How to Have – And Sustain Fitness Success

There are all kinds of myths out there about becoming fit and maintaining it for life…

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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!

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Tracking Macros vs. Intuitive Eating

Tracking macros vs. intuitive eating… the great debate. Or is it?

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Why Women Should Train THE SAME as Men for Fat Loss

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The easy answer is HELL YES. Women and men should train the same for fat loss. BUT this is a very broad answer and something that we need to dive in to in order to explain why men and women shouldn’t be training that much differently at all. Many women are very very intimidated by the idea of training with weights. They’re afraid of being too bulky from building muscle. I’ve said before that it is VERY tough to do this because women don’t have the testosterone in their body to build the kind of muscle a male can. So, how do women get bulky?

 

  1. They’re eating in big a calorie surplus
  2. They’re taking anabolic steroids

 

Both of these things cause women to gain muscle (and fat if in a large enough calorie surplus) and give them a look that they may not be in the market for. Not to say that this is wrong either. I know plenty of women who love being bigger and stronger than other women and this is AWESOME too!

 

But just because you are strength training doesn’t mean you are going to get “bulky” and lose your hourglass figure. So, what is the answer for women trying to get toned and lean versus big and bulky? What exercises should they be doing? Do I have to lift in the gym 6-7 days per week?

 

The answer can be slightly different for everyone based on experience, goals, lifestyle etc. But generally speaking, women should be training like the guys do in order to lose body fat. Yes, lifting weights. Challenging weights. Not just the pink dumbbells. Instagram/Magazines have popularized High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for women as the best way to get toned. HIIT has its place for fat loss, but it SHOULD NOT be the only thing you rely on if you want consistent fat loss and a lean toned physique year-round (check out my post about HIIT HERE). Two things we know about traditional strength training (these go for men and women):

 

  1. It builds muscle. The signal you send to your body when you train with weights is an anabolic signal. When you break muscle tissue down, protein synthesis increases to repair those muscles making them bigger and stronger over time.
  2. It speeds the metabolism. How? The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle is an expensive tissue that your body has to work hard to keep on.

 

Again, although you will build muscle as a female by lifting weights, you don’t have the genetic makeup of a man (women have less testosterone) that will make you appear “bulky” unless you’re eating in a large enough calorie surplus and/or taking anabolic steroids.

 

I know. Training like the guys can sound scary. But I invite you to trust me (and the many other great coaches/trainers) on this and apply some of these training principles to help you lose more body fat. Most women are either doing HIIT training for the majority of their exercise or low intensity cardio on machines like treadmills, bikes, elliptical etc. If you read my post about HIIT, you can see the negative side of HIIT. You can also see the positive. Typically, most of my clients do 1-2 days of HIIT weekly for 15-20 mins. NOT 5-7x per week. The issue with doing only low intensity machine cardio is that you are not stimulating muscle growth (remember this is imperative for calorie burn and fat loss over time). Do these forms of cardio burn the most calories? Sure. BUT this is an acute way to burn calories. Strength training burns more calories OVER TIME.

 

What should be your main emphasis instead is strength training 2-4x per week, and doing 1-2 days of HIIT (again, check out my HIIT post to see the benefits of doing this properly). This means 2-4x per week you are squatting, deadlifting, rowing, pressing etc. and trying to get progressively STRONGERon these exercises. This will impact your body’s metabolism and hormonal system like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Total body training on a 3 day per week split is by farmy favorite split to use for fat loss in men and women. With women in particular it’s the best because what do women want most (besides toned arms)? Toned legs and a firm butt! By performing these big lifts like heavy squats and deadlifts 3x per week, you send a consistent signal to grow these muscles. These are also the biggest muscles on your body so you will burn more calories in the long haul. You can also add in more volume (exercises, sets, reps) for leg exercises and less for upper body if your goal is to specifically have better looking legs/butt. Strength training is also incredible for women as they age. As women get older, their bones tend to become weaker (osteoporosis is more prevalent in women) and you become susceptible to being injured doing daily activities. Strength training actually strengthens your bones as well making this less likely to be an issue as you age.

 

Remember, everyone is different and has different goals. Men’s body’s and women’s bodies are different. Women have to bear children, so they have naturally wider hips/pelvis. This could mean that you have to change exercises slightly to better fit your frame. And like I said before, most women want toned legs and a firm butt. This might mean that ladies do more lower body training, and less upper body training than their male counterparts.

 

Here are the big take home points:

-Men and women should train the same for fat loss.

-You will not get bulky from strength training, unless you’re eating too many calories or taking steroids (Fill out THIS FORM to find out how many calories YOU should be consuming for fat loss).

-Your emphasis should be strength training 2-4 days per week, and 1-2 days of HIIT for optimal fat loss results over time.

-Strength training also strengthens your bones. Meaning you put yourself in position to live a longer, higher quality life.

-Men and women have different goals. This is perfectly fine. Most guys want big arms and chest. Your girlfriend probably doesn’t. It would benefit women (and men) to train lower body with more frequency and volume for fat loss.

-LASTLY, the most important point of all, if you’re confused or need help with ANY of this, HIRE A COACH!A coach can provide an individualized training program based on your goals/needs/lifestyle. If you’re interested in making the world’s best investment in your health/fitness/wellness, fill out my online coaching application HERE.

 

 

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5 Rules for Consistent Fat Loss

So you want to lose body fat…

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

When motivation isn’t enough…

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Doing the Ordinary is Just as Important

Why doing the ordinary is just as important…

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True Motivation — Consistent Action & Enjoying the Process

I have many clients who ask me religiously about motivation. “How are you so motivated to workout every day?” “How do you stay motivated to eat good food?” When I ask clients how they feel after they have a stretch where they are eating minimally processed foods and having great sessions in the gym, I get incredible responses. Incredible, amazing, sleeping better and more energy are all a common thread. The issue arises when they say they can’t eat something. In reality, you can eat whatever you want! But when you eat more minimally processed foods, you feel better! So how does this tie into motivation? Motivation is something that comes, and goes. It’s not something that stays with you at all times. It is an emotion. Learning to have fun and enjoy the process of resistance training and eating nutritious foods is crucial to success in having good health. To enjoy the process, it has to become something that is a CONSISTENT ACTION. If you’re not taking action and being mindful on a daily basis to reach your goals, you will ultimately fall short. This doesn’t mean that I always have incredible workouts or always eat nutritious whole foods. I just stay mindful of how I feel, and where I can improve. I know that when my sleep patterns are on point, I tend to have my diet in check. When my diet is in check, my workouts are much more effective. Not to mention my mental clarity, focus and energy are all much better. The consistent action of ANYTHING you do in life is what will set you apart from others who are on the motivated and demotivated roller coaster.

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RSS Ranges of Motion Podcast
  • Ep. 62 Jay Ferruggia
    Had the chance to chat with Jay Ferruggia a while back about his background in fitness, training and his philosophies! You can find Jay on Instagram and be sure to check out his podcast as well.   Train With Ben - Get a new training program sent right to your email automatically every month with Train […]
  • Ep. 61 Mike Gorski, RD
    A while back, I got the chance to interview Mike Gorski. I. found Mike through a couple of his articles I read on other fitness pro’s sites. Mike is a Registered Dietician and trainer/strength coach who is incredibly knowledgable and has a lot of the same values as myself. Follow Mike on Instagram, Facebook and […]
  • Ep. 60 Jessica Rothenberg
    Today you'll get to hear my interview with Jessica Rothenberg. Jessica has a really cool story about her own personal health and fitness journey and I'm pumped she got to share that today on the podcast. You can find Jessica on her Instagram and you can check out her website. Jessica also has two incredible […]
  • Ep. 59 Theo Bowie
    Today I interviewed strength coach Theo Bowie. Theo is INCREDIBLE at the mastery of human movement and mobility. Check him out on his Instagram.    "Strength Basics" - My First Downloadable 12-Week Training eBook - Check It Out HERE   To apply for coaching with Ben Racke Fitness, visit https://benrackefitness.wufoo.com/forms/r1dvzpxw1jfz1g8/   To get 15% off […]
  • Ep. 58 Q&A w/ Danny Matranga
    Today we answered: Thoughts on BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) training? Should you do ankle mobility drills with or without shoes? BCAA's for vegans? Proper reverse dieting protocol? Should I be using a weight belt?   "Strength Basics" - My First Downloadable 12-Week Training eBook - Check It Out HERE   To apply for coaching with […]