I'm Switching to Geico!

After months of waiting the Geico commercial that I am in has now aired! I have to give a huge thank you to Geico, the Martin Agency, Dummy Productions, Harold Einstein and the rest of the incredible cast and crew who took part and not only made a hilarious commercial but put together the smoothest set of operations from fitting days, still shots, and the entire shoot day on set. Such a privilege to get to work with such an amazing and talented group of people! Check it out below!

Making a Masterpiece

2 Weeks of Dieting!

So after going back to St. Louis for the Christmas break and packing on some holiday weight, I started off the new year in an amazing little Cantina in the heart of Hollywood, surrounded by professionally made Star Wars costumes and singing throwbacks at the tops of our lungs. Absolutely enjoyed some drinks, amazing company and new friends. The next morning I went full bore on some brunch, followed by snacks all day and a full Dominoes’ Pizza and cinnies to finish the day, and maybe some extra Halo Top, but who’s keeping track. All of this before starting back on my plan come the 2nd. I’ve done several cut and bulk cycles over the past few years, anywhere from a quick 6 week low carb diet to a 18 week slow and steady cut, removing carbs every two weeks until I was in full blown Keto. My last phase of dieting completely cut out the social aspects of life, everything planned out to the minute and exact ounce of food. 7 meals a day, all regimented and cooked days beforehand. No seasonings or flavors were added, life was about becoming a machine, everything revolved around consistency and timing. This time was different. I have been fortunate enough to become close to someone who is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable on the subject of all things nutrition and human performance. Against my previous biases and pride on eating like a robot, and some persuasion and reassurance, I opened my eyes to a whole new world of nutrition that I had previously not experienced.

You see, throughout my life I have been labeled as a classic “yo-yo” dieter. Continually lowering and depleting the system over weeks, with the occasional binge on a greasy burger or pizza to amplify and restore some sort of energy and metabolism. I was able to get super lean, however energy levels were extremely low and I had cardio-ed myself to exhaustion. Holding onto that super lean physique was difficult with no added carb days or rests. This would result in my cheat meal turning into a cheat day, which over the course of a few weeks became cheat weekend. The endless supply of energy felt so great to my body that eating unhealthily actually felt great, and it would become the norm until I felt as though it was time to start the cycle again. There was no such thing as not emptying a full package of Oreos at night. Now I have Oreos in the cabinet and am not even tempted.

So what’s changed? Through some faith and trust, as well as first hand accounts of what can be accomplished, I have found my stride. Mentally, the first few days were difficult, I felt as though I kept wanting to add protein even though I was receiving a sufficient amount. Towards the end of the week I got a bit hangry(hunger anger) but now realize that I was still adapting. I had a high carb day midweek as well as a modified cheat meal Sunday(which you saw on Youtube). Nearing the end of my second full week on the plan, with a high carb day Wednesday, I am confident and thrilled to continue the process!

From December 31st to January 7th I lost 15 pounds, probably a lot of salt and water, but still a solid amount. I have yet to weigh in this week but I am showing abs and obliques again. I’ve done cardio 5 mornings a week, lift 6 days and one full rest day. I’ve been eating Kodiak Cakes waffles and pancakes everyday, and even Halo Top Ice Cream twice a week. My habits have changed while still progressing and have yet to get hungry this week.

All in all I’ve learned to enjoy food again, waffles, guacamole, turkey tacos, with seasoning! Yogurt and even coffee creamer. So not only do I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new or different to past experiences, but to also know that “dieting” doesn’t have to be treacherous. You can still progress and lose fat and go to social gatherings guilt free. Nutrition is about proper balance, never starving and never full. Just trust in the process and the results will come! A special thanks to @galfranie for sparking my newfound belief in not dieting like a savage, as well as tailoring a plan that is already proven successful!

Change: Stage 2, Contemplation

This is Part 2 of the Change Series guest post by Psychology Doctoral Candidate @galfrankie

Part 1 can be found Here.

CHANGE: Stage 2, Contemplation 

Recap: Precontemplation is where we resist the most. Like I said before, we (whether consciously or not) try to maintain homeostasis, so we're not thinking ahead about what will happen after initiating change. 
So, if you keep telling yourself that you're waiting for the 'right' moment to make a change (when things settle down with work, family, relationships, etc), that you need 'one' (hahah, is it ever really one??) last hedonistic hurrah, or that you're just not ready.... Chances are, you're NOT ready! 

Does this mean I'm telling you to give up and that you CAN'T succeed? Absolutely not!  
Just suggesting that you reexamine your state of mind before attempting to move forward.

When you DO start to actively think about making a change in your life, you're entering the Contemplation stage. This is when you recognize an issue you want to address, and develop an intention to change.

One of the most useful things you can do at this point is to try to identify the potential, REALISTIC outcomes of your intended change -- both positive AND negative. Weigh the pros and cons/risks and rewards/costs and benefits!
(I, personally, like making lists for this kind of thing!)

This can be a long process! There is SO much to consider.. Try asking yourself some open-ended questions! For example: Why do you want to change? How will you go about making the change? What areas of your life will the change impact? What compromises will you (and the others in your life) have to make? 

Typically, once you've entered the Contemplation stage, you'll be ready to initiate change in 6 months or less. If that seems like a long time, ask yourself: How long have you been engaging in the current behavior you're intending to replace?

That should put some things into perspective!

Come back for stage 3!!

Are You a Juicing Junkie?

Juicing has been an ever-increasing popular fad for drinking your veggies and fruits. So many supposed TV health gurus and infomercial persuaders continue to force feed the idea that juicing is healthy and leads to weight loss. All of you have seen the “lose 10 pounds in a week” sham and some of you have probably taken the bait. Of course juicing looks appealing, who doesn’t want an easier method for getting down all those veggies and receiving all of the benefits and nutrients. The problem is that marketing is winning this battle. Juicing is not good for you for several reasons, let alone the fact of how financially costly and wasteful it is.

 

“But what about my cleanse?!” Let’s get physiological here. Your body’s digestive system is quite literally the entire process of blending! Your mouth and teeth break down the foods, just like the shiny blades on that costly blender on TV. Juicers claim that by blending the food and extracting the juice you are removing the toxins…guess what your liver does? Your liver’s essential function is to break down the nutrients that have been chewed by your mouth and filter and process out all of the toxins. What then happens is the nutrient matter and bulk of the food is sent to the stomach where acids break down the nutrients and are absorbed into the body for fuel. Everything that is not used or needed is turned into waste. Amazing really! Take that in itself into consideration the next time a friend or coworker starts explaining their great new cleanse they’re trying. 

 

There are several other reasons why juicing isn’t all it’s made out to be, and most of them deal with the actual blending and juicing process. By putting several vegetables and fruits into a blender you are removing the bulk or mass of the food and essentially leaving behind a concentrate. By doing this you are now left with the high sugar content from all of the food, yet taking out the fiber and vitamins found in the fibrous material. This means that instead of your digestive system slowly digesting the fibrous food as it should, you are now shocking your system with a glass or cup of sugar. This gives your body an immediate spike in insulin as there is no fiber to slow down the process. The insulin spike leads to increased fat stores and the inability to let go of unwanted fat. Not to mention the fact that you removed the vitamins that are found in the bulk matter, thus leaving you with a glass of flavored sugar. You must remember that fruits are basically nature’s candy. 30 grams of sugar in a glass of fruit juice is digested exactly as that of 30 grams of sugar from a candy bar. The end result of a quickly sugar laden glass of juiced fruits and vegetables is that you will be hungry quickly because it is a liquid, leading to overeating, and further frustration.

 

On the financial side of things juicing really is just a waste. Think of how many fruits and vegetables it takes to make an 8 ounce glass of juice. You can just as easily receive less calories, more fiber, more satiation, and less sugar simply by eating a cup or two of whole fruits and veggies. This results in a happier wallet that can be spent on other fun nutritional items.

 

A final note to remember is that cooking foods releases antioxidants that you cannot get from raw or juiced foods, and what isn’t great about reducing inflammation, aches and pains, and bloating. So next time you or someone you know considers juicing as a means to cleanse or lose weight, do some further research and really take a second look at your overall plan.

Sleep Your Way to Success

Sleep may potentially be the most overlooked aspect of overall health, physical health and view of self image. People who habitually sleep for shorter periods are more at risk for a negative view of self image as compared to those who regularly get a full night of restful sleep. How amazing is it that we have the ability to increase self-confidence and view of our own bodies simply by sleeping more.

From a physiological standpoint, we are tearing down the body throughout the day whether it be by means of physical exercise, stress levels, or overexerting ourselves at work. As noted in The Big 3! everything is putting a stress on our systems, muscle fibers are broken down, adrenal stores that give us energy are being used up, and our brains are worn out due to high stimulus. Sleep helps to combat all of these regular systems. Sleep promotes Growth hormone release from the pituitary gland, which is responsible for overall repair of the body. Everything is affected from muscle rebuilding/growth, hair, skin and nail health, and longevity of health. The pituitary is also responsible for the restoring of the adrenal glands with help from the hypothalamus. With lack of sleep these organs do not function to their fullest potential leaving you with a repetitive state of less energy and risk of mental and physical injury. Water balance is also regulated during our sleep. Ever notice how on a sleepless night you wake up bloated and watery? This is because your body is protecting itself from the lack of sleep by holding onto extra water to use as hydration. With a full night of sleep this water is release because your body has repaired itself and no longer needs the additional water.

While all people are different, it is still recommended that the average working person get a minimum of 7-9 hours per sleep a night. Take into consideration a high dieting or workout phase, increased work hours, or additional mental stress on a project and the amount of sleep needed may increase a few additional hours. People often say, “oh well I only sleep 4-5 hours a night and I’m fine”. This often leads to burnout and inconsistencies during the day. One may argue the fact that less sleep equals more hours in the day for work, however the downside to that is that the productivity levels and efficiency of what is accomplished is far inferior to if a full night’s rest were had. Try increasing sleep and see how overall levels of productivity, muscle growth and fat loss are affected in a positive manner.

Change! Embrace it for Success!

This is a guest post by Psychology Doctoral Candidate @GalFrankie

CHANGE

There are 5 stages to the process of change. Everyone progresses through the stages at a different pace, in their own time. However in order to successfully modify a behavior or make a change, there are certain steps that must be taken to move through the stages successfully.
While the idea of jumping head-first into making a change might seem appealing, because you're in a rush to get started and see results, only about 20% of the human population is prepared to actively and successfully make a change at any given time. Obviously, that's a pretty low success rate! (And supported by additional research that indicates that over 80% of all New Year's resolutions ultimately fail.) 

Therefore, engaging in a behavioral change without creating the foundation to facilitate the change probably isn't in your best interest! 

Stage 1 - Precontemplation 

This is where EVERYONE begins the process of change. This state occurs (as the name suggests) BEFORE you even start considering making a change. It simply describes your current state of being (homeostasis). 
Typically our bodies, minds, and hearts are constantly working to maintain homeostasis, because familiarity can be dealt with more easily than new and different challenges. Disrupting that balance is really difficult, even when it's something that's good for you; eating more healthily, ending a bad relationship, working out more, freeing yourself from an addiction, etc. 

So just work on being mindful about your current life, as is! 

If this is you (or if you got ahead of yourself ), stay tuned for the next stage!!

The Big 3!

Food, water, and sleep. I consider these the big three for overall success throughout the day. If any one of these elements is lacking, or even used in excess, your entire day and course of action can be thrown off track. All of which are so much an abundant part of our lives, yet the most often overlooked. We are creatures of repetition, and as we live day to day in a systematic  way, it is easy to slip into poor habits where we grab whatever food is quickest and sacrifice restful, deep sleep for late night TV binges and social activities. If all you do is really focus in on these 3 items, then your overall productivity and efficiency will increase. So let’s take a look at each.

 

Food

We know already that food is essential to our day, but with busy schedules it is so easy to grab a highly processed granola bar, candy bar, or sugar loaded snack that is only momentarily fulfilling and lacking any real nutrition. Take your time to prep well rounded, nutritious meals that include unprocessed sources of protein, carbs, and fats. Some people try so hard to limit carbs and fats that they end up becoming depleted, which leads to overindulging later in the day. Along with the types of foods to eat, it is important to fuel yourself every few hours. This keeps your insulin levels more neutralized and prevents periods of high energy and crashing. I personally eat 7 to 8 times a day, and at no point am I ever starving or full.

 

Water

Studies have shown that being dehydrate by only 5% can lead to a 30% loss of physical performance. Along with this loss is also mental function. A 2% rate of dehydration drastically reduces cognitive function and leads to a decrease in decision making. I personally drink 1-2 gallons of water per day, as do most of the male fitness junkies that I know. Any less than this and I feel mentally fatigued with feeling of brain fog and a significant loss of strength in the gym. Let’s be clear here, you will be using the bathroom more frequently, but will lead to a more energized day. Many active females in the should be consuming anywhere from 2 litres to a gallon per day. Another extremely important aspect of water is digestion. An often taboo and squeamish topic is digestion. It is so vital to the function and performance of our bodies. Increased water enhances regularity which also helps with satiation and ability to process the incoming food.

 

Sleep

The most amazing thing about sleep is that it is the time in which your body replenishes and repairs itself. Everything from growth hormone, muscle repair, water homeostasis, adrenal stores, and digestion. From a physical standpoint lack of sleep will make the body hold onto to water, as well as not repairing muscle tissue as it should. Both of these can quickly lead to injuries and unsatisfactory weight loss progress. The hypothalamus releases growth hormone while you are in REM sleep, and this directly affects the rebuilding of muscle tissue. From a mental aspect lack of deep, restful sleep can lead to cognitive decline and lack of energy. Your brain restores your adrenal glands during sleep, and over several weeks of poor sleep habits, adrenal glands become burned out making it extremely difficult to think and work at a high level.

In times of stress and overzealous schedules, it is important to keep these 3 specifics in mind, and altering them in a positive manner can allow you to handle the additional workload. This will allow for longevity and long term goal reaching. 

Capture Your Goals!

How often to you physically see your goals? Do you talk about them openly? Are they written down on the fridge, on your phone, on the dash of your car? Goal setting is overlooked because it is stereotyped as cheesy, unnecessary or narcissistic. Having clear cut goals is absolutely necessary to achieving what you want in life. Without no endpoint there is no plan to get there. Take for instance the NCAA National Championship or the NFL Superbowl. The goal at the beginning of the season is not simply to do well or win a few games, it is to win the biggest game in their respective league, which takes consistency and discipline. A plan is needed to break down the steps of the game. Strategy is created to overcome obstacles and even use trick plays in desperation moments. The same goes for life. A plan must be created that allows for day to day and week to week achievements. This allows us to break down our overwhelmingly large goals and take them a step at a time. The “trick play” is the ability to be fluid in our daily lives and maneuver in the event that life throws a curveball to which we can side step or defeat without losing site or progress.

Have your goals in front of you throughout the day. I have my goals written on my refrigerator, in the car, on my phone and on my laptop. They are constantly in my face, which makes it extremely easy to keep them in mind without losing focus on what I’m after. Even if I am not actively reading them they are being seen and becoming a part of my subconscious thoughts. Too many people lose sight of their goals and spend days or weeks on end with no real accomplishments towards the end goal. It is easy to get off track or delay doing the work that is necessary to gaining progress. In addition to having them placed around my living spaces, I take the time weekly to write them down in a journal, and then immediately reread them as a means to establishing them as a part of my being. By rereading them you are creating positive affirmations, which creates confidence and gives you the internal power and drive to keep moving forward. There will be days where you wake up and your life feels overwhelming and the thought of obtaining a goal impossible, but having them in front of you and imprinted in your thoughts via previous affirmations makes it easier to set aside the negative thoughts and continue through on your journey to personal success.

Talk about your goals openly. When in conversation with friends and family avoid hiding your thoughts and inspirations. Be bold and open about what it is you want in life. Some people will feel as though they’re being selfish in talking about their goals, but the reality is the person you are talking to has goals that they’re afraid of sharing as well. Goals and the human psyche can be tricky beasts. People fear sharing their goals because they will label themselves as failures if not achieved. However, the great part about expressing them is that you are subconsciously holding yourself accountable to those goals. When you tell someone that you would like to lose 30 pounds in the next 6 months, make enough money to buy a new car in the next year, or spend more quality time with friends and family you are metaphorically writing down your goals to this person. You are reaffirming what your goals are and the conversation typically leads into how you will achieve them.

Allow your goals to change and be fluid in life. By writing and rethinking your goals weekly it is possible that a goal of thought may change slightly, and this is a good thing. Transform and adapt to your newly modified goal, just be conscious not to downgrade your goals. Luckily 2018 is only just beginning but a lot of you have large goals. Keep them in front of you and plan and adapt to reach them!

Be in Control of Your Body and Mind

It is truly incredible how in tune we as humans can be with our bodies. With our busy schedules, high levels of stress, and constant temptations being imprinted in our daily lives it is easy to not listen to what we need. As we are now approaching the end of the first week of the year people tend to slip right back into their old habits and tendencies and will power is tested strongly. A lot of failed resolutions and goals occur simply because we are not truly in the moment with ourselves. When given a high stress situation our naturalistic responses to protect ourselves are to eat, stay awake longer and over exerting ourselves whether physically or mentally. To better accomplish our goals when given a situation like that it is best to start by taking a few deep breaths. This grounds us and allows our thoughts to slow down. After doing so it becomes far easier to understand what we are needing, whether it be food, additional water or rest. Your body is constantly sending messages, even if it is that of satisfaction, so slow your thoughts, analyze what it is that you need, and then act on that. Do not ignore the fact that you are hungry or thirsty because that will lead to overconsumption later, as well as loss of performance in the now. By taking a moment to refuel with nutritious foods you will combat the sugar or salt cravings that come if you skip that meal. If you are running on empty while performing tasks, take a nap. Studies have shown that you are far more productive when given a nap as compared to pushing through fatigue. Obtaining your goals will become far easier and less stressful if you simply attune yourself to your needs and act on them in a smart and productive way. 

Cut the Sugar! Improve Your Performance!

We can all agree that consuming too much sugar leads to cravings for more sweets and can easily throw a diet off course. When consumed in moderation sugar can help rebuild muscle as well as gives us a quick boost of energy mid workout. The downside of Sugar is that it is a quickly digested calorie dense food, meaning that it is extremely easy to overeat and abuse. Another disadvantage of sugar is the decline in cognitive function. So many people consume sugar in such unnecessary forms ranging from sodas, candy, pastries, and cakes. The article linked below shows how the consumption of sugar decreases brain function and physically alters regions in the brain. Obviously brain function is important in our everyday lives, but is often taken for granted when we reach for a candy bar or cookie instead of a well balance whole food. By eliminating unnecessary foods and avoiding packaged items with hidden sugars we can ultimately function at a higher level, thus improving the chances of reaching and exceeding our goals!

http://www.psypost.org/2018/01/study-suggests-sugar-coma-real-glucose-ingestion-leads-worse-cognitive-performance-50514

Breaking the Diet Monotony

As we finish the holiday season and immediately look to accomplish our summer weight loss goals, we are faced with the fact that we must eat in a way to lose fat while continuing to fuel muscles and preserve proper brain function. It is important to avoid completely cutting out all carbs and fats, but equally important to be in a caloric deficit. With improperly varied meal options, achieving weight loss goals can be a monotonous process. With proper levels of Protein, carbs and fat you will be able to keep energy levels high enough to properly function while still losing fat. To help boost metabolism and maintain mental satisfaction, it is important to include scheduled cheat meals into your diet. Depending on your current metabolism and body fat percentage you may be able to handle one or two cheat meals a week while continuing to lose body fat. In an effort to make this process more fun I will be creating videos for themed cheat meals. This will also help some of you come up with ideas to create new delicious meals, while keeping them healthy and satisfying. I will be starting this week with a full meal themed after the Golden Globes. Stay tuned for all of the great ideas and tips to have an amazing cheat meal while not hindering your progress. 

Gymtimidation for the Newcomer

The gym can be a daunting place to any newcomer or person who is not 100% confident in themselves or their new surroundings. It’s important to understand that even though stepping into the gym for the first time can be a scary endeavor, it is also a refreshing and exhilarating experience. You are actively pursuing your goals of getting into better overall shape, losing weight or adding muscle depending on your goals. The anxiety of going to the gym will subside after a few days because it will become a familiar place. Against stereotypes and preconceived notions, the majority of people inside of a gym are often friendly, courteous and helpful. There is a general understanding amongst the fitness community regardless of level of fitness, whether it be a professional bodybuilder or first timer, that everyone is there working to improve one’s health. The days of gym bros and your classic meatheads are fading, and overall people want to see others improve their lives as they improve their own.

 

Given the fear of the gym, another aspect is the equipment. Is is 100% possible with advances in machinery and labeling to do an entire week’s worth of workouts without ever touching a free weight or dumbbell. The majority of machines will not only show you what body part the machine is for, but will also describe in detail how to safely use the machine. Free weights can be intimidating, as many people fear improper form or using the wrong weight. With the ease of use for selecting weight amounts on machines, it is extremely easy to adjust the settings to a weight that is suitable for you.

 

Another important thing to remember is to ask for help. There are so many knowledgable people and trainers in a gym. All of these people also have their own questions for techniques and form. Ask for assistance if you are uncertain of how to use a piece of equipment. They will be more than happy to help as offering advice not only helps you but gives them a feeling of fulfillment as they’ve now expanded their fitness knowledge to someone new who will be able to use it forever.

 

From the perspective of the seasoned regular it is necessary to remember that you were once the person stepping foot in the gym for the first time. Offer help to someone who is clearly out of their comfort zone, and remember that they’ve taken a big leap in conquering fears of the gym as well as improving their life.