5 Rules for Consistent Fat Loss

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So, you want to lose body fat… join millions of people across the world who set out to do just that. What’s the popular recipe for fat loss? Tons of cardio and extreme caloric restriction. Everyone wants to lose weight fast and this is one way to do it. What most don’t realize, is that this could be a recipe for disaster for your body. Although high amounts cardio does burn the most calories, it also makes your body more efficient with calories. This means your body slows down its metabolism because you don’t need the calories while being a lighter body weight. Then on top of that you eat less food. Your body creates a new “set-point” of calories and when you bring calories back up and don’t keep up with high amounts of cardio, your body will store the excess calories as body fat. Nobody wants to lose weight and gain fat. There are ways to prevent this from happening AND set yourself up for consistent fat loss. So, here are 5 rules to follow for fat loss over time!

1. Prioritize Resistance (Strength) Training Over “Cardio”

This is EXTREMELY important. For consistent fat loss, you must prioritize strength training over cardio. Why? Your body adapts to cardio VERY easily. That means your body is becoming more efficient at doing it leading to less calories being burned. In order to burn more calories, you’d have to do EVEN MORE cardio. This isn’t optimal for losing body fat, or overall health. This can put a big strain on your nervous system which will jack up your hormonal system. Not good. It can also impact metabolism in a negative way if you’re doing too much cardio. With your body becoming more efficient, it lets go of muscle it doesn’t need, therefore when your body is at rest (because you have less muscle) you burn less calories because your body doesn’t have to work as hard with less muscle. We want to prioritize strength training. When you strength train and focus on getting stronger, your body adapts very slow and speeds up its metabolism. You will gain muscle and will be able to use many different training variations over time so you never get bored AND most importantly, it is very hard for your body to adapt. This is ESPECIALLY true when you have excellent programming and a coach with you along the way. You can have your training 100% individualized to your goals/lifestyle/needs by filling out my online coaching application HERE. With more muscle, your body burns more calories. This means more fat loss over time.

2. Improve Food Quality

Plain and simple: most people are eating entirely too much processed foods. This is no secret. Chronic illness is higher than ever before and this is largely to do with inactivity and poor food quality (and too much damn food and not enough movement). One way we can surely set ourselves up for consistent fat loss is improving food quality. But, if you’re not eating any veggies and expect to throw yourself into a “quick fix” templated nutrition plan or cut out a whole food group, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This needs to be a slow transition by setting small goals on a daily and weekly basis. Along with that, downloading a tracking app like MyFitnessPal and tracking your calorie intake is very powerful for building awareness of what you’re eating. What many people find is that they are eating high amounts of sugar and processed fats OR severely undereating for the amount of activity and stress in your life. Proper nutrition can be challenging, and many times having accountability is KEY for seeing consistent progress. You can fill out my nutrition coaching application HERE to have your nutrition 100% individualized to your goals/lifestyle/needs. We want to aim to eat whole minimally processed foods 80–90% of the time. I also have a list of food AND how you can figure out maintenance calories in my eBook The Results Triangle. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, shoot me an email btracke@gmail.com and I’ll send one right to you (it also includes a 4 week training program).

3. Have Room for Flexibility

If there is no room for flexibility in a nutrition protocol, there is typically only a short window of adherence. I see this constantly with people who try popular dieting fads. Cutting out whole food groups, thinking they “can’t” have certain foods. What you have to realize is that you can have those foods, it just needs to be in moderation when trying to lose body fat. Since processed foods like cookies, ice cream, pizza, pasta, bread etc. are higher in calories and lower in micronutrients they will be less filling. These foods are meant to taste great and they are easy to overeat. The key is to begin to build awareness. How do we do this? We begin to track our food intake. Just making small changes in the beginning, for example, adding in a serving of vegetables after tracking for a week and realizing you eat none is a great place to start. These small factors begin to add up and have an impact on how we view food. Not only does our relationship with food improve, but we find out how to fit in foods we like in moderation while still losing body fat. The general rule of thumb is that 80% of the time we should be eating whole, minimally processed foods… BUT 20% should be available for flexibility. One cookie isn’t going to derail fat loss. A lack of awareness will.

4. Be in a Calorie Deficit MOST of the Time

To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This can be through nutrition or a combination of nutrition and exercise. BUT many people run into issues because they ignore other physiological factors in their life and stay in a calorie deficit for too long of a period. This can have a negative impact on hormones and can damage biofeedback like sleep quality, energy levels, mood, motivation, sex drive etc. This is what we call metabolic adaptation and when you add calories back in, you gain body fat rapidly because your body has adapted to the new caloric set point you’ve given yourself. There are many ways we can structure a fat loss protocol, but being sure you’re tracking biofeedback on a weekly basis is very important (you MUST have accountability for this, fill out my nutrition coaching application HERE). One of the most popular studies done recently is the MATADOR study. This study took obese individuals and one group was in a consistent calorie deficit, the other was in a calorie deficit for 2 weeks, and then 1 week at maintenance calories. The study found that the group that interrupted calorie restrictions with calorie maintenance “rest periods” lost more body fat than the group that was just in a consistent calorie deficit. This makes sense when we think about the hormonal system and biofeedback. Two weeks into a dieting phase and biofeedback starts to decline, coming out of that calorie restriction to upregulate hormones and improve biofeedback will lead to more adherence and sustainability over time.

5. Hire a Coach (Seriously)

Talked about accountability a little earlier but this is something that HAS to be hit on again. The biggest reason people fail when it comes to health/fitness/nutrition is a lack of accountability. Motivation can get you to the gym after the New Year, but motivation doesn’t last. This is a temporary, just like any other emotion. What people need is accountability. A coach that is going to check in with you on a weekly basis to see if you’ve been attending your training sessions, if you’ve been adhering to your nutrition protocol and tracking biofeedback. If you have a coach and they’re not doing this, fire them. If you don’t have a coach and you’re looking to lose the body fat you’ve always wanted to lose (so you can finally feel comfortable in your swimsuit) fill out this application and let’s get started!

When Motivation Isn’t There… (5 Tips To Stay Consistent With Training & Nutrition)

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Motivation… the most overused term in the fitness and nutrition industry. I’m a trainer/coach and I help people with exercise and nutrition. Motivation is something that most people might think I have every time I step into the gym for my own training sessions. Or every time I’m home, I’m super motivated to eat whole nutritious foods.

I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case. Some days I’m not motivated at all to workout myself. BUT, I’ve incorporated resistance/strength training and eating mostly whole foods as part of my daily routine (no I don’t lift EVERY day, but I make sure I’m doing something active, even if it is just going for a walk) just the same as brushing my teeth is part of my daily routine. Motivation is an emotion just like happiness and sadness. It comes and it goes. Building consistent habits is the best way you can begin to live a healthier lifestyle! Here are the TOP 5 WAYS you can be more consistent with training and nutrition!

  1. TRACK PROGRESS

Tracking progress is VITAL for adherence when you start a healthy resistance training and nutrition protocol. Tracking gym performance (getting stronger, recovery, motivation) is very empowering! If you can see that you’re getting stronger and recovering better, this will make you more motivated to continue to hit the gym. There is much more to tracking progress than just weight on the scale (if you’re trying to lose body fat). When you resistance train, you’re sending a signal to your body to repair and build muscle. As we know, muscle weighs more than body fat. And if you’re resistance training and only tracking scale weight, you might not get an accurate measure of progress because you’re gaining muscle and losing body fat. So, take photos every 4–6 weeks! The mirror is a great way to check and see if you’re making progress with your fat loss and/or muscle gain. Also, pay close attention to how your clothes are fitting. This is another sure way to know your training and nutrition protocol is yielding the results you’re wanting. You can even take measurements on your waist, legs/arms etc. to see how much body fat you’re losing or muscle you’re gaining every 4–6 weeks. Scale weight is just one piece of data, and it’s not the most important!

  1. PLAN AHEAD

This is huge. Many of us have crazy hectic schedules with work, school, family and all the stress that comes with those things. If you don’t have a plan, you’re planning to fail. Plan your exercise programming. If you need help, hire a coach (see number 5) to help you. This takes the guess work out and allows you to have a program right in front of your eyes. The program should not just be a template. It should be something individualized for your goals AND should be changing every 3–5 weeks. This is the same for nutrition. You have to have some kind of game plan for how you’re going to reach your goals (fat loss, muscle/strength gain, performance, overall health etc.). This means building awareness with what you’re eating, but also preparing yourself for your lifestyle. If you know you’re work week is busy, it will be a good idea to prepare food ahead of time. That way when it’s time for lunch or dinner, you’re not going through a fast food line.

  1. MAKE EXERCISE ENJOYABLE

If you don’t enjoy your current exercise routine, I can guarantee that you won’t be able to stick with it for long. Exercise needs to be something you enjoy. There are many variations of resistance/strength training (bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit, or a little of each) so, stick with it for a while (around a year to see real progress) and make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing. You DO NOT need to be on the floor puking after training sessions. You DO NOT need to be extremely sore after every training session. Suffering more doesn’t mean you’re making progress. It just means you’re not going to be able to adhere to your training protocol for the long haul.

  1. STRESS LESS

Stress is the number one destroyer of progress in health and fitness. Here’s a hypothetical situation: a 35-year-old female who wants to be “toned” and lose body fat. She works a super stressful job, has 3 kids that all play sports (so she’s constantly on the go), goes to CrossFit 5x per week and kills it (she’s a former athlete), sleeps 3–4 hours per night and hasn’t been out with her husband in months. Do you see what’s going on here? She is stressed in literally every aspect of her life. Here’s the bottom line; we have to create less stress in our lives if we want to see progress. Lack of progress leads people to give up on their health and fitness goals all of the time. Optimizing hormones has to be a priority. How do you do that? It all comes down to stress management. Having a proper exercise program for YOUR life is important. Prioritizing 7–10 hours of QUALITY sleep has to happen. This is the time where your body can optimize hormone levels. Lastly, you have to make time for things you like to do. Whether it is fitting in a date night every week, going out with friends or watching your favorite Netflix show, there has to be time set in your schedule for doing things you like to do.

  1. GET SOME ACCOUNTABILITY (HIRE A COACH)

Accountability is very impactful. Everyone can use some accountability in certain areas of their life. I hired a coach/mentor for this exact reason. I want to have the accountability check ins for my business to ensure I’m doing everything I can to impact people in a positive way. Same goes for being consistent with training and nutrition. If someone has access to both, including weekly check-ins (and the ability to text them questions etc.), the likelihood of you staying motivated and on track to reach your goals goes way through the roof. If you’re interested in having training and nutrition 100% individualized to your lifestyle, needs and goals AND having someone to hold you accountable, fill out this form and I’ll be in touch. Accountability is KEY for success!

Movement Is The KEY (5 Ways You Can Move More Daily)

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Movement is something that is SEVERELY lacking in modern life, especially in the United States. Modern life has made everything quite convenient. People sit at work, sit in the car when they drive home and then sit some more once they get home. Shoot, I’m sitting right now as I’m writing this blog.

Something else is also happening in the United States… chronic illness. 46% of children under the age of 12 have a chronic illness in the U.S. This directly correlates with modern lifestyle. With the abundance of processed food, lack of awareness around food and sedentary lifestyle, it’s no wonder were experiencing a serious health epidemic.

What can you do? Well I’m glad you asked. Move more. That’s right. In order to live a higher quality of life (and longer one) we just need to move more. Here are 5 ways you can incorporate more movement in your daily life.

Go For a Walk DAILY

This is something that everyone can fit into their schedule. Whether it is 20–30 minutes in the morning or a nice long walk with your significant other and/or your dog at night. This can be very beneficial for both physical AND spiritual health. Yeah, I know it sounds woo-woo but getting outside in nature and getting some sunlight is very powerful. We are alwaysstuck inside during work, when we get home to cook dinner and now with technology, you could legit go for days and not even step a foot outside of the house. Get out and go walk. You’d be shocked at the impact it has on your mental clarity, energy and connection with the world.

Park Far Away

This is a pretty easy one. When you get to your destinations, purposefully park further away. No, I’m not saying that if you’re in a sketchy neighborhood to park far away and run the risk of getting mugged… you should be aware of your surrounding anywhere. Not the point. The point is when you get to work, or go to the grocery store park far away. Challenge yourself to move more. This is really easy but will add up over time.

Take The Stairs

Another super simple one. Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, take the stairs. Taking the stairs will definitely add up over time (you’re on an incline versus a flat surface) and is just another healthy habit to get into. Your body was built to move… it won’t hurt you to climb the steps.

Start An Exercise Program

This is a big one. If you’re not currently doing any kind of resistance training, you should be. For longevity and health, it is WITHOUT QUESTION the best way to train your body. If you want to know why it is superior, click here to read the blog I wrote about it. Many people are very intimidated to start lifting weights and training with resistance. This is understandable and that is why there are coaches and trainers that want to help. There is nothing that brings me more happiness than to see someone progress with their health. This includes getting stronger, losing body fat, sleeping better, having more energy, more focus, better sex drive and the list goes on. If you need help finding a place to start based upon your lifestyle, goals and limitations, fill out this application and we’ll set up a time to do a strategy call to map out an exercise game plan for YOU!

Do Your Chores (Seriously)

Chores suck. Or do they? A lot of things in life are all about perspective. One easy way to get more movement in throughout your day is to do some work around the house. Cleaning, doing dishes, sweeping, mowing (push mower) etc. Anything that you can do that involves moving your body that would be considered a “chore”. This is an easy way to stay active on a regular basis. It is also something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. This means you can be very present and “tone out” any negative stressors going on in your life and just focus on the simple chore at hand. A cool way to start looking at chores is as a way to become a healthier you physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Top 3 Fat Loss Strategies

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Summer is right around the corner and everyone is looking to get their beach body ready (including myself). One of the biggest and most overlooked aspects of losing fat is consistency over time. Without consistency, you’ll never have sustainable fat loss. With that being said, here are the top 3 fat loss strategies you can use to get leaner heading into the summer months.

  1. Prioritize Resistance Training

Resistance/strength training is the number one most important factor when it comes to losing body fat. Resistance training helps you to speed up your metabolism by building lean muscle. The more muscle your body has, the more calories you burn at rest. Resistance training also improves hormone function. This means you’ll sleep better, have more energy, have less mood swings, have better libido and have lower levels of stress. Resistance training is the best kind of training for optimal body composition. This means you will have lower levels of body fat and more muscle giving you that “toned” look that you’re looking for.

2. Nutrition HAS to be Something Sustainable

You’ve probably heard about the many fad diets that are popular in today’s society. Many of these nutritional protocols are not sustainable for mostpeople. The best thing you can do when you’re first entering into healthy nutrition is to build awareness. This means learning to tracking your calories and macronutrients. Following a templated meal plan, or cutting out entire food groups (proteins, carbs, fats) is not ideal when trying to lose body fat. Everyone has things that are non-negotiable in their nutrition. Jason Phillips talks about this a lot. This could be date night with your significant other weekly, or going out with friends for drinks on a Saturday night. Being able to live your life and stay emotionally healthy is just as important as being physically healthy (especially when trying to lose body fat). But it has to be calculated when you are trying to lose fat. What this means, is that if you are trying to stay in a calorie deficit week by week, you’ll have to make adjustments in your daily nutrition in order to make sure your non-negotiable’s fit. This doesn’t mean you have to be in a caloric deficit EVERY DAY, and that is actually something I advise against (this will destroy hormones over time). BUT at the end of the week, when you average your calories out for the week, you still want to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose body fat. Becoming aware and building your nutrition around whole, minimally processed foods 80% of the time is going to help you feel fuller, have more energy, sleep better and have better training sessions. This leaves 20% of your nutrition available to be more flexible to enjoy dining out and taking care of your emotional well-being. This is KEY for adherence during a fat loss phase. If you want 100% individualized nutrition coaching by me including calories, macronutrients, accountability and changes when needed, fill out this application.

3. Recover Properly

Recovery is the most important part of a fat loss protocol. There are some pretty simple (but not so easy for most) steps for ensuring your recovering properly. Getting 7–8 hours of QUALITY sleep each and every night is key. In an older blog I wrote, I interviewed Sal Di Stefano (host of MindPump podcast) and he talked to me about forming habits around bedtime to ensure quality sleep. You can read that here. The next thing when we’re talking about recovery is hydration. Drink. More. Water. Period. Have it on you at all times and drink water throughout the day. Hydrating properly is very important for bodily functions including gut health and how you digest food. Cut out the sugary and/or artificially flavored drinks. Nutrition is the next big rock. As you can see above, following the 80/20 rule is key. Vegetables and fruits should be in your diet DAILY. Shoot for around .7-.8 grams per pound of body weight in protein when trying to lose fat. This will ensure you’re getting the amino acids you need to recover from resistance training, as well as build lean muscle tissue. MANAGE STRESS. This is a big one. Get out and move. Go for walks, and spend time with people you care about. One important thing that has helped me with this has been creating time blocks. Create blocks for everything in your life. This way you don’t stress as much and you’re always being PRODUCTIVE and not just busy. You know exactly when it’s time to stop working, and start focusing on things like meditation, doing things with friends/family or just watching your favorite Netflix show.

Why You Should Track Biofeedback

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Many people in our society fail when trying to lose body fat, and keep it off for life. Yeah, the resolutions at the beginning of a new year push you to lose weight. And many people do. Unfortunately, many people jump into some sort of diet fad that will not be sustainable for their life. They only pay attention to weight dropping on the scale as a unit of measurement for success. While many go through this process their sleep, energy, mood, and motivation ALLsuffer. In order to have long term adherence to a nutritional protocol, you NEED to be tracking biofeedback.

The very first thing you should begin to track is sleep. Sleep is the most important factor when it comes to productivity throughout your day, digestion, energy, losing body fat, building muscle, recovering from training sessions, having optimal hormone balance and much more. Tracking sleep is as simple as writing down how you slept, ranking it on a 1–10 scale (10 being the best sleep ever, 1 being the worst). The next step is paying attention to your nutrition. Eat whole foods most of the time. This will allow you to have better quality sleep because blood sugar is more stabilized. One of the biggest game changers for my own personal sleep has been trying to limit technology leading up to, and right before sleep. No TV in the room (if you have one make sure it’s dimmed). No cell phone in the room. These are huge distractions and the research behind what the light does to your circadian rhythm is shocking. Making sure you’re sleeping somewhere that is cool and dark is also going to be best for your body to get the best sleep possible.

The next big marker you should begin to track is your nutrition. This also includes hunger and cravings. Simply put, if you’re not tracking your calories and macronutrient intake (most people never have) odds are you are very unaware of what you are putting in your mouth. This is very common and many people are not getting the proper nutrients their body needs to perform in the gym, recover and sleep well. When this happens, typically people say they’re “not hungry” often, but get cravings for very palatable processed foods that are sugary and/or salty. This leads to higher inflammation, and poor sleep and recovery. As you can see, these all work together. Just like with sleep, track hunger and cravings on a 1–10 scale on a piece of paper daily. Soon (being edited as we speak), I’ll have a free guide on my website to teach people how to count calories and macronutrients. In the meantime, if you’re interested in having your nutrition 100% customized to your needs/goals AND you want a coach to teach you how to track and hold you accountable, you can fill out my online coaching application HERE.

The final three important things to begin to track are motivation, stress level and mood. These things can all go hand in hand and can be directly related to sleep and nutrition quality. BUT these should not be ignored. If you’re working on a project at work that is super stressful, it will not benefit you to be having these crazy “beastmode” workouts that jack cortisol even higher so you’re unable to recover. You’re still in a bad mood from work so you don’t want to cook and just grab something through the drive through. Then you only get 4 hours of sleep because you’re stressed, and your hormones are out of whack. Then you begin to become unmotivated to train because you’re not seeing results from these crazy workouts. Get the picture? Track motivation, stress level and mood daily, just like sleep, hunger and cravings. This will give you an idea of where you can make changes in your sleep routine, nutrition protocol AND your exercise programming to benefit your lifestyle and have less stress.

Again, this can be a lot. And many people need the help of a coach/trainer to help them with nutrition protocol, exercise programming and accountability for tracking biofeedback. So if you need individualized training, (and/or nutrition) and access to a coach 24/7 click here to apply for online coaching. Or if you’re interested in training with me in person, shoot me an email: btracke@gmail.com.

Top 5 Reasons Resistance Training Is Superior

There really is no exercise modality like resistance/strength training. There is no other form of exercise that has as many benefits. This may be my bias, BUT there are also many truths to that statement.

No, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do other forms of exercise you enjoy. What I am saying is that I believe everyone should include some kind of resistance training into their active lifestyle. There should be much more of a push for resistance/strength training in modern life. Here are the TOP 5 reasons why:

1. Resistance Training Builds Strength and Muscle

Maybe this is a bit obvious to some people, but it is one of the main attractions for many people to get into resistance training. You will get stronger. You will build muscle. You will feel more empowered and see drastic changes in body composition. Resistance training is the one form of exercise that can literally change the way each part of your body looks. By focusing on a properly designed resistance training program, you will see changes in every part of your body where you want to see changes. Want a bigger butt? Resistance training can do that. Want your abs to pop more? Resistance training can do that as well. But not only aesthetics improve with resistance training. Gaining better overall body strength and stability makes it much less likely that you will have balance and strength issues as you age. You decrease your risk of injury in daily life by a significant amount by gaining strength and muscle.

2. Resistance Training Burns More Fat

Yes, I do know that in the short term, the best way to burn calories is by engaging in cardiovascular (aerobic) activities. What I also know is that cardiovascular activities do not build muscle. I actually made a post on my Instagram 5 fat loss hacks talking about how there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss refers to total body weight decreasing. Fat loss refers to losing body fat, while retaining as much lean body mass as possible. The big difference here is if your focus is weight loss only, you can cause you to become metabolically adapted (slow metabolism) if you’re doing very intense cardiovascular exercise and restricted calories too much. If your focus shifts to fat loss and lean body mass preservation (or gain if you’re a beginner) you will actually have the opposite impact on your metabolism. The more lean mass an individual has, the more calories they burn at rest. This means you are able to eat more calories to maintain that lean mass because of how “expensive” muscle tissue is. In the long term, this will lead to you being able to burn body fat more effectively so you’re not yo-yo dieting and always gaining weight, then losing it and ruining your metabolism.

3. Resistance Training Improves Hormones

In modern society, stress is inevitable. With the amount of social media and pressure to be the best at work, home, school etc. it is no wonder the amount of anxiety and depression are off the charts. This causes cortisol levels to rise significantly. This can cause lack of sleep, sugary/salty processed food cravings, lack of energy, reduced sex drive, storing fat in “trouble” areas (spare tire) among others. What is so cool about resistance training is that it stabilizes stress hormones. While training, cortisol rises. This is a good thing. Cortisol combines with other hormones like growth hormone to help you release body fat. Resistance training helps you regulate these hormones much more effectively because you’re sending a “muscle building” signal to your body. When you don’t resistance train or you are doing high amounts of cardiovascular exercise, cortisol levels tend to be higher when you don’t want them to be. With less muscle, it makes it harder for your body to regulate hormones that help with sleep, mood, sex drive etc.

4. Resistance Training Improves Balance and Stability

For many of the clients I work with, they just want to improve the overall quality of their life. There is no better modality of exercise for this than resistance/strength training. Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t promote strength, stability or balance. When challenging yourself with resistance training, your muscle tissue breaks down and repairs itself to become stronger. Not only do you get stronger in areas that are very important for future health (core muscle, glutes) but your posture improves as well. This sets you up to have less injuries as you age. The stronger your posture is, the more you promote proper balance and stability throughout your entire body. Especially if your practicing big movement patterns like squatting, hip hinging, pressing and stability exercises like planks, farmer walks etc. Resistance training teaches your body how to contract muscles so you can create tension when doing everyday activities. Again, this will lead to you having less lower back pain, neck pain and other chronic injuries that are prominent in today’s society.

5. Lifting Weights is EMPOWERING

The coolest thing ever is seeing clients do things they never thought they could. This could be a client deadlifting a weight that they never thought they could. Or even something as simple as being able to play and run around with their children after not being able to do so. Something about resistance training and becoming stronger… is just so damn empowering. When you see that your strength in your daily life increases, and then you look in the mirror and see more muscles and less body fat, confidence goes through the roof. This impacts everything in your life. Your mindset, your career and finances and your relationships. More confidence = more passion, power and belief. More passion leads to success in anything you do.

So do yourself a favor and start making resistance training a priority!

And if you need accountability, coaching or just need help getting started, fill out my online coaching application.

Why You Should Be Phasing Your Exercise Program

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The majority of people that approach me about starting a training program find themselves “stuck”. Stuck at a current body fat percentage, stuck at a certain number on a lift (not getting stronger), or just stuck in general (doing the same workout routine each time they go to the gym). People ask me all of the time, “how do I avoid getting stuck?”.

The answer is simple, but can be very dependent on the individual, their goals, and experience in the gym. First let’s define what phasing really means. There are many different ways to phase an exercise program. For myself and the clients I train, I find that what works best is picking an adaptation that directly correlates to the overall goal, and sticking with that adaption for 2–4 weeks. This gives you a short term “focus” versus having each workout day during the week be a different adaptation. For example, if I’m designing a program for myself (someone who has above average mobility/stability and has experience resistance training), I’d start in a “strength” phase for 2–4 weeks. The weights will be heavier and I’ll be training in the lower (2–5) rep ranges on most movements. I’d then move into a “hypertrophic” or muscle building phase where the weights are a bit lighter, but still challenging in the mid (8–12) rep range. The final 2–4 weeks will be a phase where we really crank up the intensity. This phase will involve super-sets, tri-sets and will be trying to reach more of a “pump” (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy). In this phase, we will be working in rep ranges anywhere from 10–20 per set. For your everyday person looking to improve strength, muscle and body composition, this would be a great place to start.

Training volume (amount of work done, sets and reps) is going to vary person to person. If you’ve never trained with weights, you don’t want to overload yourself with volume. The exercise selection is also going to vary greatly based on goals and their experience with resistance training. For example, my everyday person who just wants to be healthier and in better shape is going to have a completely different exercise selection than a high school football or basketball player.

The bottom line is this: if you’re doing the same exercises over and over again, this could be holding you back from obtaining your goals. Try setting short term (2–4 week) goals that will impact your overall goal. This will ensure consistent progress and adaptation throughout your body. If you need help with setting correct goals, you can contact me via email btracke@gmail.com.

 

The Top 3 Supplements You DON’T Need

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The fitness and supplement industry want you to believe that you NEED supplements in order to achieve the results you want. Whether it be muscle building, fat loss or wellness people have bought into the supplement hype. So much so that it has become a billion-dollar industry. This blog is not to tell you that you shouldn’t take supplements or that there aren’t good supplements out there. This is to inform you on the supplements you’re taking that could potentially harm your progress and health, and let you know what you SHOULD be doing instead.

1. Pre-Workout Supplements

The most popular supplement on the market is pre-workout. Why you might ask? Pre-workout drinks and powders are addicting. They’re loaded with stimulants and make you feel very good in the short term. The problem is that most of the performance benefits you get from pre-workout comes from caffeine. All of the other added ingredients are not giving you much benefit, if any at all. Pre-workouts are typically pretty expensive, and you can get the same benefits from drinking a coffee before your workout. The other issue is that after using these stimulants over and over again, you can have a negative impact on your body. You will start to feel dependent on these ingredients in order to have a “good” workout.

What to do instead:

A. Drink a coffee (if you don’t like coffee, drink tea or buy caffeine pills) before you train if you want the added benefits of caffeine. I recommend having days where you have coffee, and some days when you don’t. Just like anything, your body will get used to having caffeine every single day and if you don’t take a break, you’ll need more and more to get benefit from it. I’ll typically have coffee in the morning, and before my workout. When I start to feel that I need more to get benefit, I’ll take a few days off from any caffeine. Then when I reintroduce caffeine a few days later, I feel its benefits even more so than before.

B. Invest/create some kind of “warm up” or something to get your body ready for the work it is about to do. If you’re going into the gym and jumping right into your routine without sending proper signals to your body before exercise, your odds of injury increase significantly. I know because I did this for quite some time, and am paying for it now. If it takes you 10 warm up sets before getting into your working sets on a specific exercise, you’re not taking the necessary steps to prime your body for exercise.

2. Branch Chain Amino Acid Supplements (BCAA’s)

This is another popular supplement on the market. The idea is that you drink them before workouts or throughout the day and your body will stay in a more “anabolic” state so you can gain the muscle and lose the fat you desire. This is not true and there has been research to back this up. Meal timing and frequency (and drinking BCAA powders) have little to do with gaining muscle, losing fat or just overall health. It comes down to personal preference and consistent adherence to eating for the desired outcome. As long as you’re consistently getting the protein your body needs, you are not going to see any significant gains from BCAA’s.

What to do instead:

A. Focus on drinking plenty of water. The idea of BCAA’s a lot of people like is that they taste good so they can drink more water. The problem is that most of them are flavored with sucralose and have dyes that can negatively impact your gut health, preventing muscle gain and fat loss over time.

B. Invest in healthy foods. Eat a variety of different vegetables and complete protein sources. You can also use a good whey or plant based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia and/or monk fruit if you struggle getting enough protein in per day. Instead of wasting big money on a BCAA supplement, take that money and buy good protein sources so you can hit that .7-.8g per pound of body weight per day.

3. Fat Burners

Fat burners are marketed as something that are somewhat of a “magic pill” to heat up your bodies core temperature and give you more energy. They are similar to pre-workout in that they have many stimulants and are full of caffeine. Although caffeine has been shown to help performance, many of the other ingredients in fat burners are not proven ingredients and can actually have some negative side effects.

What to do instead:

Bottom line, fat loss is going to come down to proper sleep, good exercise programming (not overtraining), and eating in a calorie deficit over time. There aren’t any fat burner pills that you are going to notice the real change you’ll notice by taking care of sleep, exercise and what you eat.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4213371/

https://www.wm.edu/offices/sportsmedicine/_documents/sleep-manual

https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/blog/the-meal-frequency-myth

The Macro Craze

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Counting macros and “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) has invaded the health and fitness industry, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Nutrients are used by the body for growth, energy and other bodily functions. Nutrients describe all of the substances the body needs. Some in smaller amounts, some in larger. The nutrients the body needs in larger amounts are the macronutrients. These include carbohydrates (or sugar), fats (or lipids) and protein. The body also needs other nutrients, just in smaller amounts. Micronutrients are all vitamins and minerals that are found in minimally or unprocessed fruits, vegetables and animal products. These macro and micro nutrients make up the calories you eat.

The fitness industry has created a way of eating that allows you to pull out certain foods in your diet on a daily basis that are going to be better for your overall wellbeing, and insert highly processed foods like Pop-Tarts, breakfast cereals or any other food high in processed sugar and fat. This is called IIFYM, and basically means if it fits in your macro and calorie range for the day, you can consume it. What it doesn’t take into consideration is all the micronutrients you are missing out on, and how eating processed food will negatively affect your health, especially if you include it in your diet regularly.

What happens when people decide to get in shape or begin a training program, they typically judge themselves. When they eat minimally processed foods, they tend to tell themselves that they have been “good”. When they eat highly processed foods, they tell themselves that they are “bad”. Instead of judging yourself based on the foods you eat, we should strive to get to a point where we can hear the natural signals our body sends us. This means we pay attention to the environment were eating in, if we’re eating out of emotion or to serve us physically and how we feel before during and after we eat. This can take time and MOST people will tell me they feel great eating a lot of junk food. This is not the case. Most people have never truly felt great, so getting them to that point will be the ultimate goal.

So where does counting macros come into all this? Counting macros is an excellent way to figure out what kinds of things you’re eating daily. Typically, people are either really heavy in carbs, or really heavy in fats. And believe it or not, there are even people in the fitness industry who are going way overboard on protein (strive for around .6-.8g per lb. of bodyweight to build/maintain lean muscle tissue). Tracking macros is something everyone should learn how to do, but it can also be an excuse to “fit in” foods that lack in vital nutrients (I was guilty of this many times when I discovered tracking macros). Not only that, but people will ignore their natural signals (bloating, acne, brain fog, loss of libido, poor sleep, energy crashes, heartburn, anxiety etc.) just because they enjoy the “high” feeling of eating something very sugary and processed. When you eat like this all the time, you tend to crave more processed food. This is not going to be advantageous for your physical or mental health.

The key when you begin to track macros, is to listen to how your body responds to certain foods. Each food you have down in your food-tracking app is an opportunity for you to assess how that particular food makes you feel. If you find that a certain food tends to trigger a negative body signal, that is something you will want to remove from your regular diet. A good example for a lot of people would be something like milk. Whole unpasteurized organic milk is something that is full of vitamin D, healthy fats (omega-3’s) and protein. But there are many people who cannot tolerate dairy, and get a very negative body signal from it (bloating, diarrhea etc.). This is one of the more common food intolerances, but there are many more. Typically, when you’re eating high amounts of processed foods, you have learned to ignore these signals and pass them off as “normal”.

There are many different macronutrient ratios you can follow to achieve your goals. Figuring out what works best for you is going to be the key in not having to always track food the rest of your life. It could take up to 30 days to realize how many calories (carbs, fats, proteins) your body needs to maintain its current weight and body fat percentage, and what foods serve your body best. When you figure out that number, you can manipulate calories through your food 300–500 calories in either direction to either gain weight, or lose weight. Obviously, our goal isn’t to just gain weight, or lose weight. We want to gain muscle (increase metabolism) and lose body fat. For this to happen in a sustainable healthy way, we will want to have a well thought out resistance training program.

Healthy fats are not the enemy, and neither are good wholesome carbohydrates. If a food has more than 4 ingredients, typically you will want to avoid it. Eating whole fruits, vegetables, seeds/nuts, meats, fish, and eggs and other minimally processed foods most of the time are going to be your best bet. Some people do better on low carb diets, high fat diets. Some on higher carb, lower fat diets. It is all going to be based on your goals, and how your body responds to certain foods. Typically, I’ll eat lower to moderate carbs, moderate to high fats, and moderate to high protein. I say this because eating the same exact number of calories every single day can have negative effects on your metabolism. Undulating calories has been a game changer for me. If I’m trying to lose body fat and my maintenance calories are at 3,000, I won’t eat 2,500 every day. Instead, I’ll have a couple days when I’m below that number, a day or two when I’m above it and then maybe a day when I’m right at it. The point is, at the end of the week when I add my calories and divide by 7, I’m still at that 500-calorie deficit for the week.

Tracking macros is an important tool to understand, especially when you’re trying to figure out what foods work for you, and which don’t. It should be used as a tool. Not an excuse to eat processed carbohydrates and fats. Remember that most of the time we should eat foods that serve us best physically, meaning out body signals respond in a very positive way to it. Typically, once you experience the positive effects of minimally processed foods, you’ll crave them even more than the processed foods because of how they make you feel physically. This does not mean we shouldn’t also feed our emotional/mental self as well. The body is all one thing. It’s not split like you see in your anatomy book. When Christmas time rolls around and your favorite cookies are on the table, or your out with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife, or your buddies you haven’t seen in a while want you to go out to dinner, enjoy these things! Enjoy the moments that feed your emotional self in order to be your best physical self. Don’t pass judgement, just simply realize you aren’t feeding your physical self and you may experience some negative body signals. Enjoying your time with the people you love and care for is much more important for your well-being than making sure the food your eating fits your macros.

Make Time for What’s Important

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A lot of us get caught up in our everyday lives. Whether it be school, work projects, personal goals etc. we all can get a bit overwhelmed. This makes us lose sight of things that are truly important in our lives.

Things like:

  • Health and wellbeing (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)
  • Relationships (intimate and friendships)
  • Sleep

When these things in our personal life start to deteriorate, it will have a significant impact on our professional lives. And although people may think you’re killing it, if you feel horrible all the time, you are probably making those around you feel the same way. I have struggled with this before in the past, and it has had a significant impact on my health, as well as hurt some of my relationships. There are things I like to do now to ensure that I’m making time for what’s important in my life.

  1. Move/Workout every day. This is my time to work on myself and clear my mind of anything else that is going on.
  2. Schedule specific time (on Google Calander) for friends/dates etc. This way I don’t feel as if I need to be doing something else while I’m with that person/people. I’m giving 100% of my time/effort to them.
  3. Cooking. This might sound dumb and sometimes cooking is annoying. Although I don’t cook every single day, most days I’ll prepare my meals so I know exactly what I’m getting. This way I’m eating food that I know will benefit me in the best way possible. It’s also a good mindfulness activity to prepare food (cutting, seasoning, grilling etc.).
  4. Try to cut off my electronics 30–45 minutes before bed. I am currently failing at this one, but when I do it I feel an incredible difference in my energy levels in the morning (because I sleep better) and tend to go to bed earlier. I also read before I fall asleep which helps me clear some of the brain fog I have from time to time.

Make time for the important parts of your life individually and with the people in your life. How you make others feel is how you will truly be remembered, and it starts by taking ownership of how you’re living your life.