fitspo

Four Exercises That Are Better Than The Ones You Are Doing Now

Trade Up

The universe always trades up. I PROMISE. I have no choice but to believe this truth after my last failed dating escapade. I mean, you really couldn’t get any worse than your beloved pretending not to know you on the street. Except of course, if he was with his “ex-wife.”

OK, ok. Before this piece gets too dark to recover, let me just say, I learned some very valuable life lessons from said relationship — even though he was a complete bonehead. 

See, you must understand, even the unworthy people who will inevitably move in and out of your life always show up for a reason. They appear, to help you uncover some deeper karmic lesson about yourself. 

As this relates to fitness, I believe there are a lot of just ok or even not so great exercises that may show up on your template and still teach you some very valuable lessons you may not have received otherwise.

They fulfill a purpose. But they don’t deserve to stay very long.

I’m talking about the exercises that aren’t serving you very well. Maybe they don’t offer you the results you are seeking or they cause you pain. Maybe you just kind of dread them even before you set foot on the gym floor. 

Maybe you’ve even been working on them forever, going around in circles and you seem to make no progress.

Time to move on to something better, better. No more tryna make it work. Deuces.

Of course, we should always look back. We must evaluate the good and the bad of our programs and practices. We need to meditate on what we’ve learned about our bodies.

But we must not stare too long before it is time to get started on the next layer, the next challenge -- Something that gets us closer to our bigger goal without all the negative drama.

You know, you can’t keep messing with the same lifts (assholes?) forever and expect a different outcome. 

And really, it’s not you. It’s them. Some typical strength exercises are just a little more party trick than they are real world applicable. They make for a really cool Facebook status that garners a lot of likes, but they leave you unfulfilled.

And that’s when it’s time to trade up.

The Full Get-Up

Being raised in the kettlebell world (it was my first and favorite strength certification post basic CPT way back in 2009), I have a special place in my heart for full get-ups. It is an exercise that demands and deserves all of the respect for it’s sophistication in execution and purpose.

A full get-up is an elegant dance. The seven steps are even a beautiful metaphor for human life. No matter what, you always need to be strong enough to get up off the floor with little difficulty.

But to be honest, I really only program the half get-up for class or clients on a regular basis. And that’s for a few reasons.

Regardless of most dysfunction, almost all humans can perform the first two steps without any serious compensation. Whereas, if hip stability is questionable and shoulder mobility is lacking (maybe you cannot reach your arm to true vertical over head), the full get-up could actually worsen these issues.

The half get-up is also much easier to program in a traditional sense. I can throw it in the middle of a workout as an accessory on any vertical pressing or upper body day with sets and reps. Whereas the full get-up typically needs to be programmed alone in the beginning of the session with low volume as it requires a high level of skill and so many complicated steps

You can however, practice the half get-up with much more ease. Get to the half-sit position, and return back to the ground.

Try it for 3x6 as your vertical push for the day!

Better Option: The Half Get-Up

 

The Pistol Squat

I believe that the fraction of the population that really deserves to do a pistol squat is something like less than 5%. And I’m not exaggerating. That’s a very low projection from someone who only sees the fittest demographic of the population from day to day (I work at a high end luxury gym in Soho, so I actually have more hope than I probably should). 

The requisite foundation of mobility, stability, and motor control required for this exercise are all huge! Even the expert fit pros who show their skills on social media rarely meet the criteria for a confidently controlled repetition.

Much like the get-up, the pistol also presents some programming problems. One perfectly executed pistol squat is often the equivalent of a max effort lift. Meaning, it has no business in any program with sets and reps. Past 2 repetitions, and you’re likely just jamming joints together to get it done.

Think of this way: If your top deadlift is 300lbs, you wouldn't be hitting that over and over again every day. That's as silly as repeating this eating mistakes over and over again.

And don’t get me started how trainers include the pistol in “quickie” or “metabolic” workouts. Face palm.

That bottom one is just not good enough to train. Even if you're only in that position for a split second.

That bottom one is just not good enough to train. Even if you're only in that position for a split second.

As you can surmise, I’m a little bit passionate about this one. And that is because, the risk in programming pistols outweighs the benefit. The cost is just too high. Even for me. And my dears, I once did a perfect pistol with a 32kg bell. That's a half bodyweight pistol.

Even the kettlebell people quietly stopped testing it at workshops as a requirement to pass. Because it was that ugly.

You and your body would be much better served with a more traditional single leg squat. Add in a box and you’ve got ample freedom to focus on that working leg. Just don’t forget about the other one. Tense it up and reach through the heel of the “non-working” side to maintain balance. Add in a counterbalance if you need it!

Better Option: The Single Leg Squat Off Box

 

The KB Push-Press

For a hardtyle push-press, you are required to keep your heals glued down to the floor. After years of debate with elite trainers and my own experience with clients, I don't teach like that anymore. 

It’s just awkward and I hate it. Ok, but seriously, it’s difficult to generate a lot of force for a number of reasons.

The cue in a push-press is to slide your back down the wall as you dip, rather than sit back like a squat or deadlift. This can help to prevent any leakage from the core. In other words, it can help you to keep your trunk together, without moving through your lower back, as you press.

However, you need a significant amount of ankle dorsiflexion to initiate the push when the feet are trapped on the floor -- to allow the knees to come forward.

And even if you do have real nice ankles, the lift still doesn’t feel one bit powerful.

As the goal of this exercise is to generate explosive force, I believe the feet need to be free to leave the ground during a push-press.

Easy fix: Just jump.

Complete your KB push-press while jumping up and stomping your feet into the ground. 

And if we’re talking about power, we want to create a more challenging situation in which you’d have to generate it.

So I love love love a log press. It’s also awkward. But, in a more appropriate manner to the goal of the exercise. So you will have no choice but to literally throw it up overhead. 

And that is exactly what you want to do.

Better Option: The Log Press

I have zero access to my own log press vids so let www.startingstrongman.com whow you how it's done. 

Remember, you can simply complete your usual KB push-press... Just jump!

 

Bent Over Rows

If I hardly ever program full get-ups, then you could say a bent over row is more rare in my programming than meeting a good one on Tinder. Like almost never happens.

And that’s because, it’s a little too complicated for most. You’ve got to be able to hang back in a perfect hinge position, stabilize the shoulders really well, and then also move some heavy weight.

Accordingly, they usually look damn ugly. Necks jutting forward with each rep. Backs rounding out to a nice curl by the end of the set. And not to mention the unhappiness your body may feel the next morning as you go to roll out of bed.

And so instead, I like to set up a sumo deadlift alternating row. That’s a mouthful, I know. However, it’s worth remembering and repeating to all of your friends who experience any kind of back pain.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in order for an object to stay in place. Normally, you’d have zero external feedback to stay stable in your hinge. In this row variation, you’ll get to push into the unmoving arm as you pull from the other. The added punching action will actually assist you.

Try them! You'll still build a beautiful back but without all the stress on your front side body and lower back.

Better Option: Sumo Alternating Row

Got any other exercises that aren't suiting you?

Leave them in the comments and I'll offer you more options!

#tradeup #deuces #sophisticatedstrength

The Two Best Cues In Training

...And They Come From The Practice of Yoga

Everyone should practice yoga. Yup, I said it. I don't care what the rest of your training looks like because it can be modified and worked into any program for great health benefits. Everyone in the whole world should make it to yoga once a week. 

Show up. Leave your expectations at the door. Get on the mat. And practice moving better.

Sure, yoga has it's shortcomings just like every other system. I don't think anyone should be practicing with their feet smashed together with respect to hip anatomy. There's definitely a skewed ration of push to pull actions in regards to muscular balance. Couple of other small rocks. But that's besides the point. All seemingly complete systems have their flaws.

The big rocks are what matters. What’s important here is that the culture of yoga demands grace unlike any other fitness experience.

It's not the smell of the incense wafting through the air, or the wise Buddha staring at you as you take your space. It’s not the dim lighting or the hushed whispers.

No matter the environment -- you could be in a community center all-purpose room or the spare office at the end of the hallway -- As soon as we step foot into the designated yoga space, we are immediately reminded that there is a higher purpose to our practice than fitness.

We lay down on our mats silently and begin to attune to our bodies with an elevated level of attention. We come to place our hands at heart center, knowing full well that our movements must be executed with the highest measure of integrity.

We hit our first sun salutation with the inherent knowledge of these implied expectations.

So why do we forget them as we step in front of the iron?

What is really different between the two training sessions? We are simply practicing moving well again, only this time there is added load to the challenge in the form of weight and speed. 

Isn’t that more reason to “turn inward?” To remember precision? To remember grace?

And so I offer to you the two best cues I’ve ever received -- from my yoga instructors. The two cues that will protect your joints from that wear and tear we seem to incur as we lift heavier in the gym. The two cues that will remind onlookers of a yoga flow chair pose as you drop into a barbell squat. The two cues that will push you past plateaus.

The two cues that can and SHOULD be applied to any exercise. 

Because your lifting sessions demand the same level of respect to the body that your yoga sessions ask for. It’s your responsibility to answer.

The First Cue - Root To Rise

In yoga, we assimilate good posture with the way a tree grows. As the branches grow taller, the roots dig down deeper into the ground to anchor the trunk.

You want to root down through the feet. This will ensure you always use the floor as the unspoken piece of equipment it is.

And you also want to rise up tall through the crown of your head. This will ensure your spinal alignment is perfect for your body.

Together, rooting through the feet and rising up tall creates length in the joints. And when we lift, the entire purpose of our training is to overcome whatever resistance is being applied. To maintain the space we already own.

If we give up that space, we are not honoring the purpose of the exercise. We are losing the battle and we are not really getting stronger.

This is how we maintain good posture.

Internal Commands: Root to rise. Get tall through the crown of your head. Ground down through your feet.

The Second Cue - Play Tug of War 

This one is not too far from the first cue. They are in the same family tree, if you will.  But we’ll concern ourselves less with the body as a whole, and focus on the appendages independently.

As you reach, you play tug of war with your whole arm. The fingers and palm push into the floor or the weight. And the upper arm pulls into the shoulders joint. This action creates internal opposition.

As you step, the foot pushes into the floor while the top of the leg pulls into the hip. This internal opposition creates tension.

This is how we find stability through our appendages. 

Internal Commands: Play tug of war. Pull shoulders down and back but reach the hands away. Pull the hips together but push the floor away. 

Everything Is The Same

Applying these two cues to your next lifting session will change everything! You will find more ease in your lifts. You’ll get stronger. Your body will feel more resilient. And you will own your lifts. Plus, you’ll look real good doin’ em. Less aches and pains. More gains.

There are a TON of other traditional yoga cues that can serve you in the gym.

Remember, most systems that have survived for years and years are still around because they have some real good rocks. And lots of those rocks, tend to look oddly familiar. We just call them by another name. So there is tons of carryover across different schools of practice if you choose to see it.

High Crescent is just a lunge. Warrior III is just a single-leg deadlift. 

Close your eyes and turn your mind back to your last class in reflection. Start to draw the similarities between your lifts and your poses. If it helps, you can totally burn some sage and dim the lights for your next heavy squat session. It’s actually quite the spiritual experience.

Root to rise. Play tug-of-war. Use these intentions to focus your direct gaze(yogic gaze) and train like the graceful warrior. 

#gracefulwarrior #sophisticatedstrength

The Four Agreements of Nutrition: The Second Agreement

Don't Take Anything Personally

For the next few days, I’m taking a look at how Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements relate to making real life changes, specifically nutrition. Last week, I talked about the principles of LOVE and TRUTH from the first agreement (“Be impeccable with your word”), but this week I’m going to take a look at the second agreement: “Don’t take anything personally,” and how it relates to the often destructively dogmatic world of nutrition.

Watch the clip HERE

If anyone caught last fall’s Hulu original Casual, you know that there is a spot-on scene in which a CrossFitter religiously promotes her Paleo diet. If you haven't seen it, I'm sure it's not a scenario too difficult to imagine. Even when her date says, “I’m happy to move forward without an argument,” (like ok, girl… I got it.) she dives into what is clearly (and hilariously) anecdotal “scientific” support for her lifestyle.

Chick would totally need to work on her Functional Dating Screen score. But anyway...

Food and Virtue

We’ve all met those people – whether it’s low-carb-high-fat, Whole30, gluten-free, vegan, 20 million day fix(or whatever), or simply “clean,” the diet becomes the person. You literally can’t talk to this person without the conversation steering back to the superiority of their way of eating. 

Before you roll your eyes just thinking about this person, let's examine this behavior with some love, shall we?

Last week, I pointed out that most diets work well as long as you are consistent. But it’s easy to slip into fanaticism, especially if your diet is complicated, restrictive, or difficult to maintain. For some people, they need to think that their way is the only way to be healthy, in order to justify the increased level of attention that their lifestyle demands. 

They renounce others in righteous support of themselves. Classic defense mechanism.

How does this relate to Don Miguel Ruiz?

You Are Not Your Diet

His second agreement, “Don’t take anything personally,” means that you don’t accept others’ projections onto yourself. He uses amazing language about others’ entire realities being a “dream,” and he points out that we can be more free and happy if we don’t allow others perspectives to define us.

While this could apply to relationships, career, or money, there is an obvious application here for nutrition.

Each way of eating (or exercising) carries with it a certain identity, whether or not the stereotype is actually true for the individual. For example, it could be argued that Paleo is extremely associated with CrossFit (as Casual jokes), while veganism is a hallmark of a yogic lifestyle. Making certain food choices could make you feel a certain way about your value and identity, whether the identity that you want is more tough, more enlightened, or more self-disciplined.

cc:  The Tig

The difficulty of internalizing our identity around our food choices, however, is that sometimes our choices aren’t perfect. Even though I advocate for consistency in the first agreement, the reality of life is that there are ups and downs even in a big picture of consistency. It’s never a straight line, even if you’re moving in the right direction.

Sure, you feel amazing when you’re eating “clean.” You may feel superior, in control, and self-disciplined.

But what if you binge on your favorite nachos when it’s not your “cheat day”? Are you then a failure, or lazy? We’re back at the first Agreement here -- You must uphold love and the truth.

Because the other consideration is that just as everyone’s dream of the world is different, so too are everyone’s nutritional needs.

A paleo persuasion is actually a pretty dangerous diet for someone who puts in the kind of intense effort that a Crossfitter does. Cutting carbs cuts your gains.

A vegan diet can seem super clean and healthy. But it can actually wreak havoc on the health of any individual with a less than extraordinarily excellent digestive tract.

And the fact that you cannot hang on to these habits should not cause you harm. Whether that harm is incurred by trying to repeatedly force the beliefs of someone else onto your body. Or by failing at that diet and feeling bad about yourself for it. 

We need to be free to be objective with our nutrition. To separate ourselves from our food choices. 

The TRUTH, is that all diets won't work for every individual in the long term, and you need to LOVE yourself enough to honor this realization without judgement. 

Taking Food Personally

Like Ruiz advocates, we can’t let diet culture dictate how we feel about ourselves, because that would be allowing others’ projections to define who we are.

That is why I recently released “Sophisticate Your Nutrition,” a three-month course that gives you the education, guidelines, and principles to create an eating lifestyle that gives you the results you want, without adhering to a specific “diet.”

You don’t have to be Paleo to be tough. You don’t have to be vegan to be enlightened. You can be whatever the hell you want to be, achieve your goals, and live a free, happy, healthy lifestyle.

Why Stress Is the Insidious Enemy of Fat Loss

...And Your Body Is Not

We cut out ALL sugar. We walk past the pastry counter practically drooling. We sign up for as many classes as we possibly can. Even giving up drinks with friends to hit that last spin class on Thursday night. We are tired. We are sore. Bruised even. And we still get to the beach on Saturday and look around, wondering how many of these chicks do we look better than? If it’s at least 50% it’s ok, right?

And we are frustrated. Nothing is changing! Except maybe we can’t sleep. But Instagram told us to go #beastmode with HIIT workouts and the 21-day fix said all we need is 1200 calories.

So we pack up our gym bags Sunday night and vow to leave a little more sweat on the floor and a few more crumbs on the plate than we did last week. And maybe, just maybe, by next weekend we’ll look good enough for that itsy bikini bottom that has yet to make it out the dresser drawer. 

And the cycle continues. Welcome to New York.

We look at fat loss like it’s a war. We strap on our Nikes and go to battle on grounds like Barry’s Bootcamp and Tonehouse. We congratulate ourselves on hitting two workouts in a day. Every meal we go without carbs is a definitive win. Our bodies with their stubborn fat and sharp cravings and exhaustion are rebellious. They must be conquered.

You are in the midst of an all-out war but you are hungry. You are overtired. Your workouts are breaking you. When did this knee pain thing start? You don’t like what you see in the mirror. You’re losing morale.

You cannot win like this. Planning endless attacks day after day, week after week. You’re exhausting your power, battling on too many fronts. Waging guerrilla warfare without strategy. Shooting in the dark.

Fat loss is not a war. 

At least it’s not a war against your body. You’ve chosen the wrong side. You let your evil head sway you. And I don’t mean the intelligent, rational side, I mean the dark side.

The side that reads magazines articles with opposing literature and immediately questions herself. The part of the brain that can look in the mirror and decide she got fat over night. You know this voice. The one that your yoga teacher says makes up stories about how unsatisfactory you are. The one that makes you feel shameful for that late-night slice of pizza at the office yesterday.

Yup that's me, aught on a particularly stressful day in the winter.

Yup that's me, aught on a particularly stressful day in the winter.

This ego of yours has convinced you that stress is your friend and your body is the enemy. This voice is not your ally! She has lied. And you have betrayed your body and become dependent on her shaky approval.

STRESS KILLS! You know this! Your body has been trying to tell you all along! It tried to warn you when it saw the dark side gaining control. That same body that you pummeled with burpees and starved of calories. The body that you rebelled and revolted against. 

It’s always been there trying to communicate with you, sending up smoke signals and transmitting encrypted messages to warn you of the impending harm. When you don’t eat, your body tries to remind you by shaking your focus. When you don’t sleep, it makes you feel slow. When you go too hard at the gym, it tries to grab your attention by creating pain.

The realist truth in the world is this: Stress is the enemy of everything.

If you really want to win, you need a a new strategy. Ask not what your body can do for you, but what you can do for your body. It’s time to join forces against the real enemy of your fat-loss goal, and really health in general. 

You want to combat stubborn fat? You need to listen to your body and declare war on stress.

Stress Is The Enemy of Fat Loss

There are different types of stress. There’s physical stress. There’s mental stress. But your brain interprets them all the same. And it responds with a release of hormones that make it particularly difficult to cut fat. When the body feels threatened, it goes into fight or flight mode. If we live here constantly, our cortisol is chronically increased. This can kill our ability to break down fat and raises our ability to destroy hard won, fat-burning muscle. 

And there are more obstacles. Our leptin sensitivity changes, owing to our inability to put the bag of chips down until the whole thing is gone. We are even more likely to get sick in this state, as the immune system can become suppressed. You cannot battle fat from the convalescence of your couch. You cannot fight fat when you are hormonally compromised.

Prepare For Battle

So minimizing stress… How can we do that? I said listen to your body. Easy for me to say right? You’re correct. It is. I’ve seen the other side. I’ve cultivated that relationship and I can intuitively sense what my next move should be most of the time.

But I also know(from experience), the transmission can be difficult to interpret when you’ve been pummeling that voice with shame and guilt and kettlebell swings. You gotta get back in touch with it somehow. And I’ve got some tips to help you rebuild your relationship with your soul voice.

This is the voice that is always your ally. She is the true caretaker of your body. The one who knows exactly what you need and when you need it. The only one your crazy head can never win against. IF, you let her speak.

But the first thing, the most important thing I want you to consider, is that your body is in fact a fat-burning metabolic machine. It is a an absolute war machine. And it’s loving loyalty is with you alone.

You’ve been scheming up new ways to restrict and limit your body rather than aid it. It’s not your fault. The fitness industry has taught you to think aggressively. I dare you to instead change your perspective and imagine what you can do to fortify your defense. What can you supply your body with to help it function better? 

Fat-loss is the cause. And your body and all of it’s biological systems are the army. To function at it’s best, you’ve got to give it what it needs. Essentially, anything that helps relieve stress can also help rip fat off of your body. Because when the body is less stressed, the fat-loss machine, your metabolism, can run most efficiently. 

So, what can you do to eliminate the impact of stress on your body and soul?

Supply The Right Basic Training

Training is by definition: intended physical stress. You break your body down on purpose, hoping that during recovery, you build yourself up better than you were before. 

But it’s got to be the right dose of stress. We’re all different. We all need to work on building stronger muscles and stronger hearts, yes. But that doesn’t mean we should all be doing the same workouts to achieve these qualities. 

And if the training plan is too stressful for where you are right now? And this could mean many things — it’s not appropriately progressive, or it’s too intense, or the exercise selection is not right for your level of athleticism and skill — It’s not the right dose and you won’t get any of the results you want, fat-loss included.

In yoga, we say that training is all about finding the edge. To push the edge further, you must train within that line. So all of your workouts should be something like comfortably difficult. There should be some amount of ease even on your toughest days. Because when we push past our limits too often, we find dis-ease. Did you read that? You find disease.

And this is why the extreme high intensity competitive bootcamps like CrossFit and Barry’s can be very frustrating for most of us. If every day is game day, and you are constantly disrespecting the sacred edge, you find all kinds of stress in the form of tightness, injury, pre-workout anxiety, post workout exhaustion, and chronic inflammation to name a few.

So I challenge you to accept two big concepts that will help you train smarter. I’m even going to give you some action steps for applying them.

Exercise Your Strength(DOn'T Exhaust it)

The first, is that you should always leave some reps in the tank and some weight on the rack. Constantly going for max lifts and training to failure can fry the nervous system and exacerbate your muscles. This is too much stress on its own.

Also, consider that when you train, you are incurring a certain amount of risk. And the more fatigued you become, the more that risk increases. That gamble isn’t worth the short term success. 

And really, if you leave yourself in a puddle of sweat on the floor today and you wake up so sore that you can barely move in the morning, how do you expect tomorrow’s workout to go? I mean, will you even be able to pull yourself out of bed to do it? You cannot win a war if you can’t get to the battlefield.

My favorite lifting session for fat-loss is 10x3. Lifting relatively heavy weights for a good amount of volume can be a recipe for hormonal happiness that results in the torching of those last couple of pounds.

But I mean it when I say RELATIVELY heavy. You cannot expect to use anything even CLOSE to your 1-rep max here. You should be able to complete 11 rounds if you had to, but you will just choose not to.

Day 1 Superset

Barbell Deadlift

Barbell Bench Press

Day 2 Superset

Barbell Front Squat

Pull-Up

3 bodyweight pull-ups is my prefect 10x3 sets. But you can add bands to remove some resistance.

3 bodyweight pull-ups is my prefect 10x3 sets. But you can add bands to remove some resistance.

*For both workouts, perform the two lifts back to back. That is one set. Rest 90-120 seconds between sets. Repeat for ten rounds.

Here’s the important part: For novice and intermediate lifters, choose a weight that is about 60-65% of your 1-rep max. Expert lifters may play with a weight that is closer to 70% of their 1-rep max. 

Be of Strong Heart

The second, is that you should always include some rhythmic cardio in your training plans. We said you’ve go to train the heart, right? And I mean something like rowing, biking, or sprinting. These exercises allow for a sequential turning on and turning off of muscles that allows blood to flow MORE freely through the body in a way that strength work cannot. 

And restricted blood flow is the chief reason lifting weights for speed, is not true cardio. Weight bearing exercises require too much tension and accordingly slow the blood flow back to the heart. This concept also helps explain why those who lift weights, REALLY need not to ignore cardio training.

Rhythmic cardio is also EXTREMELY therapeutic for mental stress and that is because much like meditation and yoga, you will be challenged to take control of your breath. When you can breathe better, you can deal with all of life’s unexpected but inevitable shit, better.

Longer intervals are a great way to fight stress.

Longer intervals are a great way to fight stress.

And control is the important part here. If you lose control of the weight when you are strength training, you have failed. This is obvious. Much less obvious, if you lose control of your breathing during cardio work, you have lost control of the interval and well, you lost the battle. You will reap no great cardio or fat-loss rewards as a result. 

My favorite workout here is 10x2min. 

Warm-Up

Progressively increase intensity on your chosen appropriate medium(run, bike, row)

Workout

Complete 10 2-minute long intervals at 70-80% perceived intensity, resting 1 minute between each interval.

Here’s the important part: Utilize long slow exhales during the work intervals, blowing air out of pursed lips. No matter how fast you move, the breath should ALWAYS be relatively slow and controlled. Modify speed according to ability to maintain that control. Honor the edge!

This bootcamp protocol should help you make some real visual changes to your body. But more importantly, you should start to make some real philosophical changes in your brain. Pay attention to how you feel after each activity, after training mindfully for a couple weeks. Throw in a yoga session of choice as your fourth session each week and you should start to pick up on some valuable transmissions from your soul voice about what really serves your body and your fat-loss goals. 

Give Your Body The Right Fuel

You have but one concept to adopt here. And as you march yourself down the queue at Dean and Deluca, I want you to remember that your battle cry is no good if you’ve got nothing to back it up with. You cannot fight if you don’t have the energy. Fat-loss takes fuel.

Your body and brain are fueled by two things: oxygen and food. It’s very simple. To function optimally, you need to breathe well(as we already covered) and you need to eat well. This means that starving yourself is not an option. 

I work in NYC and I can tell you that my clients who have the most trouble losing weight are the chicks who don’t eat at all, or don’t eat enough. For one, the lack of satiety causes more mental stress. Anxiety and guilt then become a part of every food experience.

But more importantly, they are lacking the adequate nourishment that is necessary to allow for results. To fuel your workouts, your body needs carbohydrates. Think of carbs as the engine of your metabolism. 

This is my actual breakfast 4 days per week! Packed with protein and carbs!

This is my actual breakfast 4 days per week! Packed with protein and carbs!

To recover from workouts, your body needs protein. Think of protein as the building blocks of your muscles. And having more muscle makes the engine stronger and drives your metabolic capacity up nice and high.

And your body also needs fat. Fat allows protein and carbs to do their jobs efficiently. And it also serves to help you absorb other necessary nutrients like vitamins and minerals. 

As we already outlined, workouts are stressful and sophisticated breakdowns that are contingent on recovery. But they are also only as good as the energy you have to put into them. You need all three of these macronutrients to ensure your success. But we’re going to focus on the first two to get you started here.

Tip #1

Up your protein. To whatever you normally eat, add another chicken breast or another three egg’s worth of whites. Mix up a protein shake. Just get that number up. Take note of how you feel and look over two weeks time.

Tip #2

After you have completed your protein experiment, play with carbs. This one is particularly important if you have been carb-less or very low carb for any significant amount of time. On your tougher lifting days and on your cardio days, add in extra carbs. White or brown rice, regular or sweet potatoes, even oatmeal is a great option here. Add a full extra serving on these days. Take note of how you look and feel over two weeks time.

Don’t skip the instructions to run these tests independently of each other! It’s important to realize how each individual change affects your body. Change one thing at a time to really hear what your soul voice has to say about it.

Keep Morale High 

There are unlimited opportunities for mental stress. I cover relationships in a different blog. But there’s family stress. There’s financial stress. There’s work stress. All of these potential stressors can mess with your hormones and negatively affect your decision-making skills. If you want to focus on fat loss, you’ve got to eliminate outside threats. 

I’m going to focus on tech stress here as it can lead us to multiple problems. Two in particular that are easy to get a handle on.

One, too much tech can scramble your brain. That makes even normal daily tasks more stressful. Increased tech usage late into the day can also make it difficult to sleep. And sleep is a necessary part of the recipe for good results. 

So, look for ways to limit your usage. Trade your google calendar for an actual calendar. Yeah, like a planner. Remember those? Trade your iPhone alarm clock for an actual alarm clock. That way, you can shut the phone off, leave it in another room, anything to get the actual device away from your brain while you catch some z’s. 

And two, quite possibly the more important of the two, get off Instagram! I know you, dear. When you’re frustrated trying to lose weight, you’re on there listening to false fitness idols and comparing yourself to hydroxy-cut hotties. Stop that. Comparison is the enemy of progress. You need confidence here, not questions. And too much doubt will drown that soul voice again. 

So, cut your time on tech. And instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on yourself. Start keeping a diary of how you’re feeling each day. What’s going well? What’s actually getting you down? And you don’t have to limit yourself to just fitness related topics. Keeping track of your personal and professional life in tandem with your fitness tracking will also help you recognize important patterns. (Hint: The way we see ourselves, influences the way we move!)

Take real photos of your body and compare them every six weeks. NOT EVERY DAY! There are natural ups and downs. Progress is not completely linear. So you need to allow a decent amount of time to pass to accurately gauge results. 

I actually keep these tiny notebooks that I journal in throughout the day!   

I actually keep these tiny notebooks that I journal in throughout the day!

 

DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE

This is a manifesto of war on stubborn fat, yes. But it’s also a treaty of peace with your beautiful body. A declaration of independence against the restrictive and punishing way you’ve been fighting for your physique goals. And a vow to be the best ally of your most inner soul voice.

I challenge you in training to exercise your strengths; not to exhaust them. I challenge you in nutrition to nourish your body; not to ration it. And I challenge you to eliminate outside threats to your soul voice; to rally your spirit. Because we’ve got some leaning to do, ok? Life is too short to get caught up in confidence killing conflicts and uphill battles. And that itsy bikini(with you in it!) deserves it’s day in the sun. #fatlossisstressloss #sophisticatedstrength