I’ve been a little M.I.A. from the social medias and blog-o-sphere this week. We are in the process of painting and prepping our new house, getting ready to move in. To say it’s been busy would be an understatement.
So, if you’ve missed me, sorry.
However, I wanted to pop in, say “hi” and give you some quality content at least once this week.
So here I am, doing just that.
When it comes to getting stronger, getting leaner, or getting healthier, most people lack one thing.
It’s not the perfect meal plan, or the perfect exercise regimen. It’s probably not a lack of information, or a need to do more research.
What is it? Consistency.
I am a big believer that a half crocked plan done consistently will get you further than the perfect plan done for a short period of time.
Imagine you take the time to plan everything “perfectly”. Your meals, exercise, sleep, hydration, stress management-everything is planned to a “t”. And you follow this plan for a few days, then don’t for three days. Then you get back at it for one or two more days, and then abandon it altogether. How much progress do you think you will have made?
On the other hand, what if you didn’t worry about getting everything perfect, but just made a few changes that you could keep consistently. Say, eating more vegetables everyday, and planning all your dinners for the week. And, what if you’re able to do that 5-6 days a week for the next two months. Think you might have better progress than the first scenario?
Now, if you think I’m advocating poor planning, you’re missing the point.
The point is that you need to focus more on being consistent than getting everything right.
Maybe it’s time to stop “planning” and start doing. And start doing more consistently. It might take you further than all your planning ever has.
If you missed last weeks “Abs of Adamantium” post, you can read it here, as well as get my explanation for the title of this series.
Today’s post, I’m pretty sure, is something you haven’t seen before. I developed these around a year ago, and quickly began implementing them in my clients programs…because they’re awesome.
A little background on properly training your core…typically we think of training the abs via crunches and sit ups. I discussed this in more detail in the post of linked above. In addition, one of the primary roles of the abs is to stabilize your torso. Not to bend it forward like a sit up, but to keep it from bending.
This movement is classified as an “anti-lateral flexion” movement. Put simply, this means resisting forces that are trying to bend you sideways.
There are a bunch of ways to create anti-lateral flexion, but this one (I am 99.9993% sure) will be brand new to you.
Statue Of Liberty’s
The Set Up:
Attach a band around a heavy dumbbell, bench, or cable column…basically anything that wont move.
Brace your abs tight. Imagine that someone is going to punch you in the stomach, or that you’re constipated and are trying to get things going. That kind of abdominal tension is what you’re looking for.
Raise the band overhead, while maintaining that abdominal tension.
Resist leaning towards the band.
You should feel almost all of the work in your abs, and not in your shoulder.
Hold for 10-20 seconds per side.
Give them a shot and let me know how you like them!
This morning I’ll be heading to close on our new house. EEK! Needless to say, we’re pretty excited to be spending the next several hours signing papers. Seriously.
But before I head out, I wanted to drop something here for you all to chew on.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
In James Clears book, “Atomic Habits”, he discusses the power of small habits, and how they add up over time to make huge changes.
(By the way, I highly recommend this book. It’s an enjoyable read and full of practical nuggets of wisdom. Even though I’ve been preaching the benefits of small, sustainable habits for a long time, I learned a lot from this book.)
In his book, Clear talks about how winners and losers have the same goals.
He writes, “Goal setting suffers a serious case of survivorship bias. We concentrate on the people who end up winning-the survivors-and mistakenly assume their ambitious goal led to their success while overlooking all of the people who had the same objective but didn’t succeed.
Every Olympian wants to win the gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. And if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers.”
So what does then?
Small changes, developed into habits, and then built upon over time.
Let me be very blunt.
Your continued attempts to completely exclude entire food groups, restrict food choices, punish yourself for eating “bad” foods, and take on every possible healthy behavior at once in an effort to lose weight has never worked.
It has never worked, because it will never work.
To continue to make attempts in the same manner will continue to leave you frustrated, unhealthy and feeling like you aren’t cut out to be a healthier, leaner, or more fit person.
It’s a nasty cycle that keeps you unhappy and keeps you spending money on BS diets and products that promise “quick and easy”.
You have to stop the cycle.
You have to believe in yourself.
You have to believe that you are capable of investing in yourself.
That you are someone who deserves to feel good, and be healthy. And that the reason you might not feel that way is not because it might be true, but because an awful industry that claims to be invested in your health is really only invested in lining their pockets by preying on your desperation.
You can do this, but you have to change your habits. You have to develop new and healthier habits. You HAVE to. It’s non-negotiable.
Make very small changes. Do them consistently. You might think that taking on one small thing at a time sounds like too little, but ask yourself how taking on too much at once has worked out for you in the past. Has it got you anywhere? At all?
Guess what? Developing habits takes time. It’s hard work. It’s not easy.
But it’s doable. And it’s worth it.
If you want to work with someone, I’m here. This is what I do everyday-help people change their habits.
Either way, you have to do the hard work. You have to take small steps before you can take big ones. It sounds cliche, but it’s the only way you’ll ever do this long-term.
If you’ve been following any of my social media accounts for long, you might be familiar with my thoughts on motivation.
Saying it “sucks” might be a little strong. Motivation, in and of itself, doesn’t suck…but the way that we use it and try rely on it does.
Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”. Did you catch that? “Desire”…”willingness”. Those words speak to feelings. Motivation is entirely reliant on what you WANT to do.
Here are some things I want to do on a regular basis:
Stay up late
Take a nap
Eat an entire bag of gummy bears in one sitting
Eat second and third helpings, or until I’m uncomfortably full
Have cereal at every meal
I’m super motivated to do all of those things. I would never have to hype myself up, or talk myself into doing any of them.
Here are some things I’m rarely motivated to do:
Stop eating before I’m full
Make sure I’m getting fruits and vegetables each day
Go to bed earlier so I’m well rested
Meal plan for the week
Grocery shop for my meal plan
But I tend to do these things on a regular basis.
The thing about motivation is that, like ALL feelings, it fades. Maybe you just talked to your friend who has been eating better and exercising regularly, and she’s lost 20 lbs. You get all fired up and say, “My turn!” So you go to the store, buy a bunch of fruits and veggies, and lean meats. You call the gym where you have a membership, but haven’t set foot inside of for months, just to make sure they’re still open. They are. Whew! You feel so ready and pumped to get started on the road to a healthier you.
Fast forward a week, or two. Maybe six. Still buying those fruits and veggies? Still using that gym membership? There’s a good chance the answer is, “no”.
Sound familiar? Probably.
I think we’ve all been there more times than we would like to admit. Why? Because we tend to rely solely on motivation…if we “feel like it”. If we are “in the mood”.
If you are solely relying on whether or not you feel like eating better, or if you feel like exercising, you’re probably going to spend a great deal of your days not doing either of those.
So what’s the alternative?
Do you know what the definition of momentum is? ” Strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.”
Strength or force that comes about from a series of events…like choosing to do the things that will move you closer to your goals, even when you don’t feel like it.
That’s how momentum is built. By repeated action. Repeated actions become habits. They become what you simply do. Day in and day out.
Motivation can be great for a jump start. Used appropriately, it can be the impetus to get you started. But that’s all it is. It’s the spark that can start the fire. It can burn hot for a moment, but quickly fades away. Momentum is fanning the flames, tending to the fire, and feeding it more wood so it can burn hotter.
If you want long term success, you have to quit relying on motivation to get things done. It will never work out. Build momentum. Build strength and force to what you are trying to accomplish, buy taking repeated action.
That guy doing squats on a Bosu ball while juggling kettlebells? It looks cool, and will get a lot of likes on the Gram, but it’s probably a pretty stupid idea for just about everyone (read: everyone).
People think “new” and “inventive” are synonymous with better. When it comes to exercise, that’s often not the case.
(Looking for intelligent workouts that are focused on developing strength without needing to be an acrobat? Let’s chat about that.)
That being said, sometimes I run across something I haven’t seen before that makes me go, “that makes a lot of sense.”
The Offset Dumbbell Rotational Squat is one of those exercises.
I swiped these from Nick Tuminello, who has a penchant for coming up with inventive exercises that actually make sense.
The Offset Dumbbell Rotational Squat does several things that I like. First, it’s sort of a hybrid of a single leg and double leg exercise. The offset load challenges the weighted side much more, but you have the benefit of the stability you get with two legs. Second, the offset load creates a unique demand in your abs. Uneven loading forces your abs to stabilize your torso, so you don’t lean to one side. Third, the rotational component gets people moving in ways that they tend to not move very much. We’re good at forward and backward, but rotating? We don’t do that very often. And when we do, we tend to put all that movement in our low backs. This exercise doesn’t just get people rotating, but rotating correctly.
OK, enough of the “why”, let’s get to the “how”.
Offset Dumbbell Rotational Squat
Keep your chest tall, and abs tight throughout the movement.
Keep your knees and torso square. The uneven weight will try to shift you to one side. This is where the abdominal work comes in.
Drive through your feet, and rotate the weighted leg as you stand up.
At the top of the movement, your hips, torso, chest and head should all be pointing in the same direction.
Do not rotate through your low back. You’ll know you’re doing this if your hips aren’t facing the same direction as your torso.
If you’re like most people, you’ve spent the last several days hunched over a desk, and not very active.
It sucks, but that’s the way it goes for a lot of us.
We are a “sit down a lot” society.
All this sitting can cause some problems, one of which is losing mobility and range of motion. Most people describe this as feeling “tight”, or “achy”.
Lack of mobility is also one of the biggest reasons we get injured. In short, if one joint doesn’t have proper range of motion, an adjacent joint will pick up the slack, causing it to move more than it should. This is how injury can occur.
The good news is that we can regain some of that mobility, and feel better pretty quickly. Long-term changes in mobility can take a while, after all we’re working on changing movement patterns that have likely been in place for several years. However, doing some simple drills can help you feel better in the short-term, and doing them consistently can lead to that longer-term increase in mobility that we want.
Some of the most common areas to lose mobility are:
Thoracic Spine (mid back)
Hip Flexors (crease at top of your thigh)
Hip Adductors (inner thigh)
Below are four of my favorite mobility drills to address these commonly problematic areas. The good news is that you can do these anywhere, and need no equipment aside from yourself.
You can take a 5 minute break at the office and do these at your work space. Your body would welcome it. You can do these at home too, while you’re watching TV. Which gives you just about zero reason not to do them. My wife can attest to the fact that it’s not uncommon for me to be watching a season of The Office for the 15th time, after the kids are in bed, and drop down to the living room floor to do some mobility work.
What they do: these open up your chest and shoulders by providing a good stretch at the bottom of the movement, encourage healthy movement in the shoulder blades, and prepare the mid-back for movement which can help with lack of mobility in the thoracic spine.
-Keep hands as flat against the wall as possible.
-Pull your shoulder blades down as you move your arms down.
-Squeeze your back tight at the bottom of the movement
-Perform 8 reps
What they do: these help regain spinal extension in the thoracic spine, and provide a good stretch in the lat.
-Keep your elbows as close together as possible, and as high up on the wall as possible
-Keep the movement in the middle of your back
-Avoid moving your hips or low back
-Perform 8 reps
What they do: in short, a bunch. The Yoga Plex helps improve shoulder mobility, thoracic spine rotation and extension, hip flexor mobility, and puts a good stretch in the hamstrings.
-Keep hips forward at the bottom of the movement
-Follow you hand with your face
-Reach your arm as far out as possible while making the arc
Split Stance Adductor Mobilization
What they do: increase mobility in the inner thigh (hip adductor), and feel really good.
-Keep your foot of the straight leg flat on the ground
-Sit butt cheek of the bent leg back towards heel of the bent leg
If you go through this whole routine once, it might take you a few minutes. If you have 5 minutes, you could certainly get through it twice.
You could do this routine as often to twice a day, every day.
Give them a shot and let me know how they go! And if you know someone who struggles with stiffness and minor aches, send this on to them. It might be just what they need to feel a little better.
As I write this, I am sitting at a Starbucks with my tall dark roast coffee, surrounded by two groups of women. These two different groups are having two different, yet similar, conversations about exercise and nutrition.
On one side, there are three women discussing Intermittent Fasting, and not eating after 6pm…which, to be fair, are kind of the same thing.
On the other side, two women are talking about fruit and how it’s fattening.
That’s how those two conversations are different. They are similar in the fact that both groups are talking about their topics with a lot of excitement and hope. I’m hearing “you have to”, “you can’t ever”, and “turns straight to fat”.
They are talking about their respective topics as if they are the magic pill for weight loss.
(I just put my headphones in. I’m so distracted by their conversations that those first few paragraphs took me way too long to write.)
I try not to make assumptions, but I’m going to assume this isn’t the first time they’ve engaged in conversations about specific diets and nutritional practices, and talked about them as if they finally found “the magic pill.”
Let’s be honest, that’s most of us, right? We can probably all recall, whether recently or not, getting sucked into fads and putting all our faith in a certain dietary protocol.
I mean, there was a time right out of college that I was somehow simultaneously doing a low fat diet, and Atkins. I wasn’t really…I was just eating like an idiot and deluding myself.
But, I understand that thinking. And I’m certainly not sitting here judging these women, or thinking negatively about them hoping that they’ve finally found something that will work for them.
But have they, really? I doubt it.
People rarely find long-term success in fad diets that restrict and control food choices. And if they do, there are often other elements of life that suffer. Like not having any friends because you won’t shut up about “doing Keto”.
If there’s not a reliable answer in ever-changing fad diets, what do you do?
Well, here’s my answer-change your habits.
It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it’s often a lot of work. I know, I know…I’m quite the salesman…most people sell “quick and easy”…I sell “hard work and do it for a long time.” Who would be interested in that?
You should be, if you want to make changes you can maintain for the rest of your life.
It’s easy to buy into fads because surely there is something massive we need to change to make progress, right? Most likely not. It’s more likely that there are several smaller changes that need to happen, and that you need to be consistent with those changes for a long time.
Another way to put that is, “Do less. Do it for longer.”
(Sometimes I write sentences like that last one and think, “Man, I’m really smart”, and then a few minutes later I do something like put my car in reverse instead of drive and unsuspectingly launch my self three feet backwards. And I remember that I’m not that smart after all. It is a really good sentence though.)
What if instead of avoiding all carbs for two months, five different times in the last few years, you ate a few more vegetables and drank more water. And you did that almost everyday? Think you might be a little better off than you’ve been with five starts and stops of a diet that completely disrupts your life, only to return to previous eating habits every time? I do.
So what’s your magic pill? It’s making the decision to not buy into quick fixes and restrictive diets anymore. It’s investing in yourself-for life. It’s doing the hard work and striving for increased consistency. It’s looking at your habits, identifying which ones negatively impact your progress, and replacing them with ones that positively impact your progress.
But Mike, that’s not a magic pill at all! Nope, it’s not. Because there is no magic pill. The closest, and only thing is hard work and consistency. Now, get to it.
Everyone thinks they have to do it to lose weight.
Either that, or track macros. Even though a lot of people who have been told to track their macros don’t know what macros are or how to effectively track them. Which is interesting, and one of the many failings of the fitness industry.
But that’s a rant for another time.
There are a few issues I have with counting calories.
First and foremost, it’s pretty inaccurate. In fact, calorie counts on labels can be off by up to 20%.
(I wrote that out for dramatic effect. Did it work?)
That’s a very large potential percentage of error. Let’s say you’re meticulously counting calories, and you come up with 1,500 for the day. 20% error means that you could actually be anywhere from 1,200-1,800 calories for the day.
That’s wildly inaccurate.
There are other factors that can determine how many of those calories you actually absorb too, but again…another time.
All this being said, I’m actually not anti counting calories. In fact, I have clients right now that are counting calories.
Some people like tracking them. It gives them a sense of control, and fits with the way their brains work. As long as they understand that it’s in no way precise, and as long as it doesn’t put them in an unhealthy mindset with food, I’m cool with it.
Now that we’re clear on my stance on calorie counting, let’s look at some other, and simpler, strategies for fat loss.
Keep A Food Journal
One of the simplest ways to eat less food (and thereby eat fewer calories) is to actually pay attention to what you’re eating. A great way to do this is to write it down. Simply, keep track of everything you eat all day long.
This does a couple of things. First, it creates awareness about what you’re eating. That alone can be huge for people, and enough to trigger some fat loss. Can you tell me what you ate for the entire day last Friday? How about Sunday? How about a week ago? Probably not. Keeping a food journal forces you to pay attention to this.
It also gives you some good data you can use to make future decisions. Let’s say for example you’re looking over the last week and notice that you only had vegetables 4 times in those 7 days. Yikes. That can serve as a wake-up call to be more intentional of how many vegetables you’re eating. If you don’t have a food journal, you’re going to romanticize how well you eat (we all do) and think “I eat veggies pretty regularly,” even if you don’t.
Eat From A Smaller Plate
This may seem silly to some of you, but it can actually be quite effective. A smaller plate does a couple of things. First off, mentally it gives the impression of a very full plate. Imagine filling a regular sized plate with all the items you’re having for dinner and leaving a little bit of space between each item. Now transfer all of that food to a plate that is 2 inches smaller. It’s probably not going to fit. And if it does, it’s going to be very full.
Second, using a smaller plate automatically reduces the amount of food you can put on it…because it’s smaller. This means less calories, as long as you don’t go back for seconds. And thirds. And third-and-a-halfs.
Using this strategy can work well because mentally your plate is full, and it feels like you’ve taken generous portions, while in reality you’re eating fewer calories.
If you thought either of the previous strategies I mentioned were simple, this one is really going to knock your socks off. Unless you’re not wearing socks. In that case, I have no ideas what’s going to happen to you.
We are a rushed society. We pride ourselves on being “busy”. Too busy to make plans. Too busy to invest in our own health. Too busy to make a healthy meal, let alone eat it while sitting down. Yet, we have plenty of time for Netflix and social media. Weird.
A nasty by-product of this “busyness” is that when we eat, we tend to eat very quickly. The problem with this is that when we eat quickly we tend to overeat. Hunger cues aren’t instant. And when we eat quickly, we can easily take in too much food before our body says, “Woah! I’m good!”
Slowing down the pace at which you eat gives you a chance to actually listen to your body. That way, when it says, “No more, please,” you can actually hear it before you’ve got an extra 500 calories in you from your third helping in 10 minutes.
You can slow down by putting your utensils down or by taking a drink of water in-between each bite. Or, try setting a timer for 20 minutes, and force yourself to take the entire 20 minutes to eat your first plate. Try it once. I guarantee you’ll be shocked at how long it feels, and at how less food can be more filling.
So there you have it. Three simple, but very effective, strategies for fat loss that don’t require counting calories. Give one a try, and please let me know how they work for you. If you’re interested in further assistance or accountability, feel free to drop me a message and we can discuss the possibility of working together.
As always, feel free to share this with someone you feel could benefit from this information.
Strong abs. Everyone wants them, very few people train to actually have them.
Oh, they may crunch and sit-up themselves to death. But crunches and sit-ups aren’t going to get you get you rock hard abs. They may give you some muscle development which MIGHT help you have some definition, if you’re lean enough. But they aren’t appropriate for most people and aren’t very necessary.
I have clients that do sit-up-like movements, but they’re pretty different than a traditional sit-up, and much safer.
Straight up-most people don’t need to, and shouldn’t be performing them. If you have any history of back pain (which is up to 80% of us), regular sit-ups and crunches should most likely be out of the question.
In short repeated extension (think how you arch your back in the morning to stretch) and flexion (think hunched over at the top of a sit-up or crunch) is not a good idea for the spine. Add to that the fact that we spend so much time in spinal flexion (sitting, watching TV, driving, eating, on the phone) that spending more time spent in that position probably isn’t a good idea.
“OK Mike enough facts, just make my abs strong!”
Ok, ok. Let’s get to a few moves to give you abs of adamantium.
(pssst-you may be wondering why “adamantium” and not “steel”? Adamantium is from the X-Men comic series. It’s the fictional metal that was grafted to Wolverine’s skeleton. It’s indestructible, which is why he was so strong. Like I want to your abs to be. Also, I like alliteration, so…adamantium.)
**A quick note: these moves will not be appropriate for everyone. These are like a challenging plank turned up to 11, or maybe 13. Be smart about whether or not you should attempt these, and please read through the cues so you perform these correctly.**
Fallouts are an intermediate level “anti-extension” abdominal exercise. Anti-extension is simply avoiding sagging through your back-like when people get tired while holding a plank, and their stomach is the closest part of their body to the floor. Don’t do that. It’s not good for a bunch of reasons.
Here’s what they look like:
Here’s how to do them:
-Set up with a TRX, suspension trainer, or rings. Set the handles to around waist height. This will be different for everyone, so you’ll have to play with the height to see what works for you.
-Before you move, brace your abs tight. Imagine someone is going to hit you in the stomach. Or that you’re constipated and trying your best to not be constipated anymore. Yeah, that kind of tight.
-Under control, lean forward, taking the tension in your abs, not your arms and shoulders. Start with a small movement and go lower only as you feel comfortable .
-You should not let your stomach sag, or your low back arch. You should also avoid sticking your butt out on the way back up.
If (IIIFFFFF) you can perform these REALLY WELL, you can try Fallouts Angels. These are like Fallouts, but with painful sprinkles on top. Do I know how to sell these, or what?
These are performed just like regular Fallouts, except at the bottom of the movement you bring your hands out to your sides and then back overhead…like a snow angel. Except there’s no snow. And you’re facing down. And you’re not on the ground. Aside from that, they’re exactly the same.
Again, these are not appropriate for everyone, but if you can perform them well, they are both a great exercises to strengthen your abs. Which is great for performance, relieving low back pain, avoiding injury, and being awesome. All pretty great things in my book.
Reminder: if you are thinking about joining the “New You by the New Year” program, there is just one week left to register! Participants can expect to gain confidence, feel and move better, make progress on their fitness and weight loss goals, and hit 2020 way ahead of schedule. Learn more here.
Know someone who would like to give these movements a try? Share it with them via the social media buttons on this page. Sharing what I’m doing here is always appreciated. So thank you. Very much!
If there’s one thing I like about weekend mornings, it’s the slower pace to the morning. No kids to get ready for school. No rushing off to work. You have a little more time to drink your cup of coffee, or even an extra one. I also enjoy using that extra time to make a breakfast that I don’t normally have time to make during the week.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen frittatas pop up in my stories pretty frequently. That’s because I love them, and so does my family.
They’re simple, versatile, and are a great way to feel satisfied, without feeling loaded down by the typical breakfast appearances of syrup or gravy. (I like syrup and gravy, but just saying.)
I also like frittatas because the keep well in the fridge. You could make one Sunday night and have breakfast ready for the next several days. Meal prep, anyone?
Lastly, I like to load them up with veggies, Because, veggies.
You can tweak this recipe a lot. Substitute in different meats, or go with strictly veggies. Try different cheeses and spices. Just go nuts with it.
But, this combo is one of my favorites:
Bacon and Swiss Frittata.
-1/4 cup milk
-5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
-2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
-1 roma tomato, diced and patted dry
-1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°
In a large bowl, crack all the eggs and give them a decent whisking.
Add in salt and pepper, and give it another quick whisk.
In a medium skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and saute the spinach until it’s just wilted. Maybe a minute or two. Add this to the bowl with the eggs.
Finally add in the chopped bacon and diced tomato, and whisk one more time. You don’t have to pat the tomatoes dry, but I find that if you don’t it makes things a little watery.
Spray a 9×13 pan with some non-stick spray. Pour the mixture into the pan, and sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top.
Pop it in the oven, and set a time for 25 minutes. You may need 5-7 more minutes, but a frittata is best if it’s not overcooked, so better to check too early than too late.
I check the center with a toothpick to make sure it’s cooked through. You can give it a little jiggle if you want-it should give a little jiggle back at you when it’s done.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
If you give this a shot, please let me know how you liked it.
And, as always, feel free to share with someone who might like this.
Remember that New You by the New Year is starting soon. Spots are limited, so if you’re ready to build confidence, eat better, and start 2020 way ahead of schedule, reserve your spot now! You can do that here.
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