Brain Dump -6/26/16

Ever get that feeling from time to time that your brain is “full”?

I’m sure you know what I’m describing – a million thoughts racing around banging into each other.

When I get like this, it is really hard for me to stay focused!

It dawned on me last week that my brain was about to overflow so this post (and future one like it) is my attempt to get some of these random thoughts that are crashing into each other out to clear up some space. Since the blog is more performance-based, many of them will focus in that area but some other stuff will surely creep in too.


  • I had an advanced client fuss at me the other day that she felt like she wasn’t progressing fast enough in the two weeks she had been eating cleanly and being diligent with her workouts. She wanted to see visual changes and movement in her clothes (i.e. lost inches). My response – RELAX! Two weeks is typically not enough time for the advanced person to see these types of changes. This can definitely happen in a beginner but the advanced person has likely picked some the low hanging fruit i.e. the newbie improvements. If you have been training extensively (3-5 days per week x 45-60mins), my experience has been most people will see the first big changes in weeks 3 & 4 and some may need longer (weeks 5&6) when they make a significant change. Fact of the matter, the fitter you are the smaller your changes are likely to be and the longer they are likely to take.

Random aside – not one day after this conversation, she texted me to report she has lost 6lbs in those two weeks. Victory (although not the preferred one)!

  • This same client found herself in a situation that reminded me to remind you to carefully examine the role of sucralose in your diet. She had consciously avoided artificial sweeteners and then decided to try a protein bar w/ sucralose in it as part of her nutritional reboot. As soon as she did so, her digestion and energy levels suffered dramatically. As soon as we changed the bar to one w/o sucralose, the issues disappeared overnight. This mirrored my experience from 3 weeks ago. Added some protein bars w/ sucralose and BOOM! I “found” 5lbs almost overnight. Cut it out and BOOM! It was gone in 3-4 days.

Lesson – if you are experiencing indigestion, bloating, and energy issues, I really recommend you cut out sucralose and see what happens. Although it gets the government’s seal of approval (since that’s really valuable), I have come across quite a few people that have adverse reactions to it. If you can tolerate it – great – have at it. However, it could be a sneaky parking brake on your progress. I personally won’t eat it anymore after my experience above.

  • If you ever get the chance to get out onto the ocean, take the time to watch the flying fish dance over the water. I had this opportunity when I went on vacation and it’s completely mesmerizing to watch (and totally relaxing)! My mind is constantly running but watching those fish fly over the water put my mind on idle. Peaceful is the best word to describe it.
  • I wrote a post about carbs awhile back (you can read it here) that talked about how to use carbs to maximize performance and also how to place them in your nutrition plan for maximum effect. In that post, I mentioned that I would be periodically adding some updates as I came across them. Here are few things that I just noticed recently about my own carb intake…
    • If I sleep really well on a given night, I can handle a lot more carbs the next day. If I sleep poorly, my tolerance for carbs sucks and I get sugar crashes. I’m guessing this happens because sleep plays a huge role in cortisol/insulin regulation.
    • On those good sleep days, I find that I need more carbs earlier in the day or I crash hard later in the day. Again, I’m guessing because my system is running smoother.
    • Some types of carbs are NOT the same. For me, fruit and grains have two totally different effects on my blood sugar. There are times where I need some grain carbs to help keep myself sane throughout the day. I definitely need to do some more research into that.

Note – you have to establish your own relationship with carbs and how they affect you. These are just my experiences but I strongly recommend that pay close attention to these issues. There is a lot of “hidden” progress (I think) in figuring out your carb style.

  • Want some extra volume in a workout (particularly barbell movements) but are pressed for time? Do what I call some “loose change” sets – a type of drop set. Let’s use bench as example. Say your top weight for the day is 185 x 5. Normally – most people will do 95×5, 115×5, 135×5, 155×5 and finish with 185×5 (or something like this) but will always change out to the plates to the biggest ones possible for the given weight. What I have been doing lately is intentionally making my next set weight with as many small plates as possible. Once I hit my goal weight for the day, I then do a bunch of “loose change” sets to clear the bar. Every time I take off one of the smaller plates, I match the reps from my top set of the day. As the weight gets lighter, I will add 2-5 reps to add volume. This way I’m clearing out the “loose change” and getting a ton of extra volume.  If you only rest enough to change the plates, it will also give you some great work capacity work as well. Lastly, it forces you to be efficient – the only rest time you have is getting the next small plate off the bar so you need to stay moving to get it done. Think about it – you have to change the plates or re-rack them anyway. Why not use them to your advantage? Try it – it’s tougher than you think!

Brain dump complete!




The pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated”

I think some of my clients are way too hard on themselves when judging their success (or lack of success) in their fitness or performance programs. It’s almost as if they try to go “undefeated” and win every day, thinking that it is the only possible way to be successful.

However, is this mindset really reasonable or even possible?

I would emphatically say “NOT REALLY!”

Let’s be honest – life is full of situations that will force you to divert your attention and actions away from your workouts and/or your meal plan.

The car breaks down, the kids get sick, your boss throws a late deadline at you…you get the idea.

In those types of situations, your workout and meal plan for the day are likely to become a second priority and that’s really OK.


If you can simply accept that sometimes you are going to lose a day here or there, it then becomes easier to avoid the pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated” all the time.

The pitfalls of trying to be “undefeated” – more stress, frustration, and anxiety…the exact stuff that slows you down even more! See the irony in that?

As a matter of fact, if you have fallen into that type of trap before (I have), you probably have a higher “win” percentage than you think.

Here is what I mean by this using some simple math.

Say you have 365 days to achieve a fitness goal.

Right out of the gates – let’s be honest and throw out Saturdays because they are full of fun, distracting stuff to to do despite your best intentions.

If you “won” every other day in that year, you would have won 313 days for an astounding “win” percentage of 85%.

Who wouldn’t want those odds in Vegas?

Let’s take out another day each week to account for any vacations and you just wanting to take a planned “off” day.

You’re still winning at a respectable 71% of the time with 261 victories.  If you were in the major leagues and hit at that clip, you would be making a ton of money!

To wrap up this analogy, let’s take out another day to account for the kids getting sick, or your car breaking down, or having to finish up that work project. Because you know that crap WILL happen! And it WILL be annoying!

In this scenario, you’ve had 209 wins and won 57% of time. While that isn’t as quite as good (obviously), that is still a lot of progress made over the course of year.

My point with all of this – if you are one to beat yourself up over a bad day, try to give yourself a break.  Not only are you probably winning more than your realize, but you will get some added benefit by losing the associated stress as well.

Focus on your wins.

Minimize the inevitable losses.

Shoot for increasing your “win” percentage whenever possible.

Make steady progress towards your goals.

See yourself as a success regardless.