Blog

  • eating at maintenance

    eating at maintenance

    Yes, sometimes I will have a client start to eat more calories, and magically, they will begin to lose weight or have an easier time adding muscle.

    It’s like when I told my fat loss client, John, to start eating closer to 2,700 instead of the 1,600 calories he was eating. His exact words were something along the lines of:

    “Are you f*cking sure?” ๐Ÿ˜…

    Once we increased calories, he lost weight and found it easier to have enough energy to make it to the gym.

    John’s progress. ๐Ÿค“

    Now was this because he was in StArVaTiOn mode? Nope, because no one struggling to lose weight is in starvation mode. I am happy to tell you that because I would be very worried about you if you were genuinely experiencing starvation. Most likely, you wouldn’t be reading this post on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop in the middle of the afternoon.

    My client started to eat within a calorie range that he could more easily adhere to, and as a result, he had more energy to exercise, go for walks, and keep up with his family.

    For any of my clients who have experience with yo-yo dieting, we don’t start by cutting calories. That’s pretty silly because that’s what they’ve been doing, and it hasn’t worked out thus far.

    Don’t be such an eager beaver when it comes to weight loss. Spending time eating at maintenance will make life easier. In that time, you can practice foundational eating skills like:

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Noticing hunger and fullness.
    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Establishing an eating schedule.
    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Practicing eating balanced plates.
    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Looking at your bedtime routine.
    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Adding movement into your life: Going for walks.

    These are just a few foundational skills that can come before you even take a gander at manipulating calories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Someone who promises rapid weight loss is just promising you rapid weight gain.

    Everyone is on their own timeline for health and wellness. Don’t try to match someone else’s tempo because you’ll end up back where you started.

    If you’re ready to take the guesswork out of your nutrition and you’re tired of cycling through diet after diet, click here and fill out your application for 1:1 nutrition coaching.

  • The Ultimate Chin-Up Guide

    The Ultimate Chin-Up Guide

    You spend most of your day pushing. 

    Think about it; you lean forward to read this article on your phone while at your desk. You are pushing your arms against a desk to stay upright. 

    When you come home, you grab a cozy spot on the couch and lean on your favorite shoulder.  

    Since you are constantly pushing, adding more pulling into your workouts isn’t a bad idea.  

    The chin-up is one of my favorite pulling exercises; it just so happens that many of my clients want to learn how to perform their first chin-up! 

    After you read this article, you will know how to go from zero to hero with your first chin-up. 

    Pull-Ups vs. Chin-Ups 

    Before you dive in, let’s make sure everyone knows the difference between a chin-up and a pull-up.  

    The chin-up: 

    GripUnderhand
    Pull Vertical
    Muscles usedLatisumus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major, bicep, and anterior delt bias
    Difficulty Moderately difficult

    The Pull-up:

    Grip Overhand
    PullVertical
    Muscles used Latisumus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major
    Difficulty Hard

    The significant difference between the pull-up and the chin-up is the hand position. To perform a chin-up, you will grip the bar with your palms facing you. This position will recruit more of the bicep, making the vertical pull “easier.” 

    The pull-up requires someone to grip the bar with palms facing away, placing more of the workload on your lats, making the pull-up more difficult.   

    Also, if someone does not have the proper shoulder strength and flexibility, the pull-up can become a high-risk vs. high-reward situation. 

    This is why I tend to have clients first work toward nailing a solid chin-up for multiple repetitions before advancing to a pull-up. 

    Now that we covered the nerdy stuff let’s get into the programming. 

    How To Train For Your First Chin-Up

    Hollow Body

    One of the important positions someone should learn before grabbing the chin-up bar is the hollow body.  

    If you have seen someone perform a chin-up with legs crossed and ribs flared, you will notice they perform partial repetitions and might grab their shoulders after hopping off the bar. 

    It is not the ideal position for the chin-up because it isn’t as efficient and can make the movement pretty clunky.  

    Watching a gymnast pull themselves to the top of the rings, you will notice they are consistently in a hollow position.  

    As my friend and mentor, Ryan Hurst, says, “tighter is lighter.” 

    The hollow body position will train you to maintain total body tension and build a heck of a strong mid-section.  

    Key focus points: 

    • Keep your lower back in contact with the ground at all times. 
    • Squeeze your legs together and point your toes. 
    • Tuck your chin, and don’t strain through your neck. 

    Programming consideration: 

    • Partner hollow body holds with any row variation. 
    • Start with shorter holds focusing on maintaining the proper position. 
    • 3 x 20 seconds is a good starting point. 

    Pulling Prep

    The pulling prep is a bang for your buck movement and should be a part of any program focused on building a strong and resilient set of shoulders.  

    Due to scapular depression and retraction, you will target the lats, traps, and rhomboids. These are the crucial muscles involved in vertical pulling that don’t get enough love and attention.  

    When you attempt to perform the pulling prep, PLEASE don’t forget to start in your hollow body position.  

    Grip the bar with straight arms, and pull the shoulder blades toward your “back pockets.” Then with control, you will return to your dead hang position.  

    The pulling prep is a slight movement, and if you are arching through your upper/lower back, you aren’t targeting the intended muscles. In other words, it is not going to help your chin-up. 

    Key Focus Points: 

    • Start in the dead hang position and get into a hollow body.  
    • Maintain straight arms as you pull down through your shoulder blades. 
    • Do not allow the chest to lift, and keep your chin tucked. 

    Programming Considerations: 

    • You can incorporate pulling prep into most training sessions, especially upper body days. 
    • 3-5 sets of 5-10 repetitions are more than enough. You don’t want to tire yourself before working on other pulling movements. 
    • Rest up 1-2 minutes between sets. 

    Reverse Rowsย 

    First Variation to try!
    This progression will give you incredible pulling strength and control.
    This is the final product and possibly one of my favorite row variations.

    The reverse row is a staple horizontal pulling pattern that targets most of the same musculature as a vertical pullโ€” the significant difference is in the position of your body. 

    If you have never performed the reverse row, you will start standing. As the movement becomes easier, you can try positioning yourself underneath the rings or suspension trainer.   

    It is common to see someone perform the reverse row with flared elbows; however, keeping the elbows closer to the ribs makes the movement more efficient because tighter is lighter.  

    Key Focus Points: 

    • Start with hands in a neutral position. 
    • Initiate the row by focusing on pulling the elbows back. 
    • Pause with the elbows by your side before returning to the starting position. 
    • Imagine squeezing an orange in your armpit. Sounds funny, but it will help with lat engagement and arm positioning. 

    Programming Considerations

    • You can add reverse rows to your current training program. 
    • 3-5 sets of 6-10 repetitions will be more than enough. 
    • Rest 90 – 120 seconds between sets. 
    •  Listen to your body and remember doing less is okay. 

    Reverse Row Sit Backย 

    The reverse row sit-back was first introduced to me while training and closely working with Ryan Hurst and the team at GMB Fitness.ย 

    It combines the reverse row with a vertical pull that closely mimics a chin-up. Because your feet are on the ground, it makes it easier to manipulate the intensity – allowing you to increase the volume without sacrificing form. 

    Key Focus Points: 

    • Start directly under the rings with arms straight, knees bent, and chest facing the ceiling. 
    • Initiate the row by pulling the elbows back as far as you can, maintaining level hips, and sitting your butt back while continuing to pull down into the rings. 
    • Turn the rings in with palms facing you as you end up in the chin-up position. 
    • Reverse all the steps ending in your reverse row position. 

    Programming Considerations: 

    • 2-3 sessions a week is more than enough.
    • 3-5 sets aiming for 5-8 repetitions is a good goal. 
    • Rest 2-3 minutes between sets. 

    The Assisted Chin-Up 

    The assisted chin-up is a fantastic way to develop the strength and control necessary for performing full chin-ups.  

    By performing the assisted chin-up, you can train using the full range of motion easily adjusted by adding or taking weight off the lower body.   

    When performing the assisted chin-up, you will use a chair or box to be able to hold onto the bar. 

    There are two variations you can try. 

    #1. Performing a full assisted chin-up and lowering with feet in contact with the chair/box. 

    #2. Performing a full assisted chin-up, lowering with legs extended, and using a slow negative. 

    Both are fantastic progressions, and the latter is more difficult due to the slow eccentric portion of the movement. 

    Key Focus Points: 

    • Initiate the movement with a pulling prep. 
    • Pull your elbows down and move slow and controlled. 
    • Lower and focus on keeping the elbows tight to the body.  

    Programming Considerations: 

    • Perform 2-3 times a week.  
    • 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions 
    • Rest for 2 minutes between sets. 

    Negative Chin-Ups 

    Slow eccentrics are the name of the game, friend-o. 

    Performing negative chin-ups is a fantastic way to train with the full range of motion and builds on all the previous exercises.  

    You will develop tremendous arm, shoulder, and core strength. I will argue that you develop full body strength because you are lowering in the hollow position, which requires legs to be together and toes pointed.  

    Tighter is lighter.” 

    Key Focus Points: 

    • Jump up to your starting position and pause.  
    • Slowly lower, keeping your shoulders out of your ears and elbows tight to the body. 
    • Pause in a dead hang and perform a pull-prep.  

    Programming considerations: 

    • Perform 2-3 times per week. 
    • 6 sets of 1-3 reps.
    • Rest for 2 minutes between sets.

    *Eccentrics are taxing on the body and require more recovery time. Working on single attempts is a great starting point.  

    The Chin-Up 

    Now’s the moment you have been waiting for, you eager beaver. 

    To perform the chin-up, grab the bar with palms facing you, perform a pulling prep and continue pulling the elbows down toward your hips. Squeeze your legs together with toes pointed, and don’t stop pulling until your chin is over the bar. 

    Pause at the top and take a moment to breathe in the victory!!! 

    Slowly lower while keeping the elbows squeezed in, shoulders pulled down, and legs together with toes pointed.  

    Once at the bottom, perform a single pulling prep.  

    Repeat with a pulling-prep at the start and finish of every attempt. 

    The secret for better chin-ups is to practice your chin-up, and when that feels too hard, pick any of the other progressions laid out above. 

    How To Program

    Here is how I would consider programming a 4-week block of training focusing on nailing your first chin-up. 

    Week 1: 

    A/B days 

    • Pulling prep 3 x 6 
    • Reverse Row Sit back: 5×5 
    • Hollow body Hold 3×20 seconds 

    C Day

    • Pulling Prep 3×6
    • Assisted chin-up with lowering option #1 5×3  
    • Reverse Rows 3×12

    *For rest guidelines, please refer to the descriptions above. 

    Week 2:

    A/B days 

    • Pulling prep 3 x 6 
    • Reverse Row Sit back: 5×5 
    • Hollow body Hold 3×20 seconds 

    C Day

    • Pulling Prep 3×6
    • Assisted chin-up with lowering option #1 6×3  
    • Reverse Rows 3×12 

    *For rest guidelines, please refer to the descriptions above. 

    Week 3:

    A/B days 

    • Pulling prep 3 x 6 
    • Jump To Negatives 5×1
    • Reverse Row Sit back: 4×6-8 

    C Day

    • Pulling Prep 3×6
    • Assisted chin-up with lowering option #2 5×3  
    • Reverse Row 4×8
    • Hollow Body 3×30

    *For rest guidelines, please refer to the descriptions above. 

    Week 4: 

    A/B days 

    • Pulling prep 3 x 6 
    • Jump To Negatives 5×2
    • Reverse Row Sit back: 4×6-8 

    C Day

    • Pulling Prep 3×6
    • Assisted chin-up with lowering option #2 6×3  
    • Reverse Row 4×6-8
    • Hollow Body 3×30

    *For rest guidelines, please refer to the descriptions above. 

    Chin-Up FAQs

    Now that you have your four-week program let’s tackle some commonly asked questions about the chin-up.  

    How long will it take me to get my first chin-up? 

    The short answer is it depends. The long answer depends on how frequently you train and your training history. 

    If you are someone who has been training for a while with a good deal of upper body strength, it can take a few weeks.  

    If you are new to training, it could take a couple of months or a year. 

    Please remember to take what I am saying with a grain of salt because I don’t know you, and everyone is different. 

    With that said, if you train and are patient, I promise you will get your first chin-up, and it will be FRICKEN GLORIOUS.   

    How can I get my first pull-up? 

    I knew someone was going to ask that question, and I’m glad it was you!

    If you can nail a solid set of 10 chin-ups, you are more than ready to work toward your first pull-up. 

    The secret is to take the assisted chin-up and negative chin-up and turn your hands so they are gripping the bar with palms facing out.  

    Follow the same set, repetition, and rest guidelines described earlier. 

    How can I train for the chin-up if I don’t have access to a bar? 

    If you don’t have access to a bar for chin-ups, you are doomed. 

    JUST KIDDING!  

    You have quite a few options which I use and frequently program. 

    #1. Get yourself a set of gymnastic rings. They are easy to hang in a park, from a tree, from your neighbor’s swing set. I prefer the wood rings made by rogue. This isn’t an ad; I find them to be the best.

    #2. If you aren’t a fan of rings, you get yourself a suspension trainer like a TRX. It’s pretty versatile and can be hung outdoors or from a doorway.  

    #3. While using a bar is your best bet, you can incorporate other exercises that can help develop the chin-up. Check out the video below for several ideas.ย 

    Floating Table Top

    The Floating Table Top is a fantastic way to develop pulling strength without touching the bar.  

    Being on all fours and maintaining a hollow position allows the body to mimic what will happen when hanging from the bar. Keeping a hollow position allows the body to move more efficiently through space.  

    Tighter is always lighter. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

    As you practice, you will find you can shift your weight forward and further challenge your positional strength. The more you can push while maintaining straight arms, the better.ย ย 

    Leopard Crawl

    The leopard crawl allows you to coordinate the upper body with the lower body. By pulling the ribs down and initiating the movement through the shoulder blades, you develop the reflexive strength necessary for the chin-up. 

    Also, you are developing mobility and strength through the shoulder girdle.  

    Happy shoulder girdle = ease of movement. 

    Half Kneeling Resistance Band Row With A Reach

    The half kneeling resistance band row with a reach allows you to use a little momentum to move the shoulder blade. This can be a helpful addition to any vertical pulling practice as it helps you learn how to initiate movement via the shoulder blade while keeping the elbow tight to the body throughout the row.

    Elbows close to the body lead to a smooth pulling pattern.

    What’s Next? 

    Okay, now that you know all the secrets, you will perform chin-ups like a seasoned professional. 

    Pat yourself on the bat because the chin-up is not a simple exercise that you throw haphazardly into a training session.  

    There are progressions, regressions, and recovery periods that you should not ignore.  

    Not to mention training should enhance your life and not leave you with aches and pain.  

    That’s why I put together this FREE mobility class. It’s 60 minutes long and will leave you feeling flexible and strong for whatever the day throws your way. 

  • How Often Should You Eat For Weight loss?

    How Often Should You Eat For Weight loss?

    I have been coaching for a decade and am about to answer a hot topic question.  

    “How many meals should I eat while trying to lose weight?” 

    By the end of this article, you will know the answer and be able to plan your meals for the week. 

    Weight Loss and Numbers

    Calories matter. 

    No matter how magical a diet claims to be, it boils down to a reduction in calories, A.K.A a calorie deficit

    When someone reduces their calories, technically, they will be eating less. That’s why there are so many ideas on the “optimal” number of meals to consume while losing weight. 

    One school of thought focuses heavily on metabolism and the thermic effect of foods.   

    Thermic Effect of Foods: Is the increase in metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) after eating food.  

    T.E.F accounts for 10% of daily calories burnt.  

    Your body needs to use energy to digest the food you consume. 

    Take a moment and look at the Thermic Effect Of Macronutrients

    Protein4 calories per gramT.E.F 20-30%
    Carbohydrates4 calories per gramT.E.F 5-15%
    Fat9 Calories per gram T.E.F 0-5%

    Protein has a thermic effect of 20-30%, which is why it is an essential nutrient in your diet to lose or maintain weight.  

    The body requires the most energy to digest protein properly. That’s why it can help someone remain full in a calorie deficit.  

    Carbohydrates can have a thermic effect of 5-15%, depending on their source. A complex carbohydrate high in fiber will take longer to digest, increasing its thermic effect.  

    Fats have the lowest thermic effect at 0-5%, and they require the least energy to digest. 

    Now that you know a little more about the thermic effect of food, I will remind you that having a balanced diet is essential. Protein has a higher thermic effect; however, it does not mean you should only eat protein.   

    All of the macronutrients serve a purpose, and having a balanced diet makes it easier to adhere to a nutrition plan in the long run. Not to mention the reduction in all-cause mortality when you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Eat Six Small Meals

    In 2007 the book “Eat All Day Diet: Eat 6 Meals A Day And Lose Weight Fast” was published and claimed that eating three moderate-sized meals and three nutrient-filled snacks per day would cause you to lose weight “fast” by boosting your metabolism.

    The book’s author was late to the party because bodybuilders have been doing this for years to ensure they fuel appropriately to make all the gainZzZz.ย 

    Remember when you learned about the Thermic Effect of Foods a few paragraphs ago?  

    Thermic Effect of Foods: Is the increase in metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) after eating food.ย ย 

    In theory, by frequently eating throughout the day, yourย metabolism should increase due to the thermic effect of foods.ย ย 

    Ahhh, I wish it were true; alas, that’s not how the human body works. 

    There is no difference in T.E.F if you have larger infrequent meals vs. frequently smaller meals throughout the day if calories are matched. 

    A review of multiple studies found “that any effects of meal pattern on the regulation of body weight are likely to be mediated through effects on the food intake side of the energy balance equation.”

    In other words, so long as calories are matched, the thermic effect of foods does not boost your metabolism to lose weight faster.  

    A calorie deficit is how someone loses weight.  

    That’s why intermittent fasting works well for some people. 

    So, Fasting Is The Answer? 

    Fasting is viable for folks who do not enjoy breakfast and eat balanced meals throughout the day.   

    This next section is from one of my more popular articles, “Should You Fast?”

    Fasting is just another method for reducing calories and if your goal is weight loss, entering a calorie deficit and maintaining it is crucial. 

    A recent randomized study, “Calorie Restriction with or without Time-Restricted Eating in Weight Loss,” randomly assigned 139 patients with obesity to time-restricted eating with calorie restriction or daily calorie restriction alone. At the end of one year, they concluded: “a regimen of time-restricted eating was not more beneficial with regard to reduction in body weight, body fat, or metabolic risk factors than daily calorie restriction.” 

    In other words, your ability to adhere to a caloric deficit is KEY, and it doesn’t matter if you are fasting or not fasting. It just happens to be more challenging for someone to stick with restricted eating windows vs. finding balance and tracking calories.

    Fasting isn’t magical. 

    Eating six meals a day isn’t logical. 

    And a calorie deficit is how someone can lose weight

    Now, let’s chat about what works better than fad dieting trends. 

    Eat A Meal Every 4-6 Hours 

    Let’s start by defining the word meal. 

    According to Oxford Languages, a meal is any of the regular occasions in a day when a reasonably large amount of food is eaten, such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

    Eating a meal makes you more likely to recognize you are getting full and stop eating if you have a balanced plate.  

    Most people don’t stop eating once the meal is over. It’s somewhat considered normal to snack throughout the day, even if you aren’t hungry. 

    The things you snack on are less nutrient-dense, highly palatable, and easy to overconsume.   

    Snacks are a very sneaky, not so sneaky, way of not maintaining a calorie deficit. 

    Snacks aren’t bad! I love a good snack; however, if someone was to eat a balanced plate, they might not snack because they aren’t truly hungry. 

    You should be full until about 30 minutes before your next meal.   

    If you find you’re hungry one to two hours after your meal, chances are the meal was unbalanced or too small. So, it makes total sense to be hungry!  

    Or, there is the off chance that you aren’t hungry–you just had a rough day at work and are stressed.  

    Many of my clients struggle with noticing the difference between hunger, boredom, exhaustion, and emotions. That’s why I wrote this article. 

    To keep things simple, focus on using the guideline of eating a meal every 4-6 hours. This will put you at three meals a day, and maybe three meals and one snack for others. 

    Wait, No Snacks? 

    Okay okay okay…I mentioned that snacks weren’t great if you were trying to lose weight. Before you throw your laptop out the window, let me explain myselfโ€”no need to be dramatic.   

    For argument’s sake, let’s call anything you put in your mouth between meals a snack. 

    When you grab a few skittles off your coworker’s desk.

    When you grab a few handfuls of nuts from the closet because it’s “health food.”

    When you eat your kid’s leftovers while cleaning up.

    Are any of these foods bad? No, not in the slightest; however, they all contain calories, and doing this throughout the day can add up. 

    Also, many of these snacks are unplanned, and the person snacking doesn’t adjust their portion sizes during their next meal.ย 

    Chris, then why did you bother mentioning snacking at all?

    I mentioned snacking because sometimes your schedule will require you to wait longer than six hours for a meal. When this happens, it is easy to overeat at the next meal, especially if you are in a calorie deficit.ย 

    Amazingly, you can look at your schedule and plan to have your snacks, which means they are called “deliberate snacks.” 

    Deliberate Snacks

    A deliberate snack is pre-planned when you know it will be longer than six hours before your next meal.  

    Ideally, your snack will be a combination of any two of the following: 

    • Protein
    • Carbohydrate 
    • Vegetables 
    • Fat

    Here are a few examples that my clients love to use: 

    • Greek Yogurt with blueberries. 
    • String cheese with turkey deli meat.
    • A handful of almonds with an apple. 
    • A protein shake. 

    These combinations are nutrient-dense, so you are more likely to recognize when you are getting full. People who use deliberate snacks will also adjust portion sizes at their next meal.  

    For instance, if you have a protein shake 45 minutes before a meal, you might not need to eat as much, which is normal!   

    Chris, I’m already doing this, and I’m always hungry. 

    Keep reading, reader! 

    But I’m Hungry All The Time

    It is normal to be hungry when you are trying to lose weight.

    You will be eating slightly less than usual.

    Many of my clients find that they are still “hungry” throughout the day but are eating balanced meals with enough protein, carbs, fat, & fiber. When we spend time trying to look at why they are hungry, it usually happens when:

    ๐Ÿ˜ด They are exhausted and slept poorly the night before.

    ๐Ÿคฌ They had a stressful day at work.

    ๐Ÿซค They are bored and are avoiding a task.

    We can identify it as a craving and not hunger because it builds and fades over time and isn’t a hollow feeling in their stomach; they aren’t light-headed and don’t feel shaky.

    Your Hunger Check List: 

    1. The feeling starts in your stomach 
    2. The feeling increases over time
    3. You’re hungry for a meal

    The best question to ask yourself is, “am I hungry for a meal?” 

    Does a piece of fruit sound good right about now? 

    Does a plate of tacos with black beans, rice, and some salsa sound good? 

    If you answered yes to either of these, you are hungry.   

    Now, if the answer is no, chances are you have a craving, and it will pass. I don’t recommend sitting and staring at the cookies while you attempt to let the urge pass by. 

    Your Craving Check List: 

    1. The feel isn’t in the stomach 
    2. The feeling comes and goes in a wave
    3. You want a “treat.” 

    I don’t like to call specific foods “treats” because, to be honest, you are a grown adult and can choose to have whatever type of food you want. 

    Cake is terrific, and I don’t tell my clients they can’t enjoy dessert. But it becomes easier to overindulge because they are grabbing cake as a snack and aren’t hungry.

    If someone’s goal is weight loss, adding extra calories from highly palatable foods can make it harder to notice when you are full, specifically when using food as a coping mechanism.

    The cake isn’t the problem; it’s the use of cake for frequent emotional regulation, boredom, or to help you stay awake.

    When I work with clients, we focus on identifying cravings and finding when they start. Together we develop a game plan and learn a little more about why behind the choices someone makes.

    Don’t Go Cold Turkey

    Don’t just throw out all of your snacks. That isn’t cool.ย ย 

    A good rule of thumb is to practice saying yes fifty percent of the time and no the other fifty percent. 

    Sometimes you’ll say yes to the cake because it’s your anniversary, and you want to share some with your loved one. Other times you will say no, like when it’s 10 pm, and you are exhausted. Instead, you will read a book in bed and fall asleep because you are taking your kids on a morning hike, which is of value to you. 

    As you practice, you will find that the percentages shift around. 

    TL;DR

    The truth is that the daily number of meals depends on your lifestyle and what works best for you.

    Is there one optimal number of meals per day? Not so long as calories are in alignment with your particular goal.

    I will say that aiming to eat a meal every 4-6 hours makes it easier not to snack as often.  

    This can be 3 or 4 meals a day with one deliberate snack. 

    You will get lean if you’re snacking less and eating balanced meals.ย ย 

  • The Fiber guide: How to get more fiber and 30 high fiber foods to try

    The Fiber guide: How to get more fiber and 30 high fiber foods to try

    Chris, what is the most underrated nutrient?  

    So, glad you asked.  

    I think fiber is the most underrated nutrient; on average, most Americans are horrible at getting enough in their diet.  

    When I talk about fiber, I don’t mean the day-old bran muffin you accidentally grabbed at Starbucks. Sorry, that happened to you; blueberry muffins taste way better. 

    Let’s talk about fiber, why you need it, and 30 different high-fiber foods you can try.  

    What Is Fiber? 

    If we take a minute to get sciencey, there are specific types of carbohydrates the body can more easily turn into sugar molecules, called glucose. Fiber does not break down into sugar molecules and therefore passes through the body undigested. 

    You can call fiber “nature’s broom.” 

    There are two types of fiber in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  

    Soluble or fermentable fibers are fermented in the colon. 

    Insoluble fibers have bulking action and ferment for a shorter period. 

    Soluble fibers will dissolve in water (plant pectins), and insoluble fiber will not dissolve in water (plant cellulose and hemicellulose).  

    Both types of fiber take more time for the body to digest properly, which is why adding fiber to your diet can be helpful for hunger and fullness between meals.  

    Not to mention most high-fiber foods are unprocessed, low calorie, and nutrient-dense. 

    As the body digests soluble fiber, it creates a gel-like substance that might improve digestion. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, and psyllium.

    Insoluble fiber soaks up water which helps to make it easier to poop. Sources of soluble fiber are beans, whole wheat or bran products, green beans, potatoes, cauliflower, and nuts.

    Consuming enough fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

    How Much Fiber Should You Have? 

    The adage that too much of anything can’t be good applies to fiber. 

    When someone starts overconsuming fiber to become “healthy” after watching a Tiktok video on creating the ultimate fiber drink, they usually end up bloated, gassy, and constipated. Ironic, huh? 

    Getting more fiber in your diet is good, but going from zero to 150 isn’t your best bet.  

    So, my eager beaver friend, I would try to stick to these dietary guidelines:

    Adult Men: 36 g/day 

    Adult Women: 28g/day 

    Most Americans consume less than half of the recommended amount of fiber.  

    Earlier I made fun of the person drinking the Tiktok fiber bomb beverage, and now I want to apologize.  They are just trying to get more fiber in their diet.

    You can drink a fiber supplement if you have difficulty hitting the daily recommended amount; however, the phytonutrients & micronutrients are usually missing from those supplements.

    Don’t worry. 

    Keep reading. 

    I’ve got you covered with 30 high-fiber foods you can add to your diet

    30 High Fiber Foods 

    You will find the fiber, serving size, and calories for each food.

    Fruit

    Raspberries: 

    • 1 cup 
    • 8g fiber 
    • 64 calories 

    Avocado

    • 1 cup 
    • 9.8g fiber 
    • 233 calories 

    Strawberries:

    • 1 cup (halves) 
    • 3.3g fiber
    • 53 calories 

    Apple: 

    • 6 oz apple
    • 4.3g fiber
    • 93 calories

    Banana:

    • 6.5 oz banana 
    • 3.1g fiber 
    • 105 calories 

    Pear:

    • 7 oz pear 
    • 5.5g fiber 
    • 103 calories

    Blackberries:

    • 1 cup 
    • 7.6g fiber
    • 62 calories

    Vegetables

    Carrots: 

    • 1 cup chopped
    • 3.6g fiber 
    • 52 calories 

    Green Peas:

    • 1 cup raw
    • 7.4g fiber
    • 117 calories 

    Broccoli:

    • 1 cup chopped raw
    • 2.4g fiber 
    • 31 calories 

    Brussel Sprouts:

    • 1 cup raw
    • 3.3g fiber
    • 38 calories 

    Beets:

    • 1 cup sliced boiled
    • 1.7g fiber 
    • 37 calories 

     Artichokes: 

    • 5.6 oz
    • 8.6g fiber 
    • 75 calories 

    Sweet Potato:

    • 3.9 oz baked 
    • 3.7g fiber 
    • 100 calories 

    Legumes

    Split peas:

    • 1 cup boiled
    • 16.3g fiber
    • 231 calories 

    Lentils: 

    • 1 cup boiled 
    • 15.6g fiber
    • 229 calories 

    Kidney beans:

    • 1 cup canned 
    • 11g fiber
    • 210 calories 

    Black Beans:

    • 1 cup boiled
    • 15g fiber 
    • 227 calories 

    Lima Beans:

    • 1 cup boiled
    • 14g fiber
    • 229 calories

    Garbanzo Beans

    • 1 cup boiled
    • 12.5g fiber
    • 269 calories

    Seeds

    Chia seeds:

    • 2 tablespoons
    • 10g fiber
    • 130 calories 

    Almonds: 

    • 1/4 cup slices
    • 2.7g fiber
    • 133 calories

    Sunflower seeds:

    • 1/4 cup 
    • 1.2g fiber 
    • 65 calories 

    Pumpkin seeds:

    • 1/4 cup 
    • 1.9g fiber
    • 169 calories 

    Grains

    Barley:

    • 1 cup cooked
    • 8.6g fiber
    • 193 calories

    Bran Flakes:

    • 1 cup 
    • 7g fiber
    • 110 calories  

    Quinoa:

    • 1 cup cooked
    • 5.2g fiber
    • 222 calories 

    Oatmeal:

    • 1/2 cup cooked 
    • 4.1g fiber
    • 154 calories  

    Popcorn: 

    • 1 cup plain
    • 1.2g fiber
    • 31 calories 

    Brown rice:

    • 1/2 cup steamed
    • 1.6g fiber
    • 124 calories

    Mission, Carb Balance, Whole Wheat Tortilla 

    • 1 tortilla 
    • 23g fiber 
    • 110 calories 

    May you live a long life full of many poops. 

    I hope you will consider the many health benefits of having fiber in your diet.  

    There are so many diets that people try to follow; one, in particular, suggests removing fiber altogether from your diet.  

    If you follow that diet, I suggest you consider the long-term effects and ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy having horrible poops.  

    If you answered yes, this article was a complete waste of your time. 

    If you answered no, I think you wisely spent your time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Social media is the wild wild west of nutrition and if you’re confused, shoot me a message on the gram. 

    If you want to take the guesswork out of your nutrition, I can help you. Click here to learn more about my 1:1 coaching services. 

  • fitness Lessons From My Father

    fitness Lessons From My Father

    When I was a little kid, my dad would toss me onto his shoulders, and we would adventure to the park near our home. I can remember sitting on top of his shoulders and feeling as if I could see the entire world. He is over six feet tall, and I still remember thinking, “wow, my dad is a giant.” 

    Every weekend he would spend hours doing yard work in the same old white t-shirt, sweaty pair of jeans, and grass-stained New Balance. He would chug a glass of lemonade, look at me and ruffle my hair, and then go back outside. He did this until my parents got a divorce when I was 13.   

    My father is an incredibly complicated individual who has dealt with alcoholism most of his life. I remember thinking he was a superhero. He never seemed tired and never cried when he got hurt.  

    I now live hundreds of miles away from my father and see him once or twice a year. I have tried to reconnect during my sobriety, and we speak on the phone daily. 

    During a recent visit, I watched him sit with my 2-year-old and felt an ache in my heart. My father is 70 and looks like he is in his 80’s. The man, who once stood as a towering figure, struggles to get up from a chair. The burly arms that tossed me around now work to steady a glass of water. He has never held my son because he is unsure of his abilities to manage a squirming child.  

    When we hugged goodbye, I held on a little longer than usual, and he got uncomfortable and pushed away. We don’t share our feelings very often, and I don’t blame him for his discomfort.  

    My relationship with my dad has impacted my own family, career, and wellness, thanks to the one lesson he taught me about health and fitness. 

    My Father’s Fitness 

    In middle school, I was bullied by kids who were bigger than me. I was always small for my age, and my love of musical theatre put a target on my back. 

    After a particularly rough day, I told my dad I was tired of being weaker than everyone. That afternoon we stood in the garage, and he taught me how to throw a punch. I specifically remember him telling me that if I was going to hit someone, I needed to keep going until the fight was over.   

    I wanted to be able to defend myself, but the thought of hitting someone and not stopping scared me. So, I never brought up being bullied again and learned how to use humor to de-escalate challenging situations.  

    My parents bought me a weight set the following Christmas, and I was a little confused because I didn’t ask for one. Also, I had never seen anyone in my house do anything closely related to exercise. 

    I was further surprised by the Rocky boxing gym replica my dad created in the basement. There, he sat me down and began to explain how to bench press, perform curls, and stay hydrated.  

    Two

    That is the number of times my dad tried to train me. He worked a lot of overtime and…the drinking. I tried to work out on my own, but without help, I was pretty unmotivated, and I was 11 years old. 

    I let the weight set collect dust and watched my dad drink.   

    Lesson #1: When you get sad or angry, mask it, drink, or do anything other than deal with the feelings.   

    It was the biggest lesson I learned during that brief fitness period in my childhood. I watched my dad drink, over-eat, and argue with my mom until the day she served him with divorce papers. 

    Eat A Vegetable

    By the time I got to college, I was a mess. My mom was battling cancer; my dad’s drinking was out of control, and I tasted beer for the first time.  

    I was sad and angry & found that drinking made things more manageable. 

    I regret many of the choices I made while drinking, and talking about it in therapy and AA has changed my life. But that’s a different story for another day. 

    When I was a freshman, I decided to eat vegetables.  

    The first time I ate a salad was in an NYU dining hall during my first week of college. Growing up, I refused to eat vegetables, and salad wasn’t something we ate.  

    If I had to venture a guess, I think I chose to eat vegetables because I didn’t want to be like my dad.   

    He was overweight and drank like a fish. I was already drinking, so I decided 1 out of 2 wasn’t too shabby. And just like that, I started to eat from the salad bar. It’s a habit that eventually led to learning more about cooking.  

    “Fitness Is My Therapy” 

    During my sophomore year of college, I was cast in a musical that required me to bulk up, and with the help of my best friend, Tim, I began working out consistently. 

    Did I enjoy it? No. 

    I was so sore after my first session I didn’t go back for two weeks. Eventually, what convinced go back was how “good” I felt.  

    Physically I was sore, but mentally I felt lighter after a hard training session. 

    That summer, I learned a lot while training in my friend’s hot basement with cat hair on the floor, and I never imagined I would have a 10+ year coaching career. 

    I discovered that if I was angry or sad, I could go workout. Gradually I recognized that my big emotions got smaller if I exercised. 

    Remember my father’s lesson? 

    Lesson #1: When you get sad or angry, mask it, drink, or do anything other than deal with the feelings.   

    I had a winning combination because I would drink and workout. Of course, training and throwing up because I had “one too many” the night before got played out pretty quickly.  

    So, I cut back on my drinking and focused on training. 

    I would cycle between being sober and training for most of my 20s until I hit rock bottom. 

    If It Barks Like A Dog, Then It’s A Dog

    By the fall of 2017, I was married and had a family of my own. I was drinking to deal with my feelings and suffered from panic attacks. 

    I recommend watching the video to learn a little about depression, anxiety, and the power of therapy.  

    I spent so much time trying to shove my feelings down, resulting in panic attacks and mood swings. I guess the only lesson my father unintentionally taught me about fitness had backfired. 

    You can only ignore your feelings for so long.  

    If it sounds like depression, the chance of it being depression is pretty darn high. 

    The topic of training as an escape comes up often. I find myself carefully searching for the right words, and if I can use my experience as a teachable moment, I would say, “fitness is only a bandaid for your trauma.”

    My most “fit” periods were the moments when I was the most depressed, exhausted, ashamed, angry, and confused.

    You see, as a man, it is easy to think that working out is an escape or the gym is your “therapy,” and it can be, but in reality, it is a coping mechanism that doesn’t truly solve the problem(s).

    Along the way, masculine got lumped in with suffering in silence. 

    Nutrition and fitness are excellent and can help, but they aren’t magic, and unless you begin to unpack the stuff under the surface, you will always find yourself chasing something you can’t quite reach.

     Yes, you can be strong, and you can also be gentle. You might find that you do less escaping and more embracing.

    Be The Example

    In the fall of 2018, I got sober, and my son was born in April of 2020.

    I still remember having him in his bassinet while I worked out in our home gym. He would lay there and laugh as I tried to do kettlebell snatches or handstands.   

    There is such an innocence to him. 

    It was strange to be in the basement working out 20 years after my dad tried to get me to workout.  

    Here are a few lessons I have learned and will share with my son. 

    #1. Playing around is just as important as having a program to follow. I love dropping down on the ground and playing with my son. This is what he will remember, not how many kettlebell swings I did in ten minutes. 

    #2. Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start. Learning how to listen to your body begins with learning how to move your body. I’ll teach my son how to perform basic calisthenics if he shows an interest. There’s no pressure, and we should be able to laugh while training. 

    #3. Strength training is terrific and won’t stunt your growth. This is a big misconception and why many parents don’t let their kids lift weights. I won’t force him to workout, but I will workout in front of him.  

    #4. Cardio is not overrated, and walking counts. I want to go on walks and talk with my son. This is something my dad and I never did, but walking has given me so much, and I want to share that with my son.  

    #5. When you get sad or angry, don’t mask it. Honestly, the hardest lesson of them all, and I am working on it every damn day.  

    When dealing with an immense feeling, I let my son know what I feel and why. You see, my dad didn’t do that, and I thought it was normal to be angry all the time.  

    Anger is one of many emotions that exist, and we each will experience it. You and I are more complicated than we give ourselves credit for, and anger is one shade of many different emotions.  

    As woo-woo as it might sound, telling my son that I am feeling a bit sad, why I’m feeling this way, and how I am choosing to deal with it is the right thing to do. 

    My son is growing up knowing that he isn’t alone and that you need to ride the emotional wave. 

    My wife and I are trying to teach our son that you can’t control your emotions, but you can control your actions. 

    For the Dads out there, take a moment and think about the example you are setting for your kids.  

    They are watching everything you do. 

    You’re human, and you will make a shit ton of mistakes along the way. 

    Notice the mistakes and learn from them. That’s what your kids will remember. 

    That’s why I love my dad even though I don’t like him all the time. 

    Love is important. 

  • Are you in starvation mode?

    Are you in starvation mode?

    I want to share with you a story about a client named Jason.  

    Jason started coaching with me because he wanted to lose weight to be able to go on more hikes with his kids, and his doctor warned him that he was in danger of developing diabetes. During our first meeting, he told me that he was hungry all the time, never really felt full, and hated dieting.  

    We decided he would keep a food log to see what he was eating. We reviewed the record and found he was skipping breakfast, eating meals mainly of protein and starchy carbs, and frequently snacking about an hour after eating. 

    I asked him why he skipped breakfast, and it was because he would forget to eat. So we set a reminder in his calendar to make a balanced breakfast with carbs, protein, fat, and fruit or veggies.   

    His go-to breakfast was a protein shake with two scoops of protein, a fist full of spinach, blueberries, avocado, and almond milk. The protein shake left him “full” until lunch. Once he consistently ate breakfast, we shifted our focus to lunch and dinner. 

    We took a deep dive into the concept of building a balanced plate. 

    • 25% protein
    • 25% carbs,
    • 50% fruits or veggies
    • 1-2 thumbs of fat.  

    Jason, like many clients, was shocked by how much food he should “try” to get on his plate. Furthermore, I let him know that he could have as many fruits and vegetables as he wanted throughout the day.  

    Bonus points for fiber-rich fruits like raspberries and vegetables like broccoli.  

    One day he came to our coaching session with a huge grin. I asked him what happened, and he told me he turned down free pizza at work because he was full.”  

    Jason managed to lose about 25 pounds while eating more balanced meals and snacking less during the day. The added fiber and breakfast helped him consume more protein and have a more balanced, nutrient-dense diet.  

    Most importantly, he could now take his kids on weekend hikes. So, he ate more, snacked less, and found the right balance for him. 

    Eating More Leads To Weight Loss? 

    Yes, eating more can lead to weight loss; however, context is everything.  

    There is a popular trend amongst “wellness influencers” saying that clients are in “starvation mode,” and that’s why they can’t lose weight with a diet.

    Starvation Mode is the idea that if you stop eating or reduce calories too low, your body will do everything to preserve energy and prevent you from losing weight. 

    Yes, starvation mode is real; however, only in EXTREME cases of malnourishment, such as someone suffering from an eating disorder or starving. 

    Quite possibly, the most famous example would be The Minnesota Starvation Experiement. During World War II, thirty-six conscientious objectors participated in a study of human starvation at the University of Minnesota. They divided the experiement into three phases. 

    Phase 1: A 12-week baseline control phase. Each participant consumed roughly 3,200 calories a day to bring them close to their ideal weight. 

    Phase 2:  A 24-week semi-starvation phase which adjusted the participant’s calories to about 1,560 calories per day. This cut in calories caused them to lose roughly 25% of their pre-starvation bodyweight. 

    Phase 3aA 12-week restricted rehabilitation period. “The participants were divided into four groups of eight men; each group received a strictly-controlled rehabilitation diet, consisting of one of four different caloric energy levels.”

    Phase 3bAn 8-week unrestricted rehabilitation period. Calorie intake was not controlled but was carefully recorded and monitored.  

    Throughout the experiement, many experienced anemia, fatigue, apathy, extreme weakness, irritability, neurological deficits, and lower extremity edema.

    Starvation mode did not happen until the men reached extreme levels of leanness, around 5% body fat, because they would have died if they lost any more weight. 

    I hope anyone reading this article is not in starvation mode. It won’t happen if you skip a meal, decide to fast, or safely lower your calories while trying to lose weight.

    If you look at the pictures of the men from the Minnesota Experiment, you will notice none of them were “overweight.” It doesn’t make sense to tell someone they have difficulty losing weight due to starvation mode. 

    You won’t hold onto fat from eating too little. 

    The reality is that someone needs to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, and if someone says they are and aren’t losing weight, they aren’t aware of what they are eating.

    Weight loss boils down to energy balance and lifestyle factors; however, it becomes much easier to eat in a surplus or at maintenance if someone isn’t accurately tracking their intake.

    You are a human, and it isn’t crazy to think that someone might underreport how many calories they are eating. A controlled study found that even registered dietitians underreport their calorie intake by roughly 223 calories per day. 

    Why Could Someone Have A Hard Time Tracking Calories? 

    There are several reasons why someone might have a hard time tracking their calories. 

    1. They are new to tracking and make common mistakes like not accounting for liquid calories, fats, or additional sauces/condiments. It’s typical, and it isn’t hard to make an adjustment and see a change. 
    2. The deficit is too aggressive, so someone can’t adhere to the plan. 
    3. Reread number 2. 

    When someone attempts to adhere to an extreme caloric deficit, the likely hood of maintaining that deficit is very small. Someone who follows a new trendy diet might lose weight and then gain it all back. It’s not that diets don’t work; they do, but aggressive deficits don’t lead to great adherence.  

    If someone is claiming a reverse diet took them out of starvation mode, they are wrong. Attempting to eat 1,200 calories usually leads to snacking or, in some cases, binge eating. If I were to add 500-600 calories back into someone’s diet and they start losing weight, it’s because they are eating enough and have an easier time sticking to the plan. 

    TL;DR: When you eat enough, it becomes easier not to need to snack throughout the day. Mindless snacking is a different topic that I cover in this article.

    What Should You Do? 

    I suggest reading a recent article I wrote on the price of getting extremely lean.   

    This section highlights some realistic expectations you can set for yourself regarding weight loss and setting your calorie deficit.  

    “There are three levels of weekly fat loss: 

    Easy: .5 โ€“ 1 pound per week. 

    Medium: 1-2 pounds per week

    Hard: 2-3 pounds per week. 

    To put things into perspective, losing 2-3 pounds per week would require about 95% adherence to your plan. The more consistent you are, the quicker you will lose weight and see progress. However, someone can make small changes, lose half a pound a week, and be consistent without extreme lifestyle modifications. One is more sustainable than the other. “

    Creating a more significant calorie deficit is easier when you have more body fat to lose; however, you will hit a plateau at a certain point, and that is entirely normal.  

    For anyone attempting to lose weight doing drastic things seem attractive because “it will work faster.”  If you aren’t laying the proper foundation and taking your time, you become more likely to cycle through diet after diet. 

    Here are a few tips to try. 

    Give yourself more time than you think you will need to lose the weight. If someone promises you quick and drastic results in a short amount of time, you will have difficulty adhering to or maintaining weight loss. 

    If your weight loss goal is 100 pounds, start by aiming to lose the first 20. Your deficit will be more manageable, and you will be able to learn along the way.  

    Don’t demonize specific foods. Understand that tracking your calories makes it easier to enter a deficit without eliminating everything. 

    Focus on adding things into your life such as daily walks, drinking more water, getting more sleep, eating more protein & fruits/vegetables, and strength training. Addition is more manageable than subtraction. 

    The best way to lose weight is to make sure you can adhere to whatever plan you are following without destroying everything you find joyful.  

    Calorie deficits are the not-so-secret secret to weight loss. 

    If you have a question, reach out. I’m here to help, and coaching is what I love to do.  

  • 5 Ways To Make Meal Prep Easier

    5 Ways To Make Meal Prep Easier

    When I was ten, my mom taught me basic culinary skills. I learned how to whisk eggs, prepare chicken, and even bake things in the oven. Some nights when mom would work late, she would call ahead and ask me to bread the chicken cutlets or put something in the oven. She was a single parent, working long hours, and didn’t always have the brain space to do it all. It’s only now, as a father, that I can see how tired she must have been, and I can only imagine how much my making a few chicken cutlets helped. 

    I am grateful that my mom took the time to teach me the basics of cooking. While in college, I cooked most of my meals and packed my lunch. Today I work as a nutrition coach and do all of the cooking for my family. All of this is thanks to my mom teaching me how to crack a few eggs. 

    My mom and countless clients I have worked with have inspired this article, and I promise after reading it, you will have five ways to make meal prep easier.   

    MEAL PREP

    Meal prep is a skill that takes practice, but it is one of the best ways to make better choices in the kitchen. Imagine if you could open your refrigerator and grab a quick, balanced meal that would leave you feeling satisfiedโ€”grabbing other snacks or meals that aren’t balanced decreases if you have your meals prepared. For many of my clients, this is a good enough reason to at least try meal prepping. Also, when you cook, you save money, and you are aware of what ingredients you are using, which is helpful when trying to lose weight or gain muscle.

    Even with all the benefits of preparing your meals, there are roadblocks that people can face.

    3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Meal Prepping 

    You don’t know what you enjoy eating. When teaching a client how to meal prep, I ask, “what do you enjoy eating?” Nine times out of ten, they will struggle to find an answer, and that’s why meal prep seems impossible. 

    If you don’t know what you enjoy eating, it becomes harder to prepare your meals ahead of time. It’s like getting in your car and driving only to remember you have no idea where you are going. So, take a minute and think about what type of meal you would enjoy. This is a great starting point that can inspire someone to try a new recipe or revisit an old favorite. 

    You don’t feel confident in the kitchen. It’s ok if you don’t feel confident in the kitchen; everyone has to start somewhere. If the thought of being in the kitchen is overwhelming, think about starting small. Making hardboiled eggs might be more accessible, and you will have protein for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Instead of becoming the next Iron Chef, focus on making something easy that you can grab when you are in a pinch. 

    You are setting excessive expectations for yourself. No one expects you to have seven days’ worth of perfectly prepared meals in fancy containers. Simply making an extra portion of a meal and enjoying the leftovers the next day can be classified as meal prep. There is no need to go out and buy new cookbooks or try and make everything look Instagram-worthy.  When someone attaches themself to an excessive expectation, it often leads to perfectionism which is genuinely just the art of practicing quitting frequently.  

    My mom asked her ten-year-old son to help her prepare dinner. It made it easier for us to eat at a reasonable hour and not need to order take-out. Make it easier for yourself and understand that you are on your own wellness journey. Hopefully, the following pointers can help you become an absolute meal prep master. 

     “When someone attaches themself to an excessive expectation, it often leads to perfectionism which is genuinely just the art of practicing quitting frequently.”  

    5 Ways To Make Meal Prep Easier

    Make the shopping list. Sometimes you get caught up in how hard you think something will be. Remember that it’s essential to know what you enjoy eating. Make a shopping list once you have an idea of the meal(s) you want to eat. Having a list makes it easier because you will know what you need to make your meals. 

    I know that this seems very easy, but you would be surprised by how many individuals skip over this step.  

    • Write your list
    • Go to the store
    • Cook the food 
    • Eat the leftovers 

    Pick one meal to make for the week. Don’t get caught in the perfectionist trap of trying to make five different meals. I know that you have good intentions, but if you are struggling with meal prep, make it easier by picking one meal to make for the week.  

    For instance, if you struggle to eat breakfast during the week, try making overnight oats. You can batch enough to last all week, and it takes less than five minutes.

    Here’s a quick recipe that I make for my family every Sunday. 

    • 4 cups rolled oats 
    • 2 cups almond milk 
    • 4 tablespoons chia seeds (fiber bonus points ๐Ÿ•บ) 
    • Sprinkle coconut flakes 
    • Mix all together and make sure the milk is covering the oats. 
    • Place in the fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning. 

    Another option is to take a meal you are making and double or triple the recipe. For instance, if you make chicken, buy extra and cook it for the week. This little trick makes it easier to grab something from the fridge to enjoy for lunch or dinner. You can apply the same tactic to make your side dishes too!  

    Create a fail-safe menu. This menu is a game-changer if you deal with decision fatigue.  

    Decision Fatigue – the idea that after making many decisions, your ability to make more and more decisions over the course of a day becomes worse

    โœ… The Fail-Safe Menu is built on the staples you have in the kitchen.

    1) Create a breakfast and lunch menu with your favorite go-to meals that you can make with those staples.

    2) Write up the menu.

    3) PRINT IT OUT and put it somewhere you can see it in the kitchen.

    4) Use it. (Seriously. USE IT)

    ๐Ÿณ ๐ŸŒฏ Breakfast and Lunch are the main focus because if you eat both meals, the brain fog will lift, and the likely hood of you picking something balanced can increase.

    ๐Ÿ˜‰ As a bonus (fail-safe), When in doubt, you can always have something off the menu for dinner too. A lot of my clients love this and swear by it.

    Buy pre-cut veggies and fruit or premade meals. Cutting up your vegetables makes it easier to grab them when you are on the go; however, spring for the pre-cut vegetables and fruit if you have it in your budget. No one is judging you for saving time and making it a little easier to make better choices in the kitchen. 

    One of my clients works 50 hours a week and hardly has time to sit down to eat. When they go food shopping, they buy prepared food at their grocery store. Buying a rotisserie chicken is a great option and can be split into several meals. The same goes for purchasing side dishes too!   

    Also, don’t forget that buying canned or frozen fruit and vegetables is an easy way to add nutrient-dense options to your meals. Sometimes they can be cheaper, and it’s unnecessary to buy organic.  

    Use a meal prep service/order meals for the week. After reading all of these tips, you might consider a meal prep service if you still feel overwhelmed. It depends on your budget, but if you order your meals, then you don’t have to buy all of those ingredients at the store. It might end up costing the same or possibly cheaper. Of course, this all depends on the person and how many people they are feeding in their family. 

    I do not use a meal prep service, and for my clients, we tend to use google and find a local one. So, use google and find one that has good reviews and meals that align with your particular goals. 

    Maybe you have a favorite restaurant from which you can order a few meals for the week. That is a great option, and when clients do this, we “meal prep the menu .” Look at the menu before ordering and think about how you might portion out the meals for the week. Maybe the portions are large, and you can split a single serving into two. Think ahead before ordering, and things work out in your favor. 

    Meet Yourself Where You’re At

    Remember that you are trying something new, and sometimes that means you won’t want to prepare your food for the week. I’m a busy day who runs his own coaching business, and the last thing I want to do is spend a few hours cooking on Sunday. When I feel that way, I use the same tips I just shared with you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

    Give it a try, and if you need a few more tips, book a nutrition strategy call.  

    Give it a try, and if you need a few more tips, book a nutrition strategy call.  

  • Are Your Physique Goals Worth The Price?

    Are Your Physique Goals Worth The Price?

    When I was 19 years old, my one fitness goal was to look like a Marvel superhero. My workouts were from muscle and fitness magazine, and my nutrition plan was to eat more. During my summer break from college, I trained six days a week and ate three to four thousand calories a day.   

    That September, I returned to college 35 pounds heavier with a newfound passion for fitness. At age 32, sometimes I wonder if I could do that again. It is a bit of a loaded question because I’m not a movie star, physique competitor, model, or athlete whose paycheck depends on how they look or perform. There is a lot that goes into transforming the way you look.

    So the better question to ask is, are your physique goals worth the price? 

    I wish I could tell you about a top-secret superhero training plan that would cause you to gain muscle and lose fat, but there isn’t one… well, maybe there is. 

    If you are new to the gym and have never lifted weights, you might experience a quick increase in muscle and strength, AKA “Newbie Gains .” This is due to the body’s response to a new training stimulus.  

    A male might gain 15-25 pounds of muscle in their first year of training, and a female may gain about half of that.

    The magical phase of newbie gains will last through your first year of training. That’s why doing something is better than doing nothing. Of course, you can get very specific with your training plan, but your consistency is more important in the beginning.  

    Beyond the first year of training, your muscle gain and fat loss rates will vary. Also, as you age, the variation in hormones such as testosterone will affect your ability to gain muscle. Does that mean you can’t gain muscle? No! It just depends on where you are in your journey and your expectations.   

    What about newbie gains and fat loss? 

    Someone new to weight loss will also find that there can be “newbie losses.” It is vital to understand that it is not a linear progression when it comes to fat loss. If you eat in a calorie surplus to gain muscle realistically, you will gain a little fat. If this sounds like you, then you might be considering body recomposition. 

    Body Recomposition – Training to lose body fat while gaining muscle simultaneously.  

    Before jumping down the google worm-hole to find a new training plan, let’s consider what you can expect for weekly fat loss and what’s required. Please remember that the only way to lose weight is through a calorie deficit.  

    Calorie Deficit – Consuming fewer calories than you burn.   

    There are three levels of weekly fat loss: 

    Easy: .5 – 1 pound per week. 

    Medium: 1-2 pounds per week

    Hard: 2-3 pounds per week. 

    To put things into perspective, losing 2-3 pounds per week would require about 95% adherence to your plan. The more consistent you are, the quicker you will lose weight and see progress. However, someone can make small changes, lose half a pound a week, and be consistent without extreme lifestyle modifications. One is more sustainable than the other. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Just as a reminder, your weight will fluctuate week to week, and that’s why noticing trends and using weekly averages can be a big help. In the end, your goal is to see a downward trend and make adjustments along the way. 

    Creating a more significant calorie deficit is easier when you have more body fat to lose. If you usually eat 4,000 calories a day and start eating balanced plates, you might find you’re eating 3,000-2,500 calories. That deficit can lead to fast weight loss, and like your newbie strength gains, your weight loss will slow down at a certain point. 

    The human body is amazing and will adapt to your deficit (hello metabolism). You will eventually burn fewer calories exercising because you become more efficient at the movements.   

    Hitting plateaus is normal, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop what you are doing, but you should consider the expectations you are setting for yourself.  

    Reaching and maintaining 5% body fat is not realistic. Yes, you might have a six-pack and look like Thor, but it comes at a cost. Precision Nutrition has an excellent resource on body fat percentages.   

    Most of my clients would be thrilled to be at around 10-12% body fat.  

    The full image can be found here.

    When some clients start working with me, they want to be closer to 5%. They don’t consider what changes are necessary and what they might sacrifice.  

    The full image can be found here

    Most celebrities don’t want to undergo the changes required for their movie roles. Also, once you’re over the age of 40, the likely hood of you maintaining hulk size muscle status isn’t feasible without the help of certain substances and fantastic genetics. ๐Ÿ˜ 

    Good one from Ben Carpenter!

    GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

    It’s your choice, and it’s essential to clarify why you are focused on making any change in the first place. Do you want to be able to pose on social media shirtless, or do you want to be able to go for a walk without getting winded? One goal isn’t better than the other because who am I to judge someone for wanting to make a change in their life. 

    Instead of shaming someone for trying to lose weight, what if we looked at answering a few questions.  

    • Why is this important? 

    Why is this change necessary? Think about it, and when you have your answer ask yourself why again. Do this a few times, and you might find that your response has nothing to do with getting a six-pack. 

    • Are you aware of what you will give up?

    It depends on your starting point, but it requires precision for someone to look like a Marvel superhero. Meals will need to be on point, and tracking your calories will be necessary. You might be the person bringing Tupperware with you to parties or skipping dinners with friends and family. You will need to exercise, not skip sessions, and possibly train for more extended periods. Oh, and don’t forget about sleep because 8-9 hours is required to aid in recovery and muscle growth. 

    • Are you aware of what you will gain? 

    Pause and think this one over for a minute or two. What would you gain by trying to make any sort of change? Let’s say, for some reason, you never reach 5% body fat. Does that mean you should regret trying in the first place? 

    I would say no because you will learn a ton of information, such as: 

    • What works
    • What doesn’t work 
    • What do you enjoy doing 
    • What you don’t enjoy doing 
    • What you are willing to change 
    • What you are unwilling to change
    • What is sustainable 
    • What is unsustainable 
    • How to ask better questions 
    • What an actual tablespoon of peanut butter looks like (๐Ÿ˜‰ ) 

    This information is priceless, especially when you consider yourself someone concerned about their health and fitness. Maybe your value system has changed, and that’s pretty impressive. 

    Everyone has their starting point, and for me, it was trying to look like a superhero. So, would I try to gain 35 pounds again? No, because I don’t value that right now. For me waking up and knowing I have enough strength to pick up my wife and son in my arms is more than enough.  

    I now realize that strength has more than one definition and doesn’t have one distinct look.    

    This is the stuff I help my online coaching clients with, and if you’re tired of guessing and feel a little stuck, click here to book a nutrition strategy call. 

  • 5 Ways To Stay Consistent

    5 Ways To Stay Consistent

    A lot is happening in the world right now and to be honest trying to stay consistent with your nutrition and training can feel like an up uphill battle.   

    I won’t sit here and tell you that it’s easy and you just need to work harder. 

    It’s not fair to tell someone to show up and get it done. 

    It’s not normal to say that it should work for you if it worked for me.

    It’s not realistic to say everyone has the same 24 hours in the day.  

    Where your priorities lie depends on where you are right now in your own life. What was important to me at age 19 is entirely different from today.  

    Fitness doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. It’s figuring out what’s important to you and showing up consistently.

    My job is to help other people figure out why paying attention to their nutrition and fitness is important. In the process, folks get stronger and lose weight. That’s I decided to share five tips for staying consistent with your nutrition and fitness. These tips are the same tips I use for my clients, and the proof is in the pudding (such an odd saying).ย 

    From a recent client check-in. ๐Ÿ•บ

    5 Tips For Saying Consistent

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Make it easier. Make it easier and meet yourself where you’re at. Peel back the goal and look at what you can do to make it so easy it is silly not to do it. Didn’t make it to the gym all week? What about stepping outside for a 20-minute walk during lunch. It doesn’t need to be groundbreaking to work. Looking for the perfect circumstance doesn’t bring you closer to your goal. Go for the low-hanging fruit, and you can adjust along the way.ย 

    ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€โ™‚๏ธ Join a community. Joining a gym is a beautiful way to participate in a community; heck, it’s why Crossfit is so popular. Maybe a gym isn’t your budget right now, and that’s fine! Call up a friend and become walking buddies or recruit your dog to remind you to go out for walks. And remember, it’s okay to tell your family and friends why you are focused on making these changes. It can be scary, I know, but if they are a part of your community, they will support you.ย ย 

    ๐ŸคŒ Habits are your friend. Take advantage of your current habits and add something that pushes you in the right direction. For instance, try making a habit of packing your gym bag before going to bed. Habit stacking is a game-changer, andย I included it in an article I wrote for Authority Magazine.

    ๐Ÿ—“ Schedule it. If you take 5 minutes on Sunday to schedule your training sessions for the week or think about what dinner will look like, I promise you will have an easier time. Taking 5 minutes will bring you one step closer to your goal. Small steps โ†’ Action โ†’ Results โ†’ Motivation. Small steps are the secret sauce to making progress, and it’s easy to overlook when it comes to your health and fitness.

    ๐ŸŽฏ If you miss a few days, it’s okay; practice the art of getting back on track. This one takes a bit of trial and error, but the only way to get better is to experience it. You’re human, and missing a day or two doesn’t discount all your work. Perfect weeks don’t matter because they don’t exist. How you react to the usual bumps in the road determines your progress.ย 

    Above all else, remember there is nothing wrong with asking for help. If it’s in your budget, hire a coach or use google to learn more. Listen to podcasts, read books, and stay curious. If you are frustrated because you don’t see results fast enough, compare yourself with you six months ago. There’s a good chance you have made progress. 

    You can learn what works.ย 

    You can learn what doesn’t work.ย 

    You can learn what you like.ย 

    You can learn what you don’t like.ย 

    Above all else, you are getting a little bit better every day.ย  ย 

    If you found this helpful, you will love my latest podcast episode. Check it out below and if you feel inclined leave me a glowing review and subscribe. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ep 36 Gareth Nock: Healthy & Fitness For Busy Parents Value Driven Life

    I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with health and fitness coach Gareth Nock. This special conversation revolved around fatherhood, making time for your wellness, and Gareth's journey through the fitness industry. ย ย  Find Gareth here:ย  Instagram The Nock Academy Gareth's Podcastย  Find Chris here: Instagram Read the blog Weekly Email Online Coaching If you find my content helpful, please subscribe, and I can keep bringing more helpful nutrition and fitness content.
    1. Ep 36 Gareth Nock: Healthy & Fitness For Busy Parents
    2. Ep 35: What is Zone 2 cardio?
    3. Ep 34: What to eat if you're hungry before bed
    4. Ep 33 Dan Feldman: How To Get Away From Food Fear & Cutting Through Social Media BS
    5. Ep 32: How To Gain Weight
  • FAQ: How Should I Warm Up?ย 

    FAQ: How Should I Warm Up?ย 

    I love this question and wanted to do something a little different to try and answer it. So I filmed a general warm-up for you to check out. Before getting to the video, read through all the goods first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Try to be specific with your warm-up.  

    Honestly, there was a period when my warm-up would take 30 minutes. I was much younger and was trying to do too many things. Save your time and energy. 

    Don’t spend 20 minutes warming up your shoulders if you are training your legs. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

    You are prepping your body for the session. So, focus on what’s important. 

    Here’s a quick example of a general warm-up that you can use for any training session. You can do more or less based on your specific training day/needs.  

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ 360 Breathing 1×10 breaths 

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Arm Bar Variation 1×5 (per leg) 

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ T-Spine Rotation 1×5 (per side)  

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Rocking 1 x 10 

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Squat to Spiderman 1×1 minute 

    One final thought on warm-ups.  

    Once you finish the warm-up, get going, and don’t waste time sitting on your phone, that’s for between sets. ๐Ÿ˜… 

    In my experience coaching others and myself, you want to program the most demanding skill first. For instance, your heavy lift would go first and wouldn’t be a part of a conditioning circuit. If you are working on a specific skill such as the handstand or pull-up, that will go first, too!  

    You will adjust weights and movements as you move through your training session, taking them down a notch. This form of programming allows you to focus on strength and conditioning without running the risk of injury.  

    Learn from my mistakes. Your body will thank you.