Fundamentals of Fat Loss Part 4 – Protein

Fundamentals of Fat Loss Part IV – Eat Plenty of Protein

In Part I found here, we talked about an overview of what we need to do to lose fat. In Part II here, we covered burning more calories than what you take in (a calorie deficit).  In Part III found here, we discussed  the secret weapon of fat loss: strength training. Today, we will be talking about how to up your protein game.   

As a reminder, you need to consistently do 3 things to make your body burn fat:

  • Burn more calories than you take in
  • Strength train 3 days per week
  • Get plenty of protein

To start, let’s uncover what protein actually is. Protein is an energy containing macronutrient that is responsible for or has a hand in virtually every process in the body. For the purposes of this post, it is vital in repairing and restructuring muscle and other tissues.

Outside of that it is important in other cellular structures, immunity and enzymatic processes. It’s an important part of optimizing body processes, including fat loss. Common protein containing foods are things like chicken, beef, beans, soy, and dairy.

When you start as a new member at Epic Fitness,  we give some baseline guidelines for calories and protein. Calories, to manage weight appropriately depending on the person’s immediate goals, and protein as a starting point to help folks understand it is a priority.  We also call this being in a “positive nitrogen balance” on a daily basis, especially when you are strength training.   

Here is the basis for why we want to be in a positive nitrogen balance, meaning we are eating enough protein to help us towards our goals of fat loss/muscle gain/maintenance (fill in the blank!):

  • First, remember that fat loss is about cannibalizing your own body’s tissue for fuel because of a “fuel shortage”
  • Your body will make up the caloric deficit from its own tissue – Fat or Protein – You get to choose!  You will cannibalize your protein stores if you are not getting sufficient amounts of protein.  
  • You get to direct the Tissue Cannibalization – By creating a Positive Nitrogen Balance.

Now, you may be asking “How do I create this positive nitrogen balance?”  It is as simple as these 3 steps:

    1. When you eat protein, your body breaks the protein down into amino acids.
    2. Those amino acids are then used to repair and grow new muscle fibers.
    3. When you consume an adequate amount of protein, your body will experience a Positive Nitrogen Balance.

The next question always is, “Well, what is adequate for protein intake then?”

Well, there are a lot of bad recommendations out there. The RDA (Registered Dieticians Association) recommendation is .8g/kg of body weight is around HALF of what you should actually be getting in your diet as an active, healthy adult.  You should be closer to 1.6 g/kg BW. 

But let’s actually make this super simple and talk about this in pounds of body weight (since we are the last country to be doing things imperially!)

Our baseline recommendation for protein intake is 0.75 g/pound of your current body weight.

So, if you weigh 160 pounds, start with 120 grams of protein per day. We use this number because it is approachable and attainable, and has some room to move up or down. That way, as you get going you can track how you are doing, adjust, and find your sweet spot as you get better at eating alongside with your strength training.

Note: This recommendation would change with someone who is looking to add size/mass or for someone who has a significant amount of weight to lose, as it would be simply unrealistic.

A common question we get is, “How do I increase my protein intake?”  There are a lot of ways to do this, but here are 3 general concepts that can help:

  1. Double up on protein you are already consuming:  Choose 4 eggs instead of 2 (24 g vs. 12g). 2 palm sized (3oz) servings of chicken at lunch on your salad, versus the 1 you used to eat (48g vs 24g). If you did the same at dinner, you’d be around 120-130g of protein, and that is only with meat and dairy examples!  You will still get some smaller amounts of protein from most foods. We use this concept with clients when it is clear that they under-eat at breakfast and lunch, then it usually makes dinner less controlled.  By emphasizing high protein at both of those first meals, we encouraged satiety so that you can make better decisions in the evening, as well as recover from your morning strength workouts. 
  2. The Rule of 10: Try and ask yourself how you can add another 10 grams of protein to each meal. So, maybe it’s another egg and some nuts. Another chicken sausage, 2 pieces of deli meat. Half a can of tuna. Half of a protein shake. A yogurt on the side. By the end of the day, adding an extra 10 grams of protein at each meal will get you another 30 grams. Over time this will pay huge dividends in conjunction with keeping your calories in check. Maybe this adds some “variety” to your meals, too! If this helps you hit your protein for the day, it’s going to lead to better results.
  3. Supplementation: There are tons of options out there, and thanks to modern food technology, most protein supplements taste MUCH better than they used to. We primarily want to get our protein from whole food sources; there are more nutrients, there are less ingredients, and they are generally more bioavailable. 

For most of us aiming to hit goals in the gym, supplementing can be a game changer in terms of rounding out our protein intake. Think about it this way – protein supplements are a way to always have a solid source of protein on hand, whether we are on the go or need a quick meal to get us to dinner. There are many varieties: whey and casein (dairy, fast and slow digesting), egg, plant based, collagen – they can all work just fine based on your preference. 

We typically suggest supplementing with protein immediately after workouts at the gym to fasttrack recovery and start refueling for the next workout. Or, if you want to add more to it, you can use frozen fruit, yogurt, or other ingredients to blend your shake into a full meal. This can help curb some calories too. All in all, protein supplements are a great way to get another 20-40g of protein each day.

We hope you found this information valuable and useful!  Want to have a chat about how we can help?  Click the link below to jump on a quick 5-10 minute discovery call to see if we could be a good fit for you!

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Fundamentals of Fat Loss #3

Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part III

The Strength Secret

Welcome to Part III of the Fundamentals of Fat Loss!  In Part I, we gave an overview In Part II, I broke down what nutrition needs to look like.  In Part III we are going over the secret weapon of fat loss: Strength Training.  

As a reminder, you need to consistently do 3 things to make your body burn fat:

  • Burn more calories than you take in
  • Strength train 3 days per week
  • Get plenty of protein

So why strength training?  Why not any form of exercise or activity?  What defines strength training?  These are all the questions we will be answering below.  Strength training, is in fact, the “cheat code” to fat loss among many other things.   

If you aren’t getting measurably stronger over time, then it isn’t strength training

A lot of things get marketed as strength training.  Very few of them actually track your progress or make you measurably stronger over time.  Yes, most HIIT style classes say they’ll make you stronger but the reality is, speed is the priority in that training setting.  After 3-6 months, you’ve gotten all of the strength you’re going to get out of that format and now it’s just cardio.  The same light to medium weight training doing the same type of exercises quickly will only go so far. 

What Progressive Strength Training looks like

It is called “Progressive Resistance Exercise” for a reason.  When you start, it looks like a goblet squat with a 26 pound kettlebell, after a few weeks you’ve worked up from 26lbs to 53lbs.  Nice!  Now we might give you a more challenging variation like squatting with two kettlebells in a front rack position.  After a few weeks you’ve worked your weights up in that variation as well.  Now we might progress your variation to a barbell front squat and continue increasing your load.  There are other variations and other progressions but you get the point.  

(Here is Gwen deadlifting “The BEAST” (106 pounds).  She didn’t start here…)

You are always challenged and that brings continuous increases in strength and continuous adaptation to the challenge.  Without that progressive overload, you will stall out and stagnate.  We track all your progress and update your training routine as you get stronger every 4 or so weeks thanks to our customized digital programming app.  

Now that we are on the same page about what strength training is, let’s tell you why strength training is the fat loss secret weapon, the “cheat code” to fat loss.  

Progressive strength training preserves and builds lean muscle  

When you are burning more calories than you are taking in, your body needs to cannibalize its tissue to survive.  If you just do a bunch of cardio while you’re in a calorie deficit, you will lose a lot of muscle along with fat.  It’s because your body will try to cling to its energy stores unless you tell it that muscle is important.  That is where strength training shines.  

It sends the signal to your body that muscle is important and can’t be cannibalized as fuel in that calorie deficit.  When you prioritize strength training, and when protein as a primary fuel source is present (we will get more into this strategy in the next blog post!), your body has no choice but to start burning off your excess fat.  

This is the most important part of this strategy: The combination of a calorie deficit, strength training, and getting plenty of protein FORCES your body to burn fat.  

Progressive strength training burns comparable calories during the workout to other modalities 

The idea that cardio burns more calories than strength training is based on junk science with two massive blind spots.  

Blind spot #1 –  Heart rate monitors have been used to measure calories burned during a workout.  But that’s not what they measure.  They measure your heart rate, make an estimation of how much oxygen you’ve used, and then estimate how many calories you’ve burned.  But remember, this is just an estimate.

But what about calories burned without the use of oxygen?  AKA – Anaerobic Training (also known as Anaerobic Threshold training).  The monitors can’t measure how much sugar is in your blood or liver or how much ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) in your muscle cells you’ve burned.  It’s measuring only one piece of your body’s energy puzzle.  Without real time muscle biopsies (ouch!) it’s impossible to know exactly, but you are likely burning comparable calories to cardio when you are engaging in challenging, progressive strength training.  

Blind Spot #2 – Progressive strength training supercharges your metabolism  

The other MASSIVE blind spot is that it’s not about how many calories you burn during your workout.  It’s about how many calories you burn AFTER your workout too.  This is known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) or the “after burn”.  The point of strength training for fat loss is not just the calories during your workout.  The recovery from that progressive strength challenge turbocharges your metabolism and your body pulls from its fat stores to get the energy needed to recover your muscles.  

With wearable technology like smartwatches, whoop straps, and Oura rings, you can see the difference.  Rather than just measuring the calories during the workout, these devices are also using heart rate variability to track your metabolism all day.  For the last 4 weeks I have alternated between strength training days and cardio days.  My days are 60 minutes of strength and conditioning 3 days per week, and my “cardio” is 2 rucks (a fast walk with 25-30 pounds on my back) per week.  During the strength training workouts, the calorie burns were similar, around 500 calories average for each.  The big difference?  Overall, when tracked on my Oura ring, I burn 300-500 more calories total on my strength training days than on my cardio days.  That is a massive difference!  This is 100% due to EPOC, your body’s ability to burn extra calories even after your workout.  

Progressive strength training has a lower injury risk than other forms of training

When you have a program customized and  written for you, you have corrections in place for injuries or movement deficiencies, and when you have a personal trainer watching and guiding you every step of the way, strength training is incredibly safe.  Compared to the high injury rate of running, there is no comparison.  Getting you moving well and getting you strong throughout your ranges of motion helps you avoid injuries with the other things you do.  

While we want you working hard, it’s also lower impact than other forms of training.   If you’re a female over 40, the high impact nature of an hour of HIIT style training can have a negative impact on hormones like cortisol, further undermining fat loss goals.  

Getting stronger makes you more confident (Maybe the most important of ALL!)

The last reason strength training is key for fat loss is how it makes us feel. The problem with excess fat isn’t just the fat or extra weight itself.  It’s what it does to how we feel.  When clothes don’t fit right and we don’t feel like we can physically keep up with what’s important in our life, it kills confidence.  Strength training builds confidence.  Every time you master a new movement or you hit a new personal record, your confidence skyrockets!  It’s a beautiful thing.  Let’s face it, no one ever felt more confident after a bout on an elliptical! 

If strength training is so great, why not do it more than 3 days per week?  

More is not always better.  Because the recovery from the workout is so important, when you get  much more than 3 days per week of focused strength training, it’s harder to recover properly.  At three, especially if you do some active recovery the day after, you’ll be able to push yourself hard all 3 days, recover for a day, and then you’re ready to get after it again.  This is also what we have seen truly work the best for our hundreds of clients that come in week after week. 

We help people finally get fit, feel confident, and have all day energy even if getting everything done is a constant struggle. When you are ready to see what personal training can do for you, click the link below to schedule your complimentary discovery call with us.  We look forward to chatting with you real soon! 

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Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part 2

Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part 2

In Part I, we went over a short overview of the 3 principles of fat loss:

  • Burn more calories than you take in (Calorie deficit)
  • Include strength training 3x/week
  • Eat plenty of protein

The goal in part II is to dive into how to actually create a healthy, sustainable calorie deficit without starving yourself.  When you zoom out and look at the body of knowledge from a nutritional science perspective from a 30,000 ft. view, a very simple truth emerges.  When it comes to body composition management, when you control for 2 variables, virtually any way of eating works the same.  

What are those 2 variables, you may be wondering??  Calories and protein.  We will get more into protein and the importance of that in part IV of this series, so for now we will focus on calories.  

By creating a caloric deficit of between 200-400 calories per day, you will be able to see sustainable change for longer periods of time and without starving yourself.  This size of deficit has been shown to help move the needle enough to continue to help fuel your workouts and activity without the negative side effects of feeling lousy eating too few calories.  When your deficit is too high, your workouts will suffer, your sleep will be worse, your body will cling to its fat stores and you won’t have the energy to do the things that you love.

So, how the heck do you consistently stay in a caloric deficit for the long term.  This is where lifestyle modification comes in.  You have more than likely gained a small amount of weight consistently over a long period of time from staying sedentary, and from eating (or drinking) those extra 100-400 calories per day, on average.  

So many new clients that have joined Epic Fitness recently report that their exercise and activity levels dropped to almost zero over the past 2 years of the pandemic.  This makes sense because so many of us were burdened negatively with the lockdown, and not being able to stick with our normal routines that included exercise. 

So, where do we start?  Burning more calories from simply increasing your steps per day is a great way to start.  Another way is to include strength training in your routine (we will go over this in part III of this series).  

Being in the fitness space and being a coach for over 15 years, you would think that I would be partial to exercise and activity as the “cure all” for fat loss.  But, actually, that is not what I believe to be true.  At Epic Fitness, we still tell our members that the hardest workout they will do will be the chopping and slicing of all the vegetables and fruits and preparing for their weeks with proper nutrition.  Nutrition is probably about 70% of the puzzle of fat loss.  

When it comes to getting your body into a calorie deficit, there are really two nutrition strategies you can use.  Check out the 2 strategies below, and see which one (or combination of the two) that will work best for you.  

Method 1: Simple elimination

By making certain foods “off limits”, ideally for a set period of time, you are reducing your total caloric intake pretty much instantly.  Paleo, intermittent fasting, low carb/low fat are all types of elimination diets but they aren’t what we recommend to our clients. 

Far and away the simplest way to do this is by extracting out the three worst offenders of overconsumption:

  1. Added Sugar
  2. Alcohol
  3. Junk Food (you know what I am talking about here!)

Think of what will happen to your total caloric intake if you merely took out these three worst offenders above.  By making foods that are easily over consumed off limits temporarily, we restrict intake and make it easy to focus on fruits, veggies, and lean meats.  This means we can eat to satisfaction while still staying on track. 

As an example, when you compare a Big Mac and fries to Salmon, cooked vegetables, and brown rice, which meal do you think will bring your fullness level to satisfaction faster?  The Big Mac?  Not at all.  It is the caloric “density” of the food that matters to keep you satisfied and fuller for longer.  Lean protein, dense vegetables and healthy carbohydrates will do just that.  

This may look satisfying, but it won’t keep you satiated and full and feeling your BEST

Here is what I like about this method.  You feel way better, FAST.  You may realize very quickly how much of the added sugar and alcohol that you didn’t really miss in your daily routine, after all!  We recommend doing this “Elimination” of the three worst offenders of overconsumption for around 30 days.  It’s not a bad way to start to get feeling better fast and establish some momentum in a very healthy direction.  

Here is where I caution clients with this method.  You MUST keep this short term and understand that strict elimination is not sustainable.  Have a transition plan from short term to long term.  If you try to do it forever you will crack, catch a case of the “screw-its”, eat too much of all the wrong things, feel like a failure, and lose all your momentum.  Keep it to no more than 4 weeks.  By week 1, you WILL feel great.   By week 3, you know what you will keep doing and what you’ll relax a little bit.  After 30 days, you can start to slowly bring things back into your “lifestyle” without falling back into the unhealthy overcomption mode.  No alcohol can turn into a maximum of 3-4 drinks per week pretty easily.  No added sugar can turn into one dessert a week and you’ll do great.

Method 2: Counting Calories

With this method, you track your calorie intake inside a calorie tracking app (like myfitnesspal).  You just need to stay within your daily calorie limit.  This is where the quantity of foods becomes very important.  A good knowledge of serving sizes and accurate food logging is helpful.  We like to calculate your daily caloric target based on data from our InBody Body Composition Analyzer, but a quick and dirty rule of thumb is your body weight times 10 for fat loss.  That can vary a bit based on where you are starting so remember that’s a rough idea.  

Here is what I like about this method.  It’s honestly the most scientific.  Eat within your calorie limit.  That is it.  Does this mean you can eat whatever the heck you please, just as long as it is within your calorie limit?  Not exactly.  We still want you to think of the best option for food choices.  And surprisingly by limiting the three worst offenders of overconsumption, you will find yourself to get much closer to your calorie intake goals (and you will FEEL so much better, too!).  

Here is where I caution clients about this method.  It takes some work, knowledge, and experience accurately measuring and logging food.  If your log shows a calorie deficit and after a few weeks your weight isn’t down, you really aren’t in a calorie deficit and your log is off.  Common issues are underestimating servings or forgetting to log liquid (sugar) calories.  

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.  Finding what works for you is key.  You get to enjoy your food while you fuel and nourish your body.  Starving yourself is not okay, it won’t work long term, and you deserve better. 

Ready to have the support, accountability and actionable framework over the next 30 days to make sure this time a new habit of changing your lifestyle for the better will work for you?  Look no further!  Our 30 Day “Memorial Day Meltdown” Program could be a perfect fit for you.  Check out more information below, and you can save up to $100 if you take action NOW.  

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Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part 1

Fundamentals of Fat Loss – Part 1

“I have tried every diet, and nothing seems to help me lose this stubborn fat.”

“What is the best way for me to lose fat, and keep muscle?”

“Where do I start when it comes to fat loss?”

These are a lot of the questions that our team gets asked at Epic Fitness often.  There seems to be this unknown surrounding losing fat (and keeping it off healthfully) that every “diet” out there doesn’t do a great job answering.  

The question we should be asking is, “What are the top 1-3 things I need to focus on to lose body fat and to keep it off for the long term?”

Well, you are in luck!  That is exactly what this 5 part series will be all about.  We will start by laying out the 3 principles of fat loss that will always stand the test of time.  

In order to lose body fat and keep it off, you need to:

  • Burn more calories than you take in (Calorie deficit)
  • Include strength training 3x/week
  • Eat plenty of protein

For those of you staring at the above principles and are thinking, “What else?”  That’s it!  Doing these 3 things on a consistent basis will help you lose body fat, gain and maintain lean muscle which actually in-turn helps tremendously with increasing your basal metabolic rate and keeps you in a healthy calorie deficit (we will get more into this soon).  Now is the time to stop the “yo-yo” process of starting and stopping every fad diet out there.    

What EVERY diet has in common is that each and EVERY one of them has a start and end date.  We want this to be a lifestyle switch you can start and continue to do for life.  That is why over time, and once you reach your main goal of losing fat and when you get to a healthy body fat and weight for you, then there are only 2 principles to follow to maintain lean body mass:

  • Include strength training 3x/week
  • Eat plenty of protein

That’s it!  It is this simple.  Notice how I said “simple” but not “easy.”  

This can definitely be a tough switch to turn on, and to stay consistent in doing it every day can be hard as well.  Simple, not easy.  There are 500 reasons why we don’t start, and 500 other things that can get in our way and derail our success.  

Making the choice to start today may be the best choice you ever make in your life.  Also, never placing an “end date” to this lifestyle shift – since this is NOT a diet – may turn out to help you make the biggest transformation, both physically and mentally, you have ever made.  Ready to learn more?!  Here is a quick overview of each of the 3 principles of fat loss.

  1. Burn more calories than you take in 

This is also known as a calorie deficit.  Does this mean you need to count calories?  No, not necessarily.  We will go over all the strategies part II of the series.  Here is something fun to consider: 

If you burn more than you take in, your body won’t care if you counted them.  

Counting calories and/or food logging can be a great strategy to get you there.  Using either of these strategies can be very flexible as well.   We will discuss these strategies in a later blog.  

But here is the deal – If you don’t want to count calories, don’t despair!  You can cut out the three worst offenders of over consumption.  Wondering what these are?  Here you go:

Three worst offenders of overconsumption:

  1. Added Sugar
  2. Alcohol
  3. Junk Food (you know what I am talking about here!)

When you focus on pulling out these three offenders, you really do end up consuming less overall, which will in-turn lead to placing you in a small calorie deficit.  You can focus on eating fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to your satisfaction.  After a short, stricter period to start, you can transition to a less strict, more long term strategy.  We are not suggesting to take out these three offenders forever, but just long enough to help you increase your awareness of the overconsumption.  

  1. Include Strength Training 3 Times Per Week

Strength training is critical to fat loss in 2 ways.  First, working out isn’t just about the calories you burn during the workout.  It’s also about the calories you burn after the workout, or what is referenced as EPOC – Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (we will get deeper into this in one of the next blogs!).  That’s where the real results will take place and where progressive strength training, or what we love to call Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) reigns supreme in stoking your metabolic fire.  

Second, if you are in a calorie deficit and just performing cardio, your body will be cannibalizing body tissue (mainly protein) to make up for the gap in energy.  By just performing cardio, and not implementing a strength training routine, you aren’t sending a strong enough message to your body that your muscle is important.  Your body will naturally want to preserve the fat and cannibalize the muscle.  With strength training, your body will preserve and build your muscle. 

  1. Get Plenty of Protein

Protein is a huge contributor to fat loss, muscle gain and weight maintenance in two ways. First, it is very satiating.  One serving of protein will keep you much fuller for much longer than say one serving of pasta.  Second, protein helps you repair and recover your body from strength training.  You have probably heard that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  Amino acids are super important for the repair of tissue when you put stress on it (ie – strength training) and for recovery.  

At Epic Fitness, we like to say that your workout is only as good as the recovery that you take afterwards.  

In Part II, we will go more in depth on some nutritional strategies we have seen work the best.  Part III will be all about the best forms of strength training for fat loss.  Part IV will be tips about how to get plenty of protein without eating too many calories.  In Part V we will troubleshoot common mistakes, do a little myth busting, and share the mindsets that guarantee success! 

If you like what you just read, and want to learn more about Epic Fitness and how we can help you, you can schedule your discovery call with us below!  

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Broccoli and Deadlifts

Why Broccoli and Deadlifts can save your life

Have you ever been so excited about starting a new exercise or diet program only to find it too confusing or hard to follow?  You may have started off with some great intentions, only to learn the hard fact of what we have come to know as “decision aversion.”  When we are given too many choices or options with a nutrition plan or a workout program, it becomes too hard to choose what to do or where to start.

Ultimately when we are faced with too many options, we usually choose nothing at all. 

With nutrition, if you have to count every calorie of food you eat, weigh and measure every ounce of protein, how likely are you to stick with this plan?  We actually know how long because we have tested it – about 10 days!  Ten days is all you will get when you are forcing your brain to do all of this unnecessary work to figure out your “Macros” and count your calories.

What is the alternative then?  We actually like to keep it relatively simple.  A very well-known strength coach, Dan John, once told me, “If you got all of your clients to eat protein, veggies and drink water 90% of the time, you would be the most successful fat loss expert in the world!”  If we look at this advice as “simple, but not easy” then we are off to a good start.  As we look at nutrition for our clients much more simply, there is more clarity as well.  This is where broccoli comes in.

Why broccoli?  You may ask.  Broccoli has been called by many nutritional experts one of the world’s healthiest foods!  It has a great source of Vitamins C and K which can help healing, collagen formation and protect you from free radicals. Broccoli has also been cited for anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties as well as a great food in the battle against cancer.

Therefore, when you eat broccoli, you know you are doing something absolutely great for your body.  Think of the last time you ate broccoli.  Did you have the urge to eat more than what was on your plate because it had “addictive” qualities like potato chips or french fries?  Absolutely not!  What is great about this vegetable, and just about every vegetable in that case, is that you will become fuller faster and you won’t overeat – which is really the #1 cause of obesity in the world!

Eat more broccoli and you will become in charge of how much you eat which will lead to fat loss – we love that idea! 

Now let’s talk a little more about exercise and how to simplify this part of your life, and where deadlifts come in.  There are more exotic training methods out there than ever before (thank you Instagram and the Internet!).  What we are really looking for is not more choices on how to perform a fancy squat or sexy “core” exercise – what we really need to do here is simplify.

What has worked really well for us, is setting our clients up for success by giving them options throughout the year based not only on the time of year it is, but also on their goal.  We know we can’t work on fat loss 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year – it is just not sustainable.  Can we work on fat loss for 6 – 8 weeks at a time though?  Absolutely!  This is where a lot of our in-the-gym challenges come into play, and we have 3 – 4 of them a year to really push clients closer towards their goals.  But that is only about half of the year.  What do you do the other half of the year?  You keep moving forward and continue to “punch the clock” to sustain those results you achieved during the challenges.  We write our programs based off of an annual plan with all of the challenges in the gym and any roadblocks you may encounter along the way.

Ok, back to deadlifts.  Why deadlifts?  Deadlifts are really what we have found to be the “biggest bang for your buck” exercise in the gym.  Since you pick up and set down things pretty much every day in your life, why not get better at this very functional exercise. It is a total body lift, requires strength from the upper and lower body and you will notice as you do deadlifts more often, you will be able to lift more!

(Here is Rockstar Member, Gwen deadlifting the “Beast” – 106 lbs)

If you are a woman the next thing you may be asking yourself is, “Won’t lifting weights – especially doing deadlifts make me bulk up?”  The very short answer is no.  This article isn’t meant to dive into this topic too much.  The truth is at Epic Fitness every woman that does strength training adds lean muscle to their body, and in turn lowers body fat.  Then this funny thing happens – their waistline shrinks!

This is no miracle, it is just the power of strength training and adding total body, multi-joint movements into your routine, just like deadlifts.  I would even argue that eating broccoli daily (or really any green, fibrous vegetable) along with deadlifting once a week and strength training three times a week could actually change your life in a way that could help you live a longer, more vibrant life!

Here is my plea to everyone out there – let us work on making the world of nutrition and strength training less confusing and not such a polarizing topic.  Let’s continue to make it simple (not easy) and start a routine to stay consistent for many, many years to come!

Are you ready to start a routine and looking for a guide to help you get started with a very reasonable, tested and trusted process?  We would love to be in your corner.  Click below to schedule your FREE Discovery Call with us to learn how we can help you reach your goals.

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The REAL Magic Pill

The Real Magic Pill

If exercise could be put in a pill, it would be the biggest blockbuster medication of all time. Here’s why:⁣⁣

Better insulin sensitivity- Exercise makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin so you don’t need as much. Less insulin means less belly fat.⁣⁣ This is why exercise is the #1 preventer of type 2 Diabetes.

⁣⁣Reduced stress-  I often hear clients say a good workout relieves excess stress. That’s because exercise reduces cortisol – the stress hormone. Too much cortisol and you become insulin resistant and store belly fat. Too much cortisol also makes you crave sugar and carbs and seek comfort food.⁣⁣  The lower the cortisol levels, the more likely you will steer clear of the comfort foods and make better daily food choices. 

⁣⁣Improved brain health-  Your brain on exercise performs so much better. Exercise improves memory, learning, cognition and concentration. Vigorous exercise is a better antidepressant than Prozac. Exercise helps to improve your mood, boost your energy, and reduces overall stress in your body and mind.  How’s that for a win/win!⁣⁣

⁣⁣Reduced risk for chronic disease-  Exercise does this through several mechanisms. It protects your heart and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. It reduces inflammation (the cause of almost every disease of aging). And it balances hormones, therefore reducing breast and other common cancers.⁣⁣

⁣⁣Enhanced detoxification- Besides stimulating the colon, intense exercise allows your body to release toxins through your skin. It boosts the detoxification of environmental chemicals. Vigorous exercise will help you work up a sweat, but gentle exercise keeps your circulation going and flushes out all the toxic fluids that build up in your lymphatic system.  Want to try something easy to help flush out the lymphatic system?  Just lying on your back and putting your legs straight up against the wall for 20 minutes can make a huge difference. ⁣⁣

(This is Gae, my grandmother who just turned 95!)

Slows the aging process-  If you want to turn back the clock figuratively, exercise becomes absolutely crucial. My Grandmother, Gae just turned 95.  When I asked her what her secret was, she responded by saying, “That’s easy.  I walk around this mezzanine in my building 10 times every day, and I know that is close to 1 mile.”  She literally hasn’t allowed her age stop her in any way.  She also is known to wear high heels regularly (they are actually stilettos!) and is still sharp as a tack! 

Ready to start taking this magic pill?!  We would love to show you how to start with the right doses so you can make it a repeatable habit for a very long time!  Book your discovery call below to share your story with us, so we can be your guide in helping you get 1% better starting TODAY! 

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3 Ways to Stay Motivated

3 Ways to Stay Motivated

By: Ben S. Fogel

We know how hard it is to continue to stay motivated, especially when it comes to your health and fitness.  It is because seeing results TAKES TIME.  “I want results tomorrow” doesn’t happen.  I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is truly the “boring basics” done alongside a long timeframe where the magic truly happens.  So how do we stay motivated, since we know that motivation is always fleeting, and it’s not like we have an unlimited supply of it!  Here are three ways we suggest that will keep you motivated for the long term.

1. DO IT! 

As the Nike slogan suggests, the truly easiest way to get started and to stay committed is to take that first step.  Now, this can be hard.  Instead of planning out a schedule of working out and meal prepping that might take hours and hours of your time, and then ultimately becomes unsustainable, may I suggest taking the smallest step towards whatever habit you are looking to improve or start.

For example, if you want to start the habit of working out, and the hardest part is actually showing up to the gym – start by just driving there, get out of your car, walk inside the gym, do one set of ONE exercise, then leave.  This may be a total of 2-5 minutes at the gym, but it puts you in the habit of SHOWING UP and DOING IT, which, in my 15+ years of experience as a coach I see as one of the hardest habits to actually master.  Taking action truly fuels and feeds your motivation.  

Another example.  Want to get into a running routine.  Wake up in the morning and put your running shoes on.  That’s it.  Just lace them up!  The act of just doing this will roll into stepping outside and off the curb and running your first block, just don’t plan to do this on your first day.  

2. Have an “Accountability” Buddy (What we love to call an “Accountabilibuddy”)  

This is one that is usually really overlooked.  Oftentimes, we feel like we are left to our own devices when we start a new routine of going to the gym, and much of the time we go on our own.  This is one thing that can really drain our “motivational” stores.  We have no accountability to anyone, so we often end up quitting our routine because of the lack of accountability and the waning motivation.  The solution?  Find a person that has similar goals as you, and start to hold each other accountable. 

(Coach Leanna with Epic Rockstar member Brie, and her furry friend, Franklin all partnering up together!)

This is why at Epic we train in very small, semi-private cohorts that allows our members not only to get to know each other, but also to create bonds and friendships that stretch even further than just meeting each other for workouts at the gym!  

3. Hire an expert

This is one we are obviously partial to, but it works!  When we need to see a doctor, we schedule an appointment to get expert advice.  We don’t just rely on Google to help with our health concerns!  We hire an expert in every area of our life, all the time.  Here are some examples:

  • Tax time?  We hire a CPA professional
  • Dental work?  We hire a dentist
  • Need legal help?  We hire a lawyer
  • Need your car fixed?  We hire a mechanic
  • Is your heater broken?  We hire an HVAC professional

The point is, anytime in your life that you cannot complete something on your own, you hire an expert, right?  So why should your fitness be any different?  I know that in today’s world, fitness experts are looking more and more like Instagram models, and that we all need to have abs to be qualified.  This is the furthest thing from the truth.  I know that you may have hundreds of options out there, from online training apps, to YouTube videos, and so much more.  

(Epic Member, Ernie A. 1 year and 100+ pounds after deciding to hire an expert!)

The only thing I would suggest is when you hire an expert, be sure that your exercise program is customized 100% to you and YOUR goals.  So many times we see clients come in and that is always the one thing they never had.  Usually it is like this – “Here is the workout of the day” or a group style workout where everyone is doing the same movements/exercise regardless of their unique starting point.

  (Epic Member, Amy B. 1 year and 50+ pounds lost after committing to hiring an expert!)

We believe everyone is unique, and that is why we are one of the ONLY gyms in the state that offers a custom and personalized experience that meets you where you are today.  

Ready to learn more and keep your motivation high!?  Check out our “Epic 30 Day Experience” that we are offering until 3/31/2022.  Grab your spot before it is gone!  

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There is no time to get healthy

There is no time to get healthy

By: Ben S. Fogel

Here is a quick list of the things you CAN do if you don’t have the “time” to get healthy.

Time can be a big obstacle when you are looking to start a new exercise, diet, or “fill-in-the-blank” routine.  That is why we came up with this pretty exhaustive list of things you can do to improve your health and well-being to get 1% better than yesterday.  Many of these things are meant to take the least amount of time and effort, and bring you the biggest return in your life.  

We understand that a lot of programs, fitness routines, diets, etc can be super overwhelming.  Sometimes just starting with the first 2-3 minutes of a new habit is a great start.  

Want to run a marathon?  Start by placing your running gear at your bedside the night before, and in the morning you are planning to run just tie those sneakers up. 

Want to start a new workout routine?  Drive to the gym, check in and do one set of an exercise, then leave.  

Want to start to write more?  Write one sentence.  That’s it.  

All of these less than 2 minute habits don’t seem like much, but they help you “cast the vote” for the person that you want to become.  Think of what would happen after a few weeks of just putting your running shoes on first thing in the morning.  The next step would naturally be to go outside for a run.  

Once you master the 2 minute habit of getting started, here are some ideas of things you CAN do to enhance your health for the long run.  I love this quote:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is today.”


When you walk outside for 20-30 minutes at a comfortable pace your NK (Natural Killer) cells and your T-Cell response increases.  In other words, your immune system gets a natural boost and this one habit has shown people to have less sick days and respiratory illness over the winter.  Many studies support this, and this is an immediate thing that occurs inside our bodies.  

Could you imagine if this was a “pill?!”  Just think of how many people would want to buy it!  Want to protect yourself from getting sick?  Invest in 20 minutes a day of walking outside.   

Here is another little known fact with walking.  As little as 10 minutes of walking after eating has been shown to keep your glucose levels down.  Furthermore, you can regulate your blood glucose levels and potentially go from a pre-diabetic state to a healthy state just by walking for 10 minutes after you eat.  

Here is an important piece to point out, this is regardless of what you eat!  We are not even saying to change what you eat.  Being “Prediabetic” and having higher than normal blood sugar levels is a comorbidity.  Imagine, by doing this one simple thing 10-30 minutes a day and how much it can transform your health.  

Vitamin D

Did you know that Vitamin D levels impact a whole lot more in your life than you ever thought.  Immune system function, muscular recovery, mood, and sleep are just a few areas that are impacted by Vitamin D levels in your body.  It has been found that Vitamin D deficiency was found in greater amounts of COVID-19 patients that were hospitalized.  

Did you know, as little as 10 minutes of sunlight on your skin is close to the equivalent of 10,000 IU of Vitamin D?  In winter, this is why it is so important to supplement with Vitamin D on the days when you can’t get outside.  


Did you know, you can change your gut biome in as little as 4 days!  In a study, a fast food diet of burger and fries was compared to a Mediterranean diet for 4 days.  There were 4 days in between each diet.  The fast food diet showed an increase in the bad bacteria in the gut and the mediterranean diet showed an increase in the good bacteria.  This was after merely 4 days in this study.  Imagine what a month could do.  What do you think would happen if you added a few more fruits, vegetables, olive oil and quality protein to your diet, and you ditched the drive thru?   


Sleep is a BIG deal.  A good night’s sleep drives a healthier immune system.  It enhances recovery.  Your biomarkers that fight infection are improved.  Your inflammation goes down when you sleep well, and will increase when you sleep poorly.  The response to a vaccine is improved after a good night’s sleep. 

A lot of what we know on how to attain a good night’s sleep drives from understanding the circadian rhythm of our bodies.  Here are the easiest guidelines:

  1. Let your eyes see the sun in the morning.  It basically is the physiological wake up signal.  Light on the retina.  (Now, I understand this is much harder in winter months and with the daylight savings, but it is a good reminder).   

  2. Eat something upon waking.  There is a reason why we call it breakfast.  We are breaking that 8-12 hour fast from sleeping and not eating from the day prior.  

  3. Have some movement in your day (Remember that walk we talked about above?).  

  4. Stop drinking caffeine by noon. 

  5. Cut out your phone and blue light 2 hours before bed.  Blue light stops the melatonin hormone.  You may claim you say you can fall asleep with your cell phone in your hand, but your sleep is still disrupted, which means you will have a tendency to have more “wake” cycles.  Just remember, your sleep was disturbed.

  6. Go to bed at the same time (Yes, even on the weekends!).    

Breath (Mindful Breathing/Meditation)

Breathing deeply, even for just 3 minutes, has huge health benefits.  

Here is an example of a breathing technique you can do.  It is called “Box Breathing.”

  • Inhale through the nose, hold for 3 seconds.  Exhale through the nose and hold for 3 seconds.  Repeat for 2-3 minutes minutes.  This will literally drive you into a parasympathetic state.  Doing this will drive cortisol levels down (the primary stress hormone in the body), which means you will have less inflammatory responses to stress.  Breathing is like the remote control to your nervous system.  It works that quickly.  

Drink water with some electrolytes

We are made up of so much water.  We are electrical beings.  Better hydration = Better function.  Many suggest to drink ½ your bodyweight in pounds, but if that feels like way too big of a jump, just start with one extra glass of water per day.  

Socialize with people

Social isolation or a perceived social threat produced more inflammation and decreased anti viral qualities.  While the opposite was also true.  Positive social interactions showed a decrease in inflammation, and bolstered antiviral responses.  

There IS time.  Today can be that day.  Acute can become chronic.  You can make the choice to make a change.  Your body will change, whether you do something or not.  You can decide how.  Health can be improved today.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. 

I would suggest to start with just ONE of these habits today.  Use the 2 minute rule for making the new habit stick.  Then, and only then you can add another one of the habits above.   

Ready to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your time with all things exercise, nutrition and lifestyle?!  Sign up below where we can schedule a quick 10 minute discovery call to see if we would be a good fit for you.  

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Your Date with Covid…

Your Date with Covid – Exercise is your best protection

From an article in the New York Times (12/23/2021)⁣:

“𝘉𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘸, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘷𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘵, 𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘢𝘺𝘣𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘷𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧: 𝘞𝘦’𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥.” 

‘𝘠𝘦𝘴, 𝘺𝘰𝘶’𝘭𝘭 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘳𝘶𝘴,’ 𝘋𝘳. 𝘑𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘏𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘦𝘸𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳⁣.

“𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘊𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵,” 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘯 𝘉𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘢 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘩 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘵 𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘵 𝘕𝘦𝘸𝘴, 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥.

This is what all the evidence and data is supporting, and why all of us at Epic Fitness are more committed than ever to help as many people as possible to discover that becoming strong, healthy and fit will only help in their ability to fight this off when their “date” comes.  

If you knew that you had the power to control your outcomes with this disease based so much on how physically fit you were going into it, would you take action and start taking those small steps towards a healthier you?  

Let me use an analogy – If you lived in New Orleans, and knew a hurricane was barreling down and coming towards your house, would you prepare for it? 

This is the same thing. It’s coming.⁣

Prepare your house (your body).⁣

Here’s what we know:⁣

Vitamin D⁣:

There’s an abundance of evidence that Vitamin D reduces covid-19 infection, severity, ICU admission and mortality⁣.

⁣Collectively, studies show Vitamin D, is a far more effective basal covid-19 treatment, than any additive pharmaceutical available to date⁣

Body Composition:

Losing excess body fat is like building armor against Covid.⁣  The craziest part?  The CDC, WHO and other organizations are FINALLY coming out and saying this after 2 years in this pandemic. 

The 2020 CDC Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps1 show that obesity remains high – sixteen states now have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35 percent. This is up from twelve states in 2019.  In just one year, look at the map below to see what is happening in our country.  We are the “fattest” we have ever been, and at the most inopportune time, ever. 

Here is some information from the CDC that barely came out after 2 years:

Adults with excess weight are at even greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Children diagnosed with obesity may suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19. In a study of COVID-19 cases in patients aged 18 years and younger, having obesity was associated with a 3.07 times higher risk of hospitalization and a 1.42 times higher risk of severe illness (intensive care unit admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, or death) when hospitalized. (7)


Get strong and build muscle to lower your risk:

This one is easy.  A stronger you – both mentally and physically, is much harder to kill!  


Improve your cardiovascular fitness:

Poor cardiovascular fitness is an increased risk factor⁣.   A study from the University of Virginia found exercise reduces a person’s risk of even contracting Covid⁣.

Increase your frequency of training sessions:

Exercise is known to impact and improve the immune system⁣ function overall. ⁣ The higher frequency your sessions (we recommend our members come in and perform their program 3-4x/week) the more of a positive impact your immune system will have.  

The data is in.  The fitter and stronger you are, the better you’ll recover⁣ from your date with Covid.  

It’s time to mold the “future you” into a stronger, leaner version of yourself.  When you do, you will feel more confident than ever to be able to deal with any and all strains of Covid as they come.  

Be your own health advocate.⁣ It’s your job and responsibility to get in even better shape than ever before.⁣

Get yourself ready⁣.


Ready to make your next 30 days your strongest of 2022?  We are SO close to implementing a “waiting list” at Epic Fitness, and we want to help as many people as we can be as strong as they can with their “date” with Covid.  Please click the link below and fill out the form to be contacted in less than 24 hours to book your discovery call with us to see if we could be a good fit for you. 

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  1. The 2020 CDC Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps show the prevalence of self-reported adult obesity using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Data are available for 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

  2. Tanaka, S. I., Isoda, F., Ishihara, Y., Kimura, M., & Yamakawa, T. (2001). T lymphopaenia in relation to body mass index and TNF‐α in human obesity: adequate weight reduction can be corrective. Clinical endocrinology, 54(3), 347-354.

  3. Alwarawrah, Y., Kiernan, K., & MacIver, N. J. (2018). Changes in nutritional status impact immune cell metabolism and function. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 1055.

  4. Simonnet, A., Chetboun, M., Poissy, J., Raverdy, V., Noulette, J., Duhamel, A., … & LICORN and the Lille COVID‐19 and Obesity study group. (2020). High prevalence of obesity in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus‐2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity.

  5. Kompaniyets L, Goodman AB, Belay B, et al. Body Mass Index and Risk for COVID-19–Related Hospitalization, Intensive Care Unit Admission, Invasive Mechanical Ventilation, and Death — United States, March–December 2020. (2021). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:355–361.

  6. O’Hearn M, Liu J, Cudhea F, Micha R, Mozaffarian D. (2021). Coronavirus Disease 2019 Hospitalizations Attributable to Cardiometabolic Conditions in the United States: A Comparative Risk Assessment Analysis. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021 Feb;10(5):e019259.

  7. Kompaniyets, Lyudmyla, et al. “Underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness among children.” JAMA network open 4.6 (2021).

Changing your Identity

Why Identity-Based Habits Trump Outcome Based Habits

By: Ben S. Fogel

I’ve got something for you to ponder – It is already week number 2/52. How are you doing with those New Years resolutions? Are your new behaviors matching up with the person that you want to become (your identity?).

If not, it may be because you set up your “goals” to be outcome based, and not identity based.

Here’s what I mean:

When most people think about the habits they want to build, or goals they want to accomplish, they naturally start by considering only the OUTCOMES they want to achieve. “I want to lose weight.” Or, “I want to stop smoking.”

The alternative is to start by focusing on who we want to become, not what we want to achieve. 


Instead of having a goal of “I want to lose weight” you can say “I am the type of person who makes healthy choices.” 

Feel how your identity starts to shift as you say that. 

Or, instead of saying “I want to stop smoking” you may start to say to yourself “I am not a smoker” and these words will start to build your identity of who you are going to become. 

It’s one thing to say “I’m the type of person who wants this.”

It’s something very different to say “I’m the type of person who IS this.”

Another way to think about it is to ask the question “Who is the kind of person that would get the kind of outcome I want to get?”

Like when you are about to drive through a fast food line, you could ask yourself, “What would a healthy person do?”

Or when you are about to reach for that cigarette, you could ask, “What would someone trying to quit smoking do here?” 

Remember, these are very small victories that over time will stack up in your favor. 

As James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

Are you ready to make some small victories, with time on your side?  We would love to be in your corner to help you this year, but we have very limited space on our memberships – we are very close to implementing a waiting list to join Epic Fitness.  If you are ready to take action in becoming the person you envision yourself to be, we would love to help you do that work.  

Click below to learn sign up for a Discovery call, so we can learn more about how we can help you!

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