Calling It Quits...

I'm quitting on a workout program. I should say that I've already quit on it. I haven't done any workouts from it in over a week. I should also say that it isn't a bad program. It's actually pretty good, I mean I wrote it. The program has everything that you would want or need to get strong AF (as the kids would say).

So why am I quitting it?

The problem with the program is that I just don't like it. It's not fun. I don't get excited to go to the gym to do these workouts. I don't feel particularly good after the workouts are finished. That's why I'm quitting this program.

Now normally I'm all about telling you to stick things out to see the results. I'm still going to tell you that because it's good advice and the surest way to make progress. As I said, if I keep at this program, I'm sure that I would get stronger. I'm still quitting.

Now in my defense, I'm just quitting this program. I'm not quitting working out all together. I'll either put together a new program or go back to an old one I've had success with. The goal is still to get stronger. I'm just going to find a program that I enjoy more. This will increase the likelihood that I'll actually get the workouts done and not be walking feeling guilty that I missed a workout.

Most of us aren't being paid to work out or getting paid for any of the benefits that working out affords. So with that being said, it's ok for enjoyment to be the main criteria when choosing your workout routine. This way you'll ensure that you're being consistent. No one is ever consistent doing things they hate.

There's an important caveat I need to mention here. By choosing that what you enjoy the most you could be choosing the "lesser" (from a technical standpoint) of the two options. Like I said, I wrote myself a good program. If I stick to it I know I will get stronger than I will on whatever program I start. I know this because I wrote the program to specifically get stronger. The new program will have more emphasis on enjoyment and less on strength.

I'm ok with this because it's an informed decision. Also, getting back to the consistency thing, is a program better if I'm not going to do it?

Habit Tracking & A New Challenge

This morning an old coworker/friend posted a facebook status about habits and particularly tracking them. Here's a screenshot of it:JasonHThere a lot of gems in this status. Jason mentions how tracking is the key toward maintaining progress and will help with decision making. He also mentions tracking includes tracking both the good and bad habits. This is super important because people tend to forget that progress is not only doing more good stuff but also (and sometimes firstly) doing less bad stuff.I mention this as I'm about to start another 28 Day Online Fitness challenge a week from today. The type of habit tracking that Jason is talking about is the backbone of the challenge. There are two things members of the challenge must do everyday: they must post a picture of everything they eat and they must post a daily gratitude post. The challenge basically works to instill these two habits on a daily basis.Sure there are personal nutrition plans and workouts and lots of info given throughout the challenge. That being said though, the people who get the best results from the challenge are the ones who adhere to posting their food pics and getting their gratitude posts up everyday. It's almost too simple for some people. Often at the beginning of the challenge I have to get people to concentrate on doing just those two things before they start trying to do too much.Since I brought up results. Let's talk about some of the results that people have gotten from the challenge. The most obvious one is weight loss. I've seen people lose 5-12lbs during the challenge. The great thing about this weight loss is that I can say that everyone who has lost weight has kept that weight off months later. I attribute this to learning how to track and maintain good habits.Some other results challenge members have seen are clothes fitting better, strength and energy increases, improved time management and increased confidence among other things. I might be more proud of these results than the weight loss (good news for me is that they usually come together). Particularly when people start talking about getting stronger and once again doing things they used to do regularly. Or when people mention they finally bought a new piece of clothing that they hadn't been comfortable buying before. These things really get me in the feels.This next round of the challenge begins on the 22nd and goes through May 19th. This will give you the chance to head into Memorial Day and summer having developed life changing habits and feeling like your best self. Intrigued? Fill out the quick form below and I'll get back to you ASAP.[contact-form][contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="1" /][contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="1" /][contact-field label="What do you want to get out of the challenge?" type="textarea" required="1" /][/contact-form]

Unexpected Benefits to Working Out

I haven't had a proper workout since last Tuesday. That's almost a week ago. I did do my third ever Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class on Wednesday but I'm not counting that (not because it wasn't a workout, because it doesn't work for the point I'm eventually going to make). I had planned/wanted to get some other workouts in but life and work had other ideas. ASIDE: Actually had I properly planned out my time, life/work wouldn't have had a chance to mess up my schedule. I tell clients this all the time so I guess I should hold myself to the same standard. Back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Anyway this isn't the first time I've taken a week or more off from the gym. Hell I've taken months at a time off. I've said it here before but the truth is I don't love working out. I'm not one of those trainers/people that HAS to get a lift in. I don't mind the actual working out part; it's the getting to the gym and getting ready and blah blah blah. Once I get going (depending on what I'm doing) I'm good to go. And once I finish a workout, 99% of the time I feel better.

Which leads to the point, working out isn't about getting immediate benefits during the workout, for me anyway. Like I said, I always feel better after the workout. Better means a sense of accomplishment from completing something I had to do but didn't necessarily want to do.

That's not the only thing though. I notice that when I'm in a good workout groove, I'm less irritable, I sleep better and I'm more mindful of my diet. The latter two are direct result of the working out itself. The irritability always comes as a surprise because I don't notice how irritable I am to begin with. It's not like I'm flying off the handle at people on a regular basis. I just notice that things that might normally annoy just kind of roll off my back.

There's other stuff also like the progress I see physically and the mental acuity I gain. The  acuity comes from planning workouts (unlike last week). At this point I've done 36 workouts in 2019. If I keep up that pace I'll get in 144 workouts this year. I only know this because I've recording all of my workouts. This is something I haven't always done but I notice when I do it's easier to schedule and actually complete my workouts. Something about seeing progress and tracking workouts motivates you to keep doing it. Weird right? (#sarcasmvoice)

Anyway, if you're like me and working out isn't your favorite thing to do there's probably some benefits you could be getting that you're not considering. The actual benefits may not be the same for you as they are for me but I'm certain they are there.

4 Things You're Doing Your Trainer Hates

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I love all of my clients...I just don't love them all equally. Like with all loving relationships, there can be those little things can irk you and make you want to pull your hair out. You don't do that because love and all that good stuff...and you like having hair. Well they always say you should talk about these things and not keep them bottled up. So with that in mind, I'm going to list out the 4 biggest things that my clients do that drive me crazy.

  1. Not giving 100% effort: my job is to figure out, actually help you figure out, what you can do. In order to do that I need you put everything you have into it. If I've asked too much, I'll make the necessary adjustments. No need to worry. This goes for outside the gym also.
  2. No-show's/Late Cancellations: you shouldn't be doing this to anyone. It's just rude. I get it, things come up from time to time that are unavoidable. When the unavoidable becomes commonplace though well then it's annoying. For most of trainers, that's time that could've been used prepping for other clients or, better yet, sleeping. I haven't even mentioned loss of income because if you do it to me, you will be charged. Unfortunately in this business, time is money.
  3. All or nothing attitude: this one is just silly. People always chase perfect. Then when things inevitably aren't perfect they start over completely or worse they quit. Perfect doesn't exist. It's a mythical creature. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll appreciate the progress you've made.
  4. Self deprecation: I can't tell you how many times I've had clients list all the great stuff they've had happen while training: stuff like weight loss, getting stronger and learning new skills. Then they'll quickly shoot down it all down by saying the "results probably won't last" or "maybe the scale is broken". After I finish banging my head against the wall, I point out this negative self-talk and prohibit it in the future. You work too damn hard to dismiss quality results as accidents.

These are just a few things that drive me a little crazy. There's a common thread between all of these things. The fact is that all of these things have to do with you, the client, sabotaging your own success. All I'm asking is that you show up consistently, give it your all, recognize and appreciate your progress and successes. Is that too much?

Your Group Fitness Class Isn't Helping You Lose Fat (pt 2)

Last week I wrote about how most group fitness classes aren't doing the thing most people are going to them to do: fat loss. Check it out here. I won't say that I was bashing group fitness classes but I did point out the limitations group fitness classes face when it comes to fat loss. I've had a few people ask what they should do instead of group fitness classes then. Makes sense since I didn't really give many solutions. So then it makes sense that I should give some solutions now. So that's what I'll do. So I'm going to give 3 suggestions that you can use. Before that though, I'll say that any fat loss strategy is only as good as the way you eat while you're doing it. This is where the phrase "you can't out train a bad diet" comes from.

  1. I'm not saying you should forgo group fitness classes forever. If you are a person who likes group fitness classes and you're looking to burn fat, then find a short High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) class. By short I mean 30-45 minutes. If it's a 45 minute class, then about 10 minutes of that should be devoted to warmup/cool down. A shorter class will ensure that you'll be able to reach the (really) high intensities that are needed to burn fat.
  2. Start lifting. Or better yet, start lifting heavy. I'm talking about doing compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and overhead presses. These are big bang for your buck exercises that will help you build muscle. Building more muscle will help you to raise your resting metabolism. This will allow you to burn more fat as you're sitting around doing nothing.

    Let me take a minute to define heavy lifting. To really be lifting heavy you're going to at least know your 5 rep max and even better would be your 1 rep max. Your max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift. A rep max is your max for a given number of reps. So when I'm talking about "lifting heavy", you're going to be at at least 80% of your 1 rep max. (If your max is 100lb, then you'll be using at least 80lbs.) The reps you use will depend on how heavy you go beyond 80%. Generally speaking you're going to be working in the 4-6 rep range.

    When you're lifting heavy, you're form is going to need to be perfect. So you're going to need to take the time to learn how to lift. Find a certified trainer in your area and make the investment to get coached.

  3. My final suggestion is go the long slow distance route. This is also known as "traditional" cardio. Go on a run, hit the elliptical or the exercise bike for 30-60 minutes. The trend is definitely towards HIIT but cardio stills works. A good cardio session will burn a lot of calories, with the majority of those calories burned coming from fat.

The three suggestions aren't any in particular order of importance. So in conclusion, let's put these in order. First off, you should be on a lifting program. Your lifting program should cycle between heavier periods and lighter periods (of lifting). So when you're in a heavy cycle you'd be better off adding a couple of days of "traditional" cardio. This will help with recovery. When you're in a light cycle this is when you can go to you're HIIT classes. This is a really basic suggestion of a workout structure. If you want to get more specific, this is where investing in a good trainer will come in handy.

Your Group Fitness Class Isn't Helping You Lose Fat

Why won't group fitness classes use these proven fat loss methods? As I explained to Alli during our walk, I think this is all about marketing. It's hard to get people to pay $20/class to do 4 minutes of work. Then with the misconceptions around lifting weights and getting bulky, most ladies (it's mostly women who are attending these classes) aren't lining up for the class boasting improvements in 5 rep maxes.

28 Days is all it takes...

"My clothes fit better, my core felt stronger and my posture improved. My co-workers notice a difference in the way I looked almost immediately." Laura, 36

Laura did my 28 Day Online Fitness Challenge. This is part of the feedback/testimonial she gave at the end of the challenge. Now if I paid someone to write a testimonial for me (people do this, I don't because I'm honest....and cheap, but mostly honest) I would want that sentence included. I promise I didn't pay Laura.

I think if you ask any personal trainer/strength coach what benefits they want their clients to achieve Laura's results would be near the top of the list. I've been dabbling in online training for about 2 years or so now. This 28 Day Online Fitness Challenge is going to be my ongoing way to offer online training.

  • Why: Online training is way for me to help more people and people who aren't in my vicinity necessarily. Laura and I were able to communicate almost daily but we were never in the same place once. That's pretty cool.

    I settled on the "28 Day Online Fitness Challenge" because it's a way for me to easily deliver quality coaching without having to sacrifice the quality of my in-person coaching. Win/win.

  • What is it?: It's just like the name says. It's 28 days long and completely online. Actually it's all done on Facebook. It includes personalized nutrition and workout plans. You get daily coaching and accountability. It will be the simplest (not easy) way you'll find to to start making the healthy lifestyle changes.

    It's not a magic pill. To get maximal results, you have to do the work. I ask that you take a photo of everything you eat and post it in our private Facebook group (you and I) and post a daily gratitude post in the challenge's group page (everyone in the challenge). Again this is simple but I get that sometimes life gets in the way and that's where the daily coaching and accountability come in handy.

    "It was simple yet designed for the individual. Dwayne is always following up on you but understands that "life" can happen." Kim, 52 (another challenge member)

  • When is it?: The next challenge will begin next Monday, July 30. It will end on Sunday, August 19. As you go through the challenge, you'll do your daily posts at times that are convenient to you. I'll respond to any questions you have as soon as possible. That's usually within a couple of hours.
  • How?: All you need to participate in the challenge is a Facebook account. You'll be able to do all the workouts at home so if you don't have a gym membership or equipment that's all good.

So that's a little info on the 28 Day Online Fitness Challenge. If you'd like to sign up or if you have questions, just LEAVE A REPLY and I'll get you all the info. I'll finish up with another quote from Laura:

"I recommend the 28 Day Online Fitness Challenge for anyone who’s looking to make changes and doesn’t know where or how to start. Even for those who have experience with health and fitness there’s always something new to learn."

Advice: Giving & Taking

Have you ever given someone the same advice over and over again? I'm talking about they keep asking for your advice and you keep giving it over months and years. Then out of the blue you see the person and they're like, "I was watching Oprah and she gave out some really great advice." It's always Oprah. And the advice is the same advice you've been giving  the person since the beginning of time. If you haven't been in this situation before then I'm super jealous of you. This happens to me all the time. Honestly, I have to hold back from yelling at clients and if I ever meet Oprah we are definitely going to have words.

I was in a little bit of a different situation recently. I had to listen to my client talk about how she always has to give her sister the same advice over and over again. My client was very visually annoyed. The interesting for me was that I was looking at the situation from outside. It forced me to empathize with not only my client but also her sister.

It would've been easy for me to just agree with my client about how annoying the situation can be (have I mentioned how annoying it is?) but I don't think that would've helped her in the long run. I tried to take her sister's side just so she could at least here that perspective. The thing is I got a lot out of it also. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to handle these same situations with clients better.

A thought I came out of the session with was "body blows". Whenever you watch a boxing or MMA match the commentators always mention body blows. They talk about how when body blows are landed it makes it easier to score a knockout with a head shot. So when you're giving the same advice over and over again, you're landing body blows. Then they hear the advice somewhere else and it finally clicks. That's the head shot.

This leads to my other thought that came out of the conversation. People not only have to get the advice at the right time but they also have to get it from the right person. Or maybe the not the wrong person.

My client was talking about her older sister. It's probably hard for an older sibling to accept advice from a younger sibling. (I'm totally speculating here about there relationship.) Or maybe they are too close to each other to give/receive this kind of advice from one another. I think this happens with clients and myself.

Yes it's part of my job to give advice but, especially with long term clients, over time the relationship can/does change. So I think it can be hard for clients to hear and accept advice that's coming from me. This is where Oprah comes in.

(Almost)Half Way There

According to the Google, there are 185 days left in this year. That means this Thursday marks the official halfway point of 2018. That means you still have 3 days where you'll be ahead of the game in terms of reaching those 2018 goals. Remember those? There's still time. I'm gonna cut to the chase because time is running out. YOU've got to make some decisions about whether or not you want to reach your goals. You can hire all sorts of coaches and join all sorts of programs, but at some point YOU are going to have to do the work.

Again time is running out, so I'm just gonna list a few questions to ask yourself to get back on track with your 2018 goals.

  • Why is this my goal?: you should've ask this at the beginning of the year when you set the goal, so ask it again. Did the reason change? If so, is this goal still important to you? It might not be (maybe it never was), that's ok. You can either change the goal or forget about it completely.

    If the reason didn't change, pretend you're like my 3yr old son and keep asking "why". Ask at least 5 times. This process will help you get down to what your absolute motivations are. These will be what you come back to whenever things get tough.

  • Is there still enough time?: when you originally set the goal you had a whole year. Now you've got a little over half the year (if you read this after July 5th, you have less than half). If your goal was to save 50% of your 2018 income and you haven't saved a dime up to this point, well unless you can live completely free the rest of the year, then you need a new goal.

    Can your goal be adjusted to fit this new time frame? Or do you have to set a new goal? This takes us back to the first question: is the goal (whether it's the same, adjusted or a completely new one) important enough to you to go after in this condensed time frame?

  • What's the plan to reach this goal?: again you should've of done this when you originally set the goal. Now you'll not only need a new plan, but you'll need a better one. I'm comfortable saying that because if you've reached this point in this post, it probably means your original plan didn't work.

    When planning most people only think big picture. They say things like "I'm going to lose 2 pounds every week". Which is totally doable...if you take the necessary daily steps. Well what are those steps? I'm not sure, everyone's plan is probably going to be a little different. But everyone needs a plan that eventually tackles the smallest variables.

So if you're still chasing those goals from the beginning of the year, ask yourself these questions and get to work. There's still time.

Who's Are You Accountable to?

Let's talk about accountability. A quick Google search tells us that accountability and responsibility are synonymous. So when we're being accountable we are taking responsibility. Ok, now that we got that out of the way. Accountability has become somewhat of a buzz word and at this point just about everyone has an "accountability partner". (Just to be clear this isn't a bad thing.) The question is what does it mean? Beyond the definition above.

Let's start with accountability partners. Like I said accountability partners are good. I would actually suggest having more than one accountability partner. The more the merrier. The job of an accountability partner is basically to call you out. You say you're going to do something; you don't do it; you're accountability partner calls BS; then hopefully you do what you said you were going to do.

(Traditionally having an accountability partner means you're going to be doing the same for the person as they are doing for you. Usually everyone involved will work out what exactly they want to held accountable for. Get it, partners.)

This is where you being accountable begins. Your partner will/should call you out. At that point you have to actual do what you said you were going to do. If you don't, then you're not being accountable.

So like I said accountability partners are great and we should all have them. However, eventually it becomes our responsibility to be accountable to ourselves.  Below is an example of me having to be accountable for a mistake I made. Also you should become my Facebook friend.

Screenshot 2018-06-11 15.17.14

PS: If you want in on my 28 day online coaching program, just let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a message.

My (News?) Story

I've mentioned before that I wrote for the high school newspaper. I'm going back to those basics that Mr. Quinn taught us. I'm basically going to answer the 5 "W's" (and one "H"). I figure this will be the easiest, quickest way to tell a little bit about me and what I do. Here goes.

  • Who am I? First and foremost, I'm a husband and father of two boys. Professionally I'm a personal trainer/strength coach. I love sports; both watching and playing. I like whiskey and scotch and I'm trying to learn the nuances of different brands.
  • What do I do? I coach people. I help them figure out the changes they want and need to make in their lives. I help people improve their overall lives by improving their fitness, nutrition and lifestyle practices.
  • Why do I do it? I love to help people find what motivates them and then help them use that motivation to live their best life.

    Another reason I do what I do is it allows me to meet and work with people from all sorts of different backgrounds and around the world. This leads to great conversations in which I learn a ton.

  • Who (bonus) I work with? I work with two different types of people mostly. The first is women in the 30-50 age range. These women tend to be new to exercise, particularly lifting weights. I help them learn to lift and appreciate the confidence and fitness/health benefits that weight lifting brings.

    The second type is men in the 50-65 range. These men usually have had some injuries in the past or are currently dealing with a nagging injury. They also are usually looking to lose some weight. They trust me to help them lose that weight safely.

  • How do I do it? With both groups I focus on helping clients move better and make lifestyle choices that'll lead to the goals they  want to reach. Both inside and outside the gym, I choose exercises that enhance and/or improve your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Where/When (combo)? I do in-person coaching in the NYC area (Manhattan/Brooklyn). I work out of a few gyms or I go to people's apartment buildings.

    The majority of my in-person coaching sessions are during the week. However, I also offer online coaching services. With online coaching, you can get the coaching on your own schedule when you're ready to ingest and digest it.

That's just a quick run down about me and what I do. If you want a little more info about me go here. Also there you can join my mailing list and stay up to date with me.

The Value of a Coach

I was a talking to a client during a session recently. She mentioned that her business coach had given her an assignment; better yet it was a thought exercise. The business coach asked her to think of what she could be average at. My client is a self proclaimed over achiever so this was a tough question for her. As we talked about it a couple of things came to mind for me.

  1. My client is and has been very successful in her career. She is closer to the end of her career than the beginning. She could probably quit working today and be fine for the rest of her life.

    All that being said, she still has a coach. She values what a coach can bring to her career. Would she be as successful without a coach? I have no doubt she would be. Would her career be as "easy" without a coach? I have no idea, but this leads me to my 2nd thought.

  2. My 2nd thought revolves around the question: "what can you be average at?" It doesn't get asked often because god forbid anyone be average at anything. But it's a good question because not everyone can be above average. That's just how math works. Also no one can be above average at everything.

    So to me this question boils down to priorities. Since we can't excel at everything, we have to pick the things that we want to excel at the most. Then you concentrate your efforts on those things.

The purpose and value of coaching lies in the 2nd point. Coaching helps you to figure out what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you should go about doing it. Everyone wants to do everything but that's impossible. Coaching helps you to narrow your focus to the things that are the most important.

By contemplating the question, my client has thought of some ways she can scale back so that she can get better at the things that really matter. So here's my question for you: what can you be more average at so that you can reach your health and fitness goals?

Let me know in the comments.

The Foundational Blocks

My three year old son likes to play with Duplo blocks (the giant version of Legos). He'll ask "do you want to build with me?" He likes to build tall towers. Inevitably he'll stack the blocks on top of one another until the stack can no longer support itself and it falls over. He hasn't quite figured out the importance of having a strong foundation. Believe it or not, a lot of  people are the same way when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I've had a lot of clients who've started training with me that I've had to slow down at the beginning. This one guy came in for his second session and announced that he wanted to start intermittent fasting. This was a guy who didn't have complete control over his schedule (he was an on call ER doctor) but he somehow thought he would be able to control when he would be able to eat. He skipped building the foundation.

Before I get into what, I think, are the foundational blocks, let's talk about why I think they're important. When it comes to exercise/fitness you have to work on the basics for no other reason than preventing injury. You can't do a barbell snatch if can't do a squat. If you try to do so, you will get hurt. The same goes for cardio. If you try to run a marathon without building a base of cardiovascular training first you will get hurt.

On the nutrition side it comes down to longevity. The majority of diets work...while you're on them. The problem with diets is that end at some point. If you don't know how to eat when you're not dieting then there really is no point in going on a diet. At best you'll just yo-yo around the same weight. I'd even go so far to say that if you knew how to eat when you weren't dieting then you wouldn't need to diet at all.

So what are the foundational blocks?

  • Consistency: whether it's fitness or nutrition, this is going to play the biggest role in whether you are successful or not. For fitness I tell clients they should be aiming for a consistent 3-4 workouts per week. Getting those workouts in every week is going to go much further than worrying about the types of workouts you're doing in the beginning.

    For nutrition, I work with clients to eat "balanced" meals at least 80% of the time. Doing this will act as your "diet" in the beginning and be home base when/if you do try different diets.

  • Patience: I know you want results and I know you want them now. That being said, I'll tell you the quicker you make progress you're likely to lose it just as fast if not faster. On the other hand, long-lasting progress takes a long time. You need to know and understand this going in.
  • Mindfulness: this is about enjoying the process. As you're consistently and patiently going through your plan (whatever it is) take the time to figure out what you like about it. Or more importantly, what you don't like about it. How can you do it better? Are there workouts/exercises that you love/hate? Are there times or situations that you turn to food to feel better?

    Being able to ask and answer these questions will keep you in the moment. Staying in the moment will help you to stay patient and take your progress as it comes.

These are the things that I work on with all of my clients. When they can master these things it is only a matter of time before progress starts. Then the best part about this progress is it is progress that stays with you. The other thing about progress built from foundational blocks is that it's repeatable. So it becomes the progress that continues to build on itself.


Take action...solve problems

I came across this quote:

"“If you have a problem that can be solved with action, you don’t have a problem.” – Mel Robbins

I don't know who Mel Robbins is but I liked the quote. Enough that I posted it as a Facebook status. It really struck a chord with me. People tend to be happy to tell you all about their problems. And actually a part of my job is asking people about their problems.

Now as the quote suggests, there are a lot of people out there who think they have problems but they really don't. (To be clear, there are plenty of people with plenty of real problems.) Like I said, people like to talk about their problems. For whatever reason though, people don't necessarily like to solve their problems. Or I should say people aren't ready to solve their problems yet.

Now not all problems are created equals. Some problems only take seconds to solve and some will take years. When people are ready to solve their problems they don't just talk about them, they take action. And this is what all problems have in common. All problems (I believe) have actionable steps that can be taken to solve them.

(If your problem doesn't have steps you can take to solve it, then it's not a problem. It's a fact of life. You may not like it but it is what it is and you probably should be putting your attention elsewhere.)

So as part of my job I help people figure out the actionable steps to solve their problems. For example if my client's problem is they don't work out enough, then I'll suggest that they train with me more often. Obviously this may not be a viable option, so then we can come up with another option. We just repeat the process until we come up with a suitable solution.

A coach may make it easier for you and an experienced coach probably has heard your problem and has solutions that you probably wouldn't come up with on your own. That being said, while I'd love to have you all clients, you don't need me or any other coach to do this on your own.

To do it on you own, go backwards. What I mean is figure out what things are like when the problem is solved. What's difference between "I have a problem" and "problem solved"? If it's only one thing, take action to change that one thing. If the difference is a bunch of things, pick one and take action to change that one thing. Then pick something else and change that. When you get good at this (and this is where a good coach can work wonders) you'll get to a point where you'll learn to pick the things that solve the problem the quickest.

So I dare you to take one of your problems and take action to solve it. Let me know what your problem is/was and what action you're taking to solve it. Leave it in the comments.

Are Customs Stopping Your Progress?

"The despotism of custom is everywhere standing up to human advancement." - John Stuart Mill

So a few things before I get started. First I don't remember where I got this quote from but I saw it, thought it was good and wrote it down. Also I don't know who John Stuart Mill is but I feel like I should (I would guess something to do with the American Revolution), so if you know help a brother out.

Now that I got that out of the way, I find this to be right on the nose. How many times have you found yourself grabbing for a snack simply because it's snack time? Or have you gone out for drinks just because the rest of the team was going? The list can go on and on.

Customs make life easy. Customs eliminate the need to think. Customs are/have triggers. It's 3pm, 3pm is snack time, grab a snack. What you weren't hungry? Too late, you already ate the snack.

Without customs we would have to sit and think about the pros & cons of every decision that we are making. Customs save us time and energy that could be used at more important times.

For the most part this is a good thing. Until it's not. When you're trying to lose weight 3pm snack time becomes the enemy everyday. It's an enemy that you either have to fight or avoid. In this case avoiding it might mean making it so you can't eat snack; can you move that meeting to 3pm? Fighting it could be being prepared with a "healthy" snack instead of going to the vending machine.

In the case of the bad customs the first step to changing them is recognizing them in the first place. That's the thing about customs though, they're hard to pick out. Remember the point of a custom is to not have to think about them, they're automatic.

So how do we change the bad customs? The first step is you have to take account of your day. This means you have to be able to say what you did during each hour of every day. Give yourself a week to track everything you do throughout each day. After a week you'll start to notice patterns of both good and bad customs.

The next step is to look for the triggers. We already talked about 3pm being the snack trigger but there are other types of triggers. Triggers can be people like that annoying co-worker or situations like happy hour just because it's Friday. Figuring out your triggers will allow you to plan round them.

This leads us to the last step. The last step is used the info you gather from accounting for the week and finding the triggers to make a plan. Your plan should take into account all of the triggers, good and bad, and the flow of your typical day. Try to replace bad triggers with good ones and figure out ways to actively either fight or avoid those bad customs.

Give this a shot. What customs, good or bad, do you notice in your own life. What are you going to do increase the good and decrease the bad?

"There's no such thing as a bad exercise..."

Recently, trainer to the stars Ben Bruno tweeted "there's no such thing as a bad exercise..just bad application". He then goes on to point out three exercises that he termed dumb: kipping pull-ups, burpees and the American kettlebell swing. It's a very funny tweet and you should check it out. I don't know Ben personally (but for some reason I'm comfortable enough calling him by his first name, weird) but I'm pretty sure he was being tongue in cheek. It isn't that the exercises are dumb necessarily but they are definitely poorly applied.

For instance, the kipping pull up is a gymnastics movement that's supposed to be used to get up on to a horizontal bar. The momentum used is then transferred into whatever the next movement of the routine is going to be. Somehow this movement has entered the strength and conditioning world.

The same thing for the burpee. In my experience, the only reason the burpee was created was to be a punishment during football practice. The crazy thing is when you mention burpees during a workout, you can tell everyone thinks of it as a punishment. Yet it still persists in exercise classes.

Again it's not that burpees and kipping pull-ups are necessarily dumb but they are skills that need to be taught and learned. The thing is trainers/coaches aren't taking the time to teach and people aren't taking the time to learn. Add to it that these exercises are usually done for high reps at intensities. This wouldn't be a problem except that these exercises can and often do lead to injuries.

To be fair this is the case with all exercises. If you do a lot of bad reps of any exercise at high intensities it is a recipe for disaster. Kipping pull-ups, burpees and American swings are just having a moment in time where people are flocking to classes to do them.

So like Ben said (again with the first name), there aren't any bad exercises. There is definitely a lot of bad exercise application on the other hand. When you do exercises badly, you make them look dumb. That's not fair to the exercise. Take the time to learn correct exercise form and execution. Better yet, demand that whoever is telling you to do the exercise teach you how to do it correctly.

Check out my Instagram and Facebook tomorrow for a video on what I call the Better Burpee. Also I don't say a lot here about the American swing. My mom always said "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything."


What can your workout learn from personal finance?

A topic I've been into lately- outside of health/fitness- has been been personal finance. Learning about things like investing, retirement accounts and savings rates have taken up a lot of time for me lately. I'm not saying I'm on my way to being the next Warren Buffet or anything but I can tell you the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA. (I think...taxes or something). Anyway, there's an investing principle that has a lot of crossover into health and fitness. The principle states that you can't time the market. Meaning that the best investors don't try to buy/sell stocks based on when the market is up or down. The best investors are in the market for the long term and don't worry about the ups and downs; they know the long term compounding effects of the market is where the real money is made.

This is similar to your fitness routine. We all know those people that go from workout to workout or diet to diet. These people may see some short term benefits from doing this but in the long run they don't see any real changes. However the people that stick to the same workout/diet, whatever it is, see more long term benefits.

The reason people go the former route (workout to workout, diet to diet) is because consistency is hard. Consistency requires you to stay the course when you don't see immediate results or, even worse, when you see negative results in the beginning. This is the equivalent on not selling a stock when it's price drops.

It's hard to watch your account lose money or your weight go up and trust the process. However, this is exactly what you should be doing. Whenever someone asks what's the best fitness routine for them, I always reply "the one you'll stick to."

When it comes to stocks the saying goes "time in the market beats timing the market." The same goes for fitness. Pick a course and stick with it. You need at least six weeks. Give your returns a chance to compound.


(Also for the record I do know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA.)

"Glow up. Shine down."

"Glow up. Shine down." This is an idea I came up with while listening to the song Glow by Drake. It's from his "More Life" album. An album that, I hate to admit, has gone from absolutely terrible to at the very least tolerable. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about the merits of Drake music. This idea of glowing up and shining down has been on my mind for a couple of weeks. So what is it? For me "glowing up" is about self promotion. Which I hate. It makes me uncomfortable. I think people should do good work and that work should be recognized/rewarded without having to be blasted all over social media or anywhere else.

That being said, I realize self promotion is a necessary evil. We live in hyper competitive times and for anyone trying to advance in their careers, love lives or anything else they are going to have to sing their own praises.

"Shining down" is all about educating and helping other people get where you are or wherever it they're trying to go. This is my happy place. I love helping people take complex (to them) ideas and breaking them down into simple tasks.

"Shining down" allows me to lead by example. Now calling myself a leader is very self promotional and it's making me squeamish just typing it. The difference here, is that I get to lead by example. I get to say "I did that thing, I did it this way and it totally didn't work; you might want to try it this way."

Like I said this is just something that's been on my mind recently. As I think about it more and more it kind of explains some of the things I like and dislike. I like teaching and mentorship activities. I don't like listing my accomplishments. In sports I always enjoyed participating with friends but I didn't necessarily enjoy the competition of the games/matches.

Do you have any philosophies that, either purposefully or accidentally, explain the actions you take or decisions you make? Let me know in the comments.



I've been talking about the holiday season a lot over the past couple of weeks. For good reason. With all the social, professional and family events that get scheduled things can get super stressful. It's when things get super stressful that health and fitness go by the wayside. This doesn't have to be the case.

Before I tell you how to make sure you're not in this situation, let's talk about why it works out this way. Us (modern day) humans are kind of strange in that we err toward complicated solutions for simple problems. We've forgotten about Occam's Razor (the simplest solution is the usually the best; shoutout to Google for the spelling of "Occam").

I've often heard people say "I've got to work out more because I've got all these parties to go to". I'm all for people working out more but this doesn't make any sense. The parties are already taking up more time/energy and you want to combat this by demanding more time/energy of your body. Again it doesn't make any sense.

So what to do? First thing is just make sure you're doing enough. If you've been going to the gym twice/week, make sure you keep going twice a week. This may mean rescheduling gym appointments (by the way, the gym should be a scheduled appointment) or finding different ways to get workouts in outside the gym.

The second thing I'll suggest is shortening your workout. Stick with me here. You're going to shorten the workout but you're going to do more. Just saying you're only going to be in the gym for 30 minutes versus your normal hour is going to make your workout more efficient.

(Let's be honest, most of us spend way too much time standing around/talking to people and not working out during our workouts.)

Shorter workouts tend to be more intense workouts. This means you can get more bang for your buck and still make it to the all the parties.

I've put together a 4 workout plan that you can use to hit all the major body parts. To get this free workout plan all you have to click this link. Fill out the form and then the workout plan will be delivered to your inbox.

You get your workouts in and you still get to party. Best of both worlds.

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Benefits of Kettlebells

Kettlebells have become so popular that I have multiple clients who have sets of them in their apartment building gyms. Now if you've ever spent any time in an apartment building gym you know that they aren't necessarily recognized as being "state of the art". However, the kettlebell isn't a "state of the art" piece of workout equipment. Kettlebells (not "kettleballs" or "cattle bells") have been around for hundreds of years. In the last 5-10 years they've made a huge resurgence. Difference between a kettlebell & dumbbell

The obvious difference is the shape. A dumbbell has equal weights on the end of a bar/handle that can be held in one hand. In the simplest terms, a kettlebell is a weighted ball (traditionally iron) with a handle. The different shapes make for different functionality and use. Without having to consult my 11th grade physics textbook, the center of mass of a dumbbell sits in your palm (when holding by the handle); with a kettlebell the center of mass sits outside the hand more on the back of the wrist.

I only mention this because these differences will change how "heavy" a kettlebell and dumbbell of equal weight feels, even when doing the same exercise. The different shapes also will change how you move and what you can do with each tool.

Benefits of using kettlebells

  • Versatility: KBs can be used for any type of exercise: power, strength, cardio or corrective. KBs can be used to do just about every movement type: push, pull, squat, hinge and carry.
  • Portability: other than having a KB or two you don't need to have any other equipment to get a great workout in. This means you can take KBs anywhere and you don't have to be confined to a gym. You can take bells out to a park or keep a few at home for quick and not so easy workouts.

These are just a couple of the big picture benefits that training with KBs can offer. Here's a video showing how you can use a KB to string together a bunch of different exercises. The video shows how a KB can be used to perform strength exercises and also how it can be used to get a cardiovascular workout.

Kettlebells do have a learning curve. You need to get coaching before trying some the ballistic movements, namely the clean and the snatch. If you have any questions or would like to set up some coaching let me know.

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