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How to Get in Shape Without a Gym Membership

Having a gym membership is helpful but not necessary to achieve a high standard of fitness. The lockdown mandates imposed upon us during the start of the pandemic brought about many creative ways to maintain and even increase physical fitness both aerobically and anaerobically with at-home and outside workouts. In this blog post I’ll share with you numerous ways to get and/or stay in shape without a gym subscription.

1. Calisthenics 

Calisthenics involves mastering large-muscle, multi-joint, and body weight movements that can increase muscular strength and endurance similar to that of lifting weights at the gym. With calisthenics you only need access to an open space, a pull up bar (if you’d like to more easily perform back and core exercises), and even some resistance bands for exercise modifications. The one common problem many people find with calisthenics is the difficulty of regressing and progressing movements, however, this can be achieved with some basic understanding of biomechanics, creativity, and minimal equipment. 

One exercise that can serve as a great example for finding progressions and regressions with minimal equipment is the push-up. While the push-up may be easy for some people, others may not be able to fully drop their chest to the floor nor push their chest up after completing the movement. Regressions for this exercise can include performing an incline push-up with hands on an elevated surface (making the resistance lighter) or performing the push-up on the knees (also making the resistance lighter). Another regression for this exercise can include putting a circle resistance band around the upper arms to aid in the concentric portion of the push-up, helping in exploding out of the hardest part of the movement. Progressions for the push-up include elevating the feet, adding a weighted vest, slowing down the repetitions, or simply adding more repetitions and/or sets to your workout. 

In order to structure a complete workout with calisthenics, consider adding in all of the foundational movement patterns of the body. In daily life our bodies perform movements that require us to push things away, pull things towards us, hinge in order to pick things up, squat in order to sit/stand/climb/etc., carry in order to transfer things from one place to another, unilaterally transfer our weight from one foot/hand to the other, and so much more. Structure your workouts with these basic movement patterns in mind. Examples of calisthenics exercises for these movement patterns include: 

  • Horizontal Push: Push Up Variations
  • Horizontal Pull: Resistance Band Row/Inverted Row
  • Vertical Push: Handstand Push-Up/Overhead Press
  • Vertical Pull: Pull-Up/Pull-Down Variations
  • Carry: Carrying Weighted Objects/Hanging Exercises
  • Squat: Squat Variations
  • Hinge: BW/Weighted Deadlift Variations 
  • Unilateral: Lunge/Step Up Variations

Check out these social media influencers and fitness professionals to gather inspiration for calisthenics workout variations. 

Coach Bachmann

Hybrid Calisthenics

Malcolm Calisthenics

2. Outdoor Sports & Activities 

Another way to achieve a high level of aerobic and anaerobic fitness is to engage in outdoor sports and activities. Many outdoor sports and activities require the use of minimal to no equipment and are fairly easy to start learning with the help of online resources. Some great examples of outdoors sports and activities include: 


  • Hiking 
  • Running 
  • Walking
  • Jogging 
  • Cycling 
  • Swimming 
  • Rock Climbing
  • Archery 
  • Skateboarding
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Jump Rope
  • Roller Skating


  • Basketball 
  • Tennis 
  • Golf
  • Baseball/Softball 
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer 
  • Boxing/Kickboxing 
  • Gymnastics/Tumbling

Many other hobbies and sporting activities can be done to achieve or maintain physical fitness throughout your lifetime. Boxing, dancing, and gymnastics happen to be my favorite amongst the activities listed above. None of these activities require a gym membership and some don’t even require the purchase of equipment. Activities like yoga and dancing can be done following free YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok videos. My favorite dance lesson subscription service is Steezy Studio which features multiple dance genres taught by dance professionals in an easy-to-use format with reasonable subscription pricing. There are plenty of other online sources for other activities to learn from as well. 

3. At Home Gym 

Creating a basic at-home gym is manageable with the right amount of equipment and space available. I personally believe that creating a suitable home gym only requires one set of adjustable dumbbells (ranging from 5-80 lbs), a few kettlebells (ranging from 10-50 lbs), an adjustable bench, and resistance bands. You can even add an adjustable pull up bar in order to perform core and back exercises with ease. This tip requires a large up-front purchase in the form of buying equipment, however, it can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in annual and monthly gym fees by not having a recurring gym membership. Other advantages of having a home gym is not dedicating 30 minutes to an hour of your day getting ready for the gym nor wasting time commuting to and from the gym. This frees up space in your schedule to add in more productivity or even more relaxation and ideally also frees up some much-needed mental energy for other responsibilities and engagements. 

4. VR/Interactive Gaming

Last and certainly not least of all non-gym activity recommendations is virtual reality and interactive gaming. I recently purchased an Oculus VR headset and have found the game Supernatural to not only be a great cardiovascular workout, but also a fun and entertaining challenge. In this game you hit targets that are thrown at you to the rhythm of the songs played during the workout. The songs are modern and upbeat and the trainers featured on this game give constant feedback and technique reminders to make sure you’re getting the most out of the sessions completed. There are plenty of other fun and engaging games of differing genres that not only provide a great workout, but are also fun and interesting as well. 

Found anything in this post particularly helpful, interesting, or unique? Have any non-gym activities you currently like to engage in that are not included on this list? Comment below and let me know of any other activities or sports you partake in that have helped you achieve your fitness goals without a gym membership. 

Interested in personal training in Fresno, CA or Selma, CA? Visit my website or DM me on instagram to connect with me regarding personal training. 


Why Boxing Is THE BEST Cardio Exercise 

If I’m being genuine, the title of this post is most-definitely clickbait. The true best form of cardio is the one you can chronically stick with in order to reach your health and fitness goals. Research can suggest that bobsledding is the best form of aerobic exercise but you’d never catch me doing it simply because it’s just not my thing. I do, however, enjoy the loud pop from a perfectly executed punch and would love to explain to you why I feel that boxing (at least for me) is the best form of cardio exercise. 

I only started boxing approximately 2.5 years ago after (yes, after) being hired at a kickboxing gym. I had no prior experience to suggest I’d be a great kickboxing instructor, however the job included both kickboxing and fitness and I did (and still do) have my personal training certification. You could say I was partially qualified for the job, needed a job after quiting my previous job, and was also mildly interested in kickboxing when I first got hired at the facility. After lots of training and practice, I discovered I had a love for kickboxing and holding pads for other people. I love to punch and I love teaching others how to punch, and the experiences I gained working at this job definitely helped change the trajectory of my life in a good way. This leads me to my first reason for boxing being the best cardio exercise:


Women especially tend to gain an increased sense of empowerment in their bodies once starting boxing training. In boxing you learn self defense techniques that actually can be used in the real world, if necessary. Blocking punches, learning footwork, and learning how to throw a knockout punch is very useful in a world that is unfortunately set up to be particularly hazardous for women. I always joke that my kickboxing training has set me up to use my long legs as my first line of defense if I’m ever in need of defending myself. A hard teep to the gut (or nuts) is sure to protect you if you ever find yourself in a dangerous encounter. 


Boxing and kickboxing are very high intensity workouts. The oxygen consumption requirements for an intense boxing or kickboxing session will definitely reach upwards of 75-95% maximal oxygen consumption depending on how intense that session is. Boxing is a full body workout incorporating not only the upper body and torso, but also the legs in order to efficiently and effectively transfer power onto the opponent, bag, or mitts. It requires a lot of effort to move your body quickly and powerfully at the same time. If you’re someone who gauges an intense workout by sweat profusion or caloric burn then boxing is definitely the right cardio for you.


The last point to be made about why boxing is the best cardio exercise is that it’s just really f-ing fun. Anyone who’s done boxing both professionally and recreationally can admit that during and after a good boxing session you feel a major rush of endorphins and euphoria. Despite the pain you may feel while your lungs and heart seem as though they’re going to burst mid-session, you’ll still find the exercise to be fun and a great challenge to overcome. The sense of accomplishment after a boxing session is unmatched to any other form of exercise to date (in my humble opinion). 

If you’re located in the Central Valley area in CA, particularly Selma, I invite you to come out to Boxing Bootcamp on Friday evenings at 5:30-6:30 PM. I just started hosting this bootcamp that features bag work, mitt work, and some general cardiorespiratory conditioning. Drop ins are $15 located at Manzo Fitness (1915 High St Selma, CA). Anyone and any level welcome. 🤗

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I appreciate you! ❤️

Located in Fresno & interested in personal training? 

Website: | DM me on Instagram



Why You Can’t Spot Reduce Body Fat

It’s become common knowledge now with the rise of science-based fitness coaches that spot reducing body fat is not possible, but why is that the case? Before revealing why spot reduction is not possible (without surgery), let’s define the term “spot reducing” first. Simply put, spot reducing is trying to burn body fat off of a specific body part through resistance training. It may involve doing crunches to reduce belly fat or doing shoulder exercises to reduce arm fat. This isn’t possible and it all comes down to basic exercise physiology. Before continuing with this blog post, I would like to source my exercise science class at Fresno State titled ‘Fitness and Wellness’ and the very knowledgeable Dr. Morales and Dr. Coles for providing me with a simple explanation on resistance training and fat oxidation. 

Why Resistance Training Does Not (Directly) Burn Body Fat 

Resistance training is a short, powerful, and intense form of exercise. This form of exercise typically involves short bursts of effort lasting from around 30 seconds to 2 minutes accounting for the duration of the sets of exercises and discounting the duration of rest periods between sets. The energy systems we use to provide the needed energy for these short bouts of exercise are the ATP-PC system and the anaerobic glycolytic system. Without getting extremely technical with energy metabolism, these systems use glucose, ATP and phosphocreatine as their main source of energy because ATP-PC and glucose are easier and faster to break down for energy than fat. A greater percentage of fat oxidation occurs with lower intensity and longer duration bouts of exercise such as a long walk or leisurely bike ride. As mentioned above, resistance training is a shorter and more intense form of exercise so it requires glucose (AKA sugar) as the main source of energy during training bouts. This is why following a ketogenic diet (eating mostly fats and proteins and hardly any carbohydrates) is not recommended for someone who partakes in high intensity training, including strength training and high-intensity aerobic training, as energy stores for this type of training will be low and will negatively affect your performance. Instead, following a moderate diet that includes all macronutrients will ensure you get the adequate amount of carbohydrates for energy for the body and brain, protein for tissue maintenance and repair, as well as fats for energy and hormonal regulation. 

What Actually “Burns” Body Fat 

Being in energy imbalance (being in a caloric deficit or consuming less energy than you expend) is what will actually burn body fat in the long run. Body fat is burned from energy stores all over the body and the exact places you store and burn body fat is determined by genetics. Unfortunately, besides getting liposuction, it is not possible to pick and choose where our bodies store and burn body fat. Instead of worrying about where exactly your body burns fat, dedicate yourself to the habits necessary to lose body fat all over and stick to these habits long enough to eventually reach your body fat goal. Follow a moderate caloric deficit, lift weights to get stronger and increase your resting metabolic rate, sleep enough to recover, do cardio to increase your caloric deficit as well as improve heart function, and eat nutritious foods and you are sure to accomplish your fat loss goal! 


5 Tips to Simplify Your Strength Training

To the average gym goer, strength training can seem like a daunting task. Most influencers on social media showcase unnecessarily complicated and sometimes dangerous workouts that the general public does not need to do to see results. In this blog post I’ll be listing 5 tips to help you simplify your strength training because strength training is actually not as complicated as you might think.

1) Choose a Workout Split that Fits Your Schedule 

How much time do you have to dedicate to strength training? Despite what may be pushed across social media platforms, progress can be made with sessions ranging from as low as 2 times per week to as high as every day of the week. The major factor determining what you should choose is how much time you have to dedicate to your program. Don’t feel discouraged if you only can commit to two 30-minute lifting sessions per week. As long as progression is made in the form of weight increased, better technique, more repetitions, more sets, etc., progress and health benefits can be seen at that lifting frequency. 

2) Choose Exercises Based off Fundamental Movement Patterns

A previous blog post I wrote titled, “How to Create a Training Program Using Movement Patterns,” lists detailed steps on how to structure your lifting routine based on movement patterns. Doing so will simplify your training and take a lot of guesswork and confusion out of the process. Fundamental movement patterns include things we perform in daily life such as: squats, hinges, lunges, pushes, pulls, carries, and twists. Performing different variations of these movement patterns weekly will ensure that you get enough variety in your program to target different muscle groups and prevent imbalances as well as make sticking to your program and making progress a lot easier. 

3) Record Your Workouts in a Progress Log

I recommend using a simple notes pad on your phone to record your exercises, sets, reps, and weight while training. You can use the rest period between sets to record this information so making progress in the future will be easier. If you don’t write down the weight, reps, and sets each session, it will only make it difficult to track progress as remembering what you performed previously will be really hard to do on the spot. You can also videotape your workouts with your phone to check your progress. Seeing your deadlift and squat technique improve is not only motivating, but is also another way to progress in the gym besides increasing weight or repetitions executed. 

4) Train 2-4x Per Week

This recommendation ties into the first two recommendations listed above. In order to allow for proper rest and recovery as well as outside commitments, stick to only lifting weights 2-4x per week. Unless your goal is to be a professional athlete or bodybuilder, it’s not necessary to spend all of your free time in the gym. Training 2-4 times per week allows you to stick to a routine like a full body or upper/lower split and include enough rest days in between to allow yourself enough time to recover between workouts and enough mechanical stimulus to see progress in the weight room. Typically, training more than 5 times per week doesn’t allow yourself enough time to recover between workouts unless you are following a “bro split” that involves training one muscle group per day. The only downside to training this way is having to go to the gym every day of the week as well as having to do lots of volume for one body part in one session which most beginner lifters cannot physically handle. Choosing to stick to 2-4x per week is a more balanced and manageable approach to produce enough stimulus for the muscle to grow as well as provide enough time to recover from those workouts during the week. In order to see progress and keep the results long term, your routine needs to be sustainable, reasonable, and fit into your daily life. Your life does not need to revolve around the gym in order to see progress.

5) Recover 

Recovery is a huge factor in keeping your mental sanity as well as seeing progress in the gym. We don’t get stronger while breaking down our muscles in the gym, we can only see progress after building our muscles in the recovery process. This involves getting optimal sleep (7-9 hours per night), optimal nutrition (especially adequate calories and protein), and managing stress levels. Training does not need to be that serious unless it is your career. Don’t stress about progress as the stress itself may actually hinder your progress in the long run. Take breaks when necessary, feed yourself appropriately, and manage your stressors to the best of your ability. 

Once I adopted this way of thinking about my training, I became a lot less stressed about what to do and whether or not I’m seeing progress. Lifting weights is fairly simple in theory. Get stronger, lift heavier, lift more repetitions, repeat. It does not have to involve percentage calculations, macro tracking, pre-activation, post-activation, etc. Those techniques are reserved for advanced lifters who need to tweak these variables in order to continue seeing progress. First, master the basics listed above and if you can do that for 3-5 years while seeing progress, then consider diving into very advanced techniques and practices. The majority of the population can receive tremendous health and fitness benefits from simply training whole body exercises 2x per week and walking more (or being more physically active in general) outside of the gym. Don’t be fooled by what is constantly presented on social media. Master the basics and continue them long term and you’ll be surprised by the progress you manifest after doing so.


Systems and Exercise Adherence

Sticking to any of your New Year’s goals poses a significant challenge as the year proceeds. Life generally gets in the way of our plans making it more difficult to achieve set resolutions. When it comes to achieving your goals, especially your fitness goals, the easiest way to do so is to simplify your process. One way to do this is to have set systems in place to take thought more or less out of the process entirely. Read further to get an idea of what a system is and how to implement it into your routine. 

What is a System?

Simply put, systems in daily life are just deeply ingrained habits that allow us to accomplish our daily, weekly, and monthly goals with less thought required. We have a “system” in place for our morning routine typically involving brushing our teeth, washing our face, showering and grooming. We have a similar system in place for winding down at the end of the day to prepare us for the next day. In order to successfully accomplish our goals, we have to choose daily habits to incorporate into our life (AKA systems) in order to make the process easier to adhere to.

If exercising more is a general goal you’d like to accomplish in 2022, think about how this action can be added to an already-existing system or incorporated into your routine as it’s own system. For example, if you’re looking to simply become more active, you can attach a short 10 minute walk to follow your breakfast and/or dinner routine. It’s a perfect window of opportunity to add in more movement to your routine without requiring too much added effort or thought. You can also find windows of opportunity to make exercising a habit on its own by going before or after work a few times a week. This requires some upfront effort to determine what type of exercise you’d want to do and where to do it, however, once those details have been made clear, it’s only a matter of following this system every week for a few weeks in a row to make it a fairly permanent part of your routine, a solidified system much like brushing your teeth. 

One Key Element to Systems 

When it comes to fitness, the key element to making it a part of your routine and a solidified system is enjoyment. If you do not enjoy the process of working out, try to find an activity you do like in order to stick to it long term. There’s always going to be some form of movement suited to your liking that may not always be conventional or popular. A quote from James Clear, author of NY Times best seller, ‘Atomic Habits,’ states: 

 “You don’t have to build the habits that everyone tells you to build.” 

It’s far easier to dedicate years of your life to a form of movement you actually enjoy as opposed to what is popular or even “optimal” at the moment. What’s optimal is sticking to your routine for years to come, not trying and quitting something after only a few months due to lack of enjoyment. 

Tony Gentilcore, fitness magazine contributor and writer at, states that being realistic and consistent is what works best long term. 

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll start to think I’m a broken record at this point, however, the point remains the same. Consistency and enjoyment come first before long-lasting change because long-lasting change can only occur over time. It’s very challenging to stick to a fitness routine that leaves you feeling miserable. I suggest unless you’re training for an advanced placement in the military or a decathlon, pick a form of movement that’s fun, challenging enough, and easy to stick to over time. Choose what suits you and it’ll be a lot easier to stick to your New Year’s resolutions for years to come.


My Favorite Snacks for Fat Loss 

If you are considering losing body fat and need ideas on how to eat nutritiously without feeling deprived, you’ve found the right blog! In the summer of 2020, I decided to learn how to make high protein, low calorie snacks and meals to help keep me satisfied while in a caloric deficit. I found many flexible dieting pages online that helped me learn what ingredients to use and how to cook delicious low-cal, high protein foods. In today’s blog I’ll give a brief overview of different savory and sweet snacks I made over quarantine that will help you stay full, eat more protein, and stay on track with your nutrition goals. 

Disclaimer: always check the ingredients in food before eating, especially in items like protein powders and shakes that may contain allergens not obviously specified. If you like any of these snack ideas listed below, leave a comment and give them a try 😋

Sweet Snacks 

Regular/Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese + Fruit

Depending on the type of yogurt used, this snack can contain a lot of protein and probiotics that are great for gut health and satiation. I tend to mix strawberries, kiwis, blueberries, and/or raspberries with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and honey to make a tasty, satisfying snack. 

Yogurt + Protein Powder + Cookies

Similar to the above snack, this snack involves regular or Greek yogurt with protein powder and a crushed cookie like an Oreo or chocolate chip cookie. The added protein powder gives the yogurt a more frosting-like consistency and adding the cookies satisfies your sweet tooth. 🍪

Protein Shakes (Pre-made & Homemade) 

I personally enjoy the consistency of pre-made protein shakes more than homemade protein shakes with protein powder, however, you can get far more creative with making your own protein shakes. One brand I particularly like is PE Science. This brand offers protein powders with a nice consistency and blend and offers lots of flavors to choose from. 

Protein Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie bowls are always delicious and you can make them even more satisfying by adding protein powder to the smoothie blend. Add lots of fruits, vegetables, juices, milk, granola, and protein powder to make a delicious and filling snack to your liking. 

Protein Bars 

Protein bars are a classic yet aren’t overrated, depending on what brand you buy. My favorite brand for protein bars is Zone Perfect. They have an assortment of different flavors ranging from fruity pebbles cereal to chocolate chip cookie and they always taste exactly as advertised. 

Protein Pop Tarts 

Protein pop tarts are a recipe idea I got from watching @theflexibledietinglifestyle videos on YouTube and Instagram. For protein pop tarts, you first make a filling with Greek yogurt, protein powder, and water and use it to fill two slices of bread that are kneaded together like a pop tart. These are super easy to make, especially inside of the air fryer, and are an easy way to eat a high protein snack, especially with an added glass of milk. I made a YouTube video on how to make protein pop tarts, give it a watch here

Chocolate Milk + PB&J

A well-known classic, chocolate milk and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, is another great high protein snack. To make this snack more “calorie friendly,” you can substitute PB powder mixed with water for peanut butter and use no-sugar jelly or jam instead of regular. This snack is a perfect pre-workout snack to help supply the body with glycogen and amino acids before intense exercise. 

Greek Yogurt + Banana + Vanilla Wafers 

If you love banana pudding then Greek yogurt, bananas, and vanilla wafers is the perfect snack for you. Adding Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt can increase the protein content of this snack making it a more satiating snack. You can also add additional toppings like walnuts, honey, and light whip cream to add even more satisfaction on top! 

Rice Cake + Greek Yogurt + Protein Powder + Fruit + Chocolate Syrup

This snack is absolutely delectable and will make you feel fancy after making it, despite its simplicity. This snack involves mixing protein powder with Greek yogurt to make a pseudo-frosting, covering the rice cake with the frosting, and adding toppings like fruit, chocolate syrup, nuts, and whipped cream on top. Another satisfying, delicious, and EASY snack to make and enjoy. 

Savory Snacks 

Italian Snack Plate

This snack is like taking all of the contents of a delicious spicy Italian sandwich and eating them without the bread. Now bread isn’t inherently bad, but if you’re looking for a lower calorie, high protein snack you can simply eat a plate filled with pickles, pepperoni, salami, cheese, olives, crackers, and tuna and have a very filling and tasty snack. 

Chicken or Tuna Salad

You can buy chicken or tuna salad packs pre-made at the grocery store or get creative and make an all-encompassing salad on your own. Add lots of vegetables and seasonings to your chicken or tuna salad for taste and enjoy with a side of crackers or chips for fun! 

Pizza Toast  

Pizza toast is an easy way to get your pizza fix without buying an entire box of pizza. Simply put marinara sauce, cheese, pepperoni, toppings, and pizza seasoning on a slice of thick sourdough bread and you’ve got a mini pizza that’s the perfect compact protein snack. I also made a fun YouTube video on how to make pizza toast in the summer of 2020. You can watch the video here

Protein Wraps

You can get very creative in how you design your own protein wraps. You can buy wraps that are pre-made with high protein ingredients or make a regular wrap with high protein ingredients yourself. An example could be wrapping mozzarella sticks with deli meat or wrapping deli meat, tuna, cheese, and vegetables in a tomato basil wrap. Adding additional sauces and seasonings can make all the difference when making your own protein wraps. 

There are far more ways to make protein snacks that require a lot of prep and baking, but these listed above are my go-to snacks for days I don’t have time to cook. These snacks are perfect to take with you at work or school so you don’t feel obligated to eat out or starve yourself until dinnertime. Follow these pages for even more high protein, low calorie snack and meal inspiration: 

The Flexible Dieting Lifestyle (IG) 

Cheat Day Design (IG)

Stealth Health Life (IG)

Karim Cooks (TikTok) 

The Golden Balance (TikTok) 

Josh Elkin (TikTok)

Follow me on Instagram for more of my daily high protein, lower calorie meals as well! @coachtashay


Convenient Ways to Get In More Physical Activity

Getting more physical activity is integral to living a long life free of disease and age-associated disability. As discussed in my previous blog post, ‘How Physical Activity Affects Your Appetite,’ getting more physical activity also helps to regulate your appetite and manage your body weight. The World Health Organization lists substantial benefits that are associated with increased physical activity including: 

  • Preventing/managing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes
  • Reducing depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Enhancing cognitive skills like thinking, learning, and judgement
  • Promoting healthy growth and development in young adults

The World Health Organization states that over 80% of the world’s adolescent population is not getting enough physical activity. It’s also stated that there is a 20-30% increased risk of death in people who are not physically active compared to people who are physically active. 

All of these facts are scary, yet very apparent in our society. To make matters worse, our society today has been structured to provide as much convenience and as little physical activity as possible. While convenience and innovation are not inherently bad, having them in society today forces us to take responsibility of our own bodies and make time for regular physical activity. Being more physically active, irrespective of weight loss, has all of the physical and cognitive benefits listed above associated with it. So how can we incorporate more activity into our day in a convenient and realistic way? 

1. Start Walking 

Walking is a highly underrated way to get in more physical activity without the need to go to a location, buy equipment, or even overexert yourself in the process. Walking is very accessible for most people and only requires a decent sidewalk or road to walk on and shoes to walk in. You can take short walks on lunch breaks or after meals while at home. You can go for walks alone, with the family, with your pet, on vacation, virtually anywhere and at (almost) anytime. It is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more activity into your day with only a small degree of effort. 

2. Get a New Hobby 

Whether or not your favorite hobby involves high levels of movement, chances are it’s still physical activity. Painting, gardening, playing an instrument, dancing are all great ways to incorporate more physical activity into your day. If you’re someone like me who appreciates video games, it’s worthwhile to consider investing in a VR set or a videogame like Just Dance or DDR to get in some movement while playing your favorite games. Physical activity doesn’t have to involve strenuous exercise. The best way to stick to a movement routine is to enjoy it so find an active hobby you’d like to partake in and you’ll find it a lot easier to fit in more movement into your day. 

3. Do Your Chores 

Alright, this suggestion is no one’s favorite on the list, however, it’s truly difficult to clean your entire living space and works perfectly for getting in more activity inside of your home. Wash the dishes, vacuum the floors and couches, dust the fans and ledges, mop the floors, scrub the toilets… quite frankly that’s an entire push, pull, squat, hinge, carry workout when you’re through with it. The bonus tip is that you’ll feel so accomplished after doing so and can reward yourself with a refreshing shower or candlelit bath afterwards. It’s a win-win! 

If you already partake in moderate to strenuous exercise, getting in more physical activity is still important to your overall health and longevity. Even people who are relatively “in-shape” yet inactive throughout the day (like working a desk job or not moving outside of their scheduled workouts) can still experience the negative consequences associated with being physically inactive. It’s unfortunately not enough to tire yourself out for one hour of the day and then vegetate for the following 23 hours. Everyone can stand to benefit from being more physically active throughout the day as our bodies have not evolved to be as sedentary as they are now in this environment. Use these tips listed in this article to get ideas on how to become more physically active and you’ll be on your way to experiencing the countless benefits associated with it 🙂


Best Forms of Movement to Tap Into Your Inner Child 

We all experience times where we miss the ultimate freedom and vitality of our younger days, when aching joints and nagging injuries were the furthest of our concerns. Even if your childhood wasn’t filled with such feelings of freedom and vitality, you can still access them easily with these forms of movement listed below. These forms of movement incorporate elements of play, creativity, and exploration similar to the elements first explored in early childhood. Better yet, these activities can also develop a strong and agile body helping to ease or even erase the instances of nagging injuries and aching joints common in adulthood.

Jump Rope

Jump rope is one of my favorite rhythmic and therapeutic forms of physical activity. It can be a tricky skill to master, however, with a lot of practice and patience, jump rope can be a fun activity with so many ways to get creative in its execution. Jump rope skills include basic bounces, crosses, swings, releases, catches, stalls, choreography, partner work, and more. When coaching people on the basics of jump rope, the most common phrase I hear is “I haven’t done this since elementary school.” which is a great indicator as to why this form of movement relates us to childhood. It’s often introduced in early childhood, yet never reinforced as we grow older leaving most adults to think that this activity is only meant for boxers and school children. Jump rope is beneficial to anyone looking to improve their health and fitness and should not be delegated to only a small portion of the population. 


Children often are found frolicking around someone’s yard doing cartwheels and backbends like their lives depend on it. While cartwheels and backbends may not be feasible for an adult with no prior gymnastics or calisthenics experience, it’s still a worthwhile consideration to try out a class or learn from an experienced coach on the basics of body contortion and control. Not only does it build incredible full body strength, but it also leaves you feeling ridiculously empowered when learning how to do these movements. 

I personally can relate to feeling incredibly empowered after attending my first handstand workshop with @bodyxyadi at Ironbird Fit in my hometown. This workshop taught me how to warm up my handstands with drills and how to properly align my body to balance my handstand. I held my handstand for the longest I’d ever held it immediately after that workshop. I also credit my feeling of empowerment to my little sister attending that workshop with me. I probably wouldn’t have attended had she not gone with me and I would have lost out on the opportunity to learn from such an amazing instructor. All of this to say that gymnastics and calisthenics are two ways to not only connect with your inner child, but to also connect with the inner badass version of you that you may or may not know exists. 

Traditional Sports 

Another form of movement that is common in childhood is traditional sports. An unfortunate reality is that as we get older, the opportunity to participate in organized sporting events typically gets limited. It’s unfortunate that we spend far more time watching sports than playing sports as we age, but with busy schedules and lack of opportunity, it’s virtually impossible to not do so. If adult sporting leagues are available in your area, I encourage you to try one in a sport you’re familiar with or to even branch out to a sport or activity you’re unfamiliar with to challenge yourself. Not only is doing so a great way to reconnect with your inner child’s need for companionship and physical challenge, it’s also a great way to engage in healthy competition. 

Bike Riding

At what age did you learn to ride a bike? Or if you haven’t learned yet, is that a part of your childhood that you feel is missing? I vaguely remember learning how to ride my bike with my dad at 4 or 5 years old and even though I don’t remember it well, I do remember it being an exciting moment in my childhood. No matter how old you are, riding your bike on a beautiful day in a beautiful neighborhood never gets old. It’s an exhilarating feeling when the sun and wind connects with your skin while observing the world around you in full mental awareness. Riding bikes is also the perfect activity to engage in with the entire family. You can usually do so safely at a bigger recreational park or in your own neighborhood and it’s a great way to spend undivided quality time with your loved ones. 

These are some of my favorite forms of movement that connect me back to my childhood. I was fortunate enough to grow up playing soccer, competing in dance and cheer, and playing softball. These early introductions to movement have lead me to be active in my adult life doing Muay Thai, boxing, strength training, dancing, and jump rope. It’s never too late to explore a new form of movement, no matter how seemingly challenging it may appear. You’ll never know what you might connect on a deeper level with if you don’t give it a try in the first place.


How Increasing Physical Activity Can Affect Your Appetite 

This is a brief article summary from the MASS Research Review article titled ‘The Role of Physical Activity in Appetite and Weight Control.’ To read the full article and get more details on the topic of weight and appetite control via physical activity, subscribe to MASS here.

Many people are familiar with the idea of increasing physical activity in order to increase caloric expenditure to regulate body weight. Another interesting and less familiar way adding physical activity can affect appetite is by regulating satiety signals. In this MASS Research Review article titled ‘The Role of Physical Activity in Appetite and Weight Control,’ Dr. Eric Helms reviews a study by Beaulieu et. al. that observes how increased physical activity affects appetite and weight regulation. Let’s first preview the key points listed in this research review article and then review the interpretations of the research in question. 

‘The Role of Physical Activity in Appetite and Weight Control’ Article Key Points: 

  1. “Physical activity does more than just increase total energy expenditure. When activity is low, appetite is dysregulated, resulting in excess food intake and weight gain. Higher levels of activity seem to increase appetite control.” 
  1. “The combination of being too high in body fat and also being physically inactive may further dysregulate appetite and satiety signaling, making weight loss efforts even more difficult.” 
  1. “Physical activity and exercise may only be effective to a point for the goal of weight loss. At very high levels of physical activity, additional increases may not result in an increase in total energy expenditure, but rather a downregulation of energy expended from other components of total energy expenditure and no change in net expenditure.” 

Physical Activity vs. Exercise

Before summarizing the research listed in this article, it’s important to define and differentiate the differences between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is defined by the World Health Organization simply as “all movement.” This can include playing sports, walking the dog, gardening, cycling, play and recreational activities. Exercise is otherwise defined in this Public Health Reports article as “a subset of physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive and has as an objective – the improvement or maintenance of physical fitness.” The article reviewed in this blog uses the broader term of physical activity as a means toward appetite control and showcases how simply being more active (and not necessarily only engaging in a dedicated exercise program) can also be beneficial to your health and weight management. 

How Physical Activity Affects Appetite Control 

Our bodies have regulatory mechanisms in place that work to control our body weight in an attempt to avoid extreme starvation and obesity. When physical activity levels are too low, these mechanisms work suboptimally and can become disrupted. Figure 2 in the MASS Research Review article shows that with high physical activity levels there was an inverse relationship between body fat and meal size. This meant that those with high physical activity levels and high body fat levels had lower meal sizes and vice versa. Figure 2 also notes that there is “no significant inverse relationship between body fat and meal size at low-moderate levels of physical activity.” The research review also mentioned that while increased physical activity was associated with a greater desire to eat, the higher physical activity levels were also associated with increased satiety in response to meals leading to less overconsumption of food. With low levels of physical activity, appetite control becomes dysregulated and energy consumption fails to match energy expenditure. Furthermore, higher body fat levels on top of low physical activity levels lead to even more appetite dysregulation and weight gain.

Another point to extract from this research review is the J-shaped relationship between physical activity and appetite control. At lower levels of physical activity, energy intake tends to be higher due to appetite dysregulation. As physical activity increases, appetite regulation improves leading to decreased consumption. As physical activity increases even more, energy intake increases as well with this coupling maintaining an optimal balance between the two (intake and expenditure), preventing overconsumption and weight gain. With that in mind, another energy expenditure model is presented in this research article titled the ‘Constrained Vs. Additive Model of Energy Expenditure.’ Put briefly, this model explains that energy expenditure will only increase with an increase in physical activity up to a certain point. Total energy expenditure may become “constrained” or restricted even though physical activity is increased. This was examined in hunter-gatherer societies that had very high physical activity levels that did not match their predicted total daily energy expenditure levels. One key takeaway from this information is to not get overzealous with adding physical activity into your daily routine. Most people are not getting enough physical activity currently, however, make an effort to add physical activity into your day in a practical and realistic way as adding more than necessary may not add any additional benefits anyway. 

Why is this Important? 

Traditionally, obesity and weight management programs have often only viewed weight control through the “eat less, move more” paradigm. While fat loss is a function of calories in vs. calories out, other mechanisms can be included to aid in weight management that doesn’t involve extreme restriction or extreme exercise protocols. Adding in more physical activity into your daily life can increase energy expenditure and regulate appetite when managing weight. In the MASS Research Review Article, Dr. Eric Helms stresses the importance of implementing physical activity into your daily life. Bike riding, walking to stores or parks, hiking, bowling, etc. are all ways to increase your daily physical activity even in addition to a traditional resistance or cardiovascular exercise program. The WHO states that “inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and death worldwide. It increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes by 20–30%. It is estimated that 4-5 million deaths per year could be averted if the global population was more active.” Being more physically active will create a multi-factorial impact on your health, well-being, and longevity. 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

MASS Research Review Volume 2 Issue 3  ‘The Role of Physical Activity in Appetite and Weight Control’

Homeostatic and Non-homeostatic Appetite Control Along the Spectrum of Physical Activity Levels: An Updated Perspective

Relation between Caloric Intake, Body Weight, and Physical Work: Studies in An Industrial Male Population in West Bengal

Physical Activity, Exercise, & Physical Fitness: Definitions and Distinctions for Health-Related Research

Physical Activity Plays an Important Role in Body Weight Regulation

World Health Organization – Physical Activity 

Dr. Eric Helms – Research Review Contributor + Article Author


What Being Sick Has Reinforced In My Fitness Journey

This week I’ve unfortunately experienced getting sick as so many other people have with the increase in Omicron variant cases as well as the regular cold and flu during this season. While being sick is a miserable experience, it’s helped reinforce a few key aspects of my own fitness journey that I’ll discuss in this blog post. 

#1 Recovery is Key 

Recovery is one of the most important parts of your fitness journey as without proper recovery, proper adaptations cannot occur. Without proper recovery you can even increase the chances of you getting sick. This lack of recovery and/or over-exercising is a common term in athletics called overtraining. In this athletics weekly article, Scott Laidler describes the signs of overtraining which include flu-like symptoms such as: “muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, headaches, lack of energy, reduced sex drive and lowered immunity.” If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms while on a training plan without being sick, chances are you are either overtraining through over-exercising or under-recovering. Proper recovery includes incorporating adequate rest days into your exercise program, eating nutritious foods, getting adequate sleep, and managing outside stressors. Keep track of these variables to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training program without leading to overtraining symptoms. 

#2 Whole Nutrition > Restriction

One of the worst things you can do on a new health and fitness journey is restrict food groups from your diet. Getting adequate macronutrients, micronutrients and water intake are important for long term health and immune system function. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately 2 billion people are at risk of micronutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies can be mitigated by incorporating a diversified diet filled with vegetables and fruits of wide variety, optimal and varied protein sources, carbohydrate sources, and healthy fat sources. For someone wanting to lose body fat or whose not getting enough vitamins and minerals in their regular diet, supplementation can be added to prevent these deficiencies. Before adding in random vitamin supplements to your diet, it would be best to get blood work done from your doctor to get an accurate view of which nutrients you may be deficient in. Regardless, it is not advised to cut out entire food groups from your diet as these can lead to immune system issues that can negatively affect your health long term. 

#3 Life is About Ebb and Flow 

Being sick is a stark reminder that not every day can be approached with the grind or die mindset. Some days you may not be able to hit your squat record, other days you may surpass your expectations but regardless, you can’t be “ON” all the time. Being sick reminds us that rest is necessary, if not when we’re feeling great, especially when we’re feeling under the weather. Keep this in mind on the days you don’t feel your best. You can always push the tempo on the days you’re feeling great, but don’t get discouraged and lose sight of your long term goals on the days you don’t feel great. You’ll always have another opportunity to push a little harder. 

What are some other life lessons you’ve learned while getting sick? Comment below! 👇🏽

Sources and Additional Articles: 

Understanding Overtraining in Athletics

Public Health Aspects in the Prevention and Control of Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic


Master Your Goals 

Goal setting can be a frustrating process for the majority of people, especially for people like me who happen to be perfectionists with incredibly high expectations. This approach of goal setting may not be the most conducive to achieving long term goals. In this blog we’ll discuss the difference between mastery and performance goals and why a majority of your goals should focus on one over the other. 

Performance Goals 

Performance goals focus on the accomplishment of a task. This type of goal is the end result that the majority of people focus on. An example of a performance goal may be trying to do a handstand or cartwheel for someone looking to get into gymnastics or calisthenics. The main issue with only setting performance goals is that every instance this action is not achieved can feel like a major fail. Setting mastery goals instead will help you focus on the process of attaining such goals and also helps break down the smaller actions necessary to complete the bigger goal. 

Mastery Goals 

In Dr. John Berardi’s book, ‘Change Maker,’  he describes mastery goals as goals that focus on “ skill development and the intrinsic value of becoming excellent at something, or learning something deeply.” This changes the focus of your goals from being outcome-driven to action-driven. It also is a reminder that the larger the goal is, the more deconstruction is needed to achieve the goal. Large goals cannot be achieved overnight, and focusing on the mastery of the small tasks needed to achieve such goals can help you stay motivated and dedicated to the performance goal long term. 

With the new year set, I urge you to focus on day-to-day, week-to-week actions rather than overall performance goals. Keep these performance goals in mind as they set the framework for what to accomplish, however, don’t get overwhelmed by how grand your performance goals are. Stay dedicated to the smaller, mastery goals every week and see what can be accomplished by the end of the year. You’ve got this! 🙂 

Sources and Additional Goal Setting Information: 

Dr. John Berardi’s Book ‘Change Maker’ 

Stronger by Science Podcast “Goal Setting and Behavior Change” 

Stronger by Science Goal Setting Article


The Goal Hierarchy 

When setting goals, many people solely focus on one or two major goals they’d like to accomplish no matter how broad or specific those goals may be. In a recent Stronger By Science podcast episode, Eric Trexler and Greg Nuckols discuss a newly studied way of setting goals through a goal hierarchy. In this 3-tiered hierarchy you create superordinate goals, intermediate goals, and subordinate goals that all work in support of each other. In this blog we’ll discuss the differences between these three types of goals and how goal setting in this format will help you reach your goals in the new year. 

Superordinate Goals 

Superordinate goals are the top-tier, overarching goals that are very common during the first month of the year. Goals like ‘I want to travel more’ or ‘I want to be healthy’ are examples of superordinate goals. Despite being very vague and ungrounded, Eric Trexler explains that these goals are identity and value-based goals. “[Superordinate goals] kind of anchor us. They provide the why to why we’re pursuing a goal,” Eric states. These types of goals provide us with a foundation of values and identity-markers that allow us to keep pursuing our goals in times of low-motivation. 

Intermediate Goals 

Intermediate goals are less general goals that provide more direction when pursuing superordinate goals. Using the healthy example above, Eric states that intermediate goals might be getting more sleep, avoiding stress, and eating a healthy diet. While not incredibly specific, these goals provide clearer paths to the overarching superordinate goals. 

Subordinate Goals

Subordinate goals are smallest and lowest on the hierarchy, however, they are the goals we’re more likely to pursue on a day-to-day or weekly basis. These are the actionable goals that transform the values of becoming healthy and traveling more to working out twice a week and booking a couple flights for upcoming vacations. These are the goals that most people think of when approaching behavior change. While these goals are important and create a more direct pathway to achieving intermediate goals, without putting them into context with it’s superordinate value, Eric explains they may become hard to stick with over time. 

The Importance of the Goal Hierarchy 

This goal hierarchy establishes a new and more complete way of approaching goal setting and behavior change. Without superordinate goals, the daily steps needed to reach them may seem unimportant or arbitrary and may be discontinued due to lack of direction and motivation. On the other side of the spectrum, superordinate goals without the actionable, day-to-day steps (subordinate goals) are simply just values and identity-markers that have not been applied yet. This showcases the importance of having well-rounded and structured goals as opposed to one or two random and possibly-specific goals. 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

For a more detailed discussion on the topic of the goal hierarchy, listen to the Stronger by Science podcast titled, ‘Goal Setting and Behavior Change’ by Eric Trexler and Greg Nuckols. Also read the study cited in the podcast by Höchli and colleagues to learn more about the benefits of superordinate goals.


New Year New Goals


Now that the new year has finally arrived, many people have set out to make new year’s resolutions in hopes of changing their current circumstances. Many people set courageous and audacious goals that involve quitting behaviors that no longer serve them anymore. While this is a very ambitious and admirable task, another way of approaching goal setting may help in reaching your goals. 

Setting goals that involve quitting behaviors is known as setting avoidance goals. Precision Nutrition cofounder, Dr. John Berardi, explains why setting avoidance goals can be counterproductive to your efforts. 

Instead of setting avoidance goals, Dr. John Berardi insists on setting approach goals. Approach goals involve adding behaviors that can replace the action that no longer serves you. An example of this with nutrition may be adding in a couple servings of vegetables for dinner instead of avoiding eating cake after dinner altogether. In this situation, eating more vegetables would help you feel more full and consequently, lead to eating less cake after dinner. It’s not about avoiding the unwanted behavior (eating cake), rather it’s about including more wanted and healthy behaviors (eating vegetables) that will eventually heave out the unwanted behaviors. 

In his book, ‘Change Maker,’ Dr. Berardi also advises writing down why adding the new behavior is beneficial to you. Why would adding in vegetables be beneficial to you? Adding vegetables will help you feel more full, get more fiber, get more nutrients, and also tastes good when prepared correctly. Make a list of your own that may or may not include these reasons listed above. Using approach goals and reflecting on the importance of them puts you in a more psychologically-pleasant state than using avoidance goals. 

There are many more factors to consider when setting goals, but this is an important starting point to consider. Try approaching your new year’s resolutions this year with an approach mindset instead of an avoidance mindset. Ultimately, our ability to succeed starts with our self-efficacy: our belief in our own ability to succeed. Use this small tip to increase your self-efficacy and increase the chances of you succeeding in pursuing your new year’s resolutions.

Sources and Additional Information:

Dr. John Berardi ‘Change Maker’ Book

Dr. John Berardi Instagram Link


Why Now is the Perfect Time to Start 

On the last day of 2021, it seems as though we’re being bombarded with the same rhetoric as usual at this time of year. “New year, new me,” as the popular saying goes. Is there any merit to that way of thinking? Perhaps there is!

In the recent podcast episode on Stronger By Science, Greg Nuckols and Eric Trexler discuss a concept called the “Fresh Start” effect which is exactly what occurs at the start of the new year. The start of the new year acts as a temporal landmark, “a distinct event that stands out from our day-to-day life,” Eric explains. Temporal landmarks distinguish an after from before and separates our future self from our previous self. 

Keeping this in mind, Eric explains that you can leverage the fresh start effect when setting goals for the new year. Now that the holidays are coming to a close, you can use this reset and added motivation to start acting on your goals. Maybe Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are not the best days to start new nutrition habits. Maybe Thanksgiving is not the perfect time to start a new running routine. New Year’s Day, however, can act as the catalyst for your new habit-forming, goal setting adventures. If you want to start practicing new habits that lead you on the path toward new outcomes, take advantage of the fresh start this new year brings. Now is the perfect time to start 🙂 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

Stronger by Science Podcast – Goal Setting and Behavior Change | Temporal Landmarks (22:19)

Youtube Video Version

The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior

Anticipated Temporal Landmarks Undermine Motivation for Continued Goal Pursuit

Greg Nuckols IG | Eric Texler IG


How to Make Healthy Eating Easier

Eating healthy tends to have a negative association attached to it because of the dreaded time it takes to cook at home and the cleaning involved after cooking. There are several ways to make eating healthy easier. While these methods do still require effort and will not be easy to implement overnight, they will help the process of eating healthy become at least a little easier. 🙂 

#1 Pre-Cooked Protein & Veggie Sources 

One way to make eating healthy easier is to buy pre-cooked or meal prep protein sources. One of the hardest parts of eating healthy is cooking meats, granted you aren’t a vegan or vegetarian. Cooking meat is the most time-consuming part of the cooking process that usually involves defrosting, marinades, baking, frying, etc. You can make this process a bit easier by buying pre-cooked meats or preparing large portions of meat at a time (similar to meal prepping). Some protein sources I like to buy pre-cooked/pre-prepared are: chopped or shredded chicken, rotisserie chicken, tuna packets, and taco filling (ground beef). You can also make preparing sides easier by buying frozen or canned veggies. Frozen and canned veggies are picked and stored at their freshest time and are longer-lasting than fresh vegetables. You can easily microwave, air fry, bake, broil, or stove-cook frozen veggies and season them to make them taste delicious 😋 

#2 Pick Healthier Fast Food Options 

Not everyone has the luxury of time or money to always prepare fresh food at home. Fortunately, you can still make healthier fast-food choices while eating out. This does not mean always choosing the salad when eating at a fast-food restaurant. Some salad dressings are packed with both fats and sugars to make up for the lack of taste in the salad and protein. Instead, I recommend focusing on changing your sides when eating out. Typically, the soda and fries are the biggest issue when eating out because of the added sugars and fats from the oils used to fry them. One way to eat healthier when eating at fast food restaurants is to reduce the size of the meal. Instead of a large fry, opt for a medium. You can also choose to specialize your order by ordering fries with no salt to reduce the salt content of the fries. For your drink, you can reduce the size of your drink as well or opt for a diet version of the same sodas you already consume. Drinking diet sodas are a completely safe substitute (unless consumed in VERY extreme quantities) and are a great alternative to regular sodas. 

#3 Buy an Air Fryer 

Air fryers have been the life savers of this last decade. They are so convenient for preparing home-cooked meals and even make left-over pizza taste better than fresh. Seriously, air fryers are by no means overrated. Buying an air fryer will help you prepare crispy chicken, fries, and veggies all in approximately 30-45 minutes with no added oils and not a lot of cleaning after or preparation before. There’s not much else to say in this section besides: It’s a worthwhile investment to buy an air fryer to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. 

(The healthy eating accounts listed in the last suggestion will give you step-by-step details on how to prepare home-cooked meals with an air fryer) 

#4 Make Subtle Substitutions 

I don’t recommend completely cutting out all fats, sugars, or carbs from your diet when trying to lose fat. Doing so will only set you up for weight regain or binge eating because of the extreme restriction required to cut out so many food choices. You can, however, make subtle food substitutions that help cut calories over time and help you lose weight in a slower, more sustained fashion. One very easy way to do this is with liquids, especially sauces. Sauces add flavor to meals but unfortunately also add lots of sugar, salt, and fat as well. Opting for a low sugar/sodium or artificial sweetener sauce can help cut sugar, salt, fat, and calories from your diet. I will mention that this is by no means a requirement and can be used sparingly in your diet. Maybe you don’t mind eating zero sugar syrup but have to have full-fat mayonnaise and full-sugar ketchup. The decision is still yours to make when choosing what to eat and what to substitute when making healthier food choices. 

#5 Follow Healthy Eating Accounts 

Following healthy eating accounts helps you get more ideas on how and what to prepare for meals. There are lots of accounts on all social media platforms that specialize in higher protein, lower calorie meals that are made with less-processed and more satisfying ingredients. These accounts even display how to make desserts with higher protein and fiber contents as well. Here are some great accounts to follow for healthy eating tips: 

The Flexible Dieting Lifestyle (IG) 

Cheat Day Design (IG)

Stealth Health Life (IG)

Karim Cooks (TikTok) 

The Golden Balance (TikTok) 

Josh Elkin (TikTok)

Eating healthy can be a fun, satisfying, and creative process for anyone who loves learning new ways to cook and eat foods. Healthy eating does not have to involve restriction and misery, though. Do not jump to extreme restriction when following the substitution tip listed above. Extreme restriction sets you up for binge eating as the body cannot handle the stresses of extreme dieting for chronic periods of time. If you ever feel extremely tired, miserable, food-obsessed, and/or cranky it’s probably a sign that you are chronically underfed. Eating to satiety, cooking meals at home, and listening to your body when it is full and feeding it foods it craves is a wholesome way to eat healthier without extreme restriction. Simply cooking more foods at home will reduce your caloric intake as well because it generally involves less oils, fats, and sugar than fast-food meals. Ultimately, eating healthy should generally be a fun and exciting experience, not a miserable, one! 🙂


Why You Should be Your Own Body Goals

Almost everyone has seen a picture of someone and immediately used it as inspiration for what their ideal body type is. While seemingly innocent, this common way of setting physique goals is borderline dangerous and sets us up for disappointment and failure. This blog will list reasons why it may not be the best idea to use other people as inspiration for your body goals.

#1 No Two Bodies React Identically

Even when following the exact same nutrition and exercise plan, no two bodies will “react” (metabolize body fat and/or build/metabolize muscle tissue) identically (unless identical twins). This is where genetics plays a somewhat limiting or enhancing factor on your ability to lose fat and build muscle. You won’t know how your body reacts to a stimulus until it is implemented, however, don’t fall for the mainstream media trap of doing ‘_’ exercise for ‘_’ body part. Or following ‘_’ exercise for [insert celebrity who’s had ample amounts of plastic surgery]’s body part. Chances are your body won’t morph into the same shape as your favorite celebrity or influencer and it will leave you feeling wildly discouraged after accepting that false promise. It’s a much healthier and wiser pursuit to use your own body as body goals. Keep in mind, however, that bodies are meant to change as we age. You will not look the same in your 20’s as you did in your teens, and that’s a good thing! Don’t get too caught up in comparing yourself to a very outdated version of you.

#2 Helps to Set Realistic Expectations 

Following point one above, using yourself as your own body goals sets realistic expectations. Everyone has genetic limits and even lifestyle limits that limit the amount of commitment and results one can expect with their fitness routine. Viewing what you looked like in the past or how strong you were in the past gives you a more realistic preview of how your own body will react to your training and nutrition efforts. Having more realistic goals in mind will ultimately help you stick to your goals long term and see the results you’re after. Don’t let extreme claims from outside sources deter you from committing to a more balanced and reasonable fitness routine. If sustained results are what you’re after, stick to the basic principles of good nutrition, movement, and sleep to achieve your own body goals. 

#3 Comparison is a Joy-kill

Comparing your body to another persons body, especially in the context of fitness and health is not only a joy-kill but is also not healthy. Think of all the ways we compare ourselves to other people online and in everyday life… The outcome is never joyous. It is always filled with jealousy, hate, and bitterness which are no traits anyone seeks to possess. In an effort to stay committed to your fitness goals while staying sane in the membrane, avoid the act of comparing yourself to anyone but you. You deal with the consequences of your choices, not the celebrities that influence you. 

Sidenote: If you’ve never seen your body in a positive light and cannot relate to using your own body as “body goals” then maybe another method of seeking motivation may work for you. One way to stay motivated throughout your fitness journey without focusing on aesthetics is to instead focus on performance goals. Set the goal of achieving one pull up, push up, or dip. Barbell back squat 1x your body weight or bench press ½ of your body weight. These goals can be achieved much faster (sometimes) and with a little less mental effort than physique goals. 

Remember to treat yourself with kindness while in pursuit of your own body goals. It can be incredibly difficult to stick to your goals of losing fat and/or gaining muscle. It takes concerted effort and consistency over a long period of time to see sustainable results in fitness. Never let the act of comparison rob you of the joys of getting stronger and seeing your body change over time. Above all else, keep your own health and sanity in mind while on this journey. 


Essential Gym Items for Lifters

There are some items that are essential to your comfortability and entertainment while working out at the gym. Listed below are some of my gym essentials that I always keep in my gym bag on lifting days. Comment what other items you bring with you to the gym that are not featured in this blog post 🙂

#1) Recording Device 

For most people their recording devices are their phones or even a nice camera. I’d argue this is one of the most essential gym items, especially for anyone who lifts alone at the gym. Using a phone or a camera to record your sets helps you see your lifting form from different angles. You can determine if your stance, tempo, and technique are optimal by watching videos between workout sets. Having a camera allows you to get immediate form feedback that you wouldn’t get while lifting without it. This may also require investing in a decent camera tripod or other camera-elevating apparatus as some exercises are difficult to record with just a phone and water bottle. Find a method you like to use that lets you record your workouts regularly and don’t feel embarrassed to do so in the gym. Using proper form is integral to your longevity in the gym and recording yourself is one of the best ways to gauge it. 

#2 Headphones

Everyone knows that commercial gyms tend to play whatever is featured on the radio… which is typically a song that first became popular 1-2 years ago. Listening to the same songs on repeat is not the most motivating matter for lifting heavy weights. This is why the second-most important item I take with me to the gym is my headphones. Some days I listen to my Cudi & Kanye playlist while other days I listen to podcasts about training, while training. Either way I’m not listening to the same Halsey song for the 3rd day in a row (no disrespect Halsey & The Chainsmokers, but Closer is the most annoying song that refuses to die in peace). 

#3 Water Bottle 

The next essential gym item is a water bottle. This item was not as important pre-pandemic as most water fountains were operational while most water fountains now are refill stations only. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day and throughout your workout to allow yourself to function at your fullest potential during all of your lifts. I highly recommend buying a ‘Hydroflask’ or ‘The Coldest’ water bottle to keep your water at an optimal temperature while working out, especially in warmer climates.

#4 Gym Bag 

A gym bag is essential if you plan on bringing most of the items listed in this blog with you to the gym. Having a gym bag makes it easier to carry all of your essentials with you without losing them and allows you to keep your gym essentials separate from your work or school essentials. Depending on how many items you like to bring with you to the gym, you may need to buy a small drawstring backpack or a giant duffle bag to carry all of your items. Either way, buying a gym bag will help you stay neat and organized for your regular trips to the gym. 

#5 Hand Towel 

Bringing a couple hand towels with you to the gym will allow you to wipe the sweat away from your face and off of the seat/bench after using one. Remember to bring a couple towels with you to the gym so you don’t have to use the same towel for your face and body sweat. Some gyms also have freshly cleaned towels available at the front desk so it may be wise to check if that is available to you at your gym. Everyone gets sweaty while working out so hand towels are another gym essential for regular lifters. 

#6 Hip Pad 

This gym essential is especially important for people who love to practice hip thrusts and glute bridges during their leg workouts. A hip pad gives cushion to the hip bones while placing them under heavy load. Hip thrusts and glute bridges are great ways to load the glutes in their shortened range, however, very heavy loads can cause bruising on the hips without a barbell pad. There are plenty of cute and cushiony hip pads available online to purchase and are a must-have item for people who love challenging their glutes. 

#7 Wrist Straps 

Wrist straps are another essential gym item that are ideal for people who lift heavy with upper body and carry lifts. A limiting factor for a lot of back and carry lifts is grip strength. Adding wrist straps in between your fingers and the bar helps isolate the muscle groups targeted during the exercise while mostly taking out grip involvement. This can be a negative component, however, as grip strength is very essential to everyday life and should also be progressively challenged in your workout routine. Use wrist straps sparingly, possibly only for very heavy, compound lifts where strength is your main priority and don’t use wrist straps for single-joint, simple exercises that can be used to help build grip strength. 

These 7 items are my typical gym essentials that I bring with me to the gym on a regular basis. The first three, my phone, headphones, and water bottle, are my non-negotiable items that I must have with me every day I go to the gym. Without these items, I typically feel I don’t get an optimal workout because of lack of motivation or dehydration. Do you have any additional items you bring with you to the gym regularly? Do you feel some of the items listed above aren’t necessary? Comment below to start a discussion on gym essentials! 👇🏾


How to Feel More Comfortable As a New Gym Goer 

With the start of a new year on the horizon, many people will be looking to start a new fitness journey at their local commercial gym. While this act is commendable and should be praised for its bravery, it’s not always met with ease or acceptance during this time of year. This blog will give you practical tips on how to feel more comfortable as a new lifter in a commercial gym setting. 

#1 Pick the Right Gym For You 

The most important thing to understand before joining a new gym is that not all gyms are created equally. There are commercial gyms that cater to the general public, powerlifting gyms that cater to powerlifters and other weightlifting athletes, and even boutique gyms that cater to one style of training like interval training, boxing fitness, cycling, etc. Be sure to pick the gym environment that resonates with your style of training so that you feel comfortable while training there. A crossfitter may not feel as comfortable in a commercial gym while a bodybuilder may feel perfectly settled there. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of any free-trial opportunities that may arise at different gyms to gain an understanding of which style of training and which gym you prefer. 

#2 Introduce Yourself to Staff, Coaches, and Other Attendees 

Ideally, the gym environment you settle for would feature a very supportive and encouraging coaching and management staff that would assist you in your onboarding process at their gym. Even if this is not the case, try to introduce yourself to a few members of their staff or even members of the gym who are receptive to such advances. Doing so will help you build your network of support to ensure you keep attending the gym after the new years resolution phase ends. This is incredibly important for reaching your fitness goals in the new year as a majority of people who join a new gym quit after the first few months. Having a support system in place at the gym you attend will help reduce the chances of this happening. If you’re introverted, find a friend, family member or even an acquaintance who may already be a member of the gym or is willing to join the gym to have another source of support to help you stick to your fitness goals. 

#3 Learn More About Training 

This suggestion is completely dependent on your level of commitment to the gym and reaching your fitness goals. Some people may have a simple goal of going to the gym more regularly and are not as concerned about program design or achieving any particular fitness goal. Other people may seek to start a highly technical sport like powerlifting and need the guidance and knowledge from a powerlifting coach in order to do so. If you wish to change your body composition, get stronger, and overall see astounding results from your new fitness routine it is highly advised to seek support and knowledge from qualified professionals. This can be accessed through local sources like a personal trainer or through an online coach who can provide their training and nutrition services over the internet. Before concluding your search to find a personal trainer, be sure to screen your potential coaches before hiring them. Not all personal trainers have the same knowledge and qualifications, and not all personal trainers can help you reach your fitness goals. 

Read my previous article titled “What to Expect When Hiring a Personal Trainer” to understand the three most important characteristics all personal trainers must possess in order to help you be successful in your fitness journey. 

Another way to gain more knowledge on training and nutrition in order to be successful in your fitness journey is to seek online education from fitness professionals. There are many online fitness professionals with outstanding qualifications (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees and published research) who provide free content that would help tremendously in understanding the basics of strength training, cardiovascular training, and nutrition. Here is a non-extensive list of some of the best fitness educators and researchers on Instagram:

  1. Hypertrophy (Building Bigger Muscles) – Dr. Brad Schoenfeld 
  2. Training and Nutrition – Alan Aragon 
  3. Hypertrophy (Specifically for Women) – Danielle Webster 
  4. Girls Gone Strong (Training for Women) 
  5. Dan Feldman, MS, RDN – Powerlifiter Dietitian 
  6. Shana Minei Spence, MS, RDN, CDN – Non-Diet Dietitian 
  7. Danny Matranga BSc, CSCS – Fitness Coaching, Education 

Understand that everyone must start their fitness journey at ground zero. Even the most well-researched fitness educators start their fitness journeys at this point. Utilize these practical tips to make joining a gym a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. Note that if any gym environment makes you extremely uncomfortable, you have the right to no longer attend. Try to screen out these flaws during your free-trial experiences as most gyms have very complicated cancellation policies and will force you to pay or send your information to a debt collection agency if you cancel before your contract expires. Pick the right gym for your personality and training style, introduce yourself to the staff and coaches, and educate yourself on the basics of training and nutrition and you’ll feel comfortable at a new gym almost as soon as you start attending it. 🙂


Do This to Lose Fat & Build Muscle 

Did you know there’s more to a healthy lifestyle than eating right and moving your body? Of course! However, did you know that adding in more of this particular action can help improve brain function, regulate satiety hormones, and help build and repair muscle tissue? If it’s not obvious by now what this action is, it’s getting more restful sleep. Getting more restful sleep improves many functions of daily life. Let’s explore how getting more restful sleep can help with fat loss and muscle maintenance. 

Improved Body Composition and Hormone Levels 

A crossover study involving overweight adults assigned participants to sleep for either 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours while following a moderate caloric deficit (~680 calorie deficit) for 2 weeks in a lab setting. The group who slept for only 5.5 hours lost 55% less body fat and 60% more fat-free mass than the 8.5 hour group. The 5.5 hour group also showed less-favorable changes in metabolic hormone levels and substrate use. The 8.5 hour group lost twice as much energy (1039 kcal/day) compared to the 5.5 hour group (573 kcal/day). The participants that did not get enough sleep preserved more energy-dense fat mass and less lean tissue while in the caloric deficit. 

Another interesting finding from this study was that participants from the 5.5 hour group experienced higher ghrelin levels (the hunger perception hormone). Accompanying the increased ghrelin levels may have been the retention of fat and increased hunger making it harder to adhere to the dietary intervention leading to less weight loss. 

Muscle Maintenance

Maintaining and building muscle are processes that happen outside of the gym environment. Proper muscle recovery can only happen through proper rest and nutrition. A process that is heavily affected by sleep quantity and quality is muscle protein turnover. Muscle protein turnover is the balance between muscle protein synthesis and breakdown. According to Human Kinetics Journals, MPS is “the metabolic process that describes the incorporation of amino acids into bound skeletal muscle proteins.” Muscle protein synthesis is what is mostly responsible for increases in muscle mass in response to resistance training. According to this article on sleep and muscle recovery, “sleep debt decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways, favoring the loss of muscle mass and hindering recovery [post] exercise.” This study is congruent with the study listed above that showed the 5.5 hour sleep group losing more lean mass and less fat mass than the 8.5 hour sleep group. It is very apparent that getting less sleep is detrimental to muscle recovery and fat loss, two important processes for both aesthetic and health considerations. 

Clearly, sleep is not for the weak, as some “boss babes” or “hustle hunks” may claim. Understand that part of being a holistically healthy human being is getting proper rest, recovery, and nutrition, not just working hard non-stop. There are no losses when proper sleep is implemented into your routine, especially if it can help improve quality of life and longevity. Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night and keep track of how restful it is each time. Doing so will only help you regulate your hormone levels, stick to your nutrition plan, build muscle, and also not be a cranky human being. You might not need as much coffee if you sleep a little more too. 🙂 Get to rest! 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

Adequate Sleep to Improve the Treatment of Obesity

Making Sense of Muscle Protein Synthesis: A Focus on Muscle Growth During Resistance Training

Sleep & Muscle Recovery: Endocrinological & Molecular Basis for a New & Promising Hypothesis


Why Women Don’t Get Bulky When Lifting Weights 

One of the greatest barriers to resistance training women face is misinformation. The online fitness space is riddled with extreme claims, fads, and misinformation that, unfortunately, becomes commonplace in society. One false claim that circulates to this day is the idea that women can get “bulky” with resistance training. This brief article will discuss why this will not be the case for 99% of women and also how adding resistance training to your workout routine will provide many health and fitness benefits. 

#1 Sex Differences 

The number one reason why women will not get bulky following a resistance training program is sex characteristic differences after puberty. Prepubescent boys and girls show virtually no differences in muscular strength and size due to having the same levels of testosterone. Testosterone is a sex hormone that influences muscle size, strength, and power levels. Following puberty, men have a significantly greater amount of testosterone than women which is why the average man is stronger, bigger, and more powerful (physically) than the average woman. 

According to observational data observed in this study, women on average have “50%-60% of men’s upper arm muscle cross-sectional area and 65%-70% of men’s thigh muscle cross-sectional area.” Women also have “50%-60% of men’s upper limb strength and 60%-80% of men’s leg strength.” This study also observed that young men on average have 12kg (~26 lbs) more muscle mass than women at the same age at any given body weight. The study claims that while environmental factors may contribute to this data (i.e. genetics, physical activity, and nutrition), the main factor causing these differences in muscle mass and strength is circulating testosterone levels. 

#2 Getting Bulky is HARD 

The second reason why women won’t get bulky with added strength training is because getting bulky is not something that a) happens easily/overnight and b) happens without a dedicated, very intense, and progressive lifting program. This is not to say that the average woman who lifts does not train hard enough, however, for the average woman who trains 2-3x per week for 45-60 minutes, it will not be enough stimulus to create the extreme bulky looks seen in male and female bodybuilders. These lifters go through rigorous training that often entails being at the gym for 1-2+ hours minimum, 4+ days per week and lifting to intensities that the average lifter does not have to endure in order to see results. 

Another factor to consider in bodybuilders’ massive size is the possibility of exogenous hormonal steroids. These steroids act similar to the hormone testosterone and increase muscle size, strength, and power in both men and women. It also changes characteristics like deepening the voice in women and increasing breast tissue in men. So unless you’re training at very high intensities while taking steroids, the possibility of becoming bulky as a woman is very unlikely. 

Listed above are the two main reasons why most women will not become “bulky” while adding resistance training to their workout routine. Instead, women get stronger, more physically powerful, and typically “feminize” their frame by adding curves and reducing total body fat. There are also many benefits to strength training that have nothing to do with aesthetics. Read my previous blog post titled “Why Women Should Lift Weights” to read more about why women should strength train irrespective of aesthetics. You can also read this article on how you should structure your training if your goal is to build an hourglass physique through training and nutrition. 🙂 

Sources and Additional Articles

Circulating Testosterone as the Hormonal Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance

Sex Differences in Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

An Open Letter to Everyone Whose Told Women “Don’t Get Too Bulky” 


The Most Important Part of Your Fitness Journey 

Arguably, the most important part of your fitness journey is not determining how many sets, reps, and how much weight you should lift. It’s not even determining whether or not you should do steady state cardio, high intensity interval training, weight lifting, or any combination of the like. The most important part of your fitness journey is finding a form of exercise you like and sticking to it long term, otherwise called consistency. People often get caught up in the miniscule details of optimal program design when their foundation hasn’t been set first. In this blog post I’ll be giving you very brief steps on how to choose a training program that is tailored to your wants and needs and how to stick to it long term. 

#1 Decide What Type of Training to Employ 

Set the foundation of your training program by deciding what type of training to include into your program. If you are not a professional athlete, consider the fact that this part of your journey is completely up to you to decide on. Technically speaking, any form of exercise that can be progressed and done with effort and intensity along with good nutrition will get you results you’re set after. There is no one training program that is inherently better than the other if both are done consistently and with progressive effort. I will argue that strength training gives you more “bang for your buck” if fat loss is your primary goal, however, it is still recommended to implement training strategies that you like over what is “optimal.” If you’d like to know more about why strength training is more optimal than cardio for fat loss, read this blog published on Tony Gentilcore’s website that goes into more detail on strength training for fat loss. Ultimately, you should consider what your goals are, how much time you have to dedicate to your program, and what type of training you can stick to long term (for life, really). 

#2 Find Ways to Progress in Your Program

The next important step in staying consistent with your training program is finding ways to constantly progress in your program. Not only is reaching a plateau not good for reaching your fitness goals, but reaching a plateau is also not good for your own motivation. One of the most motivating aspects of resistance training and cardiovascular training is seeing numbers increase, be that in weight lifted or distance ran/swam/cycled/etc. Find ways to progress in your training program to make sure you reach your fitness goals and stay motivated throughout your fitness journey. 

#3 Accept and Plan for Progress Barriers 

One of the hardest parts of being on a fitness journey is reaching roadblocks that work to hinder your progress. These oftentimes come in the form of time commitment issues, lack of motivation, derailing from your nutrition plan, vacations, etc. One way to help stick to your fitness program long term is to include these barriers into your program. Not all barriers can be predicted, however, if you have an upcoming vacation or plans that may interfere with your fitness program, make note ahead of time to make sure you stay on track with your goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean dieting or working out extra hard on or near a vacation, rather it could mean simply giving yourself grace around that time of year keeping in mind that your fitness routine can always be returned to once your vacation (or the holiday season) is over. This type of grace also needs to be extended to yourself in times of unplanned obstacles because it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to stick to your goals 100% of the time, 24/7, 365 days per year. Know that reaching your goals does not require that level of commitment either. Reaching your goals is more determined by staying consistent with your habits long term and not letting any minor (even major) setbacks completely derail you from your program altogether. 

This post was inspired by Tony Gentilcore whose blog posts I’ve been obsessively reading the last couple days and have received great advice from. Check out his blog post from earlier this year titled “10 Suggestions on Your Quest for Sustainable Fitness” where his guest writer, Elaine Studdert, highlights how to make your fitness journey a sustainable one. It’s a great read with many actionable tips that can be applied to your fitness program.

As I’m writing this on Christmas Eve I wish you the best holiday season and hope this blog, as well as the additional articles and sources listed below, will help you in the new year. Stay safe, healthy, and happy! 

Additional Articles: 

Why You Should Lift Heavyish Things for Fat Loss

10 Suggestions on Your Quest for Sustainable Fitness


How to Lose Belly Fat For Good

Stubborn belly fat can be a source of affliction to one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. In this blog post, I’ll give you practical and sustainable tips to lose belly fat for good in the new year. First, I must preface this blog with a couple disclaimers.

1) There is no one magic pill, weight loss program, or diet that will ensure you lose stubborn belly fat for good. It will simply be the action of consistency and effort to any form of a balanced diet and workout program that will get you results in addition to the maintenance of these habits that will ensure you get rid of belly fat for good.

2) You are not defined by how your body fat is distributed on your body. If losing fat will help to increase your self-esteem and self-confidence, by all means, pursue it! If not, simply consider the advice from this post and take from it what you wish. Your body is yours to live in and no one should feel they have the authority to tell you what to do with it. 

#1 Nutrition 

The most important component of a fat loss program is maintaining good nutrition. As discussed in my previous blog post, good nutrition simply means including all macro/micronutrients into your diet to keep a balanced diet, focusing on increasing your protein intake to build and/or maintain muscle mass, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You cannot target body fat to be metabolized from one area of the body, so putting yourself in a general caloric deficit will be the only way to reduce total body fat and thus belly fat. Being in a caloric deficit simply means consuming less calories than you expend either at the end of every day or in summation at the end of the week. This process is very individualized and can include counting calories if you wish to take on that challenge. My warning to those interested in calorie counting is to make sure you do so with your own psychological health in mind. From experience, I know that calorie counting can become extremely obsessive which is not ideal for someone wishing to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Fat loss takes months, sometimes years, to obtain and a lifetime to maintain so keep that in mind when choosing whether to count calories or not. 

Another option to consider to place yourself in a caloric deficit is to manage food portion sizes. This allows a more lenient approach to tracking your intake and can be more sustainable for someone looking to lose body fat and maintain fat loss. Remember that sustainable fat loss can take months, or years, to achieve and a lifetime to maintain so avoid rigorous caloric deficits that will create a massive drop in your metabolic rate. Doing so will only set you up for failure in the future because once your diet is over, it will be much harder to consume more calories without gaining back the fat lost during your extreme deficit. Our bodies work to maintain a balance and this applies to fat loss as well. Keep fat loss to a maximum of approximately 1-2% of your body weight each week to ensure that your metabolism doesn’t plummet along the way and that fat loss is easier to maintain once you reach your goal. 

#2 Strength Training 

Strength training is a great way to assist your body in reducing body fat as it helps to place your body in an overall caloric deficit (during and after strength training sessions) and it helps to maintain and/or build muscle mass which slightly increases your metabolic rate. Maintaining and building muscle mass is a calorically-expensive process for the body to endure. Increasing your protein intake while in a deficit will ensure that most of your weight lost won’t be from muscle mass. In a deficit, some of the weight lost will be in the form of muscle mass, however, increasing your protein intake to approximately 1-2g of protein per kilogram of body weight will help to maintain your muscle mass and thus maintain your metabolic rate while in a caloric deficit. 

Adding strength training to your routine will also help shape your body according to what muscles you train during your program. In this previous blog, I write about how to develop an hourglass physique with nutrition, strength training, and recovery techniques. 

#3 Cardio 

Adding cardio to your program will not only help improve your heart health, but will also help increase your caloric expenditure while in a caloric deficit. Technically, this addition is not necessary to aid in fat loss as a caloric deficit and strength training alone are enough to reduce body fat, however, cardio is incredibly important for longevity and heart health. It’s recommended to find a form of cardio you enjoy and add it to your routine at a rate in which you can handle and maintain overtime. I personally enjoy adding in martial arts training, jump roping, and dancing into my routine as these are forms of cardio I enjoy and can continue for the rest of my life. Simply going for walks in the neighborhood is enough to help with fat loss and clear your mind of the stresses of the day. Ultimately, it is important to find forms of cardio training you enjoy so that it is easy to stick to long term. 

Getting rid of stubborn belly fat can only be accomplished through a caloric deficit, however, there are so many other important factors to consider when taking on a fat loss journey. Consider how sustainable your program is, whether or not you enjoy the habits you are forming on your program, and even why you wish to lose fat to begin with. While losing belly fat can aid in increasing your self-esteem and self-confidence, simply adding these habits without intentionally trying to lose weight will also provide health and fitness benefits. Ultimately, your health and fitness journey is solely dictated by you, so find a form of movement and balanced nutrition you enjoy and the results will eventually manifest. 

Sources and Additional Articles:

Dietary protein intake and human health

The Effect of Aerobic Training and Cardiac Autonomic Regulation in Young Adults

Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss


Why Women Should Lift Weights

Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights
(That Have Nothing to Do With Looks) 

Women are constantly bombarded with messages on how to change their appearance by the fitness and diet industries with little to no regard to how it may impact their overall health long term. Fad diets, weight loss teas, dangerous supplements, and more are often promoted to achieve a “healthy lifestyle” over the proven basics of just implementing strength training, nutrition habits, and other self-care techniques that truly provide a great benefit to one’s health and quality of life. Fortunately, more and more health and fitness professionals who promote having a balanced lifestyle are frequenting our social media spaces today. This article will review the benefits of one aspect of a balanced lifestyle, strength training, and why every woman should incorporate it into her routine irrespective of aesthetics.

Increased Strength 

The most obvious non-aesthetic benefit of lifting weights is increased strength. Weight training is a very direct and specific way to increase your body’s muscle mass/strength and is one of the most rewarding parts of beginning a lifting program. Although it may be intimidating at first to make your way into the free weights area of a gym, with repeated practice and the right guidance from coaches, peers, and online sources, you’ll be increasing in strength, size, and confidence and improving your quality of life in no time. 

Improved Confidence 

Another phenomenal benefit gained from lifting weights is improved confidence. Many women feel a sense of accomplishment when getting stronger in their lifting program which leads to them transferring this feeling to other areas of their lives. The simple act of overcoming an obstacle or task that seems too heavy to conquer, like lifting a heavy weight, proves to women that anything can be accomplished with a little effort and consistency. 

Lifting weights shifts focus from physical appearance to physical capabilities.

Getting feedback through increases in strength week-to-week is far more controllable than getting feedback through changes on the scale. The scale fluctuates sporadically and is influenced by daily changes in fluid loss and retention, food intake, and exercise activity. Tracking progress through strength gains is far more controllable and reliable than tracking progress through weight loss. Seeing these changes in strength throughout your lifting program will most certainly create a mindshift towards appreciating what you and your body are capable of and ultimately increases your self confidence. 

Improved Health Markers 

Lifting weights also improves many indicators of health such as: body composition, bone density (especially important for menopausal women suffering from osteoporosis), improved psychological health, improved libido, and improved sleep. All of these factors are incredibly important for maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle without needing to focus on physical appearance. Improving your appearance is based on a very subjective marker of attractiveness and social norms whereas improving health markers is based on a more objective indication of quality of life, life expectancy, and overall health. 

Increased Fitness for Daily Life

Lifting weights improves physical fitness by increasing stamina and strength. These fitness markers are especially important for daily activities that can be taken for granted in our youth. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to do simple tasks like taking the groceries out of the car or walking up a flight of stairs. As mundane and simple as these tasks may seem, not maintaining physical strength with age will ultimately make completing these tasks far more difficult than they should be. Implementing a fitness routine that incorporates all of the basic movement patterns of life (squatting, hinging, pulling, pushing, and carrying resistance) will ensure you keep your autonomy, safety, and physical health as you age. 

Lifting weights can provide women with so many health benefits that have nothing to do with physical appearance. In my personal opinion, conversations about health and fitness should revolve mostly around increasing physical capabilities over physical appearance. Having aesthetic goals is not inherently bad or dangerous, however, focusing your attention on physical capabilities over physical appearance is far more sustainable and sets you up for fitness and health success for life. 

Sources and Additional Articles:

Why Women Should Lift Heavy Weights

Maximal Strength Training Improves Bone Mineral Density and Neuromuscular Performance in Young Adult Women

The influence of endurance and strength training on body composition and
physical fitness in female students

Strength Training Improves Body Image and Physical Activity Behaviors Among Midlife and Older Rural Women


What to Expect When Hiring a Personal Trainer

The title of this blog post should actually be changed to “What to Expect When Hiring a Good Personal Trainer.” Unfortunately, not all personal trainers are created equal because the process of acquiring an education to become one is not standardized. Technically, anyone with a spare grand of cash and fairly decent memorization and testing abilities can become certified as a personal trainer. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t teach the majority of trainers the practical applications of training. This article will review what to expect (and demand) from a personal trainer. If you encounter any personal trainer who does not showcase all of these characteristics, I advise you to run… run FAST out the door. 

1. Accountability and Support 

Arguably, the most important job of the personal trainer is to provide their clients with accountability and support. A great personal trainer will keep his/her clients accountable to their goals by also being accountable on their end. This involves both parties showing up and giving effort. Personal trainers also need to support their clients by giving them the encouragement they need to keep inching towards their goals. Different clients view being supportive in different ways based on their personalities and communication styles. Personal trainers need to have the social skills to “read the room” and match or even uplift the energy that is present. Without the right amount of accountability and support, personal trainers are quite frankly just expensive repetition counters or bodybuilders who just want to make some extra cash. 

2. Actionable Knowledge 

Another more obvious quality that a personal trainer should possess is having extensive knowledge about biomechanics, program design, and at least a basic understanding of nutrition as these are the services their clients are paying for. The word “actionable” is also included because the PT’s knowledge should also be put to action. Personal trainers need to be able to teach the concepts of biomechanics, program design, and nutrition at its most basic level of understanding to their clients so that their clients are set up for success in the distant future. Both the PT and the client have succeeded when the client can continue the practices they learned from their trainer after their sessions with them conclude. 

3. Professionalism 

The last, and by no means least, characteristic a personal trainer should have is impeccable professionalism in and out of the gym. Respectable personal trainers showcase the same punctuality, communication skills, and general way of carrying themselves as any other professional (only with the added bonus of wearing comfortable clothing on the job). A personal trainer who does not carry him/herself in this manner is destined for failure. Clients deserve the respect of proper communication from their trainer (i.e. confirming a session 24 hours prior or canceling a session 48 hours prior). A very professional personal trainer would not cancel a session under any circumstances, however, emergency situations can happen on occasion. Clients pay for the time spent with their trainer so punctuality is also incredibly important from both parties. Professionalism should be a non-negotiable, “no-brainer” aspect of personal training, however, it is worrisome how often this is breached within the fitness industry. When choosing a personal trainer, ensure that professionalism is practiced from the start and maintained throughout your time spent with them. 

Accountability, support, knowledge, and professionalism are the bare minimum characteristics that a personal trainer should hold. Unfortunately, the certification process does not include extensive education on these topics, otherwise the standard for becoming a PT would be increased exponentially. Although using these characteristics as criteria may limit your options when looking for a personal trainer, it will serve you well not to negotiate on them when the time comes. Having a great personal trainer can drastically change your life for the better. A great PT does not require their clients to have them around for life. A great PT does, however, teach their clients the skills they need to implement into their routine to set them up for long-term success in life.


Are you looking for personal training in the Fresno, CA area? I will be offering personal training sessions as well as high-intensity group fitness classes at Valley Fitness on Cedar and Ashlan starting January 2022. Message me via Instagram @coachtashay to get started on a training program 🙂 


How to Build an Hourglass Body 

There are certainly more important things to be concerned with in life than aesthetics, however, it would be naive to not acknowledge how much appearance can improve your self confidence. The latest fixation in mainstream media is the attainment of an hourglass shape, particularly for women-identifying people. This entails a heavy top and bottom shape with a slim waist. This look can be achieved through the interaction of hard resistance training, great nutrition, and optimal recovery… Patience is also a part of the process when going this route. Of course, getting plastic surgery is also an option, however, the “BBL,” brazilian butt lift procedure is one of the most dangerous cosmetic procedures in existence and also has a very tough recovery process associated with it. For women-identifying people who wish to avoid this route, simply adhering to the training, nutrition, and recovery practices outlined below will allow you to mold your body into the hourglass shape you desire. 

#1 Build A Proper Strength Training Routine 

The most important method to adopt in order to build an hourglass body is heavy, progressive strength training. The hourglass body shape can only be sculpted naturally through the addition of new muscle tissue underneath your fat tissue. You have to acquire a foundational understanding of the basics of strength training in order to grow the muscle tissue you desire to build to achieve an hourglass body shape. 


The training principle of specificity states that body adaptations or changes in physical fitness is specific to the type of training implemented. This means that your training must be designed to enhance the specific muscles that create the hourglass shape. The general muscles involved in creating an hourglass shape include the glutes, the lats (as well as other back muscles), and the shoulders. Some chest training can also be added to help give a small uplift to the muscles of the chest region. This training principle is incredibly important to understand as it determines the type of adaptations gained when going through a strength training program. 


Intensity in strength training is another critical component that determines whether or not you will obtain the results you wish to obtain in your program. Intensity in training can be seen as how heavy your lift is relative to the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a given exercise (100% intensity). To keep it simple, on a subjective scale of 1-10, most of your lifts should be done at a 6-10 (60-100%) intensity, depending on the type of lift being performed and how many repetitions you wish to complete in that lift. Ultimately, every lift should be difficult to complete, especially towards the end of your exercise set. If there is no challenge being imposed on the muscle you wish to grow, the muscle will not need to overcome any challenge and thus will not adapt to it and grow bigger. 


Another important exercise principle is the principle of progressive overload. According to, “[progressive overload] involves continually increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. In order to get bigger and stronger, you must continually make your muscles work harder than they’re used to.” Without progression, there is no impetus for the muscle to grow and you will ultimately be stuck in a plateau seeing no gains in muscular size or strength which is counteractive to the goal of building an hourglass physique. 

Read my two latest blogs to get a more detailed overview of the principles of strength training including specific exercises that can be used to grow the three main muscle groups responsible for creating the hourglass figure: shoulders, glutes, and lats (back muscles). 

#2 Implement Proper Nutrition Habits 

Nutrition is a touchy topic because of the many different philosophies of nutrition that people hold. Even very credible nutrition and exercise science professionals disagree on different aspects of nutrition, however, nearly all credible nutrition and exercise scientists agree on the basics of good nutrition. Good nutrition entails including all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), vitamins, minerals, and an appropriate water intake into your diet. I won’t go into specific details of how many grams of each macro/micronutrient you need to eat to create a good nutrition plan as it is very specific to individual needs as well as out of my scope of practice as a personal trainer to do so. Generally speaking it is important to increase your protein intake, eat enough calories either at your maintenance level or at a slight surplus to aid in muscle building, and to eat enough fat to aid in hormonal balance and vitamin uptake to have a well-balanced diet. Read one of my previous blogs to understand the importance of protein intake for strength training and to get a general idea of how much is necessary to aid in muscle growth. 

3 Reasons to Increase Your Protein Intake:

One important technique to add to your nutrition habits is the idea of listening to your body. Listening to your body simply means not restricting your food choices, eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full. Many other techniques can be employed to listen to your body like making note of occasions of stress eating, addressing your feelings (instead of suppressing them), and speaking with a therapist and/or dietitian to address any serious issues you may have that may be masked through the act of emotional eating. This aspect of nutrition is incredibly important because it is fairly easy to slip into the trap of disordered eating in a culture that is obsessed with appearance and social status. 


Recovery is another part of the equation that will help you reach your goal of developing an hourglass figure. Recovery is crucial to the process of building muscle as without it, the stresses of training become too much to adapt to and ultimately leads to a plateau in progress and even regression in extreme overtraining cases. Recovery includes having dedicated days off of training that can include activities of low-to-moderate intensity, sleeping at least 7-9 hours every night to help with muscle recovery and brain function, and maintaining a social life that allows you to recuperate from the stresses of daily life. Recovery, like nutrition, is a very individualized part of training and can be done in so many different ways. Find a few recovery methods that align with your lifestyle and preferences so that practicing them will be easy and second-nature. 

Building an hourglass figure takes a great amount of time and dedication to training, nutrition, and recovery. It’s an on-going process that cannot be completed through a simple 6-8 week “fat-blasting” program or Instagram booty guide. Any great fitness coach will inform you on the importance of patience and discipline when it comes to developing an hourglass figure. It can take many months, oftentimes years, to fully develop a curvy frame through these training methods. Genetics also plays a vital role in how our body fat and muscle mass is distributed so some people may be limited in the amount of curves they can naturally create on their frame. All of this is said not to discourage you, but rather to help you set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and hopefully aid in your commitment to your training program. Remember, nothing worth achieving can be accomplished overnight including building an hourglass shape. Stay committed to the principles outlined in this blog and you’ll be well on your way to developing the hourglass figure of your dreams. 🙂 

Sources and Additional Articles: 

Risks of the BBL – Brazilian Butt Lift – Procedure |

Principle of Specificity |

Principle of Progressive Overload |

Protein Intake | Peer-Reviewed Article,~0.4g%2Fkg%20protein

Intuitive Eating | Listening to Your Body | Gentle Nutrition Resource


How to Stick to Your Exercise Routine

Exercise Adherence – The Key to Achieving Your Long-Term Fitness Goals

Starting a new exercise routine can be one of the most exciting periods of time where motivation and genuine excitement are fresh and abundant, but sticking with an exercise routine for a long period of time is the only way to reap the tremendous health and fitness benefits from it. Exercise adherence is the common factor amongst people who attain and maintain their fitness goals for life. While this topic has many nuances, there are only a few key pillars to implement into your routine that will make sticking to it far easier to manage. 

#1 Set SMART Goals

Nearly no one starts a new fitness routine without some sort of goal in mind. Interestingly enough, your exercise goals need to be strategically determined ahead of time to make achieving them a less effortful pursuit. Setting SMART goals is the first step towards adhering to your new exercise routine long term. A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. A goal that does not align with each of these categories can be seen as merely a wish that you hope to come true one day. 


A specific goal is a goal that is clearly defined. For someone with the general goal of wanting to drop a pants size or lose body fat, it would be best to define exactly how many pants sizes they wish to drop or how many pounds of fat they wish to lose. Having this clearly defined goal will help determine other factors that affect exercise adherence like the amount of time needed to complete the goal and what specific type of training needs to be done in order to achieve such goal. 


A measurable goal is one that can be quantified, gauged, and/or recorded. Referencing back to the example listed above, the person’s pant size and body fat can both be measured and recorded to appreciate any progress made towards their goals over time. A common mistake many new exercisers make is setting unmeasurable goals. The goal of simply “looking better” cannot be measured unless “looking better” is clearly defined, drawing back on the specificity of goal-making. Having a goal that is specific and measurable can make exercise adherence a lot easier to achieve. 


An attainable goal is a goal that can be achieved. In order for a goal to be achieved, it must be realistic. This is why having both an attainable and realistic goal is imperative for sticking to your exercise routine. Referring back to the above example of dropping a pant size, one might set the unattainable and unrealistic goal of dropping 5 pant sizes in one month. For most people, especially under normal circumstances, this is not possible. The element that makes this goal not attainable or realistic is the time given to achieve the goal. Factor in the amount of time needed to achieve your goal, your life circumstances (i.e. work, school, home life obligations), and how dedicated you wish to be to that goal to determine how attainable and realistic your goal is. 


Lastly, all goals should be time-bound meaning the goal should be completed within a certain time frame to aid in exercise adherence. Adding a time frame to your goal allows you to see what habits are necessary to employ to achieve your goal. It also allows you to determine how aggressive your approach should be to achieve your goal. It is recommended to set a time frame that allows your goals to be achieved in a less aggressive manner so that it is easier to continue the habits that lead you to your goal once it is achieved. 

#2 Narrow Your Focus 

At the start of a new fitness journey, it’s easy to set out to achieve multiple goals at once due to increased motivation and excitement. One way to make sure you stick to your fitness goals is to narrow down the amount of goals you wish to achieve to one to a few major outcome goals. Doing so will ensure you don’t become too overwhelmed as the process continues on in your journey. Narrowing your focus to one to a few outcome goals will make it easier to set more process goals along the way to stay disciplined and in tune with your outcome goals. Don’t feel obligated to try and augment your sleeping habits, nutrition habits, fitness habits, and financial habits all at once. Doing so will only make it harder to stick to one and ultimately leave you in the same position you started in at the beginning of your journey. 

#3 Pick Movement You Enjoy

One of the most integral parts of adhering to your fitness goals is picking a form of movement that you enjoy. This is often overlooked due to the proliferation of new fitness fads, gimmicks, and questionable fitness influencers who try to push their philosophy of fitness. There is no right or wrong way to move your body as all forms of movement are beneficial to your health and wellness. Depending on your fitness goals, one form of movement may be more conducive to your goals, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only acceptable way to move your body. 

Achieving your fitness goals and adhering to your exercise program follows a similar formula as managing your finances. Attaining your fitness goals can only be done through building small habits that compound overtime and lead to monumental results. James Clear, author of New York Times best-seller “Atomic Habits” wrote,

 “If you don’t enjoy something, you won’t stick with it. If you don’t stick with it, it won’t compound. Being interested precedes the results.” 

This quote highlights the importance of building up small goals that ultimately compound over time to reveal colossal results. Another direct quote taken from “Atomic Habits” states,

“Success is the product of daily habits, not once in a lifetime transformations. That said, it doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you are right now. What matters is whether your habits are putting you on the path towards success. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” 

All of this said to remind you that it is hard to build compounding habits and actions following a fitness plan that is not enjoyable. As quoted above, “being interested precedes the results,” so find a form of movement that is nearly effortless to implement into your training routine. 

#4 Make it Easy 

An exercise routine is far easier to adhere to when you make the small habits necessary to achieve your goals thoughtless and convenient. An example of this could be setting out your gym clothes the night before going to the gym or pre-prepping protein sources at the beginning of the week or weekend so that eating nutritiously becomes less of a hassle during the busy work week. This part of the process can require an additional time commitment, however, incorporating these small habits makes sticking to your routine a lot easier. The less decisions you need to make in the moment regarding your fitness routine, the easier it will be to act on the decisions necessary to achieve your goals. Action > Contemplation 

#5 Gain Accountability and Support

Another facet of your fitness journey that can be imperative to your adherence and success is gaining accountability and support through the relationships you build within the fitness community. It is not necessarily required to become a part of a fitness community or group, however, it will make exercise adherence far more achievable. Gaining accountability and support can come from various sources including: hiring a personal trainer, getting a workout partner, joining a fitness class, or joining a gym that features a high level of support from coaches and staff. Placing yourself in these environments will help getting in shape become a part of your identity which makes the motivation to stick to your goals increase. 

Understand that sticking to your exercise routine and goals is not an easy feat whatsoever. Do not become discouraged if it takes multiple tries to get into a fitness routine that aligns with your goals and lifestyle. Don’t fall trap to the pressures of selecting exercise routines that don’t align with your goals or lifestyle. Remember that ultimately, enjoyment precedes success and success cannot occur without adhering to small habits that compound in interest over time. Nothing in life is ever serious enough to purposefully subject yourself to torment and torture, especially when it comes to fitness. Enjoy what you take part in and it will feel a lot easier to adhere to over time 🙂 

Sources and Additional Reads: 

NASM Fitness, Setting SMART Goals Article |

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear |

“Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg |


How to Create a Training Program Using Movement Patterns 

When creating a well-rounded strength training program, it’s important to know the basic movement patterns associated with different major muscle groups in order to develop a balanced physique. Core movement patterns that cover the entire body include:

  • Squats – Quads and Glutes
  • Hinges – Glutes and Hamstrings
  • Horizontal Hip Extension – Glutes and Hamstrings 
  • Vertical Push – Shoulders and Triceps
  • Horizontal Push – Chest and Shoulders
  • Vertical Pull – Back and Biceps
  • Horizontal Pull – Back and Biceps
  • Carry/Anti-Rotational – Core and Grip 
  • Isolations – Various Muscle Groups 

The reason why it is important to learn these movement patterns in replace of only learning fundamental exercises is because different muscle groups can be developed in different ways by training them at different muscle lengths and in different movement planes. For example, the glutes complex controls hip extension, hip external rotation, and hip abduction (moving the leg away from the middle of the body). Knowing this information will help determine which exercises to choose to target and fully develop the glutes, if that is part of your physique goals. 

Another reason why it is important to learn about movement patterns is to develop a symmetrically strong body in order to avoid muscular imbalances that can ultimately lead to injury, especially in the case of chronically overdoing the same exercises. Overuse injuries can be common amongst people who continue to practice the same exercises chronically (especially when performed with improper technique) and it may be beneficial to change your training program overtime to continue to progress in strength and size as well as avoid overuse injuries. It should be noted, however, that without the presence of injury, it is safe to perform similar, if not, the same exercises on a week-to-week basis as long as proper progression and technique is used regularly. 

Depending on the frequency of your training program, it is recommended to choose exercises from each of the above listed movement patterns to perform at least once per week (likely more) to promote the proper stimulus needed to get stronger and promote muscular hypertrophy (muscle growth). Note that some exercises may be more taxing to the body than others, so it is important to structure your workouts with that in mind. Compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, and bench press involve multiple joints and muscle groups and typically create a lot of muscle damage and general fatigue. Spreading these exercises out throughout the week and placing them at the beginning of your workout will be best to receive the most benefits from these exercises.

Exercises for the Squat Movement Pattern:

  • Barbell, Dumbbell, Banded, Hack Squat 
  • Leg Press 
  • Split Squats (Bulgarian, Standing, Elevated) 
  • Walking, Dumbbell, Barbell Lunges 

Exercises for the Hinge Movement Pattern:

  • Deadlift (Conventional, Romanian, Single Leg) 
  • Good Morning 

Exercises for the Horizontal Hip Extension Movement Pattern:

  • Hip Thrusts/Glute Bridge 
  • 45-Degree Hyperextensions
  • Reverse Hyperextensions

Exercises for the Vertical Push Movement Pattern: 

  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable, Kettlebell, Banded Overhead Press 
  • One Arm Press (All Variations Listed Above, More Core Stabilization) 
  • Barbell, Weighted Bar Landmine Press 

Exercises for the Horizontal Push Movement Pattern: 

  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable Chest Press 
  • One Arm Press (All Variations Listed Above, More Core Stabilization)
  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable Incline Press
  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable Decline Press
  • Floor Press (Smaller Range of Motion) 
  • Cable Fly 

Exercises for Vertical Pull Movement Pattern: 

  • Assisted, Unassisted, Weighted Pull-Up/Chin-Up
  • Cable, Machine Lat Pulldown
  • Dumbbell Lat Pullover 

Exercises for Horizontal Pull Movement Pattern:

  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Cable Row
  • Barbell, Dumbbell Seal Row 
  • Cable, Banded Seated Row
  • Aussie (Inverted) Row 
  • Dumbbell, Cable Rear Delt Row

Exercises for Carry and Anti-Rotational Core Movement Pattern:

Carry Movement Pattern:

  • Farmer’s Carry
  • Suitcase Carry 
  • Front-Loaded Carry
  • Overhead Carry
  • Dumbbell, Barbell, Kettlebell, Plate Marches 

Anti-Rotational Movement Pattern:

  • Birddog/Deadbug
  • Pallof Press 
  • Single-Arm Carry (All Single-Arm Movements) 
  • Dumbbell, Kettlebell, Banded Plank Pulls

Isolation Exercises:

Isolations are exercises that can be used to develop specific muscle groups that may be lagging in size and/or strength. These exercises vary from upper body movements like overhead tricep extensions that develop the long head of the tricep and leg extensions to develop the quads without the involvement of the glutes. Isolation exercises are great for people who wish to develop a very balanced physique but are not always necessary to include in your program if you are not concerned with aesthetics or specific muscle groups. Compound exercises should make up the majority of your training program using isolation exercises only to fill any gaps within your training plan. 

How to Structure Your Workout Week Using Movement Patterns

The following is a great way to structure a week of training using all of the movement patterns in a 3-day training microcycle (one week of training) for a novice lifter whose main goal is to gain strength and size. 

Monday – Day 1 Full Body

Dumbbell Squat 

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 

Dumbbell Chest Press 

Body Weight Inverted Row 

Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry 

Wednesday – Day 2 Full Body 

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Cable Lat Pulldown

Barbell Hip Bridge

Bodyweight Walking Lunges 

Kettlebell March

Friday – Day 3 Full Body 

Assisted Chin Ups

Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumbbell Split Squat

Seated Cable Row 

Bodyweight 45-Degree Hyperextension 

This is an example of using a variety of the basic movement patterns throughout the week on a 3-day per week program. Exercise selection can be changed depending on how your body feels on the day of the program. As previously mentioned, some exercises may leave your body feeling more fatigued than others so it is important to have access to a library of exercises to exchange for when certain exercises are not able to be performed. Knowing these general movement patterns alone will allow you to start experimenting with different exercises and place you in a position to develop a more well-rounded and enjoyable training program. Need help with the specifics of intensity, volume, and duration within your workout? Check out my previous two blog posts regarding exercise program design and training goals. 

Article Sources and Additional Program Design References:

Anti-rotational Exercises:

Weighted Carry Exercises:

Exercise Library & Program Design Quick Start Guide:

Program Design Certification Via N1 Education: 


How to Design Your Own Strength Training Program

#1 Establish Your Personal Strength Training Goals 

Check out my latest blog post about training goals:

It is important to establish whether you want to focus on getting bigger or getting stronger through strength training. Both can occur simultaneously, however, gains in strength must occur first before gains in muscular size. With altering training variables like intensity and volume, one can focus more on gaining strength or gaining size as they advance as a lifter. If you are more focused on aesthetics, training though ranges more optimal for hypertrophy (increasing muscular size) will be necessary. If you are more focused on lifting as heavy as possible, training in repetition ranges more optimal for increasing muscular strength will be ideal. If your primary goal is to lift weights to improve overall health and function, it may not be necessary to focus too much on increasing intensity or volume and it may be more beneficial for you to simply get into a lifting routine that works around your daily life. Blending both hypertrophy and strength training principles into your programming may also allow you to see submaximal increases to both strength and size and allow you to vary your programming to make it more enjoyable for you. Regardless, it is important to understand why you need to incorporate “x” amount of sets or “x” amount of repetitions into your training program as these are predicated on your training goals in the first place. 

#2 Establish Where You Will Train & With What Training Tools

Next, you need to establish what training equipment and/or facilities are available to you. Are you able to train at a big-box gym? Private studio? At home? At the park? Knowing where you can train at and what equipment is available to you will determine how to structure your training to achieve your strength training goals. Most big box gyms have ample equipment to use to pursue strength, hypertrophy, and health and functional fitness goals. Most big box gyms will have free weights (i.e. barbells, dumbbells, bands, kettlebells, med balls), machines, and other equipment like steps, cardio machines and even a swimming pool and/or sauna. Private gyms tend to also have similar equipment in a more personal environment. You can also achieve your strength training goals at home with limited equipment. It is recommended to invest in things like dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, a pull up bar, and a bench to allow yourself to execute most exercises at home. Although it can be more challenging than at a gym facility, it is still possible to progressively overload your strength training exercises at home with body weight, bands, and free weights. 

#3  Determine the Amount of Time You Have to Dedicate to Your Training Goals 

One of the common misconceptions within the fitness industry is that you have to “grind” until your wheels fall off in order to achieve your fitness goals. This is absolutely not true. One scientific principle that exists is the minimum effective dose, this is the minimum amount that is required to see the adaptation response desired. In strength training, this is the minimum volume (total work accomplished; weight x sets x reps x days per week for each muscle group) required to produce strength and/or hypertrophy gains. You do not need to train 7 times per week to see strength and hypertrophy gains. In the next section, we will discuss the training principles that determine the total amount of volume, intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise required to see muscular strength and/or hypertrophy adaptations. 

It is important to understand that for the recreational lifter especially, their training program must revolve around their lifestyle. Work obligations, social life, family obligations, and personal hobbies all factor into the total equation of your schedule and are oftentimes more of a priority than your training routine. If your life revolves around training, it will be hard to establish a balance between work, life, and fitness and will ultimately lead to burn out. You are completely in control of how dedicated you wish to be to your fitness journey. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise! 

#4 Develop Your Training Plan According to These 6 General Training Principles 

  1. Intensity 

Intensity is how many repetitions you can accomplish of a given exercise based as a percentage of the maximum amount of weight you can lift in one repetition. This is visually expressed as % of 1RM (one rep max). Intensity is dependent on the muscles used in a given exercise. Multi-joint, big muscle group exercises typically allow you to perform more reps at a higher intensity (weight) than single-joint, small muscle group exercises. According to studies published by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and colleagues, intensities as low as 40% 1RM and as high as 80% 1RM are most beneficial and practical for achieving hypertrophy gains. Intensities above 80-90% are more beneficial for strength gains but can be very taxing to the central nervous system and should be used more sparingly with hypertrophy training (especially in novice lifters). Intensity is one of the most important factors when progressing a strength training program. As long as you are lifting with proper form, you should not be afraid to lift heavy!

It is also important to address another common misconception in the fitness industry being how  misrepresented intensity is in regards to strength training. Intensity is not determined by: 

  • How sweaty you are at the end of your workout
  • How many calories you burned at the end of your workout
  • How sore your muscles feel days following your workout 
  • Fitting in as much work as possible in a short amount of time in your workout
  • How exhausted you feel after your workout 

Intensity in the context of strength training simply means being able to lift a percentage of your maximum on a given lift. The closer you train to your maximum repetition weight, the higher the intensity of your workout. This does not mean that every workout should be done at 100% (1RM) intensity, %RM is simply used as an objective way to measure the intensity of your workout. 

Other ways to measure the intensity of your workout include:

  • Determining your reps in reserve (How many more reps you could’ve done following your set) 
  • RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion, How close to failure – not being able to execute another repetition with proper form – you perceive your set as being on a scale of 1-10, 1 being very easy, 10 being could not perform another rep = failure) 
  • Percent Rep Maximum – How much weight you can lift at a given repetition number or range (Lifting as heavy as possible in a 6-8 repetition range) 

All of these methods listed above are proper ways to establish intensity in a strength training program. Typically, the most easy to employ methods are repetitions in reserve, percent rep maximum, and the RPE scale. Determining intensity via percent of one rep maximum is the most difficult to employ as it requires the lifter to first test for his/her rep max of an exercise which typically requires a lot of time to execute and a spotter to help with the dangers of lifting heavy loads.  

  1. Volume 

Volume is determined by the total work accomplished typically in a given week of a training program. This can be mathematically expressed as weight x sets x reps x days per week for each muscle group. For example, if I performed 2 sets of a leg press this week w/ 100 pounds for 10 reps on 2 days this week it would equal 2 x 2 x 10 x 100 = 4,000 pounds lifted that week in leg press volume. I can calculate this next week and ideally place myself at a higher volume either through more weight lifted or more reps or sets accomplished in order to progress in my program. Volume and intensity go hand-in-hand in strength training and typically are the two most important aspects of strength training. At higher intensities, less volume is required to see strength training adaptations. At lower intensities, more volume in the form of sets, reps, or days per week would be necessary to see muscular strength and/or hypertrophy adaptations. 

According to Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and colleagues, a volume of 10 sets per muscle group per week is optimal for seeing hypertrophic muscular gains. This volume is typically best split between at least 2 days per week, however, the one muscle group per week split can also be used to achieve hypertrophy gains if enough volume is placed upon that muscle group on that given day. Volume is not fixed and can be highly dependent on the individual. Some adaptations were seen with higher volumes as well as lower volumes than the 10 sets per week amount. Ideally, start at a minimal volume that is tolerable to you and your body and progressively increase as necessary. Monitor your progress to determine if the volume you currently are employing is high enough to see the muscular adaptations you desire. Don’t employ weekly training volumes that compromise your ability to recover from your workouts otherwise you will start to see a decline in your training progress. 

  1. Frequency 

The frequency of your workouts is highly dependent on the volume and intensity of your workouts. At higher volumes, less frequency per muscle group is required to achieve muscular gains. At lower volumes, more frequency per muscle group is required to achieve muscular gains. For example, the “bro split” is a very popular training frequency that is employed by bodybuilders who seek to develop their musculature to the fullest extent possible. They typically split each major muscle group into one day per week and train with very high volume to “destroy” that muscle group on that particular day. That is an example of a very high volume program with a very low frequency per muscle group per week since they are only training each muscle group once per week. This training design is not very practical for people who have restrictive schedules and other commitments outside of the gym. For those with time constraints, training other frequencies are more ideal. Some other training frequencies to consider include:

  • Upper/Lower Body Splits 
  • Full Body Splits 
  • Push/Pull/Legs Splits (Chest/Triceps/Shoulders, Back/Biceps, Quads/Hams/Calves/Tibialis)
  • Chest and Arms, Back and Shoulders, Legs and Core 

All of these training frequencies can be used to develop a well-rounded training program while allowing proper time for recovery and outside commitments. When determining your training frequency, it is important to know that placing major muscle groups at the start of the workout is important to not pre-exhaust the synergistic muscles that assist in the compound movements performed with major muscle groups. It is also important to structure your training frequency in a way to give each major muscle group ample time to recover between workouts.

  1. Duration + Rest Time (Within the Workout) 

The duration of your workout is completely dependent on the frequency of your training as well as the intensity and volume of your workouts. Most strength training workouts conclude after approximately 45-60 minutes with a 5-10 minute general warm up and/or cool down. A general warm up can include 5-10 minutes of light intensity cardio training like walking or cycling to increase your muscle temperature, decrease the viscosity of your blood, and increase blood flow. All of these variables are likely to help improve your workout and decrease your risk of injury (although not yet directly proven through research). 

Rest in between sets is also an important factor to consider when developing your training program as it will determine how much effort and intensity you can exhibit throughout your workout session. Without adequate rest between sets, your overall volume and intensity will be compromised and in effect your muscular gains as well. According to studies published by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld and colleagues, it is recommended to take at least 3 minutes of rest between sets of compound, multi-joint exercises to allow enough time for recovery. When lifting even heavier, in a more strength development range of 2-5 reps, it may be necessary to rest for even longer (approximately 4-5+ minutes between sets). For single-joint, small muscle groups, it may only be necessary to rest for 60-90 seconds between sets as these exercises are not as taxing to the central nervous system. 

  1. Mode of Exercise 

Mode of exercise is determined by the type of equipment used during your workout. This is highly variable and can be accomplished with free weights, body weight, machines, bands, kettlebells, really anything that can provide enough resistance to overcome to generate muscular adaptations. Different modes of exercise have different benefits and drawbacks associated with them. 

With free weights, barbells and dumbbells provide a greater challenge to your stabilizing muscles that help with posture and balance control. This is great for general fitness, athleticism, and core strength and stability but can pose a challenge for increasing intensity (weight lifted) beyond a certain point. In order to progress exercises with the goal of hypertrophy (increasing muscle size), it is necessary to choose exercises that allow for a high degree of stability and connection to the floor or workout apparatus as the more unstable the exercise, the harder it is to generate high force. The less force that can be generated, the less of a challenge imposed on the target muscle group which is not beneficial for hypertrophy. High stability is the reason why machines can be a great tool to use to increase strength and hypertrophy due to the high stability of the machine. Machines are great for stability, however, they are only one-size-fits-all limiting its use for those who do not fit its limitations. Ultimately, it is your decision to make on which mode of exercise to use to achieve your training goals. Neither free weights nor machines are objectively better than the other. Choose modalities that are fun, easy to learn and progress with, and allow you to achieve your training goals. 

  1. Recovery + Nutrition 

The topic of recovery and nutrition is often overlooked in the fitness community despite being a huge determining factor in whether or not you will achieve your training goals. Recovery happens in the form of sleep, nutrition, stress management, and social interactions with the people around you. It is important to get enough sleep to help your muscles recover from the strenuous work of lifting weights. Muscle growth happens in the recovery phase and not during the actual training phase when muscle is being broken down. It is only through sleep and nutrition that muscle building can occur. It is recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night to see optimal recovery between workouts. Different people vary in regards to how much sleep is necessary to fully recover from their workouts so it is important to make a mental or physical note of how you feel following your sleep schedule. Is your current sleep schedule leaving you feeling drowsy? Tired? Foggy? It is probably necessary to get more sleep than you are currently getting. 

The second most important part of recovery is nutrition. It is not within my scope of practice as a personal trainer to recommend or give direct meal plans, however, I can share the general guidelines from research for people who wish to see strength training results. There are a few very important variables to consider in regard to nutrition being: macronutrients, micronutrients, water, and (in some cases) supplements. Macronutrients are the three fuel nutrients that supply us with energy to complete our workouts. These include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. All of these macronutrients are important for muscle recovery, energy, and hormonal regulation. It is not recommended to cut out ANY macronutrients from your diet unless advised to by a registered dietitian. Doing so can wreck your health for the long term and also completely ruin any chance of seeing strength or physique gains. 

Micronutrients are the non-fuel nutrients that are within the foods we eat. These include vitamins and minerals and are necessary for regulating hormones, immune function, blood clotting and so many other important bodily functions that keep us healthy and thriving every day. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to use supplementation to get the necessary nutrients in your diet that you may not be getting via food. This should be discussed with a registered dietitian or doctor to avoid toxicity and other dangerous side effects from overconsuming supplements. 

#5 Record your workouts 

Lastly, record your workouts in a notebook or on a phone app to see how you are progressing on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis. Record whatever you want in these logs and don’t feel limited to only including the amount of weight, sets, and reps accomplished. Feel free to include your mood, how close to your workout you ate, your menstrual cycle phase (for people with periods), and other factors that may affect your workout quality. Having these variables listed in your workout log will help you see how your workouts are progressing and factor out any off-days that may affect your overall motivation. 

Also consider recording your workout with your phone, camera, or other device like a tablet or gopro to do form checks during and after your workouts. Watching your own videos helps tremendously with seeing your progress over time and adjusting your form during the workout. It will also be a great way to motivate yourself in the long term when you see your strength, physique, and technique improving over time. 

Example of a Strength Training Workout: 

30-Year-Old Woman, Novice Lifter

Schedule: 9-5 Job & Mom of 2 (7 & 9 Years Old)

Wants to lose fat and get stronger. Wants to gain size in butt and shoulders 

Upper Lower Split 3x / Week 

Monday – Lower Body (Glute Focus) 

Warm Up: 5 Min Walk on Treadmill (3 Incline, 3 MPH)

1st Exercise: Glute Bridges w/ Barbell ( _ weight, 2 Sets of 10-12)

2nd Exercise: Goblet Squat w/ DB ( _ weight, 2 Sets of 8-10) 

3rd Exercise: Glute Hyperextensions w/ Body Weight (2 Sets of 10-12)

4th Exercise: Glute Kickback w/ Body Weight (3 Sets of 12-15) 

Wednesday – Upper Body Focus 

Warm Up: 5 Min Walk on Treadmill (3 Incline, 3 MPH) 

1st Exercise: Shoulder Press ( _ weight, 2 Sets of 10-12) 

2nd Exercise: Inverted Row w/ Body Weight (2 Sets of 8-10) 

3rd Exercise: DB Press ( _ weight, 2 Sets of 6-8) 

4th Exercise: Shoulder Lateral Raise ( __ weight, 3 Sets of 12-15)

Friday – Lower Body Balanced Focus

Warm Up: 5 Min Walk on Treadmill (3 Incline, 3 MPH) 

1st Exercise: Split Squat w/ Body Weight (3 Sets of 10-15) 

2nd Exercise: Romanian Deadlift ( _ weight, 2 Sets of 8-12) 

3rd Exercise: Glute Bridge w/ Body Weight (3 Sets of 10-15) 

4th Exercise: Walking Lunges w/ Body Weight (2 Sets of 15-20) 


This program can be progressed weekly through different training variables.  It is likely easier to increase volume before increasing intensity (weight lifted) depending on the trainee. If lifting more weight is practical, it is recommended to increase the weight lifted on a weekly basis. If this is not possible in any given week, volume can be increased by adding more sets, reps, or days per week. You can also add more exercises in a training program similar to this that starts out with low weekly volume. It is important to design your training program to your personal needs and capabilities and not to someone else’s preferences. Listen to your body and track your progress to find your balance between strength gains, health, and work/social life balance. 

Sources and Additional Research Articles: 

The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and their Application to Resistance Training

Strength & Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men

International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise

Muscle Hypertrophy and Muscle Strength: Dependent or Independent variables? A Provocative Review

Sleeping hours: what is the ideal number and how does age impact this?


Getting Bigger or Getting Stronger?

Getting Bigger or Getting Stronger? Strength vs. Hypertrophy 

When you lift weights at the gym, what is your primary goal?

Do you wish to get bigger or stronger? Both? Do you think getting bigger automatically means getting stronger or vice-versa?

Let’s examine the difference between getting bigger and getting stronger and why they are not the same goal. 

Muscular strength is defined as the ability of a muscle to produce maximal force against a resistance. Strength is influenced by muscle size, muscle cell type (fast vs. slow twitch), your trained state (i.e. novice, intermediate, advanced), neuromuscular skill (ability and rate of recruiting motor units), and biomechanics (mechanics of movement). Muscular strength is not the same as muscular growth despite its interchangeability in common lifting language. Muscular growth (also known as muscular hypertrophy) is the mechanism in which the muscle’s cross-sectional area grows due to increases in the contractile elements within the muscle. `

Wordy story short, muscular strength is equivalent to how much weight you can lift while muscular hypertrophy is equivalent to how large your muscles can grow in size. 

These two mechanisms can act simultaneously and typically don’t occur in an all-or-nothing fashion. It is possible to get significantly stronger without getting significantly larger in size, however, muscular growth will ultimately occur because of the increase in muscular strength happening predominantly from hypertrophy (gains in size) and not neuromuscular development. 

Approximately 90% of muscular strength gains happen through neuromuscular development in the first 2 weeks of an 8-week program. 

This occurrence can explain why it may take a while for a lifter to notice significant increases in muscle size despite getting significantly stronger at the start of their training program. The gains at the start of the program are primarily happening due to an increase in neural control. Factors that improve neural control include: increased motor unit recruitment (more motor units helping to produce force), increased motor unit synchronicity (motor units working in sync vs. asynchronously), and reduced co-activation (less activation of opposing muscle groups) to name a few of many neuromuscular mechanisms. 

This phenomenon also perfectly showcases the differences between powerlifters and bodybuilders in the fitness sphere. Powerlifters would technically be better-named strength lifters because of their muscles’ ability to exert maximal force against a resistance. Powerlifters seek to lift as much weight as possible in 3 lifts: squat, deadlift, and bench press. Powerlifters typically do not have aesthetic goals because their primary focus is to lift as much weight as possible irrespective of their looks. 

Bodybuilders, on the other side of the spectrum, focus on muscular development (aka muscular hypertrophy). Bodybuilders seek to gain as much muscle mass as possible while decreasing their body fat percentage to reveal as much muscle as possible on stage. Bodybuilders don’t tend to focus as much attention on how much weight they are lifting and instead focus on subjecting the muscle to as much stress as possible that will lead to muscular development and symmetry. Bodybuilders’ primary goal is aesthetics first and strength second. 

So which should be the focus of your training program as a recreational lifter? Either one! As long as proper technique and training principles are applied to either method, lifting for strength and lifting for gains in muscle size can be used at your discretion. Lifting weights in general brings about tremendous health benefits including: stronger bones and connective tissues, improved body composition, improved (or maintained) flexibility and mobility, increased joint stability, and increased performance in sports and activities of daily living. There are even mental health benefits that are associated with lifting weights regularly. Plus, who wouldn’t feel amazing after getting stronger and/or bigger muscles following a training program? Lifting should be a regular part of everyone’s life regardless of age, gender, or ability. 🙂 

(All scientific information from this blog has been retrieved from pdf notes listed in my ‘Performance for Athletes’ Kinesiology 165 and ‘Exercise Physiology’ Kinesiology 118 classes at California State University, Fresno with the amazing professors and researchers Dr. Morales and Dr. Coles. If you would like to know more information regarding these topics, please feel free to reach out to me for access to my notes from these lecturers or direct studies featuring these topics. I’d love to help out!) 


3 Significant Benefits of Taking Dance Classes

Dance is a universal art form that brings about many benefits to those who partake in its wonders. I personally have danced both recreationally and competitively for nearly 17 years and hope to continue to do so until I can’t walk anymore… and then I’ll still hope to be able to do a little diddly with my walker. Through dance you can build community, confidence, artistry, fitness, and more. This article will share several of the benefits of participating in dance classes and hopefully will inspire you to take a dance class in the near future!

Physical Benefits – Strength, Endurance, Etc.
Dancing is a very physically demanding activity. No matter what style of dance you prefer, there is bound to be some sort of physical challenge present while participating. Dancing in general can help you develop strength, flexibility, agility, and cardiovascular endurance. A dance class that is progressive and encompassing will also help you develop rhythm and coordination as well as skill acquisition from the technicality of learning complex dance movement. With more practice and class attendance, your skills will progress and develop into a mastery that is impressive, mesmerizing, and has the potential to promote confidence, self-efficacy, and overall competence. Dancing is a very unique physical activity where its benefits go far beyond the physical body, leading into areas such as the mind, soul, and community around you.

Relational Benefits – Community Building
Dance classes have a foundation based in community. It is hard to run a successful dance class without the community being a part of it. An example of this is in our current health crisis with dance establishments being forced to transition to online learning. Many dance studios have seen significant drops in enrollment due to their classes not feeling the same as they had felt previously, in-person. With in-person instruction, you reap the benefits of making friendships with fellow students, teachers, leaders, and parents and also receive hands on instruction, less personal distractions, and more intimate connections with those around you. It is common in dance classes for students to have to work together in groups with things like improvisation and choreography development that involves sensations like touching, hearing, seeing, and smelling those around you. As silly as it may seem, taking away partial or total access to these senses can completely destroy the experience for most participants.

Dance helps you connect with the people in your community in a way that ultimately makes you a more empathetic person. Dance breaks down barriers by putting all parties involved in a vulnerable position. Sharing a lack of skill, knowledge, rhythm, talent, etc. and building upon them together can create an extraordinary bond that builds communities one class at a time.

Artistic Benefits – Creative Expression
Dance can also be used as an avenue to express yourself creatively. Despite the technical aspects of traditional dance classes like Ballet, Jazz, and Hip Hop, dance has no boundaries. In my experience with traditional modern dance classes in college, I learned that dance can be expressed however you choose for it to be in whichever way you desire. A shake, shimmy, or even a simple walk across the stage can be your form of artistic expression. I’ve performed in numerous dance pieces that simply required me to run across the stage for 2-3 minutes with my best friends. This goes to show that it is not what you’re doing in a dance that matters, but how you’re communicating what you want to say through your movement.

Intention is the key ingredient of dance expression. It is with intent that you can turn a simple walk across a stage into a meander through a field of daisies or a dangerous walk along a tightrope 300 feet above ground level. Dance can be a medium to express your innermost frustrations, wants, worries, thoughts, etc. Dance can tell stories about the past, predict the future, or even ground you to the present moment. Dance is an opportunity to creatively express yourself in ways beyond your feral and visceral imagination.

If you’d like to take online dance classes while honoring the current shelter in place order here are two great resources for quality dance education and classes:

Steezy Studios
CLI Studios


3 Reasons to Increase Your Protein Intake

When venturing on a quest to either lose weight, gain weight (in the form of muscle mass), and/or maintain weight, monitoring your protein intake is a dietary habit that will help you achieve any one of these goals successfully. Protein is an awfully overlooked yet powerful tool in influencing energy balance and ultimately influencing body weight. Increasing your protein intake will help you build and maintain muscle mass, feel more satiated, and acutely increase your metabolism due to its thermic effect. This article will help you understand why having a relatively high protein intake is favorable to achieve these outcomes and will give you science-based estimations for the daily amount of protein to consume. 

#1) Retain/Build Muscle Mass

Increasing your protein intake while also engaging in a regular resistance training program has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength. Increasing your muscle mass is critical to optimal daily function and metabolic health. Muscle mass is the main contributing factor to your resting metabolic rate which determines how many calories you expend at rest. This number makes up approximately 60% of your total daily energy expenditure making it a value that is crucial in determining energy balance and weight regulation. 

Increasing your protein intake coupled with resistance training will also help you maintain muscle while being in a negative energy balance. Being in a negative energy balance, or energy deficit, leads to weight loss which can be derived from fat tissue, muscle tissue, water, and other sources within the body. Approximately 25% of weight lost while in an energy deficit is lean body mass with a significant amount of that lean body mass coming from muscle tissue. As mentioned previously, muscle mass is a critical factor in determining your resting metabolic rate making it a body tissue that is not ideal to lose during weight loss. Increasing your protein intake can help mitigate the risk of losing muscle mass during an energy deficit. 

A study by Areta et. al. showed that engaging in resistance training and consuming a relatively-high protein intake helped preserve lean body mass while losing body weight. In this study, participants who consumed 1.2 g/kg of protein per day (0.55g/lb/day) in conjunction with strength training 6 times per week retained their lean body mass over a 4 week period. Even more interesting, however, is another group who consumed 2.4 g/kg (1.09g/lb) of protein per day (3x the recommended daily allowance) in conjunction with strength training 6 times per week increased their lean body mass over the 4 week period. This study shows that increasing your protein intake well above the daily recommended amount may be beneficial to retaining muscle mass and preserving metabolic rate and health. 

#2) Feel Satiated

One of the main downsides of being in an energy deficit is the lack of feeling satiated post-feeding. This sensation is often due to the fact that your body’s energetic demands are not being met under these restrictive conditions. One of many options to combat this feeling is eating a diet higher in protein. 

Satiety is regulated by a multitude of systems within the body including the endocrine system, the cognitive and neural system, and the gastrointestinal system. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information article titled, “A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats” a high protein diet can affect these systems that regulate our appetite. This article listed a study that used a standard tool to assess subjective appetite and satiety called a visual analogue scale. This scale showed that satiety was greatly increased after a meal containing 60% calories from protein as opposed to a meal only containing 19% calories from protein. Another study by Crovetti et al. confirmed these findings by showing that a meal containing 68% calories from protein was far more satiating than a meal containing only 10% calories from protein. These studies show that increasing protein intake per meal can lead to increased feelings of satiety and help maintain a reduced caloric intake overtime. 

#3) Increase Your Metabolism (Acutely) 

Metabolism is a multi-faceted mechanism that ultimately determines your body weight. There are four main parts of metabolism that affect the amount of calories you expend daily. These parts include: resting energy expenditure (~60%), non-exercise activity thermogenesis (~20%), exercise activity thermogenesis (~10%), and the thermic effect of food (~10). These factors combine to determine how many calories you expend daily and influence your body weight. 

Consuming a high protein diet can positively affect the last and seemingly least important part of the equation – the thermic effect of food. The thermic effect of food is the increased metabolic demand post food ingestion.  An NCBI article titled “Diet induced thermogenesis” states that “although DIT [thermic effect of food] is the smallest component, it could play a role in the development and/or maintenance of obesity.” This means that the thermic effect of food, although not incredibly significant, still plays an important role in managing body weight. 

The thermic effect of food differs between different macronutrients. According to the NCBI DIT article mentioned above, TEF values for protein are 20-30% meaning 20-30% of protein calories are used during metabolism for nutrient breakdown. Compared to other macronutrients such as fat (0-3%), carbohydrates (5-10%), and even alcohol (10-30%), protein has the highest TEF value inducing the greatest metabolic rate increase. This higher thermic effect of food has implications for the effect of nutrients on weight regulation. Although this point is not incredibly significant, it is still worth considering when trying to lose and/or maintain body weight. 


There are many reasons to increase protein intake, especially under conditions of energy restriction, maintenance, and even energy surplus. Consuming a diet higher in protein can help you build/maintain muscle mass, feel more satiated, and even acutely increase your metabolism, all of which help in the regulation of body weight.  For more information on the sources cited in this article, visit these links listed below: 


  1. Dietary Protein & Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application & Health Benefit

  1. Dietary Protein, Weight Loss, & Weight Maintenance

  1. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy w/ Resistance Exercise Training

  1. A High-Protein Diet for Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms & Possible Caveats

  1. Diet-Induced Thermogenesis

  1. Revised Reference Values for the Intake of Protein

  1. Dietary Protein for Athletes: From Requirements to Optimum Adaptation


So after all of this time, we are still here.

This post is not informative, nor will it give you any workout ideas or eating tricks to stay slim during the “Quarantine 15” or “Quarantine Productivity” contest. We’re experiencing an unprecedented pandemic and I understand how this may devastatingly affect some people more than others. Now that at least a full month has passed, however, I believe it is time to truly evaluate how we want to exit this quarantine season. An emphasis is put upon the word ‘season’ because this time is certainly only a season regardless of whether or not it is a long and arduous season, or a brief, passing moment in our lives.

We all have this time now to face our greatest insecurities, faults, idiosyncrasies, and so on. We also have this time now to reflect on our greatest accomplishments, triumphs, and desires. The nefarious beauty is in the fact that we get to choose for ourselves what to focus on during this time. You may think that you are not “choosing” anything, but inaction is action in its own right. It’s the choice to ignore everything that pulls you in the direction of growth, change, and transformation, which ultimately leads to destruction. 

This post is not to give any advice on what to do during quarantine, nor is it about what to do following quarantine. This is simply a thought-provoking prompt to encourage you to figure out what you want to have gained from this quarantine after it is over.

The fact of the matter is you already know what you need to do. There are no examples to be made of as everyone is unconstrained in their ability to work on their own personal narrative of success. I strongly encourage you to use what’s left of this time to re-associate with your true self. This time is a theoretical reset, a rebirth, so to speak, that can re-familiarize ourselves with what is paramount in life — and this paramount is different for everyone. So again, I strongly encourage you to use this dwindling time wisely so you can look back in confidence at what you’ve gained from it. Treat this time as a theoretical rebirth and come out of it more refreshed, rejuvenated, and refocused than before.

You are your greatest asset!

Coach T


Accomplishing Through Habit Stacking

I truly believe that habits are the structural foundations of our lives.

Having an offset balance of “bad” or “good” habits can either set you up for guaranteed success or guaranteed failure, especially if you have a specific goal or aspiration in mind. A concept I’ve come across from researchers, public speakers, and teachers like BJ Fogg and James Clear is the concept of habit stacking. Habit stacking is as simple as stacking one habit on top of another to eventually establish a fixed routine. Habit stacking is a great way to incorporate solid routines into your life to lead you in the direction of guaranteed success. 

Habit stacking has to initiate from an already-established habit in order for it to become a part of a fixed routine. Believe it or not, most people have hundreds, if not, thousands of already-established habits in place that can be used to build an even-greater fixed routine via habit stacking. Think about the habits you already have established currently. At first it may seem challenging to come up with even 5 already-established habits, but it’s actually quite easy upon further examination. 

One way to start is to think about what habits you already have established in your morning routine. Standing out of bed, checking your phone, using the bathroom, (hopefully) brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and eating breakfast are all already-established habits. Take one of these already-established habits and tack on a new habit to immediately follow it. For example, if one of your aspirations is to become more intelligent, then reading may be a habit you would like to establish. Suppose after putting away your breakfast dishes you read 5 pages out of a book on a topic you’d like to learn more about. This establishes a habit of reading that is not too daunting to complete regularly. This also sets you in the direct path of your aspiration of becoming more intelligent, regardless of how much reading you actually do initially. 

One problem with goal setting and creating aspirations most people face is starting too big, too soon. If you try to read an entire book after breakfast, not only will it be incredibly time-consuming, but just the thought of having to complete this task will deter you from even starting it to begin with. This obviously leaves you in a worse position than if you’d have just read 1-5 pages initially post-breakfast. 

My biggest tip with habit stacking and eventually accomplishing your aspirations is to start very small. Starting small allows you to complete the desired behavior continuously over time which will not only build strong, fixed habits that lead you in the direction of success, but will also build the motivation needed to continue doing these habits and forming new habits that lead you towards success. Strong habits and fixed routines are the key to achieving anything you’d like to achieve in life. Just remember that all it takes is one small step in the right direction to set you up for long-term success.


How to Stay Sane While Quarantined

Looking back at this past week, all I can conjure up is a giant question mark. What just happened?! It seemed as though talk about the corona virus went from taking vague and subtle precautions like washing your hands to a full-blown quarantine and social distancing in very little time. This quarantine can be a great source of stress for everyone, however, we can use this time to become laser-focused on our priorities; especially our physical, emotional, and psychological health. In this article, I’ll be sharing some methods I’ve been using during this quarantine to remain safe and sane throughout it. 

Tip #1: Take Daily Walks 

In my previous article titled “3 Major Benefits of Daily Walking,” I mentioned how daily walking can improve 3 major areas of our life including: weight loss and/or long-term weight loss maintenance, improved cardiovascular health, and improved mental health. In addition to these benefits, daily walking can reconnect you to the outside world whilst being forced to disconnect from it. During this quarantine it is recommended to stay away from large crowds so it is not recommended to walk in places that would involve that, however, a neighborhood walk typically would suffice. You may on occasion see the friendly, neighborhood lady walking her dog, but as long as your contact with her is limited and distanced, it should be safe to interact and go on about your day. Walking has helped me engage in self-reflection, listen to podcasts to learn new topics, circulate blood flow throughout my body, and listen to music/videos/other media I love so much! Walking is a great tool to keep those three previously mentioned health and well-being faucets in check (mental, physical, and emotional well-being). 

Tip #2: Exercise

There is no doubt in scientific literature that exercise in general can improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This makes exercise one of the most imperative habits to maintain during this quarantine. Both cardiovascular and strength training exercises should and can be done while in quarantine. For cardiovascular training, there are a multitude of workout modalities to try including but not limited to: walking, jogging/running, biking, HIIT (high intensity interval training), boxing, kickboxing, dancing, jumping rope, and/or running/walking up stairs. Within these workouts, there is room to tamper with training techniques including tempo, reps, sets, and duration to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout itself. Try slowly adding in one of these modalities to your workout routine to reap the benefits of cardiovascular training during this quarantine. 

Strength training is another very important exercise training method that is important to partake in while in quarantine. Of course with limited equipment, it can seem to be difficult to maintain an indoor strength training routine, however, it is very possible to maintain and (for some) even build muscle with bodyweight and limited-equipment, in-home workouts. My recommendations for the very beginning-newly intermediate crowd is to focus on compound bodyweight workouts with the goal of mastering the art of moving your own bodyweight through space. The amount of technique and strength required to efficiently do bodyweight workouts is often overlooked in the strength training community. Mastering compound bodyweight movements like push ups, chin/pull ups, squats, lunges, pike pushups, and planks will make doing these with weight in the gym incredibly easier and SAFER. In order to get the required muscle stimulus to reap the benefits of bodyweight training, it is recommended to train close to failure with these workouts. Training to failure simply means completing a certain number of reps until you find it physically impossible to complete more reps in that given set. Training close to this number means not completely reaching failure, but still reaching a point to induce a stimulus great enough to promote neuromuscular adaptations. This number varies drastically from person to person so it is best to do these exercises and determine that number on your own. 

Tip #3: Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods

Eating nutrient-dense foods has been recommended by all healthcare professionals as an imperative tool in preventive medicine. Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. family physician, founder and director of The UltraWellness Center and columnist for The Huffington Post very blatantly acknowledges that “poor quality food = poor health.” Following Dr. Hyman’s educational Instagram and Twitter feeds, he recommends the consumption of colorful vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and low-glycemic fruits because of their role in reducing inflammation, feeding our good gut bacteria, and balancing blood sugar. All of these factors greatly influence the body’s ability to ward off infectious diseases, like COVID-19, and can help improve immune system function in general. In this educational instagram post, Dr. Mark Hyman suggests these tips in using food to support your immune system function (click on the link above for the direct instagram post and more details on these recommendations): 

  • Cut out sugar/refined starches 
  • Get adequate protein intake (~1g/kg body weight/day)
  • Add spices to your soups/veggie dishes (turmeric, rosemary, oregano, garlic, onions, ginger, etc.) 
  • Eat lots of colorful fruits/vegetables 

 Tip #4: Meditate

This tip may seem to be the least important on this list, but may deceptively actually be one of the most important points featured. Meditation can greatly influence the body’s stress levels and can even lengthen telomere lengths. In relation to being quarantined due to COVID-19, reductions in stress can greatly affect the body’s ability to ward off infectious diseases. According to a National Institute of Health article titled, “Meditation: Process and effects,” meditation greatly reduces stress levels, while chronic stress levels can greatly shorten the length of telomeres. Telomeres are the “protective caps at the end of chromosomes that promote chromosomal stability. Shorter telomeres are associated with accelerated aging and related diseases.”

Dr. Mark Hyman is also an advocate of mediation’s stress reducing qualities citing a study that showed stress levels and their relation to susceptibility to viral diseases. In this study, volunteers were injected with a virus into their nasal passages. Volunteers who scored lower on the stress assessment questionnaire did not succumb to the virus injection while volunteers who scored higher on the stress assessment questionnaire did. Meditation has been a proven way to greatly reduce stress levels which is a critical component of preventive medicine and disease control. 

Tip #5: Work on Aspirations Through Habit-Forming

Everyone has at least one aspiration they would like to accomplish in their lifetime. This unanticipated time off can be a great opportunity to build momentum to eventually achieve this aspiration/aspirations. If you are someone who has not yet started on building these aspirations, take this opportunity as well to form habits that will eventually lead you towards achieving them.

Dr. BJ Fogg is an American social scientist at Stanford University who specializes in behavior modification and developing what he’s termed as “Tiny Habits.” After reading his book, “TINY HABITS,” I started to employ the techniques he recommends and have experienced tremendous momentum towards achieving my own aspirations. Summarizing the two major takeaways from Dr. Fogg’s book, “Tiny Habits,” he strongly suggests starting VERY small and celebrating every accomplishment along the way. Using a brief example with health and fitness, you may have the general aspiration of wanting to increase your strength. To start very small with this goal, for example, you could create a habit of doing 2 push ups after every bathroom break throughout the day. This may seem incredibly silly or monotonous, but the momentum gained from this achievement may (and almost guaranteed will) create a shift in actions that lead toward the habits necessary to accomplish the aspiration of gaining strength. But most importantly, Dr. Fogg recommends that you celebrate every time you complete the habit of doing those 2 push ups. These celebrations are not massive and can be as simple as doing a little dance or smiling at yourself in the mirror. Essentially, this action followed immediately after completing your habit will ignite the reward system in your brain and encourage you to continue doing this action.

To quote Dr. Fogg directly he states, “Remember that you change best by feeling good, not by feeling bad.” So incorporate positive reinforcement whenever you can to build habits that will lead you towards eventually accomplishing your aspirations. 



Finding nutritious food sources doesn’t have to be a hassle when a planned approach is taken constructively. The US federal government provides a comprehensive food guide called My Plate that is a great source of information to start on the journey towards healthier, more nutritious eating. An additional source of nutritional guidance can be found through an organization called ETR whose mission is to “improve health and increase opportunities for youth, families and communities. (”

ETR offers ‘My Plate on a Budget’ which is a pamphlet that features “creative, practical, and positive ways to eat well for less [money]” and offers tips on things like grocery shopping, meal planning, and portion control. This article will briefly discuss some of these recommendations to help you transition towards more nutrient-dense meals and snacks and provide clarity among some of the conflicting and often debilitating information that is circling the health and fitness space today. 

My Plate, In a Nutshell:

  • Eat more fruits and veggies.

Eating more fruits and veggies will ensure that your diet is filled with plenty of low-calorie, micronutrient-dense foods that will help you feel satiated over a longer period of time than the highly-processed, high-sugar/salt alternatives. In order to take advantage of the numerous micronutrient combinations in different fruits and veggies, eat a wide variety of these types of foods, especially dark, leafy greens, colorful veggies, and berries. 

  • Include grains at every meal.

Including whole grains, especially, will ensure that your diet is packed with more vitamins and nutrients including: protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). Examples of these kinds of foods include whole grain rice, pasta, and even lightly-salted/buttered popcorn. 

  • Include protein at every meal. 

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient of the three main macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Include lean (low fat) protein to keep calories from these foods to a minimum. Different foods with higher amounts of protein include: cheeses, meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood. The recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight (0.36g of protein per pound of body weight). 

  • Determine your personal daily caloric intake.

Some may want to lose body fat while others may want to gain muscle mass and/or body fat. Your daily caloric intake will be determined by your health and fitness goals. has a calorie calculator that determines what your daily caloric intake should be to reach your health and fitness goals. For the more athletic-seeking audience, I personally recommend using this calorie calculator that allows you to insert other variables into the equation to reach a more accurate daily caloric intake ( 

My Plate on a Budget:

Listed below is the ETR My Plate on a Budget pamphlet that features great recommendations on nutritious eating on a budget. If you would like to order a physical copy of this pamphlet, follow this link to the ETR My Plate on a Budget website:


Action, Motivation, & Habits

Utilizing these concepts to achieve gargantuan goals

Many people struggle with finding the will to take action when it comes to health and fitness. Some people seem to believe that a lightning strike of motivation will one day come along, striking you across the face, leaving you with the forever urge to take action once and for all… But clearly motivation does not work like that. Speaking from personal experience, motivation seems to occur in a cycle. The cycle must first begin with an action. This action doesn’t need to be a giant leap, but a first step. The first step taken will then lead to a greater sense of self-efficacy (belief in your own ability to execute behaviors) bringing about motivation and even then, a sudden urge to take more action. After a given amount of time in this stage, results will start to show leading to even more motivation and action. This cycle compounded over time is how gargantuan goals can be accomplished. Below is a visual representation of the action, motivation, and results cycle that occurs when accomplishing a gargantuan goal. 

Putting this into the perspective of health and fitness, one may have a gargantuan goal of losing 50 pounds. Looking at the goal by itself may seem intimidating and impossible to achieve, but breaking it down into the mobilizing action will direct you towards the path to achieving it. A mobilizing action is a habit. A habit is a task that can be completed with more or less no active thought behind it (Clear, James). A mobilizing action (habit) as mentioned above, does not have to be momentous or even take conscious effort. Realistically speaking, this mobilizing action could be as simple as putting on your running shoes and walking out the door. Eventually, this habit will form, solidify, and guide you towards taking actions like going for a 10 minute walk or going for a 5-10 minute run. Without the initial mobilizing action of putting on your running shoes and walking out the door, the following action of walking or running regularly cannot occur. 

This concept of developing mobilizing actions (or habits) can apply to any part of your life that you want to improve. This can apply to finances, health, fitness, relationships, and so much more. The fascinating truth about developing mobilizing actions is that once one is established, it tends to affect other interrelated aspects of our lives. For example, once you’ve established the mobilizing action mentioned above of putting on your running shoes, walking out the door, and going for a walk or run, you may notice that your eating habits will start to change to align with the action you’ve taken to partake in regular exercise. You may also have less time to partake in other less productive, sedentary habits like watching TV or mindlessly snacking on less nutritious foods. This may not (and most-likely will not) occur overnight, but it can create a snowball effect of positive changes that follow the cycle of action, results, motivation, and more action. It is important to remember, however, that this snowball effect had to be initiated by the very small mobilizing action (habit) of putting on running shoes and walking out the door. 

The biggest takeaway one can receive from this article is that no goal is too big to accomplish when approached from the right angle. Start with one small, mobilizing action that will eventually become a habit (emphasis on small as most people tend to start too big and become burned out at the thought of continuing a habit that cannot be made automatic). Continue that small, mobilizing habit enough to let it lead you to bigger actions that align with your gargantuan goal. Eventually, this pattern will compound over time to lead you towards realizing your gargantuan goal. A very important thing to remember is to trust the process. Logically, we know that gargantuan goals cannot be accomplished in a day, week, or even a month, but we’ll let emotions get in the way leaving us discouraged and disappointed at even just the beginning of the process. Any gargantuan goal worth achieving takes time, dedication, and a mobilizing action. Stick to the day-to-day process and trust in the sustained effort needed to see it through and you are guaranteed to accomplish your gargantuan goal.


Habits – James Clear


3 Major Benefits of Daily Walking:

Why I love walking:

Walking is my personal favorite form of low-intensity cardiovascular training. Walking is one of the most easily accessible forms of cardiovascular training almost anyone can take on. At most, it requires shoes and space (or a treadmill), which most people have access to on a daily basis. Walking can be used to engage in daily meditation, exercise, education, and so much more. I personally walk while listening to podcasts or YouTube videos regarding fitness and health education. Sometimes, I’ll walk in silence just to observe the scene around me and/or partake in meditation and self-reflection. Walking brings about many different potential health benefits including but not limited to: weight management, improved cardiovascular health, and improved mental health. This article will discuss what I believe are the three main health benefits of daily walking.  

Weight Management

Walking is one of the most conveniently beneficial exercises for long-term weight management. As mentioned above, walking mostly only requires shoes and space (or a treadmill) to engage in as a regular activity making it fairly convenient for most people to do. This activity can be practiced daily with relatively no post-exercise soreness (depending on your walking duration, frequency, and intensity) making it less likely to interfere with other training activities and/or other daily activities. Daily walking can help maintain weight loss, even of substantial amounts. 

A study published in the Obesity Society: Obesity Journal compared physical activity energy expenditure and total daily energy expenditure in successful weight loss maintainers with two control groups: normal weight and overweight/obesity controls. The weight loss group maintained a 26.2 kg (~58 lb) weight loss for 9 years. The results of this study found that the physical activity expenditure of the  weight loss maintainers was significantly higher than that of the control groups (normal weight and overweight/obese groups). This study was not specific to walking, however, it did include the daily average step counts of each group. The weight loss maintainers averaged a step count of 12,256 steps daily while the normal control group averaged 9,047 steps daily. The overweight/obese group averaged step counts of 7,072 steps daily during this study. This study suggests that a higher amount of daily expenditure is necessary in order to successfully maintain weight loss. Aiming for step counts of 10-12,000 per day is advised to reach these optimal levels of daily expenditure.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Walking brings about many cardiovascular health benefits. According to a report mentioned in the Harvard Health Publishing article entitled “Walking: Your Steps to Health,” walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% in both men and women, even at a relatively slow pace and short distance (2 mi/hr, 5.5 miles per week). Walking was also found to improve cardiac risk factors such as “cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness/inflammation, and mental stress.” Despite those cardiovascular health benefits, walking was also found to be helpful in the prevention of “dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.” Walking for longer distances and/or at faster paces are known to bring about even greater health benefits. 

Improved Mental Health

Walking also brings about many psychological health benefits. According to research findings mentioned in the C3 Collaborating for Health Walking Report, walking was found to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression “resulting in [improved] quality of life and reductions in the medical costs associated with treating these disorders.” Walking was also found to improve cognitive performance. Cognitive performance measures mental processes such as “thinking, understanding and remembering.” Mentioned in the C3 Collaborating for Health Walking Report are many more mental health walking benefits including: 

  • reduced physical symptoms of anxiety associated w/ minor stress  
  • increased self‐reported energy levels when older adults set their own pace
  • improved quality of sleep  
  • better cognitive performance at school
  •  improved cognitive performance/reduced cognitive decline among older adults
  • increased size of the hippocampus & prefrontal cortex (directly affecting memory) 

(List provided directly from

As mentioned in the list above, regular walking provides many potential mental health benefits to everyone who participates. If you are struggling with mental health disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety, eating disorders) and/or show signs and symptoms of said disorders, seek help from a medical professional for treatment. The ideas, suggestions and comments made in this article are not to be prescribed  as a method of treatment for any type of mental health disorder.  

Article’s MVPs – Most Valuable Points:

  • Walking can increase daily energy expenditure leading to successful weight loss maintenance, even of substantial amounts. 
  • Walking can improve a multitude of cardiovascular health variables including but not limited to: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. 
  • Walking can improve many mental health variables including but not limited to: cognitive performance, depression/anxiety symptoms, sleep quality, and stress. 

It’s a beautiful day to go for a walk! 



Weight Loss v. Fat Loss & Caloric Deficits

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss

Before digging into the topic of weight loss vs. fat loss, we first have to make a differentiation between the two concepts that are often mistakenly interchanged. Weight is a measure of your body’s gravitational pull to the earth, AKA mass. This measures the total mass of a multitude of body composition variables including your body water and muscle mass. Both body water and muscle mass are things that can drastically affect your weight. Fat loss, however, is the reduction of body fat which is what most populations aim for while claiming to want to “lose weight.” Preferably, weight loss should be achieved via fat loss while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. 

So how do you lose fat? 

Fat loss is achieved only through being in a caloric deficit. All food contains calories and calories are units of energy. Being in a caloric deficit means that you are burning more calories than you consume typically through exercising more (burning calories) and/or eating less (consuming < calories). This process can be simplified by using tracking apps and/or reputable online calculators to determine how much energy your body needs daily and creating a deficit based on those calculations.  It is recommended to start with a shallow-moderate caloric deficit to reduce intense feelings of hunger that can lead to food overconsumption (binge episodes) and, ultimately, weight gain. Shallow-moderate caloric deficits will result in less rapid fat loss but are far more realistic when adherence overtime is considered. It is far more difficult to adhere to a program that includes a dramatic caloric deficit because intense feelings of hunger are likely to occur in this state and motivation/willpower, being temporary sources, will eventually cease. Consistent adherence to a shallow-moderate caloric deficit will ensure that fat loss is achieved and maintained overtime. 

So how do you know how many calories to consume?

A great online calculator to use to determine how many calories to consume daily is TDEE calculator ( This calculator uses variables such as: gender, age, height, weight, and activity level to estimate how many calories you burn daily. Based on this estimation, you would subtract a given amount of calories daily to total the number of calories you need to burn to lose a given amount of weight per week. These daily caloric deficit amounts do not have to be equal as these amounts can be cycled up and down throughout the week (i.e. 500-calorie deficit on Monday’s and 200-calorie deficit on Thursday’s, etc.) as long as the caloric deficit equals the amount of calories needed to lose (X) amount of body fat by the end of the week. One pound of body fat is approximately 3,500 calories so to lose 1 pound of body fat per week, you would need to create a deficit of ~500 calories per day. Remember, this deficit can be created via both less food consumption and more physical activity. It is, however, recommended to lose no more than 1-2% of your body weight per week to create a maintainable caloric deficit. 


Adherence to these principles will be the number one determinant for long-term fat loss success. Being very reasonable, patient, and consistent with your fat loss goals will help you achieve them without unnecessary added stress and anxiety. Keep these goals in mind throughout the process and be flexible enough to adjust them as needed throughout. Fat loss does not have to be complicated when approached with a scientific scope in mind. Calories in < Calories out. 

Article’s MVPs – Most Valuable Points:

  • Fat loss is only achieved through a caloric deficit. 
  • Determine your needed daily/weekly caloric deficit via an online calculator.
  • 1 lb of body fat is approximately 3,500 calories.
  • Fat loss should be no more than approximately 1-2% of your body weight per week for a more manageable/sustainable lifestyle. 
  • Use physical activity to complement your efforts towards losing body fat. 



My Fitness Journey:

Fitness and health were things that weren’t always on the forefront of my mind or priorities, especially at a young age. I grew up a competitive dancer and was naturally a very lean girl. It wasn’t until puberty hit around the age of 13 that I started to notice myself growing in ways I was not comfortable with at all. I went from an estimated 125-135 lbs in middle school to finishing high school at 165-170 lbs (on the low end). The funny thing was that, mentally, I still pictured myself as how I was in middle school, super lean. I think this was my mind’s way of denying that I needed to change my daily habits. In my defense, I was dancing 3-4 times a week so I thought that had to be enough to keep me active and healthy at that age. Strength training and nutrition weren’t even considered at this time in my life. 

Fast forward to the introduction of college and the start of major rejection and negative and/or lack of self-reflection. I auditioned for CSUF’s dance team and didn’t make it. This was the first time in my life I had felt a serious rejection while doing something that I knew I was naturally good at. I chalked it up to college dance programs only wanting to accept the stereotypical, femininely “pretty girls” (which was the exact opposite of what I was at the time) and not giving a fair shot to the rest of us. This could have been true, but I wasn’t even willing to self-reflect and consider that my technique needed cleaning and/or that my appearance didn’t reflect the type of dancer I should’ve projected myself to be for that particular audition. 

Through this first bout of college I ended up withdrawing from CSUF and continuing my education at FCC in their dance department. This was the first time I was constantly moving and rehearsing so of course my body composition drastically changed. I started dropping weight so rapidly and everyone around me noticed. The constant feedback of my peers temporarily motivated me to continue going. But then I stopped. I started working numerous random jobs and even stumbled upon partnering on a business deal to open a local dance studio, but none of this was satisfying enough (not to mention still left me very much broke and borderline depressed). 

I decided I wanted to go back to school and do it the right way for the first time in my life. I started casually weightlifting around the age of 22 after meeting my boyfriend and loved how empowered I felt lifting heavy weights. I even got certified as a personal trainer just to be able to join a company and start training people for side income but that of course fell through even before starting the dance studio. At this point in my life I was left to decide what route I wanted to take if I were to take my degree seriously; with the intent to start a career afterward. I had to pick between dance (my lifelong passion) or fitness (my recent hobby). I can’t lie and say that my decision wasn’t mostly determined by the job market for both of these careers. Logically, it made more sense to pick a major that had the potential to lead to numerous career paths and not limited ones so I picked Kinesiology. 

At the start of my first semester in the Kinesiology program, I was dead broke, mentally exhausted and physically out of shape from not being in the gym due to a back injury sustained demonstrating a silly, trivial dance move (lol). I had to help run the dance business which included near-daily social media posts, daily practices, performances, choreography, and an upcoming grand opening while trying to balance school, getting a very limited salary from the dance studio, relationships (family/friends/boyfriend), and getting back into the gym. As you can imagine, this schedule included nightly binges, crying sessions, and thoughts of “What the hell am I doing and why the hell am I doing it?!” Meanwhile, my boyfriend is telling me what I knew I had to do all along. QUIT. But not quit school (obviously). Quit the place that I literally dreaded going to during this season. It was too much for me to handle with my new priorities. The studio became my worst nightmare at that time. I very abruptly decided to quit and didn’t go back. 

Coincidentally, I saw a job opportunity for a kickboxing gym called 9Round and was so reluctant to apply. I hadn’t trained anyone in so long and I knew nothing about kickboxing to qualify me for this position. I felt like an imposter applying for it but something in my gut told me to do it anyway. I got the job and gained so much more than I could imagine after doing so. I gained a team of super helpful, qualified fitness mentors that have literally molded me into a completely different person in 4 months time. I started taking fitness seriously for the first time in my life minding things like nutrition, protein, calorie expenditure, etc. Things that the “old me” honestly didn’t even know about until school brought it to my attention. This gym just embodied everything I was learning about in school and complemented my life so well at the time. 

Now, I am still working at the same gym and have 2-3 more semesters left before graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. I’ve lost 12 pounds and have made massive strength gains in the gym since joining the 9Round team. I partake in daily meditation to recenter myself to my purpose in life and take daily walks in the morning while listening to fitness-related podcasts. I’ve become that person that’s kinda annoying on Instagram but you really enjoy watching them (lowkey) because you’re amazed by their persistence. I’ve become a confident person who looks for opportunities to socialize and open myself up to the world instead of hermit crabbing it all day, everyday like before. I love my life in the season I’m in and cannot imagine what I would do if I hadn’t gone back to school. That was the game changer for me and the catalyst to this great life I now live. I am forever grateful for education! Stay in school, kids. 😉