Monthly Archives: March 2016

Add Glute Burnouts to Your Routine

I first heard about the actual term glute burnouts from the glute master himself Bret Contreras but I have been adding these into my routine for quite some time.

Glute burnouts are a series or combo of a glute exercises preferably done at the end of a workout in high reps to add a  extra metabolic stress to the designated area.

This fits perfectly with what I have been adding into my clients, and my own, workouts recently. Some type of 5 minute finisher of some combo of exercises depending on the client, goals, preferences, or program.

If I am feeling the need to get some cardiovascular work in, I will do 5 minutes of sprints. If it is leg day I might add these glute burnouts. If I am feeling like getting a little arm pump I will superset bicep and tricep exercises just because.

I feel a well designed program is important but I also see the value in a little bit of freedom, fun and spontaneity in training.

So here are some glute burnouts for you to add in at the end of a workout, an off day or whenever you feel like it. The band makes it that much better but you can definitely do most without it.

Eleveted Glute Bridge

 

Monster Walks

SIde to Side – Forward and Back

Clam and Fire Hydrant

 

 

Two glute burnouts routines for you.

Routine A.

20 Monster Walks Forward and Back

20 Monster Walks Side to Side

20 Elevated Glute Bridges

Repeat 2x total

Routine B.

20 Side Lying Clam (each side)

20 Fire Hydrant (each side)

20 Elevated SINGLE LEG Glute Bridges ( not pictured, no band).

Repeat 2x total

Does how you eat and exercise really have an impact on your health?

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Well, yes, yes it does. Eat too much of the wrong foods in the wrong amounts at the wrong times and you will gain weight. Moderate your food with healthy choices and you should be golden.  Move more and exercise a few times a week. You know this right? The thing is, it is just not that easy.

I get questions all the time about what to eat at what times and when to workout for how  long. But I rarely get questions and messages like the following.

I am concerned that the lack of sleep I am getting is affecting my food choices throughout the day. Please help.

I noticed I have a bad habit at night and eat when I am bored. What strategies do you have that could potentially break this bad habit and implement a new one?

 I seem to be caught in this cycle of restricting my food and exercising simply to burn more and more calories. Can you help me address the emotional aspect of this cycle?

It’s funny because we never think to address what gets in the way. We just want to know the quick and easy what to do’s. Food and exercise itself is not the solution it is about what gets in the way of actually doing it.

It has to do with the ability to say no when you need to say no (don’t eat that extra cookie) and yes when you need to say yes (go workout instead of watching the Bachelor).

The problem is there are so many limiting factors competing against you making a simple concept extremely challenging and complex. 

We know what to do, we just don’t do it.

And the idea that restricting foods or working out more and more just to burn calories and put in the time is absurd. It brings us right back to where we started in this cycle of on again, off again.

It’s not really about eating the perfect combo of foods, detoxes, diets, cleanses or food lists, it is about everything behind that from self control, emotions, habits, and behavioral patterns we have developed.

We never think to work on that stuff because that is never what we have been taught. We go back to what foods to eat time and time again and focus on the wrong things.

Rely less on willpower and more on your changing your habits.

When willpower fails (which it will) our habits will take over, good or bad.

We think that willpower is the answer to our success but the more we use willpower (all our decision making through the day) the weaker it gets. Whether you are resisting candy at work or debating whether you should workout at 5 p.m., these decisions drain willpower.

No wonder we start off our days at our strongest and it slowly dwindles by the end of the day so we are snacking on jars of peanut butter  at night. Oh wait, thats me. 😉 Basically using more and more self control lead to losing more self control.

Us humans love habits so it is no surprise that our eating and exercise habits are on auto drive and therefore determining the outcomes with our body. While these habits can be very difficult to change, but they can be changed.

Super simple solution:

Find one thing that you can improve on. It does not even have to be a complete makeover of the habit. If you drink 2 sodas a day, cut back to one. Add veggies at one more meal a day. Do 10 push ups and 10 squats for every new episode you watch on Netflix. Don’t think I don’t know about those marathons?! 😉 The point is not a drastic overall but one simple improvement at a time. Work on it until it becomes so easy you don’t even think about it.

Practice consistency & patience.

Boring alert!  I know it is not nearly as exciting as doing a juice cleanse and seeing those first few pounds drop off the first day because you are putting your body in a state of restriction but consistency and patience is crucial to your physical and emotional well-being. The thing is when you do it right most people get frustrated because they do not see results right away and give up.

To do the work and keep going even when the it feels the results are invisible in the beginning.  It feels unfair. It feels like all your hard work is not paying off. You have been doing everything right and are still not seeing results.

Consider this. All your previous choices have gotten you to where you are today. You did not gain or lose weight, get stronger or more flexible by what you did last week, it is by the choices you have made and the habits you have developed over the past weeks, months and years.

If you can learn to exhibit patience as you consistently make good choices over time, not only will your body thank you but so will your brain.

Be Persistence.

I love consistency but I like persistency more, and you might learn to as well. Consistency is doing the work time and time again.

Persistency is doing the work even when it is difficult. It is sticking with it even when things are not going your way. It is continuing to endure the hard stuff and build positive habits over a long period of time. It is learning to get comfy with the process of doing the work on good days and bad days.

Could you learn to embrace challenges and difficult and learn how to overwork not having enough time in the day and be presented with your greatest temptation and overcome them?  Expect the challenges. Expect that things will not go right. Expect that this path will be tough and embrace it and learn from it when it is.

What you do today and tomorrow and the next day will determine where you will be months and years down the road. Just like anything else though, you have to actually do the work to create change. If you do the same old thing that doesn’t work, you will get the same old results that you are not happy with. To change something you have to change the way you are doing things.

3 ways cheat meals are failing you


When I go out to dinner and have a cheat meal I feel the need to eat everything because I don’t want to take home leftovers and be tempted by them when tomorrow I have to start over.

Can you relate? For me I was never a fan of cheat or treat meals but I experimented with them over the years because it kinda made sense.

When I worked hard all week to be compliant and disciplined with my eating it felt very natural to feel like I had earned a reward and some freedom in my eating choices for a meal or even a day.

It felt sensible, innocent, and harmless. What I have noticed over the years, through my own experience, and the experiences of others, is that cheat meals seem to do more harm than good.

From a psychological perspective I can see why. There is a term called moral licensing that pretty much says being good gives yourself permission to be bad. Making “good” food choices all week makes you feel good about yourself therefore making you more likely to give in especially when you have conflicting desires like, “I really want to be good but I also want that cheeseburger and fries.”

As humans we often like to moralize anything that matches our impulses to make ourselves feel better. It is like a protective mechanism so we can minimize uncomfortable feelings.

Whether people realize it or not cheat meals have a significant impact on the way we think about food, eating, and ourselves. Here is how.

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I have to eat it all otherwise I can’t cheat again until next week….

Cheat meals turn eating into a measure of worth.

The name cheat meals has commonly been changed to treat meals to take away the negative connotation that people are being bad when they indulge out of their normal regime.

Ironically the word treat seems to imply that we are deserving for having a good week or staying compliant to a plan. I wrote an entire blog post about labeling food as good or bad which you can access here, but ultimately we start to apply it to our self worth which is completely absurd.

When I eat good foods I am good. When I eat bad foods I bad.

When I stick to my diet I am in control and successful. When I fall off of it I am not.

The less we can associate food with labeling the more we can eat food based on how we feel, whether or not we are hungry, and how much we really need. Food labeling encourages a black or white way of thinking like there is no middle ground. It makes us feel like we have to food choices in life, only being on track of off track.

The last place our self worth is defined is in the food we choose to eat.

They don’t take into account how you feel in the moment.

When I experimented with adding cheat meals into my diet I found that even after my week of good eating, I didn’t always want a cheat meal but I ate it because I deserved it and if I didn’t eat it then, I would have to wait an entire week to have it again.

Can you see where this completely ignored any awareness in regards to my body and only focused on rules and restrictions I placed on myself?

I also had times where cheat meals would turn into all out binges or a days worth of cheat eating if I messed up I might as well wait until tomorrow to start again fresh. Like the scenario at the beginning of this post, no cheat leftover could be left in the house because it would ruin tomorrow if I was trying to start clean. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or a certain food would make me more satisfied I just went along with this mentality.

This is equivalent to getting into a fender bender and than ramming your car into a wall anyway. You have the option to fix yourself mid binge.  You have the option to bring more awareness to the moment and realize that you have the power and choice to switch gears. You have the knowledge that every choice can make a difference.

They perpetuate the all or nothing mentally.

This is essentially what this entire post is breaking down. The idea that eating has to be perfect and on plan or you fall off the wagon all together. I don’t even like the idea of a wagon. You are never on or off the wagon you just are.

Overdoing it one night just to wake up the next day and hardly eat until dinner time is a prime example of getting caught up to two extremes and never finding that middle, moderate ground.

I had a client tell me the other day that this whole perspective I talk about, practicing to navigate eating in between the extremes of deprivation and overindulgence sounds great in theory, but it is hard.  Really hard. I couldn’t agree more.

But just like with every hard endeavor in life you practice. You fail. You try again. It is really hard to accept this with a concept like eating but it is no different. You practice. You fail. You try again. Repeat this 20 times and maybe on the 21st you will get a little better and the next times and the next time.

How to break the cheat meal cycle.

I know you may be wondering what in the world you are supposed to do next. The question I like to ask people is this: why do you feel the need to have a cheat meal? Usually it is because people have been depriving themselves too much during the week. The more deprived you feel, the more likely you will be to overindulge at some point.

What you eat tomorrow is highly dependent on what you eat today. So while you might feel great restricting food all day, feeling strong and in control don’t be surprised if that night or that weekend you overindulge more than you cared for.

The answer is to feel more satisfied during the week so you don’t feel the need for cheats and treats.

Why not eat eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of egg whites and spinach?

Why not add cheese on your salad instead of just chicken and lettuce?

Why not eat a piece of chocolate every single day?

Why not feel more satisfied every single day of the week so you don’t feel like you are missing out or need to go all out on the weekend?

Perfect eating never leads to long term success. Consistency beats perfection and you may just be surprised how much easier it all feels when you learn to trust yourself more around any food every single day and not wait until the grand designated cheat opportunity.

If you want tips and insights like theseI send out weekly emails full of food, fitness and mindset strategies you won’t get anywhere else. Get on my list here.

“Please don’t ignore me.” – Thoracic Spine

Exercise is good for the heart and body but so is learning how to move well. If your typical routine includes skipping a warm-up or cool-down reconsider by adding a few simple exercises into your routine to potentially improve spinal mobility and reduce pain and stiffness throughout the body.

Today we are going to focus on thoracic mobility which is something that is often overlooked in our daily activities of sitting, slouching forwards, while we are driving, texting and/or at a computer.

The Thoracic spine is essentially the part of your spine from your neck to the lower back that consists of 12 vertebrae and plays an important role in posture and how well the upper body moves. The next time you feel like your shoulders or neck are tight reconsider simply stretching them and these exercises into your routine.

I can say that I perform each of these moves at least 4-7 times a week for one set of 30 seconds. Because I also own a car, text daily, and type away at my computer for blog posts like these I need someway to intentionally fight the forward movement of my spine to prevent conditions like kyphosis, less low back pain and promote healthier shoulders and reduce stiffness.

Here are three must have exercises to stay mobile and move well.

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Inhalations.

This exercise is great for thoracic mobility and spinal extension. Start by leaning against a foam roller at about your shoulder blades and place the hands behind the head. Extend back over the roller keeping the bottom touching the mat. DO NOT place the roller under the low back.

Pause and hold for an inhale and then come back to your starting position. You can adjust the roller an inch or two so it targets different areas that may be tight and stiff. Repeat 10x total.

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The Bretzal.

Start by lying on your right side placing something underneath your head for support. Pull your top knee up to about a 90 degree angle ( belly button height). Take the bottom arm and place it on that top knee. Bend your underneath leg back behind you and attempt to grab the ankle if your body allows. If not, you can always use a yoga strap or towel.

Take a deep breath in and on your exhale rotate your left shoulder toward the ground while pressing your right knee down. Hold for 30 seconds.

Repeat on the other side.

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Hip flexor stretch with rotation.

Start in a half kneeling position with your right leg forward. Shift the weight forward slightly and squeeze your glutes. Take your left hand down to the ground and reach your right arm vertical toward the ceiling. Think of pressing into the left hand to gently increase the rotation, hold for an inhale and then take that right hand underneath the left arm like shown in the picture and repeat. Repeat 5 times on each side.

A Step by Step Guide to Cultivating A Diet Free Lifestyle


IMG_1700With my 5 – Week Refresh program launching this week I wanted to touch on the subject of creating a diet free lifestyle, and am doing so without addressing food all that much.

In essence diets are simply the kinds of food that a person eats. In fact, people all over the world eat differently (different diets) and maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Except in modern society diets are referred to more in terms of restrictions of certain foods, food groups in attempts to lose weight or change the body.

And restriction itself is the farthest thing from the answer to sustainable weight/fat loss or body change.Yet so many people are tempted by meal plans, the newest diet, cleanses, food rules and detoxes even when the reality is that they just do not work.

The perfect way of eating is very grey but as humans we really, really want it to be black and white. Like if someone could just tell us what to do, we would follow it. We all do it. I have done it.

We blame being lazy, having no time, needing to be told what to do, and having no self control as the reasons why we just can’t stay on track. Here in itself is where the problem starts. The mindset behind eating. The perception of what you should and shouldn’t do and the reasons you tell yourself you can’t do it.

I am big on personal responsibility but in a way it is hard to blame people 100% for this failure because our culture has engrained this all or nothing approach as if there is no middle ground, as if there is no other way.

You are either all in on a diet that allows certain foods and bans others or you just give up and eat with abandon because it won’t really matter anyways.

I like to look at it this way. Our culture is responsible for putting out this type of information 100% and we each have 100% responsibility to do something about it. I took this equal responsibility concept from a recent read The Big Leap.

To put it simply, it all begins with the way your perception and how you choose to react in any given situation.

I know you were hoping for a step by step guideline that said at breakfast you eat eggs and veggies or a carb or protein source but today we are going about this in the complete opposite way.

So let’s start with a refresh on your perspective.

Meal plans, rules and restrictions create dependency and don’t even give us the opportunity to fend for ourselves when diet foods are not within arms reach. Office parties, social gatherings, nights out with friends. What are you really suppose to do if you show up and there is only chips and dip and you are starving? You could:

  1. white knuckle your way through the party
  2. eat ALL the chips and salsa
  3. eat a few chips and call it a day

Most people rarely ever choose c. It is usually a, followed by a binge later on, or b, followed by a period of guilt, remorse and shame and then back to your strict ways the next day because you already screwed yourself for the day anyways so why bother making good choices for dinner? Even worse if it is a Saturday night, you might just as well wait until Monday.

It creates a viscous cycle that keeps us tight on plan for a time, and then inevitably we will fall off, experience guilt and then get back on the same plan.

It’s tempting though, I get it. It feels organized, it feels in control, it feel like you are disciplined enough to achieve success. I will start by breaking down 4 steps to help to break the diet cycle.

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Feeling stuck in the diet cycle is a learning experience. It won’t go away until you learn what you need to know. And you will learn it once you adopt these strategies.

Step 1: Consider the sustainability factor

The success of a diet does not only depend on results, it depends on lasting results. So often I have people tell me things like this.

“The Whole30 really makes me crave sugar less.”

“Weight Watchers works when I do it.”

“I feel great when I go gluten free.”

The question always remains, “How long did that last?”

Because short term results are all good and well but what is the point if you can not make it last. Whenever I get tempted by the latest diet or food trend or seeing some fit chicks meal plan I ask myself, “Am I willing to eat like this forever?” If the answer is no, I know I check myself and turn back to trusting myself and my process.

Step 2: Habit awareness is more important than you think.

What does this look like? First off eating is highly automatic and in order to break poor habits you have to plan, prepare, and actually stop, think and contemplate about the foods you are choosing to consume and why.

It could be as simple as swapping out your morning donut for greek yogurt and fruit or as complicated as working to intentionally fight the stressed out binge. The more you start to pay attention, the better chance you have at learning where you are most likely to give in and have the power to actually do something about it.

In the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, he has a habit loop theory that suggests that you can’t simply get rid of bad habits you can only replace them.

The human brain likes effortless and most people have been wrapped up in bad habits for so long they no longer realize they are doing them. In essence the key is to be aware and learn to change your routine. If coming home from work is leaves you immediately in a stressed out binge at the fridge door, the idea is that you occupy your time with something else the moment you walk in the door. This takes time, patience and lots of trial and error before you find success.

Step 3: Nutrients and portions.

What if you said goodbye to all the food rules you have tried or been taught and focused on just two concepts? Eating foods high in nutrients and portion control. What if you started to pay attention to how you felt eating by navigating the space between deprived and an all out binge?

You know this. More veggies, less pop tarts, stop at 2 pieces of pizza.

I am completely aware it is not this simple but unless you have a uber specific physique or endurance goal or just want to get in the best shape of your entire life you don’t need to make it so complicated on yourself.

This does take a little bit of introspection and work and while it might feel more difficult in the beginning than someone telling you to have chicken breast and broccoli for lunch it provides you with the tools that you can take wherever, whenever.

Step 4: Practice The Self Trust Solution

The ability to stop turning to meal plans and food restrictions begins with the ability to turn inward and learn the tools and insights to trust yourself any time, any place, with any food.

The best way to trust yourself is to trust yourself and see what happens.

Cultivating a diet free life style is figuring out what gets in the way of eating in a way that is sustainable. I love to quote Brene Brown with “How-to’s don’t work if you don’t talk about gets in the way.”

Diets don’t give you the tools you need to move forward. They don’t address things like willpower, habits, stressful/emotional eating, moralizing food or finding way to eat moderately and mindfully.  They try to give you a complete life overhaul in week 1.

You get blasted with information and then are left wondering how you can possibly implement everything you know ongoing.

The reality is this cycle will continue unless you are given the tools to break it. It all begins with your mindset and the willingness to make that the focus and let go of food rules and find what I like to call food freedom.

Here’s a quick recap.

  1. When tempted by a diet ask yourself, “Is this a way I can eat forever”
  2. Focus on changing one habit that you feel is most detrimental to your health by replacing the routine.
  3. Focus on nutrients in your diet and portion control.
  4. Practice trusting yourself around food without being on a diet.