Friday, January 30, 2009

He's Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

My fav. player is back with the Sox again. I know his offensive production is minimal, but defense is everything and he is the catalyst for successful Red Sox pitching and helping develop the younger players.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Having a Routine is Crucial

Do you have a systematic plan as to how you are going to go about today's workout? How about when it comes to tackling the necessary nutrition modifications? And that project around the house you've been putting off? My point is this: to make true change, you've got to structure a systematic "plan of attack." Look to the successful ones who get it done on a daily basis, in whatever context that is applicable to your given goal(s), and mirror their game plan. One person I look to is Ray Allen, of your World Champion Boston Celtics. He's my favorite player for various reasons, but one that stands out is consistency in his daily routine. He eats the same thing before games, leaves for the stadium at the same time, has a specific shoot-around program, etc... He achieves what he sets out to because of his specific plan of attack. He doesn't stray from what works.

Admittedly, I need to improve upon this just like many reading this do. Having a consistent routine will eventually makes things second nature. I used to never drink water, now I've got a bottle with me all the time. Some people struggle getting in their daily exercise, but having a buddy go with them helps them get it done. Whatever works for you that helps get the job done is something you have to stick with. Keep it consistent.

I've taken the liberty of posting a couple links below to recent articles on Ray Allen and his unmatched work ethic that I use sometimes as motivating tools. Maybe they'll work for you too:

735 days, but who's counting?

Having been in the fitness industry for over five years now, I've certainly seen people in all shapes and sizes. Exercise enthusiasts from all walks of life have counted on me to motivate them and show them the safest way towards healthier living. Few clients possess the intrinsic motivation to get in all their workouts and push it 100%, but I'm fortunate to have one on my team of clients.

Today I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Larry B. (no, not Larry Bird) on achieving a goal I haven't come across in all my years of training. While we all try to get in all our scheduled workouts, Larry has done something few, if any, have. He has completed his daily exercise routine for 2 years (735+ days) straight. I know you're probably thinking that some of the days were a quick 15 minutes here or there, but no. Larry starts his day (at around 3 or 4 AM, mind you) with 2 hours of exercise. I've never encountered anyone who pushes it as hard as he does, while maintaining a quality social, family, and work life. Admittedly, I think he does too much, but the workouts keep him grounded and relieve stress.

Great job Larry! Maybe you'll finally take a day off like I've been asking you to do all this time :-)

U.S. group sues Coke over VitaminWater health claims

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an organization whose "Nutrition Action Newsletter" I subscribe to, filed a lawsuit against Coke recently. Many of my colleagues are in agreement with the CSPI, confirming that there is too much sugar in Vitamin Water and it has next to nothing to offer, nutritionally. Frankly, it's just another drink I don't mind my clients consuming once in a while. Yes, the sugar content is high, but if gets them to hydrate and they want something different than tap water, I am OK with it. Sure, there are better alternatives (water with a slice of lemon, chilled green tea, etc...), but if it's in moderation I am completely fine with it. I'd much rather my clients focus on the bigger issues such as getting enough lean protein, fruits/veggies, fiber, etc... An occassional Vitamin Water isn't going to hurt them- or you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lifting Weights for Hoops

I came across a FANTASTIC article today from a Des Moines newspaper, courtesy of former NBA coach Eric Musselman. It's message is simultaneously powerful and truthful: you MUST strength train if you want to excel on the basketball court. If you know me personally, you know the passion I possess for basketball, but more importantly/specifically, its relationship to basketball.

When I was 15 I began a formal strength training program to better prepare my body for the rigors of basketball and it was the best decision I've ever made. Sure, I followed the foolish bodybuilder magazine routines along the way (thanks Joe Weider), but after years of practice I finally know what I'm doing. For me, it was being able to withstand the physical contact versus increasing the size of muscles. While I of course wanted to gain size (what male in his early teens doesn't?), I took up strength training to prevent injuries (it did) and to improve court performance.

After starting to lift weights in the off-season going into my Junior year in high school, I felt MUCH more confident taking the ball to the basket. I also felt much more comfortable "in my own skin," an issue most adolescent boys have issues with. That being said, if you're coaching basketball players or simply know an athlete looking to improve their performance and decrease their risk of injury, there's no better place for them to be than in the weight room- with an experienced coach of course.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Debate Continues

It's funny listening to some of the folks in my industry who know what they're talking about continue to debate with the general public who are misled by bad info. in the mass media. One argument that continues to resonate laughter with me is that of long slow distance (LSD) conditioning versus interval training. I heard someone at a seminar speak last spring about how he asked a client "are you looking for the emaciated look or a lean, toned body that actually looks you do strength training and cardio?" His client, of course, chose the latter- particularly after being shown the above picture.

When you think about it, the speaker was right. If you want that emaciated look, keep doing all long distance cardio and no weight training and see how "soft" you continue to look. I'll take my intervals and total body strength training any day of the week. Think about it when you look at your workout program. You can save yourself some serious time, and body fat, if you hit the cardio a little harder and push yourself in the weight room.

One of my Favorite Quotes

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

This quote speaks volumes in my industry and it's something I think about a lot. While it's important to possess the knowledge to help someone accomplish their goals, someone who can do this and actually have an intrinsic desire to want to help their client will always do well and receive more referrals than they know what to do with. That's my experience, anyway.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Progressive Overload

There are many principles of fitness that yield quality results, but if I was pressed to list one rule that MUST be followed it is that of "Progressive Overload." This is a fancy fitness term that simply means to meet your goals, you MUST apply an increased training stimulus to your workout routine. Progressive Overload should be applied both to your strength training AND conditioning routines.

Practically speaking, simply increasing the weight you do on a given exercise 2-5 lbs/week is a simple, yet effective approach. Additionally, increasing the # of intervals you perform on the cycling workout you perform in your conditioning routine by 1-3 is another effective method.

For example, a strength and conditioning 3-week sample progression would look as follows applying progressive overload to each:
  • CONDITIONING: Stationary Bike: (Week 1: 6 sets of 20 sec. sprints with 60 sec. recovery; Week 2: 7 sets of 20 sprints; Week 3: 8 sets)
  • LIFT: Push-ups (Week 1: 10 push-ups; Week 2: 12 push-ups; Week 3: 14 push-ups)

Bear in mind the above progression can be modified based on an individual's current strength & conditioning abilities. The length of a bike sprint and the # of push-ups can initially be modified.

In summary, applying progressive overload to your workout routine is something you must do if you want to see continued results and prevent training plateaus.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our new President Is A Baller- I knew I liked this guy!

Sobering Statistics

  • Today’s youth could live shorter and less healthy lives than their parents.

  • Childhood diabetes has increased 10-fold in the past 20 years.

  • Up to 30 percent of U.S. children are overweight, and childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 25 years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fat Loss for 2009

I recently had the opportunity to attend a fat loss "webinar." In case you aren't aware, a "webinar" is essentially an online seminar. That is, you can literally sit in your pajamas and virtually attend a seminar. I think it's a great concept- and was a first for me. In the February edition of my monthly newsletter, I'll be focusing the nutrition section on some of the key points I took away from the webinar. I'll leave you with this for now: proper nutrition is the best tool for fat loss, not exercise. Sure, the latter plays a role, but the nutrition component is FAR more important. More to follow in my February newsletter. Stay tuned and let shoot me an email ( if you're not currently a subscriber and would like to be.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Diet and Inflammation

Inflammation occurs when conditions such as fever trigger the body to call on immune cells (i.e. Neutrophils) to to remove damaged tissues. Various nutritional interventions have been recommended in recent research to combat inflammation throughout the body. These include the following:

  • Increase fruit & vegetable consumption

  • Reduce intake of the "bad" fats: trans fats and saturated fats

  • Increase omega 3 consumption (i.e. salmon, walnuts)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obesity Study Article

The Wall Street Journal posted an article based on a recent blog post I did today. Check out the story here:

Training Environment is Everything

I overheard a member of the fitness center I train some of my clients at the other day saying to their friend, "You should go to _______ Gym because they have the ________ machine." I had to bite my tongue, but thinking back I wonder if I should have said something. What this person has no idea of is that the equipment doesn't make the workout. Rather, the workout makes the workout. What I mean by that is what you put into your workout, and more importantly the environment in which you train, are what make your workout.

I'm fortunate enough to train in the varsity weight room at a local D-1 university (see above pics) surrounded by some great athletes, but more importantly great people. From helpful strength and conditioning coaches, great music, and a close proximity to my home, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's a thrill to look around between sets and see how hard some of the athletes- and coaches- push themselves in their workouts. What belief I hold dearly is that hard work is contagious. Watching others work their tails off makes me push myself harder. This may be why I can't train at a commercial gym. Whether it's too much dilly-dallying or the horrendous choice in music, it just doesn't work.

What I want you to walk away from this blog post with is knowing that where and how you train means everything. If you don't train hard and you don't train around people who bust their butts and expect the same from you, you won't succeed. Surround yourself with positive people, great mentors, and of course good music (my favorite), and good things will happen. Don't be afraid to change venues if things aren't working out at your current facility. Don't be afraid to travel farther if it means better workouts. It'll be well worth your while in the long run.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

San Francisco Named Fittest Metro Area

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently named San Francisco as the fittest metro area in the United States. Boston always scores high on these "fittest cities" type of lists, with the Southeast (specifically Mississippi and Alabama) historically scoring low. Personally, I blame fried food and technology.

Building A Healthy Pizza

Here's a piece I wrote for a South Shore health club in 2006:
"Building a Better Pizza"

Unfortunately, the typical diet of the western world is too high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fat and animal foods, and calories. It is too low in fiber, nutrient-rich carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Making a shift towards an optimal way of eating takes several steps. To simplify this, let's use a traditional dish and …"build a better pizza".

Current Western world diet: Order a large combination pizza (with sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and a small amount of vegetables like olives, onions). Eat 1/2 or more of the pizza yourself, and wash it down with a liter of soda pop or beer.

Better: Order a large combination pizza. Eat 2 pieces. Have a green salad with low calorie dressing, and wash it down with no sugar ice tea, diet soda, or better yet, skim milk.

Still Better: Order a large pizza with mostly vegetables, maybe some chicken, but no processed, cured meats. Ask that 1/2 of the cheese be omitted. Eat 2 pieces. Have the salad with low calorie dressing and low calorie beverage.

Best!: Order a small pizza [whole wheat crust] with extra vegetables, half the cheese (low fat cheese if possible), and no meat. Eat 1 or 2 pieces. Eat a larger green salad with various vegetables, beans and seeds, with low calorie dressing. Choose a no sugar beverage, preferably water or skim milk.

After your pizza has properly digested, take a brisk walk, run, or whatever exercise you enjoy doing. Take the dog, too - he probably got some of your pizza scraps and could use the exercise!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Say It Ain't So

Sadly, a July issue in the journal Obesity estimated that if current trends continue, nearly 9 in 10 Americans over age 18 will be considered overweight or obese by 2030. They further commented that our entire US population could be overweight or obese 2048. While possible, that just strikes me as embarrassing/disgusting. While it's nice being known for our democracy, I hate that we're known- rightfully so- for being the fattest nation in the world. So sad.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Recommended Reading

I just finished my first book of 2009, Rick Pitino's "Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0." I've been a Pitino fan for a long time, even though he did destroy my beloved Celtics in the late 90's. One characteristic I admire of his is his admitting failure when it happens. While rare for him, Coach Pitino admits he rushed things too much with the Celtics, often trading mediocrity for more mediocrity. He overpaid on many players (i.e. Walter McCarty and Travis Knight) who didn't deserve the money or the length of contracts they were given. No fault of their own, Pitino thought he could fix the C's. He took away the presidency title from the late Red Auerbach as well and that has always bothered me to this day. Long story short, he has now been back in Louisville for the last few years, coaching a very successful team.

As I often do, I took notes of my favorite points in the book and thought I'd share them with you:
  • Ellis Myles, Louisville's 2005 center from Compton, is now their assistant strength and conditioning coach. He was given the position by Coach Pitino in 2007 as a means of working his way up the ladder towards becoming a full-time assistant coach. Their current Head S&C coach, Ray Ganong, is in his 22nd year with the team.
  • Jerry Rice, one of my favorite players in NFL history, divulges his off-season workout. See pages 102-103 for the full details. It's 6 days/week of fury. You owe it to yourself to read that portion of the book alone- simply amazing.
  • John Wooden quote on page 128 reads "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
  • Concept of "Real Net Worth:" page 185 reads..."Real net worth is far more likely to come from what you do for others, as opposed to what you do for yourself."
  • Page 199 has my favorite line in the book: "The key to achieving greatness is not so much what you accomplish, but what others accomplish with your assistance."

Coach Pitino's book can be purchased by clicking the following link:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Meal suggestion

When analyzing the nutrition plans of my clients, it's certainly important to alter their macronutrient intake (i.e. increase/decrease protein, carbs, fats). However, I sometimes find it additionally helpful when I suggest specific meals to try. Here's an example of a healthy lunch; yes, I actually took a picture of what I ate for lunch today :-)

  • Broiled scrod

  • Steamed broccoli

  • Quinoa salad (black beans, quinoa, salsa, organic soy cheese, cilantro)


Saturday, January 03, 2009

TJ's Pineapple Salsa

Looking for a delicious, low-calorie snack? Trader Joe's sells Pineapple Salsa that is out of this world. It pairs perfect with their Flaxseed Chips (see above pic). One serving size (2 tbsp) contains a mere 15 calories. Dig in and shoot me an email if you're a fan as well.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hannah sings on New Year's Eve

Why is change so hard?

We're all guilty of getting stuck in a rut at one time or another. It's easy to become complacent for it's simply comfortable. It's human nature to reject change. That being said, change is nothing to be afraid of. I spoke at a seminar last spring and referenced Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese" ( as a means of getting people to look past their fears of change. If you haven't read it, definitely check it out.
With 2009 now upon us, it's "resolution time." The same old ones will always be there (weight loss, increased exercise, decreasing stress, etc...). While these resolutions are fine, focusing on one thing at a time while not looking too far to the future are ways that will help you reach your goals. As the saying goes, "one day at a time." One mantra I constantly say to myself and preach to my clients is the following: "you only have true control over one thing- the present." The past can be learned from and the future surely isn't promised, so take positive control of the present and good things will happen.

The Boston Globe has a good article today on why change is so hard. Check it out here:

Happy New Year and keep in touch!