Podcast Ep. 13 | Beer + Fitness = Love

So THIS Is Fitness Podcast Ep 13

Podcast Ep 13 | BeerĀ + Fitness = Love

Listen Now! Episode player embedded below.

It’s one of the weirdest team-ups out there…but for some reason beer (well, alcohol in general) and fitness seem to go together just like peanut butter & jelly.

I, for one, enjoy a good brew every now and then…as does every other Average Joe out there. But there are some questions we should probably be asking before we start chugging away, don’t you think?

Read more…

To The “Resolutioners” Eyeing The Gym

It’s that time of year again.
New Year’s Eve. That means January 1st is tomorrow. Those of us in the fitness world know all too well what’s about to happen…

The gym is about to get crushed.

Yes, the annual Gympocalypse is upon us once more. “They” are coming. “They” – those who claim “Yes, THIS will be my year! This time, this time by golly I’ll actually do it!”.

I can hear my fellow gym-goers already.


“Ah shit…” – “Don’t worry, they’ll be gone in a few weeks.” – etc. Gym rats the world over already hate these people about to invade their holy spaces, and they’re not shy about sending the message of “you’re not welcome. Be Gone, you of weak mind and body.”

I know these “resolutioners” all too well.

Yes, I know your type. I’ve got your number. I know what you’re all about, how you tick, and what, exactly, the formula here is. I know how this is going to go…so…

I have my own message for you…

You’d better dig in.
Yeah, I DO know your type. It’s one of a few:

Maybe you’ve tried and failed before, lost hope temporarily but still aren’t willing to give up the dream of finally being happy with your body.

Maybe you used to be Mr./Ms. Athletic…and thanks to “life” you fell out of it. Now you’ve finally mustered up the courage to find your way back to the promised land, but it’ll be harder now.
Maybe you’ve never been the athletic or “fit” type…but hey, why not me? And y’know what, now seems like a great time. There’s New Year’s specials!

Am I close? Probably.
So I’ll say it again: You’d better dig in. Why?

This is going to take time and effort.

Yes, your body will change. However, nobody said it was an easy task…and it will not happen overnight. It might take anywhere from 1 – 3 months to start seeing visible change. And that’s if you work out enough. It’s generally accepted that you need to work out (i.e. a structured workout routine) consistently at least 3 days a week (Says who? Here, here, and here are examples).

Please don’t get discouraged when things don’t go your way. Keep at it. If you’re not getting anywhere…

Ask for help.

Nobody at the gym expects you to be a pro…but they DO expect you not to act like an idiot. You should know “gym etiquette”, you should have a plan, and you should refrain from being a jerk.

“Being a jerk”? Not putting away your weights/equipment. Aimlessly occupying space. Sitting on a piece of equipment reading a book. Talking/texting/selfie-ing in the gym. Making excessive grunting/groaning/noises in an attempt to look impressive. All of these, and just generally being obnoxious, are great ways to make more tenured gym members (and even your fellow resolutioners) absolutely hate you. So don’t do it.

Don’t have a plan/program/routine? Get one. Your best bet is an actual, legitimate personal trainer. They are educated, certified, and know what they’re talking about. They understand how to build a plan specific to YOU that will get you the results you want. They will push you past your perceived limits. They will motivate and encourage you. I recommend it.

Not willing to pay for a trainer? You’re gonna have to learn it the hard way. Make sure you’ve got both cardio AND strength in your plan. You’re going to have to do lots of research, and lots of trial-and-error. And that’s fine. It’s what I did, and I turned out just fine. Would’ve been easier with a trainer, though.

You’re either paying in cash money or your time and effort…you choose. Either way, you get what you pay for.

Got some general questions? Need a little motivation or encouragement? If you look like you’re genuinely making an effort, many of the more tenured and experienced gym members might be willing to help rather than make you feel unwelcome. The staff at your gym (not necessarily a personal trainer) should be able to help out, too.

It’s tough to get help, though, if the staff doesn’t care…so…

Choose wisely.

The right gym/health club can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, there are many gyms out there that know how likely you are to fail. And that’s fine by them. They are more than happy to sign you up, take your money, and never talk to you again (unless you have a billing problem). I work in a gym…and I hate those clubs. They make us all look bad. I could go on for days (seriously…you mention Planet Fitness and I see red)…

Again, as a general rule, you get what you pay for. If a gym is touting only their low low price, how many “free” things they’re throwing at you, and “no commitment!”walk away. Trust me. On the flip side…unless there’s a pool, steam/sauna, tennis/racquetball, and I get a personal trainer at least weekly… I see no need for a gym membership to cost much more than $60/month (with commitment). On that note…

DON’T FEAR “COMMITMENT”.

There is NOTHING wrong with signing a commitment term at a gym. We’ve established that this is going to take a while, right? So why do you have a problem committing to that period of time? If a gym lets you sign up without a commitment they are inviting you to give up and fail. Some days you are NOT going to want to get out of bed. You might falter, miss a month (or two…or five…), and want to quit because “you’re throwing money out the window”. When you’re hanging by a thread and you’re ready to throw in the towel…that commitment might be what gets you back on track. So quit whining, quit making excuses, and sign up, already. 

That said…making the right choice of gym isn’t the last piece of the puzzle.

This is bigger than just “going to the gym”

Yes, unfortunately, the “new you” doesn’t just happen by arriving at the gym 3x/week. You can work out 3 hours a day 8 days a week and crush it…but it doesn’t matter if you don’t eat right.

Nutrition is a critically important part of your new fitness journey. Get rid of the garbage, get more of the good stuff, and develop good habits of how and when to fuel yourself with that good stuff.

What’s “garbage”? Some is obvious, some is not. If it gets to you in a paper bag through your car window…it’s probably garbage. Use your noggin – you know if you shouldn’t be eating it.

What’s good? Veggies, lean meats, chicken, fish, whole grains, fruits (in moderation), etc. The less “processed” it is, the better. The shorter the ingredients list and the more of it you can pronounce/understand, the better. You do not have to remove an entire category (like fat, or carbs) from your diet.

How/when do I eat? Think of food as fuel. The more of your day you have left, the more fuel you need to get through it. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a peasant, dinner like a pauper.” Better yet, take it to the next level by learning to eat small meals (200 – 400 calories depending on your needs) every 2 to 3 hours. That method will keep your metabolism fired up, give you more energy, and you won’t binge because you’re over-hungry.

“Diets do not work long-term”. Focus on making choices and behavior modifications that you can stick with. This is a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet.

Remember why you’re doing this.

This is a lot of work. If you lose sight of why you’re doing it in the first place…it’s not going to seem worth it to you, and you will fail. Make sure you’ve got a concrete, attainable goal. Something measurable. Maybe it’s a size of clothing to fit into. Maybe it’s finishing a 5K/10K/Marathon. Maybe it’s being able to do 5 pull-ups. I recommend NOT making it a weight goal…and here’s why.

Yes, it’s a lot of work…but you CAN do it. It’s worth it.

You are not alone.

I know you because I used to be one of you. August 2012 I was about 305. Today I’m running marathons to train for ultramarathons. You don’t necessarily have to run marathons…the point is…if I can do it, so can you. I may not have joined the gym in January…but so what? Joining in January doesn’t make you any less a member or any less able to do it than someone who started in August or May.

Don’t quit, believe in your ability to do it, and stick with it. Unless you’re injured or sick from the neck down…drag yourself out of bed and make your workout happen at all costs.

This can happen. It is a lot of work. So you’d better dig in, believe, commit, and make it happen. This CAN be your year…so let’s do this.

Back To Basics

I Have Lost My Way.

I’ve been lost, wandering, and floundering nutritionally and in my fitness since just before my wedding last August. Going on 6 months now. 3 months of flat-out not working out, and 3 months of trying and failing to stick with a program. Nothing has stuck. I feel lost.


This is not a new feeling for me, and I don’t like how the rest of the story goes. I know there are others, probably some people reading this, who are in the same boat – forward progress has come to a complete halt, or maybe never began in the first place. Eventually everyone will hit a plateau, or flounder, or get lost, or fall off the wagon…the trick is centering yourself and getting back on track.

Fortunately, I know how to stop this and right the ship. I’m not going to allow myself to go back over 200 lbs.

It’s time to go back to basics.

So what exactly are those “basics”? Is there some magic fix for this situation? Sure there is. Strap in, this is gonna be a doozie (the revelation AND this blog post) –

Proper Nutrition and Exercise

There, I said it. And let’s be honest – you knew I was going to. The basics: Proper Nutrition and Exercise. It kind of is magic how well it works. Eating the right amount of the right stuff will do the trick, and getting some exercise will help the process – it’s that easy and that complicated.

So where do I even begin? How do I figure out what “the right amount” and the “right stuff” is?

Step 1: What is your goal?

You have to know where you’re going before you can figure out how to get there. We’ll keep it simple right now and lump all your possible goals into three categories: do you want to gain weight (build muscle), lose weight (burn fat) or maintain (stay the same)?

Step 2: How much should I eat?

This is the deceptively hard part. How many calories do you think you should be eating? You might be shocked by the answer.

Process:
A. Figure out your BMR – B. Figure out your “Maintenance Number” – C. Figure out your target calories

Part A.) BMR is your “Basal Metabolic Rate” – it’s how many calories you burn simply existing…y’know, like, comatose. There are several formulas you can use to figure this out…I prefer the Mifflin – St. Jeor (and a recent ADA study found it to be the most accurate).

W = weight in kilograms
(weight (lbs) / 2.2) =weight in kg

H = height in centimeters
(inches x 2.54) = height in cm

A = age in years

Men
(10 x W) + (6.25 x H) – (5 x A) + 5 = BMR

Women
(10 x W) + (6.25 x H) – (5 x A) – 161 = BMR

Save this number – you’re going to need it in a minute.

Part B.) How active are you?

Some people sit at a desk all day and some people are constantly moving – how active you are VERY MUCH affects how much you should eat in a day. Multiply your BMR by whichever of the following applies to you:

BMR x 1.2 – Sedentary (Desk job – sit around a lot)
BMR x 1.3 or 1.4 – Light Activity (light activity job…walking a bit)
BMR x 1.5 or 1.6 – Moderate Activity (waitress or other “moving” job)
BMR x 1.7 or 1.8 – High Activity (physically demanding lifestyle)
BMR x 1.9, 2.0, 2.1 or 2.2 – Extreme Activity (VERY Active physicaly-engaging job/Professional Athlete)

The result is the number of calories you must eat to stay exactly where you are: your “maintenance calories”. 

Part C.) Factor in your goal – lose, maintain, or gain.

Earlier, in Part A, what did you decide was your goal? Lose weight (burn fat), gain weight (build muscle mass) or maintain (stay the same)? If you said “maintain”, then the “maintenance calories” number we just figured out is your number.

If you want to lose weight: Generally, consuming 80% of your “maintenance calories” will lead you to a 1 lb/week weight loss. If you’ve got a LOT to lose, you can safely go to about 60% of your maintenance calories for a 2 lb/week loss – this is the absolute MINIMUM amount of calories you should eat.

If you eat too little you are not doing yourself any favors – your body can go into “survival mode”, afraid it will never receive food again, and store away a lot of what you give it as fat.

The absolute minimum calories you should ever eat, REGARDLESS of the above calculations, are below – NEVER go below these numbers. If your calculations try to take you lower, stop here.
1200 – women | 
1500 – men

Want to GAIN weight? – Instead of subtracting 20% or 40% from your “maintenance calories”…ADD 20% or 40%. This should be roughly a 500 or 1000 calorie addition. Adding much more than that won’t result in muscle gain…just fat.

Step 3: What should I eat?

This, too, will depend on your goals. The general guideline is “eat clean” and eliminate the junk. You can try doing this in 2 stages so it’s not such a shock to the system:

Stage 1 – Avoid fried foods, fast food, and soda, limit refined (white) sugar.
Stage 2 – Eliminate white sugar & limit artificial sweeteners (raw turbinado cane sugar is ok), try to do brown/wild rice & whole grain bread/pasta instead of white. Stick to lean meats (chicken, fish, lean beef, turkey, etc).

Macro-nutrient ratios are important too! – Everything you eat is made up of 3 “macro nutrients” – Protein, Carbohydrates, & Fat. Make sure that these are balanced in the correct ratio and you’ll do a lot to help yourself. GENERALLY, for fat loss, I like to stick with 50% protein, 30% carb, 20% fat. If you’re trying to gain weight or doing some sort of athletic performance, you’ll probably need more carbs (we’ll cover macros in more detail another day).

Step 4: When should I eat?

This is really up to you, though I DO have some guidelines:

1.) ALWAYS eat breakfast
Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day – it starts the fire and kicks your metabolism into gear. Make it count, have a couple hundred calories…take the early opportunity and throw some carbs on the fire!

2.) The Carb/Protein sliding scale
Short answer – Eat the majority of your carbs early in the day when your body needs the fuel for the fire, less carbs as the day goes on. More on this another day.

3.) Smaller, more frequent meals
Again, think of your metabolism like a fire – dumping a big pile of wood on the fire all at once makes it slow down and work through that big pile. If, every so often, you throw a little wood on the fire it will flare up and burn steady, shredding everything you throw at it.

4.) Spread it out
I trained myself to eat every 2 hours, and I continue that for as long as I’m awake. Think about it – the longer you’re awake – the more you’re doing – the more fuel you need. My last meal is generally 2 (maybe 3) hours before bed. Coupled with the smaller/more frequent meal idea…this is a recipe for success.

Step 5: Exercise – and eat what you burn!

Getting your nutrition in line is 80% of the battle, but exercising is important too! Exercise is a good way to (obviously) burn more calories, build some muscle, look (and feel) better, and just generally be healthier. It helps you really take charge of your health and get your fitness super-charged!

Everyone has different needs – some people don’t want to work out in a gym for whatever reason (maybe you’re not a self-starter, need constant hand-holding, and can’t afford a personal trainer 6 days a week). Some people CANNOT work out at home (distractions, lack of motivation, etc). Whatever your needs/desires, there IS an option out there for you! Maybe I can even help (and I’d be happy to!)! Regardless of the path you choose…one of the most important things to remember…

EAT THE CALORIES YOU BURN IN YOUR WORKOUT!

Yes, in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. However…you’re already doing that by doing all that math you did earlier in this post! It is crucial that you add the calories burned in a workout to your target calories for the day.

How do you figure out how many calories you burned? Most cardio equipment can give you a good estimate or you could invest in a wearable heart rate monitor (I recommend doing that). If you’re looking for guidance/recommendations feel free to comment on this post. So what’s the bottom line here?

Exercise & Proper Nutrition Are The “Basics” That Will Make It Happen!

If you don’t see the scale move…don’t get discouraged…remember – that number isn’t the only one that means something. If you’d like a little help/guidance feel free to email me (Darrell@SoTHISIsFitness.com) or leave a comment on this post.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist/registered dietitian or doctor – I have simply gone to the school of hard knocks. I have learned this through my own independent research, peer interaction, and trial/error.

2015 – The Year Of The Conqueror

In 2014 We Became Limitless – 

For a lot of us, last year was pretty epic. Many set foot in a gym for the first time, ran their first 5K, did their first unassisted pull-up…

We Broke New Ground.

Now, however…now is our time to conquer. Now that we’ve tested the waters, shed our self-imposed limits, and surprised ourselves with what we’re capable of…it’s time to adopt a new strategy.

2015 won’t know what hit it.

This Is Your Year.

If there’s one thing this past year has taught me, it’s that nothing is out of your reach. Between what I myself was able to accomplish and what I saw others achieve…it was made very clear to me that it’s just a matter of having the courage to go out and take your victory from the universe.

Fear is the enemy, Courage is your weapon.

You can’t be afraid of failure. You can’t be afraid of how big the task before you is. You can’t be afraid of the “what ifs”. You have to have confidence in yourself and your ability. With a positive attitude and the right approach, nothing can stop you.

What Do You Want?

What have you always thought was out of reach? Did you think you’d never run a 5K? Never be smaller than a size 10/8/4/etc? Have you been running but a marathon just seems absurd?

Nonsense.

Guess what? You just found your goal. Now what?

Plan For Success.

I mean that literally AND metaphorically. You’ve got to believe that you’re going to achieve it before you have a snowball’s chance. That said, you need a solid plan that will get you there. Want to lose weight? Run a 5K? Marathon? There are plans to be designed to help you, specifically, achieve that goal. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone’s road to victory will be either. Talk to a trainer or coach, use The Power of Google, or figure it out on your own. One way or another, you must have a plan and stick to it.

Yes, I said Conquer.

You’re not just going to achieve your goal, you’re going to conquer it. You’re not going to meekly ask the universe if you can pretty please have it this time…You’re going to go out there and take your victory. Why? Because why SHOULDN’T you? There is nothing out of your reach as long as you’re willing to put in the work to achieve it. It might not be easy, but you can and WILL do it.

I’m Taking My Own Advice.

How, you ask?

I’m running my first marathon.

This year is about setting a goal, creating a plan, going out there and getting it. 

This year we conquer.

Gympocalypse 2015

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day. You know what that means…

Yes, that’s right- your gym is about to be flooded with New Year’s Resolution gym-goers. Your club will be over-run with people full of the short-lived self-starter motivation that only the promise of a new year’s fresh start can bring.

How do you survive such a calamity? Should you just stay home for a month until they lose steam and quit?

No. You should go to your gym. For more reasons than you might think.

This is the single most frustrating thing in the world.


Every year
countless people have the cliche New Year’s Resolution to “get in shape” or “lose weight” or “get healthy”…etc. So they all go out and get a gym membership, and all the gyms are packed during January…then a little quieter during February…then by the time April rolls around it’s back to normal. Nearly EVERYONE in the “New Year’s Resolution” crowd falls off and quits.

Not This Year.

This year it’s time for us to make a change.

This year our gyms are not going to get flooded out for a month and then empty like the streets of Dodge City at high-noon.

This year we’re going to do it right.

How. Do I. SURVIVE this?!

We’re going to go about our business as usual.

Whether you like it or not, these people are here. They have just as much right to be here as we do, and we should make them feel at home – after all…they’re members now, so they ARE home.

And maybe…just maybe…if they feel “at home” enough…they’ll be just comfortable enough to go up to staff or an experienced-looking gym member and ask a question. Maybe then they won’t get discouraged and quit because they don’t know what they’re doing.

Maybe they’ll feel they have such a positive workout environment they’ll have the willpower to say no to that piece of pizza at home. Maybe then they won’t quit because no matter how hard they try they don’t see results.

Maybe…just maybe…we can help these people succeed.

Not everyone has to be a hero.

We don’t all have to be the white knight and save the day. If we all come at them like over-friendly cult members they might run away screaming anyway. So how do you survive Gympocalypse if you just want to keep doing your thing?

Timing is everything.

The gym is going to be busier at certain “peak hours”. For my gym, this is generally 7 – 9 am and 5 – 7 pm. Want the easiest solution available?

Don’t go during peak hours.

Same solution we alllll use when we don’t want to hit rush hour traffic…just avoid the time of day you KNOW you’ll hit it. It’s that simple.

This is not the end of the world.

Rather, this is potentially the beginning of the rest of someone’s life. Maybe a lot of someones. Shouldn’t we be encouraging the people who are coming out of the woodwork joining the gym and making a resolution to achieve positive change? After all…if they’re actually walking through the door…somewhere deep down there exists a true desire to make real change that lasts.

I started in August…but so what if it had been January?

Don’t forget…we all started somewhere.

Joining in January doesn’t make them any less worthy of being there or able to succeed than if they joined in December, February or June.

You can not only survive this…you can even help keep some of the Resolutioners from vanishing back into the self-loathing pit they crawled out of. Keep your gym a positive place where positive change happens.

Who knows…You might just save someone’s life.