The Ketogenic Diet


I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with diet. If you are anything like me when it come to diet, you enjoy trying new things. I enjoy having the challenge of pushing away crappy food. And if there is an option to eat crap food, I’ll eat it. Unless I am dedicated to something new and different. And this is my most recent experiment…

The Ketogenic diet:

Quick and dirty –

  • Diet consisting of ~70% fat, 20-25% protein, <5% carbohydrate
  • Your body produces ketones when carbohydrate (glucose) is limited
  • Ketones (byproduct of fat) become your body’s response to spare glucose
  • Ketones are produced in liver and become your body’s alternative fuel source everywhere except red blood cells and central nervous system
  • CAN NOT replace glucose in anaerobic metabolism
  • CAN replace glucose in aerobic metabolism
  • High protein diets are not ketogenic
  • Benefits :
    • Satiety (blood glucose curbed and insulin sensitivity)
    • Fat as fuel source
    • Ketones are muscle sparing
    • Easy way to diet
  • Criticism
    • Ketogenic diets promises a ‘higher metabolic advantage'(has been equated to a higher than average protein diet)
    • Restriction of entire groups of food – Calorie restricitive but can also add in weight loss.
    • Science doesn’t yet back up the weight loss/fat loss promises.

Diseases that greatly benefit from ketogenic diet:

The ketogenic diet and Cancer

The ketogenic diet and Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet and Alzheimer’s

Interested in trying out the diet? Here is a keto calculator!

Check it out. Let me know what you think. I have been rocking the diet for about a month (with a slip-up around Halloween, thanks Obama). Anecdotally, it’s pretty intense at first in terms of restricting certain foods – but it also does a lot to keep me on track. After the first week, the carb cravings stopped, the workouts normalized and my body felt pretty good. There were moments of fatigue and overexertion – moreso than normal during a workout, but overall, it feels great to have that sense of control over my food again. And really, how can you be upset when you lather butter all over your bacon, steak and beef? Really, it’s kind of insane. But fun.

Peace like Geese

Gaggle Spotlight: The Maag Man


Hey There!

Here is another one of those folks on team Gaggle. He is a father of two, husband to an awesome wife (and fellow Gaggler) while embodying the type of person who sees success in the long term. This guy has been nothing short of a pleasure to work with. I take a lot of cues from this guy, his family and I have never met someone so in tune with long-term success. He has been with me for 9 weeks now-he has been both a great motivator and friend! A Professional rollerblader and Professional badass,


  1. Who are you? Don’t be afraid to be weird.   My name is Joshua Maag. I am a software engineer by trade, have an MBA and am an extreme busy bee. I spend a lot of time on computers and help big firms scale their database systems. I used to be a professional rollerblader, both in speed and vertical. I mean, who would admit to wearing rollerblades anymore. 😉 I love what I do and love helping people. I also have a fantastic wife and 2 great kids and love spending time with my boy and would love to do more active things with him. In my spare time, I love to hike, camp and go outdoors. Last year, I bought a camping trailer so we can glamp with the best of them and get my wife out in the wilderness. As she always says, nothing says serious camping like a kitchen with a island.
  2. What obstacles did you have before starting an exercise program? What obstacles do you currently have in achieving your goals? I work a lot and have not been able to break through with diet or exercise. In the past I tried HCG and lost a decent amount of weight but eventually regained it. Food and portions have always been an issue. I have spent time tracking on occasion, but eventually lose motivation. What I have noticed in the past year is that I am continuing to gain weight and feeling worse, despite my efforts. It’s also honestly hard to commit to yourself when others depend on you so much. I love my kids and want to be there for them, even when it means personal/professional sacrifice.
  3. How have you been able to overcome those obstacles? What’s your plan to achieve these obstacles? I decided I needed a changed, I needed some mechanism to force me into a commitment. I was successful once losing the weight on just a diet and what I realized that helped keep it off for a while was the rigorous exercise that followed. My plan to achieve these goals was to not focus on weight but instead focus on what bothers me and what I’d like to see different. I wanted to inject fitness and diet into a plan. Initially my plan was as follows: Step 1: Buy fitness stuff and come up with a diet Step 2: ? Step 3: Be healthy But who knows what step 2 was. I decided that I needed help and opted to hire a personal trainer. Honestly, I had no idea where to look. I’m not a member of any gym. I tried googling but found that search results for personal training was horrible. And the ones that would pop up, ended up looking like a really bad infomercial. I was serious and wanted to be serious and not follow some bull shit lose weight quick scheme. Now my step 2 has now become a personal trainer. I found Mike on Thumbtack and reviewed each personal trainer’s response and background to decide he was the right one for me. I have chosen to have an external voice to kick my butt along the way and make sure I am progressing toward a goal.
  4. What is your goal? I have a few goals actually. I really needed some visual goal to go after. In my closet was this pretty new shirt for the band, Social Distortion. Not that I have some extreme affinity for the band. I just want to be able to wear the shirt comfortably. As it is now, the shirt is so tight, I can’t wear it without feeling fat. Today it stands on a hanger on my closet door as a reminder of where I want to be. My long term goal is to get closer to 200 lbs. This is really an arbitrary number, but a number I feel is a healthy weight for someone fit and strong. I don’t want to be rail thin, but I want to reduce my overall fat percentage here. Building muscle will get me there. I want to increase my metabolism. In order to keep the weight off, one thing I need to do is have my body be more efficient. People say as you age, it get’s harder, your metabolism slows and losing weight is no longer a simple thing. Once I get where I want to be and build a strong core, my metabolism can assist in keeping me there. This also means, I need to be fit for life. I need to continue to have a strong core and maintain that new healthy lifestyle. My kids are a goal. I want to be the great grandpa that lives to be 100 and talks about “back in my day, I went uphill both ways in the snow to get to school…” My great grandfather, Great Grandpa Stratton, lived over 100 and he was active most of his life. I’d like to be like him. I have also set goals for certain exercises like, my body weight in a squat, 40 push ups a minute, and 140 seconds on a plank. I’d also like a 34-36″ waist, even more so than weight loss.
  5. What/who motivates you? In work? In life? In exercise? My family motivates me the most. I want to be there for them as long as possible. They are my passion and inspiration. This is so important to me that I have signed my wife up with Mike to join in the journey together. My old, now gone beagle, Talyn. The last 4 years of his life was rough. I saw him balloon up to 55 lbs and succumb to diabetes and cataracts. The last 4 years of his life, I had to manage his insulin every day. It’s an eye opener when you have to inject insulin with a needle every day. It’s also an expensive and dangerous disease. He had to change his diet and learn to live blind. In the end, he experienced ketoacidosis, which was basically his bodies way of dealing with his diabetes. My plug. Mike has been an awesome motivator for me. He’s kicking my butt and keeping me honest. It has been a pleasure and great reward to have someone there to continue to motivate me.
  6. Why now? Are there any specific events coming up or that have recently occurred to spark your interest? Honestly, the realization that my dad is now diabetic and my grandfather has been for years. I have also had a lot of indigestion from being unhealthy. It has also been a bit challenging to tie my own shoes. Many things have culminated to this decision. Ultimately it boils down to a few rules from Zombieland: 1. Cardio 10. Don’t swing low 18. Limber Up 20. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint 26. A little sunscreen never hurt anybody 29. The buddy system 32. Enjoy the little thingsWe recently sold our house and are currently building a new house. It would be nice with all the changes to make that leap forward. I’d also would like to get back into things like rollerblading and to be able to take a whole day skiing with my son in the winter months without becoming exhausted. Mike also found a 10k rollerblading event in the Spring. That would be a fun litmus test to my success.
  7. What achievements have you made? I have lost 3 inches from my waistline from 47″ to 44″. I can now do more than 10 push ups. Just today, during our workout, we were doing exercises based on 52 cards in a deck. I know that I could do the pushups from a full suit of cards from Ace to King, i.e. reps of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, (J)10, (Q)10, (K)10, (A)11. I have had very little to almost no heartburn since I have started this journey. Since starting my workout, I just haven’t had much need for Tums. It’s more than just food I would eat. My body just plain feels better, if not sore from working out. But hey, it hurts so good. I have also been tracking my food intake like a hawk. I force myself to eat breakfast every day and have only had one doughnut for breakfast since undertaking my journey. I actually find it harder to hit calories than to go over these days, though I definitely need to still increase my protein intake.
  8. Favorite activities? I really enjoy going on bike rides with my son, running with my daughter in her stroller around the park. I also really love long hikes. I need to get in a 14 mile hike up Mill D North Fork to Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood before winter hits. Oh and who can forget Winter skiing is a must.
  9. Some things you have learned while working with me? Mike has primarily shown me that: 1. You can work your butt off with very little weight or no weight 2. Having obtainable goals and stretch goals are good 3. Good attitude leads to great success 4. Constant tracking is going to help (watch what you eat, especially on holidays) 5. Goals are obtainable in a reasonable amount of time 6. Adjust when things aren’t working right 7. Ultimately, I am solely responsible for what I do. If I can’t own up to it, the rest is just an excuse 8. I really, really can’t do a full pull up…yet 9. Squats are fun
  10. Anything you would like to add about your experience? Mike is fantastic. He’s super happy and motivating. He will care about you and your health and enjoys seeing your success. I only wish I had gone with a personal trainer years ago, but then I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of working with Mike if I had. You need to be open and honest with your trainer and yourself. Also be willing to follow the %80/%20 rule. It’s ok to enjoy yourself once in a while, just keep the eyes on the prize.

My Friend and Yours: Chris Hopkins


I am going to be posting some highlights of people who work with me – individuals looking to improve health, build interpersonal relationships with like-minded folks and highlight ways people motivate themselves and each other. After seeing some of these answers, I can promise you this…we’ve all got at least one thing in common – we’re all weird.

‘None of us is as smart as all of us’ – Japanese Proverb (I think)

A huge component in all of this is building relationships. To me, there are a lot of amazing people I receive motivation from in being my best – and in extension – helping you! My hope is that you will take something from each person I post about, give suggestions and encourage them to keep bettering themselves. I feel very lucky to be in the position that I am in – and my goal is to get you to feel that same way.

Without further ado, my friend and yours,

Chris ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

  • Who are you? Don’t be afraid to be weird.

    Im a (soon to be) 42 yr old male that is from West Virginia…  I just so happen to be overweight, gay, and a baptized Christian (I walk a fine line).  I let my faith influence me, but not control me.

  • What obstacles did you have before starting an exercise program? What obstacles do you currently have? 

    Willpower… pure and simple.  I don’t mind working out I just have a hard time staying focused.  I don’t like the feeling of being judged.  Oddly enough I’m the one usually judging myself.  As for current issues- I just have a real hard time saying “no” to certain foods and I sometimes don’t quit when I’m “full”.

  • How have you been able to overcome those obstacles? What’s your plan to achieve these obstacles?

    It’s a constant struggle and will leave it at that… it probably always will be.

  • What is your goal? 

    To get below %25 BCA and maintain it or get better.

  • What/who motivates you? In work? In life? In exercise?

    I don’t want to be obnoxious but I motivate me…  I want better for me and I strive for it however Im also my biggest obstacle.  I also draw strength from people that I know that succeed and have strong willpower and drive.

  • Why now?Are there any specific events coming up or that have recently occurred to spark your interest?

    I don’t want to jeopardize the last 4 1/2 to 5 yrs of my career  because of BCA issues and I want to maintain my health and fitness as I live through the rest of my 40s and beyond

  • Favorite activities?

    Obstacle course running, Frisbee, and paintball (I have other non-physical activities I enjoy as well

  • Anything you would like to add?

      Listen to the “Goose” and im sure we shall all succeed together!!


Exercise Testing – Cardiovascular testing

My Friends,

Here is where we delve into the idea of cardio.

Blah. We all hate it. But you have to do it. Not only does it burn Calories but it can be used as a great tool for increasing the size of your cardiac muscle tissue – aka, it’ll make your heart bigger.

One thing I pride myself on with  my athletes is speed. Running is ingrained in our body’s physiology and as humans, we have a responsibility to take full advantage! The only full-time bipedal mammals that stand fully upright on the regular – our bodies were meant to be upright and efficient in gait.

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are astronomical – and when they inevitably make a pill that gives you the same benefit you’ll receive from cardiovascular exercise – is the same day I no longer have a job!


The cardiovascular test I chose to integrate is simple, easy, does take some time and is much more applicable to function than other tests out there. It is used by the Navy (my wife loves it) and various other factions to rank individuals in cardiovascular fitness. Pop quiz points – The football association of Singapore actually uses the test as a means for motivation…you must run 1.5 miles in <10:15 in order to play and those who run  it faster than 8 minutes and 30 seconds receive $200.

The rules of the 1.5 mile run:

  • Find a flat surface with a known distance(such as a track).
  • Grab a stop watch or start your watch and run around said flat surface for 1.5 miles (that would be 6 laps for a track)
  • Record the time it takes for you to finish the 1.5 mile run.

Pretty self-explanatory and simple. With that said, here are your norms! Courtesy of Topendsports.

Rating Males Females
Very poor > 16:01 > 19:01
Poor 16:00-14:01 19:00-18:31
Fair 14:00-12:01 18:30-15:55
Good 12:00-10:46 15:54-13:31
Excellent 10:45-9:45 13:30-12:30
Superior < 9:44 < 12:29


Pretty cool eh?? I’ll give you twenty minutes or so. Come back, post your time and calculate your VO2max based off of your time, plugging in your gender, bodyweight and mile time to the equation below…

  • VO2max (ml. kg-1.min-1) = 88.02 + (3.716 * gender) – (0.0753 * body weight in pounds) – (2.767 * time for 1.5 miles in minutes and fractions of minutes)
    • Where gender = 1 for males and 0 for females.
Image result for vo2 max norms men and women
I’m shooting for excellent female @ 60-65 years old, considering how inefficient I am at running for longer than 1 minute.

Exercise Testing – Pushup Norms

What’s up Ya’ll?

Each and every one of my clients through exercise testing to assess current fitness level and as a means of measurement of progression. When it comes to exercise selection, each evaluation is different depending on the individual’s goal and their strengths/weaknesses. Specifically, different patterns (push, pull, squat, step) help me assess how strong you are. In the coming posts, we will run through some normative data and values as well as a Goose-ified description of each test.

This way, you can do it yourself and compare your scores to the scores of people around your age/gender/weight/phyla classification.

First up, that ones we all hated in school growing up.

The president’s push-up test

The ole pushup test. I remember rocking this in gym class, busting out a few pushups and calling it a day. Combine this with the flexed-arm hang and you got yourself a dynamic duo of muscular endurance and base strength.

Two categories of performing this test and a few rules listed below:

1)For men, perform pushups from your toes.

2)For women, perform pushups from your knees.

-Your chest must come within 2 inches of the ground to count each repetition

-You must straighten your arms after performing each repetition while maintaining a rigid torso.

-Perform as many pushups as possible until exhaustion. You are allowed to rest in the ‘up position’ but once you drop from there, the test is over.

So I’ll give you a couple minutes to get this test done (I did over a thousand so it took me a few days).

Real talk, get your number and compare your score to the numbers below…courtesy of the YMCA

Table: Push Up Test norms for MEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 56 > 47 > 41 > 34 > 31 > 30
Good 47-56 39-47 34-41 28-34 25-31 24-30
Above average 35-46 30-39 25-33 21-28 18-24 17-23
Average 19-34 17-29 13-24 11-20 9-17 6-16
Below average 11-18 10-16 8-12 6-10 5-8 3-5
Poor 4-10 4-9 2-7 1-5 1-4 1-2
Very Poor < 4 < 4 < 2 0 0 0

Table: Push Up Test norms for WOMEN

Age 17-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-65
Excellent > 35 > 36 > 37 > 31 > 25 > 23
Good 27-35 30-36 30-37 25-31 21-25 19-23
Above Average 21-27 23-29 22-30 18-24 15-20 13-18
Average 11-20 12-22 10-21 8-17 7-14 5-12
Below average 6-10 7-11 5-9 4-7 3-6 2-4
Poor 2-5 2-6 1-4 1-3 1-2 1
Very Poor 0-1 0-1 0 0 0 0


Stella Success Story – Taylor

This is Wade. And this is how a couple of old farts take a selfie.

This dude Wade, aka Taylor Lautner. One of my first clients at Stella Fitness. Just completed his first 12 week program…and I’ve gotta say, it’s been a wild ride. In week two he crashed a motorcycle and could barely move his arm above his head…he had late nights at work on the weekend that you could tell were crushing his soul…he had everrrryyyyyy excuse in the book…that said, here is what he accomplished.

  • Waist to hip ratio went from 33.5 / 38.5 to 32 / 38.5
  • Weight went up from 150 to 155
  • FMS score improvement to 16 (from 14)
  • From 21% bodyfat down to 13.8%
  • Back squat increase by 40 pounds (max squat of 193 at a weight of 155) even with a primary focus on kettlebell movements
  • Went from 0 pullups to 4
  • Increased his broad jump by 4″
  • Cadence pushup went form 8 to 20
  • 1/4 mile time went from 1:32 to 1:26

Most of all, he made a promise to himself that for 12 weeks he would do what he had to do to create healthy habits – and he did just that. So to you, Wade, congratulations and thank you for putting in the work. I learned a crap ton from you, not just about health, fitness and how to be a better teacher but a ton about business, leadership and overcoming all the crap in life. Thanks bruddah.

Strength Principles: Movement Order of Operations


Here’s where I talk about the intricacies of building an exercise session. Let’s assume you are building your workouts for today. For strength.

Rules of the routine:

  1. Dynamic warmup- depending on the day, you want to make sure that you mobilize and prepare your body for the activities you are going to go through. For 90% of the folks I see, we hit a few basic exercises that promote stability through movement as well as a controlled, full range of motion and increasing muscular temperature. Mind you, when you are warming up, static stretching (holding a stretch for 30 seconds) is a no-go prior to exercise due to the acute effects of weakness during the strength workout.
    1. Example exercises: inch worm with lateral rotation, Hip bridges, Spiderman crawls, jumping rope, Burpees, PVC pass throughs.
  2. Biggest, most involved movements for strength. You want to start your strength session off with the biggest muscle groups first. A back squat is far more involved than a knee extension, so you’ll want to prioritize that movement (there are instances where it can be best to start with isolated movements, especially in individuals recovering from injury to facilitate a neuromuscular connection – fancy way of saying that these folks should be turning on the muscles that we’re supposed to be working. Injury and poor patterning will force a certain muscles to not take the force it normally should take – as your body is amazing and forcing other muscles to compensate when there is an injury or poor pattern mechanics). Big  movements include Deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, pullups and other movements that are explosive and take a crap ton of full body effort.
  3. Narrow down your focus after the big muscle groups. Move to exercises that supplement the ‘big movements’. For a squat day, a rear foot elevated squat works wonders or a single leg deadlift. These movements still see a great amount of muscular activation but don’t put as much demand on your system as the primary strength movements. Movements like stiff legged deadlifts for hamstring and glutes, walking lunges and stepups after the primary movement. Hit 2-3 sets of movements that you know are a weakness.
  4. Isolation – After the narrowed down movements, here is where you get into muscle isolation. Strengthen your weak muscle groups. Target the stuff that has been weak for a while. After a couple ACL tears, my body has learned to really avoid a bunch of knee dominant stuff (as you can see from the size of my booty). In my case, I always make sure to burn the crap out of my quads – they are not the best in isolation and I really have had a hard time with them as the human body is amazing at avoiding pain. Pick two or three muscles and really get those guys going. Let it burn, baby.
  5. Cool down – Ease off it, yo. Take a breather. Static stretch. Hit the foam roller. Do things that you will thank yourself for later. There is nothing like having a cool down session on the foam roller after leg day. Truly the only thing that has ever helped me with that soreness post-workout.

So those are some rules I live by in the Chop shop. In short, warm up, big movements first followed by a more narrowed focus followed by isolation and a cool down.

And remember, strength has never been a weakness.



Strength Principles: 5 Ways to Progress

What’s up Gaggle!?

For a period of about three months before moving out to Utah, I found myself going through the motions.  My lifts were stagnant and my lack of progression was slowly kicking my butt mentally. Days were long and I found myself straying away from my focus-get strong while loving what I do. Through a period of self-reflection I reignited the flame and found myself progressing like never before as I shifted my focus to a re-education to strength.

My principles of strength have grown, matured…and I have a started discovering my own ‘strength values’.

Without further ado,

The top 5 Ways to Progress your Strength:

  1. Increase intensity: When lifting weights, you should not find yourself stuck in a ‘rut’ if you are lifting weights the right way. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, pullups, overhead press…all of those movements we love that involve so much- work your butt off on squeezing out an extra rep or two when your body tells you ‘no’. The intensity of the lift/movement should constantly progress – and when you push past that comfort zone, is when your body is being forced to get stronger. A good friend once told me that his favorite ‘goal’ while weight lifting was to make his last working set this week his first working set in four weeks. Constant intensity progression is the most effective way to get stronger.
  2. Use a high intensity, low rep scheme. If you find yourself hanging out in the 15-20 rep scheme for months at a time and find yourself pumping out the same weight week after week, you are missing out big time. Your body’s energy system for pure strength and power is developed in sets that last less than 20 seconds. It would be good to up the weight and decrease the time under tension in a set to get a true measure of  strength!
  3. Conversely, if you find yourself only working the rep range of 1-5, you are doing yourself a disservice. The higher rep ranges will help your body train a more stable position for a long period of time. Muscular endurance may not have a huge impact on the primary lift if you are a powerlifter…but it will have a huge impact on all the other structure around the tissue. Speed work, endurance work, plyometric movements and greater time under tension will help to solidify bone, tendon, ligament as well as muscular density throughout the lift.
  4. Unilateral movements – When I see folks in the gym stick with the big movements, it makes me happy. But when it comes to defining and fixing movement patterns, there is nothing better than breaking up the training regiment and working one side at a time. The amount of stability, symmetry and coordination single sided movements take will make anyone stronger and more stable. When you build your exercise program, you should always program single sided exercises. Hugely important for keeping that physical structure in check!
  5. Introduce speed and power training to your program. Tempo in training is important. Powerlifting is slow, olympic weightlifting is fast – the best thing about both types of training is that there is a huge degree of carryover. That’s not to say that the best weightlifters will be the best powerlifters or vice versa, but the progression and tempo used in both styles of training will carryover. Introduce powerful movements in your bench press by adding band resistance, introduce strength movements in your weightlifting my hitting some front squats for weight.


Progression is dependent on your body’s ability to adapt to the stress you put on it. If you decide to keep diving into the same workouts with the same intensities, you’ll plateau. You don’t have to do anything crazy – contrary to popular programs that tell you that you always have to vary your movement. Just know what you are training for, develop the best program possible with the most carryover and attack it. There is nothing like breaking through a mental barrier!



Today I dive into the different ways to progress your strength!