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Jun 8, 2011

May 26, 2011

FREE Stuff and a Rant


Let the games begin... if you're easily offended, then read on because that's the way uh-huh, uh-huh I like it.  At the end, you'll see a link to a "Travel Workouts" program I put together for you because 1) I'm basically kinda awesome,  and 2) alot of people might be going out of town next week with Memorial Day approaching, so I wanted to offer you a chance to stay lean with quick, yet effective workouts.  The price of the program is 1 virtual fist pump.  Yes, 1 virtual fist pump.  You can email a picture of your fist pump, or I can just take your word for it that you gave me one on your computer screen.

Quick Note: If you are in the metro-Atlanta, GA area and you want to participate in an awesome 5K race, then check out www.miles4major.com.  You can run/walk it, too.  It's June 11th.  And just for participating or contributing to this great cause, I'll hook you up with this:
 
Just shoot an email to info@reflectionsfitness.com once your register or contribute and I'll send this your way.

Now for the "good stuff"...

Early Summer Rant


1) It was IDIOT day at the gym, and here were the winners (it was a tie)... the dude taking up the Squat Rack during a "rush hour" for bicep curls using only the bar and the dude wearing those "5-Finger" shoes and supersetting the leg extensions and leg curls for about an hour.  Yeah, he gets it... totally.

2) "Just can't seem to shake off any of this weight" some person said.  And on facebook you see something like, "_______ checked in at the Grease Pit Cafe" at least 3-4 times a week.  It happens TOO. MANY. TIMES.

3) The whiners about Oprah being over.  I think it's kinda crazy that some people think she can empower a blank post-it note. 

4) The freaks come out at night you say?... you haven't come with to a Walmart during the day my friend.

5) I am totally burned out on cheesy Chick Flicks.  Never again will I tell my wife my Netflix password. 

6) Hey, if you're checking your phone for text messages or facebook between every forsaken set, then your intensity is ridiculously and stupidly low.  Go watch Opera.  Wuss.

7) Hey, do guys let the weight stack slam down because they are idiots or because they're idiots?  

8) Oh yeah, by the way, when you walk around like your chest is full of air and you look like you can't seem to breathe it out while you're wearing your little sister's shirt, you look like an idiot.  You're not even close to cool. You're so far from cool, that I'm going to make my point by blogging about it.

Ahhhh, I feel better now. 

To your fitness success, and have a great Memorial Day!
- Mikey

To access your  program, simply click on the image  below:












  





May 19, 2011

What Inspires You? An Inteview with a FB Friend Part 2

This is part 2 of my interview with my friend Margaret.  If you missed part 1, you won't want to miss out on it.  You can read it here.  She has an amazing story and her journey still continues today.

A good caption for this would be, "daaaaaaang"




















Mike: You have named your training "Purely Natural Fitness".  What helped you come up with that name because I like it.

Margaret: I am glad you like it!  (-:  When I was thinking of a name, I wanted it to reflect my philosophy on fitness.  I want to promote natural eating, as well as natural fitness.  I do not like machines.  I don’t like things that limit movement and where you have to sit down to do it.  I try to use exercises that a person might need to function throughout the day.  One example is body squats.  Our bodies are meant to squat.   It’s a purely natural exercise.   It is an exercise that can be used in a person’s life.  You should be squatting to pick up stuff.  You do ½ squats when getting in and out of the car.  I not only want to help people lose weight but I want to help them live their lives much easier by being able to move more freely without much strain on the body.

Mike: What keeps you motivated to set new goals now?  

 Margaret: My past goals motivate me.  Looking back at what I accomplished pushes me to set new goals.  My goals keep me pushing forward.  Without my goals, I have no reason to exercise.  I know it is for good healthy and everything BUT sometimes we need more than that to keep us motivated.  Good health is a life goal but we need some short term personal goals to focus on.  Being healthy is number one for me so I need to do what I need to do to keep myself on track.  

Mike: Any favorite exercises? 

Margaret:  Weighted pullups!!!!!! Oh you know it!! They are quick, hard core and make me feel like a freakin' POWERHOUSE. Doing pullups beyond your bodyweight is an amazing feeling.  Nothing like strapping on 40 extra lbs and banging out 3 reps.  It just makes you want to RAWWWWRRR!

Handstand pushups are fun, too.  I like bodyweight exercises because it's so cool to be able to use your body to gain strength.  I do like that some of them you can move beyond bodyweight.  Once I get better with handstand pushups, I plan to buy a weighted vest and start doing them weighted.
Oh cool, it's G.I. Jane
   
I know people might ask, why weighted pullups?  I like to do exercises that are not “normal” for women.  I like to push beyond what people think of what women can do.  I have nothing against weights but it seems that is only what women do when they do strength training.  They tend to look at the pullup bar and think “yeah right” and go pick up some light weight dumbbells.  

Mike: Bottom line, take us from point A (when you first started) to point B (where you are now).  In other words, what would you say are your biggest transformation changes since starting on this journey?

Margaret: With this question, I am not going to point out the obvious which is strength and body.  Ok, I guess I did point that out…hahaha!  Anyways, for me, the major transformation came from within me.  I am doing things I NEVER thought possible.  I am pushing through some mental blocks I carried with me for years.  I am finally living my dreams.  I am becoming a more confident person.  I am becoming a MUCH happier me.   The HUGE transformation is I no longer have a self-esteem that someone would have to dig deep to find.  I no longer let people control how I feel and decide what I do or don’t do.  I don’t let judgmental views stand in my way of becoming stronger and achieving my dreams.  I am pushing through the thought of the fear of failing.  For the first time in my life I have a list of personal goals I want to achieve.  Its right here posted where I can see it daily.  My physical transformation is only a fraction compared to the change that took place within me.  I just wanted to be happy.  At point A, my goal was JUST to be happy.  That is all I asked for.  Now at point B, I have gotten so much more than that.  I am sooo much more than JUST happy.  I am ALIVE and LIVING a wonderful, beautiful, amazing life!

Again, you can follow Margaret and her journey at the following:

http://thenaturalpowerhouse.blogspot.com/

My bottom line?  If Margaret can do it, so can you.

To your success,
Mikey

May 16, 2011

What Inspires You? An Interview with a FB Friend

Recently, I have gotten to know a facebook friend named Margaret.  I knew she had made a transformation, but after interviewing her, I didn't realize the huge changes she went through.  It is really quite amazing!  I hope you find part one of this interview inspiring and invigorating.  Enjoy! 

Mike:   I've noticed you have made quite a transformation, especially with your strength.  Tell me a little bit about what got you started. Why did you want to make such a change? 

 Margaret: My fitness journey started after gaining 35lbs and having to go to a size 16 pants (size I have NEVER been in!!).  After my 2nd son was born in 2004, I decided it was time to do something.  I did some running and Pilates, on and off.  Lost some weight but nothing I would consider “transforming”.   I kept stopping and starting exercising.  I spent the next few years trying to figure out what I enjoyed doing and what my body loved.  It was actually quite frustrating, really.  I almost gave up.  Yes, I was almost to the point of just accepting the “fat” me and the “unhappy” me.  I was just going to accept it all.  I was ready to give up.  Well, that all changed when I went to visit my dad in the hospital after he had open heart surgery.  He was over 350lbs and only 62 yrs old to the time.  It was so hard seeing my daddy in that condition.  He was always the strong one in the family BUT he looked so weak.  I left the room in tears.  He struggled really badly in recovering.  I remember him telling my husband when he found out he had to have open heart surgery “Take care of yourself.  I ignored the problem and here I am.  Take care of yourself before it’s too late”.


My Dad was my inspiration to not give up.  I knew after seeing him in the hospital that I couldn’t give up.   So I kept searching for something to really click with me.  I decided to give a DVD workout program one last shot.  I had a whole collection of DVD workouts that just didn’t work for me.  I had a friend that got great results from the P90X program.  I was VERY skeptical but thought “one last time”.  Within a month I dropped two sizes and I didn’t really follow the program exactly.  I  FINALLY found what works for me, STRENGTH TRAINING!!!!!!  Not only did it work for me BUT its something I came to LOVE doing!  I finally found a workout that I didn’t dread doing.

Why did I want to make the change?  I wanted to be happy with what I saw in the mirror every day.  I wanted to look like Jillian on the Biggest Loser.  I wanted to be happy with myself.  I thought if I was happy with myself physically, I would be happy with ME.  Well, I’ve learned that it doesn’t work that way.  Being happy with yourself is a whole different area.  Fitness and losing weight gave me the confidence to work on those internal issues I have with myself but it wasn’t a cure.  Even to this day I still have my internal struggles of self-worth and confidence but I am a million times better than I was before losing weight.  I am on the road of truly being 100% happy with the person that defines ME.

Now I am going to talk about the “why” with strength.  Push for strength really didn’t come into the picture until after a year of maintaining what I lost after starting the P90X.  I reached my size and weight goal so why push for anything else, right??  To make a long story short, I met a friend through some of my youtube videos.  He totally put the bug in me to get stronger.  At the time, I knew very little about women being strong.  He sent me videos and such, telling me if I wanted to I could get stronger I could do be.   It opened a whole new world for me.  It’s funny because he said he would give me $5.00 for every pullup I could once I reached 10 pullups in a row.  At the time I could only do like 2 pullups (this was just 2 yrs ago!) but he said I could easily get myself to 10 pullups.  I totally thought he was crazy.  Me do 10 pullups?? Yeah, whatever buddy!!   Well, I ended up making over $50.00 on that bet!  Now it’s an addiction for me because I love how getting stronger makes me feel.  I have set new goals for myself and I realized that I will always continue to do so…..no more “maintaining” for this woman!!!!!

Mike: The other day, I saw you post a video of doing 1-arm push-ups.  First of all... WOW.  Second of all, WOW.  I know I said it twice because that's how I roll.  But seriously, do you remember how many regular push-ups you were able to do when you first started?

Margaret: I like how you roll Mikey! (-:  Oh gosh, how many regular push-ups I could do when I first started??  Well, I started off with modified (NO they are NOT girlie!! Hahaha) pushups.  When I moved into regular pushups, I could only do a few.   At the time, I didn’t even think I knew there was such a thing as a one arm pushup.  I think I saw Jillian do a few when I watched the Biggest Loser after being able to do about 10 regular ones and thought “wow” BUT it never was a goal of mine.  One day I just did like one or two but it was tough and sloppy.  I think someone asked me if I could do any so I think that’s why I tried them.

Mike: From your blog and posts, it looks like you eat whole, natural foods. Do you think this has made an impact on your strength gains (or should I say freakish strength gains)?

Margaret: Yeah, I’ve been told I’m a freak of nature…hahaha!  I do give my eating HUGE credit.  Its not just whole, natural foods but its beyond that.  Example is the eggs I eat.  I eat organic eggs BUT I buy them from a local organic farmer who let their chicken roam to eat grass, bugs and they are fed a special mineral diet.  I also listen to my body and give it what it needs to function.  I know what I function well on.
It is not just in the food either.  I feel I train smart as well.  If my body needs a break, I give it.  I hear about people that don’t take rest days.  I know people that train every single day.  I can’t do either of them.  I might train 2 days in a row but I feel if I listen well to my body and give it a break when its begging me for one, my strength increases.  Training is great but its that rest time that works wonders for strength gains.  When I come off a rest day (or two..haha!), I feel much stronger.

So basically it’s a combination of my natural diet, training smart, and listening to my body.  I honestly think people would be shocked that I can gain so much strength without following a set “schedule”.  I know people that will do things on certain days of the week.  I have strength training day “routines” (3-4) but what I do on what day depends on my mood and body.

And that's just part 1.    Part 2 to come... I was really excited about Margaret agreeing to do an interview because I find it inspiring and I hope you do, too.

To follow Margaret on her journey, check out her blog at:
http://thenaturalpowerhouse.blogspot.com/

Be on the lookout for part 2!

To your success,
Mikey, CFT, CFNC

May 5, 2011

Training Women for Fat Loss

"I don't want to get big and bulky".  <----- That statement is usually the first thing I hear from a woman that wants to lose fat but is afraid of weight training.  Even guys come up to me at the gym and ask me how I train women differently than men.  I'll be honest with you... my philosophy is just not that different.  Train with intensity, and yes, that means HEAVY.  Also, don't do stupid stuff.

This includes stupid stuff

However, most guys tend to have a "chest day", which of course, I'm not going to have a mom of 2 kids do a billion chest exercises.  Then again, NONE of my male clients won't do that either. As most of you know, I don't do "body-part" days.

What are a couple of differences you may ask?  Well, for one, I typically have my female clients do more reverse lunges than forward lunges (since most women want to firm up their butts... this hits the glutes a little harder and less on the quads).  And if they are dead-set in thinking they will bulk up, I ease their psychology by implementing more bodyweight moves (push-ups, inverted rows, etc., etc.).   It makes them feel all gooey and fuzzy inside.  I had one client last week say, "Mike... when you have me do Spiderman Push-ups, I feel like it was me that was supposed to be in the Royal Wedding.  I feel that beautiful.  Can we do another set?".

Mikey <----- this guy just lied.




So ladies?  If you want to avoid bulking up, then don't do this:

  • Work out 6 days a week with each day devoted to one single body part... why ANYONE wants to spend 2 hours on their calves is beyond me
  • Eat like the old Mikey (humongous surplus of calories)
 And if you find yourself one of the few women who claim they can bulk up quite easily, then reduce the volume of your program, but still weight train.  So if your program calls for 3 sets of squats, then stick with just 1 set.

Another trick is to substitute bodyweight moves.  For example, instead of pulldowns, you can do bodyweight inverted rows.

Trust me, you won't bulk up.  I just had a grandmother do chest presses with 30 lb dumbbells this week and she's not bulky.  Last summer, I had a female client blow me away by doing walking lunges with 40 lb dumbbells and it was nothing to her.  By the way, I miss her.  She worked so hard and got freakishly strong and then she got pregnant (because of her husband, not because of the lunges).  And about 2 months ago, I had a client really pleased with her deadlift PR.  She's got that lean, athletic look.  I have a friend on facebook that is doing weighted pull-ups for crying out loud.  She has muscles, but she's not "bulky".  She actually looks awesome.  She has quite a journey.

Oh yeah..., Cynthia, one of the trainers at my gym, can do more pull-ups in her sleep than most guys can after 300 mg of caffeine.  And she is RIPPED.

(Insert plug here) ----------> Oh cool that's what this space is for.

After over a year in the making, I have a 12-week program for both males and females that won't "bulk" you up.  You can check it out by clicking here ------->  New Reflection Training Package



To your transformation success,
Mikey

Apr 26, 2011

Cardio on an Empty Stomach

I ate so much banana pudding on Easter that I'm still full.  Yes, that much.  Ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm clearing up the confusion about "Cardio on an empty stomach" today.  I'm sure you heard the saying, "do cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach so you'll burn more fat".  Well, let's set the record straight...


(Insert dramatic pause here)  But first, let me tell you how excited I am about an upcoming project that I've been working on for over a year.  It will be released hopefully this week, so keep your eyes open for that :)


Alright, now back to the topic.  I first read about this study from Craig Ballantyne. It was a study done in Italy from researchers who had a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition Exercise and Metabolism (21:48-54, 2011).


The Italian researchers wanted to see what would happen when eight healthy young men did the following workouts:

Workout A: 36 minutes of slow cardio at 65% maximum heart rate in the morning without eating
Workout B: 36 minutes of slow cardio at 65% maximum heart rate in the morning AFTER a small meal

The results:

4 hours after exercise, the results found that eating before cardio increased both calorie burning AND fat burning. Yep, eating before the workout increased fat burning in the 24-hours after exercise. The scientists concluded that “fasting before exercise does not enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable.”

What it means for you:
You certainly don't need to do cardio on an empty stomach to "burn more fat".  Another myth debunked.  For those of you that have been following me, you already know how I feel about "cardio" anyway.  If you really want to drop fat, you need to do interval training.  I put up a post about that here.

Keep in mind, you have to do what's right for YOU.  If I have the chance to knock out a workout at 5:30am (which I've been known to do because I have a full plate that day), I'll be honest...  I go to the gym and work out with nothing in me.  Why?  Because I actually perform my workout better.  I've experimented with a little snack and eating nothing.  "Nothing" wins.  I have some clients that have a better workout with an apple and half a protein shake.  I encourage them to "experiment" and really figure what works best for them.  That's what you have to do.  If I work out mid-day, I find that eating a small snack about 90 minutes before my workout is what works for me.  Some people like to eat 15 minutes before.  Everyone is different.  Experiment and see what works for you, but don't do something one way because it's the "magical" way to lose fat.  Sorry, there is no such thing :(

To your fitness success,
Mikey


Apr 13, 2011

Why Do You Hate "Hump" Day?

Happy Hump Day!  First of all, let's get this out of the way.  Why are Wednesdays called, "Hump Day"?  That's kinda weird to me, but whatever.  If you're in a job that you hate so much that you even look forward to the middle of the week to say you're halfway there, then I suggest looking for another job. 


I know, I know.  "Easier said than done", you say.  But the way I look at it is you take one step back to take two steps forward.  Take me for example; I used to work at a big corporate company behind a desk for 8-10 hours a day.  I left that job to go work for my Dad, which was 42 miles away.  I went from an 18 mile commute to a 42 mile commute job, but darn it, I was happy.  I mean, after all, I got to work with my Dad for crying out loud.  For most people that would be horrific, but for me it was great.  He taught me the entrepreneurial spirit and good old-fashioned hard work.  

My passion for fitness was overwhelming and I knew that's what I wanted to do ultimately.  So, at one point, I had 5 jobs as I was trying to get my fitness business up and running.  Yes, 5: 
  1. Worked with my Dad in Jasper, GA
  2. Trained clients in their homes (traveled quite a bit)
  3. Trained clients at the gym I just started at
  4. Delivered coupon books to local businesses 
  5. Wrote the sports section in a local newspaper
It was alot of work, but I realized that it was just temporary until I built up the client base I needed to do fitness full time. I don't regret it at all.  I learned alot about myself and knew that I gave it my best in order to do what I want with my life.

Now, I'm in the fitness industry full time and LOVE it.  The sacrifice of my time and giving of my best effort has paid off.  I would rather do 10 hours of research, training people, doing boot camps, writing programs and blogs to help more people finally get out of their fat loss struggles than work 3 hours a day at a job I absolutely despise.  But that's just me.

The same goes for fat loss.  Sometimes, you simply have to look at what you're willing to give, in order to gain.  So it may mean you have to skip "Happy Hour" with the gang because you know you will end up binging on bar food and caloric drinks.  Instead of eating your favorite beef nachos 4 nights a week, you may have to cut down to 1.  Instead of going out to eat every day for lunch, you may have to bring something with you and work out during your lunch hour so you don't spend time away from your family, yet get your exercise in.  Are you giving your fitness goals the absolute best you can?  Reach further and you might surprise yourself.  For a little inspiration, watch the video below.

To your fitness success,
Mikey


Apr 7, 2011

Simple Fat Loss Nutrition "Rules"

SIMPLE FAT LOSS NUTRITION "RULES"



I've seen it too many times - people training their booty off anywhere from 3-5 times a week, yet their body doesn't change.

Some people blame genetics (which I don't buy into.... thanks to my genetics, I can easily gain weight, but I've managed to lose over 100 lbs and keep it off for 7 years... and sure, genetics can slow down the process, but with consistency, you can still get there).

Some people blame their hormones (hormones can play a role, but it certainly can't stop you)

Some people blame their routine isn't working (in which I can certainly agree with... if you're on a fat loss program and you're doing crunches and tons of cardio - we need to talk).

I would guess most of the time, it's the nutrition that's holding you back.  There are many diets out there that work and make sense, but you have to use one that fits your lifestyle (if you can't manage eating 5-6 times a day, than a plan that requires eating 5-6 times a day won't work... duh).

But if your nutrition doesn't compliment your training efforts, I'll be brutally honest with you. 
That's stupid... and you're wasting your time. 

That's so like...not politically correct!

So here are a few "rules" that you can implement immediately without having to count calories to help you with your goals until you find something that's right for you.  By the way, if you need some ideas, 
I posted a blog about that HERE.

Rule # 1
Get the "bulk" of your carbs from fruits and non-starchy vegetables (especially vegetables)
Why:  Compare 3 cups of raw spinach to 1/4th cup of brown rice.  They are both healthy, however, which one do you think you will get more full off of?  Not only will you feel fuller, but you also slashed your calories in half (roughly).  And 1/4th cup of rice is a joke.  That's like 2 bites for me.

Rule #2
Liquid calories are stupid, so back off of them
Why:  Well, you certainly don't get full off of soda, juice, beer, sugar-saturated energy drinks, etc., etc.  Why would you waste your calories on that?  I would rather save my "cheat meals" for real food... like pizza!  Mmmm, pizza.  Anyway...  3 sodas a day = roughly 450 calories.  And that = ridiculous nonsense.  Instead, opt for good old-fashioned water, unsweetened tea (or green tea), etc.  

Rule #3
Re-vamp your environment
I'll be the first to tell you that if "Funyuns" are in my house, or any other chips for that matter, I'll eat them.  I love chips.  If you sat me down and said, "here's a bag of Doritos and here is a playstation 3... now enjoy", I would reply with, "You are full of awesomeness".  And I would probably eat close to the whole bag.  So, I eliminate it from my house.  If my wife wants chips in the house, I actually have told her to hide them from me.  The same goes for cookies, candy, ice cream, etc., etc.  If it ain't in the house, you ain't gonna eat it. 

Just adopting these few rules until you find the right, sensible diet that fits your lifestyle should help.  And remember, you don't have to give up your favorite foods forever... you can still treat yourself every once in a while and still get results!

And to help you even more - a new fat loss cookbook has been released and can make fat loss nutrition tasty.

Grab your copy here =====>  Fat Loss Cookbook (Over 250 tasty recipes)

To your fitness success,
Mikey, CFT, CFNC

Apr 5, 2011

Beginner Workout

I've seen it many times... beginners coming into the gym, not knowing where to start; looking very intimidated.  Trust me, I know how that feels because I've been there.  Remember, I used to be almost 300 lbs and I had to start somewhere, too.  This post is all about taking away the fear, intimidation and lack of knowledge and setting you up for success.  I'm going to walk you through a beginner workout, step-by-step.  Now you have no excuses :)


Alright, first of all, you GOTTA warm up.  I'd rather you cut your workout short than skip the warm-up.  And forget about hopping on the treadmill or elliptical.  We're going to do a dynamic warm-up, which will get your body better prepared to get through the workout, as well as prevent injury.  By the way, you must speak with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen (legal crap is so boring).  Your warm-up is the following circuit (do the exercises back-to-back with no rest, but resting for 30-60 seconds between circuits).  You'll do the following circuit twice.  And don't worry, I've attached videos for you to watch so you will know how to do it.  If you want a written description, you can click on the link in the video to read it.

Jumping Jacks (15) (sorry, no videos on this YET... but c'mon, you know what jumping jacks are)
Body Squat (10)
Kneeling or Regular Push-ups (5-10)
Waiter's Bow (10)





Alright, now you're warmed up.  Let's go for it!...

Quick note: - If this is the first time you're stepping foot in a gym, I strongly recommend using a very conservative weight, as well as doing only 1 set per exercise.  

Do the following superset (2 exercises back-to-back with no rest, but after doing both exercises, rest for 1 minute and repeat)

1. DB Squat (10 reps)
2. Kneeling Push-up or Regular Push-up (10 reps)
Do the above twice




Next superset (do it in the same fashion as the above superset)

1. Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown (12 reps)
2. Good-Morning (Dumbbell or Barbell) (12 reps)
Do the above twice.




Last superset (let's get the core strength going.... NO CRUNCHES!) - same fashion as above supersets
1. Plank or Modified Plank (20 seconds)
2. Side Plank (10 seconds on each side)

For a great article on the plank, click on this link -----> Plank Description



Now, do some intervals.  Not sure what intervals are?  You can read that post by clicking here
Being a beginner, I suggest you do it like this:
30 seconds "on" (7/10), 60 seconds "off" (3/10) - Do this 4-5 times if this is your first time on interval training.  Again, for reference, click the link above that details my approach to interval training.

There you have it, now you can go into the gym with some confidence.  Bring a workout partner, and finish strong.

To your success,
Mikey

Mar 24, 2011

Accountability

Accountability is sometimes the only "ingredient" missing from hitting your ultimate goal.  The new year crowd had great intentions, but due to a lack of accountability, they "lost their way" by the end of February.  By the way, I like to use quotes in random "places" because it's "fun".  "See"? 


Anyway, that got me thinking... I've been running boot camps for over 3 years.  One thing I've noticed is that when just one person is missing, I hear others ask, "I wonder where she is at?" and things like that.  It's no suprise that when people do miss group settings they have to answer to others.  It's usually a legitimate excuse like being sick, out of town, etc., etc.  But when things are fine and others are expecting you, you have an incentive to simply show up.  One of my web-coaching clients emailed me a link to an app that can be very useful when all you need is accountability.  That also struck an idea to share some accountability ideas that I've done with my clients as well as learned from others being in the fitness biz.

Trick # 1
http://www.getupp.com/
This is an app you can use with your Iphone.  One of my web-coaching clients told me about this one.

Trick # 2
 http://www.stickk.com/
The website speaks for itself...

Trick # 3
Choose a charity.  Choose an amount.  Choose a goal.  Choose a deadline. (For example, The American Red Cross, $50, committing to 3 resistance workouts a week for 10 weeks, which equals 30 resistance training workouts).  Tell anybody and everybody about this.  If you don't hit the goal/deadline, you gotta shell out $50 (or more) to the charity you chose.  Tel help with proof that you're doing the workouts, use a workout log or take a picture of yourself with your phone at the gym.  When money is on the line, it can spark "interest" <---- by the way, AWESOME use of the quote right there.

Trick # 4
Blog about it.  That's right, tell the whole world your plans and your goals.  I've seen numerous people do this and it does work.  Blog your ultimate goal and then tell how you plan on doing it.  If you blog it, you're serious.


Those are just a few tricks to spark your efforts again. But don't make this mistake... you can't draw motivation from other people.  Motivation and the desire has to come within you, and that starts with the "why".  Sure, motivation books and audio sources are great tools to keep you in the game (I even use them), but your biggest source must be within you.   Use the tools around you (friends, family, co-workers, etc., etc.).  There is no shame in that.  Why do you think I ask my wife to hide the Girl Scout Cookies?  :)

To your success,
Mikey

Mar 16, 2011

Recipes and Rants

Alright boys and girls.  This post is in two parts.  Part one is fast, easy recipes that I have collected from other trainers, fitness enthusiasts and my clients/readers.  I'm a simple kind of guy.  I like things that are easy to make.  So I hope you find the recipes useful.  Then, part two is a rant.  It's been a while :)

 RECIPES
"Protein Pudding"
1-2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp of natural almond or peanut butter

Mix the above ingredients with just enough water for a "pudding-like" texture

"5-Minute Hummus" (A friend on facebook shared this one)

Click here for the 5-minute hummus -----> 5-Minute Hummus

 "Protein Yogurt"
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1.5 cups of vanilla greek yogurt
1 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix the above in a bowl and enjoy

"Pizza" (and I call it "pizza" because, no, it's not "Papa John's pizza", but it's a good substitute for when you want to dramatically cut calories).  One of these pizzas will save at least hundreds of calories...

100% whole wheat pita
10-15 turkey pepperoni slices
Tomato sauce to taste (any flavor you like... I like garlic and herb)
Any chopped veggies you like
1/4th cup of low-fat mozzarella cheese

Spread the sauce on the pita.  Top with the rest of the ingredients and bake in the oven at 350-375 for around 15-20 minutes.

"Chicken Parmesan" 
4 oz chicken breast tenderloins (grilled or baked)
1/2 cup tomato sauce (any flavor)
2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and top with sauce and cheese.... "nuke" it for 45 seconds to a minute

Now look, I understand that people have different opinions on nutrition.  I know, I know.  Dairy is the devil and there's gluten in the pita bread that will rape my brain cells in my sleep.  Whatever.  This is better than junk food.  Now onto the rant...

 RANT

Yep, that's right.  It's time for another rant. There's alot of crap going on and it's driving me crazy.  (I can literally hear you whisper in your own head, "oh boy", and you know what?... that's AWESOME).


1.  This new "HCG Diet".  People!  C'mon!  Inject some HCG and eat 500 calories.  That's the "gist".  Are you kidding me??  I usually don't bash diets because I believe everyone is different but I also believe you need to be on a diet that you can stick to.  <---- HA!  "Stick to".  Ohhhh man, I'm like, really awesome at typing stuff like that.  People are smarter than that.  I hope none of my readers are on it.  If so, I'm sorry if I offen.... NO I'M NOT!  C'MON! SERIOUSLY!?  I taught you better than that!  How much was it?  Really??  I could go to Mexico and drink a mystery drink along with a tapeworm and get the same results. 

What's next?  This??...



2. I love it when I'm asked at the gym about ab exercises that work and I explain how AWESOME the plank is, and how a solid strength and conditioning program along with a calorie deficit diet can help shed fat off the abs (I know, yada, yada, yada) and then they proceed to doing crunches and talking to their friend on the phone about how jacked and wasted they are going to get next weekend.  Gym visit FAIL.

3. I talked to an old friend last night on Facebook.  She's lost 15 lbs.  She said, "I exercise, watch my portions (cut calories) and increased my protein.  See?  Quit making it complicated people.


4. Am I the only American that doesn't watch "American Idol" or "The Bachelor"?  If I am, then consider me a great American.

5.  Every time I see Joan Rivers or Justin Bieber, I feel like I die a little bit inside.  That's all.

Mar 11, 2011

3 Keys to Losing Fat and Maintaining Muscle at the Same Time

Before we get into the guest article from Brad Pilon, I wanted to give you a heads up on our next boot camp.  It was originally scheduled to start Monday, 3/28, but with Spring Break coming up, I was asked if I could move it.  The next 4-week boot camp now starts Monday, 4/11.  I hope everyone has a safe, yet fun spring break.  Enjoy yourself!  For more information and to save your spot for the next boot camp, you can click below:

Click here for the next 4-Week Fat Loss Boot Camp

 Now onto the good stuff :) (guest article from Brad Pilon) 

3 Keys to Losing Fat and Maintaining Muscle at The Same Time
By Brad Pilon, MS




There are three main keys to losing fat and gaining muscle. If you’re missing any of these you will most likely fail in your attempts to build a lean muscular body. So what are they?

1) Eat Less Calories than you burn off
2) Resistance Training
3) Eating enough protein to maintain muscle mass

That’s as short and sweet as I can put it.

Any diet can work as long as it gets you to eat less calories than you burn off. The key is to find a diet that suits your personality and your lifestyle. If you’re like me you don’t have time to spend on diet rules and focusing on good foods and bad foods, and what to eat and what not to eat, and meal timing and all of that.
The diet that will work for you will most likely be the one with the least amount of rules, or in fact no rules at all but rather just provide a guideline or two. For me that diet is Eat Stop Eat. It is the simplest nutrition program I have ever come across. There is only one guideline, and that is to take a 24 hour break from eating once or twice per week. That’s it, simple and effective.

This type of eating program might work for you, or it might not. You just have to try it first. As long as you can find a diet you can stick with for the long term you’ll be able to lose weight, the next key it making sure all of that weight comes from fat. This is where resistance training comes in.
You have to do some form of resistance training in order to maintain and build muscle mass while you’re losing fat. If you are following an effective diet without doing resistance training you could end up losing muscle mass along the way. If this happens you could lose body weight without actually improving the look or shape of your body.
Your actual bodyweight doesn’t matter as much as your percentage of fat. If you can lose 5 pounds of fat, but gain 3 pounds of muscle you will only lose 2 pounds of bodyweight on the scale, but you’ll look 8 pounds different. Even though 2 pounds doesn’t sound like much, the difference on your body fat percentage is the key.
This is why weight training is so important while dieting. Weight training is the best way to make sure you don’t lose muscle while you diet, this helps with overall health as well as improving the overall look and shape of your body. After all when you diet the goal is to show off the lean muscle that is under the fat.
The third key to building muscle while losing fat is protein. You have to eat just enough protein to make sure your muscles can grow. This is a controversial topic that many nutrition ‘experts’ still don’t agree on. But the bottom line is protein is your friend when it comes to building muscle and especially when you’re dieting.
Mix these three key ingredients together and you’ll have a potent fat loss and muscle building program that can transform your body in no time.
****
Brad Pilon is a nutrition professional with over eight years experience working in the nutritional supplement industry specializing in clinical research management and new product development. Brad has completed graduate studies in nutritional sciences specializing in the use of short term fasting for weight loss.

His trademarked book Eat Stop Eat has been featured on national television and helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat without sacrificing the foods they love. For more information on Eat Stop Eat, visit www.eatstopeat.com

Mar 8, 2011

Just Say No to These Exercises

If you don't work or live near the Dallas/Acworth GA area or you're not interested in Boot Camps, you can skip this paragraph.  I'm trying to be more fair in announcing upcoming Boot Camps.   In the last boot camp, we couldn't accept anymore people because the suite can only hold so many. I was given some grief about that :)  With that being said, I am now giving you more time to join.  Our next 4-week boot camp starts Monday, 4/11.  For details and to reserve your spot, you can click below:

Click here for more info ------------> 4 Week Boot Camp Info
 
OK, pressure is off of me  :)

Being in the fitness industry, I see things work and I see things that don't work so well.  With that being said, I want to help you make better decisions when working out.  Below is a list of exercises that I don't use in my programs because they are either unsafe or ineffective. 

By the way, this is pretty stupid, too.

1. The Bench Press (Heavy) - You don't have to put in a billion sets of bench presses in order to get a chiseled chest.  The bench press, in which your grip is wide, can put unnecessary strain and stress on the shoulders.  A good substitute is the DB Chest Press, with your elbows in a little closer to your sides.  This takes stress off the shoulders.

2.  Leg Extensions - Hey, any exercise is better than no exercise, but leg extensions limit the range of motion, as well as not allowing your hips to be involved.  There might be a time and place for leg extensions (for example, beginners, bodybuilders who need to isolate that muscle group, and rehab patients (which is honestly out of my expertise).  But for fat loss and functional movement, don't even bother.  There are many good substitutions for leg extensions and that includes Bulgarian Squats, in which I have a love/hate releationship :)   By the way Trish, thanks for the demo!


 

3.  Seated Leg Curl Machine - Look at the movement of the seated leg curl.  Now look at the movement of getting out of a recliner that has been extended.  I rest my case.  A good substitute for the seated leg curl is the Stability Ball Leg Curl.



4.  Narrow Grip Upright Row - this move, especially over time, can cause what's called "shoulder impingement", in which a tendon is pinched.  I'll skip the scientific lingo and put it this way... "that sucks".  You want defined shoulders?  You surely can't beat the Military Press or 1-Arm Shoulder Press.

5.  Any type of Crunch - crunches cause a waterfall of problems, including putting unnecessary strain on the weakest part of your back.  That means back problems.  And you know what, you're just scratching the surface of working the abdominals when doing crunches.  For some good ab exercises, 
Check out my ab post here  ----->  What Ab Exercises Really Work??

Any exercises you would add?  I'd love to hear it.  Help your workout partners!

To your fitness success,
Mikey

Mar 2, 2011

Interval Training for Fat Loss Part 2

I got a good response from people regarding my Interval Training for Fat Loss post I did about a week ago.  When intervals are done correctly, it's amazing what it can do for fat loss.  Of course, your nutrition has to be in place.

I was asked three good questions about intervals and I decided to answer them here.  But, not before I put up another random picture because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want and I think it's cool to do stuff like that... oh look, a run-on sentence.



 
Question #1 - How long should I stick to an interval workout? 
Answer: Good question.

Question #2   Why did you answer my question with, "good question?"

OK, my bad.  Seriously... #1 Answer:
With my clients (and myself), I usually alternate between 2-3 different interval workouts for 4 weeks.  I then change up my interval workouts for another 4 weeks.  This will prevent boredom and help you getting results.  That's what is so great about interval training.  It is so easy to manipulate it by increasing/decreasing rest periods and interval periods, increasing how many intervals you do, etc., etc.

Question #2 (Seriously) - I don't have access to any cardio equipment (treadmill, elliptical, etc., etc.)... what can I do for intervals?
Answer: Great question... what I personally love to do is I complete my intervals outside.  If you have access to a hill that is 20-40 yards long, you can run hill sprints.  Start conservatively! Simply sprint up a hill and walk back down for recovery.  If you're a beginner, you might find just 3-4 sprints is enough and you can work your way up to doing more (as many as 20 if you have enough caffeine).
Hill Sprints are Awesome and Stuff
If the weather doesn't permit or you don't feel like going outside, you can do body movements inside.  Something like this:
Body squats (30 secs), rest 10 secs
Push-ups (30 secs), rest 10 secs
Jumping Lunges (30 secs), rest 10 secs
Burpees (30 secs), rest 10 secs
Plank (30 secs), rest 10 secs

Do the above circuit 3-6 times.  Remember, you can always adjust it according to your fitness level by increasing/decreasing the rest/exercise time, reducing/increasing the # of circuits, etc., etc.  Start conservative and train safe! 

Question # 3 - I like doing my intervals outside, but it's hard to have to look at my stopwatch when I'm doing sprints.  Any recommendations?  
Answer: Absolutely... I am probably one of the biggest fans of the gym boss.  The gym boss is an interval timer that has an alarm and a vibrating function for your intervals.  You can program just about any interval protocol.  It will beep/vibrate as you programmed it.  They are very affordable, around $20.  Their website is http://gymboss.com/ . You can also use interval apps on your phone if your phone has the capabilities.

100% Awesomeness... your workouts won't be the same

To your fitness success!
Mikey

Feb 22, 2011

Interval Training for Fat Loss

"Interval Training" is quite the buzz word in the fitness industry lately.  In case you have been living under a rock (and I'm not saying I have something against people living under a rock.  If you enjoy living under a rock, that's perfectly OK with me), you have heard that interval training is superior over "steady-state" cardio for fat loss.  Good news and bad news.... Good news: interval training takes less time than stead-state cardio, and you get better benefits.  Bad news: Most people don't quite understand the concept of interval training and are not getting the maximum benefit.  There is more good news.  I have decided to put up a random picture in a random spot in this post.  Check it out:


Hopefully, this post will help you understand the concept of interval training and how to approach it to help you with your goals.   I'm even going to throw in a couple of interval workouts to try.  

One quick note on "steady-state" cardio... It's not that I hate steady-state cardio.  I'm a runner myself (not a fast one, except when people are chasing me, like cops on Friday nights) and I enjoy it.  I find it a good way to stay active.  But when I'm trying to get lean, I prioritize intervals at the top before any steady-state cardio.  So if you are a runner, walker, etc., etc., certainly don't stop if you enjoy it.  But if you hate it, then intervals is really good news for you.

Hey dude, what are intervals?

Intervals are periods of high intensity work (hard), followed by a recovery period (easy)Some people don't do the intervals hard enough, and some people don't recover "easily" enough, not allowing them to do the intervals at the necessary intensity.


Alright, here's the deal. 
  • The #1 rule before doing intervals (especially for running) is that you MUST warm-up before doing intervals.  This is to prepare the body for the intervals, as well as prevent injury.  It's for your own good, so don't give me that look.
  • You must cool-down after intervals
Let's use a scale of 1 to 10 and pretend we're outside running.  1 is walking ridiculously slow, and 10 is running for your life. Got it?  Good.  But I understand that everybody is different, and that is OK.  So, to help "shed some light", let's say you're a beginner.  A 9/10 intensity for you might be walking briskly.  An advanced athlete will find a 9/10 intensity as sprinting with 90% effort.  Simply use the scale based on YOUR fitness level.

For the following example, let's use a 3/10 intensity for your recovery, and a 9/10 for your intervals.  That means your recovery period should be a comfortable pace (about a warm-up pace). 

20 seconds (9/10) interval
40 seconds (3/10) recovery

Do the above interval and recovery periods 6 - 8 times.  That means this interval workout will only last around 16-18 minutes including a warm-up and cool-down.  Pretty cool, huh?  What's not cool is if I messed up the math and my wife sees this and gets upset because she's a math teacher.

Let's say you want to change things up and running, biking, and using an elliptical is not your thing.  That's cool.  You can do intervals with body-weight movements, too.  Here is an example:

30 seconds of Mountain Climbers, followed by 30 seconds of rest 


Do the above 6-8 times.

Try some interval training after your next strength workout.  Put them in your fat loss tool kit.  

To your fitness success,
Mikey

Feb 16, 2011

Ab Exercises ... Which Ones Work??

Recently, I read a REALLY good article by strength and conditioning coach Michael Boyle.  You can read that article here.  Again, GREAT article... I hope it helps you with your perception of the coveted "six-pack".  That got me thinking... I haven't done a good post on what ab exercises are great for core strength, which in turn can help with back pain.  Any good "core routine" doesn't involve a bunch of crunches.  Crunches are ... well, don't get me started.  There are many better exercises you can do to get your core good and strong, and help with the ab definition.  But, just like Michael Boyle said, the best exercise for 6-pack abs is the "table push-away" :)

Just say no to crunches!

Some Better Core Exercises:
(To see descriptions, simply click on the link at the top of each video)

Stability Ball Jackknife
(To really get fancy, you can do a jackknife push-up as shown... but the jackknife is what's shown, but minus the push-up)
X Mountain Climber (also known as the Cross Mountain Climber)


Plank (You may think they're boring, but they work!... Too easy?  Try this stability ball plank)



Stability Ball Rollout


Those are the exercises my clients use to get a stronger core.  You won't see them doing any silly sit-ups or crunches.  You don't need any fancy equipment to get a strong core.  You can do these right at home.  You can get a stability ball almost anywhere these days.  But always remember...

ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN

To your fitness success,
Mikey

Feb 10, 2011

7 Things Said During the Birth of My Son

This post has nothing to do with fitness or nutrition.  I've had several people come to me asking about my experience as a first-time Dad and how it went down.  So, this should pretty much sum it up and hopefully give you a few chuckles to get you through the rest of the week.  Enjoy...

Top 7 Things Said During Labor



1. Sabrina: "I don't want to alarm you, but I think my water broke".  Mike: "But... the playoffs are on.... really, now?"
2. Mike (inside of my head):  "I wonder if this hospital has a fitness center and would it be politically incorrect to sneak off and do a workout... I mean c'mon... it's going to be a while"
3.  Mike: "If you don't take an epidural, I will"
4. Mike: "Oh sweet, the playoffs will be on in the background while in labor, that's pretty awesome!"  Sabrina: "Yes hon, you're probably in heaven (dramatic pause)... you're not going to watch that your son is being born are you?."
5. Sabrina: "Are you seriously playing Angry Birds??"
6. Mike: "All of a sudden, I want pancakes.  That's weird.  Pancakes.  Paaaaaaancakes."  Sabrina: "Seriously?"
7. Mike (during delivery) "This is kinda tiring to keep fanning you to keep you cool... Ha-ha! I'm kidding"  Sabrina: "(in a sarcastic tone)... Ha-ha, you're so funny Mike... sooooo funny"

 I feel weird signing off with my usual "to your fitness success", but hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want:


To your fitness success,
Mikey

Feb 3, 2011

It's February, Are You Still in the Game?

Well, February has arrived.  This is when most people on the "New Year kick" typically, and unfortunately, give up. What usually happens is one or more of the following:


  • Burn-out from starting off too hard (going from not working out to working out 5-7 days/week)
  • Their diet doesn't match their workouts (they still have bad nutrition habits)
  • They start off gung-ho and go from pancakes and pizza to cauliflower and fish overnight
  • They are doing the wrong program based on their lifestyle and current physical condition
 Certainly don't give up.  Here is a step-by-step process that you can use yourself to figure out your own game plan to get back to your fitness goals. This may not be the one-all, be-all list, but it is an approach I used for my own fitness success.

  1. Take an inventory of your kitchen and get rid of the junk food (chips, cookies, candy, soda, etc, etc.).  If you feel guilty about throwing it away, take some time to take it to the local shelter.
  2. Figure out a diet that best suits you.  I did a blog about different approaches HERE.  This will take some time and a little bit of research.  Your nutrition plan will be your foundation of success.  Be honest with yourself and be sure it is something you can stick to. If you know you won't be able to eat 6 meals a day, then don't plan on that type of diet.
  3. Plan, plan, plan. I would rather you miss a workout so that you can spend that time at a grocery store getting everything you need to stick to your nutrition plan.  Then take a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday (or any day for that matter when you're not working) and prepare your meals in advance.  That way, when you leave work and don't feel like making anything, you won't hit the fast food joint.  Also, be honest with yourself and know that you can reward yourself with a cheat meal or two each week.  Don't try to be 100% perfect 100% of the time.  Give yourself some wiggle room.  For instance, I'm patting myself on the back on SuperBowl Sunday :)
  4. Take a look at your calendar and figure out 3 days during the week that you can make time for exercise.  Make sure you can commit to these 3 days without any excuses.  You can always add days later.  But for now, stick with 3/week for at least a month.  Mark them down in your appt book.  They are that important.

Bonus tip:  If you now have really bad eating habits, take baby steps.  If you only eat 1 serving of vegetables a day for now, try to aim for 2 servings/day for at least a week.  Once you succeed at doing that, then move onto your next goal.

So what if you have slipped up a little bit.  That's no excuse to give up.  We all make mistakes. It's just a matter of bouncing back from them.

To your fitness success,
Mikey