How to Build a Workout that Works

During our team meeting last week, the topic of program design was brought up. “What is your go-to when laying out a program?” There was also a side discussion as to our titles if we were characters on Game of Throne. So I have to thank Brian "Bmurr" Murry of House Brosville, Ruler of the Gainz Train, Lord of Pull Ups, and Lats of the Dragon, for bringing up the topic. I love talking shop, so this got the juices flowing and inspired this week’s blog.

When it comes to designing a program, there are countless different philosophies, but based on my education background, and the 12 years I’ve spent in this business, I’ve found what I find works best. However, as I tell my clients, nothing is set in stone. The client’s needs and goals will dictate the structure of the program, as well as other factors. A person who can only train twice a week will have a completely different program than a person who can train four times a week.

Regardless, this is my basic workout layout, and I adjust as needed.

Soft tissue release

  • Foam roll, lacrosse ball, etc.

  • Can be client specific or general, it is completely dependent on the need. I always recommend lacrosse balling the arches, and a total body foam roll, at the very least.

Dynamic warm up

  • Assuming the client has no limitations, my dynamic warm up begins as follows:

    • Lateral squats

    • Kneeling hip flexor stretch

    • Elbow to instep

    • Sumo squat toe touch.

  • I always start with those 4, in that order. I want the hips open before moving down the chain.


  • Rapid response (neural activation)

  • Prehab – specific activation drills needed to prevent pain and/or aid in recovery from on injury.

  • Glute and core activation

Plyometrics or Olympic lifts

  • You always want the most neurally demanding movements first.

  • When programming Olympic lifts, I will give a second warm up, if you will, to reinforce mechanics, before going into the actual lift.

    • RDL - light weight, 2-3 sets

    • Front squat (if cleaning) - light weight, 2-3 sets

    • OH squat (if snatching) - light weight, 2-3 sets

    • High pull, light to moderate weight, 2-3 sets

Primary lift(s)

  • The main focus of the workout. This is where I program the “big” lifts; bench, squats, pull ups, and deadlift variations.

  • I will often pair this with another release or activation movement.

Secondary supersets

  • Following the primary lift(s) I will give 2 secondary supersets of 2-3 movements, typically complementing the primary lift.

Accessory work

  • This is where the vanity work comes in, or if clients are looking for variety, fun, etc.


  • Depending on the goal.

There you have it; my basic workout layout, but almost every program I create looks just a little bit different than the last. It all depends on the goal of the workout, and the overarching goal of the program.

So, what does this baby look like in action?

1. Soft tissue release and dynamic warm up (see above).

2. Activation – rest as little as possible.

            Scap push up – kneeling 2x15

            Plank 2x:30

            Clamshells 2x30 ea

3. Primary lift – no rest between exercises, rest 60 seconds between rounds.

            Barbell deadlift 1x10, 1x8, 1x6, 1x15

            Banded monster walks 4x20 ea

4. Secondary – rest 30 seconds between exercises, 60 seconds between rounds.

            Superset 1:

            Lat pulldown 3x10-12

            1-leg RDL 3x10 ea

            Superset 2:

            Push up 3x AMRAP

            Glute bridge – weighted (DB/BB) 3x20

5. Accessory – rest 30 seconds or less between exercises and rounds.

            90/90 bicep curls 3x15 ea

            Ab rollout 3x10

            Tricep press down 3x15

6. Finisher – Perform 10-20 kettlebell swings at the top of the minute, every minute. The remaining time in that minute is your rest. Perform 5-10 sets.

Try using this layout to create a program for yourself, and feel free to share; I’m always here to help.



How to Use Your Period to Your Advantage

We’ve all been there, every month. About a week before your period starts you tend to be overly sensitive, or become so irate you feel violent, or like you may eat your entire kitchen because you have a hunger raging so fiercely that nothing will satisfy you. Then your period actually starts and you think to yourself, “oh wow, all of that insane behavior completely makes sense.” Well, I am here to bring you good news; there is a silver lining to all those gnarly PMS symptoms. You can actually use your female hormones (and the change that occurs throughout the month) to your advantage when it comes to making progress in your physique, and performance in the gym.

Let’s break it down.

The follicular phase (aptly named because it is the period in which the follicle, which contains the egg, is maturing), begins immediately after you finish menstruating. Days 0-14. It is characterized by increasing estrogen, lower progesterone, and an average body temperature.

From there, you move into ovulation, which takes place around day 14. In the ovulation phase, your estrogen level peaks and progesterone starts to increase. You'll also notice you start to feel warmer.

From day 15 to 28 of your cycle, you'll enter the luteal phase (where the follicle becomes the corpus luteum, after it releases its egg). The luteal phase is characterized by high estrogen and progesterone, with progesterone being more dominant, and your body temperature remaining higher than normal. Toward the end of the luteal phase (PMS and menstruation) there is a steep decline of both estrogen and progesterone.

Shall we break it down even more?

Estrogen increases insulin sensitivity, while progesterone increases insulin resistance. Estrogen and progesterone are both anti-cortisol hormones. Even more, estrogen is a muscle building hormone, while progesterone may interfere with muscle development.

To summarize, the follicular phase = more estrogen, the beginning of the luteal phase = high estrogen AND progesterone, and later in the luteal phase (premenstrual) = decline in estrogen and progesterone.

What does all that mean?

The follicular phase (day 0-14) is the time to focus on progress. Take advantage of your hormones being at an optimal level for your performance in the gym. Your body will also be more prone to utilizing muscle glycogen to fuel exercise during this stage, meaning your body will use those carbs. It is also seen that this phase allows for greater pain tolerance, a higher maximum voluntary force generation capacity, as well as increasing levels of endurance.  Bottom line, this is a time of less fat storage, some fat burning, and muscle gain. Bump up the training volume and bring the intensity.

During ovulation (day 14), your strength levels will still be high and you may notice the highest sheer force generation capacity during this phase. If you want to set a PR, now is the time to try. Just keep in mind that you may also be at a higher risk of injury. As estrogen skyrockets to its highest point during this phase, it can impact collagen metabolism and also influence your neuromuscular control. So work hard, but make sure you're using proper form. Your metabolism will also be starting to climb at this point, so if you're feeling a little extra hungry, understand that this may very well be why.

During the luteal phase (day 15-28), with your body temperature higher than normal, you'll experience higher cardiovascular strain and a decrease in time to exhaustion. In addition to this, you may be retaining excess water weight due to PMS, feeling sluggish, workouts are harder to get through, cramps, back pain, etc; but I did promise a silver lining.

One of the many badass things about being a woman, and one of the most fabulous things about having a period, your body will rely more heavily on fat as a fuel source during the luteal phase, instead of muscle glycogen. Bottom line, the beginning luteal phase is a time of less muscle building, but good fat burning. The later luteal phase is more catabolic (i.e. burning fat and muscle).

Keep in mind, your craving for high carbohydrate foods will increase. Your serotonin production will be lower, and your instinct will be to eat more carbs, as they cause a rapid release of serotonin, instantly providing a mood boost and natural high. Hello cravings! However, due to insulin sensitivity now being at its lowest point, and the fact that you might be lowering the intensity of your workouts due to your high fatigability, you need to keep your carb intake under control.

Not only are you utilizing fat for fuel more efficiently during workouts, at this time, but exercise boosts serotonin naturally, so your workouts will help to curb the cravings.

With the higher metabolic rate and ability to use fat for fuel, this is the prime time to add in some LISS cardio (i.e. brisk walking, 30-60 min), and a lower carb, lower calorie phase to kick-start fat burning.

Weekly breakdown.

Week 1 & 2 (Follicular Phase - days 0-14)

  • Up the intensity and challenge yourself.

  • Increase loads.

  • Go for a PR.

  • Total body weight training 3-4x/wk.

  • HIIT or metcon 1-3x/wk.

  • Normal calorie and carb intake, with a larger portion timed post-workout.

Week 3 (Beginning Luteal Phase - days 15-21)

  • Listen to your body.

  • Stay focused – cravings and fatigue will challenge you.

  • Body uses fat for fuel more efficiently.

  • Metcon, HIIT, and/or sprints 3-5x/wk.

  • Restorative and corrective activities; foam roll,  yoga, meditation.

  • Daily LISS (i.e. brisk walking), 30-60 min.

  • Normal (or slightly lower) calorie intake with low carbs.

Week 4 (Late Luteal Phase - days 22-28)

  • More catabolic (burn fat and muscle). BCAAs may help during this phase.

  • Metcon, HIIT, and/or sprints 3-5x/wk.

  • Restorative and corrective activities; foam roll,  yoga, meditation.

  • Daily LISS (i.e. brisk walking), 30-60 min.

  • Normal (or slightly lower) calorie intake with low carbs.

*Note: These a merely suggestions. You need to experiment and figure out what works best for your body. These were also created with the goal of fat loss in mind. If you're training for something else, it will most definitely look different.

As you become more aware and in tune with your body, you’ll discover what works best for you throughout the month. You’ll know when you can push it, and when you need to give yourself a break. I highly recommend tracking your period. I use an app, but you’re welcome to go old school and write it on your calendar. Knowing where you’re at in your cycle, and learning how to adjust your training and nutrition accordingly, can be a game changer. The goal is get to the point where you can continue to make progress, while feeling your best all month long.




15 Facts About Weight Loss and the Menstrual Cycle

The Hormone Cycle and Female Lifters

The Female Body Breakthrough

How to Deal When Shit Hits the Fan

2015 was a whirlwind year; 

  • My beloved grandfather passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer, and I am so thankful to say I was with him at the end.

  • Discovered I was pregnant.

  • Planned my wedding.

  • Got married.

  • After 5 wonderful year of owning my own personal training business (and 8 years living in LA) I closed up shop and moved to Santa Fe, NM (my husband’s hometown), officially making myself unemployed (for the first time since I was 16).

  • I gave birth to my daughter.

  • I became a stay-at-home-mom who worked from home.

To say I was stressed is an understatement. To combat such major life stressors, or when things are just busier, you have to have a strategy, otherwise that shit can paralyze you. 

“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

1) Mindset.

First and foremost, your mindset is everything. Life is 5% what happens to us and 95% how we react to what happens to us. It rarely goes as we have planned. Life is always going to throw obstacles in your path, so you’ve got to have the mental fortitude to adjust and keep pushing forward. 

Life is an adventure my friends, and a beautiful one at that, if you choose to see it that way.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?” - Ernest Hemingway

2) Sleep 8 hours.

Yes, this might feel impossible when you have a million things to do, but sleep is crucial. I guarantee the fastest way to burn yourself out, get sick, crave nothing but junk food, and generally be miserable and unproductive, is if you skimp on sleep.

Here’s the catch, when you get enough of it, you are actually more productive the following day.

You can read more on the importance of sleep here. – link to sleep blog.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris

3) Exercise for, at minimum, 30 minutes.

The gym is my sanctuary and the weights, my therapist. Time away only makes me feel worse.

“But how can I possibly get a quality workout in 30 min,” you ask? I am the master of the 30 min workout, and it goes a little something like this:

  • 5 min warm up: foam roll and dynamic stretches.

  • 10 min HIIT: treadmill, KB swings, med ball slams, rower… the options are endless.

  • 15 min AMRAP circuit: choose 6-8 exercises, pick your reps, set your timer, and crush it.

Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am!

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” - Thomas Jefferson

4) Daily brisk walk.

My favorite time for a walk is first thing in the morning. I brew my coffee and head out the door. The blood flow + caffeine wakes you up and gets those brain cells firing, and it’s going to lead to a much more productive day. 

A daily walk (and regular workouts) is essential to keeping my positive mindset. 

“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” – Amit Ray

5) BONUS! 

Quiet time with stretching, meditation, foam rolling, hot showers/baths, reading, yoga and power naps will make you feel recharged and help to bring back mental focus. Restorative downtime might feel like a luxury, but self-care is of the upmost importance, especially during those high stress times in life.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” - Marcus Aurelius

I made it through, hands down, the craziest year of my life, and I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and coach for it. Make yourself the priority and you will get through your stressful times with grace and strength.



My Best Body

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

There has been an incredible shift in the fitness industry; gone are the days of the never-ending pursuit of perfection. It’s all about love for our bodies these days, and I dig it. There is one idea that I can’t get behind though; the idea that we need to accept our flaws. Let me elaborate.

I was in the best shape of my life when I discovered I was pregnant; 163 lb, 15% body fat, lifting 5-6x/wk, cardio twice a day, everyday, nothing but chicken, veggies, and brown rice.

Looking back, my body was rockin, but it was exhausting. I can’t say I hated my body, but I always sought to improve it; if only my abs showed a little more, if only my saddlebags were a little smaller, and it was never enough. Then I got pregnant.

During my pregnancy I was lucky, I was able to stay very active. My workouts did change throughout my pregnancy, but I was able to go hard up until I delivered. I lifted 4-5x/wk and would walk or hike every day. Obviously looking good was no longer a priority, but I wanted to stay strong, for the pregnancy, for labor, and to hopefully recover with a bit more ease.

I was 183 lbs when I went into labor, 20 lbs heavier, and I told my husband, "Give me 3 months and I'll be in better shape than before."

Enter Jameson; my daughter, my world.

My body has changed.  

At my last doctor appointment I was 140 lb, body fat percentage; who freaking knows. I get little home workouts in, 15-20 min, whenever I can. Jameson and I try to go for a walk every day, but being that it’s winter here in Santa Fe, some days are just too cold.

As mommas, it can be hard to embrace our new form. There are marks, saggy skin, maybe a completely new shape. Some might see these as flaws, but not this momma. My body has changed, without a doubt, but it has changed in the best possible way. I look at my body now and I am in awe. I am forever grateful for this incredible body of mine; it protected and nourished my daughter for 9 months, it pushed her out into the world so I could finally see her, snuggle her, smell her, and watch her grow. 

My stomach is squishy, and the skin has clearly been stretched. I didn’t have a lot on top to begin with, so I thought I would be immune to the post-breastfeeding boob sag, but alas, my tiny tatas hang low. And the stretch marks I have across my breasts, as a result of producing the sustenance my little girl needs to builds her immune system and aid in her growth, they are my hard earned tiger stripes, and I wear them with pride. And momma, you should too. 

“Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”

- Ram Dass

I think the miracle that is childbirth has been lost on the masses, because we’ve been doing it since the beginning of time, but momma, you brought another human being into the world. You are a freaking rock star. You are more than marks. You are more than squishy skin and saggy breasts. And you are so much more than the number on the scale.

My favorite part of this new mom bod? I love my biceps. When my clients ask how to get sleek arms, I always suggest carrying a baby around all day.

I will always love lifting and feeling strong, and I will always seek self-improvement (in all areas, not just fitness), but I will never look at my body with the same critical eye I once had. 

This is my best body; marks and squish included, and I couldn’t be more proud.



“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

- Oscar Wilde

How to Hit Your Training Goals

I've seen it all too often in the years I've spent in the fitness industry; people who feel they've tried it all and nothing works, they just can't reach their goals. It's incredibly frustrating, and one of the reasons people may seek out a coach, like myself. Over the years I've found not being able to achieve one's fitness goals usually comes down one, or a few, things.

What’s your motivation and where are you at?

Why do you want it? Why do you really want it? What do you like about what you’re currently doing? What would you like to change about your current routine? What could you do better? What are you not doing that could be beneficial? Re-assessing your motivation can drastically change the way you view your goals, or may make you change your goals altogether. Maybe you haven’t reached your goal yet because you just don’t want it anymore, and that’s ok. Just set your sights on something else.

What does success look like to you? 

Maybe you’ve reached a plateau. Maybe you’re bored or stuck or need to change your training. Or maybe, what you define as success is unrealistic. You need to be honest with yourself. You have to be realistic. Now, I’m not giving you the go-ahead to be lazy, or not push yourself, but there’s nothing wrong with being reasonable and making sure you believe your goal is achievable, based on who you are as a person, and what else is going on in your life. Side note, it's actually quite difficult to truly reach a plateau, so that's most likely not the reason you haven't achieved your goal yet.

Consistency is key.

The key to progress is consistency; consistency in healthful food choices, and consistently getting your workouts in. You could be given pretty much any program on the planet, and if you do it consistently, you're going to see changes. Again, let's be honest, were you giving your all during your workouts? How many of those workouts did you get in over the course of this particular training phase? And, this is always a touchy subject, but what about your food choices? Maybe you were near perfect Monday-Thursday, but what did your Friday-Sunday look like? Because I promise you, if you're getting every workout in, and eating "really, really well," you would have seen results.

Re-focus your goals.

We’ve re-evaluated your motivation. We’ve discussed what success would look like for you. You've reflected on your consistency in training and nutrition. Now it’s time to re-focus your goals. Ask yourself; why do I want it? What do I expect to get out of achieving this? What are the sacrifices I’d have to make? Can I make those sacrifices? Can I be consistent?

Break it up.

If you have more than one goal, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself, or your body. Break your goals up. Which one will take the longest? Which one do you want the most? What about your time? Will your new goal(s) and other aspects of your life, such as family and career, interfere with one another? These are all things that are very important to take into account.

Re-evaluate periodically.

It’s important to avoid attempting an unrealistic goal, boredom, or hitting the elusive plateau, by re-evaluating your goals and where you’re at periodically. Use the steps from above, as well as progress photos, body weight, BF%, and circumference measurements, to re-assess and make sure you’re still heading in a positive direction.

Remember though, the ultimate goal of any program is progress, not perfection, and to be the best version of you.



Shine Bright

Life can be tough, there's no doubt about it. Unfortunately it can be all too easy to let an imperfect situation get the best of you. It can be so easy to react. Reactions are driven through emotion. They are impulsive and lack cerebrate. Of course, we’re all allowed to have a bad day, and of course you’re allowed to vent when you need to, but you’ve got to be able to pick yourself up and move on. Life rarely goes as we have planned. It is going to throw curve balls. Don't be a victim of life; you have to have the mental fortitude to adjust and keep moving forward. When you break it down, life is 5% what happens to you, and 95% how you respond. 

Like most, I find it difficult to be around negative people. Being around someone who is constantly in the negative is draining. You might not even realize how much it affects you until you finally let them go. Every relationship you have; friends, significant others, family… they should be about love, support, and empowering each other. In true partnerships, and real friendships, we lift each other up, challenge each other, and always push to make each other better. It’s about nourishing each other’s light, and helping each other shine brighter. But you must keep in mind, it is so important to cultivate your own happiness, and shine bright on your own, before you can ever hope to help others shine. And you cannot look to others to bring you happiness. True happiness has to come from the self.

I have always lived my life by one particular rule; if you do not bring something positive to the table, if you do not influence my life in a way that lifts me up, I don’t have time for you. I give everything I have to the important relationships in my life (as most of us do), and if you’re not going to give me that same love/respect/support that I give you, you’re out. I know it sounds harsh, and sometimes it’s easier said than done, but when you’re finally brave enough to let go of whomever it may be that is dulling your sparkle, you’re going to feel like a new person, and your light will once again shine bright.

You have every right to a beautiful life, so shine bright, show the world just how amazing you are, and never let anyone dull your sparkle. The brighter you shine, the more you’ll positively influence the people around you, and that means you can affect change across the globe.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

Shine on.



Too Tired to Workout?

This is a question I get asked all too often, and I completely understand the feeling. While your initial reaction to feeling pooped at the end of your day might be to skip your workout and head home, I wouldn't recommend it. Unless you're sick or you've been over training, a lower intensity workout is better than nothing. Something is always better than nothing.

Just go. 

Depending on what my workout was 1-2 days before, I often feel stiff and sore, which isn’t the most encouraging feeling when I’m going into another workout. It isn’t until I get going in my warm up that I start feeling good. That being said, start by just getting yourself to the gym. That alone can be enough to get you amped for your workout. 

Get moving.

Next, do a dynamic warm up. Get your blood flowing. Roll out, dig in with that lacrosse ball, stretch, brisk walk on the TM, corrective exercises, etc. If you feel up to your full workout once you're warm, go for it. If not...

Bring down the intensity.

If you’ve warmed up and you’re still feeling rundown, cut out any explosive moves (plyometics or Olympic lifts). If that’s not enough, dial down the intensity of the rest of your workout by decreasing sets, reps, and weight, and increasing rest time between sets.

Make it earlier.

Having been in the fitness industry for over 10 years now, I can tell you that most people perform significantly better in the morning, or mid-day, before they’ve killed themselves all day at work. The day's stress hasn't come into play yet, so you’ll be able to give everything you’ve got to your workout, which will increase the speed at which you see performance gains and body composition changes. 


Lastly, if you are going to workout after work, you have to make it a priority. Put your workout in your calendar as an appointment, bring your gym clothes to the office with you so you can change there, and leave with the mindset of going to workout. If weekdays really are a struggle for you, shoot for 2 workouts during the week and get 2 more in on the weekends. Make sure you’re taking periodic breaks during your day to get up, away from your desk, and stretch or go for a little office walk, stay hydrated (goal is at least 2L H2O per day), and eat healthy protein based snacks. These things will help keep your energy up throughout the day, and increase your chance of making it to the gym after work.

Bottom line, If you want the results, you have to put in the work. But I always want you to be kind to yourself; if you really need the rest, take it.



The Many Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut has become one of my favorites. It has so many uses, it's kind of like duct tape. I always buy several jars at a time, so I never run out completely. Below I’ve listed my main uses, and the benefits of it, for you guys, but feel free to comment below if you have uses you think other readers might find useful.

Eat it.

Assuming you don't already have a heart condition, coconut oil can actually have heart health benefits. Any recipe calling for vegetable oil can be replaced with coconut oil. It has a high heat tolerance, so it’s great for stir-frying. It’s also great for baking, or as a dairy-free replacement to butter.

You can take it as a supplement for daily energy.

Add to your coffee as a dairy-free creamer.

It’s high Lauric acid and MCFA content helps boost metabolism and to utilize fat for fuel, it can help improve cholesterol ratios and insulin levels, it’s an immediate source of energy when eaten and isn’t stored as fat, it improves brain function, and it has been shown to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Body lotion and facial moisturizer.

Rub coconut oil into the skin as a basic lotion. It actually helps to increase sun tolerance and avoid burning, and it has a naturally occurring SPF of 4. It can help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, help skin heal faster after injury or infection, and relieve sun burns, poison oak, and bug bites.

As a facial moisturizer it can help reduce the signs of aging, heal acne, and can lighten age spots. I use a facial moisturizer with a higher SPF during the day, and the coconut oil at night as a deep moisturizer.

It also works to protect a baby's bum from diaper rash, by creating a protective barrier.

Eye-makeup remover.

Place a couple drops on a cotton ball and rub onto eye lids. It will help break up the makeup so you can then wash your face without adding the harmful chemicals of store-bought eye-makeup remover.

Oil pulling.

It’s weird, but it works. The whole idea is that the oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.

Take 1-2 Tbs and swish in mouth for 20 minutes. No more, and no less. (I usually do it when I’m in the shower). Spit oil (and toxins) into the garbage, rinse mouth with warm water, and then brush teeth.

Your hair.

Put a tiny dab in your hands, rub together, and smooth through hair. It will help get rid of friz and prevent split ends. You can also use it as an incredibly intensive natural conditioner. Rub it into dry hair, put a shower cap on, leave for several hours, and then shampoo and condition as normal.



How to De-Bloat Quickly

So you over-indulged… Now what? The last thing you should do is feel guilty, or punish yourself with brutal workouts and/or severely restricting food. I happened. Time to move the hell on.

It happens to everyone, even us fitness pros. You go on vacation, attend a wedding, celebrate your birthday, and you don’t stick to your nutritional plan (because you’re human, and life is meant to be enjoyed), and now you’re feeling bloated, lethargic, and gassy. Well, I have good news.

I can help.

I’ve got a few strategies to help you overcome the nutritional debauchery you engaged in. You can use just one, or intermix them, it’s really going to be based on how you feel while doing them.


I know, a few lines up I literally said not to punish yourself with severely restricting food, but intention is everything. That bloat you’re experiencing is due to digestive discomfort. You probably ate some foods that were irritating to your digestive tract and now you’re suffering the consequences. Fasting, in this sense, is not meant to be a punishment, but as a way to give your poor body a break from digesting altogether. You can safely fast for 12-36 hrs. If you’re new to fasting, start small. If you have a bit more experience, and already know you feel good while fasting, go for the longer time.

Fasting should make you feel more aware and lighter. It should be a pleasant experience. If you can’t keep your mind off food, are having headaches, and not feeling well; it’s time to break the fast and eat.

Stick to liquids.

This is not my attempt to plug some idiotic juice cleanse. I absolutely do not recommend doing them, (Adam Bornstein sums it up nicely here).

Again, digestive discomfort. Food in liquid form is MUCH easier for your body to digest. I recommend using a high quality protein as your shake base, and then add whole, nutritionally dense foods; fruits, veggies (avoid the cruciferous stuff; broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), ground flax seed, coconut oil, and cacao nibs.

You’ll be eliminating the irritating foods and giving your digestive system a little help by giving it a liquid diet, rather than actually eating the whole foods.

And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The more water, the better.

Helpful supps.

Glutamine and probiotics can both be helpful with bloating. Glutamine has been seen to actually help heal an irritated digestive tract, and the probiotics bring the good bacteria back to your gut, which will help get things moving again.

Cut the crap.

Stick to foods you know make your belly feel good. Any foods you know cause distress, you should avoid as much as possible, but at the very least, for the next few days after you overindulged. Keep your sodium intake to a minimum as well.

I hope you find these strategies useful, as travel and wedding season are upon us. Go out there, eat clean, train hard, and enjoy your indulgences when they occur. Don’t let them set you back.



SLEEP - The Missing Link


When people think weight loss, they usually think about exercise, proper nutrition, drinking water, taking supplements, etc. What most people forget to look at is sleep. Your quality, and quantity, of sleep plays a HUGE role in you health and fitness goals.

Your body does the most recovering during sleep; recovery of your muscle and brain. Working out actually causes muscle damage. Sleep is where the muscles repair and you make strength gains. It is a significant stimulator for growth hormone release, which is a natural agent for cell growth and reproduction. Sleep also appears to improve muscle memory, with the most benefits after 7 hours of sleep.

Individuals who get in extra sleep are more likely to perform better at work in workouts, and/or at their sport, have a better mood, and have increased alertness.

When deprived of sleep, our level of cortisol (the stress hormone) raises, which interferes with tissue repair, growth, and increases fat storage. Lost sleep has also been show to affect the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for focus, concentration, decision making, reaction time, and more. Once sleep deprivation has reached a certain level (differs from person to person), it has been shown to hinder cognitive response, similarly to what's seen with intoxication. (If you normally sleep 8 hrs, but you only get 6, the impact is roughly comparable to a 0.05 alcohol level).

When looking at performance, it looks as though sleep deprivation may affect your body's ability to metabolize glucose efficiently. This causes the time it takes for you to reach exhaustion to lessen and increases the perception of how had you're working, because your body does not have the energy to work at it's normal capacity. Fatigue also masks your exertion level. You "max out" well before you actually should.

Sleep deprivation is cumulative, and it takes time to fix that "sleep debt". Many individuals accumulate large sleep debt by not obtaining their nightly sleep requirements. You should try to extend nightly sleep for several weeks before any kind of athletic event to help reduce sleep debt. If nerves keep you up the night before, don't stress, that's normal. What's important is your regular sleep habits. The greater your training intensity, the greater your sleep needs. And if you're not sleep deprived, studies show an extra hour may help increase your athletic performance.

When tired, form goes south. This can lead to injuries and forming bad habits in your movement patters.

Unplug at least 30 minutes before bed. You want your brain activity to slow down. Try meditation, or some gentle yoga, which may help you unwind for better quality sleep.

Minimizing light and noise level is key to quality sleep. Your body will absorb the smallest amount of light, which will reduce your secretion of melatonin (natural sleep hormone). Close your curtains, block the light from appliances, even the light from your alarm clock can inhibit your sleep. If you can't minimize noise, try a white noise machine for soothing background noise.

My caffeine rule: NONE after 2 PM. Even chocolate. Caffeine has a half life of up to 7 hours, so if you consume it too late in the day, it has the potential to greatly affect your sleep.

Alcohol has also been seen to inhibit your deep REM sleep, so try to limit your alcohol consumption.

Consumption of cheery juice, before bed, has actually been shown to increase melatonin production. This allows individuals to fall asleep faster, and achieve a better quality sleep.

Early risers tend to be more active, because they have longer daylight hours to be active in. It's actually been shown that, comparing work in the early hours of the day, to work completed in the late night hours, work done in early hours is more significant (larger projects), whereas late night work is more menial (minor tasks).


Any level of exercise seems to make for better rest, but vigorous physical activity enhances deep sleep.

Now get out there and sleep like a champ.