Why Training Is More Than Just A Positive Physically (The Mental Health Benefits of Training)

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably dealt with anxiety and overwhelm. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States – 40 million adults each year to be exact…

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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RSS Ranges of Motion Podcast
  • Ep. 57 Paul Clingan
    Paul is a personal trainer, yoga instructor and lululemon ambassador. Growing up an athlete, he always felt like he was healthy. He worked out, played sports, and thought that was it. The more he learned about health and fitness, the more he learned that true health is of the mind and the body. The body […]
  • Ep. 56 Q&A - Hot Yoga, Are Abs Made in the Kitchen, Tracking Applications & MORE!
    Today I answered: Thoughts on hot yoga? Have you tried it? Do you agree that abs are made in the kitchen? When working out, should I do cardio, then weights, or weights, then cardio? How do you fit in your own workouts when you're busy with clients? Do you recommend any apps for tracking food, […]
  • Ep. 55 Dr. Becky Campbell
    Download Dr. Campbell's free thyroid guide HERE.   Dr. Becky Campbell is a board-certified doctor of natural medicine who was initially introduced to functional medicine as a patient. She struggled with many of the issues her patients struggle with today, and she has made it her mission to help patients all around the world with […]
  • Ep. 54 Q&A - At Home Workouts, Kettlebell Training, Tracking Macros & MORE!
    Today I answered: Tips for effective at home workouts with dumbbells when you can't go to the gym? Why's everyone drinking celery juice? What's your favorite kettlebell swing or exercise? What's one thing you want to improve on personally and health related? Go-to healthy snacks? I don't want to track macros for the rest of […]
  • Ep. 53 Caroline Ofenstein
    Caroline is a certified nutrition coach, CrossFit L1, and personal trainer. She is the author of the Performance Nutrition Manual and specializes in helping athletes, as well as a variety of individuals, reach their peak health & fitness. She coaches clients through individualized training and nutrition programs at Boom Boom Performance, where she and the […]