Steppin Into Fitness

Today, we have an article by our fantastic trainer and coach Brittney Wilinski about staying active and eating healthy while traveling.  Great information for any of you traveling out there……….


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Brit doing her thing on the beach

Recently, I went on vacation to St.Petersburg, Florida for a week… and let me tell you, the weather was much more beautiful and consistent there! Like myself, I am betting there are quite a few of you who will be traveling, even if it is a 3-day weekend vacation. It is definitely a time for relaxing, having fun with family and friends, and most likely splurging a little more on food and drinks. But what about all that hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym and all the time you’ve been slaving in the kitchen making healthy meals?!

News flash, you don’t have to completely ditch your workout and eating habits just because you are going on vacation! It really is pretty easy to stick to your normal routine for the most part. While I was gone for a week in Florida, I stayed in a condo and was able to go to the grocery store and buy food for the week that I could cook or prepare easily. Some of the main foods I grabbed were: eggs, turkey, chicken, a bunch of veggies, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola, and salsa and guacamole (I love eating my veggies with both of these!). Even when we did go out for lunch or dinner I would try to order something that was more towards the healthier side and stayed away from deep fried, super greasy foods. One day I got a Jerk Chicken sandwich but ditched the bun and put it on a bed of lettuce… it was amazing! Don’t be afraid to ask your servers ‘weird’ or ‘picky’ questions, it really pays off because many times restaurants are very flexible, so you get a healthier meal and they get a better tip 😉 Win, Win!

Eating healthier is one goal to stick to, but there is also the working out and being active part! One thing that I tried to do every single day was walk on the beach. Again this is a win, win situation: I got to enjoy the warm Florida weather and amazing view, while also getting the benefit of being active. Another way to enjoy my vacation while also getting some exercise in was by walking to shops or stores, swimming in the pool or ocean, and playing volleyball or fun pool games that required me to move around a lot.

When I wasn’t outside enjoying myself, I was in the condo doing a quick bodyweight circuit to start my day off! Here is what my circuit consisted of:

1a. Suitcase Goblet Squats 3-4×12
1b. Pushups 3-4×15-20 60s. rest

2a. One leg hip thrust 3-4×10
2b. Suitcase rows 3-4×12 60s. rest

3a. Step-ups 3×12/leg
3b. Suitcase offset carries 3x 45s. rest

4a. Planks 3×6 w/10 sec. hold
4b. Double Leg Lowering 3x 30s. rest

5. Bent over ITY’s 3×15 30s. rest

I used my carry-on suitcase and loaded it up with a computer, book, and some full water bottles for my squats and one-arm rows. You could also do bodyweight squats and add a pause to make it more challenging. For the offset carries I used a larger suitcase that had some shoes in it and added my computer and book to make it slightly heavier. In our room there was a bench and chair; I used the bench for my hip thrusts and the chair for my step-ups. If a bench isn’t available, you can do glute bridges (double leg/single leg/march) from the floor and add a few more reps. To add weight to your ITY’s you could use water bottles or soup cans, or just body weight with more reps. If you are doing body weight or very light weight, you are still getting a great metabolic effect by doing more reps with less rest time.

As you can see, it really isn’t that hard to stay somewhat on track while you are out enjoying yourself on vacation. The main thing is to plan ahead of time what you will do for workouts and figure out where the nearest grocery store is. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out some restaurants’ menus to see which ones have healthier food options especially if you are going on a road trip!

Travel workouts can be some of the best and most fun workouts you will have.  Be creative and spontaneous and you can get some awesome training in while you are away!


Attention Ladies: Ditch the ‘Shape’ and Go for the Weights

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Today, we have an article by new RUFP coach/trainer Brittney Wilinski.  Take it away Brit!    


   To all the ladies out there

How many of you have picked up a Shape magazine just to look at the workouts that will “Sculpt your butt with these great moves!” or “Tone your arms in 3 weeks!” If I know many women, almost all of us have fallen for the great “Shape workouts” because we are too intimidated to go into a weight room filled with guys lifting heavy weights, or we have this perception that if we lift more than 15 pounds we are going to get big and ‘bulky’.

News for you ladies…. throw your magazines out and hit the weight room. While you’re there, throw weight around and be proud of it! I’ve been training for over two years now and since then I have not become the hulk (mind you I like to squat darn near 185-200 pounds). I feel that I am a walking spokes model for women who strength train because ever since I started I have only gained muscle and lost body fat and couldn’t feel any better! So today I want to educate you about why you should lift some weight (I’m not talking about those 5 pounders) and show the boys up in the gym!


So you won’t lift heavy weights because you think you’ll get big and bulky…

Men can get a lot more muscular for a reason: testosterone! The beauty of being a woman is that we have much less testosterone than men. According to the study by Kraemer and Ratamess, “Hormonal Responses and Adaptations to Resistance Exercise and Training” in the Sports Medicine journal, we only have about 5% of the testosterone that men do – that means men have about twenty times as much testosterone as us. If a woman wanted to get larger and bulkier she would have to take anabolic drugs.

Another physiological difference between men and women is the difference in muscle fibers. We have fewer and smaller muscle fibers compared to males. According to the book, Science and Practice of Strength Training, women only have about 25-55% of the average upper body strength and about 70-75% of the average lower body strength compared to males. Therefore, if you think you’ll get jacked up arms from benching, rowing, or other upper body exercises…think again! Many of us girls could use some more upper body strength based off of these averages.

We can lift like the boys; maybe not as much weight, but just as hard and intense! Our bodies need to be challenged in order to create a stimulus large enough to cause adaptations in our bones, muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. This could mean eventually getting ourselves to do fewer reps with maximal weight instead of always doing 10-15 reps with lighter weight. If we don’t make our bodies adapt to a stimulus, then we won’t see the results we are looking for. Therefore, doing only high repetition exercises with 3 pound dumbbells will not accomplish this.

Why do some girls gain weight once they start to lift?

Lean muscle tissue has weight too! While the number on the scale may go up initially or stay the same, check out your body fat percentage and see how it drops. Building more lean muscle while weight training will actually help to burn more calories and fat once your workout is over compared to sitting on a treadmill for 2 hours. This is because your metabolic rate increases when you build more  muscle, which then decreases the amount of body fat. When it comes down to it, we want to lose body fat, not just weight.

On the other hand, some women may gain more weight and increase their body size due to poor eating habits. Many people have this misunderstanding that just because they worked out and lifted now they can go have a whole pint of ice cream or a huge plate of pasta and breadsticks afterwards and be fine.

On the other end of the spectrum, some women decide to starve themselves. By doing this your metabolism slows down and your body basically holds on to fat stores as a protective mechanism. Hate to burst anyone’s bubble but these options are definitely not the way to go! As you start training you want to make sure you train hard at the gym and eat like a champ in the kitchen. What I mean is fuel your body with wholesome nutritious foods and cut out the sugary, processed, greasy, and deep-fried foods! Get some lean protein sources, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates into your diet and you will be off to a good start.

Sounds like a lot to change hey? I know I know, so start off trying to take out one to two unhealthy things from your diet and replace them with some other healthy food options. It’s simple and you’ll be off to a great start towards that new you.

Lifting weights is dangerous and can cause more injuries than machines…

Well, I won’t lie; any exercise can be dangerous without the proper training and technique. But if you take the time to learn exercises correctly, seek help for proper training, and follow a good program that is fit just for you, then you will be set to go. Weight lifting can actually help decrease your rate of injury by increasing bone strength (which decreases the risk of osteoporosis) and making connective tissue stronger which will increase your joint stability.

Also, If you train properly and learn how to move the right way with fundamental human movements like squatting, hip hinging, pushing and pulling, you will function more effectively with daily activities, lowering the risk of injury in all areas of life.  On the other hand, machines can actually lead to injury by promoting inefficient and unnatural motor patterns and putting negative stresses on joints that are locked into an unnatural path of motion.

Learn how to lift correctly and you will be more resistant to unwanted injuries!!  Always make sure to do a proper warm up before you lift in order to help decrease your chances of any injuries.

One last awesome benefit from weight lifting…

After a few months of lifting you might start to notice how your pants start to fit a little more loosely and that dress you’ve had in the closet for over a year fits to a T… yep, now we are ecstatic ladies! Working out in general helps to increase our moods for the better and it helps improve our self-esteem and body image. We all know that if we have to go down in a pant size at the store, we are jumping for joy in that changing room.

So treat yourself to some good hard work at the gym and you will reap the benefits of feeling even better in your own skin.
If any of you ladies would like to check out a female friendly strength training website filled with great tips & healthy delicious recipes, take a look at girlsgonestrong.com and check out the archives of articles at our site here.


About the Author

Brittney Wilinski is an Assistant Strength Coach and Personal Trainer at Rosencutter Ultra Fitness and Performance.  She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Exercise Sport Science Program with a Fitness Major and Nutrition Minor.  Brittney is working towards her NSCA certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach Specialist (CSCS).  Brittney was a group fitness instructor for 4 years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse teaching cycling, boot camps and water aerobics.  Since becoming an instructor, she has realized her passion and love for helping people succeed in reaching their health and fitness goals.
As an understudy of Nick Rosencutter, she has benefited tremendously in analyzing and correcting common exercise techniques along with postural imbalances.  She is looking forward to helping people and positively impacting lives within the health and fitness industry.

Deadlift Through That Sticking Point

nick lockout


If you are at all serious about strength training then you undoubtedly have deadlifted.  If you are at all working to increase your deadlift, you have most likely felt a sticking point at some portion of the lift.  Personally, if I miss a lift on a max attempt at a meet, I tend to get stuck an inch or two below my knees.  While there are multiple exercises I have been using to destroy this sticking point and get my pull to the low to mid 600’s where it should be (I missed 578 a couple times in recent memory and had 600 to my knees last august), one of my favorites is paused band deadlifts.

     Paused Band Deadlifts

With this exercise, you put bands over the bar and you pause at or just before your sticking point, before driving through to lockout.  If you don’t have platform attachments as shown in the video, you can loop them under a power rack or under dumbbells.  Simply performing these pauses with straight weight can also work well; you just won’t have the added band tension trying to pull you through the floor.  With this pause, you basically train your body to grind through that sticking point.  The neurological drive you will send to your muscular firing and coordination at that specific range of motion is a surefire way to train your body to blow past this point.   It is essentially an isometric exercise in the middle of a full range deadlift.  With isometric training, you will generally gain strength up to 3 inches above or below the point of the ROM that you are training.  Throw in the band tension and these will make you a monster. Check out the video and give them a shot. (Note: I purposely started with my hips a little higher than normal in this video; I’d recommend pulling them down a little lower to start for most people)

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    Block Deadlifts

Another great exercise that can help is block deadlifts.  I give thanks to Dan Zwirlein and Dan Pasholk for recommending these to me.  Since the weights rest on the blocks instead of the bar resting on pins, it more closely resembles the feel and position of this point of the range of motion of a regular deadlift (pulling off of the rack is a little different).   In general, these will be harder when pulling from a sticking point than when pulling from the floor since you have NO momentum to get you past it.  When done correctly, if you PR from blocks at a point that is hard for you, it should carry over to improvement with your full pull.  Here is video of me hitting a PR about a month before my meet from last weekend.  These were done BEFORE the band deads in the first vid. You could use both or cycle between them in different cycles depending on what you are doing. Note: you should mimic the same hip position that you would be in at this point of the range of motion if you were doing a full deadlift.

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The result? I just smashed an all time PR last weekend at the WABDL World Cup in WI Dells with a 601 lb deadlift at a bodyweight of 186. While there were definitely other variables that helped make this happen, I definitely feel that these exercises really played a big role.  Give these two exercises a shot and watch your deadlift sticking point disappear!!


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Train hard!


Open Your Shoulders but Don’t Crush Your Back


       If you have been exposed to any type of movement or postural training, you undoubtedly know at least to a certain extent that “being tall” and having open shoulders are important when pushing or pulling or in many cases, standing or sitting posture. Exercises such as rows, w’s, pull aparts, etc. train our upper and mid back muscles such as the mid and low traps and rhomboids to become stronger and more endurable so that we can have more opening in our anterior shoulder region. You essentially train this “opening” with these exercises. While this is generally a great idea for many people, a common mistake that is often made is substituting posterior rib tilt for scapular retraction (pulling the shoulder blades together). In a failed attempt or an exaggerated attempt to open the front of the shoulders up, people will tilt their ribs back and overextend their lower and mid backs instead of simply driving their shoulder blades together and opening the chest up. I especially see this with many high school athletes that I work with.


     This should be watched for with many exercises and positions. The cue “big chest” can sometimes work but many times can lead to the rib tilt just discussed instead of simply opening the anterior shoulders up. “Be tall” tends to work better when fixing this problem. This carries over to squats, standing posture and many things in between. Next time you are thinking of fixing that shoulder posture: Be tall and open those shoulders up but don’t get too crazy and crush your low back. One final thought: If someone has no flexion in their thoracic spine, their scapula will be unstable until you restore that flexion so “shoulder opening” exercises won’t help as much until that happens.

    Below are a video of a Band W with level ribs and then a Band W with posterior rib tilt .  As I mentioned, this is a compensation you want to be aware of with many exercises, movements and positions.  Take note and your posture, movement and strength will improve.  Other example vids can be found here:  proper position and improper position.



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Row that Weight Properly Please

Rows are an important exercise to strengthen and develop the upper and mid back, improve shoulder and head posture and to make you an all around awesome person; however, many people do them entirely wrong and in turn, make themselves much less awesome.  It is essential to get proper motion through the scap and glenohumeral joint along with proper positioning of the thoracic spine.  The low and mid traps, rhomboids, lats and posterior delts should all work together to accomplish the job (with a little assistance from a few other players but for now we won’t confuse you)  Mid and low trap are often not engaged as much as they should be.  Today, our awesome intern and great up and coming coach, Brittney Wilinski, shows you how to properly perform a row and common mistakes that are made.  She even puts in a nice tongue twister for added entertrainment 🙂  See if you can catch what I did with that last word and then try saying glenohumeral 5 times fast.  Enjoy!

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Don’t be an Ostrich

    If you have been training with us for any reasonable amount of time, you have probably been cued to keep your head and neck in good position during any multitude of exercises, from squats to planks. If you have been training with somebody else who is good, you’ve probably been cued similarly 🙂 If you have been training with somebody else or yourself, you may not have a clue what I am talking about but this is important stuff so read on!

Head and neck alignment is extremely important, whether you are talking about basic standing posture or mid exercise.  When we look at our cervical spine, we have 7 vertebrae. The upper 2 vertebrae and the muscles around them function differently than the lower 5 vertebrae (bottom of C2 to top of T1), with the former rocking and tilting the skull/head and the latter moving and positioning the rest of the neck.  That being said, they all work/move together to flex, extend, rotate and side bend the head and neck. Any time the head is positioned forward excessively, as seen in forward head carriage, the region of the upper 2 cervical spine is compressed as the head cocks back in order to keep the body upright,  Much of the lower region is then excessively stretched and slacked.  This is bad not only because of the effects it has on the head and neck, but also because of the effects it has the rest of the way down the body. If the head is out of position, the thorax is then pushed back, which will cause the ribs to be out of position, disrupt breathing and stress the mid and low back; all undesirable things to have happen.  In response to this, the pelvis will tilt forward and the low back will over extend, causing even more low back stress and hip issues.  This all occurs in order to keep the body upright and centered in space.  The body always finds a way to “right” itself.  So when something is off up top or down low in the feet, compensations occur each joint up or down to help keep things upright and level as much as possible.  This picture sums it up pretty well and simply.  The only thing it does not show is the cocking back of the head that usually occurs.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.  You can imagine what might happen if your head or neck are out of position during a squat or a pushup.  If it distorts positioning in a standing posture, you better believe that it will cause dysfunction with movement and in turn, hurt performance.  So, next time we cue your head position during your workout, you will have a decent idea why. If you would like to prance around like an ostrich with your head way out in front of you, that is perfectly fine; just don’t complain when things start hurting.

There are many things that contribute to this and that result from this, from muscular issues to breathing issues. If we look at the musculature of the neck region, we can divide things into front, sides and back (kind of). Starting with the front (anterior), we have the Sternocleidomastoid, more commonly just called the SCM. This muscle is responsible for neck flexion, rotation to the opposite side and some side bending. It is the most superficial, or outermost, muscle on the front of the neck and is often overactive in many people. When someone has forward head carriage, you can usually bet that their SCM will be overactive. This muscle also commonly compensates for weak abdominal, psoas and diaphragm muscles further on down the body. When someone works their ABZ with boatloads of  crunches and situps, you’ll often hear complaints of neck pain. Well guess what? Its because they are compensating like crazy with their SCM to do the job that the rectus abdominis (six pack muscle) is supposed to be doing.

Deep to, or beneath, the SCM are the deep neck flexor muscles, the longus colli and capitis. While the SCM typically will pull the head forward in front of the body, these deeper muscles will pull the chin back in towards the throat and promote a good head and neck posture. They are very commonly weak in many people, especially those with neck and breathing issues. They also run along the same line of fascia as the diaphragm and psoas muscles, which all should ideally work together to provide a solid, deep base of stability for the rest of the body to work off of.  There are also multiple small muscles in this area that control movement of the various bones of the jaw, called the infra and suprahyoids.  For the purposes of keeping this article simple, we’ll leave them out of the discussion.

Moving to the back side, we can look at muscles that control the different cervical sections mentioned above (C1-2 vs C3-7). The suboccipitals (rectus capitis major and minor, oblique capitis superior and inferior) control the rocking and tilting of the head and neck w/ movement of the upper cervicals. With forward head carriage, they will cock the skull back and become overactive and painful, often leading to headaches and neck pain. Research shows that these muscles also have big implications with balance and body awareness. Though they are small little guys, they are extremely important.  It has been shown that the rectus capitis minor even has connections with the dura mater of the brain.  (Must be kind of a big deal)

Below here, we have layers of muscles that control extension of the rest of the neck. Cervical erectors (further broken down to iliocostalis cervicis, longissimus cervicis and capitis and spinalis cervicis) mainly help extend the neck, splenius capitis and cervicis help extend and rotate the head and neck to the same side, and transversospinalis (further broken down to rotatores, multifidi and semispinalis cervicis) muscles help extend and rotate to the opposite side.  These guys cover the gist of it. We also have levator scapulae and upper traps branching off to the sides from the cervical spine to control both the shoulder girdle and the neck (elevation and rotation to the opposite side as well as downward and upward rotation of the scapula respectively), which are usually overactive in this situation (though not always).

Between the front and back, we have the scalenes, which can be divided into anterior, middle and posterior.  These help to side bend, rotate to the same side and flex the head and neck.  They are very important with upper rib positioning and overall neck stability, and should assist with breathing. (ASSIST not take over)


Note how many different angles the various muscles on the neck run, front to back, side to side, curving this way and that.  It is a very complex area of the body and you can see that each “section” is, in all reality, connected.To sum the basic situation up. When someone has poor neck alignment, or forward head carriage for the purposes of this article, the SCM’s and suboccipitals will be overactive and the deep neck flexors and lower cervical extensors will be inhibited and/or weak (sometimes with levator and/or upper trap being overactive). Throw some rotation into the picture and you will be looking at side to side differences. We can go further down and look at overactive pec minors with underactive low traps, elevated versus depressed shoulder girdle, etc. For now, we’ll keep it at the neck but just know that the effects carry on down the whole body and that there will be some variation depending on the individual at hand.

The bottom line is this: Keep your neck packed in alignment with the rest of your spine and trunk and you will feel better, move better and perform better.

In conjunction with this, proper breathing patterns and diaphragm function are also very important to help keep muscles in the neck region balanced out appropriately. Without good diaphragm function and solid rib expansion, rib elevation will cause muscles in the neck, especially the scalenes, to overwork and flare up with inflammation and pain. This can obviously affect overall alignment and is a very important deal.  Heck, though I haven’t gotten into it yet, vision issues can also have influence and be influenced by this stuff.  It really is pretty amazing. 

Finally, talking about this anatomy stuff is all wonderful but when it comes down to it, you need to know how this looks in action, and this is the main thing I want to get across with this post.

This shows the basic good and bad positions to be in up top.  Notice how the head and neck placement affect the rest of the shoulder girdle.  This is also an exercise/drill that can be done to fire and/or strengthen the appropriate muscles either upright, inclined or face down.
This shows improper and proper neck/head position during a squat.   Notice how my back and hips are affected with the different head/neck placement.
This shows improper and proper neck/head position during a deadlift. Again, notice how it affects the rest of the kinetic chain.

This all carries over to multiple activities.  Hopefully this gives you some good ideas to help you out with life and training!  If you struggle with this issue, I recommend starting out with some “chin tuck” drills like I show in the first video.  Just do a few sets of 15-20 reps daily, starting straight up and then working to an incline and eventually face down.  Next, start consciously drilling the  proper positioning when you squat, deadlift, do pushups, etc.

When it comes down to it, you have two choices.  Be an ostrich or be a Beast with a solid and stable neck.  The choice is yours.

Never Stop Short

Who is ready to get motivated and amped up today?!!!

I just finished reading a great inspirational book called “Three Feet from Gold,” by Greg Reid and Sharon Lechter. I usually try to read at least one success/business book each month and this was a very fun and motivating read. The principles that the book goes through are based off of the classic “Think and Grow Rich,” one of my favorite books of all time and sure to be found on pretty much any successful person’s top five list. Three Feet puts these principles into story form and goes through the adventure of a character who is initially struggling with his life, and follows him as he changes his outlook and begins to transform his life into happiness and success. It follows him as he travels around interviewing many different successful people (these are real people who gave real insight for the book) about their own stories and wisdom; stories about overcoming adversity with passion and commitment to achieve success and happiness. In a nutshell, if you read this and are not totally motivated to go full force into working on a passion or goal of yours, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyhow, the book gives out principles of success as the story goes on. It is my goal with this article to highlight some of my favorites that I took from it and elaborate on how they can potentially help you or how they’ve played a part in my journey thus far.

The first one is two points that I am combining because they go together well.

The most common cause of failure is quitting. Before great success comes, you will surely meet with temporary defeat.”

This is as straight forward as it comes and something that one would think would be common sense; however, the majority of people out there continually let temporary defeats beat them and they quit before they even give themselves a chance. Fitness is a great example here. Someone starts working out. Lets call him Bob. Bob wants to lose 10 pounds of fat and build some muscle. He trains for one month and he is no better. He gets frustrated and claims that working out doesn’t work and he can’t get in shape. 3 months go by and he again decides to give this fitness thing a shot. This time he works out for 2 months and drops a couple pounds of fat. Well with two whole months of training, he should surely be down at least 10, right?! He quits again because he just can’t seem to make it happen. Think about this: What if he hadn’t quit for 3 months and had been training for the full 6 months without a break. Imagine where he could have been then. This is what TONS of people do and it goes into another great point from the book.

“To succeed, you must have STICKABILITY.”

Whether you are talking about reaching a fitness goal or succeeding in a business venture, this is essential. “It takes years to become an overnight success.” Being in great shape takes more than days or months. It takes years of dedication and perseverance. When people aren’t magazine material after 2 months, they lose all hope and just quit. If they would stay with it, they would blow past their initial goal before the next time they decide to start over again after quitting. Careers and businesses take time to develop and grow. When I first started out training people after college, I had around 2 to 3 in home clients, with not a lot of income. I then started working out of a gym and GRADUALLY built up clientele. I KNEW that I wasn’t going to have my own facility with boatloads of clients coming through the door in the first month or even the first FEW YEARS. However, I had an end goal in mind and knew that I would make things happen. Fast forward to current day. We just passed our one year anniversary at my facility and we have a long ways to go with it. If we do a little bit each day to get better, it will compound over time. I’m sticking with it.

I overheard one of my coaches the other day, Dan Zwirlein, talking to some clients about his journey to where he is at with his training and body. Dan is a pretty big guy (and lean) and probably one of the best lifters in the country. Many people probably just assume that he is just naturally “big.” Dan explained how its taken years of hard work and dedication with training and diet to get where he is at. He has stickability; and it shows.

“The Knowing- There is a big difference between believing in something and knowing it.”

As I stated just above, I KNEW that I was going to make my dream happen. I had and have confidence in my abilities in this field and continue to better myself every day. So even though I wasn’t making tons of money or training superstar athletes right away, I just kept honing my craft and kept doing what I’m passionate about: helping the great clients and amazing people that I did have. If you do that good enough, then more people are going to follow. When I had my injury that kept me out of competition and heavy lifting for awhile, I KNEW that I’d get back to a high level again.  I did everything possible to get past the injury and come back stronger than ever.  When Dan injured his shoulder and was told he might not be able to lift again, he never once thought about quitting.  He worked his ass off to get back under a bar and never looked back.  Professional athletes don’t just magically end up in a prime time game.  They have a vision and a dream and they do everything necessary to make that vision a reality.  Every single successful fat loss client that I’ve ever worked with KNEW they’d transform their bodies and lives.  Don’t just believe, Know.

If you are venturing into your journey of transforming your body, KNOW that you will succeed. The mind controls everything. If you know that you’re going to make it, you will. Want to Deadlift 2 or maybe even 3 times your bodyweight? KNOW that you are going to get there and friggin smash it. Successful people in any endeavor don’t know what doubt is. They just go to war and don’t look back.

“Seek counsel, not opinions, and then pass it on.”
    There is a great point with this one about the difference between opinions and counsel. “Opinions are usually based on ignorance, or lack of knowledge, whereas counsel is based on wisdom and experience.” Lets go back to our friend Bob. While he is on his great quest to get in shape, he has plenty of negative “friends” giving their OPINIONS about A. how he is a clown for trying to get in shape, B. how he can’t get in shape; its just too hard C. how he needs to run tons of miles and do lots of cardio to get in shape (insert any other unfounded misinformation about training here). Most people that he knows give their opinions, which have no rationalized knowledge or experience behind them.

What Bob needs to do is seek out COUNSEL from an expert who A. KNOWS that Bob can reach his goal, B. Has actual KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM and EXPERIENCE with training and truly understands how to get him from point a to point b, and C. Supports him on his quest rather than ridicules him for trying to do something positive with his life.  Once he does this, he needs to pass on his new knowledge and wisdom to others who are in his original position. Not only will this help those who he counsels, but it will help him to grow and get even better himself.   I’ve learned this first hand through teaching interns and doing continuing ed material.

Back to the ridicule point…..I can’t begin to fathom why some people have close family and friends who literally make fun of them for trying to change their lives and get in shape (or start a business or make a career change, etc.) It is absolutely ridiculous yet it happens all of the time, which brings me to my next point.

“Run from people with negative attitudes.”

“People take in the nature and the habits and the power of thought of those with whom they associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.” In other words, if you hang around negative deadbeats, you will probably be somewhat of a negative deadbeat yourself. Want to be a successful, positive person? Then hang around other successful, positive people. Want to get freakishly strong? Then train with freakishly strong people. Want to run a great business? Spend some time picking the brains of people who run great businesses. I think you catch the trend.

If the people you surround yourself with most do nothing but bring you down and stress you out, then maybe its time to change who you surround yourself with. Whether you are trying to change your body, your career, a relationship, etc. you have to be surrounded by the right people or it won’t happen. I have been fortunate enough to have many great mentors and many great colleagues, friends and partners over the years and I would not be where I am today without their help. If someone has a negative attitude, I run. If someone comes into my facility with a negative attitude, we try to change it. If its the rare case where we can’t change it, they’re gone. One negative attitude can disrupt ten positive attitudes. Can’t have it; plain and simple.

“Accentuate the positive and illuminate the negative.”

This is a big one. Many people tend to do just the opposite. They shun the positive aspects of a venture aside and accentuate the negative things. I have worked with hundreds of clients over the years and a common thing that I tend to see with people who are still on the beginning end of their training is that they focus on all of the things that they still HAVEN’T accomplished and totally disregard all of the great things that they HAVE accomplished.

For example, I might get someone who trains for 3 to 4 months and loses, lets say, 5% bodyfat and has gained good strength on most of their big movements, like front squats, deadlifts and pushups. They have also reached 6 new short term goals with their nutrition and are making great progress overall. However, instead of appreciating these good things that, if given the chance to compound, will turn into amazing, great, awesome things, they only look at the fact that their scale weight (oh dear don’t get me started) is only down 2 pounds, they still can’t see their abz all the way, they don’t feel perfect in those pants they bought, etc. etc. They focus on the things that they HAVEN’T accomplished.

What they need to do is appreciate all of the positive things that they HAVE accomplished, realize that there is still work that needs to be done and use it as motivation to CONTINUE to get better. As I said before, success doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been training myself for around 15 years and I’ve still got a ways to go; however, I am very proud of the things that I have accomplished while realizing there is still more for me to improve upon. It is a great journey that I embrace fully. I’ve been training clients in some capacity for 7 to 8 years and continually try to improve. I’ve had my own facility for just over one year and am happy with what I’ve accomplished while still appreciating the fact that there are many improvements to be made. Its all about mini victories and continual improvement.  Appreciate the positives with what you have done but stay humble and strive for more at the same time.

We have some clients at our gym who I’ve worked with for multiple YEARS. They have literally transformed their bodies and lives. They appreciate what they’ve done. In light of that, they then find new goals to strive for and take things to another level. If you want to get to that other level, you need to appreciate each step and improvement that you make, because if all you do is dwell on what you haven’t done, you will never get to that higher level.

KNOW that you will get there and that you are killing PR’s and FEEL your body and your mind change and improve.

CHERISH the journey and become GREAT!
While there are a number of other things that I could cover from this motivational book, there is one more message I will use that really sums it all up. Give everyday your all and never quit on your dream or goal, because you just might be THREE FEET FROM GOLD.

Definitely give the book a read….And if you have any kind of goal or dream in mind, friggin go out tomorrow and start making it a reality.  Nothing can stop you but yourself.



Nutritional Compliance Part 2

Here is the second part to a previous article written by Dan Zwirlein. Whatever your goals may be, proper nutrition is huge.  If you didn’t already read the first part, check it out with the link below.  Take it away Dan!

In the first compliance article, I talked about why people have trouble seeing results from their prospective fitness programs. In review, this usually stems from what they are doing outside of the gym rather than inside the gym, and it has to do with their compliance/adherence to a nutritional plan. In this article, I want to expand on this idea and give more thoughts/tips on how to develop a more disciplined nutrition plan for better body composition.

A common question is “so then what do I eat?”, “what is healthy eating?” “what is considered clean eating?”. This is a hot topic in the nutrition today: what really is clean eating or what is healthy? Honestly, I don’t think there is an accurate description of what clean eating is and if you asked someone to give you a formal definition, I don’t think they could. That’s one of the major flaws with the clean eating concept: it means something different to everyone. There was a very good article just written about this topic and I suggest everyone checks it out. You can find it here (sorry, link unavailable). Basically, the article debunks the notion of “clean” eating; meaning there aren’t actually groups of clean and dirty foods respectively. For example, the body doesn’t have different processes for digesting, utilizing, and storing nutrients from so called clean foods vs. dirty foods; i.e., fat from cookies isn’t digested and stored differently than fat from avocado. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the macro nutrients it receives from these different foods. Obviously, there is a difference between the complete nutritional profile of a cookie and a vegetable, and you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to eat as much cookies and ice cream as you want even though it still fits your macro nutrient profile.

So what can we do with this information to make educated decisions about our nutrition? It doesn’t really change anything but the mindset, meaning you still should concentrate on eating nutrient dense foods a majority of the time. The 90% rule still applies but now your outlook on those supposed cheat meals is different. There is nothing unhealthy with enjoying a treat for 10% of your meals IF it is planned properly and accounted for in your total caloric intake. This way you don’t have to worry about it completely derailing your progress. Keep in mind though that something that is “unhealthy” might be “healthy” for someone else based on their goals or medical condition. Its all about the right context. HOWEVER, once again we are talking about 10% of your meals, which still means only about once a week. The biggest point I want to make is that your focus shouldn’t be on the 10% of meals, it should be on the 90%. The other thing I want to emphasize is the fact that these are planned single meals and snacks that must fit within your weekly caloric intake, not all day binges that some suggest.

The 90% meals should be a combination of protein, fat, and carbs in ratios that help you reach your goals. For weight loss, that means about a gram of protein for every lb of your targeted body weight. (The same is true if you are trying to put on muscle) So if you weigh 200 lbs but you want to weigh 185 lbs you would consume about 185 grams of protein. Fat intake would be up to half of your protein intake and carbs will vary based on your goals and activity level. For example, someone trying to put on muscle mass or an athlete will need more carbohydrates in their diet than the average person looking for weight loss. These are all estimates and can be adjusted as needed; they are just a good basic guideline to start with.

The sources of your protein, fat, and carbs for the 90% of your meals should be your main focus. Whole food sources including quality meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and certain healthy starches and grains (depending on the goal at hand). A good rule of thumb is if it didn’t grow, run, fly, or swim then don’t eat it. For most people starting out, this is a challenge just in itself. Changing 90% of their meals to some combination of these foods will be enough to make a large difference. This is why in the previous article I talked about making small progressive changes that can lead to long term habitual change. I want to make another point clear however: calories DO matter. This means that besides quality, the QUANTITY of food still needs to be monitored. It doesn’t matter if you only eat things that I just mentioned, if you still eat too much you will not burn as much fat or lose as much weight, if at all.

What a typical meal should look like:

About a palm size portion of protein of your choice ( Grass fed Beef, Eggs, Chicken Breast, Pork, Salmon, etc., some type of vegetable, and a starch like a potato/sweet potato or some oats in equal portions. You should get your fats from the meat sources, eggs, avocados, and cook with things like grass fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.

This article is supposed to be about compliance right? So now lets talk about more ways to help with compliance within the framework of ideas I’ve been talking about. I think the best way to stay compliant within your 90% meals is to have a plan of attack and stick to the plan as much as you can. One of the best ways to stick to a nutritional plan is to limit your choices. Find a few meals that you like, are easy to make, and fit within the framework of your macro nutrient intake (carb, protein, and fats) and stick to them. There will always be ways to spice things up later or add more choices in. Limiting your choices early on helps you take the guessing work out of preparing food and inherently keeps you more disciplined because you only have a couple of meals to choose from. This also forces you to develop good habits. If you eat just about the same things everyday you can form a routine around these meals.

Preparing of multiple meals is also a great way to increase nutritional compliance. If you prepare all your meals ahead of time it keeps you on a plan, and like limiting your choices, you are forced to stay on your plan because the food is already prepared. A big barrier for a lot of people to stay compliant is meal preparation. There is work involved in preparation of meals, and when people are short on time or they just don’t feel like cooking, they look for something quick and easy. What types of foods are usually quick and easy to make? Not usually things that fall into the grow, run, fly, or swim category.

Decrease the amount of times you are eating out. This goes hand in hand with preparing meals ahead of time, which will limit the need for eating out as much. Lets face it, as I already mentioned, most people don’t enjoy meal prep so going out to eat or ordering something is an easy cop out; however, once you decide to go out your chances of sticking to a plan diminish quite a bit, because you really are no longer in complete control of what you are eating. It is easy to get off track when there are so many restaurant and menu choices out there. Not to mention, now you really are not in control of the portion sizes or what exactly is being used to cook the meal. By limiting the times you are out, you avoid temptation, stay on track, and best of all save money.

Limit alcohol consumption. This might be the biggest nutritional hurdle for a lot of people. They don’t realize how many extra calories they are consuming just from alcohol alone. For some it means getting rid of half a day’s worth or even a full days worth of meals in calories each week just by dropping alcohol consumption down! I am not saying to never drink alcohol, but it should be limited to a couple drinks a week or special occasions.

Drink Super Shakes. Even If you prepare all your meals ahead of time there will still be those situations where you need some nutrition in a pinch. Having a few go to super shakes that are quick and easy to make are a good way to stay on track and satiated until you have time to eat more whole foods. But remember, you shouldn’t just live off of shakes, it is necessary to eat whole food as much as you can.

Find out what a super shake includes here.

If all else fails try preparing all your meals from a lean eating cook book. There are many good options out there these days but I would recommend:

Gourmet Nutrition

Practical Paleo (Disclaimer: You would need to add in more carbs when using this one.)

4 hour chef ( Disclaimer: This is more than a cook book but a very interesting read.)

With this information in hand I don’t think anyone should have a problem making some healthier choices, especially if you take the time to make a plan and follow through with it. Using just some of the tips I’ve outlined in these two articles should give you everything you need to be successful. The key is actually making the time not taking the time. You make time for things that are important to you and what’s more important than your health?


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