Are You Ready?

How many of you have ever done a workout and while completing a movement in the workout, it just feels “wrong.”  Just an uncomfortable feeling, or even worse.  Have you ever felt pain?  I’ve heard people describe workouts as “painful” or they say, “Oh, that one hurt!” Are workouts supposed to be painful?  I don’t tend to think so.  Now they should be difficult or you wouldn’t get the results you are looking for but there shouldn’t be any pain or there is something wrong.  If your experiencing physical pain during a workout, whether on your own, with a group or individually with a trainer/coach.  You may want to get that checked out.  Now, this does not mean that you can’t work out and that it can’t be intense and deliver you the right results.  It does mean a few things:

  1. You may need to see a health care professional depending on if you have significant pain with the particular movement.
  2. You need to modify your movements.  You just may not be able to go into a certain position ever again. If you go to press overhead and experience significant pain during the movement, if it cannot be fixed or improved then you can modify the movement to still get similar results and get very strong.
  3. You don’t need intensity.  At least in the beginning.  High intensity training for beginners is almost always not completely necessary and for some improving your movement in your squat and dead lift can be very intense for some beginners.  However, when you are significantly increasing your heart rate and have poor movement patterns you are basically asking for setbacks due to injury.  Your body will not allow you to continue to move poorly and be uncomfortable during that movement and will eventually hurt you to stop you from doing the same thing over again.  Earn the ability to increase you intensity and increase your strength over time.

This sounds like I’m saying you should stretch and do a ton of mobility exercises.  Well, yeah.  I am.  Only to an extent.  Basic rules are if you can’t breathe increase your aerobic capabilities while improving your mobility and stability.  Running and other steady state cardio exercises are great for this.  ( Think Running, Jump Rope, Assault Bike, Rower)  Mix those up in any combination for the first 30 day along with specific mobility exercises depending on what you are having difficulty with.  During this time mix in some of  those movements because bottom line is; if you want to be good at something you have to do it often.  Combine this with decent eating habits and you are going to start to see the light toward your fitness goals within the first 30 days. Then you will be ready to add consistency to your newly found quality movement patterns and once you are comfortable with the movement now, add intensity to the movements and continue to head toward your goals.  The best part is, while this is not the short 8 week fitness ideal it will last you for a very long time as long as you remain consistent.

So before you start to work on newer movements that you’ve never done before or you haven’t done often.  Ask yourself, “If I don’t know about this movement, should I be doing it?” “Should I ask for a modification until I have adequate time to learn it.”  The time to learn is not in the heat of a high intensity workout.  Slow down and get it done right! Thanks for reading, Stay safe.

Alfred

So Here It Is

Going with something different for this post.  At least for a while, I’m going to write about my journey into opening my own gym.  I’ve hidden this from most people not inside of my immediate small circle.  I have been dabbling in this for just under a year and have had some small successes and some big failures for my standards.  Such is life though and the show must go on.

I got the idea for this like most do I think.  I have been training at a crossfit gym for around three years at the time but had been training much longer than that before then.  Looking around at what I saw I felt that I could do it “better.”  That’s not to say others weren’t doing it right, I just thought I had something different to offer.  So, tested the theory and started coaching group classes at the gym I was training at.  I found that I started to become fascinated with movement, technique and ways to improve those and to explain it to others in a not so confusing way.  From what I’ve been told I do a pretty good job.

So, what now? I dove in face first! Made a website, started doing a ton of random stuff with no real order to it.  Created a facebook page and put a free workout out there to try and get people at a friends gym that he let me use for only a few hours a day. I had no idea how to 1. Sell anything and 2. Was afraid to ask people for money.  Among other things like not understanding marketing.  The only think I knew that I was doing was starting.

Went through the new year and struggled with marketing, pricing, how I wanted to run the gym.  Where would I do it? The friend at the first location had grown his business and was now doing classes at the times I had. I hadn’t paid him any money because I didn’t have any.  Hoping I didnt ruin the relationship I returned the keys.

After weeks or maybe even months of twiddling my thumbs not really doing anything to  grow the business, home had gotten a little crazy and I had all but given up on the idea. Thinking there was no interest I was ready to walk away. Then, someone I had coached in the group classes asked if I would coach her one on one.  I honestly, wasn’t excited but I enjoyed helping and training others so I found out how the personal training was and we got started. After the first few sessions I really started to think that I could make this happen.  So I went home, talked my wife and asked her to be honest. “Do you think that we can do this?” Her response while supportive always had a sound of worry.  We don’t require and also don’t have much, we did have a new baby on the way!  Crazy time to start maybe?

So fast forward, 3 months from that point and I coach a few people online and one in person.  I rent some space and pay them a percentage of what I make.  This is where the journey starts for me.

I’ve bitten the bullet and decided that I want to have my own facility in an effort to  extend my reach and help more people, along with the online coaching I am doing now. Not having one has given the impression to many that I am not a “stable trainer.”  I also have a particular way I progress individuals in the movements so I want to stay true to that.  So far it has been interesting to say the least and at times stressful to try and figure out what it is to do from one day to the next.  I’m pretty patient, at least I like to think so.  We will see what happens next.  You are all caught up now and I’m sure there will be more next week.

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.

Yes, You Can Breathe! 

I’m sure many of of you have been in a workout whether it be a run or some type of interval. Where you started to feel a little short of breath. The natural response is to say, “I can’t breathe!” Do you ever wonder how your able to get those words out if you are unable to breathe?  The fact of the matter is that you can still breathe.  Being able to get those words out means exactly that. If you have enough air to take in, then you have enough air to fill your lungs. As a Paramedic for the last 15 years or so I have heard this numerous times and when someone really “can’t breathe” there are no words coming from their mouths and barely any sounds.   If this is confusing to you let me see if I can help you out some.

We all know the lungs take in air and blow it out right? Ok, so then why do you get short of breath whether it be from a disease process or exercise?  Although each a different cause the body tends to react to stress in the same way no matter the stimulus.  With that being said, let’s talk about what happens when “you can’t breathe.” Without making a science project out of it, yeah.

  1. Body reads increased effort or stress, nervous system responds and heart rate increases.
  2. When you breathe your lungs need time to exchange gases of waste and nutrients (carbon dioxide and oxygen).  These gases are carried in the blood stream.
  3. In order for your lungs to keep up with the intake of oxygen and off loading of carbon dioxide your respiratory rate has to increase.  Your heart rate can get in excess of 120 bpm.  Have you ever seen anyone breathe 120 times/minute?  Me neither.
  4. As your heart rate increases along with your respiratory rate, you breathing becomes more shallow.  Why does this suck?  Because those gases don’t exchange like they do in normal breathing.  You build up and excess of Carbon Dioxide and other waste from cellular metabolism.
  5. Because you are not getting as much (not enough oxygen, you are getting plenty)oxygen. You muscles start to become fatigued specifically respiratory muscles,  They are large and working hard to move air in and out of your lungs. Thus giving you the feeling that you can’t breathe.

So now that you have that, how do you fix it?

  • Like most things if you don’t want to suck at something, do it a lot.  You will eventually get better.  Some faster than others. Practice breathing! Do this when not under stress and your body will respond.  90/90 Breathing  and Box Breathing are both good places to start to get control of your breathing while at rest.
  • Get under some stress, increasing your cardio respiratory health and efficiency will help to improve how well you exchange gases.
  • Get a Grip! Don’t freak out! When you feel that you can’t catch your breath and it feels like you can’t breathe, first take a brake and take a deep breath, hold for a second and then let out slowly.  Or think about the box breathing techniques talked about in the video below.  Then once you have calmed down. Get back to it!
  • Be patient, if you have never felt like it was difficult to breathe it can be crazy scary for some.  Understand what is happening and it will get easier over time if you keep at it.  Guaranteed!

You can breathe and you will be fine.  Quick disclaimer.  If you exercise or are sitting on your couch and you start to feel short of breath with significant chest pain or discomfort. This is something very different and could be a medical emergency.  You should stop what you are doing and seek medical attention immediately.  Sometimes it is actually that you cannot breathe.  Check with your physician make sure you are O.K. to start an exercise program and check in with them often.  If you are healthy from the start an maintain that commonly your breathing will get better.  This is true for most with the exception of the ill and those that may not know they are ill.  Being fit is not the only piece of staying healthy just like seeing your doctor on a normal basis doesn’t make you healthy.  Take charge of yourself and your well being.  Enjoy life, enjoy your family.  Until next time.

Do Meal Plans Really Work?

Continuing with our focus on nutrition, this week we are going to talk about meal plans.  What are they? When are they needed? The benefits, and the drawbacks.  Sometimes planning is the biggest factor to success.  Not nutrition, planning.  We are all “busy” there are only twenty-four in the day.  Nutrition is the easiest thing to cut loose. There are fast food restaurants with “healthy” options that make it easy to just pick up and go.  Well the fact of the matter is that we all aren’t that busy.  We just suck at planning! Again, This makes sense.  Why learn how to plan when everything is easy for you and it’s right there to grab with the reach of a wallet or the swipe of a card.  Personally, I do follow a meal plan and what I am going to give you today is the method we use in this house to plan our meals and to leverage the things that are easy for us to grab so that we stay healthy without having to 1. Break the bank and 2. Stress about what and how much we need to eat.  Now if you already have a plan that works for you then good on ya! Keep it up! We are of the opinion that it doesn’t matter to us what you use as long as it’s working for you.  Also, we want you to actually have a plan if you actually have a goal.  “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” Benjamin Franklin.

So how do we use meal plans?  Well first of all, what is it that you like to eat?  We are fairly clean eaters and sometimes we love a pizza or tacos.  Mostly, we eat what I  would consider fairly well.  We don’t mess with sugar, except the occasional dessert.  Then we look at what our meal plan is.  We take out the items we do not like, we do not replace them with unhealthy options.  We consider what is something that we like and has similar nutrient profile.  We replace it on our shopping list and then we shop.  Now, shopping is a whole other thing that my wife handles, because she is smarter than me at getting that done.  Reply to this post if you want to read about how she get’s our shopping done!  Trying to talk her into it now.  From my perspective, we pick out the food for the week ( we shop weekly, it works for us and our budget).  Then we bring it home and prep everything to make the meals.  We don’t make everything but I did watch a recent video on nutrition and meal planning that helped me with meal prep greatly.  Oh, and I bought a crock pot!  From there to make things sort of mindless for us and on autopilot we get the snacks off the prescribed meal plan along with some usual snacks I like for work (2 hard boiled eggs/1 oz almonds). The Macros are changed for each of us and I time my nutrients depending on my activity level.  So the majority of my carbs are just before or after the gym or when I am most active during the day.  Other than that I keep them fairly light.  I have found that I don’t need as many as I think I need.

Other than that, we get snacks for our kid, mostly healthy snacks but we still want him to be a kid, so he gets some of the awesome stuff just to keep him smiling.  If you decide to follow a meal plan make sure you get with your primary care physician if it’s been a while just like anytime you are going to have a significant change in lifestyle.  It’s good to get the oil checked ya know.  Then get with someone who knows what they are talking about.  I am by no means a dietitian or nutritionist.  We do work with registered dietitians who help us create a meal plan for our clients if necessary.   I do have some experience because I am in charge of my health.  I own this part of my life and when things are far out of reach, I seek the people who have a deeper understanding that I do.  You are encouraged to do the same and no matter what.  Do your due diligence, when starting any plan.  Understand what you are getting into and make sure it is something you are committed to.

Remember, meal plans for some are very specific and should be followed depending on it’s purposes. For others it can be a way to help them become organized in their nutrition and start to understand what eating “clean” looks like and how much they should be eating.

As always thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Hey! What Supplements Do You Take?

We’ve all been asked at one point or another if we are avid gym goers.  “What supplements do you take?”  Maybe from a friend or a complete stranger that just happened to notice how often you went into the gym and how you managed to kill it every morning at 5am.  I remember when I first started supplementing my workouts.  I was about 18 or 19 years old in the dessert of Iraq.  The ability to get packages shipped to you was just available to us and we were already working out.  The first and only thing we bought was  a Nitro Tech.  Now there were a few things that we absolutely didn’t think of back then.  We just saw really jacked dudes drinking the stuff and thought that if we drank it, we would get jacked too!  Funny enough that is how they used to market it.  Man did it taste bad though!

Protein

The word supplement in the dictionary means: “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.”  We commonly think of  supplementation as just buying supplements and using them before or after or workouts.  We read the instructions on how to take them and then like medicine given to us by a physician we just kind of take them.  So now I ask the question.  Do you even know what you are putting in your body?  The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry and continues to grow as everything is new and improved.  There are a ton of products that are made to “enhance” your physique and performance.  Well aren’t supplements supposed to enhance my performance?  Good question, the answer is it depends.  I’m sure you’ve heard that before.  Well here is some news for you.

What supplements are supposed to do

use this for email

Supplements are supposed to SUPPLEMENT! A good diet/eating habits.  They should be in conjunction with a good eating/training plan.  If you don’t have those things in place then you might as well not even take supplements.  Think of when you put substance into your body.  When you do so, there are chemical reactions that your body will either react negatively or positively. Supplements will only work if there are “positive” reactions taking place within the target cells.  So having things like adequate  nutrition is going to help tremendously if supplementation is a huge deal for you.  So I’d say first step is to clean up your food.

Now let’s not make a job out of this.  I don’t mean go on a Keto diet, or do a 30 day Paleo challenge.  I simply mean, eat enough food to maintain your goals and then stay consistent.  If your someone that has a hard time then maybe you need a specific meal plan so you can start to develop the habit from good examples and then go at it on your own.  When you can eat and have the intuition to know when you are fueled properly then just maintaining that with quarterly or bi-annual check ins may really be all you need.

Nutrition Label

What about the labels on the package?  Do you really read them?  Or is it more like, well scientist make the stuff so I don’t know what this is.  I’m sure I’ll be alright.  For younger athletes and especially higher level (college & professional) athletes there are quite a few substances that are banned in most sports.  If the chemical name is on the label or there is a proprietary blend on the label, maybe do a little more research about what your taking in.  If that’s not a concern for you and you are more of the type that says; “I’m not an athlete I just want to squat 1000lbs and will do whatever it takes to get there.”  That’s cool too.  My question to you is you squatted 1000lbs, now what?  You going to keep going up?  Until when?  Your hips snap in half?  What if you squatted 8 or 900lbs naturally and were able to do 80-90% of that number well past your 50s with not health problems?  Now to each their own.  The point is while we are willing to take whatever shortcut necessary to get the results we want.  We commonly are not willing to just suck it up over the long run and get their safely and be much stronger for it.  With the experience to boot!

Then what should you take?

First, You should take a good look at your eating habits.  This has been said before and that’s because I’m pretty serious about it.  Look over your food, what you eat and how much you eat.  Don’t worry so much about adding to as much as taking out. For example, When I started to clean up my eating habits, the first thing to go was granulated sugar.  Yep, all that sugar you put in your coffee, is basically taking away from how awesome coffee taste.

Next, stop  taking pre-workouts!  I am not endorsed by ANYONE!  I’m not that special.  I do know what it means to have a mental edge for what you are trying to do.  There is no telling what is in that stuff half the time.  If your diet is good you don’t need it in my opinion.  If you are an early riser, some green tea, or a cup of black coffee 20-30min before the workout should do just fine for you.  Then, buck up! Go get your work done and attack it like your trying to achieve something on the back end.  Even if that is just overall general health.

Then, some of the simple things will do you just fine to start and past that you shouldn’t need much else.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Protein Powder: We are all busy and having the time to always make all the meals with all the calories you require can be tough.  Protein adds quick extra calories in when you are on the run.  I recommend at least 20g of Protein and 40g of Carbs immediately following but no longer than 90 minutes after a workout.
  2. Creatine:  This helps to keep it as simple as I can Hydrate the muscle fibers to help stimulate growth and recovery.  There is no need for the average person to have any more than 5mg a day either right before or just after their workout.  I will sometimes drink it during but have found no real benefit to this.  There should be a cycle to this of about 8 weeks on and 4 weeks off.  Make sure you are reading the label on these.  Not all are made equal
  3. Fish Oil and Multivitamin: This in my opinion is where the magic happens.  The vitamins and minerals from these two supplements are gained where your eating may miss out.  It’s hard to cover everything, no matter how much you try.  They will help with cell function muscle growth and recovery.
  4. Water:  Drink plenty o f water.  This is the medium in which all cellular reaction take place.  If you are not hydrated you are already working backwards.  Make sure you are taking in plenty of fluid period!  At least a gallon/day.

Well, that’s it.  Hope you enjoyed this little bit of information. As always thanks for reading and if there is anything you want me to talk about or learn about, I’m all ears!  Just comment below.

Thanks,

Alfred

 

TOO MUCH TOO SOON!

Had a little bit of time off this past week to visit some close friends.  While I was in town I got to speak with them about how training was going for me and they explained to me some of their pitfalls.  Sometimes your friends and family are the hardest ones to help make a change in their lives.  While talking there were some things that they told me made it difficult for them to really commit to their health and fitness,especially their diet. Some of those things I want to share with you as you  may have hear them before or may be saying them yourself.

  1. “I am so busy, and don’t have enough time.”
  2. ” I am out of shape because  my wife cooks so good.”
  3. “It’s hard for me to eat the right foods while I am away at work.”

I can go on with this for a while but not the point here, the point is we can find reasons not to do a bunch of things, but what about reasons to improve our health and fitness.

  1. Improved heart health
  2. Strong Bones
  3. Improved energy, reduced anxiety and depression

Again, this list can go on and on as well but all in all the benefits of increased health and fitness far outweigh any reason you can think of as to why you can’t.  Of course everyone has their reasons why and they may not include anything that is on here, and that’s fine too.

What we are going to talk about today is not getting started but the biggest hurdle that holds people back and that’s too much too soon.  Mostly in the case of Nutrition.  There are a million experts and nutritionist but very few tend to actually talk about this in a easier way.  How did I learn about how to eat?  I learned from my 3 year old son.  Now when I say that there may be some that know what I’m talking about because I have shared this story before. For others it may be something completely new.  If you have heard this before then awesome, share that information with someone. My son does not like to eat! Pretty much at all! You know when he does eat? When he gets hungry.  When he is full, he stops eating.  Those are my rules to maintaining my weight and I have held onto that with great success and encourage everyone I work with to do the same.

This is how we were made as people.  To eat when we get hungry, not to eat because food is present.  You know who doesn’t like how my son eats?  My wife.  She is constantly trying to feed him more, just like my mother did to me and I’m willing to bet your mother to you and you to your kids.  It is completely from a place of love and possibly fear of your kids dying under your care from starvation.  This won’t happen, we are animals and are going to survive.  We will not let ourselves starve. when our body needs food it will ask for it and we should fulfill that request until the body signals that it has what it needs.  What your mom did was damage that signaling.  So, this is the first step.  I call it a metabolism reset.  You may have heard of something very similar but this is a different more natural sustainable approach.  The steps are easy:

  1. When you are hungry, eat something.  Now in the beginning you get a break.  Try to stay away from fast food and if you do choose the healthiest options possible, we are not trying to be overwhelming here.  But simply eat a meal that is going to keep you full.  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and it’s hard to mess that up, so let’s start with that.
  2. When you are full, stop eating.  This is the hardest part, you see that plate or bowl full of food and you need to choose to listen to your body and not eat with your eyes.  Stop eating once you first feel full, your are going to want to clean your plate. Fight that feeling.
  3. When  you are bored and want a snack but are not really hungry, choose to move instead of eat more.  This is also very difficult and will force you to have some self control and listen to your body.
  4. Increase your activity level.  This doesn’t need to be crazy intense, we will talk about why in a moment but just get moving.  Whether that is a 30 min walk every day or a 20 min run.  Start somewhere, just get moving.

What you will find will happen fairly quickly is that you are not eating as much as you are used to and you will feel very hungry.  Don’t panic! Two other things will happen, you will lose weight, because you are not eating nearly as much as you are used to and you will get used to it.  This first phase of our reset takes about two weeks. It is the hardest part, because it takes 14-21 days to form new habits this will be very difficult.  If you make it past it, then the rest becomes very easy and starts to get interesting.

In this first phase you are restricting your calories, lets be clear about that.  There will be a period of adjustment.  This is what we are looking for, to get you back to the point where you started.  So let’s go over it again.

  1. When you are hungry eat something.  If you eat fairly well already this will benefit you as far as your energy goes during the process but right now don’t overthink it.  Just get some food in.
  2. When you are full stop! You need to learn self control.  You are full! You are just eating because you have nothing better to do in that moment.
  3. Find something better to do.  Don’t sit around.  If you are hungry, really hungry then eat.
  4. Increase your activity level.  If you already work out but are finding it hard to shed the pounds give this first phase a try.

What you are trying to avoid is too much work too soon.  You wouldn’t go into the gym and start working out with 300 pounds on the first day.  So why try to eat food you haven’t been eating and in an amount you have never had.  Again, don’t stress over the calories, just feed yourself without being excessive.

Next, we will talk about how you go from a calorie deficit to a surplus naturally and how if you stick to this the right way you will start to increase the amount of food you take in based on your bodies natural signaling and not out of having anything better to do.