Enhance Your Nutrition

Hey! What’s up??

Food can be intimidating. And it can be intense to get into when you’re trying to change habits. But the smallest changes can make the biggest difference!
In case you didn’t know, I recently started nerding out on some nutrition material. In my mission to serve you a little better, I wanted to make sure I’m doing my part in helping you develop your nutrition habits to be consistent with your goals. And what better way to share it with you than one of my ridiculous essays?
For each of the following five components, I could dive deeper but that’s not the point. If you are one of those who struggles with nutrition, here are some questions to ask yourself on how to create some long term change!
1) How much food are you eating?
  • Is the amount of food you are eating consistent with your specific goals?
  • This one is the most important from the get go. If you eat more energy (food) than you are using, you will gain weight. And if your goal is to gain weight, the opposite applies.
  • Eating food until you are about 80% full is a great strategy to employ. Don’t overdo it while making sure you eat enough to not be hungry all the time.
  • Severely undereating can also do a number on your metabolism, energy levels and you’ll be hangry all the time. Who wants to be around that?
2) How are you eating?
  • Are you eating slowly and enjoying your food?
  • I’d love to see each and every meal eaten at a table with the family around, taking your time and enjoying your food. BUT in real life, things don’t always happen like that! Your body will take time to receive the signals from your stomach that tell you that you are satisfied.
3) Why are you eating?
  • Are you eating when you’re actually hungry or are you just bored?
  • Is it an emotional response to something that is happening?
  • Eat around your workouts, eat when you need food, eat to enjoy and savor your food.
4) What are you eating?
  • Is your food primarily consisting of whole food sources that are minimally processed?
  • Is your protein intake adequate? Minimum recommendation is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight but long term goals should be somewhere between 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (for a 150 pound female that is 82-136 grams per day, for a 200 pound male, that’s about 110-180 grams per day)
5) Are you doing this consistently?
  • What are the smallest changes you can make to help you stay on track? Can you add in a protein smoothie once a day to increase protein intake as well as fight hunger and feel more satisfied? Can you dedicate to having one meal at home, at the table, prepared by you every day?
  • What little things can you do to keep yourself asking the above questions when you eat?
If you find that you are getting better and more confident with the first question, move onto the next. And once you have the next figured out, move on, keeping the first question around. The whole idea behind improvement is constantly asking yourself your overaching question – is what you are eating consistent with the goal you are looking to achieve? Is it sustainable?
Thanks for tuning in!

My Favorite Question

How’s that working out for you?

A question I have been asking myself a lot recently.

A lot of depth to it if you commit to diving into the real answers. Real answers being hard to own up to.

In my case,

The way we set up your health program takes work.

The way we set up your nutrition goals takes work.

The effort we put in on a daily basis takes work.

And we want to be sure to be able to measure progress, see results and discern between what is working and what isn’t. This has been a struggle for me. Every individual I work with has a different attitude/concept as to what success means to them. And a lot of times, it’s not always clear.

‘I want to get healthy and establish an exercise routine’

‘I want to lose 10-15 pounds’

‘I want to get stronger and enjoy doing active stuff with my family’

To dive into the hours of developing a realistic, attainable exercise program, only to realize all the work you put in might not be specific to what that person needs is upsetting. There are days I find myself ‘being busy’ instead of being effective. And to come to that realization can be difficult. But I guess it’s part of the process to realize it.

Sending a fun text instead of updating a program.

Showing appreciation for the life my clients have given me. Living a dream job, doing exactly what I want to with my time.

Fighting to see you achieve your definition of success.

What can you gain from this?

Reflection. Take some time to ask yourself the important questions. Be able to stare the answer in the face without bias – How is that working out for you? What’s not working, and how can you make it work?

The Most Effective Cardiovascular Interval Protocols

Interval training.
Amazing for your heart.
And for your health.
And you get really, really sweaty.
sweat angel
Intervals have been shown to be more effective in a shorter timeframe than steady state cardiovascular exercise (running/biking/workout out at a constant intensity for X amount of time).
With the administration of one of the following protocols three days per week, your VO2max (ability for your body to use and utilize oxygen efficiently) can increase by up to 20%. Other side effects include – Lower resting heart rate, increased stroke volume(amount of blood with each heart beat), decreased bodyfat, improved thermoregulation, increased weight loss, reduced risk of cancer and heart disease…
10 x 1 – 10 sets of 1 minute high intensity followed by 1 minute of low intensity.
Tabata intervals – 8 rounds of 20 seconds HARD work, 10 seconds rest. Recommendation is on a bike with added resistance. Emphasis is a maximum effort for the 20 second intervals.
4x5x2 – four rounds of 5 minute ‘sprints’ followed by 2.5 minute rest
10 minute workout (perfect for an ‘exercise snack) – 2 minute warmup, 20 second sprint, 2 minute rest, 20 second sprint, 2 minute rest, 20 second sprint, 3 minute cooldown

Eating Food Before You Sleep


So I have this issue.

It’s really a funny thing.

Anytime I eat way too much pizza or pasta before I go to sleep, I wake up anywhere from 1230-2am and can’t go back to sleep for the life of me. And I’m 95% sure it’s more than just the guilt of eating an entire pizza that’s keeping me up. I just sit there twiddling my thumbs, trying to figure out what the best strategy is to relax and go back to sleep.

pizza nap

Thinking back to the college days, the same kind of thing would happen when I would have more than a drink or two.

So I did some reading. On sleep. On Nutrition. And how they interact.

And guess what… It’s hugely important.

It is known that individuals who stay up late or work overnight have a higher incidence of obesity, diabetes and corresponding metabolic ailments. Which is no bueno. Sleep is good. Especially when your body is supposed to sleep.

In this analysis the food nerds attempt to discern between different types of macronutrients, micronutrients and relate it to sleep patterns.  The general conclusion is that food CAN throw off your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). There is no blanket answer as to what causes a particular person to interrupt their sleep when consuming food. But there is speculation that high fat diets and carbohydrate consumption prior to sleeping could cause interruption of sleep cycles.

At the same time, food can make you sleepy after a big meal.

At a certain point, your body will start to shut down due to the amount of excess calories consumed (I’m looking at you, Thanksgiving). There is a response from your body at a certain point that tells your body to slow the eff down and focus on digesting the ridiculous amount of Calories/sugar/fat you just ate. And that’s why you’ll get sleepy after a big meal. But it can also come back to bite you in the butt later at night – as it’s theorized that the insulin spike in the middle of the night can keep you awake. Which may be happening when you eat an entire pizza before bed…

What this means for you –

  • Sleep more for better health.
  • Pay attention to what you eat before bed. If you have a night where you’re tossing and turning all night, maybe look at what you ate for dinner/bedtime snack and adjust.
  • Maybe pizza isn’t a superfood.

Ok, cool.



Taking Statins to Reduce Cholesterol

I’m eating my words today. And I’m glad I am haha. I did some reasearch into statins and it seems like there really isn’t that much controversy surrounding the use of statins other than their known side effects (muscle pain, VERY low risk of depression).  I know in the last place I worked, I saw a lot of folks who had muscle pain as a side effect pop up with the use of statins. In the grand scheme of things, they do far more good than bad in this world! I think use of the statin is a good idea up until that cholesterol gets down to a reasonable level then slowly try to wean off of it.
With that said, there are some ways to theoretically reduce the LDL using diet. Below I gave you a few links.
In individuals with 5-year risk of major vascular events lower than 10%, each 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol produced an absolute reduction in major vascular events of about 11 per 1000 over 5 years. This benefit greatly exceeds any known hazards of statin therapy. Under present guidelines, such individuals would not typically be regarded as suitable for LDL-lowering statin therapy. The present report suggests, therefore, that these guidelines might need to be reconsidered.

Exercise During Pregnancy


I’ve been doing some research into exercise while pregnant. I’ve done my best in talking to MDs, reseaching nerdy crap and talking to people with experience. But really, I just want to make sure it’s easier for you than it was for me in terms of being confident when you continue or start an exercise program. Below are general guidelines on exercise and things to look out for while you or your significant other has a bun in the oven:

Found a great meta-analysis of exercise and health while pregnant. A couple of things to highlight, which I’ll steal right from the article.
My narrative is in Bold.

The first box is a group of things that would have your MD saying ‘Don’t exercise’.

Box 1 Absolute contraindications to aerobic exercise during pregnancy (with permission from ACOG1)

  • Haemodynamically significant heart disease, Restrictive lung disease, Incompetent cervix/cerclage, Multiple gestation at risk for premature labour, Persistent second or third trimester bleeding, Placenta praevia after 26 weeks gestation, Premature labour during the current pregnancy, Ruptured membranes, Pregnancy induced hypertension

The Second box is a group of things that would have you MD saying, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t exercise’:

Box 2 Relative contraindications to aerobic exercise during pregnancy (with permission from ACOG1)

  • Severe anaemia, Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia, Chronic bronchitis, Poorly controlled type I diabetes, Extreme morbid obesity, Extreme underweight, body mass index <12), History of extremely sedentary lifestyle, Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy, Poorly controlled hypertension/pre-eclampsia, Orthopaedic limitations, Poorly controlled seizure disorder, Poorly controlled thyroid disease, Heavy smoker

The third box is a group of things that would have your MD saying, ‘stop because you’re experiencing something messed up’,

Box 3 Warning signs to terminate exercise while pregnant

  • Vaginal bleeding, Dyspnoea before exertion, Dizziness, Headache, Chest pain, Muscle weakness, Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis), Preterm labour, Decreased fetal movement, Amniotic fluid leakage

To expand, I took away a few things: 
– Moderate intensity exercise during pregnancy hasn’t been shown to affect fetal heart rate in a negative way unless the mother had previously listed contraindications. 

– As long as nutrition is sufficient (not undereating, increased amount of carbohydrate and protein), exercise is beneficial in the same way as those who are not pregnant. Big stress on the article was making sure the mother was receiving adequate nutrition through exercise. Increased carbohydrate intake should be stressed as it takes more energy to grow a baby. Mothers will have a higher breakdown of sugar relative to non-preggo folk.

– There is a lack of quantitative research on high intensity exercise during pregnancy, due to this, the recommendation is to stay around moderate exercise levels. (rating of perceived exertion on a scale of 6-20 should be anywhere from 12-15).
– Heart rate monitoring is HIGHLY variable, so the researchers don’t set a specific heart rate for exercise while pregnant (I think it would still be good to put a ‘soft ceiling’ on heart rate around 150. If you go over, don’t freak out, just don’t spend the whole workout above that number).
– There have been studies on subjects who reach >80% of their max who were previously exercising and there were no negative effects.
– A second article I found, utilizing a study of >5,000 participants comes to the following conclusion: Research on baby weight and structured exercise : These data demonstrate that structured prenatal exercise reduces the risk of having a large newborn without a change in the risk of having a small newborn.

Connecting your Why


Earlier today I ran up to the rec center. And in case I haven’t told you, I’m on a basketball kick.
Basketball is funny to me.
It’s a reminder of when I went through my surgeries. It’s a reminder of the years of rehab. It’s a reminder of all the hours spent on the couch, unable to get out and run.
It brings out weird memories of disappointment- that feeling after waking up from a dream about jumping, only to find myself rehabbing on the couch.
It brings back moments of stress, strain, anxiety and inactivity.
It reminds me of my vulnerability.
Today wasn’t an astronomical event. Playing basketball is fun, something I love doing. But I have no doubt it pushes me more today than it did before the surgeries. And I know that’s why I keep coming back. It reminds me to get better. It reminds me of the hard work it took to get back to jumping, running, hoopin. Just to get better at putting a ball through a hoop.
It reminds me all the time I’ve put in to become a bulletproof ninja no matter what event/sport/fun activity I participate in. The weight training, rehab, preparation and time invested. It’s justified in my mind. And I know that the reward I get from playing outweighs the risk involved.
Today, I played. And that’s why I train.To me, basketball is more than a game.
So that’s what I ask you today – What’s your ‘Why’? What are your willing to risk for your why?

Food Qualms: What to do in a Pinch


I’ve received a lot of questions lately about healthy-ish food on the go. Instead of giving you the ‘canned’ response and saying, ‘you should have been prepared’, I’m going to steer it a different route. I’m going to assume you got lazy, decided to not plan and you find yourself sitting in a few different spots – an airport, the fast food drive thru and a casual dining restaurant for a midday lunch. You’ll be surprised at the amount of flexibility you have in determining what to do for yourself without falling apart completely. I am taking into consideration that your on-the-go meal will be a full meal, consisting of fat, carb and protein…



So there’s this thing about airports. They’ve got this feel that makes you sort of cringe anytime you go to eat. It’s not the worst place in the world to find a nice place to sit down if you’ve got some time; even though there is something completely temporary about every restaurant I’ve been to in any airport. You know the food is a little undercooked, the quality is a little lower and NO – Cinnabon doesn’t have any healthy options.

market in airport.jpg

Good Choices – Starbucks Oatmeal – 150 Calories, 5 g protein, some good fiber and not nearly as bad as those breakfast sandwiches you can find there. Their Protein Bistro box is also a decent option. Nearly every airport I’ve ever seen also has a McDonald’s. McDonald’s has a grilled chicken bacon salad. High in protein, high in sodium, but about as good as you will get at McDiesel’s.  I have found the hardest part about airports is the low quality proteins combined with high fat and high carb content. You will have a hard time finding lean and clean meals at a restaurant due to the ‘quick’ nature of frying stuff up.

Best Choice – Grilled chicken salad, an apple and some nuts at a kiosk or at a sit down restaurant. They tend to overload you with sauce on the side. Your best strategy will be to only use half or to avoid it altogether. Remember your time in the airport is very low in terms of energy expended – so you want to focus nutrients on stuff that will be healthy enough to hold you over until your final destination.


Fast food. It’s a little grimy, it’s a little saucy, and it’s definitely low on quality. But sometimes, you have to realize that low quality taste is what you are looking for. As you sit in your car, at your nearest strip mall, deciding what to shove down your gullet, take the following into consideration:

unhealthy fast food.jpg

In general the things you will want to avoid are the big menu items. The Big Macs, Whoppers, Burrito Supremes and all the other big-name sandwich items that are marketed to be the best thing in the world. Sure they may be tasty now, but you will be full of regret 15 minutes later (in some instances, immediately).

Good Choices –McDonalds has some decent salads, with the option to throw some protein on top. Always opt for grilled over fried. Most sandwich places will have a grilled chicken sandwich available on the menu. Scrape off the mayo and only eat half the bun and you’re good to go. These sandwiches will be around 400 Calories, which in the grand scheme of things is not too bad! If you’re in a pinch, it could be worse. Opt out on the fries, grab yourself some water and you’re good to go.

Best Choice –  Taco Bell’s fresco menu will offer far more options to keep the carb count down, keep the ‘meat’ lean and have you feeling relatively decent afterwards. They substitute pico de gallo for the cheese and sauces. Each menu item will have less than 350 Calories and less than 10 grams of fat. In-n-Out also has some great options if you ask for ‘protein style without the sauce’. It might be a bit higher in fat, but the quality of the food is higher than other spots. But if you’re feeling like eating something quick and crappy, this will get you fixed up real quick with high protein and will definitely satisfy you until you sit down for your home prepared meal later. A protein style burger at In-n-Out will only cost you around 250 Calories, most of it in fat and protein.


These places really offer the most flexibility in terms of what you are doing. For the professionals I work with, this can be the hardest of the three spots if you are being ‘forced out with the office’. If you get food catered in, it can be even harder.

asparagross lunch.jpg

The best thing about these places is that they can really tell you what you’re getting without feeling bad about asking. These places you’ll be spending a little bit more and might be eating in.  There are a bunch of places you can drop in and request for ‘grilled chicken with a side of veggies, with no butter’, and they’ll oblige. With that said, here are my favorites

Good Choices – Salad at Panera bread. Throw some chicken, egg and bacon on top, minimize the dressing and you’re gravy. Sandwich places in general will be a bit better than burger places. That’s not to say it’s the end all, be all. But you can often drop in, grab half a sandwich and a half-salad with ease. When choosing your sandwich of choice, opt for whole grain and the type of protein that is most natural – ie, not chicken salad because they load it up with mayo and goobery stuff.

Best Choices – Chipotle or other quick-burrito joints. Burritos and bowls are my go-to in a pinch. It may take 15 minutes because the place is always packed – but anywhere that gives you as much flexibility as they do, always has my vote. Opting for chicken, black beans, no rice, pico, hot sauce, lettuce and if you’re feeling fat, guacamole in a bowl has always been a quick easy, high quality choice to fit my tasting. The beans offer high protein, high fiber and a low GI option to get after a workout. They’ve got salad as an option, high nutrient options with the different kinds of rice and salsas and are easy enough on the stomach. All in all, these spots are my go to because they give you the quick, healthy options that I wish I had in home.

Stella Fitness Update!

Hey All!

Just wanted to send along a few things regarding the next couple of weeks/months! I recently built a little group on Myfitnesspal for those of you who would like to challenge each other with food logging/exercise logging. There are also some upcoming events I will be adding to the event calendar on the MFP group!
The Stella Fitness MFP group and details are here:
Join up, share with your friends and rock it. No better time than now!
Client Success Shoutouts:
1- Tedann- Tedann recently had her 8 week evaluation and has dropped 13 pounds since late November!
2- Josh- Logged into Myfitnesspal for 80 days in a row!
3- Greg- Decreased 1.5 mile run time from 8:54 to 8:19!
The NOB NOS Challenge lasts from now until March 19th. The idea is to stay strict with NO Booze and NO Sugar (fruit is ok in natural form, not fruit juice). Follow the link above for more details.
March 19th Spartan Sprint: A reason for us to get outside, do some burpees and adventure around the neighborhood. The Spartan Sprint consists of a 3 mile run with obstacles interspersed throughout the race. In all, there are usually around 20 obstacles to best, which include some of the following:

-Rope Climb
-Tire drag and carry
-Crawling under barbed wire
-Jumping over huge fences
-Crawling under huge fences
-A bunch more!

A little more to know – if you don’t complete an obstacle, you are to perform everyone’s favorite exercise…30 burpees! So make sure you come prepared to get muddy, gross and have a heck of a time.

I am going to be flying down to Vegas the night before the event and am contemplating return strategy. So if anyone wants to carpool, it’s about a 6 hour drive from Salt Lake and about 1 hour from Vegas!

A link to the website is here if you’d like to check it out!

Sign up deets:

-Signed up for Sunday’s Spartan Sprint race.
-The group name I used is ‘Okemos Noobs’ and it doesn’t have a password. Have your friends, family, everyone else you think may be interested join up!
-The race takes place anywhere from 10:15am-11:00am, located in Littlefield Arizona.
-You get a shirt, a medal, some awesome Spartan gear, and really dirty.

Other than that, I am planning on getting some blogging going today and this week. IF you have a topic in mind, please shoot me an email with some ideas!
On the docket – Foods to eat when you’re in a pinch. Strength training for fat burning.

Maximize Your Military PFA in 8 weeks : Pushup and Situp

Worried about ipushup.jpgncreasing pushup and situp strength for your next physical assessment?
It is going to rely on a few things.
-Increasing core strength
-Increasing Upper body strength (mostly chest, shoulders, and triceps). When going through bodybuilding style workouts, work on increasing chest strength with exercises like bench press, dips, and overhead presses. My philosophy on weight training is to make you stronger – focus on making your final ‘working set’ your first ‘working set’.
The best and most important way to increase efficiency in both pushups and situps – is to keep practicing them. Your central nervous system will get stronger at patterning the movement. The same way that the best way to get better at running – is to run.
Note: Each workout in parenthesis you should perform once per day. For instance, on day 1 of week 1, perform 3 sets of 10 pushups and 3 sets of 10 situps.
Maxing your next PFA pushup and situp tests by following this routine:
Week 1: Day 1 (3 sets of 10 pushups, 3 sets of 10 situps) Day 2 (4 sets of 10 pushups, 4 sets of 10 situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 15 pushups, 3 sets of 15 situps)
Week 2: Day 1 (3 sets of 15 pushups, 3 sets of 15 situps) Day 2 (4 sets of 15 pushups, 4 sets of 15 situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 20 pushups, 3 sets of 20 situps)
Week 3: Day 1 (3 sets of 20 pushups, 3 sets of 20 situps) Day 2 (4 sets of 20 pushups, 4 sets of 20 situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 25 pushups, 3 sets of 25 situps)
Week 4:Test your maximum number of pushups + situps, recording your them as your NEWMAX pushups and NEWMAX situps. Adjust the following three weeks according to your new score, basing the next three weeks off of your score for each.
Week 5: Day 1 (3 sets of 75%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 75%NEWMAX situps) Day 2 (4 sets of 75%NEWMAX pushups, 4 sets of 75%NEWMAX situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 80%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 80%NEWMAX situps)
Week 6: Day 1 (3 sets of 80%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 80%NEWMAX situps) Day 2 (4 sets of 80%NEWMAX pushups, 4 sets of 80%NEWMAX situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 85%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 85%NEWMAX situps)
Week 7: Day 1 (3 sets of 90%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 90%NEWMAX siitups) Day 2 (4 sets of 90%NEWMAX pushups, 4 sets of 90%NEWMAX situps) Day 3 (3 sets of 95%NEWMAX pushups, 3 sets of 95%NEWMAX situps)
Week 8: Test your pushup and situps
Note: To supplement the preceding workouts, make sure you perform 1-2 days per week of strength training for direct rotator cuff work as well as plenty of pullups and rows to keep your back healthy and strong. Adding some foam roller work to the pectorals, shoulders, triceps and global posture re positioning will also help in keeping you shoulders, back and upper body healthy.