5 Things: December

December has been a great month. The last couple months have been pretty challenging, but with challenge comes a lesson to be learned. Taking that into consideration, December proved to be much better. Lots of [good] challenges with positive outcomes made life a lot more enjoyable. Here’s what I’ve learned to close out 2016.


How you train for short term goals should be different from long term goals


This doesn’t mean that you should do different exercises or go down a different path. I’m a MAKE IT SIMPLE kind of guy. I didn’t get where I am doing the most complex things ever. The same things that I started out with in my training experience are the same things I’ve done to get me on the world stage and thereafter. The biggest piece to this puzzle is to make sure you have your short term goals and long term goals in priority. For instance, if you have a meet in March, doing a peaking phase NOW would be ill advised. If your goal is to be at the top of your game AT the time of the meet, being at the height of your strength at a time when it doesn’t matter typically would be counter-intuitive to why you’d do a meet in the first place.


Long term goals should be designed to keep your current training in check. There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the starts and only hitting the clouds. The point is that you’re going in the right direction. Short term goals are like little checkpoints. Think of them as little building blocks to build towards something much larger (the long term goal).


Supplements for back pain (muscle soreness): Magnesium Citrate


This past month my body has been the healthiest it’s been in a while without any compensations or lingering pain. I attribute that to a smart training approach, better hydration, increased emphasis on [consistent] mobility and recovery methods. Along with efficient intake of magnesium. Earlier in the year, I had a huge back injury as you may very well know. My life coach recommended magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate based on his personal experiences.


If you’ve skipped nutrition or science class in school, magnesium is an essential mineral found in food. Hell, farmers feed that stuff to their crops! Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral, and the second most prevalent electrolyte in the human body. Magnesium deficiencies are common in developed countries. A deficiency increases blood pressure, reduces glucose tolerance and causes neural stimulation.


According to Examine.com, “Magnesium deficiencies are common in the western diet because grains are poor sources of magnesium. Other prominent sources of magnesium, like nuts and leafy vegetables, are not eaten as often. It is possible to fix a magnesium deficiency through dietary changes. If magnesium is supplemented to attenuate a deficiency, it acts as a sedative, reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity.”


I’m a huge meat eater, in case you didn’t know, and not many veggies make the trip to my Tupperware container. For me, the best way to get veggies in are in the form of frozen steam-able veggies. They’re typically 5 for $5 just about any grocery store. It’s legit. However, I supplement my diet with magnesium citrate at night before and after a training session to help keep my muscles and nerves calm. Magnesium is also in coffee, but coffee isn’t a veggie. That beings said, it really does make a difference where you get your vitamins and minerals from. Keep that in mind.


The Key to meeting great people is to do great things


The greatest thing about my job is helping people improve themselves. The other part is meeting great people. People who make a difference in the lives of others; C.E.Os, VPs, Executives, Community Organizers, Entrepreneurs, etc. I’ve visited and talked to some of the best of the best in their field and learned their pattern of success. I truly believe you surround yourself with the people who you want to become. Earlier this past month I met with the President of The 100 Black Men of Central Illinois to talk about what I can do for the organization and how he can help me take my business acumen to the next level. From the website:


With a mission to improve the quality of life and enhance educational opportunities for African Americans, members of the 100 continue to serve as a strong force in the world by overcoming the cultural and financial obstacles that have limited the achievements of some African Americans, particularly young African American males. Members of the 100 have made outstanding progress, proving that Blacks can, and do, excel as corporate leaders, community leaders and as independent business owners.


As a result from the meeting, I was able to sit in and participate in the quarterly not-for-profit meeting with many of the organizations in the McLean County area (where I live) to update the goings on of all the business and collaborate. It was an amazing experience being the only representative not just from my gym, but as the only fitness professional in the room. I may not run a not-for-profit business, but sure enough there were several business reps that wanted to talk to me about some opportunities they could see about collaborating with me or the gym. It confirmed that I was doing what I should be doing being in that room with so many outstanding individuals and businesses doing outstanding things. I look forward to following up with these people and doing great things in 2017.


The Best To Do What They Do Go Through Great Pain


I was on my way to work one day listening to Tony Hawk speak on a podcast about how some kids today don’t really like to skateboard because they keep falling off. This is a guy who broke his teeth out, broke bones, and had concussions just to name a few. This is also the same man who turned pro at 14; revolutionized the sport and has been a spokesman for skateboarding since the 80’s (and still skates by the way at age 48). Hell, even I played Tony Hawk Underground back in the day on the PS1.


This made me remember all the injuries I’ve had during my Powerlifting Career: pulled muscles, compressed and herniated disc in my back, ripped off finger nails, injuries so bad I couldn’t put shoes or socks on. The definition of Passion is to suffer. But who prosper are the ones who push through it.


Even as I sit here still as a Personal Trainer coming up on 10 years in the profession, I’ve had some rough experiences that would make the 80-90% turnover rate of Personal Trainers seem eminent for me.


Once your skillset surpasses your passion it really sets you apart from the aforementioned percentage of those who bail on the profession.


Whether it’s Personal Training or skateboarding or whatever it is you do in life, your defining moment is when you’ve gone through some pain. The pain makes it real. It makes you think critically about what you are doing and want to do in your life. You also are in a great position to learn from it. Which leads me to my last reflection.


My 2016 reflections


There’s been some thought-provoking fuckery going on this year (and it’s still not over yet). From this view of the world, there seems to be a lot of forced change that is happening. And I love it. No, I don’t enjoy all the deaths and the murders, and the people getting hurt, but as I’ve said before- pain makes it real. I think many of us have been living in a world where we’ve gotten real comfortable (including me). It takes adversity and some really scary shit to wake us up and decide to take action.


Taking action in our personal lives, professional lives and beyond. It’s all about action. I’ve seen a lot of that and it’s glorious. Some say the greatest time in American History is when shit hits the fan. When stress is at an all-time high something happens inside us that unlocks the code in our genes that allows us to survive the fallout and we evolve. I believe that is necessary for us to continue and live. For Christ sake- the freaking Chicago Cubs won the World Series, people (still unbelievable)!!!

NLCS - Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs - Game Six
2016 World Series Champions, The Chicago Cubs

That being said, there’s been no great triumph without great tragedy. It’s what keeps us grounded. For me, throughout all the injuries, the ebb and flows of the training business and personal challenges, 2016 has been a phenomenal year for overall growth.


The great thing about going into a new year is that once the clock strikes 12, it doesn’t stop there. You don’t get a “brand new” start. The same things can and WILL keep happening until you decide to make a change. Otherwise, “2016” doesn’t really end. For most people 2007 or 1998 hasn’t really “ended” because they’re still carrying some of that stuff with them. All things take time. I get it. Yet- how can we really be able to enjoy the moment if we’re constantly living in the past? It’s something we all need to learn how to do if we want to live a fulfilling life.


2017 is really shaping up to be a great year. If you’re reading this and you don’t agree, you might need to ask yourself why. How is it that we are all going into the “New Year” and already decided it’s going to be a shitty year? “They who think it and speak it, believe it. Therefore it is truth”…or something like that. The difference between what you believe things are vs. what you want them to be is action. But action requires thought. So be mindful of what you think about coming into 2017.

Take the lemons that 2016 has thrown at you and turn it into wine and leave everyone else in awe wondering how the fuck you just did that. Best wishes to all of your in 2017.

Peace and Chicken grease.

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.