• How To Stay Full In A Calorie Deficit

    How To Stay Full In A Calorie Deficit

    Hunger is normal, especially when you are in a calorie deficit. However, you really shouldn’t be hungry all the time.  

    So sit down & gear up for a jam-packed article that will teach you how to feel full while in a calorie deficit. 

    The first section will explain the difference between hunger and craving. 

    The second section will give you some of the best foods to incorporate into your nutrition game plan while losing weight. 

    The third section will give you guidelines to experiment with over the next few weeks/months.  

    Get ready for a good one, and I promise you will know how to stay full while in a calorie deficit after giving this a read. 

    Now, let’s get to it. 


    Before we jump any further, let’s be sure we’re on the same page about calorie deficits. 

    When you eat, you are taking in energy. While you go about your daily life, you are burning that energy.  

    Energy balance plays a role in your weight management. This concept is referred to it as Calories-In, Calories Out. 

    • You can gain weight if you take in more energy than you use. (Energy Surplus)
    • You can lose weight if you take in less energy than you use. (Energy Deficit) 
    • If you take in the same energy you use, your weight will stay the same. (Energy Balance) 

    In other words, someone needs to be in a calorie deficit if their goal is to lose weight. 

    You can give my full macro tracking article a read to help determine your calorie deficit.  

    Or you can use the following formula: 

    (Goal bodyweight) x 12 = Total Calories 

    Then add 100 calories and subtract 100 to give yourself a calorie range. 

    Ranges work better than trying to hit one number. 


    (Goal bodyweight 135 lbs) x 12 = 1,620 calories 

    1,620 calories + 100 = 1,720 calories 

    1,620 calories – 100 = 1,520 calories 

    Your daily calorie range would be 1,520 – 1,720 calories. 

    Just a word to the wise, this is an estimate. Even the number from an online calorie calculator is an estimate.  

    That’s why sticking with your calorie range for at least 30 days or longer, is your best bet, ya little rascal. It gives you time to notice trends and make minor adjustments while working on developing different eating skills and health-promoting behaviors.  

    But I know you might be an impatient Imogen, and that’s why you do silly things like…

    Cutting your calories and eating less than my two-year-old. 

    So, Why Am I Hungry All The Time? 

    The most common reason someone is hungry is that their calorie deficit is too big. 

    If you are in a calorie deficit, you will experience hunger.

    You are eating a little less than usual, and if you have been eating in a calorie surplus, you might be more accustomed to the feeling of being over full.

    If you never are hungry or experience a craving, you most likely aren’t in a deficit. 

    I know it stinks to hear that; however, here is a solution.

    The deficit you are attempting to enter might be too big.

    Let’s say you were eating 2,500 calories a day, and the weight loss calculator you used told you to eat 1,200 calories to lose 2-3 lbs per week.

    You are cutting your calories almost in half and setting an aggressive weight loss per week, making it harder to adhere to and more likely to be hungry all the time.

    Suppose you adjust your calories to 1900-2000 calories per day and work on tracking accurately, eating nutrient-dense meals, taking a daily walk, and laying the foundation for health-promoting behaviors. 

    In that case, your weight loss phase becomes more tolerable, and you have skills to fall back on when life happens.

    But I Have More Weight To Lose

    For certain individuals, maybe their weight loss goal is 50+ pounds, in which case, their goal body weight might create a more significant calorie deficit if they use an online calculator or the nifty equation I gave you earlier. 

    (Goal Bodyweight)x 12 = Estimated Daily Calories 

    Instead of aiming for 100lbs, let’s aim for the first 20 lbs. 

    I know, I know, I can hear you now…

    But Chris, that’s not enough; I need to lose MOAR! 

    You’re not the first person to feel this way, and I’m not going to sit here and type a motivational sentence telling you not to feel that way.  

    Feel your feelings. 

    I will say that when you lose weight and look back on all your progress, you’re not going to give two poops about how long it took you.  

    You’re going to embrace that you did it and didn’t do another fricken crash diet, followed by a detox and two more crash diets. 

    The goal isn’t to be dieting forever.

    The goal is to enjoy life.

    The goal is to keep up with your family.

    The goal is not to spend the entire day thinking about food and how hungry you are.

    So, take it slow because you’re the only one in the race, and you’re going to cross the finish line; be patient. 

    Step back and reflect on what you’ve done that hasn’t worked; what do you have to lose by dialing things back and taking your time? 

    Glad you understand. 

    Aim for the first 20 pounds to have a more manageable deficit, and things will improve for you. 

    Oh… and you might still be a little hungry sometimes, but you shouldn’t be hungry all the time! 

    Hunger vs. Cravings

    Yes, as I mentioned earlier, you will be hungry sometimes because you are eating less than before. 

    Here’s the best question you can ask yourself when it comes to hunger: 

    Am I Hungry? 

    Yup. It seems simple, and that’s because it is. 

    You are either hungry, or you are experiencing a craving (which is FRICKEN NORMAL). 

    To boil things down, you can start to look for hunger with the following cues: 

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

    Number three is quite possibly the most important cue for hunger. 

    We will come back to it in a second. 

    Cravings usually follow these cues: 

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

    Cravings come and go, and if you give yourself 10-15 minutes, it usually passes.   

    Oh, and I don’t recommend standing in front of the pantry waiting it out. That never works. 


    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.  

    You can read this article to learn what you can do instead.

    Okay I’m hungry, what should I eat? 

    To keep things simple, we are going to macronutrient by macronutrient.  

    I like having all my fat loss clients first master eating a balanced plate. 

    A balanced plate makes it easier to see what goes on your plate, specifically if you want to manage or lose weight. 

    Portion sizes may be slightly different based on the person, but this is a good starting point: 

    • 25% protein 
    • 25% carbohydrate 
    • 50% Vegetables & Fruit
    • 1-2 thumbs of fat

    So without further ado, let’s dive in. 



    Prioritizing protein during a calorie deficit is important for a few different reasons.  

    1. During a fat loss phase, your goal is to preserve muscle mass. 
    2. During a fat loss phase, your goal is to not be as hungry between meals.  
    3. During a fat loss phase, your goal is to build muscle…maybe.

    Protein covers all of the above. 

    Let’s take a glance at the thermic effect of food. 

    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 the daily calories burnt.  

    You’re more likely to be full between meals if you prioritize protein for that very reason. 

    So, how much protein should I have? 

    To determine your protein goal, you can use the following equation.  

    (Goal Body Weight (LB) ) x 1 = Protein goal in grams.

    150 lbs x 1 = 150g protein target for the day. 

    Now, wait a minute; I know what you’re thinking.  

    That’s a lot of protein! 

    You’re right. 

    It is. 

    That’s why it’s a target. You are working toward it, and after you read this next section, you’ll know what to eat. 🤓


    Low-Calorie High Protein Sources: 

    Skin-less chicken breast: I suggest chicken breast vs. chicken thigh because it is a lean cut of meat.  

    Leaner cuts of meat have less fat, and because there is less fat, it ends up being a lower-calorie option. Technically plan/bland chicken breast will probably be the most satiating thing you could eat…but it tastes horrible. 

    So, please do me a favor and flavor your chicken. There are a ton of spices and rubs that are low-calorie. Such as NADAC OG Chicken..🤤

    Or use onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

    Lean or Extra Lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef: Easy to throw in a pan and cook.  

    Or you can make burgers! 

    Or you could make a family favorite The Mike Nugget. 

    Pork Tenderloin:  For those who are not a big fan of chicken, don’t overlook a good pork tenderloin.  

    3oz Chicken Breast 3 oz Port Tenderloin
    140 Calories122 Calories
    26g Protein 22g Protein
    3g Fat3g Fat

    Pretty close, right? 

    Fish (Tuna, Cod, Talapia, Mackeral, Haddock, Sole, Flounder, & Shrimp): 

    So, I am allergic to shellfish; therefore, I am jealous of folks who can enjoy shrimp. The fish I have listed above are just a few of the many fish someone can enjoy.  

    Fish are jam-packed with nutrients and tend to be lower in calories while high in protein. For that reason, you could eat more fish; however, no one enjoys a fish burp, so use common sense. 😉 

    Egg and Egg Whites:   Eggs are a more affordable source of protein and contain other nutrients.   

    To get more protein, I recommend using 1-2 whole eggs and mixing them with a few egg whites. This high protein, lower calorie option can be pretty filling, especially if you toss a bunch of vegetables in with your eggs. 

    Zero Percent Greek Yogurt:  This is a staple in my kitchen. Greek Yogurt tends to fill me up, and it is an easy protein addition to oatmeal, salads, or dressings.   

    As a bonus, you can make a high-protein late-night snack: 

    • 1 serving 0% greek yogurt 
    • 1 scoop of Chocolate Protein 
    • 1/2 cup cut strawberries 

    Mix the greek Yogurt with your protein powder and stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. 

    Take it out and put berries on top.  

    Enjoy it, and know that it is protein-packed and pretty darn filling. 

    1% Cottage Cheese:  This one is similar to greek Yogurt – high in protein, low in calories, and pretty darn filling. The only downside is the texture. 

    But if the texture doesn’t bother you (I am cool with it), then enjoy!   

    Protein Powder: A quality protein powder is an easy way to boost your daily protein intake and an excellent choice for a deliberate snack. There are so many protein companies out there, but in my honest opinion, the Cinnamon Cereal Whey Protein from Legion is 🤤.   

    A note for my plant-based friends: 

    You, really, really need to focus on getting enough protein considering you might not be eating meat or dairy.  

    Having a quality protein powder is helpful. 

    Tempeh is technically less processed than tofu, but both are options. 

    So, a good rule of thumb: 

    If the meal contains no meat/protein source, then consider the bean or lentil as your protein.



    I know there is a lot of chatter around needing to eliminate carbohydrates to lose weight/ lose weight faster.  

    You will lose weight in the first week or so because you eliminate water weight.


    It’s pretty silly, and your best bet is to consider what you can sustain. So as much as Keto Karl is best-intentioned, trust me when I say you can enjoy carbohydrates and still lose weight. 

    It’s helpful to choose a starchy carbohydrate higher in fiber to help with fullness. 

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

    Adult Men: 36 g/day 

    Adult Women: 28g/day 

    Carbohydrates higher in fiber tend to be lower in calories too. 

    Low-Calorie Carbohydrate Options 

    Oatmeal:  Holy heck, is oatmeal filling. This starchy carbohydrate is 150 calories for a half cup, which will double in size once you add water and cook it. Not to mention the 5 grams of fiber per serving! 

    For oatmeal, you can easily add greek yogurt or protein powder to make a protein-packed fiber bowl. 

    Sweet or White Potato:  Potatoes tend to be incredibly filling, even without all the fixing. 4oz of sweet potato comes in at 100 calories and 3.7g of fiber!  

    When you compare that to 1/4 of a cup of brown rice which comes in at 170 calories and 2g of fiber, you will find that you could have two servings of sweet potatoes and be pretty darn satisfied.  

    Additionally, brown rice and sweet potatoes are fricken delicious, but from a lower calorie fiber point of view, potatoes work well. 

    Barley: Well, barley is pretty tasty, and 1 cup has almost 9g of fiber and 193 calories. You will be pretty full and probably get away with a half cup based on the balanced plate you enjoy. 

    Popcorn: If you enjoy plain popcorn on the stovetop, a cup is about 31 calories. Again, there is about 1.2g of fiber per serving too! 

    Even plain microwave popcorn can be pretty low in calories and is filling. 

    Legumes (Black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, etc): All of my plant-based friends know how satisfying beans can be! That is due to their combination of protein and fiber. 

    These are easy to add to any meal and leave you feeling full. 

    A word to the wise, soak your beans overnight before cooking. It is a tiny tip that can help with the toot factor. 

    Carrots: For 1 cup of chopped carrots, there are 52 calories and 3.6g of fiber. 

    You can enjoy tiny baby carrots in a bag if that is more your jazz. The reason why these are satisfying is the crunch and texture. Needing to chew more helps with fullness. 

    Fruits: Good lord, fruit is delicious, and the sugar isn’t bad for you, so knock it off. 

    Honestly, they are filling, packed with fiber, and low in calories. Here are some of the MANY tasty options you can try.  

    •  Raspberries: 1 cup has 8g of fiber and 64 calories 
    •  Strawberries: 1lb is only 140 calories, and a cup has 4g of fiber
    •  Blackberries: 1 cup is 7.6g of fiber and 62 calories
    •  Watermelon: 1 lb is 138 calories and has 2g of fiber. 
    •  Orange: 1 orange is 74 calories and has 4.4g of fiber
    •  Apple: 1 medium size apple is 93 calories and has 4.3g of fiber
    •  Papaya: 1 medium size papaya is 118 calories and has 5.5g of fiber. 
    • Cantaloupe: 1 large cantaloupe is 150 calories and has 4g of fiber. 

    Oh, and to save a few bucks, you can buy frozen fruit.  



    Now, no matter what fad has popped across your social media feed this week, I am going to shout this from the mountain tops: EAT YOUR FRICKEN VEGETABLES.   

    Beyond the health-promoting benefits, such as reduced all-cause mortality, they are very filling, packed with fiber, and lower in calories.  

    Because you are in a deficit, you will want to take advantage of feeling full. 😉 

    The goal is to work up to 50% of your plate being vegetables.  

    Oh, and the calories from vegetables still count; they aren’t magical; however, no one ever said, gosh, I eat too many vegetables, I need to cut back.  

    If you don’t know where to begin, try having 1 Big Ass Salad daily. Fill it with as many different vegetables as possible, and you will find that you can curb hunger. 

    I prefer spinach as my base, and you can enjoy 2 cups for about 15 calories.

    Oh, and please don’t skim on your protein too. 

    You’re an adult, and eating the veggies is a good idea; if you need help getting started, here are a few good ideas. 



    Okay, fat is an integral part of a well-balanced diet for all my keto fans. 

    It also happens to be the macronutrient with the most significant amount of calories per gram at 9. 

    Does that make it bad? 


    So long as you eat a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, protein, & carbohydrates, you’re in the clear. 

    You can adjust your macros to match your calorie intake if you enjoy more fat than carbohydrates. Your top priority is hitting your daily protein target and coming within your daily calorie range. Protein does tend to be more filling too. 🤓

    Here are a few filling options, but I wouldn’t consider them lower calorie options. 

    Higher Fat Cuts of Meat. 

    Higher fat content Greek Yogurt & Cottage Cheese. 

    Avocados (So much fiber!!!) 



    Okay, this is pretty important to mention.  

    Please stop filling up on liquid calories. 

    Alright, I hear you; it’s not that easy. So here are some alternatives that work well. 

    Diet & Zero Calorie Soda: They are a good option to help with a sweet craving. Not to mention there are zero calories and folks who switch from regular soda to diet soda tend to lose weight; go figure. 😉

    Coffee & Tea: Both are beautiful gifts from the caffeine gods. Just be aware of how much of your favorite creamer you’re adding, and no, butter isn’t a creamer. 

    Water:   If I started recommending water first, I think you would have rolled your eyes.  

    Look, thirst is often confused with hunger, and water will quench your thirst better than most other beverages. 

    A good rule of thumb is to try and drink half your body weight in ounces of water.  

    If that sounds like too much, try to have a glass of water with every meal. 

    If that doesn’t sound very tasty, think about adding fruit or lemon to your water. 

    If you don’t like that, knock it off and drink a glass of water. 



    I wanted to throw this one in here because it will be a game-changer.  

    Adding flavor to your food will help you stay full. 

    Spices like cayenne pepper help dull some hunger pangs and can take a dish up a notch.  

    But beyond that, you can look at adding salt, pepper, turmeric, and other spices to your dishes. The flavor profile will increase, you’ll chew the food more, and you will be full longer. 


    What next? 

    If you eat balanced meals with healthy portions of protein and still experience frequent hunger, it might be an emotion, boredom, or exhaustion. 

    During a recent coaching call, a client told me, “I believe overeating is the crux of my problems. It doesn’t help that I am constantly rationalizing things in the moment “It’s just too good.” 

    There are a few ways to start exploring the comfort of being overly full. One thing that can help is giving yourself the chance to slow down. 

    It takes time to recognize you are full, especially when eating quickly.

    Here are a few guidelines that you can experiment with:

    During meals: Put your fork down between bites.

    Putting your fork or hand-based food (sandwich)down between bites allows you to slow down and enjoy the food.

    The next time you pick up your fork would be after chewing and swallowing your food. Other options are to take a sip of water between bites or talk with a friend/family member. 

    During meals: Pay attention to the food you are enjoying. 

    Try picking one thing to notice about your next meal. 

    • Taste.
    • Smell.
    • Texture.
    • Sight.
    • Sound even works, especially if you’re having rice crispy cereal. 

    Mindfulness helps you distinguish between being in love with the taste vs. being full. Research has shown that you are more likely to snack or eat more at the next meal if you don’t take the time to be aware of what you are eating.

    During Meals:  No Screens at meals. 

    Before you skip over this one, just take a moment to read what I have to say! 

    Distracted eating affects your body’s ability to recognize that it’s full. Think about the last time you enjoyed a few snacks while watching television…

    Try picking one meal and putting your phone away. See how it changes your ability to notice hunger and fullness. 

    The biggest thing to remember is that you will need to practice; it implies you will make mistakes which is a good thing. You will learn what works and what doesn’t work.


    Random Thoughts For Deficits


    Since you are in a calorie deficit to lose weight, maybe you have started exercising too. 

    If you have, that’s RAD! 

    Something to consider is on days when you train; you will be hungrier. 

    This is normal and should be expected.  

    However, if you are overdoing it with training to burn more calories, you will only make your deficit bigger, making you more hungry.

    So for those eager beavers out there, dial things back.  

    It’s a long game; if you think you can sustain that training, you have another thing coming. 

    You don’t need to train every day & get over 30,000 steps. 

    Aim for resistance training 3-4 days per week and hitting at least 7,000-10,000 steps.  

    Oh, and it’s okay if things don’t always go according to plan.

    Planning Meals 

    Time for a hard truth. If you intentionally or unintentionally skip meals, it doesn’t always mean you will lose weight. 

    Skipping meals means you will snack. 

    Skipping meals means you won’t accurately track things. 

    Skipping meals makes it harder for you to adhere to your nutrition plan.  

    So, I suggest nailing down 2-3 options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A greatest hits menu, if you will.  

    They don’t need to be fancy meals.  

    It will help you plan your grocery shopping list and have some consistency.  

    If you need some help, I have a whole article on meal prep.


    If you’re tired/exhausted, go to bed. Chances are you aren’t truly hungry, and you need some sleep.

    It’s easy to think you’re hungry when you’re tired. Your body is trying to stay awake.

    But if you haven’t eaten a lot during the day or skimmed on your protein, here are a few options.

    👉 Greek Yogurt with a scoop of protein and fresh fruit.

    👉 Low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit.

    👉A protein shake.

    👉 Just go to bed. 😉

    All of these options are low-calorie and nutrient-dense. They will keep you full and satisfied, decreasing your chances of returning for more than you need.

    Oh, and eating after 8 pm isn’t bad..

    Just be aware of why you’re eating, what you’re eating, and how much you’re having.


    You can just brush your teeth and go to bed because aiming for 8 hours of sleep means cravings won’t be as intense the next day.  


    A lot goes into weight loss & while on paper; it seems simple; it will take making mistakes, learning, and trying again. I hope that some of the tips from this article will make things a little easier while you’re in a calorie deficit. 

    Remember, the goal isn’t to diet forever & the more patient you are, the faster you’ll get where you want to go. 

    If you want more helpful nutrition & fat loss tips join my value-driven email list. Just click here, plug in your details, and you’ll get a welcome gift in your inbox.  

  • Ultimate PUSH-UP Guide: Perfect Your Push-up

    Ultimate PUSH-UP Guide: Perfect Your Push-up

    99, 100, 101… Oh, I didn’t see you there. I was busy finishing my 101st push-up of the day and decided to write this article. 

    I am just kidding; I did 90 push-ups before writing. 

    Okay, enough joking around. I wrote this push-up guide because I saw a 100 push-up-a-day challenge on social media.  

    Many posts show folks finishing their push-ups, grabbing their shoulders, and wincing.  

    That’s never a good sign.  

    Your shoulders shouldn’t bother you after push-ups, even if you decide to do 100 of them. 

    But since you’re a persistent Pete, I promise by the end of this guide, you will be able to perform more pain-free push-ups than an action hero in a 1980s training montage. 


    But Push-Ups Are Easy

    I hear you. Maybe you think push-ups are easy because they are a “basic” bodyweight pushing movement; however, there is nothing basic about the basics.  

    When appropriately performed, the push-up is a full-body strength movement. I mean, look at the stats: 

    Prime Movers: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps
    Supporting Musculature: Abdominals, latisimus dorsi, serratus anterior, biceps brachii, infra and supraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, mid and lower trapezius. 
    Bonus: Quadriceps (if legs are extended) & glutes (hip extension).

    There is more than meets the eye when it comes to push-ups.  

    Also, if you’re skipping push-ups, you’re missing out on developing total body strength & control. 

    Strength + Control = Mobility

    Cool, Why Does Any Of This Matter? 

    I’m so glad you asked, Curious George. 

    I will say that being able to perform slow and controlled bodyweight push-ups will only make you better at loaded pressing movements.  

    You will have more body awareness. 

    You will have more control. 

    Your ability to press weight will improve.  

    You will be working with a lot of the same musculature.

    Push-UpBench Press
    Prime Movers: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, tricepsPrime Movers: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps
    Supporting Musculature: Abdominals, latisimus dorsi, serratus anterior, biceps brachii, infra and supraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, mid and lower trapezius. Supporting Musculature: Abdominals, latisimus dorsi, biceps brachii, infra and supraspinatus, teres minor, rhomboids, lower trapezius 

    There is quite a bit of crossover between the two pressing movements. 

    Not to mention, proper push-ups allow the shoulder blades to articulate, leading to happy and healthy shoulders. ✅


    By the end of this push-up guide, you will know how and why to stop your pesky elbows from flaring, which has a direct carry-over into more efficient pressing movements. 

    Now let’s move on, shall we? 


    About Those Elbows 

    When I started working as a trainer, one of the more senior trainers took me aside after watching me do push-ups.  

    My elbows were VERY flared, like every stock photo of someone performing push-ups. 

    He could tell my shoulder was bothering me after my set.  

    This is what he said: 

    “Your shoulder is kind of like a golf ball on a tee. Knocking a ball off a tee doesn’t take much, right?” 

    Now, I believe that shoulders are resilient and meant to move in various ways. 👇

    However, your shoulders do not appreciate push-ups with flared elbows. It places more stress on the joint, and it doesn’t feel great if you have ever benched with flared elbows. 

    When you flare the elbows, you lose a lot of stability, and if you do that for long enough, the shoulders get cranky. 

    So here is what we are after: 

    By drawing the elbows in, you will create more stability.  

    With the added stability, you will have more control, and your shoulders will be happy. 

    Another tip is trying to align the elbows with your middle finger.  

    Ever notice how your elbows flare if you perform diamond push-ups?  

    If you have difficulty keeping the elbows in, try slightly turning your hands out.  

    The push-up might become more challenging, and that’s OKAY! After all, you said push-ups were easy, right? 😉 


    Proper Position

    One more note, my anxious ant eater, let’s dive into the ideal body position for the push-up.  

    Please take a moment to review this position, and be sure to apply it to all of the following progressions. 🤓

    Push-Up Progressions

    Forearm Plank 

    • Start on hands and knees
    • Place forearms on the ground making a 90-degree angle.
    • Extend legs back and maintain level hips


    • Start with hands and knees on the ground
    • Push through arms and extend legs
    • Squeeze legs together
    • Create a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. 

    Elevated Push-Up 

    • Use a stable surface
    • Perform your push-up with elbows tight to the body.
    • As push-ups get easier, lower the surface closer to the ground.

    Kneeling Push-up

    • Start with hands and knees on the ground. (Shoulders over wrists, knees under hips) 
    • With elbow pits facing forward, lower your torso with control
    • Maintain vertical forearms through the entire movement

    Negative Push-Up 

    • Start in a plank position with legs together
    • Lower to the ground while keeping elbows tight and moving as one solid unit from start to finish
    • Try taking 5 Mississippi’s before you reach the floor

    Plank Lower to Kneeling Push-Up 

    • Start in a plank position with legs together
    • Lower to the ground while keeping elbows tight and moving as one solid unit from start to finish
    • When at the bottom, pause, lower your knees, and press back up

    Half Push-Up

    • Start in a plank position
    • Lower with control and pause halfway down
    • Push back to starting position
    • Think of holding the bottom position for 3 Mississippi’s 

    1.5 Push-Up

    • Start in a plank position
    • Lower halfway and push back up
    • Lower down and pause for a two-count.
    • Lower knees and press back up; this counts as one repetition. 

    Full Push-up 

    • Start in a plank position
    • Lower down with elbows tight to the body.
    • Press back to starting position.

    In my opinion, no matter how experienced you are with the Push-Up, you will benefit from practicing each of the progressions, especially the first few. Those first few progressions guarantee you will clean up your technique and strengthen areas you may have neglected in the past. 

    Fun Examples

    Once you can complete several sets with solid form, you can switch things up. You can play with fun examples once you practice the basics. 


    Push-Up FAQs

    Why do my shoulders hurt when I do push-ups? 

    Gosh, there could be a few reasons, but if I had to venture a guess, it is because you are flaring your elbows.  

    You might consider filming yourself from the side to see what your form looks like. You can use a little checklist like this: 

    ✅ Are my shoulders over my wrists? 

    ✅ Is my head neutral? 

    ✅ Are my elbow pits facing forward and forearm vertical? 

    ✅ Can I create a straight line from the top of my head to the bottom of my foot? 

    Pick 1 thing to focus on during every set and see how things feel. 

    On another note: 

    Consider doing one beautiful attempt, resting, and then performing another. 

    Yes, you will do fewer repetitions than usual; however, your form will improve. If you want to do more repetitions, drop down a progression and continue to focus on solid form.  


    What if my wrists hurt during push-ups? 

    Great question! One reason your wrist can bother you during push-ups is that your weight is sitting on the heal of your palm. 

    Think of your hand like a foot. The goal is to distribute your weight evenly through your foot so you can adequately balance and have a solid arch.  

    You can apply the same logic to your hands.   

    You want your weight in the center of your palm. To do this, stack the shoulders over your wrists, and keep your elbow pits facing forward. 

    External rotation keeps your hands more active and should take the pressure off the wrists. 

    But what if the wrists still bother me? 

    If that’s the case, I would consider spending time mobilizing and strengthening your wrists with this routine & performing push-ups on something like parallettes. 


    What if push-ups are easy for me? I can easily do 100! 

    Woah, that’s rad!  

    Here’s a question for you. 

    How many of those push-ups were with solid form? 

    If your answer is 20, then you did 80 with 💩 form.  

    I would rather see someone drop down a progression and focus on executing it with a slow and controlled tempo.  

    Yes, it isn’t sexy; however, building strength and control is essential and shouldn’t be over looked. 

    Sometimes our egos get in the way, and that’s ok because I’ve been there MANY times. 

    Slow down, make it pretty, and watch yourself get ridiculously strong. 


    How do I know when to move on to a different progression? 

    This is my favorite question of all time.  

    How do you know? 

    There are a lot of factors someone can consider. I would look at the ease and quality of the movement. 

    Another term for this is the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)  

    You would rate the particular movement on a scale of 1 – 10 

    1= EASY PEASY 


    I know that this can seem abstract if you’re newer to training. So, I suggest looking at Ease and Quality

    Here is a rad infographic from my pals at GMB Fitness. 

    If your Ease rating is Maximum Effort and your Quality is Rough or Broken, that’s a pretty good sign that you’ll want to take things down a notch. 

    But if you find things are feeling smooth and solid, try going up a progression. Things might feel like a challenge, but that’s a good thing. Progressive overload is how someone builds strength and muscle.  

    Both of these measurements are what I use with my online coaching clients. 

    It’s how I get clients to practice autoregulation

    The goal is to have every one of my clients be able to roll out of bed and be ready for whatever the day throws their way. 

    That could be wrangling kids home sick from school or being able to squeeze in a quick session during a lunch break.  

    The goal is to get stronger without running the risk of consistently overreaching. That’s what makes a successful progressive training plan. 


    Be Strong For Life

    Training should leave you ready for what life throws your way. 

    Push-ups are a staple in many of my client’s programming. Yes, they are a basic bodyweight movement; however, they lay a solid foundation for more advanced skills. 

    A truly well thoughout training plan will mix body weight with weighted movements. 

    So whether you’re dusting off the training cobwebs or are looking to spice up your training can be a key training tool for developing long-term strength and control.  

    And if you want to develop total body strength, move pain-free, & see some serious results consider applying for 1:1 online coaching. 

  • Should You Use Meal Replacement Shakes?

    Should You Use Meal Replacement Shakes?

    A client asked me the other day if they should use a meal replacement shake.

    The short answer is yes. The Long answer is I don’t think it’s the best choice.

    Yes, there was a whole fancy schmancy systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of meal replacements for weight loss that said MR was an effective tool for weight loss 😱

    But…slow down, Charlie Brown.

    Using a meal replacement shake made it easier for someone to adhere to their lower calorie intake; however, it was a portion control method.

    You know, kind of like following a meal plan that someone writes for you.

    Is it a bad thing? No…

    It just happens that the meal replacement shake is lower in calories, and if someone is replacing 1-2 meals per day with a shake, they are bound to lose weight because…of their calorie deficit.

    You can do the same by shifting some foods selected for your meals.

    Will they be hungrier because they are drinking their calories…possibly? There is less texture to experience when consuming liquid calories, which decreases satiation.

    Will they be able to sustain it long-term? That depends on someone needing meal replacement shakes/ prepackaged meals that stick to their strict diet.

    The goal is not to depend on a strict meal plan, or meal replacement shakes to maintain weight loss. My goal as a coach is to provide someone with self-efficacy.

    It’s essential to learn skills and practice the skills to make progress.

    So the verdict…

    Ideally, you would eat a meal and not drink it. For busy clients, we look at the concept of deliberate snacks.

    Something like a protein shake can be a good call if it will be longer than 6 hours between meals.

  • 8 Effective Ways To Stick To Your Diet While Eating Out

    8 Effective Ways To Stick To Your Diet While Eating Out

    You’ve done it.  

    You have stuck to your nutrition plan all week, and now it’s time to kick back and celebrate.

    It’s time to hit up your family’s favorite taco spot, which means you will have your usual: 

    A few tacos, a margarita, guac, and chips for the table, and maybe even dessert. 

    It’s so good that you decide to finish your kid’s leftover taco, and because you don’t want the guac to go to waste, you order more chips. The chips make you thirsty, and your partner is driving, so you get another margarita. 

    What started as a big meal turned into a bigger one, and as far as calories go…well, it’s the weekend, right?  

    If this sounds familiar, don’t be alarmed because we’ve been there. 

    That’s why by the end of this article, you will know how to eat out without slowing your weight loss progress. 

    Problem #1  You were “good all week.” 

    How many times have you told yourself you were “good” all week and that you deserve to kick back and finally enjoy yourself? 

    Being “good” all week can mean being overly restrictive with your food and calories.  

    After all, if you’re eating 1,200 calories a day and avoiding specific foods, the likely hood of you overconsuming while eating out goes up.  

    Instead of categorizing foods as “good or bad,” start looking at foods on a spectrum going from good –> better –>best. 

    You might do this by switching things up and enjoying foods you save for the weekend on a random Wednesday. 

    Doing this teaches you that specific foods hold no moral standings, and you’ll be less likely to overdo it on the guac and chips.  

    Use the good -> better -> best scale when switching up your routine. 

    Good: Double quarter pounder with fries and a Mcflurry on Saturday

    Better: Double quarter pounder with fries and a diet coke on a Wednesday. 

    Best: Making a cheeseburger and fries at home and having a diet coke on a Monday. 

    Each of these examples can fit into your nutrition plan. 

    Problem #2 The healthy choice still has calories.

    You have decided to stick to your health kick and order the healthiest thing on the menu. 

    Let’s say you go to Apple Bee’s and decide to get their South West Chicken Bowl.   

    According to the Apple Bee’s menu, there are 820 calories:

    • 54g protein 
    • 89g Carbs
    • 30g fat

    Something to consider is other variables such as the amount of oil being used for cooking the food, the serving size given that particular day, and the dressing. 

    It’s a “healthy” option that you could split into two meals; however, because it seems like the healthy option, someone could quickly eat the entire thing in one sitting. I’m speaking from first-hand experience. 😅 

    One meal doesn’t ruin all your progress during the week, but sometimes it leads to you embracing the f*ck it diet. 

    Problem #3: F*ck It 

    Just because you have one meal that can’t fit into some idealistic box of “health and fitness” you have created for yourself doesn’t mean you have ruined your progress. 

    I know it’s not the first time you have heard any of this, yet sometimes you will embrace the f*ck it mentality.   

    “I ruined my “clean” eating progress for the week, so what’s the point.”  

    Diet culture thrives on all-or-nothing thinking. Yes, I talk about weight loss; however,  I am not telling you to beat yourself up when you have a meal with friends and family. 

    I am not telling you that you are a terrible person if your day doesn’t adhere to the plan. 

    I am not telling you there is no point in trying to lose weight if that is your goal. 

    I am telling you that you will make mistakes, and it’s your job to learn something and make adjustments.  

    Does that mean avoiding eating out? Nope. 

    Does that mean believing that calories don’t exist? Nope. 

    Does that mean the things this article teaches you will help? Darn tooting! 


    The Calories aren’t 100% Accurate. 

    The truth is that calories listed on menus aren’t 100% accurate. It’s impossible because there are so many factors at play. Calories listed on food labels are still an estimate. It’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic; however, you should still track if that is your primary tool for weight management. 

    When you cook at home, you might notice it is tough to measure everything out, just you cooking for yourself or your family. Now imagine you’re a chef trying to feed an entire restaurant.  

    Things won’t be accurately weighed. 

    Oil and butter can be used, and usually, it’s eyeballed. 

    It’s okay! You should still enjoy your meal, and here is a fantastic option I learned from an article written by coach Sam Forget.

    Itemizing & Assessing Bulk Assessing
    Look at each component as its own portionLook for your meal on your tracking app
    See the average entry for part of the dish on your tracking app.Check average entry for dish
    Round up by 20%Round up by 20%
    Most AccurateNot As Accurate, But Still Counts!

    Option 1: Itemizing and Assessing. 

    • Look at each component of the meal as its own portion. 
    • See what the average entry is for each part of the dish on your tracking app. 
    • Round up by 20% for each estimate. 
    • Most accurate

    In Sam’s words

    “if you look up “Atlantic salmon,” you might see 10-15 entries ranging from 160-340 calories. But most of them say four ounces is ~240 calories, and you feel like there’s ~8 ounces on your plate (based on your tracking experience).

    In this scenario: double the entry (240 calories x 2 servings = 480 calories), and round up 20% (480 calories x 1.2). You now have your estimate: 576 calories.” 

    The most important part he references is rounding up by 20%. This accounts for extra oil, sauce, or any human error in the kitchen. 

    Option 2: Bulk Assessments

    • Look for what you’re eating on your tracking app. 
    • Check the average entry for the dish. 
    • Round up by 20% 

    This is not as accurate as the first option; however, certain meals will be tedious to itemize. Nobody has time to look at each kernel of corn and bean in your rice dish.  

    Save your time and energy by following the steps, and don’t forget to round up by 20%! 

    Check The Menu Ahead Of Time

    I try to have all my coaching clients look up menus in advance. Looking at the menu makes it easier to put things into perspective and plan the rest of your meals for the day. 

    While the menus won’t be 100% accurate, you can log it as a “place holder.” This makes it easier to see how that affects your calories for the rest of the day. 

    I try to have clients work off a plate template when ordering. 

    It’s a framework you can use when structuring your meals. This might mean getting something like your sauce or dressing on the side, which can be a game changer in a fat loss phase.  

    It’s something to be aware of and to experiment with as you plan your meals. 

    Eating a little less before going. 

     In theory, this sounds easy, but it can be challenging if you go into your meal without being aware of what you will have. 

    It takes more than one meal to ruin any progress you have made thus far. Yes, the scale will be up the day after eating out, but that has more to do with water retention, which is FRICKEN normal, so please don’t fret, chia pet. 

    Okay… I know you don’t believe me, so I will explain it in a little more detail. 

    To lose weight, someone needs to be in a calorie deficit. So let’s say you read my macro article and determine your daily calorie intake should be around 1,800 per day. 

    You then want to look at your weekly calorie intake: 

    1,800 x 7 days = 12,600 calories

    You can split your calories however you would like Monday through Sunday so long as you end up at 12,600, give or take 200 calories. That puts you in a weekly deficit, which matters for fat loss. 

    So if your meal is a higher calorie meal, no biggie, you have a few options. 

    If you know in advance what day of the week you are going out and you know you will let it be a big meal, adjust your intake during the day. 

    That might mean having a smaller breakfast or lunch. 

    It could mean just skipping the snack you usually have before dinner. 

    It all depends on who you are and what works best for your lifestyle. 

    If you know you are going out on Friday and Saturday, adjust your calories to have higher calorie days on those two days. 

    • Monday: 1,720 calories
    • Tuesday: 1,720 calories 
    • Wednesday: 1,720 calories
    • Thursday: 1,720 calories 
    • Friday: 2,000 calories 
    • Saturday: 2,000 calories 
    • Friday: 1,720 calories 

    Total calories = 12,600 ✅

    The technical term for this is calorie cycling, one tool someone can use to give themselves wiggle room. I don’t have clients do this unless they are comfortable with tracking and have learned to understand weight fluctuations.  

    Fork Down Between Bites 

    While calories matter, it’s essential to consider your ability to practice specific eating skills that will help to improve hunger and fullness cues.  

    These skills shift from the calorie-focused approach like the previous steps and emphasize a mindful eating approach.

    The basic gist of mindful eating is to slow the f*ck down! 

    Seriously, slow down and enjoy the meal in front of you. You’re not being “bad” for ordering something off the menu that you want to have. I told you to KNOCK IT OFF, lame Jane. 

    So, slow down and enjoy. 

    Try to take a bite of your food, chew it, swallow it, and savior it. 

    Don’t put another bit in your gosh darn mouth until you have finished the last bite. 

    This can be challenging, especially if it is something highly palatable.  

    • Try placing the food or fork down between bites. 
    • Try taking a sip of water between bites.
    • Try looking up from your food and talking with the person sitting across from you. 

    All of the above will help you start to slow down, making the meal more enjoyable. 

    Match The Pace Of The Slowest Eater

    Okay, maybe you are more of a visual learner and me telling you to put your fork down between bites makes you want to give me a swift kick in the booty.  

    Well, my fine feathered friend, you can try to match the pace of the slowest eater at the table. 

    This is one of my favorite skills to assign to a weight loss client with young kids. 

    It takes my son roughly 45 minutes to eat a single slice of pizza. 😅

    Matching the slowest eater’s pace allows you to check in and acknowledge how fast you are eating. If your dinner date is working on their first bites and you are ready to order dessert, it indicates you need to slow down. 

    Okay, let’s say you’re alone…what can you do?  

    Pause and perform a mid-meal check-in. 

    About halfway through the meal, pause and ask yourself the following: 

    • Am I getting full?
    • How fast am I eating? 
    • Can I slow down? 

    These three short questions can shift the trajectory of your meal. You might find you are full and truly in love with the taste. When you are chasing the taste, it’s easier to ignore your fullness.  

    That’s why checking in is so helpful. 

    Organize Your Plate

    I want you to try to shift things around on your plate. Focus on starting with your vegetables and protein. 

    By prioritizing fiber and protein, you will focus on the nutrient-dense portion of your plate. Once you finish, enjoy the carb portion of your plate. 

    It’s not that carbohydrates are the enemy. No, it just so happens that it’s much easier to over-consume the order of fries before enjoying the rest of your meal. 

    Boxing up half when you sit down 

    Most restaurants serve double portions, especially if the meal is over 1,000 calories. 

    So, if you’re not going to try any of the other options I mentioned earlier, you can ask for a to-go box when you order. 

    Then take half of your plate and save it for another meal.  

    It seems easy, and that’s because it is. 😉

    Horizon Guidelines 

    Honestly, you know what happens when you go out to eat.

    You know what happens when you have a few beers with friends.

    You know how you react to each of these situations, so planning ahead helps.

    It’s not about creating rules because that tends to make someone feel like a failure if things don’t go according to plan.

    Like my weight loss client, John.

    He was having a hard time on the weekends. There were a lot of family parties, drinks with friends, and huge meals out.

    A few weeks ago, he noted a few similar patterns, like eating quickly and eating off other people’s plates.

    So, we decided he would work on setting the horizon guideline:

    👉 Having one plate and one dessert

    👉 2 drinks max when going to parties or out to eat

    After setting these “horizon” guidelines, he noticed that he wakes up on Sunday with more energy and has an easier time kicking off his Monday.

    When he tried these guidelines, sometimes it worked better than others. In our check-in call, we could pinpoint what he could adjust, and then he would try again.

    John’s making some solid progress.

    Nutrition is an experiment, and it requires adjustments along the way. It’s not a one size fits experience; there’s more to it. 🤓

    One Meal Doesn’t Destroy Your Progress 

    Going out to eat with friends and family is special, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn’t mean ordering lettuce and baked chicken. 😉

    You have to plan and adjust as needed. 

    👉 Weekly calories and adjusting for higher calorie days.

    👉 Looking at the menu ahead of time and picking what you want.

    👉 Practicing mindful eating.

    👉 Setting horizon guidelines

    What works for one person might not work for you, and that’s okay. Try a different option until you find what fits your weight loss journey best. 

    If you try all of the above and still feel a little lost, click here and see if you are a good fit for 1:1 online nutrition coaching. 

  • 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?” 😅

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

    John’s progress. 🤓

    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:

    👉 Noticing hunger and fullness.
    👉 Establishing an eating schedule.
    👉 Practicing eating balanced plates.
    👉 Looking at your bedtime routine.
    👉 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. 😉

    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: 

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

    The Pull-up:

    Grip Overhand
    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 Rows 

    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 pull— 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 Back 

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

    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. 


    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. 

    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. 😉 

    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.  

    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. 😉

    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. 

    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.  

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

    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 myself—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. 

    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. 

    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:

    😴 They are exhausted and slept poorly the night before.

    🤬 They had a stressful day at work.

    🫤 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.  

    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. 


    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.  

  • 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.



    • 1 cup 
    • 8g fiber 
    • 64 calories 


    • 1 cup 
    • 9.8g fiber 
    • 233 calories 


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


    • 6 oz apple
    • 4.3g fiber
    • 93 calories


    • 6.5 oz banana 
    • 3.1g fiber 
    • 105 calories 


    • 7 oz pear 
    • 5.5g fiber 
    • 103 calories


    • 1 cup 
    • 7.6g fiber
    • 62 calories



    • 1 cup chopped
    • 3.6g fiber 
    • 52 calories 

    Green Peas:

    • 1 cup raw
    • 7.4g fiber
    • 117 calories 


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

    Brussel Sprouts:

    • 1 cup raw
    • 3.3g fiber
    • 38 calories 


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


    • 5.6 oz
    • 8.6g fiber 
    • 75 calories 

    Sweet Potato:

    • 3.9 oz baked 
    • 3.7g fiber 
    • 100 calories 


    Split peas:

    • 1 cup boiled
    • 16.3g fiber
    • 231 calories 


    • 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


    Chia seeds:

    • 2 tablespoons
    • 10g fiber
    • 130 calories 


    • 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 



    • 1 cup cooked
    • 8.6g fiber
    • 193 calories

    Bran Flakes:

    • 1 cup 
    • 7g fiber
    • 110 calories  


    • 1 cup cooked
    • 5.2g fiber
    • 222 calories 


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


    • 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. 😉

    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.  


    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 – 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.