Running on Will Power vs. Creating Positive Healthy Lifestyle Habits (Will Power Sucks)

Will power has become the one thing that every person who has ever set out to lose weight and failed feels like they lack. They just don’t have the determination and strength to “stick to their diet” for longer than a few weeks or days. What most fail to realize is that this isn’t the case. What happened was that you tried to do too much too fast, and/or the training and nutrition protocol you’re following isn’t something you can adhere to for the long term. The fact of the matter is that only 20% of people who “diet” keeps their weight off for life. This is a pretty shocking statistic when we consider the amount of people who set out to lose weight each year. But, it’s exactly what we need… it’s exactly why I preach sustainability and making health & fitness part of your lifestyle just as brushing your teeth in the morning is just part of your daily routine. And it’s exactly why will power isn’t the only way.

Forging the road to sustainability is not easy. From the jump, you have to make a decision that comes from inside that you want to change your lifestyle. This comes with a change of mindset from trying to reach your goals as fast as possible, to playing the long game. Even this simple shift in mindset isn’t so simple. Everyone wants to see progress (and we’ll talk about this later) especially physical body changes. The reality of body composition change is that it takes time. It is something that you have to be consistent with and make a part of your lifestyle. This is especially true if you want everlasting change. You must take ownership of your lifestyle and the decisions that have led to where your current state of health is. This is hard. Especially with all of the fad diets, quick fixes, “magic” supplements and misinformation about nutrition, training and health in general. The point I’m trying to make is that it is going to take time. The best way to be healthier, more fit and most importantly feel your very best is to invest time into your health. Make living healthy part of your life just like brushing your teeth in the morning. No will power. Just habit.

We are a stress driven society. Period. The amount of stress that we allow to add up will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain, low sex drive, lack of energy and the list goes on. Less sleep, poor food quality, more alcohol, little to no exercise, relationship conflicts, having a family… the body reacts to all of these the same. Stress is stress. Even if it is not a physical stress, your body has a stress response (rise in stress hormone cortisol) as it is. Many people believe prescription drugs, more caffeine or other stimulants or sometimes more exercise and extreme dieting is the answer. In short, these all stress your system EVEN MORE. When nothing seems to be working, the answer is constantly, “well, I guess I just don’t have the will power to stick to XYZ…”.

I’m here to tell you, that is not the way. And more stress is not the answer. The answer is to begin to create healthier lifestyle habits. This starts with a self-evaluation. Getting a clear understanding of your goals, both short and long term. Then you have to begin to build awareness with your daily life. Your sleep, your water intake, your movement, your nutrition, your stress and everything in between. If any of these categories (or all) are lacking in TLC (tender love & care), it is time to make some small adjustments that you can stick to for a week or two at a time. Whether that’s drinking one more liter of water, walking 2k more steps, hitting the gym three times, eating a veggie at every meal—it’s going to look different for everyone. This is why hiring a coach to hold you accountable and help you get clear with your goals is so key. There are so many different things to talk about here that it would be impossible to narrow it down to just a few. My number one piece of advice would be this: START and START SMALL. If you can make small changes in the short term, it can lead to MASSIVE change in the long term. If you start drinking more water, you’ll have more energy. If you have more energy, you’ll be more inclined to exercise. When you exercise, you will want to fuel your body more effectively… aka eating higher quality foods like veggies, fruit, protein, healthy fat & carbohydrate sources etc.

The final piece to creating lifestyle habits is going to be tracking progress. This means adding up every win, building awareness of your nutritional habits, keeping a training journal, writing down and ranking biofeedback (sleep, energy, mood, sex drive, motivation, hunger, stress, recovery etc.) on a consistent basis is VERY powerful when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. Weight on the scale IS NOT the only way to track progress when you’re trying to become the healthiest version of you. And to be honest, it’s probably the least important factor is most cases. Instead of focusing on the scale, take pictures and pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. This means everything when it comes to creating a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition.

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this:

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” -Mark Twain

At the end of the day, when it comes to becoming your healthiest you, it isn’t about who has the most will power, it’s about who can do something consistently FOR LIFE!

How Halloween Can Add Two Pounds of Fat to The Average Person (How to Avoid Fat Gain on Halloween)

Orange plastic halloween bucket filled and overflowing with candy

Halloween is here! Time to dress up, eat some candy, have some drinks with your friends and PARTY! Here’s the only issue: a lot of us have fitness goals we’re trying to reach or we’re trying to maintain the progress we have already began to make. Halloween is the first on the list of holidays that can creep up on us and lead to unwanted fat gain. How? Well, if you’re having drinks and eating candy (or high calorie processed food in general) that alcohol temporarily shuts down food metabolism because your body views it as a foreign invader. When this happens, the food you’re eating isn’t metabolized, and is stored as body fat. This can lead to gaining fat (2-5 lbs. in some cases) in a relatively short amount of time. Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, if you don’t have an awareness of the amount of candy you’re consuming on Halloween (and the days before and after) you could be setting yourself up for unwanted fat gain. So, what strategies can you take to avoid unwanted fat gain on Halloween?

  1. HAVE A TOUGH WORKOUT

As you all know, I am not a proponent of “beast mode” “no days off” training all of the time. BUT in order to see results from your training, you definitely have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And if you want to avoid fat gain, there is no better time to have a challenging training session than on Halloween! Training “hard” means that we will be training in the “glycolytic” pathway… meaning, I’m using all the carbohydrates that are already in my body as fuel. How do you do that? Train with very challenging loads on big movements like squats, deadlifts, presses and rows. You also do some higher repetition work as well. The perfect workout for Halloween would be Day 1 of Strength Basics, my 12-week training eBook.

  1. FIT IN THE CANDY (IN MODERATION)

If you have followed me for a while, read my blogs and listened to Ranges of Motion, you know that I am big on building awareness around nutrition. We do this by tracking our food intake (calories). More specifically, tracking macronutrients to ensure that we are hitting our protein, carbohydrate and fat intake daily. The two most important things to pay attention to on Halloween and the days before and after are going to be total calories, protein and fiber intake. If you want to stay on track for your fat loss goals, eating enough protein and fiber is going to be essential. These will help you to stay fuller longer and will help you recover from the hard training session you’re doing. From there, it’s all about fitting the candy into your remaining calorie intake (fat and carbs) and not going overboard. This is why I’m a big proponent of flexibility with nutrition and being able to have the freedom to plug and pull things that you enjoy into your diet in moderation.

  1. NO TRACKING, NO PROBLEM

If you’re someone who has never tracked macronutrients, or you’re not sure where to start, you can still make it through Halloween without gaining fat. There are a couple simple strategies you can implement from a nutritional perspective. Instead of eating throughout the day, take this simple approach: DON’T. Fast throughout the day, have a pre-workout meal that consists of protein/veggies and then have some candy as your post workout carb source. Really, it’s this simple. Throughout the day don’t eat tons of carbs/fat (if any at all), because you’re going to be eating a sufficient amount in just a little bit of candy. Remember, these are very calorically dense palatable foods. It is still a good idea to eat these in moderation for overall health. This is a sufficient plan for ONE HOLIDAY! This does not give you the green light to eat like this on a daily basis. Eating like this consistently can lead to a whole host of issues including food relationship issues, hormonal disfunction, poor gut health and much more. The quality of carbs and fats found in candy are sub-par. Should you never eat candy? No. Should you stress about not being able to be social on Halloween? Absolutely not. But you should build awareness around your nutrition in some way shape or form that fits your lifestyle. If you want to learn more about how I can help you do that, click here. This is key for eliminating poor food relationship, anxiousness around food and crazy cravings.

Let this Halloween be FUN and filled with laughs, candy and drinks! Don’t let your “diet” ruin your social life! If you struggle with dieting, want to learn more about nutrition for your goals and figure out how to create a plan to fit your lifestyle, click here or shoot me an email or DM on Instagramor Facebook! I’d love to help!

The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint: Part II

We have part one of The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint complete. In it, we talked about evaluating your lifestyle, mindset and what your training should look like. If you haven’t read Part I, STOPwhere you are now and go read it. In this addition were going to dive into nutrition, sleep & recovery and supplements you should consider when your goal is obtaining a lean and healthy body.

Nutritional Strategies

There is one big issue when it comes to nutrition and getting to a leaner physique: fad diets. Although this may work in the short term (weight loss vs. fat loss) they will be inferior in the long term and lead to a reduction in metabolic rate and excessive fat regain. Cutting out whole food groups and suffering day in and day out is not the best way to approach nutrition when you’re trying to get to a leaner healthier body composition. Instead, you should think more long term. If you’re currently following an extreme “diet” to lose weight that you can’t see yourself following for the rest of your life, you should reconsider what you’re doing. You could be causing damage that can take years to recover from. With the chronic stress of daily life, what you have to also realize is being in a large calorie deficit for too long can also become VERY stressful to your body’s system. So where do you start?

Building Awareness Through Tracking (Why Flexibility Is Key)

The first place we have to start with any nutritional protocol is building awareness. This is done by tracking what you are consuming on a daily basis. This can be done by simply writing down everything you’re eating on a daily basis or using a tracking app like MyFitnessPal. From here we can see what kinds of foods your leaning to and whether you’re eating the correct number of calories, the correct types of food (quality of food) and the correct amount of each macronutrient to support your goals. Accountability is huge here so if you need some help along the way, click here. The first thing we must address is protein intake. If you want to get to a leaner physique, the biggest macronutrient that has to be addressed is protein. Protein helps keep you satiated and will help you gain/maintain muscle mass. Carbohydrates and fats can be completely dependent on the person and their preferences… for the most part. Everyone should be consuming at least 20-25% of their daily calories from fats to ensure proper hormonal health. Another note on fats is that fats are very calorically dense, meaning you can a bit carried away with the almonds and coconut oil. The biggest thing we have to concern ourselves with when trying to obtain a lean body is being in a caloric deficit MOST of the time. This is also dependent on your metabolism and your current health. Again, this is where coaching and monitoring biofeedback comes into play because we don’t want to be in a caloric deficit for too long. Diet breaks are key for optimal hormonal health. For most everyone I work with (if they have a healthy metabolism) we will not stay in a caloric defect for more than 12-16 weeks. Not only do things like diet breaks and re-feeds help with hormones, they also help with adherence long term. But there’s more to adherence than that. Remember when I told you the first step is building awareness? Well, this awareness we have built allows us to have “flexibility” in our diet. Meaning, if we can fit foods into our macros (this works just like a budget) daily/weekly you don’t have to stress about them harming your results. This is the biggest key for long term results… ADHERENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY! If you allow flexibility in the diet, you set yourself up for success LONG TERM! This also helps you to develop a better relationship with food because you finally understand just how much food you’re consuming and what exactly is in those foods. When you start connecting the dots with how certain foods impact your biofeedback, you tend to crave and lean more towards more nutrient dense foods MOST of the time. Again, I’m a big believer in the 80/20 rule… if you’re not there yet that’s ok. But making small changes from the start can be super powerful and add up to big wins over time from having a healthier gut, more optimized hormones, better energy, more quality sleep and more!

ben 2

The Importance of Sleep & Recovery

The number one thing people are lacking when it comes to recovery is proper sleep. Couple things I see:

  1. Being “wired and tired” from too much stress and caffeine consumption
  2. No emphasis put on sleep whatsoever… #TeamNoSleep

Well I’m here to tell you that the #TeamNoSleep basically means #TeamNoProgress. If you aren’t sleeping 7-9 hours nightly, you aren’t recovering from your day. Period. Less than five hours of cuts testosterone in half. This means you will not be able to build the muscle needed to have the lean physique you are looking for. More muscle = more calories burned at rest = more fat loss. Also, growth hormone (one of the main hormones that promotes recovery for every part of your body) is produced when you sleep. Your memory and mood are also dramatically correlated with quality and quantity of sleep. If you’re drinking endless amounts of caffeine during your day to stay awake, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. This can cause countless issues with nervous/hormonal system function and leave you with that “tired and wired” feeling where you can’t fall asleep. Another issue I see many times with clients is lack of water intake. You should be drinking water throughout your day, and probably more than you’re drinking now. This keeps your body hydrated and helps you to think more clearly, have more energy, digest food and keep joints lubricated. The “beast mode” “no days off” mentality just doesn’t work long term. You should be sleeping. You should be doing twice as much parasympathetic as sympathetic work. Things like walking, meditating, being with loved ones, using adaptogens ashwagandha or certain mushrooms, belly breathing, hot/cold contrast and the list goes on. Bottom line is this: if you want to have a lean body for life, you have to de-stress. This can be hard to understand for many type A individuals (myself included at times) but stress is stress. No matter whether its physically demanding training sessions, or stress in work/home life it’s all going to impact your body in some way. And with too much stress without any relaxation leads to anxiety and inability to lose fat and gain muscle.

Supplements To Consider

There is a reason this is last! Supplements are not going to make or break your lean body results. How you train, how you eat and how you recover are the biggest things that need to be taken care of. With that being said, supplements can also help! The supplements you’re taking need to be of high quality. Don’t cheap out on what you are putting in your body. The first supplement I’d recommend is whey (or plant based if you can’t do dairy) protein. Again, this should be a protein powder that isn’t filled with artificial sweeteners and ingredients. This will help you hit your daily protein goal, and if you’re a bigger guy/gal, having 25-40g of protein from a powder daily can be a big help. The next supplement I’d recommend is fish oil. Most people have diets high in omega-6, which is very inflammatory. Omega-3 (fish oil) on the other hand is anti-inflammatory. So, if you don’t eat high quality fatty fish daily, supplement with fish oil. Vitamin D is another key micronutrient that most people are deficient in. 5,000 IU’s daily will have you covered. These are the three mandatory supplements I’d recommend to anyone who is setting out on their lean body journey! These are not magic supplements. Rather, things that will help you have better overall health. There are other things I use and also recommend to people, but this varies from person to person.

This concludes The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint! If you have questions about anything I’ve talked about in Part I or II, you can shoot me an email btracke@gmail.comand if you’re interested in individualized coaching with me, fill out this application!

The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint: Part I

Being a big dude (chubby for most of my life) my whole life, I know how challenging it can be at times when you’re trying to get lean. With the amount of information out there, it can seem overwhelming and damn near impossible to get the lean body you desire. The issue is, most people are going about getting lean the wrong way. They try to throw themselves into a strict nutritional protocol that is super restrictive and purchase the latest and greatest workout plan that guarantees they’ll shed fat in 30 days. This workout plan is just as intense as the nutritional protocol and guess what starts to happen? You lose weight… at first. See what happens is your body adapts… it adapts to the new calorie set point and it adapts (very easily) to the intense workout plan. Then when progress comes to a screeching halt and you have stressed your system to a point where you can’t sleep, have no energy and want to have wings and beer so bad you’re dreaming about them, you fall off the wagon. You go into “fuck it” mode and binge eat and say to yourself, “I just don’t have the genetics” or “I wasn’t disciplined enough”. I’m going to get real with you: this IS NOTthe best approach to getting the lean body you want and IS NOT sustainable. I’m going to take you step by step (in a two-part blog series) on how to get lean if you’re on the “chubby” side and want to be more fit!  BUT all of the things I’m going to mention are what I generally see. EVERYONE is different. Individualized coaching is the key because although I can lay out the steps you need to take in this article, accountability to truly do it is a game changer.

Getting Started – Lifestyle Evaluation

So, you want to begin your journey to becoming a more fit and healthy you… GREAT! This is the start of you truly becoming your best self. Your health is everything… it determines your sleep, your performance at work, your energy, your mood, your sex drive, how you look physically, your confidence… I could keep going but I think you get it. But where do you start? First, we have to take a look at your lifestyle. What is your occupation? Does it require a lot of physical activity, or little to none at all? Is it stressful physically, mentally or both? Stress management is so damn important when it comes to getting leaner. If you’re constantly in a negative state of mind, your hormones will follow suit. When cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) is chronically elevated, it makes it damn near impossible to get lean. Depending on how these questions are answered, will then dictate training schedule, nutritional intake, cardio, mindset practices etc. When we have a general idea of your occupational stressors, we have to next look at your personal life. Are you surrounding yourself with people who are supporting you with the goals you have? This means the people you spend time with in person BUT ALSO the media (social media, podcasts, TV, books etc.) you consume. Sometimes you have to have a reality check. If you’re constantly being drug down by people and media about reaching your fitness goals, you might have to have crucial conversations with people or cut out the certain media that makes you feel like your goals aren’t important. This can be tough, but it’s necessary to evolve and maximize your potential as a human being. Period. If people truly want what is best for you, they will understand that your health goals are important and will support you along the way. Once we’ve addressed these things, it’s time to get our mind right.

5A0BAB81-D703-4EAF-87BA-FB8B239F1B10

Mindset Is Everything

 There must be a shift in mindset when you set out to go from chubby to lean and fit. The mindset can’t be “get the weight off as fast as possible”. You will fail and fail hard. The mindset has to be “I’m going to start practicing better habits because I want to look better, feel better, perform better and BE HEALTHIER”. Consistency is the big key here. When you can make the shift in mindset to making your physical fitness a part of your everyday lifestyle versus a set amount of time to lose weight, you gain true power over your life. Your mindset is so damn important. You have to believe that you can reach your goals… when you practice positive self-talk (journaling and tracking progress is a major key), your actions tend to follow. You have to realize that if nothing changes, nothing changes. So, challenge yourself first to change your mindset and how you think about health and fitness. You have to want to do it for you, not to impress others. Not to just look good on the beach. But to truly be a better version of you. When I set out for my fitness journey, I did it for one reason: I hated myself. What I looked like. What I felt like… it was all coming from a place of hatred. As time went on, I started realizing some things about my “why”. I had a shift in mindset. That shift went from HATE to LOVE. I realized that I was living a healthy lifestyle because I loved myself enough to do so. What’s cool is that I can share that message with the people reading this. Even if you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t like what you see (like I did for years) know that you have the power to change your body composition and do it because you LOVE yourself enough to look better and most importantly feel better. Now that we have our mind right, it’s time to figure out what our training should look like.

Training (What It Should Look Like)

So now that we have our mindset shifted to consistency, positive self-talk and changing because you love yourself enough to do so, we have to find the right training program for you! The big key is that when our goal is changing body composition (getting leaner) the focus MUST be on strength training. People always get this twisted. “I want to get lean, so I need to just do cardio to tone my muscles.” *Insert facepalm emoji* You can’t tone a muscle. You can either gain lean tissue, lose lean tissue or maintain lean tissue. In our case, we want to increase protein synthesis and speed the metabolism… aka BUILD MUSCLE! Here’s the deal: if you’re a chubby guy and you’re not doing a lot (if any at all) of activity and begin doing any form of exercise, you’ll see fat loss benefits. What’s cool about resistance training is that while you’re still burning calories acutely (in the short term) during your training sessions, you’re also building muscle. When you build muscle, you burn more calories at rest. It becomes much easier to get lean and STAY LEAN for life when we take this approach versus the “beast mode” cardio or circuit training approach. These do burn more calories in the short term, but we want to be lean and healthy for life. Too much cardio-based exercise can actually have the opposite effect on your metabolism and can negatively impact your nervous system, which negatively impacts hormones making it next to impossible to get lean. Check out the blog I wrote about strength training for fat loss HERE. So, should I just skip out on cardio all together? NO!Cardio is very important for overall health and when it is programmed properly, can be a great addition to a strength training program. I’m actually in the works of creating my first training e-book that I’ll sell on my website that breaks down how cardio should be programmed in a 3-day per week strength training program. Until then I’ll make some general suggestions. Your lifestyle will typically dictate the type of program you’re doing. How many days you’re in the gym strength training and how many days you’re doing specific cardio exercise. One of the things I like to tell my clients that are starting out and want to get lean is the 15-minute rule. Dedicate 15 minutes of your day to movement. Make it non-negotiable. Five minutes of mobility practice, and ten minutes of walking every day. This is a great place to start. But what about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Again, HIIT is awesome and burns a lot of calories. It’s also great for your metabolism (if it’s don’t properly) because it is short and sweet. We just don’t want to overload your system with a lot of HIIT because it is what it says: HIGH INTENSITY! Too much high intensity exercise is taxing on the nervous system… which when overloaded will result in poor hormonal regulation (I’m saying this again because I’m trying to get my point across). There’re a couple ways that I like to use HIIT:

  1. HIIT Finishers: 5-8 minutes at the end of each workout during the week. Sled pushes all out, assault bike all out, KB swings all out for 20-30 seconds and followed up by a minute and thirty second to two-minute rest. I love this personally because its quick and not too taxing on the nervous system.
  2. One Single HIIT Day: This is where you’re doing HIIT on its own day for 15-20 minutes. How I’d program this is anywhere between 4-10 rounds of 10-25 seconds of all-out effort, every 2-4 minutes. Again, this can be assault bike, sled pushes, KB swings, sprints etc.

The biggest thing we need to realize is that cardio comes AFTER our strength training! Get strong on the big compound movement patterns and build some muscle to set yourself up to be lean for life. There will come a point in time when you don’t have to do much HIIT at all to stay lean and healthy because you’ve built muscle and your metabolism is running like a well-oiled machine! This concludes part one of “The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint”! Stay tuned next week for part two where we’ll talk about nutritional strategies, building awareness through tracking, supplements the importance of sleep and recovery and MORE!

The Importance of Shoulder Health & Better Posture (How To Improve BOTH)

shoulder-pain

Postural issues have run amuck in today’s society. And it’s not really a big surprise how this has happened. For years now, people have been stuck in the seated position. With the evolution of technology – television to computers, computers to laptops, laptops to cell-phones we are stuck in these positions. If you’re like me, you like watching sports. If you’re like me, you also like watching Netflix.  And finally, if you’re like me (I LOVE reading/writing) you’re sitting in front of a laptop reading this. Now, unlike most, I get to train clients and be on my feet for at least a few hours per day. But this alone can’t and won’t save my posture. Why would we need to save posture anyways? Lower back pain continues to rise… but something else is catching up. Shoulder pain. Yup you heard that right. Shoulder pain specifically pain in the front of the shoulders continues to rise and is now right on the tail of low back pain for most common areas of pain for the average person. Many people are in this seated and “slouched” position ALL DAY. You wake up, sit down and look at your phone, sit down and drive to work, get to work and sit at your desk over your computer or phone, only to come home and sit in a slouched position on the couch in front of your TV and phone or other devices. Forward head and rounded shoulders is the new norm. Because of this, we become disconnected from the back side of our body, and the front of our shoulders and chest become tight and restricted. This can cause acute pain in the front side of our body. BUT, the pain might not actually be the pain…

The pain in the shoulder (in many cases, NOT all) is actually because of a lack of connection and strength in the upper back. Through endless amounts of slouching, we have developed poor patterns that throw the spine out of neutral alignment. So how do we combat that? It’s going to come down to putting in work to repattern the shitty “slouch” so many of us have from all of this technology and modern lifestyle. So how do we do that? We hammer the upper back and stabilizer muscles of the shoulder. The answer isn’t getting shots of cortisone where you have pain. That’s a band-aid solution. If you want to get out of pain for life, you must get stronger and create better patterns. This goes for anything in the body. Strength is the best way to set yourself up for a pain free life. We have to train with weights and focus on the foundational movement patterns (a term coined by Dr. John Rusin). But this article is about correcting posture for proper shoulder health.

Not only are people slouching most of the time (and doing everything in the front of their body and ignoring the back side), but people go into the gym and hammer away at pressing exercises. This only adds to dysfunction if the pressing isn’t properly programmed with 2-3x as much pulling (if this is you, and you’re in pain fill out THIS APPLICATION to have a training regimen that is properly programmed for optimal shoulder health). Guys who are benching and overhead pressing without the “prehab” exercises I’m going to talk about are doing themselves a serious disservice and won’t ever maximize pressing movements because they have nothing to press off of (which would be a thick and strong upper back). So, what exercises do I need to be performing to ensure proper shoulder health?

The exercises I am going to talk about are simple, and all you need is a band. The first exercise is a banded face pull. If you’re a client of mine, you know this is a staple. Check out the video on the face pull HERE. The next exercise is the band pull-a-part. Another great exercise that hammers home the importance of upper back strength in regard to having healthy shoulders. HERE is the video for how to perform pull-a-parts. The last exercise is the seated row. Although this isn’t as much of an upper back exercise, it is an exercise that teaches depression of the shoulders, and at the same time retraction of the scapula. This is key for a society that has chronically elevated shoulders from the endless amounts of time in the “slouched” position. HERE is the video for how to perform seated rows.

The shoulders and upper back are comprised of a lot of small stabilizer muscles that thrive with a lot of stimulation. Meaning, doing these things quite often with a lot of volume will yield very good results for not only getting you out of chronic shoulder pain, but also repatterning your movement so your shoulders are pulled back and you’re in better spinal alignment. Simply put: improving posture is all about repetition. If you can improve posture, you’ll not only decrease the likelihood of shoulder issues, but also chronic low back pain and other common issues. The underlying message of all of this is strength. If you’re not practicing the modality of strength training, and want to improve your quality of life, it is NEVER too late to start. If you’re ready to talk about where you are currently and how I can help bridge the gap to get you out of pain, and get you the body you’ve always wanted, fill out this application and we’ll get started!

 

 

 

 

Strength Training for Fat Loss

23.10._Running-And-Weight-Training-3

The school of thought for fat loss is exercise more, eat less. This “exercise” that most talk about is all cardiovascular based. Meaning: running, circuit training or any other form of super intense exercise to ramp your heartrate up through the roof. Cardio does burn lots of calories (in the short term) and is great to include in your regimen for overall health. UNFORTUNATLY people make money by telling you that exercise always has to be super intense to lose fat and get the body of your dreams. Here’s the truth: cardio is not the best for sustained fat loss and a lean physique for life. Strength training is. Yup, I said it. I’m talking to you too, ladies. Lifting heavy weights and getting strong is the best way to get leaner, speed the metabolism and have healthier hormones.

Strength training is better for a number of reasons. Let’s first talk about intensity. Traditional strength training is a stress to the body. This is how we adapt and change. BUT, recovery (mye-book has a whole section on recovery) has to be on point. If you’re not sleeping well, always super sore and getting crazy cravings, it may be a sign that you’re overtraining. If your training with proper intensity and frequency your biofeedback (learn about biofeedback HERE) will be on point. If you’re following a properly phased strength training program (and your technique is on point) you have a very low risk of overtraining, getting injured and/or harming your nervous system. It is much easier to do too much when you’re only following a cardio based routine. Because running is easy. You don’t have to put much thought into going out for a run or following some crazy at home TV workout. On the contrary, when you lift weights properly you’re actually bullet-proofing your body for future injuries. You’re strengthening your body AND your mind as well. Moreover, you also build muscle, which will allow you to burn more calories while you’re just sitting at your desk. This means you can eat more food and eliminate food relationship issues. When you have more muscle, a faster metabolism and can eat more food, you have a healthier hormonal profile. This means energy, mood, sleep, sex drive and focus will ALL improve. Sounds pretty awesome right?

There’s always lots of talk about the best training split for fat loss. I’ll dive into each of the 4 most common strength training splits.

3x Per Week – Total Body

I absolutely LOVE three-day splits for fat loss. It’s awesome for fat loss because you can train big muscle groups all three days without having tons of volume. This frequent signal you send tells the body that it needs to grow muscle to help with the work it is doing. Three-day splits are great for people who have busy lifestyles with work and family responsibilities.

4x Per Week – Upper/Lower

My personal favorite split is a four-day split consisting of two upper body days and two lower body days. This is a tried and true method of gaining strength and muscle and is widely used by strength and conditioning coaches and trainers alike. I’ve had some of my greatest success personally and with clients training in an upper/lower split fashion.

5x Per Week – Push/Pull/Legs/Upper/Lower

This is probably my 2ndfavorite split. This is great because it really ramps up the frequency and total training volume can be increased. For the more advanced population and people who have more time on their hands, this can be great. For a lot of people, it may be too much gym time based upon lifestyle.

6x Per Week — Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull/Legs

When you’re really trying to drive up training volume (which is the key for muscle hypertrophy), a six-day split works wonders. This is quite advanced and is for people who are truly trying to compete in bodybuilding, or just have tons of time on their hands. For most everyday people, this will be challenging to stick with because it requires so much time in the gym.

BOTTOM LINE: It literally doesn’t matter what training split you follow. They will ALL yield results if you’re following them consistently. The one you should do is the one that fits your lifestyle. Period.

The next question that comes into play is exercise selection when trying to lose body fat. This is quite simple. FOUNDATIONAL MOVEMENT PATTERNS. Squat, hip hinge, lunge (single leg variations similar to the lunge), push, pull and carry. Making sure we’re doing these exercises (variations depend on the person and their makeup/movement patterns) is key for seeing fat loss over time. These are the big bang for your buck movements. Things like: barbell squat, goblet squats, romanian deadlifts, barbell/trap-bar deadlifts, split squats, reverse lunges, push-ups, barbell & dumbbell bench presses, TRX rows, face pulls, t-bar rows, farmer walks, planks, sled pushes… the list of exercises could go on and on. Bottom line is finding the optimal exercises for YOURbody type for pain free training. This will ultimately lead to more fat loss, muscle gain and better overall health. This is where hiring a coach comes into play. That way this person knows how you move and can screen these moves to find out which variation works best for you. If you’re interested in coaching, fill out THIS APPLICATION.

The last key for fat loss is daily movement and strategic cardio. I absolutely love NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Which is basically a fancy term for saying all the movement you do without the intent to exercise. Increasing daily neat can be as simple as taking a 20-30-minute walk daily. If you do this consistently, I promise you will see benefits in recovery, fat loss and overall well-being. But we want to really burn fat. No, we SHOULD NOT be doing HIIT workouts every day. Check out my latest YouTube video HERE about HIIT and the benefits and detriments. This isn’t the best way to lose fat and if taken to far will destroy your nervous system and metabolism making it impossible to recover and even more impossible to lose fat. Instead adding in “finishers” to your workout days are awesome. This could be kettlebell swings 10 rounds for 25 reps with 30 seconds between. Or heavy sled pushes 4-6 rounds of 60 yards. Whatever it is, it’s short and sweet… AND HARD! We want to really challenge our system metabolically. You can also have HIIT on a standalone day, but in my opinion, it’s easier to just knock it out at the end of the workout. This is also very beneficial because then on “off days” you can spend more time on recovery from your training!

If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to go about losing fat and changing your body (and mindset, relationship with food & exercise etc.), is to hire a great coach. Someone who truly wants to see you succeed for the long term. Fill out my coaching application if you’re ready to develop a plan to help you change your life!

 

The Importance of Recovery (5 Steps to Assure You’re Recovering)

 

energy+bucket

There are tons of information out there about recovery. From flopping around on foam rollers to light therapy, it seems like there is always a “new & shiny” way of recovering. What most people forget about are the “big rocks” of recovery. We do the same thing with training and nutrition. The coolest and most challenging workout program for fast results, instead of sticking to the basics of strength training for long lasting progress. The newest “fad” diet instead of just doing something that is healthy and sustainable for your lifestyle. Shiny object syndrome is definitely a thing in the fitness community as well. Because the “quick fix” mentality is so damn prominent in today’s culture. However, there are tried and true ways we can recover for optimal gains and longevity. Here are the 5 steps to assure you’re recovering:

 

  1. Sleeping 7-9 Hours Per Night

Sleep is probably the most overlooked and underutilized tool when it comes to recovery. Sleeping more hours in your day makes all the difference with the things that matter. To the people who are #teamnosleep and run on 2-5 hours of sleep, you have no idea what you are truly doing to your body. If you sleep more, you will see a lot of positive health benefits: better energy, more productivity, better problem solving, boosting of hormones you need for muscle building and fat loss, better central nervous system recovery, less fatigue and will literally make you live longer. Think it’s too good to be true? Shoot me an email btracke@gmail.com and we’ll debate it. The thing is, a lot of people understand and know these benefits but STILL don’t emphasize sleep in their daily life. And I get it. We all have busy lives with work, family and everything in between. But let’s go back up to productivity. If you are more energized, more focused and just flat out feel better throughout your day, even if you’re taking a little more time for sleep, wouldn’t your days be better? 10/10 times the answer to that question is going to be yes.

 

  1. Eating Whole Foods (80/20 Rule)

The bottom line about recovery, is that we want to limit inflammation as much as possible. When we eat whole foods for the majority of our diet, we limit inflammation. Inflammation in the gut can lead to a whole host of issues. Digestive issues leading to lack of nutrient absorption, this leads to hormone imbalances which then leads to lack of sleep, brain fog, mood swings… not good. Eating vegetables, fruits, potatoes, rice, meat, poultry, and well sourced dairy for the majority of your diet is KEY for recovery. The best way to think about it is the 80/20 rule. Make 8 out of every 10 meals come from real, minimally processed foods. You will recover better, have more energy, be more productive and have more desire to workout. When you recover more effectively you will burn more fat and build more muscle because your hormones are optimized. This isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy yourself and have a drink or a slice of pizza or two. But when the majority of your diet is refined sugar and trans-fat filled foods, you’ll feel it. Digestive issues, stiff and painful joints, poor sex drive… these are things no one should have to suffer from day in and day out. The first step has to be building awareness around your nutrition. If you need some help doing this, fill out this application.

 

  1. Drinking Enough Water

My clients understand the importance of drinking water. Drinking water keeps you hydrated. It ensures proper brain function. But what else can water do? Drinking enough water can lead to proper digestion. As we talked about with the importance of whole foods, digestion (nutrient absorption) is KEY for recovery. Not only absorption but the transportation of these nutrients throughout your body is largely the responsibility of hydration. Staying hydrated also helps you get rid of waste that your body doesn’t need, which again, when we talk about recovery is very important. I have clients who have come to me in the past and have all kinds of pain. As with all of my clients, one of the first places I look (even before food quality) is how much water they’re consuming. Water is what protects the body’s vital tissues and joints. We introduce more water and all of a sudden, the joint pain starts to diminish. Even slight water loss can lead to a host of negative effects like anxiety, short term memory loss and added tension. Keep water readily available and consume a consistent amount of water throughout the day. Don’t wait until the end of the day and realize “I haven’t drank enough water” and try to drink it all before bed. This will impact sleep because you’ll be waking up every hour to use the bathroom.

 

  1. Managing Stress

Managing stress is something most people that come to me just flat out suck at. And honestly, most people do. But it’s not their fault. The medical industry and big pharma have a big influence on this. A pill for everything. Not ever getting to the root cause of any stress issues. Sleep is a vital component for managing stress. So, if you’re not putting an emphasis on your sleep, you need to be. You could literally be cutting years off of your life if you aren’t. Waking up at 4-5am daily and running on caffeine and Adderall will eventually crush your nervous system. Which will then crush your hormonal system. Which will lead to a very unhappy and unhealthy you. When we talk about managing stress, it starts with LOVING YOURSELF enough to take care of yourself. This means having a healthy balance with exercise and rest. Many people believe the key to having abs is suffering. Suffering in the gym with super high intensity cardio-based exercise. Suffering in the kitchen by following a “meal plan” that pigeon holes you to 8-10 different foods. This isn’t the case. If you want to learn more about training and nutrition for your goals, fill out this application. Some of the things when it comes to managing stress that aren’t talked about are simple relaxation techniques. This means having a daily meditation practice. Even if its 5 minutes of being present and focusing on your breathing daily, meditation practices have been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective ways of de-stressing. There’re many ways to meditate, but I like to put on some sounds, take deep slow breaths and think about a “mantra”. Something like “I unconditionally love and respect myself.” When my mind begins to drift to other places, I pull it back to the mantra. Another key for managing stress is purposeful scheduling of just doing shit you like to do. Make it a point every week to do something fun. Whether its date night, playing a sport, gaming, WHATEVER. Make time for you. You’ll find that when you begin to do these things, everything else in your life improves including recovery. Having that sympathetic response when you lift heavy weights is good. Your body needs stress to change and adapt. But having the parasympathetic response balances this and ensures that you’re not over training and under recovering.

 

  1. Tracking Biofeedback

You may be asking, “what is biofeedback?” That’s a great question. Biofeedback is basically everything your body is saying to you through its natural processes. It’s sleep quality, energy level, mood, hunger, cravings, recovery, motivation, training performance, stress, libido etc. You also might be asking, “why should I be paying attention to these things?” Well, these things are sort of a daily report card. If you’re sleeping well, have good energy, are in a good mood for the most part, feeling hungry, not getting crazy cravings (like right after you eat craving sugary/salty processed food), recovering from your training (if you’re interested in training, click HERE), are motivated to crush your day, performing well (getting stronger), not feeling super stressed all the time and have a high sex drive then your hormones are in a good spot. This means you’re probably taking care of the things we talked about above and you have a healthy relationship with exercise. If one or more of these is off, it could mean your hormonal system isn’t in an optimal spot. The thing is, it impacts more than just losing fat and gaining muscle. It’s more than just looking better. You won’t be as effective at your job. You won’t be as good of a friend, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, son/daughter, mom/dad. It impacts your whole life. That’s why I’m so big on lifestyle coaching. Tracking my client’s biofeedback allows me to help them realize the importance of these things on losing fat and gaining muscle, but also their whole damn lives. If you’re recovering optimally, meaning taking care of all aspects we talked about above, your biofeedback will show it. If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle and learn about the power of tracking biofeedback, there’s no better time to start than now. If you’re confused on where to start, shoot me an email btracke@gmail.com and let’s figure out where you are now and create a plan for recovering better so you can enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

5 Ways to Help Friends & Family Members Live a Healthier Lifestyle

1

The more time you spend dedicating to your health, the more productive and happier you are. There are endless amounts of research that proves this. What does this mean? This means focusing on 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, eating a diet of 80% whole food (meat, veggies, rice, fruit, nuts, seeds, oils etc.), exercising regularly, getting outside and drinking plenty of water. In our society, we are always on the go. And many times, we don’t make time for our health. If you’re one of these people, you’re not your best. You’re not as good as you could be at your job, at school, at home with your family etc. We all have friends and family members that are in this situation. They say, “I don’t have time to sleep, cook, or exercise”. Well, I’m here to tell you that you might not think you have the time, but you do. If being healthy is a priority, you will make it one. You will take an hour out of your day every day to focus on some aspect of your health. I just did a podcast interview with Josh & Alessandra Scutnik about making health a lifestyle. You can check it out HERE. After this conversation, I wanted to write a blog about how to help friends and family members live a healthier lifestyle. So, without any further rambling here are the top 5 ways to help friends and family members live a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Be the Example

This is number one for a reason. Whether you’re a fitness professional or just a person who wants to help your friends and family become their best selves, you MUST be the example. This starts with your daily actions. Being consistent with sleep, nutrition and exercise shows. It shows in your attitude, mood, energy, focus, productivity and more. If you are healthy and feeling great, people will notice.

  1. Educate

Even if you’re not a trainer/nutrition coach, there is an abundance of incredible information about becoming healthier and more fit. One of the best things you can do for friends and family members is to connect them with coaches and people that you trust and respect. Whether that is talking to them about hiring a coach, following informative social media accounts or just listening to a trusted podcast about health and fitness. These are all very positive ways to educate your friends and family members about being healthier. If you’re reading this and need some help reaching your goals, or maybe you don’t have any goals in mind but would like to create some, fill out THIS APPLICATION.

  1. Don’t Be Forceful

One of the worst things you can do when attempting to help a friend or family member live a healthier lifestyle is being forceful. One of the best things you can do is listen. Listen to them talk about their relationships with things like exercise and nutrition. Give advice when it is called for and be sincere about it. Sharing the positive impact healthier choices has had on your life in more ways than just looking better is a great place to start. Some truth and education are great but, refer back to number one always. True change has to come from within. When someone truly wants to feel better, you’ll know. Trying to force a bunch of changes at once will inevitably lead to the person falling off the wagon and potentially having detrimental health consequences down the road.

  1. Be Active Together

Scheduling time to do activity with friends and family is an incredible way to connect and help each other become more fit and healthy. Doing a nightly walk, hitting the gym together, going for hikes, WHATEVER. Schedule time with the person (or people) and don’t even talk about fitness or health. Use it as a way to communicate and bond while you’re being active.

  1. Cook Together

Just like doing activity together, schedule times every week when you’re going to prepare a health meal together. Again, this can be one meal per week to start out. Then two meals per week. Then when the person starts to put together that making better food choices improves their total quality of life, you’ll be prepping food more regularly. The act of being present and cooking a meal with a friend or family member doubles as great for physical health (because you’re eating nutritious foods) but is also incredible for emotional and spiritual well-being.

Bonus: ALWAYS BE SUPER SUPPORTIVE

When you know someone in your life needs to take their health more seriously, they probably know it too. When they decide that they are ready to take that step, be supportive of their goals. Help them to realize that fat loss is great, but it does take time and consistency to truly be the healthiest version of you in all aspects. Remind them to make healthy living a lifestyle versus taking the fad dieting, fat burner/detox tea “quick fix” approach just to temporarily lose weight. If you or a loved one need some accountability and clarity on anything health, fitness and nutrition related, shoot me an email btracke@gmail.com.

What Is Flexible Dieting? (Making It Work For You)

shutterstock_520169236_0

Dieting culture is something that is very confusing for most people. The amount of information is so damn overwhelming and most of the information put out by the mainstream media is just the latest and greatest fad. But the biggest issue is still true: everyone wants fast results. The fitness industry has capitalized on this fact with “30 day challenges”, “cleanses” and other fads that reduce calories to extremely low levels and only allow you to eat a handful of different foods. Whether it’s a “meal plan” or a way of eating where you cut out entire food groups (demonizing carbohydrates, fat or both), these are sure ways to fall off the wagon and lose all faith in losing body fat, achieving the body you want and living the healthy lifestyle you’ve always hoped for.

 

Enter flexible dieting. Flexible dieting is just how it sounds. It is taking a flexible approach to nutrition, specifically dieting for fat loss. What do I mean by flexible? Let’s dive into this. What most people don’t understand is caloric balance. Most people simply don’t understand how many calories are in the food they are eating. So first, we have to begin tracking to understand how many calories (and where those calories are coming from) we’re consuming. Depending on where you are consistently calorically (after tracking for 3-5 days), how active you are and your estimated BMR (Basil Metabolic Rate) you will have an idea of your maintenance calories. From here we want to create a calorie deficit. In order for our body to lose fat, we must create a deficit. An effective and safe deficit is going to be around 300-500 calories below maintenance (this varies person to person, but generally speaking, shooting for a less aggressive approach out of the gate will lead to better progress in the long term). This is also dependent on the fact that you’re following a solid strength training program individualized for your lifestyle. If you need help with training, click HERE. We now have to begin to consider macronutrient ratios. Macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat) are the three categories that are required in relatively large amounts for the body to live and that make up the calories you’re consuming. The first macro that we need to consider when dieting for fat loss is protein. Protein needs to be set at roughly 0.8g per pound of body weight (NOT the case for obese individuals). The reason we want to track for a few days out of the gate is to find out how much of each macronutrient you’re consuming. If a person isn’t getting anywhere close to the amount of protein they need, you may have to slowly increase protein over time until you get to that 0.8g per pound. Once we have this down, we want to shift our attention to the amount of fat we’re consuming. At least 20% of the calories we’re consuming needs to be coming from fat for optimal hormone health. Typically, when dieting for fat loss it can beneficial for that number to get to anywhere between 30%-50% for the simple fact that fat is more satiating (makes you feel fuller, longer). The rest of your macronutrients are going to come from carbohydrates.

 

Now, here is why flexible dieting is so beautiful. As long as calories and protein intake (0.8 g per pound of body weight) are equated, you can make up the percentage of fat and carbs however you’d like (so long as you’re getting at least 20% of your calories from fat for health purposes). If you’re a person that eats more bacon than bread, maybe you set your fats at 40-45%. Maybe you enjoy white rice and sourdough bread. Then you’d set your carbohydrate intake higher. The key here is to make sure that you’re taking calories into consideration. The key to losing body fat is being in a calorie deficit. Notice, I said BODY FAT, not just BODY WEIGHT. If you’re not eating enough protein and you’re not resistance training, when you put yourself in a calorie deficit you will lose fat and muscle over time. This will slow your metabolism and could have harmful impact on your hormonal and nervous systems.

 

Flexible dieting works a lot like a budget. You only have a certain number of calories and macros each day, so you have to find out what works best for you and live within your budget. What’s awesome about flexibility is that you can fit in foods you like and truly enjoy. And if you’re out with friends or on a date, you don’t have to be super restrictive. It’s about finding a nice balance. I like thinking about it in terms of the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time we’re eating minimally processed whole foods. This is important for digestion, hormonal function, sleep, energy, performance… you get the picture. Eating whole foods is ESSENTIAL for health. That means out of ten meals, eight of them are including protein, veggies and the right amount of carbs and fat that fit your macros for the day. The other two meals can be “flexible”, or meals/treats that may be higher in sugar or more processed. I like to talk about the 80/20 rule in regards to flexible dieting because people still make the mistake of “fitting in” junk food on a regular basis. Although it may fit your macros, and you may still lose weight (if calories are equated and you’re in a deficit, you WILL lose weight), you will have more inflammation which could impair gut health, which impacts everything from hormones to mental clarity. While it is ok to fit in foods you enjoy that aren’t very nutrient dense, for overall health, try not to have back to back meals that are less nutritious.

 

Flexible dieting is awesome because it allows for dietary adherence. How? Because people who have non-negotiables can make these things fit in their weekly budget. That could include date night with their significant other, a night out with friends for drinks or just pizza and a movie. Whatever it is, you can make it work. (If this is something you need help with, click HERE.) People fail most often with dieting for fat loss because they can’t adhere to the “diet” or “meal plan” they are currently following. Flexible dieting is the answer to this because it allows you to eat foods you enjoy and keep non-negotiables in your week. BUT you have to realize that it is super easy to lose track of the things you’re eating and drinking. The next thing you know, you’ve gone way over your weekly allotted calories. This is ok sometimes, but if it’s something you continuously do, you will not lose body fat. This is why BUILDING AWARENESS is the first step. To make flexible dieting work for you, you have to track food intake, get comfortable with it, and pay attention to how certain foods are impacting your body in every way. Once you have mastered these techniques, you’ll be able to make flexible dieting fit your lifestyle. From what you’re eating, how many meals you’re eating per day, factoring in non-negotiables… you’ll be able to customize these things to best fit your lifestyle. Because as we know, if it fits your lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to adhere to the diet. And if you adhere to something, you’ll eventually make progress. Realize that building a solid foundation behind nutrition with flexible dieting takes time, consistency and a level of dedication to being a healthier you. Questions about flexible dieting? Shoot me an email, btracke@gmail.com.

 

 

Tracking Macros vs. Intuitive Eating

5a998bb6da529.image

Tracking macros vs. intuitive eating… the great debate. Or is it? What you need to realize right out of the gate is that BOTH of these nutritional protocols are worth talking about. One requires you to track macros (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and the other requires you to be very tuned in with your body’s natural signals.

 

The beauty of tracking macros is that you TRULY build awareness around what you’re consuming. This is the very first step in any lifestyle change. Whether your goal is health, performance, aesthetics or a combo of each, the first step in creating an individualized nutritional protocol is building awareness. (NOTE: If you’re struggling with this, fill out THIS APPLICATION.) What we MUST realize is that true intuitive eating is a destination for damn near everyone reading this.

 

If you haven’t built any awareness around nutrition, intuitive eating is out of the question. Eating intuitively isn’t simply eating what tastes good or what gives you the biggest dopamine rush in the short term. This is eating like a 5-year-old. Intuitive eating is being able to go to the kitchen, prepare a meal, and be able to make an accurate estimation of how many calories you’re consuming and how much protein, carbohydrates and fat make up those calories. But this isn’t the end. You ALSO have to understand how those foods you chose make you feel. If you know you don’t tolerate dairy very well and drink a giant glass of chocolate milk with breakfast every morning, here’s a little hint: you’re not intuitively eating. Learning your body’s signals are key and why building awareness through tracking should be the first step in anyone’s nutritional protocol. Many people have taught themselves to ignore negative body signals. Some of these include:

 

-Diarrhea

-Low sex drive

-Brain fog

-Bloating

-Irritability

-Poor fitness performance

– Acne

-Anxiety

-Headaches

-Heartburn

-Mood swings

-Poor sleep

 

These are just a few of the signals we have been taught to ignore. What is great is that if we truly build awareness with nutrition, MANY of these things can be alleviated. (NOTE: Exercise is also a very important factor here. Check out the blog I wrote about resistance training HERE.)

 

Obviously, there are a lot of pro’s to tracking macronutrient intake. We’ve talked about building awareness, so what happens when we track? We literally find out what we’re consuming, and how that is impacting our health, performance, sleep, mood etc. When we figure these things out, we can adjust our macronutrient targets to fit our goals and lifestyle. Our goals will determine how much of each macro nutrient we will consume. Moreover, we will also find out what our food quality is like. This is HUGE for whatever your goals are. I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 rule for whatever your goals are. This means 80% of the time we’re eating whole, minimally processed foods. 20% of the time is saved for emotional/spiritual well-being. Let me explain. When you’re out with your significant other, having drinks with friends, at dinner for a family members birthday, you are feeding your soul. Call me a hippie, call me woo-woo WHATEVER. This is also a part of health. Health encompasses more than just “beast mode” training and a broccoli and tilapia diet. When you have an awareness of nutrition (and training), you’re able to feed your emotional/spiritual well-being without falling off the wagon and binge eating. When we realize that those alcoholic beverages and pizza have an impact on our system that typically isn’t favorable to how our body feels, especially compared to more minimally processed food, we begin to crave the better foods and make better choices. But it all starts with building that awareness and paying attention to how what you’re eating is impacting your body in all aspects.

 

There are also con’s of tracking macros. The If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) crowd has taken over Instagram over the past few years. The idea behind IIFYM is that you can fit anything into your nutritional protocol so long as it fits into your daily macronutrients. Now, before I say anything about this, if you’re following the 80/20 rule here, IIFYM is great. If you’re eating lower quality foods on a daily basis, even if you’re hitting your macros, you could be compromising health. Many times, IIFYM doesn’t take gut health and hormonal health into consideration. When we eat higher quality foods, our gut is healthier. When our gut health and digestion is on point, we are able to absorb nutrients more effectively. When we absorb nutrients more effectively, we have more energy throughout the day. When we have more energy throughout the day, we get more accomplished. When we get more accomplished, we’re less stressed. When we’re less stressed, we need less stimulants. When we consume less stimulants (caffeine), we sleep better. When we sleep better our hormones are regulated properly. This will lead to long-lasting success in fitness whether your goal is fat loss, muscle building, performance or just general health. Bottom line: quality of food matters. People who say things like, “you can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits your macros” don’t have your best interest (true health) in mind. We not only want to build awareness with tracking, but also have a better relationship with food. Squeezing in a bunch of processed junk every day just because it fits your macros isn’t a positive relationship with food. Learning how food impacts your body, and realizing it is different for each and every person is. Another con of tracking macros is that it can be stressful for some people. I get it. It can be quite inconvenient at times. Weighing, measuring, calculating… it takes work. But here’s something you have to consider: is tracking and building awareness (learning) worth it? Is it more convenient than going through your life unaware of the food you’re consuming? Leading to potential health issues and chronic illness? This is something you have to answer for yourself. Sure, you can try the latest fad and lose weight, but you’ll never truly develop a good relationship with food. You’ll be stuck like so many on the yo-yo dieting train. This is a place no one wants to be.

 

The pro’s of intuitive eating are extensive. But again, this is a destination and not something you can throw yourself into if you have zero awareness built around nutrition. Eating intuitively is an incredible place to be because you can literally eat how you feel suits you best. You aren’t stressed about tracking or weighing or measuring. You know exactly what you need to stay on track to reach your goals AND remain healthy in every aspect of life. Simply put, intuitive eating is where everyone should strive to be. But, even the most aware folks have periods where they track. Maybe they have a vacation planned and want to really tighten things up. Maybe they’ve been busy in other aspects of life and their nutrition has been a bit “off”. Having periods of time when you track to get back on track is key. Even if it’s just writing down what they’re eating every day for a week, and how they’re feeling throughout the day. The con’s of intuitive eating are little to none, besides the simple fact that there is little to no “structure”. I’d argue though, that if you have an awareness built, there can be some “structure”, even though you’re eating intuitively. But most people aren’t ready to be here. Even most people who think they’re ready, aren’t. I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again, AWARENESS COMES FIRST.

 

So, you want to begin your journey to intuitive eating? Great! First we have to implement a tracking protocol. After we track for 1-2 weeks we will have an idea of what you’re currently consuming. We will also take your BMR (Basil Metabolic Rate) into consideration. You can read more about that in my free e-book The Results Triangle HERE. Depending on goals and where you are calorically/food quality wise, we will set you up with target macronutrients OR, if you are really struggling with food quality, we will set small goals to start and build on this until you’re ready to get into tracking your macronutrient intake. Again, this will vary person to person (which is why individualized coaching is KEY).

 

The biggest thing we have to realize is that nutrition is SUPER INDIVIDUALIZED. Meaning every single person reading this is at a different place. Different mindset, different goals, different age, different hormones, different metabolism… you get it. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. This is where individualized coaching comes into play. The game plan for a 35-year-old mom who is on the go and has a family is completely different than the 23-year-old who wants to build muscle and look good on the beach. Realize this and hire a professional who will take all of these factors into consideration. If you’re ready to have some accountability, and have a coach that puts your needs first, fill out my nutrition coaching application HERE.