5 Things I’ve Learned This Month: November

100% Guaranteed Results Is Done By Doing The Work

This is true in every aspect of life. The things you want may not happen right then and there. There’s another saying. “good things come to those who wait”. These two phrases really go hand in hand. Though, the real magic is in the hard work. I realized this when many aspects of my life that I put in work has really come to the fruition of my own happiness and success.

In particular with my clients results from their training. They’re all doing so well and what’s more is they’ve all learned a little thing called patience in the process. When you have patience, you really do let go a lot of the stress and focus more on the work you put in. I’ve gotten clients that have worked hard for 6 weeks and gain nearly a pound of muscle and lose nearly 3lbs of fat. Another has clothes that used to fit are now literally falling off of them for the first time after training and eating better over the last 2 years. Some are simply finding consistency and enjoying working out again. Absolutely none of this would happen if they didn’t put in 2-4 hours of work each week.

Nothing gets done in your life when you do nothing about it. Put in the work. MAKE shit happen!

Skill set Pretty Much Supersedes Passion

We’ve all heard the phrase “stick to what you’re good at” and it definitely rings some truth. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t/shouldn’t learn a new skill. The only way to get better at it is to continue to practice. Even if you have an unbelievable talent, you can still lose focus. MJ didn’t shoot free throws with his eyes closed from birth. That took millions of free throws throughout his basketball career. The whole planet knows how much that man loves basketball, but he could have the same passion for the sport as much as the most nonathletic fan in the world. Passion is great and all, but skill set is huge.

After finishing the book “The Sports Gene:Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance” by David Epstein, whether you have a natural talent or not, practice is arguably the most important thing with regards to how good you are. Genes are always going to be the “X” factor, but working on your skill will only reveal the true potential of your genetics. The book talked about Donald Thomas, a high jumper who jumped 6’6” on a dare.

In basketball shoes and shorts.

On his first try with no training and horrible form.

With a little bit of practice he was better than most in the world…but he wasn’t the absolute best. Who knows what he can REALLY do. Much like a client who might be chasing a small (read: hyooge) 5lb deadlift PR who has been working at it for 6-12 months. It seems if passion was a vehicle in a race to success, the driver is the skill set. The better the driver, the better the outcome.

Sometimes, people don’t deserve the goals they set for themselves

I’m sure that line got your attention. We all know someone or have heard about people wanting to have a nice car, big house, get toned/swole, get a full-ride to a D1 school. Everyone is deserving of happiness in whatever capacity…but what people miss the boat on is what they have to go and DESERVE those things.

It’s like buying something that has “cable capabilities”, but upset that it doesn’t actually HAVE cable. People misunderstand the difference.

We get what comes our way from the things we do in life. It’s going to take time and deliberate practice to get the things we want.

People who lift heavy ass shit, 9 times out of 10 will put their own stuff away

Remember back in the day you wanted to use the hack squat, and the person before you had a ton of weight on there asked you to help take the weight off?? Member how much weight that was and how strong you thought they were? Then you struck up a conversation about how to get jacked and instantly became friends through your muscles??

Member that time some asshat left a pair of 20’s on the ground?? And you thought to yourself “20’s…seriously!?

People who lift heavy stuff work hard to get there. From the empty bar they use all the way to putting the last 2.5 pounder on the bar to get that nice even number. As boss it would be to put up 4 wheels on any lift, you definitely don’t want to have the rep of being the douchebag at the gym that thinks they’re hot shit. Truth of the matter is, there is always someone out there stronger than you.

That’s one thing I can’t stand about gyms is this power struggle for who is the baddest mofo on the planet. I highly recommend walking into the gym with that attitude, but you don’t have to be rude about it.

Most people who lift heavy stuff have had to work hard to earn it. They too were humbled by the weight they lifted and most likely learned from a professional. Most likely, that professional taught them to respect the gym and the weight they used for it can make or break them. For those of us who lift heavy ass shit, you know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t, if you see the strongest person in the gym and you want to use the bar they’ve got done using, don’t worry. They’ll likely put their weight back.

 

It seems people who are new to lifting don’t need a detailed nutrition plan at the start

The likelihood of people who have never really worked out (hard) most likely don’t have good eating habits. It’s more common to find this in the reverse since exercise is much simpler than nutrition. In my experience, the majority of people either eat too much, eat too little, eat a lot of “convenient” processed foods or some combination of all of the above.

The photo below is a body scan of my client who 8 months ago was new to lifting weights.

Eating well under 1000 cals a day they weren’t eating enough yet wanted to gain muscle and get strong.

 

I started by letting them know that calories was going to be huge and to eat more than their basal metabolic rate (BMR) says in conjunction with weight lifting will help reach their goals. Well, the calorie things didn’t work out. Instead of doing something more invasive I knew that nutrition is best done simple. So focusing on eating certain foods more often that are more calorie dense would be a better route. That and keeping them accountable to be aware of how they feel when they work out after eating these foods. Sure enough it did the trick and they started putting on more muscle, losing body fat and managing body weight since that has been a concern of theirs.

The idea is to implement principles before the plan. The plan won’t stick if they don’t have good habits in place.

So if you’re new to lifting and struggling with your nutrition take these points to heart:


1) Eat more carbs around your workouts. If you lifting in the AM, eat your carbs at night. If you lift in the afternoon, eat your carbs during the day. Carbs are the #1 fuel source for your muscles when lifting. The more fuel you have the harder you can go. The harder you work, the better the results.

2) Every Time you eat, make sure there is protein with it. I don’t care where it comes from. Get it into your head that you absolutely have to have a protein source. It’ll help keep the muscle you already have and are trying to put on. When you have more muscle, you get lean(er), strong(er), and more energy.

3) Think of food not as a way to change your body composition, but as a way to give you energy to do the things you need to do to do so. Way too many people worry about what they did over the holidays and go into overdrive and over think their food intake. Change the way you view food and you’ll approach it differently. It’ll make a world of a difference.

5 Things I’ve Learned This Month: September

Adding more content to my website, I’m looking to make these posts monthly as I find reflecting to be very important in personal growth. So, without further ado here are 5 things I’ve taken away from this month from personal, professional, social, and all things random. Let’s have fun with this.

Whatever you feed will grow

When you feed certain things –your time, energy and focus– understand those things are going to be the priority in your life even if you didn’t intend it to be. Whether it be in conversations, training, at work or personal time, you will find yourself not as present in the moment. That or someone will call you out on it. It’s not a bad thing, but it is important to be aware of that. When you intend to get a lift in that day but your mind wanders to what you have to do afterwards or thinking about what transpired before, it’s hard to get shit done. My work schedule has taken a nose dive over the past couple weeks and I can honestly say I haven’t really been giving it my all when I’m there. As a result, clients have been cancelling or rescheduling sessions. Some are taking a “break”. For me this was a big wake-up call for me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in my life and see what areas are getting too much attention and areas that aren’t getting enough. Once I’ve been able to recognize the issue, I create an action plan to fix it. Balance is key, whatever that looks like for you it’s important to work on that. Now, I’ve gotten some clients back that haven’t been around for various reasons. I’m reaching out to those I haven’t heard from in a while and doing more reading and writing with the extra free time that I have. And working on communicating more/better with those that are important pieces in my life in making it work functioning better.

Recognize the different components in your life and make sure they’re all fed “property” to make your life better. I promise, you’ll have better relationships with others (and yourself), better training sessions, more productive at work (and enjoying it), and a happier life(style).

Sushi is LOADED with sodium

I’ve only been eating sushi for a few years and I’m glad I took the leap (the thought of raw fish for years wasn’t appealing. I decided to become an adult and try it. Even drink coffee!). However, it became apparent that sushi was high in sodium when I went to get a massage last week. I had sushi with the wife for lunch and went right to get a massage afterwards. Once I was done, Erica goes “did you have sushi earlier?? Your skin soaked up 2x more lotion than it normally does!” My jaw dropped. I had no idea it would make that big of a difference that fast. After looking it up, the sushi (rice) alone is 500mg of sodium…in a half cup which is the normal amount used in making 1 roll.

I had to have probably about 1 1/2 rolls =). Muahahahaha!!!!!

Why am I talking about this? Well for one I knew NFL Combine athletes would eat a ton of sushi before the combine so they could drink enough water and soak it into their muscles to keep them hydrated and therefore increase their work capacity. The opposite can be done when you don’t drink enough and can cramp up. In my profession, this was an important finding because I work with people that want to lose weight and look better naked. Well, they all know how important hydration is for not only athletic performance, but in how your body looks and how much water you’re going to hold when you consume a lot of it. Now I don’t know how many of you eat sushi that much on a regular basis, but the point is when it comes to body weight, sodium is a huge contributing factor in weight retention. HOWEVER…do not mistake sodium as a bad thing. Remember what I said earlier about how sodium helps keeps and draw in water into the muscle? Well, if you’re wanting to improve body composition, have better athletic performance/training sessions, you have to train harder and sometimes for longer periods of time to elicit muscle mass and strength gains. How much is too much? Well that’s different for everyone. What’s a lot for you might not be enough for me, etc.

Fat loss is about persistence and consistency

Since I’ve been training all summer to get my competition strength back I’ve changed my focus to gaining more muscle AND reducing body fat. You see, gaining muscle and losing fat aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. With that being said putting on muscle is not easy and neither is fat loss (espeically when with the more experience you have) which means both are going to take some time and and consistency to achieve this goal. Because there are so many factors in achieving fat loss (nutrition, exercise, sleeping habits, water intake, and stress management to name a few) the persistence of achieving lower body fat levels is the utmost important element.

 

Today at the end of a relatively light #okaybenchday sessh at the hub. After flirting with 300 on the bar last week, the body wanted a break. Went the bodybuilding route for the workout routine and felt really good. No more than 5 movements and a minimum of 6 reps for each set. #### Not going off of a strict program has really allowed me to feel my best and ultimately look my best. At 213 now (up 5 from the previous weeks) it’s been at least 3 years since I’ve been this shredded. No strict crazy diet. In fact, I was up north visiting my buddy Cabbage Patch Kevin in Naperthrill enjoying some drinks til 1:30 in the am after a hefty Italian dinner I enjoyed with his family. Part of getting great results is simply enjoying life and having some fun once in a while. I’m bout ready to get back on the platform though…in due time. #shredded #success #fitspo #consistency #livelife #havingfun #trainhard #trainsmart #eatwellmostofthetime #powerlifting #power #powerbuilding #bodybuilding #powerlifter #thick #gym #afathlete #selfconfidence #appreciatethejourney #dowork #hylete #hyletenation #trainhylete

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

Conversely, it takes no time to increase your body fat levels when you neglect just about any of the previously mentioned factors OR if the method you chose is contraindicated or not helpful. Take running for instance. I love running for what it does for people: Improved athletic performance, general performance enhancement and heart health benefits, stress relief (endorphins/”runner’s high”), and a genuine love of running and competing. However, long-duration cardio such as running doesn’t build muscle. Building muscle is what raises your resting metabolism (how much energy you burn at rest) which is key for fat loss. So, while cardio isn’t a bad thing in general, it isn’t ideal for fat loss goals. It goes to show there IS a specific approach to fat loss and while you may need little tweaks here and there to individualize that approach, it’s paramount to be persistent in training to get stronger and building muscle. To make the best of your training, get outside and enjoy life Earlier this month I visited the St. Louis Children’s (City) Museum with my family. It’s always a great time there because it really makes me feel like a little kid crawling and climbing around that place. I also have a profound respect for the creativity and architecture. Check it in out this video!

 

It was pretty empty when we got there since they opened up an hour early and we were probably one of 5 cars in the lot. Once I got there and did some crawling around and running up and down the stairs, I had to pause for a moment and appreciate all the things I can do because of my persistence and consistency (there are those words again) to my training and mobility work. Some of the places at the museum are clearly made for kids. Not going to lie there are some situations where I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic I am not claustrophobic….#someonepleasecall911 secall911

A photo posted by Donovan’s Personal Training (@train_with_donovan) on

 

 

At times like this it helps me to understand what all my hard work and focus in the gym can do besides help me make cool videos to put on instagram. For the past several years I’ve had clients tell me stories about all the times they’ve done something in the real world that can attribute their success to their training. Take my client Adriane for example. For years, she couldn’t ride her road bike without serious back pain. Goal number 1 was to get her able and functioning. This is an important step because when you have more function, you can do more things. Case in point, any fat loss or weight loss goals you have to be able to perform physically to achieve those goals. Bike riding is great for weight loss and since she enjoys it- it makes sense to get her healthy enough to make that happen and accomplish both getting back on the bike and improve body composition.

 

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“Kim Kardashian doesn’t provide much value and asks for a lot of money, why can’t I when I provide more value to people?”

I heard this knowledge bomb on the “Barbell Business” podcast this week and it totally caught my attention. It’s not easy asking folks for money knowing how hard times are for most people. Early in my career it was painful asking people to pay me for the service I provide. It still is at times. But then your bills don’t get paid and when you do charge people it ends up being overdue and therefore pressuring people in a way you didn’t want them to be in the first place. Reading that out loud it doesn’t make sense, right? I’m sure some of you out there feel the same way. It’s an honest and genuine feeling. I know if I won the lottery, I’d still use my skill and talents to help people become a better version of themselves. Perhaps it’s natural to think this way when you truly love what you do.

Though this quote really woke my ass up. I mean really…why should I feel guilty for placing a monetary value on a service I provide that could help thousands (maybe millions one day) of people in my lifetime when there are folks asking to be paid for being themselves on television? It’s crazy.

For me, the takeaway is this: get really fucking good at what you do and provide a service people will want. If they’re not interested in paying then perhaps they’re not ready and that’s okay. Problem is I want to help as many people as I can. But this year, my most successful year ever, those that are willing to invest in themselves are the best clients and get the best results and stick around the longest. Especially because they pay a premium price for training. Keeping that in mind forces me to continue to elevate my game for these people.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Look for next month’s edition!

Trainer Thought of The Day: September 2, 2016

It’s the time of the year when people are going on work/vacation trips, getting sick, or getting injured with the weather changing. There is a lot of concern that the progress you’ve made in the gym in the weeks prior will deteriorate due to a lack of training.

This is can be true or false.

Depending upon the amount of time that you spend recovering you will still be able to maintain your strength and potentially your body composition. However a lot of that depends on your level of activity and most definitely your nutrition.

When it comes to injuries – your nutrition is going to be the utmost importance especially if it means that you will not be able to train for a while. Having an understanding that how you train has a correlation with how you eat in reference to your goals. In other words, the general idea that you have a higher training frequency you also need to have a higher amount of calories to supply the energy for the demands of the workload.

When you don’t have a high workload, of course you’re going to want to decrease the amount of calories coming in to the body.

When you are on travel or vacation, the same principle applies. However, it depends on your level of activity or dedication to training when you are away. It is also important to note that when you are away on a vacation, you are also away from a lot of stresses that you must factor in into your training.

In other words, you may benefit more from your training when you are on vacation and still get away with eating not so “clean” because being away from the hardcore lifting you’re doing is helping your body recover. Simply be more aware of the work you’re doing and the places you’re going to make the best of your situation. Life is going to happen whether you like it or not. It’s important to be prepared mentally and emotionally for the changes that are bound to come.

The Moving Target: The Complexities of Nutrition

Without a doubt, exercise/training is the easiest way to improve ones health and athleticism. You get up out of bed. You get dressed. Get yourself to the training facility. Show up where your trainer will be waiting for you and execute the workout as planned. With nutrition, it’s not as simple. First, you have to know what you want to eat for (i.e. goals): Lose weight? Gain weight? Fat loss? Get ready for a competition? Knowing that first will give us an idea of foods to add/avoid in order to succeed. But then your goals changed because you wanted to run a 5k that your friend talked you into and…..yeah.

                                                                                                                                             Nutrition is constantly a moving target. 

missile on target

 

 

Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and set goals that aren’t in line with our lifestyle. THIS is why changing up your lifestyle for your goals first can have it’s benefits to make the most of a new training program or nutrition plan, but more likely than not most people aren’t willing to go that far. As you can imagine, it’s my job to get people results in the gym and beyond. The key is giving folks the tools they can use right away that will allow them to live their lives and get results. The hard part is tearing down those old habits and replacing them with new ones.

Think about it… all those dozens of new habits you’ve spent weeks or months building can be easily nullified by the one or two bad habits that have been stored in your subconscious for nearly your entire life. This is where professionals get caught up in promising people results without looking at the real issue as to why they’re in the position they’re in-in the first place. But in the meantime, we need to give them tools to keep the “thirst at bay”. Here are some tips that I give clients to focus on when their  nutrition seems to be all over the place:

1) Know thy self

I get it. It’s been a long day and you’re probably hungry as fuuuuuh and you don’t really care why you’re eating what you’re eating and you’re gonna because STONE COLD SAID SO!!!!! Then you’ll wake up the next morning with a soaked pillow because you’ve cried yourself to sleep with “Friends” on in the background playing the one where Ross takes a break from Rachel (what an idiot). My thing is this- choose a “go to food” when it gets to be one of those days. That way you know what it’s for. It’s familiar. It’s comforting. Your eating can be controlled and help keep in mind what the overall goal is. Wait…does that mean I can “choose” a whole pizza? The answer to that is it depends (I love that answer), however I wouldn’t say to eat the whole damn pizza. If you don’t trust yourself to eat a slice or two from a whole or frozen pizza, go somewhere where they do sell them in slices. You know you. You’ll be less likely to order 8 individual slices and have the clerk tilt their head and go “awwww, bless yer heart” (and you know what they mean by that…).

2) Eat with a friend….and no I’m not talking about your cat

Specifically, eat with a friend who has your goals in mind and will help you out. You want to test your friendship? Tell them you’re trying to lose some inches for an event next weekend while you’re at a restaurant and see if they’ll let you order a triple chocolate chewy fudge brownie à la mode. You know if they let that happen they’ll have to hear about you being sad that you ate it and how you didn’t reach your goal and blame them for not being supportive. Sitting down and eating is a great opportunity to socialize. Food is what brings people together right? Confiding in someone what your goals are and reaching out to help you stay on track is very significant. Having that social support goes a long way and can really strengthen relationship bonds.

3) Look for the good in a bad situation 

You’re out and about with the family or at a work function where you’re subjected to whatever is brought to the table. Take a step back. Breathe and become aware of what’s around you and literally think about what you’re going to do. More likely than not, you’ll run into a scenario where there ain’t a damn thing available that’s on par with what you’re trying to do. But you have to eat. If it comes down to this you want to think about calorie intake since quality has gone out the window. I’m not huge on calorie counting, but that’s just me. However, if you are and you can look up the calories on a myfitnesspal app, it may give you some piece of mind.

4) It’s okay to just say “fuck it” every now and then

Did you know “that the brain uses more energy than any other human organ, accounting for up to 20 percent of the body’s total haul. Until now, most scientists believed that it used the bulk of that energy to fuel electrical impulses that neurons employ to communicate with one another.”? Remember all those long drawn out days where you come home and just grab whatever? Well, deciding what to do about dinner is also energy consuming. Of course this only happens when you don’t already have your meal prepped ;). Which brings me to my last tip.

5) Just prep your damn meals already

Seriously. I’ve heard it all, “oh I don’t have time”…”I don’t know how to cook”… “I don’t know what to buy”… “I’m single and so I don’t really cook a whole lot”. Stop it. Just. Stop it.

 

stop it

If you truly don’t have the time to make meals (there’s 168 hours in a week ya know), then you don’t really give a shit about your health. Your goals mean nothing to you and you just want them to want them. I know that might be a little harsh, but your actions to match up with your goals. I mean, even the POTUS and FLOTUS find time to work out…even if it’s at 4am. I’ll tell ya what, it’s not so much that you don’t have the time. It’s that you don’t know how to manage your time. But that’s obvious at this point. So you’re gonna need some tools.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                             Introducing…the Instant Pot

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You guys have no idea how crazy awesome this thing has been for me and my family. It’s a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker–Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. So far we’ve done a whole pack of chicken breasts cooked in 12 minutes…4 uncooked cups of rice done in 12 minutes. Pasta done in 7…people. We literally made a weeks worth of food in less than 3 hours. And if you need to make more?? Shouldn’t take any more than They have the technology there. They’re literally trying to make our lives better and more time efficient. This wasn’t exactly cheap…but we got rid of our  other crock-pot. We got ours on Amazon Prime on Prime day. You can pick it up at Wally World, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond…anywhere you’d find your mom shopping. We only have one other crock-pot to cook with for larger parties. And even then, we used the crock-pot all the time. The idea of putting the food in and letting it cook all day and then come to a home smelling amazing!? All you have to do is put the shit it in there and let it go!! Sorry…I’m a bit hangry at the moment.

 

Point is, nutrition is forever changing and so is your body. Just when you think you want to lose weight, you really want to fit better into your clothes…but we know it’s  not all one in the same. And when you’re on vacation, you’re not always going to have your prepped meals on hand. The whole point of vacation/taking breaks is to relax your mind and body and just do whatever you feel. As I pointed out earlier, your mind takes up quite a bit of the body’s energy. Not having to think can really be distressing and recharge those batteries. SO if living the life of counting calories and macros and how many almonds you need at a given time, focus on the what it is you’re eating and ask yourself “why?”. Awareness is extremely empowering. Having a plan is liberating. Stick to the plan that you have and only change what isn’t working for you. With time and consistency, soon you’ll become a master at hitting moving targets.

Testimonial No.8: David Frahm

When did you start training with Donovan?

March 17, 2015

What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?

I have a few friends who had been doing group training with him for a number of months, and just watching their transitions over the course of those months made me think “I should do this. I owe it to myself.” I was never in it to lose weight. I knew that probably wouldn’t be the best goal for me. Instead I simply wanted to get in better shape, and be more fit and in tune with my body. I knew that as I did that, I’d burn the fat, even if the weight didn’t disappear. Over time, I haven’t actually lost a lot of weight in pounds but, my pants waist has shrunk somewhere between two and four inches and my shirts feel significantly more loose, especially around the belly. I’ve definitely lost fat and put on muscle.

 

What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?

The biggest sacrifice is time. I’m pretty busy, between being an active member in one community, a leader in another, and maintaining my relationships with friends and loved ones. I used to go to karaoke once a week; on one of the days that I train now; and I rarely have the energy to make it out after our workouts. Still, I wouldn’t trade my training back for it. It’s important to me because of how it makes me feel. I’ve wrestled with a lot of body negativity issues. I’m a big guy. I will never not be. But I can choose whether it’s just me being the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, or if I can actually build some strength and muscle. Training with Donovan leaves me feeling empowered, even if a bit sore. It’s also amazing at fighting off my depression, and the stresses of the day. Nothing feels quite as cathartic as the physical exertion on days where work is just a little too stressful.

 

Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?

Donovan was my first trainer, and he’s been phenomenal to work with. He’s always encouraging, which is great on the good days, and even better on the bad. He encourages not just lifting the weights, but also building a positive attitude, and treating your body right. Whenever it’s a “bad day” in the gym, he always asks “How’d you sleep? What have you been eating?” and encourages you to be more mindful in your choices. This, plus seeing the gains from week to week and month to month have always left me feeling more empowered. I feel like whenever he sees me doing things a little to easy, he encourages moving up the weight, and when he sees that I’m struggling on a day, taking some off. It’s not always about hitting the number, it’s about building a strong and consistent habit of doing the work, so that when you need to take a breather, you’ll come back in just as good.

 

How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?

I feel significantly stronger, more flexible, and empowered physically and mentally. One of my more amusing litmus tests from when I started training was being able to lift my girlfriend. When I first started with Donovan, I couldn’t really pick her up without struggling. I could do it, and hold her for a bit, but she always felt insecure with it. Now I can just pick her up and walk away with her, and it usually leaves both of us laughing. When I talk about being empowered, one of the metrics of success that I have with Donovan is to make my bad days today be where my good days were yesterday. It’s incredible to actually see it and have the numbers. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a day where I was feeling about 80%, tops. I slept like crap, ate like crap, and struggling with depression were all leading to me having a bad day. Still I was pounding out some floor presses, and I was working with a weight that was below where I had done it last time. Donovan saw how I was working, and actually encouraged me to do better than my last time. I listened to his advice, and was still able to push myself through it at the higher weight. He saw that, even on a bad day, I could do more than I thought I could, and encouraged me to push myself I still remember, less than a year ago, when I first deadlifted over 100 lbs. I felt so strong and so proud, because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now, that weight is less than where I start my warm-ups, and I’m less than a year in. I’m still feeling strong and proud, I just work with bigger numbers now.

workout-before-after (1)

 

Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?

Absolutely, and I have. He’s good at paying attention to you, your needs, and your body. If something isn’t working right, he’ll find a way to change it. If you’re incapable of doing something, he’ll find a way to work around it. One of the people in my group can’t really lift weights over her head, so he has her do something else to work those muscles. Another can’t handle rapid up and down motions, things like jump squats, and so Donovan gives him an alternate thing. He finds what works for you, and always has tips on how to make it better.

 

What do you look forward to in the future with your training?

Making my bad days tomorrow be where my good days are today, and to make my good days tomorrow above and beyond that.

 

-David Frahm 3/1/16

Perception vs. Reality

I get it. Perception is the reality. While that may be true, I’m here to tell you:

 

YOUR BODY DOESN’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOUR PERCEPTION IS.

 

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There’s no doubt that our bodies live in a totally different reality than our minds do. The reason there is so much constant failure in the fitness industry is we pay too much attention to fixing issues that are merely symptoms of a larger problem.

 

Obesity is not an epidemic. It’s systematic failure where pragmatism is not the focus in nutritional eduction to the general public as much as it should.

 

It’s the fact that for most people, completely cutting out cookies and maxwell polishes the rest of your natural life is unrealistic and unnecessary if you enjoy them. Where instead we could limit the things we want in a practical way that our daily nutrition isn’t depended on these kinds of foods.

 

 

It’s believing we can eat whatever the hell we want as long as we work it off next week. Where instead we could eat well and train well most of the time, and eat whatever the hell we want occasionally and not have to worry about it.

 

Warm weather is approaching. People will be out on their porches drinking beer almost everyday. Including me! That’s totally okay. But when shit gets real and you want to start cutting down, you should know what to do and how to do it.

 

 

If the winter is your “off season” and you want to train hard and stay disciplined so you can enjoy the spring/summer months, then that is a solid plan.

 

No one can tell you HOW to live your life, but we can help you navigate it so you can live it to its fullest and healthiest.

 

Whatever your perception is, do right by you by being constantly aware of the thoughts you make, and what kinds of results your actions will yield.

 

 

Have a great day.

 

High Carb vs. Low Carb 101: For The Every Gym “Joe/Jane”

What you need to know:

  • Carbs are good. Most macros, you just have to be smart about them based on your goals
  • Restricting your carb intake TOO much can lead to some serious losses such as: increased cortisol, output, decreased testosterone, impaired mood and cognitive function, muscle catabolism, suppressed immune function.
  • Carbs are essentially in the driver seat for hormone function. If the hormones are out of wack- take  a look at your diet first, then follow up to get your levels checked.
  • High Carb vs. Low Carb diets are simple plans based off your level of activity (i.e. high level athletes don’t usually perform well on low carb diets).

The high carb vs. low carb debate have been around for decades. No doubt, carbs have a special place in all of our hearts (and stomachs). They are there for us when we’ve had a shitty day. Or when we’ve had a killer leg workout. Or when we need the energy to nail that important presentation at work. They come in all forms: beer, pastries, pasta, fruit, veggies, ice cream…they’re everywhere! You can see the dilemma that we face. So how do we escape the world of carbs to for a better quality of life??

We don’t. And we shouldn’t.

Carbs aren’t to be avoided. Not long-term anyways. But rather they’re to be managed. Carbohydrates are so important on so many levels. Hell, carbs even help overcome cancer:

From Science Daily:

“The research advances our understanding of how important carbohydrates are to the function of cells. Although most of us think of glucose (blood sugar) as the only important sugar in biology, there is an entire area of research known as glycobiology that seeks to understand the function of complex carbohydrate structures in cells. Carbohydrate structures cover the surface of cells, and affect how cells interact with each other and with pathogens.”
“The carbohydrates on the cell surface determine how it interacts with other cells, which makes them important in cancer and other diseases. So, if we can design compounds that change these structures in a defined way, we can affect those interactions,” Cairo explained. “Finding new enzyme targets is essential to that process, and our work shows that we can selectively target this neuraminidase enzyme.”

So, carbs DO help fight cancer. Sweet!!! 😉

But what about the unwanted weight gain/fat gain? The average weight gain each year under the age of 25 is anywhere from .5 to 1.5lbs. Between 25 and 44  jumps 3.4 percent in men and 5.2 percent in women. This information has been out for quite some time now. How to carbs play a role in all of this?

The findings on carbs having a direct effect on body weight control have proved to be inconsistent. However, we do know that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with weight gain, but that’s for another article.

We’ve seen how High Carb/Low Carb diets can be beneficial to athletes, but there seems to be some disconnect for the ever day “9 to 5” folks. When used in conjunction with your training sessions/events/daily activities, carbohydrates can be a very powerful asset. Let’s dive into the high carb diet.

The High Carb Diet

For several years now, the average gym member/client that I have talked to all have common goals of becoming stronger, feeling better, and looking better naked. I would even go on to say everyone on the planet have something in common with at least one of these goals. And nutrition planning has everything to do with it.

Having a high carb diet can be a very powerful tool in achieving these goals. Carbs are known to be in “the driver seat” for hormone control. They also get a bad rap being held responsible for (unwarranted) weight gain. On higher carb days you’ll feel bloated and unable to get all the necessary foods into your system. This is the problem that most people see with their diets.

When done right, a higher carbohydrate intake can increase thyroid output and control hunger (Douyon 2002; Friedl 2000; de Rosa 1983). Carbohydrate intake can also help one take advantage of certain anabolic hormones, namely insulin. Insulin regulates amino acid and glucose intake entry into the muscle cells. If insulin is seldom elevated, dieters will not reap its anabolic benefits. This is why eating proteins with carbs together are way more effective when they’re eaten separately.

How to use the High Carb Diet
Here, are the meats and sweet potatoes of how you can use the High Carb diet to your advantage. Since carbs have such an advantage in providing energy, it is important that you have all that energy at the right time. Think about your body as a bank. Its pay day and carbs are the cash you want to deposit. Sure it’s great to have all that dough (mmmm dough), but what good is it if you aren’t able to invest it and make it into something? That’s what it’s like to have a high carb diet and sit around to not use it. It just sits.

Carbs are indeed powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility (right spiderman?).
great responsibility

So, for the regular gym-goers out there, listen up: cycling your high carbs around your workouts are going to be the most effective for you. This means when you’re about to kick some serious ass in your next training sessh, hit the carbs baby!!
elf carbs
If you’re training in the AM, the high carbs will be in the evening before. Why? When you’re sleeping, your resting metabolism is working hard. Which means you’ll be able to store those carbs in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is stored mostly in the muscles that use it (some stored in the liver as well), and is the dominant contributor of energy to hard workouts. If glycogen

levels are low, hard workouts become increasingly difficult to complete, and almost impossible to complete with a consistently high level of performance. Then when you wake up? Awwwww shyyyyyt, it’s time to get after it!! For your evening training session- the carb load would be done during the day. As an added benefit, you’ll be super productive at work and way more focused with all that energy.

 

The Low Carb Diet
Much like the high carb diet, the Low Carb Diet can be used strategically for weight loss and fat loss. Since we know that carbs are actually a good thing now, it’s safe to say that Low Carb diets aren’t all that and a bag of fat free chips. One thing that’s true about LCD: Carb reduction costs us. It doesn’t really matter if you have a sedentary job or you’re up and going all day long. There are some level of carbohydrates needed to function at our best long term.

 

Utilizing a LCD will definitely be a good way to lose weight. No doubt about it. But for most of us, keeping carbs too low for too long can have disastrous consequences. Especially for those of us who workout.

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are lower. So you might be able to get away with more restriction.

But if you like to exercise regularly and enthusiastically, restricting your carb intake too drastically can lead to:

  • decreased thyroid output
  • increased cortisol output
  • decreased testosterone
  • impaired mood and cognitive function
  • muscle catabolism
  • suppressed immune function.

As we mentioned before, carbs play a huge role in hormone control. This is especially important for women. Yet because low-carb diets can significantly disrupt hormone production, women with too-low carb intakes — especially active women — can face:

  • a stopped or irregular menstrual cycle;
  • lowered fertility;
  • hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings;
  • more body fat (especially around the middle);
  • loss of bone density;
  • anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues;
  • chronic inflammation and worse chronic pain;
  • chronic fatigue and disrupted sleep; and
  • a host of other chronic problems…

Don’t get me wrong. Some people have gone on to lose lots of weight using a ketogenic or very low carb diet, and keep it off, while seemingly maintaining some sort of health in the process. Ripped, lean, and feeling awesome.

But the balance is there are also people who’ve tread similar waters and crashed hard.

Long term Low Carb Dieting isn’t ideal for many reasons. Its initial results for one are very misleading and don’t focus on the bigger picture. When you start on a diet/program for the first time you’ll get that “Low Carb Honeymoon” (catecholamine honeymoon article) where they feel all great, and nice, and full of energy.

At first, on a low carb diet, you go through a transition period of what I call “feeling like ass”. It will last a few days, but then you’ll catch second wind and break through that wall. You feel buzzed, excited, and full of energy.”

Weight loss ensues, as the glycogen burns up, and water flushes out of your system. Losing up to 10 pounds in the first week is not unheard of. It’s the ultimate tool for creating a quick positive feedback loop (carbs hold water, when you rid of carbs you don’t retain as much water).

The good news is you feel great. You’re energetic, and you might see things within your body improve. He also talks about allergies, aches and pains clearing up. Why don’t I stop there? Seriously!?

But the problem lies within the period following this honeymoon phase.

Because you can’t rely on stress hormones forever. Adrenaline are reserved for stressful situations, not for daily living. Over time, you’ll get burned out.

And then all of the sudden, a steady decline in energy and eventually…

cameron meme

One might notice their cravings for food, mostly carb-heavy foods. Shyt is gonna get real when you have to rely on willpower to restrict carbohydrates.

 

So where do we go from here? How much is enough?

There’s more than one way to go about it, but I like the simple approach. If you’re training from start to finish costs 350-400 cals, you’ll want to consume that much in surplus prior to your training (referring to the carb cycling earlier). This way you’ll have the right amount to absolutely annihilate your training sessh. So, your training day nutrition plan from a calorie standpoint will look like this:
2,000 daily cal intake
+ 400 cal surplus
= 2,400 cals for the day
– 400 cal workout
=2,000 total cals

 

Generally dipping below 120 k/cals of carbs for anyone on a regular basis isn’t sustainable.

This is a great way at looking at how to utilize calories for performance. But what kind should you use for optimal performance? Let me make it easy for you. Check out this carb chart from Precision Nutrition:

Carb Chart