Can I get a meal plan with that?

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As a trainer/coach we learn about the basics of Nutrition.  We also know that with some certainty if you are ever going to get serious about reaching your goals that 75-80% of your efforts have to be focused on dialing in your nutrition.  If you have read any of my previous articles or are a part of our newsletter, I speak on the importance of nutrition often.  I probably release more content on nutrition information whether from me or someone else than on exercise.  This is because I understand that this is what’s going to really get the job done.

If I am coaching someone and trying to get them to make changes in their lives, but I never address their nutrition other than saying; “Eat healthy foods.” Or, If I am supposed to hold you accountable for your workouts everyday but I never check on your nutrition.  We may have a great relationship and even be good friends, but as your friend I want you to get the results you are looking for.  So, It’s my job and yours! To hold you accountable for your goals and this includes your nutrition.

Now, let me tell you what it doesn’t include.  I am not a licensed Nutritionist or Dietitian.  What are those?  They are professionals who are trained to provide individualized meal plans for those with specific dietary needs.  So they can make adjustments for diabetics, certain medications, daily activity etc.  They then write exactly what they think you should eat, down to the snacks!  This is what most people think is the answer, and for some it may very well be.  For most, changing habits and developing a better relationship with  food and why you make the decisions you do can go a lot further in the long term.

We used to work with a dietitian who prescribed all of our clients meal plans and while they were awesome to work with this is what I found out.

  1. Only one client followed the exact meal plan to the T and he only did so for the first two weeks.  Later, after some more research learned that only 3 out of 10 people actually follow a meal plan.
  2. They tend to include foods that the client doesn’t even like, so again they would not follow the plan.
  3. They did not help produce the results the clients were looking for, and not context was give around the reason why they ate as much as they did or what they ate.

Again, this is not to say that a well structured meal plan won’t work for those that need it. As a trainer/coach we focus on and have seen greater results in performance and appearance by simply working with and actually coaching others on how you can “have your cake and eat it to.”  Without actually having cake all the time, of course.  We focus on creating better habits and increasing awareness around the decisions you make from a place of education.  Personal Trainers cannot prescribe individualized meal plans unless they are licensed to do so.  This is true in most states. Examples of healthy foods recipes, etc are fine but we cannot say “go eat this at this time.” I see a lot of trainers and coaches shy away from even providing guidance, but do you want results?  You better square up your nutrition!

So remember, ultimately the information is out there to be found on how to eat to maintain your goals.  Your health and your fitness, even your results are a reflection of your efforts toward them.  If you are aware then you will progress, if not you will be right where you are talking about your goals and your dreams.  This is also fine if that’s what you want.  If you are reading this though, I bet it’s not. Always be learning and look to those with experience to help guide you to a sustainable path.   HERE is a great article from a mentor of mine on prescribed meal plans and personal trainers.  Have a look!  I’ll talk with you soon.


What your training should look like

With hours on an ambulance sitting with your hips flexed and shoulders rolled forward, it is no secret that the risk of injury is high for shift workers such as EMS,fire and police is high. The solution is obvious but hard for some decision makers and individuals to wrap their head around.

Strength builds reseliency and can decrease the amount of work related injuries with a good exercise program.  Now, maybe you go to the gym, and your pretty strong and fairly fit.  What if you could gain strength that transferred over to your job on the road or in the hospital and in your day to day life. What if you could two birds, one stone the hell out of your health and fitness.  What would that program look like? Here is what we think a fitness program would include for strength and stability in life.

  1. Solid Nutrition: It has to start here.  Improve your relationship with food and the decisions made around that and you will find immediate long term success.
  2. Stability and Mobility at the major joints for functional movement.  The joint by joint approach created by Grey Cook and Mike Boyle describe the difference between mobile and stable joints in greater detail.
  3. Strength Training at least 2-3 times per week.  Definition of strength and strength training is obvious but can vary from person to person.  Basically move a load over a specified distance for a specified amount of time.
  4. Aerobic Training or what others may know as cardiovascular training.  I think of them as the same or as one effects the other.  Aerobic stuff will improve cardiovascular function.
  5. Progressive:  Your program should allow for progressive adaptation over the span of the program.  You can then track your results and see how you perform over time.
  6. Fun. Your program should be fun! There should be some variance to it but not to the point where you are seeing no progress.

These are just a few things I would look for in a program. If you want to understand to learn about some of these topics you may need a coach to help you get started.

That’s all for today folks!

What you think vs. What others think

I was getting off work the other day and a co-worker that knows I am a trainer/coach was talking to me about her trainer that she has and how she has been getting her butt kicked.  Obviously proud of the work she has been doing.  She also talked about how much weight she had lost since starting with her. I had read stories of success from my own clients all day to include my wife and her weight loss! Which I am pretty proud of as well. We exchanged stories and she then asked me; “Do you know how many people have noticed?” Referring to how many have given her a compliment or congratulated her on her weight loss.  Now, to be honest if she didn’t mention anything to me I wouldn’t have noticed at that particular moment either.

I then wondered, Why was that out of everything she just told me something that seemed so important to her was that others around her noticed?  Maybe, that was part of her why.  Everyone likes to have those words of affirmation and since EMS is within her circle of friends/people maybe she thought someone, anyone! Would notice.

I didn’t take the conversation any further but simply asked, “Are you happy with what you’ve done, how you feel, and how you look?” She says, “Yes, I feel better.”  Now that wasn’t exactly what I asked but she does know that when it’s all said and done if your not happy, people can say whatever they want, but you have to find your why and then decide if that is going to be enough to satisfy you.  Most people fail at their goals because they undershoot them.  They don’t go big enough.  You think of yourself as small, so you stay small.

Stay motivated with whatever it is that your doing, make sure your reasons align with what would make you truly happy and attack that goal or dream with everything you have.

Mic Drop!

Eventually You Will Fall

One day I had an elder gentleman who fell down say “It’s not big deal, but don’t worry one day you will fall down too. Everybody does.” Now I haven’t  had the pleasure of just eating the ground underneath me due to a fall like this gentleman did.  He did have a pretty good attitude about it I thought, I also thought that he is absolutely right.  One day you are going to fall.  I immediately started to think, how is it I’m going to get up?  I always relate these questions to mine and others health and fitness.  Being able to get up from a fall is something that life will eventually demand of you.  Sometimes you will need some help as there are a lot of reasons that people fall down, but true accidents and not a medical problem can be handled differently.  So, I like options.  If I were to fall what are my options to be ready for that when it happens?  To me these options to get yourself up off the ground when you fall and are capable to are The Bur pee and The Turkish Get Up.  Let’s break those down a bit as see how these exercises can not only make you strong and very fit, they can also be considered tools to get you off the ground if and when you fall.


This is a full body loaded or unloaded exercise where you start on your back and go to a standing position.  Just a week ago I saw an individual perform this movement after breaking her arm.  Now you can tell she didn’t train this movement but was able to go from her back to standing with one arm in a single stable position and the other helping to facilitate the final movement. Here is a video of what it should look like.


The big transition comes from going from your butt to a kneeling position.  There are two ways to accomplish this.  There is a hip extension on the bent leg, then swing the straight leg back until the knee is on the ground and you are in a kneeling position.  There is a second option for those that don’t have the coordination for an extension of the hip and being able to move to a stable kneeling position.  Both examples are below.  The second option puts what would be your straight leg bent behind  your other then you just simply sit up to the kneeling position then stand.  To get back down to the ground the movements are done in reverse.  The Turkish Get Up builds balance, coordination, and bilateral strength.  It’s not something that you can or should do very fast, in my opinion.  It can be done with no load or loaded as heavy as you can go. Now, that you have a pattern for getting up off your back.  Let’s talk about when you fall on your face.



Yep the Bur pee!  No body likes it and it doesn’t matter what form of fitness you practice it’s always there.  Don’t you think that’s interesting?  If every aspect of sport has the bur pee or a variation of it.  Wouldn’t it make sense that it is a staple exercise?  Think about football players, when they get tackled they have to be able to get back up off the ground quickly.  It’s fairly simple, you fall down to the ground, then push yourself up off the ground and stand up.  I like to add a jump at the end just to celebrate that I was able to get up. Then the process repeats itself. Check out the video of the Bur pee here.
Some things worth talking about are the beginning of the movement, which when you add speed can look pretty intense specifically going down into the plank/push up position.  This is find within some context I believe.  For most instances you should reach your hands in between your feet, drop your hips down similar to a squat and then kick your legs back to land in that strong push up position. In the military we called these squat thrust, even upgraded them to an 8 count push up which was much worse than just a bur pee, trust me.  This exercise can be used as a stand alone or in combination with whatever you want and it will immediately create a significant metabolic event.

These two movements will not only increase your strength but also help improve  your conditioning.  Keep it simple if adding these into your workout program.  A good example would be a ladder of Bur pees 1 on minute 1, then 2 on minute 2, 3 on minute 3 and so on. The Get Up can be broken down into smaller movements to get you stronger example: kneeling to standing 3 sets of 4-6 reps each side or lying to sitting  same rep range. You will accumulate a lot of work over 10 minutes and that may be all you need for now.  Give either of these movements a shot and while they may never prevent you from falling, you’ll have the confidence knowing that if you ever do, you can get up.

Own your health

I started this blog, this business because I have seen what it looks like to not be unhealthy but to be uninformed about what is going on with your health.  I have had family members go to a physician and leave not  knowing what it is they have been told moving forward with any illnesses they have.  You would think, “Why would they know?” They are not doctors right? Why do they need to know about the medication they take?  The doctor said it would “fix” the problem.  Does this happen to you in the gym?  Of course you are not taking medication at the gym (At least I hope not). You are being given a workout prescription.

So, do you know why you are given that particular piece of work?  What it is you are working on?  Muscular Endurance, Strength, Cardiovascular Endurance.  Should the workout be done at a Max Effort?  Now, I won’t say that you should know what energy system you need to be working from.  Understanding that there are different systems that your body uses to produce energy without getting too crazy. Not having a basic understanding of why you are doing an exercise takes away from you being able to prepare mentally.  To make the connection from you brain to you muscles makes it more difficult to complete an exercise especially if you are brand new to exercise.

The biggest example I have of this that I started to notice is famous Cross fit.  Have you ever heard, “Cross fit is dangerous.”  I have been doing Cross fit for a while now and I think it is a great fitness program for general fitness.  I also think that it is just one of many fitness methodologies and it is only as safe as the person performing it and their ability to be honest with themselves and the coach they are training with.  Being a good coach or rather having a good coach is only a small part of the equation.  They can help you develop a plan for your goals, hold you accountable but they cannot do the work for you.  They can also be wrong.  It is important to trust in a program, but only you know how your body feels and if it doesn’t feel safe this doesn’t mean don’t do it.  Maybe it means just figure out a way around it that doesn’t hurt as much.  Barbell push presses hurt?  Try single arm Kettle Bell Presses instead.  Also, maybe make sure there is nothing going on that exercise alone won’t be able to fix.

At some point you should start to learn something from your training, or else how will you completely benefit from it?  If you are there to just do the workouts, that’s fine too.  You  will see some results but if you take medication for blood pressure alone you will also see some results.  You may never ever get off that medication and your body may never function like it is meant to.  No big deal. At the end it is all your choice, that is the point.  You have a choice to get involved in your process and really provide the right type of feedback to your coach/coach’s.  If you are already doing this then good.  Keep it up, even spread it to other parts of your life.  If you are not, start.  That’s the easiest way to get going.  Whether it be a work, home or the gym.  Participate!  Help with the solution to your problem and don’t just wait for someone to fix it for you. We all have something to say, open your mouth and say it.

Get Your Mind Right! 

If your in the gym and training hard, like most you have probably had that lift that just before you step up to the bar you think, “This is going to be really heavy.”  What tends to happen next is probably exactly what you thought was going to happen. You get to the hard part of the lift and you miss it. You already have it made up in your mind that your not going to get that lift. You don’t say it out loud but you know your thinking about it. Your previous set was heavy and you had a bit of a struggle.  Now you are right at or just above your previous personal best.  Why is it you start to doubt yourself?  What if you just didn’t?  There are some people that can just walk up to a task, and perform.  I am willing to bet they don’t have any “special powers” but they have the right mindset every time to step up to accomplish the task at hand.  Everyone has a process that get’s them to that point.

When you have 500+ pounds on your back to squat it.  Your best bet is to not have in your head that it is going to crush you into the ground.  If you take a weight that feels heavy, it is!  You took it out to lift it so do that.  It seems easy enough right?  At the surface it is kind of that easy.  Just lift the weight, If you’ve developed a plan and followed it up to this point then you should feel comfortable moving a particular weight or something close to what you are going after for the day.  So the point is, there has to be  a plan of attack.  You have to think about how you are going to complete a workout or a lift.  Now there is a difference if your just exercising or if you are training. As I want to focus on you keeping the right mindset I am not going to talk about that but  I think that the guys of The Barbell Shrugged Podcast summed this up nicely, check them out for more on that.  If you are having a hard time with gathering your mindset here are a few things to help you out:

  1. Get your mind right: Focus!  Understand and appreciate what it is you are here to do.  If you don’t understand and are not sure.  Get a coach!  This may help you get into the right mind set for the work that you have to do.  A lot of times we just need to hear that we can do something we are unsure about from someone else.
  2.  Practice good technique: Use lighter weights to perfect your technique.  This will maintain your strength for a longer period time.  It will also decrease your chances for injury. As you get stronger your technique will be there no matter what. Makke your set up te same every sngle time. Remember your body responds well to patterns, only if you create them.
  3. Relax! be patient. Before you step up to the bar even if your doing a workout at a high heart rate. Take a few deep breaths and it’s time to get to it.

Boom! Done and Done right?! Well, I guess from this point its really up to you. These are just a fee things that I’ve found helpful when coaching others. The struggles in the gym are not much different from the struggles at work or home. What we can control is our mind set toward what it is we have to do. So now, take control and try some of these exercises you are in the gym or at home or office when completing the task.  It will all work out if you believe it will, maybe not today or tomorrow but focus on the course and you’ll get there.  Good Luck!

What is Online Fitness Training?

So, I haven’t been asked this question but I feel the need to explain to those that are unsure of what exactly online personal training is and how/who it can benefit.  Most of you know of personal training in the traditional sense.  You come in, get a free session/assessment you see some value in what the trainer showed you and  have a specific goal that you feel like he/she can help you meet.  You purchase a particular package of sessions and you begin training.  The trainer is there with you providing instruction/examples of how the workout should be done and your progress in monitored over time.  Your body measurements are taken, meals plans are made or you get education on nutrition to help reach your goals.

This has been around the standard for the better part of the personal training industry in short of course.  This short explanation is in no way to discard the work that personal trainers offer or the help and results they provide to help others, Just a brief overview.  Recently  personal trainers have found a way to get people the same results taking out the need to actually be in front of them.  So the process is the same as one on one training with a few exceptions that probably go without saying but, I’m going to anyway.

  1. You are not always face to face with your trainer (Some may do weekly phone or video calls to catch up, give instruction and go over upcoming plans).
  2. You will receive a workout or a week’s worth of workouts to complete and record your results.  This helps your trainer make adjustments to your workouts and make any changes to make sure you are moving toward your goals.
  3. Communication is solely online, with the exception of the video calls as mentioned above

That is really it! It’s that simple.  Now there are certain types of people that do well with this type of training vs others.

  • If you do not like the idea of working out on your own this either isn’t something that you are going to able to do on your own or find a friend or a few friends to workout with you in a group.  There are plenty of trainers that do group online programs and commonly offer discounts for multiple people.
  • If you are not familiar with certain equipment, that’s something that online training covers well with video demonstration that does a very good job of showing how the exercise should go.
  • If it’s difficult for you to get motivated to get going.  Most trainers do a good job with this and if they can communicate well and are good at motivating others they can usually get you going.  Also, once you start to see results it’s pretty easy to stay motivated.

How to know if training online is for you

Most people who train online value their time and don’t have a lot of it.

  •  They usually travel a lot and don’t always have time to make it to a gym to meet a trainer face to face.
  • Maybe your a stay at home mom who can’t get away from home but want to lose the baby weight.
  •  Or maybe you get intimidated when you walk into the gym and are constantly unsure of what it is you should do so you just default to the chest press machine and the treadmill for 20 min.

There are a number of different reasons that having and Online personal trainer can benefit you.  You get all of the advantages of having someone in front of you without actually having someone if front of you. All of the guess work is done for you. All you have to do is get up and get moving.  Now, If you are not that motivated to just go and get work done then you probably won’t stick with a personal trainer one on one for a significant amount of time either.

There are plenty of trainers that provide online training as an addition to their regular services or as their primary service.  So the price of this varies and depends on what you are looking for.  Online training is significantly cheaper than one on one personal training.  Personal trainers typically  charge anywhere from $50-$75 per session.  If you buy a 12 session package that’s anywhere from $600-$900 a month.  Now you can do small group training that can range anywhere from $130-$200 depending on the area.

Online training is convenient that your trainer doesn’t have to be in the same location as you and they are usually way cheaper than the two types of training mentioned above.  Online Training typically ranges from $200-$300 a month, some may even go as high as $1,000 a month.  This is way on the high end but again by comparison it is the cheaper option for the quality of training that you are able to get with the use of technology. For group training you are looking at about $80-$150 a month.

These are just a few comparisons that I have found with online training vs traditional personal training/group training.  Hope this helps if anyone had any questions or is confused about what it is and how it can help you meet your fitness goals.

If this sounds like something you are interested in you can visit our website at Tension Strength & Conditioning to learn more.  Until next week

Stay Safe