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Month: November 2015

What do I do about my diet during the holidays?!?!

What do I do about my diet during the holidays?!?!


With Thanksgiving this week and the rest of the holidays a few weeks away, many clients, friends and followers have asked me my thoughts on what they should do. Do they track macros? Do they eat anything at all before Thanksgiving dinner? What happens if they go over their numbers and overeat? So many questions so here are my thoughts on the subject:

The holidays usually mean time that we spend laughing and eating with our families. Personally, my favorite memories from my childhood involve Christmas time which also includes my Grandmother’s lasagna, my Mom’s homemade cookies & just all of that indulgent food that comes with parties. My first tip would be to ENJOY your time with your family and friends. I mean, most of us (sorry to those who work at Macys) get the day off from work in order to give thanks, and create memories with our loved ones. Your macros, food scale, and tracking app will not vanish into thin air if you don’t utilize them for one day. In fact, a day of untracked meals will probably be a great thing for your mentality and in a way “re-charge” you.

With that being said, I don’t want you to arrive at Thanksgiving dinner ready to face plant into the huge bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy. As a Flexible Dieter, you know your limits when it comes to food. Like any “free” meal, eat until you are full and listen to your body. I know how overwhelming all of the choices can be, especially with foods that you may not have had since last Thanksgiving, but there is absolutely no need to go overboard and put yourself into a food coma. I personally fill my plate with turkey (duh) and plenty of veggies first, then choose the rest of my sides respectfully. My plate ends up being colorful, and full of everything I want, but portions remain in control.

For me, portion size is a direct correlation to how hungry I am. In that case, I don’t recommend totally skipping out on breakfast and lunch so you can “save room” for dinner and dessert. Chances are, if you arrive starving, you’re going to want to stuff your face with EVERYTHING in sight. Plan on having a high protein breakfast and lunch to ensure you aren’t ready to eat the entire turkey along with Grandpa’s arm upon arrival.

As always, drink your water. Whether you are indulging in some wine with dinner or not, water will help with digestion, inflammation and will all around make you feel a lot better throughout the day as well as the following day if you are experiencing bloat from sodium.

Last but not least, return to your “normal” eating the day after Thanksgiving. It can be so tempting to want to eat leftovers for days on end afterwards, but continuing eating increased calories will definitely begin to catch up to you at some point. Politely refuse bringing home left-overs if you are celebrating at someone else’s house OR if you are at your own house, offer to give away as much food as possible.

For those of you who know me, you know how die-hard I am about fitness and nutrition, but you also know how important my family time is to me and being able to enjoy that time is something that we all should be able to do without risking our goals. One meal or even one day is not going to totally kill your progress, and with that, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

3 things you should know before your first Powerlifting Meet

3 things you should know before your first Powerlifting Meet

PL meet pic

As my first year anniversary since I started powerlifting is coming up, I thought it would be a great time to discuss some tips that helped me get through my first meet. I started powerlifting in December of 2014 with my starting 1 rep maxes  at a 205 squat, 115 bench and a 245 deadlift. 9 months later I am at a 280 squat, 145 bench and a 341 deadlift. I have not only made powerlifting a priority in my life for the past 9 months, but it has transformed my mindset and physical body in such a powerful way.

When I began, I had no set plans on competing as I just wanted to really work on my form for all three lifts while getting stronger. For those who may be just starting out, I would definitely recommend doing the same for at least 6 months or so. Take the time to really become accustomed to powerlifting, what it entails and submerge yourself in the growing world of our sport. In June of 2015, I entered my first powerlifting meet through the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) federation. Over about 2 months leading up to the meet, I cut weight so that I could compete in the 123b weight class. Being a coach and personal trainer, I had experience with cutting weight before so although it was what I did, I would not recommend it for the first-timer for a couple reasons. One reason being your first meet should be a fun, not stressful experience. You really don’t need to worry about cutting weight unless you are so strong that you will be breaking records. The process of dropping weight (especially quickly before a meet) is not a fun one and can be incredibly taxing on top of everything else you may be apprehensive about. A fast drop in weight could also result in a loss of strength which is obviously something you don’t want to mess around with.

Another tip I have for the novice powerlifter is to really study and know the rules for whatever federation you are competing in. The rules for the RPS meet I did were a lot different for my next meet which was a USAPL meet. For example, in RPS, you are allowed to let your heels come up off the floor in the bench press. In USAPL, your heels have to remain in contact with the floor the entire time. Also, RPS uses a Texas Deadlift Bar which has more give to it when pulling off the floor. The USAPL uses a standard stiff barbell. There are rulebooks on both organizations websites so these are something you should be extremely familiar with prior to meet day. With that being said, I also recommend practicing the commands during your training to program your body to know how they feel. For instance, the squat has two commands: “Start” and “Rack”. I have witnessed A LOT of powerlifters perform an amazing squat, but automatically rack the weight after without waiting for the command. This results in a “no lift” which no longer counts in a meet.

My final piece of advice for the newbie powerlifter is not to be too hard on yourself. It is important to set goals for yourself for the meet, however a meet will not always go as planned. For my first USAPL meet in September, I went into the meet extremely confident (as I always make sure to do- get your MIND RIGHT). My squats all went great, I ended up missing my third attempt but still hit a PR on my second attempt. Bench came around and I missed my FIRST attempt at 140 which was something that I hit in the gym PLENTY of times before. This immediately diminished my confidence and caused some anxiety. I realized what was happening mentally and got it together for my second attempt and was able to hit it. The second you start getting in your own head, is the second you lose focus and sight of your goals. Stay calm, determined and confident throughout the meet no matter what happens up on that platform.

Post-workout Nutrition: Are you doing it right?

Post-workout Nutrition: Are you doing it right?

Depending on what type of exercise you are doing (resistance training or endurance exercise) you are either in a negative or positive balance of protein turnover. When protein synthesis is greater than protein breakdown, you are in a hypertrophic state or building muscle. When protein breakdown is greater, you are in a muscle wasting state. During endurance exercise, you are in a negative balance which means you are in a catabolic period. During resistance exercise, protein synthesis is increased however you are still catabolic due to increases in protein breakdown as well. In both states, you remain in a negative balance until adequate protein and energy (aka CARBS) are consumed. 

The Branched-Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) Leucine is crucial when it comes to protein synthesis. To simplify it, leucine controls the start of protein synthesis. In a study by Layne Norton and Donald Layman (Norton Layman 2006), we can conclude that supplementing leucine post-exercise increases intracellular leucine allowing for maximum recovery of muscle protein synthesis. The combination of leucine as well as carbohydrates produces an increased effect on recovery and protein synthesis rather than carbohydrates or other amino acids alone. 

So what does this exactly mean for your post-workout nutrition? 

After reading this published study as well as performing my own experimentation, I recommend that you supplement leucine immediately post-workout as well as carbohydrates within 1-3 hours post exercise. Carbohydrates are not necessarily NEEDED right after, as long as you consume adequate carbs within the few hours after your workout. Now, you may be asking, “Where can I get leucine?” You can purchase leucine itself at any nutrition store (Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, etc) however I personally use either a Whey Protein source from De Novo Nutrition called Max MPS (contains 3.154g Leucine per serving) OR immediately post-workout I take a scoop of Carbon Post Recovery Drink. Carbon Post contains 4g Leucine per serving along with other key ingredients to maximize recovery including my personal favorite Tart Cherry Powder. 

Post-workout nutrition is just as essential as pre-workout nutrition if you are looking to see hypertrophic gains as well as recover optimally. If you have further questions regarding this topic, I would be happy to answer those as always via email: 


Norton L.E, Layman DK. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. The Journal of Nutrition. 2006;0022-3166/06;533S-537S.

Do You Really Know Why You Workout? Probably Not…

Do You Really Know Why You Workout? Probably Not…

I workout because

I wanted to do a different type of blog today. I still wanted it to be fitness oriented but from a different perspective. I didn’t want to do this one on a new trend or on tips to grow your arms or shrink your waste. I wanted to go deep. So I started with myself. What would I want to know? What haven’t I really heard or learned about in a while? What topic would really benefit our clients the most? Then it hit me…

Why the hell are we doing what we’re doing?? This may seem like a pretty dumb question. But here are the top answers to the question, why do you workout?

  1. I want to be healthier.
  2. I want more energy throughout the day.
  3. I want to look good naked!

Do these sound familiar? Another common one would be, because my doctor said I should. But for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on personal reasons, not outside sources.

So let’s dive in… You want to be healthier- Ok, why? Are you sick? Overweight? Do you have a genetic predisposition to something happening down the road? You want more energy throughout the day- Go to bed earlier. I can probably guarantee you don’t get 8 hours of sleep every night. If you think I’m wrong, write everything down for 7 days in a row. What do you end up at? 42 hours maybe? You want to look good naked- Well I have no response to that one. Ask your mirror, or your significant other (go easy on them if you don’t like the answer).

Where did those answers get us? Not very far right… Those answers were all pretty shallow, as were the top three responses to the original question, why do you workout? To truly dedicate yourself to a program, you have to truly know what you are working out for. How do we do that? I’m going to show you! It’s called “Root-Cause Analysis”. This is actually one of the cooler things I learned about when I entered the fitness industry. Unless you’ve done this before, or are a fitness competitor of some sort, you honestly probably don’t know why you’re working out. You might think you do, but it’s much broader than the actual reason. It isn’t hard to get lost. I sometimes find myself spinning in circles trying to hit 15 different goals at the same time. So this was fun for me to go through and refocus! The concept of root-cause analysis is very simple: keep asking “why” until you get to the real reason (root cause). This isn’t even limited to fitness, you can apply it to anything you are struggling to understand about yourself in your life.. Your psychiatrist was on to something…

So here we go! It might sound a little weird having a conversation with myself, but bare with me. You’ll get the jist of it.


Josh: Why do you workout?

Josh: So I can get stronger.

Josh: Why?

Josh: So I can use that strength to add more size.

Why do you want more size?

So I can look more filled out on my large frame. I’m 6’2 so I need more mass to show muscularity.

Why do you want more muscularity?

Because I feel like I’m smaller than most fitness athletes my height.

Why do you care if you’re smaller than most fitness athletes your height?

Because I want to be the best at what I do, and my body is my trademark. If other athletes have a better physique than I do, they will seem more credible than I am. A picture is worth a thousand words and, in the fitness industry especially, a lot of times a picture is your best marketing tool. I want people to see me as an inspiration. I want to be viewed as a goal for someone else to strive for. I don’t want to bust my ass day in and day out to be viewed as an average joe who goes to the gym after work just because it’s something to do before bed. I want to be the best and I want to look the best. I want the physique of a greek god. Large, lean, and proportionate. That’s what I want.


And that, my friends, is Root-Cause Analysis. We’re all going to come up with different answers, and that’s the point. Your answer might be, “I workout so I can keep up with my kids.” I’ll be honest, I didn’t know how this was going to turn out as I wrote it. I literally asked myself these questions as I typed this article. Notice how my answers get a little longer after each “why”. It forces you to think. More thinking creates more elaboration. More elaboration requires you to dig deeper and ultimately reveals WHAT YOU WANT. This shit is therapeutic. Excuse my language but that felt good. There’s nothing more frustrating that not knowing what you want. I’ve been in this rut for a little while. I couldn’t choose between training for strength or size or athleticism or a blend of everything-which would limit my growth in all of them as a compromise to get better at all of them at the same time. When we do this to ourselves, we ultimately find ourselves in a rut because we are spread too thin trying to do too much.

Throughout this little experiment I went a little bit deeper, off the record. It got me thinking about competing again. I’ve been competitive my whole life. I always had something to train for- basketball, baseball, football, track, even MMA for a little while. So I didn’t have to think about it. That’s why I trained. So because of my root-cause analysis, I discovered I might want to do a physique competition. How else am I supposed to judge if I have the best physique? So there we go. That’s why I train. That’s why I workout. Will I enter a competition? Maybe.. But I now have a focused view of what I want to train for, and when I’m ready, I’ll make that decision.

As we get older, most of us are no longer competing in any athletic leagues. Life takes over. We work. We get married. We have kids. But be a little selfish and do something for you.

Continuing on the therapeutic trend this has put me on, I went one more level and asked myself why this has become so important to me, a perfect physique. The answer to that one? I’m inspired each and every day by this amazing girl I get to call mine. My girlfriend, my best friend, my partner in crime. She inspires me because she inspires literally thousands of people every single day. The girl is 122 pounds and is breaking records for lifting more weight than the kids I used to play football with. Her physique is also phenomenal. And her heart is second to none. The passion she shows with our clients overshadows everything she has done on a personal level. She has changed so many lives (and bodies) and is a role model to an incredible female base. They look up to her as a role model and reach out to her on a daily basis for help and advice. She is my inspiration to get to an elite level. And I won’t stop grinding because she’ll be right there with me. I’m a lucky guy to be on this team.

So why do you train?


Until next time,