attain what you desire. Unfortunately, choosing to try the easy way out often leads to dismay. The path to a darkened state of mind is not all that dark. Illuminated by compensating notions of relative drama, your life ceases to be productive. I believe that drama weakens our ability to evolve as individuals. “Most of America confuses activity for productivity.” Warriors, I challenge you to take an evaluation of yourself. The next time your day is filled with “busy” tasks compare those activities to your goals and truly see how you are either getting closer to those goals or farther away. This post is not going to be about how to be more productive, we covered that last month. This post is going to require you to silence your inner voices and truly learn what it is to bring out the warrior within. There are 3 important life lessons that can be taken from Rudyard Kippling’s poem, “IF” and I have outlined them below.
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
Dream big but not fantastical. For practical purposes we can replace the word “dream” with the word “goal.” Kippling alludes to the idea that you cannot let your dreams/goals take over your life. I believe this is true only if you spend your life thinking about your goals and not actually taking steps to achieve them. Goals are very fragile. You have to treat them like children. Always check in on them to make sure they are working for you and not against you. Nurture them so they grow healthy. Most important, DON’T allow negativity in or they will turn sour.
The ability to remain composed in the face of success and turmoil is a skill and it CAN be learned. Setting aside the deeper life issues this poem addresses, lets just focus on how we can apply this lesson to our training. Let me tell you about a tale of two individuals. Kinley and Caulder both had fitness goals of losing weight. Kinley was in pretty good shape before he joined the gym but still had some fat to lose to get to where he wanted. Caulder on the other hand, was about 100lbs overweight. 3 months into their training program Kinley had tightened up his food intake and started to see the fat go. Caulder had a bit of trouble and only lost 10 lbs. Kinley met his success vibrantly to say the least. He celebrated with lavish “cheat days” and adding too much weight to his lifts too fast. As a result, Kinley wound up with an injury. He then got depressed and gained all his fat back. Caulder stayed composed in the face of his failures. He implemented some new practices and refocused his efforts. As a result, 6 months later he lost 60lbs. What can we learn from these 2 individuals? There will be times in your life where you succeed and more times than not you will fail. How you react to these situations will dictate how far in life you will go.
Are your actions killing your dreams? As I was writing this, I thought about the last 5 things I got upset about and to be honest, they really don’t mean a darn thing in the grand scheme of my life. That means I spent hours of my precious time either worried, scared, or irate about an event that means nothing in my master plan. More than that, I wasted those hours that I could have been helping myself towards achieving that master plan. I NEED you to be able to recognize these situations. Understand that your anger or feelings of anguish are just a fleeting moment of human instinct and will be beyond your recollection and never to appear again in a matter of days. Seriously, can you remember the cause of all those fights and bouts of depression? I can’t. Don’t waste the time sabotaging yourself. That time could be spent working on yourself.
It takes discipline to achieve anything in life. It also takes a lot of work. Nothing comes easy. If you are hitting a plateau in your training or in your life, I suggest you sit down and evaluate the lessons in this post. How do you react to triumph and disaster? Do you think about your dreams or do you go after them? Do your actions help you or hurt you? Better yet, do your actions align with your desires?
There was once a person who loitered the streets of uneventfulness, who floated on the undulating tide of the nonspecific. This person often wondered about going out on a ledge and thought about taking risks but never did. Another thing this person never did was accomplish anything they valued. This person is us, Americans. I call it the grey-person syndrome. The American culture has become a series of stereotypes that we have been enslaved by. We work, we drive our kids around, we take care of our pets, we do housework, we go to bed, we get up and do it again. The one thing we neglect to act on is the one thing that makes us burn… our dreams! I am not talking about the cliche hopes and dreams speeches from movies. I am talking about having the body you want. I am talking about being as active as you want, or as healthy as you want, or have as much energy as you want. Sadly, these are dreams and not realities for most people. The worst part is that there are more ways to overcome the grey person syndrome than ever and we just don’t do them. I am going to discuss 3 “secret” ways to break free of the grey-person syndrome.
1. At TFW we believe in optimizing our time. This brings us to our first lesson: your kids are not jailers. I know that having kids is a huge commitment. They need to be driven to sports, after school events, friends houses, and etc. I also know that most you don’t use that time wisely. Don’t be imprisoned by your kids activities, these activities might be the freedom you need. It gives you a fixed time every week to accomplish something. Instead of sitting and waiting for their event to finish, use that time to immerse yourself in something you long to do. Go for a quick workout if you want your dream body. Write in that journal you always wanted to keep. Whatever hobby or goal you have, this is 1-2 hour window that was given to you by your kids! There is only one pitfall. Don’t put put priorities on things that don’t matter. The parents who don’t sit at the practice still aren’t accomplishing their goals because they are rushing home for laundry and dishes. Are you kidding me? I know these things have to get done but those are things that can be done anytime. You can also outsource those chores. Delegate it to your kids! They have more spare time than you. If you can afford to pay someone then do it. Your time is worth more than anything.
2. Read. It is as simple as that. There are more benefits to reading than I care to get into with this post but I will say that reading enlightens you. It doesn’t even have to be that great of a book. I don’t consider books written by Stephen King or John Grisham great books but they are vastly entertaining and can provide a provocative escape from the norm. Like I said, good but not great. If you really want to utilize reading then you will challenge yourself and choose a book that will help you become a better you. There are an endless supply and a wide array of topics that you might not even know you were into before you started broadening your horizons. I would suggest going into Barnes and Noble, find the self-help section, or the leadership section and pick a book that speaks to you. One usually leads to 3 and 3 to 10, and etc. I am reading a psychology book right now, who knew?
3. Perform one thing outside your comfort zone each day. One of my first mentors use to make me talk to random people in the gym to get me over my fear of social interactions. My friend once made me ask for something everyday from complete strangers because he said “you never know.” This was a very enlightening experience because it is amazing what people will do for each other if you just ask. When I was younger I needed a weight tree to hold my plates so I asked the YMCA for one. The head trainer walked into the back and gave me their old one for free. That means a lot to a broke trainer who needed equipment. There are a thousand things you can do to go outside your comfort zone: pick up a hitchhiker, pay for a strangers meal, karaoke, talk to strangers on the subway. The point is that going outside your comfort zone makes you feel more alive, it adds color to your life and it teaches you that if you don’t go outside your comfort zone consistently then you will never grow as a person and at TFW we believe it is imperative to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
There is a growing need to not only have fit bodies but also stress free minds. It is the job of a TFW coach to try to motivate you to become more in the dojo and outside the dojo. It is my hope that you enjoy your days and get the most out of them. If you spend half of your time in the grey-person syndrome and the other half stressed out then you are getting worse, not better. In combat sports there is a tactic called “fighting not to lose.” That means the competitor is playing defense and guarding so he/she doesn’t get knocked out but they never play enough offense to win big. I would rather go for the win,. If I get knocked out I will get back up and try again because that is where the glory lies. Eventually you will learn to win and win big. Ask yourself which fighter you are… now ask yourself which fighter you want to be?
In our busy lives we create the impressionable idea that we are masters of our universe… Undeniably, we do master, or attempt to master, a trade and develop a family but media plays too large a role in our health. Unfortunately, we look to the TV to influence what foods to eat and celebrities to shape visions of ourselves. At Training for Warriors, it is our responsibility to respond and help you emerge as master of your own health. Below, I will present 3 common mental barriers you are likely to experience and how to get passed them.
1. “To scale or not to scale… “ Whether or not you should use the scale has become the popular debate. Not a single person (whose aim is fat-loss) has passed through my school without harping on their weight. I am going to lay it on you flat out: the number on the scale is not the most important number AND for the record, BMI is even less meaningful. Weight is important because if you ever need medication or are involved in a clinical setting it comes in to play for certain calculations. Weight is also important for athletes to track because some sports have weight classes. It is also great to see the numbers drop on the scale during your quest for fat-loss. However, you will inevitably reach a point where the scale drops less and less, especially as you get closer to your goals. It begins to weigh on your mind because you think you should still see the scale go down a bunch. This isn’t always true. When you reach the point where you are closer to your ideal body fat percentage you have to focus more on the ‘eye tests.’ How do your clothes fit? Are people complimenting you? Regular body fat testing is also an option. These become the new focus points, not the scale. I have seen many students torment themselves over the scale despite fitting into clothes they haven’t worn in a while. Trust in your jeans! If they are loose and you have to pull old ones put of the closet then let the scale rest in peace! If you are seeing curves in your legs that weren’t there, those are muscles!
2. “Once more into the gym dear friends…” Training for Warriors is a big believer in the group setting. If you have a support network to hold you accountable at the gym then you are far more likely to stick with it. At Training For Warriors we have an unwritten rule that you must high five each other or cheer on your team mates. However, there are many people who just seem to shy away from this. You wind up going to a big box gym and get lost in the fluff, or you try doing it at home and can’t stay committed. It is very simple, obesity and other disease are a giant adversary and if you try to soldier it alone, you probably won’t succeed. If you are part of an army then you are better equipped to attack the enemy.
3. “This too shall pass…” The dreaded plateau. The funny part about this one is that there isn’t a great drop out rate from a plateau but a lot of people are content to just stay the same for a LONG time. I have known people to plateau for years before changing their routine up. At Training for Warriors, we write your program so you don’t have to worry about changing the routine per se. You do have to worry about the routine effort you put forth. I have seen in my classes people get fired up beyond where they thought they could and see amazing results. They progress to a higher level but then something happens, it gets harder! They become intimidated and fail, and fail, and fail, sometimes more than they have to before realizing that it is just an effort barrier. Failure is part of learning, no doubt but don’t let an effort plateau dictate when you progress just because you fear how tired you get from a level 4 hurricane or how heavy the bar feels on a back squat or deadlift. Plateau doesn’t always refer to your program, it can also refer to your mental state and the effort you put forth. A great way to bust out of any mental barrier is to put yourself outside your comfort zone. If a hurricane feels a little too routine then it is most likely an effort plateau.Remember, “this too shall pass” and get after it! There is a rule we live by in my TFW school: if you are going to do it anyway, do it awesome!”
When you are at a TFW school, the objective is to become more. I correlate the 3 mental barriers above to too much reliance on media for guidance. Don’t worry about what media outlets are saying, focus on the basics which is clean eating and being consistent in the gym. If you find yourself stuck at a mental barrier try to remember the lessons from this post.
The protein powder phenomena has reached to every corner of the country. Body builders, triathletes, and the stay at home parent alike are consuming protein powder for one reason or another. Protein powder is a practical alternative to food when one is on the run, or after a workout and it is one supplement I support and consume myself. I have not yet given my take on why I use it or how it should be used so get ready!
My reasons: I use protein powder after workouts and occasionally in a super shake for a meal replacement. I have friends who have core values that are based around food consumption and are against protein powder and argue that you should be able to get enough protein from your meals. This absolutely true but I believe that modern advancements of science have given us ways to be more efficient and we should use them. Neither opinion is right or wrong; it’s just a matter of preference. However, I will say that all proteins aren’t created equal and you should be careful which you choose to take, but we will get into that later. I mainly take protein powder after my workouts because I don’t have time to eat a meal and it is the most efficient way to refuel my muscles after breaking them down for an hour. I make super shakes when I don’t have time to eat a whole meal OR if I want to throw in some vitamins & minerals I don’t normally consume in my regular meals like from apple cider vinegar or sea salt.
Protein source: I don’t know how many brands or derivatives of brands we are up to but suffice it to say that it is a SHIT TON. I really want you to be cautious about which protein powders you choose because most are probably doing you more harm than good. There are 3 things to look out for:
1. How it is processed. Slow, cold-filtered whey is the best. I am certainly not an expert but I have read up on it a lot and protein powder that is filtered through heat will create something called a free radical in your body. Free radicals are damaged cells that can wreak havoc in the body leaving the door open for disease later on. Think of free radicals as white lies, or damaged interactions. It may catch up to you later and create a bigger problem or it may not but why take the chance when you can just tell the truth? The same goes for protein powder. There are great products out there so why take the chance on a cheap, poorly processed one? I know what you are thinking: “how do I know which one to get?” In my experience, a good quality protein powder will brag about how it is made because most brands don’t take the time to use the cold filtration method. You can go to a potential protein’s website and see if they mention the words “cold filtration” or “cold processed” or a lot of times it is on the bottle.
2. The other thing you want to look out for is the sugar, or sugar derivatives that they add for taste. Not only will sugar mess with your blood sugar levels and send you on the insulin roller coaster ride but sugar alternatives are linked to neuro-degenerative diseases. Again, why take the chance??? So what are acceptable sweeteners? Stevia leaf extract and xylitol have so far been accepted by the nutrition geeks (I mean that as a huge compliment). Here is the kicker, I actually put carbs in the form of a simple sugar into my shake but I make sure it is all natural and from a good source which is why I put it in separate. Simple sugars after a workout are readily used to refuel and are optimal for sports performance and even fat loss. I will normally just eat an apple with my shake or I will put Capra Greens in with it.
3. Quantity. There is so much speculation about how much protein to consume after a workout. I am not even going to open that can of worms up. I am just going to give you my take on it (which is ever evolving by itself so I don’t feel the need to stir up a debate). I don’t think MOST people need half as much protein as they recommend. I say 20g max for your after workout shake (perhaps more for athletes depending on your size). I would say as little as 12g for the average person in a morning super shake and as little as 17g for a casual exerciser post workout shake. These are just guidelines to follow. It really does depend on goals and size but I can tell you for sure you don’t need 50g of protein to see results. Keep it closer to 20g.
With any product there is going to be a quality product and a product made to be cheap. You are what you eat so always ask yourself: IS IT WORTH IT? Is it worth it to potentially harm yourself for a cheaper product? Hell no! It is better to just not take anything than the stuff you get at the grocery store (health food store excluded, I know a lot of stores go the extra mile). Supplements aren’t meant to be replacements full time. Real food is the best so make sure you have that squared away before you start adding in stuff. Just like we say at TFW with our programming: you have to earn your exercises. Be sure to earn your supplements too. Know what you are taking and what kind of product it is, you may not even need it.
Get Strong → Move Fast →Burn Fat → Feel Great → More Energy → Look Great → Self-confidence ↑ = UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES
In the event that this article turns into a rant, I apologize… The purpose of this post is to give you some basic knowledge about my process of achieving fat loss. I can’t overstate my distain for fad diets and fad programs out there that just beat you into the ground with no regard to longevity. The equation above is basically how I design a fat loss program. More importantly, it is the different stages you go through during that process. Sustained fat loss is just as much a mental transition as it is a physical one. My job description, as my mentor Martin Rooney drilled into my head, is to burn fat and build muscle. What I noticed with this is that it applies to everyone. I have athletes and I have everyday people and we all want the same thing when you boil it down: to reach our potential. In order to do that we all need to follow the equation above. Below, I will outline the top 3 most important aspects to fat loss and in the process we will expose some myths out there about fat loss. I will also give you some pointers at the end to implement in your day to day life to help with the transition from who you were to who you will become.
1. Nutrition. We can work out for the rest of your natural life, in the TFW system which has built world champions, BUT if you don’t eat healthy then you will not see the results you want. We are currently in the process of redoing our core values for the gym and some of the feedback from the students suggests that one great thing about the gym is that everyone buys into the nutrition part. Granted, we still need work on it and we always will, but it says something that the students are noticing how much of an impact nutrition plays on fat loss. We have seen up to 60lbs of sustained losses in some people because of our commitment to nutrition. This brings me to my first myth:
– FAD DIETS DON”T WORK. I was listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast a while back and one of the spokes people for the Atkins diet was on there talking about how great the system works and how much weight people lose, etc. Ben was asking questions about it and then Ben asked how his current weight loss was going because it was well known this guy lost over 100lbs. The guy stumbled a bit and replied that he had “gained a lot back.” With all these diets, whether it is super low calorie, no carb, etc. There are so many flaws that it is almost inevitable that you gain your weight back. I am not a nutritionist and talking science is boring. Luckily, the main reason why these diets don’t work is simple: WE ARE NOT CLONES. Our bodies are all different. We all have a certain chemistry and need to eat a variety of nutrients to maintain that chemistry. Would a no carb diet work for some? Sure. Does Paleo work for some? Sure. Does anything work for everyone? NO!!!! The Atkins diet is anti carbs, most people need carbs! Low fat diets? What do you think makes up part of your cell walls? Or carries LDL through the blood? Fat does! The main thing about these diets is that they are too extreme. It is the same reason why these fad strength and conditioning programs don’t work. You can’t write a workout on the board and throw the whole gym on it and call it a day. Everyone is different and requires different exercises that fit into their goals and body type. If history has taught us anything; it is that extremism never leads to results.
2. Fat loss happens from the inside out. The very first variable to the equation above is: get strong. The turning point in our last 8 week transformation class was when we all had a sit down in the prehab room and talked about the results we were getting. I think we were 4 weeks in (but I can’t remember exactly). They hadn’t lost the weight they expected. I couldn’t stop smiling that day because I explained how true fat loss works. You have to get your body strong first. None of them could do a pushup, everyone had at least one nagging injury that we had to attend to, and no one knew the movement patterns of the lifts so we had to teach that too. Once we got strong and learned the movement patterns were off to the races. If you ask them now about fat loss they will all show you pictures or tell you the jeans sizes they dropped. The point is that I could have taken those 8 weeks and just threw them into some intense metabolic training and beat them up and we would have lost a shit ton of pounds but instead we got strong, then we got injury free, then we moved fast, then we dropped dress sizes!!!!
– MYTH 2: Just circuit or HIIT train. I know numerous people who have had a personal trainer for years and they look the exact same or worse than the day they signed up. If you ask them they don’t blame the trainer or their workouts. That’s bullshit! You pay to look good and dammit I intend to make that happen but there is a proper progression to follow to do it safely and effectively. You have to earn your exercises as is our slogan at TFW dojos across the world. Build a strong base and then move fast and that produces results that last and prevents you from being injured. Like I said, we can beat you up to get slightly faster results or we can make you strong with lasting results and not have to visit the radiologist every month to see what our next injury is. On the flip side you can’t move slow forever or else you won’t see results either. FYI when I say move slow I mean body weight exercises, heavy weight training. I don’t mean elliptical or tread walker. EVERYONE at this school lifts heavy. I don’t’ know where this idea that lifting heavy isn’t effective for fat loss came from but it’s crazy talk. I also hate when I hear that lifting heavy is how you get hurt. You only get hurt if you lift with poor form. Another reason why just straight up metabolic training doesn’t work in the long run is because you have to change your mindset along with your body. As our process of fat loss progresses, we also progressively change our lifestyle. The people I mentioned earlier that still look the same after years of training never accomplished that. They see their workouts as just a beat down. They think the gym is a place to sweat and get nauseous. It is just something they have to get through. IF you look at it that way then change won’t happen. You have to look at it as your time to learn, to get better, not a negative event that you have to suffer through a few times a week.
3. Move fast, get fast! Now that we have got a start on our nutrition and we are strong enough to handle moving fast without getting injured we can put the fat loss on the fast track by metabolic training. In the world of TFW this means HURRICANES!!!! There is no doubt that training with speed is the best way to burn fat. Get running out of your head and the “fat burning zone.” It’s bogus. Running will lead you on one of 3 paths: injured, too skinny, or nowhere. The idea behind the hurricane is to create a disturbance within your body so vast (where you will burn carbs mostly during the workout) that it takes you a day or more to recover. In that day of recovery you will utilize your fat stores to replenish your tissue and thus burn more fat! Hurricanes are also safe. There are boundaries that aren’t crossed and that is how we avoid the “beating you up” part. Those of you who have done them know that they certainly kick your ass BUT there is always a specific exercise selection to each student’s needs to avoid injury and we always get the needed recovery during the workout.
Myth 3: If I create a caloric deficit and move fast I will drop fat. I know what you are thinking: “that’s true, it’s not a myth.” It is true but I wanted to make sure you understand that the mental changes and lifestyle alterations we go through during our training is just as important. Martin started calling it “bringing out the warrior within.” It is now the TFW slogan and it is crucial to long term success. We use physical training as a tool to achieve the lifestyle changes. People like feeling and looking good which creates a need to change things in their life. Those that don’t change mentally are the ones who lose a ton of weight and then gain it back and go through that process over and over. I call it the circus. They never get better because they are stuck going up and down. People think that changing the way they think comes first. If you focus on trying to change your brain then you are fighting a losing battle. Actions speak louder than words. I argue that changing the body is first and then the mind adapts. It has been that way since the beginning. 5 million years ago Ardipithecus Ramidus walked upright and began the evolution of the Homo Sapien species. Walking upright led to using our hands for more complex actions. These complex actions required more complex communication, hence language is born. The body evolved and then the mind adjusted. Fat loss is the same way. Move fast, get fast, get health smart and then your quality of life goes up. If you follow the system then you will constantly get better, if you have one foot in and one foot out you will go up and down and never get anywhere.