SMART Fitness

Coaching people to EAT SMARTER and MOVE SMARTER so they can develop the habits necessary to achieve their HEALTH and FITNESS goals and keep them for LIFE



7 Fat Loss Tips for Busy Moms (You’re going to LOVE #2)

Most moms I know, including my lovely wife, lead extremely busy lives. And many also have full time jobs on top of that. Finding time to exercise and eat right can be a real challenge. Here are 7 tips to help all of the amazing moms out there reach those fat loss goals… Continue reading “7 Fat Loss Tips for Busy Moms (You’re going to LOVE #2)”

Yesterday we talked about how poor (or no) planning can derail you from the goals you’ve set for yourself. And, as I implied in that post, planning how you are going to reach your goal is critical. Would you go on a road trip across the country without a plan?

Today we’ll talk about another potential obstacle to those ever elusive goals… Continue reading “Time Wasters (Goal Obstacle #2)”

12 Small Changes to a Healthier Body

This is part 3 in a series of posts that started with Small Changes. Several of you have asked me nicely to “get on with it”, which tells me there are at least a few of you ready to put it all together and start seeing some real results. Love your passion!!

So here are the changes you need to make to THE WAY YOU EAT AND THE WAY YOU MOVE to reach your goals: Continue reading “12 Small Changes to a Healthier Body”

How I Became a Morning Person

Up until about 9 years ago, I hated mornings. Actually, it wasn’t mornings I hated; it was getting out of bed in the mornings. I would stay in bed until the last possible second (plus a few more), sprint to the bathroom for a shower, shave if I had the seconds to spare (or my stubble was so bad I had no choice), get dressed, and maybe grab something unhealthy to eat on my way out the door. As you can imagine, I was almost always late. And being late is not a very good way to impress your boss, customers, or whomever you are supposed to be meeting with.

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach 2012 taken with my iPhone.

There were rare occasions when I actually did get up early enough to not have to rush around like a crazy person. And those days were always so much less stressful, and WAY more productive.

Finally, I decided enough is enough. If I am ever going to be successful in life, I need to start by changing how my day starts off. Here is what I came up with:

  • WANT IT – Every successful person I have ever met or read about is a morning person. They get up long before the sun rises to do things that would improve some aspect of their life. And they were NEVER late for anything! Just like any habit you are trying to develop, you have to really want it. By the way, those bad habits in your life require the same thing–you gotta want to quit!
  • MOTIVATION Okay, you’ve decided you want to develop the habit of getting up early. Why? For me it started out as a way to spend time with God through prayer and Bible reading. But as I started backing up my wake up time, I found I had time to do other things, like working out, writing a blog, and working on my novel. I’m one of those people who needs a goal to motivate me to make a significant change. Maybe you are too. Pick a dream or goal, and work on it during those extra minutes or hours in the early morning.
  • START IT – Pick a good time to wake up. This is important because if you go too early to start off, you are more likely to quit. I began with getting up at 6:00 am. This was a full hour earlier than I used to get up, but not so obnoxiously early that I would give up. If you can get done what you want in that amount of time then stay there. I wanted to do more so I gradually moved it back to 5:30 for a couple of years, and this past year I started getting up at 5:05 am (I actually “sleep in” until 5:30 on weekends!).
  • GET YOUR SLEEP – There is no way I was going to be able to get up early if I didn’t also go to bed earlier. Sleep is critical for the health of the body, and if we don’t get 6-8 hours of sleep every night, bad things will happen. This is key to the consistency part below. TURN OFF THE TV, OR FACEBOOK, or whatever is keeping you from going to sleep!!
  • BE CONSISTENT – Consistency is the key with any habit. It’s not really a habit if it’s not consistent, right? That means weekends too! I mentioned above that I allow myself an extra 25 minutes sleep on the weekends. This works for me and may work for you, but I wouldn’t go much more than that. Just like “location, location, location” is the most important thing in real estate, “consistency, consistency, consistency” is the most important thing in developing a new habit.
  • GET HELP – If you are married or have a roommate, let them know of the changes you are making. Get them to remind you to go to bed earlier. In other words, give them permission to give you a hard time if they catch you staying up late on the computer or watching TV. If they are early risers, ask them to help make sure you are up until you get your body used to it. My good friend Chad recently asked me to call him when I woke up every morning for a week to help him develop this habit. I was happy and honored to do it.
  • PREPARATION – Before you go to bed make sure you are set up for success. If you have a coffee maker that has an auto-on feature, set it to be ready BEFORE you come down so little time is wasted getting that caffeine in your body. If you plan to use this time for a workout, lay out your clothes, shoes, GPS, etc. so you can put it on right away. If you plan to read/study your Bible, have all of those materials staged and ready to go. Whatever it is, plan for it. And try NOT to hit the snooze button. Trust me when I tell you–it only makes it harder to get out of bed.

Hope this helps someone out there with their goal of becoming a morning person or early riser. If so, or if you have any questions or comments, please let me know using the comments section below.

What motivates you to get up early in the morning?

Body Change Part 2 (Fitness)

If you haven’t read Part 1 for the backstory, go here to read that. I don’t want to bore anyone with that again.

I do want to go on record with one statement that may sting a little. In all of the research I did for this, one thing shocked me more than any other:

WHAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR BODY is significantly more important to your body’s ability to LOSE FAT than any exercise program.

In other words, you could have the most cutting edge exercise technology money can buy, or the best personal trainer on the planet, but if you still put CRAP into your body, you’ll never lose the fat. PERIOD.

Let’s move on. As I mentioned in Part 1, I only had two days per week available to workout outside my home. This is a restriction I placed on myself so my family is minimally affected by my chosen exercise program. As much as I love fitness and exercise, as a husband and dad, my family is MORE important.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Strength train TWO days per week: Monday and Friday work best for me, but you need 48-72 hours between workouts for recovery.
  • Whole body workouts each day to start. Work largest body part to smallest with some variety allowed. Legs, back or chest, shoulders, triceps or biceps, core (abs/lower back). (Note: If you think you will run out of steam before you get to your core, do that first. Core is critical!!). After about 12 weeks move to one workout per week per bodypart (split the body into two parts and do one workout on Monday and one on Friday. For example: Trunk (chest, back, shoulders, abs) — Monday; Extremities (Legs, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs)–Friday.) Notice I said abs each workout.)
  • Workout ONE: High reps/low to moderate weight.
    • Rep range: 15-20 with strict form. (If form begins to be affected, stop and reduce weight. If you get to 20 reps and little effort was required, increase the weight next set)
    • 2-3 sets per exercise. One exercise per body part. Rarely the same exact exercise two workouts in a row. Mix it up so the body never gets a chance to adapt. (Example: Incline barbell one workout, incline dumbbells with a slightly different bench angle the next one.)
    • Minimize the rest between sets. 30 secs or so. Circuit training is ideal, where you go from one exercise to another. Then go back through a second time (maybe even a third, depending on how many exercises you’ve selected.).
  • Workout TWO: Low reps/Moderate to higher weight.
    • Warm-up: it is CRITICAL that you warm up properly BEFORE you start with heavy weights. If necessary do two sets to warm-up (6-8 reps), gradually increasing the weight, before your final HEAVY set.
    • Rep range: 5-8 with strict form. (I can’t stress enough how important form is to injury prevention AND strength gains!). You want to come pretty close to failure here, so make sure to have a spotter.
    • Rep speed: lots of variation can be added here, but NEVER bounce or use momentum to THROW the weight up. That’s the quickest way to get an injury that will stop your fat loss plan in its tracks!!
      • 2 sec negative/1 sec positive
      • 4 sec negative/1-2 sec positive
      • and everything in between. Lately I’ve been trying SUPER SLOW reps (10 sec positive/10 sec negative with one set and one exercise per body part). My friend Scott Means bought me the book, Body by Science by Doug McGuff M.D. and John R. Little which describes this method in detail.
    • 2-3 sets per exercise. One exercise per body part. Rarely the same exact exercise two workouts in a row. Mix it up so the body never gets a chance to adapt.
    • Rest between sets should still be pretty short: 60-90 secs is a good range.
  • Sprints: once a week I find a place to do some sprinting. My standard sprint workout is at the local high school track. I do a warm-up of 6 x 50 meter runs (about 70% effort–more than a jog, but not an all out sprint). I walk between each until my breathing returns to normal. Then I do 6 x 50 m sprints starting at around 90% effort, gradually increasing intensity to a full out 100% on the last two sprints. I got this concept from Mark Sisson’s Primal Fitness eBook. The book is free if you subscribe to his blog, which is excellent also!!
  • Record everything. I created a workout log to record date, exercises, sets, reps, and weight. If you would like it, let me know using the comments.
  • Exercise variety: I am big on changing things up. I use free weights (both barbells and dumbbells), machines, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, and something called a TRX Suspension Trainer. This also has the added benefit of boredom prevention.
  • Accountability: If possible, get a workout partner. Just knowing my partner is waiting for me makes it virtually impossible to skip a workout. If a physical partner isn’t possible, then get a virtual one. Team up with a friend on Facebook or Twitter or wherever, and keep each other accountable for getting workouts in. Making it a little competitive might motivate you. For example, whoever gets to their goal pant size or dress size gets a steak dinner!!

I know that’s a lot to take in, but combine these guidelines with the nutrition plan explained in part 1, and you will have a working fat loss plan as well as a lifestyle for health and fitness to carry you for a very long time.

I would love to hear some feedback. If you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written here, let me know. Or, better yet, if you implement this plan, let me know what kind of results YOU achieved using it!!

Now let’s go workout!!

References not already mentioned above:

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