Testimonial No. 9: Tami Hill Dean

When did you start training with Donovan?

 

I first met with Donovan to talk about training and do a trial session at the end of September 2015.

 

 

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

 

I had not been happy with my fitness level for awhile when I came to first meet with Donovan. I felt like the person in the mirror wasn’t the person I had known most of my life. I had tried other diets and exercise choices in the past and due to “life” I had to quit what I was doing. It had been some months since I had done any regular exercise. I missed the feeling I got from working out and feeling good. It was something I did for myself and I missed it. When I started on this journey, I had not ever tried a personal trainer before, but I thought that it was worth a shot to see what I could get out of it. I sought out Donovan because some other people I know were always writing positive things about him and their workouts on my Facebook feed. After our initial meeting where Donovan listened to me talk about what my goals were, my thoughts about my body and exercise etc., I felt like this was the next step in my exercise journey. I left feeling like this was about my whole self and not just a weight or exercise routine.

 

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

 

Sacrifice seems like a negative word to me. I would rather say that I have purposefully chosen what is important to me. I firmly believe people find or make the time or money for people, things and/or experiences that are important to them. This is true in all aspects of life. I have chosen to make myself a priority; I have made financial decisions/choices to make training a priority. I could look at less shopping or eating out, etc. as a sacrifice, I suppose, but I have chosen to attempt to be as positive as I can in all areas of my life. Training is important to me because of how it makes me feel about me. I feel strong and happy. It has helped me come back to my true self in my life journey. I had honestly lost me for awhile, but now that I’m back I don’t see training leaving my life as a priority. I recently had someone ask me about my training and the cost. I answered, it is so important to me I am willing to forgo other luxuries in my life to make it happen. I can’t imagine training not being a part of my life.

 

 

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?

 

I had not worked directly with a trainer before Donovan, so I don’t have anything to compare my current experiences. However, I will say that Donovan pays attention to me and has gotten to know me as a person. He can tell when I’m tired. He seems to know just when to push and add some weight. He will have you do things you didn’t even think were possible. Sometimes life sucks; when I need to use my workout to lose some steam, he accommodates that. I would say that I miss my sessions if I have cant come to one. I try not to miss at all; that is how positive my time with Donovan has been. Another important positive experience from this is that my kids get to see how important this is to me and I can model healthy body image and care.

 

 

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

 

I feel amazing! I can see and notice the changes in my body and abilities. I can tell that I am more fit. I always think the most interesting thing to me is when I notice something that used to be difficult at the beginning, I now can do with ease. Overall, I am sleeping and eating better. I am a happier person. All of these things connect back to getting in my training sessions. I can say when I first started I was probably weighing myself more than I should. And while I was always wanting to be strong, the scale would still come to try to tell me a different story. As I’ve been on this journey I now focus on how my clothes fit and how I feel now rather than the number on the scale. I actually put my scale away. I haven’t weighed myself for 6 weeks. I have no desire to anymore. I have had a lot of people comment on “how much weight I’ve lost”. I’ve honestly lost around 2lbs. It isn’t about the weight. I don’t even have a weight goal anymore. It is about the leanness of my body and how I feel. I’ve dropped a pant size and am close to the next size. At the end of the day, I feel great about what I’m doing and myself. And, I’m totally in love with my new shoulders. 🙂

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

 

I have and will continue to recommend Donovan to anyone because he is fantastic at what he does. He builds you up and you don’t even know it. There is always a method to his “madness”! At the end of the day, when you come to training and are consistent, you will see improvement.

 

 

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

 

I look forward to continuing to build my strength and push myself in ways I hadn’t even thought of doing before. I’ve only been on this journey for 6 months. I can’t wait to see where I am another 6 months from now.

 

Why “Following Your Passion” Is Misleading

“All you have to do is follow your passion and you’ll find happiness.”

 

You’ve probably heard me say this and others who are happy in their lives doing what they’re doing. If you’re annoyed every time you hear this shit, it’s for good reason.

 

FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION WITHOUT ANY IDEA HOW OR WHY IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

 

I’m not here to discourage you, but rather give you a much more informative approach as to HOW to follow your passion based on my experience.

 

Like most millennials, I grew up not knowing for sure what I wanted to be. Sure I had dreams. We all did. One might argue that growing up killed our dreams of becoming something cool like a secret agent or play sports professionally or be a unicorn. Words like “unsafe”, “unsustainable”, and “un-realistic” killed those dreams. I mean if you look at those words they start with “un” as if people try to “un”encourage you to think that way. Well if your passion is to be a unicorn, you be the best damn unicorn you can be damn it.

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Sometimes we have to do what we need in order to survive.My first ever job was freshman year at ISU as the burger guy at Manchester/Hewitt Halls in Summer of ‘06. Everyone wants a life they can be comfortable with. The economy wasn’t all that great. Having money is better than no money. No argument there. But man It was a hot summer. I took 5-10 minute breaks when it wasn’t as busy standing in the freezer. One distinct memory I had was when there was a national cheerleading camp and all these little girls came in.

One girl in particular couldn’t of been more than 8 years old asking for a “cheeseburger with no cheese please….I have to lose weight.” It was funny because she asked for a cheeseburger without cheese instead of a…umm…hamburger, but I was also a little discussed with that whole situation because someone told her she needed to lose weight. This might of subconsciously sparked the idea that I should be a personal trainer and empower women to become stronger and not hate their bodies…but who knows.

 

It wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do let alone become as I’m almost half way through college. It was pointed out to me that the rec center was hiring for personal trainers. I never in my life wanted to be a personal trainer, but it made sense at the time. I LOVED working out. I was an athlete and I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I figured being a personal trainer allowed me to workout all the time and get paid for it. Basically, following the path of “Do what you Love. Profit.” Right?! Well, turns out this is the first step in how to “Following Your Passion”:

 

No 1. FIND A PASSION. THEN USE THAT PASSION TO HELP SEARCH THE WORK IT APPLIES.

 

I didn’t start as a trainer. When I applied for the position, the seniors hadn’t graduated yet and so spots weren’t open at the time. So, I decided to work at the rec center as a rec assistant. That meant keeping the gym looking nice, washing towels, making smoothies, checking in people at the front desk. Then, I quickly got promoted to CSR (customer service rep) making sales and filing papers.


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Not long after that I got one of the open personal trainer spots. Almost at the same time I also became a fitness instructor. Unbeknownst to me I also became ISU’s first fitness instructor (which I’m very proud of). The more time I spent working all these different positions, the more I fell in love with what I was doing. After I graduated, I stayed in the fitness biz and moved onto training/teaching at a commercial gym. About a year or so after being there I thought I might apply to be the head trainer there. As it turns out, my experience with running a fitness facility, knowing point of sale and customer service got me the job in late ‘09. 2 years in and I’m already the head trainer of a gym with a staff of 8 and a member base of over 20,000. So all this experience laid the groundwork for my success early on. I learn best in the field and realizing that was key (Note: Understand which learning process works best for you). Which leads to the next point when getting advice from folks about how to make your passion work for you….



No.2 Ask About The Process….not HOW



Things were pretty easy. I thought I had this  on lock…until 3 years later I lost my job. I had found my passion and I couldn’t let it go, so I applied to other gyms in the area, but it was taking too long. I only had 2 weeks or so until my last check came through until I was going to be broke AND jobless. It was the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. Which leads me to point number 3 of why just “Follow Your Passion” is terrible advice:



No.3- Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was.

 

I’ll never forget how that felt. It was the drive I needed to push forward and grind harder (and smarter) everyday. Starting your own training business without any business knowledge as far as pricing or business structure goes is extremely difficult. Almost scary. Too scary for most. It’s no wonder the statistics show that at least 80% of all trainers fail within 3-5 years for a number of reasons: certifications were too expensive, wasn’t good enough to make ends meet, getting up too early. Though, if it is truly your passion, you’ll find a way to make it work.

 

It was obvious the only way to survive in this industry is to follow two golden rules: 1) Become really fucking good at what you do, and 2) Make sure everyone knows about it.

 

 

No.4- It Takes Hard Work

 

 

When you have your own business or “following your passion” you have to put in the work. Having passion is the minimal requirement. You have to sacrifice the very things that will make you better in the long run: The amount of sleep you have will decrease, but not at the expense of quality. The amount of time spent with friends and family will take a hit, but always make time for them because you’ll need the support to keep you going. Remember, you’re doing this because you love it, but don’t let it consume you.

 

 

No.5- Putting The Energies in The Right Places

 

The downfall of following your passion is that it takes so much of your energy. All of the coaches here at CFBN/AF work full time as coaches. We’re here as early as 5am to as late as 8:30pm 6 days a week putting energy into coaching, programming, making your meals and of course you have to get your own workout in. Then you have your personal life with a family, dogs, and of course ME TIME!! Navigating all that has it’s own energy expenditure that most aren’t really ready for. So you’ll have to set boundaries and cut yourself off so you can have time, energy and a life to look forward to at the end of the day.

But if there’s one thing that most passionate people don’t talk about, it’s having the ability to reflect.

 


No.6- Reflect

 

I’m only 9 years into the fitness biz. I’m a deep thinker. Reflecting is something I do often, but for some it’s a skill and needs to be practiced. Journaling, having conversation, meditating or blogging, are great ways to reflect on what you’ve learned. If you can do that everyday, that’d be even better. And If you’re getting better on a daily basis, you’re doing something right.

 

Some say “keep going and never look back”, but that’s because they’re looking back at the wrong things. The past is a trail that leaves clues to where you’ve been and could help remind you of the path you’re on. So make sure what you reflect on is with good intentions.

 

So, following your passion as you now understand it to be from my point of view, isn’t as cut and dry others may lead you to believe. To sum it up:

 

1) Find a passion first and foremost and find a way to make a living from it. For me, I eventually found my passion but it took a while for it to work for me. There is a strategy to make it work. Make a plan. See what that looks like. You’ll get knocked off course somewhere down the line, but the goal is to always keep the goal as the goal.

2) Ask about the process, not how. The key to learning is about asking the right questions. Learning the fundamentals about business in my case; maintain quality of equipment, learning about writing programs, customer service, technical experience, etc. are just some of the processes needed to make my business work for me in the long run.

 

3) Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was. Understand that following your passion is a road less traveled. It’s about making something your own and not being given by someone else. It will be hard at times, but those hard times are what’s going to make you better. Mistakes are obstacles that can be made into opportunities. It’s a big risk and there are going to be setbacks. If you haven’t experienced setbacks early on, image how difficult it’s going to be later. Take them as they come and move forward.

 

4) It takes hard work. What I mean by hard work is putting in the time. A lot of time. To get really good at what you do also means sacrificing things like energy, money, sleep, even relationships to make your passion work for you.

 

5) Putting the energies in the right places. Being passionate about something is a phenomenal feeling and can subsequently suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. You’ll have to be wise about where your energy goes and how much. Like currency, these things need to be traded wisely to get the “most bang for your buck”. Having priorities and setting boundaries is going to help you from running your head into the wall.


6) Reflect. I can’t stress enough how important reflecting is. Evaluating what you’ve learned along the way about the process is what’s going to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes reflecting can even help point out to you that perhaps what you’re doing may not end up being what you’re passionate about. Writing, talking, and meditating about it every day is a great way to keep you in check and moving forward.

Now you’re ready to “FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.” Work hard. Enjoy the journey. Be great.

Trainer Thought of The Day: Rant

So, this  “trainer thought of the day” post was going to go straight to FB but one thought became many and decided to make this go on my web-page….because it’s a bit of a rant.

 

So, I’ll get right to it.

 

But first, I want to thank all my clients and everyone who has referred people to my business this past month or so. My schedule is filling up quite nicely. I’ve never been happier to give up some of my naptime. HAHA

 

Seriously though, if you know me you know that I take anywhere from 1-3 naps a day. I know for most of you it may seem like gloating, but you have to understand when you have anywhere from 3-8 hours of downtime, you’re gonna nap.

 

If you work/have worked with me before, you know by now that I don’t work with just anybody that asks for my training services. I’ve recognized that with my schedule filling up, my time becomes more and more valuable…and so should the quality of my clientele.

 

Recently, I had a conversation with someone that wanted to get started strength training….BUT they “didn’t want to look like a man….”. If you’re reading this, you know how annoyed I was with this statement. 90%+ of my clients are women. You can imagine the amount of shared concern most of them had before having me train with them. It’s not the person that I’m annoyed with.

 

It’s the perception that women (and men) have about what it means to be strong. So…I’m going to write this to those who believe in this mindset and in the best format possible: Bullet Points.

 

**CAUTION: IF YOU READ THIS AND YOU DON’T KNOW ME, THIS MIGHT OFFEND YOU. IT CLEARLY MEANS YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN HEARING THE MESSAGE I’M SHARING AND ONLY INTERESTED IN LETTING YOUR FEELINGS/EMOTIONS TAKE OVER. DON’T WORRY. I WON’T LOSE ANY SLEEP OVER YOU.**

 

  1. There are enough women in the world who lift weights and you’re likely friends with one or know a woman who lifts weights. I need you to look at them or find a recent photo of them right now and ask yourself: Does she look like a man? Most likely the answer will be a resounding NO. That alone should debunk the idiotic ideology you chose to believe in.

  2. If you’re a woman who believes in this mindset, I don’t think you’re doing the image of women any favors. This is an uninformed belief. A belief commonly held by those who are scared of the things they don’t understand. What-I-Really-Do-Women-Who-Lift-Weights
  3. You want to get a nice ass…a “toned (insert body part here)”? You lift appreciable weights. That means relatively heavy. End of story.

  4. If you lift weights and decide that you have “man shoulders/back/arms/legs/etc” please be sure to stand next to an actual man to see if that is true. If that is the case, I know a handful of dudes that could be doing what you’re doing right now because if you look more manly than they do, then I need you to reach out to them and hook them up. The state of man is in jeopardy. We need you to show us the way because you clearly have this “looking like a man” thing figured out.

  5. Focusing on more of what you don’t want rather than what you do want keeps you from getting actual results simply because your outlook is negative. Positive mindset? Positive results. Amazing how that works.

  6. You are a “basic bitch”. I know. Calling a woman a bitch of any kind is a sin. I get it-it’s like calling a black person the N word if you’re not black; it’s totally different if it’s anyone else. Anyways, If you don’t know what a basic bitch is, it’s sumed up as “someone who does what everyone else is doing and isn’t their own person at all.” If you’re okay with being a basic bitch, that’s totally okay (there are also “basic bros” for the …bros). That being said….

  7. If you’re a woman and you lift, to me you’re not basic….you’re a “bad ass bitch” (AKA Bad Bitch): “Now a bad bitch is a woman who handles her business without making it seem like business….“Having the mindset that you can do anything and everything you want to in this world even if everyone tells you no you can’t do it and you say YES I CAN, WATCH ME. Having a bad bitch mentality is now considered a positive trait. Girls with a (BBM) Bad Bitch Mentality are a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. If you have a bad bitch mentality, you have the mentality that you will get to the top, you will succeed and you will win the game of life. Girls with a Bad Bitch Mentality go farther, stronger, harder and always come out on top because they NEVER stop. They NEVER give up and that is why they succeed….” Damn that was beautiful!! These are the kind of women I work with. Just look at my professional page on FB. You’ll see what I mean.MjAxMy03NmJhNWY5NmQyMDg2OWJj
  8. Finally…it’s not your fault for thinking this way. Everything you’ve ever known has been taught by someone of authority or someone you respect. It is hard to admit sometimes that everything you’ve learned is utter bullshit. It is hard to question it. With what we know today to be physically and scientifically unfounded about women and lifting weights becoming “men”, it shouldn’t be hard to shut that shit down. Though, we seriously underestimate our own psychology and how reinforcement for decades of the wrong thing can dictate what we choose to believe. I can’t tell you what to believe, BUT make sure whatever you believe in gives you confidence,, happiness, and positive self-image, and appreciate other people’s hard work.

 

Okay. I’m done. Have a nice day!!

 

Strength in Iron,

 

D

 

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.

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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.

 

D-Money’s Exercise of The Month: X-Band Walks

Happy New Years, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog post on this website. Not going to lie, at one point I did give up. Writing just isn’t in my wheelhouse and I get bored quickly. However, I’ve had a shift in perspective and goals. I used to think I’d have to write out this 500-1000 word article for it to be worth peoples time to read. That kind of ideology is what ultimately let me to think that writing was a bit too much. As articulate and long-winded as I am in person, I’m not quite the same in writing. So then I realized I could just get straight to the point. Create content that the busiest of people could spare 2-5 minutes to read and maybe learn something.

Doesn’t it feel good when you come up with ways to make your life easier? I hope you can find this post useful to help make your life easier, too.

Today’s post is the beginning of a series  I’d like to call “D-Money’s Exercise of the Month.” Some of these exercises aren’t new or very exotic, but they’re pretty damn powerful if you use them correctly. More often than not these drills/movements can be used in your warmp-up, at the end or during your strength routine.

So without further adieu, introducing: X-Band Walks

Targets: Glute Medius, Hip Abductors

What does it do? The X-Band Walks (a.k.a. cross band walks, a.k.a. lateral resistance walks, a.k.a. ass burners) is a fantastic drill to strengthen and stabilize your hips and stabilize the knee. That’s good news for people who live in weather where it can become very icy, or if you’re used to sitting on your tush all day it can “wake” that ass up. Having that stability in the knee and hip joints will give you a better chance from taking a nose dive slipping on ice. This is also a great drill to use pre/post knee or hip surgery if squatting and lunging still hurts.

When should you use it? The X-Band walks can be used just about anywhere in your programming. Whether it be in the warm-up as a stabilization drill for a lower body day, before you participate in a sporting event, or in between strength sets as a filler on upper body day.

How should you use it? You want there to be a level of fatigue in the glutes before you train them. Programming 15-20 reps going each direction is a good start depending on the strength of the band. You can also use them for time, anywhere from 20-30 seconds at the end of the workout for a finisher. Boom! Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Testimonial No.7- Ted Reynolds

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When I first came to Donovan I had already been lifting for a few years and had worked with other trainers before so I thought I knew quite a bit about lifting. Came into my first session and immediately he changed the game. He’s got every step broken down to a science and the man knows what he’s talking about. Through my sessions with him I learned new and more effective ways to lift to not only get stronger, but put on size at the same time. The energy he brings to every session was everything anyone could want out of trainer. Working with Donovan didn’t just benefit me when I worked with him but he taught me so many things that I still utilize today with my lifts. Without doubt I am a better lifter today because of him.

-Ted Reynolds

9/3/15

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

USPA Training: Week 4

Squats (*Reps)

Bar x 10

135 x 8

225 x 3

315 x 1

350 x 8

*I believe I messed up on my programming for this week. At some point I was supposed to work on “explosion” but did reps instead. This was pretty brutal.*

 

Bench (Heavy)

Bar x 10

135 x 5

185 x 3

215 x 1

235 x 1

5 x 2 @ 250

Dropset x 20- 135

 

DB Bench

80 x 8

95 x 8

 

Deads (reps)

165 x 10

225 x 3

345 x 2

**1 x 8 @ 420

Rack Pulls

365 x 6 x 2

385 x 8

Pullups

3 x 8

GHR

Red Band 2 x 10

Seated Lat Pulldown

2 x 15-20

**Today was a great day. Bar moved fast. Probably a combination of a long warm-up, stress-less work morning, and a good meal the night before. Whatever the case, I’m starting to feel like my old self again.