Cauliflower is a great low-carb alternative to rice, and when you mix the two together, you get the fullness from the rice and more volume from the additional cauliflower. It is also a great way to make sure you get your daily intake of vegetables.
Simply chop up a head of cauliflower and blend the pieces in a food processor or blender until it becomes a ‘rice’ consistency. Divide the blended cauliflower up into bags, and freeze the portions you don’t use right away. When ready to use, simply fry the cauliflower in a pan on medium heat for 5 minutes or so.
For this rice bowl, fry 3oz of chicken in a light teriyaki sauce and place on a bed of long grain rice and cauliflower mixture. Add 1/4 cup of edemame beans, and an egg fried over-easy. Top with soy sauce and green onion, and enjoy!
The benefits of BCAAs, which stands for branched chain amino acids, are numerous. No matter your goals, BCAAs are a useful tool to include in your nutritional arsenal.
BCAAs offer multiple benefits to all that use them. For those looking to lose weight, sipping BCAAs before and during their training can help protect their muscle from breakdown. When we’re in a calorie deficit, our body will have to source energy from somewhere. During a workout, this can sometimes come from endogenous protein turnover, which means your body breaks down some of its own muscle tissue to create the energy required for exercise. That muscle gets broken down into its constituent parts, which is a series of branched and essential amino acids, which then get shuttled into the blood, before it gets converted into blood sugar for use as energy. This is where one of the most powerful benefits of BCAAs comes into play. Drinking BCAAs before and during exercise can help counter this breakdown of muscle tissue. By doing so, we put amino acids into the blood so that they are already present, which essentially tells the body, “don’t break down your own muscle! Look, there are already amino acids in your blood stream! Use those for energy instead.” The net result is us keeping more of our muscle tissue while we lose weight, which is extremely important to keeping our metabolism strong and healthy.
For those training to build muscle or increase sports performance, BCAAs are equally useful. Research has established that the consumption of BCAAs before and during training can reduce muscular damage. This allows us to train again sooner, and at a higher level of effort. The more recovered we are, the more progress we can make. As well, BCAAs, namely the amino acid leucine, activates some important pathways to protein synthesis, which is the repair and construction of muscle tissue. On a more immediate level, BCAA intake during a workout increases performance by decreasing time to fatigue and boosting overall endurance, allowing you to push hard from start to finish and get the most out of your training efforts.
AminoX is a product I’ve used for years, and have recommended to dozens of clients, with great success. It’s a fantastic product that is very reasonably priced, and is calorie free. Start drinking one scoop at the beginning of your session and experience all of the benefits that BCAAs bring. I suggest buying it from Bodybuilding.com as they have great prices. The watermelon flavour is superb!
Click here to check out AminoX pricing and flavours.
As a special deal for LiftHacks clients, you get extra discounts on Bodybuilding.com products! To get your discount, click on this link and don’t forget to use the following discount codes: www.bodybuilding.com/lifthacksdiscounts
- Get $5 off site wide when you spend $100 or more with code 5OFF100
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*You have to do both parts to get the full discount, so don’t forget to click on the link AND use the discount code at checkout.*
Hey so I’ve never really posted one of these but I really want to thank LiftHacks coaches Justin Reeson and Maggie Morgan for this progress. The left was November 15 2015 and I took the right on January 3 2016. Transformation credit to LiftHacks. I started out weighing 85 kg and I’m currently 79.7 kg. If I can do this in 8 weeks, I can’t wait to see what’s coming my way this year.
When I first contacted LiftHacks I was very specific about my goals: I wanted to gain more inches on my butt, lose inches off my waist, and not gain any size on my back or shoulders. I was extremely clear that if I saw my lats or traps grow in a way that made me look ‘manly’ then I would quit my program that same day.
Thankfully, that day has never come.
I have been training with LiftHacks for several months now. I am really happy with the balance that their programs provide (they makes working out a part of your life, rather than expecting your life to fit around your workout program). The nutrition program also never leaves me feeling like I am ‘on a diet’. I am actually eating more than I ever have.
If you’re looking to get started at the gym I cannot recommend LiftHacks enough!
I cannot wait to see what results the next few months of training and nutrition bring me!
These photos were taken only two months apart!
Too often, losing weight is the only way we assess our progress. This is what it looks like when you work hard for two months, and lose no weight. Wait, what?! Yes, for the last two months, Michelle has been eating more than she ever has before, while focussing on lifting heavy weights and improving her strength. Michelle lifts weights three times a week and does cardio twice, whereas before starting with LiftHacks, she was working out as many times as 10x a week. We think her progress speaks for itself. Keep up the hard work, Michelle 💪
It’s 2016! But you already knew that. You may have missed the mark in 2015 for achieving all of your fitness goals. Fret not. A new year is upon us, and all of the unbridled opportunity and enthusiasm that comes with it.
There are probably a myriad of reasons that you fell short of sticking to your fitness goals from last year, but the massive time requirement of your job or career is likely the biggest of them all. It’s ok and it makes sense, life gets hectic. Ultimately, personal fitness is but one piece of your larger life pie.
That being said, there are numerous ways in which committing to your personal fitness can benefit your mental health, and your cognitive performance!
Stimulate the body, stimulate the mind
“There’s a lot of research into how cardiovascular exercise helps people with depression and seasonal affective disorder by stimulating certain chemicals and hormones in the brain, and just generally helps them feel happier,” says Marta Wein, the manager of the Carleton Fitness Centre, and Carleton’s fitness and recreation programs administrator.
“I’ve also encountered a lot of anecdotal evidence of people saying that exercise makes them feel better, more confident, and better about themselves in general,” says Wein.
It makes sense that feeling more confident about yourself and the things that your body can do, as well as enjoying an increase in general feelings of well being, will have a positive carryover into your work, as well as all areas of your life.
However, exercise also has a direct impact on focus and work related performance, says Nick Westcott, the manager of Carleton’s High Performance Centre. Westcott has a degree in exercise science minors in biology and coaching, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is also Carleton University’s head strength and conditioning coach.
He says that there are various ways that exercise can improve mental health and mental performance. Aside from benefits like stress reduction and an increase in endorphins, “exercise has been proven to increase the number of nerve cells, and interconnections between nerve cells in your brain, basically allowing you to create new neural connections. And that isn’t applicable just to the central nervous system and athletics, that applies to overall neurological function.”
Westcott says that he’s encountered research supporting the fact that aerobic exercise (cardio) decreases restlessness and increases general focus. As well, research also states that resistance training (lifting weights) increases mental acuity and momentary focus, which is the ability to, “focus on one thing at a given point in time, like a presentation, for example.”
Westcott says that he believes resistance exercise has a definite, albeit indirect, impact on cognitive performance. “Resistance exercise has a positive effect on sleep quality. It also improves energy levels, which in turn will improve mood. You get the benefit of new neural pathways, and that provides you with more tools to focus, to be more alert at work, and to be more receptive to learning new skills.”
Therefore, while all forms of exercise stimulate an increase in focus and cognitive performance, strength training seems to have the most profound direct and indirect impact. That being said, both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training are important, especially if you’re looking to change your body while experiencing the positive mental benefits of exercise. And chances are, changing your body is what is motivating you to get to the gym in the first place.
Hopefully all of this is some food for thought the next time you consider skipping out on the gym when work gets stressful.
Give 80 per cent, 100 per cent of the time
Both Westcott and Wein agree that above all else, consistency is the key to success. A big part of being consistent is setting realistic goals. If you haven’t exercised in a few months, expecting to go everyday is both unrealistic and a recipe for disaster.
If getting into fitness is your New Years Resolution, realistically, fitness is not the top priority in your life. To decide to go five times or more in a week and aim for perfect attendance from the get go is both unsustainable and unrealistic.
“I would have a beginner exercise no more than three times a week. And that being said, aim for three, but if you get two, that’s also great,” says Wein.
Wein says that the most common mistake she sees this time of year is people doing too much, too soon.
Westcott echoes that sentiment, stating that starting small is important. He says everyone should start with something realistic that suits their schedule and the amount of time they can actually dedicate to their fitness.
“A lot of people will come out of the holiday season after eating a lot and not really being active and decide they’re going to go five or seven days a week, and that will last seven days. They’re already done. They’re too sore and beaten down. It doesn’t fit their schedule and they call it quits. Going two or three times a week for three months is going to accomplish way more than going hard for two weeks and taking three months off,” says Westcott.
According to both experts, a three-day a week program that blends both strength training and cardiovascular exercise is an ideal approach to starting your fitness journey in 2016.
Westcott says that in regards to long term, sustainable fat loss, there are a number of factors that influence what kind of exercise is ideal. Things such as training experience, injury history, individual goals, and the amount of time available to train have a big effect on how the individual would exercise. “For the general population, you know, someone who only has time for three 45 minute sessions a week, they’re definitely going to want to make resistance training part of their training.”
He says that lifting weights, regardless of gender, will have a far greater impact on fat loss than three equal duration cardio only bouts of exercise. “That’s not to say that aerobic exercise isn’t important. It does have a positive impact on overall health, as well as some fat loss benefits, but weight training is going to facilitate fat loss and have a bigger impact on body composition.”
The reason that weight training has a more significant effect on fat loss is because of the way in which it stimulates the metabolism. Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in the human body, meaning that the majority of calories burned at rest come as a result of muscle tissue’s high energy demands. By stimulating you muscles with weights, you’re stimulating your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day. The net result is more fat burned over the long term. As well, as you slowly become stronger, you also slowly build more muscle, which increases your body’s basal metabolic rate over the long term. Generally speaking, the more muscle tissue you have, the stronger (faster) your metabolism will be.
Westcott and Wein both say that focusing on basic movement patterns – hinges, squats, pulls, and pushes – are the most effective way to stimulate the body. The more muscles involved in a movement, the greater the associated metabolic impact.
As well, as a beginner, cardiovascular exercise should absolutely be part of your program; following weight training. You want your body to be fresh and devoid of fatigue for your weight session so that you can execute the movements safely and effectively. The most important aspect of this program is establishing a foundation of quality movement.
Westcott says that in his experience the things that most often keep non-competitive athlete trainees coming back is measurable success. Adding weight to exercises, change in the shape of a muscle, or small and progressive losses in body fat are significant motivating factors. “I also see a lot of general population clients take pride in, and get excited about getting better at performing the movements.” An example is someone going from not being able to do one proper pushup, and then three weeks later they’re able to execute ten reps with great form. “When this kind of thing happens, a light goes off in their head, they’re so happy, and they know that they’re achieving something.”
“The body composition changes happen fairly slowly, but when they’re starting out people can get better everyday, and they should take pride in that. If they stick to it and let that kind of thing motivate them they’re going to look how they want to look.”
Based on the recommendations of Westcott and Wein, as well as my own experience, I’ve constructed a one-month beginner program that should build a foundation of quality movement, stimulate fat loss, and offer all of the mental health and academic benefits addressed above. Work hard, and enjoy!
A special note for Women
From our talk, and from my own research and personal experience, I already knew what the answer to my next question was going to be, but I had to ask it anyways. I looked at Mr. Westcott with a blank face and asked, “but won’t lifting weights make women big and bulky?” He smiled and laughed before answering, “No, no it won’t.”
“I’ve been doing this for a while,” he said, “and it’s a lot harder than people think to do that, even for men.” He laughed a little while longer before giving a more detailed answer: “lifting weights will make women stronger, and they may get a little more toned, as they like to say. They may add some muscle mass, and they’ll decrease fat mass. Women don’t have the hormones to grow muscle like men do.”
Wein, who does personal training, says, “It’s very important that girls lift weights when they’re trying to change how they look. It starts very young, but no matter how many times you explain to someone – to women in particular – that lifting heavy weights will not make them look like a man, it just doesn’t seem to compute.
They kind of believe you, but at the same time they don’t, and they’re still kind of scared of the whole idea.”
“Women come in and they want that tight, toned body they see on websites and social media, and I explain that in order to look that way they’re going to have to work hard, and they’re going to have to lift heavy things, and still they shy away from the idea. An hour on the elliptical won’t create a body like that, but lifting weights can,” says Wein.
Don’t forget to join The LiftHacks’ Facebook group for women who are interested in lifting and nutrition, so you can connect with other people who are doing the 30 day challenge, ask questions, and get even more free help from the LiftHacks crew! Click here to join!
About The Author: Justin Reeson
TRX Row start position
TRX Row finishing position
If you do not have access to a TRX, perform the exercise by setting a bar in a squat rack.
Perform the exercise by using the bar of a Smith Machine and rowing off of that.
If you have any questions about the movement after reading those descriptions please post your question in our Facebook group.
plankgood – hands forward, make your body form a straight line, tense core aggressively and hold, focus on breathing into your belly while keeping your abdominals tight
plankbad – hips too high, rounding of the back, another common mistake is to allow the hips to sag too low
If you have any questions about the movement after reading those descriptions please post your question in our Facebook group.
If you have any questions about the movement after reading those descriptions please post your question in our Facebook group.
Back Extension starting position
Back Extension finishing position:
extend your hips using your glutes and hamstrings to raise your body to parallel, hold briefly before returning to start
Incorrect Form For Back Extensions: Do NOT hyperextend lower back, your body should appear parallel to the floor at the top position
dumbbellrdlstart – stand with feet slightly inside of shoulder width, hold the top of a dumbbell between your legs, set a slight arch in your lower back
dumbbellrdlbottom – keep heels firmly on the ground, push your hips back and lower the dumbbell, keeping it inside of your center of mass, lower until your hands are at around knee level, return to top. Safely teaches the hinge pattern and builds glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
Key Points: You should feel a big stretch in the back of your legs. Do not allow rounding of the lower back
dumbbellrdlbad – do not allow the weight to drift away from your centre of mass
If you have any questions about the movement after reading those descriptions please post your question in our Facebook group.
Goblet Squat Starting Position: hold the top of a dumbbell against your chest, stand with feet a bit wider than hip width apart
Goblet Squat Bottom Position: keep your core tight and push your knees out slightly, allow your hips to descend until your thighs approach parallel. A highly effective way to safely teach your body the squat motor pattern.
Key Points: Heels must stay in contact with the ground, keep torso fairly upright, don’t allow knees to drift in towards the midline of your body
If you have any questions about the movement after reading those descriptions please post your question in our Facebook group.
In February of 2015, I competed in my first powerlifting competition and placed first, holding the collegiate total record for the 72kg weight class. I hit a 231lbs squat, 138lbs bench press and 297lbs deadlift. It was after this meet that I begun my prep to the stage in July of 2015. I ended up losing ~25lbs bodyweight and continued to hit PRs in the gym right up until I stepped on stage. I placed first in my class at the Ottawa Natural Classic, qualifying me for provincials in August 2016.
My coach knew what my goals were, and we shared the aspiration of having me compete at the Ontario Provincial Championships for powerlifting in October 2015. Together, we reached that goal and I ended up hitting a 248lbs squat, 145lbs bench press and 314lbs deadlift in the 63kg weight class, placing second in Ontario. Not only can you maintain strength while cutting, but also evidently you can increase strength. Its not easy, but it definitely is possible. Here are 5 important points to keep in mind about maintaining strength while cutting, whether it be for a bodybuilding show or not.
- Accept the bad days
During a cut, your body will respond differently on different days due to an array of factors. If you’re having a bad day at the gym, it is important to remember what you are putting your body through and accept that you are going to feel weaker some days. Listen to your body and don’t push it on days it doesn’t want to be pushed. This is important for avoiding injury and allowing your body to recover as it needs.
- …and Praise the good days
That being said, you will also have days where you surprise yourself with your performance and strength. Engrave this feeling and those days into your mind. Hold on to them during your weaker days so you don’t get discouraged.
- Rep PRs instead of 1RMs
Going from powerlifting to bodybuilding was a drastic change, and even though I continued to incorporate powerlifting into my workouts, the intensity was significantly decreased. I was still hitting PRs though, and something my coach did amazingly well was make sure I knew when I had hit a PR, even if it was a new 8 rep max. It is important to keep track of your progress, every form it may take. I couldn’t expect to go into the gym during the last few months of prep and hit a new 1RM, but I was able to see strength gains in other ways. This kept me motivated, which in turn kept me strong.
- Eating strategically
When the amount of carbs you are allocated begins to decrease and decrease, it is important that you plan to consume the majority of those carbs around your workout. Post workout especially, but also pre workout and even intra workout if you can afford it.
Feeling full became very mental for me during prep. I put so much effort into planning my meals so that they were exciting, and lasted as long as possible on my plate. The fuller I felt, the better I would perform in the gym because I would feel stronger.
- The value of sleep
There is a limited amount of factors you have control over during prep that can positively influence your strength, and the main one that gets overlooked is sleep. It is so important to prioritize sleep no matter how hectic your schedule becomes. Not only will you feel more energized throughout the day, you will perform much better in the gym.
I wish you the best of luck with your journey towards a stronger, healthier and happier you.
Ah, the holidays: full of cookies and puddings and fruit cake and chocolates. How can you say no to the tins of homemade delights, or the second scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy?
You think it’ll be different this year. This year, you’ll stay in control: have one cookie, or one slice of pie, or only miss one workout. But by the time Boxing Day rolls around, that plan has gone completely out the window. And now you’re left to deal with the consequences.
For me, that’s the part I struggle with. After I overindulge, I tend to panic. I start to think “how can I make up for this?” I make mental plans to only eat salad the next day, or to go for an extra run. I stand in front of the mirror and grab my belly and shake it, and say “this is what you’ve done to yourself”, like shame will somehow motivate me not to overindulge next time.
This holiday season, after indulging in an entire tin of homemade oatmeal shortbread cookies with my mother, I felt the panic rising. As soon as I swallowed the last bite, the regret washed over me. I failed. Again.
But you know what? That attitude is not productive. Obviously, avoiding the binging in the first place is the best solution. But sometimes we give in. Hey, we’re human! And when we do, we have to learn to forgive ourselves.
Forgive: “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”. That’s right, STOP feeling those thing. That doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize that we made a mistake. It means that we make a conscious effort to stop feeling angry, or resentful. And yes, it will take effort. You have to STOP your train of thought when it veers towards those emotions. Do not get sucked into the vortex of negativity.
All we can do is keep moving forward. And not in a drastic, punitive way. As soon as possible, get back to your normal plan. Punishing yourself by limiting food or over-exercising is just going to wreak havoc with your body. Look at yourself in the mirror and say:
“I messed up. But that’s ok, because that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve worked hard, and will continue to work hard.”
Then do that: every single day is a new opportunity to better yourself.
My journey with LiftHacks began in my second year of university, about two and a half years ago. Ever since then, Justin has been filling my brain with knowledge and empowering my self with confidence I never imagined I was capable of. I used to be overwhelmed by how out-of-control I felt when it came to my body – what I put in it, what it did – and that led to minor body image struggles. This is a feeling I can almost no longer remember. Justin introduced me to the sport of powerlifting, and taught me how to regain control through lifting weights and eating accordingly. Ever since, Justin has always ensured that our goals align, and his goal has always been to make me feel good about myself. In the winter of 2015, I competed in my first powerlifting competition. My positive, healthy relationship with food was so clearly established during the preparation for this meet. Justin made sure I became the strongest version of myself – both mentally and physically – for that competition. It was then that we decided to play with the idea of prepping for a show. It was Justin’s first time writing meal plans in such detail, and tailoring both the meal plans and the workout plans to someone’s prep towards the stage. Every program he has written for me been done with significant thought towards what my specific goals are, and he has always made sure I understand how they are going to be achieved. By feeling so in touch with the process, it has also become a passion of mine. When I hit the stage in July 2015, I was full of energy, not deprived in any way, and most importantly to me my strength in the gym didn’t suffer at all. Throughout prep, I was hitting PRs all the way up until peak week. Not only were they lifetime PRs but there were bodyweight PRs as well, being ~25lbs lighter.
Post show is usually something you hear girls talk about being a struggle, mentally and physically, where they go way off track and in a sense ruin all their hard work. Almost 4 months post show, the number on the scale has gone up about a pound, I still feel like I could get on stage at any given time, and I’m hitting all kinds of crazy PRs in the gym in preparation for powerlifting provincials in a month. My relationship with food has been so well supported by Justin, and remains strong and healthier than ever. I am eating almost as much as I was before beginning prep, where I was technically in a dirty bulking phase, but I feel 100% in control because of Justin’s support.
Every program he has written for me (nutrition and training) has been done with significant thought towards what my specific goals are, and that goal for him has always been about making me feel the best about myself as possible. Safe to say, together we have met many of our goals, but I know it doesn’t stop there for him.
July 2015 – one day out of bikini show
September 2015 – 2 months post show, no rebound and hitting PRs in the gym daily – prepping for powerlifting provincials
“Coach Justin Reeson has made me the powerlifter I am today, and I would never look back. His program personalization gives you the confidence to dominate your training day after day and his constant support makes sticking to your nutritional program a breeze. I still can’t believe how Justin has made me lean out while hitting PRs and gaining incredible strength overall.”
Before/after weight: 168lbs to 157lbs
Before/after lifting stats:
BEFORE: 275 / 135 / 275
AFTER: 297 / 155 / 330
Competition awards: 2015 junior 72kg provincial champion
I began my training with LiftHacks in July after my second Bikini competition. I was at the end of a less than satisfactory prep and desperate to find help and a coach who really cares about their clients. I am happy to say that I was immediately thrilled with Justin’s coaching style and my new program from the very first day. Everything was tailored to my goals, all my questions were answered in detail and I no longer felt like a back burner client. In the past 5 months of training with LiftHacks Justin has been guiding me through a reverse diet that enables me to build muscle and strength without much excess fat. I am lifting more weight than I ever thought I could and my confidence in the gym has soared. Justin is easy to talk to and always sends my weekly program on time on top of being a supportive and understanding coach. I am very happy that I found LiftHacks and I trust Justin completely to help me achieve my goals.
Prior to contacting LiftHacks, I had spoken to a couple of Justin Reeson’s athletes and colleagues about his coaching methodologies, and the consensus was that he walked on water. I was equal parts impressed and skeptical at how his coaching provoked so much admiration and loyalty; I figured this was the kind of coach I wanted to work with. When I contacted Justin, I gave him what I believed was almost an impossible task. I wanted him to peak my performance for a powerlifting meet that was only a month away with the added issue that I had neglected those very lifts for the past four months. Although he was in the middle of finishing his final papers for his undergrad, he spent over an hour messaging with me and sent me a very thorough program a couple of days later.
Throughout our coaching-client relationship, Justin was adamant about having videos sent to him of my lifts, which he analyzed and provided a comprehensive breakdown of the technique, or lack there of, then went on to provide very clear cues and strategies to improve the problems. The programming itself is detailed, systematic and quite elegant.
Justin is a wealth of information; he’s insatiably curious about anything that involves the facets of human performance, both at a molecular level and at the performance stage, making him a remarkable asset to anyone who is interested in moving through life more effectively. He’s knowledgeable, professional, patient and has an off the kilter sense of humour. His passion for his work and achieving his client’s goals stems from a very personal space, therefore, you can’t help but feel like family when you work with him.
Photo: Lifting 135kg / 297lbs
I started powerlifting in June 2014. My best lifts were 440 squat, 275 bench press and 465 deadlift at 205lbs bodyweight. Since then I’ve added nearly 200lbs to my squat, 100lbs to my bench and just over 150lbs to my deadlift. I can say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of Justin Reeson. He took over my programing in July 2014, and just finished my prep for my second provincial championships. Justin has helped prep me for 4 powerlifting meets and each one I’ve gotten progressively stronger. He helped me grow from the immature, shaky lifter I was a year ago into the calm, cool and collected national champion I am today. He answered every question I had, and more, and has taught me a lot about lifting. Powerlifting coaching is as much about the numbers on the page as it is the mind behind them. Justin has a keen eye for technique and injury prevention, and because of that I have great form and have stayed injury free. I would recommend Justin’s programming to anyone who is looking to get stronger, lose weight or just become an all around better athlete.
Squat – 440lbs to 623lbs
Bench Press – 285lbs to 365lbs
Deadlift – 485lbs – 640lbs
2014/2015 105kg JR Ontario Provincial Champion (OPA/IPF)
2015 105kg JR Canadian National Champion (CPU/IPF)
CPU National Record Squat 105kg JR
CPU National Record Total (737.5kg/1625lbs), 105kg JR
I began my prep for a bikini competition after my first powerlifting meet in February of 2015, and I was losing weight and seeing physical changes in my body every week in ways that I loved. Cardio never exceeded 3x per week, and I was eating amounts that never left me hungry and allowed me to have fun with various foods and recipes. The way Justin tailored my program showed me that attaining, and more importantly maintaining, my dream body did not require any extreme measures to be taken. I was living my life normally; always full of energy and always getting stronger. This aspect of his programming was especially evident during my post show time period, where my calories gradually increased and there was no sudden weight gain. I never had the desire to binge or stray from the plan post show because I never felt deprived or hungry during the entire prep. Today I am almost 5 months post show and only up 4lbs of pure strength gains.
Justin began handling my programming in September 2014. At the time I was still rebuilding from a minor MCL tear suffered in mid May and had spent the entire summer working hard labour which lead to a significant strength decrease. In a very short amount of time, Justin helped me rebuild my strength and mass that I had lost from recovering from the injury and summer of hard labour. He accomplished all of this in less than 3 months all the while preparing me for an amateur MMA title fight November 28th 2014, which I won by submission in round 2. This win put me in the top 3 amateur MMA middleweight rankings in Canada, and #1 in Ontario.
From there, Justin continued to build my strength and speed while preparing me for a title defense March 27th. Unfortunately, I suffered a serious MCL tear in the second round of the bout, and narrowly lost a judge’s decision 3 rounds to 2. Justin continued to work with me and helped me put on some serious mass on lagging muscle groups. More importantly, he once again built back up my lower body and I was once again hitting old PR’s and new PR’s on compound lifts. A PR of note would be a 25lb Deadlift PR (550lbs) which felt very strong and stable, and came no more than 4 months after the injury. Justin programmed 6 weeks of single leg and balance training after the second injury, and I was squatting just as much weight as I was prior to the injury about 3 months post injury without any pain.
Added strength and size is nice and all but where Justin helped me progress the most was in the mobility and movement quality aspects of strength and conditioning. I was rather stiff due to years of neglecting mobility work along with years of grappling and MMA training. Justin not only helped improve my movement quality but put me in contact with other professionals and taught me a lot along the way, which to me is infinitely more important than the result.
The knowledge I have acquired not only about proper mobility but strength and conditioning in general by having Justin as a trainer and friend is something that I am forever grateful for.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW IS A KILLER:
Micayla Ahearn sat quietly on the bed in McMaster Hospital’s emergency room. Thin white curtains shielded her view from most of the other patients.
A new patient arrived and was put in the bed beside her. Ahearn – a medical student at the University of Ottawa and a five-year research assistant at McMaster University’s Pediatric Eating Disorders clinic – could immediately tell that this woman was in crisis. It was obvious that she was dealing with an eating disorder, says Ahearn.
What happens next would appall Ahearn. When the ER physician finally spoke to the emaciated woman, who had come to the ER because of uncomfortable heart palpitations, he was blunt. “I remember the first thing he said to her – and everybody in the ER could hear it – was ‘you have a problem, how are you restricting your calories.’”
“The woman shut down and began to deny that she had an eating disorder. The physician kept pressing. He kept repeating that the woman had a problem, that she was destroying her body and that she needed to eat more. He was humiliating her for everyone to hear,” Ahearn recalls.
After arguing with the woman about whether or not she had a problem, the physician finally resorted to bringing out a scale and weighing the woman. “The worst part is, he read her weight out loud, so everyone could hear it, and he repeated, ‘see, you have a problem.’”
“To weigh an eating disorder patient is a huge thing for them. Sometimes patients are weighed backwards on the scale so they don’t see what the number is. That number can be so devastating for someone with such a severe mental illness,” says Jenny O’Gorman, the vice-president of the Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada.
“The physician had no idea how to deal with an issue this sensitive, and he so clearly lacked empathy for the woman,” said Ahearn. “He was uneducated about eating disorders, and because of this, all he did was judge her. He accused her of choosing to do this to herself. Publicly scorning someone is no way to coerce them into treatment. She likely felt so humiliated and misunderstood that she probably never sought help again,” Ahearn concludes.
One in four people with eating disorders that don’t receive treatment will die from the disorder, says O’Gorman.
This lack of education on eating disorders is not an isolated circumstance. The prevailing perception of eating disorders is that they are a lifestyle choice. In reality, eating disorders are a wildly prevalent and deadly mental health issue. Between anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, an estimated five per cent of the Canadian population lives with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are hereditary, they are dangerous, and they are largely misunderstood.
“Telling somebody to eat more is not an advisable course of action,” said Karen Donaghue, the programs co-coordinator at the Hopewell eating disorders resource centre in Ottawa. “The most important thing for the public to understand is that eating disorders are a serious mental health problem, they are deadly, and they are not a choice,” Donaghue concludes.
“There was a study done in Ontario recently that found that by 18 years of age, 80% of girls of normal height and weight reported that they wanted to weigh less. That’s significant because these are people who are healthy and their own body image is not reflective of that. The fact that 80% of healthy girls under the age of 18 want to be underweight is quite scary,” said Donaghue.
Another study published in 2001 by the Canadian Medical Association reveals that 27 per cent of girls aged 12-18 show significant symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, or both.
According to a ten-year study conducted in Phoenix, AZ in 1999, the death rate associated with eating disorders is 18 per cent.
As well, genetics play a very large role in determining whether or not someone will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Ahearn notes that influences on the prevalence of eating disorders are 50 per cent genetic, and 50 per cent environmental. For the right person with the right set of genetic precursors, all it can take is one comment or trigger to send them down the potentially fatal path of a full-blown eating disorder.
“With eating disorders there are a lot of social taboos. People see it as a selfish disease.
They call it the white girl disease, the media influenced diseased. In reality there is a lot of research that looks at the genetic predispositions to eating disorders. We now know that eating disorders are as strongly genetically predicted as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disease that we have always viewed as being largely biologically determined,” said Ahearn. “People would never accuse a schizophrenic of choosing to be schizophrenic. In light of the research, why do people, and even some doctors, still treat anorexia like it’s a decision?”
It is essential that Ontario’s medical doctors – who are the passageway to specialized care – help people with eating disorders effectively seek treatment, said Ahearn.
However, “A lot of family doctors don’t have a great deal of knowledge about [eating disorders],” said Emily Pam, a programs assistant at the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). “It’s frustrating. We’ll have people call us and tell us that their doctor doesn’t think they have a problem, they just get told to eat more and they’ll be fine. This kind of thing is so demoralizing for them, and it can deter them from seeking help again,” she said.
But how can this be? How can health care professionals still be perpetuating the stigma of eating disorders as a lifestyle choice?
It all comes from a lack of exposure and education, says Diana Norton, a counselor who runs her own mental health counseling practice in Ottawa.
Eating disorders are culturally relevant enough now that most people, and health care professionals can recognize them. However, “Unless they specialize, medical doctors receive on average one hour of curriculum that deals with eating disorders,” said Norton.
Where this starts to have an impact is the steps that a physician takes when a patient comes to them with an eating disorder.
Many doctors rely on medical markers such as a person’s body mass index and healthy ranges of weight to determine if they should refer a patient for assessment at an eating disorders unit. The problem with this is that a person can look relatively healthy on paper, get told to eat more, and the mental health issues will go unaddressed, says Norton.
A general practitioner that is experienced in dealing with eating disorders will be able to intervene in a far more effective way. “They will recommend therapy or counseling, and as a whole they will address the eating disorder properly, as a mental health problem,” said Norton.
It is common that there is the presence of more than one mental disorder in persons with an eating disorder. These can range from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bi-polar disorder, said Ahearn. “There is a lot that is involved in treating these patients,” she said.
There is literature available on eating disorders for both the public and for health care professionals to consume. As well, there are some professional development seminars and conferences on eating disorders that doctors can choose to attend. The problem is, “unless someone comes across an eating disorder in their own practice and they recognize that they don’t know how to deal with the patient, they likely won’t pursue training sessions on eating disorders,” Norton said.
Norton affirms that there are many fantastic doctors in Ontario. She runs eating disorder seminars for professional counselors, social workers, and other caregivers. Lauri Barrette, a schoolteacher in Hamilton, was the benefactor of a well-educated general practitioner. Barrette’s seventeen-year-old daughter was exhibiting symptoms of bulimia. In 2010, when Barrette brought her daughter to see their doctor, the doctor knew exactly how to deal with the situation.
“She talked to my daughter about the dangers of bulimia. She talked about the mental health issues involved and let her know that it was not her fault. The most encouraging thing is that the doctor actually took the time to talk to my daughter.”
Barrette’s daughter stopped purging. However, in the subsequent months, she began to restrict her food intake and became severely anorexic. “Eating disorders don’t just go away overnight,” O’Gorman stresses.
By January 2011, Barrette’s daughter had been admitted to McMaster’s pediatric eating disorders clinic for stabilization. She had reached crisis. In February Barrette’s daughter was sent to Philadelphia for 90 consecutive days of intensive, multidisciplinary treatment.
Barrette states that all the health care professionals she dealt with in Ontario and the U.S. were fantastically knowledgeable.
The education barrier she encountered was with the public. “We had some very close family friends make comments about how our daughter was being selfish, vain, and self-obsessed. [My Daughter’s] friends didn’t understand either. They thought she was choosing to be anorexic. This left her feeling isolated. Nobody understood that she was dealing with a dangerous mental illness,” said Barrette.
There are initiatives for community education, many of which are carried out by NEDIC. Emily Pam says that NEDIC is currently working on upgrading their resources to better educate the public. As well as a bolstering of their print material, NEDIC is working towards the creation of posters that will be placed in health care offices and around the city of Toronto. “We’re doing this so we can try and effectively get across the point that eating disorders are serious mental health issues,” said Pam.
But still there is the void – a diametric gap between those who know a lot and those who know very little. Experts say that education is imperative to filling the void and removing the stigma of having an eating disorder. Why? Jenny O’Gorman says it best: “We’ve got to get more people talking about eating disorders. We’ve got to get rid of the stigma and say, ‘it’s not your fault you have a mental health issue; let’s get you help instead of judging you.’ We need people saying, ‘it’s okay, we can talk about it, we can support you, and you can get better.’ These patients need to be given the same kind of sympathy that cancer patients receive because just like cancer patients, they didn’t choose this. People with eating disorders are dying and they will continue to die. We shouldn’t have to wait for somebody high up to have somebody close to them die and realize that there wasn’t anybody there to help them before people start talking. People need to get talking now.”
The sky is thick and dark blue. It’s four thirty in the morning. He wakes up and drinks a protein shake. He feels ready for the day.
After his half hour walk to school, the 150 calories from his protein shake have been entirely used up. It’s time for swim practice.
After two hours of hard swimming with no caloric energy, the seven-hour school day begins. No lunch. No snacks. He won’t eat again until dinner, which will be his only meal of the day.
Scott Ershmire (not his real name) lived this routine for nearly three years. “It seemed normal,” he said.
Ershmire. 21, was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario. He is now a linguistics student at Carleton University. For nearly his entire high school career Ershmire lived with anorexia nervosa.
Experts say that due in large part to media influence many view eating disorders as a feminine issue. But men also suffer from eating disorders. However, these psychiatric illnesses tend to manifest themselves very differently in men.
Diana Norton runs a mental health counseling practice in Ottawa. She says that men have a much more realistic perception of their bodies than women. Because of this, “most men with eating disorders start out as overweight, whereas women with eating disorders start out as being of average or healthy weight.”
Norton says that because of this difference, identifying an eating disordered man is much more difficult. They can appear as a person of completely normal weight. What goes largely unnoticed is the fact that through restriction of food, over exercise, or purging, some of these men have lost drastic amounts of weight in a very short period of time.
The statistics in regards to men and eating disorders are nearly all estimates. There are a number of reasons for this. Because men often develop the disorder while they are overweight, the symptoms can go unnoticed.
As well, Jackie Grandy, the director of community education at the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC) says that men are usually unwilling to speak publicly about eating disorders. “If you look at the culture of manliness versus the culture of womanliness, reaching out for help and speaking about struggle isn’t viewed as a manly quality,” she said.
Lastly, women and men seek different body ideals. Karen Donaghue, the programs director at the Hopewell eating disorders resource centre notes that while women seek thinness, most men seek a muscular, sculpted aesthetic.
Grandy says this makes it difficult for men to realize that they have an eating disorder.
“When a man is sculpting his body – trying to achieve an ideal – the eating disorder plays an integral role in accomplishing that goal. It can be challenging for a man to see that as a problem.”
Though there are hurdles to gauging how many men deal with eating disorders, there are studies that have established rates of prevalence.
A study conducted in 2007 by the Journal of Psychiatric Biology concluded that 0.3 per cent of the male population will deal with anorexia nervosa, and 0.5 per cent of the population will deal with bulimia nervosa. A University of Ottawa study conducted in 2011 reveals the same percentages. The rates of prevalence in women are more available, and a wide range of studies agree upon the fact that 0.9 per cent of the female population will experience anorexia, and 1.5 per cent will deal with bulimia.
Scott Ershmire notes that his experiences with anorexia were not that of the average male with an eating disorder. Standing five feet eleven inches and naturally wiry, Ershmire weighs 135 pounds. “When it first started, I’d say I was already skinny, about the sameweight as I am now” he says.
Ershmire says he had always dealt with anxiety and depression. Both disorders are very common in persons with eating disorders. Near the midpoint of grade nine, when he was 14, his long routine of a protein shake in the morning and dinner at night changed.
“For four or five months I would only drink a protein shake in the morning. Some days I would even skip that. Less calories in. I looked at food and it was just something I didn’t want anymore,” he said.
At the end of grade nine Ershmire began cutting his wrists. “As calories went down I began hurting myself more often.”
He became obsessed with the numbers on the scale. He began weighing himself at least two times a day, sometimes more. “One hundred was a good number. That’s what I always wanted. I never did get there though. 102 pounds was the lowest I ever got,” he said with noticeable chagrin.
Ershmire says that in his calorie depleted state he was no longer functioning academically. He went from being an A student to getting low C’s. “I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, my social skills dissolved. I had nothing to work with. I shut everything off.”
He says that he lost all of his male friends during his struggle with anorexia. “I didn’t look the same as the rest of the male population. Nobody else looked like me, and people noticed that. Yeah, I felt very isolated.”
In the summer between grades nine and ten, Ershmire says that thoughts of suicide became frequent.
At the beginning of grade ten, when he was 15, he began therapy at the behest of his parents. “The eating disorder really became the secondary issue. I developed severe depression and instances of self-harm were frequent.”
His psychologist was a woman, and his psychiatrist was a man. “I didn’t ever really speak to my psychiatrist about my anorexia. I noticed very early on that he didn’t understand it, so we never talked about it.”
However, his psychologist was very well versed in the matter. “Her helping me deal with the depression and anxiety was what really helped me start eating normally again.”
She taught him about healthy ways of managing stress and he learned about tracking calories, both consumed and expended. He was still swimming two hours daily. With her guidance he began to eat 1200 calories a day. “That was step one to getting healthy again.
But now that I think about it, 1200 calories is absolutely nothing.”
As his weight went up, so too did his calorie intake. After nearly a year, he began to approach 130 pounds again. “It wasn’t until my last year of high-school that I looked at food as if it wasn’t poison,” he says.
Ershmire says that he still tracks his calories. He firmly stated the he eats 1800 calories a day, every day. “I guess I got lucky. I hear horror stories about people who deal with [anorexia] for their whole life. When I came to university I just reinvented myself.”
Still, Ershmire says he wishes that somebody had reached out to him earlier. “As a guy, I felt like I couldn’t say anything to anyone because it wasn’t normal. I felt like I would get teased, chastised even. I wish that I had done something earlier, but it all felt normal. I didn’t even know I had anorexia until I started therapy.”
Karen Donaghue says that these feelings of isolation are common in the few men that come to Hopewell’s peer-support sessions. “I’ve found that these men don’t get very much support from their friends and family and because of that they become almost secretive about the issue. They hide it.”
Jackie Grandy feels that the biggest thing that needs to change is awareness. She says that as long as eating disorders continue to be looked at as a female issue, men dealing with them will stay quiet.
“There is a culture of support for women with eating disorders. There are a lot of role models who have survived eating disorders and are willing to speak about their experiences,” said Grandy. “Men don’t have these role models. Because male survivors aren’t stepping forward and talking publicly men struggling with eating disorders generally aren’t comfortable seeking help.”
25g Canadian Cinnabon Protein
1/4 cup (60g) Pumpkin Puree
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
Chocolate chips (optional)
- Mix the dry ingredients
- Add the pumpkin and egg
- Add chocolate chips
- Microwave for 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave. Keep an eye on it!
- Top with whipped cream, Greek yogurt, or ice cream if it happens to fit your macros
Once you have tried making this recipe we would love to get your feedback!
Did you like this recipe? Do you have any suggestions for improving it?
I’m the typical story of an elite athlete who got soft. I started working with Justin in October and despite my hectic lifestyle he is the eternal optimist and comes up with no excuse ways for me to integrate fitness into my day. The best part of this process hasn’t just been the support, enthusiasm and accountability, but the fact that I am LEARNING how to better myself. It’s not simply being told what to do, but a collaborative approach to reach my goals. And speaking of goals – Justin has helped me redefine them. The initial questionnaire made me take a long hard look at what I want out of life/fitness. Justin then took those goals and broke the process into the small steps I need to create a healthier, stronger and ultimately happier self. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for my body!
I am a 41 year old woman with 2 active kids, a husband and a full-time government job. As you can imagine, finding time for ME has been a struggle over the last 15 years – with that came weight gain. I was looking for a trainer who could guide, motivate and at times kick my butt so that I could unleash the athlete within a 230 pound frame. Justin Reeson was referred to me by a work colleague and after one phone conversation; I knew he was the one. He provides me with weekly nutrition guidelines and weekly workouts that fit MY life. I am on week 6 of this program I have lost 10 pounds but more importantly I am happier, fulfilled and feeling like a million bucks. He is there for me when I crave those chips, he tells me to go into athlete mode when I am being lazy but most of all I truly believe he want this for me just as much as I do. I can’t wait to see how this will end! Thanks Justin
- 1/2 cup (125g) 2% Cottage Cheese
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 1tbsp light mayonnaise
- Green onion
- Chopped cucumber/celery/iceburg lettuce
- 1/2 a pita or 2 slices of bread
- Salt and pepper
Take your egg and put it in a pot of water on the stove, high heat for 15 mins. Let cool.
Mix together the cottage cheese and mayo, then add in your egg, chopped up. Add in any extras, such as green onion, cucumber, celery or lettuce. Add some salt and pepper, then either put the filling in a pita, or on a slice of bread as a sandwich. Enjoy!
The first thing that I believe people tend to miss when beginning their lifestyle change towards a healthier, more balanced one is the need to adjust their protein intake. Especially for athletes, keeping your protein intake high is vital. I started to make this change at the beginning of my fitness journey with a simple protein shake every morning, as soon as I woke up, and immediately after every workout. Ideally this would be a protein shake with little to zero fat and carbs, which was difficult to find. The macro nutrients found in the Canadian Protein 100% Whey Protein Isolate are ideal for this purpose. The product mixes wonderfully with just water, and tastes amazing! It is the only protein isolate I have ever found enjoyable on its own. To name a few, Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cookies n Cream are all amazing with just water.
Curving a sweet tooth craving also became so much easier and made my meal planning so much more enjoyable when I could incorporate protein into treats! With the extensive flavours that Canadian Protein has to offer, the opportunities are endless. This fall I have used a large amount of Cinnabon flavoured Canadian Protein in my recipes that include pumpkin, and the simple Milk Chocolate flavour is perfect for all your favourite chocolate recipes – sweet potato brownies is one of my favourites.
I have also swapped out cream in my morning coffee for a little bit of Canadian Protein, mixed with water, and then stirred into a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee. Mixing it with water first will ensure that it doesn’t curdle when you add it to your coffee, as long as your coffee isn’t too too boiling hot. I highly recommend the Canadian Maple flavour for this purpose. But again, all of the flavours are unreal. For this purpose and baking purposes, the Canadian Protein Whey Protein Concentrate in addition to the Isolate, works wonderfully.
Use this link to get a 5% discount on Canada Protein’s already great prices: http://canadianprotein.refr.cc/HK2CVF8
Oatmeal is the perfect starting point for most meals, ideally pre and post workout meals because it is mostly carbs. Not just any carbs though, its almost 100% starch which is ideal for feeding muscles and keeping you full.
So, you have your oatmeal. Now for the fun part! I’ve always had a major sweet tooth, so I tend to satisfy those cravings with my oatmeal by adding protein (typically chocolate flavoured), berries, greek yogurt, peanut butter, you name it.
One of my favourite combos is oatmeal cooked with cinnamon, a serving of 0% plain greek yogurt (can be sweetened with stevia/artificial sweetener if you like), and a tbsp of natural peanut butter. The warm oatmeal mixed with the cool yogurt and slightly melted peanut butter literally just makes all your troubles go away when it hits your tongue. Not to mention it is also the perfect combination of macro nutrients. You have your starchy carbs from the oatmeal (which also has a decent amount of protein), a few extra carbs from the yogurt, protein from the yogurt, and healthy fats from the peanut butter. How could you ever go wrong.
45g (1/2 cup) Quick Oats
3/4 cup (175g) 0% plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp (15g) all natural peanut butter, or nut butter of choice
Cinnamon, to taste
Sweetener, to taste
Mix the dry oats with a dash of cinnamon, then add about a cup of water to the oatmeal and microwave for a minute and 30 seconds. Let it cool for a few minutes before adding the greek yogurt and peanut butter. Dig in! You can mix it up or keep the ingredients separate.
I cannot imagine where I would be today in powerlifting without Justin. I met him at my first powerlifting meet that I spontaneously signed up for. Fortunately for me Justin was super awesome and handled me even though we’ve never met. Although I personally am quite timid I found him very approachable and undoubtably very knowledgable as well. It was from that day on that I decided I wanted him to be my mentor and coach in this sport.
Every week i’m excited to get my program from Justin. From week 1 he had been working on my form and techniques for all my lifts. With his daily workout analysis and coaching my technique for each lifts have improved immensely. 12 weeks later I competed at nationals and put on 65 lbs from my previous total. Nationals is on the list next and I can’t wait to see how far I can get with Justin coaching me.
First meet (No previous coaching)
Squat : 237
Provincials – 2nd Meet (12 weeks with Justin)
120g (1/2 cup) Pumpkin Puree
30g (1) egg white
8g (1 serving) Sugar Free Jello Pudding Mix
25g Canadian Whey Protein Isolate
1/2 – 1 tbsp (8 – 15g) Chocolate Chips
1/2 tsp baking powder
Water/syrup/milk to reach desired consistency
- Mix all dry ingredients.
- Add the wet ingredients
- Fold the chocolate chips in.
- Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, on parchment paper.
Once you have tried making this recipe we would love to get your feedback!
Did you like this recipe? Do you have any suggestions for improving it?
Ontario Junior Provincials was a great success. Four of the clients I coach and program for lifted their hearts out, and all four came away with medals: two golds, and two silvers in all.
Maggie Morgan (@magssaakje – 63kg class), who I’ve been working with for nearly 3 years, had an absolutely perfect meet. She went 9/9, squatted 112.5kg/248lbs (13lbs PR), benched 65kg/143lbs (3lbs PR), and deadlifted 142.5kg/314lbs on her third attempt to win the silver, and to lock in a 17lbs lifetime PR.
Jackson Spencer (@jackson_spencer – 105kg) had an unbelievable meet in a gold medal, record setting performance. Jackson is the current 105kg junior national champion. He went 8/9, squatting 282.5/622lbs to set a new national record, and a 16lbs competition PR. He also had a massive day on the deadlift, pulling 290kg/639lbs for a 54lbs deadlift PR, which set the new national record total at 737.5kg. He hit a 441 wilks.
Mallory Rowan (@malloryrowan) and Catherine Chu (@cattyceezed) battled until the very end for the gold in the 72kg class, tying in total after all was said and done. Mallory won the gold on bodyweight and had an incredible meet. She squatted 135kg/297lbs (11lbs PR), benched 70kg/153lbs, and deadlifted 145kg/319lbs for a new deadlift PR. I believe she improved on her total from July by 22.5kg, and with that, she is an Ontario Champion.
Catherine racked up PR’s that were so ridiculous I can barely even keep track. She went 9/9 and squatted 137.5kg for her first ever 300lbs squat. She benched 65kg/143lbs for a 13lbs PR, and deadlifted 147.5kg/326lbs for an 11lbs PR. I took over her programming 9 weeks ago, and we’ve made incredible progress since. Two months ago she was considering not even doing provincials, and now she comes away with a silver medal after a perfect meet.
I had an awesome time coaching these amazing, driven lifters, and I’m so proud of them all. They’re all juniors, and all have even bigger numbers coming their way at Canadian Nationals in February.
You might not always be able to have your cake and eat it too unless that is your only simple goal, or you are genetically inclined. Otherwise, if you have other commitments, desires, ambitions, or priorities, you will find your body image goals far out of reach.
If you are anything like me this will eat you inside. You will stand there in your sweatpants feeling like a bloated whale (thank you, “girl problems”). The time of the month won’t matter in your head because you don’t have a portable hormone verifier telling you “it’s ok, you’re just retaining a bit more water now…tough it out and I PROMISE you will feel better in a few days.” Your significant other, friends, and family will make it worse by either getting annoyed with you or by being overly supportive and concerned. You want neither of these. You want someone to tell you want to do. You will do anything. Eat 1000 calories, eat only carbs, eat no carbs, chug weird green concoctions, eat every 3 hours, not eat for 16 hours, drink a few gallons of water per day…You just want to know.
The problem is, you will NEVER know EXACTLY what to do. Every day is different. And wanting to know exactly what to do every single day is, quite frankly, obsessive. See all those posts of people saying things like “it’s so simple” and “just eat clean and be healthy” or “iifym” or “follow these 5 simple rules and you will look like THIS”? Ya. They bug me too. They bug me because everyone is different. They bug me because I can’t follow these people around and see what they are doing with their days. They bug me because I can’t see their complete genetic profile and I end up doubting myself and my knowledge.
So cut it out. Just stop. Stop shamming yourself because you didn’t go to the gym once, or twice. Stop beating yourself down because you didn’t follow The Plan, or worse, because you failed to even decide on a plan.
Do you have passions? Great. Go for them. But know that other things will TEMPORARILY fall to the side as you pursue them. And that is ok. It’s ok to not be the best powerlifter, weightlifter, bodybuilder, every type of designer (literally every type), business woman, friend, girlfriend, daughter, cook, homeowner…Those are just SOME of MY things. And there are more. I obviously want to do everything and go everywhere. I see other people’s accomplishments and as happy as I am for them, truly, I think why can’t I or didn’t I do that?
I could ramble forever but the bottom line is simple, just like those stupid posts say: DO YOU. But “doing you” today won’t necessarily be the same as tomorrow and that’s ok too.
Prioritize. Set goals and timelines. Evaluate but don’t judge. Make a plan but don’t be upset when you don’t execute to perfection because imperfections are where we learn. If you were perfect all the time…well you’d be pretty boring. Don’t let your mind prevent your body from doing wonderful things. Choose to be imperfect. Choose to accept. Choose to love those imperfections.
Now, stop wasting time reading another one of those stupid posts and go out there to Train your mind with Grit, and Live your life with Grace.
A very commonly understood effect of caffeine intake on athletic performance its effect on the athlete’s perceived effort levels. When taken before endurance exercise, caffeine has been shown to decrease the athlete’s rate of perceived exertion. This means that your harder workouts are less mentally taxing, but still have the same physical benefits. As well, the onset of fatigue and feelings of exhaustion are delayed. The result is you being able to go harder, for longer, and getting more out of your workouts.
Feel Less Pain
Much in the same vein, moderate to high doses of caffeine have been proven to increase pain threshold. Whether you’re nearing the end of your run and need to push through some pain to set a personal best time, or you’re climbing hills on your ride and your legs are on fire, caffeine can help you push yourself and will let you stay at the high end of your training capacity when you need to.
Feel More Focused
There is a reason coffee is among the most commonly consumed beverages in our society: it makes you feel good! Caffeine boosts mental alertness and focus. As well, caffeine intake results in feelings of well-being. While these effects may not seem directly tied to exercise performance, they are. If you are mentally engaged, focused during your workouts, and you just generally feel better while exercising, you will certainly get more out of your efforts. Athletes understand that a big part of success comes from having a positive mentality towards their goals.
High doses of caffeine (5mg/kg of bodyweight) have been shown to increase time to exhaustion by as much as 20 per cent during high intensity cycling. Not only does caffeine allow you to mentally work at a high level for longer, it physically allows you to do so as well.
Burn More Fat
Caffeine taken before exercise directly boosts the athlete’s fat metabolism. What this means is that your body will more readily mobilize stored fat to supply energy for exercise in the presence of caffeine. The higher the dose, the more profound the effects, but the dosage should be based off of personal tolerance. This direct effects, coupled with being able to go longer before feeling fatigued, and being able to push through pain and train at a high level for longer, and it becomes pretty clear that pre-workout caffeine can be a big boost your fat burning efforts.
Utilize Energy More Efficiently
Pre-workout caffeine has been shown to increase how effectively your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy. Carbohydrates get broken down into glucose, which is a very simple sugar, and a high-octane energy source for exercise. Caffeine increases the ease of absorption of glucose in the small intestine, so the carbohydrates you eat before you train get into your muscles and help you power through your workouts. In essence, caffeine helps you get more energy from the foods you eat to perform your best!
– It is not being suggested that you ingest excessive quantities of caffeine or coffee before you train.
– Always assess your caffeine tolerance over time, and if you have not supplemented with caffeine in the past, consider consulting with a physician on before doing so.
– The maximum dose encountered during the research for this article was 5mg/kg bodyweight. This can be considered a very high dose, and the researchers even stipulate that such doses should be reserved for competitions or major events.
– The dose that seemed to consistently be considered moderate, and still offered results across studies while negating any negative side effects of caffeine (restlessness, nervousness) was 2mg/kg bodyweight. That would roughly equate to the amount of coffee found in a medium McDonald’s coffee being drank by a 165lb male.
We’ve all heard the children’s song. You know, the one about the anklebone being connected to the leg bone? Contained within those rhymes is a pervasive truth about the human body: everything is truly connected.
The human body is a system of bones, joints, connective tissues, and muscles stacked on top of each other. When there is a tightness, imbalance, or inhibition of the muscles or tissues at one joint, the joints and muscles above or below must compensate to perform the role of the dysfunctional piece of anatomy.
For example, a tight hip is usually the result of a knee that isn’t doing its job. The knee is built for stability. When the muscles surrounding the knee become too tight or weak to carry out their role, the hip goes from being a joint built to allow motion, to one that is forced to prevent it and the muscles of the hip stiffen. This is just one of the ways that tightness of the hip muscles occurs.
Problems often start from the ground up and because of that, you should really care about your feet.
The muscles of your feet and the muscles of your upper body actually have a lot in common. All of the structures of your entire body are encircled by connective tissue called fascia. An easy way to think about fascia is to imagine it as saran wrap that holds all the parts of your body together and in place. There are three major types of fascia, but we’ll be focusing on the layer that most intimately affects muscular function: deep fascia.
Deep fascia is tough and it surrounds all of your muscles. There are five major fascial lines, but the one we’ll be discussing is called the superficial back line. It originates at the base of your foot and goes all the way up the back of your body, over the top of your head, and ends at the line of your eyebrows. If any one portion of this massive layer of connective tissue is inflamed, tight, or dysfunctional, it can set off a series of reactions across the entire body.
Remember how problems run from the ground up? Well, if the plantar fascia on the bottom of your feet gets tight or inflamed, your ankle becomes stiff. When your ankle becomes stiff, your knee begins to allow more motion than it was designed to allow. When your knee allows more motion than it should, your hip stiffens and allows less. When your hips lock up, your lower back begins to move too much. I could continue on and on, but know this: this wave of dysfunction continues all the way up the body.
When irritated plantar fascia goes unchecked, plantar fasciitis can develop, and outside of the slew of other dysfunctions running up the body, significant heel pain will occur. Two of the most common causes of irritated plantar fascia are pronation (or inward rolling) at the arch of your foot, and repeated impact. The first of these happens when someone isn’t wearing the proper supportive footwear for his or her foot, and the other happens every time your foot strikes the ground while you run.
Well we’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about any of this, because we have one quick and simple tip that will relieve inflammation and tightness of your plantar fascia, increase your flexibility, and reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis and heel pain. A happy side effect to all of this will be the potential maintenance or restoration of proper function at the other major joints of your body.
So here is what you’re going to do. Take a tennis ball, and place it under the arch of your foot. Apply enough weight to the ball to feel pressure, but not enough to feel significant pain. Gently roll the ball across the entire of the base of your foot. Go from where your toes begin, to your heel, and be sure to spend some extra time under your arch. Repeat on the other foot. This massaging will convince the fascia on the bottom of your feet to relax.
To really see the magic of this, test your flexibility before you roll your foot on the ball. Standing with your feet together, bend over and take note of how close to the ground you can get. After rolling your foot, try that test again. Your range of motion should increase drastically!
In addition to a relaxation of the localized fascia on the base of your foot, that relaxation will occur up the fascia of the superficial back line, all the way to the top of your head.
By simply taking a few minutes to roll your feet before and after your run, your ride, or your workout, you will reap a bevy of benefits. Stretching will now have a far more profound effect than before. In order for a muscle to be successfully lengthened by stretching, the fascia surrounding that muscle must relax enough to allow that action to take place. The efficiency of your stride will improve as a result of a bolstering of mechanisms that occur when your foot contacts the ground. Your ankle range of motion will increase, which will result in less strain on the knee joint.
Your hamstring flexibility will increase, and as a result the risk of low back pain will diminish.
However, we’re talking about feet here, and yours will feel fantastic. By simply using a tennis ball to massage your plantar fascia before and after your workouts, your chances of heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and general foot pain will drastically reduce. Give it a try! You’ll be amazed at the hidden magic of a tennis ball.