Friday, December 12, 2014

The Lies We Tell

Growing up, I never wanted to disappoint my parents. I was never pressured to make straight A’s in school or anything like that, but I was always encouraged to do my best at what was asked of me. The problem was, I wasn’t crazy about school. So, if I liked the teacher and the class seemed somewhat interesting, I would normally do fine with grades. If the class was boring or if I had a teacher I couldn’t click with, my grades would suffer. There wasn’t a lot of extra effort to pull the grades up early on. When midterm grades would come, I would frequently hide them because I didn’t want my parents to see how bad some of my grades were. My hope was that I could get at least a “C” in the struggling classes by time the final report cards were out. I would even go so far as forging my parents signatures on midterm reports just to avoid having to tell my folks I had a “D” or worse.

My father, rest his soul, could see through me like glass. Even if he let me think I had gotten away with the crime, he was normally 3 steps ahead. Sometimes he would play along, sometimes he would bust me. The end result was still the same: it never paid to lie and I never came out on top.

Thankfully, I’ve grown out of that nonsense. But there is still that part of me that hates to disappoint people. Now, it’s more of a conscious effort to be forthright about things, even if the short term truth is unpleasant.

As this pertains to my clients and weight loss in general, being honest and forthright about problems can be just as scary or misguided as what I used to go through when I was in school. Most people are sincerely good people. They want good things to happen to them and they want to do good things to and for others. Not to mention, most people want to please others with their actions.

Unfortunately, weight loss is a tricky endeavor. It’s commonly known that most of usunderestimate how much we eat and overestimate how much we exercise. Case in point, several studies have been done with dietitians where they have to estimate (without the use of measuring devices) the caloric content of random food selections. They’re usually off by over 20%!! That may not seem like much, but if you’re trying to eat a 2000 calorie diet and your accuracy is as good as theirs, you could consume more than 2400 calories a day. In a week, you will have gained nearly a pound of fat! So, if the professionals who arguably know the most about food are inaccurate with their guesses, how do you think everyone else fares?

With clients, I see varying degrees of similar issues. Some clients will fall all over themselves to give you every gory detail of what’s happening with their diet. These are usually the easier ones to help. Others may only give a glimpse at the truth of what’s happening. By unveiling the truth about what they eat it’s like having them invite me over to their homes, perched on their shoulder watching every morsel that gets consumed. Not likely!!

Somewhere in the middle is the majority. Those who know what they need to do, they know how to fix it, they just haven’t acted on it. And as long as I’m not asking them to come clean, they can get by without admission of guilt. Sadly, guilt shouldn’t be associated with how we eat. Food, in essence, should be celebrated. Yet as we all well know, even good things can be overdone.

So my challenge to you is to indeed come clean. Be painfully honest with yourself about anything you consume that has calories: fruits, vegetables, candies, sugary drinks, cream and sugar in your coffee or tea, etc. You don’t have to live every day of your life with a measuring cup. However, it may take getting reacquainted with measuring your portions to get a realistic idea of what a true serving size looks like.

Ultimately, you have to be honest with yourself. Clients can (and have) told me all sorts of things about what’s happening with their nutrition. Fact of the matter, most people just forget. Unless you’re taking the time to journal everything you’ve been eating, you’re not likely to remember. For instance, that sandwich you got from Panera yesterday had a nice smear of mayo on it. That mayonnaise just added nearly 100 calories to that sandwich...from a condiment!!!

The other issue is some people just don’t know how to be honest about their food. It’s the dirty little secret they can’t fess up to OR it’s the disappointment they may have to face if they have to admit it. This goes back to my previous comment about how the desire to please can interfere with what we admit to.

If you’re struggling with your weight loss, remember it’s the lies we tell ourselves that can lead to the most damage.

We’re here to help!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Do More With Less

When I started this business back in 2009, the workouts I ran clients through were chock full of variety. I was driven to make sure my clients never had the same workout twice. My hope was that I could help avoid any staleness or boredom in the routines and keep clients excited to come back. It wasn’t a totally misguided approach. Clients did get stronger and they were exposed to a plethora of exercises.

The problem (among many) was there was little rhyme or reason to why it was done. Not to mention, it was near impossible to track the progress of any given exercise because it could take so long for an exercise to be duplicated. Truth be told, not every client needs to see the strength increases in the gym. Many people just need to get moving and they need to know they’re doing so in a way that leaves them at low risk for injury and feeling like they’ve accomplished something.

As the years went by, I became less satisfied with this approach and knew I had to streamline more of what happened here. I have always liked variety in a workout but there had to be a method to the madness. After running myself through a variety of different programs and testing different protocols on clients, I started putting together a system that made more sense. “Rev6” became part of the solution.

To be frank, it was inspired by two different needs: I needed a workout I could do in a minimal amount of time in between clients. In addition, my clients needed workouts that ran at a faster pace so they could get back to juggling work, family and everything else they had on their plates.

Walk into any gym these days and it can be a very social affair. Nothing wrong with socializing. It can actually be very motivating to the workout. Not to mention, it potentially can make time go by faster. Conversely, there are a lot of gym-goers who spend way too much time talking and not enough time working. Now, I don’t know about you but when I’m training, I don’t have time for that. There are too many other things to get accomplished and I need a workout that gives me the most bang for my buck.

In addition, taking too much time to talk and procrastinate between sets and exercises can be detrimental to your goals. It amazes me how many people are bound and determined to squeeze an hour or an hour and a half out of their workouts just to feel they’ve accomplished something.

To the credit of group exercise, there are some modes of fitness that do need to take a bit more time. Because more people have to be tended to, it can be a time-consuming affair. And if you’re inclined to do things like powerlifting, you definitely have to take time between sets so your body can recover appropriately from the stress.

However, for the average person who is involved with exercise most of what you need to accomplish can be done within the span of about 30 minutes. This goes for strength/resistance training and cardiovascular workouts.

But don’t take my word for it. If you’re used to spending an hour at the gym, try this approach for a change. Approach your workout the same way you normally would. This time, take no more than a 1 minute break in between sets of the same exercise and a 30 second break between different exercises. A sample workout might then look something like this:

Lunges for 12 reps each side
30 second break and then
Lat pulldowns for 10 reps
30 second break and then
Push-Ups for 12 reps
30 second break and then
Bicep curls for 10 reps
30 second break and then
Lat raises for 12 reps
30 second break and then
Crunches for 30 reps
Break for 1-2 minutes then repeat the circuit.

Chances are (if you picked appropriate weights for each exercise) you’re feeling something far more intense than what your hour-long procrastinated workout was giving you.

It was ideas like this that helped turn Rev6 into the program it is today. Shorter, more effective workouts and enough variety fused into the program to keep from going stale. In addition, you get to spend enough time on each exercise in a given cycle to actually see progress occur.

As we’re inching closer and closer to our launch date, I wanted to tease a bit more information about what you would find in store when the program is ready for mass consumption.

In conclusion for this newsletter, I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. Christmas is approaching and with it comes the increase of holiday social events, family gatherings and a great deal of food that can easily derail your fitness efforts. Keep your eye on the goal, whatever that may be for each of you and brace for the remainder of 2014.

We’re here to help along the way!

Monday, November 17, 2014


I remember sometime before Thanksgiving last year, I sent out a newsletter about gratitude. This year, I really felt the need to do the same. From a business standpoint, 2013 was a great year for RevFit. I had all hopes that 2014 would be just as good and it surpassed my expectations by a huge margin. So, with a fresh perspective as we round this year out and approach 2015, I have all confidence it will continue to be another great leap forward for us here.

So, it stands to mention, this business doesn’t survive and thrive on my efforts alone. I wanted to mention some people who have stood by my side personally and professionally to help me along the way.

Tori Tedesco: I’ve known Tori for nearly as long as I’ve had my business. It’s only been over the last couple of years that we have connected on a professional level and she has been invaluable to me. She handles nearly all of my current graphic work and all of my social media work. I write the newsletters and she formats them to look the way you see them now. She also keeps our presence on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. As nice as it would be to hog her all to myself, Tori is available to work with other businesses as well. I might also mention, she is a great photographer and is even amazingly talented with crochet work. At risk of stealing all her thunder, you can find more out about Tori at

Joe Baker/Thomas Wittine: Joe and I have been friends for nearly 15 years. Way back then, he would design t-shirts for the band I was in. When I started this business, Joe was the person I reached out to in efforts to help me build my website ( Since then, he has partnered with Thomas Wittine and the two of them keep my web presence alive and well. Not to mention, they have both been working hard on the Rev6 program that I have continued to tease you with. I promise it will be launched soon! Joe’s portfolio can be found

Kristie Warner: Kristie was originally referred to me from another client/friend several years ago. She is the co-owner of Gavin Scott Salon & Spa (next to me here at the plaza). Not only was she the one who told me about the location we’re in currently when it became available, she has been one of the biggest advocates of our business. She runs an amazing operation at the salon and has been an incredible mentor to me. You can see more about her business at

Dr. Robert Ault: First, he was my doctor, then he became a client and since he has become a great friend. As a personal trainer, it helps to have people to turn to who have a vastly superior understanding of the human body, how and why it works. Dr. Robert is not only a chiropractor but a doctor of sports medicine as well. So his scope of expertise goes well beyond necks and spines. What has made my relationship with him so important is that we are able to share information with each other that not only can help his patients or my clients but we’ve worked hand-in-hand to minimize their injuries and keep them healthy. He has been a huge asset to me and my business. You can find out more about he and his wife (they’re both chiropractors)

Megan Winiarski/Julie Boehringer: My partners in crime here at RevFit, Megan and Julie are fantastic trainers and they complement my training style perfectly. Both ladies have been with me since 2013 and I know there is no possible way that the business could have reached the levels it has without them. I firmly believe the best way to take care of your customers is to take care of your employees and I hope Megan and Julie both know how much they mean to me! Oh, and shameless plug: they’re available to train you too!!

Our amazing, fantastic, and particularly attractive clients!!: You guys and gals absolutely hang the moon. You continue to inspire yourselves, one another, and us!! Thank you for pushing me to keep RevFit evolving and climbing to greater heights. I hope you are tremendously proud of what you accomplish every day you’re here. Every day I wake up knowing I get to work with and for the most incredible personalities I’ve ever met. Sometimes, I just have to sit and take in all the little miracles that happen here day in and day out and be thankful that Megan, Julie and I get to be a small part of your lives. Thank you for that privilege!

My family: My mother, my wife, my son. The three of you make me the man I continue striving to be: more understanding, more loving, more ambitious, and more committed to giving back to you the fruits of my labor. I thank God every day that I have the people I do in my corner. I love all three of you and I could have written a newsletter alone just about that. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to throw myself into this business so I can give everything I can to the people who ask it of me.

Whew! Hope you kept some kleenex around for that one! Thank you to all of you: those mentioned in this newsletter, all of you readers and anyone who has ever been a contribution or inspiration for the progress of RevFit.

“Everywhere I go, I walk with all the strength you gave to me.
And everything I do, I do with all the love you show me”
-Vinnie Caruana

Random Thoughts

Sometimes things come up in conversation with clients that merit a response but don’t always lead to enough feedback for a whole newsletter in and of itself. So I wanted to throw my thoughts out on some things that may help our readers.

Stuck at current weight?

If you’re certain that your food is in order and you’ve ramped up the intensity of your workouts but the scale still isn’t moving, there may be something else to consider. Many people forget there could be a biochemical issue that isn’t always apparent on the outside. That’s generally a good time to get a comprehensive blood panel through your doctor. Make sure all things are covered: cholesterol, hormones, thyroid function, etc. Ultimately, you have to be painfully honest with yourself and make sure your diet and exercise are consistent and accurate i.e. did you actually burn 500 calories in that workout or not? If those things are right on, the blood work and hormone check could unveil some mysteries that can get weight loss back on track. Keep in mind, many medications can either prevent weight loss or promote weight gain and only your doctor can determine that.

It starts with water

Tired? Sluggish? Lethargic? Not losing weight? Not sleeping well? Stressed out? Overeating? Need a boost? As unglamorous as it sounds and as terrible of a marketing campaign as it would lead, a lot of those problems can be fixed by increasing water intake and decreasing any drinks with calories, and diuretics (tea and coffee). A good tip is to take down at least 16oz of room temperature water as soon as you wake up. Then shoot for another 16oz with every meal or snack. It may take a couple of weeks for your body to adjust to the increase of hydration but you stand to lose a fair amount of weight from this shift as well.

Waiting for the best answer?

If you haven’t pulled the trigger on a workout program or haven’t decided which diet plan to follow because you’re waiting for the ultimate and definitive answer on either, you’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. There won’t be one. We are so vastly different as individuals: culturally, socially, emotionally, hormonally, etc. that there will never be a blanket solution for all of us. Make a decision based on what fits into your lifestyle best from a timing and convenience standpoint and ride the course out. It may take trial and error (sometimes a lot of both) but you will find what works for you if your goals prove to be important enough.

Final thought 

I mentioned cultural differences in the last paragraph and it reminded me of something. I tied the knot on Oct. 11 and my wife (Marissa) and I were given the opportunity to see Paris for our honeymoon. It was an unforgettable experience. Despite eating a great amount of cheese and bread on our trip, we walked A LOT. To the tune of 5-7 miles a day. Overall, we each consumed a bit less than we would on a typical day in the States. It’s not a huge surprise that we both lost weight on that trip. It was very unintentional. So, it gives something to ponder: maybe it’s not the type of food you eat, but the amount. And maybe we I know that’s a shocker and I might win the Nobel Prize for that epiphany. All kidding aside, there are some indisputable facts with health and wellness, we just have to make the right efforts and with the right goals in mind. Lest I forget, I’ll leave you with a snapshot of Marissa and I from the special day. Thanks as always for your continued support of RevFit!


Can You Embrace The Plateau?

I remain, and may always be, a painfully impatient person. I remember years ago my mother saying the words “Patience is a virtue” in efforts of hoping I would learn and act on that lesson. Maybe it was from being an only child that when I wanted something, I wanted it right then and if it wasn’t given to me, I would make every attempt to provide it to myself.

I’ll be turning 39 next month and I can’t honestly say I’ve changed a great deal from those formative years. I am still an only child. I am still very impatient and, yes, if I want something it’s very difficult for me to break that train of thought until I get it.

Funny that I work in an industry, embracing a career that not only runs counter to my impatience but thrives and succeeds in spite of it. Virtually nothing worth having, achieving or accomplishing occurs in fitness (or nutrition) quickly. Competitive powerlifters who regularly lift astonishing amounts of weight even have to deal with this. Sure, they may have a genetic predisposition towards being naturally strong. In many cases, what they’re able to lift as beginners can trump what most of us could accomplish in a lifetime. Yet, even these elite level athletes are fully aware that what they need to achieve to compete takes time. Sometimes, the victory comes from a very small (1-2lbs) increment.

So, this not only affects those who train for strength but those who are tackling weight loss (or weight gain) goals. One of the single most frustrating things in fitness, barring injury, is a plateau. The constant training in efforts to lose weight, the constant adherence to a diet plan without falling prey to a dessert menu, only to find out that you haven’t seen results at the frequency that you like.

It stands to reason this is not only natural but necessary. As your body is constantly being pushed and pulled in directions it has yet to balance out. I’ve seen clients lose fantastic amounts of weight with hardly any resistance. Others, who micromanage every movement of exercise and every measured morsel of food only to see a shift of ounces on the scale (not to mention when the weight goes up!!)

I say this conservatively when I ask you to embrace your plateau. Focus on what you’re doing and continue to do it well. Maintain proper form, eat healthy because you SHOULD not because you MUST. It’s generally not a life or death choice! Allow your body to respond at it’s pace not where you mentally perceive yourself to be.

At this point, you might be saying “Sure Jason, the longer it takes for me to see my goals, the MORE money you make!” While I can’t argue with the statement, what I’m saying holds true whether you train with me or not. You’ll face these same obstacles with that diet book you were perusing at the bookstore last week or the new bootcamp that started down the street that everyone is raving about. Even if you decide to educate yourself on exercise and food and tackle the journey on your own, your body still has to determine it’s rate of loss.

When the numbers are not aligning in your favor, one of the worst things you can do is go off track. Sometimes you need to be honest with yourself about what those food portions ACTUALLY are instead of what you were eyeballing. And you may have to remind yourself that just because you were out of breath for a few minutes during your workout or you started to sweat, that maybe you only burned 200 calories and not 500. These things matter and as always it’s the consistency of the approach which will determine the outcome!

The Rev6 program I have continued to drop hints on was developed to assist in breaking through some of these plateaus. We are expecting a November 2014 launch date for the program and I am extremely excited to finally unveil it. I will be announcing more as we get closer to the start date.

And lest I forget, by time you are reading this newsletter, I will be one day away from getting married. So, there is a lot going on both personally and professionally right now! As she and I will celebrate this weekend, it is my parting hope that you will spend time with your loved ones as well and cherish your time together!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Does 90 Days Give You?

When you're shooting for a goal or you're looking to make a change in your life, sometimes it's easier (and preferable) to see things in the short-term. No matter how the timeline sounds more appealing: 90 days, 12 weeks, or 3 months; it's all the same thing.

When you consider weight-loss and fitness regimens, many of them will ask that you commit yourself to their program for this amount of time. And why is that? Because in 90 days you can develop new habits, eliminate or drastically reduce old, unhealthy or counter-productive habits and see NOTICEABLE results.

As I tend to focus on, let's consider this from the weight-loss view. Every major (and safe) weight-loss initiative tells you to expect 1-2lbs of weight loss per week.

Does this mean you won't see more than that?
Absolutely not.

It's not uncommon for people to have the occasional spike where they lose 4-5lbs in a week. By the same token, it's also not uncommon to go a week with no change in weight, only to make up the difference a week later. So, if you were a person looking to lose weight over 90 days, the REALISTIC perspective is to consider you might lose as little as 12lbs in 12 weeks or as much as 24lbs in 12 weeks.

I would encourage you to not focus on those numbers but to at least be cognizant of them. Around this time of year, people start to think about their vacations and family holidays. If a potential client were to call me today and say "I need to lose 20lbs by Thanksgiving, is that possible?" My response would be "Yes, it's possible but it might not be realistic". This hypothetical client is looking to lose 20lbs in about 8 weeks. Can it be done? Absolutely, but at what cost?

You see, many things are possible when the desire burns enough. The crucial thing to ask is how many new habits will you dedicate yourself to once you hit your magic weight? Or is the goal itself the only thing of importance, thereby allowing yourself to gain the weight back after you hit your magic number.

This is why the proper attitude in health and wellness continues to be: lifestyle change.

But as we consider weight-loss potentials over a 90-day period, we also have to keep in mind this is based on consistency. All too often, an individual aims for a goal and bad patterns still rear their ugly head back into the equation. If you want to truly accomplish what your body has the potential to, you have to COMMIT to the program for 90 days.

That means, adhere to the exercise plan, adhere to the food plan, AND expect things to be involved in your life which can (and will) attempt to derail you.

Keeping things in line with this timeline, it was one other reason why our soon-to-be released Rev6 program was set up on a 90-day timeline. Make sure you stay tuned for more details on this!

And no matter where your fitness program leads you, remember that by and large 90 days is the minimum amount of time to see major results if you stick with the plan.

We can help!

A Tale Of Two "Losers"

A couple of years ago, I would routinely document the journey of a client's weight loss here at RevFit. It was a way to remind readers of the realities (sometimes positive, sometimes not) of trying to lose weight. I always enjoyed reminiscing over how vastly different each person could be. Even now, as the pounds keep coming off and the word continues to spread about what we're doing here, I think it's amazing how very unique each person can be.

So as a way of ushering back in the real-life stories of clients here, I thought I would take a slightly different approach to a couple of guys who recently saw weight loss success here. Rather than tell the full story simply from my point of view, I set this up as an interview. Each client had the opportunity to answer the same questions and neither has seen the responses of the other (although they are aware each was put to the task!)

Before we get into the responses, allow me to give a short back story for each. Mark (a RevFit client for over 3 years), decided a few months ago to crack down on his goals. As he began to lose weight, he caught the attention of Jason (a RevFit client since January 2014) who got encouraged by Mark's initiative and engaged in some competitive weight-loss together. As a reference point, Mark's answers were given before his son's wedding (which was Sept. 6) and Jason's family has been in the midst of both selling their current home and buying a new one. In addition, Jason will reference my upcoming wedding as well!

What you'll read below are some insights from each (Mark first, Jason second) about how this all came to pass:

First, can you give our readers a little background on yourself (age, pertinent health history, what led you to RevFit initially) 

MARK: I am 64 years old, with a history of stroke and hypertension, and I was introduced to RevFit by my wife, Debbie. She was preparing for a long stay in LA and she dedicated herself accordingly.

JASON: Let’s see...I’m 39 years old. Prior to starting at Revolution Fitness, I was overweight, had High Blood Pressure, and borderline High Cholesterol. I was fairly healthy outside of that, meaning I rarely got sick. Up until two years ago, my lifestyle was always on the go, working 60+ hour weeks and traveling more than I would have chosen. With the travel came lots of restaurants and eating on the road, usually paired with a fair amount of drinking. When I was actually home, I spent my remaining time trying to be with my family. But I got to the point where I couldn't rationalize that lifestyle anymore. I was missing the things that mattered, and I wasn’t interested in doing that any longer. I left that job, and worked better balance into my life. I slowed down a little, rebuilt a relationship with my family, started working out, and started eating better. My stress level is at a long time low. And my life is both different and better now.

Recently, you decided to get more aggressive with your weight loss. What instigated that decision? 

MARK: There was a combination of things going on personally, sort of a perfect storm of issues, and I allowed it to be an excuse to resume bad eating habits and less than attentive exercise goals. Primarily, however, is my son’s wedding next month. I thought it important to improve my overall health for that event. Also important in this recent change is the recognition that I want to be well for as long as possible. There are no retirement plans on the horizon so being fit and active will clearly be a big part of my continued career.

JASON: I have a fairly competitive spirit. So I set a goal for myself to see if I could hit my target weight by Jason’s wedding. And jokingly, I have to beat Mark. But that is just a fun side incentive. The primary reason is that there is a concrete date, and concrete weight I want to hit. It isn’t just an ongoing effort with no end in sight.

What do you think has helped you this time around in keeping you committed to your goals? 

MARK: I was tired of nagging injuries and discomfort. Old sports related injuries teaming up with newly diagnosed injuries made for uncomfortable days and nights. Most importantly, I wanted to do this for my son and my wife so they can benefit from my improved health. But I cannot ignore the, let’s say “encouragement”, from Jason and other visitors to RevFit.

JASON: To be fair, I haven’t been great for the last week or so because of all the work and house stuff. Just haven't been home to eat, or couldn’t mess up the house for showings. With that being said, things are slowing down a little, and now I’m back at it. I’d probably let it slide longer, but I’m going down swinging to hit my goal by the wedding. Of course if I can beat Mark in the process, well that’s just all the better!

A lot of people may believe it's too late for them to start a weight-loss regimen or a strength-training program because of their age or medical history. What advice would you give someone who might have doubts or be on the fence about a lifestyle change? 

MARK: Back in the day there was an adage that summed things up: “if it feels good, do it!” Nike corrupted that with “just do it!” but the idea remains the same. There are no pills or overnight solutions to years of improper food intake combined with lack of activity. By expending more calories than one takes in, being mindful of the form of the calorie intake and learning not to be too disappointed too soon are some of the things I’ve learned to keep in mind. How will you know if you don’t try?
JASON: My life has truly changed over the past few years. I’ve started putting family before career and experiences over things. I’ve started taking care of myself, and the combination of it all has put me in a place where I feel really good. As A result, I'm truly enjoying the time I spend with my family. How can you argue with that?

It bears stating that Jason lost 27lbs in approximately 4 months. Mark lost 22lbs in 2 months. Whoever said it's never too late was right!

We're here to help!

The Answer's In Your Gut

I wanted to veer slightly from the path of motivational newsletters this go-round and take a more educational and informative route. Part of what inspired this particular newsletter is a conversation I was just having with a former client of mine. She keeps teasing me about coming back to train here but we’ll see (wink wink nudge nudge).

She was recently turned onto probiotics by a friend and was remarking how much better she was feeling by taking them. So, I thought I would keep this newsletter a bit shorter and give some insight into why she might be right.

It’s probably of little surprise to anyone that we have millions (billions, zillions) of bacteria floating in our body. When we get sick, many people go to the doctor to be prescribed an antibiotic with the aim of killing off the harmful bacteria that’s making us ill. However, antibiotics also kill the beneficial bacteria in our bodies too. Before you get concerned, you don’t lose all the beneficial bacteria but the good ones definitely take a hit!

When you consider the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, these are our friends assisting with digestion and food absorption, body composition and metabolism. Sounds like something to have an abundance of, right?


Which is why my former client may be feeling better.

Now, you can find probiotics in fermented foods (kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, cheese, etc.) and you can find it in supplements. I personally like to get them from both foods and supplements. Rather than sway you to a certain brand, I’ll suggest you find something with a high strand count (at least 3 billion) and something that has to stay refrigerated (so you can have more live and active cultures).

However, probiotics in and of themselves aren’t the only solution. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping your fiber and water intake high. These three will continue to move food through you as it was intended to do, maximize nutrient absorption, and yes, you’ll probably even drop some pounds as well. As always, consistency is key!

Lastly, remember that highly processed meats, excess stress, alcohol, certain medications (check side effects), and processed foods and preservatives can negatively impact your digestive system. If you can’t eliminate, do what you can to minimize those effects. No sense taking steps towards cleaning up a diet without ACTUALLY cleaning it up!

We can help you sort through the dietary madness!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weight Loss Lessons From My 6-Year Old

As the proud father of an amazing little boy, I got to thinking about what life has been like with him and most importantly, FOR him since he was born. Before we delve too far, allow me to get a bit personal.

My son Jackson (Jax for short) was born in Charleston, South Carolina in January of 2008. Roughly 5 weeks after he was born, his mother and I split up. While we were both immensely happy to be parents, we were no longer compatible as a couple. Fortunately, we made a pact very early on that we would do everything in our power to see that Jax saw little of the ill effects of our divorce. Being devoted in our love for him has made that a reality as I can promise you Jax never hurts for love, support, or attention! And there is still a happy ending on all accounts, as his mother has remarried a very nice gentleman herself and I'm very blessed to say I will be remarrying an incredible woman in a couple of months!

However, a little over 3 years ago, after many attempts to understand why Jax wasn't communicating at the same level as other children his age, he was diagnosed with autism. By all accounts, he is an energetic, immensely happy and bright boy. But should you attempt to engage in conversation with him, you'll quickly see his challenges. While he is able to say some words, many of them aren't as clear as one might hope or expect and he rarely ever speaks or responds in sentences. As his mother and I have found out along the way, sometimes one step forward in progress with communication can cause one to two steps back in other areas of his life. As I am prone to say, raising a typical child has a certain set of challenges; raising a child with autism just has a different set of challenges!

So what does autism or being a 6 year old have anything to do with your ability to lose weight? Maybe more than you think...

Small Victories Rule 
As parents, we have learned to accept small victories with Jax and not be in expectation of leaps and bounds in progress. If the leaps of progress occur, we're all elated but we have to focus on his ability to tackle challenges at his pace. Weight loss is no different. While many people (especially at the beginning of their weight loss journey) can see big drops in weight, those drops won't stay at that rate. The body has to adjust which can be terribly frustrating. Consistency and patience trump nearly everything when it comes to steady and sustainable weight loss. 

Get Lost In Yourself
One of the things we've learned as we have watched Jackson grow up is, he tends to be in his own little world. In many ways, it makes being around him very easy. He doesn't need the external approval of people around him to be happy. He's perfectly self-sufficient and can literally entertain himself for significant lengths of time. While this can lead to some interesting social situations, he thrives when he can accomplish what he wants to by himself. If you consider what has to be done for you to lose weight, it is truly all about you. While it may take a support system to get you started or keep you going, you have to be willing to be selfish to make time to care for yourself and your health. No one is going to eat the food (proper selections and portions) for you or lift the weights to elicit the right response. Everything that needs to be done, will be done by you and you alone. So, take solace in getting "lost in yourself" to hit your goals.

Be Unstoppable 
Jax is going through a phase right now where the word "No" is very funny to him. To be specific, if I ask him if he wants something or if there is something he wants to do, usually his first reply is "No" even if, in reality, it's actually "Yes". In addition, hearing the word "No" from his mother or myself turns into a bit of a game. I personally think this has less to do with autism and more to do with being a 6-year old who basically gets whatever he wants! Jax needs the world to conform to HIS wants and needs. The humorous thing is, he's just so damn happy about everything. Hardly anything gets him down. He has discovered that the word "No" is not only empowering but it helps him keep control over a situation. How does this pertain to weight loss? Remove the barriers that constantly try to get in your way. Try to develop a lighter approach and perspective to your obstacles. Let's take weighing in on the scale as an example. Many people make positive changes in their diet and activity levels and then completely derail when the scale doesn't give them the answer they're expecting. Take the number on the scale and let it motivate you to stay consistent, tighten up the deviations to your plan, and give the little bit of 'extra' you might need to see the number on the scale change in your favor for the next weigh-in. Don't let the slight detours in life throw you off the reservation. As my happy little guy would illustrate, "be unstoppable" when it comes to pushing through and getting the results you want. Then again, if you're saying Yes to too many things that are getting you off course, Jackson would be happy to give you a lesson in No!

Being Uniquely You Will Be Your Greatest Asset 
Since Jackson was diagnosed with autism, I've been able to experience what life is like for other children on the autism spectrum. Believe me when I say, they are all completely different! Some have better verbal skills and others are more introverted. Some are hypersensitive to loud sounds, others are hypersensitive to bright colors. Taking small lessons from the parents about their experiences and best practices can be a nice guideline but what works for them/their children may not work for Jackson. Consider this when you look at physiques on the cover of magazines, contestants in weight loss shows, or the diet your neighbor has seen such great results with. We are not cut from the same cloth and we haven't grown up with the same life experiences, challenges, or perceptions. Make every effort to find out how you and you alone can thrive with your health, wellness, and fitness goals. I can assure you, it will likely be very different from what works for those around you. Start a journal of what you like and how your body responds to different stimuli. Stop searching and waiting for the panacea that supposedly works for other people. Focus ONLY on what works for you. Once you've determined how your body best performs, you will finally make sustainable strides in progress.

It's Not What You Do, It's How You Do It.
One thing that Jackson's mother and I found out early on is that he behaves very differently around each of us. Since the majority of his time is spent with her and her family, she generally sees greater changes at a faster rate than I do. In fact, she could see Jax exhibit a certain behavior weeks before he demonstrates the same behavior for me. As a result, we have learned to appreciate that we handle our parenting roles in different ways with him. So, we have to be candid with each other about what things we have done to help Jackson continue to see progress in his life. If a best practice worked for her, it may or may not work for me and that open line of communication has been pivotal for us. With weight loss, let's say you believe that running will help you lose weight faster. In many cases, you could be right. Running, in and of itself, is a great calorie burner. However, not everyone was intended to run long distances. Maybe they carry too much weight on their frame or they're rehabbing an injury. So, you have to get creative. Maybe you need to focus on sprint work (higher intensity, shorter distances) or hill work (slower speed, higher hills/inclines/resistance). It could be that running just doesn't work at all at this stage of your journey and you just have to make sure you walk for a certain amount of time each day. Each one of these activities engages your lower body to perform, but you have to listen to the signals in your body to determine which road to travel (pun intended). Respect the deviations to the plan as long as they help you reach your goal in the safest possible manner.

So, that about wraps it up! Nothing about weight loss and keeping the weight off was intended to be easy. It will always be hard work and there will be countless frustrations along the way. Allow that motivation to push you further along, not bury you. Remember that we are all confronted with life-changing challenges on a daily basis. You're no different in that regard, neither am I, and certainly Jackson is no exception!

We're here to help you be the best YOU that's possible!

Can You Be Fooled?

At least a handful of times each week, I'll field a variety of questions from concerned clients. There's a new trend, fad, or phobia gaining momentum through the media. Perhaps a new product has hit the shelves or a new headline has caught someone's attention via their favorite blog or news source. 
I'd be lying if I said I didn't from time to time get caught up in some of the hoopla myself. Every now and then, what a client mentions may even be news to me, so I have to go and investigate a bit to get more clarification on a topic. 

But where do you turn for a trustworthy response? 

A cursory Google search can lead to more confusion and frustration. Not to mention, if you ever want to really entertain yourself go to Google and type in "dangers of (said topic)" and see what comes up. There will almost always be some detractor who is happy to instill the fear of anything into your consciousness if you allow them. 

Out of morbid curiosity, this morning I delved into: 

Dangers of chocolate milk
Dangers of mangoes
Dangers of walking

And my favorite:
Dangers of breathing

It appears there is an inherent problem with, well, everything! 

Keep in mind, I really tried to go for the mundane with my searches. So, imagine what happens when you start searching for really hot topics such as: 

GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
Dr. Oz
Santa Claus

Ok, the last one was a joke. Everyone knows Santa Claus is real and he is of no danger whatsoever. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention!

For the same reason that you may likely surround yourself with people like financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, general health practitioners or even your friendly personal trainer, go to the people you feel you can trust. Don't be afraid to have your initial views and opinions on a given topic challenged. As I've been prone to say in previous newsletters, be flexible with your philosophy. While double-blind peer reviewed scientific studies can be a nice guideline, they rarely account for the exceptions to the rule who defy those results. 

If you're looking for people, concepts or ideas to simply agree with you, those opinions can be found. Just remember that the contrarian lurks behind every corner waiting to throw you off and make you think something better, faster or more effective is out there (you just haven't experienced it yet). 

Hence, there is a reason why things like raspberry ketones, garcinia cambogia, or green tea extracts haven't solved all of society's weight loss issues. 

If you would like a realistic and honest approach, we're here for you

The Stars Aligned

I know what you might be thinking. I’ll get started/re-started when:

I have more money
I have more time
The kids are back in school
I’ve gotten a few pounds off first
I can work out around other people without feeling embarrassed
I get back from vacation
I survive the eating temptations from that upcoming party

I would like to remind you of something: the stars will never perfectly align for you.

Don’t get me wrong. They may fall into place temporarily, giving you a glimpse of relief. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually get something started.

And then (cue ominous music)…life happens.

You get a bad night’s sleep
The scale doesn’t move at the rate you like
Your bonus check wasn’t as big as you had hoped
The kids get an unexpected snow day
You ate the cake you swore you wouldn’t touch, leading to the chips, and the cheese, etc.

Funny how easily we get derailed, right?

Allow me to take a slight detour with this…

The last few weeks of my workouts have been some of the hardest I’ve ever endured. They will only get harder with time as the cycle I’m on invariably must progress. More often than not, I find myself “almost” talking myself out of them.

Imagine that, a guy who makes his living from fitness who doesn’t relish every moment of lifting a weight?

Fact of the matter is: it’s damn hard.  But I get my head back into it, commit to the work that has to be done, lift the $%&#@ weight and then call it a day.

And really, that’s what I’m asking of you.

The results you want, in whatever manifestation they have, will not be accomplished without you being “in it”.

The exercise (for those of us with some semblance of sanity left) isn’t really the fun part. It’s hard. You might sweat. Your heart rate may elevate.

The food is ridiculously agonizing to dial in and behave with. In many cases, it can be so boring and redundant that it borderlines on painful.

But wherever you are, there is an end to meet.

I don’t fancy myself as the aggressive “Push Harder” type. However, I know there has to be a fire somewhere to not only start you but to keep you honest.

So, if you’re waiting for the stars to align, the heavens to part, angels to sing and a fluttery breeze to blow which signals your call to action…please don’t hold your breath.

There’s work to be done. And we’re here to help you do it. 

This Is Gonna Hurt

Pain is an interesting thing. Line 10 people up side by side and their respective definition of pain will likely be very different. I’ve seen people fight through tremendous pain to overcome adversity. Ask any mother about the pain of childbirth and you’re likely to get a very specific definition as well!

The pain that concerns me most is what happens in the arena of fitness. What shocks me is how many people choose to distinguish between an effective or ineffective workout by how sore they were afterwards. It’s about as misguided as someone who says “I know it’s been a good workout if I sweat a lot!”

So, allow me to clarify a few things:

Post-workout soreness should never be your goal. When you’re literally tearing muscle fibers every time you lift a weight (a good thing), your ability to recover is just as important as the amount of trauma you just created for that muscle. As we age, the ability to recover stands the greatest potential to decrease. I would ask you to concentrate more on giving your reps in the gym your best effort while you’re there. Not trying to obliterate your body to the point where sitting on the toilet becomes the most challenging part of your day!

Don’t get me wrong: I love a tough workout. And from time to time, I want to know that I pushed myself because I feel tender in some muscles the next day or so afterwards. Contrary to some opinion, I don’t secretly rub my hands together in victory when a client tells me that they’re having trouble taking the stairs the day after a good workout!

That being said, “some” soreness is okay. It can mean that muscles have been utilized and stimulated in ways they haven’t been in some time. This will generally lead to (wait for it)….progress!!!

Typically, when a new client starts here, we start conservatively. There may be some areas of the workout that are more strenuous than others, but for at least the first few weeks (depending on how the body reacts) soreness is rarely an issue.

With time, we can assess how the body is reacting to a given stimulus and raise weights and intensity accordingly. Fact of the matter is, many people just don’t MOVE well. So, the initial workouts are lessons in mechanics just to get the body functioning appropriately. For some, that can mean very fundamental movements with low or no weight.

In addition, there is a mental aspect to consider as well. There are some clients who fear going up in weight with a given exercise. They equate it to immediate injury and/or a bulking effect. 9 times out of 10, they’re wrong on both accounts.

Unfortunately, there is a belief based on current fitness trends that pain is the answer to your fitness woes. If you push harder, you’ll achieve more. If you fight through it, it makes you stronger. You know the adage: what doesn’t kill you…?

My challenge to all of you pain junkies is this: focus on cleaner movement, focus on progressive training, focus on responsible eating for your goals.

Just try to remember: post workout pain rarely equates to the quality of a workout. Any bozo can make someone sore: simply add more weight, time, or reps to an otherwise unconditioned body and soreness will soon follow. The people who reap the most benefits are the ones who can make steady, long-term progress with as few injuries as possible. 

Still Failing At Change?

Currently, I would say 70% of our clients are here for weight loss. The other 30% are at maintenance weight and want to stay there or need to gain weight. No matter what the goal is: change has to happen.

Typically, a significant amount of the wisdom that can be offered happens during the initial consultation. That's when a client has the opportunity to talk about what's happening with their body currently and/or what's led to the current condition.

Depending on the individual, this is also the time when people are the most open-minded and accepting of the changes that need to take place. The interesting thing is, what we as trainers believe will lead to the goals and what the client believes does not always coincide.

Since every client is different, the path to success is not always crystal clear. Take any list of proposed avenues and one can find that Plan A doesn't work so well. That's where Plans B and C may need to be introduced. What helps at this point is the flexibility and patience to understand there is rarely a textbook protocol.

In my position, I always WANT rapid results for a client. Reason being, the sooner a client reaches their goals the better I look as their trainer. It's a win-win situation. Unfortunately, rapid is not often realistic.

So, we (as both trainer and client) have to look at what changes need to take place to get to the goal. In many cases, I can usually give a client at least 5 habits that need to change to get them going in the right direction. The assumption and hope is the sooner those changes can be adopted, the sooner the goal can be reached. Sounds simple right? Not really.

By time a potential client comes through my door, there is already some level of mentality that things have to change. Take a certain Type A personality, and that individual may be ready and willing to move mountains to get that change.

But we are all creatures of habits in varying degrees. And wherever we are, we didn't get there by accident.

So let's consider what a list of changes I offer might look like for a weight loss client:

-Drink more water
-Eliminate night-time snacking
-Consume more protein
-Eat out less at restaurants
-Consume more fiber

In and of themselves, no single item seems all that difficult. In fact, for most people they see a list like this and say: "Well, I could start this all tomorrow." However, this might be the worst mistake one could make.

My proposal is to not see how quickly you can conquer all of these changes. Find the one that serves as the path to least resistance and commit to it. Give it some time (which can mean days or weeks) to become habitual. Once you can perform the task without much effort, it's time to tackle the next item that also seems easy to implement. A list of 5 changes could EASILY take 5 months to become part of your every day life. Granted, it's not that I want it to take that long I just know that human nature is what it is.

Recently, a new client started here with a very small amount of weight to lose (less than 10lbs). Because the media can sensationalize what we do with our health, this client had been eating a low-fat diet for the better part of 20 years. Now, if you were to see this client, you might wonder (as I did) where she intended to lose the weight she was aiming for. Truth be told, if you had been accustomed to a particular weight and frame for most of your life, minor variations can make a big difference.

At any rate, I gave this client 3 changes to focus on: higher water intake, fewer daily calories, and more frequent activity. Seems fairly simple. The problem came when she tried to tackle all 3 at one time. The activity part was easy, she had already committed to a certain amount of sessions with me per month. The water intake spiked up for a few days initially as well. When she tried to reduce her calories, the problems compounded. She wasn't expecting to be as hungry as she was with the reduction. Next thing you know, the water intake started dropping and so did morale.

Fortunately, we had our chat about conquering one change at a time and I reminded her to focus on the easiest change first. Allow it to become the norm. It never matters to me which change happens first, as long as it's the easiest one to implement.

Many people know the right answers. Sometimes they need someone like a personal trainer to help with accountability or a fresh perspective.

If you find you're still failing at change, feel free to contact us. We can help!