Iliana’s Journey

As some of you know, I am involved with a company called 12 Week Fitness Challenge. One thing that I am really excited about is 12WFC’s “Iliana’s Journey”.

Iliana has struggled with her weight for years. She has gone up and down, but has never been able to reach her goal. I am happy to say that starting December 5th, something is about to change! Myself, Scott Perry, and Parker Green are all trainers for 12WFC. We are going to help guide Iliana as she begins her weight loss journey for the last time! Forget about the Biggest Loser, where contestants live on a ranch, have meals prepared, and workout with trainers for 6 hours/ day! This is real. Iliana has to go to work every day. No vacations here! She has to prepare her own meals on top of her already busy schedule. She isn’t doing this for money. She is someone you can relate to.

We have asked Iliana to do 2 things. One, to not change her lifestyle until December 5th. Two, to blog everyday and document her journey.

Please follow along as she starts this new journey to a healthier lifestyle! She may motivate you to start your New Year’s Resolution early!

Click here to support Iliana!


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Congress: Pizza is a Vegetable!

Have you heard? Congress recently rejected a bill that would call for stricter nutrition standards in school lunches. Their argument was essentially that as long as a slice of pizza had 2 Tbsp of tomato sauce, it could be considered a vegetable. Besides the fact that tomatoes are fruits and not vegetables at all, this is just complete and utter stupidity. To make this even crazier, they are also considering french fries as a serving of vegetables. Hey, at least they classified potatoes correctly!  It is sad that children are being the victims of horrible decisions based on money, and that their declining health is the outcome of those decisions.  I can go on and on about this, but you already know what I am going to say.

So…. let’s move on.

I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Things that I am thankful for:

My wife.

My family.

My health.

My career and my clients.

Life itself and the experiences that come with it.

All of you who follow my blog and give me a reason to write.

Please travel safe and try to keep in mind what this holiday is supposed to be about. And remember, pumpkin pie IS a vegetable!

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Wait, what? I thought that a Calorie was a measure of energy. Am I wrong?

Well, not exactly. First off, the correct terminology to use here would be kilocalorie, or kcal. 1 kcal is defined as being enough energy to raise 1ml of H2O by 1 degree Celsius. That means that when a calorie is being used it produces HEAT.  Does your food continue to get hotter and hotter as it sits there? No. This is because the energy is STORED in your food. The Calories that are in your food are not energy; they are POTENTIAL ENERGY. So when you exercise, your body starts to “burn” this potential energy. Heat is produced as a waste product, and your body temperature goes up.  Pretty simple, right? Are you wondering why am I explaining the difference between energy and potential energy?


People are always concerned about whether or not they have consumed enough energy to perform a task. The reality is though, your body is going to find this energy one way or another. Your body has energy stored in a couple different forms, the largest being fat. In the simplest of terms: if your body does not receive enough potential energy from food to survive, it will then pull energy from your fat storage. This is something that I have to explain over and over again to clients; even those who are pregnant or nursing (and have excess body fat). Here is how the conversation goes:

“My doctor says that I need to eat an extra 200-300 Calories per day because I am nursing”

“How many Calories per day are you currently eating?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never tracked it”

“…then what are you going to add 300 Calories to?”

This dialogue always makes me laugh a little bit, because we Americans are always concerned about not getting enough energy from food, when the reality is that we don’t have a starvation problem here in America. In fact, MORE THAN HALF OF US ARE OVERWEIGHT! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US?! We need to start looking at food as POTENTIAL ENERGY, because that is a healthier and smarter way to look at it. When you are looking at something you are considering consuming you should ask yourself, “am I realistically going to use all of this energy?” This might help you make better choices.

All that being said, it is important to give your body enough fuel to maintain the muscle mass that you have. Otherwise you will begin to lose your muscle (because your body needed more potential energy) and your metabolism will begin to slow down… But how do you know how many calories your body needs per day? That is a question that is easier to answer if you have had an accurate Body Fat % measurement done recently. Either way, there are websites that you can use to get a good estimate of how much energy (kilocalories) your body uses, both at rest and with exercise. Once you know that you will have a better idea of how much POTENTIAL ENERGY to consume each day.

Here is a great calorie calculator:  (click on “Advanced Options” to enter your body fat %)

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Is Your Massage Therapist Good or Knot?

Your body gets put through the ringer every day. Sitting, standing up, walking up and down stairs, running to cross the street, bending over to pick something you dropped, and hardly ever stretching. Regardless of your daily pattern, you have a DAILY PATTERN. What this means is that you are most likely repeating certain movements over and over again without realizing it. This can lead to muscles being shortened or overactive. Lets say for example that Muscle A and Muscle B help move a joint in the same direction, but Muscle A is the “prime mover”, and Muscle B’s job is to help keep the joint stable during movement. Muscle C moves the joint in the opposing direction. Now lets pretend that something has caused Muscle C to become shortened. Maybe you have a knot, or maybe it is overused and never stretched (happens all the time). If Muscle C is shortened, then chances are Muscle A will become lengthened and will only be able to produce a fraction of its normal force to help move that joint. What’s so bad about that? You won’t notice. That’s the problem. Somebody is going to have to take over for the work that Muscle A is no longer able to do, and that somebody is Muscle B. Muscle B, however, is only built to handle smaller loads, because his job is to keep the joint stable during movement- not to move the joint by himself. This can cause inflammation and discomfort  in Muscle B.

So now Muscle B is hurting and achy so you go to your local spa. It smells nice, they are playing soothing music to help you relax, and your massage therapist walks in and asks if anything is bothering you. You say “Yes!”, and you point to Muscle B. Here is where you know if you have a good massage therapist or “knot”:

Your rookie massage therapist is going to unleash his/her wrath on Muscle B. They will dig in and say, “Wow! This one is really bad!” Then they will dig, dig, dig some more. They spend a huge chunk of time on this one area. Two things can happen here:

  1. The inflammation can increase because they have prodded way too much on a muscle that was already aggravated when you walked in. This kinda sucks for you, but is also a great reason to find a new massage therapist.
  2. You can feel relief. What’s so bad about that? The discomfort is going to keep coming back, and you are going to end up spending WAY too much money and time on massages.

Why is the discomfort going to keep coming back? Read the first paragraph again and see if you can guess. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Did you figure it out?

A good massage therapist is going to be able to see that although Muscle B should be worked on to help it relax, it is not the problem. Muscle C is the one that caused all of this in the first place! Remember? Muscle C is the one that was shortened, causing Muscle A to leave it’s duties to little Muscle B, who is now screaming in agony because he is overworked.

This happens all of the time with people who sit in front of a computer every day. Do you know anybody like that? 🙂 They sit with their head and arms forward, their shoulders sloped. This shortens the Pectoralis Major & Minor (your chest muscles). If your shoulders start to stay in that sloped position, your Upper and Middle Trapezius Muscle fibers (run across the top of your shoulders and the back of your neck) can become overworked, from holding your head up all day.

Stretching helps a ton. The only problem is that you cannot stretch a knot. So try to find yourself a good massage therapist, or better yet, an Active Release Technique practitioner (ART). Here are some good resources in the Orange County Area:

Wellness Choice Center: Corrective Chiropractic and Massage Therapy,              

Dr. Sebastian Gonzalez @ P3 Sports Care, Inc: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic,

Dr. John Saddik @ Spinal & Sports Wellness Center: Active Release Technique and Chiropractic,



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I’m No Fool. How About You?

Jim Elliott, an evangelical Christian and missionary once wrote, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
This really spoke to me and I have been wanting to share it with you all.  What’s funny about it is that the more I thought about it, the more I was able to apply it to different things in my life. This is a fitness blog however, so I will try to stay on subject 🙂

What are some things that we cannot keep?
1.) Money. We are all eventually going to pass on from this life. Some of us believe that this is only the beginning, and some believe that this is it. Either way we all agree that once our time on earth is done, our money will be of no use to us personally. So why do we let making money become such a priority in our lives? Of course we have to eat, sleep with some sort of shelter, get from one place to another, and be able to communicate with each other. But how much money do we really need?
2.) Time. Time is limited. You can’t buy time. You can’t create time. Time is passing all the time and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. BUT, we do have complete control of how we use our (spare) time.

Now, what are things that we cannot afford to lose? Let’s start with our health! There are different aspects of our health that are very, very important:
1.) Stress
2.) Food choices
3.) Exercise

Stress: What causes stress in your life? Is it work? Money? Not having a purpose? Feeling down about your health or your appearance? Low sex drive?
What helps you deal with stress? Hobbies? Exercise? Better self-image? Working less? Having more money? Getting your libido back?
HMMM, it sure does sound like all 3 of these things are interrelated! Don’t you think?

Tying it all together…

I cannot speak for anybody else, so I will give you my personal take on this. The reason that this quote spoke to me is because I have always had that thought in my mind, but not in those words.

I don’t care if I die with $1 Million in my bank account or $0.01 in my bank account. So why work like a dog my entire life if that’s not what I want to do?
I cannot create time. So why spend all of my time working a job that I hate to make more money than I need, which causes me stress that I try to get rid of by spending my hard-earned money? What a vicious cycle this is, and I see people doing this every day. So I looked at what is important to me. Owning a home?? Nope. Driving a Mercedes? Nah. All I want to do is enjoy the small amount of time that I get to spend on this earth. How do I plan on doing that?

1.) Live for a long time- So I eat healthy, natural, whole foods that are free of preservatives and other harsh chemicals. I also exercise and stretch to keep my body strong and feeling good.

2.) Experience- I want to experience new people and places, so instead of spending money on owning  a house (which sounds stressful), or going out to fancy dinners, or buying wine, jewelry, etc,  I save money for traveling.

3.) Keep low stress levels- I avoid stress like the plague. If I catch myself doing too much work when I don’t NEED to, I cut back to a more manageable level. I also avoid interacting with people that cause me stress. I have even had clients that stress me out so much that I had to get rid of THEM!! Negative stress isn’t worth the money if my bills are already paid…

4.) Hobbies- I think that it is important to have something to look forward to. Maybe losing yourself in a book is your thing. That’s what my wife looks forward to at the end of her day; getting caught up in a fictional story helps her to focus on something besides work so that she can wind down. I started taking Jiu-Jitsu lessons a couple of months ago just to do something fun for my cardio. I am having a blast and have found something new to challenge myself with.

So do yourself a favor. As scary as it may seem: take an honest look at your life. Trim the fat. Get rid of any stress that is avoidable. Have you been putting off a goal or project? Do it! Make yourself happy, because today only happens once. I guess all I am trying to say is this: we only get to do this life thing one time. Make the most of it.


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Which One Would You Choose?

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Choose one, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. And tell me why…

This was an easy one for me to answer, because I talk to my clients about this all of the time. Here was my response:

“The pain of discipline is short-lived and is without regret, but the pain of regret can last forever”

The next time you find yourself making a decision about what to eat, think about how that food is going to make you feel afterward. Better yet, ask yourself if that meal will help get you to your goal, or will it hold you back? It is amazing what we will do to sabotage our own efforts, wants, needs, and goals for something that is so insignificant you will never remember it. What did you eat at your business meeting 2 months ago? What was your late night snack last Tuesday? Do you now wish that you would have gone with a healthier choice?

What has been holding you back from achieving your fitness goals? Business goals? Personal goals? Write it down. Seriously! Go grab a pen and write down what it is that you need to change. If you don’t, you will start feeling the pain of regret set in the next time you think about your goal and how you blatantly put it off. Now act on your goal. Do just one thing that you know you have been putting off or not putting enough effort into. I promise you that the feeling you will get after some time is put in will far outweigh the pain of discipline!


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The Dreaded “Plateau”

I get a lot of questions surrounding this topic. What is a plateau? How do I avoid plateaus? I hit a plateau; how do I get through it?

Put simply, a plateau is a speed bump in your progress that feels like a dead-end. Whether you are trying to build muscle or lose fat, this can be very frustrating. In my opinion, “plateau” is also a word that is WAY overused! People think that they hit plateaus all the time, but this is not necessarily the case. Just because the number on the scale isn’t moving, doesn’t mean that you hit a plateau (are not getting results).

That brings me to the first problem: over-diagnosis. I don’t know about you, but my weight fluctuates by multiple pounds every day. If I consume too much salt or don’t drink enough water to flush out extra salt, my weight goes up. Women: you know what this is like. Every 4 weeks you have a few days where the last thing you want to see is a scale! Right?! People, this is normal! So why weigh yourself every day if your weight can fluctuate so easily? Doing this is just asking for disappointment. Keep the weigh-ins to 1x per week, MAXIMUM! Also, weigh yourself in the morning before breakfast, ideally after a bowel movement. Also very important- don’t weigh yourself after a “not normal” day (heavy drinking, ate way more than normal, didn’t eat enough, ran a marathon, etc…) Doing this is just asking for an inaccurate reading on the scale that can result in several outcomes:

  1. Weigh in lighter than you are, which means you will not show favorable results the following week.
  2. Weigh in heavier than you are, which means you will ask your husband if you look fat, then get mad at ANY answer that he comes up with

Method of measurement:

Is the scale the only thing you are doing to check your progress? This is very common and is a HUGE mistake! Results should never be measured by only one form measurement. Circumference measurements as well as monthly picture can be a great way to check progress. Most people now know that muscle weighs more than fat, right? The idea of being happy that you lost or gained a certain amount of weight doesn’t make much sense if you are not sure that you are gaining muscle, or losing fat.

Plateau as a Scapegoat:

Do you measure and log your daily food intake? Are you consistent day in and day out with your workouts? Are you pushing yourself as hard as you used to with your workouts? Are you still refraining from alcohol when you hang out with friends? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you have not hit a plateau, YOU ARE JUST SLACKING!!! Be honest with yourself. Plateaus are not common and can usually be explained. If something is missing from your program, replace it. If you are not as dedicated to a part of your program, get back on it!

How to get through a plateau:

Ok, so you hit a plateau. You are having a hard time losing more fat: this is why it is so important to log your food. It is easy to go back through your notes to see what can be changed. Check to see what, if anything, has changed. If you notice that something is in your diet that wasn’t there before, get rid of it and see what happens. You can also start eliminating one type of food at a time until you notice a change in how you are feeling and notice that the fat has started coming off again. This will occasionally happen with dairy, as well as wheat gluten, even soy!

You are having a hard time gaining muscle: when is the last time you switched up your rep ranges, weights used, tempo, rest periods? Are you only doing isolation exercises or are you incorporating compound movements? Are you measuring and logging your food? If not, how do you know you are getting enough fuel to your muscles to allow them to grow? Are you getting enough sleep? Enough rest days?

Here is the bottom line: the possibility of hitting a plateau means that you are trying to achieve a goal. Hitting fitness goals can be tough, especially if it is a big goal. Be honest with yourself. If you know that you are not doing everything that you can, ask yourself why. Maybe it is time to re-commit to your program. Maintenance is easy, and you have that to look forward to. For now, though, show yourself what you are capable of. Prove to yourself what you know is possible. Be consistent. Be disciplined. Hit your goal because you know you deserve it.

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